April 01, 2004

Who Are We At War With?

Keith Berry emailed me and 18 other bloggers and asked what should be a simple question. Who are we at war with?

He wanted a one-sentence answer. Before 9/11 such a question would more easily yield a one-sentence, even a one-word, answer.

During the Cold War: The Soviet Union. During World War II: The Axis. During the Civil War: The Confederacy (or the Union.) During the American Revolution: The Crown.

But today? Who are we at war with? That’s an essay question. And because it’s an essay question, it’s no wonder we’re having such a polarized debate about what to do with our foreign policy.

Go take a look at the answers Keith received.

I can group them into three categories. One group (only two leftist bloggers answered this way) have a smartass definition of the enemy that isn’t worth addressing seriously. A second group says we’re at war with Al Qaeda. And the third group, which my answer belongs to, expands the definition of the enemy to include terror-supporting states and terrorist groups that are not Al Qaeda.

My answer to Keith’s question. Who are we at war with? Islamic fascists, both religious and secular.

It makes little sense to me to declare war on Al Qaeda, but not declare war against Al Qaeda’s Islamist allies in terror like Hezbollah and Hamas. And it makes little sense to me to declare war against Hezbollah and Hamas, but not against the Baathist states (Syria and Iraq) and the Islamist states (Saudi Arabia and Iran) who provide them with financial aid, material aid, military aid, and real estate. They are all networked together, sometimes loosely, other time less so. Not every group is linked to every other group, so sometimes their connections to each other are slight and indirect (as seems to be the case with Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein). They all have a few things in common, even so. They’re all Islamic, they’re all fascist, and they’re all involved with anti-Western terorrism of one kind or another.

If Al Qaeda ceases utterly to exist tomorrow, and if everything else in the Middle East is preserved exactly as it is right now, would it really be time to declare victory? I do not think so.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 1, 2004 11:55 AM
Comments

I agree that it could be an essay. First I would have someone define "at war". This seems to be such a 20th century term. It has a connotation which really fails to fully describe what needs to be undertaken. We need a "campaign" which encompasses not only traditional warfare but also an intense re-orientation of the modern day Islamic masses. A VOA in every outpost of the Islamic world would be a good start. Taking out one by one the Islamic clerics who call the U.S. the great satan and preach violence would be a high priority as well. We have to work on many fronts to attain ultimate victory, not just warfare.

Posted by: sammy small at April 1, 2004 12:17 PM

I don't think the Cold War was so cut and dry. Where does the Vietcong fit in? The various Communist Parties? The Warsaw Pact? Red China? So called non-aligned nations (including the Arabs)?

If anything the Cold War is a good model for today's War on Terror. An idelogical war between the liberal West and the illiberal Islamists (with the "non-aligned" nations riding the fence, which sadly includes Old Europe).

Another model could be the early part of the era of 1919-1939, where various factions (fascists, national socialists, communists, militarists) hostile to the West were in process of taking over nation-states. In this case, we are fighting them before they gain power over a state.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 12:20 PM

Using your logic then, it would make no sense to have considered ourselves at war with only the Soviet Union. We would have had to consider ourselves at war with communists, or their sympathizers everywhere. We OPPOSED those people, we were in a METAPHORICAL war against communism everywhere, but we were not AT WAR.
Actually, the term "cold war" itself is a metaphor.

War is a serious business. It is a term that should not be used lightly. It marks a fundamental moral shift in how we deal with people. One can oppose a nation, or an ideology with enormous energy and focus, and use just about every tool in the toobox, but it isnt war yet. It is only when you pick up the gun, and rely on force, while abandoning the usual concerns for justice at the individual level, or dialog, or negotiation - only when you intend to have you way and are prepared to kill anyone who is in your way, are you at war.

We are, properly, at war with al-Qaeda. No one else. If al-Q in all its forms were to disappear tomorrow, we would no longer have any right to be at war. We may well continue to stuggle mightly to oppose various groups, but that is different than being at war.

Posted by: tano at April 1, 2004 12:27 PM

Partly the answer depends on what people mean by "war."

Personally, I have a literal defintion of "war" -- a situation where you go all-out to kill people on the other side until they surrender or are all dead. (Raping the cattle and stampeding the women is optional.)

Anything less than that -- well I don't know what you call it but it I think it needs some sort of qualifier (like "Cold War").

I agree with you on objectives against Islamic fascism, just uncomfortable with the terms used. Unless you are literally in favor of declaring war on Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia?

Posted by: Oberon at April 1, 2004 12:30 PM

I've tried to define our enemies before. It is one of those frustrating things that is obvious to some people and completely opaque to others. I think the problem is that our main enemies are Islamist fascists AND pseudo-secular fascists. Both spring from a very sick set of Middle Eastern cultures which express themselves in somewhat different but both very nasty ways. The fact that one set of enemies is secular and one is not and that they both work together from time to time seems to really confuse some people.

I don't understand why it is so difficult to believe that a pseudo-secular authoritarian state could work with a regime (or whatever you call the Islamist underground) with massive relgious overtones. Germany and Japan...

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at April 1, 2004 12:38 PM

Either we need to change the definition of war, or perhaps we need a new word for the kind of war we are in. "Cold War" was an attempt at that. Its still a conflict, but it was as much an idealogical, more in fact, than a battlefield war. Same here. A Culture War between the Liberal Tradition and Islamo-Fascism.

Michael, you state that our enemies include Islamists and secularist fascists. That is true, but you fail to point out the most important thing about our enemies. The secularists are fading in power, losing influence, and are a dying movement. The Islamists are taking their place, and unlinke the secularists, who want a massive fascist Arab state, the Islamists want the whole world. They are the TRUE enemies, the enemies who pose the long term threat to the survival of the West. They will not stop until they are dead, or until the black flag flies over every capital in the world.

Posted by: FH at April 1, 2004 12:49 PM

I'm not so sure that we're at War or that we've declared war to all "Islamic fascists, both religious and secular". No American leader (note I do say AMERICAN) has really been able to clearly speak to this grand vision.

Bush has tried (which is more than I can say for John Kerry), he really has, but he's not quite up to the task of adequately communicating it to the American people. Dubya's a simple man with a simple sense of right and wrong, which is highly admirable, but talk of "evildoers" can only get you so far.

Great leadership requires 3 things: A Moral Vision; A Strong Intellect; and the Vocal Charisma to Communicate Your Case to Others. Bush is the strongest moral visionary we've had in the White House in a long long time, which is really most important of all. But he's sorely lacking in the other two areas. In short, he's no Tony Blair.

We ought to be at War with all "Islamic fascists, both religious and secular". The American people have to be made to understand the "Terror and Liberalism" case.

It would be a fundamentally liberal struggle and that's why, in my heart of hearts, I'm still waiting for the right liberal to come along and take up the calling. Tony Blair for President, anyone?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 12:50 PM

Hmm. At war with non-violent HT, at peace with genocidal Serbian monsters, insane Korean dictators and virulently racist white-supremisist terrorists.

Thanks, but no thanks. No religion in my wars, please.

Posted by: Hipocrite at April 1, 2004 12:55 PM

I'm surprised that nobody else said that we're at war with terrorism, not just terrorists, and I don't think you can limit it to the Islamic brand. Instituting a democracy in Iraq is not warring on terrorists per se, but it may be integral to the war on terrorism.

And I note that the IRA and other major terrorist groups have been VERY quiet since 9-11. They got the message that it's not just Al-Qaeda.

Many will laugh and say you can't make war on a concept, but (as Mark Steyn pointed out), there certainly was a war on piracy and a war on slavery, both of which were largely, if not completely successful.

Posted by: Pat Curley at April 1, 2004 12:58 PM

Victor Davis Hanson has moral vision, intellect and "vocal charisma" (tortured phrase that) but he's a farmer and scholar, without apparent ambition for public office. Would he fit the bill?

Posted by: ZHOMBRE at April 1, 2004 12:59 PM

tano: Untrue. We shot Koreans, Chinese and Vietemese, all within the context of the Cold War.

As for the rest (literal vs. metaphorical, declarations of war, etc), remember this...

"War is the continuation of policy by other means." - Karl von Clausewitz

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 01:00 PM

Dare one say it?

Islam.

There, I said it. Heck, they say it with out any problem. And we kinda look stupid denying it.

I mean Islam was BORN out of warfare, as a unifying movement for Arabs. Its first purpose was to organize the desperate tribes into a cohesive fighting force. Mohammed and crew coveted the empires of their neighbors, the Persians and the Ottomans.

There should be no shame or insult is stating this fact. Christianity served a similar purpose. Although one should say that Christianity was co-opted into a culturally defining movement and a motivational force for war, where as Islam was invented for this very purpose.

Islam, lest we forget, means "submission". Muslims divide the world into those who have submitted and those yet conquered. They call these realms The House of Islam and the House of War. A primary force in this conquest is cultural chauvinism, just like we used to have.

The West had its period of conquest and conversion. Then we nearly destroyed everyone with three world wars. And we came out of these conflicts with overwhelming self-doubt and guilt. Now, in our urge to respect other cultures and make up for our past ways we deprecate our own culture and suggest that others may not only be equal, but better.

It is a nice idea. Who could knock us for such newfound wisdom?

On the other hand... the Muslim world is still back in the 15th century. They still want to have their Crusades. They still want to strut world stage, they just don’t realize that we broke the set and closed production. China is in a similar place; waiting for their chance at gunboat diplomacy and their moment in the imperial sun.

Meanwhile we Westerners try to be kind and open-minded. We struggle to find the two Muslims on our block who claim to be against the Jihadists and we put them in front of our news cameras and say: "we are not at war with Islam, look these guys don’t hate us and we don’t hate them”.

But what we are overlooking is that the degree to which these folks abhor religious violence is the degree to which they have been influenced by our own Western culture. Unfortunately they are not very representative of the majority of their co-religionists.

From the Philippines and Indonesia, from India and Pakistan, from Algeria and Egypt - Muslims do NOT abhor violence; they use it happily (and quite well I might add). And in Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq they seem to worship it in its own right.

So. Who are we at war with? Go ahead... say it... Islam.

Posted by: sean at April 1, 2004 01:00 PM

sean: I would agree if you mean as a polical creed, i.e. not just a faith but a policial ideology.

Otherwise I would show one counter-example: Turkey.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 01:04 PM

We are NOT at war with Islam. That attitude is sick and evil. Wanna kill terrorists? Fine. Wanna knock over dicators? Go right ahead. Wanna impose your final solution on Muslims? I will fight on the Muslim side.

Posted by: RDD at April 1, 2004 01:09 PM

RDD: So opposing Islam as a political creed is the same as genocide?

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 01:12 PM

Mmm, war on terror. More like World War or more like the War on Drugs? It's a problem for clarity when we use "war" to describe something with components beyond conventional warfare.

But I agree, Al Quaeda is too narrow. We are properly at war with islamofascism. I don't buy Tano's implication that because only Al Quaeda attacked us, we can only properly be at war with AQ "in all their forms," unless we consider virtually all islamofascist terrorists "forms" of AQ.

I don't mind if we instead call what we do "mighty struggling" to oppose these groups, which is largely something less than "war. " At least as long as we remain willing to have whatever our response is look a LOT like war if that's what it takes to sweep out nest. To me this definitely includes sending in a bunch of helicopter gunships with troops whenever we get wind of someone running their own little extra-governmental camp jihadi, just about wherever it is. Whether we call it war or not scarcely matters. Basically, we know what the things we're not going to tolerate anymore look like, call em what you want.

Posted by: bk at April 1, 2004 01:16 PM

Ex, if you mean a Muslim country that is not our enemy today? Sure, I could give you a dozen others to. Egypt is not officially at war with us, nor Syria, or even Iran (officially).

On the other hand... Turkey, or rather the Ottoman Empire was the greatest threat to Europe... well... ever. They conquered all the way to Belgrade and nearly conquered Vienna twice. Today their cultural and religious influence remains on the European continent.

Meanwhile the only reason that Turkey is not an Islamist state that is either officially or unofficially aligned against us is because it is held under tight reign by a Western styled military that we buy off every year with arms deals.

The important difference between Christianity and Islam, the reason why one should say that we are at war with Islam, but it would be silly to say that they are at war with Christianity, is because Islam is a wholistic socio-politic-religious ideology, completely unlike Christianity.

I should explain this distinction more... Christ died at 30 something. Jesus was himself never a military or political leader, and he maintained that one should continue to "render unto Caesar". Christianity has nothing to say about tax rates, jurisprudence, urban planning, cooking, or other concerns.

On the other hand, Mohammed was a general and a king. He lived a long live and died in his 50's the ruler of a good-sized empire. His religious instructions included rules on how and when to pass gas in public and how to judge criminals and what the tax rate should be. Islam is "all inclusive".

Furthermore... although the West has oft been referred to as "Christendom", and the Pope has held great sway over political rulers, the West has never given up on the idea of separate sovereign states. On the other hand... Islam specifically calls for a NWO, a one-world government, a single totalitarian state.

So, it is silly to say that we are at war with one Muslim state or another. They don’t make that distinction... when we attacked Afghanistan and Iraq people protested, burned flags, and blew things up way over in Indonesia, a non-Arab and non-Afghan state!

Posted by: sean at April 1, 2004 01:21 PM

We are at war with the islamic jihad mentality, and it's foot soldiers, the terrorists. They mean to destroy us. We are also in a passive, non-violent war against the 5th column in our own countries that enables the above through legal and illegal means, whether these 5th columnists be "regular or moderate" muslims or the western Left.

Posted by: David at April 1, 2004 01:26 PM

RDD: So opposing Islam as a political creed is the same as genocide?

Heck no. I completely oppose the violence, fascism, evil, etc. perpetrated by some Muslims. But sean appears to favor genocide for Muslims.

Posted by: RDD at April 1, 2004 01:28 PM

RDD: "We are NOT at war with Islam. That attitude is sick and evil. Wanna impose your final solution on Muslims? I will fight on the Muslim side."

Now THAT is ridiculous! It is also a good example of the kind of knee jerk leftist self-deprecating cultural relativity that poses a SERIOUS risk to the continued existence of a "Free World". I mean it.

"Final Solution"? Oh, you must be one of those kids who paints a mustache on Bush and call him Hitler. No one has called for such a thing, and no Westerner ever would. And that is the point.

Final Solutions come from totalitarian, chauvinistic regimes. The West has fought the one and given up the other. We no longer think that we are morally superior by race. We couldn’t suggest such a thing, nor carry it out. We would sooner murder ourselves. Serious.

But that doesn’t mean that we cant realize that the other guy has a "final solution" for us and try to fight it with all our might.

Think about it RDD... We went in and kicked ass and took names in Iraq... and now we are leaving. As of June 30th its asta-la-bye-bye. We will leave behind a democratic interim government, but they might not stand. And if they fall to Muslim extremists we will probably let them (no more propping up the Shaw or Aristides of the world), that is unless they take up terrorism again.

Would any Muslim leader do the same... say in Israel? Or in India? Islam means submission, Islam is a political system as well as a religion - it is a "total package". That is, it is totalitarian by nature.

What ever happened to the Anti-Stalinist leftists? Don’t they see that they are needed once again? It pisses me off that the Right is leading this battle today.

