February 2, 2008

I Can't Resist Asking...

After the Iowa caucus I asked readers who they would vote for if the choice were between that state’s winners. Barack Obama beat Mike Huckabee, 51 percent to 49 percent, among readers of this Web site.

Iowa likes losers, apparently. Let’s update the poll. Now who would you vote for, assuming the front-runners pull through?


Who will you vote for in November?
Hillary Clinton
John McCain
Write-in candidate
Cartoon character
No one
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 2, 2008 12:15 PM
Comments

Nobody who earns the Democratic Party's presidential nomination can be trusted with national security. This is a party committed to mealy mouth pacifism. When everything is said and done, violence supposedly only begets further violence. And this is the real kicker---Democrats and their Republican Party country club allies are existentially incapable of effectively taking to task the evil deeds of dark skin people. They are overwhelmingly paralyzed with white man’s guilt.

Posted by: David Thomson Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 3:38 PM

I agree-- the faultine is between voters who think national security is a real issue (they vote Republican) and those who think, as James Taranto put it, that there are no enemies, only friends whose grievances we haven't yet accomodated.

Posted by: Michael Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 4:12 PM

Hm. Looks like the lefties who kvetch about your readership leaning to the right may have a point- Mrs. Clinton is currently in fourth place, after 'cartoon character' and 'write in'.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 4:37 PM

I disagree with McCain on many levels, but he is the best choice on that list.

Posted by: Sir Glubb Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 5:02 PM

There is something else I should add concerning the damaging repercussions resulting from white man’s guilt. Sooner or later, this issue will dominate the cultural landscape. Nature abhors a vacuum. We need to deal with it---or the David Dukes of the world will take advantage of the crisis.

Posted by: David Thomson Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 5:09 PM

Rosignol,

It's no secret that my readership leans to the right. Most liberals have little interest in what I write about. They want to end the war, not study the details. I'm glad there are exceptions, and I wish my audience were 50-50, but it is what it is.

None of the high-traffic liberal blogs link to my work unless they're complaining about it. Even that is very rare. The biggest liberal blogs have never even acknowledged that I exist.

There are real exceptions, though. Some of the people who've donated money to me are liberals.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 5:10 PM

Actually, isn't McCain supposed to be a "liberal" himself? Rush Limbaugh might look at this poll and think ~75 percent of my readers are Democrats in all but name.

I get a kick out of being a Rorschach Test.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 5:15 PM

Actually, isn't McCain supposed to be a “liberal” himself?

I consider him more of a populist. On some issues (immigration, Kyoto) he's liberal, on others, he's conservative (English as official language, free trade, abortion). The guy is all over the board, which is why so many conservatives are uncomfortable with him.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 6:27 PM

Politics is a Rorschach Test, for the most part.

Very few people take the time to do any research on topical issues -or at best single source their reference data.

I think that the illegal immigration crisis is being underestimated, both as an issue and how it will affect votes in the general election. If the current pace and scope of II is allowed to continue, by the next Presidential Election I suspect the change to the US would be irreversible.

I also think that core National Security issues will force themselves to be appropriately addressed, though I certainly could be wrong.

OTOH, my opinion is worth what people pay for it. :)

Posted by: rsnyder Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 7:09 PM

I'm sorry, it's way premature to simply ignore Obama in this poll. I will find it extremely hard to vote for Billary because I so totally don't want Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton and all the sick unfettered animosity that will gush forth.

As an Arizonan for 25 years, let me assure you -- I knew Barry Goldwater, and John McCain is no Barry Goldwater. He has tried with some success to repattern himself in the principled maverick mold we favor. He ALLLLmost had the lot of us convinced, until he started openly playing fish-on-a-dock to woo the social conservatives he doesn't really give a shit about, and never has. That has been so offensive and so blatant -- it's every bit the open pandering Romney has done.

He's also an economic dunce. That's OK, right? he also isn't into stuff like infrastructure and education and health care and alt fuels, but why should anyone pay attention to that when there's wars to fight and foreign oil to be secured? Let the international saudi-owned mega-corps and China keep things going on this end -- as he will.

That said, I would still think about voting for him if it really was Hillary on the other side. He is not in his heart a social conservative and he has no use for extremely divisive social agendas; he thinks and works in a bipartisan fashion (the AZ GOP party mounted a recall a few years ago because he wasn't following the party line enough); he gets the issues of terrorism and the needs of the military; and he opposes torture and dismantling our civil liberties. So he might be fine for cleaning up the intelligence community and the military -- good luck on Foggy Bottom, though.

Oh, and he'll only have one term -- he's an old 71 and really, the party still can't stand him -- so who he picks as a running mate may be the decisive factor.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 8:15 PM

I hate the thought of another 4 years of a Clinton or a Bush presidency. Is this a monarcy that merely passes power back and forth between two families? I'm sick of them! I feel the Clintons have had way too much of the national spotlight, and they are way overdue in slipping away into obscurity.

OTOH I dislike nearly everything about McCain. I'm not Ann Coulter, but I'd rather the Repub's lose than have that guy distroy what is left of the party.

Maybe it's not important that every voter has someone they like in every election. Maybe it is OK that some part of the electorate detest both major party candidates.

Posted by: jaimeshawn Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 9:44 PM

AZZZenny:I'm sorry, it's way premature to simply ignore Obama in this poll.

Well, I ignored Hillary in the last poll. I'm just going with front-runners here.

He is not in his heart a social conservative and he has no use for extremely divisive social agendas; he thinks and works in a bipartisan fashion (the AZ GOP party mounted a recall a few years ago because he wasn't following the party line enough); he gets the issues of terrorism and the needs of the military; and he opposes torture and dismantling our civil liberties.

That describes me fairly accurately.

I have issues with McCain too (many of my criticisms come from the left, on abortion for instance), but I'll never agree with any candidate about everything, so oh well.

As far as I'm concerned, only petulant brats demand American politics revolve around them and all their pet issues. (I am not accusing you of being one of those people. I know you are not from all your other comments under your real name, Pam.) I used to think that way and I'm much happier and better adjusted now that I don't. You're lucky if you get 50 percent of what you want in a democracy. No one is entitled to get more than that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 10:27 PM

It seems that young voters will have a greater impact in this election than is usual...and their opinions are at least somewhat less predictable than my older opinion. A poll identifying participants' age groups in conjunction with a list of candidates might be somewhat more telling. And, blog polls are rather like a hen counting her eggs in the nest anyway.

Posted by: JAS Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 11:31 PM

Well, I ignored Hillary in the last poll. I'm just going with front-runners here.

OK, fair enough. I also think it's premature to count out Obama.

I'm looking forward to a months-long Obama/McCain debate on national security. I think having that debate is going to be good for the country.

McCain will force to Obama and the Democrats to grapple will the full implications of withdrawal. For his part, Obama will force McCain and his constituents (including some bomb-bomb-Iran nutters who post here) to confront the fact that the hazards of occupation are predictable and were predicted.

Hillary "No fair Bush tricked me!" Clinton isn't capable of drawing the same contrast with McCain that Obama can. If she gets the nomination, the debate won't happen, and we will all be poorer as a result.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 7:32 AM

Michael,

I do want to thank you for letting us sulking folks have a write-in option on this poll. Thank you also for leaving out "Open my wrists and sit in a warm bath" as an option. I realize you do this mostly to keep up your readership, but the mental health benefits are significant.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 7:55 AM

One thing that should be mentioned: What Michael said is true, that so many liberals want to end the war rather than study the details. But even Hillary Clinton understands that the situation is far more complicated than that, and she's only hoping for a drawdown of troops within a year of the next Presidential term (2010).

Posted by: Barry Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 8:21 AM

It seems that young voters will have a greater impact in this election than is usual…

That could be true, but it doesn't mean their impact will be large enough to be significant. Historically, politicians who pin their hopes to 'the youth vote' showing up on election day lose. The old farts (60+) are the demographic that is most likely to show up on election day (which is why the politicians keep throwing goodies at them).

ps: Hillary is now in last place, behind 'Write-in candidate', 'Cartoon character', and 'No one'.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 10:05 AM

Well I already had a typekey account, so this is the name you'll see.

