Understanding Osama

Over at The Guardian, do read an extraordinary commentary by the former British spy Alistair Crooke on how the West must engage radical Islamists, even if it means to an extent accepting them as they are. Crooke is director of the Conflicts Forum, an organization that advocates dialogue with Islamist groups. Once you've finished, however, you'll see how Crooke has provided hefty ammunition to his foes. The reason is that he fails to properly define his subject, and throws into the same pot Muslims in general, political Islamists, and murderous Islamists.

What are the premises of Crooke's argument? That there is a "discourse" in the West holding that radical Islam is the enemy. And what is radical Islam? Crooke quotes Henry Kissinger to the effect that it is Islam practiced by those who "are not ‘moderates.'" This definition, Crooke points out, "sounds no more than a projection of the Christian narrative after Westphalia, by which Christianity became a private matter of conscience, rather than an organisational principle for society."

Nothing surprising until this point, given that Crooke opened his commentary by quoting the French philosopher Michel Foucault. We're paddling around in the familiar flotsam of Edward Said here, whereby the West defines the "other" on its own terms, then uses that "discourse" to justify dominating the other. But then Crooke leaps off the interpretational cliff, and the last we see of him is a cloud of dust rising from the canyon floor.

The reason for this is that Crooke writes:

If radical Islam, with which these experts tell us we should be at war, encompasses all those who are not enamoured of secular society, and who espouse a vision of their societies grounded in the values of Islam, then these experts are advocating a war with Islam--because Islam is the vision for their future favoured by many Muslims.

Mainstream Islamists are indeed challenging western secular and materialist values, and many do believe that western thinking is flawed--that the desires and appetites of man have been reified into representing man himself. It is time to re-establish values that go beyond "desires and wants", they argue.

Many Islamists also reject the western narrative of history and its projection of inevitable "progress" towards a secular modernity; they reject the western view of power-relationships within societies and between societies; they reject individualism as the litmus of progress in society; and, above all, they reject the west's assumption that its empirical approach lends unassailability and objective rationality to its thinking--and universality to its social models.

Crooke engages here in the same dishonesty he accuses alleged opinion enforcers in the West of engaging in: He defines the problem in a conveniently erroneous way, then uses that as the basis for a flawed assertion. First of all, radical Islamists do not encompass all those "who are not enamoured of secular society, and who espouse a vision of their societies grounded in the values of Islam", so Crooke's opening thrust is a splendid dud. In fact, many Muslims who would agree with both those conditions are not radical Muslims at all. But even if that unrestrained proposition were true, then Crooke would be presenting the issue so benevolently, in fact so deceptively, as to make it laughable. After all, is not being enamored of secular Western society and advocating Islamic values anywhere near a sufficient definition of radical Islam?  

Many Muslims may indeed reject the West's "narrative of history" and its individualism (though Crooke, by making such attitudes seem pervasive, is engaging in the worst kind of "Orientalist" stereotyping here), but the only relevant definitional break-off point between most practicing Muslims, political Islamists, and murderous Islamists, at least with regard to the ambient discussion on political Islam taking place today worldwide, is their attitude toward the use of violence. And many Islamists, and an even greater number of Muslims in general, don't support resorting to violence to advance their social or political aims. They might even resent being so loosely shoehorned in with those who do.

Yet, on violence, Crooke has nothing of merit to say. The reason is that if you begin sharply differentiating between violent and non-violent Islamists, suddenly it becomes much more difficult to justify talking to those Islamists who do employ violence. By keeping the categories blurred, you can portray any dialogue with the violent Islamists--which is what Conflicts Forum does--as a dialogue with Islam.

But just when you thought that Crooke would stop cold and not pursue his logic down a blind alley of self-defeating argumentation, he's already there. That's because he goes on to endorse what a former advisor to Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, recently said about the need to talk to Al-Qaeda.

People may, or may not, agree, but the point is that this is a dispute about ideas, about the nature of society, and about equity in an emerging global order. If western discourse cannot step beyond the enemy that it has created, these ideas cannot be heard--or addressed. This is the argument that Jonathan Powell made last week when he argued that Britain should understand the lessons of Northern Ireland: we should talk to Islamist movements, including al-Qaida. It has to be done, because the west needs to break through the fears and constraints of an over-imagined "enemy."

You might have expected that after 9/11, Crooke would remove the quote marks from the word "enemy". But there is a larger problem at work here, one transcending the legitimate protest, "And what precisely should we talk to Al-Qaeda about?" It is that those who advocate engaging Islamists over-emphasize their importance and often ignore the myriad narratives in Muslim societies opposed to those of the militant groups.

