June 02, 2007

Al Qaeda in Lebanon - CONTINUOUSLY UPDATED

by Michael J. Totten

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Al Qaeda has moved into Lebanon.

Fatah al-Islam terrorists in the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp (which is an urban ghetto in Tripoli, not a tent city) are, reportedly, mostly not Palestinian. No one has suffered more from Lebanon’s worst fighting since the civil war ended than the Palestinian civilians of Nahr al-Bared. After decades as second-class non-citizens living in dejection and squalor, they are now human shields in a battle between foreign terrorists and the host country.

Lebanon’s freshest and most vicious of enemies have, if reports are correct, arrived from battlefields in Iraq via Syria. Their relationship with the Syrian state and Al Qaeda is murky and hard to sort out, but they do seem to have connections of some kind to both.

An Nahar reports that mosques there now are dual-use. They are places in which to pray. They are also armed camps. They are also, possibly, terrorist targets. Suicide bombers reportedly detonated themselves at the Thawra mosque. Perhaps someone ignited himself a little too early. Maybe the keepers of that mosque were hostile to Fatah al-Islam. I do not know.

The Lebanese Army is clearing the “camp” of terrorists, booby-traps, car bombs, and even domestic animals rigged with explosives. The government says there will be no negotiated truce with the enemy, that their crimes will be punished with the death penalty either in combat or later in prison. It has been years, decades really, since the government and army of Lebanon have shown this kind of resolve.

They had better keep up the resolve. This crisis may be nearing its end, but it could just as easily be merely the opening shots. Jund al-Sham (The Greater Syrian Army) has gone on full alert in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, Lebanon’s largest, outside the Sunni city of Saida south of Beirut. And Al Qaeda has published a most sinister threat to Lebanon on its Web site. (Via Evan Kohlmann at the Counterterrorism Blog.)
On May 25, 2007, copies of a new video recording were publicly distributed over password-protected Al-Qaida Internet websites after being authenticated by the pre-eminent Al-Fajr Media Center. The seven-minute recording contains a speech by a masked individual identifying himself only as the “military commander of Al-Qaida’s Committee in Al-Shams” (“Greater Syria”). This is the first known occasion that any individual or organization inside of Lebanon has explicitly identified themselves as part of the international Al-Qaida terrorist network. The speaker addresses a message directly to the Patriarch of the Christian Maronite church in Lebanon: "pull back your dogs from our people, and cease your artillery fire—or else, from today onwards, there will be no safe place for any crusader in Lebanon, and as you strike, we will strike... If you do not stop, we will tear your hearts out with explosives, and surround your every post with our bombs. We will target your entire economy, starting with tourism and ending with all the incoming resources you [received when you] launched this new crusader war... We have ignored you previously, but we give you this final warning that from now on, an ocean of blood will be spilled.”
Lebanon is a weak and divided country. It is also, by far, and despite Hezbollah’s presence, the most liberal and democratic of all Arab countries. More than two thirds of the people who live there (Christians, Shias, and Druze) are considered infidels fit for slaughter by the salafist groups. A large percentage of Sunnis, in Beirut especially, are irreligious and bourgeois and modern. I, for one, am surprised it took Al Qaeda so long to move on them.

UPDATE: The Lebanese Army foiled so-called Plan 755 which, reportedly, was a plot by Tripoli's salafists to massacre local civilians, sever the city's links to Beirut, and enslave the residents who couldn't get out.

UPDATE: Lebanese troops are preparing to storm Nahr al Bared and finish off the terrorists once and for all.

UPDATE: The Lebanese Army says they nailed a Fatah Al Islam cell that would have "caused destruction similar to the 9/11 attacks in the United States." That sounds like an exagerration to me -- the Twin Towers were bigger and more concentrated with people by far than anything in Lebanon -- but of course I do not have the details. The explosives found were reportedly imported from Syria. Presumably this was to be part of so-called Plan 755, but it involved Beirut as well as Tripoli.

UPDATE: Beirut's Daily Star reports that the military has been given "a green light to deal with the security crisis without state interference."

UPDATE: Fighting has broken out between the Lebanese Army and the Jund Al Sham (the Greater Syrian Army) at the Ain El Hilweh refugee camp.

UPDATE: Fatah Al Islam's "9/11 in Lebanon" attack would have destroyed a large hotel in Beirut with four simultaneous truck bombs, blown up embassies on both sides of the city, and collapsed a tunnel.

Syria's involvement in this particular plan is unclear at this point, but will no doubt be investigated, especially since this entire crisis coincides precisely with the timing of the Chapter 7 UN Tribunal.

Syria threatened to set Lebanon and the region on fire if the tribunal was enacted.

UPDATE: Beirut's Michael Young writes about Syria's useful idiots in the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 01:13 PM
Comments

As long as the people, Army and government of Lebanon continue to show their determination, and willingness to sacrifice, to not let their country be taken over by Islamic Extremists, I will continue to ask my Congressman and Senators to suppport a free Lebanon.

Phone calls, emails and letters really do matter folks.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at June 2, 2007 01:45 PM

Hi -

It really is just the beginning. In one way you're wrong, Michael: al-Qaeda has been in the camps for years, it's just now that they are manifesting themselves.

The question is how it will end: the Lebanese, I think, are taking the hoof-and-mouth approach. If al-Qaeda is using the Palestinian camps as a breeding ground for their "philosophy", then the camps will be destroyed.

Hard on innocent civilians, and there are some. But it stops the spread of the disease.

This is one huge whoop-ass wake-up call for all countries in the region. Either these governments stop ignoring al-Queda and terminate the movement with extreme prejudice, or the movement will destroy the entire region in the name of Allah and the caliphate.

All anyone needs to do to understand this is to simply read what al-Qaeda says. They believe what they say, and it is simply stupidity and folly to deny or belittle it.

Posted by: John F. Opie at June 2, 2007 04:21 PM

Michael,

I suggest you have a look at the front page of Internet Haganah (http://internet-haganah.com/haganah/index.html). Apparently, according to sources unknown and unverified, there are 'dozens' of Americans with the Lebanese Army (good). Also, the army may have lost as many as 130 soldiers (bad). Plus, jihadi groups in other 'camps' have declared their support for Fatah al-Islam (potentially very bad).

Posted by: MattW at June 2, 2007 04:37 PM
I, for one, am surprised it took Al Qaeda so long to move on them.

If recent stories are to be believed, it might have been Syria which prompted the change. It would seem many of the al-Qaeda types operatng in Lebanon are tied to Syria: http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&120773C093607DD5C22572EA0050C6CA

Posted by: MattW at June 2, 2007 04:39 PM

Why again make the stupid mistake of believing there to be any difference between islam ("repression") and al-qaeda.

The paedophile prophet was himself guilty of genocide, enslavement, rape and worse (he for example ordered his soldiers to rape Jewish women while ordering the men to dig their own graves, they are proud of this btw, you can still visit the trench they dug today. Muslims-only of course).

So let's not pretend fatah-al-islam is any different from al-islam itself. It's counterproductive to say the least. Idiotic and self-destructive would be a more accurate description.

"All muslims fight and kill for allah" (statement supposedly by allah, quran 9:111)

"When muslims went to the profet to ask if they could force the captive women to intercourse, allah sent down that captive women can be used for intercourse" - sahih hadith

This is from the "holy" muslim texts. Anyone who does not agree 100% with these two statements, or any other in the same book, is not a muslim.

Posted by: A at June 2, 2007 05:10 PM

...he for example ordered his soldiers to rape Jewish women while ordering the men to dig their own graves, they are proud of this btw, you can still visit the trench they dug today. Muslims-only of course

Links for that story, please? Or at least give us the name of trench so we can look this up for ourselves.

I'm not saying I doubt this, but rather that the attitudes this would engender among believing Muslims are something we're going to find impossible to tame.

So if it's possible to prove that the story is accurate, we need this information, in detail.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 05:18 PM

There is some mention of trench warfare in Wikipedia's entry on Medina.

But that's different.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 05:25 PM

Ah this article at faithfreedom.org makes the same claims, though it's less specific about when the women were raped. It does give some references and says that Mohammed himself help dig the trench and that that 700-900 men were beheaded.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 05:33 PM

A, you are a complete and utter dumb shit. I lived in Sunni Muslim West Beirut for six months where alcohol, pornography, gambling, night clubs, uncovered women, hookers, and...wait for it...mosques proliferate.

Fatah Al Islam is extremely deviant and has almost no constituency there whatsoever.

If you want to say the people of West Beirut aren't Muslims, whatever. They certainly aren't fundamentalists or Koranic literalists, that is for sure. But they will laugh and say you're a buffoon who doesn't know anything if you take it any farther than that.

Put down your Koran and get out in the world where real Muslims live.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 05:34 PM

I think the question of what Palestinians in the camps believe is much more cogent than that of what Sunnis in West Beirut do.

Anyway how possible is it to be a real believer, the kind who really knows and cares about his religion, without accepting the example of Mohammad?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 05:40 PM

i guess this is becoming kind of a theme in my comments, but damn A, you're lucky michael didn't ban you. disgusting stuff.

Posted by: carine at June 2, 2007 05:45 PM

While I agree with your characterization of "A," I think your using West Beirut as an example of how Muslims in the real world live is highly misleading.

In terms of the social behavior of people, Lebanon is a liberal anomaly in the Arab world. The Muslims in other Arab capitals (say Cairo and Amman) are for the most part far more conservative than their counterparts in Beirut.

Then again, being religiously conservative doesn't necessarily mean that these people are keen on beheading infidels, no matter what the texts say. I don't think there have been many radical Islamic movements in the region that arose simply because people took their Koran seriously. It usually took some sort of outside influence (e.g. Iran) to shift their religious zeal towards a terroristic purpose.

Posted by: Edgar at June 2, 2007 05:50 PM

Carine,

A is quite likely to be banned as soon he posts again. He went straight to my short list.

Fair warning, A.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 05:51 PM

I agree with Josh and Edgar, for what it's worth.

I'm not saying West Beirut is typical. I know it is not, which is (to be honest) a major reason why I like it so much.

I'm just quite sick of ignorant fools who think the entire Muslim world is monolithically Al Qaeda. If that were the case, why are nearly all the Sunni Muslims of Lebanon rallying behind the Lebanese Army instead of Fatah al Islam?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 05:56 PM

"I'm just quite sick of ignorant fools who think the entire Muslim world is monolithically Al Qaeda."

Join the club.

But I think people need to understand that even being a devout Muslim doesn't predispose someone towards violence. Instead of using the example of West Beirut, I would have pointed to the millions of religious Muslims in South Asia who absolutely reject the terrorists' ideology for the same reasons any sane group of people would.

Posted by: Edgar at June 2, 2007 06:08 PM

Josh Scholar wrote: "How possible is it to be a real believer, the kind who really knows and cares about his religion, without accepting the example of Mohammad?"

I think people get too caught up in definitions, a good example being the weird preoccupation some Israelis have with denying the "holiness" of the Dome of the Rock to Muslims ("Muhammad never visited Jerusalem, etc.")

If a group of people agree that something is holy to them, it is. Period. Likewise, if the majority of Muslims believe they can be called as such without having to behead infidels and assemble an army to conquer the world, then they're right--and they will be every time you have this kind of argument.

Religion is what people want it to be. Texts are not everything.

Posted by: Edgar at June 2, 2007 06:18 PM

mjt,

there are indeed fools like that. there are fools on any subject.

but there are quite a few who are not fools and who understand that the islamists rely on the quran and muhammad tradition to spread violence and, therefore, islam cannot be ignored. not all muslims are jihadis, but all jihadis terrorists are muslims.

the criticism of muhammad is misplaced. he lived in a different era, in which people did not know any better.

the problem is with those who want to emulate muhammad's 7th century behavior in the 21st century. and they are effective recruiting because the quran is the word of god in islam and must be obeyed.

so if you want to understand the global jihad and its local events, you MUST know and UNDERSTAND quran, hadith and all that. and the problem is that almost nobody in the west or westernized communities does. so they look at every event separately and don't see the big picture and the huge dangers to civilized society.

here's an excellent example:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/dwest.htm

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 06:23 PM

But I think people need to understand that even being a devout Muslim doesn't predispose someone towards violence. Instead of using the example of West Beirut, I would have pointed to the millions of religious Muslims in South Asia who absolutely reject the terrorists' ideology for the same reasons any sane group of people would.

Like Thailand, no wait... Indonesia, no... Philippines, no... Pakistan, no... Afghanistan, noooo.

Southern Asia? What an example of Islam's peace!

Anyway, is it really possible to train children to be devout Muslims without predisposing a percentage of them towards violence?

Perhaps it isn't, and maybe that's why we find that moderate Muslims move to the west and have ever more radical children and grandchildren.

Immigrants are self selected to be moderates. But just because religious training had little effect on them doesn't mean their children will necessarily be immune.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 06:25 PM

edgar,

are you aware that you got it backwards?

the israelis do not deny any holyness. the arabs denie the temple!!!!

when jerusalem was under jordan no jew was allowed to the holy places. after israel took jerusalem, they did not touch the waqf.

so stop talking about things you're ignorant of.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 06:26 PM

Michael,

How would you break down the numbers? West Beirut Sunni are how many in number? Of these, what percentage now go the new Saudi built mosques dominating the sky line?

Posted by: redaktor at June 2, 2007 06:26 PM

Religion is what people want it to be. Texts are not everything.

No. The problem is that the text doesn't go away. It can't be buried and forgotten, so there will always be new people who read it a learn that God wants them to hate and kill.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 06:27 PM

here's a good description:

don't say we're violent or we'll kill you!!

and these were NOT just the islamists (who are supposed to be "just a minority") but the masses.

which is essentially how they reacted to the cartoons, to the pope (who now learned dhimmitude, by the way) and so on.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 06:29 PM

Some religious texts in some religions can be forgotten. Some prophets can be forgotten.

But Muslims can no more forget Mohammad than Christians can forget Jesus. And they can no more forget the Koran and hadiths than Christians can forget the gospels.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 06:31 PM

religion can be manipulated for one's purposes. but that's a matter of INTERPRETATION of some sources.

in all religions there are literal interpretations, but in islam the text is the perfect word of god and so literalism much more important

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 06:32 PM

i had an earlier exchange with mjt in which he claimed that people identify themselves in lebanon as secular shia or secular sunni.

i claimed that they are essentially secular arabs, but this is highly disadvantageous and often dangerous an identification to sport in the arab world.

the point is that parts of beirut are secular and westernized, but that does not say much about the people who conduct jihad and, in fact, at least in part lebanon is attacked for the very westrni lifestyle that mjt describes (and no, i don't mean that's the main cause of what's happening now).

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 06:42 PM

Josh -

Are you implying that in the countries you mentioned (and you've curiously included Afghanistan in South Asia) the MAJORITY of Muslims support Al Qaeda?

fp -

The Jewish connection to the Temple Mount is denied a lot more often than is the Muslim connection. But I have seen the latter occur on numerous occasions (I even read something to this effect in a tourist brochure at a Jerusalem hotel). Both arguments are equally asinine, unless you want to fight about who got there first, I suppose. In that case the Jews win.

Posted by: Edgar at June 2, 2007 06:44 PM

But the process of interpretation of texts is even more important than the texts themselves. For an example from the Hebrew Bible - the famous "eye for an eye" passages, which seem to say that if someone injured another person, then the culprit has to be injured in exactly the same way - the rabbis consistently interpreted this to mean monetary compensation. I don't know of these retributive measures were put into practice during biblical times, but they certainly were not under rabbinic rules. Muslim fundamentalists claim to be going back to the pure Islam of 7th century Arabia, but they (along with everyone else reading a text) are engaging in a process of interpretation - in this case one that rejects the long tradition of Muslim interpretation of the Qur'an. Muslim feminists today (for example, Professor Asma Barlas of my own college) are engaged in their own interpretation of the Qur'an, in diametric opposition to what Sayyid Qutb (Egypt) or Mawdudi (Pakistan) interpret the Qur'an as saying of women.

Posted by: Rebecca at June 2, 2007 06:46 PM

what A says is actually very pertinent, although I would not put it quite the way he did.

the fact is that the islamists ARE motivated by these sources and do take them literally and those who point this out -- Robert Spencer is hardly A -- are stifled as islamophobes, fools, etc.

and that is precisely how the west is self-destructing. here is a must read:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/06/as_europe_selfdestructs.html

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 06:48 PM

fp: so if you want to understand the global jihad and its local events, you MUST know and UNDERSTAND quran, hadith and all that.

I completely agree.

But you can't understand what a typical Muslim believes 1300 years after the text was written when most Muslims never bother to read that text in the first place and don't really care what it says.

Josh: there will always be new people who read it a learn that God wants them to hate and kill.

Maybe. What are you going to do about it? Burn every copy of the Koran on the face of the earth? Kill them all? Round 'em up, ship them off to Dar Al Islam, and build a big fat wall around the place?

There is some nasty stuff in 7th Century Islam, no doubt about it. We need to know what it says so we can (partially) understand people like those in Fatah Al Islam. But those 7th Century passages in the text tell you nothing about the Lebanese soldiers fighting and dying to erase that scourge from Lebanon.

Muslims are humans. They aren't Koran Borg drones with a jihad chip in their heads.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 06:49 PM

rebecca,

of course. but the bibles are not words of god, but human made. and in fact latest research shows a lot of constant alterations to the originals which don't exist.

the problem with islam is that the text is complete and perfect word of allah, which induces literal interpretations much more than other religions.

there are 4 major interpretations but no major differences in terms of jihad.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 06:52 PM

A better prophet declaiming

heh

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 06:55 PM

mjt,

you don't seem to understand the core point: those people who don't care and don't read are essentially secularized, or at least in large part.

that's precisely the material on which the islamists pound. they declare them takfir or apostates for which there can be high social and phsyical price to pay. and this is exactly what makes them effective in recruiting.

they look for those who don't care about the text who have some problems and convince them that their problem is due to precisely the fact that they don't care, and that jihad will solve them.

here's an example and there are tons of them.

http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?&id=9635

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 06:58 PM

those soldiers, however, and those who send them to fight better understand what the islamists are all about, or they will lose. because fighting them separately in every corner of the world and without the ruthlessness and smarts and cooperation it requires, we're doomed.

and there is evidence that the western civilized world is losing big time because they are ignorant of islam.

i urge all to read the article on self-destruction i linked to.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:04 PM

fp: you don't seem to understand the core point: those people who don't care and don't read are essentially secularized, or at least in large part.

I agree. They are more or less like most Christians in the West. They say they believe in God, etc., but they don't follow the rules and don't really care about them.

There are also those who do read -- and this includes people like the cleric Sayyed Husseini I pointed you toward a few days ago -- who are stridently opposed to terrorism, war, and jihad. And they know far more about Islam in their sleep than you do when you are awake.

You write as though these people do not exist. But they do exist, and no one (least of all an ignoramus like A) can tell me they don't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 07:07 PM

Maybe. What are you going to do about it? Burn every copy of the Koran on the face of the earth? Kill them all? Round 'em up, ship them off to Dar Al Islam, and build a big fat wall around the place?

"What are you going to do about it?" I don't know. But I think we should, every one of us, be completely aware of the problem so that we can usefully debate what we should do.

And I say that even though all of us knowing Islam will, all by itself bring things to a head:

. On the bad side, educating America about Islam will also educate Muslim about Islam, and suddenly a lot more buses will blow up all over the world - or maybe our newly educated Muslims will take up head chopping as more authentic.

. but it will also place immense social pressure on Muslims to give up on Mohammad's evil. You've got to be able to look at mentally ill psychotic, killing all his critics (and their friends who offended him by mourning), breaking treaties and committing genocide as evil. And the rest of it.

Under the social pressure of everyone actually knowing Mohammad, perhaps, Islam will just dissolve in the west. I don't think it can stand the light of day.

In any case, whether knowledge will kill people or save them, we must have it so that the rest of us can act sanely - and so that our enemies KNOW that we can't be fooled.

We have no deterrence if we look like fools. But if our enemies know that we DO understand the situation then what we say will have great weight.

We may decide to do nothing but at least we will know the situation and will adjust to any changes in the future...

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 07:11 PM

where did i ever say they don't exist? they do, but they per-se will not stop jihad. they will have to fight it. and this means cooperation with the west and with seculars and with other religions' moderates.

and when push come to shove, i dk how many will, and whether they will be enough.

perhaps some in beirut will. but how representative that is i dk.

in another thread i posted a link to an article where an al-qaeda associate in indonesia is considering running for president. if he does and wins we will know what the moderate muslims in indonesia are made of, won't we?

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:13 PM

josh,

it depends on HOW you teach about islam.

but you are right. it's not enough. you need to teach them fundamentals of civilization: history, since, classics, logic, etc. then it's possible to put religion in context and apply knowledge and reason to it.

this is precisely what we STOPPED doing altogether. we produce ignorami who can't even reason properly.

and THOSE are exactly the kind that are taken in by radical religion.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:17 PM

Josh,

Instead of (or in adddition to) highlighting the evil parts of the Koran to every American, I suggest promoting people like this guy.

Seriously, Josh, go read that link. I know you have read it before, but I don't think it has sunk in yet as much as it probably should.

Find some liberal Muslims to talk to. I'm talking about people who pray, not the secular Muslims-in-name-only. I know some people I can put you in touch with if you want a dialogue with the sane.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 07:17 PM

oops, since was supposed to be science.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:19 PM

Michael, he's just a man.

When he has a sect with 100 million followers, call me.

Muslims need to escape Islam - they're not capable of papering it over, even with a Sayyid at the lead.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 07:20 PM

So it's a question of personality, Michael? Is that what you're trying to tell us?

Posted by: redaktor at June 2, 2007 07:21 PM

How nice. The paleostinians have new friends! They sure know how to pick em.

Posted by: Carlos at June 2, 2007 07:23 PM

mjt,

josh is exactly right. while i see nothing wrong with promoting people like that, the notion that this is gonna address the problem of global jihad is ridiculous.

have you ever pondered ***why he is unknown and must be promoted***? why do you think that is?

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:25 PM

I don't believe there's any alternative to everyone knowing the truth that is going to work. No matter how brutal knowing the truth is going to be. And it is going to be extremely brutal.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 07:26 PM

btw,

i just read that egypt has released a MB blogger, but not the democracy blogger. what does this tell you?

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:27 PM

Well, "extremely" is overstating it.

But truth is definitely risky with Islam.

It's like marching up to Hezbollah thugs and telling them exactly what you think of them.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 07:28 PM

i just read that egypt has released a MB blogger, but not the democracy blogger. what does this tell you?

Who didn't see that coming? Not even worth mentioning, IMO.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 07:29 PM

fp: have you ever pondered ***why he is unknown and must be promoted***?

Yes, I know why. Because Hezbollah and Iran have the military and financial power to shut him up.

The Shias of Lebanon didn't support jihad until the Iranians came. Many still don't, including that guy. If the Iranian Revolution wouldn't have happened, we would be talking about a very different South Lebanon now.

Destroy the Islamic Republic and Hezbollah will die.

You ignore politics too much and overemphasize ancient texts. You put way more emphasize on the text than Muslims do.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 07:29 PM

josh,

it's because it's brutal people prefer to not know. denial is much more pleasant, but unfortunately suicidal. here's another example:

http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/016727.php

read about the JFK terror plot and what they planned to do and let's see how the moderates will stop this.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:31 PM

josh,

we saw what the truth gets each time it is exposed about islam. when the clerics regurgitate it is fine, but when infidels bring up the same thing violence and threats erupt.

moreover, there's da'wa and tqiyya in the other direction.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:36 PM

Josh: Muslims need to escape Islam

Some of them will and do. Some of them won't.

I'm an atheist. I would be perfectly happy if the entire universe pitched God over the side.

It isn't going to happen, though, and I'm not going to waste my time and energy expecting the entire human race, or even the adherents of one religion, to come around to my point of view. It will never happen and I will doom myself to eternal frustration if I think they have to or we're dead.

Muslims exist and will continue to do so. People like you can't make them go away unless they are killed off en masse.

Daniel Pipes is correct when he says that extremist Islam is the problem and that moderate Islam is the solution. The elimination of Islam isn't an option. On the other hand, the all but inevitable liberalization of Islam is what drove Sayyid Qutb to madness. Read Terror and Liberalism.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 07:37 PM

Michael,

There were at least six new Saudi mega mosques constructed in the last 10 years in Lebanon. Any idea why that might be? (Other than some underhanded scheme of keeping Lebanese FreeMasons employed).

Posted by: redaktor at June 2, 2007 07:39 PM

Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini's web site

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 07:39 PM

mjt,

you don't understand me. i don't emphasize ancient texts. the islamists do, and theologically speaking they have usually won. otherwise they would not be supported worldwide.

on the contrary, it is you who are focused on lebanon which in many ways is not representative of the arab world.

of course there are politics. but those politics are ABOUT something. and as long as you bring iran, it's the best example of how ancient texts dominate world politics and not the other way around.

and the fact is that neither the moderates in iran nor the west solve the problem, because the former is terrorized and the latter is ignorant and self-destructs.

read about the us-iran talks and what the american says and what the iranians say. it's pathetic.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:42 PM

Daniel Pipes is correct when he says that extremist Islam is the problem and that moderate Islam is the solution.

And if "moderate Islam" never steps up to the plate then what is the solution?

I never forget those former and secular Muslims who seem quite insistent that Islam will not become moderate.

In fact I see a measure of desperation in Irshad Manji these days...

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 07:45 PM

daniel pipes is a very knowledgeable scholar and i agree with most of what he says. but i am not sure he's right about the moderates. i think it's more of a default hope: what else is there, if the west is incapable to defend itself?

i would like very much moderate muslims to solve the islamist problem and i agree that would be the best way to go, but there are reasons inherent in islam which makes this extremely difficult and unlikely.

now, if the west understood the issues and pursued proper policies, there would be a chance.
but the west is giving up the fight and is back to the appeasement of the 1930's. there is a good chance that europe is already doomed.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 07:49 PM

Instead of (or in adddition to) highlighting the evil parts of the Koran to every American...

I find this "instead of" very disturbing.

There's no difference to split between truth and ignorance.

If someone says that the sun rises in the west, how do you compromise with that?

People have a truthful impression of Mohammad and what his religion means or they don't. In-between is just like driving while looking backwards - you see something but you're still going to crash.

And it's a sign of denial to call the problem "the evil parts of the Koran" as if the problem were a book. For one the Koran paints a less evil picture than that Sunna (and you can't get rid of that either) - no the problem is that the religion is one man and everyone who uses that man in an attempt to get close to God will come to know that man - a brutal, mentally ill, hating, paranoid psychotic who had nothing whatsoever to offer.

So the only way to heaven through Mohammad is to become a paranoid, hating, violent sociopath.

To say anything else is to ignore the truth. Those who seek God through Mohammad will try to be like him. Full stop.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 08:14 PM

i reiterate: mohammad, while he had many flaws, did not know any better at the time he lived. he is not the problem.

the problem is the god delusion, because it requires to suspend judgment. and when you do that, all bets are off. you put yourself in the hands of those who will manipulate you for their own purposes. the likes of clerics and obl.

it's that suspension of judgment, the disregard for reason, that is the root of the problem. and islam is dangerous because it does have theologically induced violence and requires literal interpretation of the scriptures.
and it punishes almost anything by violence.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 08:40 PM

Josh: And if "moderate Islam" never steps up to the plate then what is the solution?

Well, it sure as hell "stepped up to the plate" in Kurdistan.

Muslim men who said "excuse me, I need to go pray" helped keep me alive in Kirkuk, Iraq.

The caretakers of the mosque in Biara, Iraq, thanked me because my country bombed it and ousted Zarqawi from it.

For every extemist nut bag you can point at, I can show you people who believe in Allah who have faced them with rifles.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 08:40 PM

so you lived in beirut and with kurds and from that you project to all the ME?

sure there are people like that. even many of them. but they are not the problem and they are unlikely to solve the jihad problem.

i suggest you don't judge world politics in terms of your personal experience. it's not serious.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 08:43 PM

Well, it sure as hell "stepped up to the plate" in Kurdistan.
No, Kurds stepped up to the plate with an ethnic and national identity, being Kurds first and Muslims second and could not accept being like Arabs and Persians.

