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Joining the Conversation
Posted by: Dale Franks on Friday, May 25, 2007

It's been an interesting conversation with Oliver Willis. His most recent response is here. After three rounds apiece, I think we've gone far enough in talking this out for now, and it's been helpful in clarifying a few things.

The full round-up, in case you're interested:

Me 1, Oliver 1, Me 2, Oliver 2, Me 3, Oliver 3.

Divider

I was a bit surprised to see this conversation attracting attention from some others in the blogosphere, but apparently it did, and here's what some others contributed to the conversation.

Dave Schuler from The Gilttering Eye:
This is just exactly the sort of dialogue that we should have had five years ago and the sort that should have been engaged in by the U. S. Senate.
Dutch blogger Michael P.F. van der Galiën:
I think that Iraq has one major problem - it’s based on tribalism. Any country that’s truly based on tribalism cannot be a democracy with respect and tolerance for other tribes and sects. Iraq has to be modernized. Iraq requires a strong government, headed by a strong leader. That leader has to, in the beginning, draw virtually all power to himself, but must be dedicated to bring democracy to his people in the long run at the same time: in other words, the strong central power has to be a means to achieve modernization.
Dan Riehl of Riehl World View:
If Willis had a clue about al Qaeda, he'd realize that at its core, nation building is precisely what they are about. Whether it's Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, anywhere they can find widespread instability and a large Muslim population they are going to attempt to take root. My point - take an unstable Middle eastern state and either we build it into something resembling a democracy, or they can and will establish a terrorist supporting regime.
D. A. Ridgely:
Personally, I do think there is something to the "keep the terrorists shooting at us over there" argument, but it's not a reasonable long term strategy. I do buy into the "blowback" theory — that is, that the primary motivating factor among Islamic terrorists is the continued U.S. military presence in the Middle East (followed closely by U.S. support for Israel); thus, I think any significant reduction in that presence bodes well for a reduction in terrorist activity. Our presence in Iraq, however, is but one piece of that problem.
Cernig at The Newshoggers:
Bush cannot say outright that he wants the US to stay in Iraq permanently, but that is what he has always been working towards. Yet that drive for a permanent presence is itself what has fuelled not just the insurgency but the flawed political process set up in an attempt to guarantee that presence - and thus the current civil war. Because of this, the stated objectives - peace and an eventual withdrawal - will always fail in their stated aims, and succeed in their unstated aim of creating additional turmoil to justify staying the course.
Spree at WakeUpAmerica:
Good questions, all. Questions that seem to never get answered because instead of answering, most of the time, liberals simply ignore the questions and try to use distraction or distortion and quite a bit of doubletalking and in the end, we still never get clear answers to these straight up questions.
Libby at The Impolitic:
If we're going to apply the Pottery Barn rule [to Iraq], then it's time to accept we're going to have to go home with nothing of real value and we're going to have leave all those shiny new fixtures we paid so dearly to replace, behind. Paying for the damage doesn't give us ownership of the store and breaking in the first place doesn't really give us the right to decide who ultimately gets to run the business.
Tom Maguire at Just One Minute:
Bush has created a disaster and I have no confidence in his judgment as to a solution, but I am not exactly sold on cut-and-run, either.
Sharon at Gold Plated Witch on Wheels:
I posted a similar thread at CSPT to see what the untamed trolls there would say. Disappointingly, there's lots of snark and little information. However, Jack pointed to this Oliver Willis post as an example of what he thinks. I think it brushes off the seriousness of us pulling out of Iraq, frankly.
Paul edwards from The Anti-Subjugator:
So you want to invade nuclear-armed Pakistan right now? Rather than working with the Pakistani government which is moderately friendly at the moment. If you wanted to attack Pakistan immediately to stop them getting any more nukes, damage limitation, I'd understand. But when they're already doing the police work required to arrest terrorists, and we have other targets available, it makes more sense to go after the ones who aren't cooperating.
Orion at Orion Hood:
I'm betting the Pakistanis won't be terribly thrilled when we start sending American troopers scouring the hills of Pakistan. But hey, it's all OK with Oliver! He's pissed that we invaded Iraq, liberated millions, destroyed an insane dictator who murders his own people and gutted a terrorist organization - But he's cool with us invading Pakistan and Saudi Arabia! Way cool.
Karla at Premptive Karma:
For those conservatives who still find themselves supporting the War in Iraq and the President's foreign policy—this is your chance to really learn why so many others do not.
Follow the links and join in the discussion.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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Follow the links and join in the discussion.
No thanks...

I try to not get that stuff on me... ;)
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Bush cannot say outright that he wants the US to stay in Iraq permanently, but that is what he has always been working towards.
This is one of the most annoying characteristics of the nutroots: They often have nothing to say about the merits of their opponents’ stated position. Instead, they like to impute to their opponents’ some sinister ulterior motive and debate that.

How could we ever hope to have a conversation about Bush’s "unstated aims?" What form would the support for our arguments take? Until we are able to give Bush some Sodium Pentathol and hypnotize him into telling us the dark secrets of his soul, the people who claim to be able to speak for his unstated aims will always win the debate.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Dale, thanks for keeping your cool, while Mr. Willis seems to be trying to bait you to anger on some points, and following through on this discussion. I’ve enjoyed reading it.

I can understand Mr. Willis’ frustration with the situation in Iraq, and I share some of his concerns... as any rational person should; but this dicussion as revealed that many of his arguments are as shallow as a bird bath. Apparently, he hasn’t really thought through his positions and this exchange between you two makes that obvious.
 
Written By: Fyro
URL: http://
I was a bit surprised to see this conversation attracting attention from some others in the blogosphere,
I’m not. There’s precious little actual conversation between left/right blogspheres. Fighting, sniping, snarking sure. But not actual conversation.

I’m all for it, it exposes certain people for the hacks they are
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
They often have nothing to say about the merits of their opponents’ stated position. Instead, they like to impute to their opponents’ some sinister ulterior motive and debate that.
It’s a consequence of post-modernist thinking. The "logic" goes something like this:

1. There is no such thing as objective truth.

2. Therefore, all points of view have validity.

3. If you disagree with my perfectly valid point of view, you must have bad motives for doing so. Intense disagreement with valid points of view is hurtful and dishonest, and only people with bad motives would be hurtful and dishonest.

4. Since my point of view is now that your motives are bad, and all points of view have validity, you also must accept that point of view, and accept that you have bad motives.

Notice that the words "fact", "truth", or "evidence" never appear in this chain.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I came a little late to the party since I’m on vacation, but I just read through all the posts in the conversation, and I’m disappointed in Mr. Willis. I had hoped that he would articulate to me some things I had not considered. Instead he just exposed himself as an uninformed fool. He does not understand what is going on in Iraq, how the military works or international diplomacy works, and is so blinded by his partisanship that he can say in one paragraph that there is no distinction between a full invasion of Iraq and having any troops there at all, but in the next paragraph blithely assert that sending Special Ops into Pakistan to kill Al-Qaeda wouldn’t constitute an invasion of Pakistan. And worse, he is proud of his ignorance.

Next time, Dale, don’t have a battle of wits with an unarmed man. I really, honestly want to know that there’s logic on the other side, outside of ignorance and petty internal politics. Sadly, thanks to Mr. Willis and his ilk, I’m starting to believe that there isn’t any logic outside of ignorance and petty internal politics. Please, somebody correct me if I’m wrong!
 
Written By: Wacky Hermit
URL: http://organicbabyfarm.blogspot.com
Dale, your description of the "conservative approach to war" is exactly what would have worked, what DID work in Germany and Japan in WWII, and what we are far too hamstrung by politically correct nonsense to do now. What works is to convince your opponent that you mean what you say, that doing anything else results in nothing but pain, and that unless he can kill you faster than you kill him, he might want to consider another tactic. "War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it." General William T Sherman.... who by today’s standards would be a war criminal for what he did in Georgia.

The only question left is how many of us have to die before the rest of us wake up, tell the Retief’s and Scott Erb’s and Oliver Willises to FOAD, and get the job done.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
I still want someone to answer this question...
can someone who is opposed to the strategy now being implemented in Iraq, please detail, what you believe that strategy to be???
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Dale,

I also say thanks for trying this conversation and being civil throughout. We do need more of these exchanges, between those who support and oppose the Iraq War, for better understanding. Unfortunately I concur that Willis provided little substantive discussion. Not enough facts, too much opinion and mindreading, plus Willis’ attitude that he’s entitled to "get his digs in" in contrast to the liberals of the past who "deferred to conservatives" in the flower-power days (not quite how I remember those times).