One of my points is that while people say 'you don't really know what you're getting with Obama,' you will know what you are getting with McCain -- and it is not what he says he is. You will KNOW you are getting someone who completely misrepresents many of his own beliefs just to woo voters -- you will know you are getting an expedient liar. I suppose the certainty is a plus, if you want to look at it that way -- I just don't think you should assume he will act according to the 50% of things you agree with.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 10:05 AM

I consider myself a liberal, in the traditional sense of the term: pro separation of church and state, anti-totalitarian, pro human rights. Perhaps liberal has become a kind of slur, and certainly in the United States, it's hurled, well...liberally, though I wonder if half those who employ it know what it means. I have no problem stating, unequivocally, that a liberal cannot help but support the war in Iraq on principle, and the reconstruction/stabilization of Afghanistan. And, on the basis of stated policies, as a liberal I have little choice but to support McCain. This sets up a bit of a paradox: clearly McCain is not ardently against the intrusion of Christian beliefs into his policies, in particular the issue of abortion. Nevertheless, the grand tradition of liberalism is at it's heart universal: the term implies foreign policy at it's core, as universal is another way of saying 'global'. And McCain's foreign policy positions are clearly indicative of this approach. It has been said that liberal societies must be prepared to fight: the liberal position is under constant assault from authoritarian and theocratic forces. I subscribe to this view, and find it to be an evident truth.

Posted by: buckyew Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 10:47 AM

Patrick Lasswell: I do want to thank you for letting us sulking folks have a write-in option on this poll.

Not you, too.

Sigh.

Vote for Hillary Clinton if you don't like John McCain. That's what you will in effect be doing if you write in Fred. You will be making McCain's pile of votes smaller by one either way.

Better to make your vote count in a way that will actually count. No one in the bureaucracy is going to notice or give a shit that you wrote in Fred Thompson. Everyone who knows you knows that you prefer Fred. That message has already been sent. Voting has a purpose beyond making you feel good and righteous. Its purpose is to select the next president of the United States.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 10:57 AM

Paraphrasing Churchill: "The primary process is the worst process for nominating a presidential candidate, except for all others that have been tried." If you choose to sit out an election because the candidates aren't ideal, then don't complain about the consequences.

I will vote for whichever nominee is least likely to try to lose in Iraq. Iraq is entering its most difficult phase-building of an actual nation. Making it through this phase successfully will take the active, enthusiastic participation of the next Administration. Failure could result in anarchy and a humanitarian disaster in Iraq; a more aggressive Iran; Saudi intervention to counter Iranian influence. America would be along for the ride since we would have abandoned our leadership role in the region, and no one would believe that we would commit combat troops. The end result-a worse version of the 1970's. Stagflation, exploding energy prices, "malaise," ugly clothes.

That almost assuredly means that I will vote for the Republican nominee. I have serious problems with many of McCain's domestic stands-illegal immigration and McCain Feingold being two of them. But I will vote for him over Hillary and certainly Obama. Obama is hopeless in this regard; Hillary is better but would accede to Congress' attempts to defund the war immediately.

Posted by: MartyH Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 11:09 AM

AZZenny: I just don't think you should assume he will act according to the 50% of things you agree with.

That's true of every politician in my lifetime, and probably true of almost every politician in the history of the human race.

It's a good thing to know, but it's not a reason to vote against one or the other.

I know that McCain will not surrender in Iraq, especially not at this late date. Hillary Clinton might handle it okay, but I am not sure. She is more hawkish than Obama, and I therefore prefer her to him for that reason, even though I like him a lot more as a person and a candidate. But I will be nervous if she is elected. I don't hate her like half the country does, and I certainly prefer her to John Kerry, but I do not think I will vote for her.

I will watch with interest, though, when she has to tack to the center and can more safely ignore the netroots. I have a feeling that what "very conservative" right-wingers are saying about McCain might be echoed by left-wing Democrats when she does that.

The fringes of American politics are not getting their way right now, and I, for one, am totally fine with that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 11:09 AM

Michael,

The primary process is one of the few official forums I have to communicate officially with my party at the state level. Since we live in Oregon, we don't get to decide on who gets to be the party nominee. If I choose to remind my state party that Oregonians are still independent and still have opinions, that's my deal for the primary.

I am seriously considering writing in Fred for the primary. There is still a more than vague possibility that a real convention might occur. If, on the 147th deadlocked ballot, a serious movement to Fred as a method of causing mainstream media meltdown occurs, I'm good with that. Writing this in on my primary ballot indicates clearance for my state delegates to inflict cerebral aneurysm on news pundits in broad daylight.

My desire is to indicate that Fred is a more interesting candidate, not to indicate that I am willing to go out like a Roman senator. I thought my statement opposing ruminations on opening of veins was sufficiently clear.

Put up another post asking if readers if they would write in a candidate on the primary if they thought it would cause a real convention.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 11:22 AM

Obama refuses to take a military option off the table with Iran, he wants to force the Iraq gov't to get off its fat butt and take some responsibility, he wants to re-deploy very strongly and win in Afghanistan, he is more hawkish-supportive and less bullying on Israel than the current admin by far, and his letter to our UN ambassador to stop a vote on Gaza was two days earlier and stronger than McCain's, he openly names Hamas, Hezbollah and the Persian Gulf oil states as close bedfellows, and he is not (yet) in the Saudi's pocket (unlike the Clintons

He opposes torture, would restore Habeas Corpus, is actually pro-military as well as pro-veteran, but he also gets that if our civil liberties, economy, jobs, infrastructure, and education are permitted to slide much further, there won't be a lot here to defend ten years from now. He is anti-corporate lobbying, and demands responsible corporate citizenship in exchange for continued business tax cuts.

He says talk to our enemies rather than fund despots under the table and sell them WMD components (Iraq), or send our renditees to them while pretending we won't deal with them (Syria). Baker snuck off to Syria and has talked with Iran, Condi likewise -- but Obama says maintain diplomatic channels and the GOP thinks it's traitorous?

So how you can consider him softer than Hillary isn't clear to me. And he has one thing neither she nor McCain has -- an ability to inspire voters past the suffocating cynical malaise.

I agree that it would be lovely to see the extremes made irrelevant in the election, though it hasn't happened yet.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 11:40 AM

From Obama's website:

Bringing Our Troops Home

"Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda."

The second part is Rumsfeld's "light footprint" plan on steroids and totally contrary to the COIN philosophy that is returning dividends.

With regards to Afghanistan, our enemy has safe bases in Pakistan. Obama has stated that he is willing to strike into Pakistan over their objections. That's more "cowboy" than anything Bush has done. In addition to being a marginal ally and a nuclear power, most of our supplies to Afghanistan flow through Pakistan, meaning that Pakistan can cut those troops off very easily.

Posted by: MartyH Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 12:40 PM

MartyH: The second part is Rumsfeld's “light footprint” plan on steroids and totally contrary to the COIN philosophy that is returning dividends.

Indeed. This is why it is such a catastrophe that liberals want to end the war rather than study the details.

I really sincerely like Barack Obama. But I cannot vote for him unless he's running opposite Huckabee.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 12:47 PM

Interesting article about McCain:

http://radiopatriot.blogspot.com/2008/02/spooks-from-past.html

Posted by: Tom in Texas Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 1:26 PM

AZZenny,

Obama has already paid the price for being fundamentally unserious about foreign policy; what scares us a lot is that he pays no further price to his supporters for excruciatingly bad mistakes. The willingness of Obama supporters to wave their hands and ignore really bad policy is incredibly disturbing seven years after a $1.2 trillion attack on the US. If they can willingly ignore that overt an act of war, what will it take to wake them up.

A vote for Obama is distressingly similar to volunteering to always go second in a ball kicking contest. Nobody can deny your courtesy but nobody takes you seriously.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 2:01 PM

MJT:

This is why it is such a catastrophe that liberals want to end the war rather than study the details.

Well, now you and McCain get to make the case for the heavy investment and sacrifice over decades it will take to complete the forcible democratization of Iraq. You get to make the case that Bush never made, and going in, didn't think he would have to make, since WMD would provide sufficient justification for the invasion.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 2:50 PM

Creamy: Well, now you and McCain get to make the case for the heavy investment and sacrifice over decades it will take to complete the forcible democratization of Iraq.

I don't think it will take decades to stabilize Iraq, but it would take decades to liberalize it -- if that is even possible, which honestly I doubt at this point. Iraq is a lot less violent now than it was, but it is amazingly dysfunctional and will remain so. Iraq will never have its act together as well as Lebanon does, for all sorts of reasons, and look at how messed up Lebanon still is.