Posted by: sean at April 1, 2004 01:29 PM

sean: Let's not forget that God is mostly dead in the West. Not moralizing, just stating a fact.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 01:32 PM

Sean: Dare one say it?

Islam.

No. No, no, no. Sufis are Muslims. We aren't having any trouble with THEM.

The problem isn't Islam, per se. It's fundamentalist FASCIST Islam that is the problem. What's the beef with liberal Islam? There isn't one.

Sean, if you define the enemy as "Islam," then the only way we can win that conflict is to destroy their religion utterly. And that requires cultural and ethnic genocide that exceeds even what Stalin was able to pull off.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 1, 2004 01:33 PM

RDD: Why do you think he means geoncide? I personally wouldn't shed a tear if Islam as an IDEA was confined to the dustbin of history.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 01:35 PM

I saw a liberal Muslim woman interviewed on TV last year. (I forget which show, sorry.) She was asked what she thought of some of the more bloodcurdling passages in the Koran and how she could reconcile those with her political philosophy. She looked at the interviewer like he asked the dumbest question in the world. After pausing she said, and I paraphrase, "I just ignore those passages, just like you Christians ignore a lot of what's in the Bible."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 1, 2004 01:38 PM

David,

I'm okay with the passive, non-violent thing, but a 5th Column, by definition, is a bunch of traitors. Either you're talking about traitors who should get treated with active violence (i.e. jailed and/or killed), or you're not talking about traitors. It's got to be one or the other, babe.

Posted by: Oberon at April 1, 2004 01:38 PM

Did destroying the religion of National Socialism kill off all the Germans?

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 01:40 PM

RDD: "But sean appears to favor genocide for Muslims."

You need to read more carefully (slowly). And you need to avoid putting words in other people's mouths. And you need to avoid the "straw man" argument.

Noting that the West is under assault by a totalitarian faith and calling for resistance against it is NOT genocide. Genocide is "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group".

I do not believe that I called for the "destruction" of Islam or the murder of its adherents.

However, you should be aware that a serious reform debate is underway in Islamic society itself. And the conclusion appears to be that the amount of "reform" necessary to make Islam non-violent and tolerant would essentially destroy the faith in the process.

One of the women leading this discussion, Irshad Manji, has come under repeated death threats, naturally.

We should be careful to keep separate ideas of culture, race, and even politics from such an ideology as Islam. Egyptians are so much more than just Muslims. If Islam were to be reformed out of existence, with or without the force of American arms, I would still expect there to be millions of Egyptians in Cairo with a successful economy and happy home-lives.

One should be equally careful not to collude the "Final Solution" of Hitler's physical snuffing out the lives of people based upon their race with any kind of Liberal Democracy movement supported by the West.

In fact, I find this desire by some Lefties to "borrow" the language of the Holocaust to be very disgusting.

Posted by: sean at April 1, 2004 01:40 PM

Totten: There is a difference between a securlarist who goes to Church (as in the West...where God is and has been dead) and a True Believer. Again, not moralizing, just stating a fact.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 01:43 PM

That's true, sean, proposing that we eradicate the religion of Islam isn't like Hitler, because Hitler killed you regardless of your religion.

You propose something more along the lines of something that no one could expect.

The Spanish Inquisition.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Posted by: Hipocrite at April 1, 2004 01:43 PM

Oberon: a 5th Column, by definition, is a bunch of traitors. Either you're talking about traitors who should get treated with active violence (i.e. jailed and/or killed), or you're not talking about traitors.

You can see from this logic why police states kill people for their political opinions. They combine David's definition of a traitor with Oberon's (correct) prescription for what to do with a traitor.

David, I can see that what you're guilty of here is rhetorical overkill. But I can also see why your attitude scares the bejeezus out of some people.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 1, 2004 01:44 PM

Odd how the secularists destroyed Christianity without camps or Inquisitions over the last 200 years. Yet God is still dead.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 01:47 PM

Mike, but there's the rub. The only way for that woman to keep her sanity living in the West is to ignore whole passages of her primary religious text. We have those people in the West too... they are called "lapsed Catholics". You wont find many people who call themselves "Christians" in the American, protestant tradition ignoring whole passages. What she was referring to was the secularizing effect of Liberal Democracy on any people. The folks fighting us in Iraq today or Afghanistan a few years back, have a LOT in common with your right-wing, pro-life, home-schooling Christians. I am afraid that "liberal Islam" is an oxymoron. And I refer again to the fact that Islam is a total belief system, much more so that Christianity. We can have a Liberal Democracy in the West with out destroying Christianity because Jesus never tried to pass legislation.... Mohammed did. It is an important distinction. What to do about the idea of wiping out a culture by taming or eliminating Islam? I don’t know. That is a tricky one. But I do think that the surgery could be successful. More to the point, if there is another 9-11 then this surgery will no longer be elective. Now get back to work and out of your own comments man! ;p

Posted by: Sean at April 1, 2004 01:47 PM

Sean: However, you should be aware that a serious reform debate is underway in Islamic society itself.

Yes.

And the conclusion appears to be that the amount of "reform" necessary to make Islam non-violent and tolerant would essentially destroy the faith in the process.

What? Who came to that conclusion? The Iranian mullahs? They're headed for history's trash can.

Christianity went through a similar process. Heck, Spain had a clerical fascist regime in your life time. And then Spain got over it and is all better now.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 1, 2004 01:48 PM

It is also a good example of the kind of knee jerk leftist self-deprecating cultural relativity that poses a SERIOUS risk to the continued existence of a "Free World". I mean it.

I bet the Daily Show makes your head wanna explode. Jon Stewart is a master of self-deprecating cultural relativity.

You say all of Islam has a final solution for us. You say all of Islam is totalitarian by nature.

But you say you're not proposing genocide for Muslims. So just what are you proposing, tough guy? How would you win this supposed war?

Posted by: RDD at April 1, 2004 01:50 PM

Hi there. My neighbor had a divorce and is now remarying. Should I kill him myself, or do I need to gather the community together to do it?

"Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery"(Luke 16:18)

"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." (Leviticus 20:10)

Posted by: Hipocrite at April 1, 2004 01:56 PM

Hipocrite. Thanks for the Pythonism, it made me laugh. But I don’t propose anything of the sort. In fact, I don’t propose anything. In fact, none of us did. Let us keep in mind that 9-11 was done TO us, not by us. The question was "who are we at war with?" It was not "should we go to war?"

Osama and crew announced that THEY were declaring war on US back in 1991. Meanwhile, as I pointed out, it doesn’t really work to carefully limit your language, as Mike proposes, to only "Islamists" and jihadists. Trust me, I sure would like to. But after studying Islam for several years now I have had to come to the sad conclusion that Islam is a) fundamentally different from Christianity in that it is wholistic and that b) the extremists who approve of religious violence, like Osama, actually represent the "mainstream".

Again, when you point to coke drinking and levis wearing Arabs in Iraq and other places as "moderate" I will have to remind you that Iraq was a secular state until the Gulf War and that these people are "moderate" only to the extent that they are "not very religious". Palestinians also used to be fairly secular, the more they got "religion" the more violent they became.

As Ex points out... the West became less violent, less likely to expect and Inquisition, in direct proportion to the degree that we became secular. And again, our religion only covered half our lives... Islam is a "total package". I am afraid that we all might be dreaming to think that we can fight Islamic terrorism with out working towards the secularization of their civilization.

God is dead in the West, and we worry about "collateral damage". God is alive and well in the Middle East and they perfect the "suicide bomb". Class dismissed.

Posted by: sean at April 1, 2004 01:56 PM

"The folks fighting us in Iraq today or Afghanistan a few years back, have a LOT in common with your right-wing, pro-life, home-schooling Christians."

Actually most "Right-wing" Xians still support the Constitution, separation of church and state (mostly), etc.

Islamists have more in common with the True Believing Socialist Zinn-reading Chomskyites.

Hence their current alliance.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 01:58 PM

Hipocrite: God died a long time ago in the West. Most of us only honor His memory.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 02:00 PM

How quickly everyone forgets about the Crusades when trying to differentiate Christianity and Islam. In essence, aren't the islamofascists just doing exactly the same thing 1000 years later?

Religion is the problem. Not faith. Not God. Not belief. Only religion. Sound rather extreme? Then, take a look at the history of mankind and tell me we wouldn't be better off if religion never existed.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:01 PM

Michael and Sean:

You're having an incredibly interesting conversation. You, Sean, are making a very strong argument, and one I've thought of in conversation before but never followed through on in writing or maybe not had the courage to. Michael, I don't think you're following Sean's argument, which actually has echoes of Paul Berman in it. Yes, part of the issue is religious/cultural reform, but part of it is inherent to the theology and history of Islam itself. Mohammed was not just a religious leader, but also a political leader. There is no basic idea of separation of Mosque and state. There is no way to square it with a nation state. Jesus said "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's". Islam completely contradicts that.

As for the counterexamples offered, Sufis are considred apostates, and Turkey's rise as a secular society is based entirely on the personality of Kemal Ataturk who hated Islam and saw that it had to be all but banned in order to create a modern nation.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at April 1, 2004 02:01 PM

If "God dying" means organized hordes of people no longer go out and kill those different from them in the name of the Lord...

May "God" rest in peace.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:05 PM

Sean: I am afraid that we all might be dreaming to think that we can fight Islamic terrorism with out working towards the secularization of their civilization.

Yes, now that is correct. But you don't have to destroy Islam to get to secularism. Look to Turkey and Tunisia to see how it works. Both of those countries successfully tamed and liberalized Islam without destroying it. They did, however, mostly destroy its fundamentalist version.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 1, 2004 02:05 PM

RDD, Hipocrite, and Mike.

Listen you guys are dancing around the issue here.

Yes, the West is a more reasonable place, because we can ignore parts of our religious text.

Yes, our Bible has quite a few horrible rules. But it is not a legal system. Can you get that?

Yes, Jesus reiterated the prohibitions on adultry, but he did not suggest how to try and prosecute the case. In the famous passage about casting the first stone he specificaly admonished against taking the law into ones own hands.

Our society survives "ignoring parts of the Bible because our civil society is distinct. We have a classical system of government from Greece and Rome and Brehton law from England.

In fact, no one would ever suggest that the seperation of church and state is anything like Genocide, nor is the gradualy death of Christianity in northern Europe. The mere fact that you all lept at this idea when I identfied our current foe as the religion in general makes my case for me.

Truthfully, I dont have any "final solution" or "quick fix" for this conflict. But I dont see away to avoid drasticaly altering the culture of Muslim nations worldwide.

The debate that I refer to has been going on for years. You can read Rushdie, or about him, for a nutshell example. But I really cant hope to convince you in a few lines here.

But yes Mike, professors and Imans alike have discussed this reform and the conclusion that I refer to is common. Call up a religious studies professor, or ask your Muslim friends, seriously.

Posted by: sean at April 1, 2004 02:05 PM

Religion is dead. Not God. That's the difference.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:05 PM

>> Both of those countries successfully tamed and liberalized Islam without destroying it.

Kemal Ataturk didn't tame or liberalize it. He broke its back.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 02:08 PM

Look to Turkey and Tunisia to see how it works. Both of those countries successfully tamed and liberalized Islam without destroying it. They did, however, mostly destroy its fundamentalist version.

I think this speaks to Sean's point. "Tamed and Liberalized" seems pretty euphemistic for how these countries had to handle Islam. They basically had to ban it from the public sphere in a way that we've never had to do with Christianity here. Why do you think that is?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at April 1, 2004 02:09 PM

"Yes, our Bible has quite a few horrible rules. But it is not a legal system"...

Hmmm...you sure you wanna go there, buddy? Because I know quite a few Jewish folk who would just so happen to strongly disagree with you.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:10 PM

Grant: What's the difference? If people don't believe (or act like they believe), they He doesn't exist.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 02:10 PM

JESUS CHRIST!!!...we've never had to "ban" religion from the public sphere?!

Just what in the hell was the Enlightenment about then?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:12 PM

EX...

Belief in God and Organized Religion are two ENTIRELY different things. One can even be a Christian and not be religious about it. If you can't understand the difference, there's nothing more I can say.

And just what in the hell is "acting like they believe" mean, anyway? Who are you to judge?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:15 PM

Grant:

As I understand it the Mosaic "law" in Leviticus and Deuteronomy was not a civil, legal code and has never been implemented as such. It's a standard for personal behavior.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at April 1, 2004 02:15 PM

Grant... I do believe that I referred to the Crusades specifically... or did I edit that out? Yes, I agree that the Muslim combatants are certainly echoing the Crusades. One could say, and many experts do, that the Muslim world is a few centuries behind... so that would make sense.

But we should also keep in mind when making this analogy that it is not exactly correct. The Muslims HAD their crusades, roughly contemporaneously with our own.

It won them Spain, North Africa, and the Balkans, not to mention the Holy Lands (people seem to forget that we LOST the Crusades). Meanwhile they had their crusades again in WWI, and in the six wars over against Israel, and the two Gulf Wars. Islam does not lack for violence.

If you want to take your religion and violence theme a bit further I would suggest that we consider the nature of MONO-THEISM. The main conflict here is that there are three great monotheisms... each one is a reform movement of the other.

Judaism came first, then Christianity, and then Islam. Each of the new faiths has to condemn the old as "impure" or "corrupt" (otherwise they would be simple heretics), and the old one must condemn the new (as heretics).

And if the new faith is correct then the old must be done away with and if the old is to survive then vice versa. There is no room for peaceful coexistence. All out cultural war, genocide, is a requirement of the monotheist faith.

This is why Rome was most successfully as a pantheistic faith. They simply incorporated new gods as they conquered. This is also why few wars were started over Buddhism (although there HAVE been a few, don’t be fooled that they are all peaceful monks).

However, Secularism, no god, is probably the MOST compatible with democracy and if the world ever hopes to form a single governance (The Federation) while allowing multiple cultures to survive we will probably have to learn to divorce religion from culture and perhaps all embrace the idea of No God.

Posted by: sean at April 1, 2004 02:17 PM

Grant: Not according to God. And I can judge because I read the Book.

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 02:18 PM

sean: Who says the world hopes to form a single Federation? I personally don't hope that happens!

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 02:20 PM

Secularism does not equal NO GOD. It simply means keep your faith to yourself and out of my business: A Separation of Church and State.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:21 PM

Sean...

For strong case of why we need secular society, see last post by "EX".

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:24 PM

Grant... actually I agree with you about the Old Testemant containing rules. But, let me state this again...

Judaism and Islam are BOTH "wholistic faiths". They include rules for EVERTHING. There are some 700 rules (I am drawing a blank, these are called? Starts with a T I think?) in Judaism, covering everything from taxes to planting seasons. And Islam has the Hadiths, another several hundred rules.

But Christianity, specificaly, has only the New Testement, which is about a third the size of the Old Testement. And many extreme "Christian" groups actually call for tossing the OT into the dustbin and they only print the new.

Still, the OT of the Christian bible spends much more time on story telling, explaining away the things of the world, than with listing the rules. We Christians then are missing the 700 Jewish laws and the several hundred Hadiths of Islam.

So, relatively speaking, our religion leaves politics alone.

