« A shot for me, a shot for Damon | Main | on a lighter note.... »

your time is gonna come

Friday will be the one year anniversary of The Command Post. In thinking about that today, I was finally able to pinpoint the source of the black cloud of doom that's been hovering over my head. Everybody loves an anniversary, terrorists included. Numbers, symbolism, special dates - conspiracy theorists have a field day with that stuff. But it's not always theory, is it? Now that we know al-Qaeda is seeking revenge for America and its allies participation in the de-throning of Saddam, I have to wonder if that merry band of murderers has something up their collective sleeves. Then Allah directs me to this Debka story: bq. Italy’s counter-terror unit reports large Muslim group of 80 from different nations stand ready to carry out mega-terror attacks in Italy. La Repubblica, Rome, cites possible dates as March 19 – start of Iraq war, April 4 – Easter, and June 12-13 – EU elections. Normally, I take all Debka articles with a huge grain of salt. But this one was also reported here, who got the story from Reuters. The story was also reported at La Repubblica. I cannot for the life of me imagine why any nation (other than Arab nations) would not stand by our side in the fight against our combined enemies. They have to see that there is no difference now. al-Qaeda, Iraq "insurgents," whatever other terrorist groups are out there - they are one force operating under several identities. There is no time to separate the Iraq from bin Laden. There is no time for semantics or arguing. We are at war. Any country that does not give their all to this war is, for all intents and purposes, siding with the enemy. In their defiance of the coalition of those who want to fight, these cowardly countries are, in essence, declaring to the terrorists this statement: We will not fight you. You're ok with us. Go bother those other countries that want to wage war with you. It's similar to a kid joining sides with a bully just so the bully doesn't pick on him. It's cowardly. And it's wrong. What can we do to make those countries and their leaders understand that this is a war of ideas, a war of ideologies, and not one about land or oil or even weapons of mass destruction? All the rage pointed at Blair and Bush and Halliburton and the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy is rage misplaced. Somebody sent me an email that said this was all the fault of the U.S. because "we should have let sleeping dogs lie." Those dogs were never, ever sleeping. Those dogs were in Bali. They were in New York, twice. They are forever in Israel. They were in the Khobar towers, in Scotland, in the waters off Greece, at the Munich Olympics and at the U.S. embassy in Iran. They are a great, big pack of countless mongrels baring their teeth and don't you think for one second that you are safe or that it is George Bush's fault that you are not. It's hard to wage war against an idea. It's difficult at best to aim a machine gun at someone's ideology. But we must try. There are packs upon packs of militants or insurgents or freedom fighters, as those who love the square quotes call them. They all want one thing; for their way to be rule. For their god to be the only god. For their laws to be the only laws. Freedom is their enemy. How could you not fight against that? If we do not all stand together in this battle, it is going to be difficult to win. The more countries that back away from the fight, the more countries the terrorists will have to look for shelter, for places to make their deals and exchange ideas. The more we let things in Syria and Iran pass by, the more opportunities there will be for our enemies to purchase weapons and make plans. The time has come to mean it when we say are you with us or against us. It's no longer a unclear line. It's right there, drawn in blood. Where are you going to stand? Where will your country place itself? The time has come. It's not a good time, it's not a safe time. All of our wars have blended together into one and it's time to draw swords.

TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference your time is gonna come:

» Now Italy too... from Inoperable Terran
When Debka and Reuters agree, run for your lives.... [Read More]

» The Command Post from Insults Unpunished
Michele has a post on responding to terrorism and reminds us that the one-year anniversary of The Command Post is Friday. I agree completely with Michele on the response to terror. When The Command Post started I was there posting... [Read More]

Comments

Aye,I'll draw swords with you,Michele.
..But why is all the rum gone?...

A big hug to you Michelle.

Nine hundred years ago, the crusaders travelled from west to east. Today the crusaders of Islam are travelling from east to west.

Recent polls (shown on a number of blogs) show that muslims in the US and Britain share almost the same opinions as their brethren in the Middle East.

Our open societies have allowed a veritable fifth column of spies and terrorist cells to form in our own neighborhood. Only bloggers seem to publicize the daily events in the US and elsewhere. If these were Communist cells or German American Bund clubhouses, our authorities would have them infiltrated and closed up one by one. What can we do in todays atmosphere where Saudi Arabia has funded and staffed thousands of mosques and schools world wide? Look around, they are in your neighborhood too.

The rantings of mullahs in the mosques is published every week on imra or memri. Do you ever see this stuff on TV or in your daily paper?

How many people are aware of the fatwas issued by OBL and other leaders of the Islamists. Like Mein Kampf, the blueprint is there and no one cares.

Except you Michele, and a few others.

What can we do to make those countries and their leaders understand that this is a war of ideas, a war of ideologies, and not one about land or oil or even weapons of mass destruction?

Michele: what are the guiding principles of "our" side in this war of ideas? I'm not saying they don't exist, mind. I'm just asking what you think they are. And please, be specific: none of this "We support freedom and liberty and they support tyrany and evil," business. I'm talking, like, balanced budgets and free elections for all citizens over the age of 18 type stuff.

Somebody sent me an email that said this was all the fault of the U.S. because "we should have let sleeping dogs lie."

I have trouble coming up with words to describe such an amazing person who lacks all ... what?

I just pulled out my 1962 edition of Roget's so I can attempt to descibe what's so contemptuous.

Where to start?

"Cowardice" - comes close but that doesn't cover it. A person can lack nerve without being a hopelessly craven, sniveling, abject, base, lickspittle, a prideless, dirt eating, falsehearted, trustless, disloyal, unfaithful, low, sanctimonious bootlicker.

Let me add

Cringing, cowering, crawling, gritless.

Servile, slavish,toadying, grovelling, prostrate, footlicking, pandering dead beat.

Beggerly. Prideless.

dirt eating, "kiss the rod" (yep that's in Roget's under "submission"),

Serf, slave.

irresponsible, untrustworthy.

...

Not sure I covered it, but I feel a little better.

I forgot:
corruptable, venal, purchasable, fraudulent and faithless

Joshua, you seem to have anger. good for you. Remember after 9/11, those peaceful souls among us, cautioning us not to feel anger? The Spanish didn't seem to feel anger either. They marched in the millions in sorrow and grief and then the next day in the thousands, holding mindless signs saying PAX. Yes, holding signs, while we had anger.

Joshua the 2nd (so as not to confuse):

I think you missed the main point. I don't want to take over anyone's land. I don't want to take over anyone's politics (though it would be nice to see all countries have a society based on freedom).

I want to fight those who think the best way to get their point across is to kill 3,000 innocent people in one day.

I don't know about you, Joshua, but I am afraid to death of people whose main goal in life is to die a martyr's death for their god.

