October 27, 2003

Why They Hate Us

Even after the terrorist massacre at the International Red Cross center in Baghdad, Red Cross spokeswoman Nada Doumani still doesn’t understand the world she is living in.

Maybe it was an illusion to think people would understand after 23 years [working in Iraq] that we are unbiased. I can't understand why we've been targeted.
Mrs. Doumani. You are not unbiased. You are trying to help the Iraqi people. You are not on the side of the Baathists or the Islamists. You represent civilization and the West. And you work for the Red Cross, not the Red Crescent.

We don’t yet know who committed this atrocity. But it isn’t too hard to narrow it down. You’re the enemy of whoever turns out to be responsible.

The Baathists want to drive out the internationals and then kill their way back into power. They want their old jobs back so they can steal, torture, imprison, rape, and enslave.

More than two years have passed since Al Qaeda attacked New York and Washington. For more than two years the world has known, and should have been able to grasp, that the “infidel” is their enemy. You, Mrs. Doumani, are an “infidel.” You are not an Islamic fascist. So you’d better watch your back and quit pretending you are a neutral. You will never please them. You can never appease them. You will never earn their trust, their thanks, or their respect. Never. Get used to it. When they say they want to kill you, for your own sake, for all our sakes, take them at their word.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 27, 2003 11:01 PM
Comments

Well said

Posted by: Keith Johnson at October 28, 2003 01:42 AM

Yes, well said. What happened is horrible but not surprising. I don't understand why the Red Cross thought they WOULDN'T be attacked. The MO of those terrorist bastards is to hit soft targets, whether they be journalists, Iraqi school kids, or aid agencies. They used pregnant women and old men as human shields and (very) reluctant suicide bombers during the war for god's sake.
Also, is there anyone out there who can tell me if this is true: did the Iraqi provisional government pass a law prohibiting foreign companies (nationals?) from owning shares in Iraqi oil and buying up Iraqi real estate? I heard this today on the radio and was surprised I hadn't been aware of this law before. Thanks.

Posted by: suzanne at October 28, 2003 03:53 AM

Yes, very well said. The naivity is appalling. The international agencies rely on their altruism and are blind to reality.

Posted by: zacek at October 28, 2003 05:24 AM

I think a very good question to ask the International Red Cross is whether they followed suit with the U.N. and declined American troop protection. In the effort to appear impartial, these types of actions only highlight a location as a potential target.

Terrorists do not care what something "looks like", they only care if there are warm bodies from the "other side" they can blow to bits for maximum television coverage. The U.N., and I suspect the Red Cross, believed if they put political distance between themselves and the Americans they would be excluded from the target list. Instead, they managed to move themselves to the front of the line.

Posted by: Roark at October 28, 2003 06:22 AM

As usual, Michael gets straight to the heart of the matter in his analysis.

It is stunning to me, but not altogether surprising, how much denial many people in the West have towards those who would happily slaughter us and our children and dance in the streets at the carnage they caused.

Many of the anti-war protesters suffered from the same delusion: "We are good people, we're nice, so we can't possibly be the targets of these fanatics. Something is out of kilter. It must be our fault somehow, or George Bush/Hitler's fault, or Tony Blair's--because this is not rational behavior."

First the stunned response of the U.N. to the brutal attack on an international organization, then the head-scratching of the Red Cross.

It's time to wake up to the fact that they hate all of us, hate modernity itself, hate Americans, Jews, Iraqis, international agencies, and will do anything they can to destroy lives and instill chaos. Islamofascism must be faught without quarter, without respite, until those who would kill all of us if they could are humiliated, defeated, relegated to the dustbin of history. Hesitation and cautious pullbacks could be catastrophic at this moment. The stakes are very high indeed in Iraq, and both the West and the Islamofascists know this, or should.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at October 28, 2003 06:55 AM

These stunningly naive people seem unable to grasp the fact that there are people who like killing, and the more innocent and defenseless the target, the better they like it. In the words of a Leonard Cohen poem:

"Whatever makes a soldier sad
Will make a killer smile"Da

Posted by: David Foster at October 28, 2003 07:07 AM

First of all, how can you jump to conclusions so quickly as to who did this? Do you have evidence?

Second of all, if it was Baathist remnants, then you are confusing them with "Islamic fascists."

Do you know ANYTHING about the Arab world, Michael? Don't you know that Baathists are secularists? Do you know who Michel Aflaq was?

Posted by: Diana at October 28, 2003 08:10 AM

Totten! Your clear-eyed assessments are an affront to God and Democrat alike! Allah is going to call Terry McAuliffe right now to complain.

You are in trouuuuu-ble.

Posted by: Allah at October 28, 2003 08:40 AM

Daniel Calto has it right: many in the Left still do not grasp the fact that we Westerners are targets becasue of who we are not because of what we have done. This does not fit into the Left's anti-colonialism template (which derives from Rousseau's "Noble Savage"), which many insist on grafting on to the present situation in the Middle East. It is amazing to me that you can try to kill people and they STILL refuse to regard you as their enemy. Diana makes a fine Exhibit "A" for this.

