October 26, 2006

The Flip Side of "Islamophobia"

Bigotry against Muslims in general, rather than hostility to terrorists and fanatics in particular, is a bit of an issue in the rightosphere (to borrow Ali Eteraz's terminology), and occasionally even in my own comments section. It's a problem I should probably mention more than I do.

The inverse is easily as big a problem. Bogus claims of "Islamophobia" are trotted out just as often by the bigots' evil twins. Johann Hari sums up that crowd in four sentences:
Do you believe a religious leader who fights to save Section 28 and says gay people spread disease is a fulminating bigot? Do you believe a "leading cleric" who advocates stoning gay people to death should be denounced? Do you believe sharia law – which requires gay people to be lashed or stoned – is always and forever unacceptable? Then, according to an energetic and aggressive group of white straight boys who surreally consider themselves to be on the left, you are an "Islamophobe" and "objectively pro-Nazi."

Mary Madigan at Exit Zero has plenty more examples, and traces the roots of this sort of thinking, ironically, to both Vladimir Lenin and Joseph McCarthy.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 26, 2006 07:06 PM
Comments

i have my disagreements with mary, but i think she's right here. for too long a brazen list of ninnies and nincumpoops (sp?) in muslim leadership have hidden behind the protection that excessive political correctness has afforded them. no one can satisfyingly link anything to link lenin, my god, he himself has been linked back to the french revolution, so that part might be a stretch. nevertheless, the problem is real, though its elimination won't come from loud frothing speech but measured cadenced speech.

Posted by: eteraz at October 26, 2006 08:18 PM

It is helpful to gauge what is real and what is actual bigotry by examining what objective muslims and former muslims describe as the problems as they see it. These are people who have grown up in muslim societies and their comments on issues such as the treatment of freedoms-- expression, sexuality, individuality etc. generally ring true to anyone with a similar value system.

Interestingly enough it is Johann Hari's recent interview with Salman Rashdie that I found to be particularly useful in describing some very relevant measuring sticks in which to evaluate real fascism as it emanates from islamism and in particular how the abjectly stupid so-called left avoids and ignores the real dangerous stuff ( and clothes opposition to these pernicious mentalities in epithets of false prejudice and political correctness).

Are you listening comrade Chumpsky?

http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1002

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at October 26, 2006 08:54 PM

I always thought Lenin and McCarthy did their best work together. Once the Beatles broke up, nothing was the same.

I'd duck, but you can't find me in China :).

Posted by: Doc at October 26, 2006 10:48 PM

Imagine there's no phobias,
It's easy if you try.
No reason to get hysterical,
Or punch out your neighbor's eye.

Oops. Let's try again:

Come together,
Right now.
Hate the rich...

I was leading to a point about anti-capitalism views which so many elites have always held, including the Beatles and the commies; but this would be a little support for McCarthy (who was at least partially correct that there were many commies) and yet the blacklists were terrible. We need better heroes. Maybe

Magneto and Titanium Man.
And then the Crimson Dynamo came along for the ride.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 27, 2006 12:50 AM

While Islamophobia Watch talk about defending Muslims, they end up defending the nastiest and most right-wing part of the Muslim community – the ones who are oppressing and killing the rest.

Bah.

Another polemicist twit writing for the Independent who uses "right wing" as a synonym for "people I don't like".

Free clue, Mr. Hari: not being a left-winger does not automatically make someone a right-winger.

Posted by: rosignol at October 27, 2006 01:03 AM

Well, Rosignol, imams who want to kill gays certainly aren't liberals, leftists, or moderates.

It's okay if some bad people are on "the right." Doen't mean you're implicated if you're also on "the right." The right is a big place, as is the left. Especially when you drag all of planet Earth into it.

The labels are very nearly meaningless anyway. No need to get defensive about one or the other, really.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 27, 2006 01:39 AM

Well, Rosignol, imams who want to kill gays certainly aren't liberals, leftists, or moderates.

They're not on the right, either.