Get it?

Posted by: sblafren at April 1, 2004 02:25 PM

Grant:

Chill out please. No need for caps.

What I'm referring to is the fact that, for example, for Turkey to maintain it's precarious position as the only modern, semi-liberal Muslim nation state, they have to, for instance, ban college students from wearing headscarves. France of course is struggling with the same issues, but they stupidly have caved into PC pressure and are trying to make it an equal-opportunity ban, even though we all know that Sikhs, for instance, are not causing any problems in France. Why is it that such extreme measures seemingly have to be taken against Islam in order to create or maintain a modern society when in the US we have never had to do anything comparable with the dominant religion here?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at April 1, 2004 02:25 PM

SEAN PS...

And that's why I could never be a Republican.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:26 PM

Sorry if I get a little heated about this guys...

It's just that the thought of living in a "Christian Nation" (as opposed to a nation of Christians) scares the bejesus out of me.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:28 PM

Secular:
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French seculer, from Late Latin saecularis, from saeculum the present world.

1) of or relating to the worldly or temporal

2) not overtly or specifically religious <secular

3) not ecclesiastical or clerical

4) not bound by monastic vows or rules; specifically

5) not belonging to a religious order or congregation

We could have a semantic argument on this... but I think we both understand what was meant.

No, I dont know if the Federation would be "better" than what we have now. But I do believe that with out a central and encompassing authority on the planet in the next few centuries we will have many more bloody conflicts over resource scarcity.

I do agree with you that there is a difference between organized religion and a belief in God. And I agree that you can have a secular government and not get rid of God... in the West. Howeever, to do so in Islam would get you a fatwa for sure!

And that has been my point all along. Christianity and Islam are fundamentaly different, in that you can have a secular government and still be a believer in God, and even in Christ. But you cannot be a good Mohammaden and expect the seperation of politics and religion.

Posted by: sean at April 1, 2004 02:32 PM

And for the record, saying one "knows God" so they therefore can judge is just about as anti-Christian as one can get.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at April 1, 2004 02:33 PM

Grant: According the God, that is a conflict of interest. To live under His word you must accept Him as all.

Personally I am glad we killed Him off. Though I wish more people would just admit it!

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 02:34 PM

This is also why few wars were started over Buddhism (although there HAVE been a few, don’t be fooled that they are all peaceful monks).

I hear that.

Just last week I was walking in the park, minding my own business, when suddenly a couple of monks jumped out and kicked my ass.

Posted by: Oberon at April 1, 2004 02:36 PM

Grant, Eric, Ex, Mike, et al.

Hey, let me say "thanks". This has been. for the most part, a very reasonable discussion. We all dont necessarily agree, but we appear to have been successful at communicating our different points of view. And no one has called for anyone's head (well, except maybe RDD). ;)

I can only hope that there are groups of Muslims able to have similar conversations and that they can have a "grass roots" impact on their civilization. I dont want them to have to coform to our norms, but I would like to see them move to a position where they can tolerate us and we them.

Meanwhile, we still need their oil, damnit! ;p

Anyway... thanks and good bye for now. I think Eric can take over for me now.

Cheers, Sean

Posted by: sean at April 1, 2004 02:36 PM

resource scarcity! speaking of superstitions!

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 02:40 PM

who says I am a Christian! Ha, even more funny!

Posted by: Ex at April 1, 2004 02:42 PM

Eric Deamer: Michael and Sean:

You're having an incredibly interesting conversation.

Well, thank God somebody thinks so. Sean and I are friends in the offline world, and our arguments drive our wives and all our other friends straight up the wall. :)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 1, 2004 02:54 PM

David, I can see that what you're guilty of here is rhetorical overkill. But I can also see why your attitude scares the bejeezus out of some people.

I don't think using the term '5th column' to describe enablers of terrorism is rhetorical overkill. How to PROVE "enabling" becomes the rub here, granted.

But if they aren't an enablers, then no need to worry about it. If they ARE an enablers, I hope it does scare the bejeesus out of them.

They can't hide behind our freedoms forever.

Posted by: David at April 1, 2004 03:01 PM

As Harris would put it...

We're at war with whomever thinks they're at war with us.

Whether we like it or not.

Posted by: Bill at April 1, 2004 03:10 PM

We are experiencing the inescapable fatal conflict between the tenets of oriental and occidental cultures. Western secularism has proven to be the most efficient vehicle for generating wealth and security for individuals out of all the systems evolved or manufactured over the history of man.

The problem we have before us now is not terribly dissimilar to the cold war, except that the opposing forces are not nation states but rather incompatible cultures.

This isn't Bush's war. It's not bin Ladins war. It's much, much bigger than the men who are merely on the stage as these events unfold.

The West, since the end of colonialism, has been content to coexist with oriental cultures via trade and diplomacy, keeping interrelationships limited to transactions. We've had no reason to fear invasion from the east (excepting Japan) for literally centuries because our divergent social evolution left the east incapable of projecting the sort of power neccessary to constitute a strategic threat. As soon as somebody in the Islamic world came up with a way to innovate in business or science or government, he was declared an apostate by the local self-appointed guardians of cultural virtue, and ended up selling real estate in a western country. Or ended up dead, of course.

This war IS because the distance between the daily realities of life on both sides of the cultural split has effectively shrunk to zero.

The sharp point of the lance, the Islamofascists, are just the distilled failure, ignorance, intolerance, and pride of a thousands - of - years old culture that must disappear in order for the billions of people trapped in it to prosper in the world that it is.

This war isn't imperialism, or a crusade. It is an unavoidable conflict along the lines of trying to put fire and water in the same box.

Our strategic objective in the War on Terror, as published by this president, is to protect U.S. lives and interests. Period. The case was made that only by attacking the root of terrorism can we expect to ultimately remove the threat.

Removing the threat, translated into reality, requires the extinguishing of the flame of jihad in favor of peaceful coexistence with different religions, or even lack thereof. That will require there to be an Islamic reformation at some point down the road. It will require that barbarians like the ones we saw in Fallujah yesterday come to learn that their prosperity is tied to representative government, and that we are the agents of change attempting to lead them there.

If we cannot protect ourselves from them by fostering functional democracies, then there is only one other way to prevent them from killing us. We have the tools to do either job. I pray our political maneuvering here in the U.S. does not sap our resolve to the point we cannot make this first strategy work.

Do those on the Left shrink from democratization as a strategy because they feel that such a success would offend their own social theories...?

We are trying to do in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places exactly what we did in Europe and Japan, post world war two. Without the war of extermination.

I am perplexed by the inability of the far Left fringe to recognise the driving force behind Islamofascism. Progressives lining up behind factions such as the Palestinians or constructing elaborate moral justifications for the jihadists miss the point that their good intentions are aimed at supporting a movement defined by brutal orthodoxy based on a rigidly defined code of virtue that implicitly rejects any concept of the individual as an agent of sovereignty or worth - beyond submission to the code.

I think these folks are in for a nasty shock. If they get ticked off when Pat Robertson appears on TV, they haven't seen anything yet.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 1, 2004 03:14 PM

Don't you think that one of the qualifications for being at war with the United States ought to be an actual capacity and intention to do harm against America?

Or do you think that America should truly be the world's policeman, out to kill bad guys everywhere?

In which case, why stop with Hamas and Hezbollah?

The answer is that these guys are Islamic, isn't it?

Maybe there's some subtlety that I'm missing, but doesn't your position boil down to this: you want America to go after every violent organization in the world which is Islamic, regardless of whether they have harmed, or mean to harm, America, or not.

Posted by: Mork at April 1, 2004 05:00 PM

It's just that the thought of living in a "Christian Nation" (as opposed to a nation of Christians) scares the bejesus out of me.

Perhaps that's because you think there's a difference. This IS a christian nation, though it's government is secular.

Posted by: David at April 1, 2004 05:12 PM

TmjUtah,

Nice to hear from you again. That's a fantastic and concise distillation. Stop by our centrist blog someday when you have time. You may be a little more to the right than I am, but in my view such things are not problems.

You're so right. It's important to recognize Islam as distinct from Islamofascism, but in doing so it's also important to recognize that much of Islam is not especially compatible with our modern western states that keep the secular and the sacred largely separate. Our plan for success does indeed imply an eventual reformation, and there's no sense in dancing around it. We should just face up to it without dancing around how we characterize it. They can go the way of the enlightenment, the way of Turkey, or the way of the dustbin.

Posted by: bk at April 1, 2004 05:33 PM

Michael, I agree 100%. Those who just say "Al Queda" or limit it too narrowly I reject emphatically. It is especially all those that threaten or seek the destruction of western civilization, this applies especially to Islamic fascist, but North Korea also applies. I would also view us getting into a somewhat "cold war" over this definition with “Old Europe” as we should not give in to their weakness. But hey I am a Neo-con, we have broad definitions on such things.

Posted by: Samuel at April 1, 2004 05:49 PM

C'mon David, don't be opaque. the point is that America is NOT a theocracy, which is why we are a nation of christians as opposed to a christian nation.

In a theocracy, religious leaders have the final say on all matters on which they feel like having a say. Instead, in America, (a nation BTW of roughly 74% christians practicing widely varying degrees of fealty to christian tenets) we have separation of church and state. You know, like Alabama Mullah Roy Moore discovered. It's one of our greatest inventions and one of the best gifts we're trying to give to the middle east.

Posted by: bk at April 1, 2004 05:52 PM

I think that anyone who has any sense of the darkness that lurks, at least in potenia, in the human soul (thats all humans, not just non-Americans), - and anyone who also treasures the notion of a society of free individuals whose government works for them (rather than vice versa), would take it as an article of faith, that words like "war" MUST be used with precise definition. It is the most unconscionable irresponsibility to put up with, or even to advocate, a broad definition of this word.

It is one thing to oppose. It is a very different thing to wage war. In my lifetime I have heard the word war used against communism, the Vietnames, poverty, inflation, drugs, terrorism, iraq, and more, I am sure, if I took the time to work the memory cells. We even have people on this page implying war against "leftists". I sense a proliferation of ideas by people who dont really understand what war is.

War is killing, it is an absolute. Forget about liberal values, or conservative ones for that matter. None of us would abide for a moment the incineration of a single person in our society - yet we as a nation are completely at peace with incinerating 100,000 innocent people in the bat of an eye, so long as it is done during a war. How we love to rant and rave about dictators and monster who have killed millions of innocents, while conveniently ignoring the number of innocent Vietnamese that we killed, just a few decades ago. But it was a war. Would any of us countenance our police going after a truly evil criminal by dropping a bomb on his apartment building - oops, apologies to all the "collatorals".

War exists in a fundamentally different moral landscape. Anyone who professes all the high values that are constantly tossed around here, has, I think, NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to use the term "war" in a cavalier or metaphorical sense. Because once you use the word, you implicitly give lisence to not only push the envelope, but to crawl out of it. You implicitly give your approval for engaging the struggle, no matter what it is, without reference to the moral codes that you otherwise advocate.

Not everyone who opposes us should be treated in a war like manner. Serious people need to make clear not only their moral values, but what the criteria are by which they will drop those values and persue war.

Many of the comments here, certainly not all, speak of an utter lack of real morality, or, more likely, an utter lack of seriousness.

Posted by: tano at April 1, 2004 06:44 PM

Anyone who professes all the high values that are constantly tossed around here, has, I think, NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to use the term "war" in a cavalier or metaphorical sense.

tano,

Don't be such a blowhard. Did you oppose the term "war on poverty"? Where was your "outrage" at the cavalier use of the term 'war' then? You're on some limp-wristed liberal kick, and you need to get off it quick.

And no need to put the word 'Leftists' in quotes as you do. Leftists are real, not the figment of someone's imagination. And I consider them enemies of this country, whether they know it or not; whether they intend it or not.

Posted by: David at April 1, 2004 07:05 PM

Mork: you want America to go after every violent organization in the world which is Islamic, regardless of whether they have harmed, or mean to harm, America, or not.

The anti-Saddam Kurdish Peshmerga was Islamic and violent. But they were also anti-fascist. They were, you know, the good guys.

Any liberal revolutionary group that violently overthrows the Iranian regime will likewise be the good guys. And also Islamic.

Please quit trying to redefine my position for me. I said what I meant, and I meant what I said. Our enemies are Islamic fascists. I don't know what's hard to understand about that. Really I don't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 1, 2004 07:21 PM

Mork:

You did indeed miss something.

Being Islamic is not a crime. Being from a predominantly Islamic society is not a crime. Preaching and practicing Islamic religion is not a crime.

Killing people who are not Islamic and justifying it soley on your interpetation of your holy book - that's a crime. Publishing declarations that you intend to extinguish an entire civilization by violence, giving every impression via action toward that end that you mean it, and justifying it based on your personal definition of probity and holiness, that's a crime.

In a perfect world where all things moral, ethical, political were in fact of equal value, we'd be just one big happy family. This is reality, however, and the things that work get stronger and the things that don't work so well either adapt or die.

Islam, at least the flavor scooped up by the jihadists, has been doomed from the first day Israel turned a positive GDP under an elected government. Baywatch, junkets to Denmark or Thailand, the internet...those all came later.

The Jooooooooos prospered where their neighbors refused to adapt and all that has happened since has just been the pieces falling where they may.

What began as a mechanism for control by the Saudis has morphed into Wahhabism and subsequently calved off the groups like al Qaeda, Hizbollah, and others. The true believers.

Poor sonsobitches; there's always some who don't get the word.

tano, nice to see you attempt to understand what a war really is. You missed the meaning but not by much.

War is killing...but more importantly, it is decision. Wars have so often been inaccurately charactertized as failures of diplomacy that the fallacy has achieved some pop-truism status. Sometime a war is the only process that will decide who walks away.

A mugging can be a war, tano. It's that simple. No diplomacy, no conflicting higher ambitions, just an act of aggression committed in pursuit of a selfish goal, with no consideration of the opponent but the force neccessary to render them defenceless.

In this real world, there are judgements to be made and acted on. The enemy has acted, we have acted, and now we are working toward the final decision. I've been listening to the media lamenting (ha) the PR problem that yesterday's deaths and associated mutilations and defilement must be causing Bush...the doubts it must raise, etc, etc....and the media's explanations why they aren't showing the video in it's fullness.

I have to respectfully disagree with the media on this. I'll even go so far as to say that even the blurred or edited video they just HAD to show will do more to confirm our resolve than to damage it. They'd be showing the footage on an endless loop if they really thought it might make Kerry the least bit electable.

The swarming barbarians in Fallujah want nothing more than to do the same thing in say...Boston, or Kansas City, or at least want their Islamofascist brothers to do it. I understand that killing those folks there is infinitely better than killing them here. If it is necessary to dial back the nation building and ramp up the pest control, then lets get to it before any more folks trying to bring food into a crap hole get murdered.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 1, 2004 07:34 PM

Tano: It is one thing to oppose. It is a very different thing to wage war.

David doesn't get your point, but I do. It's fine.

We aren't at war with, for example, the Spanish ETA. But we aren't neutral in the ETA-Madrid conflict either. We takes Madrid's side. But we don't actively fight the ETA ourselves, and they do not fight us. We are, however, actively at war with Al Qaeda. This is the distinction you are making, right?