Posted by: Ben at October 28, 2003 08:42 AM
The Baathists want to drive out the internationals and then kill their way back into power. They want their old jobs back so they can steal, torture, imprison, rape, and enslave.

Well right now I imagine that they're hoping not to get lynched by an anrgy mob as soon as Saddam is bagged. For now, terrorism is buying time until the US is "fatigued out of Iraq," and their former patron is back in power. Survival First. Revenge Later.

Posted by: Bill at October 28, 2003 08:52 AM

"First of all, how can you jump to conclusions so quickly as to who did this? Do you have evidence?"

There are two obvious choices, both of which are stated. I hesitate to suggest (or even contemplate, really) what you might consider to be enough of a possibility to be worth mentioning.

"Second of all, if it was Baathist remnants, then you are confusing them with "Islamic fascists."

Reread the post, Diana. The paragraph starting with "With we don't know..." gives the two most likely candidates: the paragraph starting with "The Baathists..." discusses the rationale for why likely candidate #1 (the Baathists) would blow up a Red Cross station; and the paragraph starting with "More than two years..." discusses the rationale for why likely candidate #2 (the Islamic fascists) would blow up a Red Cross station. He isn't conflating them at all, which is why he put the different rationales in separate paragraphs.

My apologies for having to explain that to everyone who got it right away.

Posted by: Moe Lane at October 28, 2003 09:11 AM

Diana's absolutely right, michael. If it was Baathist elements, then you should have left the "Islamic" part off of the description. The difference between secular fascists and explicitly religious fascists is an important one. I guess.

Posted by: Sebastian at October 28, 2003 09:13 AM

Michael did a more than adequate job at distinguishing between the religious fascists and the secular fascists. That's what PARAGRAPHS are for.

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 09:17 AM

Diana Moon: Do you know ANYTHING about the Arab world, Michael? Don't you know that Baathists are secularists? Do you know who Michel Aflaq was?

What is your problem? Are you even capable of writing a single civil comment on my blog or in an email to me? You have not once been able to do it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 28, 2003 09:40 AM

Aflaq! AFLAQ!

(sorry, couldnt resist).

Posted by: sblafren at October 28, 2003 10:11 AM

What is MY problem?

You crank out one piece of propaganda after another, defending this war, this blunder, this combination Suez and Vietnam, in which Americans are being picked off like flies, and which enraged moderate Muslims, you lump anyone who opposes it with Stalinoid monsters like ANSWER, and you call ME uncivil? Just to concede a point, I'll plead nolo contendere and work out a plea bargain, but it's better than being a dupe of the Bush Administration who is making a good living off a bad war.

Like I said, I supported the war. In no small part, because I hate ANSWER and everything they stand for. But enough is enough. The days comes that you can realize and admit that you made a mistake, you can call yourself a grownup. This war is wrong. It was based upon shoddy premises. The planning was half-baked. It will prove ruinously expensive. And in the long run it won't help the Iraqis.

You have written an exceedingly uncivil post--in fact, downright nasty, vile, uncharitable post--directed towards an aid worker, a HUMANITARIAN worker who has been working for the benefit of the Iraqi people for 23 years, who has just seen her colleagues and friends DIE, which sneeringly says that doesn't understand the world she is living in. Have you done humanitarian aid work? I once worked in the headquarters office of a refugee aid organziation. I saw how hard these people worked, in some of the most horrible parts of the world. You should wash out your spoiled little mouth with soap, Michael! What have you done for anyone in the Middle East?? or anywhere else??

Perhaps you were inadvertently right on one point: Ms. Doumani DOESN'T know the world she is living in. Ms. Doumani thought that at least the Americans would be able to protect aid workers and suchlike after they invaded.

We haven't.

And you call ME uncivil? You are not only disgustingly nasty to a humanitarian aid worker, but you accuse her of ignorance. From a perspective of abysmal ignorance. You know NOTHING about the Middle East, nothing, zilch, nada, nothing. You don't know who Michel Aflaq was, you can't speak a word of ARabic, Hebrew, Kurdish, or Turkish. Nothing.

Moe,

The post is either incoherent and ignorant, or it is misleading. Take your pick.

In paragraph #5, Totten talks about the Baathists. (Note: the former Baathists are doing quite well under the CPA. They are the ones who are helping the CPA. And Faux News, if reports are to be believed. So the one of the major rationales for this war is undercut. Because they were the skilled elite, who ran the place without ruling it. But I digress.)

The following graf smoothly segues to Al Qaida, as if there is no distinction to be made between Baathists and AQ. Whether Totten did so out of ignorance, or intentionally, I do not know. I say it was out of ignorance. I don't think he can tell the difference between the two. There are MAJOR differences between secular pan-Arabism and religious fundamentalism.

Look Moe, I know you supported the war. Fine. We both had reasons. But stop being a blind partisan and look at the real situation. Part of the situation is that some people are profiteering off this war, and have a tremendous stake in keeping war fever at a pitch.

Totten is one of them. He can wipe my comments off his blog, he can bitch about my incivility while evading the facts, but he can't change the facts.

