October 17, 2006

Things Could Be a Lot Worse…

In response to some of the obnoxious kvetching in the comments yesterday beneath what was perhaps my only domestic politics post in all of 2006, Double-Plus-Ungood (a Canadian) wrote in the comments:

To a foreigner, [Democrats and Republicans are] practically identical to begin with. Most nation's political landscapes are diverse, from fascists to marxists on the ballot.
Heh, no kidding.

If you sincerely believe American politics is extreme or even diverse, just look at Lebanon’s ballot. That thing is all kinds of crazy. You get Baath-aligned Christians, socialist Druze, libertarian Sunni, terrorist Shia, and literally everything under the sun in between ranging from eminently reasonable democratic liberals to totally unhinged political maniacs. The American system is a Borg cube by comparison.

Think we live in a total surveillance police state? Go to Libya! Ask someone in a crowded room what he or she thinks of Colonel Qaddafi. Watch him or her twitch. Then ask the same person in private. Listen to what they say about being hauled off to prison at midnight. Compare and contrast with America.

If you think Birkenstock-clad leftists in the cafés of Berkeley are soft on the terrorists, try listening to what gets said in the cafés of Cairo.

These are some of my points of reference. How could it be otherwise? I’ve spent more time in the Middle East in the past twelve months than I’ve spent in America.

American politics is just so bizarre to me now. The general consensus excluding the far-left and the far-right is almost total. Makes me think of the Leave it to Beaver era. But if you read the comment threads on LGF or Kos it looks like we’re heading toward civil war.

This is the fifth reason (I cited four yesterday) why I prefer to write about other things.

Up next, a far less acrimonious subject -- storm chasing in Arizona (with photos, of course).

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2006 02:03 PM
Comments

After I wrote that comment, I thought "Shit, remember who you're talking to. Lebanon's elections must be a freaking nightmare."

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 17, 2006 02:28 PM

Yeah, Michael, most countries have fascists and marxists - that's two kinds of totalitarians on the ballot. The US, with only Democrats and Republicans to choose from, doesn't have any.

To certain sorts of foreigners, all non-totalitarians look alike.

Posted by: bgates at October 17, 2006 03:11 PM

That's because mose of us agree on the basics and argue mostly about details.

When we didn't agree on the basics we had a revolution and a civil war.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2006 03:34 PM

Michael,

Excellent points; ones I've been trying to make to people for years. Whenever I hear some goofball complaining about America being a "fascist dictatorship" and how our rights are being completely eroded, I ask them, "Oh really? Ever been to Oman? When I was there we were nearly hauled in to jail simply for being pulled over by the side of the road, looking at a map because we were lost." People here (and a few other places) really have no idea how good they have it. Don't sweat the comments by the hyper-partisans (even though I know you're not) After all, I'm sure that as someone who has been called a pro-Israel zealot and a pro-Hizballah zealot at the same time can probably handle it. A lot of people who read your material may not agree with you 100 percent on certain things, but like me they're not about to throw you under the bus. I look forward to hearing about the storms.

Chad

Posted by: Chad at October 17, 2006 04:22 PM

Not even Hezbozo can throw me under the bus, though I know Hussein Naboulsi would love to. So I'm not sweating it.

I does amuse me when I get called a Zionist operative and an anti-Semite on the same day. It's happened!

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2006 04:26 PM

Yeesh, I don't read your site for a couple days and all kinds of jackassery breaks out. I will never cease to be amazed by the low level of most people's reading comprehension. Did anyone think you were a flag-waving Bush voter? I read and donate (and will continue to do so) because you provide the perspective that--as you pointed out--is missing in American politics at large. I think that broad consensus is good and helpful (the Lebanese can have their gun-barrel politics, and the Egyptions are welcome to their religious brownshirts) but you have to know where the rest of the world is coming from in order to understand what they do.

Posted by: Stacy at October 17, 2006 04:41 PM

"I’ve spent more time in the Middle East in the past twelve months than I’ve spent in America."

So you're a travel writer. Fydor's Travel Guides and all that (with photos, of course).

Posted by: xixi at October 17, 2006 06:22 PM

Travel writers don't write for Fydor's or Lonely Planet. They also don't go to war zones.

(Guide book writers write for Fydor's.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2006 06:49 PM

I have spent the last 20 years in China or Greater China, and while I still feel safe to post anti-Bush sentiments, I never publicly criticize China while in China and will not do so here.

It may be true that Americans are not being pulled from bed at midnight, but how do you know Michael? Simply because you have not been detained? It doesnt get reported if it happens, and I am not saying it does, at least not to non-Muslim US citizens.

The fact of the matter is that the US government has established it's right to listen in on it's citizens private communications, check what they read or search for online, monitor their financial transactions of any amount, determine if that citizen is an enemy combatant without being accountable to anyone who may want to challenge that determination and incarcerate them for so long as they feel necesary without due process, all for reasons of national security because we are under attack or may be attacked in the future.

Hitler rose to power due to weaknesses in Germans democracy, which basically gave the President dicatatorial powers in a state of emergency. Neither Bush nor Hitler won the popular vote. The Reichstag fires in 1933 were to Hitler what 9/11 has been to Bush. I am in no way comparing Hitler to Bush, nor am I saying the US government conspired to orchestrate or were complicit in allowing 9/11 to happen, that is being discussed elsewhere, but I am comparing the weaknesses in our own Democracy with 1933 Germany, which seem to have given an American President some of the same powers Hitler seized under similar circumstances. We may presume Bush will act for the Good of the American people with his powers, at least so far as he sees Good, but Hitler certainly did Evil with his powers.

Bush's refusal to consider diplomacy by direct communications with Iraq, Palestinians, Iran, N. Korea,etc to resolve disputes is a concern. His willingness to pursue wars of choice or preemptive wars is a radical change from our 20th century position to consider war as a last resort. One wonders what if GW Bush was President in the Cold War, would we have had a similar outcome or would he have attempted a First Strike in a pre-emptive war leading to a nuclear holocaust. Fortunately we will never know.