I think you missed the main point

It's possible. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that we should have a platform for establishing the domestic agenda of other countries. What I meant was, "What are we going to war for?"

I mean, you kind of address this all the time with your cockroach metaphor for terrorism. Terrorists are like cockroaches: they're a kind of dangerous disease-spreading scavenger that flourishes in environments that are prone to decay and rot. Stomp on one, ten more come up in its place.

The way to get rid of cockroaches isn't just to run around stomping on them. You have to actually change the environment. You have to build house out of materials they can't chew through. Store your food in jars. That kind of thing.

So, I gather that your main point here is something to the effect of, "Hey, the cockroaches are coming! Everyone put on your stomping shoes!" (Of course, you say it a lot prettier: time to draw swords and all that.) But you also suggest a broader kind of meta-conflict: this is a war of ideas, a war of ideologies. So, again, the question I'm asking is, what are the ideas we're going to war for? Do you have a plan for a better house, or are we just supposed to run around stomping on things? Because, as you suggest in your rant about the FAR left, just being against something isn't much of a philosophy.

I want to fight those who think the best way to get their point across is to kill 3,000 innocent people in one day.

Michele, don't forget that Al Qa'eda has proclaimed that their goal is to kill 4 million Americans, not counting killing Jews whereever they find them.

Also, it's hard to talk about AQ using familiar, modern language, because AQ's motivations aren't modern. They don't have a point as such. They believe that God requires them to invade the planet, and they kill, not so much to implement that invasion, but to prove their worthiness to God so that he will mystically sweep them to victory.

It also doesn't help that they believe in Hadiths that state that God expects Muslims to kill all of the Jews before he will bring the day of Judgment and paradise on earth and all that.

So no, they're not really trying to make a point as such.

They are also trying to get into heaven. It sounds like it should be considered heretical, but they believe that maryterdom will get you and your family to into heaven automatically, no matter what else you are guilty of.

That should be considered heresy since even the prophet Mahommad said that he didn't know what God was going to do to him. The divine prophet may not get into heaven but mass murderers are definately going there.

I even ran into some barely literate, seemingly uneducated Jihadi online - and his attitude seemed to be that his people are more prefect than Mahommad.

Well, who knows? Maybe Mahommad did promise heaven to his fighters. He'd hardly have been the first warlord to do that.

"Kill a bunch of infidels - go to heaven and save the souls of your family" It's a simple motivation. No politics involved.

But support for these murdering, oppressive monsters is really high in the middle east. The Pew polls have found that in some countries 80% of those polled trust Osama Bin Laudin to make their country's foriegn policy. And so it goes...

I assume you were talking to the other Joshua, by the way right?

Ted I no longer have the slightest respect for Peace Activists.

Some would have prefered a peace with Afganistan where terrorists train in peace to kill us all, little girls (in some places) are required to spend their childhood inside building with no windows (because it's a sin to let their faces be seen), and women were slaughtered in stadiums for being too modern...

They would have prefered peace with Iraq so that the place could be the Hussien family's personal slave market...

This isn't"liberalism". There is no liberalism that despises liberty.

The word liberalism has been stolen by the craven and the venal.

You say "peace" and you mean "don't tell me about oppression - let me alone in my illusion of saintliness. If I knew of oppression then sainthood would require me to shoulder heavy responsibilites, and I will accept none."

If "Peace" activists were honest, if they called themselves 'isolationists' instead and gave up all pretentions to moral superiority, then I would respect them. I still wouldn't agree. But fraudulent rightious anger in an unrightous cause deserves all contempt.

And Ted, even people like you, who don't pretend rightious anger, but still misuse the word 'Peace' should be firmly corrected.

It's impossible to declare Peace unilaterally. To pretend that peace is an option when you have an implacable enemy is either to be delusional or to be massively dishonest.

Have you all read Lee Harris' Civilization and its Enemies?

He makes some cogent points

Joshua, you misread me on "peace".I meant it exactly as you do.

Ted, sorry. We wouldn't have this problem if we were talking instead of writing.

I took "good for you" as sarcastic.

And now I have no idea what you meant about the Spanish and their anger.

Waging war against ideas.

Mark Steyn suggested in a recent article that this isn't so far fetched, using the example of the Royal Navy successfully fighting slavery and piracy. The US Navy and Marines also waged war quite well against piracy.

Not a "police action" either - the most effective weapons of the day (naval power) and regular troops.

Oh, I see how I misread what you said about the Spanish.

"Yes, holding signs, while we had anger. "

I thought that you included yourself in "we". Saying that you, with the Spanish were angry but held up signs saying "PAX".

You meant "we" as Americans. Got it.

Josh,

What I meant was that these youngsters with their PAZ signs seemed to feel as you said they shouldn"t. i.e. that peace is a unilateral declaration which has some force. We are all for peace.
I meant that they should have exhibited anger at the people who perpetrated the Madrid massacre.

So, again, the question I'm asking is, what are the ideas we're going to war for? Do you have a plan for a better house, or are we just supposed to run around stomping on things?

We're going to war for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and basic gender equality. Y'know, standard liberal values, all anathema to Islamic fundamentalists. Granted, they're not as concrete or as inspiring as balanced budgets, perhaps, but there's something to be said for them.

I'm not sure I entirely follow the cockroach/house analogy, but I'm interested in knowing what "materials" we could/should build our house out of to deter terrorists. The only one I can think of is to adopt their ideology wholesale, i.e., make Islam the state religion, impose third-class status on women, and load our Jews onto trains. On the other hand, I must say, to the extent that Michele has used a cockroach analogy in the past, I disagree with her. Mark Steyn recently quoted Hizb'Allah's former leader as saying, "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you." That seems to me a nice, pithy statement of the Islamist supremacist philosophy. So while we're busy storing our food in jars and building our house out of titanium, I wonder what we're supposed to do about the fact that, for this particular specie of cockroach, we are the food. Unless we convert, of course.

I feel I must point out that Joshua (not Scholar) and I get into longwinded comment discussions with considerable regularity.

And now he's here.

I apologize, in advance, for any drawn-out and possibly boring commentary between Joshua and myself in the future. You may not always (or ever) agree with him, but he's rational and reasonable (annoyingly so).

Yeah, I know Ryan, he is rational and reasonable.

I hate that.

What bothers me quite a bit about 9/11 is that people seem to forget that al-Queda were trying to kill a helluva lot more than just 3,000 people. People should ask themselves what would they think about the war if the towers had toppled immediately and 30,000 had been killed? I suspect there would be a lot more support.

Joshua
The only way to get rid of cockroaches is by exterminating the nests. By simply designing an environment where they can no longer thrive, cockroaches will simply move to another environment.

