September 13, 2004

Fisking Fisk

Robert Fisk continues to live up to his name.

His new piece is titled We should not have allowed 19 murderers to change our world.

He doesn’t say we should have acted as though nothing had happened, but he practically implies as much at the end.

[W]e should not allow 19 murderers to change our world. George Bush and Tony Blair are doing their best to make sure the murderers DO change our world.
I’d like to know how it could be otherwise. Seriously. The attack on September 11, 2001, was the worst terrorist act ever. It was also the most devastating attack of any kind inside America ever. Does Robert Fisk really think we should have treated such an atrocity the way we would a pipsqueak of a bomb in a trashcan at the mall by the IRA?

No one should doubt Al Qaeda would have used a nuclear weapon had they possessed one. Clearly they sought to maximize, not minimize, the death count. Even without a nuclear weapon the casualties could have been as high as if we’d been nuked. If the Twin Towers fell over sideways on impact the number of civilians murdered could have exceeded the death toll at Hiroshima. As Paul Berman put it in Terror and Liberalism, “It is worth asking if there is anything genocidal in this kind of terrorist impulse.”

Old school terrorists like the IRA and the Basque ETA don’t behave this way, nor will they ever.

History is what it is. It swung on its hinges on September 11. It would have done so if even if Dennis Kucinich sat in the White House and George Galloway ran Britain.

Allow me to back up a bit in Fisk’s piece and address him personally. (Hi, Robert. I hope you track the referral logs in your Web site’s stat meter and read what people have to say about your work.) The ending, obtuse as it is, is a lot less asinine than what led to it.

Merely to ask why the murderers of 11 September had done their bloody deeds was to befriend "terrorism". Merely to ask what had been in the minds of the killers was to give them support.
Says who, Robert? It's not the question that leads to this accusation. It's the answer to the question that does it.

You have been accused of "befriending" terrorists. I agree that putting it that way is over-the-top. The reason this happens, though, isn't because you ask why terrorists kill people. It's because you blame the victims.

Hell, you made excuses for people who assaulted you personally. Must I remind?

On December 10, 2001, you wrote the following:

They started by shaking hands. We said "Salaam aleikum" – peace be upon you – then the first pebbles flew past my face. A small boy tried to grab my bag. Then another. Then someone punched me in the back. Then young men broke my glasses, began smashing stones into my face and head. I couldn't see for the blood pouring down my forehead and swamping my eyes. And even then, I understood. I couldn't blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find. [Emphasis added.]
Really? Would you really have done just the same?

I may be arguing with you here, but I’m honestly sorry you were beat up for being a white guy. It was wrong. You hadn’t done anything to those people. They are precisely the moral equivalents of the criminals who assaulted random Arabs (and even, pathetically, Sikhs) on the streets of America after September 11. It is not okay to lash out at people who share the same ethnicity with those you are pissed at.

One article I wrote for The Independent in 1998 asked why Iraqis do not tear us limb from limb, which is what some Iraqis did to the American mercenaries they killed in Fallujah last April.
There you go again. Or, there you nearly go again.

If someone else had written that sentence, I might give them a pass. But you already said you would assault any random Westerner if you were a refugee in Afghanistan. It’s not a huge leap to think you might want to tear a Westerner limb from limb if you were Iraqi.

Jesus, Robert. Did it not occur to you that most Iraqis have more decency than to tear innocent people limb from limb? Don’t you see how insulting to Iraqis your question is? Let me help you out. I altered your sentence a bit.

One article I wrote asked why Englishmen do not tear French people limb from limb…
Or how about this alteration?
One article I wrote asked why Israelis do not tear Palestinians limb from limb…
How do those read to you? Did the first insult England? Did the second excuse and even suggest hypothetical vicious Israeli behavior?

Later in the same piece you argued with your own title:

America’s relations with the Middle East, especially the nature of its relationship with Israel, was to remain an unspoken and unquestioned subject.
No.

We did change our relations with the Middle East. One of the biggest examples is the one you hate most. We were no longer willing to keep troops on Saudi Arabian “holy ground” to protect a corrupt and reactionary crime family from the fascist next door.

You may also recall that we adjusted our relationship with Israelis and Palestinians. For the first time ever an American president explicitly backed Palestinian statehood and Palestinian democracy. Previously both Israel and the United States relied on the autocratic psuedo-proxy Yasser Arafat to fight a dirty anti-terror war for them. Those days are over.

Meanwhile, most Americans would like to see even more changes in our relationship to the Middle East. We aren’t finished with Saudi Arabia yet. The House of Saud needs to be hanged up and dried. Any time you feel like joining us in questioning our relations in the Middle East, instead of complaining that Bush and Blair changed the world, let us know.

Hat tip: Harry’s Place

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 13, 2004 05:23 PM
Comments

This one must have taken you at least a couple of days to write. I think it's your best yet.

This is the international version of the classic Liberal racism we see here at home of condescension and low expectations. Fisk is saying that complete barbarians shouldn't be held accountable for what they do. If we, on the other hand, strike out in wrath, Fisk will be there to remind us of our "injustice and cruelty."

Fisk doesn't even know he's condescending to those poor little brown bastards when he says it's ok for them to pound him with stones. Behold Liberal racism. It's what Libs do with all little brown peoples of the third world. Condenscension and low expectations. That's what they have to offer.

Posted by: David at September 13, 2004 06:16 PM

Nice of you to remind us that this administration HAS made some distinct changes in middle east policy from previous administrations. Fisk still lives in 1968, with Kerry.

Too many people are getting defeatist on Iraq, getting wobbly. I spent nearly a year in Iraq and saudi arabia and its hard to convey how different arab culture is. We can't spend money to rebuild Iraq without much of it being stolen. It's easy to call this administration incompetent in handling Iraq, especially without having to discuss the specifics. After all, we only have 3000 years of military history to fall back on.

We'll see more whining about Fallujah and a couple other cities in the sunni triangle in the next 6 weeks. I think its a valid strategy to let these guys re-establish themselves. Remember Tet? Remember Hue? The viet cong never recovered from the slaughter.

Posted by: Raymond at September 13, 2004 06:23 PM

Oh that's good, MJT. Very good. I agree with Dave. One of the best things you've done.

Posted by: Eric Blair at September 13, 2004 06:49 PM

Michael, fisking Fisk is like beating up on retards. It isn't fair, nor pretty. You should be ashame of yourself. :)

Posted by: BigFire at September 13, 2004 07:11 PM

September 11th, 2001 is not the day 19 murderers changed the world, it is the day that the excuses for ignoring how the world was stopped being acceptable. October 12th, 2000 is another day when murderers perpetrated violence on the United States, but decades of stupidity had allowed Americans to ignore that Navy Sailors are citizens, too. Now we are at the point where the excuses are offensive to our intelligence.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at September 13, 2004 07:15 PM

Great read Michael. All I can say is that this is yet one more piece of evidence - as if we needed any more - that there is only one word that aptly describes much of the modern Left : Bankrupt.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that a large and vocal part of the Left is not only disconnected from reality, but many of them are also racist, isolationist, and anti-cosmopolitan. These attitudes go a long way toward explaining the anti-globalization movement. Those who are against the Iraq War and against globalization are almost synonymous, because the Left correctly sees that the triumph of globalization is basically the triumph of global capitalism, which they hate. So much of the Left now finds itself in support of tribalism and becomes a de-facto ally of Islamofascism, because these are the only real remaining impediments to the global triumph of capitalism and freedom.

What can we say about a political movement that historically championed the rights of gays, racial minorities and women, but now finds itself in a defacto alliance with the most sexist, racist, homophobic people on earth ( Islamofacists), merely because they are resisting the big bad US ? Question for the Left : Is there such a thing as HUMAN rights, rights which belong to ALL people on earth, or are "human rights" are merely another "Western construct", and a mask for imperialism ?

The hatred of Bush and his vision for the Middle East is really a hatred of what the Left sees as yet another extension - probably the final extension - of global capitalism.

Which takes us back to 1968. These people, and their clueless, miseducated young spawn in the universities, are still trying to "bring it all down baby". But THEY are the ones who are going down, baby, and the world rapidly is leaving them behind.

They know they have lost, so all they have left is mindless anger, the typical response of a child who does not get her way. The self-destruction of the crypto-Left continues apace. And for the sake of the real "liberals", it cannot happen fast enough.

Unbelievably pathetic.

Posted by: freeguy at September 13, 2004 07:18 PM

Bravo Michael! Except maybe one I missed, this is probably your best ever. I guess they call it "Fisking" for a reason.

Posted by: Samuel at September 13, 2004 09:30 PM

Well said Michael. Your promotion of Paul Berman's book "Terror and liberalism" inspired me to pick the book up and start reading it last week, and after reading the first chapeter, I must admit that it is a must-read book.

In a time where free people should be united against terrorism, this book should smack some sense into people on both sides. I enjoyed Paul Berman's explanation of how he supported the first gulf war to contain Saddam, but he attacked the "realist" reasons the Republican's gave for the first gulf war.

Similarly, he tells those who appease or ignore terrorism to look at the nature of the world's most violent hotspots - Chechnya, Kashmir and the Palestinian Arabs. He makes a compelling case that fundamentalist terrorism is bound to spill over to a huge nation like America, as it always spills over in places where fundamentalist Muslim populations encounter non-Muslims.

Posted by: Jono at September 13, 2004 09:33 PM

"No one should doubt Al Qaeda would have used a nuclear weapon had they possessed one. Clearly they sought to maximize, not minimize, the death count."

This goes beyond the evidence.

Our own engineers believed that a plane hitting a WTC tower would not make it fall, even full of avgas. The insulation on the structural metal was supposed to stop that.

A message attributed to bin Ladin says they didn't expect the towers to fall either. They probably read the same reports. They wanted a spectacular attack, and they got a lot more than they expected.

Various wacky conspiracy theorists have claimed that somebody put bombs in the towers to make them collapse. They base that on things like recorded comments from firemen in the building who were apparently cluelessly looking for bombs. The accepted theory at this point is that all that metal from the planes ground away the fire-protecting insulation and left the metal exposed to burning fuel. Nobody had known that would happen ahead of time.

I don't have links handy, but I read that the al qaeda leadership had argued about attacks in the USA. They wanted local support, and splashy attacks here might get them that. Or might not. But the point wasn't so much to hurt the USA as to get muslims to join al qaeda.

If they had wanted to really hurt us, there are various chemical plants they could have attacked that would get a lot more casualties than WTC. They might have tried for nuclear plants. The nuclear plant containment vessels are specified to withstand an airliner. When I first read that I thought it was silly. They had people thinking up wildly unlikely accidents to prepare for, to make sure the plants did OK anyway. How likely was it that a crashing airliner would actually land on a nuclear plant? What a silly accident to prepare for! I was wrong. It wasn't really accidents they were preparing for. But did they do it right? Nobody's done the test, same as they didn't test the WTC. A great big nuclear accident could hurt us a lot worse than WTC.

But suppose that al qaeda actually did manage to unify the moslem world, and they transmogrified their technology and created a powerhouse economy to the point they were ready to challenge the USA. How long would it take? Can you reasonably guess less than 50 years? I can't. I expect their estimate would be something like that, though I can't be sure, maybe they're crazy and they think they can take over the world in 5 years.

So, how much good does it do them to hurt the US economy now, when they hope to give us a serious fight in 50 years? It just makes us mad. They can't hurt us enough to matter 50 years from now. We'll have completely rebuilt.

So their hope would be to get us to over-react, and do things that get them converts. Which we did. We did that just fine for WTC. Why hit us with a nuke? First they'd have to get an expensive nuke and smuggle it into one of our ports -- which is not at all guaranteed. Then they make us insane-frothing-at-the-mouth mad. What for? To hurt us a little bit more when their goal is to get local converts? Not likely. They already got what they wanted from us when we attacked iraq, why nuke us now?

