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"All the world’s a stage" - the updated version
Posted by: Billy Hollis on Sunday, October 28, 2007

I recall the old joke about the teenager reading Shakespeare for the first time and complaining that it had too many cliches in it. Those with a bit better sense of history may chuckle at that, but it's indicative of a real problem in discussing current events. Those with no sense of history can make certain very elementary mistakes when trying to interpret current events.

Even worse are those whose views on history are taken from superficial or flawed sources, but don't realize that their sources are questionable. Mark Steyn goes to work on those folks:
It seems to me, for example, that when antiwar types bemoan Iraq as this generation’s Vietnam “quagmire,” older folks are thinking of the real Vietnam — the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and whatnot — but most anybody under 50 is thinking of Vietnam movies: some vague video-store mélange of The Full Metal Deer Apocalypse. Take the Scott Thomas Beauchamp debacle at The New Republic, in which the magazine ran an atrocity-a-go-go Baghdad diary piece by a serving soldier about dehumanized troops desecrating graves, abusing disfigured women, etc. It smelled phony from the get-go — except to the professional media class from whose ranks The New Republic’s editors are drawn: To them, it smelled great, because it aligned reality with the movie looping endlessly through the windmills of their mind, a non-stop Coppola-Stone retrospective in which ill-educated conscripts are the dupes of a nutso officer class.
Unlike WWII, for which there was a range of movies was made, Vietnam movies pretty much all reflect the "quagmire", "immoral war", "baby killing" narrative. And if you didn't live through that era, how else do you get your impressions of Vietnam?

Of course, Steyn is a movie and drama critic, as well as being a top rank political columnist. So he notices another impact of movieitis:
It’s the same with all those guys driving around with “9/11 Was An Inside Job” bumper stickers. That aligns reality with every conspiracy movie from the last three decades: It’s always the government who did it...
I'd never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense. By any reasonable standards of logic, the Truthers are utterly delusional. Heck, even Bill Clinton sees that.

How did they get that way? Well, their education in many cases doesn't really teach them critical thinking skills, so believing that Oliver Stone has a better take on JKF than the Warren Commission because he presents his conclusions in a more polished form is not an unlikely trap to fall into.

But it's still a silly trap, as evidenced by the contradictions in the Truther position:
There’s a kind of decadence about all this: If 9/11 was really an inside job, you wouldn’t be driving around with a bumper sticker bragging that you were on to it. Fantasy is a by-product of security: It’s the difference between hanging upside down in your dominatrix’s bondage parlor for half-an-hour after work on Friday and enduring the real thing for years on end in Saddam’s prisons.
As Steyn concludes, "Life is not a movie." Real life is messy and unpredictable. People do stupid things and heroic things, and sometimes the same people do both. We are not divided into heroes and villians.

Many on the anti-war side think me and others who generally support the Iraq effort just see the good news and don't see the bad. I don't think so; I follow the casualty figures from Iraq pretty closely, as well as other bad news such as strains on our military and the worldwide consequences thereof. But I concluded at the outset that we were in for an effort measured in decades instead of months, and I knew from studying WWII how often things get screwed up in war. So I try to balance the negative news with the positive news, such as the lessened violence and the reports of the troops on the scene of how much Iraq has changed and how they want to see the job finished.

Steyn thinks it's the war opponents that are living in a simplified, movieized version of reality, in which every war is Vietnam, the US is always in the wrong, and the noble savages in the Middle East and elsewhere would be just fine if we would leave them in peace. Given some of the commenters we see here, I think he's right about at least some of them.
 
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I still cannot comprehend what you think the purpose of the war is, and why we’ll measure it in decades. Who is the enemy exactly? What purpose does Iraq serve. Yeah, the "inside job" folks and uninformed war critics often say silly things, as do knee jerk war supporters. But serious people on both sides need to at least figure out what the purpose of this all is, what the threats are, and how best to understand our national interest. Also, for me, the biggest negative of the war is moral — the massive damage done to Iraq, including the death of tens of thousands of Iraqis. I don’t think one can rationalize that by simply pointing to Saddam’s past crimes. Not only was he no longer capable of doing a lot of what he did in the past, but in general one can’t justify deeds by comparing them to someone else doing something worse.

But we are on very different wavelengths, it seems, concerning what kind of threat is out there, and what kind of "war" this is. And that may explain a lot of the noise and anger on each side — we’re seeing the world in very different terms, and for the most part have a hard time avoiding talking past each other on that subject. Perhaps that would explain why otherwise libertarian thinkers embrace what really seems to me to be a big government social engineering program in Iraq.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott, I’m not sure I can ever help you understand, because your world view on all of this is so far from mine. I’ve learned that just telling you my position throws you into such a defensive posture on your own opinions that it’s worse than useless. All I can do is pose some questions that might, repeat might, allow you to gain some insight into a position so far from your own. So here goes.