The psychedelic magic bus has run out of gas and the peace-love-and-understanding pill is no longer effective

Aw, thanks Ryan. Love and kisses to you too.

Allah: Well, this is the part where everyone starts yelling "Appeaser!" at me.

Because basically what I think we (and by "we", I mean "the free world", not just "the United States") need to do is go down into the parts of our house where we've allowed dry rot to set in, or ignored a leak for too long or left a window open, and do some major repair work. And before we get to the "Appeaser!" part of this, let me just state my reasoning here. It's partly anecdotal, partly historical.

My belief is that Islamic fundamentalism is basically a religious movement that sprang up in response to extreme poverty and repression in the third world in general and in the Middle East specifically. I believe this because the character of the movement is similar to the character of several movements in the United States (Black Moslems, Nazi Skinheads, Aryan Nation, Ku Klux Klan, etc), that generally appeal most strongly to poor people (and, in particular, poor young men) with extremely limited economic mobility. Having known a lot of hardcore racists in my time (and having been raised by one), I've noticed that such movements tend to be very similar in their broad strokes, and that their basic precepts generally boil down to this:

"Your life sucks. Everyone thinks you're the scum of the earth, you have no money, no opportunities, and nothing in common with any of the people you see who have money, education, and opportunity. But you are actually one of God's Chosen People. You have been cast out of your rightful place because of the duplicity and evil of (insert opposition group here). Rise up! It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees, and if you die in this holy struggle God will surely take you into heaven!"

Typically this message is delivered by some relatively well-off asshole who wants the sons of the poor to die for some cause that profits them politically or economically. So when you read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, you'll spot Elijah Mohammed as a calculating opportunist. Nazi Skinheads have their favorite bands, who sell them records. So on and so forth.

Typically, the more poor and fucked-over a person is, the more vulnerable they are to this kind of message.

So you have your Osama bin Ladens, who have a lot of money and resources and think they're the most important people in the world. And then you have this vast pool of totally disenfranchised fucked-over dirt-poor displaced (mostly-)Arab men who have so little to live for and are so pissed off about having to squat in some fucking mud hut somewhere while the rest of the world lives in nice safe little towns, rents DVDs and goes to amusement parks, that it's really not that hard to talk them into strapping a bomb to their chests and walking into an Israeli shopping mall during rush hour.

How do you deal with this situation?

Well. I can't help noticing that the Nation of Islam in the U.S. has severely moderated their slogans since the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.

To be clear: I'm not talking about appeasement (though I shouldn't be surprised if a bunch of people insist that I am). I'm saying that as long as there are people who are dirt poor and pissed off, there will be grist for opportunists like Osama bin Laden.

You wanna build a house that doesn't have any cockroaches, you have to make sure every room is sound.

As to how to do that:

What kind of house would you rather live in? A house where everyone who lives there gets together and votes on the house rules, or a house where there's one big scary fucker who tells everyone what to do?

Now, there are plenty of people who will say, "The voting model wasn't working." I say, "It has to work. Make it work. Anything else isn't a house, it's a fucking jail. And it may have very nice rooms, and my country may be the one running it, but it's still a jail."

Syn: I'm not talking about a psychadelic magic bus. I'm talking about democracy. It's depressing as hell to me that you can't tell the difference.

Am I the only paranoiac who calculated what date 911 hours from March 11 was when I read that missive from al Quaeda about operation "Wind of Black Death" being "90% complete?"

Sigh. Pass the Jameson's.

The cockroach analogy is an interesting one. Once, long ago, I lived in a house infested with roaches. I loathed coming into the kitchen in the dark, becuase turning on the light caused the roaches to swarm for cover (until they got more brazen). It got so you didn't want to touch anything in the kitchen. "Clean" glasses from the cabinets had to be washed before use, as did "clean" countertops.

Everyone put on your stomping shoes!

We tried that for a while, just squashing them when we found them. That's when there weren't so many. We'd take a paper towel and just squish randomly on the countertop, and get dozens of the buggers. We also tried the Roach Motel method. These didn't have much success.

You have to actually change the environment.

So we tried keeping things very very clean. But the roaches weren't living out on the countertops, they were living in the stove, and in the refrigerator motor, where we couldn't reach.

You have to build house out of materials they can't chew through. Store your food in jars.

That's what the first counter-terrorism expert we hired told us. "See that? You can't have that in here. Roaches might hide in it. That decorative basket? Throw it out. Keep your cereal in the refrigerator. Do this. Do that." He was very firm about it.

The next guy that came out was a bit more relaxed. "You can't rearrange your entire life just because you have a few bugs."

In the end, we brought in the professional hit men, the exterminators. We moved the stove out and found roaches by the hundreds clinging to the insulation, and we vacuumed them all up. Same for the refrigerator. And then we made sure to keep the place very clean and kept our cereal in the fridge. But just changing the environment wouldn't have done a damn thing if we hadn't attacked them where they lived, and called in the professionals.

Of course, this analogy is flawed. We never considered the possibility of innocent cockroaches, or thought to reason with them. It never entered our minds to set up separate but equal cockroach state, where we would provide all their cockroachy needs, with the understanding that they would not spread their germs on our cabinets.

With humans, you have to think about those things.

Then again, the roaches weren't dead-set on killing us for the glory of the Cockroach God, either.

Of course, this analogy is flawed. We never considered the possibility of innocent cockroaches, or thought to reason with them... (snip) with the understanding that they would not spread their germs on our cabinets.

Actually, the analogy is just fine as far as all that stuff goes. 'Cause, see, the roaches are the terrorists. Not the innocent people who live in the dark poorly insulated rooms where the roaches breed.

Many Americans (not you-- I'm bringing this up kind of pre-emptively) say that it's up to the people who live in those rooms to make them better. I say those people should be consulted and their wishes should be honored, or they'll tear out our improvements. But that, at the base of it, getting rid of the roach problem is worth spending some money to fix someone else's room.

And I'll do you one better with this analogy:

"You can't rearrange your entire life just because you have a few bugs."

That may have been true back when the bugs in question were just eating the cat food and getting under foot. I wouldn't choose to handle it that way, but it was possible to ignore the problem.

The thing is, these new cockroaches can carry diseases. Like Anthrax. Or man-portable nuclear weapons. Kind of like those rats that carried plague fleas, right? It was necessary to chage everything to get rid of them, because the consequences were terminal.

Josh. Your assessment of the origins of Islamic fundamentalism is really half-baked. Wahhabbism comes from Saudi Arabia whose GDP is higher than Poland or Argentina.
It's been mentioned a thousand times, but worth repeating, that many of the 911 terrorists came from middle class backgrounds. The origins of martyrdom have deep roots in Islam. That is the key difference.

If your premise was true, then no one, absolutely no one would be more radicalized than American blacks. The difference is that African Americans embraced Christianity.