By all means try again with a more rational opponent, though I’m not sure where you find such a person on the left or center-left. There are people on the right such as Hugh Fitzgerald of JihadWatch who argue that the US should leave.

Or perhaps, since you are more critical of the Bush administration than many who support the war, you could play devil’s advocate for withdrawal.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
As if to underscore your point, hgwells, get a load of the latest flock of commenters to show up on the original post.

So much for rational discussion.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The best response to Dale, by far, are actually two. Both by Jim Henley. The first is here, but the best is here.

He speaks for me as well.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://highclearing.com/
He speaks for me as well.
Having glanced through it, I’m not surprised that he does.

Nobody must hold a grudge in your world.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
He speaks for me as well.
Ummm ... whatever, Mona.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Mona — I looked at the Henley pieces and they seem largely to be snarky complaints about the questions Dale asked, how Dale asked them, and snarky coments on Dale’s bad faith or naivete.

I’m not injecting the snark charge. Henley says upfront, "I decidedly do not have the declared aim of not writing ’in a snarky way.’". Too bad. I find the anti-war movement’s general sense of entitlement to snark and ad hominems really disfigures their communication and detracts from their arguments.

I’m sure Dale has his blind spots, as we all do, but when I read Dale’s questions, it seemed he was making a pretty good faith effort to ask the questions that puzzled him about the anti-war side of the current debate without being intentionally annoying.

If Henley feels that other questions should be raised as well, he is certainly entitled to raise them, but I don’t see the point of being intentionally annoying in the process, unless one just wishes to vent and preach to one’s choir.

 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
What is to be done about Syrian, Iranian & Saudi opposition to a democratic Iraq, that apparently takes the form of support for armed insurgency? Nothing or something?

If not very much is planned, how long until the Iraqi army is able to threaten these countries with retaliation? For instance will America ever let Iraq have an airforce?
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
hgwells: I’m not familiar with you, and you may be unfamiliar with me and my history, including my history with QandO. In a nutshell, I’m a lifelong libertarian who voted for George Bush in ’04 and supported the Iraq war until some time in ’05, to my eternal regret. As a lawyer I and libertarian I am appalled not only by the war, but by Bush’s noxious notions of Executive power and blatant law-breaking.

I now reside in left-libertarian enclaves, where before I participated in right-leaning ones such as this.

Having been forceful in my opinions in both left and right venues (as is my style), I will tell you in no uncertain terms I have been treated far, far worse by the right when I began changing my mind about Bush and Iraq, than by any left-winger I ever argued with online before that — and I do still argue with them at one site in particular, where the only real point of mutual agreement is hostility to Bush and the neoconservatism he is in thralldom to. Everything from inappropriate sexualizing of the commentary, to telling me to "f*ck off and die" has been lobbed at me by the right. The notion that it is the left that is "angry" and not "civil" is a canard I have learned to be utterly fasle, in relative terms.

No left-winger ever treated me with the sheer venom and grotesqueries I’ve encountered by the authoritarian right — whihc is what this site is especially with Jon gone, whether it wishes to concede that or not.

And with that, I bid you adieu; I came here only to make Jim’s posts known, and no longer have any interest in extensive participation here. If you ask McQ, I’m sure he can point you to his infantile post making play on my name that was just one long ad hominem diatribe about my every purported ideological and stylistic sin.You might say, he exhibited a "general sense of entitlement to snark and ad hominems [that] really disfigures [his] communication and detracts from [his] arguments.

 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://highclearing.com/
No left-winger ever treated me with the sheer venom and grotesqueries I’ve encountered by the authoritarian right — whihc is what this site is especially with Jon gone, whether it wishes to concede that or not.
And, of course, Mona had no hand in any of that whatsoever. She’s innocent as the proverbial lamb.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Aldo,

There’s an old saying, famously flubbed by the current president, that goes: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

It’s rather apt for what you are discussing. Bush has repeatedly lied (and by lie I mean intentional untruths) about the administration’s intentions for the Middle East military theater. Any discussion of current policy that ignores that fact is worthless - if you’re really still willing to take everything from the WH at face value, then why would you think there’s any problem to begin with?

The mistrust is completely the current administration’s fault - they could have been transparent and communicative about their goals from the beginning, but they weren’t.





 
Written By: sigh...
URL: http://
And, of course, Mona had no hand in any of that whatsoever. She’s innocent as the proverbial lamb.
McQ, you are very quick to insult, you seem to hold grudges forever, and you tell lies about the people you don’t like. I’ve also not encountered such irrational, very personal venom either, except from Billy Beck.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
And with that, I bid you adieu; I came here only to make Jim’s posts known, and no longer have any interest in extensive participation here. If you ask McQ, I’m sure he can point you to his infantile post making play on my name that was just one long ad hominem diatribe about my every purported ideological and stylistic sin.
My theory is that he has a hard time admitting he’s wrong, and if someone is effective in countering his points the response has to be to think that person somehow bad and irrational, and attack them. Then, of course, hope that others who like the flame game will join in the attacks, and he can then feel like that person has been ’neutralized.’ It’s really too bad, McQ is a smart guy, and on many points I think he’s demonstrated good insight, even leading me to question some of what I believe. But for him it seems to be personal and emotional. I don’t think he wants to confront arguments that might show him to be in error.

If you come back and read this, if you could recommend some left libertarian "enclaves", I’d appreciate it.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Mona,

I started on the anti-war, progressive side and swam in the direction opposite from you to end up supporting this war and the Bush administration. I’ve lost friends and communities in the process. I was astonished by the vitriol I received from my comrades on the left, since I’d always assumed they were liberal in the dictionary sense as well — generous, open-minded, tolerant. Some are; some aren’t. Perhaps because of the switch I made, it seems to me that the left is worse than the right in this regard.

I know that both sides snipe at each other and I’m not in favor of anyone doing so. I don’t recommend the practice. If it bothers you, it seems inconsistent to show up here to recommend snark by proxy from Henley.

I still don’t quite understand the emotionality and absolute certainty many bring to this discussion. Sure, I care too and I’d agree that the stakes are high. But the Iraq War IMO is a very complex call. Informed citizens of good conscience may well disagree and do.

I came to the Dale/Oliver discussion because good civil debate on this topic is sorely needed.


 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
If you ask McQ, I’m sure he can point you to his infantile post making play on my name that was just one long ad hominem diatribe about my every purported ideological and stylistic sin.You might say, he exhibited a "general sense of entitlement to snark and ad hominems [that] really disfigures [his] communication and detracts from [his] arguments.
Heh ... this coming from the Rosie O’Donnell of "left-libertarians" (whatever in the world a left libertarian is).

BTW, the "play on [your] name" was simply to use it in a pretty famous pop song of the day ... "The Name Game". You’d figure even someone who has apparently led the sheltered life you’ve led would know that one. But naturally, as is your want, you choose to be a ’victim’. It fits well with your new ideological choice. Just as naturally you don’t bother to mention the Greenwaldian rants of yours on Inactivist and your new digs in which you take every opportunity to denigrate anything "neo-libertarian", even when you have to stretch to do it.

So forgive me if I can’t find it in myself to be concerned about your pseudo-injured perception of the use of a simple (and proper) play on a song.

Here’s the post poor Mona is moaning about. I’ll let readers decide who the injured party is. But fair warning, anyone Erb sides with usually doesn’t do well here.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

I started on the anti-war, progressive side and swam in the direction opposite from you to end up supporting this war and the Bush administration. I’ve lost friends and communities in the process.
That’s sad. This is important, but friendship is more important than the stance one takes on even the most important political issues. I have many colleagues and friends who support the war and President Bush, and I would never once think less of them as individuals because of their view on the conflict. This is a tough issue, made doubly tough by the lack of clear facts about the nature of this conflict and ramifications of various policy choices. This makes it possible to reasonably defend a wide variety of interpretations.

I love to make my argument strong and even provocative. It’s fun to some times mix it up in a heated debate. But that should not cross the line to personal animosity. Back in grad school we used to have Friday night happy hour with an arch conservative, a couple moderate conservatives, a libertarian/conservative, two hard core Neo-Marxists, and a number of liberals. There were times people started yelling at each other and many heated debates. No one became enemies, we still went out to eat afterwards and were friends and colleagues. That’s how it should be. Unfortunately, on the left and right, there is a polarizing tendency where political difference becomes cause for personal dislike, and that’s not good — because the real benefit of democracy is to learn from those who think differently, with the need to listen to opposing sides.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Sigh,

I disagree with your assertions, but I won’t go down that digression road, because they are beside the point. Dale was explicitly not addressing the subject of what the administration claimed in the past or is claiming now about Iraq. He was trying to get liberal opponents of the war to defend the reasoning behind their prescriptions for Iraq going forward from today.