1. Why and how did we defeat communism as an opponent ideology in the twentieth century? What were our primary weapons? (If you think I’m primarily referring to anything military, that’s a clue that you’re in the weeds on what I believe about that conflict.)

2. How does the ideological conflict between communism and the West compare to the ideological conflict between radical Islam and the West? What are the similarities and differences?

3. Can the simililarities in the conflicts lead to a successful long term strategy for dealing with radical Islam, without allowing that current conflict to flare into one that produces death on a mass scale?

4. What are the primary enemies of freedom? How should they be prioritized? What are the dynamics of erosion of freedom over the long term?

You don’t have to answer here, by the way. If you do, I don’t expect to respond to your answers, because it would just be more talking past one another. Those questions are posed solely for your own reflection.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Excellent questions. Please allow me:
1. Why and how did we defeat communism as an opponent ideology in the twentieth century? What were our primary weapons? (If you think I’m primarily referring to anything military, that’s a clue that you’re in the weeds on what I believe about that conflict.)
Obviously, this would require a book-length answer but in a nutshell I would say that we outlasted Communism until it became clear that ours was the superior socioeconomic system.
2. How does the ideological conflict between communism and the West compare to the ideological conflict between radical Islam and the West? What are the similarities and differences?
Again, a book would be required to fully address this question but here goes: To begin, Isamofacism is a system searching for a state, whereas communism was generally state-driven (at least as it directly impacted the U.S.). One critical difference, I think, is that Islamofacism has even less chance than communism of succeding long-term because Isalmaofacism is simply a form of religious barbarism that most of the world long ago rejected and is unlikely to embrace again, Moreover, as a competitive ideology — including the imposition of Islamofacism by force — Islamofacism also suffers from quite practical and specific limitations: barring women from meaningful contribution; its anti-education stance. Even its fundamental anti-materialism is a competetive drawback. With all these limitations — and many others — it is exceedingly unlikely that Islamofacisim will prevail.
3. Can the simililarities in the conflicts lead to a successful long term strategy for dealing with radical Islam, without allowing that current conflict to flare into one that produces death on a mass scale?
Yes, but not the way the Bsuh Adminstration is proceeding. The Bush Adminsitration is on exactly the wrong course and has foolishly played into Islamofacism’s few strengths: historic enmity between Muslims and Christians/Jews, and the bitterness many Muslims feel towards the larger world.
.
4. What are the primary enemies of freedom? How should they be prioritized? What are the dynamics of erosion of freedom over the long term?
Islamofacism is the most acute threat, though it far from mortal and less threatening than communism ever was as a competitive ideology.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
As someone who had been to Iraq and support the War; I have no illustion about Iraq. I simply want an Iraq (and the Middle East) that is better than the Iraq in Saddam time. Not a perfect liberal democracy, just a better place than what it was before. And I think it is achievable.

I also think that there were mistakes - too many to recounted in detail - since we started this war. Because the surgeon screwed up the operation say nothing about whether the patient ought to have the surgery or not.

Unless you think that Saddam Iraq was an acceptable place, not even a good place, simply an acceptable and tolerable place for Iraqis and for the Middle East as the whole; then you can argue against the war.

You have to be a revisionist to think that the situation before the invasion was stable. For more than ten years from the end of the First Persian Gulf war, we literally laid seige to Iraq. We imposed sanction so severe that hundred of children died annually from the lack of basic care - such as clean water and sanitary living condition. Ultimately Saddam is to blame for the abuse of the "Oil for Palaces" program; but we played an important role in it. We imposed and enforced the sanction.

The choice was to continue the sanction, which means million of children will continue to die. The other choice was to lift the sanction, which mean Saddam will have the financial resource to revive his weapon program. The last choice is to invade. These are all tough choices. And we can argue over which choice is less unpleasant - they are all unpleasant. But it is disingenuous to say that the status quo caused no suffering.
 
Written By: Minh-Duc
URL: http://
"purpose of the war is"

To reshape the middle East... that includes both governments and religion.

"why we’ll measure it in decades"

They have had hundreds of years to modernize their culture and governments. With the exception of Turkey they really haven’t. To expect them to do so in a short time period is impractical.

"Who is the enemy exactly?"

Moslems that seek to impose Islam thru physical force and reestablish the caliphate. Moslems that use terrorism to kill people around the world.

"What purpose does Iraq serve."

The removal of a dictator that would not enable us to accomplish our goals within the Middle East. The removal of a dictator that might help terrorists.

Can someone please hit the EASY button now.



"Not only was he no longer capable of doing a lot of what he did in the past"

That’s not a factual statement.





 
Written By: ODY
URL: http://
"Who is the enemy exactly?"

Moslems that seek to impose Islam thru physical force and reestablish the caliphate. Moslems that use terrorism to kill people around the world.