I'm so confident I'm right that I'll bet $100 against whatever combination of people want to bet $50, that al qaeda does not nuke us in the next ten years.

I should however disclose that I live rather near to Washington DC, so it's possible that if you win you'd have trouble collecting....

Posted by: J Thomas at September 13, 2004 10:03 PM

J Thomas your arguments above are sketchy and the logic has huge gaping holes in it.

Basically you created your own revision of history where Al-Qaeda wants to kill as few Americans as possible to get recruits. So they do this by crashing planes into the twin towers ?

I presume Bin Laden consulted some engineers who gave him assurances that the towers wouldnt collapse ? Do you really think that a single member of Al-Qaeda involved in the attacks was trying to minimise collateral damage ?

I don't buy it. Like most rational people, you can only view it as wholesale slaughter.

You may have deluded yourself into believing that Al-Qaeda only commit terrorism so that America reacts. You and anyone who shares your views can shake your fist every time terrorists murder civilians and yell "I'm not going to respond to that attack!".

Posted by: Jono at September 13, 2004 10:59 PM

'They already got what they wanted from us when we attacked iraq, why nuke us now?' -J Thomas

Frankly I care not at all what those creatures wanted then or what they want now.This is similar to the medieval argument about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.Unknowable and fundamentally irrelevent.
They chose to wage war against Western(well actually ALL except their)civilization and they must accept the consequences of that decision.Your anaylsis confuses cause and effect,IMHO anyway, in that it supposes that the recruits to Al-Queda were just average joes before the counter-attack made them into fanatics.They were merely less obvious before;all that the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan have done is bring them out from under their particular rocks.The evil is in the 'education'systems in place in much of the Islamic world.Nothing we have done has altered the poison spread on a daily basis to a collection of BRAINWASHED recruits.The more visible they are the easier it is to combat them or at the least to RECOGNIZE them as the monsters they truly are.

Posted by: dougf at September 13, 2004 11:10 PM

Fisk is worse than that, a condescending liberal. he sides wit the opressors. I don't doubt that the Taliban or some Pashtoon supremacists could be upset about the overthrowing of the Taliban regime but ask the hazara who were slaughtered like cattle by the Taliban, ask the women, ask those Pashtoon who want another destiny for Afganistan than being a puppet state for the Arabs.

Let's remember that when the Jane Fondas, John Kerrys and Robert Fisks of the world succeeded into America cutting its aid to Vietnam the end result was millions pof Vietnamese and Cambodians slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge and the Vietcong.
Million dead so a few poseurs could have their moemnt of glmory under the cameras. But it was not enough, today they want the blood of Iraquis and Afgahans.

Posted by: JFM at September 13, 2004 11:12 PM

Jono, you mistake me. I don't say they were trying to minimise US casualties. Or maximise them. Or minimise or maximise economic damage.

I believe they were trying to do a splashy publicity stunt to get attention back home. They cared how much attention it would get first, last, and only. Attacking what arabs would think of as jewish stock brokerages and financial centers was splashy. They attacked what their target audiences would think of as the people who were running america.

They didn't plan to make the towers fall because their engineers would have told them that the towers wouldn't fall. That's what our engineers thought and their engineers agreed. Nobody knew. I expect they would have been just as happy if they could have made them fall, but they thought they wouldn't and accepted that.

They want us to react, they want us to hate muslims so they can point at us and say "Look, the infidels hate us all, we must band together to defend ourselves!". Bush is their implicit ally, he's busy telling people "Look, the muslims hate us all, you must follow my leadership so we can defeat them!" Bush and al qaeda use each other.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 13, 2004 11:30 PM

J Thomas,

You forget that Osama bin Laden told his would-be recruits that America was a paper tiger that refused to fight back. He told them we would be easier to defeat than the Soviet Union. There was evidence for this. We did not respond to terrorist attacks in Lebanon, New York, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia.

Then we proved him wrong.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 13, 2004 11:41 PM

My gosh J Thomas how naive. First it would be reckless to not assume the worst, that is the only way we can completely assess and fully defend. But JT, Osama Bin Laden actually made contradictory statements as to whether the towers would go down or not. So if one weighs that fact the only assumption to make, if one is going to make equivocating assumptions, is that Osama did not think the towers would go down, but it would be a dream come true if they did. In other words to him it was like Luke Skywalker making the perfect strike blowing up the “Death Star” completely in the process.

JT, what is wrong with you? Did you not see Osama’s elation? For you to be correct in your analysis then Osama more would have reacted like a criminal would in a simple robbery that had gone bad, very bad. He would have been horrified for he would know justice would seek greater severity upon his head. Yet for Osama it was glee. You make it sound as if the Towers were accidentally knocked down. It was a long shot but it was a hope he had.

What is really discouraging reading your type of justifications is that you show total lack of understanding the true nature and danger of the criminal mind, or just don’t care. If the breadth of this destruction was beyond his planning, his reaction showed he was of the mindset to do even worse! It’s kind of like watching a crazed Charles Manson stabbing someone with a knife and the person dies. Afterwards you see this crazed fuck (sorry MJT) on a video. You see his crazed eyes his cold nature and then these words… “Man I didn’t mean to kill that bastard but wasn’t that cool! Did you see that little shit suffer and bleed! Man I didn’t think he was going to die, but hell yea, can’t wait to do something like that again… let us pray!

Now you chime in with “Didn’t you hear him? Charlie only meant to stab the guy!” totally failing to grasp his midset to up his goals and repeat with even more dastardly deeds, indeed the fuller intentions went over your head.

J Thomas you are willing to use the words of the most vile Terrorist, in the midst of a War, and seek to give benefit of a doubt and act as if we should yield a little. Like most who truly don’t believe the Terrorists are serious, I view you as a big danger, because you will naturally seek to undermine the War in your blindness.

For those of us who believe Osama is serious, it is War and he must die. To me it would be an act of honor to see him killed just like Saddam’s sons were. If that is OK with you then spare us the lawyering on Osama’s behalf. If that is not what you are doing then spare me the justifications because I will never accept treating Osama as a mere criminal worthy of arrest by some police action. J Thomas, listen to this and let it sink in...

Osama has the mind of one willing to do the same things Hitler would do, if you don't belive that then you are what is known as a useful fool. If you do then you are even more foolish.

Posted by: Samuel at September 14, 2004 12:42 AM

Fine job, MJT, as noted above. And while your comment notes Bin Laden being wrong about America being a "paper tiger" -- Kerry is trying to make Bin Laden right, or maybe half right, or maybe ... never mind. He's so confused and even afraid of press conferences (40+ days w/o facing those nasty reporters who might ... ask tough questions!).

Michael, you didn't mention Carter's "acceptance" of the Iranian hostages -- THAT is when the war against Islamofascism started.

Freeguy, it wasn't '68 so much, it was Kerry in 1971 Senate testimony that American soldiers were committing war crimes. IF this had been true, than the Vietnam question is:
stay, commit war crimes to fight evil commies, or
leave, let commies commite war crimes.
Sort of a wash.
BUT, if Americans are "liberators, not occupiers" (paraphrase Zell), the moral choice was to stay and fight, and support S. Vietnamese democracy -- a "nation building" effort far more difficult than McNamara, Johnson, or Nixon ever imagined; but also did not focus on.

The Left, and America, and Western Civilization, needs to accept that in fighting evil, Nazi, Commie, Islamofascist, some fighters will do some lesser evils. The lesser evils ARE bad, and effort should be put into stopping them and even punishing soldiers / allies who commit crimes, but some evil/ collateral damage must be realistically expected.

Like Abu in Iraq. What do you think, Michael: if we count the front page pictures of Beslan and the front page pictures from Abu Ghraib, which will have gotten more coverage in 2004?

The Left, and its moving-towards evil Political Correctness moral equivalence, is unable to articulate anything worth fighting for, when fighting realistically means killing some innocents.

And thanks for mentioning the Bush words supporting Pali democracy. Until Arabs demand an end to dictatorships, they will remain morally stunted.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 14, 2004 12:42 AM

I watch with amusement the blogosphere cut and paste game.

The technique (followed religiously by the left and right) goes like this:

1. Pick article by a person you don't like.
2. Pick a few sentences or phrase out of context, then cut.
3. Paste.
4. Make "clever" (and yet predictable and unchallenging) comments that fits into overall political perspective of blog, and plays to the gallery.
5. Repeat 2-4 until finished.

An exercise more transparent, tedious and empty it is quite difficult to devise.

It's so blatantly futile and easy, it should really be spoofed by comedians.

The people who do this genuinely think that they are contributing to debate. A delusion. Of course they are not. Robert Fisk has better things to do than respond to the cut and paste brigade in the blogosphere.

And frankly, at least Fisk has years of working in the Middle East, including Iraq, as a professional journalist. Which is a lot more than can be said for the likes of Totten, Harry, Laban Tall etc.

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 01:23 AM

One of the features of Totten's political writing is that (aswell as being basically neo-conservative) it's also seeped in liberal fantasy, and hyperbole.

For example, take this line:

"We were no longer willing to keep troops on Saudi Arabian “holy ground” to protect a corrupt and reactionary crime family from the fascist next door"

The US is still protecting Saudi Arabia, irrespective of whether troops are there. Iraq has a long border with Saudi Arabia, and all the US has done, or is doing, is shifting bases over the border. The plan is to police the Mid East from there, and there is no sign that will involve any sort of US instigated change in the Saudi regime.

And of course (and it should barely need saying) US troops were not put in Saudi Arabia to protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam. That's just a canard that has been debunked many times (including by the US itself.) Yes, it was the immediate rationale offered by Cheney way back at the time of the Gulf War, but the notion that Saudi Arabia was at threat by Saddam was pretty rapidly contradicted by US sources after that. Saddam had no intent to invade Saudi Arabia, nor made any moves to do so.

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 01:50 AM

Ben

Michael Totten is a Neo-Conservative? Then that makes me Pat Buchanan and I am Jewish.

You spoke many words in both posts, but in the end said absolutely nothing. Even your little... US troops were not put in Saudi Arabia to protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam. That's just a canard that has been debunked many times

Sounds cute, but it says NOTHING. Your cut and paste cute little backhand at Michael said nothing. Your declaration of his unwortiness said nothing. Ben, where in the hell is your intellect? All very arrogant from someone that sounds like they have little to be arrogant about. Also you don't even know what a neo-con is. I sure do because I am one. From a Neo-con's vantage point Michael is a "War Liberal" and certainly a good friend in the WOT, though I believe he would classify himself as a Centrist or Independent.

Posted by: Samuel at September 14, 2004 02:26 AM

Ben,

Re your first post, are you implying Michael's "cut and paste" job has misrepresented Robert Fisk? Then tell us how so. That could be a decent post. Otherwise I'm with Samuel. You sound like someone who's nerve has been touched, and are lashing back but with little to say.

Re your second post, are you implying our troops in Saudi CONQUERED that country? It's really hard to tell what on earth you're trying to get at other than you think they're all bad mean people, no reasons given obviously. You sound like a young college freshman to be honest with you; too much angst and not enough information.

Posted by: David at September 14, 2004 03:40 AM

Michael -- "The House of Saud needs to be hanged up and dried."

Have you every given any thought, or can you refer me to an intelligently written article (written by someone who actually knows something about the Arab world), about what possible alternatives to rule by the House of Saud would be?

When I recently put this question to a family friend who is a retired Foreign Service officer, his response was, "you don't want to go there...Bin Laden himself would likely win a 'free and fair' election in Saudi Arabia."

Of course, since he is an "State Department Arabist," with 40 years of experience representing the US government in Arab countries exclusively, actually speaks Arabic, and doesn't write for Commentary or subscribe to the views of those who do, maybe he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 14, 2004 06:45 AM

His new piece is titled We should not have allowed 19 murderers to change our world.

Hey, I agree with this! We should not have allowed 19 murderers to change our world. We should have responded forcefully to the seizing of our embassy in Tehran in 1979. We should not have allowed the murder of the Marines in Lebanon to go unchallenged let alone unavenged. We shouldn't have left Saddam Hussein in power in 1991 (even if it cost us our coalition at the time).