Please make a heroic effort to focus on the question of what should be done about Iraq without chanting the "Bush lied mantra," because whether he lied or not does not tell us what the best policy is under the current conditions.

Even if the point of the exercise was to rebut Bush administration claims, however, Cernig would be unfairly rigging the game by setting himself up as the spokesman for Bush’s "unstated aims."

Since the rest of only have access to what the administration actually says, and the facts, we can hardly compete with someone who is able to introduce into the discussion the idea that Bush has an "unstated aim of creating additional turmoil."

Am I allowed then to refute Hillary Clinton’s arguments for universal healthcare by claiming that her unstated aim is to create a plan that will be deliberately designed to allow sick Americans to die?
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
...friendship is more important than the stance one takes on even the most important political issues.
That’s my take too, so I was caught by surprise. It would never occur to me to question a longstanding friendship on account of political disagreement.

It seems to me that wherever we stand on the Iraq War, as Americans we have more in common than not, but that point seems easily lost.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
Dale, you asked a lot of interesting questions of Oliver, have you ever answered them yourself?

I’d be particularly interested if you could answer what exactly the current policy is, other than hoping that the Iraqis will come to their senses while we stand by and watch.

To paraphrase yourself: I mean, you’re advocating a policy that will have wide-ranging effects. It’s not enough to say that everything will be OK. You have to show your math. You have to explain why you’re not just whistling past the graveyard.

These are the questions I’ve never seen answered by the president, his supporters or the Republican Senators who claim that we’re in a battle for Western civilization in Iraq. It’s the central reason most Americans think this war is failing.
 
Written By: jinchi
URL: http://jinchi.blogspot.com
Billy Hollis:
”Notice that the words "fact", "truth", or "evidence" never appear in this chain.”



Great comment! I endorse it 100%. Please do a longer treatment.

Wacky Hermit:
”Sadly, thanks to Mr. Willis and his ilk, I’m starting to believe that there isn’t any logic outside of ignorance and petty internal politics [on the left]. Please, somebody correct me if I’m wrong!”
You are not wrong.

Mona:
” The best response to Dale, by far, are actually two. Both by Jim Henley. The first is here, but the best is here.

He speaks for me as well. “
FOAD


Mona:
”In a nutshell, I’m a lifelong libertarian who voted for George Bush in ’04 and supported the Iraq war until some time in ’05, to my eternal regret. As a lawyer I (sic) and libertarian ...”
You are a prevaricator [or sadly deluded] and an insult to all true libertaraians. If you were present I would ask to see your Bar card.

Mona:
”And with that, I bid you adieu;...”
Please mean it this time. You have nothing to say that is of interest to any thinking person. I don’t recall ever giving anyone a “double blessing” . You have earned it. FOAD


Scott Erb:
”I’ve also not encountered such irrational, very personal venom either, except from Billy Beck.”
You understand, this is a veiled insult to me. No one could have been more insulting to Professor Erb than myself. Oh wait. Maybe the distinction is “rational”.

Scott Erb:
”...even leading me to question some of what I believe.”
Even you, who comes here solely to propagandize. Imagine that.
”if you could recommend some left libertarian "enclaves", I’d appreciate it.”
These “enclaves” exist only in her mind. If she does comment on a blog with the acceptance she claims, it is a left liberal blog.

Hgwells”

”If it bothers you, it seems inconsistent to show up here to recommend snark by proxy from Henley.”
hgwells “gets” Mona.

Scott Erb:
”...because the real benefit of democracy is to learn from those who think differently, with the need to listen to opposing sides.”
"Especially you need to listen to me and change your mind"*. Yeah, we get it.

*Not an actual quote.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Any discussion of current policy that ignores that fact [that Bush lied] is worthless - if you’re really still willing to take everything from the WH at face value, then why would you think there’s any problem to begin with?
Let me turn that around on you: If you are so incapacitated by Bush’s lies that you cannot know anything about Iraq, or form any opinion about it at all, then why are you arguing for a withdrawal?


To answer your question, I do not take everything that anyone says at face value, and I never have. Ironically, by basing your position about Iraq on the the idea that Bush lied, rather than the current facts on the ground or the possible implications of the different options, you are the one that is making "face value" assumptions.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
You are a prevaricator [or sadly deluded] and an insult to all true libertaraians. If you were present I would ask to see your Bar card.
Ask Jon Henke. He knows my full name, and which federal appellate brief I wrote and thus won the appeal. He also knows with whom I have been partners; IOW, call me a liar, and you call him one. BTW, D.A. Ridgely has most of the same data.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://highclearing.com/
IOW, call me a liar, and you call him one.
And this is difficult why?
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
To paraphrase yourself: I mean, you’re advocating a policy that will have wide-ranging effects. It’s not enough to say that everything will be OK. You have to show your math. You have to explain why you’re not just whistling past the graveyard.

These are the questions I’ve never seen answered by the president, his supporters or the Republican Senators who claim that we’re in a battle for Western civilization in Iraq. It’s the central reason most Americans think this war is failing. —jinchi
In a nutshell, after 9-11 many of us decided that it was a certainty that radical Islam and the Middle East would continue to become more unstable and dangerous, and to sponsor increasingly worse terrorism against the US and its allies. To us this certainty outweighed the risks of going to war in Iraq. We either fight or continue to let them nibble and bite until they take a hand or arm. Of course, you may disagree with this assessment or you may have different ideas for how we should fight.

I think Dale asked that question because to those of us who support the Iraq War it doesn’t seem that the anti-war side has ever really considered the risks of not fighting in Iraq. The choice is not between war and peace, but one kind of war and another kind of war.


 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
In a nutshell, after 9-11 many of us decided that it was a certainty that radical Islam and the Middle East would continue to become more unstable and dangerous, and to sponsor increasingly worse terrorism against the US and its allies. To us this certainty outweighed the risks of going to war in Iraq. We either fight or continue to let them nibble and bite until they take a hand or arm. Of course, you may disagree with this assessment or you may have different ideas for how we should fight.
Fundamental questions:

1. Islamic extremism is a minority — a tiny minority — with little appeal because of its puritanical rules and rejection of the benefits of modernism. Do we really hurt it when we fight in Iraq, or do we allow it to use the emotion of war and violence against Iraqis to recruit the expanding young population in the mideast, seducing them to the ’dark side’ with visions of a war against people trying to destroy their culture?

2. Iraq costs money, has divided our society, and has hurt American prestige and influence, all while severely overstretching our military. All this for a country that was ruled ruthlessly (though no more so than Saudi Arabia), but was weak and did not pose terrorist threats. Moreover, that ruthless government was defeated in a war four years ago. Does this make us stronger or weaker? Would we be better off focusing on counter terrorism and the worsening situation in Afghanistan.

I haven’t really seen these two questions answered. There has been some mention of al qaeda propaganda (either their claim they are defeating us in Iraq or that they’ll use it as propaganda) but that’s not very convincing. I don’t believe their propaganda, and they’ll spin anything to try to make it sound good to them.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Professor Erb, as would any academically-trained propagandist, his softened his approach in his comments at QandO. He, however, often invites readers to visit his blog. Pick any day, say the anniversary of D-Day the 6th of June, 2006 and start reading:
”I’ve made clear that I plan to do whatever possible to assure my children do not choose to go into the military, and to set up records to help them prove conscientious objector status if a draft came back. I’d hide them away from the government if a draft came back...My argument against the US military is that it is NOT a force protecting our freedom or our security. ... If someone says a soldier in Iraq is fighting to protect my freedom, that is absurd on its face.... I also truly respect those in the military who have the bravery to take a stand, and at potentially great cost to themselves, refuse to serve in a war they believe immoral, and outside the confines of both international law and self-defense. That number is small, but growing. I think the public needs to wake up. .”
Does that sound like the reasonable, aw-shucks, “I am just another patriotic American who, like you is trying to make some sense out of this.”* that we often see here? If not, why is that a bad thing? Can’t we just ignore who he really is and just take his comments here for what they are worth?


*Not an actual quote
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
He, however, often invites readers to visit his blog.
You actually read his blog?!

[shudder]

You’d better go wash you eyes out Bob.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Does that sound like the reasonable, aw-shucks, “I am just another patriotic American who, like you is trying to make some sense out of this.”* that we often see here? If not, why is that a bad thing? Can’t we just ignore who he really is and just take his comments here for what they are worth?
LOL! You are admitting defeat, Robert. You can’t respond to my arguments, and you realize they are very convincing. So you dig to try to find something you can quote in order to deflect from the issue. You are wearing your frustation on your sleeve!