The invasion of Iraq was made under false pretences, no one today should question that. What worked for Bush also worked for Hermann Goerring, when asked how the Nazis convinced the people to go to war, he was quoted as saying "...it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Again, I think Bush is a good man doing what he thinks is right, even though I may not agree with him, but in doing so, he has put the country in great danger of becoming a fascist state should the next leader we choose be more like Hitler than Bush.

Have we become a fascist state now?. No, if so I would not be posting this. Should we be concerned?. Yes, so do not take false comfort in waking up in your own bed each morning that all is well.

Nice pictures of your trips by the way.

Posted by: Paul Todd at October 17, 2006 07:41 PM

Michael,

As a staunch conservative I was chagrined to read some of the comments folks left. As far as I'm concerned, I could care less how you decide to vote. I immensely enjoy your posts because they are informative, insightful, and above all, honest. You call 'em like you see 'em, and I appreciate that.

Keep up the great work!

Posted by: marcus at October 17, 2006 08:50 PM

Paul Todd,

Interesting viewpoint, but I'm sure you could have saved a lot of time by just saying you've been in the Greater China region for 20 years and now agree with their propaganda wholeheartedly. The rest of us would have gotten the implications.

Posted by: Jeff at October 17, 2006 10:00 PM

Michael, I agree with what you said except for one thing .. you said Lebanon has libertarian Sunni groups ?

This is difficult for me to fathom.. I'm thinking how the hell could a tradition of liberalism based on English and French thinkers, as well as the Austrian economic school, find its way into Lebanese politics ?

Most Western societies outside the US don't even have established libertarian parties.

Posted by: Jono at October 17, 2006 10:07 PM

[...] Neither Bush nor Hitler won the popular vote. The Reichstag fires in 1933 were to Hitler what 9/11 has been to Bush. I am in no way comparing Hitler to Bush, nor am I saying the US government conspired to orchestrate or were complicit in allowing 9/11 to happen [...]

You compare Bush and Hitler repeatedly, and in the very next sentence, claim you are not doing so.

This is pretty much a textboox example what a lot of people on the right refer to as "Bush Derangement Syndrome".

It would be really nice if the people who think Bush is a totalitarian fascist would go live in a place run by a real totalitarian fascist for a few years. They would gain some badly needed perspective.

ps: Nevermind that the Riechstag fire was staged, nevermind that Presidential elections in the US have never been determined by the popular vote, and nevermind that Bush did get a majority of the popular vote in 2004. No, you're not comparting Bush to Hitler, nosiree.

Posted by: rosignol at October 17, 2006 10:31 PM

Jono: Most Western societies outside the US don't even have established libertarian parties.

It's not big L Libertarian. More like small-l "libertarian." And I'm referring to Hariri's Future Movement, the most popular Sunni party in Lebanon and the party of Prime Minister Fouad Seniora.

It's a Western-orientated democratic capitalist party.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2006 10:47 PM

rosignol,

There is a difference between saying 2 things are equal (Bush = Hitler) and saying the DYNAMICS of a certain situation are SIMILAR (9/11 to american landscape vs. Reichstag fire to German politics).

I'm constantly amazed at the lack of reading comprehension skills, or more likely, the insistence to find fault in other's thinking just to feel safe in one's own thinking...

Posted by: bad vilbel at October 18, 2006 12:27 AM

As a Norwegian with a keen interest in American politics, it was quite an experience spending some time listening to both Air America and Rush Limbaugh (Thanks, Internet! Thanks, AFN!) before the 2004 elections! They make it sound as if there are only two choices in American elections: The right choice, and the baby-eating, all-evil, lying, conspiracy of the other side.
Americans always (at least most of the time) have more than two choices in all elections. Limiting your vote to either democrat or republican, is just voting for what everyone else is voting for, and just perpetuates the cycle of only having two choices.

Posted by: Kjell Ringstrand at October 18, 2006 12:31 AM

Let's not get too carried away with "it's all relative" rhetoric. There are still significant differences between Republicans and Democrats concerning the war on terror. So much so, that it is very fair to describe the Republicans as the only game in town. The Democrats do want to cut and run in Iraq. Their approach towards the terrorists is more wimpish to say the least. We will suffer gravely if Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid dominate the agenda in both houses of Congress.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 18, 2006 03:14 AM

"Limiting your vote to either democrat or republican, is just voting for what everyone else is voting for, and just perpetuates the cycle of only having two choices."

Thank God for Amrica's electoral college requirement that the winning presidential candidate must capture 270 votes. This forces the two major parties to ultimately moderate their positions to attract the middle-of-the road voters. Political extremists do poorly in such a system.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 18, 2006 03:22 AM

There is a difference between saying 2 things are equal (Bush = Hitler) and saying the DYNAMICS of a certain situation are SIMILAR (9/11 to american landscape vs. Reichstag fire to German politics).

Yeah. This is mainly because the lefties have finally figured out that every time one of them says "Bush = Hitler!" and whoever they're talking to realizes the person saying it is serious, they've just lost a vote.

Saying there are parallels between the situations is basically a watered-down way of making the assertion, with the implication left for the other party to arrive at on their own.

At a serious level, saying there are parallels mainly demonstrates massive ignorance of the situation in Germany circa the 1930s and the situation in the US circa 2000.

In the US, we have the most successful deliberate destructive event in our history, and the government in charge at the time has sought powers and taken actions it considers appropriate to prevent a recurrence, subject to the usual legislative process and judicial review.

In Germany, the Reichstag fire was used to increase one party's proportion of the legislature in order to activate a clause in the Weimar Constitution that allowed a Chancellor to rule by decree.

Do you not see the fundamental difference here?

No?

Allow me to point out that the US Constitution has no clause allowing a President to govern by decree, that who holds the office of President has nothing whatsoever to do with what party has a majority of any chamber of Congess, and that in order to change those things, a Constitutional Amendment would have to be passed (never gonna happen), and finally, that 9/11/01 happened after the 2000 election- which is when the R's gained control of the Presidency, the House, and the Senate.

Maybe that stuff seems plausible to people who lives in a country where the Prime Minister is determined by whatever party has a majority in your parliament, but it's not how things work in the US, and if you are going to make assertions to the contrary, you really should educate yourself.

People who think that the Reichstag fire has any significant parallel with the 9/11 attacks are mainly demonstrating their ignorance of history and showing that they are having trouble comprehending the concept of 'causality'.