For instance, neither Hezbollah nor Hamas, groups Crooke deals with frequently, speaks for a majority of Lebanese or Palestinians on most issues of the day, let alone issues relating to Islam (even if their strictly nationalist "discourse" might appeal to many). Most Lebanese Shiites do not agree with the wilayat al-faqih doctrine of religious-political leadership advocated by Ayatollah Khomeini and embraced by Hezbollah; and it's fair to say that most Palestinians do not consider the doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood as their reference point, though Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood. But Crooke pays scant attention to such nuances. He confuses the Islamists' alleged religious appeal with their political-nationalist appeal; their religious discourse with their political-nationalist discourse. But such jumps are often illegitimate.

As for Al-Qaeda, Crooke should tell us which Muslims consider the mass murder of innocent civilians a legitimate expression of Islamic values. Perhaps, once he has chatted with bin Laden we will learn that the 9/11 attacks were just a case of Osama crying out to be understood, nothing a good heart-to-heart couldn't help resolve. Meanwhile, we can thank Crooke that his commentary has just made it much easier for those who oppose dialogue with violent Islamists to insist that they are right.

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  • charlie||

    The point of this post? Michael Young is an expert, darn it. He knows that most Lebanese and Palestinians don't support Hezbollah or Hamas, respectively, electoral victories be damned. In fact, I'm sure they support whatever it is Michael Young supports, because, again, Michael Young is an expert.

    Just don't bring up that whole being wrong about absolutely everything in regard to what would happen in a post-Saddam Iraq. That would be so uncouth. Instead,focus your attention on those daring to suggest that we try some tactic to deal with Al Qaeda other than bombing entirely unrelated countries. I mean, those people are just silly.

  • DannyK||

    Geez... where to start... I don't think anyone's advocating talking to these guys because we agree with them or because they're representative. The fact is that they control land, have large military forces, and are able to defeat peace deals that don't include them. In short, they're players.

    I mean, look at Lebanon -- Hezbollah sucks, but they were able to drag the whole country into war with Israel, and the whole country paid a high price for it. Since they don't seem to be withering away, maybe they get a seat at the table. This isn't pretty, but it's how diplomacy has worked for centuries.

  • ||

    Seriously: perhaps Alistaire Crooke is a dingbat. But why in the fucking world should we take Michael Young's "expertise" at face value any longer? Please -- Matt Welch, somebody -- explain why anyone should give a shit about anything Young says.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I don't talk to people I don't like. I don't go over to their house for wine or coffee. I generally mind my own business and ignore them. If they screw with me, I'll poke 'em in the eye with a big shotgun. If not, we just go about our business. Maybe I'll wave as we drive past each other, maybe not.

  • Elemenope||

    DannyK wins the thread with penetrating obviousness. Not that that's against DannyK...most people would rather ignore obvious points when it comes to talking about politics.

  • ||

    I don't care what anyone says, I'm not voting for Osama.

  • Baylen||

    I thought Alistair Cookie was a TV host.

  • Brandybuck||

    I don't like Osama either, but the thought of Hillary in the White House makes my balls retract. I mean, we don't have to bomb him just because his pastor said some nutty things.

  • ||

    This is the argument that Jonathan Powell made last week when he argued that Britain should understand the lessons of Northern Ireland: we should talk to Islamist movements, including al-Qaida

    Bit of a difference there, culturally. The intentions are good, I suppose.

  • ||

    I'm not refusing to vote for Osama because of crazy things his pastor says; rather, I'm refusing to vote for him because he's a fuckin' terrorist.

  • ||

    Osama binLaden is easy to understand: Just listen to his speeches.

    On the other hand, it would take a committee of psychiatrists to even attempt an understanding of Alistair Crooke.

  • ||

    What in this particular piece is Young so obviously wrong about? Bonus points for bringing counter-evidence.

    Also, what the hell is it about Michael Young that brings out the bile almost instantly? It's like a reflexive, collective retch or something.

  • ||

    You know, everyone is so ga-ga over Osama's latest video, but I still am unimpressed. Besides, the man is clearly lacking the experience necessary to be president. And he has some serious negatives. Sad as it may be to admit, I think a lot of Americans won't vote for him, solely because of his past and because of unfair allegations that he is, in fact, Muslim.

  • ||

    "We're paddling around in the familiar flotsam of Edward"

    I had to stop reading at this point.

  • MattXIV||

    DannyK,

    At what table? As a US citizen, I think Hezbollah is none of our damn business and I see no reason to deal with them on any level unless they're posing a threat to us. I imagine UK citizens (presumably the Guardian's target audience) are in an analogous situation. I see no reason to go tearing up the Middle East in order to route repugnant ideologies, but I see no more need to legitimize the various regional bastards by engaging them. We can get along quite well ignoring even the most powerful paramilitary groups on the other side of the globe, and if they start trouble in spite of this, we have sufficient options for retaliation. I wish nothing but bad things upon Hamas and Hezbollah even though it's not our business to be the ones that make them happen.

