April 9, 2010

Quote of the Day

A great city in northern Europe is struck by an unusual heat wave in the middle of winter as an asteroid approaches Earth. In the evening, residents go out into the streets in their pajamas, wiping away the sweat that is running down their cheeks, and look anxiously up into the sky, seeing the asteroid grow larger as they watch. They all fear the same thing: that this mass of molten matter will collide with our planet. Hordes of panicked rats are fleeing the sewers, car tires are exploding, the asphalt is melting. Then a strange figure dressed in a white sheet and wearing a long beard begins to harangue the crowd, striking a gong and shouting: "This is punishment, repent, the end of Time has come."

We smile at this tawdry prophet belching forth prophesies, since this scene occurs in a comic book, Herge's The Shooting Star. However, beneath the silliness, what truth there is in the cry: "Repent!" That is the message that, under cover of its proclaimed hedonism, Western philosophy has been hammering into us for the past half-century—though that philosophy claims to be both an emancipatory discourse and the guilty conscience of its time. What it injects into us in the guise of atheism is nothing other than the old notion of original sin, the ancient poison of damnation. In Judeo-Christian lands, there is no fuel so potent as the feeling of guilt, and the more our philosophers and sociologists proclaim themselves to be agnostics, atheists, and free-thinkers, the more they take us back to the religious belief they are challenging. As Nietzsche put it, in the name of humanity secular ideologies have out-Christianized Christianity and taken its message further.

From existentialism to deconstructionism, all of modern thought can be reduced to a mechanical denunciation of the West, emphasizing the latter's hypocrisy, violence, and abomination. In this enterprise the best minds have lost much of their substance. Few of them have avoided succumbing to this spiritual routine: one applauds a religious revolution, another goes into ecstasies over the beauty of terrorist acts or supports a guerrilla movement because it challenges our imperialist project. Indulgence toward foreign dictatorships, intransigence toward our democracies. An eternal movement: critical thought, at first subversive, turns against itself and becomes a new conformism, but one that is sanctified by the memory of its former rebellion…This repeated use of the scalpel against ourselves we call the duty of repentance…

First of all, the duty to repent forbids the Western bloc, which is eternally guilty, to judge or combat other systems, other states, other religions. Our past crimes command us to keep our mouths closed. Our only right is to remain silent.

From The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism by Pascal Bruckner.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 9, 2010 12:13 AM
Comments
While I enjoy reading your thoughts on the middle east I have to say that whenever you post things like this it really calls into question your judgement for me - why do you think this is insightful?

"From existentialism to deconstructionism, all of modern thought can be reduced to a mechanical denunciation of the West, emphasizing the latter's hypocrisy, violence, and abomination."

Really? I mean you can make the point that western intellectual circles are too critical of themselves but to then go completely overboard and say its all about self-hate is to do what the author is accusing them of doing!
Posted by: Cassius Corodes at April 9, 2010 7:28 am
Well, Cassius, I would agree with you that Bruckner overstates his case -- blanket indictments are usually ill-advised -- but his criticism certainly applies to a lot of intellectuals with high profiles and large followings.

And I personally know plenty of smart people -- and I'll bet you do too -- for whom a belief in Western society's endless "hypocrisy, violence, and abomination" is a foundation of their thinking. Hyperbole like Bruckner's may not work to change that thinking, but I can sympathize with an author who thinks he must resort to it.
Posted by: Gene at April 9, 2010 8:28 am
Wow, I think this is very powerful the more so because I recognize my former self in those words. I was certainly guilty of having exactly such a mindset. Thankfully, I've recovered, at least somewhat :)
Posted by: Yael at April 9, 2010 8:53 am
Cassius has it right- anyone who says that 'deconstructionism,' i.e. literary theory, is somehow a 'denunciation of the west' plainly knows nothing about literary theory.

Much of what people like Bruckner call 'denunciation of the west' is also just as clearly a call for the west to live up to values which are putatively 'western' and thus not really a denunciation of the west at all. If someone castigates a western leader like George Bush for being hypocritical for extolling democracy while at the same time maintaining cozy relations with China, well that critique is not a denunciation of the west but a call for a leader to practice what he preaches.
Likewise there's this passage from the quote:
"In Judeo-Christian lands, there is no fuel so potent as the feeling of guilt, and the more our philosophers and sociologists proclaim themselves to be agnostics, atheists, and free-thinkers, the more they take us back to the religious belief they are challenging. As Nietzsche put it, in the name of humanity secular ideologies have out-Christianized Christianity and taken its message further."
But if this reading of secular ideologies is accurate then in what way could they possibly be construed as ideologies which are anti-western, rather than ideologies which seek to recast those earlier ('western') beliefs to fit new realities? In which case, of course, they are not anti-western at all.
If the rest of Bruckner's book is half as silly as this passage indicates, then it's a waste of time.
Posted by: Lars at April 9, 2010 8:55 am
Gyeeaaad... There's a whole cottage industry of these reactionary French authors who think its simply too much for France in particular and the West in general to say "sorry" for enslaving millions Africans to be sent to America, for having killed several million colonial subjects in the name of White supremacy in Southeast Asia and North Africa, and (while we're at it) collaborating in the Nazi project and shipping off hundreds of thousands of Jews to the Reich under Vichy France.

Indeed, why should we say "sorry" for any of this? "Penitence" (the original title) is too unmanly, and besides, no doubt the Arabs (or the Russians or the Germans or the Chinese or the Martians) will consider it a sign of "weakness". The French State, in its unbound wisdom, even passed a law in 2005 making it mandatory for educators to emphasize "the positive role of French colonialism, particularly in North Africa"!

These are unreconstructed colonialists, reactionaries, or more colloquially, perfectly conscious SOBs.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 9:18 am
Ombi;

why should we say "sorry" for any of this?

Who's "we"? The people that committed these atrocities are long dead. The current generation isn't to blame.

Slavery, colonialism, and slaughter of hated/conquered groups has been practiced all over the world by nearly every culture at one time in history or another.

The West isn't the only perpetrator but that doesn't fit the narrative, does it?
Posted by: Toady at April 9, 2010 9:30 am
I think there must be some context missing. He's talking about the modern left isn't he? The left which sympathizes with Arab fascism and theocracy because they share the common enemy of America, which claims Al-Qaeda is punishing America for their foreign policy sins.
Posted by: Virus at April 9, 2010 9:36 am
Lars: If someone castigates a western leader like George Bush for being hypocritical for extolling democracy while at the same time maintaining cozy relations with China, well that critique is not a denunciation of the west but a call for a leader to practice what he preaches.

I agree. But Brucker isn't saying that criticizing a current Western political leader is masochism. That would be absurd. He's referring to people like Ombrageaux above who write things like this:

"There's a whole cottage industry of these reactionary French authors who think its simply too much for France in particular and the West in general to say "sorry" for enslaving millions Africans to be sent to America, for having killed several million colonial subjects in the name of White supremacy in Southeast Asia and North Africa, and (while we're at it) collaborating in the Nazi project and shipping off hundreds of thousands of Jews to the Reich under Vichy France."

For some people, the history of Western Civilization is little more than a crime blotter.

I, for one, am sorry about all that, though I am not personally responsible for any of it. Ombrageaux here brings this stuff up whenever I criticize the tyrannical rulers of Iran, which is curious, don't you think?
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 9, 2010 10:35 am
I for one am very happy that Jacques Chirac apologized in 1995 for Vichy France shipping off the Jews to Germany, to be sent to Dachau and Buchenwald. The only shame is that the crime was unrecognized for half a century.

I am happy that, just yesterday, Putin knelt to 20,000 dead Polish officers at Katyn.

I happy that German Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt to the fallen of the Warsaw Ghetto.

I am happy that Francois Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl held hands at Verdun.

I am sorry that the French cannot show the same attitude on Algeria (or colonialism in general), or the Americans on Vietnam, or the Japanese in China and Korea. If these nations could be more humble and more conciliatory, I am convinced the relations between them would be better too. There is no reason, in particular, why relations between South Korea and Japan should be tense over their history. It is a failure on the part of the Japanese and I think they could learn from the Germans on that mark.

We overcome past injustices, first of all, by them being recognized. Second, by their being apologized for. Third, abandoning the practices that led to them. Finally, by creating new images and symbols of reconciliation. This is not possible if the original crime is not recognized. Thus, as the most current example, if the West does not consider the displacement of Algerians by Europeans a crime, if it does not consider colonialism (coercive rule by and undue influence of foreigners) a wrong, then we can only expect these crimes to be repeated. And they have been repeated, by the French in Central Africa, the Israelis in Palestine, the Americans in the Iraq.

If we do not recognize these as crimes, then obviously we are lost. We would consider Jews and Poles and Russians naturally unsafe if the Germans did not consider anything they did between 1933 and 1945 to be particularly unjust.

The Arabs today are in a similar position. And, I think it is uncontroversial to say, many more hundreds of thousands of them will die because of the vast power of America, and an unreconstructed view of history will have been part of the cause.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 1:43 pm
Ombrageux, perhaps you can enlighten us all by posting a list of all the crimes anyone ought to be apologizing for in one handy document. And as a show of good faith on your part, why not list Arabs' sins first?
Posted by: Gene at April 9, 2010 1:51 pm
This is precisely why I gave up trying to engage San Francisco liberals in debate many years ago; when your world view is anchored in belief fueled by emotion, critical thinking is the first casualty. The 1930s weren't a wakeup call; nothing else will be.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 3:10 pm
Lars,

Much of what people like Bruckner call 'denunciation of the west' is also just as clearly a call for the west to live up to values which are putatively 'western' and thus not really a denunciation of the west at all.

And when dud those values become "Western", lars? At what point in history has western Europe ever demonstrated it even believes in the values put forward as "western" these days, let alone made more than a token attempt to live up to them?

I suggest that happened in 1945 when the UN was founded. Which makes them UN values, not western values. Though the UN was created by westerners, eh? And then those values were retroactively attributed to western culture without any evidence of that actually being the case.

If someone castigates a western leader like George Bush for being hypocritical for extolling democracy while at the same time maintaining cozy relations with China, well that critique is not a denunciation of the west but a call for a leader to practice what he preaches.

The US is not part of the "west". We got kicked out of the club. So, kindly leave us out of your self-hate fest :)
Posted by: Craig at April 9, 2010 3:12 pm
And any descendants of Roman, Greek or Egyptian slaves out there due some apologetic "reparations"? I just have to laugh and move on.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 3:21 pm
You can be an ignoramus, but ill will is less justifiable. Of course the Arabs have done crimes. I would note that Arabs have hardly governed themselves at all for some 200 years. It has only been foreign empires (Ottoman, European) or domestic despots (often installed and supported by foreigners). They are the weak.

As I have said in other places, the need for responsibility is proportional to one's power. I do not say this to be cartoonish. I am realistic. Americans are on the whole not really capable of understanding any morality more sophisticated than the dictum expressed by the various Spiderman comics, cartoons and films. If they were able to actually acknowledge it, it would be a great advance over the current Rambo-morality.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 3:36 pm
Paul, I recently came across a listing of catastrophic death-counts with man-made causes and was more than a bit surprised to discover that the top 5 genocides in history were all in east asia. The mongols alone are credited with causing nearly 200 million deaths, and there is another event of similar scale ~1000 years before that. Even in the 20th century the crimes of Staling exceed those of Hitler, and the crimes of Mao exceed those of Stalin. I suppose when westerners are too "sensitive" to even label what the Turks did to Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks as genocide, there isn't much hope of us ever viewing world history with an unbiased perspective. Seems a bit odd that we are biased against ourselves first and foremost, though. When did the west decide that the truth wasn't good enough, and that double-standards were in fact some sort of noble struggle against hypocrisy, when everyone else considers double-standards to be a form of hypocrisy themselves?

Lars, those "western values" you were talking about actually started as specifically American values, which is what makes it really sad that we got kicked out of the secret society :(
Posted by: Craig at April 9, 2010 3:38 pm
Craig,

We're just too simplistic for sophisticates like Ombrageux in not acknowledging that success should make us feel terribly guilty. Maybe if we adopted the "new" vision that doesn't need any stinkin' lessons from history we'd see the light. That chapter about the Marshall Plan? Rip it out.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 3:47 pm
Paul S. - If the Italians still cited Roman slavery as a good example, and acted upon it by buying up Libyans, Syrians and Germans to build up stadiums, I would speak up for them. This isn't happening so Roman slavery is irrelevant.

It so happens that neofascist Europeans and neoconservative Americans both cite a congenitally dangerous, "eternal Muslim" opposed to Western civilization. They do this exclude Muslims in Europe and assault their countries in the Middle East. It so happens that racism is alive and well in most countries and has resulted in the systematic incarceration of Black people in the U.S.A. It so happens the myth of the "progressive empire" was maintained, by both France and the U.S.A., and this exercised itself in French support for the genocidal regime in Rwanda and the decade-long American project to destroy Iraq, despite the wishes of the Arabs.

It is not a question of reparations. It is one of memory. One who does not acknowledge a past wrong is liable to repeat it, because he does not think it a bad thing. That is why people are rightfully shocked by Ahmadinejad's negationist attitude towards the Holocaust. Jews do not have a monopoly on suffering however. And if Iran today is, yes, still a weak state with an economy and military budget less that 1% that of the West, the U.S. and Western Europe still represent the great powers of this Earth. As such, their white lies and self-deceiving, self-flattering mythologies have much more influence in the world, and tend to cause much, much more damage.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 3:47 pm
Ombi, you're at least good for comic relief. And not worth a keystroke more.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 3:51 pm
You are simpletons, frankly. Hitler, by both the Holocaust and the war against Russia, killed far more people than either Mao or Stalin. You also omit innumerable crimes of the West that indeed killed millions, of which I would cite especially the Congo Free State, the Irish Potato Famine, and the German war against Namibia (the British exported food even at its height).

The Marshall Plan was a good program that helped Europe's recovery. Of course, people assume it was main or even sole cause of Europe's postwar growth, which is absurd. This we see in that, for example, the biggest recipient was Britain who failed to grow as much in the postwar years as did the continental countries, and France had solid growth for 30 years despite the fact it squandered twice the amount of all Marshall aid on wars in Indochina and Algeria. There are also studies on this showing the impact of Marshall aid, notably by the economist Alan S. Milward.

But the point here is not say that Westerners share a unique guilt. The point is that those with power abuse that power. The West had power over the entire world with the exception of the Japanese empire and few minor holdouts (Ethiopia, Liberia). The system imposed was one of White supremacy and the peoples of Asia and Africa do not have fond memories of it. This was not a reflection of some unique European predisposition for domination. The Japanese, the only non-Western country to develop, used its newfound powers for very similar ends, notably the conquest of Korea, Taiwan, Manchuria and, much more brutally, China proper.

But people willfully misunderstand. They are so enamored with a parochial, selfish, vain vision of themselves that they cannot understand others. Yet every person, and each nation, only sees the world from one narrow point of view. Like the blind men touching the Elephant, they cannot hope to understand what the animal really is on their own. Until you, and many others, consider the Arab and the European (and many others) an equal, you will not have understood. Until you are shocked that Americans coopted European governments to go to war despite their public opinion, until you agree that a war of "liberation" is essentially coercive if the people of that region (the overwhelming majority of Arabo-Muslims) oppose it, until then you will have a colonial mindset. One that is very common across America and, I repeat, leads to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 4:03 pm
Paul S. - And there are actually substantive points. If they're beyond your little slice of suburbia I can't help that. Just count yourself lucky that no college professor was able to poison your brain with capacity for thought beyond flag-waving and mud-slinging.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 4:05 pm
This quote speaks a lot of truth about how many of us in the West view ourselves, our society, our history, and our culture. I *do* think nations should apologize and make amends as best they can, but recognizing your wrongs doesn't mean you should flagellate yourself for eternity.

But as importantly, it also clear that the rest of the world knows that the West is like this now, and often takes full advantage of it. The examples are almost too numerous.

The European/American slave trade has been highlighted, studied, condemned, etc., as it should be. However, the Arab slave trade (in Africa and, yes, even Arab slave raids into Europe) have not had the same publicity. Nor have West African nations who gladly supplied slaves to Europeans for money (the Europeans rarely if ever caught slaves themselves, rather warring tribes would sell captives) had to face up to their role to the same degree. An Arab or African nation would likely not be very keen on being attacked for their historic role in slavery, so they continue to present it as an exclusively "Westerners against us" phenomenon.

The dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan is considered by many in the West to be the war crime par excellence. Some will even mention, "but the firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden were just as bad, if not worse!" This should be debated. Yet for many in the West, there is little desire to force Japan to account for its numerous (and likely, worse) civilian atrocities in China, Korea, etc. China and Korea have been forcing the issue as of late, but the US dropping atom bombs is much more likely to be condemned in Western academia today than the Rape of Nanking.

I spoke to an Arab Egyptian once who lamented that everything in the Middle East that was going wrong was accountable to the Brits and Americans tinkering in the region for the past 100 years. Fair enough, I responded, but if they caused such damage for 100 years, isn't it also fair to assume that the Ottoman Turks did much more harm, considering they were there for almost 500 years? Nope, he replied...Turks didn't cause any problems (*maybe he was expressing Islamic solidarity? better to be under the yoke of a Muslim for 500 than a dhimmi for 100?).

Again, the West's role in history should be examined and debated. But for many, history becomes a political football, rubbing Westerners' faces in their own shame while allowing the "victims" of the world a free pass to commit many of the same crimes we continue to castigate ourselves for.

In my travels to the developing world, I've often been gently (and sometimes loudly) reminded that America treats their (fill in the blank) ethnic group in a racist manner. I'll often agree. But then, more often than not, I'll hear that same person unleash a hate-filled, racist tirade against their own Kurds, Chinese, Arabs, Berbers, etc.

If China becomes the dominant global power, I think the worldwide let's-share-our-pain will be over. They'll laugh at you, then put a bullet in your brain. For instance, Turkey has been very vocal as of late with Israel's "crimes" (though they don't involve Turkey at all). When China last year was killing off Uighurs (a Turkic people who are related to the Turks and who Turks are quick to point out are their brethren), Turkey issued a meek response. Expect more of that from growing powers.
Posted by: Kyle at April 9, 2010 4:07 pm
If only the atomic bombs dropped on Japan had been available sooner more Japanese lives might have been saved. BTW, compare photos of Hiroshima today to Detroit, Michigan; you may wonder who won.