Of course, if you can show how something that happened in 2000 was caused by an event in 2001, I would really like to see it...

I'm constantly amazed at the lack of reading comprehension skills, or more likely, the insistence to find fault in other's thinking just to feel safe in one's own thinking...

I'm constantly amazed at how so many people seem to think it is acceptable to draw parallels between a President of the United States and Adolf Hitler.

I don't give a damn if the specific President in question is George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, or Richard Nixon- in all cases, it is extremely offensive hyperbole and in exceptionally poor taste.

Posted by: rosignol at October 18, 2006 03:49 AM

Bush, SOTU 2003: "Today, the gravest danger in the war on terror, the gravest danger facing America and the world, is outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. These regimes could use such weapons for blackmail, terror, and mass murder. They could also give or sell those weapons to terrorist allies, who would use them without the least hesitation."

Paul Todd, you claim this is a lie? You claim that outlaw regimes with WMDs are not a threat? You claim Saddam was following the 16 UN SC resolutions that Bush and the UN SC said he was violating?
You claim: "The invasion of Iraq was made under false pretences, no one today should question that."

Sorry, I still believe Bush was correct in 2003, that the US needs a better response to outlaw regimes. That we didn't find WMDs in Iraq shows that Saddam was a great liar -- with lies and half truths and deniability. Bush believed, as Clinton believed, that Saddam had programs working on getting nukes.

I'm glad he invaded, glad we've only lost some 3000 troops (now I give him a "B") -- very very sorry that the Iraqi people did not choose peaceful democracy and opposition to terrorists. Bush's Liberation, not Occupation, gave Iraqis that chance. Iraqi tolerance/ support for terrorists is why Iraq remains a mess.

The Iraqi mess is the mistake of the Iraqis -- note how the Kurds are doing what Rumsfeld and Bush wanted all of Iraq to be doing, but the Arab Iraqis, not Bush, chose otherwise.

Almost like parents who can't seem to stop their teens from taking drugs (a theme quite real to me as I contemplate my 10 year old).

I have yet to read from Michael or any Bush critic describe what a "competent" policy would have looked like and achieved -- though I have my own list of Bush errors: too few Arabic speakers; slow local elections; using proportional representation instead of local districts which supports extremists (as shown by our own tweedleReeps & tweedleDems); US controlled aid instead of local controlled municipal bonds; etc.

My own biggest fear is that Tel Aviv will disappear in a mushroom cloud. I believe that Bush's invasion of Iraq reduced that probability -- but that Iran's continued push to get nukes, along with the 3rd Axis N. Korea, means it remains a growing threat.

Will you only be convinced of the threat AFTER a terrorist gets nukes? Would you accept any responsibility then? -- or, like Nixon haters, blame Nixon and the Reps for the loss of Vietnam in 1975 after Congress cancelled funding (for the corrupt, incompetent, cowardly S. Viet regime, which was still better than the N. Viet alternative.)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 18, 2006 03:50 AM

I have yet to read from Michael or any Bush critic describe what a "competent" policy would have looked like and achieved...

Tom, while I agree completely with the gist of your post, I will offer this criticism of Bush's approach: It was far too limited and far too timid.

The most frustrating thing about listening to the liberals and Democrats whine about Iraq is that most of the problems we are having there are the result of Bush attempting to wage war on the left's and the liberal’s terms.

First, Bush wasted a year working through the UN and building a “coalition” of allies -- just as the liberals demand we do for every international problem -- which gave Hussein plenty of time to move his WMDs and prepare for our attack. If Bush were truly the go-it-alone-cowboy he is accused of being, we could have gotten into Iraq far faster

Second, Bush has tried to fight a civilian-friendly, limited, partial war that exempts civilians and civilian infrastructure -- in effect, turning the US military into a police force and treating terrorism as a police matter (albeit in another country) -- just like the liberals think it should be treated.

Could we have defeated Germany and Japan in WWII by this method? No.

Third, Bush has pushed the disastrous notion of “democracy” and “self-determination” -- all based on the leftist/liberal notion of multiculturalism, which declares that all cultures are equally valid and that we have no right to impose our form of government on others. Thus, we have permitted the election of an Iraqi prime minister who openly sides with Iran against Israel, we have Hamas elected to run the PA and we have Hizbullah elected to the Lebanese government. These are the left’s and the liberal’s ideas in action -- implemented by a President who dares not oppose them on fundamental terms.

Did McArthur permit the defeated Japanese to write their own constitution? No, he wrote it for them -- and they gladly implemented it because we had shown them the death and destruction that would result from any attempt to resist the U.S.

Fourth, Bush accepts the leftist/liberal idea that the US is responsible for the fate of civilians in any country we attack. Thus, when we started bombing the Taliban, we also had to drop food and medical supplies at the same time!! Can you imagine us dropping food and medicine to the Japanese and Germans?

Fifth, Bush has consistently practiced the left’s and the liberal’s most cherished idea of all -- appeasement..

Immediately after 9/11, Bush began to praise the enemy’s ideology, by declaring that Islam is a “great religion”.

He changed the name of our campaign from Operation Infinite Justice because he feared that Muslims might be offended (only Allah can dispense justice you know).

He praised the Afghan people and bragged about the fact that right up until 9/11, the US had been the leader in giving financial aid to that country -- and promised more.

He invited 50 Muslim clerics to the White House to break the Ramadan fast and prove his commitment to the Muslim community. And so on………….

Now, he is attempting to appease the Iranians by offering them a package of “incentives” to drop their nuclear program. I could go on, but you are probably as tired of reading this as I am of writing it.

Here is the bottom line: The mess in Iraq is the logical outcome of attempting to defend ourselves within the constraints of the left’s and the liberal’s ideas. No war can be won under those constraints. Until and unless we throw them off -- and fight like we did in WWII -- we will not win, we will simply grow weaker as the global jihadists grow stronger.