That helps a world full of Muslims not at all. Are Arabs going to be saved by not wanting to be like Arabs?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 08:44 PM

Josh,

Read Sayyed Husseini's Questions and Answers about Violence and Non-Violence at the Web site you linked to.

Don't tell me how every Muslim must be a violent sociopath, etc. You are libeling some personal friends of mine and you are starting to piss me off.

I like you, Josh, and I mean that sincerely, but you need to step back.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 08:45 PM

Josh: Kurds first and Muslims second

Well, that's partly what I mean when I say Muslims are human beings, not Koran Borg drones. A person's religion is very very rarely 100 percent of their identity.

Most Kurds have told me Persians as a whole are like them and not like Arabs, by the way. The vast majority of Iranians absolutely detest the government of the Islamic Republic. A fringe and utterly unrepresentative minority has the guns there.

I mention the Kurds a lot because I know them well, not because they are the only moderate Muslims in the world.

How many jihadists come out of Central Asia? Outside Afghanistan and Pakistan, to my knowledge, the number so far is zero. (There might be a few from somewhere, but I have never heard of them.) They are more moderate there than even the Kurds. Kazakhstan (Muslim majority country) has good relations with Israel, etc.

The whole Muslim world isn't Palestine. Ok? Palestine is absolutely microscopic in size.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 08:51 PM

Josh: Are Arabs going to be saved by not wanting to be like Arabs?

How many terrorists come from Oman? Again, to my knowledge, zero. It's an Arab country, you know, and a conservative one at that.

The answer to your question is "no."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 08:53 PM

the problem, mjt, is that you project from what you know well -- which is limited -- to the muslim and arab world.

what you describe are EXCEPTIONS not the rule; yet you seem to treat them as if they were the rule.

kurdish experience and history is different than the arabs; and of the persians; and of the indians; and of the south-asians. global jihad does not come from the kurds. neither do the kurds have madrassas instead of schools, kindergartens and universities. therefore you cannot project from them to the global muslims.

do some serious reading on the roots of islamism, radicalization, recruitment, methods of operations, pay attention to the violence spreading in some coordinated way all around the world and maybe you'll have less confidence in the secular society, including secular muslims, to combat it.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 09:12 PM

Of course the whole Muslim World isn't aligned with Al-Qaida. Neither does it promote or even support it. But Al-Qaida survives because practically the whole Muslim World tolerates their existence. In my opinion, so long as that doesn't change, Al-Qaida will always exist. Al-Qaida, like America, can only be defeated by within. In America we have "The 5th Column". No such thing exists within Al-Qaida. Not yet anyway. Recently, we saw the first glimpse of that happening in some province in Iraq though, where rival factions have begun to war with each other. Is this also called "Civil War" by the American 5th Column? If so, can anyone explain to me why that is a bad thing?

Posted by: Nostradamus at June 2, 2007 09:23 PM

nostra,

correct. as i already said, islamism won't win, the west will lose.

there have been some good analyses of the internal fissures in islam and islamisms, including what's happening in iraq.

the problem is that instead of exploiting those fissures, western policies lead to unification against the west. this is exactly what iraq has done.

the 5th column is already too big in europe to stop and there are clear sign of similar process in the us.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 09:32 PM

mjt,

here's moderate turkey -- the single example that is used to demonstrate that islam is compatible with democracy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/01/world/europe/01turkey.html?_r=4&hp&or&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

of course, that argument is false. islam has been stifled politically by iron hand. and yet it did not go away and waited for the right opportunity.

do some reading on the akp, their history and how they practiced what can only be described as takiyya to get power.

now, clearly there are plenty of secular muslims in turkey, we saw the demonstrations. but who do you think will win in the long run given what the article says? i know on whom i bet.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 09:38 PM

"In short, Hitchens critique of religion come down to four main points: that it misrepresents the origins of humankind and the cosmos, demands unreasonable suppression of human nature, inclines people to violence and blind submission to authority, and expresses hostility to free inquiry."

So you see, it's not muhammad, nor jesus, nor budha. It's superstition.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 09:44 PM

When people who all call themselves Muslim engage in theological arguments about Jew-hatred, the oppression of women, the necessity of the pursuit of jihad, and the Allah-commanded requirement to establish a global caliphate under which the entire population of the planet is forced to join an ummah subject to sharia law, the jihadist mujaheddin will win every time, because they are supported by the Quran and the hadiths. For those who nevertheless refuse to listen and obey, those selfsame sources prescribe a brutal and violent solution.

Now, I'm not saying that people can't change in spite of their holy texts; the US won a civil war with those who pointed to Biblical justifications for slavery, and now those, such as the Ku Klux Klan, who still espouse such a doctrine, are few, and widely ridiculed and condemned. Also, the hegemony of a brutal medieval and Inquisitional Christian reign was indeed, with the help of the Enlightenment and the Reformation, eventually broken in Europe, but not without the expenditure of many lives over hundreds of bloody years, nd remember that the US still suffered grievous losses on both sides settling the slavery issue.

But then again, the Bible is acknowledged as a human-authored (although divinely inspired) document, while the Quran is considered to be a word for word recitation of the message that Allah communicated, via the angel Gabriel, to Muhammed, so it is much more difficult for the faithful to step away from the more vicious and cruel admonishments contained within it. Plus, there is the fact that Jesus and Muhammed pursued their lives in radically different fashions, and the hadiths, which document his life and sayings, add much fuel to the jihadist, imperialist, supremacist fire.

I'm not saying that the larger Muslim world is incorrigible, irretrievable, or irredeemable on these issues; I AM saying that any evolutionary transition away from them will be exceedingly difficult, involving an extended period of bloodshed and strife. Anyone who does not recognize the profound difficulties that the source scriptures of Islam present to effectuating this change are, in my opinion, living in at least a partial state of denial - and one from which their eventual awakening is likely to be exceedingly, surpassingly rude.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 2, 2007 09:48 PM

My point is simply that the Muslim world is varied. It is not now and never has been a monolith. Anyone who has traveled around the Muslim world knows this very well. The Koran won't tell you that, but experience and knowledge of the real world does.

In some places the extremists may well be the majority. (Egypt, for example, is a real Islamist horror show.) In other places (in the Arab world as well as the wider Muslim world) they are at times only a microscopic minority.

Even Pakistan, which seems more full of crazies than most places, votes against the Islamist parties overwhelmingly every time they have elections.

I am not uninterested in what the Koran says, but I am more interested in how actual breathing human beings live, think, and behave.

You will learn precious little useful information about Canada, France, and America from reading the Bible. And you will learn just as little about Kurdistan or Lebanon or Tunisia or Uzbekistan or Azerbaijan or Oman or Dubai from reading the Koran.

You won't even learn much about Iran from reading that book, and there's a country governed, supposedly, by Islamic law. The real Iran, the one that exists in 2007, is more like Poland in 1986 than it is like 7th Century Arabia.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 10:01 PM

sal,

the examples you give of change were achieved in two ways: by coercive defeat and by education.

chances are that the combination of the two is required to change islamism too.

unfortunately, it is exactly these two weapons that are being given up: education has collapsed and islamism is being appeased, not fought.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 10:02 PM

Salamantis: the jihadist mujaheddin will win every time

But they don't.

The Kurds threw all their mujahideen idiots into Iran. They were conveniently located in one place on the border. It took them two days in 2003, and that was the end of it.

And the Kurds are conservative Muslims. They are nothing at all like the decadent Muslims of Lebanon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 10:04 PM

Don't tell me how every Muslim must be a violent sociopath,

You're slipping categories so that you'll have an argument.

I didn't say that every Muslim must be a violent sociopath, I said that Mohammad was a violent sociopath and that if you seek God by getting to know and emulate Mohammad that's what you will be emulating.

You may not want to face what I'm saying, but I don't think you can be honest and still deny that it's the truth.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 10:04 PM

In my opinion, so long as that doesn't change, Al-Qaida will always exist. Al-Qaida, like America, can only be defeated by within.

I'm convinced that our greatest hidden strength in the war on terror is that Muslim societies must be riddled with sane people who are willing to (secretly) rat on the Islamists.

They must have a very powerful third column.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 10:08 PM

mjt,

that's a rather silly comparison which shows that you insist in not paying attention to what is being said and you refuse to accept inherent differences between islam and other religions.

the bible is not a political ideology anymore and is not being used as a justification to exterminate or subjugate non-christians. it was once in history and it behaved not unlike islamism. it was tamed, turned into a private rather than public superstition.

it is inherently more difficult for islam to undergo such a process and it is precisely because you don't know and understand islam that you don't see it.

you cling to the variety in the muslim world as some sort of proof that islamism won't win. but in that you blind yourself to global events.

i repeat: if the west understood what's going on and pursued smart policies including to exploit the variety, fine. but it does the opposite and it keeps reinforcing and enhancing the jihadists, causing even the moderates to be cautious in the fear of that win.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 10:12 PM

mjt,

that's a rather silly comparison which shows that you insist in not paying attention to what is being said and you refuse to accept inherent differences between islam and other religions.

the bible is not a political ideology anymore and is not being used as a justification to exterminate or subjugate non-christians. it was once in history and it behaved not unlike islamism. it was tamed, turned into a private rather than public superstition.

it is inherently more difficult for islam to undergo such a process and it is precisely because you don't know and understand islam that you don't see it.

you cling to the variety in the muslim world as some sort of proof that islamism won't win. but in that you blind yourself to global events.

i repeat: if the west understood what's going on and pursued smart policies including to exploit the variety, fine. but it does the opposite and it keeps reinforcing and enhancing the jihadists, causing even the moderates to be cautious in the fear of that win.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 10:13 PM

Josh,

I'm not defending Mohammad.

I am defending the real life human beings, some of whom are my friends and have been in my home, who say Peace Be Upon Him, and are not violent sociopaths.

You say people like them don't exist, but I know they do and you cannot edit them out of existence no matter what verses you cite from a text 1300 years old.

They ignore the medieval aspects of Islam and Mohamamad just as Christians and Jews ignore the primitive parts of their own religions.

I of course know very well that fewer Muslims do this right now than Christians and Jews, and there lots of reasons for that. That may be true forever. But many of them do ignore the primitive and embrace the modern. More of them will do this in the future because Islamism destroys itself wherever it succeeds.

Just watch what happens in Iran when the mullahs are thrown out of power.

And look at Algeria now.

You are talking about a book and I am talking about people. That's a big reason why we aren't connecting.

I agree with pretty much everything you say about the book.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 10:14 PM

What is most important as far as control goes in the Middle East is who have the guns and the will to use them.

This was proven in Saddam's Iraq, where a Sunni minority long dominated the Shia and Kurds, Is the case in Iran, where a brutal minority imposes a cruel religious regime on the majority of iranians who wish nothing more than simply to be rid of it, is a fact on the ground (which the Muslim Brotherhood deplores) in Egypt, is being brutally imposed in Gaza by Hamas even in the face of Gazan residents begging for an Israeli incursion that they hope would restore some semblance of normal life there, and is a major factor in the Hezbollah intimidation in Lebanon.

It's the old cliche (but cliches usually become cliches by virtue of being true); might is right - or at least sucessful. I am buoyed in this instance by the fact that the weapons and numbers are on the Lebanese Army side, and am overjoyed that the Anbar Awakening in Iraq is spreading, and that the sheikhs have thrown their armed sons into the battle against Al Qaeda there.

Our best options, in my opinion, are not only to to close down brainwashing mosques, madrassas and media in Pakistan and Palestine, among other places, by any means necessary, but also to identify those who will stand with us against these zealous fanatics, and for their own autonomy, and spare no efforts to train, arm, and assist them.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 2, 2007 10:19 PM

I have noticed that Muslims are enamored with (amazingly) arbitrary Islamic legal rulings, and that is somewhat seperate from the Koran and Sunna. These might explain some of the variation.

I theorize that Muslims have to seek escape valves from Islam, and one escape valve comes from the shear random arbitrariness of Mohammad's rulings and from the sloppiness of religious reasoning. One can't derive any humane principles from Mohammad, but one can attempt to defend one's humanity by looking for legalistic loopholes based on arbitrary examples blown out of proportion by irrational argument.

So these laws are important to Muslims, but are complete gobbledygook, and no non-Muslim in his right mind would torture himself by reading them. So outside of the Koran and Sunna, which are monstrous but not dishonest and unreadable, there's this whole realm we can not enter.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 10:20 PM

fp: you insist in not paying attention to what is being said and you refuse to accept inherent differences between islam and other religions.

I am well aware of the differences.

You are talking about a text and a religion on paper and in the abstract. I am talking about human beings, some of whom adhere to that religion as you describe it and some of whom don't.

I've received personal death threats from Islamist fanatics, and the ones in Lebanon fired missiles at me. (Not at me personally, but at the ground I was standing on.) I am not one of those politically correct fools who think these people either do not exist or have a "point" or that Islam is no more inherently violent than Christianity.

Islam, in the abstract, is more dangerous than Christianity. That is undeniable.

It is, to be honest, my least favorite religion (if I can put it like that) in the entire world. And yes, I do rank them. They are not equal.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 10:20 PM

What is most important as far as control goes in the Middle East is who have the guns and the will to use them.

This was proven in Saddam's Iraq, where a Sunni minority long dominated the Shia and Kurds, Is the case in Iran, where a brutal minority imposes a cruel religious regime on the majority of iranians who wish nothing more than simply to be rid of it, is a fact on the ground (which the Muslim Brotherhood deplores) in Egypt, is being brutally imposed in Gaza by Hamas even in the face of Gazan residents begging for an Israeli incursion that they hope would restore some semblance of normal life there, and is a major factor in the Hezbollah intimidation in Lebanon.

It's the old cliche (but cliches usually become cliches by virtue of being true); might is right - or at least sucessful. I am buoyed in this instance by the fact that the weapons and numbers are on the Lebanese Army side, and am overjoyed that the Anbar Awakening in Iraq is spreading, and that the sheikhs have thrown their armed sons into the battle against Al Qaeda there.

Our best options, in my opinion, are not only to to close down brainwashing mosques, madrassas and media in Pakistan and Palestine, among other places, by any means necessary, but also to identify those who will stand with us against these zealous fanatics, and for their own autonomy, and spare no efforts to train, arm, and assist them.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 2, 2007 10:21 PM

I need to bow out of this argument now. I have an essay the size of a graduate student thesis to work on.

Carry on without me...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 10:22 PM

Oops I forgot to make it clear just WHY I was talking about Islamic law.

My point is that these schools of law may explain the differences between groups of Muslims.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 10:22 PM

Islam can be reformed. The basic desire of people to live in safety and security both created religion (or was created by the author of all religion) and has moderated religions over time. The fact that the Koran is believed to be the divine word of G-d is an obstacle, but not irredeemably so. The Torah is considered (at least by the Orthodox and Sephardim) to be the word of G-d, given to Moses at Sinai. Even the oral Torah (reflected in the Talmud) is considered the divine word of G-d passed through the generations. Nevertheless, Judaism, even prior to the birht of Reform Judaism and the rejection of absolute biblical authenticity, Judaism had moderated itself through Orthodox Rabbinic interpretation (often applying a non-literal, allegorical approach to interpretation), that significantly curved the sharper edges of belief and practice. Much of this exegesis occured in the diaspora and under the subjugation of others, which circumstances may have been an impetus to the process, which is one reason I tend to think the reform of Islam is moving so slowly, insofar as it has been manifested in a successful, if often regressive, form.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 2, 2007 10:28 PM

Michael and others:

What A is referring to is the story in the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) where Mohammed kills the Banu Kuraizah tribe of Jews. He buries them in a trench up to their necks and lops of their heads with a sword on horseback. He and his men take their widows and daughters to be their sex slaves (concubines). It is frequently cited whenever an enemy (the Jews) are needed in Muslim society to provide some sort of scapegoat/enemy. It is by all Shia and Sunni authorities considered "Sunnah" i.e. a practice of the Prophet considered coequal with the Koran. [I am actually appalled that all commenters are not familiar with this, it is as well known among Muslims as the Last Supper is among Christians. And no, the Prophet was not merely a more colorful Jesus. Quite a different character and so is his religion.]

I for one would be very wary of taking the extreme weakness, division, and lack of a single group dominating Lebanon as "proof" that Muslims or Islam can be in any way considered a tolerant much less modern society as understood in the West. Even before the Mandate, Lebanon's Christians were under various forms of "protection" by European powers as the Ottoman Empire weakened making that place a unique case. More typical I would assert is the regular pogroms in Egypt against the Copts as an example of Islam's attitudes toward minority groups.

I would also be quite careful of projecting Western conceptions to a people who don't share any fundamental precepts (Nationalism as a basis for extended trust groups, Greek-Roman rationalism, Judeo-Christian Pacifism). Sunni Muslims in West Beirut may debase themselves with booze and pornography where Mosques also proliferate, but that doesn't mean they think like a Westerner. Self-evidently they don't: in economics and technology and corporations the record is total failure, and the entire non-petroleum exports of the Arab world in 2000 were equal to that of Finland, population 5 million. Spain translates more books into Spanish last year than the Arab world has ... ever. These are not indicators of a Modern People. Surely you have recognized the vastly differing ideas about time in the Arab world compared to the West (or East for that matter)?

They are people, surely, but so too are other deeply tribal and non-modern folks.

While the people in Beirut or Kurdistan may be nice and friendly towards you Michael, I would not romanticize them which in all fairness I detect a great deal of in your writings. They remain fundamentally non-Western, tribal, and anti-Modern. The murder of the Yazidi girl (while police stood around and others used the cellphones to ... video her brutal death) makes my point ... tribe trumped everything else. They can use the trappings of modernity, but can't actually make them much less act in modern, national and non-tribal ways.

I can confidently predict that the Lebanese Army will largely fail in it's attempt to take on the Fatah-al-Islam, because as de Atkine points out on "Why Arab Armies Lose Wars" the Army is there to prevent coups, not actually fight. The Lebanese Army is not like the Turkish one (analogous to Western, national armies) because there is no Lebanese nation. Over and over in your reporting on Lebanon the tribal, sectarian, and familial divisions that infest Lebanon and the Arab world come clear as does the total lack of Lebanese patriotism and unity. The Lebanese Army is too divided on sectarian lines to do anything useful no matter how much US assistance is given.

Ironically, your reporting on Hezbollah showed them to exist beyond tribe, clan, and nation. I am not surprised in the least that Hezbollah was able to fight Israel to a draw whereas the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan could not. Hezbollah I would argue is Lebanon's future because they have found a way around the deep tribalistic divisions that plague the Arab world. Hezbollah stands poised like Caesar's legions against the fractious, divided Gauls.

Unless the US intervenes, Hezbollah will own ALL of Lebanon in six years or so. Their unity allows them to fight and win. Who's going to stop them? Disorganized tribes? Clans? West Beirut's Cafe Society?

[I would argue Qutb's reaction was one of tribalism confronting modernity, but perhaps that's a quibble. His type of reaction however is seen over and over again: the Fort Dix, London 7/7-7/21 bombers, 9/11 plotters, bin Laden and Zawahari, the JFK plotters, various "sudden jihad" types in the US too numerous to mention, the Madrid bombers, and so on. Exposure to the West, and globalization, seems to provoke Qutb's reaction. So clearly this is not getting any better at all, but rather worse. It also implies that there is no peace to be had until either tribalism or modernity wins and completely destroys the other, given the violent reaction modernity produces in tribalism. A terrible thing to contemplate but there it is.]

Posted by: Jim Rockford at June 2, 2007 10:35 PM

what are you talking about? on paper? they are blowing up everything, beheading, you name it. are you serious?

it's not in the abstract. it's what moves those maniacs to kill, stone, blow up, behead. this is what they are taught in madrassas and mosques. this is what they teach whole generations of kids.

and they will not let those secularized to live in peace. this is a global problem and i don't see it happening.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 10:39 PM

IMFink'sPa, the reason I disagree is this subjective argument:

Because Islam is one person, it builds a picture of a man. You get to know the gestault of Mohammad's personality and state. You study Islam and get to feel who the man is, you become Mohammad.

The problem is not just that it's the "word of God" but that it's in a form that reaches much deeper into the human heart than concepts do - and that form is the personality, psychology, methods and principles that form a coherent whole. And that whole is an exemplar, and more than an exemplar. You can not be Jesus because "I and the Father are one", but you can be Mohammad.

Do you understand what I'm saying?

And it's worse than it would be for a better man, because Mohammad's phobias and paranoias and hatred and tantrums and greed and lust and manipulativeness and dishonesty and complete disregard for liberty and complete disregard for life are all so extreme. You can't miss the emotion, the hysteria in Mohamed.

You can't hide such an overwhelming personality.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 10:43 PM

jim,

mainly correct analysis and perception of mjt's perspective. a lot of western projections.

the lebanese reaction to hezbollah is more or less the reaction of the west to islamism.
they are both likely to lose.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 10:45 PM

Jim, I find your post unconvincing. I think you're making us pessimists look bad. Please stop it :)

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 10:48 PM

josh,

isn't christianity one person -- jesus?

you're too hooked on muhammad and it sort of blinds you.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 10:52 PM

isn't christianity one person -- jesus?

Right, but what sort of man was Jesus? Was he brutal?

And add to this the fact that he was a tad above humanity "I and the father are one".

Mohammad on the other hand was in absolute terror of his delusional God. He said that he wasn't even sure what Allah was going to do to him.

The ways in which the cases were different make the argument rather than destroy it.

Even if Christians became Jesus, what harm would that do? And how would things be different?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 10:56 PM

jim,

hezbollah is a sect, so it's not exactly a way around sectarianism.

but what it did find as a way to fight and win is exactly what mjt calls a paper and not real. guess what that is.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 10:58 PM

Josh,

I do understand your point. My point was not really to directly equate Islam with Judaism. While both are based in a literal word of G-d, Judaism is self-limiting. It is not interested in broad conquest or subjugation. It is about establishing one place, for one people to act as a model. Judaism is not a tolerant religion in the sense that it rejects polytheism and lawlessness, but it has a strong ethic of treating monotheists who can create their own laws as equals. In its core writing, the Koran, the Sunnah, the Hadith, and the example of the prophet, Islam is expansionist. As Michael and others have noted, however, it is practiced by individuals, moreover, it is anti-modern. As a consequence, and over the long-term, I am convinced that those elements within Islam who wish to bring it into accord with modernity will succeed in reforming it. Mohammed can be relegated to the role of Joshua instead of the "perfect man" and his exploits confined to his era, his most despicable conduct that cannot be reconciled with modernity can be marginilized or treated in the manner of King David's more shameful behavior. Outside of Mohammed's exmaple, the Quran can be reinterpreted. At the moment, reactionary elements have significant momentum, but their tribalism, isolationism, and opposition to modernity is likely to prevent them from triumphing in the long run. The most successful Islamic imperial triumphs in history grew out of a nationalistic fervor in a pre-modern world. I am concerned by the damage that the jihadis may do in the interim and I view history over the long term so I have no illusions that it will be a short or easy confrontation, but I am unwilling to accept the concept that Islam cannot be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world. The fact is, there are only 4 long term options: 1) Islam reforms and joins the modern world; 2)radical Islam creates an eternal caliphate; 3) Islam itself is eradicated; or 4) tribal conflict degrades modern and wester governments to a more anarchic tribal state of nature. Option 1 is, in my opinion, inevitable (again, however long it may take). Option 2 is a farce. Even on the smaller scale of an Iran, there is no evidence to suggest that purely Islamic state, even one with a predominantly muslim populace, can form a stable, long-term empire in a modern world. Option 3 is too distasteful to contemplate. Religions may die out over time, but none of the modern one (last 2000 years or so) have done so to date and the modern world has no interest in genocide on that scale. Option 4, is reasonable, I suppose, but it is really a transitional state that will ultimately lead to one of the other options.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 2, 2007 11:05 PM

Of course Lebanese people aren't Western. Some of you guys are describing them as though they are Jihad Robots with the Koran as their software.

If that's the case, why do virtually all the Sunni Muslims of Lebanon staunchly side with the Lebanese Army against the Sunni Muslim jihad?

The majority of Lebanese soldiers carrying rifles against the jihadists are Muslims. What more evidence do you want that you are projecting the text of the Koran onto people you should not be projecting it on?

Get your nose out of that book and look at the world.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 11:06 PM

well, but a lot of brutality was done in his name nevertheless. and those who did it thought they were the most pious. so emulation is not everything in religion.

at the time when muhammad lived violence was common. and so it was when jesus lived. it is said that he called himself king of the jews and who knows what he would have done against the roman had he not been killed.

assuming there was a jesus, since that is questioned.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 11:07 PM

no, you're turning what we say into caricature of it.

i was not talking about the lebanese but the jihadis and they are the ones we should focus on. otoh you focus on those who are not dangerous and use them as proof that the jihadis won't win. and that is a sort of denial of reality.

jihadis are robots. that's exactly their strength. and they are able to turn more and more into robots. and the west is helping them.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 11:11 PM

We must endeavor to resist the tempting tendency to romanticize this sitation a la Rousseau's 'noble savage', and likewise strive to resist the common tendency, following either the conscious or subconscious tendency of an all-too-common, and in this case, Sheherezadan, multiculturalism that tends to permeate contemporary thought, to engage in cultural relativism, and thus to either equate the 'civilization' proferred by Islam in general, and radical Islamists in particular, to modern western secular constitutional democracy, or else to even to romatically prefer it.

We must carefully, comprehensively, and thoroughly peruse both the words and the actions of all competitors concerned, as well as their actual real-world consequences, and engage in dispassionate and abstract analyses of their respective benefits and liabilities, yet consciusly strive to root these analyses in the concrete results obtained when each model is applied in our present and historical world.

The radical disparity between the praxis of the West and of Islamism is quite apodictically self-evident, and all of our decisions as to the existential survival and dominance of one of these models or the other, and what we are and are not willing to do to assure it, must follow, as a logically and rationally mandated exigency, from our clear-eyed recognition of this vast difference, and what the actualization of one side or another of that wide chasm entails in pragmatic terms for both ourselves and our descendents.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 2, 2007 11:13 PM

sal,

nice. but here's the reality:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=25730_Kos_Kidz_React_to_Terror_Plot&only

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 11:16 PM

Mohammed can be relegated to the role of Joshua instead of the "perfect man"...

Mohammad was aware of the possibility of Muslims doing something like this to him and made it impossible.

You can't get to God unless you love Mohammad more than your own children.

Yes I know that Mohammad seemed to contradict his own terror of Allah and uncertainty in his own salvation he said that, but he was nothing if not manipulative.

In fact he only mentioned his own uncertainty of salvation in order to stir up violence. He told the troups that any Muslim who died in battle would go straight to heaven, and that's when he said that he wasn't even sure that he would get get in.

You see? If your only prophet may not make it to heaven, then you fucking better die in battle (or have a family member who dies in battle - that's in there too I think). When Muslims see infidel soldiers they may complain about "oppression" and talk about "resistance", (and there are theological reasons for that) but what they see is pure gold, a road straight to God and heaven. Terror is with us forever because the payoff is heaven, not politics.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 11:18 PM

Religions may die out over time, but none of the modern one (last 2000 years or so) have done so to date and the modern world has no interest in genocide on that scale.

Zoroastrianism?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 11:23 PM

so emulation is not everything in religion.

But you can't prevent it from happening and being relatively common.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 11:25 PM

You're still talking about Mohammad, Josh.

Let's talk about the world for a second.

Why do you suppose the Muslim soldiers in the Lebanese army are killing jihadists instead of joining them? Why do you suppose nearly all the Sunnis of Lebanon support the Christian and Druze amd Shia soldiers in the Lebanese Army who are killing Sunni jihadists?

The Koran has no explanation for this whatsoever. This should tell you something important.