Of course, I don’t see anything wrong with what I wrote, so perhaps you could tell me what’s unreasonable? It’s a very traditional libertarian approach to military issues. But thanks for reading so much of my blog, I’m flattered.

And, of course, you still haven’t responded to the points about Iraq. You can’t.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb, you aren’t important enought to engage, despite your dreams of being otherwise.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Erb, you aren’t important enought to engage
How many commentators here are important? What does importance have to do with political discussion? Are you important? (Special, perhaps?)

I think you just can’t handle the arguments — otherwise why feel the need to insult? Do you think another person’s political opinions are a reasonable basis for personal insults and attacks?

I try to discuss fairly and with an open mind, and I daresay I cannot think of anyone I actively dislike through such discussions, even those of you who feel compelled to insult others. I’m a bit puzzled at why one would do that so consistently — I can understand an emotional spur of the moment reaction to a post (I did that a lot in the 90s before I realized that 99.5% of the time my emotional retort was unwarranted and misguided and learned to detach myself from personal issues, at least most of the time, on internet debates.)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m new here. Is this the kind of blog where individuals are shouted down or hounded out because they disagree with local consensus?

I don’t know Scott or McQ but in this thread Scott has posted with a certain amount of thoughtfulness and civility. I’d prefer to continue the discussion on that basis. Otherwise it seems to me that Scott’s riposte stands, that one lacks an intelligent counters to his arguments.

 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
Otherwise it seems to me that Scott’s riposte stands, that one lacks an intelligent counters to his arguments.
You’re right, HG, you are new here. And I’ll leave it to Erb to prove himself wrong as he will inevitably do.

For reference, I "riposted" with Erb for over 10 years, and, finally, concluded that someone who won’t deal honestly or forthrightly with you is a colossal waste of time. I have no problem with opposing views, however I do have a problem with dishonestly presented views.

But, as I said, I’ll leave that to you to discover on your own.
Is this the kind of blog where individuals are shouted down or hounded out because they disagree with local consensus?
Well, first of all, Erb is left to post whatever he wants here. He’s not censored or banned. What he’s earned (and I used the word deliberately), however, is a level of contempt for his dishonest dealings with others that you see showing through.

Personally I’d suggest you take a little more time to observe the interaction here before jumping to conclusions based on "first blush". It’s a little more complex that it may appear.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
1. Islamic extremism is a minority — a tiny minority — with little appeal because of its puritanical rules and rejection of the benefits of modernism. Do we really hurt it when we fight in Iraq, or do we allow it to use the emotion of war and violence against Iraqis to recruit the expanding young population in the mideast, seducing them to the ’dark side’ with visions of a war against people trying to destroy their culture?
I don’t think Islamic extremism is a tiny minority. Not when according to polls Osama Bin Laden’s approval ratings as a world leader run from 2-70% in Muslim countries. Not when in the latest Pew poll 5% of American Muslims (American!) have a "somewhat" or "very favorable view" of al-Qaeda. Not when Islamic extremists have been in charge or very influential in entire countries like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia. Not when most Muslim countries would support taking out Israel if they it could be done easily. Meanwhile the leaders of Iran openly speak of removing Israel from the map and of a future in which the United States does not exist. No, Islamic extremism is not a tiny minority that we can afford to ignore. The next 9-11 could be 10x, 100x worse.

As to whether the war in Iraq creates more terrorists than it kills, it’s hard to say. It doesn’t seem that there has been some huge increase in Islamic terrorists. It’s also a fact that in the nineties al-Qaeda recruited terrorists on the basis of America being a "weak horse" on account of our earlier, less muscular responses.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
McQ — I’ll take it as it comes.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
...seducing them to the ’dark side’ with visions of a war against people trying to destroy their culture?
The West is destroying Islamic culture. We don’t mean to, but from their viewpoint we are.

We are perfectly happy to let Muslims worship Allah, attend their mosques and read the Qur’an. Unfortunately Allah has promised them in the Qur’an that Muslims will subjugate the entire the world to Islam, and we are dead-bang in the way of that.

Furthermore our success as a culture highlights their abysmal failures. Finland makes more of an economic contribution to the world than all the countries of the Middle East when oil is subtracted from the comparison.

Worse yet, Islam is the only religion that mandates violence to achieve the aim of world dominance. Muslims aren’t told just to preach the gospel to non-believers, but to use violence, if necessary, to achieve that aim, and that practice goes straight back to Muhammad.

While Muslims have a youthful population and strong oil revenues, we will be fighting these people. As far as I can tell, we can accept that and try to beat them decisively now or drag it out and even more people (mostly Muslims) will die.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
What he’s earned (and I used the word deliberately), however, is a level of contempt for his dishonest dealings with others that you see showing through.
Yes, I learned this the hard way. Erb will lie about and distort the views he has written right in front of your eyes. It is quite amazing to watch.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I don’t think Islamic extremism is a tiny minority. Not when according to polls Osama Bin Laden’s approval ratings as a world leader run from 2-70% in Muslim countries.
Compare now to before we invaded Iraq, and you’ll see that we’re helping his cause. But it’s easy for someone to say they are favorable to the Arab confronting the foreigners, especially when their own corrupt governments don’t allow rights. But to actually join in and embrace the puratanical life style and leave their families and fight — that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Iran only says what our ally Saudi Arabia says — Iran shouldn’t be on the map. Maps in Saudi Arabia "wipe out" Israel literally — they are not on their maps, only "Palestine" is. Iran didn’t threaten and knows it can’t — Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons, and Iran’s power is vastly limited. They can influence the region but not dominate.

Islam says that no war of aggression should be fought, innocents should be protected, and if an enemy doesn’t want to fight, you shouldn’t fight. The claims of mandated fighting cherry pick verses aimed at the Meccans and pretend this is a claim that force should spread Islam. Don’t fall for the rhetoric that paints Islam as a threat to western civilization or anything like that — it’s not. They are too weak, and the extremists are fighting a losing cause against modernization. They don’t want to spread Islam so much as try to get the Islamic world to embrace their brand of fanatical fascism.

Separate out Bin Laden from Islam, he is to Islam what the "Christ hates Fags" is to Christianity. He only has some popularity because of the changes taking place, but there is no reason to have some kind of fatalistic clash of civilizations vision. The problem is mostly violence internal to Islam, they aren’t unified enough to somehow "take on the West."

Avoid letting fear determine policy, especially if it’s based on false estimations of an enemy’s capacity, and false beliefs about what their religion claims (I can explain how the view of Islam being directed to expand by force arose — essentially it was by political leaders who misquoted the Koran to support their conquests, much as Christianity was abused by the European conquerors who took over the world and committed genocides in the Americas).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
McQ, it is ethically repugnant of you to make accusations about me which aren’t true — and you know it. You can’t point to any dishonesty on my part, and I try very much to take other peoples’ arguments seriously and assess my own by reflecting upon them. I don’t see how someone can shamelessly attack another person with absolutely no evidence. I think you need to look inside and really question yourself and how you act towards others. Anyone can be nice to those with whom they agree. The measure of a man is how he can deal with those whose views and ideas are contrary to his own.

Or prove me wrong. You can’t. You know it. But hey, at least you can feel good about yourself by insulting others.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

While Muslims have a youthful population and strong oil revenues, we will be fighting these people. As far as I can tell, we can accept that and try to beat them decisively now or drag it out and even more people (mostly Muslims) will die.
A big question: clearly that is not the view in Europe (even in the UK only about 7% support the war in Iraq), and in the US there is a strong anti-war movement and even Republicans are moving against it. How can we "defeat them decisively" when there is no will to fight decisively? Do you think that will come when there is another major attack (the country/West will unite like it did after 9-11)? And if oil is so important, aren’t we guaranteeing economic collapse or at least crisis if we start to engage in an effort to decisively defeat the Arab world. And what will victory look like? You can’t defeat a religion, and we certainly can’t occupy and restructure the whole region. What kind of war are you envisioning?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Speaking of being ethically repugnant to make accusations which aren’t true, check out Davebo’s (and to some extent, Mona’s) rewriting of history concerning their treatment at QandO.

It’s at the thread posted here be Mona earlier:
http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2007/05/26/6492

As for Erb, your Monty-Python-like taunts, while inadvertently amusing, will not drag most of us back in to your special world of Erb Logic.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Speaking of it being ethically repugnant to make accusations which aren’t true, check out Davebo’s (and to some extent, Mona’s) rewriting of history concerning their treatment at QandO.
Sorry JWG, I don’t do whine-a-thons.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Compare now to before we invaded Iraq, and you’ll see that we’re helping [Bin Laden’s] cause.
Bin Laden got his big bump after 9-11, not after the Iraq War. Since then he’s gone up and down depending on various factors and the countries in question. He’s lost ground in some polls, like Jordan, because Muslims are upset that al-Qaeda is killing Muslim civilians, not just infidels.