It isn't my job to make the case for staying in Iraq. Not really. I quit being a pundit because I do not much enjoy being a pundit. I have my opinions, and I will be honest and up front about them, but I'd rather be a reporter. I'd rather be a real writer. I would like Obama supporters to be able to read my work without being irritated by it. I do not wish to annoy them, nor do I wish to receieve any hate mail from them.

If Barack himself reads my work and concludes that Iraq is too dysfunctional to be repaired, fine. I partly agree with that assessment despite the success of the surge.

Right now I'm reading A Mirror of the Arab World: Lebanon in Conflict by Sandra Mackey. I will write a review of this book. So far (100 pages in) she is dead-on accurate and she is filling me with despair. And this is about Lebanon. Iraq is in much worse shape than Lebanon.

Sorry to be such a downer today, but the Middle East is just a catastrophe. It's not nearly as dangerous as it appears from far away, but it's a lot more broken than it appears from far away. I will not be at all surprised if a World War I sized calamity all but destoys it. That is by no means inevitable, but it could happen.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 3:05 PM

Tom in Texas: Interesting article about McCain:

It says John McCain is a communist collaborator and Hillary Clinton is a lesbian.

Did she kill Vince Foster, too?

Sorry, I'm not buying. I need a lot more evidence than what some Russian operative named "T" has to say. Both McCain and Clinton have a lot more credibility with me than Mr Anonymous KGB Guy.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 3:12 PM

I would like Obama supporters to be able to read my work without being irritated by it. I do not wish to annoy them, nor do I wish to receieve any hate mail from them.

I read your work w/o being irritated by it, MJT -- some of the comments, now that's a different story. (And I sincerely hope nothing here qualifies as hate mail!)

Patrick, I've reread your comment several times and it still seems pretty off-the-wall to me. How you can hold Obama responsible for 9/11 or Iraq bewilders me -- I think it would be far easier to lay both at the feet of the Bush-Clinton-Bush- (Clinton) oligarchy, or to guys like McCain who had major foreign policy credentials in congress at the time.

Many Obama supporters, far from ignoring our disastrous foreign policy (and if Condi and Bush continue to strong-arm Israel to surrender to the PA and Syria, MJT WILL see his WW3 nightmare in short order), consider it the most unforgivable impact of the Bush Admin. We didn't want us to go in to Iraq to reemove WMD we sold the parts for, but since we did, the admin owed us a competent prosecution of the war, not a corporate free-for-all at the cost of our troops, our economy, and out international stature.

If you REALLY want to continue the existing foreign policy exactly as it stands, I'm speechless. If all you mean is to let Gen. Petraeus keep at it with no changes in any facet of our approach to Iraq, I believe we can give him a lot better backing logistically and diplomatically and more of the same won't do that.

When I've left Israel, I have had exactly the same horribly discouraging feeling you describe, MJT. I cannot believe there is any path to ME peace anymore, and it tears out my heart. So, maybe it becomes a priority difference:
A couple nights ago I dreamed that England declared itself an Islamic state. It isn't THAT far fetched anymore. I think we need to take care of our own ground, and that means strengthening ourselves domestically, and look at creeping fundamentalism and radical islamism here.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 6:10 PM

Michael,

Both McCain and Clinton have a lot more credibility with me than Mr Anonymous KGB Guy.

Are you suggesting that anonymous KGB guys may not have our best interests at heart?

If John McCain was turned in the Hanoi Hilton they would have used him almost immediately to discredit his father. He would have been shipped to Moscow and put on TV every day denouncing the West and he would have sounded more like John Kerry. Only the Roman Catholic Church and the Hapsburg's plan further out than five years, and neither of them has been doing great lately. I doubt extremely that anybody could successfully turn John McCain well enough for him to pass muster with his fellow prisoners in captivity as well as his debriefers and his family after he released.

Only people with no honor in their lives would claim that John McCain abandoned honor so thoroughly and successfully under such intense scrutiny.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 6:10 PM

AZZenny,

I'm glad to see an Obama supporter such as yourself basically "gets it." I do not think he does. Supporters like yourself might help him get it later. Lord knows his camp rarely listens to the likes of me.

But if you think Bush and Condi are strong-arming Israel, look at what Obama's advisors are saying.

If you REALLY want to continue the existing foreign policy exactly as it stands, I'm speechless. If all you mean is to let Gen. Petraeus keep at it with no changes in any facet of our approach to Iraq, I believe we can give him a lot better backing logistically and diplomatically and more of the same won't do that.

Yes, I want to keep Petraeus right where he is. He knows what he's doing and it's working SPECTACULARLY. Iraq has a fighting chance with him in charge over there. The alternative is a California-sized oil-rich Gaza, Somalia, or Yugoslavia.

How will "more of the same" hurt Petraeus? Bush put him in there, and Obama wants to kick him and his counterinsurgents out and let the whole thing go to hell. I can't vote for that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 6:27 PM

MJT:

Yes, I want to keep Petraeus right where he is. He knows what he's doing and it's working SPECTACULARLY.

Obama characterizes the situation differently:

We went from intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government to spikes and horrific levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. And now, two years later, we're back to intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government.

When will it end?

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 6:57 PM

Sorry, Creamy, but that quote from Obama does not inspire confidence in the man. 75 percent of Baghdad is cleared. Violence is down 90 percent. He wants to surrender right as we're winning?

How should I know when it will end? Hopefully before Barack Obama is president. I'm sure he and I agree on that much, at least.

Have you ever thought seriously about what will happen to Iraq if the insurgents win?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 7:40 PM

A couple nights ago I dreamed that England declared itself an Islamic state. It isn't THAT far fetched anymore.

Yes it is. That's totally ridiculous.

I think we need to take care of our own ground, and that means strengthening ourselves domestically, and look at creeping fundamentalism and radical islamism here.

There are 1-5 million Muslims in the US, depending on who's counting. Any one of them could be the next Timothy McVeigh.

But then, the same could be said for lots of other groups in this country who have committed conspicuously few terrorist atrocities over the last several years.

What we need to be prepared for is what happens if and when the lid blows off Iraq after we leave. MJT suggests that we may be looking at a "California-sized oil-rich Gaza". You OK with that?

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 7:43 PM

By the way, I agree that it's silly to worry about Britain declaring itself an Islamic State. Most Muslim-majority countries aren't even "Islamic States."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 7:46 PM

Have you ever thought seriously about what will happen to Iraq if the insurgents win?

All the time. My position is that Americans flatter themselves about how much control we have over Iraq's destiny. We're in a lull because AQI overreached and the Sunnis snapped. If the Sunnis now decide that the Shia-dominated government is the enemy, everybody's screwed.

I've written about this before and I'd quote myself, but all your old comments are gone. :(

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 8:00 PM

Creamy: My position is that Americans flatter themselves about how much control we have over Iraq's destiny.<.i>

I completely agree. I just don't think we should quit. Not now, not yet, because what we're doing right now is working. Iraq may become a dysfunctional yet non-violent country. Like Syria with elections and/or power-sharing of some kind. It's possible. It could become a retrograde version of Lebanon, which isn't fantastic, but that's a lot better than what it has been.

We're in a lull because AQI overreached and the Sunnis snapped. If the Sunnis now decide that the Shia-dominated government is the enemy, everybody's screwed.

Yep.

I've written about this before and I'd quote myself, but all your old comments are gone. :(

They aren't all gone, actually. Some are gone, but are retrievable, I think. I will look into it soonish, but I'm still swamped with several things I need to take care of at the same time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 8:22 PM

I just spent a couple hours searching for anything Obama has said about Israel that would worry me, an ardent secular Zionist, and all I'm seeing is furious left-wing denunciations that he's an AIPAC dupe -- and this: http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=6bd11ed5-bf80-44a0-b683-a0563e11ab89

Jeez, I said it was just a dream -- or nightmare -- about the UK, although they make constant little moves to cede more authority.

If Iraq doesn't fall, then Afghanistan may, Pakistan may, Egypt's not looking great, etc etc. It's not going to stop with Iraq, guys, and we have got to find some alternative ways to deal with the ongoing external threats. Meanwhile, we need to keep a wide-open eye on our own democratic system being undermined by well-funded dawa and our own willful ignorance and short-sighted economic and social policies.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 9:01 PM

This war is entering a third phase, where the work will get exponentially harder yet again. The first phase was regime change and the all too short giddy times that followed. Phase two was the insurgency, culminating in the surge and reduction in violence. Phase 3 will be the building of Iraq as a functional state. I think that the American role in this is to be neutral abitrators, squeaky wheels in the case of recalcitrant government officials, referees, and teachers.