Egypt imprisons those who insult Islam and Saudi physically enforces a ban on all other religions.

These are allied nations in the GWOT.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
We’re dying to be invaded and put the blame on something concrete
Waiting for the ufos waiting for the ufos
We are waiting for the ufos we know that they’re there
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
It is not just movies from where many get the prism through which they filter reality. In the past two months, I spent time with friends and family on both coasts and was astounded just how biased limited their sources of info were. One (an anti-Semite) thinks that all MSM outlets are conservative/Bush supporters because they don’t bash Israel enough. Another (hyper-liberal UCC minister) thinks my home state (Colorado) is dominated by reactionary fundamental Christianity because Dobson’s Focus on the Family is headquartered in the Springs. Yet another gets all his news from GMA, John Stewart, Keith Olbermann, the Colbert Report, and Crooks and Liars. It is pointless to get into political debates with them - their world view is so dominated by the prejudices they willingly wallow in.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
To begin, Isamofacism is a system searching for a state, whereas communism was generally state-driven
Given so manys propensity to bend over backwards to acquiesce to the anti-modern proclivities of (radical) Islam, added with the fact that there are large blocks of Islamo-fascist already sitting within some countries governments, I disagree. Moreover, the USSR was not actively and openly persueing asymmetric (and apocalyptic) warfare against its enemies.
...Islamofacism has even less chance than communism of succeeding long-term because Isalmaofacism is simply a form of religious barbarism that most of the world long ago rejected...
Then why are so many trying to either, excuse in the name of multiculturalism, or misdirect blame towards non-Islam entities? (What is long-term? 50 years of watching a Cuban dictator, or 1 year living under such tyranny?)

If it really is religious barbarism, you’d think that at least the enlightened American left would be actively speaking out against it.

I guess the old adage ’my enemies enemies’ holds true, and it’s better to ignore the real threat least it infringe upon the lefts ambitions to grab power at home.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
You don’t have to answer here, by the way. If you do, I don’t expect to respond to your answers, because it would just be more talking past one another. Those questions are posed solely for your own reflection.
That seems almost a cop out, as if you were afraid of a real discussion with those who don’t share your starting assumptions. That is contrary to the spirit of political debate in the US.
1. Why and how did we defeat communism as an opponent ideology in the twentieth century? What were our primary weapons? (If you think I’m primarily referring to anything military, that’s a clue that you’re in the weeds on what I believe about that conflict.)
Primary weapon: Freedom and markets. Communism couldn’t work, it killed the human spirit and was economically unfeasible. Add to that deterrence and containment, with patience and confidence in our way of life, and the result was inevitable. The only question was whether it would be a violent end or a peaceful one. Luckily, Gorbachev wanted reform, and Reagan was willing to do things to help Gorbachev out, and the two of them really set the stage for a peaceful end (I’ll also give Nixon-Kissinger a lot of credit, by helping create openings.
2. How does the ideological conflict between communism and the West compare to the ideological conflict between radical Islam and the West? What are the similarities and differences?
Totally different. Islamic extremism is weak, and mostly represents an internal battle within Islam rather than a confrontation with the West. Islam is going through tremendous change due to the rise of globalization, and the extremists want to stop that change. Even the London bombings were in Muslim neighborhoods, directed more at Muslims in Britain, most of whom are modernizing. There is no reason to fear Islamic extremism, it is not a threat to the West, it’s too weak and unpopular even in the Islamic world. In short, it’s nothing like the battle against Communism. No super power armed with nukes, no superpower with an empire armed against us, just rag tag extremists who can’t even convince their compatriots of their ’ideology.’
3. Can the simililarities in the conflicts lead to a successful long term strategy for dealing with radical Islam, without allowing that current conflict to flare into one that produces death on a mass scale?
There are so few similarities that it would be an error to try to base current policy on the Cold War. The conflict there is mostly internal to Islam, and while they can now and then hit the West with terror attacks, they can’t threaten us anywhere close to the way the Soviets could have.
4. What are the primary enemies of freedom? How should they be prioritized? What are the dynamics of erosion of freedom over the long term?
I think the biggest threat to freedom is a foreign policy that is interventionist and aggressive — it is very difficult to defend freedom while engaging in that kind of foreign policy. We are the biggest threat to ourselves at this point. We need effective counter-terrorism to deal with the extremists, but otherwise we can work with moderates and recognize that the Islamic world will have internal turmoil for sometime as they work through the issues globalization brings to them. The more we try to interfer and force them to change in a way we like, the more difficult their internal transition will be, and the stronger the extremists will become.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
They have had hundreds of years to modernize their culture and governments. With the exception of Turkey they really haven’t. To expect them to do so in a short time period is impractical.
Yes, but it’s also something we can’t force upon them, because our form of modernization is different than theirs will be. Trying to force change on them will only bring about a backlash and blowback. I also find it interesting that there are very few arguments in favor of the Iraq war or US policy that really show much understanding of any of the major theories of foreign policy and international relations. It’s usually a kind of ’from the gut’ sort of assertion of threat and then assumption that military power can be the solution. Neo-conservatism (which is really a very hawkish form of liberalism) has a coherent argument (seductively so), but they’ve pretty much been discredited by events, and even their brightest theorist, Francis Fukayama, has basically recanted.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
That seems almost a cop out, as if you were afraid of a real discussion...
Scott, there’s no need for that kind of petty insult. We have been over and over and over these matters. Some of the same territory is here, for example. I’m simply tired of going round and round, and talking past you because we simply don’t share some assumptions.