I don’t buy for a minute the equivalence you claim between Christian fundmentalists and Islamic fundmentalists. Christian fundamentalists have killed about 30 people over abortion since the late seventies. Islamic fundamentalists have killed more than that this past week.

I’ve read the Qur’an and Islamic history, Scott. Have you? Nearly every other page of the Qur’an contains a rant against unbelievers. Within a 100 years after Muhuammad, Muslims conquered about a third of the known world. They did not do that fighting wars of defense despite the verses people "cherry pick" to demonstrate Islam’s tolerance.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
I don’t buy for a minute the equivalence you claim between Christian fundmentalists and Islamic fundmentalists. Christian fundamentalists have killed about 30 people over abortion since the late seventies. Islamic fundamentalists have killed more than that this past week.
Fair point. But Islamic violence claims mostly Muslims as victims, and in fact I would argue they are fighting against the tide of modernization sweeping the Muslim world. They are building on anger at corrupt governments and perceived western attempts to dominate. Iranians still hold Mossadeq as a hero (Iranians of almost all stripes), remembering he was overthrown by a CIA sponsored coup. But ultimately they’ll fail because most Muslims don’t want a puritanical life style, and most are intrigued by the benefits of modernization. The extremists want a clash of cultures because that’s the only chance they have to try to keep the Muslim world from modernizing (the Christian world had trouble with this too, though that was about 400 to 500 years ago!)
I’ve read the Qur’an and Islamic history, Scott. Have you? Nearly every other page of the Qur’an contains a rant against unbelievers. Within a 100 years after Muhuammad, Muslims conquered about a third of the known world. They did not do that fighting wars of defense despite the verses people "cherry pick" to demonstrate Islam’s tolerance.
Yes I have read considerable Islamic history and the Quran. I’ve also talked with experts on Islamic politics and culture. In part this was because I felt I have to — I teach international relations and I don’t think one can do that without understanding Islam and the Islamic world. You must know that the Koran forbides wars of aggression, demands protection of innocents, says you shouldn’t fight if your enemy refuses, and says religion must be by choice not force. You must know that when the Christian world was demanding "convert or die" in many of their conquests, the Islamic world was tolerant of other faiths and allowed them to prosper as long as they paid an extra tax. Bad by today’s standards, but for the era it was remarkably tolerant.

All that said, Muslim leaders were often brutal and used the Quran to try to justify conflicts, or used the Hadiths — which themselves are suspect — to do so. And, of course, the West did pretty much conquer the world, destroying the fabric of African life, and commiting genocides in the Americas. But that doesn’t mean that Christianity is bad, it only means that people were using it or ignoring it to serve their political goals. That is happening in the Islamic world. Rather than assume an inevitable war, let’s work to avoid that, and help Muslim moderates and modernizers.

All religion can be used for good and evil. Islam and Christianity both have been used to rationalize great acts of evil. But within each is the core of what can be a tolerant peaceful faith. I’d prefer to try to work to build on that than assume the fascists will control the Islamic world.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
As for Erb, your Monty-Python-like taunts, while inadvertently amusing, will not drag most of us back in to your special world of Erb Logic.
Erb logic = claims that others are being dishonest can be backed up, and you show if another person is being dishonest or fallacious by examining their argument and not resorting to ad hominem attacks. That means looking at the substance and letting that be the basis of criticism of another’s post. This kind of logic finds personal attacks meaningless and often a cover for an inability to deal with substance. Yes, at times that does feel like a special world given today’s political discourse from both the left and the right.

I am having a discussion with HGWELLS. We now disagree about Islam. In the world of your logic I’d probably attack him, refuse to reconsider my points if he gives me examples from the Quran or Islamic history I’d missed or forgotten, and turn it into an angry disagreement. Instead, I’m going to go to my bookshelf and study this further to see if I may be wrong (he certainly is right on Islam’s violent expanse), and contemplate whether or not my view of Islam is driven by my own bias (including the fact most Muslims I know are very decent and loving people) or if I can defend it by logic/fact. But you probably consider that an odd approach to a political debate.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Sorry JWG...
Damn you, McQ... You once again you prove yourself a better man than I.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Erb is making 90% sense and is presenting a possible solution that might end the conflict.

Situation - America is trying to conduct a COIN operation in Iraq, so that a stable democracy can form. Most all of the non-democratic states in the region are against this and several of them are directing support to insurgents in Iraq. These surrounding non-democratic states are invulnerable to American pressure, because of internal American politics and because of the vital importance of oil to the American economy. Even without the complicating factor of Islam, the chances of getting them to stop and thus defeating the insurgency are negligible. (Might be wrong, but have yet to find any example of a country overcoming insurgency in anything like a humane manner without presenting a threat to those backing the insurgency.)

Proceeding forward requires evaluating outcomes and risks.

1 - low risk option, continued American occupation with continued counter-insurgency operations. This will mean a continuing stream of American casualties that is sustainable at present rates, to continue for forseeable future. Favored by Republicans.

2 - moderate risk strategy, serious negotiations with hostile countries to cease support for insurgency. This will almost certainly require a large draw down or possible withdrawl of American forces as a precondition. It is moderate risk in that it does not threaten greater regional stability, but is rewarding if indeed the present level of casualties are not deemed sustainable. Favored by Democrats and Erb.

In both 1 & 2 American interests place stability of oil supply and Gulf region dictatorships, above interests of Iraqi citizens. America is effectively providing a free reign to these regimes.

3 - high risk strategy, arming & supporting a free Iraq so that it may defend itself. This will place freedom of action & power within the hands of the democratically elected government of Iraq, which will act to defend Iraq. This is counter to wider American interests as it will jeopardise stability in the Gulf, threatening oil supply. It is however the best chance of gaining a free and democratic Iraq. It is high risk, because it jeopardises oil supply and threatens Saudi and in the worst case scenario will mean America is arming a potential Islamist state with decent weaponary. Favored by me and probably the Iraqis.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Oops - 2 is greater risk than 1 because without the constraint of American forces it is possible that there will be a civil war (sides backed by regional rivals) in Iraq.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
A quibble first: is strategy 1 sustainable, given American public opinion? And if it is not, doesn’t its potential collapse when a new President is elected or if Republicans turn against the war make even riskier than strategy 2? But strategy three is interesting...

Also, I suspect that Gates and maybe Rice are closer to the kind of idea I’m puttting forward, it’s very informed by the Iraq Study Group, and Gates was a very influential member of that group.

3 - high risk strategy, arming & supporting a free Iraq so that it may defend itself. This will place freedom of action & power within the hands of the democratically elected government of Iraq, which will act to defend Iraq. This is counter to wider American interests as it will jeopardise stability in the Gulf, threatening oil supply. It is however the best chance of gaining a free and democratic Iraq. It is high risk, because it jeopardises oil supply and threatens Saudi and in the worst case scenario will mean America is arming a potential Islamist state with decent weaponary. Favored by me and probably the Iraqis.
Who do we arm and support? How does this differ from the current strategy — would you envision, say, a transfer of resources to the Iraqi army accompanied by withdrawal of some (most?) American troops (leave weapons and arms behind so they can be used by the Iraqi army)? Also, how much do they need to defend themselves? Enough to put down the Sunni insurgency and assure that al qaeda can’t operate freely, or enough to threaten Syria should they continue to allow foreign fighters to cross the border?

Ultimately long term success requires Iraq make decisions on their own and be able to support their state, so there is something intriguing about what you suggest — another equivalent of the Shah or Saudi royal family only delays problems. But I’m wondering how exactly it differs from the current strategy — the devil is always in the details.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Erb is making 90% sense and is presenting a possible solution that might end the conflict."
Good luck trying to use Professor Erb to set up your point. One can observe his machinations repeatedly. For some reason, some commenters have such a short attention span that they are taken in time after time.

The con runs thusly: 1)Be so reasonable that readers must give you 100% for consistency and reasonableness (see hgwells’ comment); 2) Appear to be making reasonable arguments while framing the discussion; 3)as people are drawn in and pick up your framing, subtly shift the framing to set up your; 4) LN talking point that you have been setting up all along; 5) then, abandon the "reasonable" discussion altogether, leaving readers frustratedly staring at the propaganda point. 6) continue; responding only to the propaganda point.

Professor Erb gets off on heading North until he has hooked someone, then turning all the way South for the punchline. The poor dupe responding believes that he somehow has not made his point clearly enough and continues to try to elucidate; much to the amusement of Professor Erb. Simply read the record here at QandO. He has done it time and again. There ain’t no there, there, folks; it is smoke and mirrors (very good smoke and mirrors).