My questions are twofold-first, is the violence to a low enough point to allow reconciliation and reconstruction to begin? There are around 20 violent deaths a day in Iraq on average; can Iraqis absorb that much loss and build a state?

Second, if a ground up reconciliation is occurring, how will I learn about it? Michael, are there signposts that will indicate that things are improving?

My fear is that even if Iraq got its act totally together Syria and Iran could throw enough chaos across the border to keep the country in an unstable state.

Posted by: MartyH Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 9:09 PM

The trouble with Obama and Israel is with his advisors.

He picked 'em. He can answer for 'em.

I have read Samantha Powers' book, and it's actually not bad, but she is very very wrong about Israel.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 9:53 PM

See also this on Obama and Israel.

And, you know, I'm hardly a "fundamentalist" about Israel. I opposed their stupid war in Lebanon from Day One.

But I sure don't share the views of the people Barack Obama is gathering around him.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 10:07 PM

OK, that bears watching. It's the first I've seen of that, and you're right -- don't like those advisors, even though what he himself has said has been fine with me so far. One of his advisors is also one of the top AIPAC guys, so maybe it's a broader group than it first appears. (Definitely stranger.)
I'm not sure any of them is much worse for Israel than Condeee or James Baker, but unless McCain puts her up as VP, she will hopefully be just another bad memory soon.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 10:35 PM

Baker is a horror show on just about everything. He's the one who green-lit Assad's overlordship in Lebanon for his "help" ousting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. What an asshole.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 10:39 PM

The trouble with Obama and Israel is with his advisors.

That's surpising. I've looked over the list of FP advisors, and my general impression was that he'd done a good job of cherry-picking the smart ones and avoiding the slimy ones.

The only name I saw that set off alarms was Richard Clarke, aka "the Digital Pearl Harbor" guy, who has the annoying habit of thinking government control over the core internet routers is necessary to protect the US from cyberwarfare.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 10:42 PM

But I sure don't share the views of the people Barack Obama is gathering around him.

"Ayatollah Lugar"? Crikey.

Meanwhile, Marty Peretz of all people sez Obama is OK.

How does it feel to have outdone Marty Peretz for paranoid fear-mongering about Israel, MJT?

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 10:57 PM

I'm not fear-mongering, Creamy.

Peretz didn't mention Samantha Power.

I read her book. Like I said, it doesn't suck, and I can sort of defend her as a smart non-crazy person. But she's off on Israel. I brought up Power because AZZenny seems to think Obama is as staunchly Zionist as she is. That isn't the case.

I'm not hugely concerned about this and have barely looked into it. I might look into this deeper and write about it, but only if Obama wins the nomination. Otherwise, I would be wasting my time.

Anyway, I'm almost finished with the final edit on my next long article for the site. I should really get back to that and stay out of the comments...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 3, 2008 11:33 PM

Interesting comments. I am not a liberal, I do want the war to end, and I am entirely interested in the smallest details.

I lived for years in Arizona when I was younger. McCain is a good guy, but he entirely fails to motivate me at all.

As for Obama and Israel, he'll fall in line with the very pro-Israel nature of 99% of Americans politicians in no time. He is very well aware of the fact that it is next to impossible to get elected and stay elected if you ignore Israel in the USA.

Right or wrong, that is the way it is.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 4, 2008 6:29 AM

I had to hold my nose and try not to barf, but .........McVain as being the slightly lesser of two evils. Only slightly.

Posted by: Robohobo Author Profile Page at February 4, 2008 2:44 PM

Funny how I see Huckabee as the best candidate BECAUSE he's a proud Christian, and what the US, and the Christian West need, is more pride in the "universal human rights" that are primarily a Christian legacy.

The anti-Christians seem to mostly buy into the pro-abortion (pro-promiscuity?) junk. "A Women's choice". A woman who doesn't want the baby she's pregnant with should plan on having it and giving it up for adoption.

The Classical Liberal issue on freedom (and the current Libertarian position) -- one is 'free to do as one pleases, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody else'.
Other people have bodies with different DNA.
The fetus, from one-celled conception on, has different DNA.
The fetus is a different body.

A society willing to allow women to have sex for pleasure, and kill the unwanted human fetuses that are so predictably certain to be conceived with more sex, such a society is missing meaning.

All religions beleive a) their religion is True, and b) Truth is Good. Athiests say all religions are False, yet also believe Truth is Good. Without proof, and with no standard of goodness.

Without God, many feel life is meaningless. If Athiesm is true, isn't life meaningless?

Isn't this partly what the Muslims are fighting the "liberal" West about?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 4:40 AM

...and what we're fighting militant Islam about is the thinking behind 'A society willing to ALLOW women to ______'
It is why there is no significant bottom-line difference between the fundamentalist patriarchies.

Abortion-rights are just the neon tip of the iceberg, because that immediately slides into birth control, women's rights, children's rights and so on. Don't believe it? The US Christian Right has worked with extreme Islamic groups to block women's and kid's programs at the UN.

From there it extends to prescriptive social thinking for males as well. They see eye to eye on gay rights, censorship, and have the absurd and arrogant idea that a life without a big bearded white grampa-god is meaningless; the concrete religionists haven't the imagination or theory of mind to consider that meaning is discovered individually, not imposed.

The difference between the teachings of Christ and the teachings of Mohammed are huge, and truly ARE fundamentally opposed. The difference between concrete-conservative Christianity and Islam are superficial.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 7:18 AM

Tom writes "the “universal human rights” that are primarily a Christian legacy."

I suggest that history does not support this. Human rights, as practiced by most "Christian nations" until the 1800s, were anything but "humane". I suggest history tells us that the West did not start moving into the period of "universal human rights" until it got farther away from Christianity, particularly "Christian" backed nations and empires.

Care to explain to us what the "universal human rights" from Christian nations such as Britain and Belgium got the people of Africa? The history of Europe teaches us that the Christian religion fostered and fomented hundreds of years of war and millions of death. The Christian empires of Europe were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of non Christians in Africa, North and South America, and Asia.

"Convert or die" was just as much of a mantra for Catholics in the New World as it was for Muslims looking to conquer Arabia. Protestants conquerors refused food to Catholics in Ireland during the Potato Famine unless they converted to Protestantism. Convert or die!

Of course secular ideologies faired no better, ie Communism and Fascism (which was often allied with Christian ideologies). So to suggest that Christianity is the basis of universal human rights is a joke. I do not single out Christianity, Christians or Christian nations as being more cruel than any other ideology. I also refuse to look at history and make the claim that Christianity is the driving force behind universal human rights. No one who has picked up a history book could make such a claim.

AZ writes "The difference between the teachings of Christ and the teachings of Mohammed are huge, and truly ARE fundamentally opposed."

As are the teachings between much of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The God of the Israelites (Old Testament) is one of vengeance, mass murder, ethnic cleansing, the murder of homosexuals, adulterers, even those who disrespect their parents. The God of the New Testament is one of love and compassion. You would be hard pressed to find a bigger difference between the way God is viewed in the two portions of The Bible. This, however, is not an accurate tool in making judgments against entire peoples or religions. Same goes for Islam.

As a person of Jewish background who has read The Koran I can tell you that it is hardly as bloodthirsty as The Torah/Tanakh, but this fact does not justify anti-Semitism anymore than what is in The Koran should justify hatred against Muslims or Islam.

If we want to use the actions of some members of a religion to indict the entire religion and it's followers I am afraid NO religion would stand the test. Even the battling Buddhist monks who attack and kill each other over leadership and religious feuds. I come from a Jewish and Christian background but find myself happily tied to no religion.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 8:30 AM

Tom: If Athiesm is true, isn't life meaningless?

No, but I used to think that when I was religious myself.

Isn't this partly what the Muslims are fighting the “liberal” West about?

Yes.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 12:38 PM

The God of the old testament and the new testament is one and the same. He was just as compassionate in the days Noah as he was when he sent his son.