Please think about these questions even if you don't answer them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 11:26 PM

fp, I am all-too-well aware that there are significant fifth column elements within our own society that fall victim to the two fallacies that I enumerated; our goal vis-a-vis them is to do our utmost to engage that self-labeled reality based, but in fact reality-challenged, community, and to educate them both on the stark alternatives with which global society and culture is presently presented, and to persuade them to apply the energy they are presently expending in opposition to our present administration to the sustenance and advancement of our own model instead, by inculcating in them an understanding of what each choice ultimately means for us all.

More and more of then will, as time goes on and atrocities proliferate, be mugged by reality, and change their positions and redirect their efforts. We should help them along as best we can.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 2, 2007 11:28 PM

Josh,

You may be right, but I am unwilling to take a deterministic approach to Islam that presupposes that it is irreformable, because that leaves only one option and that option is inconsistent with any model of humanity that I am willing to accept. If Islam is irreformable and inexorably violent, then it must be eliminated, ie. convert them or kill them. There are far too many legitimately moderate muslims (although all too often frequently cowed or insufficiently moderate for my tastes) for me to accept your premise. Muslims do not have to accept Mohammed as the perfect man and the model for all behavior. They simply don't. Just because an ever more marginalized group of extremists (ideally) and certain entrenched anti-Islamic westerners may consider them apostates does not make it so if they are the majority. The Hareidi may not accept conservative conversions, but the vast majority of Jews do. Ultimately, it is the majority that will prevail. I'd like to hope that that majority will be Sufi, but I will settle for a Reformed Sunni or Shia. In any event, it will take a long time.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 2, 2007 11:29 PM

Zoroastrianism survives, just not in the country of its birth. Check out the Indian Parsees.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 2, 2007 11:31 PM

my best guess is that they are foreigners whom they see in the service of syria who kill muslims.
had they been infidels or killed infidels ... remember the marines? don't recall a lot of regret.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 11:33 PM

The Koran has no explanation for this whatsoever. This should tell you something important.

It doesn't need to.

I never implied that Muslims are unanimous or homogeneous.

My question was whether the violence from Islam can ever end.

So my question is whether the violent strains can ever be completely suppressed or permanently lose all popularity in the societies now enamored with them - and never get it back.

My belief is that the violent strains will always come back and will always have popularity somewhere among Muslims because they come directly from Mohammad.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 11:34 PM

fink,

in theory you are correct. but not in reality.
in theory islam is reformable, but the conditions for it do not exist. and if it ever reforms it will not be islam, but something else.

and yes, islamism must be fought and defeated. but it isn't. instead it is supported and surrendered to.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 11:37 PM

Theologically, Islam mandates that infidels should be converted, enslaved, or murdered (and many infidels are not even allowed the enslavement option). I am not against us refusing to oppose the jihadists among them with a similar doctrine, because we are supposed to be better than that, but we should not delude ourselves that we are not collectively and voluntarily tying one hand behind our backs when we confront them on the world stage in a global zero-sum game (Islamofascism or a constitutional-democratic modernity).

Posted by: Salamantis at June 2, 2007 11:37 PM

And let's not get ahead of ourselves, all happy because it's theoretically possible for radical Islam to lose all popularity in some society or other.

It's still popular in many and not losing ground. It's even growing.

It remains to be seen how well it can be wiped out. But I'm pessimistic that you can get rid of Jihad except by attacking Mohammad and destroying Islam as a social force.

And we all know that Islam's response to criticism of Mohammad will be the same as Mohammad's own response to criticism, murder and more murder and terror too.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 11:38 PM

sal,

education must be done systematically since childhood. by the time people are ignorant and unable to reason, it's harder to gain access to them. the example i linked to is as lost a cause as the islamists are.

the combination of the two is lethal and i don't see civilization having an answer to them.

a lot of damage must be done before the majority will wake up and it's not clear whether that won't be too late to do something about.

there are clear indicators of the start of a process of suicidal in the us similar to that in europe. and europe is already lost.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 11:42 PM

IMFink'sPa you do realize that there's no reason to believe that reality will conform itself to what you think is acceptable. The truth can be horrible.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 11:43 PM

sal,

i repeat: we don't fight them with a hand tied behind our back, we're appeasing them and helping them.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 11:44 PM

Josh: My belief is that the violent strains will always come back and will always have popularity somewhere among Muslims because they come directly from Mohammad.

That may be true.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 11:46 PM

If Europe is lost, which I doubt, it will be because of the tactic that islamists have been using upon it: not to attempt to overwhelm it with conquering armies, but instead to peacefully immigrate into it, and only then to rise up and subvert it from within, as Bat Yeor so cogently described in her book Eurabia.

Why I doubt that it will work is that europeans are 1) on the front lines of this suborning, and experiencing it to a much more accelerated degree than is the US, and 2) that they have a historical proclivity of meeting internal threats with sudden and overwhelming violence.

The harbingers of that aggressively self-protective reaction are already beginning to manifest in Europe, with amazing rapidity.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 2, 2007 11:49 PM

FP, unlike some parts of Europe, the United States has a long time.

I would like to see some immigration slowdown, but there's no emergency here and probably won't be for a long time. But I'm no expert in demographics to be sure of this.

And I'm not at all sure of what will happen in Europe. I expect that democracy may cause some big flips in policy. The European elites seem to have quite the contempt for their public, and that isn't a stable situation when there are social troubles. Take note of France.

I'm not right wing, but I do note that there has been a panic for years of right wing backlash. Maybe what they're afraid of is very real..

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 11:51 PM

that they have a historical proclivity of meeting internal threats with sudden and overwhelming violence.

Yes, whenever I have heard the French calling Israel a Nazi state I've found myself smiling ruefully.

France was a Nazi state once and I can imagine them turning into one overnight and going infinitely further than Israel - killing and expelling their immigrant population.

Hypocrisy isn't morality, but it buys its wardrobe at the same shop.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 2, 2007 11:58 PM

mjt,

that HAS proven true to date, turkey being a recent candidate.

sal,

you're exactly right about the method, but it has been effective because europeans countries have been self-destructing. i wouldn't bet on the extreme right to save europe, but if it does, i wouldn't want to live there either.

josh,

i recognized that it has a longer time, but it pursues imbecillic policies that speed the process up like iraq and immigartion law. the fact that the US is in serious decline does not help either.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:02 AM

But just because I can imagine something doesn't make it the most likely scenario.

The worst scenarios are what will happen if more rational steps are never taken for too long.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 12:02 AM

josh,

dream baby dream.

france turned nazi out of cowardice, not courage.
there are areas where the french don't dare going.

there is a lot of wishful thinking applied to sarkozy -- that's all it is.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:04 AM

This isn't my dream. I'm sure the French are still French. And having a more rational government takes the pressure off.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 12:08 AM

Just to clarify one minor point on the Jesus/Christianity question. Christians almost universally have a triad in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Yes, it says Christ in the title, but the Word of God includes the Old and New Testament. Jews hold an unique position because they were the 'chosen of God.' Christians do not hold the Jews in a bad light for the crucifixion of Christ since he was sent here to die in the first place. That was the salvation process. According to the bible Christ died for your sins, and by accepting him as your Savior, you get a pass to heaven.

I spent a lot of years in several protestant churches and there are slight variations on those themes. Catholics? Ask someone else. But I just wanted to put that out there so you don't equate Jesus and Christianity to Mohammed and Islam. Jesus was merely the human manifestation of God to Christians. Still God, but not God the Father.

And no, I'm not a believer in any God in any way, shape, or form. Just know the bible pretty well for an amateur raised in it.

Posted by: allan at June 3, 2007 12:09 AM

well, josh, it think it is and we'll live to see who is right.

in the meantime, here is how islamism and jihadism are combatted:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;jsessionid=J41CQO5M12QFVQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/opinion/2007/06/02/do0201.xml

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:10 AM

allan,

you don't know what you're talking about.

christianity is the root of anti-semitism. to this day.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:12 AM

Just wait until the rural French 'peasants' reach their tipping point - and it is close at hand, if violent revolutionary Islamist actions continue there - and commit...their sons and daughters populated a very brutal, courageous, efficient and effective French Resistance, once upon a time.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 3, 2007 12:13 AM

christians have a really hard time to theorize the triple divinity which gave rise to all sorts of absurdities because, of course, it's nonsense.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:13 AM

Theologically, Islam mandates that infidels should be converted, enslaved, or murdered

Is not true. Eventho I'm jewish and just read some of the most outright lies on islamonline about jews that are written in the quran, the above statement is NOT true. There is sura 9:29 which EXPLICITLY forbids compulsion in religion.

Of course there are always people who can manipulate every religion into what's in their own gain. But the Islam itself does not " mandate that infidels should be converted, enslaved, or murdered"

:)

Posted by: tsedek at June 3, 2007 12:15 AM

well, josh, it think it is ...

Too many pronouns. You think what is what?

re telegraph...

Oh yeah, British timidness. One more reason to be pessimistic.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 12:16 AM

There is sura 9:29 which EXPLICITLY forbids compulsion in religion.

Yes, early Mohammad, completely and thoroughly contradicted by later Mohammad, over and over.

Jesus. I thought everyone knew that by now.

And don't ask what Mohammad said when he was dying!

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 12:18 AM

ah, but why the timidness? THAT's important:

http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2007/05/31/on-western-media-in-cultures-of-intimidation-bbc-vs-wsj-on-alan-johnston/#comments

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:19 AM

josh,

good example of the ignorance about islam which support denial of the reality.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:21 AM

good example of the ignorance about islam which support denial of the reality.

Well that quote is the best example of the dishonesty of Muslim when talking to us "enemies of God". They do lie about this one whenever they can get away with it.

And you can't blame someone for not expecting a cleric to lie to him. Christian priests, Jewish rabbis and Buddhist priests never lie about their religion consider lying in general to be a sin (not sure about Buddhism on this one - it never came up). So it just doesn't occur to a westerner that an Imam lies as he breaths.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 12:25 AM

But I never blame Muslims for lying. I think that in Arab society often the only way a man can be humane is by lying.

When the rules are inhuman and inflexible, lying is the only escape valve.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 12:27 AM

The Qu'ran is not arranged entirely chronologically. It kind of resembles Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse Five in that respect.

btw, the verse you quote is actually Sura 2, verse 256.

Another (early) verse (18: 29) states that "It is the truth from your Lord; so let whoever wishes have faith and whoever wishes be unbeliever."

The section from which you quote, and the one which I added, were written during the Meccan period, when Muhammed's forces were weak, and found the need to compromise with its enemies. The later Medinan sections, when his forces were stronger, do indeed prescribe such choices, and they are granted theological supercession over the earlier ones.

Try reading 9:29.

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [that is, Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [a special tax levied only on non-Muslims] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

Posted by: Salamantis at June 3, 2007 12:32 AM

Feh.

This comment thread is dominated by standard-issue dehumanization of the "enemy" and fear-mongering.

After liberal democracy wins this battle -- as it has so many others in the past -- we'll look back on tripe like this with embarrassment and shame, just like we do those ridiculous "jap" cartoons from WWII.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at June 3, 2007 12:33 AM

Btw, tsedek, did you not misquote 9:29 as saying precisely the opposite of what it indeed states? I wonder whether taqiyyah and kitman abound, even here...

Posted by: Salamantis at June 3, 2007 12:36 AM

This comment thread is dominated by standard-issue dehumanization of the "enemy" and fear-mongering.

No. You're confusing result with process. Yes what we've written has the same form as some familiar bigotry such as the dishonest "criticisms" that antisemites make of Judaism (as in this thread.

But what we wrote is entirely different because it is true and relevant. You're capable of seeing that distinction I hope?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 12:38 AM

Cremy Goodness, screw your straw man and the trojan horse he rode in on. This is not a matter of racism against a people (which would be stupid, anyway, as most muslims are not Arab, or even Middle Eastern), but criticism of some doctrines of a particular faith, as codified and theologically recognized in their holy scriptures.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 3, 2007 12:39 AM

I shouldn't have written "we"

I was only speaking for myself.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 12:40 AM

You guys need to talk to some (sane) Muslims instead of each other for a while. You are in one serious echo chamber here and I can't break you out of it. I'm not a Muslim anyway nor will I ever be.

Go talk to this guy for a while before you end up on Jupiter.

Seriously.

And ask questions and listen, don't yell at him. He's a liberal Muslim and knows more about it than you all put together.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 01:22 AM

Salamantis: criticism of some doctrines of a particular faith, as codified and theologically recognized in their holy scriptures.

There is that, yes. And that's completely okay by me.

There is also a great deal of talk about "Muslims" as a whole being basically Jihad Robots.

Some of 'em basically are. Meanwhile, a Muslim-majority military is sending tanks and artillery and snipers after that sort right as we speak.

There is no talk or even acknowledgement of those kinds of Muslim in this thread except from me.

Man, I tell you, after living in a Muslim part of Lebanon -- the country that spurred this discussion -- this thread reads like total insanity.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 01:33 AM
Josh Scholar,
No. You're confusing result with process. Yes what we've written has the same form as some familiar bigotry such as the dishonest "criticisms" that antisemites make of Judaism

I appreciate that you appear to have understood my critique and have addressed it forthrightly.

But what we [sic] wrote is entirely different because it is true and relevant.

The assertion that your arguments are "true" does not make them any more persuasive. I find MJT's portrait of Muslim diversity and struggle much more life-like and much more in tune with my own understanding of humankind and this world we all live in.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at June 3, 2007 01:35 AM

And yet, my point was not that there are no sane Muslims, but that Islam can not stop creating violence.

Eteraz has a group blog here

Eteraz is liberal and tries to support liberal causes. But to take an interesting example, he tries to make a legal argument that Sharia doesn't support killing apostates. That's a wonderful cause. However the legal and theological support is weak.

So the question is "how many Muslims will support what is morally right over what is Islamic?" And "can Muslims, in general, even see human morality that contradicts Islamic morality"

It's a fascinating play to watch this progress, but not very hopeful I think. Very dark indeed.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 01:36 AM

Salamantis: I wonder whether taqiyyah and kitman abound, even here..

Oh stop it. Tsedek is an Israeli Jew, not a taqiyyah practicing Muslim.

The paranoia and wingnuttery in here tonight is unbelievable.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 01:37 AM
There is no talk or even acknowledgement of those kinds of Muslim in this thread except from me.

I've got one for you, MJT.

One of my favorite columnists is a Pakistani who writes for Dawn, Irfan Husain. This week, he returns to a favorite theme of his, the persecution of minorities. Past columns of his that are among my favorites include Beyond the Veil, a virtuoso display of empathy, and Pipedreams and Daydreams, pondering the need for a Muslim Reformation in the wake of 9-11.

He's also one of the only people I know of who correctly assessed the state of Iraqi WMD prior to the American invasion:

I am convinced that after being gutted first by the war with Iran, then the Gulf War and its subsequent sanctions, the Iraqi war machine poses no threat to anybody but the Iraqi people.

Brilliant, humane, entertaining guy. Also the only columnist I read who occasionally sprinkles his prose with "PBUH".

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at June 3, 2007 01:43 AM

I find MJT's portrait of Muslim diversity and struggle much more life-like and much more in tune with my own understanding of humankind and this world we all live in.

I didn't start out pessimistic either. It took a long time and lots of conversations, arguments and reading to get this hopeless.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 02:00 AM

But I'm always prepared to be surprised.

The fall of the Berlin wall was the first large happy surprise in my lifetime. I hope there will be others.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 02:02 AM

Josh: he tries to make a legal argument that Sharia doesn't support killing apostates. That's a wonderful cause. However the legal and theological support is weak.

That's probably true. So what? Don't say Eteraz is wrong and Bin Laden is right just because a 7th Century (!) text supports Bin Laden. Of course a 7th Century text is more likely to support a 7th Century asshole than a 21st Century liberal. How could it be otherwise?

Eteraz is probably theologically wrong. So? Let it be. Let Muslims evolve past the 7th Century by contorting themselves (as Christians, etc, also contort themselves) without trying to argue them back into it. Fuck Osama Bin Laden. Don't enable him and his fascist view of the world.

I support gay rights. I could, if I felt like it, go into the liberal church around the corner from my house and show them Biblical evidence that demonstrates they are bad Christians for also supporting gay rights.

I could do that. And I would be "right" in a literal and Biblical sense.

But that's a politically stupid thing to do, and I am not going to do it.

Religious people who pitch 7th Century (or older) garbage over the side need to be encouraged, not told they are standing on weak theological ground. All modern and liberal religious people stand on weak theological ground whether they are Muslims or not. The Muslims may be on weaker ground, but they are all on weak ground.

This is a good thing, not a bad thing.

You should hear my mother explain her version of Christianity. She's way more out in left field than Eteraz is, but I'm not going to tell her that James Dobson is a better Christian than she is. He isn't. He's an asshole.

Will the world be a better place if you go around telling liberal Muslims that Osama Bin Laden is right?

Moderate Muslims become moderate Muslims by rejecting the text of the Koran as it was written and intended at the time. That's why I keep telling you to get your head out of that book and look at the world as it is instead.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam need "bad Jews," "bad Christians," and "bad Muslims." Otherwise we're all going to kill each other. So I suggest you encourage the "bad Muslims" like Eteraz and quit saying the fundies are right.

Muslims will always be with us. May they all decide to live on weak theological ground as the Christians have.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 02:04 AM

There is also a great deal of talk about "Muslims" as a whole being basically Jihad Robots.

And yet the entire Muslim world sides with the Palestinians who turn out Jihad robots on an industrial scale. What does that tell you?

I watch Muslims from all over the world apparently jump to support murderous Jihadis in Kashmir for no reason. What does that tell you?

Even good British and American boys run over to Kashmir, knowing nothing about the situation, but eager to help some gang shoot at innocent Hindu and Sikh civilians. What does that tell you?

Yes, Koran irrelevant.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 02:08 AM

Moderate Muslims become moderate Muslims by rejecting the text of the Koran as it was written and intended at the time. That's why I keep telling you to get your head out of that book and look at the world as it is instead.

Fair point.

I'm just worried that this isn't making headway, that it's too crippled.

I guess the answer is a holding patterns and bandages on the wounds while we wait and hope.

But I keep also worrying that technology has doomed us all, because destruction is becoming trivial.

Eventually eventually technology will enable the tiniest group to destroy the world... How many Jihadis can we afford?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 02:14 AM

To make that a little clearer, I meant that I'm worried that because of the advance of technology we've run out of time. The Jihadis will be able to do too much damage - to destroy civilization in a shorter time than it will take Islamic culture to modernize.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 02:16 AM

Josh: And yet the entire Muslim world sides with the Palestinians who turn out Jihad robots on an industrial scale. What does that tell you?

They side with the Palestinians because the Palestinians fit into their "tribe," not because of what the Koran says. Arabs side with them because they are Arabs.

But anyway, don't believe everything you read in the media. Lots of Muslims don't give two shits about the Palestinian cause. Turks, Kurds, Persians, and Kazakhs for instance. (Not talking about the Islamic Republic government, obviously, although I'm sure it's pure cynicism on their part at this point.) There are probably others, but I am not sure. I wonder what the Bosnians and Albanians think of the Palestinians.

The Kurds like the Israelis and are horrified by the Palestinians. The Koran does not get in their way, which is why you should read it but not overvalue its importance. It isn't software wired into people's heads.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 02:28 AM

Josh: The Jihadis will be able to do too much damage - to destroy civilization in a shorter time than it will take Islamic culture to modernize.

I worry about this as well, although I'm more concerned with losing a city than the planet.

If someone nukes New York, it's all over for the jihadis.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 02:32 AM

On the one hand, I can't help but sympathize with MJT's frustration with the reductionist and absolutist tenor of many of the posters on this thread. It goes well beyond pessimism, nevermind realism, to paint Islam as a religion that must be eradicated for the the rest of the world and civilization to survive and flourish. Eteraz is only one example of a rising tide of Islamic liberals seeking to reform Islam and perhaps, representing a significant portion of the largely quiet majority of Muslims who would just as soon live their lives in peace.

By the same token, continually pointing to the largely Sunni troops routing out the fundamentalists in Nahr el Bahred is of little comfort to the Israeli's who watched that same group turn a blind eye (or even encourage the same at times) to a different creed of the same extremist last summer. There is simply too much self interest in the current offensive for it to give much succor to others who have been on the receiving end of Islamist aggression and seen the same defenders of freedom either ignore or even justify such aggression.

I am not comforted by the recent Pew poll amongst the most modern Muslims in the world and can hardly imagine the Muslims outside of the United States are any less supportive of suicide attacks in "support of Islam" or see themselves as any less attached to their home country than the Ummah. As much as I might hold out hope that Kurdish sympathy toward Israel signifies a road of hope or that a truly free Lebanon might recognize the benefits of a truly friendly relationship with Israel, I cannot cast aside the fact that the Palestinians voted Hamas into office, that popular support for Hamas' brethren in the Muslim Brotherhood would likely result in similar election results in Syria and Egypt were truly free elections an option. I cannot turn a blind eye to separatist movements, no matter how small, in the "moderate" Islamic states of Malaysia, Bangladesh, Morocco, and Indonesia, particularly when a significant majority, or at least an uncomfortably large minority, of the populace supports the destruction of Israel. For these reasons, I think there is a long road ahead, but I will not join in the absolutist pessimism throughout this thread.

Islam is not its doctrines and texts alone. It is its people, their aspirations, and ultimately, their best interests. As much as the jihadis and Islamists may believe that perpetual conflict will result in a "peaceful" Caliphate, they are simply wrong. There will be skirmishes and confrontations. We, in the west, will continue to support dictators and strongmen willing to suppress extremists. Saudi will continue to export extremist Islam. But, the West will respond before its too late. Moreover, the situation is hardly as dire as it was in the 30s, except, maybe, for Israel (and I'm hardly convinced of this by rocket attacks from Gaza alone) and friendly factions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am well aware that reality does not have to conform to my preference and I am perfectly willing to support the actions necessary to preserve my preference, I simply don't believe that the eradication of Islam and Muslims is necessary to that vision and pointing to the small percentage of Muslims willing to engage in aggressive Jihad with primarily primitive tools and the uncomfortably larger minority of Muslims who are morally supportive, or unwilling to confront, such aggression hardly changes my mind that the significantly superior (in terms of military might and, in my opinion, liberal values), West can stave off the challenge posed by the Islamists over time.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 3, 2007 02:32 AM

Arabs side with them because they are Arabs.

I wonder.

President Mathir (of Indonesia)

Would a politician say the horrible things he said if it wasn't popular? I've seen pictures of Indonesian women carrying kill-the-Jews slogans, and I'm sure none of them has ever seen a Jew in person.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 02:34 AM

MJT said,

"I worry about this as well, although I'm more concerned with losing a city than the planet.

If someone nukes New York, it's all over for the jihadis."

That's why you are the professional writer. You said in two sentences what took me so many paragraphs to inartfully say the same thing.

The jihadists can do damage, but the more they do, the more they hasten their own demise.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 3, 2007 02:35 AM

Can imperial Japan serve as some kind of historical precedent for the proposition that world Islam can be brought into a liberal framework? The Japanese during WWII also had a deranged religion, worshipping death and suicide, and were cruel and sadistic beyond imagining. (Creamy Goodness, those Jap cartoons may have been crude, but they weren't ridiculous). Yet, they were defeated and transformed. It seems to me the crucial difference between Imperial Japan and global jihad is that it was far more straightforward to defeat Japan (not that it was easy). And that if jihad could be similarly defeated, it too would transform. The big, scary question is whether we can defeat jihad, and if we can defeat them before they get their hands on WMD.

Posted by: MarkC at June 3, 2007 02:37 AM

As much as the jihadis and Islamists may believe that perpetual conflict will result in a "peaceful" Caliphate, they are simply wrong.

That's just one of the lies they tell us.

The reason the radicals want a Caliphate is that they're not allowed conquest without having a Caliph. They don't imagine peace at all, and no doubt being at war with the world will quell internal fights in the Caliphate.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 02:38 AM

IMFInk'sPa: I am not comforted by the recent Pew poll

I'm not either. It's horrifying, actually.

Still, the majority aren't jihadis. So even that horrible poll is evidence for what I am saying.

And anyway, American Muslims are only the most modern in some ways (if any). The Kurds, for example, are a lot more conservative, and few of them have iPods. But you won't find 29 percent of them supporting Arab suicide bombers against Israelis. No way.

Muslims tend to get more extreme when they leave Muslim-majority countries. This is less of an issue with American Muslims than European Muslims for lots of reasons, but I am still not at all convinced that ours are the most modern. I'm pretty sure they aren't, actually.

Compare Dearborn and Istanbul. Huge difference, and not only in size. Istanbul is vastly more liberal and modern and cosmopolitan. I've been there three times. It is an amazing place. Most Americans and Europeans who go there are shocked when they see what that place is actually like.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 02:45 AM

Josh,

You missed the point. MJT summed it up in his last post. The more damage the Jihadis do, the harsher the response they will encounter and, when it comes down to it, they do not have the firepower to match the West.

The history of colonialism, and the West's attendant hesitancy to suppress other cultures will not be held in absolute abeyance. The US had broad support to enter Afghanistan. If the future that you fear holds true, there will be even broader support for far more wide ranging, and lethal, response and the West hardly lacks the capability to do so, inculding a true occupation of foreign lands. The "insurgents" and far leftists who think Irag is an occupancy are plain wrong. Let Iran fire a nuke and they will see a true occupancy, with all the resources of the West drawn together (assuming Western leadership in power at the time leaves anything to be occupied).

It has only been 70 years since the West was prepared to fight until surrender as opposed to truce. That is a pittance in the terms of history. Pushed far enough the West can and will fight on those same terms, but the West has come to far not to attempt to rely on persuasion and limited force until it is absolutely certain that more is not strictly necessary.

While I would agree that fighting at least some battles along the way might be beneficial, I will not argue with general proposition that the less killing necessary to resolve a conflict, the better. Kill or convert all the Muslims will never be the exception to that rule.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 3, 2007 02:51 AM

Muslims tend to get more extreme when they leave Muslim-majority countries.

And the psychology of that problem should be obvious - if you've read the Koran.

All of that enmity and triumphalism stuff in the Koran must seem pretty irrelevant when you live in Muslim majority country.

But it's not so irrelevant when most of the people you deal with all day long are the enemy is it?

Islam has to be much more psychologically wounding for people who live among us filthy kuffar, know what I'm saying?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 02:52 AM

Josh: Would a politician say the horrible things he said if it wasn't popular?

Yes. Read Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism. Before World War II, anti-Semitism was a much bigger problem in Europe than in the Arab world. Hitler exported the virulent strain to the Middle East through his proxies.

In Europe, anti-Semitism started at the bottom of the society and worked its way up. In the Middle East, the current vicious anti-Semitism you see today started at the top and worked its way down. Hitler exported it.

This is the least written-about aspect of the conflict. Berman did a very good job. He should be considered required reading.

The thesis of his book is that we have been fighting the same war for 80 years.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 02:52 AM

It has only been 70 years since the West was prepared to fight until surrender as opposed to truce. That is a pittance in the terms of history. Pushed far enough the West can and will fight on those same terms, but the West has come to far not to attempt to rely on persuasion and limited force until it is absolutely certain that more is not strictly necessary.

I tell Muslims that whenever I can. It makes them very uncomfortable.

But it doesn't comfort me either.

And the only fact that's certain is that we will never submit to any Taliban. But it's not certain that life will be tolerable for anyone on the planet.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 02:56 AM

Hitler exported the virulent strain to the Middle East through his proxies.

If anything he triggered a revival of Islam's own antisemitism. And Qtub and I guess his Muslim brotherhood probably sealed the deal afterwards.

Muslim antisemitism in no way resembles racist antisemitism. They may share a cartoon or two, but the content is completely different. Islamic antisemitism comes from Mohammad's own hatred. And there was one hell of a lot of that.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 03:00 AM

Also, Josh, Iranians roll their eyes when the mullahs bellow about Palestine. Many, if not most, see right through the bullshit.

And the Kurds are accused of setting up "a second Israel." Obviously this does not come from the Koran.