    On Cooke's point about the Western narrative:

    Why should we question the secularism that has served us so well? We need only contrast it to the cesspits that the "other" has created for themselves with their societies ordered around religious belief.

    The most fustrating part of Cooke's analysis is he fails to mention the narratives that run through political Islam and its vision of the Western "other". How, nevermind why, would a secular society engage with those who view secularism as immoral? I say this of even those who seek to order society according to their religious beliefs without restoring to direct violence. Violent political Islam may require our attention if if threatens us, but even it's non-violent kin's principles are repugnant. Those who oppose secular society ARE my enemy - it may not be prudent or justified to use force against them, but I will actively use the means that the situation calls for to fustrate their ambitions to the extent I can.

    And I wish Cooke would spare me the whining about how certain ideas are beyond the permissible discourse when his column in the freaking Guardian is about them. Your ideas aren't beyond the discourse Alastair - most people just have more sense.

  • Phatcone Phinger||

    I'd say better then 97% chance that Osama is dead, and has been for sometime, the fucker was in bad shape from fighting in Afghanistan to liberate them from the Soviets, and later, he was dialysis.

    French report claims terrorist leader stayed in Dubai hospital



    Pakistan's Musharraf: Bin Laden probably dead

    Do people really believe Osama is putting out videos? Still? Do they also believe in Santa? Did George Washington say "I cannot tell a lie", when he cut down a cherry tree as a little boy?

    I'll put some tinfoil around my head when the Osama-believers stop reading Pravda.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate

    I think that Osama has clearly shown socialist leanings.

    But I think that all this talk that his middle name is 'Hussein' is a ridiculous attempt to try and link Iraq with 9/11.

    Besides, he is a constitutional scholar.

  • ||

    I'd say better then 97% chance that Osama is dead

    I think you are overestimating the effects of reverend Write's speech.

  • ||

    Michael Young,

    The reason is that if you begin sharply differentiating between violent and non-violent Islamists...

    Are there really sharp divisions in the Muslim world (or any other part of the world for that matter) over this issue? I mean, it is my general impression that a large segment of the Muslim population doesn't object to violence perpetrated by the Palestinians against certain targets, even if they would disagree with say the 9/11 attacks.

  • ||

    I have one question: WHO?

  • Dwarven Elvis||


    is my general impression that a large segment of the Muslim population doesn't object to violence perpetrated by the Palestinians against certain targets, even if they would disagree with say the 9/11 attacks.





    It is my general impression that a large segment of the American population doesn't object to invading Iraq, even if they would disagree with say Mohammed "one-eye" Omar (a 9/11 co-conspirator of Osama bin Shapshifter) escaping on a dirtbike while US Special Forces, helicopters, and the Kitchen Sink were after him in hot pursuit.


    ----------------------

    Mohamed Omar has a Bacon number of 2.

    Mohamed Omar was in Lord of War (2005) with Steve Ruge
    Steve Ruge was in Apollo 13 (1995) with Kevin Bacon

  • ||

    Michael, should we bomb this Crooke fellow, and maybe then an Arab nation or two, you know, to win over the Arab street?

  • Ali||

    kwais, Pro Libertate-

    Are you trying to say that Obama is NOT the terrorist guy who makes these threats to Europe and USA on TV every now and then? Who would've thought! I will research his positions, then, and see if I'll support him.

  • Neil||

    The Bottom line? All Islamofascism must be eradicated from the face of the earth and the sooner the better.

    We must do to them what we did to Nazis and Communists and NEVER SURRENDER like Hussein and his Surrendercrats want us to.

  • ||

    Hmm, the communists.

    Remind me, how's that go again?

  • Neil||

    Joe we stood them down in Germany. We fought them in Korea. We fought them in Vietnam.

    We stopped Carter's policy of accomidation with the Communists and listened to Reagan who called the Soviets an "evil empire". We deployed those missiles to Europe in the early 80s when your Surrendercrats were calling for a "nuclear freeze" that would have embolened our Bolshevik enemy. Reagan stood the Soviets down and hes the reason the Berlin wall fell.

    I bet back in the 1980s you were trashing Reagan weren't you? Probably the second greatest President of the 20th century and your Surrendercrats opposed his brilliant foreign policy at every turn.

  • Bingo||

    fucking christ prolib, lol

  • Ali||

    Who's the best president then?

  • Neil||

    In terms of foreign policy Franklin Roosevelt for having the balls to take the fight to the Nazis. If he were alive today the modern Democrats such as Allahamba would be calling him a "neocon" or "warmonger" for fireboming Dresden and giving no quarter to the Nazis.

    Today FDR would be a Lierberman Republican.

  • ||

    2nd greatest of the 20th Century? Who is the first?

    I mean the Bush tax cuts were pretty good and in the right direction, but I don't think he beats Reagan?

  • ||

    Be quiet, joe. Everyone knows you are an Osama supporter.