Enough of this. I await Michael's next piece.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 4:22 pm
Kyle - It is true that blaming old colonialism is a common technique for this or that Third World government to remove attention from its own failings. Your examples, however, I think fail, and I will say why for each.

1) Slavery. The fact is, transatlantic slavery existed because of the need to grow mild intoxicants (tea, sugar, coffee) in the New World for the sake of Europeans. The Europeans had arms and cash Africans had never seen in exchange for slaves. This presented some unprecedented and perverse incentives, with shared but uneven responsibility somewhat akin to Northern countries (Soviet or Western) who sold arms to both sides of a conflict during the Cold War. The transatlantic slave trade was unique because it made a slave into an inescapable caste. Slaves in Africa or the Arab world would within a generation or two often be no different than the rest of society. In the New World, slavery meant Blackness (even if one intermarried), giving one permanent second class status. Its effects, in the inequality between Black and White in societies across the Americas, persist to this day, a legacy not present in African or Arab slavery.

2) The Rape of Nanjing is well-known and condemned by everyone. Westerners emphasize Hiroshima, Dresden and fire-bombing for the same reasons Germans emphasize the Holocaust in their national history more than they do the crimes of France in Algeria or Vietnam... I hope the point is self-evident enough. The Westerners can condemn Nanjing and all, which is fine, but it is much more meaningful for the Japanese to do so. I hope the reasons are obvious enough.

3) Racism is well-known in various forms throughout the world. It should be condemned wherever it is. But again, power matters. We can condemn Mugabe's racism against White farmers for example. But the fact is, I as a White person (for example) will in virtually no other circumstance be hindered by my skin either in employment, housing or education. Simply put, those who might hate me have no power. I will never need them. When a Westerner is racist, however, the consequences are potentially much more severe.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 4:22 pm
OB,

You are simpletons, frankly.

lol. Way to take the whole "moral high-ground" on the whole academic and intellectual freedom value that the west values so highly! Just make demeaning comments about people who fail to go along with the group-think, right?

Hitler, by both the Holocaust and the war against Russia, killed far more people than either Mao or Stalin.

The only way you can make that true for Stalin is if you attribute every death of World War II to Hitler. And you can't make it true for Mao at all.

Means: You lie

You also omit innumerable crimes of the West that indeed killed millions...

There were hundreds of entries on that list. I merely pointed out that the top 5 were all in East Asia.

...of which I would cite especially the Congo Free State...

I'm glad you mentioned that, since it was an example of not only genocide but slavery perpetrated by Europeans (Belgium) long after slaves were freed in America. Would you like to discuss that some more? I'm always interested in talking about the US not being the worst asshole in the world. You know that!

Maybe we can talk about how the Portuguese and Spanish (not Americans) caused ~100 million deaths in the Americas due to transmission of plagues and other diseases to the indigenous peoples as well? That was on a different listing since it didn't involve warfare. But you probably don't consider the Portuguese and Spanish to be properly European, am I right about that? I think I must be, how else could they get a pass?
Posted by: Craig at April 9, 2010 4:25 pm
Paul S. - Or consider this, what the if the U.S. had simply decided not to burn innocent men, women, children and babies alive in Japan? Can your brain even consider, for one minute, an alternative to lighting civilians on fire? And if you do consider it, you might tell me why *not* putting people on fire would be such a bad idea in the context of 1945. That you would could explicitly articulate that, to have the thought and not just the knee-jerk justification, that would already be progress..
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 4:26 pm
Hitler killed 11 million people in the Holocaust. The war he launched against Russia killed some 20-30 million. This is far more than Stalin ever killed (1 million in purges, c. 5-10 million in famine). Similarly it is less than the number who died under Mao. And I would note, having people die of starvation because of bad policies is not exactly the same thing as killing people in death camps as explicit policy!

I don't know why you need to be defensive to the point of hysteria. I have already said, it isn't about hurting any teenage nationalist's fragile ego. "But the point here is not say that Westerners share a unique guilt. The point is that those with power abuse that power." ...and when the Japanese (for example) had power, they abused it too. It is obvious that the Portuguese and Spanish are European. They were also extremely brutal. The Portuguese were extremely active in the slave trade, wrecking the Kingdom of Kongo. The Spanish were absolutely brutal, exterminating the inhabitants of the Caribbean and destroying the two great empires of the Americas.

1492 symbolically marks the beginning of extermination, enslavement and/or domination of the peoples of America, Africa and Asia by the West. We are on the way out of that period of history, but haven't quite left it yet.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 4:35 pm
Just to amend, for the sake of accuracy, more people died under Mao (40+ million) than can probably be attributed to Hitler (35-40 million). I would note the fact it not being intentional as a mitigating circumstance, and the fact Hitler was not allowed to kill as many people as he wanted to.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 4:39 pm
Any chance your parents can get a refund on your tuition?

Anyway, I'm gonna follow Paul's lead and decline to argue with somebody who just makes stuff up as he goes along and then insults anyone who challenges his alternate reality.
Posted by: Craig at April 9, 2010 4:42 pm
Ignorance is no excuse.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 4:59 pm
Craig,

This is why I call San Francisco Fantasy Island. Like an atheist in Vatican City, I am here.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 5:05 pm
And what the fuck does any of this have to do with San Francisco? Apart from creating a neat little stereotype, a little box to disregard others' experience of the world to excuse your own ignorance?
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 5:16 pm
Not guilt-related, but we've veered offroad anyway. Years ago, my first student, from Guangzhou, China, told me that, when The Cultural Disaster was imposed, her class was assigned a kid her age from the Army to teach math, her teacher having been sent north to farm. She and her classmates felt sorry for this kid, who knew little math, so they spent class periods teaching him what they'd learned. How much cultural collateral damage can be added to Mao's death toll?
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 5:24 pm
The cultural revolution was perfectly disastrous in many areas. It has a progressive role in some, notably in finally abolishing the practice of foot-binding in China. On the whole it was negative.

None of that excuses the evils of Western governments and coercive policies in the Middle East. We as Westerners are impotent to influence Chinese behavior except in the most marginal sense, sometimes it is not our business and it is up to the Chinese to rectify their own government (just as I would ask Frenchmen or Brits to invade the U.S. to stop McCarthyism or Segregation in the 1960s..). We do, in every country, have the ability to influence our own government and should work to make it moral.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 5:28 pm
Read: I would NOT ask Brits or Frenchmen..
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 9, 2010 5:39 pm
From the second comment:

"And I personally know plenty of smart people -- and I'll bet you do too -- for whom a belief in Western society's endless 'hypocrisy, violence, and abomination' is a foundation of their thinking."

First, I wouldn't call them "smart people" for hypocritically parroting a line like that. Second, I may know *of* plenty of people like that, but I have no desire to make their acquaintance.
Posted by: gus3 at April 9, 2010 6:25 pm
Ombrageux,

1. I agree that the legacy of slavery continues to cause problems in the West, but I disagree that the problem disappeared in the Arab world within a generation or two. Arabs still call blacks "abeed" (slave). This was touched on by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a black Somali (former) Muslim who used to live in Saudi Arabia. Also, look at Sudan and Darfur. Sudanese Arabs committing massacres (if not genocide) against black Darfuris. And different tribes in Africa still wage war against each other. It's a pattern of endless *ethnic* hatred that they won't be analyzing in their newspapers, won't be studying in their universities, and won't be debating in their coffee houses, like happens over here.

2. The Rape of Nanking is condemned by all...except Japan. The Holocaust being condemned by the Germans and Algeria being condemned by the French (while Japans hees and haws over Nanking and other numerous atrocities they committed) proves the point of the above quote: Westerners face up to their past (sometimes too much) while non-Westerners often don't at all.

3. OK, granted, Westerners having more power has (of recent history) caused more problems than vice versa. But what about non-Westerners killing non-Westerners? The Congolese hating you might not matter much to you, but he is causing the worst war since World War II. 5 million Congolese have died recently in war, but everyone is silent. Non-westerners don't care (and China is helping to pay some of the worst regimes in the world, and there are few citizens in China sounding the alarm or even caring). Westerners, who claim "human rights," are silent for most non-Western on non-Western violence (with the notable exception of Tibet), especially when the US or another western power supports a side. That goes for almost all of Africa's conflicts today. That goes for the butchery in Sri Lanka that has just ended. That goes for the endless Middle Eastern wars when Israel isn't involved.
Posted by: Kyle at April 9, 2010 7:10 pm
qed
Posted by: del at April 9, 2010 7:22 pm
Americans apologize for Vietnam? What twisted alternate reality is it that we should apologize for sacrificing thousands of our young men's lives in an attempt to, among other things, save the Vietnamese from the absolutely dehumanizing brutality of communist rule? You know, like the regime which took charge after masochistic Westerners pulled the rug out from under the war effort? The one that slaughtered or "re-educated" those who were deemed "politically incorrect"? The one which inspired the Khmer Rouge to make their own move?

Meh, at this point I can spot an Ombi diatribe by the first sentence alone (oh, the plodding predictability of the "intelligentsia").
Posted by: Squires at April 9, 2010 8:01 pm
"I agree that the legacy of slavery continues to cause problems in the West, but I disagree that the problem disappeared in the Arab world within a generation or two."

You aren't going to have much trouble with identity-politics grievance-mongers when your slave caste was mostly made up of female sex slaves whose infants were killed, and males who were castrated to make them more docile.

There's a reason you see a lot of blacks in the American south, and there's a reason you DON'T see a lot of them in Arabia.
Posted by: Squires at April 9, 2010 8:06 pm
Kyle,

It's interesting how societies selectively (myopically?) choose convenient, favored victims to lavish attention on.

Someone can confirm this, unless it's in the urban legend category: have there been more victims of jihadist violence in India than anywhere else?
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 8:08 pm
Ombrageux,

Just because [insert generic white president here] didn't grovel at Al Sharpton's feet, it doesn't mean that White Americans are proud of slavery.

I'll let George Orwell take it from here:

"The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States …"

Yes I got that quote from a Christopher Hitchens article

http://www.slate.com/id/2102723/
Posted by: Ali at April 9, 2010 8:23 pm
Paul S: have there been more victims of jihadist violence in India than anywhere else?

I haven't seen comparitive studies, but it seems that the largest numbers of jihadist victims in the modern era have been in Iraq and Algeria.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 9, 2010 8:58 pm
Ombrageaux: It so happens that neofascist Europeans and neoconservative Americans both cite a congenitally dangerous, "eternal Muslim" opposed to Western civilization.

You don't even know what a neoconservative is. They are the ones who thought, rightly or wrongly, that libertating Muslims from tyrannical rulers would reduce the level of hostility. As Paul Berman put it, "Freedom for others means safety for ourselves. Let us be for the freedom of others."

As you know, I write for a neoconservative magazine. I have opposed the "eternal Muslim enemy" thesis for as long as I have been writing. None of the people who argue with me are neoconservatives.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 9, 2010 9:01 pm
Thanks, Michael.

Maybe a more general term, like religious or sectarian violence is more applicable to India? When Mumbai was attacked, a figure I saw for historical in-country violence was much larger than I had expected.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 9:06 pm
Paul,

I don't know how much of the violence in India is Islamist and how much of it is simply sectarian. Sometimes those categories overlap, and sometimes they don't. In Iraq they overlapped a great deal, but they overlap a lot less in Lebanon. In Lebanon, atheists from different religiously-defined communities slaughtered each other like they did in the Balkans. At the same time, Hezbollah is a sectarian militia, but also an Islamist militia. I'm not exactly sure how this breaks down in India. My instincts tell me it's mostly sectarian, but that's a guess.

I also haven't seen any data on violence in India lately.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 9, 2010 9:17 pm
Racial prejudice in America, admittedly a deep stain historically, allows a student of history to dig deeper and appreciate the U. S. Army's Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which included 21 Medal of Honor recipients, as well as America's first black military aviation unit, the Tuskegee Airmen. Based on their superior skills, Tuskegee Mustang fighter pilots were requested as escorts by Army Air Force bomber crews.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 9, 2010 10:13 pm
"The Arabs today are in a similar position."

It's not the Arabs who are being threatened with annihilation, ombi. That show how phony and hypocritical your crocodile tears for Jewish holocaust victims are. Oh, and here's a historical news flash for ya, pal - the Jews of Europe did not have trillions of dollars of oil wealth at their disposal.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 9, 2010 11:40 pm
"And there are actually substantive points. If they're beyond your little slice of suburbia I can't help that. Just count yourself lucky that no college professor was able to poison your brain with capacity for thought beyond flag-waving and mud-slinging"

At least Paul has a brain, ombi, unlike your reptilian, knee-jerk left-wing amygdala.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 9, 2010 11:43 pm
"Similarly it is less than the number who died under Mao."

You're already changing your story, ombi, before it was Hitler killed way more than Mao. Thanks for proving your a shifty fraud.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 9, 2010 11:46 pm
This should give you something of a taste of what has transpired in India:
http://voiceofdharma.org/books/negaind/

The Indian subcontinent probably has suffered the most at the hands of Islam.. that is, not counting those nations which failed to sufficiently resist and were converted.

Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists are not "people of the book", they are what Muhammad called idolaters, whom he ordered were to be slain outright if they would not kiss the dirt at his feet - dhimmi status is not an option for them. Aside from the uncounted millions slain across centuries (and up to the present day) in the jihad, there's also the complete destruction of thousands upon thousands of temples and shrines, especially in the north. The Taj Mahal serves as a glaring symbol of Islamic chauvinism; a grand Hindu temple-palace plundered and turned into a gaudy tomb for a brutal foreign invader's wife.
Posted by: Squires at April 10, 2010 1:36 am
Kyle:
1. Point taken on Black people and the Arab world.

2. I would argue Westerners, like the Japanese, DO NOT face up to their past. Again, it was only in 2005 that France past a law making it mandatory to teach children about "the positive role of colonialism, particularly in North Africa". Americans, I think, never really came to terms with their own colonial tradition (Cuba, the Philippines) or their neocolonial one in Vietnam, Nicaragua, or indeed Iraq. At most, America is "incompetent" or "misguided" in the execution, but, to quote Reagan, burning down countless Vietnam villages and scorch children for life with Napalm remained "a noble cause". The Japanese are similarly awful on their role in WW2.

3. I am very aware of the violence in Congo,the biggest war since the Second World War, and the silence on it is a disgrace and, I think, a sign of neocolonial and racist, cavalier attitudes towards Black people. 1 Balkan dweller is worth about 1000 Africans, so to speak. Here the Western role, with the exception of purchasing raw materials, is rather muted. The West (France and the U.S.) DID play a significant role in starting the conflict however. France in helping the genocidal Rwandan state (barely eluded to by Sarkozy on his recent visit to Kigali, accidental "mistakes" but no apologies). The U.S. in encouraging the post-genocidal state (Tutsi-dominated under Paul Kagame) to invade Congo-Zaire. The context is complicated, but there was no reason to go to Kinshasa and there is evidence that the Western (American) media simply refused to acknowledge evidence of the Tutsis in turns massacring hundreds of thousands of Hutus. Howard French, a prominent U.S.-Africa journalist, later recognized and apologized for the failings, something the U.S. government has never done. (Although, to be clear, I don't think the West has done much to sustain the conflict, except perhaps by its inaction.)
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 2:11 am
Ali - And which totalitarianism do I admire? How do you surmise that from my posts? Why not address my points instead of weak, pathetic insinuations?

The fact is George Orwell hated liberal capitalism and hated the Cold War that the West undertook. He also hated the Soviet Union of course. But something Americans never understand or appreciate - their North American parochialism and ignorance prevents them - is that he was a proud, unreconstructed DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST. He was willing to fight and die for this, as evidenced in Spain, where he fought for what he saw as potentially being a first post-capitalist society (libertarian socialist, anarchist).

That he is coopted by every generation of American hawks, Cold Warriors, Terror Warriors, neocons and imperialists since the end of the Cold War is sad, but typical.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 2:15 am
"to quote Reagan, burning down countless Vietnam villages and scorch children for life with Napalm remained "a noble cause".

You're such a wonderful example of why I don't waste time on the left.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 10, 2010 2:22 am
Totten - No, that is neoconservative mythology. They believe in the kind of "democracy" that lets wars be launched in a region despite the massive opposition of public opinion of both its subject (the Arab world) and its executioners (the Europeans).

The incoherence of the project was obvious from the start. Most notably in being pro-Israel and pro-democracy at once. The Arabs hate Israel - whether as many allege because they are inherently hateful or antisemitic, or because of the enduring humiliation of Palestine - and virtually every Arab democracy would be anti-Israel. And indeed, where can vote freely, we are surprised they elect a Hamas or a Hezbullah from time to time. If Iraq consolidates itself into a stable, quasi-democratic and independent state (IE, not dependent on US aid or arms to survive) then it is obvious that it will become intensely anti-Israel. Thus, you will excuse me if I sniff at the pious calls of the neocons about "democracy"..

Although, to be clear, I use "neoconservative" to describe American unilateralists, hawks, and imperialists. In practice, it means those who continue to defend (for example):
* The US having a 17-1 advantage in nuclear weapons over the USSR by 1962
* The American war in Vietnam
* American promotion of civil wars in Nicaragua, Angola and El Salvador (among others)
* American destruction of foreign democracies, including Iran, Congo and Chile
* American conspiracies to wage aggressive war, most notably on Iraq

Neocons are a group of Americans who broadly support of all these actions, at least in principle. I didn't make this up. I've lived in DC and they are very real indeed, particularly but not only in much of the Republican Party. It is a valid shorthand for imperialist, unilateralist, warmonger, UN hater, international law hater, etc.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 2:24 am
Gary Rosen - I'm allowed to amend my posts. I don't have perfect knowledge of every historical and current event or fact. Being able to revise one's views with new information is a critical part of intellectual honesty. You should try it.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 2:26 am
What is the only democracy in the Middle East where politicians don't get car-bombed?

What is the only country in the world that has nuclear weapons, but has never threatened to annihilate anybody?

What is the only country in the Middle East where ombi can express his views freely?

What is the only country in the Middle East where extremist, annihilationist rhetoric is not tolerated?

What is the only country in the Middle East that ombi wants to criticize?

The answer to all these questions is Israel.
Posted by: Ali at April 10, 2010 2:26 am
Paul - That is what the Americans did. Indiscriminately from the air, a little more circumspection on the ground, to defend a state (Republic of Vietnam) which had no popular legitimacy, and as a result, could not maintain itself in the face of a comparably sized, equally poor North Vietnam.