True, God wiped out humanity with the flood and even ordered certain people to be wiped out. But he stuck by his people and punished the wicked. Some of the old testment style justice will seem barbaric to us, but it was a different world back then. He'd eventually send his son to save his people. It's the best answer I can give.

We can't explain or try to rationalize what God does. That might sound like rantings from a brainwashed cultist, but it's true. Why can't he just click his fingers and transform mid east into an oasis of peace and tolerance? He could just convert every muslim in the world to Christianity if he wanted to, can't he? Why does he allow fanatics to strap bombs onto mentally disabled and blow them up to kill innocent people?

In some parts of the world, the old testment never left. Fanatics can manipulate religion for their own cause, but others will pray and ask for divine guidance for better days. We don't need God (Allah or Jesus) when things are going well. The religious cry out for them deliverance that humanity can't provide.

Posted by: lee Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 2:37 PM

One of the basic sociobiological realities, hard-wired, is the distinction of 'other.' It is in all animal groups, and well-elaborated in primates. It is one of the first individual characteristics we develop as we mature from infancy, and it characterizes every tribe and every culture.

There is a great deal of scientific support for the observation that the universality of human cruelty -- torture, genocide, etc.-- is always based on strengthening and encouraging the sense of us/them and the perceived differentness of 'the other': the inferiority, the threat, the disgust engendered in 'us.' It elevates our group and it permits us to brutalize or repress 'them.' Call it racism, sexism, fascism, any ism you want, it is undeniably there and has been from the dawn of history.

Christ's teachings, like Buddha's teachings, were an absolute and categorical denial of very concept of 'the other.' There is no us/them. There is simply no basis to harm others, to feel superior, to repress others. Consider it a socio-evolutionary break, perhaps, an attempt to elevate altruism and humanism (in the sense that we are all humans together as opposed to clans/tribes/believers) to a position of equal value.

I cannot come up with another major religious teacher besides Mohammed whose core teachings were substantially based on strengthening the divide between 'us' and 'them,' where explicit, different standards were established as the word of God to render 'the other' by definition inferior and a lower class, in some cases even suitable only for slavery or death.

That organized Christianity has fallen into the sociobiological lure of violence and differentiation is no surprise, given the evolutionary power of that disposition, but it is a fall from Christ's own teachings.

Differentiation and elevation of Muslims, and demeaning treatment or violence towards non-Muslims is, however, quite intrinsic to the Quran and to Mohammed's teachings. Does that mean all Muslims are prone to aggression? Of course not, any more than all Christians are prone to really turn the other cheek. But it does explain something about the cultures that derive from these traditions and why they are going to find it mighty hard to connect peaceably.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 4:45 PM

AZZenny:

One of the basic sociobiological realities, hard-wired, is the distinction of 'other.'

Yeah. I notice a lot of that going on. Take you, for example, singling out Muslims:

I cannot come up with another major religious teacher besides Mohammed whose core teachings were substantially based on strengthening the divide between 'us' and 'them,'

So... we don't divide the world into "us" and "them", but they do?

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 7:34 PM

We are all biologically prone to it, and moreso when we divide ourselves into groups - any group by definition makes an us-them distinction. Better we face that and look at how we do or do not deal with it, than pretend it doesn't flow through our behavior and culture.

I did not single out Muslims, although you are welcome to read it that way, if you must.
I singled out Mohammed as the one major religious teacher who promoted this particular hard-wired disposition to identify and devalue the 'other' and reified it as an essential element of his religious teachings. To the best of my knowledge, other major spiritual teachers who have addressed it have fought to at least reduce this particular influence, and they have taught us it is a negative. Not everyone thinks this is a negative sociobiological disposition, since it serves very strong survival needs at a group level. Scientists don't consider it an evil in non-human groups. Mohammed thought it was a positive in humans. So do a lot of modern American politicians. It's a major facet of Neo-con philosophy.

You may not like to face facts in your hunger for political correctness, but this is a very legitimate read of what the Quran says, and not anything I made up. What the heck else do you make of Dhimmis? Kafirs? If it isn't Islam, why is it law in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc?

To ignore the ways in which our various man-made political, religious, and social values and structures interact with and play upon our neurobiological underpinnings seems terribly ill-advised. Pretending it isn't there doesn't make it nonexistent, it just means we can't do a damn thing about it.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 9:25 PM

To ignore the ways in which our various man-made political, religious, and social values and structures interact with and play upon our neurobiological underpinnings seems terribly ill-advised.

Who's ignoring it? I'm calling you on it.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 10:09 PM

Hmmm... I could have sworn we had a disagreement here, but if you don't think you're ignoring it, and I don't think I'm ignoring it...

I don't pretend for a minute not to be up to my ass in us/them thinking and never said I was -- anyone who thinks themselves immune is self-deluding. (Heck, you're doing it to me, too.) It's not a good thing in my view, but is a strong natural tendency to be examined critically, rather than denied, or simply dismissed, or blindly embraced. (It does have survival value in some situations, after all.)

However,you seem unwilling to acknowledge that some belief systems institutionalize, encourage, and promote this perspective in believers more than others.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 5, 2008 11:33 PM

(Heck, you're doing it to me, too.)

Bullshit. You aren't the 'other' to me.

However,you seem unwilling to acknowledge that some belief systems institutionalize, encourage, and promote this perspective in believers more than others.

There are 1-5 million Muslims in this country mindin' their own business. You've got a bunch of high-falutin' claptrap about why they're different from 'us'. I've got a bunch of common sense that says since they act like ordinary Americans, they are ordinary Americans.

It's thinking like yours that led to the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The prejudices are natural -- but sometimes, they lead us astray, and must be opposed.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 6:21 AM

Creamy,

You have made some good comments. I find it how surprising it is that the modern Islamophobe comments look SO much like the classic anti-Semitism of old Europe.

AZ is indeed practing the labeling of "others" even as he castigates Muslims for doing just that.

One thing I have learned is that with anti-Semites and Islamophobes is that there is no use in talking to them. I am sure they do not see it, but they are just as hard wired as any Jihadi in Iraq or any Jewish radical in Hebron. They are the flip side of the same coin.

If Islam was so "hard-wired" as it is claimed there would not be the historical background of good treatment of minorities in the Muslim world. I guess this person should read up about Christian history. When Jews were murdered and expelled from England they fled to Muslim countries. When Christians beat the Muslims out of Spain and started murdering all Jews who would not convert the Jews didnt flee to other Christian countries; they fled to Muslim lands.

If intolerance of minorities was something that was hardwired in Islam, Islamic teachings or Muslims this would not have happened. Yet Muslim lands were a refuge for hundreds of years for Jews.

Even today with the current wave on conservatism sweeping Muslim lands we have examples of how these Muslims (the other) are not "hard wired". A good example would be the synagogues being restored in Tunisia with labour and money provided in part by Muslims.

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/200801161113tunisiafeature.html

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 7:10 AM

Christ's teachings, like Buddha's teachings, were an absolute and categorical denial of very concept of 'the other.'

Christianity and Islam demand that followers should be good, gentle, generous and kind to everyone. They demand that followers should help the poor. But they also demand that followers must spread "the word."

Christianity, like Islam, doesn't deny the concept of the 'other', it seeks to convert it through proselytisation or, when it was thought to be necessary, the sword. When combined with politics, like any political group that demands collective conformity, Christianity and Islam can be violent and imperialistic. But they mean well.

Like Communists or the Borg, politically motivated Christians and Muslims believe that if everyone was just like them, what a wonderful world it would be. They justify their actions by pointing to the tenets of their faith. We're such good people, we want to do such good things. Why do you resist? We only wish to raise quality of life.

Judaism doesn't want to rule the world. It doesn't want to convert anyone. That's a feature, not a bug.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 8:23 AM

It's thinking like yours that led to the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The prejudices are natural — but sometimes, they lead us astray, and must be opposed.

Ideas like pan-Arabism led to the shameful ethnic cleansing of Jews from many countries in the Middle East. According to this site, over 850,000 Jews were uprooted from the lands where they and their ancestors had lived for generations.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 8:38 AM

Marc: One thing I have learned is that with anti-Semites and Islamophobes is that there is no use in talking to them. I am sure they do not see it, but they are just as hard wired as any Jihadi in Iraq or any Jewish radical in Hebron.

You're talking about AZZenny here? She's an American liberal who is voting for Barack Obama. And you're comparing her to Abu Musab Al Zarqawi?