These were the sins of omission that empowered the murderers of September 11, 2001. How would a return to a foolish policy prevent future acts of terrorism?

Posted by: Dave Schuler at September 14, 2004 06:57 AM

Fisk, philosopher Michael Foucault and J.Thomas all have the same unwavering admiration for the Islamist fundamentalist movement. They're willing to go to great lengths to defend the people who murder in the name of that cause.

Foucault called the Ayatollah Khomeini "a kind of mystic saint." He believed that "Islamic government" was a new form of “political spirituality" that could inspire Western radicals to combat capitalist hegemony.

They neglect to mention the fact that, as a form of oppression, “Islamic government” is more harsh than the laws that ruled National Socialism. In many ways, Khomeini & other current Islamist governments make Hitler look like Alan Alda.

As far as their support of Islamic fundamentalism goes, these ‘leftists’ are generally to the right of Arab News. It’s funny how the extremes of left and the right manage to join together.

Posted by: mary at September 14, 2004 06:57 AM

J. Thomas -

According to the BBC, you're wrong:

From their article about the 1993 WTC attack:

"...had things gone according to plan, the 1993 bombing would have caused greater devastation.

"The conspirators had actually planned to topple one of the Twin Towers into the other, while simultaneously releasing a cloud of cyanide gas," said Mr Reeve."

"What they were planning was really quite an apocalyptic terrorist attack."

"Only financial restrictions had prevented the perpetrators from achieving their aim."

"They ran out of money. They didn't have enough gas canisters for the bomb, and some of the low-level members of the conspiracy - the foot soldiers - placed the bomb alongside the wrong support structure..."

"..And it was Yousef's attack, Ms Shannon argues, that encouraged al-Qaeda to launch their own fully-fledged campaign of terror."

"The FBI's theory is that this was such an audacious act that al-Qaeda then sought out Ramzi Yousef and said: 'Do you want some more money, do you want to do some more imaginative bad things,' - and of course he did."

"Ms Shannon added that Yousef's uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is now thought to have helped Osama Bin Laden in planning the 11 September attacks - completing what his nephew started in New York 10 years ago."

Bin Laden sought to destroy our economy and our government in the 9/11 attacks. Please don’t insult our intelligence by trying to downplay the slaughter of thousands of innocent people.

The Islamic holy man who planned the 1993 attack preached at a mosque that’s about a mile from my town.

One of the terrorist/worshippers at that same mosque was arrested for the 1993 WTC attack. In prison, he sharpened a toothbrush and stabbed a guard in the eye with it. The guard survived, but he’s permanently disabled.

I have read Osama's decalaration of War Against us, and I have heard his threat to kill our children, but I've NEVER read anything that said "the point [of 9/11] wasn't so much to hurt the USA as to get muslims to join al qaeda?"

Got any links?

Posted by: mary at September 14, 2004 07:13 AM

Sorry, but I dont have the time today to do Michael's piece the critical review that it deserves.

So I will just comment on one point. Michael writes:
We were no longer willing to keep troops on Saudi Arabian “holy ground” to protect a corrupt and reactionary crime family from the fascist next door.

I dont understand this idea at all. It strikes me that one of bin Laden's demands - that we infidels get out of the muslim holy land - struck a chord of real concern amongst arabs, and that we recognized that, and basically went ahead and withdrew our bases (what would be called 'appeasment' if a democrat had done it). But there is NO sense, whatsoever, of any real dimunition of our support for that regime. Are you serious Michael? Do you really think that the Bush administration intends to do anything other than support the saudi royal family (ol' Bandar Bush's clan)?

Posted by: Tano at September 14, 2004 07:15 AM

If Dennis Kucinich sat in the White House and George Galloway ran Britain. Gawd, that's a scary thought! Sounds like something for Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios Orlando.

Posted by: Zacek at September 14, 2004 07:18 AM

Samuel is right. Ben is a sophist - one who deconstructs someone else's argument without actually advancing any propositions on his own. This is a combination of Nietzsche, Foucalt, Fisk, JThomas, et al. are all examples of the gravest danger facing Western Civilization (and by extension all civilization) - nihilism. What is worse than one who does evil? One who doesn't know what evil is.

The Left has attempted for years to tear down Western Civilization with Marxism, Political Correctness, Multiculturalism, etc. so that it could build utopia on top of the wreckage. This is what has resulted - a group of people who identify with mass murderers so they don't have to admit that Western Civilization got at least a few things right. It is an almost astounding display of amorality.

Posted by: Ben (not the same Ben) at September 14, 2004 07:23 AM

That second sentence doesn't make any sense, but I think you know what I am saying.

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 07:24 AM

Oh cut the crap, Ben II, both "the Left" and Marxism, grew out of and are A PART OF Western civilization. The "left" that you disparage tends to be just as strongly identified with "natural right" and absolutist morality as you are -- they simply value attach their highest value to equality of outcome, just as you do for freedom, or social order, or whatever it is you believe in.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 14, 2004 07:32 AM

Markus - LOL! The left does value equality over freedom.

In France, a leftist wrote a book called 'Hello Laziness'. It's basically a "how to be a slacker" guide.

When she was interviewed on TV, she said that the French, who love her book, have always preferred equality to freedom.

Her employer is not happy about the book, but French Unions are vigorously defending it. The Unions say that her employer is "determined to crush all sources of dissent"

Posted by: mary at September 14, 2004 07:44 AM

Markus -

I never said the Left didn't grow out of Western Civilization - clearly it did. I did say that the Left is attempting to tear down Western Civilization (at least the traditional version of it) on the way to building a utopian society. I also said that is the gravest danger Western Civilization faces. We will win against Islmic Fascism - the only question is how many people will die (most of them Muslim) in the process. If society loses its sense of its own exceptionalism, however, it is doomed to the ash heap of history.

(And spare me the BS about how that last statement is racist, sexist, fascistic, etc. That's not what I am talking about and you know it. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your country/civilization.)

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 08:38 AM

Samuel wrote, "You make it sound as if the Towers were accidentally knocked down. It was a long shot but it was a hope he had."

Sure. That's a minor side issue as far as I'm concerned. My point is that he didn't expect it to do even as much damage as it did. The effect on america was not very large, except that it drove us crazy. It was one commercial building. It had no effect on our ability to wage war. (The Pentagon attack may have had more effect, or maybe not. It's hard to tell how much value we get out of that bloated bureaucracy. I wouldn't want to gamble that we can do without it, but we've been calling the plaza at the center of the Petagon "Ground Zero" for 40 years, and if we can't fight effectively after the Pentagon is gone, then we've made a giant strategic blunder.) The WTC attack would have had a maximum of maybe 200,000 civilian casualties, less than our birthrate for the year.

So the point could not be the damage to us. It did us no decisive damage at all, except to drive us crazy. Bin Laden didn't care how much damage he did us, provided he got a whole lot of media attention. I'm not saying he's a nice guy who wanted to be nice to us, who was terribly sorry he had to hurt us a little. I'm saying he basicly doesn't care about us. If every american in the world committed suicide tomorrow, al qaeda would have to pick a new foreign enemy and try to drive them crazy. Al qaeda wants us for an external enemy to help them unify islam. As long as we cooperate fully with them and do our part to get muslims mad at us, why should they nuke us? We're already doing precisely what they want. Nuking us is a waste unless we start to show some sign of recovering sanity.

"J Thomas you are willing to use the words of the most vile Terrorist, in the midst of a War, and seek to give benefit of a doubt and act as if we should yield a little."

No, that's stupid. I didn't say to yield a little. I do say that it isn't a war. Bin Laden et al are international criminals and the nations of the world are mostly united in helping to catch them. All of the successes in that attempt (witih the exception of the afghan war) have been international police and spy successes. In the case of afghanistan we told them to give bin Laden up and they equivocated. It's afghan custom that once you accept someone as a guest you never betray them to their enemies. We might possibly have worked out a deal with them -- they persuade bin Laden to leave (as an honorable guest would when his host's destruction is threatened because of him), or they agree go imprison him and try him in their courts, or something else -- but we wanted a war. We had the right, they were shielding foreign international criminals.

As far as I've heard, all moslem governments have given their full cooperation in catching these international criminals. The one exception is iran. Iran captured some of the top al qaeda leaders and offered to exchange them with us for top MEK leaders. MEK has been doing terrorist raids into iran and then sneaking back over the iraqi border to safety. When we refused to give them our terrorists, they refused to give us theirs. But they are keeping them safely locked up, while we're still letting ours attack iran.

In general, the more warwhoops we make about islamists taking over all of islam and us having to fight them all, the less cooperation we can expect from muslims about catching these international criminals. By pretending al qaeda is a serious military opponent, we come closer to making it so.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 14, 2004 08:56 AM

Do you all, ever listen to yourselves?

What a gang of Gob-shites.

That only my oponion.

Posted by: Jesus at September 14, 2004 09:05 AM

Michael J Totten

The 'J' makes you sound very important.

Posted by: Jesus at September 14, 2004 09:07 AM

J Thomas

The question is simple and the only one that needs be anwered before I further respond...

In your opinion is Osama of a mind to be willing to do the same things as Hitler if it were proven necessary to achieve his goals?

Posted by: Samuel at September 14, 2004 09:25 AM

J Thomas - The WTC attack would have had a maximum of maybe 200,000 civilian casualties, less than our birthrate for the year

did you really say that? Your empathy and compassion is overwhelming

the more warwhoops we make about islamists taking over all of islam and us having to fight them all, the less cooperation we can expect from muslims about catching these international criminals

In related news, the Port Authority of NYC/NJ and Cantor Fitzgerald are suing the Saudi government for their complicity in the murder of thousands of Americans and for "substantially assisting" al Qaeda. That's the Saudi government that calls itself a partner in the War against Terrorism.

Posted by: mary at September 14, 2004 09:28 AM

If I listen to the media long enough, I could make this shit up myself.

Are you now considered an expert by the rest of the pack?

Posted by: Jesus at September 14, 2004 09:32 AM

Ben -- I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with being proud of one's civilization and history. I guarantee that most members of Al-Qaeda agree with you too. A few marginalized leftists might disagree, but this is not the issue.

I too want to overcome Islamic fascism, "drain the swamps" as people like to say. It IS NOT CLEAR AT THIS TIME how those of us in the West can best encourage this outcome. It IS becoming increasingly clear, however, that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Netanyahu, Sharon, Bill Kristol, Daniel Pipes and the other members or supporters of the new Children's Crusade do NOT have the answers. I can see and admit this. You cannot.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 14, 2004 09:41 AM

mary, yes he did, J Thomas, compassionate soul you are, what percentage would 6 million of my Jews be? It would be but a small percentage of the worlds population. Unfortunately thou arbiter of god will, it was 50% of my own peoples population. It is sad how simple yet critical facts get overlooked when one views people as mere numbers or objects. I still look forward to yuor answer. In truth your response is cheap, indirect and skirts answering the harder questions, but then again you seek to diminish the premium of placing value for humans in your judgments. It just cool calculated math. Stay away from me!

Posted by: Samuel at September 14, 2004 09:46 AM

Ben wrote, "Yes, it was the immediate rationale offered by Cheney way back at the time of the Gulf War, but the notion that Saudi Arabia was at threat by Saddam was pretty rapidly contradicted by US sources after that. Saddam had no intent to invade Saudi Arabia, nor made any moves to do so."

That's true, but incomplete.

Saddam's army was in no shape to invade SA after they took kuwait. I gather that they way they managed to keep it a surprise was to not do sufficient planning or organising ahead of time. They got their surprise attack (a nearly bloodless one) but they were suffering a whole lot of confusion afterward. So they couldn't attack SA. The NSA knew it, but for all we knew at the time the NSA could have been wrong.