Saying I’m afraid of a discussion is a cheap shot, befitting a faculty lounge instead of a serious discussion group, and you should be ashamed.

 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
It is not just movies from where many get the prism through which they filter reality. In the past two months, I spent time with friends and family on both coasts and was astounded just how biased limited their sources of info were. One (an anti-Semite) thinks that all MSM outlets are conservative/Bush supporters because they don’t bash Israel enough. Another (hyper-liberal UCC minister) thinks my home state (Colorado) is dominated by reactionary fundamental Christianity because Dobson’s Focus on the Family is headquartered in the Springs. Yet another gets all his news from GMA, John Stewart, Keith Olbermann, the Colbert Report, and Crooks and Liars. It is pointless to get into political debates with them - their world view is so dominated by the prejudices they willingly wallow in.
This is an intriguing observation. I think it is true that America is becoming increasingly fractious, and the plethora of news sources that has come to exist is typically whittled down to echo chamber forums that just further isolate thought. It is one of the fundamental mechanisms of thought-distortion in the modern world, and resisting it is hard work.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Billy, it does seem like a cop out when you say "here are some questions..." but then say "I won’t respond to your answers." It seems that at some level you want to avoid discussions that really dig into the assumptions, figure out what information would be needed to determine which assumptions make the most sense, and whose read is accurate. I’m willing to do that, I think it’s necessary for people who have been talking past each other to try to talk through these issues. Because competing ’narratives’ that don’t even try to bridge the gap between them is not what political discourse should be in a nation like ours, especially on issues of this level of importance. I am sorry it offends you, but I’m honestly stating my impression that you seem to be afraid of a real, challenging discussion of these issues. A lot of posters and commentators seem more content to reinforce like minded views and then ridicule those who think different. I’m challenging you to rise above that. In any event, my answers to your questions stand unrefuted.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
If it really is religious barbarism, you’d think that at least the enlightened American left would be actively speaking out against it. I guess the old adage ’my enemies enemies’ holds true, and it’s better to ignore the real threat least it infringe upon the lefts ambitions to grab power at home.
I can’t speak for "the enlightened American left" but religious barbarism is what it is.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Billy, it does seem like a cop out when you say "here are some questions..." but then say "I won’t respond to your answers." It seems that at some level you want to avoid discussions that really dig into the assumptions...
Scott, how shall I say this politely? Forget it, I’ll just say it.

When I’ve discussed this self-same issue, mostly politely, over months and months, and place a polite note that here are some questions I think it might be worth pondering, and you come back with a cheap shot about how I’m avoiding discussion, then you’re being a minor jacka$$. When I call you on it, and you come back with the same nonsense, you’re being a major jacka$$.

Now, come on back and tell me how you’ve won the argument because of name calling. Act affronted that anyone would dare accuse the ultra-rational Scott Erb of being disingenuous. That will enable you to sleep the sleep of the just, knowing how your superior intellect and argumentation skills have once again triumphed, and enable you to completely ignore the point that you’ve made a cheap shot and again demonstrated the typical boorish behavior of American academia. That’s OK. The rest of us realize exactly what you are, even if you don’t.

If you wonder why many of commenters take delight in insulting you, this thread is a nice case study that shows exactly why. Quite often, you deserve it.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
While I refuse to condemn the plethora of news sources that has come to exist as anything other than good free market espressions, I certainly agree that America is becoming increasingly fractious[...] My point, David, is that the costal elite listen to news sources which tell them stories the way they want to hear them. Now, undoubtably, the interior right also falls prey to this tendency - if all you read or hear is Rush or Sean - your prejudices dictate your perspective. Unlike the coastal elites, and our equally mis-informed interior bretheren, there is a swath of America that views, listens, and reads all sides. Yet it is from the left that I get accused of buying into propaganda just becuase I offer a perspecitve divergent from theirs. While I think they are misguided, they are convinced that I am apostate.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
This says a lot about the problems in our discourse. I give a long, full, answer to Billy’s questions. He ignores those and becomes intensely insulted by the following:

That seems almost a cop out, as if you were afraid of a real discussion with those who don’t share your starting assumptions.