Such people are basically totalitarians- they want their set of rules to govern every aspect of public and private behavior. This is not something exclusive to any part of the political spectrum.

That they get their set of rules from what they claim is a holy book instead of a manifesto is not particularly relevant.

Process-of-elimination is not a valid way to classify this. Those guys are off the American political scale, by such a large margin that trying to determine if they are (overall) more leftist or more rightist is not useful. It's kind of like trying to figure out why there aren't viable fascist or communist parties in the US- they are so far outside the bounds of American politics that American political terms are not applicable.

It's a stretch to attach left/right lables (by American standards) to European politicans, and those are other western societies that generally agree with us on the big issues of liberty, freedom, etc.

Applying American political terminology to muslim societies stretches the usefulness of the terms well past the breaking point.

It's okay if some bad people are on "the right." Doen't mean you're implicated if you're also on "the right." The right is a big place, as is the left. Especially when you drag all of planet Earth into it.

You're missing the point. "Right" and "Left" are not universal political terms. Trying to place political movements outside of the US on the American political spectrum is not useful, it does not inform, it does not clarify. All it really accomplishes is offending whoever (group X) is determined to be more 'like'.

The labels are very nearly meaningless anyway. No need to get defensive about one or the other, really.

That's because people keep (ab)using the terms in inappropriate ways, often to score partisan points in a domestic political context.

...which is what I think that leftie polemicist who writes for the Independent was doing by referring to the jihadis as 'right wing'.

Posted by: rosignol at October 27, 2006 03:10 AM

Rosignol, part of my earlier comment that words are meaningless is exactly because of what you point out. I do understand the value of ideas, concepts, value structures, however, what a person does should dictate what we do, not what a person says.

I am quite comfortable with all terms addressing Muslim (primarily Arabic) Fanatics whether it is Islamofascism, IslamoPhobia or other similar terms. Perjorative? -you betcha.

Setting around a campfire and singing Kumbaya is no less effective than much of the polemics currently being used in trying to excuse,justify or minimze the impact of the Muslim Fanatics.

MJT seems to be very even-handed in that he reports what he sees, hears and personally experiences, and if he has a bias he is quite open about it.

VDH is another person in the blogosphere (nebulos word that); his recent post on Islam and Robert Spencer is interesting: http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/thornton102606.html.

Radical, Fanatic Muslims must either be eliminated, and I do mean that literally, or forced to be contained within whatever their country is (both physcially and not allowed to influence events outside of their country).

IslamoFascists have no part in a civilized (such as it is) world. I believe the same concept applied to Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, The Crusades, The Inquisition, ......

Words, terms, labels have their function, else we could not communicate. The phrase "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics" applies also to verbiage.

Ron

Posted by: Ron Snyder at October 27, 2006 04:19 AM

Another polemicist twit writing for the Independent who uses "right wing" as a synonym for "people I don't like".

You're criticizing Mr. Hari for making the same mistake that you're making here - writing for the Independent doesn't mean that Hari is biased against 'right-wingers'. Just like writing for Harry's Place or criticizing extremist Imams doesn't make him an Islamophobe.

From what I've read, most Muslims refer to wahhabis and other extremists as "conservative" . It's an inexact term, just like 'right winger', but it's the term they use. But, yes, they are so far out of the bounds of American politics (and most political systems in general) that these terms aren't very accurate.

It's a stretch to attach left/right lables (by American standards) to European politicans, and those are other western societies that generally agree with us on the big issues of liberty, freedom, etc.

European politics are different from ours - the so-called right wing can define American style-liberals, libertarians, moderate, conservative, KKK member. And those are just the moderates. The extreme right wing is also off our charts.

The left in Europe is more openly Marxist than our left, but there is one difference. In Europe and Britain, some leftists are anti-totalitarian and anti-fascist. Antifa groups in Europe are sort of anarchist/marxist/anti-fascists. Some of these groups are fervent supporters of Israel. Their support of the war in Iraq has been about as consistent as the support of most Americans, but they are consistently opposed to Islamist terrorism.