    In all seriousness, I thought the latest video was confirmed as bin Laden. I mean, can't we tell?

  • ||

    Neil,
    I think FDR is thought of on these pages as one of the worst presidents in history. He is by me at least.

    Someone mentioned that his heroes were Carl Marx and Mussolini. And if you look at his legacy, that seems to fit.

    We are a socialist nation as a result of FDR. Social Security, Welfare, the IRS in its current form.

    The government has ownership of your body and the product of all your efforts as a result of FDR.

    All the crimes of the worst surrendercrats, or worst neocons pale in comparison to the loss of liberties we have felt as a result of the FDR presidency.

  • Ali||

    Pro-Libertate, that was so funny by the way. Thanks, you made me laugh when I was desperately in need for a laugh.

  • ||

    BTW, I was joking about Bush. I mean I think he was better than his dad or Clinton, but overall pretty mediocre.

  • ||

    Reading this entry leads one to two conclusions: 1) Mr. Crooke is a crock; and 2) Michael Young can't shut up.

  • ||

    Neil,

    So, we invaded lots of countries, did we? Russia? Poland? Little help here.

    "Stared them down." I like that. Fight them off as necessary. I like that, too.

    Reagan - he's the one that signed the peace treaty with the Gorbachev, right? The one that froze nuclear weapons? You'll have to forgive me, I was 14 when he left office.

    So, did we do a lot of "occupation" and "national building" work in those days? How'd that go?

  • ||

    I got one of those "Osama IRVING bin Laden" emails. I need to get a spam filter.

  • ||

    Also, what the hell is it about Michael Young that brings out the bile almost instantly? It's like a reflexive, collective retch or something.

    You might want to consult Pavlov on how that works. Most of Mr Young's recent writings have been laughable attempts at justifying the misadventure in Iraq and neoconservative foreign interventionism in general, hence the conditioned response you noticed.

    However, I pretty much agree with him in this post. I must admit that I expected him to paint all Iraq War opponents with the same brush as Crooke, but he did not do so.

  • Neil||

    "So, did we do a lot of "occupation" and "national building" work in those days? How'd that go?"

    We "nation builded" Germany, Japan, and South Korea. I guess you don't think we can do that in Iraq? Why not?

    In 1948 I'm sure you would have been whining about how we should leave West Germany and just let the Soviets have it.

    How about those nuclear missiles deployed in western Europe to stand down the Soviets? A lot of people in your Surrender Party at the time were against it.

    The only reason the Commie Bosses choose a pussy like Gorbachev was because they knew Reagan meant BUSINESS!

  • ||

    Hey Prolib,

    I didn't mean to intrude on your joke. I saw multiple post humorously confusing Osama and Obama, and I thought it was a trend of different posters all adding to the joke, and I decided to pile on.

    Some of the humor I got from it was from imagining the confusion of some of the trolls.

  • ||

    Oh, and Perhaps, once he has chatted with bin Laden we will learn that the 9/11 attacks were just a case of Osama crying out to be understood, nothing a good heart-to-heart couldn't help resolve.

    Blah blah fuckity blah. If I wanted Karl Rove speeches from 2002, I could google them. Thanks.

  • ||

    We "nation builded" Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

    Well, no, not South Korea.

    Lots of German and Japanese insurgents, were there? Hey, interesting statistic: 97% of the deaths in Iraq have come after "Mission Accomplished" Day.

    So, anyway, Iraq's just like Japan and Germany. Gotcha.

    I don't know what you were sure of in 1948, but.. have we met? You keep writing these things, I think you might have me confused with someone else. Then again, I doubt you've actually met him, either.

  • Ali||

    Are we talking about the same Reagen who *withdrew* the marines from Lebanon? Talk about surrender.

  • Neil||

    How can you deny that the surge is working joe? Violence is down and the Iraqi people are moving towards reconciliation. Save your cyrca 2006 talking points. They aren't working anymore. McCain knows we will never surrender.

  • Munchies||

    Neil is a laugh a minute . . . even if he is a troll. I have a question for you Neil . . .
    Can you imagine a world in which America minds its own business, does not fight preemptive war, and has most if not all of its troops stationed within these American borders? And, if you can imagine this, can you picture this being a good thing?

  • Munchies||

    Sorry . . . should have said "questions".

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Kwais, yer fine, man, and, yes, FDR sucks, dude.

  • ||

    Thank you Wine Commonsewer,

    Neil,

    You need to address the fact that FDR sucks.

  • Munchies||

    Neil the neo-con has no response . . .

  • Someone Who Doesn\'t Want to L||

    Neil is probably Edward.

  • Neil||

    "You need to address the fact that FDR sucks."

    FDR was a socialist but "politics stops at the waters edge". He fought our enemies to the death.

    Thats why hes the greatest President of the 20th Century.