Posted by: Michael Smith at October 18, 2006 06:02 AM

This is depressing. 5 years of Republican-led futility and we still have to listen to the same old spiel that "the Republicans are serious about the War on Terror". It's hard to even know where to start with such a silly assertion. The Bush White House has never actually taken the War on Terror, Al Qaeda or Bin Laden very seriously. Look at what the Administration does, and not what they say. As Tom points out correctly the government has made not the slightest effort to train more Arab speakers, nor have we taken our de facto role as rulers of Iraq seriously. We have not taken any serious steps to foster democracy in Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Yemen - the homelands of the 9/11 bombers and most radical jihadist ideology. We have pursued a vacillating and contradictory policy towards Iran - refusing to reward any signs of good behavior while doing nothing but posture and bluster when Iran behaves badly. There are reams of evidence and testimony demonstrating that Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney never intended to spend all this time in Iraq but believed that "our" Iraqis would be able to take over right after we toppled Saddam. Our effort at "nation building" in Iraq was a farce mostly led by political appointees who didn't know the local culture and had no real game plan other than "free markets". Our record in Afghanistan has been one of mostly neglect since the Taliban were deposed (but not, unfortunately, eradicated). Some people on the left (and the right) think it is all sheer incompetence, I think the reality is the Administration has some very smart people working for it and that they have never taken Islamic terror all that seriously. I had Condoleeza as a professor at Stanford - Islamic terror is not the kind of problem that gets her excited, these are people who think in terms of grand geopolitical strategy. And in reality of course Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice et al. are not wrong to see Al Qaeda and Bin Laden as basically nothing more than nuisances. In the big picture Islamic jihadim is just not a serious threat to the US or Western civilization. Islamic countries are the most technologically backward on the planet with some of the least productive economies. Unlike Communism, Islamic jihadism is an ideology with very little appeal outside traditional Islamic areas. There are no jihadist revolutionaries in the hills of Peru or Cuba, no underground Jihadist parties in China or Japan. Radical American college kids may still wear Che Guevara shirts, or even Mao pins, but how many American kids, even the most disaffected Bush haters, feel any attraction to Bin Laden or Zarqawi? Islamic jihadism offers none of the evil glamor of Communism, Nazism or even Milosevic style racist fascism. If there was ever an ideology made by and for the world's losers it is Islamic jihadism, and even American leftists know this deep down. The Administration knows what the real long term serious threats to US dominance are - China, our energy dependency, and a resurgent Europe. But they are happy to keep scaring Americans with the Middle Eastern boogey man if that keeps people voting Republican. What bothers me the most about today's Republican party is it's utter cynicism, it seems to be motivated by nothing but political power. Most Republican elites in Washington don't give a damn about abortion either way, don't care about gay marriage, think unrestricted immigration is great if it keeps wages low and realize the "War on Terror" is a costly political maneuver to keep ordinary Americans scared. Low taxes is the only issue Republican politicians are sincere about. But they'll say whatever it takes to get elected. At least the Democrats are only 50% cynical rather than 95%.

Posted by: vanya at October 18, 2006 08:31 AM

I think you hit a political nerve! Sometimes it's good a good thing to discuss political views and ideas; at the very least, it's entertaining! Thanks for the reality check on politics. Some of us get a little narrow in our views, and need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.
Looking forward to the storm-chasing photos!
Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Sallyo at October 18, 2006 09:25 AM

Its really quite funny to watch those of extreme opinion.

BUSH IS HITLER OMG!!!

IF DEMS ARE IN POWER THE TERRORISTS WILL KILL US ALL OMG!!!!

Anyone who actually believes these things seem, to me, like mostly crazy individuals without much basis in reality.

Democrats do not want to destroy the country. They do not want to let terrorists bomb us. They do not want to kill all Christians, nor destroy marriage.

Republicans, including Rove and Cheney (I think), do not want to have a police state run by a dictator.

If you really believe either of these things, please, please do not vote. Stay home with your tinfoil hat and find a nice cushy spot under the bed.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 18, 2006 10:02 AM

But they are happy to keep scaring Americans with the Middle Eastern boogey man if that keeps people voting Republican.

So 9/11 didn't happen? 3,000 people were not murdered? The first bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks on the USS Cole, the bombing of our embassies in Africa, the slaughter of our Marines in Beirut, the horrific bombings in Bali, the Madrid subway bombings, the London tube bombings, the horrific massacres of children at Beslan, the massacre at the theatre in Moscow, the anthrax attacks on our capital, the beltway sniper's two week rein of terror and murder, the Egyptian that murdered the Israelis at LAX, the murders of hundreds of tourists at resorts in Egypt, the massacre at the wedding in Jordon, the foiled plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, the attempt by shoe-bomber Reid to bring down an airliner, the recent foiled plan to bring down 10 airliners bound for America, the Millenium plot to blow up airliners at LAX, the kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl, the attack on the Indian Parliament, the attack on the US Consulate in India, the fire-bombing of the Temple in Kashmir, the relentless waves of suicide bombings in Israel, the parade bombing in Dagastan, Russia, the truck-bomb attack of the residential compound for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia, the twelve suicide bombers that attacked 5 targets in Morocco, the Hotel bombing in Indonesia, the fire bombing of a train in southern Russian -- all of these attacks carried out by Muslims, and this is just a partial list, all of this is just a Republican “boogey man” trotted out for re-election purposes?

And the Iranian chants of “Death to America” and their relentless drive to acquire the weapons that will let them make good on that chant -- is what? A Karl Rove plot?

Posted by: Michael Smith at October 18, 2006 10:30 AM

vanya -

Cynical politics is redundant. And I only wish that you are correct when you say "low taxes is the only issue Republican politicians are sincere about." Just as all power corrupts, and all politicians pursue power for its own end, it follows that the larger the federal government is, the more opportunity thus exists for abuse. It's not 50% Dems and 95% Reps, its 100% of politicians, 95% of the time. You want less federal abuse, shrink the federal govt. Neither party is immune to human nature, or to its perversions from holding enormous power. Seems obvious.

Michael - thanks for all the great reporting you've done over the past few months. I am eager to see you apply your POV to events as they occur in the Middle East. Keep up the great work.