And for this, are we to "defend" anyone by burning them alive from the air? That is what the Americans did. There is nothing noble about burning down a peasant's village or scarring the back of a child for life.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 2:31 am
Ali - What does that have to do with anything? That Israel proper is democratic (although Arab Israelis do not have representation equal to their population) is fine and good. Israel's conduct for 40 years in the West Bank and Gaza, however, was the definition of undemocratic because it denied both citizenship and self-determination to millions of people.

In addition, I point out that democracy and pro-Israeli feeling are INCOMPATIBLE in the Arab world. The Arabs are on the whole extremely anti-Israel, whether you agree with them or not. Therefore, one cannot have both a policy of pro-democracy in the Arab world and one-sidedly pro-Israel otherwise. If it isn't disingenuous, then it is incoherent and it is stupid. It leads to President Bush piously talking about self-determination and democracy one day, and sanctioning Hamas and Hezbullah, and support Israeli wars against Gaza and Lebanon the next.

I repeat: Why am I a totalitarian? How do you determine that? Which ideology do I admire? Or was that another slur because you don't have anything of value to say?
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 2:36 am
Whom has America threatened to annihilate, Ali? (Well, upon reflection...I guess MAD would qualify, wouldn't it? So I retract the question.) I like your other points though.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 10, 2010 2:37 am
Ombi: One cannot have both a policy of pro-democracy in the Arab world and one-sidedly pro-Israel otherwise.

Why not? Our support for Israel in no way contradicts our support for democracy, such as it is, in Lebanon and Iraq. (Hezbollah has never won an election in Lebanon, by the way.)

I'd like to see democracy in other Arab countries, as well. Why shouldn't I? I think every country on earth should be democratic. That doesn't mean I have to agree with the opinions and choices of everyone who lives in every country on earth. That's not even possible.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 10, 2010 2:51 am
Ali: What is the only country in the Middle East where ombi can express his views freely?

Ombi could also express his opinions freely in Lebanon. There is no state sanction against any opinion in that country.

There are ruthless killers who operate there and assassinate journalists with car bombs, but they are servants of a foreign dictatorship. They wouldn't hurt our friend Ombi, however, because he regularly posts that dictatorship's talking points on my blog.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 10, 2010 2:54 am
What IS important is that freedom of choice exists. What results will be the consequences of those choices, from which I hope the choosers will learn.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 10, 2010 2:55 am
Totten - Because, many Middle Eastern countries are only kept pro-American and pro-Israel because they have dictatorships that suppress opinion which are dependent on America. I think especially of Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia.

The fact of the matter is, democracy in the Arab world will often produce anti-Israel regimes. It did in Gaza and parts of Lebanon. We have not yet seen what would happen if a large country flipped (Algeria, Iraq, Egypt..). But, in my mind, any independent, democratic Arab state is likely to be extremely anti-Israel. We will of course see as Iraq develops, although we have seen how much Americans care for Arab opinion in the past.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 2:59 am
BTW - It is not just the Iranians that believe the U.S. has undue influence or that Israel is a colonial state in the occupied territories. Whatever the Iranians have right on this mark doesn't excuse the repression of women, gays and their own people of course. Western conscious, and in particular American, can be clear of those evils until their government begins giving $3 billion in arms each year to the Iranian government to pursue those policies.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 3:01 am
Read: "conscience"
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 3:02 am
Ombi: The fact of the matter is, democracy in the Arab world will often produce anti-Israel regimes.

So what? Iraq is a heck of a lot less hostile to Israel now that Saddam Hussein no longer rules it. And Lebanon's Sunni leaders have repeatedly said they want to return to the armistice with Israel.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 10, 2010 3:18 am
Totten - You are correct, and I suspect that wil remain the case so long as over 100,000 American soldiers are in Iraq, and the government is so weak that needs American military and material aid to survive.

However, if and when a stable, non-dependent state emerges in Iraq, it will be free to tell the Americans unflattering truths. The government, in such a situation, would no longer cease publishing statistics on deaths in Iraq based on the number of bodies in morgues. And, I think, the government would take a strong symbolic position against Israel, whether by giving some of their oil revenue to the Palestinians, or the more belligerent action Iran takes. Part of this of course depends on whether Iraq remains a dependent state and, if it does, whether its dependence is oriented towards the United States or Iran.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 3:27 am
Ombrageux,

I don't particularly care how anti-Israel the Arab countries are as long as they don't start more wars over it. The Middle East has had more than enough war already.

Turkey and Greece hate each other, but they don't fight anymore. Heck, they're both in NATO.

Democratic governments are accountable to their populations, and governments that are accountable to their populations are a lot less likely to start wars. You'll notice that the 2006 war in Lebanon was not started by the Lebanese government, but by an Iranian proxy militia.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 10, 2010 3:32 am
"the government is so weak that needs American military and material aid to survive."

Apparently our friend hasn't noticed how many operations have been handed over to Iraqis.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 10, 2010 3:36 am
Case in point:

"US returns Operating Station to Iraqi Forces"

"BASRAH – As the U.S. military continues drawdown plans while advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces here, more and more bases are being returned to the Government of Iraq...The returns also serve as testament to how security is improving in Iraq"

http://www.usf-iraq.com/news/headlines/us-returns-operating-station-to-iraqi-forces
Posted by: Paul S. at April 10, 2010 3:50 am
On a personal note, I'm so proud of the brave Iraqi and coalition members who have brought that country to its current state of stability; they are among my modern day heroes.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 10, 2010 4:16 am
Ombi this is what i said on the post right before this one

if you take out the government of a random Middle Eastern dictatorship (basically all of them, except for Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel), you would end up with a whole lot less extremist preachers, mosques where extremists breed, tv channels where antisemitic conspiracy theories are disseminated, and a whole lot less state-sponsored terrorists. Sure, democracy in the Middle East might seem like a pie-in-the-sky theory at first, but if you build the institutions of democracy and give them some time to take root before you have elections, then I am confident that a much more moderate version of Islam will become mainstream.

Give iraq some time (~10 years) and you will find that they will become much friendlier with israel.

Ombi, i am an arab and a muslim. you might think that you are a champion of the "arab cause", but you are wrong. you are only championing the fantasies in which arabs have confined themselves.
Posted by: Ali at April 10, 2010 4:22 am
Totten - Anti-Israel governments would:
* Stop the blockade on Gaza (in Egypt)
* Actively arm Palestinian groups so they can defend themselves (Hamas, Fatah)
* Actively participate in war against Israel (Hamas, Hezbollah, which isn't just an Iranian proxy - anymore than Israel is controlled by the U.S. - but the democratically elected representatives of Shia Lebanon)

Until Israel withdraws to Israel proper we can expect democratic Arab states to follow these kinds policies. As Iraq regains its integrity and independence, it is singularly naive, but sadly representative of muddled neoconservative thought, to think it will not embrace at least rhetorical rejection of Israel, and perhaps much more.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 4:26 am
And by way, Greco-Turkish hatred is an enduring. Part of the reason Greece is in trouble now is because it spends 4.5% of GDP on defense (3 times as much as other Europeans). There is the endless Cyprus saga. And, icing on the cake, the eternal nonsense over "FYROM"/Macedonia.. No one has a monopoly on nationalistic idiocy.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 4:28 am
Paul, yes i was talking about MAD and Israel might soon have to adopt MAD doctrine when mad ahmad(inejad) gets his nukes.

Michael and Paul, how do you think the Iraqi elections are going to turn out? Who do you think is going to be prime minister?

how is egypt dependent on america? you have obviously never watch egyptian state television. I have. nothing will happen if economic aid to egypt is eliminated.
Posted by: Ali at April 10, 2010 4:31 am
Egypt is the second largest recipient of American aid. This makes Mubarak, the head of a very large but also very poor country, naturally quite sensitive to the requests of the American government.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 4:35 am
You're still not saying how the elimination of aid would affect mubarak's regime
Posted by: Ali at April 10, 2010 4:36 am
Ombi: Until Israel withdraws to Israel proper we can expect democratic Arab states to follow these kinds policies.

But the governments of Lebanon and Iraq, the two Arab democracies, don't follow those policies.

Hezbollah can't win an election in Lebanon. The political heads of Iranian proxy militias can't win in Iraq.

The only Arabs who gave a Resistance Bloc party a majority of votes are Palestinians, and a large number of them only did so as a protest against Fatah.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 10, 2010 4:59 am
Ombi, people who are anti-israel are just that, anti-israel. they are not anti-occupation. they are not anti-netanyahu. they are not anti-livni. they are not pro-palestinian and 99 times out of a hundred they're antisemites
Posted by: Ali at April 10, 2010 5:05 am
Ali - We will have to agree to disagree there. In the West, I don't think Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and their liberal and student followers are driven by antisemitism. I also think that if *any* people, European, Hindu, Orthodox or what have you, occupied 5 million Arabs in the Middle East, settled their land, and deprived them of self determination... I think those people would be opposed by most Arabs regardless of their ethnicity.

It is true that there is some autonomous antisemitism independent of this. This however does not excuse Israel's behavior. Until Israel either withdraws to Israel proper or grants the Palestinians equal citizenship, opposition to Israel is legitimate.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 10, 2010 5:29 am
OB,

Being able to revise one's views with new information is a critical part of intellectual honesty. You should try it.

You should try making sure you are right before calling the people you disagree with "simpletons" and then spamming them with misinformation. Because, "revising" your comments later doesn't really fix that.

I see that you've started spamming the thread now. Does being an example of the kind of mentality this post was about really bother you so much?
Posted by: Craig at April 10, 2010 5:31 am
"It's pretty clear here that ombi just wants Jews dead.Totten - Because, many Middle Eastern countries are only kept pro-American and pro-Israel because they have dictatorships that suppress opinion which are dependent on America. I think especially of Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia."

What color is the sky in your world, you mendacious nitwit? Saudi Arabia "pro-Israel"??????? I guess your idea of a moderate Arab is someone who wants to kill all the Jews quickly without torturing them.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 10, 2010 10:32 am
"I'm allowed to amend my posts."

You didn't "amend" your post, you just changed your argument without admitting you were wrong in the first place.

"I don't have perfect knowledge of every historical and current event or fact."

The rest of us here already know that, which is why we think your posts are just so much horseshit.

"Being able to revise one's views with new information is a critical part of intellectual honesty. You should try it."

I have not only "tried" it but practiced it. I used to be a typical lazy leftist but when I saw the captive regimes collapse in the '80s and how much the people there really hated them I realized Reagan was right when he spoke of the "evil empire". In fact, that is almost the definition of the "neocons" you deride - former leftists who acknowledge changing their minds when the facts proved their previous beliefs to be wrong. That makes neocons the most intellecually honest group around.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 10, 2010 10:40 am
I second Ali's comment above about the anti-Israel crowd. They are not anti-occupation, they are not anti-oppression, just anti-Israel, period. How many of them were concerned about the 100,000+ men, women, and children who were brutally murdered during Algeria's civil war? How many of them were up in arms over the massacre of 10,000 - 25,000 men, women, and children in Hama, Syria (a crime for which the Assad clan is responsible). In fact, how many of them are concerned about the self-determination of the inhabitants of most Arab states?
Posted by: Harold at April 10, 2010 10:41 am
"until their government begins giving $3 billion in arms each year to the Iranian government"
(obvious reference to American aid to Israel)

ombi, is it tough getting around only on a bicycle and refusing to ride in cars and fly on airplanes? Because surely you are too righteous and honorable to purchase the petroleum products from the bloody repressive regimes of the Mideast, an amount of money that dwarfs American aid to Israel.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 10, 2010 12:17 pm
Come to think of it, bicycle tires are now made of synthetics derived from petroleum products so I guess ombi just walks around barefoot.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 10, 2010 12:23 pm
The Graeco-Turkish hatred is subsiding, even if it is being supplanted with a mere mutual suspicion. The so-called "earthquake diplomacy" exhibited by Greece after the 1999 Izmit caught Turkey by surprise. Turkey reciprocated a month later when Athens was hit with another earthquake, and Turkish aid was the first to arrive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek%E2%80%93Turkish_earthquake_diplomacy
Posted by: gus3 at April 10, 2010 2:15 pm
I would have thought the one thing the world has not lacked over the last x decades, it is Western intellectuals denouncing Western imperialism.

I have no objection to acknowledging the past, as long as it is acknowledging all the past.

One of which is imperialism is what rulership does: indeed, has done since rulership first began. The West conquered most of the world because it could (though the highpoint of Western imperialism was relatively brief: 1878-1939). Then it decided that was a bad idea and let the colonies go. Sometimes peacefully, sometimes not, leaving very mixed legacies behind it. (It is generally much better to have be a former British colony than a former Spanish or Portugese one, for example.)

One of the reasons imperialism got discredited is so much of Europe was subject to the Nazi version.

Imperialism is not even remotely some uniquely Western sin and, as the decades pass, Western imperialism is less and less relevant to talk about it when considering contemporary issues. Afghanistan, for example, suffers all the problems of the Middle East to the nth degree but was never a European colony: at least not prior to being a victim of Soviet imperialism.

The other side of imperialism is that Western imperialism was so successful because Western societies had become dramatically more effective than other societies. It is in many ways more disastrous to acknowledge the failings, but not the strengths, of Western societies than to do the reverse: since if you define virtue against success, you are going to end up promoting a lot of failure.
Posted by: Lorenzo at April 10, 2010 2:45 pm
The transatlantic slave trade was unique because it made a slave into an inescapable caste. Slaves in Africa or the Arab world would within a generation or two often be no different than the rest of society. In the New World, slavery meant Blackness (even if one intermarried), giving one permanent second class status. Its effects, in the inequality between Black and White in societies across the Americas, persist to this day, a legacy not present in African or Arab slavery.
(1) The first anti-black discourse was a North African Arab-Muslim one, justifying enslaving blacks en masse rather than converting them to Islam.
(2) A major factor in the lack of a black underclass was that so many male slaves were turned into eunuchs, a process that had a horrific death rate.
(3) The Muslim world slaved wherever it could, which did indeed limit the association of skin colour with slavery. White slaves, however, always had higher status and higher prices: due to a mixture of greater scarcity and higher skills. So, even within slaves, blacks were looked down on.
(4) The death toll from Muslim slavery was, almost certainly, much greater than the Transatlantic slave trade: it was at least comparable.
(5) The Transatlantic slave trade "piggy-backed" off the already existing slave-taking-and-selling infrastructure from the Muslim slave trade
(6) That only blacks were slaves in the Americas did, indeed, lead to noxious racism. But that was in large part because it was such an affront to "all equal in the sight of God" and "All men were created equal" that the humanity of the blacks had to be attacked to justify their exceptional treatment.(7) The first countries to permanently abolish slavery were all European. The last countries to abolish slavery were all Muslim.
Like I said, it is important to acknowledge all the past.
Posted by: Lorenzo at April 10, 2010 3:06 pm
Until Israel either withdraws to Israel proper or grants the Palestinians equal citizenship, opposition to Israel is legitimate.
Criticism of Israeli policy is legitimate. Certain forms of resistance to Israeli policy are legitimate.
Opposition to Israel as a state is not.
Also, peace is a bit hard if every time the Israelis withdraw from a territory, they get attacked from it. That is called, I believe, "negative incentives".
Posted by: Lorenzo at April 10, 2010 3:11 pm
I wonder how the flight of Jews from Arab lands and the slow-motion exodus of Christians from the Middle East, particularly the persecution of Christians in the Palestinian territories, fits into the Western/Israeli power=guilt analysis.

The description of Israel as an "apartheid state" is actually somewhat instructive, if one compares the black opposition to apartheid to the way the Palestinian cause has been prosecuted. Mandela was offering something de Klerk could agree to because, despite blacks being a large majority. For there was simply not the level of brutality, hate, and rejection of white presence that made it appear an act of collective suicide. The fanaticism of Hamas, the violence and corruption of Fatah, the religious edge to the hatred, the refusal to make any serious peace offers (or respond seriously to Israeli ones) all compare very unfavourably with the performance of the ANC.

Moreover, a wish to see the end of Saddam Hussein's regime is not a wish to destroy Iraq.

One also cannot understand the Middle East unless one understand the role of anti-Zionism as a useful scapegoat for oppressive regimes and the wish to keep Palestinians as stateless-sticks to beat Israel with.
Posted by: Lorenzo at April 10, 2010 3:27 pm
"That makes neocons the most intellecually honest group around."

I forgot to add, "by ombi's own definition" bwahahaha.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 10, 2010 3:29 pm
Ali,

The recent Iraqi election...with Allawi's alliance securing 91 seats in parliament, and Al-Maliki's getting 89, this looks way to close to call short term and, even moreso, long term. Maybe al-Hakim's faction only getting 70 seats is the best news to come out of it. So, federalism vs. centralism, oil revenues, the oil wealth up north in particular...lots to sort out. Thanks to BusinessWeek's reporters and others for the facts.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 10, 2010 4:12 pm
Ombi,

Chomsky is not an antisemite. He's exactly the type of person that Bruckner is talking about. He lives in a fantasy world where terrorists are actually good upstanding citizens who are forced to fight American imperialism. He says incredibly stupid things like "if you want Muslims to stop killing you, stop killing them." So basically, resistance to terrorism causes terrorism. Those upstanding citizens also happen to be raging antisemites. So Chomsky is an antisemite by association. He doesn't understand that the people he defends want to kill him too because of the fact that he was born Jewish.
Posted by: Ali at April 10, 2010 7:16 pm
"In the West, I don't think Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and their liberal and student followers are driven by anti-Semitism"

They may not have been initially motivated by anti-semitism but it is surely a large part of their universe. And it is just the type of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo that would appeal to you and like minded individuals to justify the leftist, anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments.

"occupied 5 million Arabs in the Middle East, settled their land, and deprived them of self determination"

Your understanding of history is outstandingly poor, amateurish and largely devoid of reality. But hey, why confuse you with the facts…
Those poor Palestinians who are so occupied that their standard of living has increased immeasureably since 1967, that now have 3 universities where before 1967 there were none. (as an example of suffering)
Those same Arabs who had so many chances to compromise with Israel and rejected every one. They could have had a productive self-sustaining country. But I guess religion trumps that! They don’t want compromise, they want the end of Israel. And now with Iran fomenting trouble, they can kiss their independence good-bye.
If they had bothered to use all those billions they’ve received to create an infrastructure that a state requires, they could have had one a long time ago. But no, they would rather kill Jews!