Posted by: Diana at October 28, 2003 10:13 AM

Michael,

Your comments are so simplistic, dividing this situation up into "us" and "them"; and you are so biased about Islam; and you fail to distinguish between Western-hating secularist terrorists and Islamic terrorists.

And, by the way, you are right.

For a liberal, you are a smart boy.

Posted by: Stephen Manning at October 28, 2003 10:27 AM

"The post is either incoherent and ignorant, or it is misleading. Take your pick."

Diana, I am morally certain that this has been explained to you beforehand in other threads and places, but I'll give it one more try: assertions do not equal proof, and you have no inherent right to dictate the conditions by which the rest of us view the universe. To be specific, the post in question does not have to be either incoherent/ignorant or misleading: it can also be truthful, perceptive, thoughtful... even if it did commit the apparently unpardonable sin of not fitting in with either your biases or your prejudices.

I suggest - I honestly, gently, nicely suggest - that you reexamine your response.

Ta.

Moe

Posted by: Moe Lane at October 28, 2003 10:27 AM

Humanitarian aid workers in the ICRC, like the U.N., sometimes erroneously come to believe that militarism (as represented by the U.S.) is itself as evil as the situation which originally brought about their presence. I think Diana would like us to convince us that the murderers who instigated these massacres are actually the friends of the Iraqis, and we Americans are the enemy.

Posted by: d-rod at October 28, 2003 10:28 AM

Shrill Diana,

you don't need a Phd in middle east studies, or fluency in Arabic or Hebrew, to see that despite her best intentions as an aid worker, Nada Doumani is as flumoxed by the bombing of her headquarters as you are claiming Michael is.

But Michael isn't at all flumoxed, and neither are the rest of us ignoramuses suprised, despite our lack of Phds, by the bombing of the IRC in Iraq.

Despite our unfamiliarity with AFLAQ (an insurance company right?), and our complete lack of fluency in Arabic and Hebrew, the bombing of the IRC does not surprise us in the least, knowledge of Aflaq notwithstanding.

So get off your high horse, about how nobody here knows "NOTHING" about the middle east. All your knowledge of the middle east, and all Nada Doumani's knowledge, is only getting people at the IRC killed, just as it got people at the U.N. Headquarters killed.

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 10:32 AM

Diana-

"You know NOTHING about the Middle East, nothing, zilch, nada, nothing. You don't know who Michel Aflaq was, you can't speak a word of ARabic, Hebrew, Kurdish, or Turkish. Nothing."

So how about you, Diana? Are you an expert on Irqai history, culture, and religion? Do you get daily intellignece briefings from the CPA regarding the situation on the ground in Iraq? Do you regularly canvass ordinary Iraqis to discuss their state of mind, hopes, and concerns?

But let's assume that you are, in fact, an expert on the Middle East. Let's assume that your expertise goes beyond a few semesters of Middle Eastern history in college, or a few semesters of Arabic, which permit you to read the censored, government-owned Arab press and the insane hate-filled rantings of fundamentalist clerics in the mother tongue.

Why is it that "experts" like you always seem to assume that the Iraqi people are incapable of democracy? Why do you always exoricate the US for liberating the Iraqi people from an evil, sadistic dictator?

You regional "experts" always seem to assume that the Iraqi people aren't civilized enough to be entrusted with a modern, humane system of government. The tribal ties are too strong; the ethnic rivalries run too deep; religion is too powerful a force in society, etc., etc., etc.

Never once do you even acknolwedge the slightest possibility that maybe the Iraqi people will appreciate the right to speak their mind, elect their leaders, and enjoy due process of law.

Maybe the women of Saudi Arabia want to drive. Maybe the angry young men would prefer to wear a three-piece suit instead of a belt full of explosives. Maybe they view religious fundamentalists in much the same way that we view people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Personally, I think you "experts" are just a bunch of elitist pantywaist intellectuals. And you know what? You've been wrong about everything so far!

You were the people who for years have counseled us to work with our "allies" in the region, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Shah. That gave us 9/11. In Iraq, you predicted a humanitarian crisis which never came. You predicted civillian casualties which never came. You predicted famines, floods, ethnic bloodletting, fundamentalist uprisings...and you were wrong!

But let's suppose that you are right about this. Let's suppose that the Iraqi people, and the people of the Middle East writ large, really aren't capable of democracy. Maybe they really do crave theocracy, or an iron-fisted secular dictator. Maybe they are too backward, superstitious, and clannish to be entrusted with the ballot box and a free press.

For God's sake, wouldn't you at least like to try giving them these things? Do you really want to condemn 500,000,000 women to oppression, burquas, and objectification on the strength of your theory that those half-civiilzed Arabs can't handle modernity? Wouldn't you like to give them a chance at democracy, even if you don't think it will work out?

And don't give me that elitist bullshit about how it might work, but the Bush administration isn't handling it properly -- they need a better plan, etc., etc.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at October 28, 2003 11:06 AM

What a sad bunch of dittoheads you have for commenters, Michael. Pathetic nonsense that wouldn't stand the light of a real debate outside a blog comment line.

Look Michael, I'm not going to convince you that you are wrong on Iraq (and Christopher Hitchens). And you are not going to convince me.