A huge amount of this is politics and ethnic nationalism. The more time I spend in the Middle East the more obvious this becomes. It's hard to miss the point when you meet atheists who buy into the Arab-Isareli conflict, and at the same time meet religious Muslims who reject it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 03:01 AM

Josh,

I would suggest to you that the great quality of classic liberalism was not democracy or capitalism, modernism, or industrialism, but optimism. It is also the finest quality of US, Western Expansionism and it is sorely lacking at the moment both on the far left and the far right. The far right lash out from their paranoia and preach destruction to create a zone of safety; the far left are oblivious or so fearful that the preach appeasement to the point of their own enslavement. The realistic, optimist realizes that moderation in all things can be applied even geopolitical difficulties. At times, a firmer hand will be necessary, at other times, conciliation that falls short of abject appeasement. Until the Islamists amass an army capable of marching on Europe or weaponry capable of destroying democratic institutions (not simply inflicting a humiliating, but non-life threatening injury), I will shrug at those who claim the end is nigh.

People are not so inherently evil or weak for one doctrine, however virulent, to spell the end, particularly when most of its adherents are perfectly willing to alter their views if it means a better life.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 3, 2007 03:06 AM

The thesis of his book is that we have been fighting the same war for 80 years.

Ali Salem said that toppling Saddam was going to be the last battle of WWII.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 03:07 AM

I need to go to sleep.

I REALLY shouldn't stay up like this.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 03:08 AM

MJT,

If I hadn't thought you were serious about abandoning this thread and getting down to some serious writing, I would have offered you my extra ticket to the Beavers game tonight and invited you to a game of pool and some drinks at the Rialto afterwards.

You and I both really should get some sleep if we hope to get some real work done tonight.

I am despairing of the abject pessimism in this thread.

Good night.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 3, 2007 03:10 AM

ummmm... tomorrow that is.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 3, 2007 03:17 AM

One more point, the content of Mathir's antisemitism is entirely Islamic since he called the concept of "human rights" a conspiracy by evil Jews to make killing Jews (ie genocide) seem immoral. Only a Muslim who believed that genocide of Jews is a duty to Allah (as the Hadiths imply) would make such a horrifying argument. It was an obscenity entirely out of the reach of mere Nazis.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 03:19 AM

Hasan Karim Akbar
Akbar was born Mark Fidel Kools in Watts, Los Angeles. At some undetermined point in his childhood, his mother remarried and converted to Islam and changed his name to "Hasan Akbar".

He studied at the University of California, Davis taking a double major in aeronautical and mechanical engineering, and graduating with a bachelor's degree. After joining the United States Army, he was assigned to Alpha Company, 326th Engineer Battalion of the 101st Airborne, assigned to remove mines and was eventually deployed to Kuwait.

Akbar was charged in a hand grenade and shooting attack that killed Army Captain Christopher Seifert and Air Force Major Gregory Stone, while wounding 14 other soldiers on March 23, 2003. The attack took place at Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait, a rear base camp for the invasion where Akbar threw hand grenades into a tent during early morning when the majority of troops were sleeping and fired his rifle into the ensuing chaos. News reports at the time claimed that Akbar had been recently reprimanded for insubordination and was told he would not join his unit's push into Iraq.

Akbar himself reportedly said, just moments after his arrest, "You guys are coming into our countries, and you're going to rape our women and kill our children."

Born in L.A. Educated UC Davis in highly technical fields. Owned by Islam.

Posted by: Stephen at June 3, 2007 03:31 AM

5 years, approximately 300,000 separate American troops (more from all nations combined), one act of sabotage (sentenced to death). Its called perspective, try it out. Next time you have a point, try to spell it out with something approximating rational thought instead of spewing some assinine non-sequitor.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 3, 2007 03:52 AM

While the terrorist use of nukes greatly concerns me, and much more so than chemical WMD's, there is an even greater danger that Islamist Jew-hatred could visitate upon us all. I am talking genetically engineered bioweapons.

Imagine an Islamist geneticist creating a lethal virus that he designs specifically to kill Jews, keying on their genetic markers. As horrific as that biogenocide would be, imagine if he fails, and instead creates one that wipes out humans generally, worldwide, or if the one (s)he creates mutates in this direction. It would certainly be easier and cheaper to make than it is to obtain the necessary amounts of highly processed uranium or plutonium to support nuclear fission.

Nukes will take out cities; really big nukes, with pressurized fusionable hydrogen gas canisters strapped around them, will wipe out regions. But a genetically engineered virus could act like a global neutron bomb, killing all of us, regardless of religious or racial subclassification, while leaving our works standing untouched. Only isolated pockets of humanity, that were out of contact with the rest of us, might remain - and not even them if we're talking about a long-life airborne phage.

Of course a radical environmentalist might intentionally design such a thing precisely to rid the planet of all humans. Many of them, remember, consider us to be a cancer on the face of Gaia. Then again, if such a person (or an Islamofascist terrorist) messes up even further, they could release something that kills off ALL life, not only human life.

That's the trend, unfortunately; less and less people are necessary to wreak greater and greater death and destruction, as advancements in science and technology march on, and become progressively more accessible to more and more people. We are rapidly reaching the point where we may not be able, as a species, to survive doctrines that tend to support even a small minority of their acolytes gravitating towards genocidal violence. And nothing that I can imagine could protect us, even now, from a single misanthropically evil and/or insane (religiously or otherwise) person possessing the prerequisite genetic engineering skills.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 3, 2007 04:31 AM

(not simply inflicting a humiliating, but non-life threatening injury)

Ah yes, "non-life threatening". The July 11th 2006 Mumbai train bombings, for instance. 209 dead, 700 injured. The Madrid bombing, 191 dead, 2000 wounded. 9/11 3000 dead. 2002 Bali bombing 200 dead 200 wounded. 2005 Bali bombing 20 dead, 130 wounded.

If you check the numbers for attacks within Muslim countries, you find these sorts of attacks on a daily or weekly basis, what with Darfur, Afghanistan, Iraq and perhaps every few months in the rest of the Islamic world.

You've already explained that you're forced to be in denial because you can't accept the implications of real war. I wish you wouldn't make your internal dishonesty so public.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 04:40 AM

Imagine an Islamist geneticist creating a lethal virus that he designs specifically to kill Jews, keying on their genetic markers.

Very funny. One of my first signs of Muslim mental illness was whenAziz Poonawalla (a pseudo liberal Muslim) chased all of the Jews who liked to see if they could argue for or promote peace with Israel through him by having a psychotic break and claiming that Israel is making a virus that will kill only Muslims.

It's not possible. I'm too fucking tired to go into why right now. But Jesus! Hit yourself with a clue bat 100 times while repeating "Hail Mary full of grace"

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 04:45 AM

Oops that should have read:

Imagine an Islamist geneticist creating a lethal virus that he designs specifically to kill Jews, keying on their genetic markers.

Very funny. One of my first signs of Muslim mental illness was when Aziz Poonawalla (a pseudo liberal Muslim) chased away all of the Jews who liked to see if they could argue for or promote peace with Israel through him by having a psychotic break and claiming that Israel is making a virus that will kill only Muslims.

It's not possible. I'm too fucking tired to go into why right now. But Jesus! Hit yourself with a clue bat 100 times while repeating "Hail Mary full of grace"

I think he was suffering from a moral panic caused by being too friendly with us najis kuffar.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 04:47 AM

IMFink'sPa said:

... most of its adherents are perfectly willing to alter their views if it means a better life.

This is the very belief that got us into the mess in Iraq.

What evidence do you have that a significant percentage of Muslims are willing to alter their views of Islam? The only "altering of views" among Muslims that I've seen is that a percentage can be convinced that "true Islam" means jihad and mass murder for Allah.

Posted by: Michael Smith at June 3, 2007 04:53 AM

But though such a tailored disease is impossible an Islamist might well release a generally contagious agent trusting that by killing people he was doing God's will, and that it would kill whoever God intended it to kill. That's the stupidity of fatalism.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 04:54 AM

MJT said: Before World War II, anti-Semitism was a much bigger problem in Europe than in the Arab world. Hitler exported the virulent strain to the Middle East through his proxies.

If this is true, then why over time did the Jews become concentrated in Europe and not in the Arab world?

Posted by: Michael Smith at June 3, 2007 05:10 AM

But though such a tailored disease is impossible an Islamist might well release a generally contagious agent trusting that by killing people he was doing God's will, and that it would kill whoever God intended it to kill.

Or the Islamist might be persuaded by bin Laden's explanation of why it is acceptable to kill Mulsims along with infidels: God will take care of the Muslims after their death.

Posted by: Michael Smith at June 3, 2007 05:12 AM

If this is true, then why over time did the Jews become concentrated in Europe and not in the Arab world?

I'm not sure that's a fact. The sephardic jews were mostly living in the muslim world. Of course, they were dhimmis and had to pay the tax, or else...

Regardless, they weren't treated nearly as well as muslims today claim they were.

Posted by: Carlos at June 3, 2007 07:14 AM

Carlos,

I'm talked with many Israeli immigrants that came from Arab states and they would all contest your last statement. There were pogroms in Morocco, in Egypt, in Algeria, in Iraq, in Yemen, you name it. Things were not that much different than in Europe. When the arabs needed money they invited some Jews. When they needed more money they squeezed those Jews for more money. And they wanted more, they simply killed those Jews and took over their property. It's not that complicated to follow. And it's the same pattern as that in Europe. Just much less publicized.

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 08:18 AM

MJT: I agree with your recognition that 95-99% of muslims are non-fanatic non-fundamentalist-wahibbis. You are clearly correct that for these people, the violent / primitive parts of the Koran are not guides to their daily life, although their tribalism obviously does lead to other behaviours, from hospitality to killing females.

This thread's posters are wrong to think the Koran affects most muslims of the world fundamentally daily but right to believe that the grim parts of the koran can and do dominate in theological arguments, twelvers, wahibbis and newly indoctrinated converts, especially in wahibbi-funded mosques.

My (futurist) perspective is this:

Projecting those trends that we can project forward, humanity is in parallel (speed)races:

1) To corrupt arab, persian and S.E.Asian muslim society towards western culture, values, thinking, and human-rights (ala the USSR) ... especially via movies, TV, and the internet, specifically targetting the vast (50%) young generation and the mistreated female half of their population. (This is a major part of why the fundamentalists hate us: we are corrupting their females and kids into free-thought).

2) Demographics (the creation of new wahibbis, fundamentalists and converts, not muslims in general, many of whom are far more moderate/sane).

3) Technology:
a: Iranian mullahs towards nukes (and aQ getting Pakistan's nukes).
b: Biotech and computational proteinology leading to both ultimate bioweapons (through viral manipulation) and immortality.
c: Energy, leading towards reducing/eliminating Mideast+Russia-oil/gas-addiction (and their cash flow).
d: Robotics and home 3D complex-object printing, leading to hugely reduced costs of everything and hugely reduced employment (and worldwide economic dislocation).
e: internet + TV/media penetration into closed societies and the accelerating change in education and communication of previously isolated people.

4: Major geopolitical upheaval:
a: The tech/econ rise of china and its modernization and involuntary democraticization.
b: The economic rise and demographic collapse of Russia.
c=a+b: The chinese civilian invasion of Siberia and subsequent breakaway and RU/CN conflict.
d: The EUrabia phenomenon and coming genocide ... but whose? (depends on when).
e: the mideast alignment against Iranian nuclear domination of the region.

There's obviously more than those possibilities for future-projection, but the problem with projecting is that we only know the current functional conditions and their derivative states, not how they chaotically will mutually interact in the coming years.

However:
"the modern world has no interest in genocide on that scale."
YET!

Assume that 99.9% of muslims would not nuke the US, EU or Israel (I know ... too optimistic ... even some secular Persian Shia I now would want to nuke Israel).

So about .1% are Fanatic Shia Twelvers or Sunni Wahibbis ... but they are indistinguishably hidden among the other 99.9%.

After 2 western cities are nuked or hit by bioweapons (NYC and either DC/London/Paris(now that we have Sarkozy on our side)) ... How do we prevent a third nuke from killing another few million and shutting down the entire west for a 5th or 6th year? (assuming 2 years of cultural, medical, and economic dislocation from nuking a major city).

After 2 no-return-address WMD attacks (1 might be a fluke/stolen, but 2 is a repeat-strike capability), the rage and violence of the response of the US/EU to prevent a third WMD attack would lead to:
1: jailing of all muslims living in the west.
2: nuking-to-glass of Iran, Saudi-Arabia, and Pakistan and possibly Afghanistan for clean-up purposes.
3: The fury of the rest of the world's muslims, so that the rest of the middle east and SEAsia declares war on the west.
4: the nuking-to-glass of the rest of the muslim countries after they WMD-attack the US/EU.
5: genocide of all muslims living in the west.

(Note that I'm not even getting into the Israeli nuclear response to Achmadinejad nuking TelAviv so he and the rest of the Iranians can go direct to heaven.)

Alternate localized EU genocide scenario:
1: EU fundamentalist muslims keep doing what they are doing now (rioting, burning cars, raping uncovered females) with 2x their current population and 10x their current boldness (radical muslims almost always start fights before they are really ready because they factor in Allah's help).
2: The aging EU non-muslims elect less multiculturalist governments (i.e. France, Germany, Netherlands, etc); reduce muslim immigration; block Turkey from the EU; limit citizenship and welfare; leading to foreign-born/identifying muslim riots (where we've gotten to thus far); then deportations; then domestic-born-muslim riots + warfare; then mutual slaughter (the muslims are on average younger, but "seek death" for their 72 virgins/raisins and typically never fight with proper coordination, tactics, or strategy, happily sustaining mass casualties in their squads); then muslim suicide bombers; then total and absolute deportation of all remaining muslims, if any.

(Note that the localized EU scenario probably leads to the WMD scenario listed above.)

Oh, and:
"'Imagine an Islamist geneticist creating a lethal virus that he designs specifically to kill Jews, keying on their genetic markers.'
It's not possible."
In 2001 or 2002, there was a very detailed article on exactly how this can be done, targetting not "Jews" but genetically-descended Ashkenazi(sp?) Jews (with unique genetic markers), "Cohens" (who have specific Y-chromosome traits), and people with Tay-Sachs genetic markers.
(You cannot target a belief system, but you can target lines of genetic descent who have unique genetic markers.)

Also, there was a different article from that same time-period that detailed how the reporter was able to find a PCR machine on ebay, download general instructions from the web, download the Smallpox Variola genome from the CDC, order specific cut-n-paste gene sequences from multiple various biolabs (too small to raise flags and spread out so noone would pattern-match his purchases to smallpox), find genetic sequences for a particular human protein that I'm not going to name here and add it to the smallpox genome, run the PCR machine for N hours and presto: super and unstoppable smallpox. Total cost: about $10,000 and dozens of hours. He successfully tested this by doing the entire procedure in parallel using a borrowed PCR machine (but no human-help), a different virus and a different added-protein.

Unfortunately, it's only gotten easier since then, and we in the kind-and-gentle-west cannot block life-saving cancer-curing advanced medical equipment from going to Iran, Saudi Arabia or Syria.

Note that genetically-enhanced Smallpox Variola is not the worst danger ... the Soviet/Russian Biopreparat facilities created hybrid genetically enhanced virulently-airborne delayed-symptom strep with embedded Ebola set to trigger only upon the application of antibiotics.

Posted by: Sarnac at June 3, 2007 08:21 AM

I've talked with many..

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 08:21 AM

I'm not sure which statement they would contest given that my statement agrees with them. LOL.

Posted by: Carlos at June 3, 2007 08:22 AM

Josh>So the question is "how many Muslims will support what is morally right over what is Islamic?" And "can Muslims, in general, even see human morality that contradicts Islamic morality"

If anybody reads the link to the article on the moderate brother of the 7/7 bomber, it makes it explicitly clear that he struggles with the western morality (his brother committed a crime) and theology (his brother is a martyr hero). and when push comes to shove, theology wins.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 08:25 AM

Redaktor: "There were pogroms in Morocco, in Egypt, in Algeria, in Iraq, in Yemen"

Yes, but the vast majority of these pogroms occured around the time of Israel's creation, or after significant Israeli victories (don't even start with the "so you blame Israel?" accusation--that's not what I'm saying).For centuries beforehand Jews in Arab countries lived in relative peace (compared to in Europe). Arab anti-semitism is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Obviously they were treated as Dhimmis in these countries, but for the most part they were treated better than they were in Europe. The Jews in Western Europe were persecuted throughout the Middle Ages, and moved east to what is now Poland and Russia to escape this. Then anti-semitism grew in these regions as well and their only good options became Palestine or the New World.

There was no equivalent in the Arab World. You didn't have, say, Moroccan and Algerian kings massacring their Jewish subjects and forcing them to flee to Tunisia and Libya, where they were eventually persecuted as well. The Jews lived under Islamic rule for centuries, not very well, but not terribly either.

It's very hard to compare European anti-semitism with any other kind because the former is almost in a class of its own.

Posted by: Edgar at June 3, 2007 08:35 AM

mjt complains that we're in echo chmaber here. but the problem is with him. he simply refuses to understand what is being said. he sets up a strawman and then demolishes it.

he asked a question about why the muslims in lebanon act the way they do now, in apparent contradiction of islam. i answered the question and showed that it's not really a contradiction, but he ignored it.

we talk about the fact that islam keeps producing violence and jihad, and he keeps talking about muslims who don't do jihad. well, muslim did not do jihad for a very long time because of various factors, including the configuration of power. but it was that very lack of power which induced a jihadi reaction that is growing now.

whether the genie can be put back into the bottle again i doubt, but only because the west is self-destructing.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 08:39 AM

Edgar,

You're talking nonsense, out of ignorance. Jews were slaughtered in Morocco as they were coming off the boat from Spain. They escaped Spain and Morocco to Northern Europe for a reason.

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 08:46 AM

Carlos,

Finally got the joke. Treated well, as the Koran says they were. Har, har!

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 08:58 AM

edgar,

really? so the jews were not persecuted and kicked out after the 67 war in the same or larger numbers than the pal refugees that nobody talks about?

although morocco, tunisia and algier were relatively better, i lived with sephardic jews in israel before and after the war and i can tell you that they dislike the arabs much more than the askenazi jew. and you know why? because they lived with them in their countries and know how they were treated.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 09:07 AM

http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2007/06/03/70-of-gazans-wish-israel-would-re-occupy-the/#comments

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 09:13 AM

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/world/middleeast/03iraq.html?ref=middleeast

Michael:

It seems AQ is changing tactics and moving north
as well. The evolution of the Iraq debacle inclines toward the Kurds and may be the fallback for permanent bases in the ME. How will Turkey react?
Will the comparative equanimity in that region withstand US forces,permanently embedded? Since the Iraq war drum began I have been of the opinion it was about having unencumbered access without the need for flyover permission (eg Somalia) which the Turks denied us in 2002. Any thoughts?

Posted by: Semanticleo at June 3, 2007 09:13 AM

Here's why islamism won't go away: because the west supports and funds it. perhaps if it didn't, it would be possible to deal with it within islam. but the west won't let it happen.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/122636

http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/016740.php

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 10:08 AM

and another idiot:

http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/016739.php

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 10:19 AM

Fighting broke out today in Ain el-Hilweh, between Jund al-Sham and the army. BBC has the report (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6717121.stm). It's taken our Lebanese boys two weeks to organize an assault on Fatah al-Islam in the North, and I think it is obvious that their resources are already stretched thin. If another front opens up in the South, it could be legitimately disastrous.

Posted by: David Kenner at June 3, 2007 10:30 AM

with chaos in gaza, lebanon and iraq and violence spreading in various parts of the world we'll see how multicultural politically correct civilization and secularized moderate muslims deal with it.

any bets?

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 10:35 AM

MarkC,

Can imperial Japan serve as some kind of historical precedent for the proposition that world Islam can be brought into a liberal framework?

Most Muslim societies will choose Democracy voluntarily because it's much, much better than the alternatives.

(Creamy Goodness, those Jap cartoons may have been crude, but they weren't ridiculous)

For your viewing pleasure/pain: Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at June 3, 2007 10:42 AM

creamy,

really? care to explain why there are so few
democratic regimes in the muslim world (and i don't mean just having elections, or have sharia law)? and why even those who have or had a semblance of democracy (e.g. turkey, indonesia seem on the verge to lose it?

btw, you cannot distract from your ignorance and stupidity with "humor"

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 10:49 AM

fp,

We can't all be as smart and informed as you obviously are. How about you cut the rest of us a little slack and go easy on the ad-homonyms. :)

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 11:07 AM

fp --

For approximately the first 1,800 years after the death of Christ, no majority-Christian state could be accurately described as democratic. This didn't mean that it was impossible to have a democratic Christian state. It just meant that the democratic aspects of Christian nations were dormant.

If you ever visit the Middle East, or befriend Muslims in the West, you will discover that there is a enormous breadth of beliefs that fall under the title "Muslim." You can try to paint all of Islam as inherently illiberal, but -- fair warning -- I will not try to fight the sneaking suspicion that you have no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by: David Kenner at June 3, 2007 11:14 AM

I've got to run and I'm still too tired to think properly, but there's enough wrong with Sarnac's post that I'm wondering if our teenage troll is back again, this time pretending to be a super hawk.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 11:16 AM

Sorry, I'm no doubt wrong. I'm too tired to really read the post anyway.

Talk to you all later.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 11:18 AM

David Kenner,

FP reads lots of books. His experience with Muslims is as an Israeli.

By the way, FP, David Kenner lives in Lebanon. And he is an American conservative.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 11:27 AM

David,

Don't confuse topographical Muslims, that is those "Muslims" that still have a memory of their ancient national identity, and Islamers. The shades of grey between Islamers, are all black as coal.

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 11:57 AM

Redaktor to David Kenner: The shades of grey between Islamers, are all black as coal.

David lives in a Sunni neighborhood, the same one I lived in for a while. You don't know fuck all about what you're talking about if you think there isn't any difference between jihadis and David's neighbors.

You're an ignorant bigoted creep, and I'm tired of reading your comments. If you don't dial it down you aren't going to last very much longer. Anti-Semites get thrown out of here for the same reason. The only reason I haven't kicked you out yet is because you've been around for a while, but my patience is at its end.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 12:05 PM

A lot of commenters here are merely trying to confirm their long-held hypotheses about the inherent evil of Islam.

In reality, Muslim treatment of outsiders was not uniformly bad or good throughout history, but a mixture of both. If you want to find examples of Muslims persecuting Jews, you'll find them. But it's stupid and intellectually dishonest to frame the entire history of Islam as something uniquely horrible.

In the same way, you'll find plenty of examples of Muslims behaving badly today. But that is not because the Koran has some sort of evil power; it's simply because many human beings want justification for the atrocious acts they commit, whether it's under the banner of Islam, or workers' solidarity, or whatever.

Posted by: Edgar at June 3, 2007 12:06 PM

My roommate in Beirut was a Jew who lived in Israel and everyone knew it. He experienced no problems in Lebanon because of this whatsoever.

He would have had problems if he lived in Bint Jbail, but he lived in a liberal Sunni neighborhood. So he didn't.

Some people here really need to calm down.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 12:16 PM

Edgar:

that is not because the Koran has some sort of evil power;

Seconded.

Theology is a weak force.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at June 3, 2007 12:19 PM

Josh,

Apparently I have been insufficiently explicit if you think I am in denial. I am well aware that forceful action is necessary to suppress violent jihadism. We are seeing that in Lebanon, we saw it in Afghanistan, and we see it in Israel. I probably agree with you that the scope of such defensive actions has been insufficient. The majority of this thread and your own explicit statements, however, has leaned towards a naive and absolutist view of the entire Islamic world that paints it as irredeemably violent and a current existential threat to all of modern and western culture. That is hysteria and, as Michael said, wingnuttery. I am well aware of the attacks in Indonesia, et al. Horrible events. I fail to see how such horrible events really threaten to collapse all of the modern west. Again, try a little perspective. There are Billions of liberal democrats in the world and they control the most powerful and militarily capable armies in the world. Terrorist attacks on the scale you mention are painful and humiliating, but they don't really threaten the underlying structures of liberal democracy.

Israel faces an existential threat. To the extent that Lebanon has formed a single national polity/identity, Syria and its jihadi tools face an existential threat, but liberal western democracy faces a problem, but not, yet, an existential threat.

MJT was right, it is an echo chamber in here. You all nod your heads when he and others acknowledge the very really problems posed by the extremists and the necessity for the west to pull its head out of its butt and take stronger action, then go right back to your end of the world, annhilistic fantasies that paint all Muslims as robots. Step.... Away.... From.... the.... Ledge....

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 3, 2007 12:19 PM

Michael,

Didn't I just say that topographical Muslims =/ Islamers, and not to confuse the two?

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 12:22 PM

Should read, "Syria and its Jihadi tools pose an existential threat [to Lebanon]"

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at June 3, 2007 12:22 PM

MJT: "You've been around for a while, but my patience is at its end."

This is a very interesting argument, in that it's starting to expose the core beliefs many of us have about the current conflict. There's kind of an uneasy alliance between blogs like this (with an unusually balanced perspective) and those that are more forthright in their denunciation of who they see as the enemy (such as LGF).

It's really hard to find the middle ground. You have people like Michelle Malkin who strongly hint that it's Islam itself they see as a threat, and then you have people like Dean Esmay who are extremely touchy about the subject.

If this discussuon stays relatively civil it will be quite an accomplishment. But maybe it's better when you don't quite know the deepest thoughts of some of the commenters and can still find common ground...

Posted by: Edgar at June 3, 2007 12:23 PM

david,

i guess mjt enlightened you somewhat about me. however mjt is wrong about me knowing muslims just as an israeli. and i am a political scientist and have studied these issues for many years. and the fact that despite all this you still suspected that i dk what i am talking about clearly indicates that it is you who don't.

to reiterate: point out where did i say that there isn't variety in the muslim world? in fact, i have been arguing that it is precisely this variety which should be exploited by the west.

interestingly, i just made exactly the argument you make in another thread (you may want to pass by http://www.theaugeanstables.com/ for very interesting reading).

in fact, i would even make it stronger: if you look at the christo-fascists in the US, they would not support freedom and democracy either.

but i don't believe that the relationship between jihadis and moderate muslims is the same as that between radical and moderate christians for various reasons that are inherent in islam, history, and the arab culture that gave it birth. it is not a coincidence that islam is a religion invented by the arabs. they wouldn't have come up with budhism.

i have already stated that in theory islam can be reformed, but both because of some of its inherent characteristics and history, and because the circumstances in the environment are not conducive to it it is not being reformed in practice, but rather the jihadis are being supported and funded and appeased and are growing. it is easier to destroy than to build.

so i reiterate: with chaos in gaza, lebanon and iraq and jihad erupting all around the globe, let's see how the seculars and moderates will deal with it.

i've already gave plenty of empirical examples of for my arguments and i've seen nothing but personal anecdotes to counter them.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:25 PM

Michael,

Seems to me you are having a hard time pushing a very simple argument that ought to be self evident anyway, so I am going to echo you:

Get real people! Muslims are people, just like us. That means, some of them will be brutal and some will be kind. Some will be jihadis and some will be peace loving. Some will be very devout and others will not pay much attention. We pay attentioin to the Jihadis because they affect our lives a a meaningful way, but that does not mean we should ignore the reality of the rest of them.

Which brings me to what has always bothered me about the current conflict. The greatest "victims" of Islamist terrorism are Muslims. Just look at Iraq for confirmation. But that is like nothing compared to what will ever happen if the Islamist actually succeed in a major WMD attack.

My great nightmare is a succesful Islamist nuclear strike on a major western city. Not so much for the horrible devestation that will result in said city (which will be bad beyond comprehension) but for the permanent stain on our collective souls that will result from our inevitable massive nuclear retaliation.

I have never been able to accept the left's reflexive anti-war propoganda for this reason. I have yet to hear a Democrat acknowledge the reality of the possibility of us being forced to destroy a civilization, and then propose an alternative to something similar to Iraq. And while I am still a Democrat, I have not voted that way recently.