For the most part, Johann Hari, the ("Islamophobic") bloggers at Harry's Place, Norm Geras and the signers of the Euston Manifesto are anti-fascists. They're leftes, but not "leftie polemicists" (however, just to confuse things more, the fact that they sometimes agree with us classifies them as 'right-wingers' over there)

Posted by: mary at October 27, 2006 06:55 AM

i have my disagreements with mary, but i think she's right here. for too long a brazen list of ninnies and nincumpoops (sp?) in muslim leadership have hidden behind the protection that excessive political correctness has afforded them

Thanks, Eteraz

no one can satisfyingly link anything to link lenin, my god, he himself has been linked back to the french revolution, so that part might be a stretch. nevertheless, the problem is real, though its elimination won't come from loud frothing speech but measured cadenced speech

That's true. I just wanted to point out PC's origins because I've noticed an odd trend - often, political correctness and corresponding restrictions on speech are treated as if they were core American values. They're not.

PC originated with communism. It's a utopian concept which values the rights of the group over the rights of the individual. It's not something the Founding Fathers would have suggested.

Posted by: mary at October 27, 2006 07:10 AM

"PC originated with communism."

I think, at least in the US, it is more derived from Puritanism. But Communism and Puritanism share a policy of thought control and a hostility to anything that a person might enjoy doing.

Prohibition was a product of Puritanism.

Guess who else has this attitude.

Posted by: Don Cox at October 27, 2006 12:49 PM

The labels are very nearly meaningless anyway.

No they're not. They have very specific meanings, and they're explained pretty clearly in Poli-Sci 100.

The most concise and general definition that I can offer is that right-wing ideologies tend to hold that society functions best when members of that society follow their own individual desires and satisfy their own personal needs, while left-wing ideologies tend to believe that society works best through mutual aid and collective co-operation.

This allows, for example, two ideologies with very similar views on the role of the state, libertarianism and anarchism, to be at opposite ends of the right/left spectrum.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 27, 2006 02:12 PM

PC originated with communism.

Well, when it really became popular was a joke among the general left-wing crowd in the 1970s to make fun of leftists who adhered too strongly to a political line. I know that anarchists used it disparagingly on statist leftists (like Trotskyists) quite a lot.

It migrated to right-wing use sometime in the eighties.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 27, 2006 02:15 PM

"...the roots of this sort of thinking, ironically, to both Vladimir Lenin and Joseph McCarthy."

Nothing ironic there.

There's a quote that I've never seen mentioned in connection with the "War on Terror." And I'm amazed that I haven't seen it, because it fits so well.

"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." -- Nietzsche

Chris

Posted by: Chris Phoenix at October 27, 2006 02:38 PM

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." -- Nietzsche

After 9/11, before we went into Afghanistan, I heard that quote many times. I also heard this Kipling quote:

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.

But, that's not what happened. The women in Afghanistan spat on the dead terrorists. They may have cut up the remains too, but fortunately, there were no pictures of that..

We fought the commies without becoming commies, we fought the Nazis without becoming Nazis and we fought the Taliban..you know..

Posted by: mary at October 27, 2006 03:26 PM

The women in Afghanistan spat on the dead terrorists.

I just Googled a number of combinations of words to find the source of that, but couldn't come up with anything. Where did you read that?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 27, 2006 03:35 PM

I just Googled a number of combinations of words to find the source of that, but couldn't come up with anything.

Mostly, the source was from photos. They may have been from the RAWA site:

http://www.rawa.org/

..or they may have been from another source.

Posted by: mary at October 27, 2006 07:40 PM

I don't think that Robert Spencer et al. are bigots, necessarily, but I do agree that they're dangerously wrong, and I think they may be a greater threat to the war effort that the "anti-war" left.

The whole point of the GWoT as we are now fighting it is to support the anti-islamist side of what Chris Hitchens calls the Islamic Civil War. The islamist faction wants bring the Islamic world under its hegemony and use it as a base from which to launch an attack on the West. Victory in the GWoT, therefore, consists of short-circuiting this islamist push for a civilizational war. Thus, e.g., democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If the islamists are right that Islam mandates their agenda, the whole GWoT is futile, and the civilizational war is inevitable. The natural policy consequence of that idea is to give up on our whole foreign policy and gird for a new war, the war between Islam and the West. And that would be bloody. WWII bloody. Blitz and Bulge bloody.