The iraqi army could have staged an invasion later, after they got things sorted out. We sent in rapid-reaction forces and put them on the saudi border. Infantrymen dug in with their rifles, that sort of thing, not much armor airlifted. The iraqi army probably could have just sliced through those, depending on our air support (which I gather was mostly navy, our nearest airbases at that time were what, turkey? And we were still having problems getting effective navy airsupport for army units, though not for marines).

Our military was very concerned that Saddam might take SA, or parts of it. He'd have had to cut up US forces to do it, which would have put us at war with him, but that was about the only physical thing stopping him, apart from long (for iraq) supply lines. It's what we would have done in his position. But he didn't, for whatever reason. He didn't move the forces into kuwait and up to the saudi/iraq border that could have done it, we would have had some warning, but not a whole lot. We probably couldn't have stopped him, but we'd have punished him for it afterward.

It isn't clear what he was doing with kuwait. The nearest I can figure is he thought he was right and he hoped the rest of the world would go along. Which makes a kind of sense. While Saddam's claim to kuwait wasn't particularly strong, I can't think of any reason to let the emir have it except the dead hand of british tradition.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 14, 2004 09:55 AM

The question is simple and the only one that needs be anwered before I further respond...

In your opinion is Osama of a mind to be willing to do the same things as Hitler if it were proven necessary to achieve his goals?

OK, that is a simple question and you can answer it before I respond:

In your opinion is Bush of a mind to be willing to do the same things as Hitler if it were proven necessary to achieve his goals?

Posted by: J Thomas at September 14, 2004 09:58 AM

It isn't clear what he was doing with kuwait.

Your an expert allright.

Posted by: Jesus at September 14, 2004 09:59 AM

Markus: Have you every given any thought, or can you refer me to an intelligently written article (written by someone who actually knows something about the Arab world), about what possible alternatives to rule by the House of Saud would be?

I wrote a column about it here. And don't give me this "by someone who actually knows something about the Arab world" business. I am not an expert, but I do actually know something about the Arab world, enough that I am paid to write about it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 14, 2004 10:04 AM

What J Thomas, you can't give a simple straight answer? Do I sense someone preparing for some more moral equivocation? I can give a simple straight answer without moral equivocation, let alone the drawing of comparisons out of scope, bounds and devoid of moral wisdom…

No way, Bush would not even come close to considering such ends let alone means to achieve such ends as Hitler.

Posted by: Samuel at September 14, 2004 10:11 AM

Jesus,

This is your first troll warning. You will not get a second. Either have an honest and open debate with others or be gone.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 14, 2004 10:13 AM

"Robert Fisk has better things to do than respond to the cut and paste brigade in the blogosphere."

"I watch with amusement the blogosphere cut and paste game."

Boy, does this strain of elitism sound familiar.

Great essay Michael. You should treat yourself and go out and buy yourself a snazzy new set of PJs. Perhaps Ben could use your old ones.

Posted by: bob at September 14, 2004 10:31 AM

"I watch with amusement the blogosphere cut and paste game."

Without the "cut and Paste" game there wouldn't be a Farenheit 9/11, or an OutFoxed. Good for the goose and good for the gander.

Posted by: David at September 14, 2004 11:08 AM

Thank you, Samuel. I tend to disagree about Bush, he has already used many of the beginning moves Hitler did. I don't know how far he'd go, I suspect he'd go as far as he thought necessary.

I think the same of bin Laden, however bin Laden has not yet arranged his first putsch. He doesn't control a single nation, not one. And he's very old if he's still alive. I doubt he'll have time to implement as much as Bush has.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 14, 2004 11:21 AM

Right J Thomas,

Bush is "Hitler." You guys really expect to win an election on that one?

Posted by: David at September 14, 2004 11:34 AM

Thank you, Samuel. I tend to disagree about Bush, he has already used many of the beginning moves Hitler did. I don't know how far he'd go, I suspect he'd go as far as he thought necessary.

I think the same of bin Laden, however bin Laden has not yet arranged his first putsch. He doesn't control a single nation, not one. And he's very old if he's still alive. I doubt he'll have time to implement as much as Bush has.

So Bush is worse than bin Laden just because he's more successful? Other than that, you group them both down with Hitler?

Wonderful. What is the point of continuing the discussion then? If that's what you really think, why not just go to dKos and have everyone agree with you?

Posted by: Court at September 14, 2004 11:44 AM

I think the same of bin Laden, however bin Laden has not yet arranged his first putsch. He doesn't control a single nation, not one

Wrong again. While you may be right about bin Laden's health, Al-Qaeda is basically merged with the Sudanese government. Al Qaeda runs a number of official government agencies for the NIF including the Islamic Security Agency (secret police), the al-Amn al-Sawri (counter-intelligence), and the People's Defense Force (a paramilitary group along the lines of the SS).

  • info thanks to Dan at Regnum Crucis & Mark Shea

The Sudanese government is currently slaughtering & enslaving Christians and Muslims by the thousands for the crime of being black.

As we all know, enslaving blacks is an Arab tradition that continues today, legalized under Shariah law.

These racist, genocidal thugs are the people you're defending.

Posted by: mary at September 14, 2004 11:50 AM

"Bush is "Hitler." You guys really expect to win an election on that one?"

No, of course not. That can't possibly be a workable campaign talking point. I mean, nobody ever won an election against Hitler himself with that kind of argument....

Posted by: J Thomas at September 14, 2004 12:08 PM

"So Bush is worse than bin Laden just because he's more successful? Other than that, you group them both down with Hitler?"

Actually, how would I know about either of them? We're predicting future behavior based on what, past behavior? But neither of them have been in power that long, or in that kind of situation. With luck Bush will never face the kind of choices that would make Hitler's worse decisions seem necessary. Likewise bin Laden.

We really don't have much to go on about that sort of thing except estimates of character. And estimates of character of public figures based on information in the mass media are unlikely to be particularly accurate.

For all I know Bush might go home and be nice to his family. What would you or I know about Bush or bin Laden's character?

We could say a little about them from their public actions. Bin Laden approved 9/11. Bush approved abu Ghraib and the Fallujah airstrikes etc. Superficially they are both very evil people, but that's unreliable too. I'd like to think that given a choice between starting a global nuclear war and not starting it, Bush would look for a better option.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 14, 2004 12:13 PM

My point about Saudi Arabia. I take on board J Thomas's comments.

Let's be specific.

Michael Totten said:

We were no longer willing to keep troops on Saudi Arabian “holy ground” to protect a corrupt and reactionary crime family from the fascist next door.

This clearly implies that the Saudi based US troops were there because Saudi Arabia was under threat from Iraq, and the US was protecting it with those troops and bases.

On 5 August 1990 Richard Cheney flew to Riyadh to tell King Fahd that Saudi Arabia was in imminent threat from Iraq and it needed a big infusion of US troops and bases to protect it.

This was somewhat nonsensical. For starters, Iraq has a long border with Saudi Arabia, and to attack Saudi Arabia through tiny Kuwait was completely unnecessary and an unrealistic scenario. Contrary to reports at the time, there were NO Iraqi troops massing on the Saudi border. Even if Iraq wanted, bizarrely, to attack Saudi Arabia through Kuwait, they had ample opportunity to do so in during the first weeks of the occupation of Kuwait. They made no moves to do so. Bush administration officials later admitted that neither the CIA or the Defence Intelligence Agency thought that Iraq wanted to attack Saudi Arabia. Indeed the Saudis too thought it unlikely - until Cheney cajoled them.

Of course, since the Gulf War of 1991, Iraq was even less likely to have attacked Saudi Arabia, even less intent - and the means by which they could attack became much reduced. So to use the "threat" from Iraq as a rationale for US bases there is a complete non-starter, in my view.

It is important too, to look at the build up to the Gulf War. It really is quite fascinating. The issues regarding Kuwait and Iraq are really quite specific and historical (and incidently do not apply to Saudi Arabia.)

After the First World War the British imperialists carved Kuwait out of Iraq as seperate territorial entity, to exert leverage on oil-rich Iraq. It had previously been a district of Iraq. This act also cut off much of Iraq's access to the Persian Gulf. In 1961 Kuwait became "independent" because the Brits declared it so. Iraq massed troops on the border then, and they backed down after the Brits dispatched their own forces. But Iraqi govts have never accepted this state of affairs.

Hussein's invasion of the Kuwait was wrong, but it would be naive to ignore the influence of the British imperialistic carve up in this thing.

Of course, there are other interesting features to the build up to the Gulf War too, but I will not go into them here.

As for Michael Totten's neo-conservatism, I detect a gradual move in that direction, and in a post quite recently he declared that he is increasingly drawn to neo-conservative views. You will have to go through the archives for that one. I don't mean it as an insult, I just think its a pretty accurate description of his stance.

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 12:16 PM

Dear Mary,

Have you any real evidence, other than this blog?

I mean, anything substancial about Al-Queda controlling Sudan..

If the greatest threat to Western Civilization is Bin Laden, why did you attack Iraq and what as you say, by bringing democracy" to Iraq has that got to do with Iran.

And what has Iran and Iraq got to do with Bin-Laden.

Thanks in advance for any real evidence you can produce. :-)

I think Mr Sadam was complaining to the Kuwaities about them selling "their" oil too cheap.

Might be a reason for the invasion.

Posted by: Jesus at September 14, 2004 12:20 PM

I think Mr Sadam was complaining to the Kuwaities about them selling "their" oil too cheap

There was a huge amount of oil politicking in the build up to the Gulf War.

Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing $2.4 billion of oil from the Rumaila oil field (this oil field was another point of dispute between the Iraq and Kuwait.)

Kuwait and UAE exceeded OPEC production quotas in order to force down the price of oil. For every drop of one dollar in the oil price, Iraq lost a billion dollars a year - a loss it could barely sustain as it was severely in debt from the Iran-Iraq war.

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 12:33 PM

BTW, on a kinda unrelated note, there is good site predicting the Electoral College votes on a day to day basis here

Currently Bush 291, Kerry 238.

Also has a cartogram of the states in accordance to their elecoral votes.

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 12:55 PM

Criminy sakes JThomas, go read a book.

"What would you or I know about Bush or bin Laden's character?"

Hitler spent years in prison and in the backwaters of German politics honing his political philosophy of ethnic and racial supremecy and scapegoating Jews. This was long before he assumed any position of power. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to extrapolate where he was going with his pre-1933 activities.

You are making a case that one has to personally know a person before being capable of making an intelligent, educated guess about where someone stands and would react politically. So much so that you are genuinely confused and incapable of making a value judgement between Adolph Hitler and George W. Bush.

You are either very confused or are being silly.

Posted by: bob at September 14, 2004 12:57 PM

J Thomas,

you say Bush looks like the early stages of Hitler.

When Bush finally BECOMES Hitler, then please let me know. Until then, please shut the fuck up.

Posted by: David at September 14, 2004 12:58 PM

Pardon my language Michael.

Why anybody is trying to address J Thomas on this in an intelligent manner is incomprehensible to me.

Posted by: David at September 14, 2004 01:03 PM

Jesus - Have you any real evidence, other than this blog?

..umm..the Washington Post, European Intelligence. In 2002, al Qaeda & the Taliban shipped a large quantity of gold from Pakistan to the Sudan:

"European intelligence sources said one of the hubs of bin Laden's organization continues to be Sudan, where he lived from 1991 to 1996, when he was forced to move to Afghanistan."

“European and Pakistani sources said some of the assets moving through Iran may be the remnants of bin Laden's personal fortune. U.S. and European officials believe bin Laden inherited about $30 million in the early 1990s when his father, a Saudi construction magnate, died.”

“European terrorism experts said they were particularly troubled by indications that Iranian intelligence officials were taking an active role in moving the gold. The sources said there were credible reports that some of the gold was flown on Iranian airplanes to Sudan”.

...

You can believe the Post & various intelligence sources, or you can believe Robert Fisk, who said of bin Laden:

...