In 1948, Ben Gurion decided half a loaf was better than none; but up to now the Palestinians firmly believe that no loaf is better than half or was it better than 97%.

“self-determination”
Right…that’s why the majority of Arabs in eastern Jerusalem would be in favour of becoming Israeli citizens rather than living under their “liberating” Arab brethren.

“Israel proper”

Which border are talking about…1967 armistice lines, 1949 lines,
Peel Commission proposal or the other White Papers ?
The Palestinians have been treated a hell of a lot worse by their Arab brethren than by the Jews and ironically enough if it hadn’t been for the Jews, the so-called Palestinians would never have existed. They would now be Syrians or Jordanians or whatever. Does anyone seriously believe that the area of Mandatory Palestine would have continued to exist had the Jews lost in ‘48 or even in ‘67??
Not a chance!!
Posted by: yesjb at April 10, 2010 7:33 pm
occupied 5 million Arabs in the Middle East, settled their land, and deprived them of self determination

This absurd situation would have ended decades ago if Palestinian leaders weren't hell-bent on denying Israelis the right to self-determination inside the 1967 borders. You know it, too, or at least you should.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 10, 2010 7:45 pm
Ombrageux:

Because this needs a bit of slapping around...

"who think its simply too much for France in particular and the West in general to say "sorry""

We HAVE been saying sorry almost continuously for almost half a century to every concievable group imaginable. It is necessary that it be so- for denial of crimes is to expand upon them- but it has gotten more than a little bit rediculous because it has lost absolutely all PERSPECTIVE.

"for enslaving millions Africans to be sent to America,"

"The West" has both apologized and paid quite handsomely over the years for it. Of course, what NOBODY is going to talk about are the indigenous slavers who sold their fellow Africans to the Western slavers.

"for having killed several million colonial subjects in the name of White supremacy"

In the name of White Supremacy? Sorry, guv'ner, but the vast, VAST majority of the death toll was in the Americas, and not even dealt DIRECTLY TO the native populace by the Europeans, but because of DISEASE almost always unconsciously. The colonial authorities were not angels by any measure of the imagination- particularly in the Americas- but neither were they all Hitlers or Stalins in dispostion and NONE of them were statistically (the closest was Leopold II- who was nearly lynched by the Belgian populace for it- and a few of Germany and Portugal's less charming colonial administrators).


"in Southeast Asia and North Africa,"

I call BS. Even going out of the way statistically- INCLUDING when those states were independent entities that in the later case routinely went on campaigns near or in Europe- you MIGHT get a grand total of three million dead from direct Western interaction, which would be the bare minimum of your "millions" remark. Compare this to the Japanese, who EASILY racked up a far higher kill counting in Southeast Asia alone during the few years they occupied it. Strange you don't mention THAT.

"And and (while we're at it) collaborating in the Nazi project and shipping off hundreds of thousands of Jews to the Reich under Vichy France. "

Wonderful. So what about the ACTUAL millions of people who actively fought the Nazis and their puppets and their Imperial predecessors and their Soviet inheritors to SAVE those Jews and the other oppressed peoples of a large portion of the World- YES, including Africa and Asia- from their tyranny and in many cases open extermination? Nevermind the fact that the ranks of THAT category far outnumber the ranks of the category you mentioned unless we are going to doublecount the Germans as Westerners (which they most assuredly did not view themselves as). So why do you insist the West must apologize profusely for the actions of a select few while ignoring the far larger numbers who bravely and honorably fought against such an abomination?

Why is it that you give the West all of the blame and none of the credit?

"The French State, in its unbound wisdom, even passed a law in 2005 making it mandatory for educators to emphasize "the positive role of French colonialism, particularly in North Africa"! "

Which is troublesome, but far, FAR less so than what the Algerian educational curriculum (or what is left of it) on the issue looks like, where it is literally VERBOTEN to mention ANY positive influences the French had and to more or less gloss over the fact it was mainly brought about by the incessant piracy coming forth from Algiers and its "sister ports." Both are negative and should not have happened in the first place, but which is more harmful? Particularly since the Algerian government has not allowed any dissent whatsoever to be heard on the issue, whereas Paris is in fact hearing several cases relating to the issue right now.

"I am sorry that the French cannot show the same attitude on Algeria (or colonialism in general), or the Americans on Vietnam, or the Japanese in China and Korea."

One of those is not like the other three. or perhaps you missed the fact that the FLN and the VM/VC/NVA killed more of their countrymen than the "Imperialists" did?

"If these nations could be more humble and more conciliatory, I am convinced the relations between them would be better too."

At some point in time, there is a line between humbleness and subservience. And Hanoi and Algiers have both been hammering far too hard on that line for far too long. When Hanoi admits that Ho Chi Minh and his comrades started the Indochinese War in an unprovoked attack on French forces during NEGOTIATIONS and purposefully sought to expand its power in contravention of the peace agreements it continuously signed and ignored and Algiers admits that the French didn't exactly decide to randomly waltz in one day but were reacting to CENTURIES of piracym that the FLN were not the innocent lambs they are often painted to be, and that the French upheld the bargain by trying to curb their own radicals (most notably when they rounded up the OAS), I MIGHT be willing to be receptive. Until then, forget it. Forgiveness is a two way street, and until that happens, any apologies on the issue would be wasted breath.

"There is no reason, in particular, why relations between South Korea and Japan should be tense over their history. It is a failure on the part of the Japanese and I think they could learn from the Germans on that mark."

Agreed. But I note you are using the most extreme case and then applying it to the others by extension.

"the West does not consider the displacement of Algerians by Europeans a crime,"

And what about the displacement of pro-French Algerians (and everybody and anybody associated with them, I might add) by the FLN, which was FAR larger and bloodier than the European displacement? At least the French have paid reparations for those displaced in the early years of colonialism. What have the Hakris gotten?


"if it does not consider colonialism (coercive rule by and undue influence of foreigners) a wrong,"

So I suppose the occupation of Germany and Japan after WWII with the intent of reforming those nations was "a wrong?" You are making generalizations so broad your case cannot help but fall into the maw of it. You are conveying a fairy tale version of history in which all the wrongs were committed by the Imperial West and none by the "natives." That was not how it was, and almost anybody who has actually STUDIED the issue could tell you that. Just because the colonials were not perfect (to understate the matter grossly) does not mean that the independentists were. If anything, the truth in many, MANY cases (cough cough EgyptLibyaAlgeriaTHESUDANCongoSouthAfrica-Remember Apartheid was instituted by the anti-British Boer government-VietnamBurmaIndonesiaSingaporeHongKongLaos cough cough cough) was closer to the inverse.

"And they have been repeated, by the French in Central Africa,"

How so?

"the Israelis in Palestine,"

So, the millennia-old Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, who were THE CONFIRMED MAJORITY AT EVERY RECORDED POINT IN HISTORY EXCEPT FOR THE VERY EARLY DIASPORA, and who fanatically opposed British Imperial control often to the point of violence ARE Imperialists? How does that fit into your lovely little lexicon there?

"the Americans in the Iraq."

Right. So much better to keep the Ba'ath party in power, imposing ITS foreign domination upon the Kurds and March Arabs while handily killing several of its own number just to keep things round while destabilizing the region. REALLY great moral compass you have there.

And what about the Chinese in Tibet (for fun, compare and contrast the British occupation of Tibet and the Chinese one) or Singkiang, the Russian one in Chechnya and Georgia (compare toto the Western one in Iraq and Afghanistan) the Turkish occupation of Cyprus and parts of Armenia, and pretty much anything Castro and Chavez have done. Ever.

So, why do you not feel like bringing THOSE up?

"Arabs have hardly governed themselves at all for some 200 years."

Blatantly false in Arabia and only SLIGHTLY less so in North Africa.

"domestic despots (often installed and supported by foreigners)."

So I suppose that lovely individuals like the Hashemites, the Rashidis, and the Saudis were completely installed by foreign powers and were utterly beholden to them in spite of their VERY frequently rebellious actions? Are we supposed to absolve "The Arabs" of responsibility for ALL their foreign despots, particularly the populist ones who came to power in revolutions/revolts/whatever word is chic now with popular support (Nasser, the Ba'athis, etc)?

"It so happens that neofascist Europeans and neoconservative Americans"

Don't think we appreciate getting lumped in as though we are absolutely no different from the Blackshirt brigade. We Neocons on both sides of the Atlantic aren't perfect and do tend towards hysteria, but there is, believe it or not, a difference.

"both cite a congenitally dangerous, "eternal Muslim" opposed to Western civilization."

And I take it you didn't bother to ask ALL Neocons (including myself) and ALL Neofascists (some of whom actually SUPPORT the Islamists) on that issue, ja?

And what about the fact that the Islamists were perhaps the ones who did it first by literally dividing the world in to (House of Islam House of War, etc)?

"It so happens that racism is alive and well in most countries"

Only most? Can I please see a few of those non-racist-containing countries so we can actually assess when the last inhabitants died?

"and has resulted in the systematic incarceration of Black people in the U.S.A."

Citations of this "systematic incarceration?"

And I note you forget the far, FAR more lethal and absolutely irrefutable "systematic genocide" of "Black People" in the Sudan.

"It so happens the myth of the "progressive empire" was maintained, by both France and the U.S.A.,"

It is hardly always a myth.

"and this exercised itself in French support for the genocidal regime in Rwanda"

Which did not aount to much.

"and the decade-long American project to destroy Iraq,"

A. You DO realize that Iraq is still there, right?

B. Oh, god save the poor oppressed genocidal militarist and (dare I say) imperialist dictator from the evil American plots!

"despite the wishes of the Arabs."

And this meshes with the fact that the "wishes of the Arabs" are now being aired in a genuine if unstable Republican Democracy how?

"It is not a question of reparations. It is one of memory."

True.

"One who does not acknowledge a past wrong is liable to repeat it, because he does not think it a bad thing."

True.

"Jews do not have a monopoly on suffering however."

No bloody kidding.

"And if Iran today is, yes, still a weak state with an economy and military budget less that 1% that of the West, the U.S. and Western Europe still represent the great powers of this Earth."

One could say the exact same thing about Germany in 1930 compared to "the U.S. and Western Europe"- even with the Depression kicking in. Look how THAT turned out.

"As such, their white lies and self-deceiving, self-flattering mythologies have much more influence in the world,"

Perhaps.

'and tend to cause much, much more damage."

Again, Germany and the USSR and the West post WWI. Look how that turned out. The "damage" caused by this "Western mythology" you mention will exceed those caused elsewhere only until the Iranian regime or a similarly unstable irrational actor acquires the means to carry out its wishes. We saw exactly this happen with Germany in 1848 and 1933 and the USSR in 1931 and the Chinese communists in 1949.

"As I have said in other places, the need for responsibility is proportional to one's power."

Perhaps, but that does NOT excuse the unimpowered of responsibility.

"I do not say this to be cartoonish. I am realistic. Americans are on the whole not really capable of understanding any morality more sophisticated than the dictum expressed by the various Spiderman comics, cartoons and films."

The IRONY. So, you go about ranting about how Americans cannot understand morality that is more complex than comics or cartoons while YOU have gone around using Avatar (as in the James Cameron movie, not the excellent "cartoon") as your great illustration of world history. It is ironic that you forget that several of those "comics, cartoons and films" possess vastly more moral complexity than the whole of your assertion- whatever their validity of an individual one- do. Just look up Gargoyles or Batman TAS for the most obvious examples of the second.

"You are simpletons, frankly."

The IRONY.

"Hitler, by both the Holocaust and the war against Russia, killed far more people than either Mao or Stalin."

While this isn't terribly relevant, that is ludicrously disputable. For one, that is only if you attribute EVERY SINGLE DEATH ON THE EASTERN FRONT TO HIM, which is ludicrously inappropriate considering the tit-for-tat brutality of the two sides, and it forgets both Stalin's famines and ethnic deportations and the deaths from the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe and Mao's general disregard for the countryside in the famines of the "Great Leap Forward" and his attacks in Indochina and Korea, and the invasions of Tibet and Singkiang.

"of which I would cite especially the Congo Free State,"

Which was brought to an end when the Belgian government realized what their king and his compadres were doing and threatened to outright dethrone and possibly shoot him if he did not yield the Congo over immediately.

"the Irish Potato Famine,"

Which was a natural disaster the British tried to alleviate. The resulting inefficiencies were mainly the result of bureaucratic screw ups rather than malice.

'and the German war against Namibia (the British exported food even at its height)."

Again, the Germans distinctly viewed themselves as being separate from the West, and indeed the British authorities actually DID care for those who managed to escape (as they importation of goods to the camps in South Africa showed).

Only the Congo comes close to the aforementioned ones, and that was largely the acts of an isolated madman who was stopped by his own government.

"Slaves in Africa or the Arab world would within a generation or two often be no different than the rest of society."

Not so, PARTICULARLY in the Arab World. Or perhaps you have forgotten about the history of slavery in Egypt and Arabia?

"consider this, what the if the U.S. had simply decided not to burn innocent men, women, children and babies alive in Japan?"

Than, by the orders of the Imperial War Council as cosigned by pretty much everyone in the Tokyo High Command above the rank of doorman, those innocent men, women, and children were to be armed and employed in the defense of the Empire to the last man using the war materials produced in the factories that were not firebombed as you propose, thus dragging out the war and causing the deaths of countless Westerners, Japanese, and, oh yeah, INNOCENT MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN ON THE ASIAN MAINLAND AT THE TENDER MERCIES OF THE IMPERIAL ARMY TRAPPED THERE.

"Can your brain even consider, for one minute, an alternative to lighting civilians on fire?"

Yes. Would you prefer to STARVE civilians in a lengthy blockade that will last years and prolong the bloodbath on the mainland? Or would you prefer invading the home islands of the Japanese Empire and thus watching those civilians be forced to launch suicide attacks upon the Allied soldiers attacking or be killed by the "commissars"- for lack of a better term- of the Imperial Army, thus forcing us to shoot, blow up, and presumably light on fire an even larger number of civilians?

"And if you do consider it, you might tell me why *not* putting people on fire would be such a bad idea in the context of 1945."

Yes. Because everybody save the die-hards in Tokyo wanted to end the war as quickly as possible to minimize the loss of life in the war. And the die-hards in Tokyo wanted to drag the war out more or less for that reason. The alternatives were an obscenely bloody amphibious invasion that would likely have left much of the Home Islands utterly depopulated while inflicting grievous casualties on us (consider: EVERY SINGLE PURPLE HEART AWARDED FROM 1946 THROUGH TO THE FIRST GULF WAR WAS MADE FOR THE EXPECTED CASUALTIES OF OPERATION DOWNFALL), or we could simply have starved them all out, damaging Japan even MORE fundamentally. Oh yes, and the Japanese armies on the mainland and in the godforsaken blockaded rocks in the Pacific were now living off the land and wrecking unholy havoc upon the civilian population for every day Tokyo stood defiant. Think fast.

"to quote Reagan, burning down countless Vietnam villages and scorch children for life with Napalm remained "a noble cause"."

Now you are just being dishonest. That in and of itself was not the noble cause. The noble cause was to contain Uncle Ho's aggression against pretty much the rest of Indochina so we could eventually try and reform and rebuild the South.
Or perhaps you ignore the fact that it was ultimately the North Vietnamese who started the war and spread it to the civilian populace by establishing their bases amongst them in contravention of the rules of war (take a look at the Ho Chi Minh trail). The napalm was the ugly MEANS to that cause.

"The Japanese are similarly awful on their role in WW2."

Hardly. THAT would be the current Communist Vietnamese government.

"But something Americans never understand or appreciate - their North American parochialism and ignorance prevents them - is that he was a proud, unreconstructed DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST."

When was the last time you read A Homage to Catalonia, idiot? Perhaps you should stop being so Racist towards North Americans. And YES, that is EXACTLY what it is.

"That he is coopted by every generation of American hawks, Cold Warriors, Terror Warriors, neocons and imperialists since the end of the Cold War is sad, but typical."

In large part because HE HIMSELF ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE. Or perhaps you missed the fact where he openly stated that the Capitalist, Imperialist West- and all its many, many, many, many, MANY faults- was better than the Soviets AND Maoist China? Perhaps it is telling that one of the greatest critics of the West's faults- both real and imagined- STILL saw it as the best hope for Democratic Socialism or any Democratic institution whatsoever.

"France in helping the genocidal Rwandan state (barely eluded to by Sarkozy on his recent visit to Kigali, accidental "mistakes" but no apologies). The U.S. in encouraging the post-genocidal state (Tutsi-dominated under Paul Kagame) to invade Congo-Zaire"

How? No, I sincerely would appreciate any clarification on how that occurred.

"* Actively arm Palestinian groups so they can defend themselves (Hamas, Fatah)"

They have been. MANY times over. Or perhaps you have forgetten the considerable amount of military aid they have been given pretty much continuously since 1948?

"* Actively participate in war against Israel (Hamas, Hezbollah, which isn't just an Iranian proxy - anymore than Israel is controlled by the U.S. -"

Proxy and "Controlled by" are not necessarily identical, as any examination of history should tell you.

"but the democratically elected representatives of Shia Lebanon) "

Which ones? The ones Syria deigns to allow into office?

"Until Israel withdraws to Israel proper"

Define "Israel proper." Or perhaps you miss the small fact that Israel isn't exactly the largest nation around?

"we can expect democratic Arab states to follow these kinds policies."

"As Iraq regains its integrity and independence, it is singularly naive, but sadly representative of muddled neoconservative thought, to think it will not embrace at least rhetorical rejection of Israel, and perhaps much more."

Regains? So you assume it had those things under Saddam? Then we must have very different definitions of integrity and independence. And Iraq already HAS begun rhetorical rejection of Tel Aviv. However, we do not particularly care about word games, and if anything a Democratic Iraq may have a positive effect on the cesspit known as the PLO (and I sincerely apologize to cesspits everywhere for the comparison).

"I also think that if *any* people, European, Hindu, Orthodox or what have you, occupied 5 million Arabs in the Middle East, settled their land, and deprived them of self determination..."

As Mr. Totten mentioned and I reiterate, you REALLY don't know the history of the Palestinian Mandate or Israeli citizenship requirements, DO you?

"Whatever the Iranians have right on this mark doesn't excuse the repression of women, gays and their own people of course."

Um, no mention of apocalyptic rhetoric, financing of terrorist groups, and unofficial invasions of Pakistan and Turkey?