As insults go, that’s pretty mild. Notice "almost" and "as if," saying in essence that I realize you’re not afraid, but when you say what you said, it appears you are.

Then, after he expresses his offense (and hurls his own insult, but more direct) I respond that I’m sorry if he’s offended but:

I’m honestly stating my impression that you seem to be afraid of a real, challenging discussion of these issues. A lot of posters and commentators seem more content to reinforce like minded views and then ridicule those who think different. I’m challenging you to rise above that. In any event, my answers to your questions stand unrefuted.

Note again "my impression..you seem to be..." Very mild. Yet you act like I’ve assaulted your very character. You’re way over-reacting to pretty minor statements by me. Moreover, you’ve let that overcome my effort to reach out to you and say "OK, what is it that you really see the threat and why...and how can we determine who is right."

Seriously, Billy, read what I wrote. Realize how minor it is, and how defensive your reaction is — and how you are far more insulting than I am. Reflect on why you feel so compelled to react so strongly to such a minor ’insult’ (remember ’as if...seems to...creates the impression...hardly direct attacks). Could it be that you’re maybe subconsciously putting barriers against actually confronting someone who might make real strong arguments against your perspective? Could it be that there might be something to the impression I’m sensing? Maybe you don’t think you’re doing it, but it sure looks that way, your reaction seems over-defensive, given that what you called a ’cheap shot’ can hardly even qualify as a true insult. Look, I do know a lot about international affairs, foreign policy, history and the subject matter at hand. I respect your knowledge as well — I wouldn’t try to engage you if I didn’t. Can’t we rise above this kind of bickering? I learned long ago not to take this kind of thing personally, that’s why I’m immune to insults. That makes it easier to stay objective.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Maybe I’m missing something here in terms of defeating Soviet Communism, but there were those little dustups in Greece, and Berlin, and Korea, and Vietnam, and Cuba, and several hundred thousands of troops stationed around the world and a whole lot of other military kinda stuff that enabled the US to outlast Soviet Communism and ’win’. As a matter of fact, it’s not that hard to find those who believed the Soviet system to be in the ascendant (and argue that we should just let them have their way, since history was on their side — "better Red than dead" was more than just a catchphrase to some) right into the end of Reagan’s term.

We pushed back in more ways than economically and diplomatically. The Soviets fell to an accumulation of mistakes, mis-steps and the generic faults of central planning, but for it to get to that point we not only had to have a muscular military but the obvious willingness to use it.

If all we do with Islam-fascism is try to ignore it while our better system ’outlasts’ theirs is nonsense on stilts. If one looks, militant is, and always has been, an expansionist ideology/religion. Try to ignore the allure to some of re-establishing the Caliphate if you wish, but please stay out of the way while those who understand push back.
 
Written By: JorgXMcKie
URL: http://
Scott, you can blather on as long as you like about what an even-handed guy you are and how your opponents all just misunderstand you. You’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

You started with a completely uncalled-for cheap shot, and when called on it, instead of showing a modicum of class, you compounded it. Was it particularly insulting? No. That’s beside the point. It was totally unnecessary to give such an accusation against someone who has debated you, mostly politely, for months and months.

That’s boorish behavior, Scott. And it is an attribute of most boors that they are unable to recognize their own boorishness. You’re doing a great job of exemplifying that right now.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
and you should be ashamed.
Billy, that would require Erb to have a sense of shame to begin with.

Surely you know better by now.
That seems almost a cop out, as if you were afraid of a real discussion with those who don’t share your starting assumptions.

As insults go, that’s pretty mild. Notice "almost" and "as if," saying in essence that I realize you’re not afraid, but when you say what you said, it appears you are.
Funny. Several others were able to put forth an entirely reasonable reply.

I would wonder why you first had to put in a dig, but I’ve watched your posting style.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Referring to JorgXMcKie’s comment is an excellent way of pointing out why the invasion of Iraq made no sense in terms of the GWOT, if you are thinking in terms of Cold War parallels. In all the cases we used military force, or made it clear that we were ready to do so, we were on defense, and counterattacking against Communist attempts at expansion. We never proactively invaded a country, and certainly never went after a country that was not at least in imminent danger of coming under Communist rule (like Nicaragua). And what gave us victory in the end was not imposition of our way of doing things, but the decision by those who were ruled by Communism to no longer accept the inferior product their governments forced on them.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
Maybe I’m missing something here in terms of defeating Soviet Communism, but there were those little dustups in Greece, and Berlin, and Korea, and Vietnam, and Cuba, and several hundred thousands of troops stationed around the world and a whole lot of other military kinda stuff that enabled the US to outlast Soviet Communism and ’win’. As a matter of fact, it’s not that hard to find those who believed the Soviet system to be in the ascendant (and argue that we should just let them have their way, since history was on their side — "better Red than dead" was more than just a catchphrase to some) right into the end of Reagan’s term.
George Kennan opposed the militarization of containment because he recognized the inherent contradictions in the Soviet system. By the 70s the KGB even realized they were in economic collapse, though petrodollars in the 1979-81 period helped them stave off the inevitable. I think a lot of what you describe was basic super power deterrence, plus some miscalculations. They were a powerful military empire, but ultimately their weakness was internal, and it ate away at their capacity to act.