An Iraqi insurgent would never write something like this: "I don't pretend for a minute not to be up to my ass in us/them thinking and never said I was — anyone who thinks themselves immune is self-deluding. (Heck, you're doing it to me, too.) It's not a good thing in my view, but is a strong natural tendency to be examined critically, rather than denied, or simply dismissed, or blindly embraced."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 9:22 AM

Christ opposed the idea of 'the other' as threat, as someone to be oppressed or repressed. He knew no enemy, he embraced women, the disabled, lepers. Christianity as we know it does not accurately represent Christ the teacher.

Buddha knew no enemy, no 'other.' Buddhism doesn't follow a lot of Buddha's teachings.

Mohammed said, over and over, that women were inferior beings, but apart from light beatings and the fact that their word was only half that of a male, they should be treated decently. Christians and Jews could not testify in Court against a Muslim, and must pay a special tax to earn protection from slavery, but otherwise should be treated decently. Mohammed said that anyone who held any other non-Biblical belief was evil and dangerous and should be enslaved or killed if they would not convert.

I doubt most Muslims believe this literally today -- but for you to imagine or pretend it is not what Mohammed taught is self-deception. I'm sure, however, that you know Islamic teachings better than Saudi, Egyptian, Pakistani, or Iranian Imams, judges, politicians, and scholars, and when thousands of them support and teach these ideas as the Prophet's word, they're just as islamophobic as you think I am being.

I'm just trying to examine the critical cultural differences from a slightly different, sociobiological scientific framework. Claptrap, as you said.

And if it helps, I'm a patriarchal organized religion-ophobe, it is certainly not specific to islam.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 9:31 AM

Sorry Michael, but AZ is here using diatribe that has been used against Jews in the past and I will not let that go unanswered. Almost every critique she offers against Islam can and has been used against Jews.

The Koran and Torah are almost exactly the same in their demands of their followers. To attack Muslims would also be to attack Orthodox Jews, unless of course you use a double standard.

It would seem her knowledge of Christianity is a bit skewed as well. How does she justify portions of the New Testament where women are told to remain quiet in the church and to direct any questions they have to their husband at home? Does she even know that there are portions in the New Testament that require women to cover, whereas the Muslim idea concerning the covering of women is nowhere in their holy text?

People like this who put forward Christianity in such a manner have a habit of cherry picking certain portions of the New Testament and ignoring others.

She said Christianity as we know if doesnt accurately represent Christ the teacher, but it is clear that their holy text is very much in line with the most extreme practices in Christian history.

Of course, to paraphrase what she said "I doubt most Christians literally believe what is in their New Testament today".

What she is trying to do is hold Islam to a different standard than you holds other religions. I am sure this is done out of ignorance on her part.......I am sure she didnt know that the New Testament said such things:

1 Corinthians 14:34-35: "...women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says, If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." (NIV)

Ephesians 5:22-24: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife...wives should submit to their husbands in everything." (NIV)

1 Timothy 2:11-15:"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent..." (NIV)

Peter makes it clear only Christians can go to heaven, a view Muslims do not have:

Acts 4:10-12 "Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole...Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Paul requires Christians to not associate with non Christians, a common charge made against Muslims.

2 Corinthians 6:14: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"

The New Testament forbids women from wearing gold and requires them to be modest. Even the Koran doesnt go this far:

1 Timothy 2.9-10, NIV:

"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

1 Timothy 2.9-10, KJV:
"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."

The New Testament demands women be covered, if not the punishment is dishonourment and a shaved head. Again, the Koran doesnt even go this far.

1 Corinthians 11, KJV:

".......but every woman who prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered....."

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 10:21 AM

BTW,

Some of the most Islamophobic people I have met have been "liberals".

In her ignorant attacks based on a whole group of others she is exactly like extremists I have met from Cairo to Hebron. They use half baked arguments against others, wallow in ignorance and refuse to apply their own critiques to their own background and position.

If you buy her idea that Islam, from it's inception, is the problem, then that leaves little or no room for peace. If Islam is a religion that demands all of it's followers to unending violence and conquest then the only solution is a war of annihilation against Muslims until they either drop the religion or are exterminated.

Time to get the gas chambers running? It might sound a bit over the top, but I have encountered "liberals" as well as conservatives here in the US who think Islam and any Muslim who does not stop following it must be exterminated.

This is exactly where we MUST draw the line. To demonise an entire people, an entire religion only has one outcome.......and it is born out in the history of places like Auschwitz.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 10:28 AM

Some of the most Islamophobic people I have met have been “liberals”

That's interesting - most of the people I know who use the accusation of "Islamophobia" as a rhetorical weapon in the same way that Joseph McCarthy used accusations of 'communism' are not liberals. Most of these non-liberals quietly support some form of authoritarianism.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 10:55 AM

I think maybe one more effort at clarification-- since several people here have gone way, way far afield from anything I ever said or even implied.

Hard-wired in sociobioliogical terms means it is a genetic endowment common to all members of a species regardless of environment or upbringing.

It is likely to be present to some degree, but not necessarily equally, in all members of that species. Reproductive drive, maternal instincts, shelter-seeking, us/them differentiation, kinship ties, incest taboos, the increased tendency for stepparents to mistreat unrelated toddlers, certain phobias, all show a universality that strongly suggests they are genetic endowments in our species. Some traits are more powerful than others, but the sociobio view is that all have at one time had strong advantages for survival, even if in our modern world they often seem very negative.

To say that the tendency to conceptualize and behave in us/them or 'my group/other group' terms is hard-wired means that you, me, MJT, Christians, Jainists, Sikhs, islamists, Jews, neocons, pacifists, liberals, fascists, men, women, black, white,brown, tall, short, fat, thin, stupid, smart, rich, poor share this trait.

To deny this is absurd (as it is absurd and ironic to furiously label me a jihadi fascist bigot and then say this hard-wired tendency to distinguish, separate from, and reject or demean is not in you).

'Culture' promotes some aspects, tries to rein in or curb or redirect other aspects -- thus all religions, which are very much a manifestation of culture, have a lot to say about sex, aggression, status, and their proper fit in society.

We see our Western culture often referred to as Judeo-Christian. Rationalism, democratic ideals, humanism, and scientific thinking seem to have arisen in this cultural context, perhaps more easily or fully than in some others.

I contend that one reason for that may be because the great Judeo-Christian teachers promoted a belief in questioning, and in universal humanity, and at least Christ explicitly rejected the innate us-them tendency and tried to curb it. (I don't give a fuck what the authors and lousy translators of the New Testament said, btw -- that wasn't Christ. I'm talking the Teacher, not the often politicized and pedestrian students.)

For you to then say that the religious teachings of The Prophet have had no impact on Middle Eastern culture and thinking, that there is no comparable Islamic cultural milieu or broad flavor despite hundreds of millions of believers and despite dozens of self-declared Islamic nations and islamic universities, is ridiculous, even arrogant.

One aspect of Islamic thought which derives straight from Mohammed, is presented heavily throughout the Quran, and is enshrined in the civil and criminal laws in a number of Islamic nations is that Muslim Believers are superior to, and naturally have greater entitlements than, non-believers, as well as that men are superior to, and entitled to more than, women. In the original, this included extremely harsh treatment of those who are not 'People of the Book.' (I pay attention, because I am not a 'Person of the Book.')

This is, in simple fact, promoting and using that particular innate human trait of 'our group / other' rather than trying to discourage it. I'm not saying that is the sum total of Mohammed's teachings, but as far as I know, it is unique to him among the great Teachers.

That so many Christians have fallen into the worst type of us/them socialization and behavior despite Christ's own teachings against that just shows what a profoundly powerful innate drive it is. Muslims and people of all other religious and cultural backgrounds have pursued kindness, generosity, tolerance, and reason, which suggests that altruism, rationality, and humanism also have universal biological roots -- though perhaps a little newer development genetically speaking.

If there really is a clash of cultures, as many on both sides have declared, it would be as foolish to ignore how the cultural supports and restraints around universal traits differ as it is to ignore where they may be similar. JMHO

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 12:14 PM


I never said that the teachings of the prophet have had no impact on Middle Eastern culture. I'd appreciate it if you could quote where I said that, or even something close.