Posted by: obe at October 18, 2006 12:54 PM

Yes it's a boogey man. Everyone in the Republican elite knows it, they're just not that concerned about terrorism. You've made a nice long list but ignored the number of years it took for all those events, not to mention the vastly differing circumstances between events like 9/11, Chechen terrorists in Dagestan, and the temple attack in India. Islamic terrorist attacks have been happening in India, Egypt, Israel and even Russia for the last 30 years, there's nothing new here. 9/11 was certainly horrific but at the end of the day it was the product of a few crazed men not a real attack by a legitimate adversary. And when you add it up all those terrorist casualties together are still a drop in the bucket in the US mortality rate. Terrorists are not going to destroy the US tomorrow, next year or even next century. Islamic terrorism is certainly a serious problem, but it is ridiculous to say "we're at war." It's only from a very privileged American position that terrorism seems so unusual. Unfortunately in most of the world violence is a fairly standard way of expressing political extremism. The Spanish did not panic when the Madrid subway was bombed because they've lived through years of even worse Basque terrorism. Mr. Smith, how times a day do you actually worry you will be killed by a terrorist in the next few hours? It never concerns me, but back in the 1950s and 60s people were truly physically scared that the Russians might drop nuclear weapons on us. That was a real threat. It is certainly foolish to pretend there is no terrorist threat, but it also ridiculous to overreact, as so many visitors to this site love to do, and pretend we're reliving World War II. Ironically I'm quite sure that people like Condoleeza Rice and Rumsfeld know this quite well, yet they're very happy to have your political support if you feel like panicking.

Posted by: vanya at October 18, 2006 01:07 PM

Mike, I suspect you're voting Dem not only because your locals are reasonable people, but that you have profound disagreements with the current Republican foreign policy. However, given the significant minority of commenters roasting you for even voting for the democrats, you thought it was prudent not to bring this up at all.

I won't withhold donations no matter who you vote for. I'll withhold them because you're lazy! What's with all this junk about Arizona? Give me primary-source Farsi editorials and local politics in Basra! You're falling far behind Juan Cole in useful ME information -
:-P

Posted by: glasnost at October 18, 2006 01:30 PM

Michael Smith,

Yes, all of those things really happened. But, you know what... if you go back before 9/11 you'll find all sorts of things just like those you mention. Not to mention the fact that you've thrown everything and the kitchen pot into your argument. Beslan was not perpatrated by the group that flew airplanes into WTC. Neither of them, as far as we can tell, had anything to do with the anthrax attacks in DC and they had nothing to do with two crazy black guys shooting people.

Terrorism isn't the venue of a single political/religious ideology or group. Its a tool. A tool that has been used by almost every single political power since the Vikings did such a bang-up job with it.

That's right, Vikings were terrorists. Americans used Biological weapons to perform terrorist acts on Native Americans. Guy Fawkes was a terrorist.

The Vikings weren't Muslim, they were Norse and had a completely different belief system. The Early Americans claimed to be Christians, but had no problem with commiting what we would consider terrorism today, on Natives. And Guy Fawkes was a Catholic.

To lump all acts of terror since 9/11 into a big pot and then pretend like it has any applicability to our current political discussion seems to be either dishonest or downright silly.

If you have something useful to add, thats great. If you're of a mind to run about worrying about the sky falling... well, here's a tinfoil hat to protect you from the plummeting debris.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 18, 2006 01:52 PM

"if you read the comment threads on LGF or Kos it looks like we’re heading toward civil war"

As I think about it again, it's not civil war I worry about.

It's nuclear war.

After some crazy terrorists get and use a nuke on Tel Aviv, or Miami, or Mumbai, or Moscow.

I think Rice & Rumsfeld & Cheney & Bush (who thinks like Rice on these things, I think), do worry about terrorists with nukes. And that worry is why they wanted to implement Clinton's '98 regime change policy in Iraq, even before 9/11.

Unfortunately(? NOT), we're very unlikey to see WW II style combat against the US. Military force means going in, decapitating the leadership decision makers of a regime -- and then picking up the pieces.

Nobody knows how to force folk to become freedom loving.
The successful Kurds show what Bush's Liberation could have been like -- IF the Arab Iraqis wanted it enough. The failure is not Bush, or else the Kurds, too, would be a mess.

The failure in Iraq is the failure of the Arab Iraqis, the failure of Sunnis to live in peace with Shia. Bush gave them a chance for peace and development, but too many of them chose terror. And now they're getting it.

And it's THEIR fault.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 18, 2006 02:32 PM

From where I stand (socialist utopia of the former UK) the Democrats look totalitarian in an all to familliar way, europe is going to the crapper because of so called democratic principles,look and learn

Posted by: chris edwards at October 18, 2006 02:43 PM

Also I dont thin k any sane person would claim that Mr Bush is perfect but given the ridiculous politically correct world and the blind stupidity of the opposition he is infanitely better than the alternative.

Posted by: chris edwards at October 18, 2006 02:51 PM

What's with all this junk about Arizona?

I need a break, and I'm going into a war zone (again) soon.

You're falling far behind Juan Cole in useful ME information

Has Cole ever been to a war zone?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2006 02:53 PM

"The failure in Iraq is the failure of the Arab Iraqis, the failure of Sunnis to live in peace with Shia. Bush gave them a chance for peace and development, but too many of them chose terror. And now they're getting it.

And it's THEIR fault."

There is a lot of truth in what you say. What I don't understand is if you believe this, do you agree that it is "cutting and running" if we leave and let the Arab Iraqis hash out their differences? If so, how? We gave them a chance, why do we have to stick around now? All we're doing at this point is delaying the inevitable, we're not stopping the bloodshed in Iraq, just slowing it down and prolonging it. The argument that "terrorists will be emboldened" just seems ridiculous, we are hurting the US image far more by appearing to be impotent.

Posted by: vanya at October 18, 2006 07:30 PM
If you think Birkenstock-clad leftists in the cafés of Berkeley are soft on the terrorists, try listening to what gets said in the cafés of Cairo.
You're saying that in cafes in Cairo people are more harsh on terrorism or more sympathetic?
And are you talking about leftists (for Egypt) in Cairo or the general population of Cairo?

And I agree, Lebanon and Greece can keep their "more diverse" nutjobs Commies (real Commies) and Fascists (Real Fascists Nat'l Front) and all of the other nuts in between, I'll take the US Zeitgeist EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.