"The Egyptian press claims he brought hundreds of former Arab fighters back to Sudan from Afghanistan, while the Western embassy circuit in Khartoum has suggested that some of the "Afghans" whom this Saudi enterpreneur flew to Sudan are now busy training for further jihad wars in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Mr Bin Laden is well aware of this. "The rubbish of the media and the embassies," he calls it. "I am a construction engineer and an agriculturist."

"If I had training camps here in Sudan, I couldn't possibly do this job." And "this job" is certainly an ambitious one: a brand-new highway stretching from Khartoum to Port Sudan, a distance of 1,200km (745 miles) on the old road, now shortened to 800km by the new Bin Laden route that will turn the coastal run from the capital into a mere day's journey."

Fisk also said of bin Laden:

"Mr Bin Laden looks every inch the mountain warrior of mujahedin legend. Chadored children danced in front of him, preachers acknowledged his wisdom."

Islamist fundamentalists who follow an ideology similar to bin Laden's are supported by states like Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan. They will be a threat for as long as we allow them to be.


Posted by: mary at September 14, 2004 01:05 PM

Libs dont like to be called terror lovers, but clearly Fisk is. And Libs love Fisk. Connect the dots.

Posted by: David at September 14, 2004 01:11 PM

When Bush finally BECOMES Hitler, then please let me know.

By then, it will be too late (!)

Until then, please shut the fuck up.

There is no need to tell people shut up in such a way, or even at all.

There are some parallels, actually. Not in extremis, obviously (holocaust etc) but in terms of political techniques, strategies, alliances.

This is only nascent though, if it is the early stages, and of course, it does not necessarily mean it is.

I generally believe in the general rule that ALL govts have a tendency to become fascistic (or something like fascistic) if the people become complacent, take the eye off the ball etc.

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 01:12 PM

In today's society, there is this asinine idea that somehow we should try to make sure that people stay alive. While I'm more than happy to make sure that my wife and myself stay alive (Thank God that we can buy a couple assult weapons to insure that tomorrow). I honestly don't give a flying Fisk about the rest of the country, the continent or even the world. If there is a God, let him worry about it. If he doesn't care to stop the terrorists, then what in the name of the seven hells to you think you're going to do?

People die, that's guarnteed. People died in 9/11. If they hadn't died then, they would have died at some other time. People die, it's what they do. You will die, get used to it. You will probably die long before you want to die. Just pray that your death is quick and painless, not that its likely to be.... but go ahead and pray.

Terrorists work based on the idea that they can terrorize you into acting the way that they want you to. And they won, no matter what happens in the next 20 years, they've already won... everything now is retribution. Look at this country, we are so afraid that some people might die, that we are willing to change our entire way of life and kill other people, many of whom are innocent. Well, I don't mind that, they were going to die anyway.

Sadly, besides killing people, we also fundamentaly changed who we are. And that, is simply pathetic.

Rant all you want about the horrors and the terrors and the big scary WMD's that maybe someday someone will set off. So what? Another terror attack will kill people who were doomed to die anyway.

We have killed far more than 3000 (12,721 minimum?) innocent people in Iraq, stick that in your Moral Superiority pipe and smoke it, you pathetic, egotistical spoiled brats! You have killed more innocent people than the Terrorists, men, women and children. You and your Commander in Chief have murdered thousands of innocents in the Name of Justice.

You're all going to die, be it from WMD, cancer or simply decaying in a bed as your family struggles with the question of pulling the plug. Maybe some terrorist will save them the trouble and bomb the hospital.

Posted by: Herr Hominous Probiscus at September 14, 2004 01:16 PM

That's a fine piece of work, Michael, and I bet it took longer than a day, too.

The issue is not how many al Qaeda kill, or by what means they choose, but how long it will take us to hunt them down to a man.

What British Imperialists did in the 1920's or what the offensive capability of Iraq was after they occupied Kuwait mean nothing to me. The internal demographic stresses of Saudi Arabia are ghastly but they aren't the result of U.S. foreign policy beyond the fact that the Royals sat on the end of a pipeline of cash we protected for over fifty years.

Men are responsible for their actions. We are engaged in a conflict spanning continents. Our enemy defines themselves; we have no global label more specific than "terrorist" to identify our targets. We aren't engaged in a holy war, nor have we set out to establish empire.

We will stop them from killing us. As long as it takes, wherever they hide, we will go to them first whenever we can...or pursue relentlessly where they get in the first blow. That's what changed on 9/11.

Thanks for the blogroll slot, Michael. Keep up the good fight!

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 14, 2004 01:17 PM

Other Ben,

Nihilism is not as much a threat these days. Antinomianism is the real problem. This is the doctrine that all crimes are acceptable in support of the greater good. In this case, some Islamists feel that God wishes them to kill people in order to advance the social standing of Islam.

Christians have occasionally been willing to kill people for a greater goal or even for their own good, in order to protect their immortal souls. This Antinomian practice is generally frowned on today. One hopes that the practitioners of jihad will be similarly enlightened with time.

MJT

I loved the post. I should think that Mr. Fisk is incapable of any embarrassment, except for the sin of insufficient forgiveness for the evil impulses of lesser beings.

Posted by: jj at September 14, 2004 01:24 PM

"I generally believe in the general rule that ALL govts have a tendency to become fascistic (or something like fascistic) if the people become complacent, take the eye off the ball etc."

Great sentiments. I honestly hope you keep them.

"There are some parallels, actually. Not in extremis, obviously (holocaust etc) "

Well, there are parallels between myself and Tom Brady. Not in the extremis obviously (SuperBowl Champion, MVP etc.) but in the fact that we both drink milk, drive on the right hand side of the road, and exhale.

Skepticism of government, good.
Specious analogies, bad.

Posted by: bob at September 14, 2004 01:29 PM

Mary

The Fisk on Bin Laden quotes you use sound very suspiciously out of context.

Its very easy game to play. Quote something out of context, add own editorial, and the person targetted can sound a completely different person to what they are.

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 01:29 PM

I just thought I'd drop by and say hello, seeing that Jesus and Mary had been here.

Posted by: Joseph at September 14, 2004 01:37 PM

>>>"There is no need to tell people shut up in such a way, or even at all."

Sometimes there is. But I feel bad about it anyway, so I apologize J Thomas.

Posted by: David at September 14, 2004 01:40 PM

Bob

Specious analogies, bad.

Okay, throw me a false dichotomy, and we'll call it quits.

Here are some parallels, then.

Militarism (including War Keynesianism)
Corporatism.
Populism.
Nationalism (appeals to)
Undermining of democracy.

Now, I don't say that necessarily means he is, or even will be, a fascist.

But a development of these tendencies can lead to fascism.

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 01:41 PM

Joseph

LOL! Very good!

Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2004 01:42 PM

The Fisk on Bin Laden quotes you use sound very suspiciously out of context

part of the technological brilliance of modern HTML is the invention of links (or hyperlink, or Web link).

A link can be identified by color (usually blue, but occasionally different shades such as red, yellow, or a late-evening sunset mauve can be used). Links allow any user to click on the referenced text, access it, read the content and make an entirely independent appraisal of said referenced text.

When links are used wisely, the reader can contrast the information provided at the source anchor with the information provided at the destination anchor. In this way, modern HTML allows the reader to decide which source is more valid or "true."

Posted by: mary at September 14, 2004 01:54 PM

Markus -

I've been away and unable to comment, but in response to your 9:41 a.m. post: (1) It is not clear by any means that Bush, Rumsfeld, et al. do not have the right answer re draining the swamp. Only time will tell if they are right. But one thing I am sure about is that it is way (at least years and maybe decades) too early to conclude that they are wrong. (2) What alternative plan is there? Kerry certainly hasn't stated one. The Dems haven't stated one.

I have commented numerous times that the Dems have behaved absolutely irresponsibly w/r/t the WoT. They have criticized virtually everything Bush has done without advancing any alternatives. Constructive criticism is wonderful - it's what makes open societies stronger than closed societies. The Dems have utterly failed in their role as "loyal opposition," and that's why they don't deserve to be elected to the office of dog catcher. Hopefully they will suffer a crushing defeat in 2004 that will knock some sense into them.

Posted by: Ben (the other one) at September 14, 2004 01:57 PM

J Thomas

I have nothing else to say on this as I sense your moral compass to be somewhat lacking to put it kindly. I'll just say you are a poster child for why I was wrong when I first felt my support for Bush and Republican’s would be a one election cycle event. There are just too many people like you on the left for me to feel comfortable. I’m sure somewhere you will meet up with far right isolationists and find common cause.

Posted by: Samuel at September 14, 2004 02:10 PM

Michael, you would think that given how wrong you have been about Iraq and how right professional Arabists, including Robert Fisk, were about the consequences of invading, a little humility might be in order.

Seriously, what have you learned from the disaster in Iraq? Anything?

Posted by: Mork at September 14, 2004 04:31 PM

Mork

It doesn't really matter, because you calling someone on lacking humility is the very definition do Chutzpah.

Posted by: TheGuy at September 14, 2004 04:47 PM

Very nice posting, MJT. Take it as a complement that you have drawn an opposing response, albeit a very feeble one.
Perhaps there is a way to draw the mass of muslim terrorists to a location where the US just happens to have planned a nuclear test.

"You say the test location wasn't cleared? That's odd. We sounded the alarm 30 seconds ahead of the blast. What a pity."

Posted by: Jack Thompson at September 14, 2004 05:03 PM

Very nice posting, MJT. Take it as a complement that you have drawn an opposing response, albeit a very feeble one.

... or you could take it as an indication of how your work reads that it appeals to folks who think that it's a good idea to drop nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Posted by: Mork at September 14, 2004 05:12 PM

Mork doesn't read too well. No one said anything about dropping nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The location is completely negotiable, so long as the mass of muslim terrorists have come together at that place, at that time.

Posted by: Jack Thompson at September 14, 2004 06:07 PM

Mork -

"... or you could take it as an indication of how your work reads that it appeals to folks who think that it's a good idea to drop nuclear weapons in the Middle East."

I think it would be a real good thing if every mullah, dictator, and terror chieftan understood that any employment of WMD against us will be replied to in kind. The best thing in the world, and for everybody involved. They got used to attacking us with impunity for thirty - odd years; that's our fault. Over the last three years we've (Ben and Jesus and J Thomas and R. Fisk et al. excepted, of course) decided that if they really think they can play that strong horse/weak horse game we must do whatever must be done to show them which end of the lever they are on.

The Bush Doctrine, by definition and in execution, is a remarkably objective instrument of U.S. foreign policy. We aen't going after ethnicities, religions, or nations. We are going after those individuals, and their organizations, that are trying to kill us.

As far as extending any credit concerning "how right professional Arabists" might be, I'll refer to (the other) Ben's post about alternatives and constructive criticism. If I recall correctly, I believe that old Fiskie was right up at the front of the "Afghanistan, eater of empires" and "Dust storm = quagmire" crowd, wasn't he?

We are rolling up Islamic fundamentalism, and doing it without paving entire cities or nations.

Yet....it is always an option, of course.

Among all the other funny things about this election cycle (in regard to parallels to Lincoln's 1864 reelection) is what the outcome means to the billions of muslims waiting for the strong horse to cross the finish line.

Lincoln's assassination in 1865 meant that the task of Reconstruction fell into the hands of hacks and opportunists...and ultimately led to a process of retribution, exploitation, and misery that might well have been avoided had the philosophy of Lincoln's Reconstruction been pushed through.

I hope that there are enough moderate muslims who can see where their best interests will be served. We will work through that presumed one or two percent of Islamakazis via deadly force if we maintain the Bush Doctrine. We will attempt to impart democratic ideals sufficient to allow Arabic/muslim populations to live and let live in the community of nations. That's only if we keep in mind that this fight must be won.

Without an unambigous policy of confrontation and derermination to defeat the enemy we fall back to tit for tat. At some point a line will be crossed and the government(s) that fail to sqaurely confront the threat will find themselves the victims of barbarity extreme enough to not have the grace nor the inclination to give freedom a chance.