Posted by: shaulie at June 3, 2007 12:26 PM

Michael,

You've followed my comments for a long while, so you of all people should have understood what I was trying to say. There are many peoples that have been conquered and subsumed into the Islamic empire. Many were forced to profess to be Muslims, but we have to be very careful as to how we classify them. In the same way that I do not call Christians and Jews living under the Islamic arab empire as arabs, I also refuse to call many groups that profess to be Muslims, Muslims. You must understand the psychological pressures in place that force these people to label themselves Muslims. Your refusal to do so, is to our collective detriment.

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 12:34 PM

Thank you, Shaulie. Your position is precisely the same as mine.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 12:35 PM

Speaking for myself, I know a few decent, moderate Muslims who reject political Islamism. One of them says her Islamic teacher was a big fan of Jews, and her uncle explained the Arab-Israel conflict starting from the fact that Arab Muslims simply cannot get over Jews running things in the 'Arab world'.

That doesn't mean there isn't a large, dangerous number of radicalised Muslims here in Britain. That doesn't mean jihadis can't find religious justification for their actions.

What it does mean, IMO, is that those Muslims who aren't radical should step up and shout down the closet 'moderate' Muslims from the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamat-e-Islami.

Posted by: MattW at June 3, 2007 12:38 PM

fp: i've already gave plenty of empirical examples of for my arguments and i've seen nothing but personal anecdotes to counter them.

We are not going to see eye to eye on this, probably ever.

Your knowledge comes from books, and mine comes from experience (and books).

Arguing with you is like arguing with Juan Cole, who cites his "expertise" and rarely leaves campus. He knows more than I do, for sure, but he is much farther removed from the subject than I am. So there is a disconnect that may be impossible to get past.

You and I don't disagree about everything, to be sure, but we draw on very different reservoirs of knowledge acquired in completely different ways. So it goes, I guess.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 12:40 PM

Shaulie,

I have yet to hear a Democrat acknowledge the reality of the possibility of us being forced to destroy a civilization

Let's not pretend Republicans are discussing the possibility of erasing various Muslim states...

My great nightmare is a succesful Islamist nuclear strike on a major western city. Not so much for the horrible devestation that will result in said city (which will be bad beyond comprehension) but for the permanent stain on our collective souls that will result from our inevitable massive nuclear retaliation.

Why care more about the counterstrike than the damage done to our cities? Do you feel the same way about Germans or Japanese firebombed or nuked in World War Two? It would not be pleasant, but it would be necessary.

Posted by: MattW at June 3, 2007 12:44 PM

I agree that there are terrific pressures to succumb to the so-called "religion of peace," on its terms of course, or you are in the Dar Al-Harb.

I learned to speak and read Arabic at a 3+S, 4R level at FSI in Beirut and then lived in the Near East for a decade in various embassies.

My time in Lebanon was in the pre-'75 era, so my memories of pre-war Beirut are irenic.

Question to Michael. Are you any relation to my colleague MILATT then-Maj. Mike Totten at the US Embassy in Jidda?

Posted by: daveinboca at June 3, 2007 12:44 PM

edgar,

common ground between knowledge/reason and ignorance/stupidity?

perhaps reality does not permit common ground and your wishful thinking wants to find it where it does not exist.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:48 PM

mattw,

shaulie's concern is a clear exposure of what emboldens the islamists and why they hold the west in contempt and play it like a violin.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:50 PM

Michael;

Why do you display an inordinate deference to fp?

You certainly are not squeamish about angrily
disparaging other commenters who spew nonsense.

Why is your acrimony tempered in your responses
(and defenses) of fp?

Posted by: Semanticleo at June 3, 2007 12:52 PM

mjt,

wrong!!!

you draw on limited experience and I draw from much wider experience, more education and more serious sources than just personal experience.

juan cole is a jerk.

we don't have to agree. we will simply live and see whose views are closer to reality.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:54 PM

mattw,

but the fact is that very few do step up. that's because some know what happens to them when they do and and some sympathize with the jihadis for theological reasons.

the question is whether islamists can and will be combatted by the moderates and who will winn. all indicators are in the negative and i have not seen any indicators in the positive.

add to this that the west self-destructs and the existence of the moderates does not inspire any confidence as to the outcome.

but i will be very glad to be proven wrong.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 12:59 PM

redaktor,

i made that very point to mjt at least a couple of time but i did not discern any concurrence.

there is a reason seculars in the arab world call themselves secular shia or sunny and not secular arabs.

there are, indeed, traditional muslims who believe in allah but are not ritualistic, same as in christianity and judaism. but unlike christianity and judaism, they can be readily deemed takfir or even apostates, for which a heavy price can be paid.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 01:05 PM

As an American, I feel confident dismissing fp's "fall of knowledge and reason" hypothesis about Western self-destruction as weird, utter nonsense.

It seems likely that he's just as off-base about Muslims.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at June 3, 2007 01:08 PM

Will the world be a better place if you go around telling liberal Muslims that Osama Bin Laden is right?

Moderate Muslims become moderate Muslims by rejecting the text of the Koran as it was written and intended at the time. That's why I keep telling you to get your head out of that book and look at the world as it is instead.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam need "bad Jews," "bad Christians," and "bad Muslims." Otherwise we're all going to kill each other. So I suggest you encourage the "bad Muslims" like Eteraz and quit saying the fundies are right.

I thought this was pretty eloquent, Mike. Can't change any minds, though, huh? On another note, I found this interesting comparison:

Regarding the Pew Poll:
I'm not either. It's horrifying, actually.

It certainly isn't cheerful, but then again, it all depends on how you look at it. If you polled Americans today for support of nuking Teheran tomorrow, or in response to some minor act of provocation, do you think you'd have a hard time finding fifteen percent?

What if you sent a poll suggesting that the U.S. military needs to "take the gloves off" in Iraq - and start carpet bombing areas from which terrorist attacks originated? Twenty percent, no problem. I'd bet a cool hundred bucks, right now. We could kill a 9/11's worth of people in Iraq tomorrow, and you'd get twenty percent in favor.

I don't think the prevalence of extremist U.S. Muslim views is too far out of line with the prevalence of the reciprocal view among our popular majority. The difference is that we funnel our desire for revenge and control through institutions designed to civilize those responses somewhat. I'll get back to that in a minute.

Belligerence, xenophobia, indifference to the suffering of innocents required from some act of force, and a warped maximalism in response to any percieved threat is not unique to Islam, Arabs, or the Middle East. It's an inextinguishable trait common to the human species. You can see that right here on this comment section, or - trust me on this - most comment sections. The only variation is in the target selection.

Mike again:
The paranoia and wingnuttery in here tonight is unbelievable.

Twenty percent or something like that of Muslims in America are willing to say in a poll that they support inhumane and violent methods of self-defense, but because of America's system and political environment, the number who are willing to personally engage that theoretical belief are an insignificant fraction, south of one thousandth of one percent.

In the same way, even though some Westerners hold views reciprocal to Al Quieda's, like, "Islam is an inherently and irreconcilably evil and violent force that must be eliminated" - Quieda, by the way - "The West is an irreconcilably evil and oppressive force that must be eliminated" - even though the worldview is similar, they don't actually go out and bomb mosques. Nor, even though some Westerners are self-trained to automatically regard any practicing Muslim as a genuine enemy of their country, reciprocal to the anti-American instinct, very little violence is done. The same warped associations lead to very different outputs.
The reason is that they live in America, and the norms are set for them to channel their xenophobia through relatively harmless channels - arguing on blogs, voting Republican, etc. There are no social networks to empower actions that go along with the principles. Our society has developed more carefully controlled methods to protect itself. We keep the violence far away from the ordinary people, and it remains relatively easy for them to act morally.

That's what's missing in the Middle East. But that's what is being supported in Lebanon right now. If you don't see anti-Palestinian massacres in response to Fateh Al-Islam, it's because they have an army to do the job in a relatively discriminating manner. That's what separates Lebanese - or Americans, for that matter - from situations like Iraq. The shape of the battlefield and the available weapons. And not much more, except a crust of education and habit that can always be blown away, and quite regularly, even around here, never really takes hold among a fifteen percent or so.

Posted by: glasnost at June 3, 2007 01:10 PM

no, creamy, it means that you are ignorant and stupid.

i did not invent the argument and it is overwhelmingly supported by empirical evidence. i would refer you to sources, but i doubt that you will read them, or if you did, you would not find some cockomamy reason to dismiss them.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 01:33 PM

fp,

Michael may have visited the region, but he certainly did not live there. His, is a perspective of a western tourist, not of a long time resident.

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 01:36 PM

Michael,

Please acknowledge that you understand what I was trying to say (See: 12:34 PM). Otherwise, we'll keep having the same misunderstandings over terminology, and the acrimony that follows it.

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 01:38 PM

Semanticleo: Why is your acrimony tempered in your responses (and defenses) of fp?

He at least links to source material backing up his claims, unlike Redaktor who just mouths off and wallows in sheer bigoted ignorance.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 01:38 PM

Redaktor,

No I don't understand what you were trying to say, apparently. (We posted our last comments at the same time.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 01:39 PM

redaktor: His, is a perspective of a western tourist,

No, my experience in Beirut was as a resident journalist. My wife and mother experienced it as tourists.

If you experienced the place as even a tourist you would know better than to say some of the stupid crap you say about it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 01:42 PM

My great nightmare is a succesful Islamist nuclear strike on a major western city. Not so much for the horrible devestation that will result in said city (which will be bad beyond comprehension) but for the permanent stain on our collective souls that will result from our inevitable massive nuclear retaliation.

I have never been able to accept the left's reflexive anti-war propoganda for this reason. I have yet to hear a Democrat acknowledge the reality of the possibility of us being forced to destroy a civilization, and then propose an alternative to something similar to Iraq. And while I am still a Democrat, I have not voted that way recently.

Never, huh? Wow.
For starters, Iraq is not an alternative to anything. There are Muslims in over one hundred countries and radicalized networks are there in many and a possibility in all of them. We cannot occupy and attempt to personally suppress via the U.S. Armed Forces, all of these populations, according to the Iraq model. It would take ten million troops to do badly.

Let me repeat this: Iraq is not an alternative model. Petraeus thinks it will take a decade to win the insurgency in Iraq (differing from me, who thinks it can't really be "won", if the goal is to make it impossible for troops or US citizens to be attacked by networks within the country). We can't do more than one of these projects at a time under current resources, so going country-by-country in this manner would take us... about one thousand years. That's not a good way to reform the Muslim world. And we're not even getting into how the war is actively radicalizing other countries and Muslim networks, making the problem worse as we try to solve it.

The alternative you've never heard isn't hard. There's a finite number of nuclear weapons in the world, and another finite number of facilities capable of creating them. Keeping them all under 24/7 surveillance and not letting any nuclear weapons into the country is a finite problem of organization and technology. It will never be foolproof, but it can be much closer to foolproof than is trying to initimidate into acquisence several hundred million Muslims, block by block.

The alternative is global cooperation from the "Functional Core" as Thomas Barrett describes it, to arrest and if neccesary destroy networks of individuals planning to kill people, on one hand, and a similar organized effort to bring democracy and governmental reform to dysfunctional areas of the world using more careful and precise positive/negative incentives than overthrow and occupation. It takes a little longer, and it's not as viscerally satisfying. But it works better.

It should also keep the attempts to foment catastrophic responses rather lower than the Widespread Invasions Model. It's actually less risky. If Iraq had actually had a WMD program, we'd have had a ridiculously hard time keeping it under wraps during the invasion and post-invasion process.

Posted by: glasnost at June 3, 2007 01:50 PM

ah, yes, to BRING democracy. one ponders why it should be brought to them instead of they bringing it to themselves.

reeks pf paternalistic racism me reckons. exactly what is condoning and feeding the islamists.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 02:02 PM

Ok Michael, let me try a different tact. Maybe this will make it clearer.

Forget about Islam and the Islamic Empire. Look to the Communist Empire and Soviet Union. The Soviet Empire was a political entity where terror was deeply ingrained. ALL had to profess themselves Communists. But there were the communists commissars, and then there were the ordinary communists. Yet, to the outside eye, all feigned equally great love for Yoska and enthusiasm for the Soviet Union.

Before I proceed further, do we agree?

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 02:11 PM

redaktor,

even if he did live there for a while, personal experience and some interviews is not a serious basis for interpreting world politics.

he fails to accept that the existence of secularized or moderate muslims does not necessarily address the global problems posed by islamists. and the tendency to project western notions on the ME is quite clear.

i understand the mental process that produces this, and it'll take serious empirical shocks to his perspective to sober him up. but he's neither the first, nor the last.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 02:15 PM

Yes, Redaktor, I agree with that you say about Soviet Communism.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 02:16 PM

redaktor,

even if he did live there for a while, personal experience and some interviews is not a serious basis for interpreting world politics.

he fails to accept that the existence of secularized or moderate muslims does not necessarily address the global problems posed by islamists. and the tendency to project western notions on the ME is quite clear.

i understand the mental process that produces this, and it'll take serious empirical shocks to his perspective to sober him up. but he's neither the first, nor the last.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 02:18 PM

fp: he fails to accept that the existence of secularized or moderate muslims does not necessarily address the global problems posed by islamists.

I have never said any such thing. You completely misunderstand me.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 02:20 PM

was mohammed atta a virgin when he committed suicide in that plane?

if he and his friends went to see "live nude dancers" the night before going to their deaths, to what extent did this further inflame them?

how many of the male suicide bombers are married and have active and satisfactory sex lives when they go to their deaths?

in general, it is young males 18-26 who commit most violent crime, die in car-wrecks, or are most likely to commit suicide (unless suffering from a mortal disease). is this the same demographic which become jihadis?

how acceptable is homosexuality in muslim countries?

pornography is known to be very popular in pakistan. what kind of pornography? male-female intercourse? rape fantasy? sadomasochism? male-male homosexuals?

is masturbation in muslim countries seen more as something natural or as an occasion for shame?

how much premarital heterosexual intercourse is
there in muslim countries? how much intercourse is there with prostitutes?

what about STDs?

are any of these things known?

***************

do you think that sexual customs in the west are at this point settled and satisfactory, that all the change of the last 40 years is good (it's all progress) -- or are there tensions and unresolved negative side-effects?

well, obviously there are unresolved negative side-effects. just look at the birth-rate (outside of mormons and fundamentalist christians). look at divorce.

otto weininger in 1903 predicted that the 20th century would see men becoming feminized and women becoming masculinized. was he correct? if he was, was this a good thing? why or why not?

is sex primarily for pleasure? if not, then what is it for? is this the same in muslim societies as in the mostly secular west?

and so on.

Posted by: Todd Grimson at June 3, 2007 02:39 PM

Ok Michael,

So why is it so hard for you to translate this the Middle East? Why can't you understand that even after 1400 years of Soviet terror and subjugation, Lithuanians, Poles, etc., might still cling to their national identity even as they feign allegiance to Yoska?

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 02:57 PM

mjt,

by responding the way you do to my comments you directly imply that.

and you certainly misunderstand me.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 03:12 PM

fp,

but the fact is that very few do step up. that's because some know what happens to them when they do and and some sympathize with the jihadis for theological reasons.

the question is whether islamists can and will be combatted by the moderates and who will winn. all indicators are in the negative and i have not seen any indicators in the positive.

add to this that the west self-destructs and the existence of the moderates does not inspire any confidence as to the outcome.

but i will be very glad to be proven wrong.

That's basically correct. The majority of spiritually-orientated, 'average' Muslims are no match for politically-orientated Muslims. The political Islam need not even be especially radical (see Jamat-e-Islami front groups in Britain) to be effective, and to nudge out more traditional groups.

And, yes, a Western civilisation in the midst of an identity crisis earns few allies.

Positive indicators, eh? Many good Muslims think they're being decent enough by staying out of things. In one sense, that is correct. But under the circumstances, is it reasonable to expect those Muslims to organise, to gather and to fight in a coherent way, radical Islamists? Why would they if (a) they themselves are not guilty of anything and (b) we don't do it, either?

Posted by: MattW at June 3, 2007 03:20 PM
some sympathize with the jihadis for theological reasons.

Sure, but many sympathise for political reasons. Since Western countries are keen to reject their own heritage, and to allow immigrants to retain their own separation and cultural identities, immigrants aren't made to feel part of their adopted country. That leaves the vacuum open for radical groups to frame the narrow debate.

Posted by: MattW at June 3, 2007 03:26 PM

matt,

i would also add that precisely because the west is so suicidal, some moderate muslims must be thinking: dangerous to step into this. what if the islamists win and take over (and in europe not necessarily by violence, but by appeasement and demographics? better to just do nothing.

in the article about the bomber's brother that i linked to it turns out that his muslim community knew for 6 years before 7/7 that the guy was a radical islamist but nobody said or did anything because "they did not believe he would commit such an act". if that's the real reason -- and i suspect not for all -- it reveals that moderates can't even CONCEIVE of what the jihadis do.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 03:31 PM

matt,

when i say theological i also mean political because in islam there is no distinction between the two.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 03:33 PM
if that's the real reason -- and i suspect not for all -- it reveals that moderates can't even CONCEIVE of what the jihadis do.

In fairness, not many Brits could concieve of British suicide bombers hitting London transport. It is not reasonable to expect Muslims to be more alert, knowledgeable and active about radical Islamists than we are.

Posted by: MattW at June 3, 2007 03:33 PM
when i say theological i also mean political because in islam there is no distinction between the two.

'In Islam', perhaps. That isn't how many (or most) Muslims live their lives. Islamist groups have encouraged the idea that politics and religion are inseparable. Theologically, perhaps, they are. But how many Muslims are as observant as they 'should' be? Or Christians? Or Jews?

Posted by: MattW at June 3, 2007 03:37 PM

Michael,

Things are not always what they seem, and this is where you need to look to the history books. For example, in Spain there are many towns where residents have only now started to lose their fear of the Roman Catholic Inquisition. Under seemingly impossible conditions, these formally Jewish towns managed to preserve their Jewish heritage by identifying Jewish partners for marriage through a secret id of a carved rose on a family headstone. These Spanish Jews, forced to convert to Catholicism, only now started renouncing the Roman Catholic religion, reverting back to Judaism. Many moving back to Israel.

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 03:40 PM

but my point is some of those who are not observant do not necessarily object to imposing sharia law in the state, particularly and infidel state. this comes out in many western surveys of muslims.

here's a muslim state example:

http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/220674

apparently a democratic, moderate, susccessful state with a liberal constitution. but it is under sharia law and when there is a contradiction, guess which wins? and i don't see any moderates objecting.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 03:45 PM

MattW said,

"Why care more about the counterstrike than the damage done to our cities? Do you feel the same way about Germans or Japanese firebombed or nuked in World War Two? It would not be pleasant, but it would be necessary."

Matt, you misunderstand me. Although perhaps, what bothers me does not disturb you. If so, that is your loss.

Make no mistake. When that day comes, I will stand behind the leader who calls for the nuclear counterstirkes. And I will argue in favor of Assured Distruction, as being the only way to assure it does not happen again. And I will not regret that call - it will have been correct. But if that is a call you want to make, than you belong to the other side of this conflict.

Such an action may one day be neccessary. It will NEVER be lauditory. And it WILL stain the soul of Western Civilization in a way that nothing has ever even come close to doing. I am not worried about what that means to the world of Islam so much as what it will do to the Western World. Do not be so certain that our civilization would survive such an action. It would certainly be changed forever.

It is worth the sacrifice of trillions of dollars, of thousands of American troops (whose sacrifice I value and DO NOT take lightly) and of a long, difficult struggle to try to create an alternate solution.

Posted by: shaulie at June 3, 2007 04:01 PM

What I object to in this thread is the assumption that everyone who calls himself a Muslim and believes in God lives in a 7th Century mental universe because the Koran says he's supposed to.

The Koran says all Muslims are supposed to take every word literally and seriously, but the fact is that few of them do. Most of those who say they do are liars who ignore the parts that don't fit their agenda.

Even Afghanistan, which has got to be the most primitive Muslim society on the face of the earth, has upgraded itself to somewhere around the 13th Century since the Taliban (which most of them hate) was ejected from power.

The Koran says Muslism are supposed to wage jihad. Yet the Lebanese almost unanimously approve of their army destroying the jihad inside the camps. If they all lived in a 7th Century mental universe, they would join the jihad instead of destroy it.

Lebanon is a modern country, and so are most of its people. Elements of tribalism, feudalism, sectarianism, and Islamism still exist, but all except sectarianism are pretty weak. Sectarianism is distressingly strong, and hugely explains the Shia support for Hezbollah which gives them power and pride. Support for the Al Qaedaist groups in Lebanon is around 1 percent.

They teach democracy in schools there, and they have for more for than 50 years. Only Hezbollah schools teach jihad instead of democracy.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 04:03 PM

MattW said,

"Why care more about the counterstrike than the damage done to our cities? Do you feel the same way about Germans or Japanese firebombed or nuked in World War Two? It would not be pleasant, but it would be necessary."

Matt, you misunderstand me. Although perhaps, what bothers me does not disturb you. If so, that is your loss.

Make no mistake. When that day comes, I will stand behind the leader who calls for the nuclear counterstirkes. And I will argue in favor of Assured Distruction, as being the only way to assure it does not happen again. And I will not regret that call - it will have been correct. But if that is a call you want to make, than you belong to the other side of this conflict.

Such an action may one day be neccessary. It will NEVER be lauditory. And it WILL stain the soul of Western Civilization in a way that nothing has ever even come close to doing. I am not worried about what that means to the world of Islam so much as what it will do to the Western World. Do not be so certain that our civilization would survive such an action. It would certainly be changed forever.

It is worth the sacrifice of trillions of dollars, of thousands of American troops (whose sacrifice I value and DO NOT take lightly) and of a long, difficult struggle to try to create an alternate solution.

Posted by: shaulie at June 3, 2007 04:05 PM

redaktor: For example, in Spain there are many towns where residents have only now started to lose their fear of the Roman Catholic Inquisition.

I haven't heard of this, but Pico Iyer wrote a while ago that rural Icelanders still fear a Turkish invasion.

You're a little hung up on old stuff yourself.

I sympathize to a point and don't blame you. I know that your country is under constant rocket and suicide bomb attack. I've been there four times and had rockets fired at me, too. You aren't hallucinating a jihad. It is most definitely real, unlike a possible Turkish invasion of Iceland or another Inquisition in Spain.

Where you're wrong is when you say every believing Muslim is basically the same as every other believing Muslim. (I'm leaving the strictly secularists aside because they are by definition very different.) It may seem that way from where you live, but I have lived elsewhere and I know (some of) the variations of the Muslim world.

There is a reason that I went to Northern Iraq without a gun and without any bodyguards, and it's not because everyone up there is an atheist. If I were wrong about this I would be dead.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 04:12 PM

fp,

apparently a democratic, moderate, susccessful state with a liberal constitution. but it is under sharia law and when there is a contradiction, guess which wins? and i don't see any moderates objecting.

Preventing people from leaving their religion is not especially radical. She has not been sentenced to death, which would be radical. Don't think that I'm excusing a thoroughly illiberal action. But it is not violent jihad, nor is it especially threatening.

Shaulie,

Although perhaps, what bothers me does not disturb you. If so, that is your loss... But if that is a call you want to make, than you belong to the other side of this conflict.

I readily admit to being much more concerned with the lives of those broadly allied to us than those broadly against us.

However, you seem to percieve that I'd consider a massive nuclear response as necessary as mild bloodlust. That isn't the case. My position is that looking for morality in war is often fruitless and usually distracting. Necessity is more important.

I am not worried about what that means to the world of Islam so much as what it will do to the Western World. Do not be so certain that our civilization would survive such an action. It would certainly be changed forever.

I'm not certain our civilisation will survive at all, let alone in the event of a nuclear strike. But I take your point.

Here's a question: is your willingness to invest trillions of dollars and thousands of lives to preventing a WMD exchange due to you wanting to save Western civilisation from tearing itself apart afterwards, or Islamic civilisation from the results of our strike? (Or both?)

Posted by: MattW at June 3, 2007 04:45 PM

Where you're wrong is when you say every believing Muslim is basically the same as every other believing Muslim.

Michael, we don't know who is a believing Muslim and who is not. We just know who is using Jihadism as a tool of empire, political oppression, and land grab, and who is not.

Posted by: redaktor at June 3, 2007 04:51 PM

The Maylaysian woman's death is not being called for, true, but the ruling prevents her from remaining in the country of her birth and legally marrying the love of her life, a Christian, as marriage between a Muslim woman and a Christian man is forbidden by sharia law, and this particular prohibition is recognized by the Maylaysian government.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 3, 2007 04:51 PM

mjt,

you asked how to explain the situation in lebanon, i did, you ignored it, and you are repeating the same event as if i did not. speaking of an agenda.

there are disagreements within islam as to who can declare jihad, in what circumstances and for what purposes. what there is not is disagreement that jihad is an obligation of every muslim. that is why even those many muslims who don't DO jihad either sympathize with those who do, or support them, but in general certainly do not go to the length of combatting them.

what you have in lebanon now is not jihad, which must be against infidels. most lebanese see it as an attempt by syria to screw up lebanon. the fact that fath-el-islam is a jihadi group does not mean that what they do in lebanon is jihad.

if, however, there were still a war with israel, and the jihadis fought in it and endangered the population (like hezbollah did), the reaction would be different.

be that as it may, no doubt there are muslims who don't care about jihad and don't like the jihadis; even many of them. that is not at issue. the issue is will they combat jihadis when they take on the west or against imposition of sharia in their own societies? you can disagree on whether they will or not and we will have to wait and see, but facts are facts.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 05:00 PM

redaktor: Michael, we don't know who is a believing Muslim and who is not. We just know who is using Jihadism as a tool of empire, political oppression, and land grab, and who is not.

Okay, an interesting point considering what you posted previously.

But I would say someone who prays, inside or outside a mosque, is a believing Muslim as long as they aren't being coerced into prayer by religious police.

For what it's worth, though, during the five-times-a-day call to prayer in every Muslim country I have even been to, the overwhelming majority completely ignore it -- with the possible exception of Egypt on Fridays.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 05:02 PM

fp: the issue is will they combat jihadis when they take on the west or against imposition of sharia in their own societies?

On this they are clearly divided. Not nearly as many are on our side as I would like, but some of them are and we should do what we can to bring more of them around to our side.

Our efforts work in some places and backfire in others. We need to be smarter about it. I don't claim to be a genius or have all the answers.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 05:07 PM

"Get real people! Muslims are people, just like us. That means, some of them will be brutal and some will be kind. Some will be jihadis and some will be peace loving. Some will be very devout and others will not pay much attention."

Let me understand this.

Are not Germans people just like us?
How about period from 1933 to 1945?
Some were brutal, some were kind, most indifferent.

They also managed to gas 6 million Jews for the capital crime of being Jews.

Are we (Americans) ready to gas 6 million of X people (substitute your favorite candidate)?

Perhaps we are not. Perhaps Germans were not people like us.

Perhaps Muslims are not people exactly like us even if they have 2 legs and 2 arms.

Similar to Michael Totten, thousands, hundreds of thousands of European Jews knew perfectly decent Germans in 1933, hundreds thousands of them.
It didn't quite helped the Jews, did it?

Posted by: mik_infidel at June 3, 2007 05:10 PM

To belatedly return to the threat of bioweapons engineering, it would be impossible to use the Tay-sach's marker to kill only Jews, as the Palestinians, who are (whether or not they are willing to acknowledge it) the Israeli's genetic cousins, if not brothers, share that genetic marker.

However, what is even more greatly to be feared worldwide is a botched and unsuccessful attempt to find such a market, resulting instead in the creation of a phage that would key on more generally distributed genetic sequences. We must remember that the Qu'ran - for the pious Muslim, the faithful literal transcription of the eternally true words of Allah - derided Jews as descendents of pigs and monkeys. Certainly our pious biogeneticist would search for the genetic marker of this difference, and would undoubtedly find something that he could convince himself was the genetic trace of the 'truth' underlying Allah's pronouncement - regardless of what traits the sequence actually controlled, or how widespread it might be among the human population.