Now, when I answered the question of who we're at war with, I meant it a bit loosely. A Cold War type shoving match applies, as far as I'm concerned. Iran, for example, is an enemy state. They declared themselves our enemy in 1979, and they are our enemy whether we like it or not. We were not consulted. So when I put Iran into the enemies column, I was just acknowledging reality. We are not, however, in a shooting war with them. That I recognize. There is a difference. And I agree that it's an important one, in an academic sense at least.

So when I say we are "at war" with Islamic fascists, what I really mean is that Islamic fascists are our enemies. They are not our friends, they are not neutrals, and they are all actively hostile, if not always violent.

As far as I'm concerned, taking any of them out is fair game. Why? Because they're the enemy. However. Just because I say they're fair game doesn't mean I would think it wise at any given moment to start shooting at them. I think we should hold off in Iran, for example, because the regime is likely to be overthrown from within, thereby making a shooting war unneccessary and gratuitous at this time.

An Islamic country like Tunisia, however, is not in the enemy column at all. So if we were to move toward an invasion of Tunisia tomorrow I would join the anti-war movement.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 1, 2004 07:36 PM

"Oppose" keeps an eye for common ground upon which the conflict can be resolved and cooperation renewed. "War" renounces the possibility of common ground. It is the situation in which one sees clearly that it is not rational to trust or tolerate the opponent for even a moment, but rather to eliminate him with no further ado. (Hat tip to Hobbes.)

This war is different from the others because the enemy has only special forces hidden amongst masses of innocents, rather than an army openly sent forth by the enemy's state.

Posted by: Jim at April 1, 2004 08:05 PM

TmjUtah - I agree with much of what you said - just mentioning that Wahhabism has always been the foundation of the Saudi kingdom.

About what we're fighting - According to Dore Gold

…the early Wahhabi warriors acted on Wahhabism's claims that entire groups of people have no right to live and deserve to be slaughtered. And delegitimizing other religious groups and labeling them as infidels or, even worse, as polytheists - often based on the imprecations of mainstream Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia - is precisely how Osama bin Laden's mass terrorism works.

Mass death and brutality is just what they do. Bin Laden’s al Qaeda is often referred to as a 'Saudi operation', since it's basically funded by Saudi cash. They call themselves Salafis, but their beliefs are basically Wahhabi with some modern Marxist/Islamist philosophy based on Qutb thrown in.

The Saudis have used their money to spread their intolerance, terrorism, racism and hatred around the world. Other fundamentalist nations (Iran) share similar beliefs. In the Sudan, fundamentalist Arabs have killed and enslaved more than a million people (all allowed under fundamentalist Muslim law) It’s a fascist movement that closely resembles Hitler’s. The only difference is, Hitler used conventional military forces to wage war where the fundamentalists use terrorism as their weapon. Also, the Nazis although had more respect for women’s rights.

I hope this fascist fundamentalist movement is what we’re fighting.

Posted by: mary at April 1, 2004 08:19 PM

It is a battle with radical Islamic fundamentalists, the few states that still support those fundamentalists, and the ideas propagated by them to the more moderate Arabs. It is a battle not only fought in the mountains between Pakistan and Afganistan, but also in the tv stations, newspapers, magazines, leaflets, and books in the Middle East. In short, even if we win militarily, total victory will not come unless the hearts and minds of the Middle East are won over.

Posted by: Lookout at April 1, 2004 10:26 PM

mary -

The day we move to end Madrassas in this country will be a day we take a solid step toward victory. We could also cut the Saudi diplomatic mission here by about eighty percent, too, and come out ahead on the deal.

I'm looking for OPEC's Arab members to have a serious falling out around August. They'll be sooooo angry at each other production will fall precipitously. All by kismet, of course. Nothing overtly aimed at damaging Bush's reelection, just a squabble among friends.

CAIR is a terrorist support organ, and should be recognised for what it is. They released a statement lamenting the mutilation of the dead of Fallujah.

The mutilation only, mind you...

tano -

Our war is with the threat to our lives. Al Qaeda is the current top drawer organization but the threat includes Iran and any other state that supports terror, to include North Korea.

The only possible victory condition that is open to us is to change the part of the world that breeds Islamic terrorists. If we could push a button and see every card-carrying al Qaeda type-terrorist on the planet drop dead today, all it would mean is that daily life across the world would become remarkably safer instantly, and that one year from now we'd be back where we started.

Jim -

Excellent post. Oppose is a meaningless term in reference to terror. If you don't destroy them, they will surely destroy you. There is no common ground to meet on, and to entertain such a thought is frankly pointless.

I am looking at a picture of what looks to be a ten or eleven year old boy in Fallujah on my desktop right now. He's slapping what could be a dismembered, burned...arm (?) with a sandal. He's grinning, as are most of the other Iraqis in the frame.

I hope the Marines deliver everything those people have coming to them. And I hope the ones that are left have no doubt that the next visit will be even worse.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 1, 2004 10:47 PM

You wrote: They’re all Islamic, they’re all fascist, and they’re all involved with anti-Western terorrism of one kind or another.

Don't disappoint me... You sound only funny. If you are trying hard to be funny, this is a big hit. How is it possible to be so narrow minded? To my eyes, the US is:

a snake swallowing its own tail

If you are inside the US, you might find it difficult to see this. But it is paifully clear for those who are outside of the country that the US is destroying its self. It's quite sad to see this...

Posted by: silvervine at April 1, 2004 11:46 PM

As far as I'm concerned, taking any of them out is fair game. Why? Because they're the enemy. However. Just because I say they're fair game doesn't mean I would think it wise at any given moment to start shooting at them. I think we should hold off in Iran, for example, because the regime is likely to be overthrown from within, thereby making a shooting war unneccessary and gratuitous at this time.

Hmmm ... looks like there's no need for me to redefine your position when you're doing such a bang-up job of it yourself!

What on earth do you mean by "war", then, if you don't mean people that we are trying to either kill or militarily force to submit to our will?

You throw the word "facsist" around the same way a leftist undergrad does: as a synomym for "people we don't like". What's the similarity, for example, between the Syrian and Iranian regimes, for example? Or Al Qaeda and Hezbollah? It's sure as hell nothing to do with political philosophy.

Which brings us back to my original point: don't you need to do something a little more substantive than shout anti-American slogans, or be a fucked society, in order to qualify to have America be "at war" with you?

Posted by: Mork at April 2, 2004 12:10 AM

Mork: You throw the word "facsist" around the same way a leftist undergrad does: as a synomym for "people we don't like".

Don't be ridiculous. Fascism has two widely accepted meanings. And I'm clearly not referring to Mussolini here. The definition in this context is "right-wing totalitarianism." That ought to be obvious to anyone who isn't being willfully obtuse.

The distinguished classics professor and military historian Victor Davis Hanson uses the same word to describe the same people. So don't give me this "undergrad" crap.

don't you need to do something a little more substantive than shout anti-American slogans, or be a fucked society, in order to qualify to have America be "at war" with you?

Yes. That is why we are not at war with Russia.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 2, 2004 12:45 AM

Mork,

Here's a long quote from a fellow traveller of mine named Christopher Hitchens. Note the last sentence.

Occidentalism

Well, there certainly ought to be a word for it. "Westerners" can be easily arraigned or lampooned as imperialists or racists, or "Eurocentrics," and a surprisingly large number of them are more than ready to accept the implied guilt involved here, or at least to submit themselves to the procedure of self-criticism. Yet according to one theory of "racism," only white people can be guilty of it, since it -- "racism" -- is a power structure rather than a prejudice. Thus, one also needs a distinct term for a black person who is ethnically bigoted or race-obsessed ("racialist" might do here).

And what about Osama bin Laden, whose expressed desire is for the restoration of a lost empire in the form of the old Muslim Caliphate? It might seem odd to describe him as an imperialist, but not at all wrong to call him a reactionary, say, or an irredentist, or a nostalgist. To say nothing of his sectarian hatred for all Jews, all Christians, most Shia Muslims, Hindus, emancipated women, homosexuals and -- the world's most important minority in my view -- secular unbelievers. Here, the rigorously accurate term might be "fascist."
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 2, 2004 12:53 AM

Congrats to you, Michael, & Sean -- and TmjUtah.

One detail missing is the identity issue: Arabs are not Persians nor Turks. Just as "Christian" IRA "Catholic" folk were terrorizing Christian Protestant folk, not all "Islams" are the same. Neither theologically (Sunni Shiite), nor racially (ethnically).

Grant was going on about religion -- but the Nazis and Commies both were against religion. Yeah, they had their alternative no-God secular fundamentalism, instead.

Posted by: Tom Grey at April 2, 2004 02:33 AM

MJT,

Fascism has two widely accepted meanings. And I'm clearly not referring to Mussolini here. The definition in this context is "right-wing totalitarianism."

Mork was right to call you out on the use of the word "fascism." If a word has two distinct accepted meanings, you should be clear as to which meaning you intend.

Fascism as a political ideology is not a right-wing movement. It has a socialist/leftist pedigree descended directly from Marx. Hitler didn't even make the distinction, always considering himself a socialist.

Using "fascism" as a euphemism for "right-wing totalitarianism" is an example of Marxist dialetical materialism. The socialist left is trying to distance itself from the horrors of the Nazis and pin those horrors on their liberal and conservative opposition. When you use the term in this way, you are serving the purposes of your anti-liberal ideological opponents.

The fact that fascism is a left-wing rather than a right-wing ideology is the reason why the Islamofascists are natural allies with western socialists. They are the same thing.

If you don't to take my word for it that this alliance exists, will you take it from the DLC?

http://www.ndol.org/blueprint/2004_number_1/16_europes_old_disease_returns.html

This is an excellent article that I have two quibbles with. First, the author clings to the notion that fascism is right-wing. Second, he fails to point out that the same forces at work in Europe are also at work in America in the Democratic party. Of course as a Democratic partisan, he is not at liberty to point this out. Nevertheless, he is doing a service by drawing attention to the dynamics at work in Europe.

Posted by: HA at April 2, 2004 03:34 AM

Grant,

It's just that the thought of living in a "Christian Nation" (as opposed to a nation of Christians) scares the bejesus out of me.

I hate to tell you this, but you DO live in a Christian nation. And you should be thankful for that. Because Christianity gave us the source of our inalienable rights. The origin of our rights is that there is a higher law than that of government which therefore has no legitimate claim on which it can infringe our inalienable rights. Without the claim of a higher law, I doubt if the liberal political theories of Locke would have been put into practice by Jefferson. Instead, we would have the Leviathan of Hobbes.

Furthermore, it remains to be seen if liberalism can survive in a post-Christian world because the claim of a higher law is undermined. Without Christianity, what higher claim do we appeal to in order to constrain the powers of government? While I would agree that it is possible to justify a claim on a theoretical/philosophical basis, it takes an extremely sophisticated person to grasp this. Most people don't have the time or inclination to do so. Without a widely accepted alternative claim on which to limit the power of government, the power of government begins to expand.

This is why liberalism is already dying out in Europe and it is flickering here in America. European liberalism is being replaced by the EU Leviathan. If the Democrats had their way, American liberalism would be replaced by the welfare-state Leviathan subordinated to the UN Leviathan.

Your faith in secularism is misplaced. The greatest horrors in the history of mankind have been committed by post-Christian European Communists and Fascists. No crimes of Christians or even Muslims compare to the crimes of secularists. It is often forgotten that the Nazis were anti-Christian in addition to anti-Semitic:

http://www-camlaw.rutgers.edu/publications/law-religion/nurinst1.htm

Posted by: HA at April 2, 2004 04:18 AM

tano's "mystical" definintion of war is the one missing reality by a large margin. I will repeat this again...

"War is the continuation of policy by other means." - Karl von Clausewitz

Posted by: Ex at April 2, 2004 05:33 AM

Ex,
I dont know what you are getting at. Clausewitz's statement is obvious. Of course war is carried out in pursuit of ones policies. And of course it represents "other means". Those "other means" are violence, and the suspension of normal moral codes. That is the whole point. Taking the step to consider yourself "at war" is a serious matter, and not something that should be mushed up with notions of simply opposing, or even struggling against in a non-violet way.

Posted by: tano at April 2, 2004 05:52 AM

What utter nonsense HA writes. This may be a christian country, but it is not a christian nation. We do no derive our rights from christian notions. To the contrary - we derive them from the secular democratic enlightenment that flourished in opposition to the established christian principals of the day.

Secularism is not atheism. Although many of our founders were free thinkers, and opposed to religous involvement in government, they still existed in a christian culture, and inevitably made reference to things like "the creator" when writing their political justifications. But it was an appropriation, and new interpretation of these notions, clearly used for thier rhetorical weight.

"Without Christianity, what higher claim do we appeal to in order to constrain the powers of government? While I would agree that it is possible to justify a claim on a theoretical/philosophical basis, it takes an extremely sophisticated person to grasp this"

In other words, people in general are too stupid to decide for themsleves the amount of government that they should have, and so must erect some imaginary cosmic force to counteract the creep of encroaching government.
I'll say this for ya,,, it is a novel argument...

Posted by: tano at April 2, 2004 06:04 AM

tano: The point is that it isn't black and white between war and policy, it is a gray. You are focused on an abstraction, not reality. See Clausewitz and Machiavelli.

Posted by: Ex at April 2, 2004 06:16 AM

HA:

Nice job being as opaque as David on the "christian nation" schpiel. Like I said before, the point is that America is NOT a theocracy, which is why we are roughly a nation of christians as opposed to a christian nation.

I think your argument on origins is beside the point. Many threads of thought wove our current tapestry, and we should be grateful to each of the threads in different measure. I guess it's your bag to pore over the ancient scrolls to decide who gets patted on the back, and JC is your man.

But just note that modern day 2004 America is a nation of roughly 74% christians practicing widely varying degrees of fealty to christian tenets. We have separation of church and state.

And we're exporting it.

Posted by: bk at April 2, 2004 06:27 AM

What a stupid point. Christianity is opposted to theocracy by the words of its very founder:

?Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar?s, and unto God the things that are God?s.?

Posted by: Ex at April 2, 2004 06:32 AM

HA writes: Using "fascism" as a euphemism for "right-wing totalitarianism" is an example of Marxist dialetical materialism.

I'll admit I have no idea what this means. For all I know you just insulted Michael's mother.

Rather than quibble over whether Islamic fascism is right-wing or left-wing, let's just agree that it's a very bad thing.

Posted by: Oberon at April 2, 2004 06:53 AM

I have a problem using "fascism" to describe this threat, as this has little to do with the so-called "right wing" socialism of Musslini in the 1930s. It is cute as a rallying point and fun throw the dreaded word "fascism" back into the face of the pro-terrorist Left, but it is just a mask.

Why not take its mask off and call it what it is: Islamism, a weird soup of Islam and political anit-West Leftism that has crystalized into a movement. Read more about it here:

The Philosopher of Islamic Terror
By PAUL BERMAN

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/23/magazine/23GURU.html?ex=1081054800&en=02c87b6cc8e3f301&ei=5070

Posted by: Ex at April 2, 2004 07:29 AM

I don't really see the point of discussing whether or not AQ and like-minded groups are left or right. Personally I think of them as another iteration of the various forms of psychotic thuggery that's plagued humanity throughout history. Like Oberon said, can't we just agree that its "a very bad thing"?