Again, to wrap this massive thing up, I will say that you, Ombrageux, have proven Bruckner's point far better than he himself could have. Throughout your responses you have glossed over or grossly warped history, ignored many inconvenient truths to your philosophy, and in short have displayed what I can only characterize as a racist hatred of Westerners- and PARTICULARLY Americans- by holding them responsible for almost all the ills of the world, blowing their crimes out of all proportion, excusing those of other nations, all the while excusing the likes of the Japanese Empire, Ho Chi Minh, the FLN, the Islamists, and Mao from crimes of even greater magnitude by downplaying their actions. You have shown a SINGULARLY infantile knowledge of history that can readily be taken apart if you know much about the subject, and in short you have insisted on reading history as such that the West gets all of the blame and none of the credit. This is a crime on par of those of Leopold II's apologists and the rabid White Imperialist polemics who excused and warped around the history of the world to portray the saintly West as the only place that mattered. It is what I can only declare -as a historian, a Neocon, and American, a Democratic-Republican, and a human being- to be despicable.
Posted by: Turtler at April 11, 2010 12:46 am
Gary Rosen - Your mean spirited and hysterical responses don't deserve anything in return.

Harold - Many in the progressive crowd in France were very concerned about the French government's support for the Algerian military dictatorship at that time. However, Israeli oppression remains unique because it is the only one that is so actively subsidized by the U.S. (biggest recipient of military and other aid) and because it has been lasting for some 40 years.

Lorenzo - I appreciate you engaging with my points. I would agree that the eviction of Jews from the Middle East in 1948 should be recognized, and is in many ways equivalent to the removal of Palestinian Arabs from what would become Israel proper in that year. Without getting into crass moral calculus, I personally feel that because of these "mutual exoduses" and the granting of citizenship to Arabs remaining in Israel proper, that Israel's conduct was on the whole worthy of support in 1948.

I draw a distinction between that, the aggression of 1956, and the occupation since 1967. I also draw an even sharper distinction since Israel's existential security was assured in 1979 with the Camp David peace accords. Since then, Israel has had no excuse and the U.S. had no reason to subsidize them.

Ali - You caricature Chomsky. As an American, he works chiefly against the wrongs committed by the American government. As the strongest nation, these wrongs tend (not always) have a greater impact than others. We can cite the Cold War, Vietnam, East Timor, Iraq, etc. This does not mean he supports Hamas. During the Cold War, he also condemned the Soviet Union.

American imperialists always resort to the infantile "two wrongs make a right" school of thought. As though, because the Soviets put people in Gulags or Bin Laden is a terrorist, that means they are allowed to burn Vietnamese children alive or launch an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq. It is not true. Two wrongs do not make a right. One, back then, could oppose both Washington in Saigon and Moscow in Berlin. (Or, for that matter, Paris and London at Suez and Moscow in Budapest in 1956.) Manufactured bipolarity ("With or against", etc.) is one of the biggest impediments to American political development.

yesjb - Aside from your hateful and hysterical response, I will address the only substantive point or question you posed. For clarification, if need be, I consider "Israel proper" the land controlled before 1967. I consider it legitimate insofar as Israeli Arabs are equal citizens. Any extension beyond that would require that same citizenship to be extended to remaining Arabs of the occupied territories.

Totten - I really disagree. The fact is, if Egypt, a great state of 80 million Arabs, could not destroy Israel, how are 5 million Palestinians supposed to? The fact is, if after peace with Egypt and Jordan, Israel unilaterally and completely removed itself from the occupied territories (building a wall, if you wish), there would be a great deal more Israelis alive today. The Palestinians, even if they were interested in getting more, would be physically incapable of doing as much harm as they have done. We see this, for example, in the withdrawal from Gaza (most of those settlers then went to the West Bank, by the way). Even with Hamas in charge, they are scarcely able to kill more than two dozen Israelis with their rockets. Compare that with the casualties suffered because of the mingling of Israeli soldiers and settlers with the Palestinians during the intifadas...
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 11, 2010 1:26 am
Ombi: Israeli oppression remains unique because it is the only one that is so actively subsidized by the U.S. (biggest recipient of military and other aid) and because it has been lasting for some 40 years.

It's also unique in that the Palestinians keep saying "no" when the Israelis offer them statehood.

You know it, too, and you should stop pretending you don't.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 11, 2010 1:36 am
Ombi: Even with Hamas in charge, they are scarcely able to kill more than two dozen Israelis with their rockets.

As the West Bank surrounds Jerusalem on three sides and is only walking distance away, a withdrawal from the West Bank would have a very different result.

Maybe the Israelis should unilaterally withdraw anyway (though the Palestinian leaders in both Fatah and Hamas complain whenever Israel threatens to do it) and take the hits. They'd be more justified than they currently are when they shoot back.

But you shouldn't delude yourself into believing they wouldn't have to shoot back. They would. The solution you advocate would kill a lot more people than the status quo does. That doesn't mean it shouldn't happen, but let's not kid ourselves about what you're advocating here.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 11, 2010 1:41 am
"Your mean spirited and hysterical responses don't deserve anything in return."

That's rich coming from the individual who posted this:

"And there are actually substantive points. If they're beyond your little slice of suburbia I can't help that. Just count yourself lucky that no college professor was able to poison your brain with capacity for thought beyond flag-waving and mud-slinging"
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 11, 2010 1:52 am
Chomsky has said that Hamas and Hizbullah's policies are more acceptable than Israel's and America's. That is an obvious defense of both those antisemitic organizations.

Please have your MEMRI login handy

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1152.htm

and in case the video doesn't work, here's the transcript

http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/1152.htm
Posted by: Ali at April 11, 2010 3:09 am
michael, i just read one of your dispatches from 2006

this one http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001350.html

and I saw that the very first comment was from another person named Ali. I'm not him and to make that clear i'll post comments using the name Ali Baba.
Posted by: Ali Baba at April 11, 2010 4:06 am
Totten - An offer of a Bantustan filled with settlements and crisscrossed with Israeli-roads does not a "state" make. When the Palestinians began negotiating with the Israelis in the 1990s was precisely the moment when more settlers and permanent construction began pouring into the West Bank.

Fair point on the West Bank, but I do think that actually if Fatah under Abou Mazen was allowed to recover the entirety (or nearly) of the West Bank, that they would not be particularly motivated to attack Israel. He is neither as radical nor in the same desperate situation as the people in Gaza. However, I don't believe the Israelis are particularly interested in this. They want to permanently occupy and settle as much land as possible while the Americans are still sweet.

Ali - I can't log into that website. I don't have the quote, but I suspect he was expressing this truth (perhaps among others): far more people have died in recent years because of the excesses of Israel and the United States than because of Hamas and Hezbollah.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 11, 2010 4:57 am
far more people have died in recent years because of the excesses of Israel and the United States than because of Hamas and Hezbollah.
In the case of the US, it depends on whether you blame the killers or someone else. Iraqis, for example, have overwhelmingly been killed either by other Iraqis or jihadists imported into Iraq, not by Allied troops. It is not clear to me why, if jihadis blow up a Shi'a procession in Iraq, it is the US's fault but if they do exactly the same in Pakistan, it's not. In both Iraq and Afghanistan the fight is over the form of government, with the jihadis being bitterly against democracy as an affront to the sovereignty of Allah.
As for Hamas and Hezbollah, if you provoke a better-armed foe, and hide among civilians, the consequences are likely to be unpleasant. But, of course, both organisations want and need conflict.
The settlements outside Jerusalem in the West Bank are noxious and, I believe, opposed by most Israelis. Israel is never going to give up Jerusalem, however.
Posted by: Lorenzo at April 11, 2010 5:33 am
On Israel, it depends whether one considers rocket attacks by Hezbollah or Hamas a form of defense if it is done as a response to settlement-building or the blockade on Gaza. Hamas is ill-advised to attack Israel, but nonetheless, it is still the Israelis who choose to respond with attacks that claim 10 or 100 times as many Arabs in the name of self-defense.

On the U.S., there are different degrees of responsibility. First was the invasion creating a vacuum in which a sectarian civil war emerged. Given the overwhelming opposition to the war through the Middle East and the world, some of it quite articulate, the U.S. role can only be one of criminal negligence in sparking the civil war. It was a distinct possibility, predicted by some commentators in the 1990s (government officials tasked with answering why "we didn't go to Baghdad) and foreshadowed by the looting that followed the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 and the failure to reconcile sectarian groups in Bosnia and Kosovo.

This first part of responsibility - for hundreds of thousands of deaths and some 4.7 million refugees and internally displaced people - falls under criminal negligence, not intent. Then there are the killings directly by U.S. soldiers under the moniker of "counter-insurgency". As in the Vietnam, COIN involves the destruction of the human habitat the rebels operate it. The destruction of Vietnamese villages is replaced by the razing of Fallujah.

This direct killing of civilians is direct responsibility and more significant than usually thought. According to the Iraq Body Count (the most conservative casualty tracking website, it uses twice confirmed media sources), in the first two years following the invasion U.S. forces were responsible for 4 times as many civilian deaths as Al Qaida-linked groups were. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/19/iraq

In any event, the level of death and carnage due to Israel and the United States of America far exceeds anything small, low-tech armies like Hamas and Hezbollah are capable of.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 11, 2010 5:56 am
in the 1970s there were very few settlers. The palestinians were asked if they wanted to sign a peace agreement like sadat and they refused. They refused in the 1980s too. arafat only signed the oslo accords not because he wanted to make peace with Israel, but because he thought it would easier for him to strike israel from ramallah than from outside of palestine. he also wanted to be the leader (aka dictator) of the palestinians.

Ombi, why did arafat refuse to sign the camp david agreement in 2000. Why didn't arafat come up with a reasonable counter-offer? Why did he launch a campaign of terror and suicidal mass murder instead?
Posted by: Ali at April 11, 2010 5:57 am
Perversity comes in a variety of flavors and colors.

And whereas it used to be said that even the Devil can quote scripture (when it suits the Devil's purpose), it can now be said that the Devil quotes morality.

(Of course, the Devil doesn't exist---but might that just be the Devil talking?....)
Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 11, 2010 6:32 am
"Aside from your hateful and hysterical response"

What part was that... oh you mean the part about you being amateurish and divorced from reality or the part about not confusing you with the facts.
Yep! Those sure are hateful comments.
BTW do you belong to Hamas or Hezb'allah?

Now I understand how the Israeli feel in having to deal with the Palestinians.
Craig was right!
Posted by: yesjb at April 11, 2010 6:37 am
In any event, the level of death and carnage due to Israel and the United States of America far exceeds anything small, low-tech armies like Hamas and Hezbollah are capable of.

Islamist militias and Islamist ideologies are responsible for more than 2 million deaths in the Sudan. They're also responsible for the destabilization of numerous governments in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and enslavement, torture and ethnic cleansing in the Middle East and Africa.

Hate is the ultimate WMD. The majority of the millions who were murdered by Stalin in Russia, by Hitler in Europe, by Mao in China, were killed by hate. The unrest in Rwanda was partially fueled by French involvement, but it was mostly fueled by hate.

More people have been killed by hate than by nukes or random aspirin factory bombings. Our modern Wahhabi/Islamist militia enemies and allies are exporting hate on a massive scale. And hatemongers like Noam Chomsky and his followers defend them.

Europe is responding to this export by reviving it's old fascist past and voting for their own haters. I guess they're not feeling so guilty anymore.
Posted by: Mary Madigan at April 11, 2010 8:26 am
Ali - The "peace process" had served as a magnificent cover for permanent Israeli expansion. The amount of settlements, settlers and Israeli-only infrastructure in Palestine had never increased more than during the 1990s. The existing strategy was not working. Violence did not work either, obviously, but something different had to be attempted. In retrospect, and I think today, no halting of permanent Israeli expansion into Palestine is possible without the end of American support for it.

Mary Madigan - I agree with you on the government of Sudan, but Chomsky was referring specifically to Hezbollah and Hamas. He is also anything but a "hatemonger". Note again, Sudan may be tragic and something should be done about it if possible, but Americans are not responsible for it as they are for the deaths due to Israel and the United States of America. Their tax dollars don't kill people in Darfur. Their tax dollars *have* led to the deaths of thousands in Palestine and Iraq.

I also don't know who are referring to in reference to "voting for their own haters". I imagine you a referring to a report by Glenn Beck after Geert Wilders (whom I suspect has many fans on this site) did fairly well at some local elections in the Netherlands. Beck also reported that the neofascist Jean-Marie Le Pen had higher approval ratings than Nicolas Sarcozy. He was sadly misinformed on this, as he is on just about everything, confusing Le Pen with Dominique de Villepin (LE-PEN, VEE-LE-PEN), a mainstream center-right figure and protegee of Jacques Chirac.

See more here: http://craigcorner.blogspot.com/2010/03/glenn-beck-denounces-wilders-and-le-pen.html
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 11, 2010 9:15 am
I agree with you on the government of Sudan, but Chomsky was referring specifically to Hezbollah and Hamas. He is also anything but a "hatemonger".

You missed the reference to the aspirin factory bombing. To understand the reference, see "The Unbearable Whiteness Of Chomsky's Arguments"

A clip from the article:

"In his reply to Christopher Hitchens on the subject of the September 11 mass murders, Noam Chomsky rushes to accuse his adversary of "racist contempt" for African victims of terrorism, of a callous refusal to acknowledge their very existence..He asserts that [the bombing] led, directly, to the deaths of tens [at one point in his response to Hitchens] and hundreds [at another point in his response] of thousands of Sudanese; and if this were not enough, he goes on later, it led indirectly, to the deaths of more untold thousands..."

"Chomsky goes on to approvingly quote the same article to the effect that, were it not for the 1998 bombing of this factory, the theocratic totalitarian state of the National Islamic Front would have shifted toward moderation and against terrorism. Having warmly embraced and received bin Laden when he was expelled from his native Saudi Arabia in 1991, having provided him with a base for his activities [including the establishment of three separate training camps, the execution of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 1995 and 1998 bombings aimed at American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia and the planning for the bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which took place in 1998], having made efforts to purchase, in collaboration with him, uranium for nuclear weapons in 1994, having only expelled him in 1996 under severe diplomatic and political pressure, and having engaged in all the activities against its own southern people described above, the Sudanese government was prepared, Chomsky wants us to believe, to move decisively for moderation and against terrorism -- but for the bombing of one factory.
Chomsky's suggestion that the Sudanese government had this profound desire to move toward moderation and against terrorism is all the more appalling in its uncannily poor timing..."

"In Chomskyian moral and political calculus, African victims count only when their corpses can be laid at the foot of the American state. The rest disappear, erased from memory. No wonder, with this unbearable whiteness of erasure, he must project "racist contempt" for African victims upon others."
Posted by: Mary Madigan at April 11, 2010 9:40 am
..and if you're basing all of your political opinions on what you see on Fox News, you are poorly informed.

Fascist parties have been winning elections in Britain, Austria and Hungary. Anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant groups have been gaining supporters all over Europe. They're putting the old Nazi uniforms on again, and they're not feeling guilty about it at all.
Posted by: Mary Madigan at April 11, 2010 9:43 am
Ombrageux:

Here we go again....

"However, Israeli oppression remains unique because it is the only one that is so actively subsidized by the U.S."

Um, you DO realize that we also support some of the less pleasant third world regimes, ja (you yourself mentioned the Congo)?

"the aggression of 1956,"

Which was provoked by Nasser's closing the Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran, BOTH of which were recognized as acts of war in the 1948 peace. Again, even the SOVIETS- in private meetings- recognized that Nasser had brought that on himself.

" also draw an even sharper distinction since Israel's existential security was assured in 1979 with the Camp David peace accords."

There is no such thing as permanent security. And particularly given recent developments like the rise of the radicals in the PLO and the acceleration of the Iranian nuclear program. Power, security, and independence always have been governed by the number of soldiers on the ground rather than the number of treaties on the wall. Israel in particular learned that painfully well in 1967.


"Since then, Israel has had no excuse"

Considering the PLO's frequent bucking of the peacetalks and the general affinity for suicide bombing, that is disputable.

"and the U.S. had no reason to subsidize them."

Hardly. If nothing else, the strategic equivalent of Fredrick's Prussia on the coast of the Levant improves our strategic outlook quite a bit.

"As an American, he works chiefly against the wrongs committed by the American government."

Unfortunately, there isn't exactly a clear consensus on what those are, now is there?

"As the strongest nation, these wrongs tend (not always) have a greater impact than others."

Disputable.

"We can cite the Cold War, Vietnam, East Timor, Iraq, etc."

Three of those things are not like the other one.

"This does not mean he supports Hamas."

Which doesn't change the fact that he was quite willing to utilize

"During the Cold War, he also condemned the Soviet Union."

Albeit in one of the most half hearted fashions I have ever seen. The man didn't event acknowledge things like Soviet aggression against the Allies dating back to the WWI era, the Elbe River crisis, and I could go on and on and on. He was far more wedded to the tried and true "a pox on BOTH of your houses because you are both more or less equally guilty" line that so many "neutrals" in the Cold War than to his actual principals, which would hardly have allowed him to ignore such things occurring, regardless of on which side of the Iron curtain it was committed.

Say what you will about the crimes of the West, but when we even can credibly ask whether or not your "experiment" directly killed more people in less than a century than the evils of Western Imperialism did in six, coupled with the fact that their treatment of their satellites makes the old imperialists look almost good (again, say what you will about the French in Algeria, but it looked far better when they marched out. The Soviet Union's satellites were not even that lucky).

"American imperialists always resort to the infantile "two wrongs make a right" school of thought."

HERE WE GO AGAIN with the outright RACIST hatred of Americans. I wonder what you would say if we asserted such things about "All Arabs" or "All Muslims" or "All Chinese" or so on or so forth?

And for the record, it's "the lesser of two evils" school of thought. As I myself am an American Imperialist- or so I have been told by many, many people- I would appreciate it if you could actually get it RIGHT.

"that means they are allowed to burn Vietnamese children alive"

To stop people like Uncle Ho's lovely comrades from marching South and plunging Indochina into a bloodbath even worse than the one that was going on while we were there? Yes. War is not as easy as you think.

"or launch an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq."

Ah, here we go with the outright- and there is no other way I can phrase this- STUPID failure to do the bloody research. The Gulf War ceasefire EXPLICITLY STATES THAT A RETURN TO OPEN WAR IS ALLOWED IF ANY OF ITS TENANTS ARE VIOLATED. GUESS what Saddam Hussein chose to do?