For Professor Erb it is "Can I make the hogs eat sawdust?"*, not "Can I raise quality hogs for the market?*" That is why people are turned off to him. It has nothing to do with the admittedly well-crafted set-up points that he makes. If you get sucked in, you get a plastic hot dog for a payoff.

Yes, I know that the metaphor is mixed.

*Not an actual quote
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Scott,
A quibble first: is strategy 1 sustainable, given American public opinion?
American politics - if there are more Republican votes 1 stands or if more Denocrat votes 2 stands. I do not understand American internal politics much, could not make a call on which is likely to occur.
Who do we arm and support? How does this differ from the current strategy — would you envision, say, a transfer of resources to the Iraqi army accompanied by withdrawal of some (most?) American troops (leave weapons and arms behind so they can be used by the Iraqi army)?
The elected Iraqi government and in terms of rhetoric it would be no different than the "they stand up, we stand down" slogan of last year.
Enough to put down the Sunni insurgency and assure that al qaeda can’t operate freely, or enough to threaten Syria should they continue to allow foreign fighters to cross the border?
Threaten Syria. The devil is indeed in the detail. The forces being trained by America are quite large, but are largely infantry and are being trained into COIN work, which is reasonable deployment. The Army Mechanized Forces are T-55 equipped, whilst Syria has started purchase of T-80s. The Airforce under Saddam had a theoretical 100+ combat craft, the current Iraqi Airforce has 0, only recon and transport fixed wings - again way below Iranian & Syrian capabilities. The missile (SCUD) forces are non-existant, compared to Syria (SCUDS likely chemical armed) and Iran (soon to be nuclear armed medium range missiles).

If Iraq is ever to stand up for itself, it needs to be able to stand up for itself. Unfortunately this means it will act in Iraqi self-interests which are not American, so this has got no show of being approved by any American President - Rep or Dem. Republicans seem keen on keeping them dependent on an America presence and Democrats seem to want to throw them to the wolves.

 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Rob,

My take on Scott Erb.

Erb is multilateralist who believes in realpolitik and sees benefit in working with established, if odious powers. This does not exceptionalise America. Also its nature (dealing with power) tends to disregard the value of liberty of smaller less powerful groups and use them as chips. This set of beliefs is not really respected round here so whilst he can agree on conditions, he diverges at right angles on actions.

Realpolitik does have problems, but also it can work to a given value of working and is effective at promoting stability. And stability can tend towards liberty in some cases (eg China) as stable countries may find themselves seeking to maximise their economic growth, which requires they confer more freedom on their citzens.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/

If Iraq is ever to stand up for itself, it needs to be able to stand up for itself. Unfortunately this means it will act in Iraqi self-interests which are not American, so this has got no show of being approved by any American President - Rep or Dem. Republicans seem keen on keeping them dependent on an America presence and Democrats seem to want to throw them to the wolves.
The Iraqi government certainly should stand up for Iraqi, not American, interests. That’s the only tenable long term solution.

Your take on my position is partially correct. I think Realpolitik or Realism is limited in its capacity to yield good foreign policy due to globalization, and one drawback is that it does treat states without power as pawns. I embrace it more in the current situation out of pragmatism — I don’t see any way out of the Iraq problem other than to look at the power and interest distribution and figure out how to create stability (make it in the interests of states to support rather than try to overturn the status quo). But that’s only a short term solution, in the long run the region has to undergo modernization and Muslims have to deal with how to define their faith in a different world. We can play a positive role there; I fear that our current effort shows more of our bad side as the efforts to help (the massive reconstruction money and effort) gets lost in the headlines of death and destruction.

In general, I think we should take a more non-interventionist approach (sometimes called neo-isolationism — I’d take us out of NATO, for instance), but be involved in international trade and in humanitarian concerns, working cooperatively with other states and most importantly trying to build parternships between NGOs, IGOs, businesses and governments. I think an activist foreign policy hurts our liberties at home and gets us in trouble abroad. If what we do works others will emulate, and we can help. That can of course include military support (though we’ve over-emphasized that), but the goal I think should be to support states that we agree with in terms of fundamental ideals. But the pragmatist in me recognizes that the ideal is not always possible given the situation, and we also need to work with states slowly undergoing transformation (China, earlier South Korea and Taiwan were examples of authoritarian governments working towards a democracy). I’d trade with almost anyone because I believe dictatorships in the era of globalization will ultimately only survive if isolated.

I think I was more verbose there than enlightening, but my four year old is demanding attention so I’ll send it off as is.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott — Yes, we do disagree about Islam. I know that the Qur’an forbids wars of agression. However, it also preaches jihad and the subjugation of the world to Islam, which no other religion does. The Qur’an is a mixed message.

As I remarked before Muslims did not conquer a third of the world fighting defensively. Muslims, then and now, viewed those victories as proof of Islam’s truth and superiority, with no concern for whether those wars were properly defensive. My impression is that Muslims, then and now, are quite flexible in justifying war as a matter of defending Islam.

Returning to the present, I’d say that much of the disagreement over the war stems from deeper issues of how intractable and dangerous one sees today’s radical Islam.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
Returning to the present, I’d say that much of the disagreement over the war stems from deeper issues of how intractable and dangerous one sees today’s radical Islam.
Yes — remember, the West has a history of violence too, including conquering most of the world, destroying indigenous cultures in Africa, genocides in the Americas, and the holocaust and concentration camps. Yet the West also promotes freedom of thought, human rights, science, and religious teachings of love and peace. The Old Testament has a vengeful, violent God, but that’s tamed for Christians by New Testament teachings.

Islam does provide a mixed bag — the Quran has been interpreted by many as demanding peace when Islam is not under attack. Others within Islam and the West interpret it in the way you describe. My argument, essentially, is that religions are what people make them to be. Most Muslims are not yet in the extremist camp; any "support" for Bin Laden is likely most of the time to be just an emotional reaction to the fact that he is one Muslim standing up to the dominant and wealthy West. But the path for the Islamic world that the extremists call for is not one most Muslims want. So I think we have to try to undercut Islamic extremism by first working with moderates and trying to undermine the appeal of extremism (which many Muslims consider basic fascism having little to do with real Islam). I’m not ready to assume that we’re destined to be fighting. I agree that with oil important (with the possibility that production is peaking and will decline as defend rises), and a rising young population in the Mideast, there is a chance that turmoil will spread and we’re looking at a violent future. But I am not ready to assume that as virtually inevitable.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
My argument, essentially, is that religions are what people make them to be.
Exactly and it’s a poor argument. It makes no more sense than saying political ideologies are just what people make them to be.

Religions are not interchangeable. Islam is not Christianity with a turban. Religious beliefs have consequences.

The Qur’an commands Muslims that it is their religious duty to subjugate the world to Islamic rule. Muslims promptly conquered a third of the world and instituted Islamic rule.

The New Testament taught that Christ’s kingdom was not of this world and told Christians to preach the gospel to all. Christians promptly begain missionary throughout the known world without violence—in fact thousands were martyred without fighting back.

Three hundred laters Christianity became a state religion and then the abuses began. Since then Christianity has disentangled itself from the state and Christians have acknowledged and apologized for those abuses.

In Islam church and state cannot be separated. Muslims have not stopped fighting in the name of their religion; they have not apologized for their violence. It’s hard for me to see how this will change without a far deeper reformation than Christianity’s

 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
I disagree with attempts to say any religion is superior to another — that is a path towards rationalizatin of violence.

Christianity improved because it modernized — it no longer is the central part of western society, most people are either not religious or only nominally so. And even now you get some who want to make the state enforce Christian beliefs about things like abortion and homosexuality (the latter being an Old Testament adomination which shows that at least some Christians don’t reject the Old Testament). Christianity went through the wars of reformation, conflicts with the state and with the growing secular movement, and ultimately made its compromise with science and secularism. I suspect in time it will give way to a more universalist form of spirituality, give it a century or so. Christians can certainly if they choose find the violence of the Old Testament to justify violence.

And remember: the West has conquered more of the world than Islam, and has engaged in the most egregious atrocities and destruction of culture in human kind. So I don’t think a game of "our culture/religion is better than yours" makes sense, and it certainly would be contrary to the values of Christianity which, if the New Testament is taken seriously, is a pacifist religion. I know and admire many Christian pacifists, but somehow a lot of Christians have decided war is OK — again, violence can always be rationalized in some way.