We all know that criminal pathologies exist in individuals and are certainly beyond our capacity to cure them. Why don't you think that the same could be true for a particular culture?

'letting sleeping dogs lie'..the problem we have is people who don't understand the difference between a dog and a wolf.

many of the 911 terrorists came from middle class backgrounds

Yes, and that was a specific operation that required a high degree of long-term commitment. The majority of suicide bombers do not fit this profile. However, addressing your point, do you think that even these middle class 9/11 terrorists needed the support of a larger network in order to achieve their objectives? Careful how you answer; we did sort of invade Afghanistan over this question.

The origins of martyrdom have deep roots in Islam. That is the key difference.

Hey, there's this new movie out. Maybe you've heard of it? It's called The Passion of the Christ? And then there's all those saints...

The difference is that African Americans embraced Christianity.

Poppycock. Ever notice that the Klan burns crosses on people's lawns? That's not because they're anti-Christian.

We all know that criminal pathologies exist in individuals

A of all, we don't "all" know that.

Why don't you think that the same could be true for a particular culture

B of all, pathologies are, more or less by definition, somatic. Psychiatrists, for example, distinguish between trauma and pathology. More generally, to the extent that "pathology" also means, "that which deviates from the norm", addressing terrorism as a kind of cultural pathology endemic to Islam suggests a dangerous corollary: if Islamic fundamentalism were simply to become the majority (the "norm"), then everyone else would be the pathology. As is, I imagine, obvious, such a view validates the Islamic fundamentalist agenda.

I hope it's OK with everyone if I drop the cockroach analogy for a while.

Joshua (just Joshua)

As we know all indications are that most of the 9/11 hijackers did not grow up in the abject poverty you described. So I don't think poverty alone is the root cause we're looking for. Or for that matter the thing we're trying to change. You're absolutely correct that young men are the most suceptible to all kids of suggestion and peer pressure. Here this means smoking pot, drinking beer, and fighting with your crosstown rivals--of course how this manifests itself depends on whether you're in South Bronx or merely a dozen miles north in Scarsdale. Most of the time, we can write this off as part of "growing up" and eventually we straighten out and either end up dead, in jail, or a productive member of society. Clearly most end up in the latter category.

So what's missing "over there." Cash. Education (other than Madrassas). Women's rights. Technology. A middle class. Rights of the very most basic kind. In a way, I buy what your argument about a toned-down militant black movement here being the result of formal attempts to live up to our Founding documents. Although, I don't know how much the Nation of Islam had to do with it. Dr. King seems to have had more of a following--but whatever, that's not the point.

I think the point I'm trying to make is that, yes, all of the things you detail, in that part of the world, make it ripe for the fundamentalist brand of Isalm to appear to be the "way." If you haven't read Thomas Sowell's Townhall column today. His argument is sound. They hate us alright. But is it really our fault. When OBL & Co. rail about Andulasia and Poitiers do most of us have any idea what the hell they're talking about, let alone why someone would make such greivances part of their platform for the 21st Century? I know historically we know about the Caliphate, etc. but we must reject the idea that it's coming back in our lifetimes.

In almost every respect it is antithesis to what we believe in. Both Left and Right. And as Michele says the Far Left could give two shits because they don't seem to be all that crazy about (classic) liberal democracy either.

But I don't think OBL & Co. speak for everyone in the region. They may suck all the air out the room because they've got the only argument. That is why Iraq is so important. That is why there's a blog by an Iraqi called IRAQ THE MODEL. We're not betting the entire house on Iraq but we're in pretty deep. As it should be. If Iraq can become a "model" of something desirable for the people in the region to aspire to, then we've altered the discussion and OBL's idea of killing yourself and everybody else inside the blast radius will start to sound as fucked up to them as it does to us.

No, I don't believe Iraq will be a democratic prodigy, but if we continue to improve the lives of the people there, they'll come to see what we know. Turkey is probably the best example of what we can expect Iraq to be in the near future. Turkey's ain't perfect and they kind of screwed is the war but, hey, that's OK.

If we can get through this next phase of rebuilding Iraq, nuturing town councils and stuff, move from an interim contstitution to an offical one then I think we've done what we set out to do...in Iraq. By the time that happens, Iran may be in the hands of the "students," who by most reports I've read, are more than ready for freedom. Maybe if Iraq and Iran become our allies, minimally not outright enemies, then we will have made ourselves safer and the lives of millions in the region better.

And I'm under no illusion that any of this will be easy or that we or Europe or the "good" Iraqis will not suffer before this is through, BUT what the hell else are we going to do? Appeasment is not a policy. Negotiation may be but killing Americans, (and Spaniards, Israelis, etc.) cannot be tolerated and since we can't/shouldn't kill 'em all with our overwhelming weaponary we have to try this way. I see no other. And if all of this is no longer topical to the thread I apologize.

Oh and also I might be drunk.

"You love life. We love death."
'Nuff said.

Joshua, your theory is not without merit. But (and perhaps I am misunderstanding you), your solution seems to be that we should spend a lot of money to make other people more prosperous. This is a swell idea, but it cannot be done in a vacuum. You saw what happened in Saddam's Iraq---money that was supposed to go for food (under the oil for food program) instead went into Saddam's gold toilet seats.

This is not a problem unique to Baathist Iraq. It must be the total environment which is changed; you can't just hand gobs of development money over to the current regimes and expect things to change.

Many people have had the same idea you have. "We have to improve their lives!" How? Well, that's when they start using words like foster, encourage, support, develop---nice, soft, squishy words which aren't easily defined, but they involve spending lots of money to be siphoned off by kleptocrats in exchange for a few speeches at the UN and some signatures on documents they won't think of adhering to.

This is why regime change is essential, but it won't necessarily take place the way it did in Iraq.

Hey, there's this new movie out. Maybe you've heard of it? It's called The Passion of the Christ? And then there's all those saints...

That's a completely different concept of martyrdom (I'm not a Christian, I have no dog in this race, you know).

Making arguements where you shift words to other meanings than the one meant so that you can misrepresent what was said is completely dishonest.

Or perhaps you're ignorant, not dishonest. Perhaps don't actually know what definition the terrorists are using for shahids and perhaps you know nothing about Christianity.

One thing though, don't bother asking me for links. I'm not being paid to teach you, make your own efforts if you actually want to learn stuff. Thank you.

Also, studies show that Palestinian terrorists tend to be middle to upper class and educated as well. Before they were supposedly impoverished by the second intifada (some get rich off it too), Palestinians had the second highest median income of any group in the mid east (Israelis had the highest). Syrians who's average income was 1/4 of the Palestinians were indocrinated to pity them none the less. Reality has no voice and no outlet in the mid east after all.

So the poverty theory was wishful thinking.