And yet, by accepting that doctrine, the people Esmay attacked so hysterically are ready to do just that.

I have high hopes that if the "anti-war" left reaches power again, they're first concern will be finding a way to continue the GWoT by a new name, and claiming credit for it. That insincerity, of which I am convinced, will keep them from doing excessive damage to the war effort.

I think that this crowd is more dangerous, because I am convinced that they firmly believe that Islam is the enemy, and will act on it if they can. That would be a disaster.

Posted by: James M. at October 27, 2006 09:28 PM

Mostly, the source was from photos. They may have been from the RAWA site

Thanks, that's a group site I hadn't noticed before.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 27, 2006 11:14 PM

"That insincerity, of which I am convinced, will keep them from doing excessive damage to the war effort."
Apply that to Vietnam and the 1974 elections -- Dems win big; cut funding to the human rights respecting but weak S. Viet gov't; allow the N. Viet army to attack and conquer the South in violation of the '73 Paris Peace.
The N. Viet victory directly allowed thousands (600 000?) to be murdered, more thousands to flee, and allowed the Cambodia domino to fall, with another 1.5 mil murders.

I call that excessive damage; and say that the US should have stayed in S. Vietnam to stop that. I also claim the US loss in Vietnam allowed Carter to abandon the imperfect Shah in '79, and the success of Muslim terrorism.

Islam is fighting its own reformation war -- can one be a believer and yet live in peaceful toleration of non-believers and mis-believing heretics?

The Lebanese Civil War, and its aftermath, showed that one Muslim society came close. But not close enough to avoid starting a hugely destructive war.
I have hopes there was enough destruction for the next iteration to actually be one of peace. Defeat, for both sides, is Victory.

I suspect that the Sunnis & Shia in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, will not agree to be responsible in peaceful toleration of the other, until a lot more destruction occurs.

The Kurds show what a GOOD strategy Bush & Rummy had, but the Arabs' Sunni-Shia anti-tolerance war could only have been stopped by Tito/ Stalin/ Saddam style oppression--or by leaders as noble as Mandela. Which the Sunnis don't have.

The Bush problem is similar to that of a parent whose adult children in college are taking drugs, are drinking and driving, are having promiscuous sex (and abortions). Parents can't quite force adult children (or even teen?) to avoid the follies of youth. The US can't force a free and sovereign Iraq to avoid their anti-tolerance, anti-democracy war.

The fact that there ARE anti-democrats among so many Muslims is one of the current big dangers in the world. [China & Taiwan; N & S Korea; Pakistan & India in Kashmir are others. Darfur is a tragedy, but not a big danger.]

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 28, 2006 01:16 AM

More on topic is the final Bruce Thorton (at VDH) thought on Spencer: "The anxiety about appearing “racist” and the sentimental idealization of the “other” dominating American society make it even more unlikely that any politician will challenge Muslims about the facts of Mohammad’s words and deeds that jihadists today use to justify their actions. Unless we heed people like Robert Spencer, it seems that only another graphic example of jihadist violence within our borders has a chance of teaching us the history of the enemy."

I fear that insufficient examination of Muslim terror means MORE terror attacks.

It's not all or even most Muslims that are a huge problem, but many Muslims terrorists is a Muslim problem. The fact that few public Muslims are publicly condemning terrorism is a bigger problem. The Australian cleric who claimed that sexily dressed women were "uncovered meat", inviting rape, is expressing a view in support of intolerable actions. (One many Christian fundamentalists might even agree with, but mostly wouldn't dare publicly state.)

He should be free to say that -- all others should be free to ridicule him, women raped should be free to sue him as an accomplice, gov't money should be denied him, any charity giving him money should probably have their license pulled, etc.
Voluntary censorship -- his view should be a ticket to excommunication from "civilized discourse".