  • ||

    In terms of foreign policy Franklin Roosevelt for having the balls to take the fight to the Nazis.

    The level of stupidity it takes to make a comment like this is barely containable within the known universe.

  • Neil||

    The Bottom Line in Iraq is:

    Surrender, or Victory?

  • ||

    Neil=troll

    This handy chart resembles what FDR did to the federal government. Think of "M" as "before FDR" and think of "O" as "after FDR."

    But that's okay as long as he killed them Nazis towelheads, right, Neil?

    No, Neil, the bottom line keeps moving lower, based on how assholes like you want to define "victory" and "surrender."

  • Munchies||

    Neil, listen to me: you are a good conservative, anti-commie, correct? You revile and detest communism and communists, and all the nations that have ever espoused that wicked ideology?
    Then perhaps you should learn a bit more about the communist infiltration of the State, Defense, Treasury and other departments on FDR's watch in the 30's and 40's. It is a well established fact that FDR had knowledge of the Soviet effort to influence and spy upon government operations during that period . . . and he did NOTHING about it.
    It was left to Truman and Eisenhower to clean up the mess. Oh, not to mention the fact that he was incredibly naive and hopelessly lost in his dealings with Stalin . . . in can be said that FDR may be largely responsible for the 50 years of oppression that millions experienced following his dealings with Uncle Joe. In short: his presidency was a disaster, even with the defeat of the Nazis and Japanese.

  • Neil||

    Munchies are you for Victory or Surrender in the Global Struggle Against Islamofascism? (AKA World War IV)

    You need to answer that question first.

  • Munchies||

    Way off topic Neil, but I will answer that . . . I am for victory. However, our definitions of victory will probably differ a great deal. Victory to me is ending our starry-eyed delusions of grandeur, playing world cop with all of our lofty moral assertions, and getting out of Iraq ( and most other nations for that matter ). Victory to me is finding Bin Laden and holding him accountable for his crime. If I had told you six years ago that instead of finding Bin Laden, we had launched a war in Iraq that has lasted 5 years, cost 4000 lives and over one trillion dollars, all the while claiming to basically know where the murderous thug was and yet failing to get him and hold him accountable, would have called that the road to victory? Hmmmmm? Now you answer that Neil . . .

  • Ali||

    Neil-

    Is your last name "Malkin" by any chance?

  • Neil||

    "I have a question for you Neil . . .
    Can you imagine a world in which America minds its own business, does not fight preemptive war, and has most if not all of its troops stationed within these American borders? And, if you can imagine this, can you picture this being a good thing?"

    That kind of Isolationism is what brought Hitler to power and caused World War II. And we don't need it ever EVER again.

  • Munchies||

    There is no way that any honest, Bush-supporting, post-9/11 flag-waving patriot and lover of crushing the world at heel with tanks, planes and bombs can tell me that he really thinks this is the road to victory. The alternative to me is too scary to contemplate. If you do believe this, that being in Iraq and "staying the course", and pouring endless blood and treasure into fighting there for a hundred years is truly the path to victory, then I am afraid you are beyond delusional. It's worse than that.

  • Neil||

    Munchies are the Iraqis better off now or under the mad, insane, murderous dictator Saddam Hussein who gassed his own people?

  • Munchies||

    Thank you Neil for finally answering my first question with this . . .
    "That kind of Isolationism is what brought Hitler to power and caused World War II. And we don't need it ever EVER again".
    Now, my riposte . . .
    Yours is a logical fallacy. You completely and utterly fail to follow your rationale for war and conquest to it's logical end.
    You simply MUST be able to envision an America that is at peace, free, with all the troops home and with no threat that so dire that we must, for our continued survival, launch preemptive war. Why? Because that my friend is what you call victory. All that you neo-cons can see is war, war, war, interminable battle for generations, continued struggle, strife, malaise and death. You don't even know that peace is a desirable end to all of this. That is what scares most of us here.

  • Munchies||

    And absent that recognition, it lays bare the fact that there is no real plan to ever end the war.

  • Munchies||

    so Neil, go along with the grand plan for war without end . . . BAAAAAAA!

  • Neil||

    Munchies I'll be happy to say we are at peace when Islamofascism has been eliminated from the face of the Earth.

    That maybe 50 years as it was with the Cold War (which you probably opposed) or maybe 100.

    Doesn't matter. We won't surrender. They will, because we are Americans.

  • Someone Who Doesn\'t Want to L||

    We will finally be able to end this war when people everywhere are unable to commit thoughtcrime.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I blame FDR for everything. except Nam and Medicare.

  • Munchies||

    Neil . . . you are kidding, right?
    "That maybe 50 years as it was with the Cold War (which you probably opposed) or maybe 100.

    Doesn't matter. We won't surrender. They will, because we are Americans."