Just understand one thing: Not everyone who opposes this war is with international ANSWER. Most of us are concerned Americans who want to do the right thing. Stop questioning our patriotic credentials.

And learn who Michel Aflaq was, and what he stood for. Then you might understand the phenomenon of Saddam Hussein, and why he ruled for as long as he did.

Posted by: Diana at October 28, 2003 11:06 AM

Diana Moon: you lump anyone who opposes it with Stalinoid monsters like ANSWER

I very explicitly do NOT do this, and have repeatedly criticized those who do.

You don't know who Michel Aflaq was

If you type his name into my Search box you will see that I have written about him before.

You are trying my patience. Your posts are the most vitriolic out of all the comments left on this site. I'd like to extent to you a polite warning to stop it or I will have to ask you to leave.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 28, 2003 11:11 AM

I’ve been to dozens of countries including some “moderate” Islamic ones, but not Iraq, I also have friends who are in the ICRC, the U.N. and I have done humanitarian work in S.E. Asia. I can tell you from being in Vietnam that the people there generally really like Americans and our government, but ironically, have no love for the former Soviet Union that supposedly “helped” them achieve their “independence”. This is a “fact” that probably can’t compute in the demented leftist worldview institutionally prevalent among your “humanitarian” groups, but I really suggest you should think about it. Nobody has question your patriotism. We simply don’t believe you and surmise that you have essentially joined forces with the people who hate us.

Posted by: d-rod at October 28, 2003 11:13 AM

It's become obvious to me that many on the "left" have long since left civil (and rational/factual) communication behind. I am to the point where I am shocked by the rare civil "lefty" who pays any attention at all to any facts these days.

Thanx again Michael for your staightforward assessment:

"You are not an Islamic fascist. So you’d better watch your back and quit pretending you are a neutral. You will never please them. You can never appease them. You will never earn their trust, their thanks, or their respect. Never. Get used to it."

D.S. Savage, a British "lefty" writer/poet, in 1942 wrote, "Hitler requires, not condemnation, but understanding". England had endured two years of bombing raids by that time, and Hitler's genocidal tactics were also well known by then, yet Savage was still claiming that England was just as fascist as Nazi Germany, "Germans call it National Socialism. We call it democracy. The result is the same".

There's no convincing some people. Those whose politics has become religious dogma happily sacrifice facts and truth on the alter of party line. (Ever try to carry out a rational conversation with a fundamentalist?) I'd really like to know if this man ever owned up to the truth and apologized for his utter betrayal of freedom, human rights, decency, and the truth. Anyone know? (Both Savage quotes are from the book of essays, "Orwell: My Country Right or Left, 1940-1943", pp. 221,222, edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus)

Posted by: Cara at October 28, 2003 11:16 AM

Diania refers to posters here as "Dittoheads", and then follows that comment with judgements about how the level of discussion here "wouldn't stand the light of a real debate".

Are you for real??? LOL

And why, Diana, do you keep ranting about ANSWER? Is this a case of thou dost protest too much?

As far as Aflaq, your expertise in that area hasn't added to your own common sense. Did Nada Doumani neglect to read up on Aflaq? Is that why she's so confused?

Stop ranting about ANSWER and Aflaq, and condescending to people. It adds nothing, unless you have some real information to impart.

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 11:21 AM

DIANA: "Part of the situation is that some people are profiteering off this war, and have a tremendous stake in keeping war fever at a pitch...Totten is one of them."

Michael, are you "profiteering off this war?" For shame. And I hadn't even realized you were the oil billionaire...uh...or Haliburton executive that this must mean you are. Frankly I'm a little surprised.

Posted by: Jeremy at October 28, 2003 11:35 AM

Diane,

When was the Suez ever a quagmire? Now the Panama Canal was a quagmire! Tens of thousands of people died horribly getting that built! In comparison the Suez was a breeze!

Or are you thinking of the various conflicts in the Suez penninsula that brought about the development of the supertanker? None of those was a serious conflict compared to the Somme or Verdun.

As for Michael being uncivil, that is manifestly untrue. Sean LaFreniere is frequently uncivil, and I have told him that to his face more times than I care to mention. Michael is a peach, though.

While it might seem uncivil to speak strongly in the face of imminent danger, it is in fact never uncivil to try to save somebody's life. We are in a life and death struggle for the future of liberal civilization and Chomsky civility will only get us all killed or enslaved. If you doubt this, you do not actually understand the middle-east, Islam, or civilization.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at October 28, 2003 11:36 AM

Look, I myself was alieneted from the antiwar left earlier this year, due to its implicit, de facto support for the Hussein regime. I thought the documented monstrosities of the Baathist regime coupled with the intelligence that even the clinton administration thought we had added up to a decent argument for international intervention. But those of us who felt this way need to admit that things are not going as we had expected.

Yet it seems that too many on the "secular democratic crusade" are spending too much of their time bashing the left instead of meditating on just why things are going so badly in Iraq and what can be done to turn the situation around. And if in fact deputy mayors of Iraq and Red cross workers are being killed because we are winning, just how much more success can we take?
This is no time for polyannas, or for those who want to change the subject or talk about the run-up to the war.