Just my opinion, of course. As far as Robert Fisk's professional relevance in today's debate is concerned, I believe the best thing we could do for him would be to put up a PayPal button and buy him a plane ticket to Khandahar and a Tshirt emblazoned with "Hit me, I'm infidel" front and back.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 14, 2004 06:12 PM

We are rolling up Islamic fundamentalism, and doing it without paving entire cities or nations.

I wish I lived in your world.

Posted by: Mork at September 14, 2004 06:29 PM

Mork, J. Thomas, et al.-

I'll not argue with you...but I do want to take this opportunity to say that I feel your pain. My favorite jewish-american princess (matthew yglesias) is a useful barometer of the left's emotions, which in my opinion is well past the hissy-fit stage and is going full out hysterical.

It's bad for democracy when one political party surrenders in the battle of ideas.

Posted by: Raymond at September 14, 2004 06:46 PM

My defense of Fisk:

"So, ..."

His first word was okay.

That's all I can defend in his garbage.

Posted by: Oberon at September 14, 2004 06:59 PM

Raymond - what on earth makes you think that I belong to "the left"?

Since when has wanting public officials to be accountable for their mistakes, wanting to defeat (rather than encourage) Islamic extremism and punish terrorists, and preferring fiscal discipline to infinite pork-barrelling identified a person as being on the left?

Posted by: Mork at September 14, 2004 07:00 PM

Oberon,

that's encouraging.

Posted by: David at September 14, 2004 09:00 PM

>>>"Seriously, what have you learned from the disaster in Iraq? Anything?"

Mork,

I've learned that we may not have the political will to pull it off; because of people like you and Fisk.

I honestly don't even think you WANT us to pull it off. It would only encourage us warmongers. Isn't that the thinking?

Posted by: David at September 14, 2004 09:03 PM

>>>"There is no need to tell people shut up in such a way, or even at all."

>Sometimes there is. But I feel bad about it anyway, so I apologize J Thomas.

Thank you, I accept your apology. I don't consider an apology needed, myself, since I'm fine with people saying whatever they want -- preferably their truth. I respect your ability to change course when you see the value. That's a tremendous asset these days, one that's all too rare.

You've shown a degree of nobility. An unexpected gift. You can't get a sincere apology by demanding it. You can't get one by beating people up, or by lawsuit, or by military action. You get get one by bribery. It can only be a gift.

Thank you.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 14, 2004 09:27 PM

"European intelligence sources"

Yes, I know them well.

I hope its not the same "European intelligence sources" that got it so wrong over Iraq, as we are supposed now to believe.

I think the question in our State Controlled Media goes something like this.

How did "western intelligence" get it so wrong?

Posted by: Jesus at September 14, 2004 11:16 PM

I may be arguing with you here, but I’m honestly sorry you were beat up for being a white guy. It was wrong. You hadn’t done anything to those people. They are precisely the moral equivalents of the criminals who assaulted random Arabs (and even, pathetically, Sikhs) on the streets of America after September 11. It is not okay to lash out at people who share the same ethnicity with those you are pissed at.

They are precisely the moral equivalents of the criminals who assaulted random Arabs

I wonder, if the USA was invaded first by one country, then another country with the help of terrorists (foreign fighters)came and fought the invaders. After the invaders withdraw, the USA is left to these and other foreign fighters to fight it out. (for over 20 years)
After the foreign fighters attack their one-time friend, this friend then comes and bombs your country once again.

What would you do as an American, if you were to see a "white man"?

Posted by: Jesus at September 14, 2004 11:31 PM

Here's a beauty!

BERLIN : Syria tested chemical weapons on civilians in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region in June and killed dozens of people.

The German daily Die Welt newspaper, in an advance release of its Wednesday edition, citing unnamed western security sources, said that injuries apparently caused by chemical arms were found on the bodies of the victims.>/I>

Honest, I'm not making this up.

Posted by: Jesus at September 14, 2004 11:38 PM

Looks like there are still plenty of people out there who believe that we Americans deserve everything we get from terrorists. How disheartening.

It seems that some poeple think that everything we're doing in the mid-east is "playing into bin Laden's hands."

I respectfully disagree. If "overreacting" means doing more than what the Clinton administration did (send the intel-cops after them) for 8 years, than I'd recommend overreacting all day long.

I would argue that we're doing exactly what bin Laden DIDN'T want us to do, as MJT routinely points out with his "paper tiger" reference...

Here's my take on it-

Osama bin Laden did not want Pakistan to become our ally in our fight against al Qaeda.

Osama bin Laden did not want Saudi Arabia to start focusing inward, as they are now.

Osama bin Laden does not want democracy in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Osama bin Laden did not want Libya to join our side.

Osama bin Laden does not want Islamic fanatisism to go the way of Japan's Samurais and Germany's Nazis.

He and his followers are fighting like hell right now. And they're fighting primarily in Iraq in Afghanistan- not in the US. For this, most Americans are thankful. Some Americans, clearly, are not.

Here's an excerpt from a speech given by Haim Harari, noted scientist and former President of the Weizmann Institute (i.e., smarter than most of us):

"The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 million, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe.

These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers.

The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million
Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is
happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world.

It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders and general decline.

It is also a fact that almost everybody in the region blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything, except themselves."

I'd highly recommend checking out the entire speech- it might open the gates to understanding...

Posted by: $lick at September 15, 2004 01:07 AM

Good job $lick -- the Palis are mess because they are afraid of democracy and human rights. So is Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and Syria, and Sudan.
They all need regime change.
And Libya.
The regime change doesn't have to be external military invasion -- but it will NOT be peaceful.

It is not Israel that stops the Palis from having democracy and free speech, it is Arab dysfunction.

Syria and/or Sudan are both good candidates for step III (after Afghanistan & Iraq) in geo-poli change -- millennium 3.

Posted by: Tom Grey at September 15, 2004 01:54 AM

Israels military occupation is not a problem. Its Arab dysfunction.

Brilliant, this man is truely brilliant. Lebanon was also dysfunctional until Israel invaded to liberate them.
Is it possible to build a wall (barrier) high enough that this nonsense cant escape?

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 02:16 AM

It nice to know what Osama didnt want.

Could you now tell me what he wants.

From his own words of course. Not, He hates our freedoms and that bull....

Then we could have a real conversation.

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 02:30 AM

Jesus,

If you don't know what Osama wants, I would have to question more than just your intelligence...

Posted by: $lick at September 15, 2004 02:36 AM

I have read many many newpapers, websites and the like but I cant once remember ever reading exactly what he wants.

I have read alot of what people in the media (exprerts) say what he wants but not actually what he has actually said.

I know you might find that impossible, so I would be very greatfull if you could help me out. :-)

Thanks.

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 02:56 AM

I mean a direct translation of what he has said.

Thanks.

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 03:00 AM

Jesus,

Aren't you supposed to be all-knowing? I'm sorry, but I think your research skills are lacking. It took me almost 20 seconds to dig up an interview he did for Frontline in '98. Here's a few quotes that might help you understand what he wants (in his own words)...

"We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets, and this is what the fatwah says ... . The fatwah is general (comprehensive) and it includes all those who participate in, or help the Jewish occupiers in killing Muslims."

"... Allah has granted the Muslim people and the Afghani mujahedeen, and those with them, the opportunity to fight the Russians and the Soviet Union. ... They were defeated by Allah and were wiped out. There is a lesson here. The Soviet Union entered Afghanistan late in December of '79. The flag of the Soviet Union was folded once and for all on the 25th of December just 10 years later. It was thrown in the waste basket. Gone was the Soviet union forever. We are certain that we shall - with the grace of Allah - prevail over the Americans and over the Jews, as the Messenger of Allah promised us in an authentic prophetic tradition when He said the Hour of Resurrection shall not come before Muslims fight Jews and before Jews hide behind trees and behind rocks.

We are certain - with the grace of Allah - that we shall prevail over the Jews and over those fighting with them. Today however, our battle against the Americans is far greater than our battle was against the Russians. Americans have committed unprecedented stupidity. They have attacked Islam and its most significant sacrosanct symbols ... . We anticipate a black future for America. Instead of remaining United States, it shall end up separated states and shall have to carry the bodies of its sons back to America."

Still unsure of what he wants? Read the whole interview at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/who/interview.html

Posted by: $lick at September 15, 2004 03:56 AM

$lick

Yeah. scary stuff.

But to be prosaic for a moment, its more likely that the USA, if it is defeated, will be defeated by itself and China.

Something to do with a $7 trillion dollar debt (much of it owed to Japan and China), a massive deficit, military over extension, huge over reliance on oil, and the rise of other (foreign) economies and currencies.

Those are ticking time bombs that have little to do with Bin Laden.

If it is defeated, the USA will be defeated by China not Bin Laden.

Posted by: Ben at September 15, 2004 04:34 AM

Thanks $lick

I glanced through the article pretty quickly but:

Basically

he wants the westerners to leave "Moslem" lands and for them to stop propping up dictators. ( He must be joking )

From what you cut and pasted:

Line 2:
When the occupation ends, the Fatwa ends?

Line 3:
He thinks he defeated the Soviet Union, I think not.

Line 4:
He thinks he can win. Doubt it.

It isnt that much really, but of course we cant give it to him, it is critical that we the "west" control the Arabian peninsula for strategic reasons. We must control it, he wants us out.

Sounds like every nationalist in history with a bit of religion thrown in.

He even invites you to become a Moslem. :-)

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 05:05 AM

>>>>"Brilliant, this man is truely brilliant. Lebanon was also dysfunctional until Israel invaded to liberate them."

How true. Lebanon was dysfunctional, and still is. Their dysfunction is called Hisbollah.

Posted by: David at September 15, 2004 06:57 AM

>>>"But to be prosaic for a moment, its more likely that the USA, if it is defeated, will be defeated by itself and China"

Ben,

sounds like you're trying to change the subject. The first clue was you're casual dismissal of Al-Qaida's threat as "scary stuff."

Yeah, it is scary dude. Especially when one of them smuggles a dirty bomb into manhattan, or a suitcase nuke up the Potomac. The bomb will go off, but you'll be talking to yourself about deficits.

Posted by: David at September 15, 2004 07:22 AM

Yeah, it is scary dude. Especially when one of them smuggles a dirty bomb into manhattan, or a suitcase nuke up the Potomac. The bomb will go off, but you'll be talking to yourself about deficits.

That would be scary, that is true. But thankfully, Mr. Bush the commander and chief (not the president) invaded Iraq to stop this happenning.

Were all safer now.

How true. Lebanon was dysfunctional, and still is. Their dysfunction is called Hisbollah.

The invasion put a stop to that, right.

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 07:39 AM

Jesus,

I didn't say it put a stop to that. I implied that's why the invasion occurred.

Posted by: David at September 15, 2004 07:43 AM

>>>"That would be scary, that is true. But thankfully, Mr. Bush the commander and chief (not the president) invaded Iraq to stop this happenning."

Jesue,

that's a legitimate opinion. But I was addressing Ben's implication that "deficits" were scarier than Al-Qaida suitcase nukes.

Posted by: David at September 15, 2004 07:45 AM

Did Hisbollah exist before the invasion? If not, is not Israels invasion the reason it was formed.

Israel indirectly created a terrorist organisation. And what is with Hamas?

Is Israel a rogue state.

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 07:46 AM

Sorry David.

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 07:48 AM

Jesus,

Hisbollah didn't exist, but the PLO (based in Lebanon) did. And they were doing exactly what Hisbollah is doing today.

Was Israel's invasion a failure? Yes it was. But their reasons were legitimate.

Posted by: David at September 15, 2004 07:54 AM

David,

I believe their was a cease fire between Israel and the PLO, which would after a year lead to some kind of talks.

Eventhough the PLO held its side of the ceasefire, Israel did not dare and instead invaded.