Of course, I think many F* speakers as well as N* speakers should be less listened to.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 28, 2006 01:57 AM

What I find most interesting about the goings-on in Australia is that Australian politicians at every level will go right ahead and say that so-and-so can always leave the country if they're so upset with the way Australians live. You can't get away with that in the US. You'd hardly finish the sentence before someone or other would call you a racist.

Posted by: Stac at October 28, 2006 06:01 AM

"You'd hardly finish the sentence before someone or other would call you a racist."

That's because many people in the US cannot grasp the concept of leaving the country. The world outside the borders of the US hardly exists for them, so saying "leave the country" is the same as saying "drop dead".

Posted by: Don Cox at October 28, 2006 08:06 AM

Can someone point to some specific things that Robert Spencer has written that are factually incorrect? His work seems well researched and well documented to me.

But frankly, I don't need Robert Spencer to justify my islamophobia. Think of it this way, if you went into your church on Sunday and your priest started ranting "Death to Muslims! Death to Iran!" he would be removed and put in a straightjacket. That is a fact. On the other hand, in the Muslim world, we see religious leaders calling for violence and hatred and vengence from their pulpits all the time. All over the world. It's not a small minority. For 26 years, the Friday prayers in the main mosque in Tehran end with chants of "Death to America!" Look at the glorification of death and hatred in the imagery of Hezbollah. In Iraq, the death squads bring their hit lists to their religious leaders for approval. Even in relatively moderate Egypt the other day, we had an Imam giving guidlines for killing Jewish tourists (men between the ages of...) We've become desensitized to seeing this but we need to rethink what it means to have religious leaders encouraging the darkest human impulses. It's evil. If you were to imagine what religion the orcs would have in the Lord of the Rings, it would probably glorify violence and hatred and death in battle. Hmmmm sounds a lot like Hezbollah. (Michael Totten himself described the billboards in Southern Lebanon.) A religion that can't come to the consensus that hatred and vengence and violence and murder are wrong has some serious problems and is DANGEROUS. I don't care how nice the Kurds are. As for the moderates? Where are they? How many Iraqis died during the holy month of Ramadan? I'm still waiting for a peace protest.

Posted by: Cristobal at October 28, 2006 08:33 AM

Cristobal: I don't care how nice the Kurds are.

It's not just that the Kurds are "nice." I slept in a Kurdish city, Dohok, that is literally a ten minute drive fromt the bloody Red Zone. I was there without a gun and without bodyguards. There have been a grand total of zero attacks by anybody in that city becaise the Kurds will literally tear to pieces any jihadi that comes anywhere near them. So the bastards don't even try. And Dohok is a very conservative Islamic city with no Christians in it. The monolithically anti-terrorist anti-jihadi culture of the Sunni Kurds of Iraq was the only thing that kept me alive.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 28, 2006 09:57 AM

So what is your point? Just because there exists an Islamic community (Iraqi Kurds) who are anti-Jihadi and anti-terrorist doesn't let Islam off the hook. Maybe the Kurds' non-violence come from their interpretation of Islam or maybe it comes from their Kurdish culture or maybe it come from the fact the Americans have been their protectors in recent times. I'm glad you had a good experience with the Kurds but that doesn't make those who criticize Islam bigots. There is PLENTY to criticize. See my previous post.

Posted by: Cristobal at October 28, 2006 10:46 AM

Cristobal, regarding "peace protest". I'm not waiting for them anymore.

More than once a muslim martyr has detonated his bomb in the middle of muslim kids receiving food or toys from USA soldiers. This has been reported by international media. The first time I said, "this is it, muslims are going to unite against islamic terrorism." The second time I said, "where's is the muslim outrage against such actions?" Now I understand that muslims believe that the kids died a good death, and are in paradise.

To bad that if I point this in public I will be called racist/islamophobe/ultra-right-winger/intolerant/bigot. And I'm not even caucasian.