"One, back then, could oppose both Washington in Saigon and Moscow in Berlin."

Perhaps. But then we must call into question how much good you actually are doing on the issue, and what happens if you were forced to choose one?

"(Or, for that matter, Paris and London at Suez and Moscow in Budapest in 1956.)"

Wonderful. So the armed intervention against a dictator's illegal shutdown of the Suez- albeit by the scary imperialist powers- is now on moral parity with the Soviet Union's lovely actions in Budapest and Pozan. Wonderful.

"Manufactured bipolarity ("With or against", etc.) is one of the biggest impediments to American political development. "

HAH! I don't believe this. Manufactured bipolarity! HAHA!

Newsflash, guv'ner: Polarity was the NORM throughout human history. attempts to ascend above it- or even to contemplate it at all- were the EXCEPTION, not the rule. After all, in a conflict, one has only one body that one can use to fight for one side at any given time. It is only because of the highly, HIGHLY abnormal circumstances of the Cold War that allow you to talk about "manufactured" polarity as if it has not been around long than you and your comrades put together. In the end, you have to make a choice. Orwell himself- a committed Democratic Socialist- accepted this. If anything, it is attempts to manufacture nonpolarity as you and your fellows have often seemed to attempt which harms political development far greater than recognizing polarity does.

"For clarification, if need be, I consider "Israel proper" the land controlled before 1967."

Ah, thanks. Though one must question about where exactly THAT begins and ends as well.

"The fact is, if Egypt, a great state of 80 million Arabs, could not destroy Israel,"

*DID* not destroy Israel, not *COULD* not destroy Israel. There is a very fine historical line between the two: the latter is that even with all the capabilities imaginable and the will of whatever God there is behind them it is still impossible, while the former is that for whatever reason, it didn't. 1948 was fairly close and if they had been allowed to finish massing in 1967 they might have had a far better chance. If Egypt committed itself to the destruction of Israel at all costs, it could probably make it work, albeit at a ludicrously high cost, and since Nasser kicked the bucket we haven't really seen an Egyptian leader with anywhere near a mindset to try.

"how are 5 million Palestinians supposed to?"

Even Arafat recognized that the Palestinians were strategically different from the Egyptians: Egypt was a conventional military power that engaged in conventional military battles with Israel and tended to get beaten to varying degrees. Its 80 million people were mostly in Egypt rather than involved in battle with Israel. The Palestinians, on the other hand, occupy the same territory as Israel to a very great degree, and coupled with right of return could do quite a lot of damage at least if they have the mind to do so and are given the opportunity. Arafat recognized and lauded his greatest weapon in the struggle as not being suicide bombs or international sympathy or the friendliness of the Arab League but "the Palestinian womb." If they could not defeat the Israelis in military combat yet, they would outbreed them. And demographics seem to indicate that Arafat and his successors have been- to varying degrees- trying to do exactly that. And unfortunately- as countless exposes of the current state of Palestinian education for children show- they are in hands that are far less rational than even Arafat's.

"The fact is, if after peace with Egypt and Jordan, Israel unilaterally and completely removed itself from the occupied territories (building a wall, if you wish), there would be a great deal more Israelis alive today."

Unless somebody tries to be the modern Nasser and tries to begin amassing a coalition to crush Israel. In which case the strategic inflexibility of such walls coupled with the numerical advantage of the attackers would in all due likelihood spell catastrophe. And this is ignoring the fact that such a design would be frighteningly close to the very apartheid state it is often accused of being.

"The Palestinians, even if they were interested in getting more, would be physically incapable of doing as much harm as they have done."

AGAIN, that is assuming no Nasser figure steps into the breach.

"Even with Hamas in charge, they are scarcely able to kill more than two dozen Israelis with their rockets."

Only because of the poor quality of those rockets. Would it be sane or honorable to insist that the Palestinians put up with radical Israelis launching cheap rockets into their territories without provocation? No power on Earth would willingly consent to that as an end solution to whatever problem being addressed.

"An offer of a Bantustan filled with settlements and crisscrossed with Israeli-roads does not a "state" make."

Perhaps, but neither does what we see in the Palestinian territories now.

"When the Palestinians began negotiating with the Israelis in the 1990s was precisely the moment when more settlers and permanent construction began pouring into the West Bank."

Accepted.

"Fair point on the West Bank, but I do think that actually if Fatah under Abou Mazen was allowed to recover the entirety (or nearly) of the West Bank, that they would not be particularly motivated to attack Israel."

IF they are rational actors and/or are moderates. Which, given some of Fatah's extreme members, is hardly a solid guarantee. Abou Mazen will die one day barring a miraculous breakthrough in technology, and then the question becomes of what the situation will look like when he is replaced.

"far more people have died in recent years because of the excesses of Israel and the United States than because of Hamas and Hezbollah."

If only because Hamas and Hezbollah are far weaker than even the norm. It is akin to saying British Bomber Command killed more people than, say, the infamous Boxers. It's TRUE, but that in and of itself misses quite a bit of the truth itself.

"On Israel, it depends whether one considers rocket attacks by Hezbollah or Hamas a form of defense if it is done as a response to settlement-building or the blockade on Gaza."

Which they aren't, if we are to accept almost anything they say internally as true.

"Hamas is ill-advised to attack Israel, but nonetheless, it is still the Israelis who choose to respond with attacks that claim 10 or 100 times as many Arabs in the name of self-defense."

Right. Because armed attacks and murder are bearable if one just ignores them. Nevermind what this must do to any movement towards a peaceful solution.

"On the U.S., there are different degrees of responsibility. First was the invasion creating a vacuum in which a sectarian civil war emerged."

There was already several cases of a sectarian civil war under Saddam, it's just that back then one side had all the cards and didn't stop after arms had been laid down.

"Given the overwhelming opposition to the war through the Middle East and the world, some of it quite articulate, the U.S. role can only be one of criminal negligence in sparking the civil war."

Articulate and numerous does not equal correct. Saddam Hussein ultimately laid the grounds for the civil war that emerged by his fanatical stratification of Iraqi society, and ultimately there were several earlier incidents of that hostility breaking out.

"It was a distinct possibility, predicted by some commentators in the 1990s (government officials tasked with answering why "we didn't go to Baghdad) and foreshadowed by the looting that followed the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 and the failure to reconcile sectarian groups in Bosnia and Kosovo."

Agreed, but that still does not explain if it would have been better to keep the rabidly sectarian, expansionist, and generally destabilizing Saddam Hussein in power even after he had violated the tenants of the Gulf War Ceasefire. To have NOT reigned him in earlier doubtless did great damage to the prestige of the UN (as backed up by even more commentators, many of whom are articulate and across the political spectrum) and given his role in the region WAS a case of criminal negligence.

"This first part of responsibility - for hundreds of thousands of deaths and some 4.7 million refugees and internally displaced people - falls under criminal negligence, not intent."

Right. Because it is our fault for creating the conditions that led to it rather than the faults of AQI and the Madhi Army for taking advantage of it to actually DO those things. On such a milestone, the looting that happened throughout Germany in WWII and the political violence in it at the end of WWI were the responsibility of the Allies. That is simply ludicrous.

"Then there are the killings directly by U.S. soldiers under the moniker of "counter-insurgency"."

Welcome to war.

"As in the Vietnam, COIN involves the destruction of the human habitat the rebels operate it. The destruction of Vietnamese villages is replaced by the razing of Fallujah."

Which was brought about because the enemy USED civilians as a human shield both in Vietnam and in Iraq. And in WWI and WWII, as you would know if you have studied the behavior of the Germans and later the Japanese towards civilians, including using them as human shields. It is the fault of those who do so for what happens after.

"This direct killing of civilians is direct responsibility and more significant than usually thought."

Hardly. War is hell.

"According to the Iraq Body Count (the most conservative casualty tracking website, it uses twice confirmed media sources), in the first two years following the invasion U.S. forces were responsible for 4 times as many civilian deaths as Al Qaida-linked groups were. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/19/iraq "

Besides the fact that IBC is hardly 100% accurate,

A. That would work if we were ONLY FIGHTING AQ-linked groups in Iraq, now WOULDn'T it? But we AREN'T, are we? Take a look at the Madhi Army's relationship with AQI throughout the years.

B. Again, it ignores the fact that it was the insurgents who were responsible for using civilians as human shields and waging war in and around their locals, which places responsibility on THEM.

C. Oh yes, and need I point out that it falsely attributes all deaths at the hands of Allied forces (including those outside of nominal Allied command like some of the Pesmerga and locals who were ironically often acting alongside insurgents) as US?

As such, it is a dubious source at best.
Posted by: Turtler at April 11, 2010 10:05 am
Ombi, Noam Chomsky is one of the most vicious hatemongers in the Western world. The reason you don't notice it is because you share his prejudices.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 11, 2010 10:58 am
Ombraqeux: In the book, Bruckner agrees with much that you say, and is glad that the French have admitted and exposed their atrocities in Algeria. He's glad there are catalogues of imperial crimes. What he doesn't like is that Algerians wouldn't dream of admitting their own atrocities, and that there are no catalogues of postcolonial crimes that the western left doesn't ultimately pin on the west itself. He wants reciprocity and equality. What he doesn't like is the mindest most of us inhabit--I'm struggling to emerge from it--according to which we worry deeply about whether the Spanish are being sufficiently multicultural and kind to Muslims at the same time that it hardly occurs to us to question the utter lack of multiculturalism and hostility to non-Muslims prevalent a few miles across the Straits of Gibraltar.
Posted by: Jan at April 11, 2010 12:15 pm
Madigan - Chomsky (and I, in this thread) has explicitly addressed this issue many times. It isn't all evil stems from America. And Chomsky writes on other evils (Soviet, Sudanese, Iraqi). He however quite explicitly and consciously focuses on American ones. His tax dollars don't kill Sudanese today. They did blow up a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in the 1990s. As an American citizen, he is responsible for the wrongs of his government and has some ability to prevent them. As an American citizen, he has no influence or responsibility for the ills of the Sudanese government.

It is, occasionally, possible and desirable to stop wrongs done by other governments. This is a very fraught issue however, because it requires our government to impose itself on another region. This very easily degenerates into imperialism because - as Vietnamese, Nicaraguans or Iraqis cannot vote in U.S. elections - our government is not answerable to the locals who are affected by our intervention. They have power which can only be used in their self-interest, often selfish interest.

Turtler - Generally speaking, progressives condemn all oppressive or warring governments that are aided by their own governments in their oppression and warring. Congo-Zaire, Pinochet, the Shah, Indonesia and many others have been criticized. Criticism of Israel has lasted longest because the oppression has lasted over 40 years and it is by far the biggest recipient of U.S. aid.

What in the devil are you referring to by "my experiment"? Just because the rest of the world believes in the welfare state - while Americans practice the welfare state but hate themselves for not being manly men - does not make anyone Communist. Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Australia and Japan are not Communist countries. And, for what its worth, Chomsky explicitly condemned not only Stalin, but also Lenin and Trotsky. He preferred the libertarian socialism of Rosa Luxemburg, George Orwell, the Spanish Anarchists and the Spanish Communards. The ills of Western capitalism are also very severe indeed - ranging from slavery through Irish potato famine to umpteen colonial wars - so there's no need to pretend the Soviets had a monopoly on evil.

Oh, and I will call bullshit on Algeria, thank you very much. The French slaughtered some 300,000 people, overwhelmingly civilians. People like to condemn the National Liberation Front as terrorist, but they killed only about 6-8,000 civilians, the vast majority of kills being soldiers (three quarters). The Algerians were ruined by colonialism. Nothing excuses racial supremacy. If the French had come in peace, to offer their services to the Bey to build roads and schools and develop the country, no one would have complained. Instead they were the kind of people who claim to be charitable while pointing a gun at your head. They came to dominate the Arab and physically replace the Berber. No one was better off for it.

You accuse me of racism and saying "all Americans" when in fact I said "American imperialists". I have spoken with them. They infest the Republican party but exist on both sides. They are incarnated by the Paul Wolfowitzes, Richard Perles, Dick Cheneys, Paul Nitzes and Caspar Weinbergers of the world. And they do adhere, very strongly, to the notion that if in the Soviet Union puts a man unjustly in jail, then America has the right to destroy any number of Third World countries.

The "lesser evil" stuff only works if the evil you do somehow prevents a lesser evil. I consider it self-evident that poor, peasant countries very far from the Red Army like Vietnam, Angola or Nicaragua could not possibly pose a threat to the U.S. or being "controlled" by Moscow. The Russian couldn't control Romania and Yugoslavia despite the millions of soldiers on their doorstep! Cold Warriors obviously have a different view. They adhere not to the "lesser evil" (which would be to live with a unified, Communist Vietnam rather than wage a war killing 3 million Vietnamese for nothing), but, indeed, to "two wrongs make a right".

You pose a good question on being "forced to choose". Sometimes it happens. A usually independent Charles de Gaulle had full confidence in Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Likewise, if the Soviets began rolling their tanks into West Germany, there would be little hesitation for most to side with the West (incl. the U.S.). I certainly wouldn't hesitate. The trick of Cold Warriors is to replicate that sense of urgency to even marginal areas - Chile, Congo, Vietnam, etc. - to manufacture the same bipolarity that would exist in Europe in wartime. It allows them destroy democracies and wage war unnecessarily. The fact is, however, there was never a situation which would have made choosing necessary. And so free people would say, when the Americans were ruining Guatemala or Vietnam and the Soviets rolling into Hungary or Czechoslovakia: neither with Washington, nor with Moscow.

Orwell never accepted it, actually. He died early in the Cold War but he was horrified by Western propaganda in its early years. I suspect he would have been as disgusted by American conduct in Vietnam or Iraq as he was by his job (which he quit) as an imperial policeman in Burma.

I say "manufactured bipolarity" because in truth the world was multipolar by the 1960s. This was ensured by the Sino-Soviet split, decolonization (India, Egypt, Vietnam, etc.), and the economic rise of Japan and the Western Europeans. The world was complex and diverse. The Cold Warriors, however, reduced every conflict in the world Soviet "aggression" no matter if it was something occurring in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Angola, Chile, or what have you. That is "manufactured bipolarity", using a useful myth to destroy democracies and wage war against other countries. To force countries to make false choices.

How is Arafat pointing out, quite sensibly, that more Arabs means strengthening his hand with the Israelis? The Israelis make a point of importing as anyone they can construe to be a "Jew" from every corner of the world to maximize the Jewish component of Israel.

How is withdrawal being an "apartheid State" while what Israel is now doing (Jewish only settlements, Jewish only roads, checkpoints for Arabs, etc.) is presumably not?

"Right. Because armed attacks and murder are bearable if one just ignores them."
One doesn't have to ignore them. But if I followed Israeli thinking, if someone were to kill my sister, that would entitle me to kill the murderer, his sister, his mother, his daughter, his father, his brother and on, until I've killed 10 to 100 of his relatives. It is that word Israelis hate: "disproportionate".

Very few people outside the U.S. supported the Iraq War, certainly very few people in the U.N. It was a U.S.-manufactured crisis for U.S. interests. They had the arrogance to think the Arabs would be democratic capitalist putty in their hands. Instead, a combination of all the fuck ups that have occurred in past U.S. interventions (Vietnam, Panama, Kosovo) happened. The Americans screwed up, the Iraqis died or became refugees. Now, where's Tom Friedman to scold the Iraqis for not seizing the opportunities we so graciously grant them?

Totten - I will just have to agree to disagree. No one has to agree with everything he says, on the contrary he invites us to think critically and not let our government think for us. But I don't see how you can call him "hateful". He is perfectly clear and explicit, to the point of exasperation, on his principles. And, for my part, I think he is consistent with those principles. See an interview presenting himself (the lectures tend to be boring and predictable): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ghoXQxdk6s
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 11, 2010 12:28 pm
I am disturbed that some of you like to assume that because someone disagrees with you, they have to be an Islamist or a Communist or some other violent radical. Many mainstream people have been opposed to Western imperialism in general and American imperialism in particular. And many people have rejected the false notion they have to systematically "choose" when both sides are thugs.

But just to cite some names of the people who were horrified by Western interventions in the Third World and by parts of the Cold War: Raymond Aron, George Orwell, George F. Kennan, Stanley Hoffmann, Tony Judt, Stuart Halle and others.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 11, 2010 12:39 pm
It is the terrorists' fault because they deliberately chose to hide among their mothers and sisters and families. And if Iraqis choose to join the Mahdi Army/AQI and slaughter random Shiites/Sunnis instead of rebuilding their own country then they deserve to be scolded by Tom Friedman, who is, by the way, one of the most critical American writers of Israeli settlements. Unlike Noam Chomsky, however, he diesn't promote hatred, violence, and anti-Americanism.
Posted by: Ali at April 11, 2010 1:04 pm
Ali - I would like to see these passages where Chomsky promotes hatred and violence. They will be difficult to find.

Friedman is terrible because he the "best" mainstream America has to offer. There are worse people of course. The Krauthammers, Kristols and Kagans are openly imperialist and aren't ashamed of being troglodytes. Anyone but an American will be repulsed their imperialism, unilateralism and disregard for others. Friedman and some others, notably Fareed Zakaria are different. They have the veneer of universalism which makes you unaware of their parochialism. They are reasonably polite. But that doesn't prevent them singing the praises of Caesar all the way past the Rubicon, whether the Rubicon is the fall of Iraq or Lehman brothers. Malevolent panglossians are what they are.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 11, 2010 1:31 pm
Ombi,

"As the strongest nation, these wrongs tend (not always) have a greater impact than others."

Was that true when the Soviets were the strongest nation - which any realistic assessment would have to say they were from 1945 to at least 1975 (more likely 1986)? Will it be true when the Chinese (or the Indians, if we're lucky) claim the title?

And furthermore, why is it that you retroactively apply this standard to the US when assessing US behavior even in the distant past, when we were not only far from the strongest nation but were barely even a global power at all?

You're just making up excuses for your double standards, and you know it.
Posted by: Craig at April 11, 2010 2:52 pm
Ombi,

I am disturbed...

That makes me happy. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step in recovery.

... that some of you like to assume that because someone disagrees with you, they have to be an Islamist or a Communist or some other violent radical.