And the Guardian and Nation is "complaining" because they get too harshly criticized by the general zeitgeist in America, generally more conservative and for the most part, more COMMON SENSICAL....

There actually is Good and Bad
If you don't like America then why imigrate here?
You want to cover your entire face for a job interview, ok fine, we don't have to hire you, this isn't Britain.
You want to come here? OK get a job you won't get immediate Welfare, Health Care, Soc Sec payments etc... you don't want to work? wey're not blocking the exits.....

IN America the Center Majority starts from that basis and then sees greys on either side.

In Europe (Lebanon for sure) there IS GENERALLY NO CENTER and the Median or Ave Center is somewhere 30 degrees left of Center.

So the Nation or Guardian's response to this? (since they are unbias observers) "AMERICA IS FASCIST".... LOL!

The Home of Fascism and Communism calling the 1 country that has SET THE MARK OF POLITICAL SUCCESS is 'fascist'?

THOSE GRAPES ARE REALLY BITTER.... EAT EM...

Mike

Posted by: Mike Nargizian at October 18, 2006 08:08 PM

"We gave them a chance, why do we have to stick around now? All we're doing at this point is delaying the inevitable, we're not stopping the bloodshed in Iraq, just slowing it down and prolonging it."

We have to stick around so that the Iraqi pro-democracy forces win. There is NO "inevitable" about winning the future, although there is an inevitability about a battle. Predictable is not inevitable.

Nixon and the US "won the war" in 1973 with the Paris Peace Accords (Henry K plus another liar from N. Viet get Peace Prizes!) -- but Dems increase majority in congress in 1974, cut funding to S. Vietnam in 1975, and then the N. Vietnamese win a predictable blitz. With no US air power stopping them.
N. Viet victory was NOT inevitable -- until the US decided to stop fighting. If the alternative meant 15 more years of US Vietnam activity to avoid S. Vietnam losing, that's the decision the Dems should have made in 1974. (But many Dems thought anti-capitalist communism was "inevitable".)

Arab anti-democracy terrorists are killing Iraqis and many Shiites are joining death squads to murder Sunnis in retaliation. The majorities on both sides would prefer peace BUT are not yet willing to risk becoming identified targets by reporting the terrorists.

Every Sunni "leader" should be asked, repeatedly, daily, when will the Sunnis stop the terrorists, punish the terrorists?
The Shia leaders will, predictably, claim willingness to stop the death squads only after the Sunnis stop their terrorism.

It IS inevitable that, at some point, one or the other side will stop their mass murders and find a way for the survivors to live together, with enough tolerance for the other to be 'normal'. (See Vietnam and Cambodia today.)

Pulling troops out now would increase the power of the terrorists, and the inexperienced pro-democracy forces would probably die in a battle for survival. The active civil war death toll really would be near the 600 000, or over, especially as the Iraqi Shia become Iranian proxies and Iraqi Sunnis become Saudi proxies -- and all Arabs & Muslims blame all the killing on the US "failure".

Before any pull out, Bush AND the Dems need to be putting the responsibility on the Iraqis. This is exactly where Bush Derangement Syndrome is so terrible -- the Dems would rather blame Bush and hate Bush than give any responsibility and blame to the Iraqis.

When the Dems (and MSM) are calling for Iraqis to be taking responsibility for the Iraqi deaths, and saying that the US (and Bush) is not responsible, then I would support more troop reductions.

If Bush & Reps start pushing Iraqi responsibility, and reducing troops, that would be totally OK with me; if they push for more troops (for more stability now!), that would be less OK. "Stay the course" means continuing to support Bush & Rummy, and the plans they push.

"we are hurting the US image far more by appearing to be impotent."
I think Michael, and all pro-democracy voters, will be hurting the US image MOST by voting Democrat in 1974, er, 2006.
The Dems want to change the MSM led (false) accusation that the US is impotent into reality.

The terrorists know that as long as Bush is in control of the troop levels, America is NOT impotent -- though they also know, and all Americans should know, that the US military is not a foreign police force to stop local gang murderers; locals have that responsibility.

A huge Bush publicity failure is in not publicly pushing this responsibility onto the Iraqis.

Losing 100 soldiers a month in a Long War should be a sustainable rate for supporting a young, imperfect, already corrupt Arab democracy. Unwillingness to pay this amount in lives is what makes the UN and the EU so impotent, now. The Dems want an America that is no more Viagorous.

Darfur & Rwanda show the results of UN "potency".

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 19, 2006 12:02 AM

I need a break, and I'm going into a war zone (again) soon.

Come on, Michael, I realise that you are your own product, and you need to engage in a little marketing here and there, but it rather strains credulity to see you posing as a veteran of a "war zone" on the strength of, what, hanging out in northern Israel while the Israeli army conducted operations in Lebanon? Being in Lebanon before the fighting? A tourist jaunt through the uncontested areas of Kurdistan?

I know there are rubes who come here and lap it up, but I suspect the more intelligent and worldly portion of your readership is rolling its collective eyes and having another quiet chuckle at the gulf between the grandiosity of your claims and the magnitude of your achievement.

Posted by: J.B.S. at October 19, 2006 03:20 AM

Terrorists are not going to destroy the US tomorrow, next year or even next century. Islamic terrorism is certainly a serious problem, but it is ridiculous to say "we're at war." It's only from a very privileged American position that terrorism seems so unusual. Unfortunately in most of the world violence is a fairly standard way of expressing political extremism.

I see. Since others around the world are being slaughtered, who are we to want to do anything about the mass murder of Americans? We should just keep our traps shut and take our lumps like everyone else. We need not be concerned about the possibility of terrorists acquiring a nuclear weapon and vaporizing an American city because, after all, even if they did, they still would not be able to take over America, and they still would only be killing a small percentage of our citizens.

Since people have been suffering from terrorism throughout history, we need to just get over it and accept the fact that they will continue to kill us. It’s just business as usual.

Pay no attention to those skyscrapers falling and those chants of “Death to America”!

To lump all acts of terror since 9/11 into a big pot and then pretend like it has any applicability to our current political discussion seems to be either dishonest or downright silly.