    I did not oppose the Cold War, per se. I accepted it as the logical consequence to FDR's bumbling aquiescence of half the world to the Soviets. Reference my post at 10:36 for more information on that particular topic.

    As for the we-will-win cause we are Americans deal . . . explain Vietnam. Lebanon. Korea.

  • Munchies||

    We are not invincible, morally righteous super-hero cheiftans that possess an historically unique ability to overcome mortal obstacles or deal with the world's myriad issues with pre-ordained success. That is not reality. That is comic-book world, Neil. That is for twelve year olds. That is why the neo-con argument manages to be both funny and sad. It is essentially the world-conquering wet-dream of a pimply, comic-book devouring adolescent. It is far removed from the world of reality, where people bleed, suffer and die.

  • Munchies||

    Make that *chieftans*

  • Neil||

    Munchies with that kind of attitude we would have lost the World Wars and the Cold War.

    I bet in 1775 you would have been on your knees wanting to negotiate with the British huh? After all war might mean getting people killed! We can't have that!

    Slavery is better than freedom if freedom means getting people killed right?

  • Neil||

    Who do you supporrt for President Munhies? Allahma Hussein Obama?

    Maybe hate-America Reverend Wright can be his running mate.

  • ||

    Alistair Crooke is an Islamist-sympathizing gay man... not that there's anything wrong with that!!

  • Munchies||

    If by slavery you mean the pre-Bush, pre-Iraq war world, then yes, slavery is preferable. For after all, we all know that peace and stability equals slavery. Oh, and by the way Neil . . . some of those people getting killed are our own men and women. Alas, enough with you . . . If you are a troll, there is no point in debating you. If not, and these are the genuine thoughts of a breathing, sentient being, then I have no choice but to say that there is point in debating you. Your mind is basically inflexible, your arguments are full of flimsy hyperbole, and your responses seem to inexorably veer into the lame, soporofic assumptions of the kool-aid swilling Bushites :
    "I bet that you woulda let them redcoats rape your mom" and other absurdities in that adolescent vein.

  • Munchies||

    I may add that this has been highly enjoyable . . . it's sort of like target practice for the brain. You enabled me to articulate my views while exposing me to the extreme inanities that your wing of ideologues proffer as honest, hard-thought positions.

  • ||

    Slavery is better than freedom if freedom means getting people killed right?

    And yet you still support FDR.

    Which Islamo fascist has enslaved you more than FDR did Neil?

  • TallDave||

    Mainstream Islamists are indeed challenging western secular and materialist values, and many do believe that western thinking is flawed--that the desires and appetites of man have been reified into representing man himself. It is time to re-establish values that go beyond "desires and wants", they argue.

    Wait, you mean they hate us for our freedoms?

  • TallDave||

    If by slavery you mean the pre-Bush, pre-Iraq war world, then yes, slavery is preferable.

    The Iraqis don't prefer it. 62% of them say the decision to invade was right. Probably has soemthing to do with the fact that under Saddam there were five wars, 2 million dead, sewage running in the streets, electricity mostly only for the regime's friends, and no rights.

    I know, the idea that some semblance of free elections, free press, freedom of expression and freedom to buy things like cars, phones and generators has value is soooo retro. If only Iraqis had more access to the NYT and the Guardian, they would realize how much worse off they are.

  • ||

    I didn't read the above comments, so I'm not sure if anyone discussed this already.

    If radical Islam, with which these experts tell us we should be at war, encompasses all those who are not enamoured of secular society, and who espouse a vision of their societies grounded in the values of Islam, then these experts are advocating a war with Islam--because Islam is the vision for their future favoured by many Muslims.

    Mainstream Islamists are indeed challenging western secular and materialist values, and many do believe that western thinking is flawed--that the desires and appetites of man have been reified into representing man himself. It is time to re-establish values that go beyond "desires and wants", they argue.

    Many Islamists also reject the western narrative of history and its projection of inevitable "progress" towards a secular modernity; they reject the western view of power-relationships within societies and between societies; they reject individualism as the litmus of progress in society; and, above all, they reject the west's assumption that its empirical approach lends unassailability and objective rationality to its thinking--and universality to its social models.


    This description is not exactly endearing me to "Mainstream Islamists".

    What does it mean to reject secular society in favor of "societies grounded in the values of Islam"? What values do they intend to "re-establish" which succeed in going beyond "the desires and appetites of man" as is not bound by the wrongheaded litmus test of individualism?

    When one considers the fact that islamic precepts are enacted into civil law in several countries, and that some countries are (or were) under full-blown sharia, those three paragraphs start to look like an elaborate euphemism for theocratic tyranny.

    Iran seems to have a pretty convincing claim that it is a society "grounded in the values of Islam". Saudi Arabia also has many aspects that could give it that title. So consider the case of a homosexual captured in Iran or a woman in Saudi Arabia convicted of socializing with an unrelated male. What can we say in their defense if we accept this "Mainstream Islamist" framework?