Posted by: sam at April 2, 2004 07:49 AM

"The point is that it isn't black and white between war and policy"

This is strangely put.
I think you mean "between war and peace", or "war and non-war methods" for implementing policy.

And my point is that it is of fundamental importance (indeed a reflection of conservative tradition) to make the distinction a lot more "black and white" than it is today. The drift toward blurring the distinction, toward seeing it all as greyness is extremely dangerous. Because it erode the notion of moral standards. If we are so quick to view any social struggle as a war, it means that we are quick to abandon the moral codes that regulate our "normal" policy.

The things that David has written are just the most absurd examples of this. He wants a war on "leftists". We can assume (I hope) that this is simply immature rhetorical overkill, but there are plently of places in this world where governments, of both the left and the right, go to literal war with their political dissedents. We are different, and part of that difference is based in holding our government to certain moral standards of behavior. And we can do that by making it clear when the government should be empowered to pick up the violence tool, and when it should not. I.e. when we really are at war, and when we are not.

Posted by: tano at April 2, 2004 07:56 AM

tano: You are seeing a distinction where none exists (or has ever existed). What might be throwing you is seeing this as a "social struggle" and not through the calculus of violence, which is the only rational way to understand nation-states or other POLITICAL powers (i.e. terrorists), those that claim (and are granted by many) legitamcy to wield violence.

You seem to understand this, which is why are advocating (moralizing) an artifical distinction be made. If you end goal is individual liberty and freedom, I would note that approach is doomed to failure as it has little basis in reality. It is still gray, even if you pull the wool over your eyes for moral reasons.

Posted by: Ex at April 2, 2004 08:23 AM

David doesn't get your point, but I do. It's fine.

Now the word "war" is on the politically correct hit list, right? No, Michael. I got his point. I just think it's a ridiculous point. The faux outrage of the Left is maddening to me. I don't humour such nonsense, I laugh at it.

So when I say we are "at war" with Islamic fascists, what I really mean is that Islamic fascists are our enemies. They are not our friends, they are not neutrals, and they are all actively hostile, if not always violent.

Exactly, and who enables them? The cowardly muslim communities in which these little fishies swim, who refuse to stand up and speak out vociferously against them. Instead we have CAIR blaming Israel for Al-Qaida's attacks. And we have the Leftists, whose misguided morality apologizes for them, comforts them, and hamstrings our efforts against them.

This IS a war. And some we'll deal with violently, others we won't. And as long as the above-mentioned enemies stay within the bounds of legality, they'll enjoy the benefits of western freedoms. If not, they'll find a home in Guantanamo. To me, if they're not with us, they're against us. Enough pussyfooting around, and enough humoring of imbeciles.

Posted by: David at April 2, 2004 08:33 AM

Another bomb found in Madrid, you imbeciles.

Posted by: David at April 2, 2004 08:37 AM
I don't really see the point of discussing whether or not AQ and like-minded groups are left or right

Sam: Well for the most part when it ocmes to "Western" Terrorism, it is alligned "left" (IRA's and Shining Path's marxist doctines) or "right" (the NeoNazis' and the Klan's racist claptrap). (And at the end of the day, Marxism and Fascism are distinguished only by their fashion swatches and whom they want to toss into the volcano , but that's immaterial to the left/right thing since their proponents ain't gonna listen anyway.)

As far as Islamisct and "eastern" terrorism goes, looking at them with the "Occidental" (eeeoooo, I'm channeling Ed Said... eeeeooo) left/right model is how we in the west initially cope with them - before we come to see that these guy aren't left or right, but but-naked nihilists (except for their leaders who seem to live the good life here, but a Raisin/Virgin-Free afterlife). With the Islamicists, it's not right or left, it's, life or death.

But in the end, you're right. One man's "Extreme Social Justice Activist" is everyone's homicidal maniac.

Posted by: Bill at April 2, 2004 08:51 AM

Michael,

Your answer was a good one, but I also like David Warren's answer: "International terrorist organizations, & by extension, states or any other entities which patronize or shelter them."

Posted by: Ben at April 2, 2004 08:52 AM

tano,

Says you:

We do no derive our rights from christian notions. To the contrary - we derive them from the secular democratic enlightenment that flourished in opposition to the established christian principals of the day.

Says Thomas Jefferson:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

...

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States

...

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

http://www.law.indiana.edu/uslawdocs/declaration.html

Let's see. Do I agree with tano or Jefferson? I'll go with Jefferson.

Posted by: HA at April 2, 2004 09:57 AM

HA,

the ignorants of today, exemplified by those such as Tano, don't even have the slightest clue whose shoulders they're standing on. And they're the "enlightened ones".

Posted by: David at April 2, 2004 10:00 AM

tano -

Oops. Do you really believe this?

"To the contrary - we derive them from the secular democratic enlightenment that flourished in opposition to the established christian principals of the day."

Enlightenment? SECULAR enlightenment? You're channeling Rousseau. The word implies a mystic revelation...but it's o.k. because it's not that nasty old dogmatic Christian mysticism?

Narcissism. It's not just for black presidents any more. Our Liberalism is a force multiplier for terrorism, and threatens democracy whenever it is allowed power in a republic.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 2, 2004 10:08 AM

Bill,
The whole question of left/right orientation is just a form of political shorthand to put particular ideologies into slots. I'd prefer to see a scale that ranges from democratic to totalitarian for defining political ideologies. I think it would be a lot easier for everyone to handle.

Posted by: sam at April 2, 2004 10:44 AM

TmjUtah,
"Narcissism. It's not just for black presidents any more."

Who are you referring to when you say this?

Posted by: sam at April 2, 2004 10:45 AM

TmjUtah: Our Liberalism is a force multiplier for terrorism, and threatens democracy whenever it is allowed power in a republic.

On the contrary, our liberalism is what the terrorists hate most.

Here is the conservative Peruvian novelist writing about the attacks in Madrid:

Madrid's modernity is not only in its buildings, new developments, infernal traffic jams, proliferating fast food outlets, the piebald invasion of tourists, or the alert ear that can, in the queues at the Prado or at night around the Plaza Mayor, hear all the languages in the world. It is in the mental cosmopolitanism of its people who, in their diversity, have grown emancipated from the stigma of a "municipal" Madrilenian identity (as Rubén Darío would say) and who, like the people of London, Paris or New York, have become citizens of the world. Thus, in an exhibition at the Galería Moriarty, the Japanese photographer Atsuko Arai a couple of years ago could show how, without leaving the historic centre of town, the capital of Spain was a microcosm harbouring the landscapes and cultures of half the planet.

It has been this free spirit and this unblinkered mentality of an open city, hospitable and democratic, the emblem city of a remarkable transformation of Spain in the last quarter-century, that the fanatics sought to destroy, on the morning of March 11, when they placed in Atocha the bombs that have left more than 200 dead and 1,500 wounded - 12 nationalities, typically enough, being represented among the victims - in the most ferocious terrorist massacre suffered in Western Europe in modern history.

The killers were not mistaken in their target: today's Madrid represents precisely the negation of the radical inhumanity of the obtuse, exclusive tribal spirit of fundamentalism, religious or political, which hates mixture, diversity and tolerance and, above all, liberty.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 2, 2004 11:21 AM

'SECULAR enlightenment? You're channeling Rousseau. The word implies a mystic revelation"

Tmjutah,
May I suggest that educate yourself a bit on the intellectual history of the west before you go makeing such a dang fool of yourself? I am not referring to Rousseau or to mysticism of any kind. Rather to the secular, empirical, scientific, and capitalistic movements of the 18th century which were the inspiration of our most influential founders.

Posted by: tano at April 2, 2004 11:25 AM

TmjUtah: Our Liberalism is a force multiplier for terrorism, and threatens democracy whenever it is allowed power in a republic.

MT: On the contrary, our liberalism is what the terrorists hate most.

Michael -- I post a fair number of criticisms of your writing, but where it really counts I agree with you 100%.

Posted by: Oberon at April 2, 2004 11:54 AM

HA
In your Jefferson quote, the problem is that he doesn't mention Christ. Not once. And I'm not being opaque here. Go ahead. Read your quote again.

Jefferson refers to "Nature's God," he refers to "their Creator" (their meaning "man's"), he refers to "the Supreme Judge of the world, and he refers to "divine providence."

Now you can say all you want about Jefferson, but it's hard to argue that he didn't choose his words with the utmost care when he wrote things like this. The passage you have chosen seems to me to illustrate the idea that Jefferson went to great pains to be as universal and non-sectarian as he possibly could, to say nothing that would suggest any kind of prejudice for any particular religious viewpoint. Rather, he's suggesting that it's a private matter.

Thank Nature's God for Jefferson.

TmjUtah, what do you make of the enlightenment fiasco when religious authorities made Galileo recant for saying Earth was round and orbited the sun? Do you think the Pope would have gotten us to the moon?

Was Galileo a "force multiplier" for terrorism?

To the extent that I remain liberal, I'm an old school liberal, and I utterly reject the association of true liberal thought with islamofascism. C'mon. Totalitarianism is an equal-opportunity psychosis afflicting zealots of all stripes.

Posted by: bk at April 2, 2004 12:12 PM
political shorthand to put particular ideologies into slots. I'd prefer to see a scale that ranges from democratic to totalitarian for defining political ideologies.

As someone who takes the freedom vs tyranny axis more serious, I agree. But as I indicated, people who want the right to vote to eat the blacks or Jews (after a free and fair election, of course), or people who think oppression is someone having a $20 more than they do, are going to chose or makeup whatever number-line that makes them comfortable.

Methinks Left-Right ain't gonna vanish anytime soon. Even the Libertarian "Diamond" test can be a problem for some people.

Posted by: Bill at April 2, 2004 12:55 PM

Hey bk,

did Jefferson mention secularism? No, he didn't.

And given the fact that he lived in a monocultural society, perhaps Jefferson didn't think he'd HAVE to mention Christ just so some guy 200 years later wouldn't be confused.

In other words, CONTEXT.

Posted by: David at April 2, 2004 12:57 PM

MJT -

I respectfully disagree.

Our foes despise liberalism, probably more than I do - but what they cannot survive is libertarianism, which is the bedrock of the wealth that makes liberalism affordable.

I'm going back to what the old europe terms meant, of course. Liberalism is a pursuit of utopic socialist constructs. Libertarians just want people to be free to follow their own paths with minimum government involvement.

sam -

Narcissist? My esteemed fellow poster tano, of course. He's just assigned individual mystic revelation primacy over any belief system that contradicts his opinion. Heady stuff that, and "it's all about me" distilled down harder than a bottle of the best Everclear.

tano -

Up above you questioned whether or not the Cold War was really a war.

Note that it didn't end until the U.S. actively fought the enemy - ending in eight years a festering creep of totalitarianism that threatened the end of civilization at the push of a button. In the course of the war you don't recognise as a war, tens of millions of people died across the globe - all victims of either friction between the spheres of influence, or communist subjects starved or executed at the hands of their masters in the name of the revolution.

Decisions decisions decisions. War should be invoked only when there is no other option, objectives are clear, and the strategy is sound.

It is also vital that the nations support the decision after it is arrived at. Being beaten is always an option in war, but we seem to have perfected the art of losing from within over the last half century. Dissent is a right, but there are degrees. The noise we see from our left today could only be thought of as loyal opposition if we could refer back to a Republican attempt to defund WW2 in 1943, or to impeach Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor.

I agree that the word war itself has been bandied about so much that now when we actually find ourselves deeply involved in the real thing that some would wish it weren't so.

Make no mistake about it - the issue on the table is whether or not western civilization is worth fighting for, or should we just apologize for being free, wealthy, and powerful, and go quietly into that good night.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 2, 2004 01:37 PM

David,

Perhaps he didn't think he'd have to?

Perhaps. But he didn't mention him, did he? You can say that context proves what he meant, but the words to me are very obviously carefully chosen.

There is of course no way to prove for certain whether or not this omission was accidental and based simply on his assumption of obviousness due to the monoculture of the time or instead a painstaking intent to refer to the spirtual in a way that was as universal as possible.

But I count 4 obvious religious references, 4 easy opportunities to say simply "God" or "Christ" instead of "nature's god" or "our creator" or "divine providence." 4 swings, and no hits. Maybe this is indeed an accident. As a writer, I have my doubts.

Further, the intent of our forefathers has little bearing on characterizing the current nature of our nation. It's 2 centuries plus later, and we've evolved. Again, it's 74% Christians of varying degress of devoutness, and it's not a monoculture anymore, and the establishment clause currently means whatever the courts have said it means. Which is that we are a democracy, not a theocracy. We're not a Christian nation where religious leaders get to be the final authorities. We're a nation composed of 74% Christians (and I can't stress the variation of devotion ENOUGH) ruled by our laws.

Not by the dictates of the current religious authorities interpretations of the policies of the preferred deity of that 74% majority. Thanks be to divine providence.

Posted by: bk at April 2, 2004 01:39 PM

[Jefferson] lived in a monocultural society

Sorry to break it to you, but I bet that Asher Levy and his 23 fellow settlers would disagree with you. I expect that Frances Salvador wishes that he knew that the British didn't kill him in 1776, because as a Jew, it would have been impossible for him to be in South Carolina at the time.

Posted by: Hipocrite at April 2, 2004 01:44 PM

Tmj:

Liberalism is a pursuit of utopic socialist constructs.

Well if you define liberalism that way, then of course you win. But that's at best a gross distortion of what old-school liberals believe. When I say old school, I'm talking John Stuart Mill. To me, your definition is the straw man you keep beating up, not liberalism proper.

Don't you know that libertarians sometimes call themselves classical liberals? Face it, there's good reason why both terms start with "liber," because they're related, there's overlap.

You'll win every argument if you define us into idiocy. But what point is there in that?

Posted by: bk at April 2, 2004 01:47 PM

One of the things, which would assist our society in dealing with our current international circumstances, is to understand that there are limits to what we can extrapolate from history. A lot of this discussion seems to be trying to shoehorn our state of affairs into some given set of historical precedents. History is extremely useful, but it is also worth stepping back and realizing that we are going to have to think anew.

The problem is, of course, we are facing stuff that is unprecedented in many important ways. What I saw on the morning of September 11th was war, every bit the equivalent of Pearl Harbor. It was a statement of intent, which most rational persons could extrapolate to this: “We are out to destroy you civilization. Only time and logistical hurdles are preventing us from acquiring the means to do so. When those hurdles are surpassed expect to lose your cities, your open society, your values.”

Does anyone want to argue with me about that?

We have a situation where the whole world is dependent on a dysfunctional part of the world for energy, and this serves as a double threat. Middle East nations could turn off the faucet in a crisis and cripple the world's economy, and it can use oil revenues to sponsor the acquisition of WMDs. Meanwhile we have an ideaology of radical Islamic facism taking hold.

There are elements of a perfect storm here and the consequences of getting this situation wrong could be catastrophic for civilization.