Posted by: Carlos2 at October 28, 2006 11:22 AM

Cristobal, of course there is plenty to criticize. I'm not arguing that point at all. I am not a Muslim or an apologist for Islam. The Kurds can be criticized as well. Their culture is still very male-dominated and tribal, for example.

My complaint is with those who demonize all one billion people who ahere to that religion, including those (the Kurds are just one example) who clearly are different from the crazies who blow shit up.

Maybe the Kurds' non-violence come from their interpretation of Islam or maybe it comes from their Kurdish culture or maybe it come from the fact the Americans have been their protectors in recent times.

It's all three. I think. I've asked many Kurds why they differ as a whole from the Islamists running around Southern and Central Iraq, and they aren't sure themselves. They just know they are different.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 28, 2006 11:27 AM

MJT, I agree with you that is wrong to demonize ALL muslims. But, you are wrong when you use words as "crazies" to describe muslim martyrs.

They are not crazy. Their actions are perfectly rational and predictable. They do what they do, because they honestly have faith in their religious beliefs.

This is not going to end until we pull islam out of the middle ages. To do that, we need the help of muslims that have pulled themselves out into enlightenment, which are NOT a majority. And that's why I agree with you that demonizing ALL of them is wrong.

Posted by: Carlos2 at October 28, 2006 11:40 AM

Don Cox: "That's because many people in the US cannot grasp the concept of leaving the country. The world outside the borders of the US hardly exists for them, so saying "leave the country" is the same as saying "drop dead"."

Thanks Don, I was just thinking this thread could use a tired, unfunny anti-American wisecrack.

Posted by: Stacy at October 28, 2006 03:55 PM

We use terms like Jihadist and yet I am told that may be comlimentary, like freedom fighter or something.

The term Mufsiduns, [not in common use], is supposed to be more correct.

We are encouraged to use Hirabah, and to refer to the mejahadine as the Fattan.

Ideas of expression as mentioned on IraqTheModel. [ITM]

Not sure if these terms are acceptable or fitting.

Working towards a Conservative majority = TG

Posted by: TG at October 29, 2006 08:26 AM

As to the question why Kurds don't follow in the path of the rest of Iraq, sure does seem everyone is missing the elephant in the room. There does seem to be a distinction between the two disparate groups. Whether this explains anything is not within my capacity.

From the somewhat dependable wiki world:

"...In 903 AC, during the period of Almoqtadar, the Kurds revolted again. Eventually Arabs conquered the Kurdish regions and converted the majority of Kurds to Islam."

I've heard Kurds get rather perturbed when they are mistakenly regarded as Arabs. You experts know much more than I if all this works into the equation here.

Posted by: allan at October 29, 2006 11:12 AM

Allan has it right, I believe. the Kurds aren't Arabs. So? The Persians aren't Arabs either and they're making as much mischief as possible.

Posted by: skip at October 30, 2006 01:51 PM

The whole point of the GWoT as we are now fighting it is to support the anti-islamist side of what Chris Hitchens calls the Islamic Civil War.

Ah, no.

The whole point of the GWoT is to remove a threat to ourselves. The reason for the urgency (which is much too often ignored) is the failure of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to actually prevent nuclear proliferation from taking place.

If it was just muslims killing muslims, we'd shrug our shoulders and go on with our business, because muslims have been killing other muslims for as long as there have been muslims. Not our business, and so long as it doesn't interfere with oil production, it's not our problem.

The islamist faction wants bring the Islamic world under its hegemony and use it as a base from which to launch an attack on the West. Victory in the GWoT, therefore, consists of short-circuiting this islamist push for a civilizational war. Thus, e.g., democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ah, not exactly.

If it ever comes to a full-blown civilizational war, the non-western side is utterly boned. Everyone on this planet who isn't a jihadi knows this.

The objective, from the western PoV, is to remove a threat to ourselves. How that objective is achieved is mostly a matter of preference- most people (including myself) prefer that it be 'Islam reforms into something non-threatening', but that is not the only possible resolution. For a long time, western nations supported 'Our SOBs' over there, who were secular despots who's job was basically to 1) keep the oil pumping, 2) the commies out, and 3) the jihadis on a leash, just to name two options.