There were many reasons given:

The Argov assassination attempt, defense of the border settlements, a 25-mile limit.

In the end peace talks were more dangerous to Israel than any tiny rocket the PLO didnt fire into Northern Israel.

One giant fuckup.

How many people did the Israeli army kill? How many torture chambers and what kind of brutal torture did they carry out.

Was it worth it?

Here are some words from an American:

Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli is commander of the U.S. Army’s Baghdad-based 1st Cavalry Division. Indeed, he wore “really lame,” suede boots with straps wrapping the leg.

The general’s a live one. First off, I asked him if he could comment on the news of the day, you know, the bombs bursting in air, the street battles in the capital, helicopters firing on journalists.

His response: “This clinic is the news of the day.”

He’'s confident that he can win the “trust and confidence” of Iraqis – and quell the insurgency -- clinic by clinic and sewer by sewer.

“You'’re taking away the power base of the insurgency to go ahead and recruit new members,” he says.” When people have no hope, when they have no hope for themselves, their children and their future, many times they'’ll turn to terrorism as a last resort.”

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 08:23 AM

>>>How many people did the Israeli army kill? How many torture chambers and what kind of brutal torture did they carry out."

None. Unless you show me the evidence.

>>>"Eventhough the PLO held its side of the ceasefire, Israel did not dare and instead invaded."

That's false. In 1981 Philip Habib was sent by the Reagan to negotiate a cease-fire between Lebanon and Israel. In July of that years Habib announced an agreement that all hostile military action between Lebanese and Israeli territory in either direction would cease. For the next eleven months the cease-fire was in effect as a formality only, but the PLO repeatedly violated the agreement. Israel cited up to 270 terrorist actions in Israel by the PLO, in the West Bank and Gaza, and along the Lebanese and Jordanian borders. Twenty­nine Israelis died and more than 300 were injured in the attacks. In April 1982, after a landmine killed an Israeli officer, the rocket attacks and air strikes on Lebanon began.

Posted by: David at September 15, 2004 08:45 AM

OK, Michael, I read your article "Saud-Free America." It can be summarized as "gee wouldn't it be great if the Saudi monarchy was replaced by a liberal democratic one." I share those sentiments.

Then you call for the "termination of diplomatic relations and American support for the democratic opposition."

Hmmm. I had asked you what the possible alternatives to rule by the House of Saud are. You mention the existence of Saudi liberal democrats, but you give no indication why you think that they are more likely to come to power in a "Saud-Free Arabia" than the Islamists, whose element you admit is strong.

I'm trying to find out about those Saudi liberal democrats you metnion. Googling "saudi dissidents" directs me to a website of the "Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights." http://www.cdlr.net/English/cdlrboard/index.php?s=

It's interesting there to say the least -- I'm in the middle of reading a rant about the "neo-shylocks."

I'll reiterate what my friend the State Department Arabist said regarding overthrowing the monarchy: "you don't want to go there."

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 15, 2004 10:26 AM

None. Unless you show me the evidence.

I cant believe you really said that.:-(

By late June, the Lebanese police gave estimates of about 10,000 killed. These early figures appear to have been roughly accurate. A later accounting reported by the independent Lebanese daily An-nahar gave a figure of 17,825 known to have been killed and over 30,000 wounded, including 5500 killed in Beirut and over 1200 civilians killed in the Sidon area. A government investigation estimated that 90% of the casualties were civilians. By late December, the Lebanese police estimated the numbers killed through August at 19,085, with 6775 killed in Beirut, 84% of them civilians. Israel reported 340 IDF soldiers killed in early September, 446 by late November (if these numbers are accurate, then the number of Israeli soldiers kifled in the ten weeks following the departure of the PLO from Lebanon is exactly the same as the number of Israetis killed in all terrorist actions across the northern border from 1967). According to Chief of Staff Fitan, the number of Israeli soldiers killed "in the entire western sector of Lebanon" - that is, apart from the Syrian front - was 117. Eight Israeli soldiers died "in Beirut proper," he claimed, three in accidents. If correct (which is unlikely), Eitan's figures mean that five Israeli soldiers were killed in the process of massacring some 6000 civilians in Beirut, a glorious victory indeed. Israel also offered various figures for casualties within Lebanon. Its final accounting was that 930 people were killed in Beirut including 340 civilians, and that 40 buildings were destroyed in the Beirut * 350 in all of Lebanon. The number of PLO killed was given as 4000.

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 11:03 AM

Jesus,

where are you Israeli torture chambers.

and can you give me any non-arab sources though? I don't believe much that comes from them.

Posted by: David at September 15, 2004 11:15 AM

From Fisk

[W]e should not allow 19 murderers to change our world. George Bush and Tony Blair are doing their best to make sure the murderers DO change our world.

This would imply that the preceeding countless murderers were on track and with the program of humanity's business as usual. I'm not gonna buy that bridge.

From Michael on the Islamofascist terrorists tendency to lean to massive casualties.

Old school terrorists like the IRA and the Basque ETA don’t behave this way, nor will they ever.

And Michael of course knows that this still doesn't make their activities right, moral or excusable. And I'm in no way saying that... However, he just inadvertently pushed a button on me here so pardon my screed....

I very much disapprove of separating "Euroterrorism" against the current generation of carnage. And I'm pretty sure that Michael doesn't go for this either, but many in the chattering class does (in part because part that cohort thought that such acts were romantic, hip and with-it).

And it was this marginal tolerance in the world community and open cheerleading in intellecutal circles in the 70's and 60's may very well have made Terrorism a force to stay. Europe was indeed one of the prototyping grounds on seeing how "digestible" terrorism was to its intended targets. And it passed the test with its revolving door jail policy (The PLO/PLFP days are a good example of this). Not connecting the Red Brigade to the PLO to Hizbollah to Al Queda is like not connecting the dots between Skatellites, Madness to Skanin' Pickle. (Let's not start a musicology subthread here, it's just a metaphor as Old Zell would say)...

To be sure the IRA haven't flown planes into buildings but they adore carbombs and have used "proxy bombers" in the past. Moreover, intention follows the shrapnel as much as it follows the bullet. And neithe piece of metal asks the needed question before turning sommersaults in their victims body cavities. The IRA, ETA and the other more "politically correct" terrorists explicity commit to killing anyone -- anyone -- within the blast radius of any and all of their devices. If we treat terorrism as a "crime" it's Murder One with a fill in the blank.

It doesn't matter if you die alone, or with a handfull of with 3000 others, or just get run out of town after someone burns a cross on your yard. Murder is Murder, and Terrorism is Terrorism, and not attacking "Euroterrorism" tactically and ideologically is just plain wrong. The ends of both tracks of terrorism is to stand on a given numbers of necks. And when you are one of the necks, you really aren't interested in how much company you have under the boot, and the wearers of the boots are just as evil to the person on the delivery end -- and rightfully so.

Terrorism is scale-invariant.

Getting back to the Fisking of Fisk: It's not just the 19 terrorists that we have an issue with. It's the 1900+ terrorists that have inflicted untold damage on their victims and the unknown number of terrorist and their victims yet to come. Finally someone has given up counting THOSE numbers and it's about bloody time.

And if Fisk can't get that, he has more troubles in his head than not being able to count beyond the use of his fingers and toes. And problems like that really oughtn't be shared with the rest of the world.

Screed Mode Off, time to finish my lunch.

Posted by: Bill at September 15, 2004 11:19 AM

Turning to the press, Tom Segev of Ha'aretz toured "Lebanon after the conquest" in mid-June. He saw "refugees wandering amidst swarms of flies, dressed in rags, their faces expressing terror and their eyes, bewilderment..., the women wailing and the children sobbing" (he noticed Henry Kamm of the New York Times nearby; one may usefully compare his account of the same scenes). Tyre was a "destroyed city"; in the market place there was not a store undamaged. Here and there people were walking, "as in a nightmare." "A terrible smell filled the air"-ofdecomposing bodies, he learned. Archbishop Georges Haddad told him that many had been killed, though he did not know the numbers, since many were still buried beneath the ruins and he was occupied with caring for the many orphans wandering in the streets, some so young that they did not even know their names. In Sidon, the destruction was still worse: "the center of the town-destroyed." "This is what the cities of Germany looked like at the end of the Second World War." "Half the inhabitants remained without shelter, 100,000 people." He saw "mounds of ruins," tens of thousands of people at the shore where they remained for days, women driven away by soldiers when they attempted to flee to the beaches, children wandering "among the tanks and the ruins and the shots and the hysteria," blindfolded young men, hands tied with plastic bonds, "terror and confusion."

xxxxxxxx

In his congressional testimony, Giannou reported that he was "a witness to four prisoners who were beaten to death" (reduced to two by the Timesj He also witnessed "the total, utter devastation of residential areas, and the blind, savage, indiscriminate destruction of refugee camps by simultaneous shelling and carpet bombing from aircraft, gunboats, tanks and artillery," leaving only "large blackened craters filled with rubble and debris, broken concrete slabs and twisted iron bars, and corpses"; "hospitals being shelled," one shell killing 40-50 people; the shelling of the camp after Israeli soldiers had permitted women and children to return to it; the use of cluster bombs in settled areas; "the calcinated, carbonized bodies of the victims of phosphorus bombs"; 300 cadavers in one area while he was evacuating the Government Hospital; and much more. He saw "the entire male staff' of the hospitals being taken into custody, leaving patients unattended, and "savage and indiscriminate beatings" of prisoners with fists, sticks, ropes with nuts and bolts tied to them. He saw a Palestinian doctor hung by his hands from a tree and beaten and an Iraqi surgeon "beaten by several guards viciously, and left to lie in the sun with his face buried in the sand," all in the presence of an Israeli Colonel who did nothing about it. He watched prisoners "being rehearsed by an Israeli officer to shout 'Long Live Begin'," others sitting bound in "stifling heat" with "food and water in short supply." He was forced to evacuate his hospital and bring the patients down to the seafront. The Norwegians confirmed his story and said that they had seen at least 10 people beaten to death, including an old man who was crazed by the lack of water and intense heat as the prisoners were forced to sit for hours in the sun; he was beaten by four or five soldiers who then tied him with his wrists to his ankles and let him lie in the sun until he died. 143 Another demonstration of courage and purity of arms.

xxxxxxxx

The Norwegian doctor and social worker told the story of their captivity in a report issued by the Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs. '44 Under Israeli captivity, they were forced to sit, hands tied, for 36 hours without permission to move, while they heard "screams of pain" from nearby. In an Israeli prison, they were forced to lie for 48 hours, blindfolded and handcuffed, on the interrogation ground. They report "extensive violence" against prisoners, including beatings by thick table legs, batons, plastic tubes "often with big knots in the ends" and clubs with nails. Officers were present during severe beatings, but did nothing. One of the most sadistic Israeli guards told them he was from a kibbutz where an Austrian girl had been killed by rocket fire. Prisoners were tied with tight plastic straps with sharp edges, "causing pain." The Norwegians were given "preferential treatment." Arab prisoners were subjected to constant brutality and degradation.

Posted by: Jesus at September 15, 2004 11:39 AM

Jesus,

I guess I stepped right into that. I asked, and you delivered. It's disturbing, no way around that.

Posted by: David at September 15, 2004 01:19 PM

David, again you have presented us with an unexpected gift.

I fully expected you to say "Some of that comes from Robert Fisk, who's known to be partial to arabs so everything he says is a lie. And the others are people who agree with him so they're lying too.".

We get a lot of that from zionist apologists. "It isn't true unless you prove it is. No, that's not proof, those eyewitnesses don't count because they don't hate arabs enough to write the truth."

Thank you.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 15, 2004 08:32 PM

Not sure if this is going to sound like a zionist apology, but...

I don't think anyone (at least not I) would argue that Israelis are nothing but "innocent victims" in all of this. You were able to produce one brutal incident in an ugly war, as if to say, "See? Your whole theory is ludicrous!" I say not so fast.