I'm all for eliminating poverty, but wealth isn't the great denazifying force you'd like to think it is. And wealthy genocidal haters are probably more dangerous than poor ones, being able to afford better weapons etc.

You might as well claim that incest is caused by poverty. It's not related, er so to speak.

There are root causes. Genocidal idiology is deliberately taught, deliberately spread and in countries or territories that lack freedom of speech, civil rights etc., opposing viewpoints are visciously suppressed.

There doesn't need to be a root cause beyond indocrination. It's possible to raise a child to be a facist. He can be a poor facist or a rich facist - that detail isn't so important.

For instance people in the Palestinian territories are heavily oppressed - by Arafat and the other terrorists. But they're also well indoctinated to be facists (against their own interests), so they don't rebel against their actual oppressors, only against the Israelis.

Michele, if you weren't so caught up with your breast-beating rhetoric (and the opporunities it provides in domestic politics) you might realize that the attitude of most Europeans is NOT sympathy for Al Qaeda or unwillingness to confront it, but simply that they do not agree that invading Iraq was part of the war against terrorism.

The more the American administration and its surrogates tries to shove that insistence down their throat - in the face of all evidence - the greater will be the opposite reaction.

The risk, of course, is that by dogmatically insisting that black is white, the Administration will end up causing people to doubt that white is white, either.

Mork, that's because the European press refuses to investigate the actual cause of terrorism - probably out of fear of causing trouble with the unintegrated Mulsim population of Europe.

Public opinion is subject to a phenomon where the less information a person has, the more sure he is of his point of view. If you can maintain a total blackout of relevent information, then you can keep public opinion pegged solid to a single opinion.

And unfortunately the situation in the ME is hope

Come on Joshua - about half of America, and the majority of Australian and Britons share the same view.

When you think about it, it's not altogether illogical to imagine that the best way to combat terrorism is to ... combat terrorists.

Mork, the following will only pertain if you believed in the WMD rationale for the war in Iraq. Although it's not mutually exclusive from humanitarian and other reasons.

Saddam: Mortal enemy of the US and pretty much everyone else and has WMD (either stockpiled or production capacity.)

AQ & Co.: Mortal enemy of the US and pretty much everyone else and would like to kill as many people as possible (for whatever bullshit reasons.)

The idea that they wouldn't team up was not out of the question, especially after 9/11. Smash has a detailed post on how we did not abandon fighting Japan to fight the Nazis...er...I mean we did not abandon fighting AQ to fight Saddam.

Of course, if you believed Bush (and the UN, the French, etc) lied about the whole WMD then there's probably no convicing you that Iraq is part of the GWOT.

Oops I sent the post unfinished...

And the situation in the mid east is hopelessly complicated. Opinions can't be changed with a sound bite - only a real investigation of ME society would make it clear what's going on. That would require hours and hours of programming and news that would not only offend the governments in the ME it would also offend the masses of believers and bigots.

And Europeans are quite right to be afraid of trouble with their masses of unintegrated Muslims. They really would do almost anything to "let sleeping dogs lie".

While investigation is absent from the news, propaganda generated in the middle east is not. Propaganda is always designed to fit into simple sound bites, so it's generally more effective than the truth is anyway - in the absence of a mass of journalists who wish to put it in context.

Besides there may be a hope that filling the the papers with familiar propaganda will help placate those unitegrated Muslims. Perhaps they'll be more likely to trust the infidel's press if it sounds like their own.

So understanding is sacrificed and having an informed electorate is sacrificed. All for a hope that this fragile calm can be maintained.

Mork, since when is majority opinion = well informed opinion?

Please read the completion of my previous post before answering by the way.

Rob - anything is possible, but we usually only go to war if we have evidence of some sort of threat.

Fact: there were no meaningful links between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda.

Fact: there was no danger of Iraq proliferating nuclear or biological weapons ... because it didn't have any, nor the means to build any.

I don't dispute that it is a good thing for the Iraqi people that Saddam has gone, but I don't see how it has benefited the United States or harmed Al Qaeda. If anything, it has helped Al Qaeda by diverting U.S. resources and providing a rich source of propaganda.

And as a state actor, Iraq didn't pose anywhere near the threat to the United States posed by nations such as nearly the order of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or North Korea.

Mork

Ali Salem, an Egypian peace activist (the only Egyptian peace activist!) and who was in favor of the liberation of Iraq by the way, said that a bedoin saying explains what we were doing in Iraq. "You beat the dogs to scare the lions" We couldn't invade those other places, but liberating Iraq puts them in their place, destablizes their odious political systems, gives us a stable base of operations, partially defunds terrorist networks (who Saddam supported, often openly), and gives us access to oil, even if we end up as open enemies of those Saudi Arabia etc.

He also said that the Bathist party was based on German's Nazi party, so in his view, this was the last battle of WWII.

Also the WMD issue was the only issue the UN had approved going to war with Iraq over. It wasn't the reason, it was simply the reason for UN support.

You can't ask the government to be mulitlateral and ask it to be completely open and honest at the same time. Those requirements are completely incompatable. Make up your mind which one is important to you and pick it. Then don't hold the government responsible for sacrificing the other to get it.

The democratic whining about this is completely dishonest for that reason. They wanted us to go the UN. The politicians understand what that entails, they just assume (correctly) that the rest of us are too naive to know what they know.

Mork, your questions aren't unreasonable.... but you're still missing the point. "Fact: there were no meaningful links between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda." I'm sure that's comforting to the families of Israelis murdered by Palestinian bombers, when Saddam was paying $25,000 dollars to each of the bombers' families. Or are you claiming it isn't really terrorism if it isn't Al Qaeda? Wow, so those three bastards in Texas who dragged that man to death weren't racists, after all they weren't KKK members. And those teenagers in Wyoming weren't bigots, because they weren't skinheads. "Fact: there was no danger of Iraq proliferating nuclear or biological weapons ... because it didn't have any, nor the means to build any." Maybe, maybe not... but now, we know there are no weapons programs. And I'm sure the Kurds are happy to know Saddam never had chemical weapons. Besides, if our resources are "diverted" to Iraq then aren't AQ's as well? Or do you think they have infinite resources?

Mork

There were no links between boxcutters and 3,000 dead Americans prior to 9/11. I'll probably never believe that it was out of the realm of possiblities that AQ & Saddam would strike a deal as much as you won't believe that it was.

Saying Saddam didn't have any weapons or the means to build them is presumptuous. While, obviously, we haven't found 'em yet the whole world believed Saddam had 'em and he didn't comply with the ceasefire agreement and the subsequent UN resolutions which would have proven otherwise.