I don't believe that at all. I believe people like you have been indoctrinated into a certain worldview, in much the same way that nazies and other white supremacists have been. Have you ever talkied to a white supremacist, Ombi? I have. In fact some of my friends fell off that cliff in the 1980s and 1990s. It's really fucking bizarre to talk to somebody you thought you knew and liked, and have them start telling you stuff that's so crazy you feel like everyone might be better off if they were in a mental ward. And the really shitty part of it is that reasoning with people who've been brainwashed has absolutely no impact. Take you, for example. Have you changed any of your views in this discussion? If not, why not? You've been proven wrong many times, and your baseline thesis has been proven to be heavily flawed. And secondly, have you re-examined the historical record with an eye towards finding the truth, or have you done so with en eye towards massaging the facts so that they prove the case you are trying to make - whilst consciously ignoring whatever is too inconvenient to discuss?

Many mainstream people have been opposed to Western imperialism in general and American imperialism in particular.

I'm not sure I'm mainstream, but being a libertarian I am very much opposed to those things. Much more than your side is.

And many people have rejected the false notion they have to systematically "choose" when both sides are thugs.

We don't HAVE to choose, even when neither side are thugs. But really, Ombi, how can you put forward this argument? You are somebody who DOES choose. You choose Hezbollah, you choose Hamas, you choose Hugo Chavez, you choose whoever the current asshat in Bolivia is, and etc. Don' pretend that you don't, because you've been doing it on this blog for months and we've all seen it.
Posted by: Craig at April 11, 2010 3:20 pm
As an American citizen, he is responsible for the wrongs of his government and has some ability to prevent them.

No he doesn't. Chomsky has no political power (although he is a close friend of Chavez - he sent him the sweetest birthday card). He has more influence over the Venezuelan and Sudanese government than he does in America - his books and articles are more popular in Arab news outlets than they are here.

His sole purpose in life seems to be to give anti-Semitic anti-American authoritarian rulers an 'American, Jewish voice' to justify their attempts to stir up hatred against the USA and Israel.

He's also used by moderates and the right to justify suspicions of the left. He's a showman and a rabble-rouser, the Glenn Beck of the intellectual set. No wonder you get your news from both these guys.
Posted by: Mary Madigan at April 11, 2010 3:29 pm
"Islamist militias and Islamist ideologies are responsible for more than 2 million deaths in the Sudan."

Doesn't matter, Mary, ombi can't blame it on da Jooos and 'Murricans.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 11, 2010 9:51 pm
"Mary Madigan - I agree with you on the government of Sudan"

... and now back to your regularly scheduled Jew-baiting.

"some of you like to assume that because someone disagrees with you, they have to be an Islamist or a Communist or some other violent radical."

Waaaah! But then ombi comes out with this:

"The Krauthammers, Kristols and Kagans are openly imperialist and aren't ashamed of being troglodytes" - yep, if you disagree with ombi you're an "imperialist" and "troglodyte.

What a pathetically transparent hypocrite. And he wonders why everyone else here has nothing but contempt for him.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 11, 2010 9:59 pm
These days, the Devil can even quote Orwell....

(Ah, but which Orwell?....or for that matter, which Devil?)
Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 12, 2010 12:35 am
Cervantes quote "facts are the enemy of truth" is nowhere more applicable than on these talkbacks. The longer the posting, and the more replete it is with historical "facts", the more you can be sure that it is a worthless polemic.

As to the central idea of Western self-loathing, I think it is an example of the supertanker that takes ten miles to change course. As others have amply pointed out, the west had plenty to loathe itself about in the past. After the holocaust, the West gave itself a giant innoculation to make sure something like that wouldn't happen again (at least to white people), and this is what started a lot of it. Actions by the United States in Latin America and elsewhere during the Cold War can only be described as nefarious. A loud and possibly unbalanced response was in order.

Today, of course, things have changed, and I believe that attitudes are also changing, including among the left, but old habits die hard. I believe that the kind of fanatical identification with terrorists only applies to the fringe (maybe more than the fringe when it comes to Israel).
Posted by: MarkC at April 12, 2010 1:00 am
MarkC,

As to the central idea of Western self-loathing, I think it is an example of the supertanker that takes ten miles to change course.

Do you have any evidence the west has "changed course"? Or is even in the process of doing that?

As others have amply pointed out, the west had plenty to loathe itself about in the past.

It has plenty to loathe about itself in the present too. MJT talks about a lot of those items with some regularity on this very blog, so I won't bore you with "worthless polemic" :p

After the holocaust...

After the holocaust? Are you unaware that Hitler used anti-communist sentiment in Germany to rise to power? Are you unaware of the extent to which communists had infiltrated western societies prior to World War II?

...the West gave itself a giant innoculation to make sure something like that wouldn't happen again (at least to white people), and this is what started a lot of it.

And they accomplished that by becoming virulently anti-American, right? Where American was one of the few western countries that didn't have anything to be ashamed of in regards to the holocaust. And where America was the country that rescued western Europe from its own stupidity. Makes perfect sense, now that I have you to explain it to me.

Actions by the United States in Latin America and elsewhere during the Cold War can only be described as nefarious. A loud and possibly unbalanced response was in order.

Right.

Today, of course, things have changed...

No, they haven't. Europe has made itself irrelevant. US is the same old.

...and I believe that attitudes are also changing, including among the left...

I disagree. I was a kid in the late 1960s and early 1970s and I grew up in a hippy household. Today's left is more vicious and more intellectually dishonest than the hippies were, but that's about the only difference. Luckily, today's left is also a non-issue at least here in the US. What Mary said about Chomsky being a nobody in America is absolutely right.

And I frankly don't care what the left in Europe is up to. I don't particularly care what anyone in Europe is up to. And you can set that at the doorstep of the left, if you care what I think.

...but old habits die hard.

These are old habits. Leftists stop being leftists as they become mature adults.

I believe that the kind of fanatical identification with terrorists only applies to the fringe (maybe more than the fringe when it comes to Israel).

You're right. But then, the left in its entirety is a fringe movement, isn't it? Well, maybe not in Europe. But I don't care about Europe. Winston Churchill's famous "never surrender" speech:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_shall_fight_on_the_beaches

...and if...this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving...would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old .

Or not. After the beating the US has taken from our friends in Europe the last 50 years, I wouldn't wanna be a European holding my breath for the US to come and save us from ourselves (again) going into the future. Old habits may die hard, but even Americans learn eventually.
Posted by: Craig at April 12, 2010 2:28 am
Craig
"But I don't care about Europe".

I wish we, in Israel, could ignore this malevolent trend.

unfortunately, we can't.
Posted by: idit at April 12, 2010 5:06 am
Ombi;

Given the overwhelming opposition to the war through the Middle East and the world, some of it quite articulate, the U.S. role can only be one of criminal negligence in sparking the civil war

So the Iraqis had NO OTHER CHOICE but to attack each with bombs and electric drills because the US toppled their government?

You might want to ditch the idea that third world people are dumb sheep with no minds, agendas, or free will of their own. The excuses made for the religious violence seem to indicate that Iraqis aren’t adults in the minds of those making these excuses, and have no ability to think or create, merely to react. The premise is false and it deserves rejection.
Posted by: Toady at April 12, 2010 10:02 am
Toady,
Well put!
I think that attitude prevails towards many groups in the mid-east including the Palestinians,(perhaps elsewhere too) by the "intellectual left.
Posted by: jb at April 12, 2010 11:14 am
Craig - The Soviet Union was not the strongest nation during any time during the Cold War. It only superiority in conventional armed forces, which couldn't use against the West because of the nuclear stalemate. The U.S., on the other hand, had massive economic, cultural and atomic superiority. It maintained all aspects, despite hysterical neocon claims "declinism" in the 1970s, except in the field of nuclear weapons, where the Soviets reached parity.

In any event, the Soviets did plenty of evil things too, mostly restricted to Eastern Europe for the really egregious stuff. Independent minded people could condemn the Soviets there while condemning French, Brits or Americans for doing ill in other parts of the world.

Nothing in this particular discussion has changed my views thing. No one has told me anything I didn't know, and besides, the main issue is how others *frame* things. Incidentally, my views have changed over my life. In my naive, parochial ignorance as a teenager, I was a cross between a neocon and a mild libertarian. Anti-French, pro-Iraq War, anti-"Statist" and all that (I was, however, still anti-Israel, if anyone cares). I changed when I was "mugged by reality", to quote the neocons, in the form of reading books (particularly history) and new political developments that contradicted my simplistic thinking. I gradually became more left wing because of this but it was only through my meetings and conversations with Republicans (neocons, libertarians) that I almost became a Communist. I am avoiding contact with them to prevent any further radicalization. Today my political universe is defined between the (really quite vast) field between Noam Chomsky and Raymond Aron. Anyone more left than Chomsky and more right than Aron I usually reject.

And again you refer to "my side" as though I've expressed allegiance to anyone. I certainly don't "choose" Hamas or Hezbollah. I don't donate money to them nor do I think my government should. (I do support humanitarian aid - food, medicine, fuel and other essentials of life - to the Palestinians.) The U.S. government does, however, give money and arms to the Israelis to the tune of $3 billion a year.

Incidentally, I am not anti-Chavez or anti-Evo Morales. If they can fight despotism, poverty and inequality in their countries, I cheer that. If Chavez, in particular, becomes a dictator, I would oppose him (but not support U.S. imperialism to "liberate" Venezuela). I remind all that he had a democratic referendum on having another term, which he lost, and we will see if he steps down in due course..

Mary Madigan - The U.S. claims to be a democracy. Therefore Chomsky can have some small influence on U.S. policy by civil disobedience (not paying taxes, which he did during the Vietnam war, for example), voting, and saying his opinion. He does not have any influence over foreign countries like Sudan, Iraq, Hamas or, in the past, the Soviet Union. One fights evil where one can.

I concede I use violent words on certain people. I am sure you are the same on people you despise, perhaps Chomsky, Said, and others. In my opinion, the tree "K's" simply don't give a shit about anyone but themselves, the U.S. and its empire (and they openly use the term, it's not some "leftist" slur!), somewhat akin to German nationalists circa 1914. Their song may as well be, "We fuck the world," to the tune of Michael Jackson's famous song. Of course, you have a right to disagree with me or be revolted by what I say, as I am about some of what you say.

Craig - The "Left", defined as Communists, Socialists and Social Democrats, is a "non-fringe" movement in virtually every democratic country in the world except the U.S. The U.S. is "exceptional" in this sense.

Toady - The U.S. created the conditions for it. If the U.S. had not invaded and destroyed the Iraqi State, it would not have been possible for "insurgents", Sunni or Shia, to wage civil war. Such an outcome was foreseen and foreseeable given the effects of past U.S. interventions in Panama and Kosovo (anarchy, looting, massive flight of refugees, sectarian violence). As I said, it is not the sole responsibility of the U.S. The U.S. did not do it intentionally. For the most part, we are talking not about murder, but manslaughter and criminal negligence (the "murder" part being Fallujah and the traditional excessive and needless killing of civilians intrinsic to "COIN", it is a relatively small part of the total though).
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 12, 2010 11:27 am
"I was, however, still anti-Israel." Of course you were, and are. How dare those uppity Jews think they have a right to a homeland and a right to self-determination like other peoples?
Posted by: Harold at April 12, 2010 12:11 pm
Harold - Please, I've said exactly what I believe on Israel. For forty years, they have ruled Palestine with impunity, settling their land, creating Israeli-only roads, towns and infrastructure on top. They have been depriving 5 million people of both self-determination or equal citizenship. They also use horrific, disproportional violence to maintain this situation. I oppose this and American subsidization of it. I believe the Israelis were not worst side in 1948, but they have been growing more indefensible, after 1956, 1967 and 1979. I think the Israelis have the right to Israel proper and no more unless they make the Palestinians into citizens.
Posted by: Ombrageux at April 12, 2010 12:43 pm
Ombi: I think the Israelis have the right to Israel proper and no more unless they make the Palestinians into citizens.

Most of us agree with that, actually, including most Israelis. The problem is getting from here to there without igniting a post-withdrawal war on the outskirts of Jerusalem and the airport.

Wars followed the last two Israeli withdrawals, so perhaps you can understand why they're skittish about a Round Three.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 12, 2010 12:48 pm
I think that attitude prevails towards many groups in the mid-east including the Palestinians,(perhaps elsewhere too) by the "intellectual left.

It's the soft bigotry of low expectations. Someone posting on this thread has it bad, real bad.
Posted by: Li'l Mamzer at April 12, 2010 2:32 pm
I think the Israelis have the right to Israel proper

I don't think you really do. Because if you did you wouldn't support Hamas and Hezbollah, for starters.
Posted by: Li'l Mamzer at April 12, 2010 2:34 pm
Michael,
Its actually worse than that. How long do you think the Israelis will look kindly upon a group of people who constantly reject every offer made to them starting about 1935.
Even today the vast majority of Palestinians (according to the An-Najah poll), reject the 2 state solution with Israel returning to the 1967 borders with minor modifications.
The unfortunate and unpalatable truth is that the Palestinians don't want Israel to exist. They simply never have been willing to compromise..NEVER.
With the various White papers they would have had most of present day Israel (each one gave them more, if you look at those maps); with the UN partition, they could have had almost as much.
Even with the Israeli proposal after 1967 to return almost all the conquered territory, no dice!
And so it goes.
Many Israelis who were once sympathetic to their cause have given up their support.
How can you support someone who wants to destroy you as a nation and a people? It was already tried before.
and to those who argue that even if the Palestinians are really Arabs from the surrounding areas, the fact that they are there now as Palestinians changes the game.
Well, they have pissed around and caused mayhem and shot themselves in the foot so many times that now the facts on the ground have changed around them.
Those so-called "settlements" are now no more settlements than the "refugee camps" are still camps.
You cannot turn the clock back to a time of your choosing. And they simply will not deal with reality.
Too bad!
A 2-state solutions would have worked. And the Palestinians would have found in Israel not just a good neighbour but a friend. Economic cooperation would have been the order of the day.
But all that is in a parallel universe somewhere.
And soon, I predict, it will get a lot more complicated.
I believe that with Iran's connivance, Egypt will fall to the control of extremists, King Abdullah will be assassinated or flee and the Palestinians will start screaming for control of the entire Mandatory Palestine.The current US administration will look like the foolish, naive amateurs they are.
Now that will be interesting!
Just saying....
Posted by: yesjb at April 12, 2010 2:40 pm
Michael, Unlike most other sites, I thoroughly enjoy reading your comments section. Unfortunately I don't actually have much to add to the topic, other than I agree with the premise for the most part. I think self-loathing is one of those necessary evils that occur when people are introspective, but I think it is lazy thinking and ego-centric. What arrogance to imagine oneself the center of all that is, bad or good. We have been called Satan, and so some Westerners think it true.

Speaking of sympathy for the devil. What ever you think about Ombi, he acts as the paper upon which your ideas are written. He puts your ideas into sharp relief. To mis-quote Nietzche, if he didn't exist he'd have to be invented. Apparently he thrives on a criticism, make sure to feed him what he needs and keep him around.

Turtler, I've yet to actually read any of your posts thoroughly, you might want to edit a skosh.
Posted by: Prairie Dog at April 12, 2010 3:02 pm
I wish we, in Israel, could ignore this malevolent trend.

unfortunately, we can't.


Idit, I know what you mean! The US couldn't afford to ignore European pathologies either, until we became big enough to over-shadow them. A lot of Americans think we still can't, but that's mostly because they are in the tank for the Euros :)
Posted by: Craig at April 12, 2010 4:18 pm
The issue is not that it is wrong to criticise Israeli policy or US policy or whatever. It is framing things as if their agency is somehow has some essential quality that other people's lack.

The US post-invasion policy in Iraq was stupid: even criminally stupid. Some of that is the US is not built for serious imperialism some of it was more specific failures by a not-particularly-competent Administration. (Cheney in particular seems one of those people who is analytically flawed due to their moral flaws.)

But it is not enough to say "the US created power vacuum". One has to also look at the actions of those who responded to the circumstances.

Similarly, it is not enough to say aspects of Israeli policy have been wrong, stupid, criminal, whatever. It is also important to look at the dynamics of Palestinian politics.

If one uses the emotional language of condemnation for the US and Israel and the language of silence or other excuse for others, then one is not engaged in moral analysis, one is engaged in moralistic point scoring. Not the same thing at all.
Posted by: Lorenzo at April 13, 2010 4:03 am
The U.S. claims to be a democracy. Therefore Chomsky can have some small influence on U.S. policy by civil disobedience (not paying taxes... for example), voting, and saying his opinion. ..One fights evil where one can.

I hear the same routine from the followers of Glenn Beck (or the anti-tax lunatic fringe at InfoWars). They're saying "we don't want to destroy American democracy, we want to save it...by destroying it, and rebuilding it into our own utopia, ruled by us"

Of course, their numbers are so small, they have no real influence, so they're only interesting if you are curious about the lunatic fringe/authoritarian mindset.
Posted by: Mary Madigan at April 13, 2010 4:42 am
"Generally speaking, progressives condemn all oppressive or warring governments that are aided by their own governments in their oppression and warring."

In theory. In practice, several- perhaps even the majority- do, but several do not. And since there really isn't any other convenient place for me to put this, I will point out that Chomsky has in fact been caught doing the exact opposite with his truly disgusting apologitic pieces towards the Khartoum regime, Libya, and the Ba'athists of IRaq and Syria, to name but two. Mr. Totten has already mentioned the truly, TRULY glaring article regarding the medicine factory (which falls apart if you have actually studied Sudanese logistics; for instance, even if we accept virtually all of Mr. Chomsky's assumptions- and we shouldn't- the fact remains that Khartoum is mysteriously able to supply its military and Janjaweed units with the very same medicine whose supply was supposedly decimated, which either shows that A. the supply WASN'T in fact decimated or B. That Khartoum doesn't care enough about its own people to prioritize their needs over those of its death squads). How does THAT mesh in with your ideal?

"Congo-Zaire, Pinochet, the Shah, Indonesia and many others have been criticized."

And what of China, Burma, Vietnam, North Korea, Russia, Chavez, Castro, Gadaffi, the Sudanese junta, the Saudis, the Turks, the Iranian regime, and others?

"Criticism of Israel has lasted longest because the oppression has lasted over 40 years and it is by far the biggest recipient of U.S. aid. "

Then why is the second part apparently so emphasized in your targeting- particularly considering that the combined total of aid is vastly greater to the PLO than to Israel- when there are many even worse offenders out in the world?

"What in the devil are you referring to by "my experiment"?"

As in "the monstrosity you have chosen to call an experiment." I apologize for any confusion in the meaning.