It seems as if we are not wanted.

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 28, 2003 11:41 AM

"It seems as if we are not wanted."

Of course we're not wanted. We're not wanted by baathists who can no longer plunder the country at will, and we're not wanted by the jihadis who have flocked to Iraq to fight the Great Satan.

Should we leave before finishing the job because "we're not wanted"?

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 11:49 AM

I've been reading some "michel aflaq", because I don't want to be a dittohead anymore, and here's some good stuff from him?

Though born a Christian, Aflaq believed that Islam provides Arabs with "the most brilliant picture of their language and literature, and the grandest part of their national history." He did not see the confrontation with the West in Muslim versus Christian terms. Arguing that all three great religions originated in the Middle East, he asserted that "religion entered Europe from the outside, therefore it is alien to its character and history." Europeans and Americans, he believed, cannot really be Christian or religious or highly spiritual in the rich way that Arabs can.

How very illuminating.

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 11:58 AM

I don't know if we should leave. I hope not. I'm rooting for our success as much as Thomas Friedman and Joe Lieberman are. But we need to find out who their "silent majority" supports. We need to find out who wants liberal democracy, who wants Islamic theocracy, and who wants a Baathist law and order regime. There are a whole lot of cruel dictatorial governments the world over whose fall I would support. That doesn't mean it is appropriate, necessarily, for us to make a priority to free each and every one, or this one.

Meanwhile, stop bashing the pro-reconstruction left, regardless of their earlier stands on the war.

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 28, 2003 12:01 PM

"Meanwhile, stop bashing the pro-reconstruction left, regardless of their earlier stands on the war."

To whom are you referring?

The silent majority in Iraq is on our side, and we are on theirs. But as is so common in the islamic world, the guys with the guns set the agenda and either kill or threaten to kill those moderates who would speak out against them.

The silent majority wants a rebuilt country to live in. Who do you think they trust to deliver this? The baathists? the jihadis?

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 12:09 PM

Markus: stop bashing the pro-reconstruction left, regardless of their earlier stands on the war.

I'm not sure you are addressing with this, but I am only fighting the anti-reconstruction left. I no longer care if someone is left, right, center, or what.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 28, 2003 12:12 PM

When it comes to foreign policy, I don't care one whit what somebody's politics are (left vs right). As long as we are all acting in the best interests of all good and decent peoples.

The anti-reconstruction Left, and the isolationist Right are in the same misguided boat as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 12:19 PM

Don't worry, Michael, I won't waste my time on your comments again. Not worth it. Not at all. But for the record, I remember us having a civil exchange on another comment line until you accused me of "smearing" Christopher Hitchens. That really infuriates, because I am so accustomed to that kind of partisan arguing. Be well, and get used to the fact that a Democrat is going to take apart that pathetic liar who got a lucky decision from the Supreme Court, otherwise known as our President.

Posted by: Diana at October 28, 2003 12:19 PM

Dear Diana, please eschew hate and vitriol. Thanks

Posted by: billhedrick at October 28, 2003 12:23 PM

buh-bye, you lying jerk. You always promise you'll never come back. We'll see.

Posted by: d-rod at October 28, 2003 12:30 PM

"Pro-reconstructionist left" in this context means -- in addition to the people who supported regime change and democracy building in Iraq prior to the war -- those who believe we have a moral obligation to stay at this point, regardless of their original stance. This includes every Democratic candidate for President DO NOT support a troop pullout, and their supporters in Congress and across the nation. This means ALL THE CANDIDATES except Kucinich, Sharpton and maybe Mosely Braun. Don't demagogue on Kerry, Edwards, Dean, Clark position against the supplemental: they made clear they would supported it in principle, and that they were either opposed to it financing, its lack of oversight, its lack of multinational involvement.

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 28, 2003 12:33 PM

Diana, you're a seething little hater because your worldview is in full retreat, your all-but-dead "Bush isn't the real president" slogans notwithstanding.

Promise you won't come back?

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 12:35 PM

Diana,

"First of all, how can you jump to conclusions so quickly as to who did this? Do you have evidence? Second of all, if it was Baathist remnants, then you are confusing them with "Islamic fascists."

So, do you think it might have been Greenpeace, or ELF? You seem to be less concerned with what the "thug process" did here, and more with which thugs. Surviving families can take comfort that the distinction is being argued.

BTW, at your suggestion I googled Aflaq. Aside from eventually playing 'Lenin' to Saddam's 'Stalin' Aflaq, like "Pol Pot, mastermind of the Cambodian genocide; Abimael Guzman, leader of Peru's Shining Path guerrilla movement; and Ali Shariat, the intellectual godfather of the Iranian revolution*..." was educated in France at the Sorbonne.

Charming.

Posted by: Stephen at October 28, 2003 12:38 PM

Michael,
You're close to sounding like a Boykin. Be careful how you equate Islamic fundamentalism with the Baathist fascists. Remember how Assad (the former) had to annihilate the Imams in Syria to retain control of his own regime......and how short a leash the Shiite clerics were given in Saddamite Iraq.