If the islamists are right that Islam mandates their agenda, the whole GWoT is futile, and the civilizational war is inevitable.

Only if a substantial fraction of the muslims buy into that idea (and I don't think they do), and the rest of muslim society allows that fraction to make the decision for them.

I had hoped Iraq would be an example of why this civilizational war could not happen, and that the non-insane muslims would rein in the jihadis for us. Heaven knows westerners are pathetically bad at figuring out which muslims are jihadis and which ones aren't, it's better for them and for us if we're not the ones doing that job.

I am much more pessimistic now, but it will be several more years (and probably another war) before the answer is clear.

The natural policy consequence of that idea is to give up on our whole foreign policy and gird for a new war, the war between Islam and the West. And that would be bloody. WWII bloody. Blitz and Bulge bloody.

Only for them. If it comes to that, I seriously doubt we're going to be risking our troops to preserve their civilians. No politician here wants to face an electorate and try to explain why 100,000 of our soldiers died so that people on the other side would be spared.

Unfortunately, our revolution is far enough back in our history (and has been sanitized and mythologized to an appalling degree) that we have forgotten just how difficult it is to revolt against a government.

And yet, by accepting that doctrine, the people Esmay attacked so hysterically are ready to do just that.

Lefties tend to be bad at anticipating the long-term consequences of their actions... but I dunno if that's really what's going on. The amount of vitriol floating around always increases as an election nears, that's been true for as long as there have been elections, and it won't chance anytime soon (no matter what legislation Senator McCain tries to pass).

Posted by: rosignol at October 31, 2006 04:58 AM

The whole point of the GWoT is to remove a threat to ourselves...If it was just muslims killing muslims, we'd shrug our shoulders and go on with our business...

Yes, but as you point out later, our present preferred means of removing that threat is an alliance with non-insane Muslims. My point is that, unless that fails, there is no useful purpose to be served by moving into a civilizational war against Islam.

If it ever comes to a full-blown civilizational war, the non-western side is utterly boned. Everyone on this planet who isn't a jihadi knows this.

Nothing but truth there.

The objective, from the western PoV, is to remove a threat to ourselves. How that objective is achieved is mostly a matter of preference- most people (including myself) prefer that it be 'Islam reforms into something non-threatening'...

That's exactly my point. If we give up on supporting the reformist side, civilizational war is what's left.

Only if a substantial fraction of the muslims buy into that idea (and I don't think they do), and the rest of muslim society allows that fraction to make the decision for them.

The peaceable majority certainly appears to be a silent one in the Islamic world. It wouldnm't be the first time that a highly motivated minority dragged a whole society into a war that most didn't want.

...If it comes to that, I seriously doubt we're going to be risking our troops to preserve their civilians. No politician here wants to face an electorate and try to explain why 100,000 of our soldiers died so that people on the other side would be spared.

I feel certain that we'd lose more people than we're losing in Afghanistan & Iraq. Otherwise, I agree, which is why I'm so emphatic that the best way to spare Muslim lives is to avoid things ever reaching that pass.

Lefties tend to be bad at anticipating the long-term consequences of their actions... but I dunno if that's really what's going on. The amount of vitriol floating around always increases as an election nears, that's been true for as long as there have been elections, and it won't chance anytime soon (no matter what legislation Senator McCain tries to pass).

Ah, but the people Esmay slammed are the Islam-is-the-enemy faction of righties, like Robert Spencer and Rep. Tom "Nuke Mecca" Tancredo. Their logic would lead us to give up on our present foreign policy - your & my preferred method of solving this crisis - and proceed directly to plan B, which means the Islamic world gets boned.

I'm not as pessimistic as you are; I think that the strategy exemplified by Iraq shows great promise for heading off a full-scale war. That's why I fear so much these folks that Glenn Reynolds calls the "hell with 'em hawks."

Posted by: James M. at November 2, 2006 06:26 PM
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