There are some fascists trying to use Islam for their own extremist cause, but they are a relatively small minority. There is as much danger to overreacting to them as under-reacting. Counter terrorism, solid diplomacy, and military action when absolutely necessary can be part of a strategy, but mostly this is a battle internal to Islam, not Islam vs. the West. (I can give more of an argument on that front if you want).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You started with a completely uncalled-for cheap shot
No, I didn’t. I said that your statement made the impression "as if" you were afraid. "As if" suggests that I don’t really think you are afraid. That wasn’t a cheap shot, that wasn’t even an insult. That was a statement about what the "I won’t respond to whatever you post" assertion appears to indicate. To consider that a cheap shot is bizarre.

You, however, have hurled a number of cheap shots in response, over-reacting while conveniently avoiding the content in my answers to your questions. I have to conclude you can’t really respond to my answers; they stand unrefuted. I have been polite, and will gladly spend time working through any statement you might make in reaction to my answers to your questions. But to focus on insults and the like would be, well, boorish.

PS - I’ve never been to a faculty lounge, so I’m not sure what they are like.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So Erb totally disregards the point being made in the post, and decides to issue his boilerplate spiel on the war.

Christ Erb, do you even read the posts anymore before you reply?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
In homage to shark:
And it is an attribute of most boors that they are unable to recognize their own boorishness. You’re doing a great job of exemplifying that right now.
Called...
You started with a completely uncalled-for cheap shot
No, I didn’t.
And answered.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Cute, Billy. You delete the proof that it wasn’t a cheap shot, and assert it was.

That, Billy, is the definition of a cheap shot — only you are guilty of engaging in one. And, I note, my answers to your questions stand unrefuted. And that’s the substance that matters.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Let’s get this straight, Scott. First, you take the cheap shot. Then you claim you didn’t really mean it:
I said that your statement made the impression "as if" you were afraid. "As if" suggests that I don’t really think you are afraid.
Then you come back with
And, I note, my answers to your questions stand unrefuted. And that’s the substance that matters.
And you give the game away. You meant it all along, and you’re too disingenuous to come clean about it. You knew from the beginning I posted the questions for your reflection and had no intention of doing any "refutation". So you thought you could either take the cheap shot and I would just ignore you, or jump in for round umpteen of the tedious point-by-point that settles nothing. In other words, you thought you had a win-win for yourself.

Well, Scott, I allow myself about once a year to put aside politeness and point out when someone on a comment thread is being a jacka$$. Congratulations. Your cheap shot and the subsequent disingenuous defense of it merits the occasion.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Bypassing the excellent debate Mr Erb is conducting and back to the post:
I’d never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense. By any reasonable standards of logic, the Truthers are utterly delusional. Heck, even Bill Clinton sees that.

How did they get that way? Well, their education in many cases doesn’t really teach them critical thinking skills, so believing that Oliver Stone has a better take on JKF than the Warren Commission because he presents his conclusions in a more polished form is not an unlikely trap to fall into.
The conclusions of the "Congressional Joint Inquiry report" has twenty eight pages redacted. The conclusions truthers present may be as wild as they come, but at least they are published. In comparison to the US government’s own report how can we tell they are wrong?
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
"PS - I’ve never been to a faculty lounge,"

Jeez, even his coworkers won’t have anything to do with him. No wonder he spends so much time on the internet.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The conclusions truthers present may be as wild as they come, but at least they are published. In comparison to the US government’s own report how can we tell they are wrong?
depends on who is running the government... right? And truthers, well... they always tell the truth!
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
>every war is Vietnam, the US is always in the wrong, and the noble savages in the Middle East and elsewhere would be just fine if we would leave them in peace

I would add "...and every Republican President is Nixon."
 
Written By: Barry
URL: http://www.onehorse.wordpress.com
I said that your statement made the impression "as if" you were afraid.
Erb has given us another method to use against him.

Previously, it was "I suspect" as in:
I suspect Erb has a personality disorder.

Now we have "as if":
Erb’s comments come across as if he has a personality disorder.

According to Erb Logic, neither of these is an insult...