These are people who attack innocents in the manner of Al-qaida, yes. But put them together in the same room without a common enemy and they'd shoot each other with equal facility.

Posted by: Dan at October 28, 2003 12:48 PM

But put them together in the same room without a common enemy and they'd shoot each other with equal facility.

From your lips to Allah's* ears.

Moe

*Because I imagine that He's as sick and tired of the bastards as I am.

Posted by: Moe Lane at October 28, 2003 01:01 PM

These are people who attack innocents in the manner of Al-qaida, yes. But put them together in the same room without a common enemy and they'd shoot each other with equal facility.

Who really cares? They have common cause regarding the U.S.

And are those people yesterday any less dead because the perpetrators may have been one thug or the other? Both the secular baathist and religious jihadists want us to fail.

And Boykin has a far clearer picture of who the enemy is, his "spiritual" metaphors notwithstanding, than the handwringing Left which is more concerned with splitting hairs and weakening our resolve to succeed.

Funny how Boykin takes more heat than the Leftist fifth column, who have declared the "real enemy" to be the U.S., our government, or "Bush".

Boykin is a freakin hero as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 01:11 PM

For Suzanne,

" Also, is there anyone out there who can tell me if this is true: did the Iraqi provisional government pass a law prohibiting foreign companies (nationals?) from owning shares in Iraqi oil and buying up Iraqi real estate?"

Some weeks ago, the WSJ reported that the new Iraqi Minister of Economics announced that:

1. The income tax rate in Iraq, corporate and individual, would be a flat 15%.

2. Foreign ownership of business in Iraq would be allowed at up to 100% except for natural resources (read oil).

Sorry, I have no link to this.

Posted by: Stephen at October 28, 2003 01:13 PM

Dan: Michael, You're close to sounding like a Boykin.

Come on, Dan. I have very little in common with him and I think his characterization of this conflict is preposterous.

I know very well that the Baathists are secularists. At this point everyone ought to know that. But so what if their goals differ from the Islamists. That didn't stop Saddam Hussein from funding Islamist terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza, nor does it stop the Syrian Baathists from propping up the Islamists of Hezbollah.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 28, 2003 01:45 PM

I know I'm late reading this - but damn, that was so well said.

Thanks, Michael

Posted by: red at October 28, 2003 01:50 PM

Looks like Syrians were involved.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-caught28oct28,1,3054034.story?coll=la-headlines-world

Posted by: Phil Smith at October 28, 2003 01:52 PM

Diana, have each of you moonbats been assigned site pest duties for a particular blog or what? I hope you're disgorging rubbish that you don't even believe yourself. Otherwise, get back on your mood meds pronto, or before too long you'll be crouched in a closet corner rocking yourself and mumbling about Bushitler's evil plots. Er, if you're not already to that point.

(Oh, by the way, John Ashcroft is watching you right now. Booga booga!)

Posted by: Rolling Eyes @ Diana at October 28, 2003 02:32 PM

Boykin is a freakin hero as far as I'm concerned.

Many of us are well aware that much of the Right holds this opinion. It is why we view this conflict not as a clash between modernity and medievalism, but as a religious war by proxy.

Posted by: Kimmitt at October 28, 2003 03:10 PM

Michael,
Don't exile Diana after all she forced some of us to look up who Aflaq was rather than explaining why she thought he was relevant. He is dead now and I am sure his influence is fading even faster than when he was alive.
If Russia can throw off the legacy of Lenin I think Iraq can throw off the residual of Aflaq.

It does occur to me however that the original premise might be incorrect. Saying that the Baathists are secularists does not mean that all Baathists are. I would venture a guess that within the ranks of the Baathists you might find many who are not only not secularists but who might be closet islamists.
I would guess that that would be a more reasonable state of affairs than to assume that the party is monolitic.

Posted by: Starhawk at October 28, 2003 03:16 PM

So, Kimmit, it's not a war between modernity and midievalism?

You may be correct that a lot of people in the military, and in the Bush administration, are evangelical Christians.

But we're still the good guys, right?

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at October 28, 2003 03:26 PM

Excellent post. Too bad you got Mooned.

Posted by: Fred Boness at October 28, 2003 03:51 PM

But we're still the good guys, right?

What's "Good" or "Evil" but terms invented by the Judeo-Christian patriarchy to oppress women, people of color, and now poor innocent jihadists only trying to defend themselves from the Bush/Haliburton cabal. Morality itself is purely relative. We, the enlightened elite, have evolved beyond such archaic modes of thinking.

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 03:58 PM

Iraqi irony #2458: the International Committee of the Red Cross does not allow the Israeli equivalent to join.

(Hat tip to last night's Daily Show for starting the Iraqi irony count)

Posted by: Oberon at October 28, 2003 04:19 PM

Very insightful post, Michael.

What's all the fuss about that insurance duck thing?

Posted by: RDB at October 28, 2003 04:40 PM

You represent civilization and the West. And you work for the Red Cross, not the Red Crescent.