Sound farfetched? Let us remember that Pakistan is a member of the nuclear club, and that a Pakistani physicist published an article not many years ago where he proposed meeting Pakistan's energy needs by harnessing djinn (genie) power.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 3, 2007 05:15 PM

Mr. Totten,

Sorry I made your shortlist for a ban. I'm glad you agree that anyone that actually follows the quran is indeed a jihadist (or at least you really give that impression above), and that there are scarcely any muslims who do.

This message, quite simply, needs to be spread. I agree that this is a very, very sad fact but it is the truth. Jihadism is the only reasonable interpretation of the quran.

You're point is not more or less than "99,9% of muslims do not follow the quran at all". And you're entirely correct in that assesment. I know this. However, history shows that 0.2% lunatics is defineately more than any state can hope to handle.

This problem exists and needs to be dealt with. Stating that muslims don't follow the quran does nothing to contain the vile murder instructions it spreads.

The quran shouldn't be outlawed. It's just that the meaning of the book should be published. You may have noticed that it's an unreadeable piece of junk, and you need 3-4 days to read any significant portion of it. I've REALLY tried, and I'm talking weeks, and I've done only 5 chapters. (not counting my frequent skipping to the last few chapters that are actually quite positive, but do have a strong tendency to be copied from other sources)

If this opinion of mine warrants a ban, then go ahead and ban me. If you wish to debate it, trust me there's nothing I want more than to change this opinion of mine.

But your point "many people will feel bad about the truth" just doesn't cut it. Sorry. Not even if you're talking about a billion people. Not even if you're talking about a trillion. Sorry.

Posted by: A at June 3, 2007 05:19 PM

Perhaps Germans were not people like us.

But they were.

All cultures are capable of horrific and senseless brutality. All cultures are also capable of maturing and moving beyond it. The fact that the entire human race doesn't mature at the same rate and at the same time -- and that backsliding and regression also occur -- doesn't mean this is wrong.

War and strife will always be with us. But individual wars always come to an end. This one will, too. Then there will be another.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 05:23 PM

redaktor,

the problem is that moderate believers can turn into jihadis in all sorts of circumstances -- THAT is what recruitment does. and who will turn is unpredictable, hence the surprises when terror acts are committed. and the reason recruitment occurs is because the jihadis are persuasive. and they are because they invoke the scriptures.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 05:23 PM

"For what it's worth, though, during the five-times-a-day call to prayer in every Muslim country I have even been to, the overwhelming majority completely ignore it"

So do British Muslims. And 25% love self-exploders.

So do American Muslims. And 20% of males would not mind exploding sometime, somewhere, for the cause.

Sudden Jihad Syndrome was identified as a condition unique to Muslims settled in the West. See Spencer and Fitzgerald at jihadwatch.org for more medical studies of the forementioned syndrome.

What Michael Totten proposes we do about that syndrom that strikes our Muslim fellow citizens so frequently?

Posted by: mik at June 3, 2007 05:24 PM

To belatedly return to the threat of bioweapons engineering, it would be impossible to use the Tay-sach's marker to kill only Jews, as the Palestinians, who are (whether or not they are willing to acknowledge it) the Israeli's genetic cousins, if not brothers, share that genetic marker.

However, what is even more greatly to be feared worldwide is a botched and unsuccessful attempt to find such a market, resulting instead in the creation of a phage that would key on more generally distributed genetic sequences. We must remember that the Qu'ran - for the pious Muslim, the faithful literal transcription of the eternally true words of Allah - derided Jews as descendents of pigs and monkeys. Certainly our pious biogeneticist would search for the genetic marker of this difference, and would undoubtedly find something that he could convince himself was the genetic trace of the 'truth' underlying Allah's pronouncement - regardless of what traits the sequence actually controlled, or how widespread it might be among the human population.

Sound farfetched? Let us remember that Pakistan is a member of the nuclear club, and that a Pakistani physicist published an article not many years ago where he proposed meeting Pakistan's energy needs by harnessing djinn (genie) power.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 3, 2007 05:28 PM

matt,

that was not point. the fact is that insofar as sharia is concerned, the moderates accept it as correct. and if it contradicts freedom and human rights (in the constitution), islam wins.

and i would not be so cavalier as to her fate: she lost her job, he is ostracized and may have to leave her country.

moreover, some of malaysia leaders are rabid anti-semites and anti-infidels and quote directly from the quran as support.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 05:32 PM

A: I'm glad you agree that anyone that actually follows the quran is indeed a jihadist

That isn't true either. Read this.

mik: What Michael Totten proposes we do about that syndrom that strikes our Muslim fellow citizens so frequently?

This is too complex a question for me to deal with right now. I'm spending too much time on this discussion as it is when I'm supposed to be working.

I am aware of "sudden jihad syndrome," though. If it looks like the jihadis are winning here and/or elsewhere, we will have more of it.

The West is insufficiently resistant to it now, and I expect it to get worse before it gets better.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 05:33 PM

Mik Infidel said:

"Similar to Michael Totten, thousands, hundreds of thousands of European Jews knew perfectly decent Germans in 1933, hundreds thousands of them. It didn't quite helped the Jews, did it?"

Mik,

I'm not sure I get your point, or that you got mine, but let's give this a try anyway.

Supposing ALbert Einstien had three atomic weapons in the early 1930's. Assuming it would have been possible, should he have been ready to incinerate Berlin, Munich and Hamburg in 1933? Millions of lives lost because Hitler might succeed in destroying European jewry? At a minimum, this is a tough call. Let us bear in mind that the Holocaust has not begun yet. Kristalnacht is just around the corner...

(Let me just point out, I am a jewish. If one knew for certain of the holocaust, and one knew this would stop it, the question to me would be moot. That is not the case I am presenting.)

Of course, there were other options then - the world really could have stopped Hitler realtively easily back then, it just did not have the will. Sounds familiar somehow.

Should Israel preemptively nuke Tehran, because Ahmadinijad and Co. really want to wipe them off the map? I haven't seen anyone propose this. I don't think it is justafiable at all.

Yes, nations can do horrible things even when many of their individuals are good. And vice versa. So what? It does not remove the reality of those who are good. Doing so merely blinds us to other potential possible reponses.

Posted by: shaulie at June 3, 2007 05:38 PM

mjt,

we DO have more of it. a LOT more of it, if you pay attention to global data.

and what i see is ignorant stupid policies that support and help the jihadis.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 05:45 PM

"Supposing ALbert Einstien had three atomic weapons in the early 1930's. Assuming it would have been possible, should he have been ready to incinerate Berlin, Munich and Hamburg in 1933?"

Holocaust was put fully in motion with German presicion and engineering from about 1940-41. After that time anyone with his head outside his ass, could figure out what was going on.

At that point nuking Berlin, etc would have been a great idea.

My point is very simple one. When murderous ideologically driven regime is on the march, presence of a few saint people within that regime does not matter.
At that point civilized world must concentrate on stopping the murderers.

Losing one small war after another as USA is doing from 1945 is not the way to stop little Hitler in Iran.

Posted by: mik_infidel at June 3, 2007 05:54 PM

"Supposing ALbert Einstien had three atomic weapons in the early 1930's. Assuming it would have been possible, should he have been ready to incinerate Berlin, Munich and Hamburg in 1933?"

Holocaust was put fully in motion with German presicion and engineering from about 1940-41. After that time anyone with his head outside his ass, could figure out what was going on.

At that point nuking Berlin, etc would have been a great idea.

My point is very simple one. When murderous ideologically driven regime is on the march, presence of a few saint people within that regime does not matter.
At that point civilized world must concentrate on stopping the murderers.

Losing one small war after another as USA is doing from 1945 is not the way to stop little Hitler in Iran.

Posted by: mik_infidel at June 3, 2007 06:03 PM

People tend to be susceptible to suffering in the face of a self-perceived lack of significance or meaning, and will search for it indefatiguably (as Viktor Frankl noted). They tend to self-conceive their lives according to a personal narrative, and political and religious myths help them to fill this lack of meaning by offering them overarching narratives, within which their lives are granted a grand historical or cosmic significance.

People who are suffering from mental, emotional and/or situational difficulties, or some combination of these, may indeed decide to commit an act which their chosen overarching narrative is seen to grant mythic significance, in an attempt at self-redemption, in order to compensate for perceived failures.

Although sudden jihad syndrome is predominately a Muslim occurrence, it is not solely so. I believe that such considerations have prompted suicide (and homicide) terrorists and mass suicides from time immemorial, including, for instance, the attacks of the Japanese banzais, the Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and such people as the Unabomber, the Oklahoma City bombers, the Olympic bomber in Atlanta, and also the self-immolations of the Jim Jones cult, the Hale-Bopp Comet cultists, the Canadian Order of the Solar temple, and the Branch Dravidians of Waco, Texas. These may all be different narratives, but the selfsame actions werere taken in their differing contexts, and for similar reasons.

I have seen several such attacks up close and personal in my home town of Pensacola, Florida. Matthew Goldsby, a Jew who had converted to the assembly of God, and James Simmons, a fellow parishioner, firebombed four abortion clinics here one Christmas Eve as a birthday present to Jesus. This action prompted me to become a NOW escort, and to sleep in clinics during nights around Christmas and Mothers' Day so that potential prolife clinic bombers would have to take life - mine - in order to firebomb them. As a result, I received telephoned death threats, my university records were illegally accessed in an effort to profile me, my home was constantly surveilled, and my automobile was sabotaged. Next, a barren woman named Joan Andrews, who decided to compensate for her inability to have children of her own by assisting in the coerced birth of others, enterd a clinic her by false pretenses and destroyed clinic equipment. A pre-trial investigation discovered that she had done the same thing at climics nationwide more than 120 times in the preceding two years. Later, even the self-contradiction of killing for life became acceptable to some. First Michael Griffin, an emotionally troubled young man struggling in a failing marriage, then Paul Hill, a fanatical zealot and Methodist minister, gunned down abortion doctors and clinic escorts in order to martyr themselves for the cause and assure themselves of God's blessings and the approval of their antiabortion peers.

The narrative from which they drew was chillingly obvious during one protest. Two thousand marchers encircled one clinic, then some folks blew trumpets at its walls seven times, an unmistakeable reference to the Old Testament passage where Joshua's forces blowing trumpets at the walls of Jericho, after which the walls tumbled down and Joshua's forces killed every one of the city's inhabitants. These folks lionized Rachael, another character from the Old Testament, and actually interpretationally twisted the Bible to construct their own alternative, violently antiabortionist mythology.

Luckily, after the antiabortion-motivated murders shocked the consciences of the Christian community here, and the local Catholic, Southern Baptist, and Assembly of God churches stopped bussing their parisioners to weekly protests, the religious fervor seems to have burned itself out in our community, and things have been peaceful and quiet here on the antiabortion front for some time.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 3, 2007 06:20 PM

I wrote the followin to Mikey at ColdFury about a year ago. I stand by it still, and think it's even more important to repost, and here seems likea good place to do it.: "Interesting, but I think you chose the wrong synonym. I've thought long and hard about this point. I'm retired 75th Regiment, 3rd Battalion. Military Tactics and Historical Alliances were my Major and Minor at the Academy. Beieve it or not, although my Regiment is highly regarded and highly decorated for battlefield accomplishments, the vast majority of what we were trained to do involves working with local (often renegade) leaders to form alliances and gain valuable intel. I think we need to look at the context of how they view us. It's VITAL to KNOW your enemy, just as it's equally important to know your allies. Islamic Fundamentalists THINK they're sane, and we are evil. Why? Because the "Westernization" of their population means certain elimination of their powerbase, their ideology, and thus their future. In short, they are brainwashed, not unlike the Japanese of WWII. Communism and Marxism/Socialism will eventually wither and die because they are unsustainable over time. They (Like Democracy/Republicanism/Capitalism) promise tangable benefits that can be seen in the here-and-now. Islam makes no such promise. Their 'reward' comes in the afterlife. Only by SACRIFICE can a member ever ascend to the 'reward' that awaits. Ever notice that radical Islamic Countries don't produce anything? Cars, electronics, medical breakthroughs, ect? Now you know why. Even The House of Saud produces nothing. All is imported, all work performed by outsiders. When the oil goes, what will happen? Why, the Oil Shieks will take their fortunes into exile, and the country will be reduced to, well, Afghanistan. (Read the CIA report on Saudi Arabia. Google it). Yes, we can protect our National Security by bombing them into the stone-age (And I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT WE DO!), but over time it's only a temporary fix. Democracy (or dare I also say COMMUNISM?) is the only way to ever have a lasting peace with these people, because even the Nuclear Deterrent (MAD) will not stop a people who's only 'reward' comes from dying for what you believe in. That's why "Regime Change" is now the cornerstone of our Defense Doctrine. That's what Condi Rice (Then National Security Director) was whispering into Bush's ear on 9/11. The NATO Article which basically states "Any Country that attacks a NATO member with a Weapon of Mass Destruction SHALL CEASE TO EXIST AS A NATION". It's why that connection had to be made. It's why "We shall make no distinction between those that attack and those that harbor them" was parroted again and again. The Communists were nuts and power crazy, but they weren't suicidal. MAD worked with them, but it won't work with Ahmadinejad any more than it would on OBL. Iraq and Afghanistan are on the right path. Iran MUST be next. I hope our Nation is prepared to get it done. The clock is ticking, and I assure you that Iran will use the bomb when they get it. In fact, we hear that Iran might already have several former Soviet Tactical Nukes already here, to use if we attack Iran. THINK ABOUT IT."

Posted by: Nostradamus at June 3, 2007 07:20 PM

Nostadamus: the "Westernization" of their population means certain elimination of their powerbase, their ideology, and thus their future.

Bingo. This is what Sayyid Qutb, the ideological godfather of Islamism, said 60 years ago.

Westernization and liberalism produce what he calls "the hideous schizophrenia" in Muslims, which destroys the marriage of Islam and politics as it destroyed the marriage of Christianity and politics.

The "hideous schizophrenia" is our friend, and it is real.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 07:55 PM

nostra,

in the long run possibly.

but the nazis and commies did a huge amount of damage and murder before they went, and my guess is that they were not half as murderous as the jihadis.

(intersstingly: lenin was brought to power by the west, as was khomeini; and hitler used the weakness of democracy to take over. sure seems like we are either suicidal or enormously stupid. i would bet on the latter.)

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 08:14 PM

nostra,

in the long run possibly.

but the nazis and commies did a huge amount of damage and murder before they went, and my guess is that they were not half as murderous as the jihadis.

(intersstingly: lenin was brought to power by the west, as was khomeini; and hitler used the weakness of democracy to take over. sure seems like we are either suicidal or enormously stupid. i would bet on the latter.)

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 08:19 PM

mjt,

all organized religions are about power. that's why they were invented.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 3, 2007 08:23 PM

Josh: The Jihadis will be able to do too much damage - to destroy civilization in a shorter time than it will take Islamic culture to modernize.

Michael T: I worry about this as well, although I'm more concerned with losing a city than the planet.

If someone nukes New York, it's all over for the jihadis.

When I said "destroy the world" I was trying to get a point across, I didn't mean literally destroy it in one attack.

I meant, make life miserable for the much of the planet.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 3, 2007 09:52 PM

Debka is reporting that fighting is now breaking out in the ain-al-hilweh camp in southern lebanon. It will be interesting to see when sunni/shia fault lines will start appearing in the Iran-Syria-Hizbollah axis. Thus far, Hizbollah has remained neutral, but if the fighting spreads, they will be in a real dilemma. It's hard to imagine them joining the (supposedly) Syria-directed Al Quaida forces, and it's also hard to imagine them fighting against a Syrian proxy.

Posted by: MarkC at June 3, 2007 10:42 PM

It does look like that's where we're heading, Josh. Look at this escalation in Lebanon, and also the new Iran hostage crisis, and the increase in rockets from Gaza, and the likely (due to premature withdrawal) rout of the US in Iraq.

George Bush has become Jimmy Carter. Why did I bother voting for him? I should have just voted for Kerry. At least I agree with much of his domestic politics. He would have been hardly weaker than Bush by now on foreign policy.

The way I see it, the West (including Israel) will continue to sit around and do not much of anything until something horrible happens to us again. If Lebanon becomes like Iraq, and if Iraq becomes like Somalia, most Westerners will just shudder and be glad we got "out" of the Middle East. Until we are forced back in again, and Lord only knows what the trigger for that one will be.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 3, 2007 10:45 PM

Michael said:
"Lord only knows what the trigger for that one will be." The trigger being, I suppose, another domestic Al Qaeda attack.

Just look at the domestic Al Qaeda targets that they have attempted to hit, yet failed in their attempt. The double attack on the WTC (1993, 2001) is well known, but the double attack on US Navy ships in Yemen is less well known (the first suicide boat was too loaded down with explosives, and sank before it reached its target). They love to try a second time.

Possibilities that have seen plans against them formulated and foiled include the Space Needle in Seattle, the Library Tower in Los Angeles, the Sears Tower in Chicago (which they planned to bring down by renting a bunch of rooms, filling them with natural gas, and setting them off), and the US Congress building in Washington, DC. Plans on the first three (all tall buildings - they just love bringing down tall buildings, as, to them, tall buildings are a symbol of power, and toppling them is a symbol of power destroyed - plus, they blasphemously compete with minarets in their secular reach towards Heaven) were foiled in the planning stages, and Flight 93, which passengers brought down in Pennsylvania, was tapped to hit the fourth.

There are, of course, others, such as the White House, the Holland Tunnel, the World Bank, the New York Stock Exchange, the CIA Headquarters at Langley, and the LAX and JFK Airports.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 4, 2007 12:11 AM

Holy crap! What's Putin's problem?!

Putin says that if we build missile defense systems in Eastern Europe to protect it from Iran, then Russia will target Europe with it's nuclear missiles!

Fuck him!!

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 01:32 AM

A writes:

"...Why again make the stupid mistake of believing there to be any difference between islam ("repression") and al-qaeda.

The paedophile prophet was himself guilty of genocide, enslavement, rape and worse (he for example ordered his soldiers to rape Jewish women while ordering the men to dig their own graves, they are proud of this btw, you can still visit the trench they dug today. Muslims-only of course).

So let's not pretend fatah-al-islam is any different from al-islam itself. It's counterproductive to say the least. Idiotic and self-destructive would be a more accurate description...."

Michael, this is appalling.

Please ban this comment or at least ask "A" to tidy up his act. Basically he is insulting the whole religion with his comments, and implying that all Muslims are terrorists with his later remarks. I don't know where he gets his information from about genocide of the Jews, but I've not heard that one before.

Neither comments are acceptable in my opinion, and they look like a shitty smear on this blog.

Posted by: Microraptor at June 4, 2007 02:14 AM

@Josh

Obviously. Why do you have the delusion Europe is NOT targeted by russian nukes right now ?

He's not a lunatic, he won't fire. Musharraf is a bigger danger, but again he won't fire, however he is in danger of being replaced with someone who will.

And ahmadinejad, has already proven that he would fire, and he would incinerate his whole population that trusts him with their government just to get to a few Jews.

And we will be forced to kill millions of Iranians because he doesn't give us the choice (the nuclear facilities are right in the middle of large cities, and this is not by accident).

Posted by: A at June 4, 2007 02:18 AM

Michael, I have read that story. And the only reason this "liberal" cleric can give to be peaceful is ... Jesus.

Fine, but let's stop sticking our head in our ass. You know very well that the reputation of Jesus did not come from the quran. His peaceful reputation comes exclusively from the bible (the quran contains just a few lines on him, and the hadith next-to-nothing).

So if you think this is supposed to stop the muslim lunatics, please please please please re-evaluate your position.

You are in denial. You refuse to think some of your friends subscribe to an ideology that demands they kill you, and you refuse to believe they're stupid enough to not change their opinion if this is so.

But you're in for a "surprise". (not really since you're in denial, so you will know what's happening, you'll just keep denying it)

Posted by: A at June 4, 2007 02:23 AM

A: You refuse to think some of your friends subscribe to an ideology that demands they kill you

You don't know a goddamn thing about my friends or about the subject you so arrogantly think you know everything about.

And I'm sick of the filthy garbage that filled up this thread.

Go away. You're banned. Get the hell out of here. Don't come back.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 02:30 AM

George Bush has become Jimmy Carter. Why did I bother voting for him? ... The way I see it, the West (including Israel) will continue to sit around and do not much of anything until something horrible happens to us again. If Lebanon becomes like Iraq, and if Iraq becomes like Somalia, most Westerners will just shudder and be glad we got "out" of the Middle East. Until we are forced back in again, and Lord only knows what the trigger for that one will be.

If you were GW's adviser, what would you tell him to be doing and saying?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 02:38 AM

Josh,

He should be scaring the hell of out Syria and Iran right now even if he plans to never go war with either of them. Instead we talk about cutting "deals," promise not to hurt anybody, etc.

So Assad turns Lebanon into a fireball. Iran builds nukes. Syria and Iran ignite Iraq. Why shouldn't they? No one will do anything about it except run away and leave them the field.

It's going to be an ugly couple of years ahead.

My guess is that when we leave Iraq, Iraq's government will be destroyed. And there will not be another one.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 03:01 AM

I know that you didn't mean it this way, Michael, but there will be another one - destroyed, that is, and its shattered corpse subsumed into the Ummah of Violent Imperialist Islamist Aggression. Its name is Lebanon. And then another, and another - unless and until we stand up and forcibly stop them, and make it stick.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 4, 2007 03:49 AM

The way I see the situation in Iraq, we tried to do the impossible (which is admirable, because you never know how it will work unless you try) but we've not even contemplated, let alone tried, to win this battle the "Old School Way", which is how it's taught at every Military Academy (including the one I graduated from). We tried to A) Defeat a regime and remove it's leadership AND B) Install "The Perfect Solution"; a true Democracy representative of ALL the people. "Plan A" is simple for a modern Military. But "Plan B" is practically impossible to achieve by military force. Plan B needs to be ammended. Ammended into what we called "The 75% Solution". WHAT WE WANTED TO DO was commit to building a unified, reconciled, multisectarian Iraq. This has proven to be not possible. What we should do involves accepting rule by Shiites and Kurds, allowing them to violently suppress Sunni resistance and making sure that Shiites friendly to the United States emerge victorious. LOOK, it's the best alternative available if Bush's surge fails (and it will). Winning this way will be nasty because it will allow the Shiite-dominated Iraqi military and some Shiite militias to decimate the Sunni insurgency. (There likely will be ethnic cleansing, atrocities against civilians and massive refugee flows.) BUT FACE REALITY! Bloody civil war is the reality in Iraq right now. U.S. troops are standing in the middle of it and so far cannot stop either Shiites from killing Sunnis or Sunnis from killing Shiites. Winning nasty would involve taking sides in the civil war by backing the Shiite-dominated elected government and ensuring that he and his allies prevail over both the Sunni insurgency and his Shiite adversary (al-Sadr), who's now Iran's candidate to rule Iraq.

UNDERSTAND that Shiites make up 60 percent of the Iraqi population, so Shiite domination of the government is the inevitable and a democratic outcome. The United States also has good relations with Iraq's Kurdish minority, 20 percent of the population, and would want to cement it by semipermanently stationing U.S. troops in Northern Iraq to ward off the possibility of a Turkish invasion. The withdrawal policy advocated by most Democrats virtually guarantees catastrophic ethnic cleansing - but without any guarantee that a government friendly to the United States would emerge. Almost certainly, Shiites will dominate Iraq because they outnumber Sunnis three to one. But the United States would get no credit for helping the Shiites win. In fact, America's credibility would suffer because it abandoned its mission. And, there is no guarantee that al-Sadr - recently back from Iran after resting his militias - would not emerge as the victor in a power struggle with al-Maliki's Dawa Party and the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, led by Aziz al-Hakim. Sunnis will suffer under a winning nasty strategy, no question, but so far they've refused to accept that they're a minority. They will have to do so eventually, one way or another. And, eventually, Iraq will achieve political equilibrium. Civil wars do end. The losers lose and have to knuckle under. Wherever the Shiites go, is where Iraq will go. So, the quicker we back the winning side, the quicker the war ends. ... Winning nasty isn't attractive, but it sure beats losing. I think it's time to get back to the basics every Military Academy teaches, using methods proven to work for hundreds of years. (Nostradamus- Retired 75th Regiment;3rd Battalion, Ft. Benning Georgia)

Posted by: Nostradamus at June 4, 2007 04:38 AM

"But American officers worry that many members of the largely Shiite police force sympathize or collaborate with the Mahdi Army." Read thisarticle from today's NY Times. This is happening because they (Shiites) see us as continuing to allow Sunni's power. Understand that Shiites make up most of the Iraqi Police, ans thus, have great leeway regarding movement around the country (including into The Green Zone) and are privvy to much intelligence information. A sizeable faction within this group is hostile to American Forces BECAUSE THEY WANT US TO LEAVE! Why, you ask? So they can "finish the job" of "Cleansing the country" of all remnants of Saddam, in otherwords, the Sunni's. THE FACT IS our "Allies" are killing us just as our enemies are, but for entirely opposite reasons. So we have two choices. A)We can leave and let them finish the job. We will get no credit for this, and no government friendly toward America. Or B) Wecan choose to back the Sunni/Kurds, END UP WITH PRECISELY THE SAME OUTCOME, but with a government that Welcomes Americaand becomes our partner in the Middle East. You folks should SERIOUSLY consider why that's of the utmost importance by looking to the East of Iraq, as well as to the North West. Here is the article from today's NYT's: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/04/world/middleeast/04surge.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5099&en=ee19d05a11461240&ex=1181534400&partner=TOPIXNEWS

Posted by: Nostradamus at June 4, 2007 05:13 AM

I know you know how to do italics in HTML because you have boldface text in that screed. Soooo, if you're going to scream at us in all caps, then get your own website to do it on, 'kay?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 05:29 AM

Who says that Iran and Al Qaeda can't cooperate?

Report Puts Al Qaeda No. 3 in Iran
By ELI LAKE
http://www.nysun.com/article/55808

What worries me is what happens if the word comes down from Iran for Hezbollah to back the Al Qaedans in the Palestinian refugee camps. Then, after consuming Lebanon, they could complete their clandestine takeover of Syria. They've already been converting a significant number of Syrian Sunnis to Shiism. That would complete their already partial placing of our forces in Iraq in the same kind of pincers - between Iran and Syria - which we placed around Iran (between Iraq and Afghanistan. The place is beginning to resemble a crescentish set of zebra stripes: Israel-lower Hezbollah Lebanon-upper March 14 Lebanon-Syria-Iraq-Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistani tribal provinces-rest of Pakistan-Kashmir-India. And there is the emerging danger that the friendly March 14 Lebanon stripe could be lost (not to mention that the friendly non-tribal Pakistan stripe is precarious at best). It would make for one helluva large and confused battlefield, where multiple front lines would abound, and everyone on both sides would be surrounded in one fashion or another.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 4, 2007 05:59 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 06/04/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at June 4, 2007 08:01 AM

Michael,

I hate to criticize, but your article makes it seem like these guys are Al-Qaeda (or at least affiliated with AQ). It has been known for quite some time now that these terrorist groups in Lebanon are nothing more than Syrian intelligence controlled groups that use the Al-Qaeda type "islamist" banner as a cover, to make it look like they're not Syrian tools.

Not that one is any better than the other, mind you. But I thought I'd clarify this point.