I agree that the whole Pakistani NukeMart situation was, in retrospect, probably a more realistic confluence that deserved our attention. However, we had to cast our lot with Musharaff to hammer away in Afghanistan. If we believe that Qaddaffi (or however we're spelling it today) capitulated as a result of the Iraq campaign, which more or less led to the AQ Khan revealtions (and stopping his "entrepreneurship" then I'd say we are better. That's without considering the good that will come out of a more free and democratic Iraq as I argued in a previous comment.

Has the Iraq war harmed AQ? Well. I'm sure we've killed hundreds of them so far as the "flypaper" strategy would suggest. That's good for us. If we can continue to bring Iraq to the fruition we're all hoping for than I'd say that does additional damage to AQ.

Obviously, there are AQ cells in Spain, Britain, France, here, and I'm pretty sure we'll see bloodshed in Athens at the Olympics this summer but I don't think that's because of Iraq. These guys don't need another reason to kill us (anyone) if they're holding on to defeats from the 8th Century anything we do today is only icing on the cake. They've already got the cake baked.

(Sorry for the baking analogy but it's the Guinness talking.)

Mork (and tangentially Joshua): I'll grant every single one of your "facts", rather than trying to convince you of their non-factual-ness.

Given that: What's with the focus on bin Laden?!? AQ is a vastly distributed network. Taking out the leader will do little to stop it. That's why we took over the entire country of Afghanistan. We weren't after the PERSON. We were after the organization.

Iraq was/is a STRATEGIC move, not a tactical one (as Afghanistan was). Look up the difference.

Changing Iraq is part of Joshua's "building a better house". We're cleaning up a huge mess. (The extent to which it was our fault is debatable, but the more our fault the more our responsibility to clean it up, wouldn't you say?) We're trying to create a bastion of liberal-ness. We're trying to create an example of alternatives to blowing up onesself. You can agree or disagree with how well we're doing, but THAT IS THE POINT. Everything else is secondary - and the President has said so, many times.

Why Iraq? Why not Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea? Because it was convenient. The choice of Iraq was tatical. The strategic interest would have been served by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, or Syria. (North Korea isn't relevant - it's dangerous but it's not breeding terrorists). We were already at war with Iraq (those pesky no-fly zones, the violations of UN resolutions, etc...). It was also a crippled country - an easy target.

It has already helped the US by pulling in AQ members from all over the Middle East to one convenient place to kill them.

It will help the US more in the future by providing a base of operations and an example of a better life than oppression under the mullahs.

It hasn't yet directly harmed AQ, but it wasn't intended to (see that difference between strategy and tactics again) in the short term.

To continue Joshua's house analogy: We're building a better house for ourselves by draining the swamp in our neighbor's yard that keeps leaking into our basement. Once that's done, we'll get to work on our basement. Before it's done, fixing the basement doesn't matter because more water will just leak in.

Michele - we agree, don't we, that our overwhelming priority is to dismantle the Islamist terror networks that are threatening the west?

With that in mind, can you understand why someone might read your post and conclude that it is you that misses the point? I mean, of course it is good that suicide bombers won't get their $25,000 from Saddam, but is that as significant as Pakistan's nuclear arms bazaar, or the billions that flow from Saudi Arabia to Islamaicist causes, or the cells being carefully built throughout the world, or Osama in his hidey hole in the Hindu Kush ...

As for your final sentence - I think you're kidding yourself if you think of Al Qaeda as a standing army that we can deplete one by one.

What it is is a loose and evolving affiliation of terrorist groups, some of which are highly organised and professional, others of which amount to little more that a group of madrassa students that, given the opportunity and motivation, might join the jihad, but otherwise might not. In that sense, the size and sophistication of Al Qaeda is dynamic, rather than static, and can be directly affected by the actions we take.

The "fly-trap" theory to which I presume you're alluding is foolishness itself. Yes, we might kill some Arabs who have taken up arms against the United States. But there's every reason to believe that if our troops weren't there, many those people would not be combatants. And meanwhile, elsewhere around the middle east, Islamacists propagandize about the Crusader plans to subjugate the middle east, and young men hear and believe ...

Interesting discussion you all are having. I believe that you have left out one word....

THEOCRACY

throw that one in your mix

The "fly-trap" theory to which I presume you're alluding is foolishness itself.

Interesting statistic for you. 100% of atrocities are committed by living terrorists.

While many terrorists are dead after they attack, 100% of them were alive before hand.

Very cute, Joshua.

But if they don't become a terrorist, they don't need killing.

And meanwhile, elsewhere around the middle east, Islamacists propagandize about the Crusader plans to subjugate the middle east, and young men hear and believe ...

And if we're successful this propaganda, will have competition and that will make a difference. Their propaganda has been going on basically unchanged for a hundred years (yes they say we're subjugating them even when we're absent - they have Hadiths which says that God says this, so newspaper reports are not really necessary).

When you become familiar with what's been going on in ME societies you realize that people there want our blood they want it badly, and they've wanted it for a long time.

There's a certain point where things are so bad that you can't reasonably argue that fighting can make it worse. But for the details of our technical superiority and their economic incompetence, we'd have had a world war with that part of the world years ago. They want it so damn badly.

Try this idea on for size. The situation is unbearably bad. It's so bad that we can't risk it staying this bad - we've been awfully lucky so far, and at this point if we don't start making out own luck, we're doomed.

Josh the Scholar. Your final sentence is alarming.........and I agree with you 100%

Thanks.

Actually my reaction to people agreeing with me is fear, not so much relief. Until America has a solid policy in place to reform the middle east, I won't sleep easy.

I also wouldn't take a 50/50 bet that Israel won't get hit with WMD in the next 15 years.

If America goes back to sleep, then my vision of the US in 50 to 100 years is - badly burned by WMD and our economy destroyed.

And in that case I wouldn't take 4 to 1 bet that Israel won't get badly hit.

America has tendency to give worse than we get, but I'm not sure what we'd do with an enemy that kills but does not claim responsibility. If we have a hawk in the white house we'd probably strike back at the worst enemy states at random - on a pretext, just to make the point that it's not safe to support terrorists. Big bombs drop. H-bombs.

There's a lot of death and a lot of suffering approaching under the irresponsible banner of those "Peace" signs.

People don't know what sort of snake oil Dean and Kerry (and Chirac et al.) are selling. It's like mandating peach pits and psychic surgery as treatment for cancer.

Joshua--Apart from your rather disgusting dismissal of the United States as the planet's jailor, I don't disagree with your basic point. How can I? I supported the war in Iraq. Now that I realize that by "house" you mean "the world," I agree that we need to do a little refurbishing in the Middle East. I dare say so does Michele, as she also supported the war. Why that approach should preclude us from doing a some roach-stomping on the side is beyond me, although perhaps you aren't arguing that it should. In which case, grand.