[sarcasm]Ooooh those silly Islamofascist Baathists- so enraged by seeing a cross that they blow it up.[/sarcasm]

But you are correct, only savages would bomb the Red Cross.
http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/central/10/17/ret.afghan.redcross/

Phil Smith:
"Looks like Syrians were involved."
On to Syria then - faster please.

Posted by: Timothy Roberts at October 28, 2003 04:52 PM

One does not have to know Arab or Islamic history to understand the Bin Laden's of the world.They are fanatics as are some of the Baathists. Just read Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer" to understand fanatics.

They cannot be reasoned with, negotiated with, to appeased. They have to be stopped, typically by death.

Posted by: tallan at October 28, 2003 05:30 PM

The motives of the IslamoFascists and Baathists are clear: They want to kill us. Regardless of whether they have different reasons for it, they share the same goal and appear to be willing to work together toward their common end. What more do we need to know about them before we are willing to defend ourselves?

I expect Diana and her ilk would deny that they would just as soon kill her as look at her even as the trigger was being pulled. Sorry, Diana, being a good anti-colonial Leftist will not save your life if it is in the hands of our enemies. (BTW, I support the use of force to protect Diana's life. Would she do the same for me?)

Posted by: Ben at October 28, 2003 07:12 PM

"These are people who attack innocents in the manner of Al-qaida, yes. But put them together in the same room without a common enemy and they'd shoot each other with equal facility."

Strange the people that say Saddam and Radical Islam cant be allied becuase ideology....also argues that Bin Laden was allied to US...and see no contradiction there.

Posted by: lucklucky at October 28, 2003 07:24 PM

Okay, hang on a god damned minute; we're extrapolating quite a bit from a single incident. When your explanation of your enemy's behavior gets to the "They're nothing but inhuman animals," that may be useful for keeping oneself alive in a combat zone, but it does very little for figuring out how he/she is going to act, since the Ba'athists, Islamicists, or whoever (let's keep in mind that we don't know exactly who carried out the bombing) are still very much subject to their human psychologies.

Whoever did this did so because they believed that it advanced their cause. If it was Ba'athists, they believed that frightening the Red Cross would cause them to pull out, thus diminishing yet further services available, thus making the occupation even harder for the Iraqi people to bear, which would lead (in the long term) to more Iraqi resistance recruits available.

These are vile acts. They are vile, explainable acts, which is why the Red Cross needs to understand them, rather than (as this post implies) pull all operations out of all countries with a strong Islamic tradition at this point.

Posted by: Kimmitt at October 28, 2003 07:35 PM

...or maybe this was carried out by a single Al Qaeda or other Islamic group cell, the leader of which just has an irrational hatred of seeing a cross in an Arab country. You said it yourself -- it has been two years since 9/11, and yet this is the first attack on Red Cross personnel. Given the extraordinarily small of information available, it seems both foolish and irresponsible to attempt to draw grand, sweeping conclusions regarding the end of the Red Cross's traditional immunity.

Posted by: Kimmitt at October 28, 2003 07:38 PM

Phil Smith,
Looks like Syrians were involved.

"The Syrians"? How do you get from the statement that a single would-be suicide bomber was apparently Syrian to claiming that "the Syrians were involved"? Involved with what? The recent bombings? The resistance in general? The article you cite has no indication that this bomber is linked to other bombings (not an unreasonable assumption, but still an assumption), or that he is tied to the Syrian govenment, or indeed any other Syrian, thus justifying the plural "the Syrians." Would it not be more correct to say "looks like a Syrian was involved"?

Posted by: Smokey at October 28, 2003 07:44 PM

"The Syrians"? How do you get from the statement that a single would-be suicide bomber was apparently Syrian to claiming that "the Syrians were involved"?

A single Syrian? So how many HAVE to be involved before it become reasonable to speculate it may have been the Syrians?

You try coming off as Mr. Objective, but your answer can't be anything but arbitrary.

Posted by: David at October 28, 2003 08:08 PM

Phil Smith,
Looks like Syrians were involved.

"The Syrians"? How do you get from the statement that a single would-be suicide bomber was apparently Syrian to claiming that "the Syrians were involved"?

Umm, you know, Smokey, normally people include quoted material to demonstrate that their comments are not refuted by the quoted text itself, instead of proving that the commenter hasn't properly read the quoted text in question.

OTOH, I applaud your willingness to cut down on the work for the rest of us.*

Moe

*Although Mr. Smith has erred in using the plural, rather than the singular: the presence of only one Syrian was reported. I am all agog to see if this point will be seized upon and brandished as evidence of what Mr. Smith really meant, of course...

Posted by: Moe Lane at October 28, 2003 08:08 PM

Kimmitt: They are vile, explainable acts, which is why the Red Cross needs to understand them, rather than (as this post implies) pull all operations out of all countries with a strong Islamic tradition at this point.

Kimmitt, I agree with you. You argue with me too much, methinks. I don't think the Red Cross should pull out of Iraq. That would only encourage terrorism by showing it gets results. And I do want the Red Cross to understand what is happening, hence this post.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 28, 2003 09:54 PM

Stephen: Thank you for the info on foreign ownership of oil etc. in Iraq. Much appreciated.