Tano seems to be arguing that the concept of war needs to be clearly and unambiguously defined so we don’t walk down the slippery slope. (e.g. applying martial law to obnoxious leftists within our own country. ) I agree that we are a deeply polarized nation, much worse then during the 60’s and Vietnam, almost as bad as the Civil War. But by the same token if the term “war” needs to be restricted, as Tano argues, to classic confrontations between standing armies between nation states, we can’t let our circumstances be defined, by default, to the other characterization that is being bandied about by Europeans and many Democrats. Specifically that this is a criminal operation and falls under the framework of a criminal justice problem.

The problem with this characterization is that it trivializes the threat both in the mechanisms used to deal with it and in the minds of civilian population. It delegates the problem to a standard cast of characters (police, FBI) and constrains their ability to fight terrorists within a conventional criminal justice framework: hence the argument by people on the left that the prisoners in Guantanamo are not getting due process.

All well and good assuming the criminal justice system can be effective, remain intact, and can contain the problem. But if civilization itself is under the gun, then we are in survival mode and need to act accordingly. If we short sell what we are up against we will lose everying.

Posted by: bob at April 2, 2004 01:52 PM

Hipocrite,

good point. Thus when Jefferson said "God", we know he was talking about the God of the Bible, i.e., the context was judeo-christian.

Posted by: David at April 2, 2004 01:53 PM

bk -

Galileo was a victim of a regime that placed the authority of the state above objective reality. His personal quest for discovery contradicted the constructed worldview of the powers that governed his society, so he had to be crushed.

Kind of like what happens to a 4.2 GPA/max SAT student who finds out that there's no spot at his school because he/she isn't the right skin color, know what I mean? We could even talk about government types that bemoan lower taxes in the face of the history of government's inability to positively effect the economy any other way, but that's another subject entirely.

When I put a big "L" in front of liberal, I'm describing the current power fringe left bent on reacquiring the political power they have lost through not being capable of sound governence, and others such as the architects of the eu nannystate.

I've read enough western history to understand that vesting control vice custodianship in government is a formula for failure. Period. We here in the United States have not suffered the cycles of revolution, collapse, and endless rewrites of constitutions common to most euro countries precisely because our defining documents of government make it almost impossible for any single party to dictate policy that fails of majority popular support, or for any party to arbitrarily violate the coda of limitations imposed on the POWER of government to control individual's lives.

Is it perfect? No. Has it worked? I say yes, and better than the founders even in their most optomistic writings, hoped. By making it tedious and diffucult to execute policy we inhibit most wild swings of policy that carry those pesky 'unintended consequences' - and we leave open the option of imposing restraint via elections.

The Left is losing elections, and it's not because of Schaiffe money or the Bildenbergers. The Left in this country formulated an ideological agenda (c. FDR) putatively targetting social injustices, economic disparity, and intolerance of all stripes...and here we are in 2004, able to look back on the record of history.

Why is it that the last bastion of institutional racism is on the left, via support for affirmative action?

Why is it that barring WW2, the only wars we have won against dictators have been fought under conservative leadership? Why is it that I knew what a 'malaise index' was when I graduated high school.

Why is it that the party of social justice stands solidly behind mayors and councilmen who dictate from elected office? Or pursues courts to enact their agendas instead of doing the work necessary to convince the people to support legislation?

Why is it that removing Saddam Hussein from power is some sort of crime against humanity, whereas allowing the people of Haiti to reject a dictator is a failure of policy?

Why is it the DU message board is melting down on the word that over three hundred thousand new jobs were filled in March?

The loathing I have for what used to be liberalism but is now purely hack opportunism bend on socialism runs deep. I've never pretended otherwise. I am not embracing an emotion from partisan ambition, I'm judging the conditions before me and making my call. A free market demands worth for cost, and the Left has declined to operate on that basis for decades. I don't want them to have access to my money to lower my standard of living by buying votes from people who think like they do.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 2, 2004 02:10 PM

TmjUtah: Liberalism is a pursuit of utopic socialist constructs.

And European socialism is now a pursuit of realistic capitalist constructs.

Funny how that works, eh?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 2, 2004 02:19 PM

>>And European socialism is now a pursuit of realistic capitalist constructs.

There is a disctiction between a Socialist party and a socialst. The brand name of a political party is not necessarily its current philosophy.

Posted by: Ex at April 2, 2004 02:35 PM

Ex,

Yes, I know. And I think you completely missed my point.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 2, 2004 02:41 PM

bob -

Great post...and I do not want to argue with you, but the only 'unprecedented' aspect of the conflict is that we do not have the intellectual convenience of hanging national flags on all the parties to this conflict. There are three previous episodes of ascendant Islam on the books, and they were all confronted and stopped the same way, via wars of extermination, culiminating in strategic victories that stopped the tide.

We tend to frame our sense of history on our own contemporary experience. That's a natural human trait. I rely on Victor Davis Hanson to keep my perspective broad enough to understand the issues at play, when historical perspective is vital.

This conflict will allow one victor; if we fail to win, both sides will have lost, and the dark ages will be upon us once again.

I see three end scenarios:

1. We stay the course on the current strategy, and enjoy enough success that moderate Islamic clerics move to reform the religion as a seperate entity from government. Afghanistan and Iraq function well enough to encourage domestic regime change in Iran, and the Baathists of Syria either fall from within, are removed, or move for meaningful relations with Israel concurrent with repudiating terrorist organizations and doing a Libya regarding their (and others....?) WMD. North Korea collapses, eventually, from internal economic pressure. EU recognises that influx of jihadists escaping from mideast constitutes unacceptable security threat and moves to lockout, capture, or deport activist muslim clerics and known jihadists. The bulk of our troops in europe move east, and on rotational basis, not as permament garrisons.

I see this process extending beyond the end of the next administration, regardless of who is elected. I take it off the table if Kerry is elected.

2. We continue on exactly the same track as we have been, but the tightening noose on al Qaeda and the mullahs incites them to strike with weapons of mass destruction in a western country. Saudi regime changes, either toward liberalization or a wahabbist mullahocracy; I see no middle ground possible for the Royals. North Korea fails to disarm, and China subsidizes them with food with the aim of sustaining a security issue with the U.S. European Jews outmigrate to Israel or the U.S. Economic collapse of the EU by 2008. Falling support for continued nation building, coupled with increasing pin-prick attacks across non-muslim countries reduces options of government to overwhelming retaliation or containment.

3. Kerry presidency. I have no clue. I really don't. If I were the head of state in Israel, I'd move to eject the Palestinians from Gaza and West Bank, and declare the borders of Israel accordingly. Taiwan invaded. North Korea invades.

Between global depression and outright abandonment of US security commitments the permutations spin off into chaos.

MJT -

Comepletely off topic, but have you heard any serious rumbles of buyer's remorse re Kerry from your circle of friends? I think the "what do we do now?" story is going to grow some big legs if job growth really takes off. Takes off more, I mean.

Thanks for hosting such a diverse forum. A pleasure to disagree, as always.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 2, 2004 03:02 PM

Tmjutah,

Before we begin to address more general topics regarding "liberalism", let me just point out that the "left" (I guess you mean the dems) have actually won (at least in terms of popular vote) the last three presidential elections, and have gained congressional seats in three out of the last four. So you rant about losing elections is kinda odd.

Why is it that the last bastion of institutional racism is on the left, via support for affirmative action?

It isnt. THere is plenty of institutional racism in society at large. THe term "institutional racism" refers to racism built into the culture, not racism advocated by any group. And AA is not racist. It is an attempt to overcome the legacy of threehundred years of racism and to finalize the integration of the black community into the rest of our society.

Why is it that barring WW2, the only wars we have won against dictators have been fought under conservative leadership?

Ever hear of Milosovic?

....courts to enact their agendas instead of doing the work necessary to convince the people to support legislation?

Funny that a conservative doesnt understand the concept of constitutional rights. Courts defend rights from DEMOCRATIC majorities. Majorities can pass laws that oppress minorities and it is only the courts that can prevent it. I recall reading that a poll was done in the sixties, three years AFTER the big, bad judiciary struck down laws against interracial marriage, and the poll found that only 4% of Americans supported such marriages. Rights are not properly the domain of democratic election, and courts are there to insure that.

On Haiti: it aint the "people", it is a murderer leading a gang of thugs.

ANd why are you reading DU anyway? So you can pretend that that is what "liberalism" is all about?

Posted by: tano at April 2, 2004 03:05 PM

Tano: ANd why are you reading DU anyway? So you can pretend that that is what "liberalism" is all about?

Indeed. Democratic Underground is leftist, not liberal.

If you want to know how liberals think, read Dissent, Harpers, The New Yorker, Salon, Slate, and The New Republic. Some of those magazines are more left than others. But I think they pretty much cover the range of mainstream liberal opinion.

Z Magazine and The Nation are leftist rather than liberal, along with Democratic Underground and Indymedia. They're worth looking at, too, if you want to understand that mentality, but understand that it is a different mentality. Just as Pat Buchanan's The American Conservative is on a different planet from Commentary.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 2, 2004 03:20 PM

"Why are you reading the DU, anyway?"

Everyone should be reading DU. Put whatever label you want on them, they represent a radical and destructive element of our society. Remember you are the one who is worried about slippery slopes. How much time to you spend worrying about those feeble minded nut-jobs?

Or are they just harmless, small in numbers, and a little misguided? Did you see Michelle's summary of their view of the atrocities two days ago?

I can't speak for TmjUtah, but my guess is that he believes in the need to understand your enemy.

So do I. Even though it requires frequent cleaning of spittle off my screen.

Posted by: bob at April 2, 2004 03:30 PM

tano -

You goof. "Murderer leading a gang of thugs" has been the definition of transfer of power in Haiti for two hundred years. Why the outrage now?

MJT -

Pluralities...Michael, pluralities that won, except where the constitution required an electoral college majority.

I also reject your contention that courts provide effective redress in each and every contested public issue. That the majority holds a different view than the minority on ony given subject does not automatically enshrine the minority with a gimmee label of 'oppressed'. I was referring in general to the shift in legislative and statehouse numbers. I'll be more specific next time.

What long term value is there in short circuiting the mechanism of public debate and representative legislation in the pursuit of an agenda by judicial fiat just because you CAN?

Would you consider for a moment the greater acceptance of laws that are formed with the participation of the governed than those edicts laid down by courts, independent of any attempt to persuade, inform, or heaven for bid CHANGE the attitudes of those that will be subject to the laws?

We have allowed legal precedent to pile up where it has become de riguer for courts to be the go - to avenue when elected politicians fear for their jobs. Make federal judges subject to ballot restriants, excepting the Supreme court. Then we can talk.

Laws that do not reflect the will of the majority -just/unjust/apathetic - will not stand tests nearly as well as those that are produced by the mechanism of debate, discussion, and compromise.

Gee....our topic wandered off into the woods all of a sudden, didn't it?

bob -

Not as narrow as "know the enemy". More like "know where people are coming from". Left, liberal, progressive....the big L Left is what holds together the Left, and is the entity in line for power, so that's who I watch closest.

There are no FDR's/Trumans/Jacksons out there. Maybe Zell Miller, but what does that say about what remains of the Democrat party? MJT, by all means get some liberals into power. Just as soon as you get rid of the opportunists and outright socialists, there will be acres of new land to till.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 2, 2004 03:58 PM

" How much time to you spend worrying about those feeble minded nut-jobs?"

Zero.
Because they are feeble minded. And because they are nutjobs.
Thats why I spend zero time at free republic, zero time listening to rw talk radio, zero time at the Klan website (do they have a website?). In the grand universe of "enemies", I prefer to focus on the ones that pose a real threat - i.e. those that have power, or have some prospect of gaining power. THat keeps me busy enough...

Posted by: tano at April 2, 2004 04:03 PM

"Gee....our topic wandered off into the woods all of a sudden, didn't it?"

Yeah. Thanks to you. Why not stop posting rambling messages that touch on many different issues.

(note to self) Why do you respond to rambling messages that touch on many issues?

Lets FOCUS, people.

Posted by: tano at April 2, 2004 04:07 PM

tano -

You are a treasure.

Why do I ramble...touch on so many issues?

Because my posts relate to the topic at hand, reflected by the course of discussion among all the participants. The discussion drifted toward the nuts and bolts of our own system, so I followed it. It's called communication for a reason, tano. Transmit, receive, analyze, respond. The synthesis of thought often brings about surprising discoveries.

For instance, I had formed an thumbnail sketch of you over the brief time we've posted on common forums, and today, voila'!, you've confirmed my basest assumptions, all in one post.

Freepers/Klan/Limbaugh. All in one big happy tent, vending popcorn and funnelcakes to all the nutjobs and feebs who are such because ...well, because you say they are. There's a word for deragatory sweeping generalization, but I just can't drag it to my lips past the cotton candy.

And you somehow feel that the REAL threat is not somebody intent on killing you by lot, but a political opposition that has thus far committed the unforgivable crime of ... getting elected and governing.

News Flash: Come up with better ideas, get your side to promulgate them, and you can EARN power, too. Maybe this time around you can inject a little responsibility and character into the mix. Not too much; wouldn't want your candidate to appear a feeb, of course.

Don't worry about me, tano. We won't be speaking again.

MJT -

Within ten years, Gay Marriage would have happened without Federal action. I can't put money on exactly the form the laws would take, because it would vary from state to state...except in view of the Feds, for taxes. There are gay couples raising families in many communities. All people ARE equal under the law, and in the spirit of Lincoln explaining the ethical, legal, and moral contradictions of slavery upon his Emancipation Proclamation (a STEP in the right direction, not the solution) I make the case that family is valuable as the basic unit of society, so where is the harm in recognising this evolution of it? The other option is to reject homosexuality...and even though it's not for me, I'm not THEM. Citizens = free to pursue happiness = equal protections....

I believe all that. Pass the soda; my funnelcake is sticking in my throat.

Makes sense to me. The trick is working it through the cultural inertia that is PEOPLE. I am asking that people recognise that where people are concerned, a stroke of the pen (followed by the full and righteous enforcement of government) is often not the way to solve a problem. I believe I posted before on the failure common to Socialist systems - the mechanism ensures that consent of the governed is minimized so as not to disturb planning. Running to the judicial well amounts to much the same thing if abused often enough.

I'm Christian without congregation. I'm a citizen, conscious of my rights, hopeful I can handle the responsibilities. I'm also conservative, and I don't HAVE ANY FREAKING DOGMATIC REJECTIONS AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE beyond pointing out the current tactics aiming to enact it are succeeding only in crystalizing opposition among those who (rightly, in my view) think that the Left will ignore any constitutional constraint and unblinkingly abuse executive or judicial power in order to impose their agenda.

Dictatorship by executives is serious stuff. I registered as Republican last week, for the first time, in response to the acts by the SF mayor, and others.

Oooh - the clowns! The clowns! How do they get all those hats to stay pointy in the little cars??? Ooooh!!!

Enemies are for killing. Political opponents are for engaging. I make it real clear who I regard as what, and as far as I can see I have a few opponents here and some friends. A pleasure to disagree, as always.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 2, 2004 05:17 PM

"Why do I ramble...touch on so many issues?"

Becuase you think it makes you sound wise and transcendent, with a touch of folksiness thrown in(funnelcakes)? I'll stick an Andrew Sullivan label on ya :"poseur alert!".