(PS: I havent read the 300 or so comments, so if anyone already pointed this out, I apologize)

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at June 4, 2007 09:36 AM

mjt,

so you've come around to what i've been saying about the west, which emboldens rather than combats the jihadis? good.

bush has checkmated himself due to ignorance and stupidity. it has played like an idiot that he is in the hands of al-qaeda, iran and syria and now he is desperately trying appeasement. this is the worst that can be done with ME enemies: compromising = weakness -- which it is -- and which invites further attacks.

the US is paying the price for the two latest elections, the first illegitimate. the israelis are paying for their last. and so are the palestinians. the rest of the world is fucked up by multiculturalism, PC and hatred of the americans, rather than of the jihadis.

i do not see yet anything happening that will reverse the decline of civilization.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:39 AM

i very much doubt that kerry would have been any better. western elites are goners.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:41 AM

microraptor,

you have not heard? maybe this will help.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/06/muhammad_and_the_jews_why_the.html

then take yourself to the memritv site and search clips by "jew" and see what you get.

of course not all muslims are genocidal on jews, but their religion certainly does not push them in that direction.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:46 AM

mjt,

scaring them? with WHAT? he is bogged down in iraq with a broken army and lack support by the population.

he blundered the us big time and he now he does not have anything to threaten with. america is 59 trillions in debt, mainly to china and you can see the beginnings of the failed state, unable to protect its citizens (katrina, healthcare).

sure, the us has resources, but does not have the knowledge, ability to reason and will to use them.
it is an empire in decline and its enemies know it. they wouldn't have been doing what they do if that were not the case. barbarians attack weakness.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:53 AM

nostra,

iraq was a blunder of gigantic proportions. it is rooted in ignorance, stupidity, and incompetence. instead of exploting fissures in the islamic world, it united it. and it has essentially paralyzed the us, with inability to either achieve any goals or get out.

at the very least the US should have handed iraq to the iraqis after the military victory and get out. instead they owned the broken iraq. i'm afraid that this will be regarded the beginning of the decline of the us. it happens to all empires sooner or later, but when they overreach -- and they all do -- they exacerbate the fall.

just watch.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:59 AM

I don't think Hezbollah will fight against Jund Al-Sham unless it is threatened by them. Hezbollah military contacts I spoke to in the south told me as much.

Basically they are not worried about this group, but would take them out at a moment's notice if they felt threatened by them. Hezbollah also (apparently) recently met Intelligence Officers from France, Spain and Italy and promised their Unifil forces would not only be safe from Hezbollah -- but also they would protect them from Jund Al-Sham.

Assuming Syria is in some way behind these small Sunni Jihadist groups, it doesn't nercessarily want them to "win" as such -- I think, rather, that Syria wants to show that it can manage the level of crisis... like turning a gas flame up or down... it can't totally extinguish the fire, but it can control its height...

As for Iran, I think that if you look at the big picture, the most significant recent development is face-to-face Ambassador level talks between Tehran and Washington over Iraq. This is huge.

Now, Iran is basically a quite developed civil society run by a multi-faceted proto-Islamic oligarchy, and different parts of this oligrachy may be in the ascendent at any given time. And the role of Khamenei as Supreme Leader is to arbitrate between these competing power centres...

In order to appease the real hard-line element who are against ANY contact with the USA, various high profile but ultimately meaningless temporary measure may be taken: a short term clamping down on women's dress codes is an old favourite, and being mean to soft target political opponents/dissidents (in this case the 4 dual US/Iranian nationals) is another...

The important thing for both sides is to get co-operation over Iraqi security... and then address nuclear security -- and, in the longer term, to turn Hezbollah into a purely political party. The question is how might these be achieved, what might the modalities be for this sort of trsansition?

Interestingly, when I was in south Beirut among Hezbollah people, one part of the world they were very interested in was Northern Ireland, and the examination of the how the British and IRA came to a peace agreement, and how Sinn Fein/IRA has transited to a purely political party.

Obviously there are many on this board who simply favour blowing everything up, or laptop strategists like Salamantis (who really out to take some of his musings to the stage)....

But the fact is Hezbollah are a powerful social/political force that have (for good or ill) managed to imprint their vision onto the hearts and minds of almost all Lebanese SHia... and they will remains a force to be reckoned with even without Syrian suffreance and Iranian largesse.... they might be a weaked version without outside backing, but they are a Lebanese phenomenon, not simply a tool of Iranian foreign Policy... so how does a group like Hezbollah become a civilian party? What are the potential models for this?

I ahve interviewed leading memebers of this group and they don't any longer say Israel must be destroyed. They told me "Israel is a fact."

They also told me that if a time comes when "Lebanon is no longer threatened by Israel, or the Lebanese army is in a position to guarantee the security of all Lebanon, thenm we believe Hezbollah is ready to disarm."

This is hugely significant. It means that Shebaa and the prisoners won't be enough to disarm Hezbollah, but it also means that there is a tacit acceptance of the Israeli state.

Posted by: Microraptor at June 4, 2007 10:02 AM

another interesting perspective on the events in lebanon.

http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2007/06/04/what-happens-when-non-israelis-deal-with-the-palestinian-propensity-to-confound-warriors-with-civilians/#comments

you betcha.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:05 AM

and here's the US military's understanding of islamism and jihad:

http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/016756.php#more

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:08 AM

"Holy crap! What's Putin's problem?!

Putin says that if we build missile defense systems in Eastern Europe to protect it from Iran, then Russia will target Europe with it's nuclear missiles!

Fuck him!!"

Gosh, I miss good old days of Cold War when each and every little shit new its place. I wonder if we should start it anew. May be Putin is on to something.

Posted by: leo at June 4, 2007 10:09 AM

Sorry.

"knew its place" of cause.

Posted by: leo at June 4, 2007 10:15 AM

Putin is more dangerous in the UNSC than with his missiles.

I would be more concerned with this:

http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2007/01/catastrophic_su.html

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:26 AM

apropos islam and democracy, everybody should read this:

http://islam-watch.org/Fjordman/Islam-Compatible-with-Democracy2.htm

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:28 AM

the syrian-jihadi highway
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=28579

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:31 AM

Sky News reports that the Associated Press are reporting that Lebanese TV is reporting (pause for breath) a large explosion heard east of Beirut.

Posted by: MattW at June 4, 2007 10:34 AM

Islamic courses 'can breed radicals'

This should of course come as a shock to everyone who is sure that Islam is a religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims reject the jihadist understanding of the religion. If that were so, would it really have been so easy for jihadists to gain such a large presence on British university campuses? After all, wouldn't they have met stiff resistance from those who hold to the true, peaceful teachings of Islam?

But in reality, of course, jihadism builds on a broad tradition within Islam that teaches violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers, and without explicitly and clearly renouncing and resisting that tradition, peaceful Muslims have no strong foundation from which they can resist jihadist incursion.

Robert Spencer

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:37 AM

microraptor,

i am not for blowing everything up -- that would be stupidity; i am for cunning and smarts in exploiting the fissures in islam, rather than suicidal policies that unifies and strengthen it.

but with all due respect i think you need to get another pair of glasses. yours are too rose.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:43 AM

another must read:

blogging the quran part 2
http://hotair.com/archives/2007/06/03/blogging-the-quran-sura-1-the-opening/

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:44 AM

mjt,

speaking of the us, did you watch the D presidential debate yesterday?

i did not, but i am willing to bet the war on islamism was not a big issue. apparently clinton said we're much safer now than we were. and we know that edwards thinks there is no such thing.

and you want to talk about saving lebanon?

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:47 AM

MJT and all who are agreeing on this thread....

I have one question. Given that all of the major schools of Islam from Al-Azhar through Saudi Arabia and Iran and the Madrassas of Pakistan etc. seem to agree with all the jihad preaching and great satan / pigs / dogs condemning (See the MEMRI translations)....

Why should I rely on your personal anecdotes instead? Granted all Muslims aren't jihadis but it certainly seems as though the thrust of the main-line Islamic organizations (including the likes of CAIR etc. here) certainly leans in that direction. I'm willing to respect Muslims enough to believe what they say. Between the Salafists, Wahabbis, MB & the messianic Shia and all the OBL wannbes, there might only be a minority but it is NOT a trivial minority. And what is the one thing they all have in common? It is a fundamentalist understanding of the Koran, Haditha (sp?) and Sunna as preached from the most revered and influential mosques.

Remember, the plural of anecdote isn't data.

Posted by: AlanC at June 4, 2007 10:51 AM

AlanC,

There is nothing mainline about CAIR - a Saudi-funded Wahhabi group - or most other 'moderate' Islamic political groups in the U.S. Several were started by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Here in the UK, most 'moderate' groups are either Muslim Brotherhood or Jamat-e-Islami fronts.

Posted by: MattW at June 4, 2007 10:59 AM

AlanC,

Of course the plural of anecdote isn't data. I argue from my experience and the people and places I know personally because I can write about these things with authority. It beats quoting other people, but I and do that too if it helps.

Agreed that fundamentalists are a problem, period. Anyone who takes the entire Koran literally and lives and acts like a 7th Century asshole isn't our friend, and will never be.

Look at Afghanistan -- the most primitive Muslim society in the entire world. Most people despise the Taliban. Even they, as extraordinarily conservative (if that is the word) as they are, want to move beyond the 7th Century and Koranic literalism.

The US would have lost a lot more than 300 soldiers in the last 5 years if that weren't the case.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 11:00 AM

mjt,

but your problem is that the 7th century is GROWING and acting on it is spreading all over the world and is involved in bigger and bigger destruction. and our moderate friends don't do anything about it. hell, the west is self-destructing by helping those who "are not our friends".

http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/2163

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/06/04/nterror204.xml

http://www.nysun.com/article/55778

http://www.nysun.com/article/23314

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21850231-2702,00.html

and i repeat: your experience is anecdotal in the the context of global political analysis. it's ok for getting SOME subjective pictures of lebanon, but they cannot serve as basis for serious objective analysis.

as far as i know you have not been to afghanistan, which is a primarily TRIBAL and ethnically divided countries. loyalties are to the sect. it is not clear that all afghanistan hate the taliban, and whatever hate there is could well be due to tribal and ethnic rivalries, something which is amply documented.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 11:13 AM

alan,

because the islamists are aggressive about indoctrination by various means and they have solid theological basis for it.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 11:15 AM

an us example:

http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=28583

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 11:17 AM

There's been a bomb in a Christian suburb of Beirut (again). No deaths, approximately 14 injured.

Posted by: Blacksmith Jade at June 4, 2007 12:49 PM

MattW:

You're both right and wrong. CAIR is NOT moderate, but, it is mainstream.

That is my concern with MJTs position. Everything I've read seems to indicate that the mainstream organizations of Islam are strongly weighted to the jihad supporting side. There seems to be no moderate counter to Al-Azhar or the Wahabbi mosques all around the world funded by the Saudis (who should be our real enemies) Where are the large organizations preaching the moderate message? Who supports them and where are there congregations?

It does seem as though the moderates have at best forsaken Islam in deed if not word (to deadly to actually try and leave the faith). That's no way to provide a counter weight to the ever growing jihadi cult.

Personally I think that the Saudis are doing nothing more, by funding all that Wahabbi crap, than cynically buying off the Islamonuts to protect their own worthless hides. What I can't figure out is why we let that happen here.

Posted by: AlanC at June 4, 2007 12:51 PM

AlanC: Where are the large organizations preaching the moderate message?

They are mostly outside the West in places we almost never hear about.

You are completely right about the dangers of Saudi-funded Wahhabi mosques. I read a few years ago that the Muslims of Bosnia, who are staunchly pro-American, view Saudi Arabia as their biggest enemy on the planet, more so than even the Serbs at this point. This is because the Saudis are trying to Wahhabize Sarajevo, which is completely offensive to Muslims who drink alcohol, have sex before marriage, etc.

Bosnia fell off my radar some years ago, so I don't know the current situation there now.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 01:01 PM

I don't know how "mainstream" CAIR really is. CAIR is a media pet and became popular (if that is the word) and well-known thanks mostly to journalists.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 01:31 PM

It does look like that's where we're heading, Josh. Look at this escalation in Lebanon, and also the new Iran hostage crisis, and the increase in rockets from Gaza, and the likely (due to premature withdrawal) rout of the US in Iraq.

I'm actually going to side with Josh on this one, Mike. You haven't thought this through.

What further forceful acts, specifically, do you recommend, Mike? It feels weird to be defending George Bush, but with the exception of Iraq, Somalia, and the Middle East as a whole, his policies are actually getting smarter, not dumber.

We should be "making Syria and Iran afraid", huh?
What do you think this whole Chapter 7 UN inquiry is, in fact, about, other than making Assad afraid? As for Iran, haven't we been detaining Iranians, shipping extra carrier groups to the Persian Gulf, pushing divestment, etc etc i.e. doing everything short of bombing we can do to be aggressive? Can you think of any aggressive actions we're not doing, that you think we should?

I would rather see us bomb Syria, rather than Lebanon, in the event of another hot war with a Syrian proxy, and if those are the only two choices on the board. But don't kid yourself - Syria and Iran control the fate of Iraq as much or more so than we do. When push comes to shove, they're right next door and we're half a world away. We're never going to be able to shut them out. Our strategy in Iraq- this is open and up front - involves desperately hoping for a political accord there that cannot happen with Syria and Iran working to actively prevent it. That's why we're talking to Iran right now. That's probably why Bob Gates dialed down the rhetoric on Iran/Afghanistan weapons connection this very day.
Petraeus knows that Iran/Syria can screw us in Iraq for decades. As long as they want to.

The point is that we're using every stick on Syria/Iran that we can think of. You know that bombing them, especially Iran, is counterproductive to the long-term goals and offers little hope, especially again re Iran, of changing behavior, quite the reverse. (Syria, with even less popular support, even less resources, in more of a dead-end cul-de-sac, might be more likely to pull a Libya, another reason to bomb it first).

So bombs are out (if you disagree, speak), and they have our b*lls in a twist in Iraq. So what, exactly, would you do differently? Maybe withdrawal to Kurdistan, to give us more freedom of action vis the neighbors? Or, if the Iraq project is really the #1 priority, you sort of have to grit your teeth and reach an understanding, don't you?

The Iraq project is a hopeless basket case either way, but even to move it up from the morgue to intensive care, you have to get the neighbors on board. Otherwise, no chance, no how, no way. Dead on arrival.

Posted by: glasnost at June 4, 2007 01:59 PM

Mike, weren't you going to Baghdad at some point? Is that officially canceled, or still waiting in line?

Posted by: glasnost at June 4, 2007 02:04 PM

AlanC,

Where are the large organizations preaching the moderate message? Who supports them and where are there congregations?

Islamists are by their nature political, since their view of Islam holds that religion and politics are one and the same. This, together with oil money and a toxic mix of European fascism (Mawdudi, Nabhani, etc), makes Islamists far more capable of organisation.

Traditional, spiritual Muslims do not see politics as a religious matter. They are more likely to follow sages and teachers than religious demagogues and stirrers. The imams and mosque board members of this Islam are often humble, meek men who are not used to the cut and thrust of debate of the Islamists. They are easily bullied and intimidated. While in theory, decent Muslims ought to be the first people to stand up to jihadis, their very moderation makes that difficult.

There was a poll here in the UK last year that polled Muslims on which 'moderate' Muslim groups whose views they agree with. I don't remember the figures exactly, but the 'mainstream' groups were getting single digit approval/support/agreement.

Posted by: MattW at June 4, 2007 02:08 PM

alan,

http://www.nysun.com/article/55778

Actually if CAIR were mainstream we would be in real trouble, because that would mean that mainstream muslims in the US support jihad, when in actuality only 26% of the youth does (and, of course, they are only those who admit it).

here's more mainstream:

New Hampshire Muslim leader: Polygamy is not so bad, and hey, fewer than 20,000 Muslims in America practice it

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 02:09 PM

I'm actually going to side with Josh on this one, Mike. You haven't thought this through.

I wasn't aware that I opposed MJT. I asked him a question because I wanted to know what he was prepared to suggest.

I was thinking that the government can't really afford to run out in front of the public too far if they can't convince the public to follow - otherwise the policy will just be aborted at the next election.

The only place I really disagreed with MJT is that he suggested that it's acceptable to promote moderate Muslims over educating ourselves about Mohammad who is the mentally ill sociopath at the "heart" of Islam.

He thinks Islam can improve and I think that we need to get to know Islam better than the Muslims do and kill the fucker.

If there are going to be moderates then they can live with criticism. If there aren't then we will be ready.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 02:11 PM

mjt,

there was a bosnian leader here a while ago i think and complained about wahabization and requested help. but there was an article somewhere that the US is selling out the serbs in kosovo too, not just the bosnian muslims.

wahabization is also going on in albania, which historically had nothing to do with jihad.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 02:14 PM

By the way, I should clarify what I meant by "kill"

I think that Islam can not stand the light of day. If we expose all of the history of Mohammad and all of his teachings and the structure of scripture and law in Islam, then Islam will crumble.

It can not stand rational discussion. It can not stand criticism. Radical Islam will evaporate in free societies when it is completely understood and ruthlessly criticized. Islam will be killed. That's what I meant

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 02:33 PM

That there can be a moderate Islam to replace it in the west I doubt, but I don't care one way or the other.

In any case, by attacking sadistic murderousness and hate mongering and oppression and triumphalism of Mohammad instead of pretending respect for the worst that humanity is capable of we can protect and restore our own liberal values, and that's vital too.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 02:37 PM

I asked him a question because I wanted to know what he was prepared to suggest.

I stand corrected. I, as well, was interested in hearing some specifics, so there's a commonality there. I was expecting to shoot them down, of course.

Posted by: glasnost at June 4, 2007 03:14 PM

josh,

that's quite naive.

if that were so, it would not be as huge a religion as it is, and the most growing 13 centuries after it was invented.

NO religion withstands rational scrutiny. ALL require suspension of judgment by definition. and the psychological makeup of humans is to tradeoff reason for comforting delusions. and therefore the number of believers you can reach via rational scrutiny is pretty insignificant, particularly that the vast majority is being indoctrinated in childhood by their own family.

what wee need to do is instill from childhood the importance of knowledge and reason and critical independent thinking skills. that is precisely what we don't do anymore, which is one reason why faith has started to raise its ugly head again.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 03:21 PM

I'm with fp on this one. The West can't kill Islam without resorting to genocide.

Even Stalinists weren't able to kill off religion, and it wasn't for lack of trying real hard.

I'm not accusing you of being genocidal, Josh, by the way. I just don't think it can be done short of that, and it ought to go without saying that I cannot support that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 03:30 PM

Also, Josh, you're better of attacking Bin Laden than Mohammad if you want Muslims to pay attention to you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 03:34 PM

if that were so, it would not be as huge a religion as it is, and the most growing 13 centuries after it was invented.

Not so. It survives because it allows no criticism or even any critical thought.

No religions in the world advocate rape except Islam. No religion advocates slavery except Islam. No religion mandates hatred or warfare etc. etc. Islam is nothing but moral target. It has no virtues all told.

I should have made it clear that I think that we can erase Islam in the west with thorough criticism. Of course it will still exist in the rest of the world, and the Muslim countries will build ever higher walls around themselves to protect their people from contact with out ideas.

Fine.

The less Islam at home, the fewer 7/7's etc.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 03:34 PM

I'm with fp on this one. The West can't kill Islam without resorting to genocide.

You didn't understand.

We can kill Islam in our culture. No where else.

But that will prevent future 7/7's and send the Jihadis packing. There will be no attempt at conquest when our culture is invulnerable because Islam can not survive here.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 03:37 PM

but to repeat: we're doing the opposite of what we should be doing in both education and foreign policy.

even if we were to start doing it tomorrow -- which we won't -- it takes decades and centuries to get a significant effect. just to rebuild the education system is a long-term procedure.

the recruitment of jihadis is MUCH faster, and it is much easier to destroy than to build. the current trend indicates that we may have already lost.

what the west is doing now is exposing its weaknesses for the enemy to see, which is why they are pounding. if we were showing strength they would not.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 03:37 PM

And if our culture, which we export everywhere, becomes the ultimate poison pill to Islam, then Islam will deflate world wide, eventually. We will win and before the planet explodes.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 03:38 PM

that requires cooperation on education and foreign policy in the opposite of current direction. it does not exist, and i don't see it happening.

not only some european countries are not committed to change, but they have already committed suicide. and a similar trend in the US is already visible.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 03:40 PM

Josh: Muslim countries will build ever higher walls around themselves to protect their people from contact with out ideas

That's precisely what Islamists are trying to do.

Most people in those countries hate them for that. Read about Iran much? How about Algeria?

For a completely different kind of example, look at Dubai.

Seriously, man, you're blowing this way out of proportion. I recommend a trip to Istanbul on your next holiday. You would be surprised how average people in some Muslim countries live. I don't know where in the US you live, but it's probably a lot less cosmopolitan than Istanbul.

A wall around Saudi Arabia sounds like a terrific idea to me, though. Let them keep Wahhabism for themselves and wallow in it if they like it so much.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 03:41 PM

We do have one culture maker in the audience.

Go to it Michael, save the world. No pressure ;)

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 03:42 PM

they know that our culture is a poison pill, which is precisely why they are in destruction mode. it is us who don't understand what's going on and still rely on our culture to win. we don't even believe in our own culture -- the europeans have given it up.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 03:43 PM

Of course a large number of Turks are completely secular, and huge numbers of beleivers follow a very watered down and mellow version of Islam. They don't think like Westerners, but huge numbers live like Westerners. Islam is much diluted there compared with ausetere places like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia that have been closed to the world.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 03:46 PM

A friend of mine drank red wine with the (supposedly) Islamist Prime Minister of Turkey, by the way. Even the Islamists themselves are not cut from the same cloth. Erdogan is an ass in many many many ways, but he has not wandered out of the 7th Century.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 03:48 PM

no, mjt, that's not what they're trying to do, they're trying to eliminate our culture. they're attacking, not just defending. and not just via violence, but via immigration, demographics and exploiting the freedoms in the west.

as tu turkey, if the current trend continues and akp is sophisticated enough in what it's doing, in a decade or two turkey will be islamic again.
it actually is, but islam has been suppressed. akp is taking care of that and they're smart enough to do it in imperceptible small steps. they erred in overreaching on the presidency and they learned the lesson.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/01/world/europe/01turkey.html?_r=3&hp&or&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 03:49 PM

Seriously, man, you're blowing this way out of proportion.

Mike I do understand. Just because a majority Muslims living in some majority Muslim countries can avoid implementing the radical side of Islam doesn't mean that we don't have a permanent problem.

Come, on we've been over this. You're throwing out images that are comforting but which are also ultimately irrelevant to the problem.

Do I have to keep repeating this?

1. Islam will always create some violent haters, especially where Muslims live in non-Muslim majority countries, because that triumphalism, hatred of the infidel and violence are at the core of what Mohammad taught. These things were the most important to Mohammad. You can't hide that.

2. The radicals DO have a majority in some countries, and they're NOT weak. And they're not getting weaker in many of these places. You don't hang out in the tribal areas of Pakistan/Afghanistan etc. And things aren't so great in the rest of Pakistan or parts of Egypt...

3. Iran. Saudi Arabia. Nuff said

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 03:51 PM

check out erdogan/akp's history. he did wonder. he seems to have realized that he cannot revolution the system so he "moderated" himself to appear just like you think he is and that's how he managed to get power.

and he already showed himself not enough patient on the presidency, so...

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 03:52 PM

they know that our culture is a poison pill

No. Our culture is bad for Islam the way that eating french fries is bad for you.

I'm proposing that it be bad for Islam the way having an atomic bomb dropped on your head is bad for you.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 03:54 PM

Some people do mellow out, FP. No one made Erdogan drink that glass of wine.

And if democracy (or "democracy" as is the case in Turkey) forces Islamists to put down their guns and mellow out then this is a good thing and the whole point of promoting democracy in Muslim countries.

The military helps keep him in line also.

Call me when the AKP turns Turkey into a Taliban state and bans television.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 04:02 PM

The military helps keep him in line also.

Unlike other religions, it's not entirely obvious that an Islamic democracy is even possible without a military force holding the country at gunpoint.

But it has to be a military force manned by nominal Muslims or you'll have infinite jihad.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 04:14 PM

Josh Scholar: Unlike other religions, it's not entirely obvious that an Islamic democracy is even possible without a military force holding the country at gunpoint.

Maybe.

But it has to be a military force manned by nominal Muslims or you'll have infinite jihad.

It depends on a couple of other things, though, most importantly -- how many Muslims are Koranic literalists?

The majority in the world are not. They haven't read the book, never will, don't care to. Their Islam is very watered down. I don't worry about that kind of Muslim at all.

This is, I think, the key. It matters less how many atheists there are in a nominally Muslim country than how watered down and diluted the religion of the believers is.

Turkish Islam is pretty diluted, which is why Erdogan in no meaningful way resembles Osama bin Laden. He might want to ban the billboards with naked women on them (I don't know), but even most Americans would probably agree with him about that. He certainly isn't looking at the Taliban as an example of good government. Even if he did, the Turks would tear him apart with their hands if he tried to impose it on them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 04:32 PM

mjt,

there is something called taqiyya, i assume you heard about it. the problem is that taqiyya is indistinguishable from actual moderation and in most cases the process is the reverse. so one should be on one's guard.

in any case, it's not gonna go from secular to taliban. i just mentioned the gradual incremental steps technique. however, you could see the real instinct in the presidency thing.

assuming that everything goes in the right direction when the evidence for the opposite is overwhelming is a sure way to get into trouble, which is exactly what the west is doing.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 04:41 PM

well, mjt, despite you having visited a couple of ME countries (not necessarily most representative), and despite your few friends there, and despite you having interviewed some people (and interviews are for public consumption), you still cannot draw inferences about the muslim world and its implications. what is more, you clearly tends to project western values on moderate muslims without being aware of it. and no matter how much evidence is being brought to bear, you will find a way to discount or dismiss it.

i understand why you want to be positive, but that can be very dangerous and is, in fact, at the root of why the west is in serious trouble.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 04:48 PM

josh,

i have no idea what you mean. it is enough of a poison for them to kill others and themselves for it. and i don't think they would do that for french fry poisoning.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 04:52 PM

FP: i have no idea what you mean. it is enough of a poison for them to kill others and themselves for it.

No, they would do that anyway. Weren't you the one who posted the link to the article on martyrdom theology or did I follow a few links around.

Michael:I don't like the idea that our safety depends on Muslims being ignorant of Islam because of the following principle:

It's easy to make man more knowledgeable, just give him a book to read, or a newspaper, or 1000 of them.

But it's impossible to take knowledge away from a man once he's learned it.

I would rather our safety depended on people being more knowledgeable than on them being ignorant. Knowledge is more stable.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 05:00 PM

Oops something went wrong with that link

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 05:02 PM

fp: there is something called taqiyya

I know that very well, and I have encountered it in person myself. Hezbollah uses that technique on journalists constantly. So does the Muslim Brotherhood.

Microraptor sure seems to fall for it. (No offense Microraptor, but you do quote Hezbollah's moderate-sounding statements uncritically.)

fp: you clearly tends to project western values on moderate muslims without being aware of it.

No I don't. It's easy to do that as a tourist. Unavoidable probably. I warned my mother about it the minute she arrived in Beirut because the city looks much more deceptively Westernized than it really is.

I've spent far too much time in the region and met way too many people whose thought processes are completely alien to be unaware of this problem and to not consciously overcome it.

I haven't written about this because it is hard to write about and I don't think many people are actually interested. (I could be wrong about that, I don't really know.)

Remember, you only know as much about me and what I know as I reveal to you. Only 1 percent at most of my knowledge of the Middle East has ever appeared in print or on the Internet or in my comments section. Writing about the region is like taking a spoonful of water out of a lake.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 05:10 PM

josh,

but in order to read the book the man must be taught how to read, to appreciate books, and to understand them correctly. and we're not doing that.

mjt,

a muslim does not have to be a literalist or to read the quran. he can go to the mosque, or to muslim school and be imbibed with what the quran and tradition are supposed to say and mean.

as to those who just call themselves muslim, they are secular or just traditional and they are no match for jihadis.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 05:14 PM

Josh: I would rather our safety depended on people being more knowledgeable than on them being ignorant.

I agree. That's why FP is right that what will help is education in science and reason rather than the required reading of a 1300 year old book.

Then again, the Bedouin of Egypt's Sinai famously have warm feelings for Israelis. No one ever told them they are supposed to hate Jews. So they don't. Ignorance, so to speak, is not always bad. If those people were suddenly educated in science and reason, rather than forced to read the Koran, this would be a fine thing indeed.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 05:16 PM

fp: a muslim does not have to be a literalist or to read the quran. he can go to the mosque, or to muslim school and be imbibed with what the quran and tradition are supposed to say and mean.