Now everyone can enjoy insult-free posting!
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
depends on who is running the government... right?
No, it depends on whether they are right or wrong. The findings of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001 form a goodly part of the government case on the matter. The state is not prepared to say who financed the attacks. This leaves room for speculation of who and what was involved. Truthers are pretty much gauranteed 99% of the time to be wrong, because they are working on limited infomation, but they are not "utterly delusional".

What Billy is saying is that the government has presented a clear explanation of the 911 attacks and yet the same government censors its own findings on the matter. Who funded the attacks is a very central part of the event and undertaking speculation is not delusional.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
But since we are talking about delusions:
There’s a kind of decadence about all this: If 9/11 was really an inside job, you wouldn’t be driving around with a bumper sticker bragging that you were on to it. Fantasy is a by-product of security: It’s the difference between hanging upside down in your dominatrix’s bondage parlor for half-an-hour after work on Friday and enduring the real thing for years on end in Saddam’s prisons.
- apparently the only governments that ever do something bad are uber-facist-paranoids who will crush those speaking the truth. And we "know" that must be true because its just like in The Matrix or V for Vendetta or 1984 or Blade Runner or Gattaca or Fahreinheit 451 or Minority Report or Brazil or Logans Run or Robocop or The Running Man or...

Irony.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
You meant it all along, and you’re too disingenuous to come clean about it. You knew from the beginning I posted the questions for your reflection and had no intention of doing any "refutation". So you thought you could either take the cheap shot and I would just ignore you, or jump in for round umpteen of the tedious point-by-point that settles nothing. In other words, you thought you had a win-win for yourself.

Well, Scott, I allow myself about once a year to put aside politeness and point out when someone on a comment thread is being a jacka$$. Congratulations. Your cheap shot and the subsequent disingenuous defense of it merits the occasion.
You’re describing yourself, Billy. What I said was mild and not really an insult. Your responsive have been cheap shots at me, which is fine — I can take whatever you dish out (because it doesn’t mean anything to me).

What DOES mean something to me is if you would actually engage in substance. Respond to my answers. Challenge me to support my assertions, question my assumptions, give your alternatives. That’s reality. Because name calling is all noise, insults are meaningless, and emotion in this kind of exchange is misplaced. I’m honestly looking for engagement on issues, you’re imagining cheap shots where none exist, and then using that as an excuse to launch a bunch yourself. Typical for blog world, but alas, it adds nothing to the discussion, and it brushes aside my attempt to say "let’s really talk about this, why do we see this issue differently, how do we work that out." It seems like you don’t want to actually talk about the issue in a way that might bring your point of view into question. Perhaps you should reflect on that.

And, should you actually decide the substance of the issue is more important than the personal bravado, I guarantee that I’ll do my best to make sure I fairly and completely engage your points and arguments. So the choice is clear: actual discussion of substance, or simply falling into insults and bravado to avoid real debate.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
If all we do with Islam-fascism is try to ignore it while our better system ’outlasts’ theirs is nonsense on stilts. If one looks, militant is, and always has been, an expansionist ideology/religion. Try to ignore the allure to some of re-establishing the Caliphate if you wish, but please stay out of the way while those who understand push back.
I have never suggested that we "ignore" the Islamofacists. Those, like AQ, who are already committed to the destruction of Western culture must be captured or killed. When we find a sanctuary for AQ we must destroy it. However, we must be smart as well as tough; otherwise, we just play into AQ’s trap of pretense that it is the West versus Islam. The goal is to further marginalize those fanatics and not create more of them. By those measures, the Iraq War is a grievous mistake.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
While I refuse to condemn the plethora of news sources that has come to exist as anything other than good free market espressions, I certainly agree that America is becoming increasingly fractious[...]
Yes, that was quite a bit of blather I wrote there.
My point, David, is that the costal elite listen to news sources which tell them stories the way they want to hear them. Now, undoubtably, the interior right also falls prey to this tendency - if all you read or hear is Rush or Sean - your prejudices dictate your perspective. Unlike the coastal elites, and our equally mis-informed interior bretheren, there is a swath of America that views, listens, and reads all sides. Yet it is from the left that I get accused of buying into propaganda just because I offer a perspecitve divergent from theirs. While I think they are misguided, they are convinced that I am apostate.
To be perfectly honest, I see it coming from all sides more-or-less equally. The hard Right, the hard Left. To some extent, it is just human nature. People like other people who think like they do. People like resolution and certainty. That’s why it is very hard to resist. I commend your keeping your mind open to new information and ideas. I would just add that one person’s "misguided" is another person’s , they are "apostate."
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Speaking of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, I same across this post over the weekend.
It should give a bit of pause.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
According to Erb Logic, neither of these is an insult...

Now everyone can enjoy insult-free posting!
Yep, leave it to someone in the social sciences to come up with a "magic phrase" that somehow magically shields them against the accusation that they’re saying anything remotely similar to what they really mean.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Yep, leave it to someone in the social sciences to come up with a "magic phrase" that somehow magically shields them against the accusation that they’re saying anything remotely similar to what they really mean.
Is this an insult, Billy?:

That seems almost a cop out, as if you were afraid of a real discussion with those who don’t share your starting assumptions. That is contrary to the spirit of political debate in the US.