"Freepers/Klan/Limbaugh. All in one big happy tent,"

And DU. And I guess,,,you.

"And you somehow feel that the REAL threat is not somebody intent on killing you by lot, but a political opposition that has thus far committed the unforgivable crime of ... getting elected and governing."

Funny, but this all started with me making the case that the term "war" should be restricted to those who we seriously want to kill, i.e. those who have killed our people. And I argued against the notion of applying the term "war" to mere political opposition.
Which means that you have managed to arrive at a 180 degree oppostion interpretation of what the words in front of you were saying.

Now I am left to wonder. Are you making progress. Is being exactly, contrarily wrong better than being randomly wrong? Does it mean you have, at least, a sense of where the spectrum lies, even though you pick up the wrong end?

Or are you just a stopped clock, upside down?

Posted by: tano at April 2, 2004 05:52 PM

This is no time for partisan politics. Guys if you are just as sick as I am about Daily Kos remark about the 4 dead American contractors, He welcomed their death and said "screw them" visit this site
http://michael-friedman.com/archives/000311.html

Michael Friedman is organizing an e-mail campaign to demand that the Democratic candidates pull their ads from the Daily Kos site. It seems to work. I got an e-mail from one of the candidates telling me they are pulling their ad. We should not allow this infamy to stand.

Posted by: Ricky Vandal at April 2, 2004 05:57 PM

oh cut the crap ricky.
You have the unmitigated gall to start off your post with this: "This is no time for partisan politics."
And then play thought police, gang leader - lets shut this guy up?

get a life.

Posted by: arhut at April 2, 2004 06:07 PM

tano is an open minded guy. He just f**king hates right wingers and won't listen to a word they say. Liberal open mindness.

;)

Posted by: Ex at April 2, 2004 07:23 PM

gee ex,
why the hostility? Did I ignore you or something?
You were making such a nice case for the essential greyness of moral distinctions regarding war - I thought I was actually taking more of a "right-wing" position than you - insisting on some moral clarity regarding the use of the word.

Did this upset you?

Posted by: tano at April 2, 2004 07:37 PM

David - let's try this again.

bk writes: "In your Jefferson quote, the problem is that he doesn't mention Christ. Not once."

David writes: "And given the fact that he lived in a monocultural society, perhaps Jefferson didn't think he'd HAVE to mention Christ."

Hipocrite writes: "Wow, what about the Jews who fought in the war?"

David writes: "Well, judeo-christian."

You owe bk an apology. A big fat "I was wrong, you were right" apology.

Posted by: Hipocrite at April 2, 2004 08:07 PM

Ex -

Yep.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 2, 2004 08:17 PM

I am at war with Bush

Posted by: Spaz at April 2, 2004 09:33 PM

Some people are more afraid of Bush and Ashcroft than they are of Al-Qaida. These are the Leftist psychopaths we are at war with.

Posted by: David at April 2, 2004 11:44 PM

bk,

In your Jefferson quote, the problem is that he doesn't mention Christ. Not once. And I'm not being opaque here. Go ahead. Read your quote again.

Your are correct. Jefferson probably deliberately doesn't mention Christ in order to be inclusive of other monotheistic religious thought, in particular Judaism and Deism. It is also beside the point.

There is more than context on which to evaluate this. We can also examine the other monotheistic religions and determine whether or not America is structured on the principles of those religions or not.

Of the three monotheistic faiths plus Deism, Christianity is the only one that explicitly supports the seperation of church and state. Islam explictly demands unity between church and state in the form of the caliphate. Judaism and Deism are ambiguous on the concept. It is the seperation of church and state which gives us the concept of a divine right of Man.

So Christianity is the only faith that explictly supports the concept of a divine right of man as opposed to a divine right of kings. America is structured on this concept. In America, God grants rights to Man, and Man creates government to secure these rights. This is the great liberal innovation of America, and it is also why America can rightfully claim to be the first truly Christian nation.

Grant's proposition that we are a nation of Christians rather than a Christian nation is wrong. We are a Christian nation regardless of whether there are any Christians left because our structure is an artifict of Christian philosophy. This will continue to be the case as long as the powers of our government are limited, and government doesn't have the power to violate our rights in order to pursue policy objectives, even if a majority agrees with those policy objectives. Saying we are a Christian nation doesn't mean we are exclusive of those of other faiths. It says that we are structurally based on Christian principles.

The reason all this matters is because as Christianity fades culturally, our commitment to the divine rights of man fades with it. In its place we end up with government that pursues policy objectives at the expense of what used to be God-given rights. It puts us on the road to tyranny.

We end up with speech codes at public universities that trample free speech. We end up with draconian gun-control laws that violate one's right to protect oneself (this is more a problem in England I admit). We end up with affirmative action which tramples the right to equality before the law. We end up with widespread abuses of eminant domain which trample our property rights. We end up with punitive government action against groups like the Boy Scouts for exercising their right to assembly. We end up with a judicial branch that usurps legislative authority unopposed. We end up with those who want to subordinate our right to sovereignty to the UN. We end up with the kind European tyranny most of our ancesters fled.

Posted by: HA at April 3, 2004 05:30 AM

Ha -

You trog. You possssser.

Don't you know that secular enlightenment makes all that praying to thunder stuff soooo passe'.

/sarcasm off.

What has worked? What hasn't? Pretty simple stuff. Great post, HA.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 3, 2004 06:38 AM

We are an Ancient Greek nation: separation of church and state, democracy, inherent rights by our nature, etc. Christianity merely packaged and delivered these messages.

The Ancient Greeks have been abandoned and forgotten by America, but their message remains strong, because it's true.

Posted by: Jim at April 3, 2004 06:39 AM

Keith Berry doesn't deserve the attention -- next time he should simply feign an abduction like a reasonable person, instead of riding the coattails of actual bloggers.

Posted by: Jeremy Brown at April 3, 2004 08:46 AM

TMJUtah,

I agree with much of what you said in response to me, as well as Bob's great post. (I wasn't able to read all of the rest of the thread). Really, my only substantial quarrel is that you are determined that liberal=left. This was always only partially accurate, and the current war has decidedly made it less so. I haven't left the left IN SPITE OF my liberal ideals, I left BECAUSE OF my liberal ideals. Much of what you describe as your ideals are in fact old-school liberal virtues. Insult the left fringe all you want and get little quarrel from me. But call people who have abandoned reason, who cannot discourse rationally in the market place of free ideas, and who find tortured logic to defend despots and others who have no interest in things like free speech and civil rights, call these people liberals and then we have a problem.

At least for now, I guess those of minds such as ours should probably take pains to avoid picking at old scabs because we are now on the same side, I think, at least in our goals if not 100% in our tactics.

Posted by: bk at April 3, 2004 08:55 AM

There are few things funnier than to see conservatives spout liberal ideas from one side of their mouth, and condemnations of liberalism from the other. Cluelessness seems to know no bounds.

Liberalism has been so utterly triumphant in the West that is now "conservative" (in the sense of guarding tradition) to be a basic liberal. And then you get clowns like HA who imagine that christianity, of all things was the vehicle of liberalism. Sorry bud, but liberalism emerged in reaction to christian dominance. The notion of limited government emerged in reaction to christian theocracy and the idea that government should embody the divine order of things. Human rights, the rights of the individual, grew as a concept in reaction to the idea of divine rights - the christian notion of a ruling elect.

"So Christianity is the only faith that explictly supports the concept of a divine right of man as opposed to a divine right of kings."

That has to be the most historically illiterate sentence I have read in a long time. How do you think the christian kings justified their rule?

"Of the three monotheistic faiths plus Deism, Christianity is the only one that explicitly supports the seperation of church and state."

Ooops. MAybe THAT is the most historically illiterate sentence I've seen. The state NEEDED to be seperated from the CHRISTIAN church, precisely because the christians seem compelled to mix the two. As they continue to try today. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance....

Jim has got it far more accurately. Our governing structure is based far more on Athenian principles than on anything that christianity developed over the following two thousand years. The fact that democratic values could emerge and take hold in a christian culture is certainly one point in favor of the christians. But it doesn't make our governing philosophy a "christian philosophy".

Posted by: tano at April 3, 2004 09:21 AM

...plus other Greek stuff like freedom of speech. Not that I don't think Christianity is good. I suppose it is good. At its best, it contributes to meaningful lives and invigorates moral fiber. It is good that it is part of American culture.

Recently an analysis of the first line of the Declaration has occured to me. It is not self-evident that the source of our inalienable rights is God's having endowed us with them. As was widely understood by well-educated people in the 18th C., a self-evident truth is one that you see to be obviously true as soon as you have grasped its meaning, for example, "circles are round". But "God is the source of our rights" is not self-evident. Rather, it is controversial. Reasonable people can disagree over it.

Therefore, when Ben Franklin suggested the emendation to "self-evident," he must have meant that it is self-evident that we are endowed by our Creator with such rights in the sense that it is self-evident that we have these rights, and we are taking it as a given that we were created by the Creator. In other words, given that we were endowed by Him with many things, it is self-evident that one of these is inalienable rights. Because "people have rights" is obviously true to anyone who understands it.

Posted by: Jim at April 3, 2004 10:06 AM

Not hostility...just showing how you have made yet another black and white judgement mostly divorced from reality.

Posted by: Ex at April 3, 2004 10:46 AM

Athenian Democracy? Like mob rule?

Not yet. Give us another ten years of judicial activism, dictatorial mayors, and Supreme court jurist referring to foreign law, and we'll be there.

bk -

We are all on the same side in this war, whether we like it or not. Contrary to whatever the "Bush's War/Bush is Hitler/Bush Lied" monkeys want to believe our actions have been checked and balanced every step of the way up until today.

In a perfect world, elected officials in the halls of power would be working together in good faith to effectively and efficiently succeed in this trial we voted to engage. But statesmen are few and far between these days, and our minority party is facing oblivion at the hands of a national electorate that may be bought and sold piecemeal by faction in times of peace but refuses to die wholesale during a war we could not avoid.

Remember the collective "Oh my God THAT COULD HAVE BEEN AL GORE SPEAKING?" that rose up after Bush's second or third statement the day we were attacked? Reality intruded to the extent that the mainstream media let that story run for almost two weeks. But then they remembered whose side they are on and went back to the old script. Nobody prior to 9/11 consciously considered such an act possible; post 9/11, it seems a large portion of our political organism has decided that event, and the subsequent efforts to prevent a repeat, deserves less attention does exploiting the situation to regain power.

"Liberal" ideas are not the franchise of folks like tano that write off folks like me. Far, far from it. Big "L" political liberals promulgate a zero-sum worldview that is at best a poorly thought out construct, at worst a key plank in a conscious platform of deception and manipulation aimed at controlling electorates. The additional aspects of the creed such as paranoia, moral relativism, and knee-jerk rejection of the utility of judging results before intentions are just spice in the cake.

There's not much ideology floating around the likes of the Kennedys, Kerrys, Pelosis, Clintons, and McKinneys of the world. There's a whole lot of personal investment in the accumulation of power and the execution of policy, but there's no sense of responsibility to the nation...shucks, no obligation to ANYBODY, beyond getting their win in the next election.

They've run out of victims in spite of their own failed policies, and now this pesky war has come up. There's no white profiteer bent on putting grandma in the pet food line, or klansman or oilman or fundie televangelist or conservative website that focuses the attention of the electorate quite the same as 19 Islamic barbarians, and their buddies back in the swamp, have done. In spite of the best that progressive education has been able to accomplish over the last forty or fifty years, some people are still able to retain the realization that THOSE people want to KILL us, and they aren't going away after the next commercial break.

I'm all for liberal western democracy. Seeing that the distillation of those tenets pretty much defines our constitutional republic, I am surprised that the Left in this country is bent on abandoning the very mechanisms that keep our freedoms strong. As soon as the institutional Left comes up with some people of character that are committed to supporting it, bring 'em on.

BK, we are all living on the same bullseye. Some of us are digging trenches or watching the wire. Others are running around with "Bush is Hitler" signs and seething that we haven't given due respect to the cultural imperatives of our enemy. I'll listen to somebody bitching in the same trench, but only if they are holding a rifle. What we have here are whiners, and I've invested about ten times more effort than they are worth by the simple act of writing this post.

Pass me the program. The Flying Klansmen are going to do their famous "Pyramid on a Wire With No Social Safety Net" next, I think.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 3, 2004 11:13 AM

TmjUtah, the Greeks invented democracy, representative democracy, and the institution in which the best people deliberate over and represent the interests of the rest. The idea of electing those representatives was a crucial bit of tweaking, but it was tweaking nevertheless.

I've invested about ten times more effort than [the hate-Bush crowd] are worth by the simple act of writing this post.

It's been three years, and I'm tired of this crowd. I'm tired of nonsense. I no longer can care about someone named "Kos," for example, gloating over the death of innocents. Is it safe to ignore these people from now on? I'd prefer to keep the discussion to more substantive topics than whether it's okay to liberate 25 million people. I suppose what's crucial is whether undecided voters think the latter a worthy topic of discussion. I doubt it.

Posted by: Jim at April 3, 2004 12:16 PM

Ho hum. Yet another example of right-wing rant-itis. THat debilitating disease that causes the daily disgorgement of copious amounts of rancid bile, directed against all who disagree.

Bizarre phenomenon. Caused I suspect, by the tension that arises between a mind that is curious about the world, but trapped into an ever-more stultifying and rigid ideology. Aging process perhaps? Compounded by a fear of the unknown, of learning outside the pre-established box, of maybe having to abandon comforting truths? Throw in the middle-aged sense that this is your time in the sunshine, and you end up with a pretty toxic brew.

Hint to Ute. Ya couldda saved yourself a lot more time by simply saying "Me good, you blech", preferably at the top of your voice. Didnt really catch much more in all those words....

Posted by: tano at April 3, 2004 12:34 PM

I don't completely agree that we are at war with Islamic Fascists only. I think they are the cutting edge of a larger phenomenon. Spengler, of the Asia Times presents an interesting theory -
Written Oct 29, 2002 - substitute Iran/Korea for Iraq:

Iraq's nuclear program is the 21st century equivalent of Russia's railroads in 1914 (which made the German high command decide to attack before they were complete). The United States must prevent Saddam Hussein from building nuclear weapons now, or the cost of stopping him (and others in the future) will be incalculable. The trouble is that today's Arabs (and to a great extent other Islamic populations) are in the position of the Slavs of 1914. They are an endangered culture, and like many endangered cultures, the extremists

From Atimes

Also see The Complete Spengler

The gist is that large scale tragedies/struggles are a result of fundamental flaws in the cultures involved and are essentally inescapable. We have no choice in this war, and tragically the democratization of Iraq will fail.

Posted by: jdwill at April 3, 2004 12:46 PM

I botched the links
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/others/spengler.html

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/middle_east/DJ29Ak01.html

Posted by: jdwill at April 3, 2004 12:47 PM

Take heart, jdwill. Human nature gives us a malleable disposition. We may be disposed to rule the Pacific in the 1930s, and persuaded by liberal capitalism in the 50s. We may be eager to take all of Russia as our lebensraum in the 30s, and then given rather to making money in the field of engineering in the 50s.