Yes. And if they get their knowledge from Sayyed Husseini, they will not be jihadis. If they get their knowledge from Hassan Nasrallah, they very well may be.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 05:17 PM

mjt,

i am sure you believe what you say. but i can also make inferences from what your comments about aspects that you yourself may not be aware.

there is an important difference between a well trained social scientist (versed in the philosophy and methodology of science) and journalists. this important difference has been gradually been eliminated, as most today's social scientists are political activists masquerading as academics and 95% of them did not go rigorous scientific training. hence they are no better than journalists, so the difference is not clear.

what that training teaches you how far from the natural sciences social sciences are and, therefore, how many sources of bias and subjectivity lurk when dealing with human behaviors and systems. and without actually going through that training (which I was lucky to still get, but which is not done anymore) you can't understand what I am talking about.

that's why i make the distinction between limited personal experience and a rigorously studied discipline. the former is valuable in its own way, but it is not a substitute for the latter.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 05:27 PM

"And if they get their knowledge from Sayyed Husseini, they will not be jihadis. If they get their knowledge from Hassan Nasrallah, they very well may be."

Yes but both men are trying to interpret Mohammad's words.

In Husseini's case this is like trying to grow crops in concrete, and in Nasrallah's case it is like trying to bash men's skulls on concrete.

In an argument, Nasrallah wins, evil and foolish though he is. Husseini might win if there were no Nasrallah's around to argue with, and if most of his followers were illiterate.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 05:27 PM

mjt,

probably true, although i have no way of validating that empirically. however, that is not pertinent to the subject at hand.

the reality is that there are reasons why your guy is more or less alone in his way. that's because islamic scriptures and traditions invite a different perspective and are more conducive to different interpretations. furthermore, the islamists are more aggressive in their indoctrination. in part this is due to funding mosques, schools etc. but that's not the only reason. another important reason is that their interpretation of the sources is quite convincing. so even if they don't recruit everybody, they get sympathizers, or at least some who don't see a good reason to combat them.

what you are doing is using the exception to prove rule. you say: because there are people like him, it's proof that islam can be reformed. what i am doing is using the rule to prove the rule and demonstrating why the exception IS an exception.

yours is a personal journalistic approach. mine is a social scientist approach.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 05:37 PM

mjt,

lack of knowledge ignorance. superstition counterknowledge and therefore not ignorance in the same sense.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 05:43 PM

btw,

i do urge you to read robert spencer's blogging the quran that i already linked to two installments. he explains there why there are limits to the ability to counter jihadis.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 05:46 PM

btw, you wanted bush to threaten iran? here's what what he did do is causing:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/866539.html

instead of isolating the jihadis, he is saving them from their own self-destruction.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 05:50 PM

and he's doing the same with hamas:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/122636

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 05:51 PM

here's some more interesting evidence:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/06/04/nterror204.xml

what this suggests is that it's not just a matter of islamist teaching. rather it's difficult to study islam without inferring certain islamist interpretations from it. and if you read spencer, he explains why.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 05:58 PM

Josh: In an argument, Nasrallah wins

Yes, because Nasrallah has guns, money, power, schools, and a TV station.

If Husseiny had all of those things, and Nasrallah did not, Husseini would win.

If they were evenly matched in resources and power, it would be interesting to see what would happen.

It's worth pointing out (again) that Lebanon's Shias did not have a Hezbollah view of the world until Iran's Revolutionary Guards came to Lebanon in the middle of a war and imported their alien (to Lebanon) ideas at the point of a gun.

The Shia clerical tradition was "quietist" until Khomeini barged onto the scene and revolutionized everything. The Shia clerical tradition is abstention from politics.

Imam Musa Sadr played a big role in Lebanon, too, but his politics were secular and he founded Amal, which is aligned with Hezbollah now but it thoroughly anti-religious.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 06:10 PM

Yes, because Nasrallah has guns, money, power, schools, and a TV station.

If Husseiny had all of those things, and Nasrallah did not, Husseini would win.

How incredibly cynical. Propaganda entirely shapes people's reality?

I think that it only takes an idea or two to change the way a person sees reality.

As such I want to be pushing logically unassailable truth rather than extremely weak theology based on fraudulent claims of authority, no matter how humane.

Of course we need moderate religious leadership to physically take the place of monsters in the education and political system ... Maybe the huge push you're talking about is necessary to accomplish this task of displacing the monsters.

If it's possible.

Anyway we keep changing focus. I'm no long sure whether I'm arguing about the west or Arabia.

By the way, I can't believe it, but from the riffs I'm hearing on my radio stream, I think I just heard Olivia Newton John's "Let's get physical" sung in Japanese.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 06:37 PM

mjt,

yes, it would indeed be interesting in a matched case.

there is no question that hezbollah is an iranian creature. but one reason iran succeeded in developing the group was because its islamist ideology is persuasive. and at least some of that is due to its being based on islamic scriptures and tradition.

after all the same applies to iran itself. yes, the shah and the US were hated. but they could have deposed the shah and become a democracy. yet khomeini came to power.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 06:40 PM

josh,

religion is totally contrary to logic. and people don't think logically, unless they are trained to do so, and even when they do, they tend to violate logic.

i am sure you had the experience of trying to convince a person of faith of some obvious falsehood or inconsistency or absurdity in their religion and no matter what you did, they would find a reason to reject it.

I don't argue anymore with the faithful, it's a waste of time. i ask them a simple question:

is there ANY kind of evidence that could be produced that would convince you there is no god?

the answer is always no. at that point you obviate any need to undertake any further discussion.

so training people in logic is critical, but if you think that will eliminate religion, you're fooling yourself.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 06:46 PM

FP, I think it can be fruitful to argue about whether a specific theology can make logical sense. Hezbollah's theology may be faithful to Mohammad's own ravings and delusions, but those delusions don't make sense in themselves.

One can argue that Mohammad made God into a murderous monster, and into his personal pimp.

One can argue that he made a terrible example, and that God would not cater to the greed of a prophet by making exceptions for him. One can build a powerful case that Mohammad was deluded without laying a hand on people's faith in God.

For instance Mohammad's attacks on Christianity and Judaism stemmed from finding out, too late, that his delusions about the bible and torah were infinitely far from matching the contents of holy books that he had never read either in content or in spirit.

There's no need to attack faith to destroy Mohammad in a logical argument.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 06:56 PM

FP, I'm not sure what we're arguing about any more.

I think I understand what Josh is getting at. He says (and correct me if I'm wrong, Josh) that as long as Islam exists somewhere in the world, there will be jihadis somewhere in the Islamic world even if they are not everywhere in the Islamic world. And if there are no jihadis anywhere in the world, they could come back at any time.

If this is Josh's main point, I agree he is probably correct. (I can't see the future so it's impossible to be 100 percent about this.)

My main point is simply this, and it is not contrary to Josh's in any way: Moderate Islam does not exist. Moderate Muslims, however, do exist. (I know even Robert Spencer is with me up until this point.) Moderate Muslims are sometimes our friends and sometimes our allies against the jihadis. We should therefore do what we can to strengthen those moderate Muslims and not mistake them for enemies. We cannot win wars against the jihadis (at least not easily) without them.

If you want to continue arguing with me, please argue with what I wrote above. If we can agree on that much, then we aren't really that far apart. And if you don't agree with what I wrote above, those are the points you need to address at this time. Otherwise we're haggling over far less relevant details.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 06:57 PM

Josh, those arguments work with people who are in the process of conversion to atheism. I went through that process myself, and am persuaded by Christopher Hitchens' argument that the universe as described by fundamentalist Christians is a celestial North Korea. (Eternal punishment and torture for rejecting the Dear Leader, etc.)

I'm sorry if this offends any Christians who read this. I have nothing against Christians as people, and I will defend them against bigots, but I reject the theology in its entirety.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 07:02 PM

Josh, those arguments work with people who are in the process of conversion to atheism.

Actually, I purposefully only included arguments that would work for people who wish to retain a belief in God but might reject Mohammad as a prophet.

That's another profile, and a more universal one because such arguments will also be accepted by people who are leaning toward atheism or agnosticism.

Personally, I am an agnostic.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 07:09 PM

The arguments I chose were based in morality, empathy and wisdom more than in logic.

Islam is missing these elements of other religions and I believe that Muslims must strongly feel the lack of humanity and wisdom in Islam. There must be a strong hunger for human dignity that Islam denies

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 07:13 PM

My main point is simply this, and it is not contrary to Josh's in any way: Moderate Islam does not exist. Moderate Muslims, however, do exist.

Did you really meant to agree with me so strongly Michael? I got the impression that we were disagreeing over the existence of moderate Islam.

Anyway I agree with everything you wrote in that post.

:)

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 07:18 PM

I once read that Stoicism died as a religion because it lacked empathy - it gave people no reason to help others. People preferred religion or philosophy that has some heart.

Islam should die for the same reason.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 07:19 PM

Actually to add one more sort of arguement:
the argument that Jihad is just mass (genocide scale) suicide in an age with modern weapons ought to be enough to convince generations of Muslims to abandon Mohammad's ideas.

There's nothing like the prospect of being hanged in the morning to concentrate the mind.

We just need to crush the Islamists enough that we're more fearsome than they are.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 07:35 PM

We just need to crush the Islamists enough that we're more fearsome than they are.

I forgot to add, "and to spread that idea."

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 07:37 PM

mjt,

first, I agree with that argument by josh. that's trivial and obvious. but I am arguing something in addition, and i believe i am with spencer in this.

>Moderate Muslims are sometimes our friends and sometimes our allies against the jihadis. We should therefore do what we can to strengthen those moderate Muslims and not mistake them for enemies. We cannot win wars against the jihadis (at least not easily) without them.>

As it is stated it's hard to disagree with it. My point is that this is so difficult in practice as to be very risky to rely on it.

Muslim moderates are caught between the jihadis who have islamic sources on their side and the infidels, which their religion treats as vermin.
To combat the jihadists they must renounce some pretty basic aspects of islam (which is what spencer argues). And to ally themselves with infidels against fellow muslim is a pretty dangerous if not theologically questionable proposition (taqiyya is against infidels, not fellow muslims).

In any case, empirical reality shows that some become jihadis, some fund and support them, some sympathize, some hold their heads down and very few indeed combat them, usually apostates or secularize muslims which don't have a significant constituency.

Now, as i have argued, in part this is due to the west's absurd policies, which makes the west unreliable to them. But in large part this is simply a difficult thing for them to do for both theological, communal and safety reasons. And, of course the jihadis are much better organized, funded and committed to the cause -- all fundamentalists are.

The fact of the matter is that in order for some sort of reformation to occur, it must come from within the moderates themselves without much help from the west. And because this is inherently difficult, plus the combination of west ignorant policies, this is unlikely to happen.

So we seem to disagree that there is a solution in the foreseeable future: you seem to think it's possible, and I don't.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 07:40 PM

but i hasten to say, again, that I would be only too glad for you to be proven right.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 07:43 PM

Josh: I got the impression that we were disagreeing over the existence of moderate Islam.

I tried to clear this up when I said that you were talking about a book while I was talking about people, and that we were therefore talking past each other.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 07:46 PM

Stoicism died as a religion because it was hard to get excited and enthusiastic about it, while remaining a Stoic...;~)

Sooooo...to sum up the points made here:

1) Moderate Islam that can actually and truthfully call itself by the name cannot exist, because the source texts are ubiquitously immoderate.

2) Nevertheless moderate Muslims DO exist, whether through complete ignorance of those scriptures, or through selectively ignoring the many nasty parts.

3) The more exposure that Muslims are given to modern Western logic and scientific method, the more Muslims will choose to engage in such selective ignoring.

4) Unfortunately, those Muslims who choose not to selectively ignore the nasty parts, while gaining scientific acumen, will pose an even greater threat, due to their increased ability to engineer the deaths of masses of infidels.

5) Subjecting the barbaric pronouncements of the scriptures of Islam, and the execrable example of the life of its leading prophet, to moral and ethical criticism, could possibly sway many against it, or at least weaken their resolve to likk and die in its service, but there is a significant risk of deadly backlash, as Islam has the tradition of killing those who dare to criticize it deeply ingrained within it.

6) Passion is not on our side (the side of peace and tolerance). To quote WB Yeats, it would seem that, generally, "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." We need to learn, and to teach others, to be as willing to kill and die for unversal freedom and tolerance as our adversaries are for universal coercive theocratic totalitarian rule - not an easy thing to do in our secular modern world.

7) Compounding this problem is the fact that those filled with such intensity possess a commodity which our heavily industrialized society cannot seem to do without (oil), and our purchase of it financially fuels the organized indoctrination of others into the very jihadist intensity which we so rightly fear, as well as the arming of these people with the weapons that they use against us.

Is this about it?

Posted by: Salamantis at June 4, 2007 07:49 PM

josh,

I am no expert in islam (and i should be corrected if i am wrong), but as far as i can tell
there is no individual dignity in islam. the dignity is confered upon the umma, the islamic society, to which the individual must be subsumed. In this sense islam as an ideology is akin to the fascism of the right (phalanges, nazism), or the left (soviet communism). that's why it is similar in behavior and consequences to those (as Berman points out).

that's but one of the root problems that interferes with its amenity to liberal democracy.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 07:52 PM

or at least weaken their resolve to likk and die in its service

Oops: That should be "kill and die"...

PIMF!

Posted by: Salamantis at June 4, 2007 07:57 PM

FP: To combat the jihadists they must renounce some pretty basic aspects of islam

That, however, is not how they think of it. That is how you describe it.

What they need to do is ignore what was written 1300 years ago. Formal renunciation isn't necessary.

I met a self-identifying Islamist (a moderate in the Turkish sense I metioned earlier) in Iraqi Kurdistan who said "We will go to war with Christians against Muslims if the Muslims are on the wrong side." He wasn't lying or practicing taqiyya. He sided then and now with the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. He did exactly what he said he would do.

He didn't renounce Mohammad's teachings, he just blew them off. Human beings are complicated, and even some Islamists don't let the Koran dictate every single last thought in their heads.

Yeah, yeah, this guy is another anecdote.

But there is no jihad in Kurdistan. That is no anecdote.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 07:58 PM

Fp, I have to admit that I can't be hopeful about Arabs individual dignity after taking a look at the psychology of honor killings.

It was a relegation to me to realize that the practice must stem from economics. Arab men have to pay huge amounts of money to the family of their brides, often more than they could possibly afford if their families didn't help (and didn't get similar amounts of money from the marriage of their girls).

It's slavery. A family's chastity-score (mistranslated as "honor") is really a measure of how much money they can get for their girls. That's how female sexuality harms the whole family, and that explains exactly why they have to kill any girl who is even rumored to be a poor product. They have to prove to the market that they can keep their girls in line and as fresh produce you might say.

The same system exists in Afghanistan, by the way. So I guess that's hopeful. The Afghanis don't seem to be quite the basket cases the Arabs are even with a similar bad marriage system.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 08:08 PM

Damn it "revelation" not "relegation"!

Can I blame the spell checker?

"It was a revelationto me to realize that the practice must stem from economics."

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 08:14 PM

Or I could be wrong about Afghanistan being better.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 08:17 PM

you are again giving me anecdotal evidence. it is true, but not significant to the argument. the fact that he said it does not mean much in practical terms.

to ignore what was said in 1300 is to drop islam. secularists don't have to do it, they already did it. those who DO BELIEVE in islam are not likely to drop it. and the jihadis try to make sure they won't with the west's (ignorant) help.

being an atheist you probably don't have much of a clue what it means for a real believer to drop core aspects of his religion and you trivialize the process, by quoting individuals here in there, those who you happen to meet and talk to, which is hardly random or representative.

if it were as easy as you think we would not have the global circusmtances we have now. but at this point the best thing to do is wait and see who is right.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:04 PM

Fp, in Michael's defense, in some places (say Kurdistan) there would be a different Islam because truth is "what we all say it is".

It may be impossible to get there from here on purpose, but some places will have a group reality that's simply different. That's all.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 09:13 PM

josh,

economics always play a part, but there are other factors too.

for example, in islam the woman is not equal to a man and is his property. it's a mysogynist society. that explains in part the failure of arabs to compete economically, intellectually etc, because they fail to use half of their society and they don't see this enough of a problem FOR THEMSELVES to change it.

it seems to me that changing that is the jihadis most hated aspect of reform, because control of women is about the only thing man have to control. it's not by chance that theo van gogh was killed and ayaan hirsi ali had to leave holland because they were raising the issue of female oppression.

i'm sure mjt will say this is changing and that he knows cases where women are treated as equal. and it does happen. but this is also what the jihadis fight against and by focusing on israel and not on the arab/muslim atrocities the west is making it less, not more likely to happen.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:14 PM

re kurds: there are always exceptions. but exceptions are not the rule and are usually due to historical circumstances. and it's a questionable argument that if there is an exception, than it can become the rule. anything is possible in theory, but when it comes to social systems, in practice it's not likely if one understands the forces at work.

and btw, the kurds are not entirely enlightened. they do have honor killings if i am not mistaken and probably others, but i dk enough about them so it's just a guess.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:19 PM

economics always play a part, but there are other factors too.

Well the amazing thing about the economic way of putting it is that is explains all of the puzzling and inhumane aspects of the practice. It has to be right, at least as the source of the practice. But I suspect that it must still be true, otherwise I don't think it could sustain itself.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 09:27 PM

sal,

with respect to muslims I don't hold much hope for western rational and moral exposure. nor to logic and science. the effect will be minimal.

if there is any hope for weakening islamism other than with force, it'll be things such as materialism, freedom (part. for women), sex, alcohol, etc. but this would have to be a very long process and would require certain policies from the west. and the evidence i see is that with the current policies the jihadis will win in a shorter term.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:29 PM

i don't think anything is JUST economics. economics may drive it, but culture/religion says HOW to deal with it.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:30 PM

speaking of the west: where is all the indignation about the treatment of palestinians now?

http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2007/06/04/what-happens-when-non-israelis-deal-with-the-palestinian-propensity-to-confound-warriors-with-civilians/#comments

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:38 PM

FP: if it were as easy as you think we would not have the global circusmtances we have now

Oh, I don't think it's easy. I expect we will be dealing with this conflict at least until I am old, if not longer, unless it is sped along by a massive uptick in violence from the other side that is dealt with accordingly from our side.

Honor killings aren't limited to Arab Muslims and Afghanis, by the way. Turks and Kurds commit honor killings, as do Christians in the Middle East. It is banned in most countries, but happens anyway, mostly in rural areas, and is often unpunished.

I don't know if Jews from the Middle East do it, but I would not be surprised if they do. The custom is region-wide, older than Islam, and probably older than Judaism.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 09:39 PM

This is the longest thread in the history of this blog, by the way. I've spent way too much time on this, geez.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 09:41 PM

i have not heard of jews doing it and from what i know jews don't settle anything by violence. if this happened at all, it must have been in ancient times in arab/muslim countries by emulation, but i personally have not come across any evidence of such.

as to the length of the thread it's a matter of choice. unless you find value or enjoyment in it you don't have to do it.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:47 PM

here's some analysis of the pew survey that tries to tackle some of what we were talking about here.
it tries to be optimistic, as everybody does, but i am not so sure.

http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/terrorism.php?id=1027814

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 09:50 PM

Of course it's valuable, or I wouldn't do it. Still, major time-suckage...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 4, 2007 09:52 PM

To be honest, I took the information about marriage from an article on Afghanistan, and it explained Arab behavior so well that I simply drew the conclusion that the mechanism is identical.

If I were a Journalist like Michael, I would need to go out and verify.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 4, 2007 09:57 PM

one of the most important things is to distinguish between similarities and differences and their implications. but for that one has to study the subject thoroughly and in a disciplined way. personal experience is too limited for that. it's valuable, but does not substitute for serious study.

more often than not people focus on one or the other, or ignore them altogether.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:33 PM

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=25753_Weird_Meta-Fatwa_Apology_of_the_Day&only

i rest my case.

goodnight.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:38 PM

oops, one more. could not resist:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=25751_Video-_60%_of_UK_Muslims_Deny_7-7_Bombings&only

are 60% jihadis? hardly. but...

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 4, 2007 10:41 PM

I'll agree with mjt on one thing....this thread is major time suckage.

Two points, I think you're being way too hard on GWB. Given that this is an information war and the MSM is on the other side his hands are mostly tied there. The Democrats, the supposed loyal opposition, don't seem to think that there even is a war and are looking solely for partisan advantage.

Could he have done things differently? Sure. Would they have worked better? Damned if I know. At least he seems to understand that there is a problem.

Also, on the poison pill of our culture.....there is one relatively new thing in the mix. That is the time line for "winning" the war for the Islamists is much shorter than the poison pill time line. Given nukes and bio they are inside our decision cycle. THAT was the main reason Saddam had to be dealt with after 9/11. It is a FACT that virtually everyone in the world believed he had WMD and/or major programs (probably including him). FACT there were contacts between Saddam and Al-Q and other terrorist organizations. After 9/11 could we gamble that he would not supply WMD to terrorists? To all the GWB bashers, if you don't deny the existence of the problem, what exactly would you have him do that he is not doing? My own options tend toward a more robust explosive direction.

WMD is the thing that frightens most people. This isn't a long term debate or a military problem across the sea that can't touch us here easily. This conflict can have catastrophic impact on us, with no warning at virtually any moment. I could see the WTC from the office where I was working on 9/11. Waiting for Hollywood to disarm the threat by brainwashing the other side doesn't seem to be practical.

As far as Islam itself goes please answer me this. If there can be moderate Muslims but no moderate Islam, are there really moderate MUSLIMS? Mohammed was not really a prophet, he was a stenographer. The Quran is the literal exact word of God according to them, there really are supposed to be no ways to debate interpretation on the core issues.

Expecting Muslims to give up on Mohammed as the perfect man are as likely as expecting Christians to give up on Jesus' divinity. Ain't gonna happen.

AND they don't take kindly to anyone who even hints at it (see Danish cartoons); AND Islam is explicitly political as well as spiritual; AND it is explicitly expansionist.

So, given all that how do I deal with a Wahhabi mega mosque in Boston? Or, even closer to home, a Wahhabi take over of the mosque in Worcester (the creep that just got deported)? Think that they're grooming some jihadis there?

Posted by: AlanC at June 5, 2007 07:11 AM

alan,

GWB does not understand what the problem is. had he understood, he would have never invaded iraq, or at least gotten out after the military victory.

there was one instance which exposed him for who he really is: the 7 minutes that he kept reading after he was told about 9/11.

that should have been sufficient grounds to impeach him as an idiot. yet he was elected after he was selected. thus, the us public deserve what they have today.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 5, 2007 09:04 AM

Okay fp, that statement proves that you are a victim of terminal BDS and incapable of rational discussion of any issue regarding GWB.

Bye, bye.

Posted by: AlaC at June 5, 2007 10:04 AM

not to have the BDS is to be terminally ignorant, stupid, or both.

just because the lunatic left and the dhimmicrats are against him does not buy him a brain and won't solve the problems he created.

you ought to consider the possibility that both he and the left are ignorant and stupid. there is a lot of that around the us.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 5, 2007 10:56 AM

FP, your posts have become quite tiresome. It would almost be worth the work to start my own blog just to be able to ban you from making posts.

With your "psuedo-scientific" training, have you considered that your opinions are biased, stupid and ignorant? Gotta love the ad hominem argument.

Your opinions rather clearly show that reading a lot of books is not the same as gaining knowledge.

I do not care one whit what you care, what you think, what your background is; what I do care about are your actions. This is also my attitude about Islamic Extremists; if they perform certain actions then I vote that they be killed.

That people are Muslims is immaterial to me; they could be Hindu, Buddhist, Christians or adherents to any faith, or atheist, or agnostic. I am currently an agnostic, though I have also been a Protestant and a Buddhist. My faith, or lack of, should be irrelevant in judging what I DO to people, and what my penalty should be for my actions.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at June 5, 2007 12:27 PM

And an interesting thread ends with a whimper.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 5, 2007 03:08 PM

I strongly agree with Josh and fallofknowledge.

Michael, you are still not able to face a totalitarian thought. You just try to escape as most
Westerners do by talking / not studying. It is exactly the point which motivates further jihad -is}. And they are a witness that it works wonders.

Muslims are human beings, but they are not free spiritually and intellectually / this is enough to make their acts inhuman. To "help" them in their self-esteem we must become also unfree. This price is simply too high. No way.

About the texts: in sunna we cannot play with any sort of "interpretations", the "gates of Ijtihad" were closed some eight centuries ago, we have 4 obligatory schools to follow. Any amount of fresh scholarship is futile and of no avail. Just parrot those 4 schools. Do not cry for mercy, there is none. As for the Quran, any tolerant verses were "abrogated" by later non/tolerant ones. Keep it in mind. Pointing to those "tolerant" verses is simply self/deception. This strange principle is called nashkh / abrogation. Reading the texts without knowing this principle is nonsense. The intolerant verses simply swallowed the tolerant ones. Their function is therefore purely decorative. With this in mind go and study ahadith with all their criminal acts worth emulation and implementation. And please do not be angry if someone points to them, be angry with those, who wrote them or did the acts.

Posted by: Czechmade at June 6, 2007 05:37 AM

In a previous post, from just a couple of days ago, I commented on "WINNING NASTY". A responder chastised me for USING CAPS, AND "SCREAMING". Now, go back and re-read that post. Excuse me as I SCREAM AGAIN. THE TURKS JUST INVADED IRAQ, JOSH, YOU STUPID IDIOT! I told you it would happen. You dismissed my Military Knowedge. Try not to make the same mistake again.(Retired 1st Lieutenant, 75th Regiment, 3rd Battalion, UNITED STATES RMY RANGER, Graduate of WEST POINT.) Would you like to know what's coming next? YOU ARE NOT going to like it.

Posted by: Nostradamus at June 6, 2007 02:44 PM

Do other West Point graduates consider a 2 mile hot pursuit (and return the same day) an invasion?

Posted by: anuts at June 7, 2007 07:36 AM

Do you want to win, or lose? The question is really that simple. I just returned from a conference meeting with CSIS. (The Center for Strategic and International Studies). I satandwatched as no less than 67 "proposals" for a DECISIVE and IMMEDIATE victory were put forward. I rejected every one, and I did so by illustrating the negative consequences of proceeding with any one of them. THEN, I was "called on the carpet". They wanted to know why I was complaining without offering an alternative "solution". So I made my stand. I suggested that they were only thinking MILITARIALY, and not "Geopolitically". Look, I know damned well that in America one needs PROOF before COMMITMENT. So I offered the following: A) Tomorrow morning, all of Iraq awakens to United States Troops GARRISONED in their respective bases. (We did not leave. We simply retreated into our secured bases.) Then: WE WAIT. I posed the question: "What do you think we will see within 96-hours"? They all looked at me with stunned silence. Then a General of the Army said "Brilliant!" Yes, it's brilliant, but it would cause massive loss of civilian life. But it would serve the purpose, and once and for all vividly show what would happen with a unilateral retreat as the Democrats in Congresswant. BUT THIS WOULD HAPPEN BEFORE the next election, and it would happen WHILE WE ARE STILL THERE and able to quickly resume our positions on the various fronts. Doing this would ensure the swift rejection by the American people of the dangerous position the Liberals recently voted into office proscribe. CSIS agreed with me. I ask you: WHY ARE YOU NOT ADVOCATING THIS? Americanswant proof. I just told you how to get it. Fire away!

Posted by: Nostradamus at June 7, 2007 03:55 PM

Then a General of the Army said "Brilliant!"

I would expect someone who has the background you claim to have to know that there hasn't been a General of the Army since Omar Bradley.

Posted by: rosignol at June 7, 2007 06:04 PM

I SCREAM AGAIN. THE TURKS JUST INVADED IRAQ, JOSH, YOU STUPID IDIOT!

Yes, sorry I let the Turkish troops into Iraq. My bad.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 8, 2007 03:01 AM

This is the longest thread in the history of this blog, by the way. I've spent way too much time on this, geez.

Just think how long it would have been if I hadn't gotten too bored and dispirited to call you out on the concessions you made to JS and FP just to get them off your back, like agreeing with "there is no such thing as moderate Islam (only moderate muslims)"

Posted by: glasnost at June 8, 2007 07:02 AM
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