Compared to what you wrote about me, this is very mild, certainly not a ’cheap shot.’ It was my reaction to your "here are some questions, but I’m not going to respond to you" statement. Any time someone wades into a controversial subject but says in advance that he or she won’t actually engage, it creates the impression described above. I honestly was very surprised that you took it as a cheap shot and had a negative personal reaction to it. I purposefully put in "as if" in order to reinforce that what you said creates an impression. So I guess you leave me wondering about two things: a) what exactly you see as a major threat and why; and b) why you had such a visceral response to the statement above. If I had known you’d read it the way you did, I’d have found some other way to word the fact it creates an impression you want to evade real discussion.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
It’s almost as if Scott just has to have the last word or his head would explode.

Look, Scott, saying the same thing five different ways doesn’t mean it makes any more sense. As soon as you said:
And, I note, my answers to your questions stand unrefuted. And that’s the substance that matters.
you were nailed. Your original intentions stand clear for everyone to see. Might as well get over it.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Many on the anti-war side think me and others who generally support the Iraq effort just see the good news and don’t see the bad. I don’t think so; I follow the casualty figures from Iraq pretty closely, as well as other bad news such as strains on our military and the worldwide consequences thereof. But I concluded at the outset that we were in for an effort measured in decades instead of months, and I knew from studying WWII how often things get screwed up in war. So I try to balance the negative news with the positive news, such as the lessened violence and the reports of the troops on the scene of how much Iraq has changed and how they want to see the job finished.
Perhaps we can best answer the question this way:
You see the war... and it’s costs, both monitary and people, as the least bad of the available alternatives, whereas the anti-war haven’t figured that part out yet. As in:
I still cannot comprehend what you think the purpose of the war is,
But serious people on both sides need to at least figure out what the purpose of this all is, what the threats are, and how best to understand our national interest
My my, sleeping through classes again? How can so many people, exposed to the same news you get, understand this so completely and you misunderstand it so completely?
Scott, there’s no need for that kind of petty insult.
Heh...
 
Written By: bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.flroack.us

Look, Scott, saying the same thing five different ways doesn’t mean it makes any more sense. As soon as you said:

And, I note, my answers to your questions stand unrefuted. And that’s the substance that matters.

you were nailed. Your original intentions stand clear for everyone to see. Might as well get over it.
OK, now I’m really puzzled. My answers to your questions stand mostly unrefuted, I think someone responded to one with a reply. I was making a statement of fact. That’s the substance that matters — discussions about the threat and the nature of radical Islam. So I don’t see how noting that rather obvious fact "nails" me or says anything about my intentions other than my intent is discuss substance.

Seriously, Billy, I am completely puzzled by your reaction, I honestly do not understand it. I know I’m not getting something, I’m trying, but I can’t figure you out on this one. You must be reading something into these statements that not only do I not intend, but I can’t even figure out!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Seriously, Billy, I am completely puzzled by your reaction, I honestly do not understand it.
Seriously, Erb — you have an undiagnosed personality disorder. You often do not understand how your comments affect the way people relate to you.

Oops — I forgot to use the magic words —

I suspect you have [yadda yadda]. You often act as if [yadda yadda].
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Seriously, Erb — you have an undiagnosed personality disorder. You often do not understand how your comments affect the way people relate to you.
Perhaps. I guess I’m asking you take pity on me due to my apparent psychological problems and explain what it is that Billy finds so wrong with my statements, especially the one about noting the fact my answers to the questions stood unrefuted.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Perhaps. I guess I’m asking you take pity on me...
Well, I have to give you credit for a good comeback —

But you forget that I was brought up in the military and only seek the one, best thing:
"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
explain what it is that Billy finds so wrong with my statements, especially the one about noting the fact my answers to the questions stood unrefuted.
Having trouble with reading comprehension again, Erb? Did you skip over this (from Billy’s very first post):
Those questions are posed solely for your own reflection.
He had no intention of debating you on your answers to the questions, and he stated that from the outset. You then proceded to act like you were entitled to answers, when they were always intended for private reflection.

Is that so hard to understand?
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
He had no intention of debating you on your answers to the questions, and he stated that from the outset.
Which I criticized. And, regardless of his intent, if he speaks up publically on an issue, and then chooses not to respond to my response to his post, I am entitled to point out that my answers stand unrefuted. That’s the price one pays when one gets involved in a public political discussion and then chooses to leave it.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."
Yeah, when you got me in my error about Kerry’s support in October 2003 I had complaints about all the lamenting women around my office. It was quite embarrassing.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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