The USA has some pretty ugly skeletons in its closet- My Lai and Abu Ghraib among several others, I'm sure. War can be an ugly business. But does that mean WE as a PEOPLE are messed up and dysfunctional? Absolutely not- it means that we are a society of people who are mostly good, with some bad. I would say Israel fits that bill as well. When you focus on these isolated incidents, and ignore the trends that have been overwhlmingly established by the Arab world- you are fooling yourself in your attempt to fool others.

Israelis do not blow up busses full of women and children.

Israelis do not blow up airplanes or fly them into buildings.

Israelis do not decapitate people and post it on the net.

Israelis do not shoot children in the back as they run for mommy.

Arab-Islamic fanatics have been committing inhuman acts such as these on a REGULAR BASIS for decades now. Your attempt to make a moral equivilence here is sorely lacking.

You're going to point to one bad act of war, and say "See? Those Israelis deserve everything they get!" Find me a country with a "clean" war record and I'll show you a liar. We all do bad things in war- nobody is exempt from this harsh reality. However, there is no excuse for the "culture of terror" that has developed in the DYSFUNCTIONAL Arab world. These people think it's OK to slaughter innocent women and children whenever they get a chance, because it's the will of Allah. Wrong answer. Jews kill these people for the same reason we do- survival. We're not serving any God- we're ridding the world of crazed murderous fanatics.

Side with them all you want, Jesus- we're still going to get rid of them. Sorry if that breaks your heart...

Posted by: $lick at September 16, 2004 01:05 AM

And by "these people" I'm not referring to ALL Arabs- just the ones who enjoy killing innocents. They are clearly the minority in the Arab world, but there's still way too many of them, and they'll continue to be manufactured until we put a stop to it...

Posted by: $lick at September 16, 2004 01:13 AM

J Thomas,

you're quite welcome.

But I think Slick's post is a response that I basically agree with. Don't you?

Posted by: David at September 16, 2004 06:40 AM

Slick, you are being rather disingenuous here.

Israelis have occasionally shot down airplanes when it served their purpose. For example, in early 1972 they shot down an egyptian airliner that they thought had a palestinian leader on it. They herded the airliner over the sinai snf shot it down, and made the justification that it had entered their airspace. A couple hundred (mostly-arab) civilians to get one PLO leader.

But mostly they don't shoot down planes because mostly their enemies don't have planes. Israelis don't need to fly planes into buildings because their planes can shoot missiles at buildings. So instead of suiciding, they fly back to base and after a hard day of shooting at palestinians they slip between the cool sheets and get a restful night's sleep in airconditioning.

Israelis blew up hospitals and schools in lebanon because they thought Yassir Arafat was in them. Arafat didn't stay in one place long and by the time the israelis heard where he was he'd moved, so he left a trail of bombed buildings behind him. There would have been much less killing of innocents if he had stood in one place in the open so the israelis could kill him.

In the same war, the mostly-defeated PLO fighters agreed to an evacuation where they would be allowed to leave for Tunisia. They were packed up and taken away, and then the falangist troops under israeli supervision slaughtered the women and children of a couple of refugee camps that happened to include the families of many of those fighters. An israeli inquiry placed the blame on Ariel Sharon.

Israeli troops surrounding refugee camps in palestine have been documented taunting children so the children will throw rocks at them so they can legally shoot and kill them. Occasionally the children have been shot in the back but not usually. In at least one example where the child was shot in the back zionist apologists used it as evidence that the child was shot by palestinians who wanted to have something to blame on israel.

Israeli inhumanity has tended to be more abstract, because they are in control. So for example they have been collecting taxes on palestinian commerce. The original agreement was that they would give that money to the PA to fund a palestinian government and civic improvements. But when the PA didn't do what the israelis wanted they kept the money. A big drain on palestinians, while there was a palestinian economy to tax. Now that the israelis have destroyed the palestinian economy there is a lot of malnutrition in palestine which israelis accept no responsibility for at all. Only international humanitarian aid is preventing mass starvation among palestinians.

Of course most israelis have little need to think about palestinians at all; the only thing that makes palestinians an issue is the occasional suicide bomber -- plus friends and relatives in the IDF who have to deal with palestinians. (There has been a steady trickle of israeli soldiers who refuse to follow illegal orders, who tend to leave israel after they complete their sentences.) But a few israelis do have more contact with palestinians. While some of the "settlers" are simply people who accept subsidies to live over the border and commute into israel to work, the ones in the hill forts are heavily armed and do occasionally shoot at palestinians. They are particularly known for a few spectacular attacks like the massacre at Dome of the Rock mosque and the assassination of Rabin. They have recently threatened to kill Sharon for his plan to stage a tactical withdrawal from gaza. They get occasional support and occasional denunciations from the israeli government. When you say that not all arabs approve of killing the innocent, I can say the same about israelis. It's only this small fringe of fanatics who believe that no compromise is possible who enjoy killing 'innocent' palestinians. The situations are parallel except that the israelis have the upper hand.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 16, 2004 07:54 AM

And the Left will take this and mis-paraphrase me: “Israels military occupation is not a problem. Its Arab dysfunction.”

Notice how the Leftist warps and twist my claim that Palis can have democracy if they choose, into a straw man that I claim the occupation is not a problem.

I'm not a huge fan of Israeli occupation; and I think they were stupid, not immoral, for grabbing more land with their fence instead of giving some back while taking some. But Israel DOES have a free press. And the Palis don't.

And the Palis don't have free press because Pali thugs beat up anybody who criticizes Arafat -- or have up until recently. The Palis do NOT have a functional, human rights supporting culture. It needs to change, and it's the Arab Islamic dysfunction that needs to change.

30 years ago, preferably... oops, too late. Munich Olympics, terrorist killers. No big support, or push, for Pali democracy; just blame the Jews, blame the Americans; sometimes even blame the Russians. Never blame, or change, the guilty Palestinian/ Arab anti-modern culture.

We need honest blaming before the Palis will be changing. The next leader after Arafat could be the Pali nation-builder, if he supports democracy and free press. And the borders do NOT matter so much (those democratic Jews ARE stupidly greedy with their justified fence though).

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 16, 2004 10:06 AM

Palestinian culture and Palestinian political leadership do need to change. The one good result from the election and reelection of Sharon and the fruitlessness of the 1990's peace efforts is that hopefully now this will occur before Palestinian independence.

On the other hand, those who blame the Pals for most of their troubles while admitting that a permanent Israeli occupation of West Bank/Gaza is unjustified need to recognize that the belief that Israel had a right to hold on to all or most of those lands in perpetuity was a MAINSTREAM political position in Israel from June 1967 until the early nineties, and is still held by a large minority with a outsized amount of power and influence in the Knesset. If Palestinians and Arabs had all along been as docile toward Israel as many expect them to be, the debate in Israel would still probably be about whether Jordan is Palestine and whether Palestinians really exist, and the two-state solution that everyone now claims to want would be championed by the only people who initially supported it: those on the far left of the Israeli political spectrum.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 16, 2004 10:31 AM

The citations Jesus presented earlier regarding Israeli atrocities were disturbing. What is missing from this discussion is a perspective of time, and how Israel got to such a state that it would permit such atrocities to occur. The case of moral equivalence is easy to make if the basis is a fly-on-the-wall perspective, looking at a country in the heat of a battle for its survival without reflection on how, a civilized democracy, could get into such a frenzied state.

Jump in the middle of the battle of Okinawa or the Somme and you see brutality on both sides. Without historical context, someone visiting from Mars might automatically assume that both sides are to blame. But were both sides morally equivalent? I don’t think so. One has to ask some basic questions: How did one get to this state of affairs? Was it avoidable? What will be the outcome of one or the other side winning?

Let’s climb in the Way-Back machine to the year 1960. Israel was about twelve years old and wanted desperately to seek peace with its Arab neighbors. Nasser’s response was pretty direct. He demanded:

"...the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. “

That was forty-four years ago, long before the atrocities that we see now. Israel and its civilian population has been in a state of siege for almost a half-century. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why Israel is so well armed and why they have become so brutal in their confrontations.

Could this have been avoided? Sure, if Palestinian’s had wanted to adopt a winning strategy. Democracies and the West are suckers for civil disobedience. There are countless examples of the oppressed and poor working the court of international opinion to achieve political goals. Indian independence comes to mind, as does the overthrow of Apartheid in South Africa, the Civil Rights movement in the United States, the Solidarity Movement in Poland. All magically achieved without resorting to bombing innocent children in buses.

Do you really think the tactics of Hizbollah would have been successful in the Deep South or in Cape Town? Can anyone reasonably argue that blacks in America or in South Africa suffered less than Palestinians?

What is the outcome of one side winning? Let’s look at Israel. Since everyone concedes that Israel is much better armed than its hostile neighbors and currently has the stronger hand, I would venture to guess that the way they treat there Arab citizens today would be about as bad as it would ever get. This means living as a second-class citizen and having to put up with Israel’s security apparatus. In the absence of being in a state of siege, I could argue that the normal institutions of democracy would get stronger, and life for Arabs in Israel would get a hell of a lot better.

Looking at Palestine it is a tougher call as to how bad things would be. There is no crystal ball, but we can make an educated guess. Having no real desire to be democratic, and having been scarred by a half-century of conflict it is safe to say that things would be some variant of what we see in Iran, Saudi-Arabia, Syria, or Sudan. Whether or not this would mean genocide for the Jewish people is speculative. However speculation is not comforting for a young Jewish couple in Tel Aviv trying to raise a young family.

Perhaps the issue of which is the better outcome could be answered by a basic question: Would you rather be a Jew in a country run by Palestinians or an Arab in a country run by Israel?

Posted by: bob at September 16, 2004 12:28 PM

J Thomas,

the murderers of children in Chechnya use the same excuse for their atrocities as you use to excuse palestinian atrocities.

You are an apologist for terror. Embrace it.

Posted by: David at September 16, 2004 06:14 PM

J Thomas,

Disingenuous? Ok. But I think you laid out a pretty good argument for my post. Israelis went after military targets- we'd like them to minimize collateral damage as much as possible, but we can't expect any nation to match the US in that department. We spend FAR more time trying to minimize civilian casualties than we do maximizing military casualties- no other nation in the world comes close to us. If you question Israel's military tactics, that's your call. If you try to equate Israelis with terrorists, you are not even in the right ballpark. Your assumption that Israeli soldiers want to shoot children in the back is beyond flawed. It's downright ridiculous. Arab terrorists go after civilians in order to terrorize. There's nothing that compares to that. Sorry, but I think you're a terrorist apologist, which is pretty sad...

Posted by: $lick at September 16, 2004 07:41 PM

David, do you have quotes of me excusing palestinian atrocities?

You are trying to establish a moral equivalence between you and me, and there is no such equivalence.

You are trying to justify israeli atrocities, you are trying to justify their state-terrorism. I am not trying to justify palestinian atrocities.

I tell you what. Some time when there's nothing riding on it, when the USA isn't giving twelve billion dollars to one side and much of our most sophisticated military equipment, and vetoing UN resolutions, and trying to claim with a straight face that we're an impartial peace broker, sometime like that you and I might sit down on a winter's day, with the snow piled around the house and a roaring fire in the fireplace, and we can swirl our brandy snifters and argue about whether one side is blameless and whether the other side deserves to do their atrocities because they got mistreated in the past, and we can argue the competing claims for who in perfect jusice ought to own which land. I think it will be a lot of fun.

But right now you feel the need to argue that israel is blameless, or if they've been doing war crimes etc still they have a right to because the starving palestinians asked for it and anyway the other guys did it first, or of they didn't do it first still they would have if they'd gotten the chance and they will if they get the chance.

Because there's twelve billion dollars a year in US deficits and vetoes and all the rest riding on it for you zionists. To cut off that aid I don't have to argue that the palestinians are blameless, or even that they're no worse than the israelis. I only have to show that the israelis aren't worth it.

And under Likud, they aren't.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 16, 2004 07:59 PM
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