Some aspects of Middle Eastern culture are clearly traced back to Islam and it's prophet, much of it is not. I don't find it surprising that it seems you cannot tell the difference between the two, many Middle Easterners cannot either. Many, probably most, work on the assumption that everything in their culture is based on Islamic teaching and history because they live in an "Islamic country". More often than not this is not true.

Much of what is thought of as "Islamic" in the Middle East isn't and is more often than not tribal practices based on traditions that pre-date Islam. Hence you get all sorts of people in the Middle East who will attribute their actions to "Islam" when there is no religious basis for it. I have run across the "it happens in an Islamic country so it must be Islam" a million times in the Middle East, and now it seems to be all the rage here in the West as well.

Things like honour killings, female genital mutilation, females not driving ect have no basis in Islam at all. Honour killings happen all over the world, I think their numbers are the highest in India where they are often mixed with dowry killings. They happen in Christian communities in the Middle East, Sikh communities in Canada and Europe.

The well known televised one in northern Iraq caught on video was actually members of the non Muslim/Christian Yazidi religion. Female mutilation happens in Christian, Muslim and Animist areas of Africa and has no religious basis for any of them even though many will argue until they drop dead that it does.

Pagans were certainly poorly treated in Muslim lands, just as they were in Christian lands. The treatment was always supported by either the Koran or the Bible. So it is clear that whereas you seem to think the Bible offers nothing in the way of enticement to oppression and the like that many of it's followers have historically disagreed with you.

I don't know if you have any knowledge of the Muslim community historically in Europe, but before the 1900s Christians were treated much better in Muslim countries than the other way around. Muslims indeed were victims in Europe, based on what the oppressors felt to be a religious duty. Muslims were often forced to pay special taxes, just like the jizyah in Muslim countries.

In Christian Europe Jews were forced to pay such taxes too. They become money lenders and when the authorities owed too much money that was often was caused pogroms against Jews, again with a Biblical/religious basis behind it all. Of course Jews took these sorts of jobs because they were often forbidden by law to practice most jobs. Only the worst and the lowest jobs were allowed Jews.

All too often people use what they think as religious reasons to justify bad behavior. What I seem to be getting from you is that when Christians commit mass murder, genocide and implace discriminatory practices in the name of Christianity that it should not reflect on Christianity as a religion, whereas when Muslims do it must be a direct reflection on the religion itself.

I think if more people educated themselves on the truth of all religions the world would be a much better place. Muslims are no more prone to violence than Christians. World history would actually bare witness to the opposite. Some 50 million plus people were killed in the 1900s alone and this was all done by Christian nations and people coming from Christian backgrounds.

The entire history of the Muslim world and Islamic faith cannot match what the people of Europe/Christians did in just one century. If any religion could be seen as inherently violent based on the actions of it's members and societies empirically it would have to be Christianity.

You talk about propensity of cultures and society to violence, I'd agree that some are more violent that others. History proves that Western society is far more violent. It doesn’t take much more than a quick reading of a history book to figure that one out. Look at Europe, during it's religious wars (which of course you might want to say had nothing to do with Christianity) some countries saw a reduction in population of some 25%. Yes, 25% of entire populations killed during fighting over a religion that isnt violent. You have me laughing here.

As for me, I consider myself religious, at the same time I avoid religious people and institutions like the plague. There is no quicker way to kill one's view about religion than to be around "religious" people.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 1:18 PM

BTW, I believe if there is a "clash of cultures" then Muslim countries will come out really bad in the end. If the history of the West is any indication, if it comes down to that tens of millions of people in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world will die.

Fortunately I dont believe there is a real clash of cultures but I believe extremists on all sides want to promote this idea because they want the conflict. When you get their extremists and our extremists all pushing the same general agenda of a growing conflict that will engulf the world you know that they really share a lot of the same type of ideas, only on polar opposites.

The extremists in the Muslim world need to realise that if they push the West too far the West will do just what it has historically done and basically wipe out large portions of the countries involved.

It is too bad that our extremists dont like history books anymore than their extremists do. It is sad to retread the same ground so many times.

Hopefully saner heads will prevail.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 1:31 PM

We need a 'scratches head' smiley here.

You're obviously not in the same discussion, or reading anything I wrote, or you wouldn't suggest I give any credit to the Bible or to Christians. Nor did I (or would I) ever say Christianity wasn't a violent religion.

However, just for a little balance, if you are talking about religiously-based wars and religiously-based deaths, Islam wins over the course of history, by tens of millions. That's not even reducing the Christian European religious war death estimates by the 30-35% that were actually due to the Black Death, and it IS reducing the usual estimate of 60-80 Million slaughtered in the Muslim conquest of India by a very generous 50%. Islam still dominates the scoreboard.

So contrary to your implication, Islam is no better than Christianity in terms of restraining the demonization of 'the other,' and the easy slide towards aggression that almost inevitably occasions.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 6, 2008 8:02 PM

AZ,

You need a history book. 20 million were killed in WW1, WW2 accounted for some 72 million plus deaths and the Soviet Union was on account for another some 30-50 million. Get out your calculator, this adds up to 122-142 million people. Yes, a minimum of 120 million deaths in ONE CENTURY alone. Again, dwarfing anything Muslim countries can come up with.

I guess we could argue that the deaths in India was long before the modern age and hence cannot be compared to the deaths in the 1900s in Europe.

As to religious wars in Europe, you need to get a grip on the dates of the conflicts in question.

The "French Wars of Religion" took place from 1562-1598. Are you contending that the plague took 30-35% of the deaths in this conflict? You think?

The Thirty Years War, 1618-1648, 30-35% of the deaths were from the plague? Really?

I suggest you look at a time line for outbreaks of the plague in Europe and locations and you'll find they do not match the above dates for major religious conflict in Europe.

I guess we could go on about Cromwell's "To Hell or Connaught" for the Catholics of Ireland. Some 1 million plus were slaughtered starved or expelled in that small island country alone.

Christianity is NO different than Islam. It is a battle over numbers. You need to look back where you say that the basis of the conflict and violence of Muslims is directly based on Islamic teachings. It is VERY clear that the violence coming from Christian countries was more often than not justified by religion and that the violence itself was a part of European culture which is largely based on Christianity.

Hence Christians and Christian nations are absolutely NO different in this than Muslim nations. A point which you left out until cornered.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 7, 2008 6:22 AM

You need a history book. 20 million were killed in WW1, WW2 accounted for some 72 million plus deaths and the Soviet Union was on account for another some 30-50 million.

If you're counting the many millions who were killed as a result of Stalin's campaigns of political repression, those deaths could probably be blamed on atheism. They could, if you wanted to make an irrelevant association that had nothing to do with the motivation behind the attacks.

The many deaths in Europe, India and the Middle East weren't caused by religion or the lack of it, they were caused by politics and the need to gain and keep power. Politicians can use ideology or religion to unite their followers, but even the most warlike ideology isn't worth spit if people are poor and their armies lose every battle.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at February 7, 2008 8:49 AM

Mary,

We are talking about the effects of religion and the rates of violence in societies. Russia and the wider Soviet empire were historically Christian lands, had been for 950 years before the revolution.

By your standards I guess we could deal with the Third Reich as a system that did not eminate from a Christian country and society either right?

Nonsense.

I realise that many deaths were caused by politics and the need to gain and keep power. However, when it comes to Muslim countries and empires the cause is almost always laid on Islam and supported by skewed ideas about the religion and Islamic theology. My point is that the same tactic and methodology are seldom used when talking about Christian countries, Christian empires and the conflicts they have been involved in.

If Islam is going to be blammed for the wars waged by Muslims and Muslim countries then Christianity should be equally blamed for wars waged by Christians and Christian countries. Why not? More times than not they were done "in God's name".

As for myself, I find this to be bogus. Islam is not to blame for conflicts that Muslims were involved in historically anymore than Christianity was to blame for the holocaust and any other conflicts and genocides done by Christians and Christian nations.

I dont like that idea and I dislike it even more when it is applied unequally.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 7, 2008 9:52 AM

If Islam is going to be blammed for the wars waged by Muslims and Muslim countries then Christianity should be equally blamed for wars waged by Christians and Christian countries. Why not?

Because it's a waste of time. If one group of people blames cats for a plague and the other blames the Jews, what's the better solution - to stand up for the cats, to stand up for the Jews, or to show people that the plague is caused by a preventable virus and to tell both sides that blaming the innocent is a self-destructive waste of time?