The enemy is not the 200 million or so Arabs who follow their mullahs and Osama and hate our guts. They will be engineers with their minds on their families and school districts in about five years. After they get a taste of the liberty and wealth to be had in a constitutional democracy, they'll make the switch very quickly.

Posted by: Jim at April 3, 2004 01:24 PM

I don't know, Jim,

Daniel Pipes - 1996:

"Islamist leaders tend to be well acquainted with the West, having lived there, learned its languages, and studied its cultures. Turabi of the Sudan has advanced degrees from the University of London and the Sorbonne; he also spent a summer in the United States, touring the country on a US taxpayer-financed program for foreign student leaders. Abbasi Madani, a leader of Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), received a doctorate in education from the University of London. His Tunisian counterpart, Rashid al-Ghannushi, spent a year in France and since 1993 makes his home in Great Britain. Necmettin Erbakan, Turkey's leading militant politician, studied in Germany. Mousa Mohamed Abu Marzook, the head of Hamas' political committee, has lived in the United States since 1980, has a doctorate in engineering from Louisiana State University, and has been classified as a permanent US resident since 1990. Though for years he was able to elude law enforcement, Abu Marzook was recently arrested at a New York airport on his way into the country to register his son in an American school. Indeed, the experience of living in the West often turns indifferent Muslims into Islamists."

The idea that muslim's are exposed to our wealth, democracy, and liberalism, and then reject it is one that we are having a hard time wrapping our minds around.

PS I don't quite understand your Russian reference. Do you mean the Germans?

Posted by: jdwill at April 3, 2004 03:41 PM

jdwill,

Hitler's main goal in launching the war was to have all of Russia (everything east of Germany, really) for Germans to live in: a lebensraum.

Muslims: Yes, but this is the same Pipes who is guardedly optimistic about the emergence of a "moderate Islam". Of course he is right that the True Believers of militant Islam are incorrigible; we are at war with them; they must simply be destroyed. But "the masses" of Arabs, although swept up in the hatred, are probably not True Believers. I find it far-fetched to think that all 200 million or so of the Arabs who hate us are prepared to take up arms and die for their hatred. They partly believe we are to be killed; but not fully. Because if you're not prepared to act as though your belief is true, you don't really believe it. They aren't True Believers.

There is the core with full-blown mental illness; they must be eliminated or imprisoned. Then there is the masses, with a degree of psychopathy, but this will wane in a matter of a few years. They will be led by those in their society who are not ill at all, but rather forward-thinking and eager for freedom and wealth.

This is a premise on which the pro-democratization tenet of the Bush Doctrine rests. It can't be proven true; you could be right. In this sense, the Bush Doctrine is part of the tradition of liberal faith in human nature (which is not to say that it subscribes to the obviously false view that human nature is good).

Posted by: Jim at April 3, 2004 04:48 PM

Jim,

Will we win. I believe so. I am apprehensive about the cost, and uncertain about our moral certitude.

When two systems collide on basic beliefs, the resolution may require a high price in blood. Take the American civil war - more than half of casualties occurred after the point in the war where the South's cause was hopeless - yet those who who could not accept the loss of their way of life, fought on. I am not a sure on the data, but I believe that WWII followed this pattern somewhat.

What I am saying is that when a class of people see their fundamental way of life threatened, and I mean muslim males (who see our society with its male/female contradictions and lack of structure as sick), they may fight bitterly until the pool of those able to fight is drastically reduced.

Those masses are led by elites who have seen the West and reject it vehemently.

Pipes (again)

Americans and Muslims see the world very differently. It's not just a matter of such hot-button issues as Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict but also larger questions of economics, politics, religion, sexuality, and child-rearing. Put in the simplest terms, Americans are mostly modern and Muslims are mostly not. There are exceptions to this general rule but it holds often enough and is so consequential that it now drives world politics. Further, this was the situation no less before 9/11 than it is today; it just was not so evident.

There are only two choices. Either militant Islam wins or America does.

Posted by: jdwill at April 3, 2004 05:42 PM

Those masses are led by elites who have seen the West and reject it vehemently.

Those masses have never had a chance to be led by any other sort of leader. Over the next few years they will begin to hear a different piper: the middle-class capitalist, the free academic, the independent judge, etc. The tune is much prettier, and they will follow. Look at Turkey (which is not perfect, but reasonable).

Posted by: Jim at April 3, 2004 06:03 PM

Jim -

I see a small postitive in Dan Pipe's opinion that there is some glimmer of hope there can be reform from withing the Muslim community. He's got all the background I don't.

Small hope, but it is there. I'm no muslim scholar, and my history, like most westerners, is sadly lacking in oriental entries...and reading the Koran three or four times just makes it scary.

We're definitely at war with somebody. This administration is going to great lengths to keep it that way, as in a specific movement or group. If the enemy I.D. becomes Islam, well, everything changes. I'd rather not see that happen.

I also agree, tying the representatives with the shortest terms to the bulk of legislative power is the ONLY thing that's kept the wheels on. Even if an incumbent is almost a lock on reelection, it's never a certainty.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 3, 2004 06:37 PM

tano: Glad to see you are keeping your mind in a slightly larger shoebox.

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Posted by: Ex at April 3, 2004 07:23 PM

Kos never gloated over the death of innocents. Say what you want about his repulsive statement, but it's not like a bunch of unarmed non-combatents were massacared.

Posted by: Hipocrite at April 3, 2004 07:50 PM

They'd done nothing wrong. So, they were innocents.

Posted by: Jim at April 3, 2004 07:58 PM

Hypocrite,

it wasn't as much the deaths as it was the acts of desecration and utter barbarity of those who killed them.

Posted by: David at April 3, 2004 08:10 PM

And then Kos said "fuckem".

Posted by: David at April 3, 2004 08:11 PM

The Left has lost it's moral bearings, as Kos and Hypocrite have so clearely demonstrated.

Posted by: David at April 3, 2004 08:11 PM

No, I'm not disputing that his statement was disgusting. However, accuracy is important in all things, and mercs are not innocents.

Posted by: Hipocrite at April 4, 2004 01:44 AM

Jim,

It is not self-evident that the source of our inalienable rights is God's having endowed us with them. As was widely understood by well-educated people in the 18th C., a self-evident truth is one that you see to be obviously true as soon as you have grasped its meaning, for example, "circles are round". But "God is the source of our rights" is not self-evident. Rather, it is controversial. Reasonable people can disagree over it.

This is exactly my point. Once the question of whether our rights are self-evident is opened up, the permanance and scope of those rights is also opened up.

The purpose of the Framers was limited government that could not infringe our inalienable rights. The Framers deliberately rejected Greek-style democracy because it didn't protect our rights from a tyranny of the majority. We are not a democracy. We are a democratic federal republic.

You are right in the sense that I was incorrect to say our nation has a Christian "structure." Rather, it has a Christian purpose of seperating church and state and limiting the powers of each. To some extent the structure doesn't matter as long as the purpose is fulfilled.

And the Greeks didn't have the concept of seperation of Church and State the way we do. Socrates was put to death for impiety:

This indictment and affidavit is sworn by Meletus, the son of Meletus of Pitthos, against Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus of Alopece: Socrates is guilty of refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state, and of introducing new divinities. He is also guilty of corrupting the youth. The penalty demanded is death.

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/socrates/socratesaccount.html

In America, Socrates would not have been put to death. In Athens he was. Here is some further reading on Socrates:

http://www.fred.net/tzaka/apology.html

Posted by: HA at April 4, 2004 06:01 AM

HA,

Yes, to your three points, but three replies:

Once the question of whether our rights are self-evident is opened up, the permanance and scope of those rights is also opened up.

Notice that I have affirmed that it is self-evident that we have rights. I have denied only that it is self-evident that God is the source of them.

No, we didn't choose the form of democracy that the Greeks chose. But they invented democracy, and we chose a form of democracy. The form we chose could be found in Greek ideas: voting for representatives, regional representation, aristocracy (in the sense of the best men being the representatives), etc.

Of course, there is Socrates' punishment. But there is also the fact that the Greeks invented the idea of the state being secular and kept that way.

Posted by: Jim at April 4, 2004 06:49 AM

Hipocrite, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt knows military linguistic usage, and he says of the killings, “Murder of innocents should be condemned.”

Even a U.S. soldier is an innocent. Maybe you have "innocent" confused with "civilian."

Posted by: Jim at April 4, 2004 06:57 AM

Personally I shoot security guards all the time. Then dismember them, burn their corpse and drag them through the streets. Is that wrong? Afterall, they are just mercs?

WHAT ABOUT RACHEL CORRIE??? YAARRRRRRAARRGH!

Posted by: Dean Scream at April 4, 2004 10:21 AM

Rachel Corrie was rushed to the hospital, and treated by doctors of the country whom she declared the enemy.

Posted by: David at April 4, 2004 10:23 AM

I want people to know that Nathan Newman, friend of Ramsey Clark, has been deleting posts that refer to the obits of the 4 men murdered in Iraq (you know: the men that the definitionally challenged Mr Newman calls "mercenaries"). I think that the sensitive Mr Newman gets more exercised about people who take down "Vote Union" fliers in the break room at Wal-Mart than he does about the gruesome murder of 4 innocent individuals.

Posted by: smith at April 4, 2004 03:30 PM

Don't be ridiculous. Fascism has two widely accepted meanings. And I'm clearly not referring to Mussolini here. The definition in this context is "right-wing totalitarianism." That ought to be obvious to anyone who isn't being willfully obtuse.

The point is, Michael, that you use the term to obscure, rather than enlighten. You think that as soon as you can shovel a particular group or regime under that label, that ends the discussion of whether or not America should use its resources to go after them.

It obscures because, as you analyze it, enables you to leap to a conclusion without actually understanding the nature and objectives of the various groups and regimes that you lump together under that rubric - which is how you keep dodging the question of whether any of the groups you think we are at war with actually pose any threat to the United States. And by trying to turn your enemy in to a monolithic whole, you end up fundamentally miconceiving its nature ... which inevitably leads to choosing incorrect strategies to fight it.

It's kind of like Vietnam: in a sense, the whole genesis of the problem was that the U.S. misconceived the nature of the problem, and characterised a local, nationalistic movement as part of a global one. To the extent that the Administration shares your view (and who knows whether they do or not, because it's impossible to piece together what they really think from their contradictory and dissembling public statements), there's a real danger that the same error is being repeated, with exactly the same result: military success, but strategic defeat.

Which brings me back to my original point: shouldn't we be fighting those who actually threaten the United States? In WW2, did we go to war against Nazi Germany because of its political philosophy, or because it launched an aggressive war against our allies and, ultimately, the United States?

Posted by: Mork at April 4, 2004 04:16 PM

Mork, there's no efficient and infallible way to distinguish the Islamofascists who intend and have the means to kill us from those who don't. Even if we kill a few who never were a threat to us, is that wrong? Our liberal ideals set us against authoritarianism even when it is no threat to us. When a fascist entity nears the threshold of posing a risk to us, it is fitting to eliminate it. Even if it never nears that threshold, it is surely morally permissible for us to eliminate it, as a good deed to those it oppresses.

Hitler only wanted Eastern Europe. Or did he? Better to have just eliminated him. If we find out that he never wanted anything beyond Europe, should we regret fighting the war?

Posted by: Jim at April 4, 2004 05:05 PM

Mork,

We are at war with those who actually threaten the United States. The last time I checked, there were a group of people in the Middle East who were trying to kill us -- fascists.

I believe that the Administration knows exactly who it is fighting and why. What we are trying to do in Iraq is to establish a secular democracy. The hope is that it will present an alternative to radical islam as an organizing principle for the disfunctional societies in the Middle East.

This is an extremely bold and risky plan, but I see it as the last best hope for civilization. It is the only chance we have to avoid "the big one" (i.e., eventually Islamo-fascist terrorists will acquire WMDs and use them on a US city). We will then respond with total war against the Islamo-fascists. (I believe that they do not understand that this will be our reaction).

Personally, I hope GWB succeeds. I don't want WMDs used against us, and I would prefer to avoid the slaughter of Muslims which would inevitably follow. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Left does not support this, too. It is the only alternative to much greater trouble.

Posted by: Ben at April 4, 2004 05:16 PM

Jim and Ben: In isolation, I see the logic of your position, but I think you have a very unrealistic view of what the United States is capable of achieving. Again, this is the same lesson we learned once in Vietnam, but have to learn over again now. Military strength is not everything. In particular, one of the lessons that we learned in Vietnam and seem to have forgotten is that we are very, very poor at understanding foreign cultures and calculating the impact and perception of our actions among foreign people.

Put it this way: do you think there are more or fewer people today than before September 11 who hate the United States enough to take up arms against it?

In addition, among people around the world who basically share America's values, do you think that more or less are prepared to support (or have their governments support) actions that advance America's interests?

It's one thing to posture manfully about how we don't care what terrorists think (or even our allies, for that matter), but how can you call a policy a success if it actually creates more terrorists?

I think it's unarguable that since the defeat of the Taliban, the danger to the United States has increased, and not lessened. Apart from the specific actions we are taking against Al Qaeda, I don't see anything the Administration is doing that will change this in the future.

Posted by: Mork at April 4, 2004 06:55 PM

Mork: Cite evidence that there are more terrorists and a bigger terrorist threat now than there was before. Otherwise I suspect that you are just repeating a standard leftist talking point devoid of any rational thought.

Posted by: Ex at April 5, 2004 07:08 AM

Mork,

I don't disagree that this is a tough challenge, but there is no better alternative. As for those who hate us, I doubt very much that Iraq had any impact on their number. Iraq is more likely than not to make them LESS likely to take up arms against us (because it adds the element of fear). Also, it does not in any way impact assistance we would or would not receive from those "who share our values." (France doesn't count because they don't share our values).

Posted by: Ben at April 5, 2004 07:13 AM

Is there any chance that we will hear anything like this from Kerry?

"This was an elective war, and there were some good reasons to do it. But we now have a mess to deal with, and we need a plan. And to make that plan work, we need a change at the top.

I didn’t start this war, but I intend to finish it and to finish it right. When we are done, America will be safer and the world will be better.

Under a Kerry administration, we will redouble our efforts in Iraq. We cannot fail. We freed millions from the yoke of arbitrary murder, torture, and rape. That was not the justification for going to war, but it is a damn good side effect. We removed a cancer from the Middle East, a man who understood nothing but war and brutalization. In its place we must see a new country grow and prosper. My number one priority is to finish this job by building a functioning democracy in the Middle East. Then, we will watch the dominos fall.

To Mr. Assad in Syria – your people yearn to be free, and we will support them.

To you SOBs in Teheran -- ditto.

Finally, I have a message for al Qaeda. This is not Spain. You don’t want me to win this election because after I win I am going to come after you with an ferociousness that you can’t imagine.

The defense of this country must be the number one priority of any president, and I will make it the number one priority of my administration."

(posted at www.centristcoalition.com/blog)

Posted by: Todd Pearson at April 5, 2004 08:20 AM

Jim,

Notice that I have affirmed that it is self-evident that we have rights.

Yes, but couldn't "reasonable people" disaffirm them? Wouldn't our rights become subject to current political events? They are already.

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