Oh, I get it. Since you have no actual arguments to offer, at least none that are valid, you’d like to just unilaterally declare the entire subject to be off limits “to our current political discussion” and lay down the rule that anyone who brings it up is either “dishonest or downright silly”. How persuasive of you.

Posted by: Michael Smith at October 19, 2006 05:31 AM

I think we're arguing over the stitching, when the real problem lies in the loom. Honestly, first principles are what are at issue here, not the derivative principles that are being debated.

Posted by: Cal Conservative at October 19, 2006 01:50 PM

JBS,

If you knew where I was going you would shut your mouth.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 19, 2006 03:55 PM

I should say if you knew where I am going. Hint: I need to get combat zone insurance at the rate of 100 dollars a day.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 19, 2006 03:56 PM

"I should say if you knew where I am going. Hint: I need to get combat zone insurance at the rate of 100 dollars a day."

TEASE! Ha, ha, I do know, and I'm not telling! ;)
-L

Posted by: lindsey at October 19, 2006 05:03 PM

Stay safe, get rested (not ARrested, mind), and keep up with the posting, you crazy guy, you.

Honestly, I bookmarked this site when you were writing about the beauty of southeastern Oregon, so write about your travels everywhere as much as you like. I'll keep reading.

Posted by: B. Durbin at October 19, 2006 08:02 PM

If you knew where I was going you would shut your mouth.

Actually, probably not. I've read enough of your writing to know that there is a significant difference between what you and I regard as intrepid. After all, a person with the convictions you profess who possessed actual courage wouldn't be spending their life blogging, would they?

Posted by: J.B.S. at October 19, 2006 09:18 PM

Oh Michael I don't know what democracy would do without you. I am so glad you're going to the war zone! Call me!

Posted by: color me impressed at October 19, 2006 09:18 PM

I think I've figured out what JBS's last two initials stand for. No need to elaborate, but I promise that if he starts his own blog and goes to those 'intrepid' places, I'll chip in on his travel costs, too.

So long as it's a place that requires at least $100/day for combat zone insurance.

Posted by: rosignol at October 19, 2006 09:45 PM

JBS: After all, a person with the convictions you profess who possessed actual courage wouldn't be spending their life blogging, would they?

I'm a writer. That's what I do. And blogging pays better than the mainstream media if you're good at it. Which I am.

As for your "actual courage" remark, let's see you go where you need 100 dollars-a-day combat zone insurance. Then you can call me a coward, perhaps. Perhaps.

Until then, kindly go fuck yourself, pal.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 19, 2006 10:11 PM

Oh Michael I don't know what democracy would do without you.

Oh, grow up. "Democracy" will get along just fine without me. I'm going because it's my job.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 19, 2006 10:16 PM

I'm a writer. That's what I do. And blogging pays better than the mainstream media if you're good at it.

So, you believe that we are in an existential struggle with a mortal enemy, and you have consistently called for other people to risk their lives in that struggle (including many who have civilian occupations that are just as meaningful to them as yours is to you) and your personal reaction to these circumstances is to make as much money from it as you can?

Well, at least you're honest about it.

Although, you will forgive me if I discount somewhat your claims about the seriousness of the threat. After all, if you really believed it, your own actions would be somewhat different, don't you think?

Posted by: J.B.S. at October 19, 2006 11:48 PM

I'm a writer, JBS. It's my job. It's what I have always wanted to do, now I'm doing it, and I won't quit or apologize for it. I especially won't quit because some anonymous asshole tells me I should.

Who, exactly, do you think you are, anyway? You're just pixels on my screen. You aren't my wife, my best friend, or my mother. I don't even know your name. So keep your career "advice" to yourself.

your personal reaction to these circumstances is to make as much money from it as you can?

Is there a name for the world you live in? (College, perhaps?) I am 36 years old, I have saved exactly zero dollars and zero cents for retirement, and I have 25 years remaining on my mortgage. I am not going to make less money on purpose because it's "pure" or whatever half-baked reason you have in your head.

I have never asked anyone to quit their job and go join the army. That's what you do. And you should stop because it makes you look absolutely ridiculous.

You want to argue with me? Fine. Although it has been a long time since I advocated war with any country or even mentioned the Iraq war one way or another. And if I remember correctly I opposed the latest round of the terror war. (The one in Lebanon, that is.)

You want me to pay the bandwidth charges on your personal insults because you don't like me or the way I voted a few years ago? (Although I'm embarrassed to say I'll be voting the same way as you this time around.) Nope. Not gonna happen.

You're banned if you do it again.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 20, 2006 12:15 AM

I should say if you knew where I am going. Hint: I need to get combat zone insurance at the rate of 100 dollars a day.

Since I give up I've asked for

David Letterman's 10 Most Likely Answers to the Question of the Day

The next rally for Peace on Earth sponsored by International ANSWER?

Al Sharpton's next Civil Rights gathering at a Korean Grocery store in Brooklyn?

The next beauty contest in Ethiopia?

Gay Rights parade in Jordan?

University of Concordia during a Stephen Harper speech?

Any random Mosque in Brooklyn or London? (the owner of this site disavows any ref to this)

In front of the next newspaper that publishes a cartoon involving Islam? (the owner of this site disavows any connection to this and any Jew who happens to be here)

The apartment of next Lebanese reporter that criticizes Syria or Hezbollah?

Young Frankenstein (I mean Gene Wilder) I mean Walid Jumblatt's hideaway.

Mike

Posted by: Mike Nargizian at October 20, 2006 12:26 AM

"very very sorry that the Iraqi people did not choose peaceful democracy and opposition to terrorists. "

But they did, and still do. However, there are many thousands of terrorists in Iraq, and they are cunning and well organised. They will be hard to defeat, and there is a steady stream of new arrivals coming in through the porous borders.

Posted by: Don Cox at October 20, 2006 04:37 AM

Michael, can I ask why you're feeding the troll?
(The chickenhawk canard is particularly silly; but when you give him an F.u, he wins.)

You're the best writer I've found to read (open to suggestions), blog or books, though neo-neocon is also fine. (I'm envious, er, full of admiration, wish I could be that good.) You were more "there" in the ME, even before you physically travelled, then the front page stuff I see on BBC / Reuters / Wapo / CBS / CNN / Fox news sites.