Most Germans didn't support Hitler because they hated the Jews. They didn't support him because they were Christians. They supported him because he promised them that they would be strong, well-fed and powerful. When his armies marched into the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland, he proved that he was the strong horse. If the western democracies had been able to defeat him, if they weren't so determined to make peace and avoid war, a major disaster could have been averted.

The western powers didn't understand the enemy, and they didn't want to fight him. They let the situation get way out of control. That's the kind of mistake that we're making now.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at February 7, 2008 10:15 AM

Judaism doesn't want to rule the world. It doesn't want to convert anyone. That's a feature, not a bug.

For what it's worth, in my experience Judaism also does not mint insufferable "holier than thou" chauvanists any faster than other religions...

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 7, 2008 11:24 AM

Mary,

Again you miss what we are talking about here. It is the propensity of some cultures to violence and how their religious background effects that. Some would like to think that the violence in Islamic societies is due completely to Islam whereas the well documented violence in Western/Christian society has nothing to do with religion. A clear double standard.

I would say based on your statements you have no more an understanding of "the enemy" than those in Hitler's time did. As a matter of fact, I think to a certain extent you are completly wrong about who the enemy is and what motivates them.

Not untypical in today's world.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 8, 2008 6:16 AM

I would say based on your statements you have no more an understanding of “the enemy” than those in Hitler's time did. As a matter of fact, I think to a certain extent you are completly wrong about who the enemy is and what motivates them.

Well, if you know so much more than I do, and if your objective is to inform, why are you being so vague? You've been over there, presumably you know who the enemy is and what motivates them. What's the best way to deal with the problem?

Latitudes and longitudes would be a big help too..

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at February 8, 2008 9:12 AM

I think most of what motivates these people and their supporters is not religion. If bin Laden tried to sell his jihad on ideas of a global caliphate he'd have next to zero followers.

I am a supporter of the ideas expressed by Michael Scheuer, the former CIA head of the bin Laden desk. Most of the issues these people and their supporters will bring up are purely political in nature, ie American support for tyranical governments in Muslim lands, unquestioning support for Israel, ect.

Along with Scheuer I think we need to start a real national dialogue on our foriegn policy and what is really best for our national interest.

In this discussion I think everything needs to be on the table, including unquestioning and unending support for Israel.

After we do this we need to either change our foreign policy or change our tactics. If we decide that our current policies are the best for our national interests we must change how we are handling the war on terror.

There are two options, either change some or most of our national policies after this national debate, or decide that these policies are in our national interest. If we decide not to change then we must change our tactics.

As Scheuer has stated our limited war so far will not work. To win any such prolonged struggle we must be willing to commit troops in a dozen or more countries and be much more brutal and comprehensive in the way in which we wage the war.

I suggest you read his books and his articles. As a person who has spent a lot of time in the Middle East I would agree with his approach.

Either we address the political demands of the vast majority of Muslims, or we adopt a method of war which will bring subjegation. Right now we are doing neither.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 8, 2008 12:02 PM

Why do WE have to address their dissatisfaction when their own governments have pretty consistently made no effort to do so? The foreign aid goes into pockets and swiss bank accounts and back into our own military-industrial complex. THAT may be a better place to start.

It always interests me that when people bring up our close ties with democratic Israel, they do not bring up our even closer ties and economic and policy enmeshment with a theocratic state -- Saudi Arabia.

The only Arab people our strong connection with Israel may have directly affected are the Palestinians. They -- and Israel for that matter -- have been used as pure tools by other Arab leaders, including the Saudis, as well as by the US and USSR in past years. NO ONE has been interested in settling that mess and that includes the majority of Arab states, and Palestinian and Israeli leaders. Our support of Israel is certainly not the only thing, or the main thing, that maintains that nightmare.

Our oil hegemony, support of corrupt Arab tyrants and repression, and attempt to export our most exploitive forms of capitalism are probably a bigger source of real Muslim frustration.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at February 8, 2008 1:19 PM

I think the "freedom deficit" diagnosis is the right one. The lack of a legitimate outlet for political aspirations inevitably produces pathologies. We're not the primary cause of these pathologies, and we're not the primary target either, but it's important for us and everybody else to address the root cause.

The long-term solution is the spread of freedom. However, democratization-at-gunpoint is a wretchedly expensive and inefficient way of working towards that end. Our efforts should focus on reinforcing nascent indigenous democratic movements in places like Lebanon, Georgia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Indonesia, and so on. Regardless of how many resources we pour into Iraq, we ought to keep our eyes open for opportunities elsewhere.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 8, 2008 2:27 PM

I am a supporter of the ideas expressed by Michael Scheuer, the former CIA head of the bin Laden desk.

The Michael Scheuer whose book was recommended by Osama bin Laden?

Most of the issues these people and their supporters will bring up are purely political in nature, ie American support for tyranical governments in Muslim lands, unquestioning support for Israel, ect.

Well, they would say that, wouldn't they. But this claim doesn't explain why the Islamist jihad started a war in the Sudan that resulted in the deaths of millions of Sudanese. It doesn't explain why that Jihad encourages the enslavement of blacks in Africa, it doesn't explain why the Jihad has been slaughtering Hindus for decades, or why the Jihad is currently targeting Buddhists in Thailand. It doesn't explain why Lebanese Islamists ally with Syria, nor does it explain why Jihad fights for Chechen 'independence' from Russia.

The statement "Either we address the political demands of the vast majority of Muslims, or we adopt a method of war which will bring subjegation" is a false dichotomy. Is this a suggetion that Osama bin Laden and his saudi supporters represent the vast majority of Muslims?

As AZZenny said, why should we focus on our unquestioning and unending support for Israel while ignoring our unquestioning and unending support for Saudi Arabia? Our Saudi Allies are the hub of worldwide terrorism. They're also hated by most of the Muslim world. If we want to subjegate the jihad, concentrate on the source.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at February 8, 2008 2:53 PM

Probably should let this bloated commentary die a natural death, but...one last kick at it. Don’t read Scheuer. Read Bin Laden: read Al-Zawahiri. Their enemy is modernity and its trappings. Their beef is with the notion of a liberal society. That means you Marc: that means all of us. Foreigners in Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian cause…simply expedient points, window dressing. Attempts to broker Palestinian peace are sabotaged: AQI blows up Iraqis and Americans with equal fervor. On all fronts, the emergence of the sort of stable civil societies that would bring a modicum of hope to the oppressed is violently opposed. It is a shame that some seem to have fallen for Al-Qaeda’s rather sophomoric propaganda effort, likely assisted my Adam Gadahn, to recast their mission in terms of imperialism, oil, and the like. A shameless attempt to speak to the preconceptions of many in the west, a summary version of a thousand campus pamphlets. Why is there this eternal desire to seek ‘root causes’ for totalitarians and theocrats? Intolerance and the will to power is a feature of rich and poor alike, oppressor and oppressed. Take a glance at your average AQ style jihadi: hardly the wretched of the earth. Doctors, engineers, professors. Disaffected moderns embracing violence and the cult of death. They don’t want peace, and an end to oppression. They want end of music, equality and liberty: the extinction of women’s rights, and the death of the secular. They want the extermination of jews, Israel or no Israel. Do a little research: the relationship between Nazism and fundamentalist Islam is profound: it is clear that thinkers such as Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Egyptian groups draw heavily on National Socialist thinking, and were massively exposed to it during World War II. Far from the last gasp of the oppressed, we are witnessing a vile mixture of two totalitarian, anti-semitic forces. I mean come on: their hatred of the jews goes beyond Israel, and beyond reason; read Qutb, see for yourself. This is what Bin-Laden et al stand for. Too much time is wasted debating what they are against: precious little discussing what they are for. Marc suggests that we cannot possibly maintain enough troops to cover all possible theatres, and this is true. What he fails to consider is that in each case, “we” are not alone. The Iraqi army is growing, the Afghan national army makes progress. If Al-Qaeda and their jihadi allies simply articulate the frustrations of the arab world, why do these arab armies do battle with them? Why the Iraqi awakening movements? Surely, Marc, they should embrace these champions of their disaffection.

Posted by: homun Author Profile Page at February 9, 2008 9:58 AM

The long-term solution is the spread of freedom. IF only the newsrooms around the world will allow us to get along -peace does not sell newspapers.

Posted by: Gary Author Profile Page at February 10, 2008 12:16 AM
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