A few points. I think your understanding of Al Qaeda as a type of cult is correct. Opportunism + poverty + disaffected youth = 1920s Germany. The thing is, it wasn't just the poor and disaffected who became Nazi true believers. It was the whole society, top to bottom, rich, middle, and poor. Were upper- and middle-class Nazis all "well-off asshole[s] who want[ed] the sons of the poor to die for some cause that profit[ed] them politically or economically"? That is to say, were they all using Nazism as a means to some ulterior end? Because if you go by the newsreels and historical texts, they seem pretty into it. On the flip side, America had its own share of poor, young, disaffected men in the 1930s, and yet . . . no Hitlers. Makes me think there's some kind of important cultural difference lurking there amidst all the exploiting of the proletariat by the bougeoisie.

Incidentally, I'm not sure I buy the idea of thousandsor even millions of Arab men squatting in "mud huts," obsessing over the fact that you and I get to go to Disneyland and ride Space Mountain. There are a lot of people in this country living in conditions not much better than those, but they haven't flown any airplanes into skyscrapers lately. Must be another cultural difference. Instead of wondering how many Jews they should kill because they can't get a Netflix account, shouldn't the mud-hut gang worry a little more about, you know, making some money? Or else getting rid of the government that's responsible for their lack of opportunities? Seems to me if anyone warrants comparison to a jailor, it's the people in charge in Iran right now. And Syria. And Egypt. And . . . .

I doubt you and I will ever see eye to eye because our models of the world are simply incompatible. You've imagined it as one house with many rooms. I imagine it as a neighborhood with many houses. If my next-door neighbor needs help getting rid of some thug who has his foot on my neighbor's neck, I'm all for helping out. But if my neighbor starts throwing rocks through my window and bitching to me about the fact that I have a DVD player and he doesn't, I'm going to take a swing at him. And if he persists, I'm going to burn his fucking house to the ground. Wouldn't you? Sure, you could buy him a DVD player and solve the problem without violence, but what on earth makes you think he won't be back next week asking for a big-screen TV? You say:

Now, there are plenty of people who will say, "The voting model wasn't working." I say, "It has to work. Make it work. Anything else isn't a house, it's a fucking jail. . . ."

It'll never work. It'll never work. Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats couldn't get the voting model together despite their shared culture, yet you want us to enact it on a global, trans-cultural, trans-racial, trans-religious scale? Let's pretend for a moment that the U.S. took your advice and went balls deep for the voting model. Full authority to the U.N., the whole nine yards. If I were the president of China, I'd be on the phone before the day was out ordering Chinese troops into Taiwan. If I were Kim Jong-Il, I'd have North Korean soldiers in Seoul as fast as their tanks could carry them. That's how much respect I'd have for the voting model vis-a-vis my own ambitions. The point is, there will always be big scary fuckers wanting to make the world their own personal jail. There'll always be opportunists who value their own power above the reasoned debate of the voting model, and there'll always be geographical and racial lines they can use to convince their people of their superiority and exceptionalism. That being so, the voting model is dead on arrival. It's a prisoner's dilemma and it sucks, but my understanding of human nature doesn't offer any way around it. To borrow your analogy which I don't agree with, we're all stuck in jail. If you have a better candidate for jailor than the U.S., by all means, share.

On a personal note, I appreciate that your "a DVD player in every pot" foreign policy improves our chances at survival--at least in the short-term. (Not sure what happens when Osama comes knocking next time wanting a Tivo, but presumably you think that won't happen because everyone will be content once there's equality of DVD players. Or something.) My attitude, though, is that once lives start getting threatened, the time for dialogue is over. Doesn't matter how legitimate the grievances might be. Honestly, I'll never understand how some people can be told "Do as I say or die" and respond by asking, "What can I do to make your life better?"

Anyway, let's hope that Iraq works out.

You get to go to Disneyland and ride Space Mountain?

O God, destroy the aggressive Mousecetteers and the tyrant Tourists and shake the ground under their feet.

Josh and Allah.

Someone once told me that anyone who has a simple answer to a complicated problem just doesn't understand the problem. Neither of you suggest that you have the ONE answer, so I see that you both do understand how complicated this problem is. And you both do try to come up with some interesting thoughts on the matter.

We talk here and exchange ideas, but in the end, the politicians of the world will manage to screw up the situation until it becomes too ghastly to do anything other than have the economies of the west collapse. That is where I see that war ultimately being fought (and lost).

Think of what the world situation becomes if the Islamists manage to control 30 or 40% of the worlds oil and just shut it down. And at the same time have some sort of nuclear device.

A terrorist group will acquire some sort of nuclear capability. Maybe not this year or next, but someday. It is inevitable. And then what??

Ted

That is some grim shit. Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Your point is not lost on me though. You're right that we have to rely on politicians. While this is not an encouraging fact, I think another way of looking at it is that the Americans (et al) fighting this war and who have begun rebuild Iraq are who we have to put faith in. Men like Chief Wiggles, Smash, and the others we don't know by name, as well as the Americans like Scott Elliot's recently murdered parents who are on the ground in Iraq illustrating exactly who we are. Unfortunately, it appears our desire to for a lasting peace overrules prudence in security. We don't indiscriminantly kill, so innoncents on our side die. Hell of a paradox but it may be the price we are going to have to pay. I have no experience at all to second guess Gen. Sanchez (and whoever else makes the calls) or Bremer, but they and the men they lead are who we have pin our hopes on. Americans have done it before and I think we stil have it in us.

Your conjecture (in the Wretchard sense)is of course the most worrisome thing we have to face and I don't know what happens then.

I guess we do our best.

It's erie how when you get to this point in the conversation, the peaceniks and near peaceniks all slink away - or ignore my posts. Every time.

I don't care what the hard core peaceniks will say, they're broken records, but does Mork, fr'intance, have a thought at this point?

Josh, it is bedtime here now.Have your read Clash of Civilizations,What Went Wrong or Civilization & Its Enemies??

Ted, it's the media and other culture makers that we're at the mercy of.

The other day I heard a Berkeley prof and NY Times writer (same guy) give a talk on Iraq. He censored the hell out of everything he said in order to hide info from his audience. He didn't want us knowing anything that might lead us to conclude that slinking back under the bed with our tails between our legs was the wrong choice.

As a country, we can't solve any problem the media won't give us info about. And they are on strike in a way.

They run in packs so that could change. If AQ is stupid enough to really hit us again, it may change. But I think they'll hold off from big attacks until they've got really big guns and we have really weak leadership. Years.

And if they wait long enough, the media is less likely to wake up the second time either.

But it's the media, not the politicians who are the problem. If we supported him, I think GWB would go the distance. But we don't so we're doing a half assed job. Anyway we can't be more than half assed without the support of other big blocks for cash and resources - Europe or Asia.