Rolling Eyes @ Diana: Just as I was dire need of a good laugh, there you were. Beautiful!

Posted by: suzanne at October 28, 2003 10:37 PM

I think the ICRC understands what is happening and the importance of showing courage in the face of terror. Diana doesn’t even have the courage to hang in a single thread for more than a couple hours. How pathetic is that? Nutpigs like her make fabulous case studies of assault journalism gone awry.

Posted by: d-rod at October 29, 2003 12:51 AM

Well, that's what I get for posting in a hurry. Mea culpa. However, Smokey, just as I jumped from "a Syrian" to "Syrians", you also jumped from "Syrians" to "The Syrians". Maybe it's contagious.

Posted by: Phil Smith at October 29, 2003 08:30 AM

Boykin's no hero to me. He's making this fight harder by using inflammatory rhetoric, and his comments are already being used by anti-occupation and anti-Bush forces to counterbalance Mahathir Mohammed's remarks et al.

Just as boots on the ground matter, ideas matter, the conduct of the soldiers matters, and our political leaders' words matter. We need to be unified and keep our eyes on the prize. This is the reason, incidentally, why the Democrats' frequent posturing on who is more opposed to the war is so damaging, as Michael points out well in his earlier post.

Reinforcing the notion that the U.S. will cut and run at the earliest sign of adversity will only embolden those who hate our guts and condemn the U.S. and the rest of the West to twenty more years of appeasement, uncertainty, and death and destruction.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at October 29, 2003 08:55 AM

I'm trying to understand why everyone is going so hard on this "diana" woman -- I don't see anything she said that was that outragous. Sure she's a little bit arrogant, but baiting her seems excessive. She does raise some factual points, and she does appear to know at least something about the Middle East. I'd be particularly interested in holding a dialoge with someone who has turned against the occupation after having initially been in favor of it, as opposed to someone who always opposed the war.

Michael, your feelings toward her may be a result of previous interactions I'm not aware of. But the rest of you, is everyone who disagrees with you on the "war against terror" worthy of your contempt, or is it just her?

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 29, 2003 10:19 AM

Markus,

I can't speak for everyone else here, but yes my frustration with Diana is based on some nasty past experiences. (You see how she talks to me? She does that all the time.)

I certainly don't have contempt for people just because they disagree with me. I don't feel any hostility toward you whatsoever, nor to the anti-war people on my blogroll.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 29, 2003 10:41 AM

Marcus,

It's just her. She comes out swinging with insults and splits. I attempted to find a thread from a few months ago here to demonstrate to you why she is inconsistent, insincere and incapable of intelligent discourse, but to no avail. Anyway, don't worry, she's not worth the trouble.

Posted by: d-rod at October 29, 2003 11:03 AM

Diana writes:
"which enraged moderate Muslims"
I gather we haved also pissed off any number of dragons, frightened the unicorns, and saddened many mermaids. Even the Yeti are getting uncomfortable with our foreign policy.

Oh no! Doom, defeat, despair! How shall we ever prevail without the indespensible support of the mythical creatures?

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at October 29, 2003 12:17 PM

In case anyone is interested, the old Diana thread is here, I think. Scroll down. It's a sidebar discussion on whether Hitchens denied the holocaust. (He didn't.) Diana is just belligerant and not especially bright.

Posted by: Browning at October 29, 2003 12:30 PM

Browning,

Thanks, but I was thinking of an another older thread. Anyway, her mentality doesn't change and her vibe is pretty creepy.

Posted by: d-rod at October 29, 2003 12:37 PM

Ralph,

Nice one. Of course you are forgetting that the whole war is a front for conflicts amongst the elder vampyrs. As soon as we close the Bagdad hellmouth...

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at October 29, 2003 12:43 PM

"In case anyone is interested, the old Diana thread is here, I think. Scroll down. It's a sidebar discussion on whether Hitchens denied the holocaust. (He didn't.) Diana is just belligerant and not especially bright"

Now I know what you're talking about. She seems somewhat bright, but definately belligerant to an unwarranted, absurd degree. Why do people get so goddam emotional about things?

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 29, 2003 01:22 PM

"As soon as we close the Baghdad hellmouth..."

That's pretty close to the truth of the U.S. plan for global security.

The Pentagon's New Map

Posted by: Fred Boness at October 29, 2003 02:01 PM

Markus,

This includes every Democratic candidate for President DO NOT support a troop pullout, and their supporters in Congress and across the nation. This means ALL THE CANDIDATES except Kucinich, Sharpton and maybe Mosely Braun. Don't demagogue on Kerry, Edwards, Dean, Clark

The simple truth is that most Democrats voted against funding ongoing operations. Kerry and Edwards are particularly loathsome for authorizing the war and then voting to have it fail by refusing to fund it. Even if Gephardt or Lieberman were elected, would they be willing to do the arm-twisting necessary to get congressional support to finish the job? Bush had to twist a few uppity Republican arms to get the funding passed. It is unfortunate, but the Democrats cannot be trusted to stick it out.

Posted by: HA at October 31, 2003 03:15 AM

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn