October 31, 2004

The Struggle of Ideas - Armed Liberal

The Winds of Change site is having technical difficulties and Marc Danziger (aka Armed Liberal) wrote something he wants to make sure gets out into the world before the election. I've agreed to let him guest blog it here.

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Richard Clarke and the other experts in Middle East policy have set out an excellent case - for not letting their expertise guide our Middle East policy.

Their new work is sponsored by the Century Foundation, and is called 'Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action'. Let's take a look.
The international jihadist network of radical Islamic terrorist groups is far more extensive than just al Qaeda, and it has conducted twice as many attacks in the three years since September 11, 2001 as it did in the three years prior to that date. Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action (Century Foundation Press, 2004), assesses the nation's successes and failures on homeland security and calls for a stronger, more effective strategy for dealing with jihadists, including al Qaeda. The forthcoming report offers a detailed action plan for neutralizing the international movement at the core of worldwide terrorism. The report also describes the nature of the jihadist threat; provides comprehensive profiles of the various jihadist groups; and offers a rationale for the effort and money that would be needed to make the plan a success. The plan presented in the report builds on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and serves as a road map for winning the war against the jihadists.

The report's authors are Richard A. Clarke, Glenn P. Aga, Roger W. Cressey, Stephen E. Flynn, Blake W. Mobley, Eric Rosenbach, Steven Simon, William F. Wechsler, and Lee S. Wolosky—all experts on various aspects of national security, intelligence, counterterrorism, military operations.

They divide the problem into segments:

1. Focus on Winning the Struggle of Ideas.
2. Invest in Education and Development in Islamic Nations.
3. Implement Tailored Strategies for Key Countries.
4. Defuse Sources of Islamic Hatred for the United States.
5. Improve U.S. Intelligence and Law Enforcement Organization.
6. Reinvigorate Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing.
7. Bolster Special Forces and Improve Their Coordination with Intelligence Community.
8. Accelerate Security Investments for Ports, Trains, and Chemical Plants.
9. Strengthen and Improve Oversight of Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Efforts.
10. Improve U.S. Energy Security by Reducing Reliance on Middle East Oil.

Looking at their point, one by one, we begin to see a very different strategy than the one pursued by President Bush, and one that is likely to be close to the center of what a Kerry Administration might do.

I don't have time to go through these point by point, but let's touch on the areas where I have significant problems.

They open with "Winning the Struggle of Ideas."

I've said for quite a while that we will ultimately win this war when we win the battle of ideas. Their idea of how to do it and mine are quite different, though. The summary of their proposal looks like this:
The U.S. must erode support for the jihadists in the Islamic world through what the 9/11 Commission called the "struggle of ideas," but we cannot do it alone. Traditional propaganda mechanisms...international broadcasting, for example...are a small part of the solution. U.S. activities in Iraq, as portrayed by the Islamic news media, make it difficult for the United States government to successfully promote its values and ideas among the world’s Muslims. The messenger is as important as the message...and right now any message delivered from the United States is greeted with suspicion in the Islamic world.

Therefore, other countries, respected non-governmental organizations, and individual Islamic leaders must take the lead in appealing to Muslims to denounce intolerance and terrorist violence committed in the name of Islam. These efforts need to celebrate our common values in order to overcome misunderstandings and neutralize terrorist propaganda. The role of the U.S. government should be to stimulate these groups and then wait backstage.

As part of this struggle of ideas, the United States and Europe must demonstrably welcome Islam as a part of their cultures. On this front, the European Union should have two priorities: fighting anti-Islamic discrimination in its member countries and initiating discussions on Turkey’s accession to the European Union.

Their argument is simple: the US government can't fund or otherwise encourage radio or televison networks that will have any significant impact on public opinion, because being associated with the U.S. is deadly. So let's go their own detailed discussion of the impact of U.S.-funded media. Talking about al-Iraqiya, Al-Hurra, and Radio Sawa, they say:
...all three of these outlets have quickly achieved significant market share and at least a modicum of credibility among their listeners and viewers (see Figures 5.1 and 5.2, page 96). Polling data show that 74 percent of Iraqis watch al-Iraqiya on at least a weekly basis and 21 percent of those consider it “objective.”9 Al-Hurra, though not boasting ratings as high as al-Iraqiya’s, still claims a respectable average adult viewership of 29 percent in a dozen urban areas surveyed in North Africa, the Levant, and the Gulf region. Just over half of its viewers rate its news coverage as “very reliable” or “somewhat reliable.” Finally, Radio Sawa has staked out a weekly following of 38 percent of listeners polled in six Arab countries, including a high of 73 percent in Morocco. Remarkably, four of five listeners feel its news meets the same reliability criteria. Thus, on the basis of both market penetration and trust, these initiatives certainly appear successful at first glance.
While they next explain away these statistics as due to 'novelty' or limited by the limited availability of satellite TV in Iraq, the facts are the facts; with a very limited effort, we've got a substatial amunt of attention from the Arab world - and it's certainly not the case that there will be fewer satellite dishes in Iraq next year than this.

Back to their key point; they say: "Therefore, other countries, respected non-governmental organizations, and individual Islamic leaders must take the lead in appealing to Muslims to denounce intolerance and terrorist violence committed in the name of Islam." How, exactly, is this supposed to happen?

Well, they touch upon it in this section - a big part of the obstacle to mainstream Islamists combating terrorism is the assumed fact that disdain for the West comes about in part because we don't do a good enough job of accepting Islam.

As someone who lives a mile and a half from an Islamic Center, I'm puzzled by this. How, exactly, is the U.S. and Europe not doing a good job of accepting Islam and it's practitioners? And - more important - do they see any concern in setting the bar at we accept them - but they are free to, as they do in Saudi Arabia - freely discriminate?

The real answer - in their case - is in their point #4 - "Defuse Sources of Islamic Hatred for the United States."

They dance heavily in this part of the document; here's the key step (from the summary):
Large majorities of those living in the Middle East and North Africa evaluate U.S. foreign policy as out of step with their own world-view. On no issue is the divide greater than with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not surprisingly, the Pew Center recently found that 96 percent of Palestinians, 94 percent of Moroccans, 77 percent of Kuwaitis, 99 percent of Jordanians, and 90 percent of Lebanese believe that U.S. policies in the Middle East "favor Israel too much." Given the importance of this issue in the Arab world, there is little doubt that these sentiments fuel much of the animosity felt by Arabs toward the U.S. While our foreign policy should never be dictated by foreign publics, the effect on public opinion of specific policies..remember the importance of the third and fourth concentric circles...should be a consideration in the formulation and implementation of policy. To that end, the United States should not alter its support of Israel, but should seek to revive the Israel-Palestinian Peace Process. The United States should not withdraw from Iraq before indigenous security forces are in place, but should cease U.S. military operations against urban areas, transfer rebuilding activities to Iraqi entities, and reduce U.S. goals in Iraq so that a withdrawal can be achieved at an early date.
(emphasis added)
So, by reformulating our policies to sit better with the Arab publics - publics that have been whipped into rage by a generation of anti-American and anti-Israeli government propaganda - we have a chance of 'defusing' the sources of Arab hatred.

Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Kennedy surely took the feelings of the Southern sheriffs into account when they mobilized Federal resources to combat Jim Crow. But I don't think they are honored today for ultimately bending their policies to make them more palatable to the most intransigent opponents of integration.

Not only do I find the approach offensive and immoral, but I don't believe it will work.

It is my habit to simply believe what people say; and what the Islamist terrorists have said - and what the works at the core of their ideology support - is the notion that this is a war against the modern West for the creation of a totalitarian religious state.

This isn't a view that's somehow historically unique to Islam. The various Christian sects spent a few hundred years trying to bring the world to God through the sword. But they had this largely beaten out of them by the 18th Century - that was one the key events that made the Enlightenment possible.

Read the whole thing.

For me, it solidifies my discomfort with Kerry and his advisers, and further secures my vote for Bush. If this becomes Kerry's policy toward the Middle East, we're in trouble.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 31, 2004 10:38 AM
Comments

Here is one of the best analyses of the situation we face that I've yet seen:

http://www.claremont.org/writings/crb/fall2004/helprin.html

Posted by: Martin Grossman at October 31, 2004 10:59 AM

“To that end, the United States should not alter its support of Israel, but should seek to revive the Israel-Palestinian Peace Process.”

This is merely a subtle way of slamming Israel, an allegedly fascist state which victimizes the Palestinians. I’ve been accusing the Kerry people of subtle anti-Semitism for months. And I don’t see any reason whatsoever to doubt my earlier estimate that at least a third of Kerry’s supporters embrace this point of view. Why do so few people see this as clearly as I do?

Posted by: David Thomson at October 31, 2004 11:03 AM

How typical, the way the report speaks of "the Islamic world" as if one billion Muslims form a single undifferentiated mass, whose collective soul finds its supreme expression in those paragons of enlightened leadership now sitting in Damascus, Tehran, and Cairo.

This is exactly why the reactionaries of the so-called "liberal" political establishment possess neither the willpower nor the intellectual equipment necessary to defeat the Islamist threat.

Should the West try to better understand Islamic culture? Certainly. Does this mean [channeling Don Rumsfeld here] that we must make unlimited accomodations to extremists? Absolutely not.

We need the old, radical GWB to get back in the saddle. I think he's been listening too much to the appeasers. Bush needs to know that Americans support him, not in spite of the political risks he's taken, but because of them.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at October 31, 2004 11:06 AM

And Marc, thanks for posting this.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at October 31, 2004 11:07 AM

By the way, the National Review’s website is also down. I don’t want to seem paranoid. The problem may simply be due to an unusually large number of visitors just before the election, but it could also be an attack by President Bush’s enemies.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 31, 2004 11:18 AM

This is an excellent post -- I appreciate it being offered. "Richard Clarke and the other experts in Middle East policy have set out an excellent case - for not letting their expertise guide our Middle East policy." That puts my view in a kinder light than I could have done. Clarke represents more the failure than the promise and I'm finding that giving him further credible attention is a waste of time.

Posted by: Curtis at October 31, 2004 11:22 AM

Marc, if you want to publish this further, you may want to rethink what you have excerpted.

"Their argument is simple: the US government can't fund or otherwise encourage radio or televisor networks that will have any significant impact on public opinion, because being associated with the U.S. is deadly. "

This may be in their full article, but it is nowhere present in your lengthy summary. Ditto for your other points.

"It is my habit to simply believe what people say". Uh, this does explain your voting preferences. Perhaps you should channel Ronald, "Trust but verify."

P.S. Thomson: "I’ve been accusing the Kerry people of subtle anti-Semitism for months. And I don’t see any reason whatsoever to doubt my earlier estimate that at least a third of Kerry’s supporters embrace this point of view. Why do so few people see this as clearly as I do?"

The question answers itself, Thomson, as other's have pointed out, you're a hate filled, moranic, anti-semitic jackass. A true embarassment. Back to your mother's basement with you!

Posted by: jerry at October 31, 2004 11:38 AM

I just found this statement on http://www.nationalreview.com/

“Directory Listing Denied
This Virtual Directory does not allow contents to be listed.”

What in hell does this mean?

Posted by: David Thomson at October 31, 2004 11:39 AM

“The question answers itself, Thomson, as other's have pointed out, you're a hate filled, moranic, anti-semitic jackass. A true embarassment. Back to your mother's basement with you!”

Oh Gosh, I guess someone is not going to join my fan club. Could you possibly be more specific? My mother is very upset.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 31, 2004 11:45 AM

Please forgive me, but the proposals described are a bit of a yawn, aren't they? Mr. Danziger is surely incorrect when he says that "we see a very different strategy than the one pursued by President Bush." Really? There are only so many things that we CAN do, for one thing, and these have been addressed ad nauseum by conservative commentators, and many implemented. Consider:

1. Focus on Winning the Struggle of Ideas.

Well, of course. The clash of ideas is, in sum, impetus behind the "clash of civilizations," no? For the first time, people are now objecting to Arabic news reports depicting Jews as the drinkers of babies' blood. Pressure has been brought to bear on the Saudi and Egyption governments in particular to prevent the more extreme examples. A new spotlight has been put on Muslim clerics as the chief interpreters of Islam. I would have thought the audacious plan to import democracy to Iraq was central to this.

2. Invest in Education and Development in Islamic Nations.

Isn't Education a centrepiece of reform in Afghanistan and Iraq? When the President talks about exporting democracy, surely education is the chief medium he has in mind?

3. Implement Tailored Strategies for Key Countries.

The President invaded Iraq, but chose to rely on the Iranian govt's unpopularity and let the students overthrow that regime internally. He also chose to rely on multilateral pressure to contain North Korea. In Jordan, Bush has agreed to a Free Trade Zone with the King, which is probably the sleeper in all of this. Egypt is already the #2 beneficiary of American aid in the region, while a "federated" approach to the warlords in Afghanistan was adopted. Sounds tailored to me.

4. Defuse Sources of Islamic Hatred for the United States.

Refer to Point #1. Also, we are working to liquidate the terrorists.

5. Improve U.S. Intelligence and Law Enforcement Organization.

Ongoing in a major way.

6. Reinvigorate Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing.

Ongoing in a major way.

7. Bolster Special Forces and Improve Their Coordination with Intelligence Community.

Ongoing in a major way. Also, look at the proposal for a new Intelligence Czar.

8. Accelerate Security Investments for Ports, Trains, and Chemical Plants.

Ongoing in a major way.

9. Strengthen and Improve Oversight of Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Efforts.

Ongoing in a major way.

10. Improve U.S. Energy Security by Reducing Reliance on Middle East Oil.

Bush's emphasis on drilling for oil in Alaska was a clearly-stated attempt to broaden our sources of oil. There is a new, more aggressive strategy for recovering oil sands energy in Alberta. Bush has been trying to develop oil purchasing arrangments with Putin. The only thing missing, in my view, is more emphasis on electric and other alternative-fuel automobiles.

I don't me to demean anyone's contribution, but I've been reading about one aspect or another of these proposals since 9/11. I'd be shocked if Kerry thought differently.

Posted by: Phaedo at October 31, 2004 11:49 AM

If Richard Clarke had anything to do with this, I would file 13 it. Remember, he was the do-do in Clinton's administration that was the natonal security expert. We know how much Clinton accomplished on the Al Queda front--NADA!!

Clarke's solution, and Kerry's, is to throw Israel to the jackals.

Posted by: opine6 at October 31, 2004 11:54 AM

“4. Defuse Sources of Islamic Hatred for the United States.”

Your dodging the real question---what does Israel have to do with this hatred? Are you hinting that the accusations against Israel are accurate? Do you perhaps believe that our close friend and ally is victimizing the Palestinians?

Posted by: David Thomson at October 31, 2004 11:55 AM

>> If this becomes Kerry's policy toward the Middle East, we're in trouble.

Right.

Like we might kill 100,000, lose 1,100 troops, 6,000 wounded, run up a half trillion dollar debt, cast billions into a non-9/11 related blackhole, alienate all of our allies, and drive thousands, if not millions of new recruits into the waiting arms of Osama bin Forgotten.

Mike, please join us on Actual Earth when your sojourn from the parallel dimension comes to conclusion.

Signed,
America

Posted by: Spudnuts at October 31, 2004 01:20 PM

voila Mara's Liberal-style war on poverty. It can't defeat poverty, but it will win the war on terror!

Appeasing America haters won't make them love of us more. That doesn't work in the M.E. It's not working in Iraq. Only brute force works against Arabs. And those Arabs that don't hate America, at whom this war on poverty is presumably aimed, have already demonstrated that they will do little to confront the America haters in their midst.

What is required is exactly what we're doing-- an upheaval of the status quo as they've known it in the M.E. to be replaced by structures that no longer play dumb to these America haters and terrorists.

Posted by: David at October 31, 2004 01:23 PM

John Kerry could dispatch dyslexic middle schoolers on huffies to throw flaming bundles of hundreds and fifties into the middle of the desert in Iraq and do a better job than Bush's "foreign policy dream team."

You can spin all you want about what MIGHT happen with Kerry but we know what DID happen with four years of Bush.

Incompetence, graft, disaster.

Posted by: Spudnuts at October 31, 2004 01:27 PM

spudnutz,

what DID happend is that the Taliban was destroyed and Saddam overthrown, democracy blooming in their place.

Posted by: David at October 31, 2004 02:21 PM

is it me or do large sections of this "expert opinion report" read like it was written with a language level and world-experience of a garden variety lefty sophomore at a safe lefty east coast uni. all the utopian calls for such and such to happen, magically, with no need to explain how they will happen or even why the should happen. thotful answers to justify the heather-leaping are omitted of course, becasue the source of the problem is obvious thruout the whole series of suggested actions and theres no need to explain it coz well, everyone we know thinks this way: the fault lies with the evil moron W who wont ratify kyoto and tracks oil and jesus mud on his boots thru the white house.

right?

Posted by: cali white bear at October 31, 2004 03:05 PM

MJT,

"Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Kennedy surely took the feelings of the Southern sheriffs into account when they mobilized Federal resources to combat Jim Crow. But I don't think they are honored today for ultimately bending their policies to make them more palatable to the most intransigent opponents of integration."

If you're looking for your big break as a writer, become associated with this analogy.

It's the key to breaking our current cultural impasse. You can't fight the KKK if you're afraid of Bull Connor.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at October 31, 2004 03:13 PM

spudnuts, Can you please tell us how to fight a war in a way where there are no deaths and no injuries? Do you not realize that America lost more than 400,000 troops in WWII? Do you not understand that during VietNam we lost more than 58,000 troops, fighting in a war that wasn't even our war? Do tell us how to fight and not have casulties..Maybe we should just become complacent and allow attacks in America where 3,000 die in a single day and not fight back? Is that your answer?

Posted by: Cathy at October 31, 2004 03:41 PM

re: Clarke et al

Think the current cost is high? (and peace-by-having-Arafat-sleep-over is cheaper?). Try a half-dozen more 9-11s scattered around the world. Forget the $, just consider the loss of liberty as we moved to a surveillance society because we are blaming the victim vs removing the cancer. The dems claim to be against the patriot act, but by their own actions they'd put us all under a microscope vs dealing w/ removing the problem (and protectionism just doesn't work, in trade, attempting to armor everything we own, nor bribing people to love us). (Think we didn't try to buy off the French Germans and Russians at the U.N.? Like we tried w/ Turkey? Guess again. Their price was just too high..)

What's needed is for some part of Islam to declare this jihadist militarist/suicide faction a heresy, and go exterminate it themselves. They need a Reformation. We can provide the reason (death and destruction to those that would harm us, including the innocents who are only guilty of harboring this cancer), but they have to do it for themselves.

Posted by: Ari Tai at October 31, 2004 03:42 PM

Mr Spudnuts has every right to his opinions. However, while opinions vary, facts do not. One might interpret President Bush's performance as incompetent, especially if it did not do what one thought ought to be done. One might interpret our success in Iraq as disaster, although Charles Krauthammmer had a brilliant column today describing just how successful we have been, there and in Afghanistan. But graft? I see references all the time to Enron and Halliburton. Enron executives who committed crimes during the Clinton presidency are being prosecuted under the Bush one. Halliburton was one of two companies that could have handled the job in Iraq, and the other one was French. The Bush people simply extended the contracts made with Halliburton under Clinton. In light of those facts, an opinion about graft in the Bush administration is quite a reach.Another foamer at the mouth was going on about the hundred thousand dead Iraqis. That number was bogus, was the conclusion of an article in The Lancet that was submitted for publication only if it could be in print before the US election. It was a lie-bomb, like the "missing explosives" meme. It only matters if enough people believe it. Otherwise, it'll probably be forgotten by Wednesday.

Posted by: Michael Adams at October 31, 2004 04:01 PM

See, there's this thing called reality against which you can test your fine theoretical ideas.

Marc might benefit from a little visit there to see how well his plan is faring.

I mean, it's not like this is purely theoretical any more.

Posted by: Mork at October 31, 2004 04:32 PM

Mr Spudnuts has every right to his opinions. However, while opinions vary, facts do not. One might interpret President Bush's performance as incompetent, especially if it did not do what one thought ought to be done. One might interpret our success in Iraq as disaster, although Charles Krauthammmer had a brilliant collumn today describing just how successful we have been, thhere and in Afghanistan. But graft? I see references all the time to Enron and Halliburton. Enron executives who committed crimes during the Clinton presidency are being prosecuted under the Bush one. Halliburton was one of two companies that could have handled the job in Iraq, and the other one was French. The Bush people simply extended the contracts made with Halliburton under Clinton. In light of those facts, an opinion about graft in the Bush administration is quite a reach.Another foamer at the mouth was going on about the hundred thousand dead Iraqis. That number was bogus, was the conclusion of an article in The Lancet that was submitted for publication only if it could be in print before the US election. It was a lie-bomb, like the "missing explosives" meme. It only matters if enough people believe it. Otherwise, it'll probably be forgotten by Wednesday.

Posted by: Michael Adams at October 31, 2004 05:14 PM

Although I'm fond of riposte, I apologze for reposting. i bumped the mouse... oh, never mind. It's just too clumsy to describe. Could you please delete one of them?

Posted by: Michael Adams at October 31, 2004 05:16 PM

Most people seem to miss this point:

we don't really have a lot of choice in whether or how we respond (or not) to Islamic terrorism and that a competent President of either Party will pretty-much do the same thing. Does anyone really think that a President Kerry -- faced with another 911 event -- would call up the OBL and ask him to confer? Only a vivid imagination would come up with such an idea.

Posted by: David Sucher at October 31, 2004 05:39 PM

On a related note, I see that Colin Powell's status report on the holy war (via Newsweek) has failed to penetrate the Insta-Bubble.

No surprise there.

Posted by: Mork at October 31, 2004 06:00 PM

You can't fight the KKK if you're afraid of Bull Connor.

I think Bernard Lewis made a similar reference:

"Imagine, if the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation obtained total control of Texas and had at its disposal all the oil revenues, and used this money to establish a network of well-endowed schools and colleges all over Christendom peddling their particular brand of Christianity."

"This is what the Saudis have done with Wahhabism. The oil money has enabled them to spread this fanatical, destructive form of Islam all over the Muslim world and among Muslims in the west. Without oil and the creation of the Saudi kingdom, Wahhabism would have remained a lunatic fringe in a marginal country."

Posted by: mary at October 31, 2004 06:25 PM

Any one who thinks they can get away from calling Marc a racist has to deal with me first. Marc is one of the smartest people I have ever met. A more open intellect you will never find. When you say that Marc has to go to Iraq to find out what is really happening, you really make me laugh. Marc has been in direct contact with Iraqis and American military people since the War began. He actually does know what is happening over there. People like Spudnut talk out their butts with crap they read on The Nation and think they are intelligent. Wrong!!! Marc has the facts from the ground, not drivel written by some reporter afraid to leave the hotel bar.

Marc is a 9/12 Democrat. Until the rest of the party gets behind people like him and Roger L. Simon, the Dems are going to have a hard time convincing those with operating brains to follow them on the road to appeasement and surrender. Secretly, I hope they don't since I pray for the day that people like Roger and Marc join us under the big tent with the elephant on it!!

Posted by: Mike Anderson at October 31, 2004 06:51 PM

Kerry has been pretty straightforward in his backing of Israel. This is just some bunch of Ds who want to be players. Isn't Joe Biden the leading contender for a Kerry Sec'y of State?

The American public will not permit weakness and Kerry is relentlessly political and will not ignore them. If you're scared, get a dog.

Posted by: Undertoad at October 31, 2004 07:19 PM

Mike Anderson,

I'm a happy resident of that elephant tent myself, but I'm glad some sane folks are brave enough to weather it out with the Dems. I think the whole fallout from this election will end up being very salutary for American politics as a whole.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at October 31, 2004 07:35 PM

"I think Bernard Lewis made a similar reference:

'Imagine, if the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation obtained total control of Texas'"

But that's the thing, we don't need a hypothetical, we have the real thing.

The actual policy Bush is pursuing in the ME tracks pretty closely to the Civil Rights movement in the south, the federal judiciary in that case playing the role our military, necessarily, is playing in Iraq.

It's just our luck that we have the great uncommunicator in the lead, and he has that unfashionable R after his name...

Time for some freedom riders to step forward.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at October 31, 2004 07:41 PM

Osama Bin Laden officially endorses John Kerry for president:

http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SA1404

Posted by: David at October 31, 2004 07:43 PM

Time for some freedom riders to step forward.

Is that a chickenhawk reference?

Posted by: Mork at October 31, 2004 08:08 PM

Cathy said:

>> Maybe we should just become complacent and allow attacks in America where 3,000 die in a single day and not fight back?

That already happened too. And that is also part of Bush's four year record of incompetence. The so-called "Pre-9/11 mindset?" That's 100% pure Bush. I'm pretty sure that Clinton, Kerry, or the French were not in control of the House, the Senate, the presidency, and the Supreme Court on 9/11.

That's on the GOP's watch.

Spin as you may.

Mind you... I am not blaming the GOP for 9/11. That's absurd. I'm saying the GOP mishandled crucial intel ahead of 9/11 and largely mishandled the reaction to 9/11. And, yeah, the Dems helped botch some of that too.

A Kerry presidency did not ignore the terrorist threat and multiple intel sources indicating SPECIFICALLY an attack by Al Qaeda using airplanes. That would be Bush.

Kerry has no record on prosecuting a war. Bush does. It's a miserable failure. And that's why the GOP is focusing exclusively on what a Kerry presidency MIGHT look like. Because they know Bush has nothing worthwhile in his record to run on. It's a trainwreck. The reason Bush needs to go is because as Americans we need to hold our leaders accountable for gross negligence and bone-jarringly obvious outright ineptitude. Conservative Americans AND "liberal" Americans. In the long run, a second Bush presidency will hurt the conservative movement irreparably. Conservatives ought to fear this guy more than the left. He's carrying your banner.

And using it for a diaper.

Kerry, drop dead drunk on his worst day could never, ever, ever do a worse job than Bush. That's the low water mark set by this administration. It's unlikely any president will ever fare as poorly as this.

Actually, I take that back.

The only person who could top these last four years would be Bush himself. Yeah, he could do a whole lot worse. Trust me... we don't want to be in the passenger seat when he hits rock bottom.

Posted by: Spudnuts at October 31, 2004 08:45 PM

By the way, Bernard Lewis is a doddering shell of a man. His insight on Iraq is limited to the headgear worn in 6th century Mesopotamian caliphates. The neo-cons like to cite Lewis because a discussion which focuses on politics from 1400 years ago, is a discussion which doesn't focus on the inept actions of the neo-cons TODAY.

Posted by: Spudnuts at October 31, 2004 08:51 PM

Oh.

And Happy Halloween.

Posted by: Spudnuts at October 31, 2004 08:52 PM

David Sucher,

"we don't really have a lot of choice in whether or how we respond (or not) to Islamic terrorism and that a competent President of either Party will pretty-much do the same thing. Does anyone really think that a President Kerry -- faced with another 911 event -- would call up the OBL and ask him to confer? Only a vivid imagination would come up with such an idea."

You would think that is true, but it's not. And all you have to do is look at the difference between Jimmy Carter's presidency and Reagan's. The idea that public opinion polls will press Kerry to do the right thing instead of Kerry instinctively doing the right thing is terrifying to my mind. In order to get reelected, Kerry will have to cater to his base. Kerry's base will not back bombing the shite out of stuff. He'll just go to the UN, stage summits, yell at Israel, blah blah blah. Nothing will get done and Al Qaeda will be resurgent. It's like a movie I've already seen.

Whether you like it or not, electing Kerry instead of Bush will be seen as a rejection of everything Bush has done in the last four years.

Posted by: lindenen at October 31, 2004 11:50 PM

As a bioethicist/terrorism expert myself, I find it hard to believe anyone gives a rat's ass what Clarke thinks. Not too difficult for a guy with his resume' and views to get published. Lets simply ignore him.

Posted by: Raymond at November 1, 2004 12:26 AM

spud-nut.
The historical record of America's non-response to terror in the 1980s and 1990s includes the deaths of many thousands of innocents. After 9/11, America (except for the leftists and America-haters among us) was in no mood to do nothing. A military foray into the Middle East was going to happen no matter who was president.

Thank goodness it was GWB. Johnson would have micromanaged it into the dirt. Carter would have sent a couple of helicopters and ran away at the first malfunction. Clinton would have shot off a few missiles and talked about how he just barely missed the bad guys. Kerry would say something that nobody understood and then said something different.

Democrats make lousy wartime leaders. And we are in a war. We didn't start it, but we must win. That can't happen under a waffling democrat who was marshalled out of the military (after a pathetic record of falsified heroics and bona-fide treachery) with a non-honorable discharge.

Also, the historical records of all wars prior to the Afghan conflict show a level of stupidity and disregard for soldiers that goes beyond anything imaginable today. By comparison, the Afghan campaign and the Iraq war are surgical works of genius. One must be ignorant of history to claim otherwise. Claims about the President's incompetence never have any credible backup as to what would have worked better with the resources and information available at the time. In any case, Monday morning quarterbacking doesn't count. Everybody is smarter after the fact. So what?

Fewer soldiers have been lost in Afghanistan and Iraq than were lost or captured in the infamous Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the MSM essentially gave Kennedy a pass for that; but then he was a democrat, so what else would we expect?

The galling thing today is how the MSM has closed ranks in trying to make America lose the war against terror by giving up and running away from it, just like OBL says we will. If the media had been as consumed by self-hate when Pearl Harbor was attacked, FDR would have been villified for not soothing the aggrieved Japanese sooner, and we would have simply left Hawaii to the Japanese. Germany would rule everything from Ireland to Siberia and Japan would have the entire western Pacific rim.

It is also worth remembering that the historical record of militant Islam is littered with millions of dead from Africa to Malaysia, even considering only the last 20 years. You are welcome to ignore the patently evident reality of jihad, but it might be better if you had some rationalizations a bit less immature than the ravings of the megalomaniacal M. Moore. As long as you sing from his laughably fabricated hymnal, you are going to be dismissed as a mere crank. And since your general language betrays an adolescent mindset, you ought to wait until you grow up before writing anything more.

Posted by: E. Ireland at November 1, 2004 01:05 AM

By the way, Bernard Lewis is a doddering shell of a man. His insight on Iraq is limited to the headgear worn in 6th century Mesopotamian caliphates

That’s funny, the Palestinians and the Saudis say the same thing, despite the fact that Bernard Lewis' opinions are respected by leaders (from the right and the left) in America.

Neither group can tell us why the Saudis should not be compared to the KKK. Can you?

Do you see any difference between the Saudi Wahhabis and the KKK (or the Third Reich)? One group persecutes based on religion, one on race, but other than that, there’s very little difference. All of these cults are based on hate.

Oh, and the KKK is much more open about their political leanings. David Duke writes Anyone but Bush

"The election is right around the corner and guess what, the American people once again have no real choice for President of the United States of America. No candidate is really worth the vote of one American but I can say without the least hesitation that no candidate deserves defeat more than George Bush, who is the clearest example of a traitor to the American people since the time of Benedict Arnold. The only President who I would say had out-treasoned George Bush was Franklin D. Roosevelt who, completely controlled by his Jewish supremacist advisors and financers, worked so intently to foment the Second World War, the most disastrous and terrible blood-letting in the history of European mankind in o, and the seminal event that has directly led to the rise of Israel, Zionism and Jewish supremacy over our government, media and culture in the postwar years"

The only president as 'treasonous' as Roosevelt..

Posted by: mary at November 1, 2004 05:49 AM

All other points aside, isn't it fundamentally dishonest, right before the election, to simply declare that this lengthy manifesto is in fact a proxy for what Kerry would do. I mean, sure, you do say "if it is" in one way or another, but come on.

I side with whoever says these are all obvious and well-discussed post 9/11 points. That a group of windbags got together to compose a lengthy document that recognizes the obvious and responds to it with a wish list is about as un-newsworthy as it gets.

To me, the bottom line is that our policy options are limited, and our responses to the many future challenges we face are likely to be similar. That's why, despite the protestations of partisans, the details of both Bush's and Kerry's list of things to do looks so similar.

Frankly, I can't wait for this election to be over. Whoever wins will deserve to be in the fix that they find themselves in, which is some consolation.

Posted by: bk at November 1, 2004 06:45 AM

"It is my habit to simply believe what people say; and what the Islamist terrorists have said - and what the works at the core of their ideology support - is the notion that this is a war against the modern West for the creation of a totalitarian religious state."

Can someone show me some Bin Laden language saying he wants to create a totalitarian religious state in the West? From what I heard on Friday, Bin Laden, echoing Michael Moore and a whole bunch of other people, noted he had not attacked Israel, and said that the West will not get attacked if it withdraws from the Middle East and stops giving aid and comfort to Israel.

For the record, I don't think we SHOULD ditch Israel, or leave Afghanistan or Iraq just yet. But, do you take him at his word here? Is he being a liberal, or a flip-flopper? Go ahead, try to convince me I can have it both ways.

Posted by: markus rose at November 1, 2004 07:13 AM

Well, to respond to two things: The folks who wrote this are in the top tier of policy resources that would likely be tapped in a Kerry Administration, so it's reasonable to assume that their views are somewhere near the mainstream; and OBL's most recent speech was, as you'll notice, quite different than his earlier ones - and notes the damage done to his organization by the war - see the MEMRI translation for the complete one. His previous speeches (and reading the English-language stuff I've been able to find from the Muslim Brotherhood and Qutb) suggest that it's quite the duty for their followers to spread the gospel.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at November 1, 2004 07:24 AM

"It is my habit to simply believe what people say; and what the Islamist terrorists have said - and what the works at the core of their ideology support - is the notion that this is a war against the modern West for the creation of a totalitarian religious state."

Huh?

What people said that? Not Bin Laden, not Al Sadr, not even the evil monsters called the Iranian Muhallas. In fact, the only time I've ever heard anyone talk about the Muslims wanting a totalitarian religious state in the west, was when people in the West write about what the jihadists want.

I've stated in the past that this is a typical Second-Circut "Emotional/Territorial" dispute. The Muslims believe that they should have full control of the people and lands which they inhabit. The West believes that their control must be tempered with our interests, and to a lesser extent the interests of human rights, as we understand them.

They see us as meddlers, interfering with their lives, we see them as dangerous lunatics, controlling our energy supply.

Only when everyone honestly evaluates what this war, the palastinian conflict and the rest of the unrest in the ME is actually about, will progress be made.

And honestly, it's mostly about peeing on trees and marking your territory. GO 2nd CIRCUT!!!

Blah,

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at November 1, 2004 07:27 AM

Without wars there is no peace. Religious beliefs will always be the rationalization for killing people, because its so easy to get followers.The whole Jihad movement reminds me so much of the Liberal movement. First thing you do is quit educating people like our public schools do today, tell them a little truth with a lot of lies and they'll follow you. Sit back and strike only after you are hit which you will. Bin Laden is a Hypocrite and if you can't see that they are trying to return to the dark ages for all mankind then what difference does it make you have already decide to vote for Kerry, which will only speed the othersides victory. I still contend if you think America is so evil how can you live here and call yourself an American without condoning the evil.

Posted by: Barney at November 1, 2004 07:46 AM

David Thomson--I agree with your premise, except for the part about the Kerry camp's "subtle anti-Semitism."

Ain't nothing subtle about it.

Posted by: Ken Hall at November 1, 2004 08:30 AM

The Muslims believe that they should have full control of the people and lands which they inhabit.

Muslims are not a majority in Thailand, but that doesn’t stop Wahhabi-educated extremists from slaughtering Buddhist monks and attacking schools in Thailand that have the gall to educate girls.

Muslims are a majority in the Sudan, partially as a result of the Islamist slaughter and enslavement of blacks in the south. Slavery, genocide and complete religious intolerance are an established part of their laws. Their cult is as expansionist and as genocidal as the Thousand Year Reich. They just use different tactics (terrorism, the spread of hate).

These Islamists kill people because they can, and because their laws encourage them to kill. If Israel didn’t have a powerful military, they would suffer the same fate as the black Sudanese. If the Hindus didn’t have a powerful military, they would too. So would we.

There are a lot of moderate Muslims in the Middle East. The terrorists and their Islamist state sponsors win these 'hearts and minds' by oppressing and threatening lives on a daily basis. It's not a 'struggle of ideas', it's just standard oppression and war.

Unfortunately, this conflict goes way beyond the Middle East. Richard Clarke & co. do not take this fact into account.

Posted by: mary at November 1, 2004 08:46 AM

Barney,

I don't think that America is evil. America is a country, filled with millions of people, involved in a great experiment in a democratic republic. I think America is great.

However, my love of America doesn't require me to support Mr. Bush. I can love America and vote for Kerry.

Please come back to reality and leave your fantasy world of partisan dogma at the door.

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at November 1, 2004 08:49 AM

markus -

I'd start with the Encyclopedia of Afghan Jihad...

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at November 1, 2004 09:00 AM

Ratatosk,

I never said to vote for either one, I said if you think America is evil how can you bear to live here? It just seems the lefties will give the benefit of doubt to anyone but America. Go ahead and vote for Kerry, I suspect though you don't particularly like him you just hate Bush.

Posted by: Barney at November 1, 2004 09:08 AM

Barney,

Actually, I don't hate Bush. I just don't like the job he has done as President.

Posted by: Ratatosk at November 1, 2004 11:23 AM

Without wars there is no peace.

Just thinking, war/wars, peace/?peaces?.
There is no plural for peace. Is that because we have so little of it? Language can be telling sometimes.

Just curious.

Posted by: jdwill at November 1, 2004 12:16 PM

"Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Kennedy surely took the feelings of the Southern sheriffs into account when they mobilized Federal resources to combat Jim Crow. But I don't think they are honored today for ultimately bending their policies to make them more palatable to the most intransigent opponents of integration."

Admittedly there are some similiarities. Both use just as well as unjust tactics to further their goals. Southern racists justly tried to elect like-minded politicians to office, while also using unjust tactics, like black voter disenfranchisment, lynchings, and Bull Conner's attack dogs.

Palestinians and their supporters also use both just tactics, like engaging in polemics with zionist expansionists and their apologists, and engaging in armed conflict against the IDF, as well as unjust ones, like suicide bombings and other war crimes against Israeli civilians.

A final similarity between the two conflicts is that in both cases those in favor of the status quo -- southern racists on the one hand, zionist expansionists and their apologists on the other --seek to conflate the views of ALL of their opponents with the views of their MOST INTRANSIGENT ones. Therefore, according to southern racists, most civil rights advocates were communists or black separatists, and according to zionist exansionists and their apologists, most Palestinians will settle for nothing less than driving the Jews into the sea.

There are, however, also fundamental differences. The most important one is that in the end, Southern racists were fighting for a UNJUST cause, while Palestinians are fighting for JUST one.

Posted by: markus rose at November 1, 2004 12:27 PM

Well, markus, sign me up as a Zionist apologist, because I still don;t see the official PA map showing Israel, nor do I see the Hezbollah press release acknowleding Israel's right to exist. I'd truly love to see those, so if you have links, please share...

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at November 1, 2004 02:06 PM

Armed Liberal -- most Palestinians lived in 'Israel proper', as it is called, not Gaza or the West Bank, prior to 1948, which is why their imaginary maps show imaginary borders for the imaginary state of Palestine. The real question is who has put up the major roadblocks against the still-onesided but nevertheless realistic solution of giving about 20% of land west of the Jordan to the non-Jews who will soon be a demographic majority within that area. And number three on that list, right after the Palestinian terrorists, and the sit-on-the-fence palestinian authority leaders like arafat, are those who think its fine and dandy for Israel to import hundred of thousands of Jewish nationalist/religious fanatics into the West bank, in order to make even a tiny Palestinian state an impossibility.

And unlike the Palestinian obstacles to peace, which are temporary and no obstacle at all should future Palestinians change their rhetoric about the Jewish state, once those larger Jewish settlements get built in the West Bank, the people who move in will never leave.