"Just because the rest of the world believes in the welfare state - while Americans practice the welfare state but hate themselves for not being manly men"

Wonderful. Nothing to do with legitimate economic questions like the considerable amount of refuse that gunks the system up after a generation or two because of the inability of the state to meet the rising economic costs, it's because we doubt our masculinity. Even some of those whoa re avowedly feminine. Wonderful. If I didn't know any better, I would call this projection.


"does not make anyone Communist. Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Australia and Japan are not Communist countries."

Agreed, but that was not what I was referring to in the first place. And while it doesn't make them Communist, it has made them quite financially volatile.

"And, for what its worth, Chomsky explicitly condemned not only Stalin, but also Lenin and Trotsky."

Unfortunately, his criticism was ludicrously mild by any measure of the imagination (like casting the blame on the ALLIES for opening fire on the Bolsheviks in the Karelian munition depots when it was in fact the Bolsheviks who had gone against their previous promise to allow sufficient time to withdraw them, which was what they were in the midst of doing, to name only the most mild example. And this is before we get into things like why the Soviets were not the poor aggressed party like they and many of Chomsky's writings made them out to be, particularly considering their repeat violations of agreements and their aid to the German military in the East).

"He preferred the libertarian socialism of Rosa Luxemburg, George Orwell, the Spanish Anarchists and the Spanish Communards."

2 and 1/2 of those things are not like the other one, as you would know if you read A Homage to Catalona. To say the least, the Spanish Communards were NOT Libertarians to begin with (as can be seen by their stated policy and the writings that made up their "Canon"), the Anarchists avowedly anti-Socialist in any sense we would define them as, and Rosa Luxemburg was certainly no libertarian, particularly on the basis of her actions (suffice it to say, it is perhaps better for her reputation if nothing else that she was found and killed by a bunch of thugs with guns from the so-called Freikorps because it spared her the indignity of a genuine trial and a hearing out of her not insignificant list of crimes which were certainly not libertarian, like ordering the deaths of a few dissidents within the party to name but one example).

"The ills of Western capitalism are also very severe indeed - ranging from slavery"

Which was hardly only unique to capitalism (even following the very strictest definition, it existed in societies that were most assuredly feudal or pre-Capitalist as we would understand it"

"through Irish potato famine"

Which was an ill of the WEATHER more than anything else, and one that was genuinely tried to be counteracted.

"to umpteen colonial wars"

Which were hardly only Capitalist in nature.

"so there's no need to pretend the Soviets had a monopoly on evil."

And where did I do that?

"Oh, and I will call bullshit on Algeria, thank you very much."

You are free to do so, it doesn't change the fact that it is incorrect.

"The French slaughtered some 300,000 people, overwhelmingly civilians."

According to the FLN. And the FLN were called out by none other than NASSER and the SOVIET UNION for counting ARMED and FIGHTING rebels as "civilians", which should tell you something about the reliability of their bookkeeping.

The most common estimates- including those now accepted by the Algerian government- are that anywhere from a third to slightly over half were actually armed rebels, and that the 300,000 dead total was far closer to the overall than anything else (which was around 500,000), and that many of the others were actually either killed accidentally in the course of combat operations (by either side), and that several others were actually committed by the FLN, leaving to "tally" being roughly even, though still heavier on the side of the FLN.

"People like to condemn the National Liberation Front as terrorist, but they killed only about 6-8,000 civilians,"

In mainland France ALONE. Nevermind the retribution against suspected Hakri associates (the vast majority- as in 82%- of whom were in fact unarmed civilians who were passively aiding the French at best) which killed about 92,000 alone, to say nothing of the wholesale genocide against several of the Southern tribes (estimated at 86,000 dead) to FURTHER say nothing of the chaos of the post-war period, for which reliable statistics may never be available but most assuredly topped 200,000 dead.

"the vast majority of kills being soldiers (three quarters). "

By whose account?

"The Algerians were ruined by colonialism."

I take it you haven't studied PRE-colonial Algerian history much.

"Nothing excuses racial supremacy."

Agreed.

"If the French had come in peace, to offer their services to the Bey to build roads and schools and develop the country, no one would have complained."

Oh, I think the French would have when they were yanked out of their tents, paraded through the streets, and then brutally executed by a group of religious fanatics. Which is EXACTLY what happened to a large majority of those identified as Christian foreigners in Algiers prior to the French invasion and was what actually was the cassus belli for the invasion in the first place. This was one of the Barbary States, remember?

"Instead they were the kind of people who claim to be charitable while pointing a gun at your head."

Life has people like that, and not all of them are completely corrupt or racist as many of the French imperialists were (again, I point to post WWII Germany and Japan).

"They came to dominate the Arab and physically replace the Berber. No one was better off for it."

Extremely arguable. It certainly didn't do much good, but the sad fact is that Pre-Colonial Algeria was- if anything- even worse.

"You accuse me of racism and saying "all Americans" when in fact I said "American imperialists"."

Now I call BS on this, not only because by most accounts I AM one, but also because of this:

"But something Americans never understand or appreciate - their North American parochialism and ignorance prevents them-"

Remember that? Where is the "Imperialist" clarifier THERE as if it would help your case any (particularly given who you are talking to).

"I have spoken with them."

You ARE- by almost all accounts- Speaking to One.

"And they do adhere, very strongly, to the notion that if in the Soviet Union puts a man unjustly in jail, then America has the right to destroy any number of Third World countries."

Um, perhaps may I suggest you purchase higher quality straw for your strawmen? It tends to stick out at awkward points and generally makes you look foolish, particularly when you ignore that these people never advoated doing so simply because the Soviet Union stuck people in jail unjustly, but because of little things like a sworn ideological challenge to "bury us."

"The "lesser evil" stuff only works if the evil you do somehow prevents a lesser evil."

But does it not?

"I consider it self-evident that poor, peasant countries very far from the Red Army like Vietnam, Angola or Nicaragua could not possibly pose a threat to the U.S."

And I consider it self-evident that you have not studied actual logistics or military strategy. Or perhaps you forget the scare regarding the possibility of the North Vietnamese dominating the Straits of Malacca or the reason why the Germans in WWI sought to forge an alliance with most of Latin America- but most infamously Mexico- in spite of having pretty much absolutely no way to actually send anything to them?

"or being "controlled" by Moscow"

Controlled is not necessary to pose a threat. Examine Bela Kun or Fidel Castro- indeed, the latter was perhaps a larger threat BECAUSE he was independent because he would use his Moscow-supplied tools in ways that Moscow would not like, most infamously when there was a scare that he would try to launch the missiles during the Missile crisis which forced to Kremlin to eject all Cuban workers and to literally keep a heavy guard on the missile sites to protect them from their own ally- and the results.

"The Russian couldn't control Romania and Yugoslavia despite the millions of soldiers on their doorstep!"

A. Again, lack of control does not necessarily equal a lack of a threat.

B. And the Germans in WWI had maybe fifty people working within dozens of miles of Mexico city and no effective way to exert control whatsoever. That didn't stop them from offering carrots and getting dangerously far along in the process. Indeed, that is what the USSR more or less planned to do with Tito and Ceausescu if WWIII had broken out.

"Cold Warriors obviously have a different view."

Wonder WHY?

"They adhere not to the "lesser evil""

How so?

"(which would be to live with a unified, Communist Vietnam rather than wage a war killing 3 million Vietnamese for nothing),"

Again, INVEST IN HIGHER QUALITY STRAW!, because this just makes you look absolutely ridiculous, because:

A. You are forgetting the talks in Hanoi about exporting the Revolution Westerward through Thailand and Malaysia to dominate the Straits of Malacca, which needless to say would be a massive strategic weakness in the even of any world war and was postponed pretty much only because of the excessive losses the Communists had taken?

B. You are ALSO forgetting that the end of the Vietnam was was hardly preordained, and that up until the very end when Congress cut off the weapon shipments to the South and the NVA crossed the border that it could well have ended differently. It, like almost all wars, was an investment. An investment which in our case failed, but that does not mean it could only fail.

"but, indeed, to "two wrongs make a right"."

Say that as many times as you wish, but without proof, it is just empty air.

"I certainly wouldn't hesitate."

Pause there a second and ask yourself: WHY would you not hesitate?

"The trick of Cold Warriors is to replicate that sense of urgency to even marginal areas - Chile, Congo, Vietnam, etc. - to manufacture the same bipolarity that would exist in Europe in wartime. It allows them destroy democracies and wage war unnecessarily."

Perhaps, but the PROBLEM is that a basic study in geopolitics would show that those "marginal" theaters of conflict can in fact exert a very unmarginal effect indeed: had the Germans of WWI been able to more effectively construct an alliance in Latin America, US intervention the European mainland could have been delayed for at least a year, possibly more, leading to god knows what consequences. And likewise, regions as seemingly marginal as Vietnam and Korea had the possibility of endangering vital strategic areas- the Straits of Malacca and Japan respectively-, all the while it is well worth noting that the Soviets had no such compulsions against intervening pretty much anywhere they could.

"The fact is, however, there was never a situation which would have made choosing necessary."

Proof?

"And so free people would say, when the Americans were ruining Guatemala"

Perhaps you forget the considerable damage caused by our dear friends the Soviets and the Sandinistan Nicaraguans there?

"or Vietnam"

As I mentioned again and again, the fact remains that Uncle Ho and his charming friends killed far more Vietnamese- and indeed, more Indochinese in general- than the US and their allies. What few people pay attention to is the inconvenient truth that the casualties from US aerial bombardments of North Vietnam were dwarfed (almost two to one) by those caused by the North Vietnamese Junta's concurrent attempts at industrial expansion ala Stalin.

"and the Soviets rolling into Hungary or Czechoslovakia:"

Wonderful. So, on one side, two civil wars caused largely by Soviet influence (even in Guatemala, where the Right was itching for a purge, the actual trigger both for the war and for their support for the Contras was Nicaraguan and Soviet support for the Socialist rebels), and on the other two invasions and generalized terrors waged by a superpower against a predominantly unarmed populace (it is well worth remembering that even with the armed Hungarian Revolution, the death toll in all due likelihood was higher during the POST-Combat purges than from the combat itself). And yet you place them on exactly the same plane.

"neither with Washington, nor with Moscow."

And like I said, good luck with that, particularly considering its generally poor success rate (even the vaunted Non-Aligned movement to a member made agreements on some level for cooperation between one side of the potential WWIII or the other).

"Orwell never accepted it, actually."

Um, yes he did. He sided with the West in the early Cold War, lived out his final years in Britain, and wrote several extremely biting essays about the Soviet Union (most relevant to this discussion:the extremely self-explanatory "Why I would never move to Moscow (even if they let me)."). True, he was extremely critical of Western Imperialism and of the interventions you mention, but even so he DID clearly side with the West against the USSR.

"He died early in the Cold War"

But not early enough to not see the Elbe River Crisis (late 1945-early '46, notable for being the only open combat between the West and the Soviet Union during the whole of the Cold War), the Greek Civil War ('45-'49), the Berlin Airlift ('48-'49), and the first stirrings of trouble in Korea and Indochina within his life. And true to form, he wrote about all of them.

"but he was horrified by Western propaganda in its early years. "

No bloody kidding. But as I mentioned before, that in and of itself is not mutually exclusive with the fact that he sided with the West.

"I suspect he would have been as disgusted by American conduct in Vietnam or Iraq as he was by his job (which he quit) as an imperial policeman in Burma."

A. That goes almost without saying.

B. Those things are hardly equal. Have you ever seen the differences in ROEs between Vietnam, IRaq, and the Burmese Police units?

C. Again, that isn't mutually exclusive with siding with the West.

"I say "manufactured bipolarity" because in truth the world was multipolar by the 1960s."

It has always been multipolar to some extent or another. But that has hardly stopped bipolarity from manifesting itself.

"This was ensured by the Sino-Soviet split, decolonization (India, Egypt, Vietnam, etc.), and the economic rise of Japan and the Western Europeans. The world was complex and diverse."

As it was twenty years earlier, with the stirrings of China and Yugoslavia, the formation of the Arab League, and the growth of Latin America as well as the start of decolonization. A complex world does not necessarily stop a bipolar world.

"The Cold Warriors, however, reduced every conflict in the world Soviet "aggression""

False. Have you ever seen some of the essays on the issue? Many of them, especially by those in intelligence work, were quite complex (of note is the essay on Chile that stated that the CIA should intervene to stop the indigenous Right-Wing coup that would give rise to Pinochet because it would "be counterproductive").

"no matter if it was something occurring in Vietnam,"

Which was a case of Soviet-BACKED aggression. Or, as the report stated, "An ongoing conflict in which the Communist North Vietnam has breached the Geneva accords to finance rebel movements against the legitimate South Vietnamese government with the help of the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the regime of Fidel Castro in Havana."

"Nicaragua,"

"An ongoing civil War with its roots in the 1920's between the indigenous Right and the indigenous Left- the latter of whom are known as "Sandinistas" after rebel leader Augusto Sandino- and who were up picked up by the Comtinern around the 30's and who managed to seize power in 1974."

"Angola,"

"A freelance attempt by the regime of Fidel Castro to expand its influence independent of Moscow."

"Chile,"

A case of an indigenous right-wing coup installing an indigenous right-wing dictator by overthrowing a probable left-wing dictator (albiet one who was democratically elected). This was one time when the US actually TOOK your advice and we stayed all the way out of the matter, as we confirmed in the 1980's and the Chileans confirmed in the 90's during the trials of Pinochet's henchmen. Why? Because we believed that

"or what have you. That is "manufactured bipolarity", using a useful myth to destroy democracies and wage war against other countries. To force countries to make false choices."

Are they truly false choices? Are you not ignoring a long and truly bilateral struggle over the third world between the West and the Soviets? However much you may like to cherry pick and claim that the much-maligned "Cold Warriors" saw Soviets under every bed, the fact that the Moscow archives largely vindicate them goes unremarked. The simple thing you forget is that it is easy to preach about clean hands when you do not have to make the final call, and you do not have to take responsibility for whatever happens afterward.

"and the further fact that How is Arafat pointing out, quite sensibly, that more Arabs means strengthening his hand with the Israelis?"

This quote came from a strategic meeting in which he proposed that the Palestinians acquire "right of return" and then outbreed the Israelis so that when conflict broke out, the Israelis could be outmaneuvered and destroyed. I point you to the recording of the 1981 meeting in Cairo.

"The Israelis make a point of importing as anyone they can construe to be a "Jew" from every corner of the world to maximize the Jewish component of Israel."

Which is one of my greatest irritations with Tel Aviv to date. However, that hardly justifies the inverse, particularly given the explicitly sinister intentions of Arafat's quote.

"How is withdrawal being an "apartheid State""

A. I explicitly said it would be "closer" to one, not that it would actually BE one.

B. Asides from being the deathblow of any commonwealth solution, segregating the "Israelis" from the "Palestinians" and erecting god knows what between them, and leading to yet more difficulties over who the inevitable claims on both sides of the barrier? It is unlikely to resolve a great deal and would likely only leave everyone even more enraged than before, the Palestinians because they cannot actually get in and the Israelis because walls do not exactly keep out a potential air strike or rocket barrage but actually crowd targets of said thing together.

"while what Israel is now doing (Jewish only settlements, Jewish only roads, checkpoints for Arabs, etc.) is presumably not?"

Comparatively? No. Particularly given the fact that they aren't "Jewish-only roads" but they are "Israeli-only roads", that moving inland would hardly lessen said exclusivity, and that moving inland to a final border would by definition close most avenues for negotion over territory.

""Right. Because armed attacks and murder are bearable if one just ignores them."
One doesn't have to ignore them. But if I followed Israeli thinking, if someone were to kill my sister, that would entitle me to kill the murderer, his sister, his mother, his daughter, his father, his brother and on,"

Obviously, you have never actually studied the military operations of the IDF. And as for that, it depends? Are all his direct family in arms against you? In which case, you DO have the right to do so. You have the right to attack and kill the murderer and any allies he may have. That cruel but true. And it works.

"It is that word Israelis hate: "disproportionate"."

Again, that is an incorrect assessment of what that tactic means, and if you have ever actually studied military history, you would know that "proportional response" as it is defined today is not a virtue, but a vice. You end threats not by killing one for every one they kill, but by killing as many of the enemy as you can for as little cost as possible until they give up or you run out of them. It is not nice but it works, and barring the threat of elevation up to nuclear war, it is perhaps the only way of war worth waging.

"Very few people outside the U.S. supported the Iraq War, certainly very few people in the U.N."

Logical fallacy: appeal to the bandwagon. The many are not always right.

"It was a U.S.-manufactured crisis for U.S. interests."

Hardly. The terms of the UN ceasefire with Iraq were clear enough, and we hardly made Saddam violate them. He chose to do so, and he reaped the consequences.

"They had the arrogance to think the Arabs would be democratic capitalist putty in their hands."

Hardly. There were more skeptics than you think, some of whom more or less got the flow of the war down to a pretty damn close sight.

"Instead, a combination of all the fuck ups that have occurred in past U.S. interventions (Vietnam, Panama, Kosovo) happened."

Hardly. You have obviously not STUDIED what ACTUALLY happened in Vietnam,or Panama, or Kosovo. Panama was a very clear, very neat operation that is still held up as a model for military planning. Kosovo's problem was that we had no land forces and thus we had to rely on the Bosniaks and Croats to break the Serbian military in the field. And Vietnam's ultimate problem was lack of public will and unclear handling at the top against a very ruthless and underhanded enemy. Iraq's problems have largely been unique to Iraq.

"The Americans screwed up, the Iraqis died or became refugees."

Obviously you forget who MADE them refugees. Here's a hint: it usually wasn't us.

"Now, where's Tom Friedman to scold the Iraqis for not seizing the opportunities we so graciously grant them?"

He's not doing so. Because if you came out from under your rock and looked around, they ARE seizing those opportunities. Iraq has had its first democratic elections in its history, and against great odds they have gone quite well.But of course you aren't going to address that, are you?

Learn some actual history. And I don't mean polemics of the Right or the Left. Go back a while and browse through the military journals to learn the actual basics of military operations, realpolitik, and diplomatic issues. Because right now, your standards are so unbelievably twisted you can hardly distinguish up or down.
Posted by: Turtler at April 13, 2010 12:21 pm
Prarie Dog:

"Turtler, I've yet to actually read any of your posts thoroughly, you might want to edit a skosh."

??????
Posted by: Turtler at April 13, 2010 12:24 pm
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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