    Should they be allowed to satisfy their sexual desires or their desire for social interaction? Not if were working with "values that go beyond "desires and wants"".

    Can we invoke the principle of individual rights to argue against the sentences they would recieve; or would that be using "individualism as the litmus of progress in society"?

    And what about asking the respective regimes for evidence that the code of conduct they are enforcing really is handed down by divine decree? I don't know; that sounds alot like "the west's assumption that its empirical approach lends ..... objective rationality to its thinking".

    In short, reason and individual rights and freedom really are universally applicable. Whenever these principle's conflict with the values of a faith-based religoius belief system; the former ought to win.

  • ||

    This thread reminds me of nothing more than that Tanya Harding - Paula Jones boxing match. Draw your own conclusions.

  • Munchies||

    Potter . . . you can improve the discourse here by offering something digestable. Thrill us with your inconquerable wisdom!
    TallDave . . . I'm sorry, but there are many more countries outside of Iraq that experience terrible suffering and misery. I could care less, to the extent that I would be roused to support our involvement in "liberating" those peoples. I would not. I care more for myself, my family, my neighborhood, and my country. I fear the Messianic impulse to anoint ourselves liberators . . . that is a dark road.

  • ||

    "First of all, radical Islamists do not encompass all those "who are not enamoured of secular society, and who espouse a vision of their societies grounded in the values of Islam",

    I'm under the impression that radical Islamists are all under the influence of the Wahhabist spell - that breed of Islam that interprets phrases and words in the Koran in the most militant sort of way. So, it's not quite accurate to say "grounded in the values of Islam." No, they are grounded in the values of only one interpretation of the Koran - the most militant interpretation.

    I also don't buy it necessarily that the radicals (and even the conservatives) are necessarily anti-individualistic - at least in practice. Both conservative and radical Islam is highly pratriarchal. This system actually allows a man to assert his will and/or indulge in many pleasures frowned upon in the West (which could be one reason the radicals want to fight for it so much), such as securing a second or third or fourth young and pretty nubile woman to sexually, and in other ways, serve him all the rest of his days. Hey, I might bet that a lot of western men would trade alchohol for such possibilities (at least in a moment of weakness).

  • ||

    Neil,
    Carter might have done more to undermine the Soviets than Reagan. His policy pushed the publications of dissident writings and other media into all corners of the Soviet Empire.

  • ||

    I'm gay. Whew!

  • a Duoist||

    From the comments, has anyone ever done any rigorous psychological research on why so many libertarians are deliberately rude, hostile, and intemperate? Does libertarianism as an ideology attract more than its fair share of sadists, narcissists, and insecure bullies who bluster, bluff, finger-point and sneer as the masks to hide insecurities and deep feelings of inferiority? Does anyone honestly NOT understand why we libertarians are perennially 'fringe,' considered too 'extreme' to trust with a vote?

    Goodbye, 'Reason.' The readership is anything but.

  • ||

    Drink!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I believe that some libertarian types lack teh social graces our mama's tried to raise us with. Maybe even to a greater extent than the population as a whole.

    OTOH, all online forums are filled with impolite exchanges. Been over to Kos or Moxie lately? The anonymity and safety of the medium encourage it.

    Back in the Stone Age, we had similar problems at our LC on the old prodigy (we are talking 286's and dial up at 14k, boys) and we kept it at a simmer by just asking the worst offenders to cool it. In a nice way, of course. Were we successful? Not always. There was plenty of blood and carnage, but there were lifelong friendships and even a marriage that came from that BB. So, there is hope.

    I'll shut up now. Probably should have just DRANK!

  • ||

    he only relevant definitional break-off point between most practicing Muslims, political Islamists, and murderous Islamists, at least with regard to the ambient discussion on political Islam taking place today worldwide, is their attitude toward the use of violence

    Can we apply the same litmus test toward the use of violence by the West, and say that only pacifists should participate in the discussion? Should our response to the 9/11 attacks have been limited to non-violent strategies?

  • ||

    Today FDR would be a Lierberman Republican.



    Well, he was a shallow political opportunist willing to anything to gain and hold onto political power, so, yeah, I guess so.

  • ||

    Actually, Neil, violence has been going back up for a month or two. As everyone with a brain in their head realized it would, when troop levels inevitably fell. The last two weeks saw the highest military deaths since September.

    Because, as people like me realized and people like you didn't, putting more American troops into Iraq is NOT going to change the underlying conditions that caused the violence. Reconcilliation my ass - how's that de-Baathification law working out?

    The reason 2006 talking points work, is because the situation is almost identical to 2006.

    The Bottom Line in Iraq is:

    Surrender, or Victory?
    l

    If that's your bottom line, you're guaranteeing that we'll by flying helicopters off the embassy roof.