Posted by: markus rose at November 1, 2004 02:51 PM

markus, I'm not getting into this with you on someone else's blog. Please don't take my silence for assent.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at November 1, 2004 06:18 PM

Marcus great job at omiting what happened
in your dream story that Palestinians were expelled by the zionist monster..Might i remind you that there was, and that Israel wasnt the country that caused it. That Palestinians were active fighters.

And Btw why dont you talk about the 800000 jews expelled from other Middle East countries between 1941-43 that had resettled in what will be Israel.
and those thousands expelled in 1948 from Baghdad and other places?

And the Germans territory lost in 2nd world war? and the millions displaced...

They started the war and paid the price. For me that's morally correct and justice.

Posted by: lucklucky at November 1, 2004 10:46 PM

I have to say that I strongly disagree with the Marc's feelings on this. The policies put forth are hardly ideal, but they are as ideal as we're going to get given the facts on the ground.

I would love for America to be able to take a visible leadership role in these sorts of things, but Richard Clarke and company have a good point. The Muslim world absoutely hates us, now. I don't agree with most of the reasons that they do, but they do and it's undeniable. We SHOULD fund the activities suggested and we SHOULD prop them up in any way possible, but it just won't work effectively with an American face. The talk of the need for "behind the scenes" American action with "individual Islamic leaders" sounds like good policy to me. We have to do everything in our power to strenghten liberal forces in these countries, but we'll discredit them if we take too much of the spotlight and refuse to distance ourselves or at least try and give that impression.

At the end of the day, like I said, I wish America could take the lead on these things and still be embraced by the Muslim world. Thanks to Bush, we can't. And as for the whole "welcoming Islam as part of our culture" thing, a more secular-sounding President would go a long way...you know, one who isn't waxing Biblical all the time about "evildoers" and whatnot.

Those who have visited this site for quite some time may read this and say I've changed my views, that I used to be alot more hawkish. I don't think I've changed at all. Bush changed the playing field, however, and has alienated the vast majority of the Middle East in the process. I'm just adapting to what is now possible because of him. We've all but lost the hearts and minds, at this point.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at November 1, 2004 10:48 PM

PS...

And, to echo the comments of a few other folks in here already: Yes, alot of you guys really do need to return to Earth. I remember alot of you right-leaning folks being alot more sane and rational, once upon a time. It seems to me like most of you are collectively going off a cliff.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at November 1, 2004 10:55 PM

lucklucky -- The main thing that you misunderstand about me, is that my views on Israel are not 180 degrees opposite from yours, they are more like 90 degrees. I'm balanced and unbiased, and you're not. As a result you're angry at me for pointing out inconvenient facts that most Americans don't know -- such as the fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their homes in Israel and not allowed to return. Or the fact that Palestinian Arabs will soon outnumber Palestinian Jews. You falsely draw conclusions about my views -- such as when you allege I view Israel as a "zionist monster." And you're sloppy with facts. For example, the expulsion of 800,000 Jews from Arab countries occured AFTER the state of Israel was founded, and AFTER the Palestinian refugee problem was created, NOT before.

Finally, I AGREE with you that the Palestinians ought to "pay the price" for starting the war in 1948. That price ought to be an extraordinary one -- their loss of the right, granted to other displaced refugees under the Geneva Convention, to return to their old homes, in their case in 'Israel proper'. I oppose those who insist upon the 'right of return.'

The war of 1967, contrary to your claim, was not started by West Bank and Gaza Arabs. But the more relevant point in regard to that second conflict is that if Israel really does want to hold onto the territory that it conquered -- which you may be surprised to know I believe they have the right to do -- then it needs to give the people it has conquered the political representation that it gives to its other non-jewish citizens in 'israel proper.'

Posted by: markjs rose at November 2, 2004 09:14 AM

Grant - we've tried to win hearts and minds in the Middle East Before, and all it won was contempt. From Amir Taheri:

"Carter had decided to support Khomeini in the context of the so-called "Green Belt" strategy developed by National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. That strategy was based on the assumption that the United States and its allies were unable to contain the Soviet Union, then expanding its zone of influence into Africa, the Indian Ocean region and, through left-leaning regimes, in Latin America. To counter that expanding threat, Brzezinski envisaged the creation of a string of Islamic allies that, for religious and political reasons, would prefer the United States against the "godless" Soviet empire..."

[after the raid on the U.S. embassy in Tehran]..Carter's envoy to the United Nations, a certain Andrew Young, described Khomeini as "a 20th-century saint," and begged the ayatollah to show "magnanimity and compassion."

Carter went further by sending a letter to Khomeini. Written in longhand, it was an appeal from "one believer to a man of God."

Carter's syrupy prose must have amused Khomeini, who preferred a minimalist style with such phrases as "we shall cut off America's hands."...

..Ahmad Khomeini's memoirs echo the surprise that his father, the ayatollah, showed, as the Carter administration behaved "like a headless chicken."

What especially surprised Khomeini was that Cater and his aides, notably Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, rather than condemning the seizure and the treatment of the hostages as a barbarous act, appeared apologetic for unspecified mistakes supposedly committed by the United States and asked for forgiveness and magnanimity...

..The surprising show of weakness from Washington also encouraged the mullahs and the hostage-holders to come up with a fresh demand each day..."

Posted by: mary at November 2, 2004 02:33 PM

Markus,

"southern racists on the one hand, zionist expansionists and their apologists on the other"

The parallel is terror.

Southern racists --> burning crosses, bombing temples, etc...
Islamic fascists --> car bombs, beheadings, etc...

"Zionist expansionism" falls into the category of "Northern aggression"; both being excuses for widespread oppression.

And, Mork, the freedom riders endured epithets far worse than "chickenhawk". You'll have to do better than that to intimidate me.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at November 2, 2004 07:08 PM
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Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
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