Where exactly in the Quran are getting this command? Usually those who make that claim cite chapters that are aimed at the war against the Quarysh (Meccans) and wrongly assert that this is a generalizable command (especially from The Immunity — chapter 9). You’re making claims about Islam, but I’m not sure what you’re basing it on. Can you be precise, point me to a passage in the Quran? Also, do you really think Christians completely disown the Old Testament?

You are right in one thing — Islam is a more communal religion than Christianity, meaning separation of church and state is not allowed. Yet, of course, that’s happened and can continue to happen, especially if the old notion of interpreting the Quran to fit the times with the benefit of human reason (promulgated by Muslim scholars who had rediscovered Aristotle and the Greeks, but existant for some time in Islamic history) is rediscovered, it was purged and declared heretical when the ulama essentially won complete religious authority. Moreover, most Muslims do not want to expand or conquer, they just want a good life with hope and opportunity. The current violence is motivated less by religion but by political realities (that’s why it’s been recent that these extremist movements have popped up, they weren’t around before). The danger is turning average Muslim youth into radicals by giving them an enemy image of a foreigner coming to their lands to try to shape their destiny. Most people will fight against that! And, of course, if we do that, aren’t we doing what you condemn in your read of Islam?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott — What I want is to understand Islam as it is, not as I would wish it to be.
I disagree with attempts to say any religion is superior to another — that is a path towards rationalizatin of violence.
I am saying religions are not the same, any more than political movements are. Religions have belief systems, and members will *tend* to behave according to those beliefs.

From my study of Islam, it looks to me to be the most intolerant, most supermacist, and most violent by far of all the major religions. If that is true, then it is an important factor to consider as we in the West plan our strategy for dealing with Islam in the 21st century, just as it would have been useful in the 1930s to understand that Hitler was not just another European leader and the Nazi party not just another political party, no better and no worse than others.

I’m sure that the majority of Muslims are decent people who want to lead quiet lives, but that is little consolation given that a substantial number of radical Muslims—driven by the clear marching orders of Islam—have declared war on the rest of us and are daily killing us and threatening to kill more if we don’t abide by their demands.

I realize you don’t agree with this characterization.

BTW — The West is not a religion nor is it an entity that considers itself vested by God with supreme authority over the world.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
Hgwells, please give me evidence for your interpretation. I know that Islamic extremists do indeed want that kind of conflict, but from what I’ve read they are not a large group and most Muslims reject that approach. Certainly governments in the region do. You claim the Quran commands Muslims to conquer, but you don’t point me to the verse you’re relying on. You are making an argument that war is inevitable and that this will be some grand clash. Before we rush headlong into that kind of abyss, we need to be absolutely sure that’s what’s happening.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott — We are already in a war with radical Islam. The questions on the table are how much worse will it get and how might we best handle it with fewest casualties. I don’t think anyone knows the answer to either of those questions with certainty.

I would argue that by deceiving ourselves that Islam is just an ordinary religion with a few hotheads will only prolong this conflict and make it more dangerous and destructive.

As to the verses of the Qur’an I use to support my position. Here’s a few and they are not atypical to the vicious tone towards unbelievers throughout the book.

=====================
[3:19] The only religion approved by GOD is Islam.

[4:76] This warfare was only part of the larger spiritual conflict between Allah and Satan: "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil: so fight ye against the friends of Satan"

[8:7] Recall that GOD promised you victory over a certain group, but you still wanted to face the weaker group. It was GOD’s plan to establish the truth with His words, and to defeat the disbelievers.

[9:5] Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is forgiving, merciful.

[9:29] Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued

[9:33] He is the One who sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, and will make it dominate all religions, in spite of the idol worshipers.
==========================
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
jihad - a religious duty imposed on Muslims to spread Islam by waging war.
—Encyclopedia Britannica
No other major religion has a doctrine like jihad. Are we to be surprised that Muslims have been fighting war in the name of Islam throughout their history—from Muhammad to the present day? Here’s an influential, modern Muslim leader speaking powerfully and congruently in the jihad tradition:
Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world.

But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.... Those who know nothing about Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this mean sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us? Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender to the enemy? Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise which can be opened only for Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value [Koranic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.

—Ayatollah Khomeini
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
HG Wells: the three quotes from chapter nine (The Cattle) are explicitly about the Quarysh (Meccans); here, talking specifically about that chapter, is an excerpt 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..."
The claim Islam is the only religion approved by God is hardly a problem; I think about every religion claims that only theirs is approved by God.

The other two quotes were about specific battles, and are vague — and certainly can’t trump the fundamental claim that religion should not be forced, that you should not be an aggressor ("God does not like an aggressor"), etc. These are cases where the Ummah was a victim of aggression from the outside. Now, as Aslan points out, Islamic scholars later, wanting to justify expansion, interpreted many of these things differently.

Here, by the way, is some verses from Joshua, Chapter 6 in the Christian Bible:

20: When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.
...
26 At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: "Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:
"At the cost of his firstborn son
will he lay its foundations;
at the cost of his youngest
will he set up its gates."

27 So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.


Yikes, God as supporting war crimes! Of course the New Testament doesn’t exactly preach tolerance: 2 Corinthians 6:14: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

I won’t go on unless you want me to. I think you know that the Old Testament has a harsh and brutal God, and it is part of the Christian faith (and many Christians use it to justify war). The New Testament has some very harsh things to say too.

But just as Aslan and others will interpret (I believe correctly) the passages you cite as specific to battles the Ummah were involved with during Muhammad’s life, Islamic extremists try to interpret them the way you do. The point: either interpretation is possible, and I strongly suspect most Muslims agree with Aslan without question (so strong is the admonition against aggression and the claim religion must be a choice). Also note that Christians and Jews were tolerated and prospered in the Islamic world. They paid an extra tax which in today’s world would be seen as bad, but in those days that was positively enlightened (they also reached arrangements with Hindus after a time).

Muhammad also noted that the greater jihad was to fight the good fight of faith, to stay faithful in a world of temptation. The lesser jihad was war to protect the Ummah and Islam. Aslan, again, points to its strong similarities to just war theory in his book (I can quote the passage if you want, but now this post is already getting long).

So let’s not read the worst of what a religion might claim — few religions can withstand that kind of scrutiny, and it only leads to rationalization of bias. Let’s recognize that Islam, which will remain with us and continue to grow, can be interpreted as peaceful or violent, just as one can do that with Christianity if one takes the Old Testament seriously (and many Christians do). Islam and Christianity are great faiths, let’s respect both while opposing practices done in their name which go against fundamental moral values.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott — Thanks for the cite. I’ll look further into it.

However, my Qur’an with the most ample notes (the Asad translation—a beautiful $65 volume available for free from CAIR—makes no mention that the verses only apply to the Quyrash. So we have to take Aslan’s word for what Muhammad and Qur’an truly advocate. Note that Aslan acknowledges that Muslims do indeed use those verses to kill non-Muslims.

There is no central Islamic authority to say what Muhammad and Qur’an really mean. Until there is some great sea change in Islam as a whole where Muslims renounce the violent, intolerant, supremacist interpretations of their faith—interpretations which are quite plausible—we can count on substantial numbers of Muslims behaving violently in accord with the violent interpretations. And that’s my concern.

Apologists for Islam can trot out the verses against aggression and compulsion all they wish. Last year Palestinians captured two journalists (Centanni and Wiig) and forced the convert to Islam. The Palestinians publicized this conversion on video! There was no worldwide Islamic revulsion, just as there have been no worldwide Muslim demonstrations against Bin Laden’s declaration that it is the religious duty of Muslims to kill Americans and Jews whenever they can.

No other religion is behaving with this kind of barbarity.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
Scott — A few more comments...
I think about every religion claims that only theirs is approved by God.
To some extent that is true for Christianity and Judaism, but Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Bahai and Taoism definitely don’t make such a claim.

True, God mandates religious war in the early books of the Old Testament, but that’s about it. Since then when Jews have fought they did so to survive. Christians were non-violent for the first three centuries, and thereafter fought in the name of their religion not all that often. In the case of the Crusades, they fought back after five centuries of Islamic takeovers of Christian lands. In the past few centuries Christians have almost entirely renounced religious violence.

Back to Islam—no other religion has a doctrine corresponding to jihad. No other religion was founded by a warlord. No other religion embarked on a huge campaign of military conquest immediately after its founding. No other religion has a scripture which is part military manual. No other religion is engaged in violence all over the globe in this modern age.