    As for "surrender," what a foolish term to use. Are American troops going to turn in their arms? To whom? Are they going to put their hands over their heads? March off into captivity? Put up a white flag? Accept someone's terms? Arrange a transition of control over any territory to a hostile force?

    No, and no. Like every Tuff Bai of teh Internetz, you are misusing a military term you don't understand very well, purely for emotional effect.

    We didn't surrender to Al Capone when we repealed Prohibition, we just stopped a foolish policy. And this exactly what we're going to do in Iraq next year, whether you like it or not. If you were more interested in your country's well-being than in making yourself feel like more of a man, you'd be thinking of ways to make that transition work as well as possible, not helping our enemies spin the redeployment as a defeat for the U.S.

  • ||

    Oh, look, TallDave can cherry-pick an outlier poll.

    But you already knew that.

    Four and a half million people have fled their homes out of fear for their lives. That wasn't happening before this invasion. Then again, neither were the suicide bombings, the beheadings, and the bombings of mosques full of people.

    Ever heard the prase "voting with their feet?" I don't think they answered TallDave's poll.

  • ||

    Art-P.O.G. | March 25, 2008, 6:49am | #
    Drink!



    The fucking bars aren't even open yet, for pity's sake.

  • T||

    such as securing a second or third or fourth young and pretty nubile woman to sexually, and in other ways, serve him all the rest of his days. Hey, I might bet that a lot of western men would trade alchohol for such possibilities

    Trading alcohol for sex with pretty women? Sounds like Friday night at the bar to me, as long as your definition of pretty is flexible. I thought Islam frowned on that?

  • tijjer||

    a Duoist,

    I think most geek/elitist communities have just barely submerged superiority complexes that manifest themselves with withering commentary at anyone who just doesn't 'get it'. Consider audiophiles, videophiles, music elitists, wine snobs, cigar snobs, coffee snobs, foodies, gun jocks, PS3 sackriders, import tuners, hardcore cyclists, or tabletop gamers. All will respond with derision to those who would dare suggest that maybe a system or product not espoused by the cognoscenti is worth more than a dripping manila envelope full of diarrhea.

    Libertarians sometimes consider themselves a cut above the Republicrats who are born into party and never really bother to think too hard about politics. (This is what makes us geeks/elitists) This is infuriating to us for the same reason audiophiles just can't believe that people don't consider whether their braided speaker cables are 99.999% oxygen-free or only 99.994% oxygen-free. As a result, we can get snippy with the common folk.

    Of course, there are times when we run into people with different viewpoints who actually know what the hell they are talking about and are able to produce evidence and form clear opinions of their damnable opinions. That's when we tend to resort to the time-tested methods of ad hominem attacks and yo momma jokes. It's the internet, and you can't get your ass beat on the internet.

  • ||

    Four and a half million people have fled their homes out of fear for their lives. That wasn't happening before this invasion.

    During Saddam's reign, approximately 10% of the Iraqi population was either exiled or killed.

  • ||

    ...during a period that lasted two and a half decades.

    However you slice it, it's wosre than under Saddam.

  • ||

    has anyone ever done any rigorous psychological research on why so many libertarians are deliberately rude, hostile, and intemperate?

    I dunno about this claim. I read comments on libertarian and some liberal blogs, and I can't say that the commenters here on average are any more hostile/rude than what I encounter on liberal blogs.

    I will say that I have seen some pretty mean spirited shit/hostile shit on right wing blogs when you challenge some of their bullshit. But I haven't spent enough time there to make a generalization.

    In reality though, I imagine that the pseudonimity of the web and the fact that anyone can be a "internet tuff guy" when behind their terminal give people license to be ruder/more hostile/impolite. That has more to do with it than anyones political leanings.

    I will admit though, that SOME libertarians I have met genuinely think that they are the smartest people in the room and believe that the fact that their political philosophy is rather ignored by both the left and right proves that their way is the "right" way. Not that they are necessarily wrong in lots of cases.

  • ||

    T wrote: "Trading alcohol for sex with pretty women? Sounds like Friday night at the bar to me, as long as your definition of pretty is flexible. I thought Islam frowned on that?"

    You misunderstood my point. I meant that a certain contingent of western men might be tempted to give up alchohol if in place of their brewkies they could have a harem of young women serving their every need (and if haremonging weren't socially stigmatized).

  • ||

    Goodbye, 'Reason.' The readership is anything but.



    See, this is why I don't come to Hit & Run as much anymore. My doctor told me the drinking was killing me.

  • DannyK||

    Back on planet Earth, today's news from Iraq demonstrates why it's a bad idea to pretend ugly guys with armies don't exist: Moqtada's militia army is heating things up in Baghdad and Basra. Apparently they didn't take kindly to being rounded up and arrested in the middle of their "ceasefire." Oops.

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