Keep up the fantastic work; stay safe. (It's not too late to change your votes! Though I just sent my Libertarian/ Republican absentee votes for CA in. Gail Lightfoot is a wonderful woman for CA office.)

Don - yes, many Iraqis want peace and democracy, as long as somebody else pays the law enforcement price. That's not wanting rule of law enough. Mao says only 2 out of hundred are needed to maintain an insurgency -- the Iraqis must make it socially unacceptable to be anything other than anti-terrorist.

It's Arab Iraqis killing other Arabs, without those who "know" who's doing it being willing to stop it. Presumption of innocence fails when too many lie to protect the guilty.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 20, 2006 05:24 AM

> when asked how the Nazis convinced the people to go to war, he was quoted as saying "...it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist
> dictatorship...

Actually, no, Goering said that during the Nuremberg trials to argue that the democratic Allies were no better than the Nazis. His quote only makes sense if you believe that too.

http://www.volokh.com/2003_03_23_volokh_archive.html

Posted by: Wagner James Au at October 20, 2006 08:29 AM

I tend to stay out of these right-left discussions, mostly because both sides support the same basic policies in the Middle East - keep the oil flowing, appease our 'moderate' Islamist 'friends' in the region, try to maintain stability in the area while simultaneously flying into a panic at the mention of WMDs...

Also, these right/left discussions seem to generate, almost spontaneously, the most disgusting trolls.

I was planning to vote for democrats this year - I agree with them on local issues and it's good to maintain some sort of two-party balance.

Unfortunately, the local dems are extremely corrupt. However, most of the republicans in New Jersey are RINOs. I wonder if the RINOs vs. real conservatives will be the new 2 party system?

Posted by: mary at October 20, 2006 08:35 AM

Unfortunately, the local dems are extremely corrupt. However, most of the republicans in New Jersey are RINOs. I wonder if the RINOs vs. real conservatives will be the new 2 party system?

RINOs are less bad than extremely corrupt Dems.

At least, until the RINOs are assimilated into the system and become corrupt, too.

'Power corrupts' may be a cliche, but that doesn't mean it's not true.

Posted by: rosignol at October 20, 2006 09:41 AM

Come on man, someone throw me a bone... that list wasn't at least somewhat funny and creative?

Posted by: Mike Nargizian at October 20, 2006 01:32 PM

Mike, for what it's worth, I think it's a commendable thing that you go to war zones.. since I innocently started this particular line of questioning.

Sure, it takes a certain degree of bravery. I think the same thing about journalists in Iraq, and it would be inconsistent to say anything else.

On the other hand, CNN and Fox News also go to war zones a lot. I'm not equating you with either of those lame-product outlets - I visit the site because I think you'll have interesting things to say - but I'm simply making the point that visiting places personally guarantees no particular ability to say or understand a darn thing.

You can do whatever you want with your own blog, but count me as pushing you to comment on foreign affairs. You don't have to only blog about it when you're there. That's the only thing worth suffering through the trolls in your comments section...

Posted by: glasnost at October 20, 2006 08:51 PM

Although it has been a long time since I advocated war with any country or even mentioned the Iraq war one way or another.

Well, Michael, if you've learned from your mistakes with respect to Iraq, then I congratulate you and apologize for my remarks above, which would have been unfair. Curious, though, that you haven't seen fit to level with your readers about your change of heart the way people like Andrew Sullivan, Johan Hari, Daniel Drezner, Greg Djerejian and Norm Geras have. Hell, even a hack like Jonah Goldberg has addressed the failure of the adventure in Iraq more squarely than you have.

I do hope that the reason you haven't done so is your realization of the impact it would have on your readership. I imagine it would cost you a buck or two.

I have never asked anyone to quit their job and go join the army.

Sure, Michael. But you have advocated policies that have already seen hundreds of thousands of reservists being converted into full-time soldiers, and, if carried to their logical conclusion, would require a significant expansion of the armed forces? But if you say that you don't advocate those policies any more, then, again, I acknowledge the unfairness of the charge and apologize.

That's what you do.

Not at all. All I do is point out the incongruity between what you say (said) and what you do. Frankly, I'm much happier with you running around doing what you're doing. It reassures me that I can take your more dire warnings with a big grain of salt, because you obviously don't believe them yourself.

Posted by: J.B.S. at October 21, 2006 01:17 AM

Whatever, JBS. I haven't changed my mind about Iraq, per se. I'm in the "I don't know" column now. It has turned out worse than I expected, which has to be true by now for everybody who supported it. I see no good options, in hindsight or in the future.

Anyway, that's why I'm going to Baghdad. To see for myself.

Unfortunately I just found out my trip is on hold and possibly delayed due to the US military. Grr. Thanks, guys! I'm still going, but perhaps not as soon as I expected I would.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 21, 2006 10:12 AM

Oh, come on.

Whenever the prospect of you going somewhere actually dangerous (first the the Gaza strip under Palestinian control, and now Baghdad) some "circumstance beyond your control" comes up and prevents it.

Posted by: Yair at October 22, 2006 11:04 AM

Oh, come off it Yair. You try going into these places. It's not like booking a trip to Paris.

Anyway, I still may be going to Baghdad next month, and if not I'll go later. I'm dealing with the army on this one and they aren't the world's greatest travel agents.

And the reason I couldn't go into Gaza is because Time Magazine refused to let me. I had it all set up with the IDF. There was nothing I could do about it if I ever want to work for Time again.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 22, 2006 01:38 PM

Whenever I see these sorts of debates online, I think of the reference in the WoW episode of Southpark where Kyle refers to their antagonist as a "badass" and then the antagonist is revealed as an overweight, balding and listless slob.

Michael has gone in areas where there was danger, however indirect, and he's not riding on his "laurels" in trying to give himself airs. As far as I can tell, he sees what he sees and has his own opinion about things. If he, like the various politicians with military experience, began claiming exclusive moral authority because of his exposure to danger, I would slot his comments into the area where JBS is so willing to place them.

I think the comments libeling and attacking him have more to do with "Gabriel's Greater Internet ****wad Theory" than any actual dispute over facts.

Posted by: Cal Conservative at October 24, 2006 10:41 AM
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Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

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

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