Are Muslims unfortunate or does this have something to do with their religion?
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
hgwells — I don’t think we disagree about the jihadists and extremists. They do believe Islam commands them to kill and they do cite the Quran to support their claims. What I disagree with is expanding this to Islam writ large; I don’t think most Muslims share that interpretation, or see Islam in the way the extremists do. It’s the old "man bites dog" thing: we hear about the extremists in the news all the time, and soon think they are far more popular, numerous and representative of the region or religion than they really are. For instance, when the Christians took Jerusalem in the crusades, they demanded "convert or die." When the Muslims retook the city, they were far more merciful.

I still say Jihad has a counter part in the Christian doctrine of just war. That is how many Muslim scholars see it, and note as well that Muhammad (though not always the conquerors who came after him) noted that the greater and true jihad was one’s individual fight to overcome the temptations of the world. The Muslim emphasis on ritual behavior is in part meant to strengthen ones’ resolve to fight and win that greater jihad. Lesser jihads were meant to defend Islam and the Ummah.

At base I am a spiritual person who respects religious faith but personally thinks organized religions are inherently dangerous because they are so easily abused. Some of those you mention who don’t claim God claims they are the only true faith are a little better. But Hindu extremists can as violent and brutal as Muslim, Christian or Jewish extremists, so I’m not sure.

BTW, when you say "engaged in violence all over the globe," that could be claimed about the United States (and earlier the US and USSR). Islam had been relatively tame for the longest time outside of the fight with Israel (and that was more Arab nationalist than religious in character through the early seventies). The rise of violent Muslim extremism is recent, and I believe connected to the fact that Islamic ideals are changing due to outside cultural influences — modernization. I don’t think this need lead to a clash with the West since I’m convinced that we can marginalize the extremists in the Muslim world and ultimately Muslims will defeat the fascists amongst them.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott — Personally I am persuaded that Islam is an extremist religion at its core for the reasons I’ve enumerated and repeated—reasons which you mostly gloss over, discount or disagree with. I’d prefer to agree to disagree on that.

Whatever the true nature of Islam, we are still left with the current crisis in which substantial numbers of Muslims worldwide are on jihad against non-Muslims and modernity. Meahwhile the majority of Muslims are doing almost nothing to stand up to the jihadists and their intolerant, violent supremacism. A small number of Muslims are attempting to reform Islam to little effect. So it looks clear to me that the current jihad will continue for years more.

Again, Islam is already in a clash with the West. The remaining questions are how much bigger and dangerous will this clash become and how might we best meet this conflict, to minimize death and destruction.

As to just war/jihad analogy — the just war was a response to Christian pacifism (note that Islamic pacificism has never existed) so that Christians might fight wars, usually for their states, not specifically in the name of Christianity.

As to your mention of the US: Islam is a religion, the United States is a state, so it’s not a proper comparison. Furthermore the United States is currently only fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Radical Muslims are killing people all over the world.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
So let’s not read the worst of what a religion might claim — few religions can withstand that kind of scrutiny, and it only leads to rationalization of bias.
Christianity and other religions have withstood that kind of scrutiny. They have been chastened as appropriate, and, as a result, moderated.

It is crucial that Islam be subjected to the same scrutiny, if it is to moderate. IMO your recommendation to avoid criticism of Islam gives cover to its worst elements and undercuts those Muslims who would reform it.

Note that you can usually identify those reformers by the number of death threats they receive and the bodyguards they must employ. Note that the majority of Muslims do nothing to protect endangered dissent with Islam.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
Hgwells: You conflate the small group of radical extremists who use Islam to promote a fascistic agenda with Isalm as a whole. I believe that is a fundamental error, and leads you down a path where you are imagining a threat larger and more dangerous than what actually exists from that group. Islam also has a variety of different ideas and a rich history, including Sufism and other approaches that seem to veer a long way from the doctrinal ulama conservatism of the past centuries (and even that isn’t the basis of the extremists who make their own religious interpretations, often at odds with the ulama).

The US spends half the world’s military budgets and has killed far more — justly or unjustly that can be debated — than Islamic extremists have in recent years. Their terror networks are small and shadowy, they are not a major military force, it’s not like Islam is emerging as a military threat to the West.

Nowhere is anybody not wanting scrutiny of those fascistic elements — and, as I noted, the real fight is within Islam between those radical groups and traditional conservative forces on the one hand, and modernizing forces on the other. They key to stopping the "clash" form becoming truly dangerous is not to give the extremists the capacity to use emotion from having foreign invaders trying to change their culture or attack their states to generate support from people who otherwise would not want the kind of puritancial dangerous lifestyle of the jihadist groups. Military force plays into the hands of the extremists whose tactics are such that they can move and can’t be defeated militarily (but use the chaos and emotion violence creates to gain recruits and expand).

So yes, what we do will determine the level of the threat; our disagreement is on a pretty essential point: you think my approach would allow the threat to grow, I think your approach would make it more likely the threat will grow. How do we decide who is right?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott — We certainly do see the current composition of Muslims differently. I disagree that it’s a matter of a "small group of radical extremists" within a much larger population of mainstream Muslims comparable to mainstream Christians.

What I see is a continuum starting with hard-core extremists of a few percent, followed by another 15-20% of Muslims strongly supportive of jihad, but not actively violent, then ramping down through sympathetic to somewhat sympathetic to ambivalent about jihad for the another 50% of Muslims, to the 20% who are against jihad and finally a few percent who are actively trying to oppose jihadism.

Those numbers are obviously rough, but are intended to give you a sense of the model I consider closest to reality.

Otherwise I’m hard pressed to understand how Bin Laden and suicide bombings could get such high poll numbers. A Christian fundamentalist who killed one abortion doctor would be disowned and reviled by 99.99% of Christians. Furthermore, a small group of extremists would not end up running entire Muslim nations or supervising television networks spewing out anti-semitic, anti-Western propaganda 24/7 into Muslim populations. There has to be deep support for radical Islam among general Muslims for the radicals to have as much power, influence and sympathy as they have.

Your model seems unable to account for the full range of Muslim behavior and opinion.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
Nowhere is anybody not wanting scrutiny of those fascistic elements
The scrutiny I referred to was the sort of scrutiny Thomas Paine, Voltaire and other freethinkers applied to traditional Christianity, not just its violent fringe elements.

Mainstream Islam will have to learn to live with scrutiny and criticism. I suspect it will be a very hard lesson. I suspect it will even radicalize some Muslims into violent jihadists, but unless we in the West are willing to submit to giving Islam privileges that we don’t give to Christianity, Judaism and other religions, that’s the way it will have to be.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
The scrutiny I referred to was the sort of scrutiny Thomas Paine, Voltaire and other freethinkers applied to traditional Christianity, not just its violent fringe elements.
That’s just starting. Islam is undergoing the start of a transformation which will be difficult, as it was for Christianity.

Otherwise I’m hard pressed to understand how Bin Laden and suicide bombings could get such high poll numbers.


I don’t think he does. When he does get people expressing approval, it’s because of their anti-Americanism, driven in large part by our policies in the region. That’s why our being in Iraq helps Bin Laden and people of his ilk. But throughout the Muslim world almost everyone just wants a better life, very, very, very few want to somehow fight holy wars. That’s really a fringe element. I really don’t think you are right about Muslim opinion. But I’ll try to research that further.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott — There is no doubt that Muslims who approve of Bin Laden are expressing anti-Americanism, and of a particularly bigoted, genocidal variety.

According to Bin Laden it is the religious duty of Muslims to kill Americans and Jews whenever they can. If Muslims are either so frivolous or so bloodthirsty to ignore the sheer horrific viciousness of Bin Laden and 9-11, and give Bin Laden a big thumbs-up anyway, it seems clear that the moral compass of the Muslim world is seriously askew.

Try to imagine any other religious group—or even national group—that would approve of a leader who advocated the killing of all Americans and Jews. There is something downright pathological about the Muslim world that Bin Laden gets any approval whatsoever. I say that in a reasonable, decent culture Bin Laden would be reviled by virtually all, even if one disliked Americans or Jews.

As I’ve said, I’m sure most Muslims want better lives, but while they may not want to fight holy wars, they show little interest in opposing their brother Muslims who do want to fight those wars.
 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://
That’s just starting. Islam is undergoing the start of a transformation which will be difficult, as it was for Christianity.
Yes, it’s going to be very difficult, and much more so than it was for Christianity.

Remember that the Enlightenment and freethinking bloomed in the western Christian culture of the West, not without opposition and bloodshed, but nonetheless these intellects successfully challenged the Christian structures and won the day.

Now, it’s over two hundred years later and even with the example of the Enlightenment and Christianity before it, and all the subsequent progress that modernization has brought, the Islamic world is only now barely beginning that process.

I think there are systemic reasons that Islam moves so slowly and no guarantee that the process will go as well it did with Christianity.

 
Written By: hgwells
URL: http://

 
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