But nonMuslim Asia seems to be off the map for AQ and Co. They haven't been telling their children that Japanese or Chinese people are evil, though in theory nonabrahamic religions are supposed to be not tolerated at all - death sentence sort of not tolerated.

BTW where's India in all this? I know they're poor, but they also have problems with Muslim terrorists.

China... Well the Libyan/Paki nuke plans were in Chinese. Bastards!

And Russia hates us too much to be of any help.

Guess I'm rambling.

Ted, no, never read it.

Joshua - there are two reasons for that. First, you have drifted off into a meta-narrative that doesn't have a very clear anchor to anything that we have been debating or could sensibly discuss now. Do I agree that islamic terrorism is a big problem? Of course I do. Do I agree that one of the principle contributing factors is the debased and impotent culture of many mid-east states? Of course I do.

But clearly we disagree on how best to counter the probelm.

The second reason is that once you start turning this into a partisan political issue, as you did above, I'm prepared to conclude that you're arguing in bad faith and switch off.

Let me explain why. It's obvious to me that all of our major political leaders are committed to the defeat of terrorism: the only differences are about methods and priorities. It's also obvious to me that it's vitally important that this remain the case ... and that constantly affirming that fact, rather than disputing it, is the most effective and practical way to ensure that it does.

For this reason, I assume that anyone who questions the commitment of either side to fighting terror thinks that the success of their party is more important than the success of the campaign against terror.

And I'm not going to take seriously - or accept as sincere - the views of anyone who thinks that.

Rumble!

Allah, what you said. I'm there. What you didn't say, is that liberty and rule of law gives citizens the opportunity to get the DVD player. And, to not worry about some shithead with eagles on his epaulets and sunglasses coming by this evening to rape their daughter. Sometimes I wonder if Bush is the only one who gets that (besides you and me).

Ted. Man, I hope not. Cause I really fear the gloves coming off, and we will lose our restraint, and we will start turning ME shitholes into self-lighting parking lots.

Joshua Scholar and Allah. I've been proud of our restraint. My God (no pun intended big guy), we've given our own blood, after 9/11, our blood, to give people hope. Because their hope is ours. But also because, like Blair said, we're it.

I don't know what will happen. But I can look at our track record, back when we had endured 4 years of hell for the world. The Marshall Plan. Rebuilding Japan (and guys, do you remember the absolute racist hate mongering we whipped up to fight Japan?). We beat them to a bloody pulp, and put them back together again. Look at them now.

That's my hope.

Mork what they're committed to is of no consequence, if they're commited to using methods that are doomed to uselessness.

For instance, Kerry's pledge to never go to war without the support of say Syria, China and France on the security council is a pledge to never go to war at all. That strips his "tough" talk of any persuasive force in world politics because everyone knows it's all posturing for us idiot voters and doesn't mean a word he says. He's a pacifist. And we can't afford to have a pacifist in the White House right now. We probably won't be able to afford that luxury for the next century.

Anyway I never care about intentions, only outcomes. Kerry can intend a safe future all he wants, but if he doesn't allow us the tools to bring it about - that makes him useless.

I'll support a politician who does the right thing for the wrong reasons every time, just as I'll oppose someone who does the wrong thing for the right reasons every time.

Now either you're willing to talk about outcomes or you're a mystic who thinks that the world changes through mere intention and then, yes we have nothing to talk about.

Now get off your high horse and talk about reality, not bullshit like accusing me of "bad faith" whatever that is.

"bad faith" sounds like a good name for a band though.

I think you slink away because you don't want to think about the possibilites I bring up. You want to stay on familiar ground and away from facing panic and dispair even if the real world is full of horrors requiring serious attention lest they become catastrophies.

Is refusing to really consider the possiblilties with me bad faith?

See, Joshua - you can't even discuss party politics without telling a lie - when did John Kerry ever say that he wouldn't use force without Security Council approval?

I'll tell you. He didn't. In fact, he's repeatedly stated the exact opposite.

And what possible evidence do you have for calling John Kerry, a decorated war veteran, and a person who has repeatedly voted to support the use of American arms, a pacifist?

I use "bad faith" as a polite way of saying "dishonesty", which is what you have just demonstrated.

If you're determined to lie about security issues in support of your preferred political party, why should I take seriously anything you say?

Uhm, funny I read a long bit on Kerry's web site the other day that seemed to say just that.

Of course Kerry is pretty mealy mouthed. I guess he probably tries to make it sound like that when he talks to a Dean supporting audience and the opposite a week later when his handlers tell him that message didn't go over so well in the heartland.

But no, I'm not being dishonest. It's my impression, from the statements I've heard Kerry make, that Kerry would not go to war without UN (or at least West European) approval.

Almost out of batteries on my cell phone so I won't have time to edit this before plugging the phone into the wall for a while....

But I want to say that Kerry makes emphatic statements. Then when they don't go over well he makes emphatic statements that say the opposite. In those cases I prefer to believe what he said first.

And I believe that a man who does this has no backbone - and we'll be taken for suckers if he "leads" us.

But anyway if you'd rather project dishonesty and play with politics than consider my thoughts, fears, observations. Politics rather than reality and the future, then we have nothing to talk about.

I guess Mork prefers only argues with people who agree with him a priori.

Okay--
I went home yesterday and didn't log on last night, is why I dropped out of the discussion. I agree with most of what Mork has posted, particularly that, "[Al Qaeda] is a loose and evolving affiliation of terrorist groups, some of which are highly organised and professional, others of which amount to little more that a group of madrassa students that, given the opportunity and motivation, might join the jihad, but otherwise might not. In that sense, the size and sophistication of Al Qaeda is dynamic, rather than static, and can be directly affected by the actions we take."

I also agree with him re Joshua Sch.

Allah- We don't see eye to eye, but I think we understand each other. We could debete specifics-- and maybe will at a future date --but I think we're good for now. Nice crossing swords with you and thank you for a reasoned response.

This is nutty.

I remember the public letters between Chris Hitchens and Noam Chomsky.

Noam called Chris a racist in one of the letters and when Chris Hitchens defended himself, Noam, who seems senile these days, seemed to forget that the previous letter was public and denied having made the accusation, saying "this shows how the media work" and "no one need ever take Chris Hitchens seriously again [paraphrase]".

So the way to be branded a liar is to quote Chomsky to Chomsky.

Similarly I'm a liar for talking about what Kerry says to Kerry supporters. Yuck. Michele herself found a quote on Kerry's site that said that he requires the support of our "allies" to go to war... But the hell I'm going to search through the comments to find that or through Kerry's site for you guys.

You win by being too obnoxious to argue with. Congradulations.

Joshua Sch;

In Texas, we'd call ya a "lahr". I mean, only if ya "lahed" about ennythin.