Saturday, April 08, 2006

Wafa Sultan, Jacksonian, vs. the Boston Phoenix: feeding that ravenous crocodile

[CORRECTION: It's been pointed out by several commenters that the linked article appears to be by one Amit Ghate, not Wafa Sultan, although it appeared on the latter's blog. The link was originally sent to me and identified as being from Wafa Sultan's blog. Under the influence of mental set and expectations, I assumed that it was by Dr. Sultan herself, without thinking to check the byline. I usually try to be extraordinarily careful about such things, but I'm only human, and certainly some things can slip by me, as this one did. So, I stand corrected: it was published on Dr. Sultan's blog, but it is by Amit Ghate. And, although Dr. Sultan is still the same brave person, she didn't write the "extraordinarily hard-hitting article," although it certainly seems to be simpatico with her point of view.]

No, Wafa Sultan hasn't directly challenged the alternative newspaper known as the Boston Phoenix. But she mentions the paper in passing in this extraordinarily hard-hitting article which appeared on her website "Annaqed."

Dr. Sultan, whom I wrote about previously here, is Syrian-born. She is what Islam would consider an apostate from the faith, a psychiatrist who lives in America now. She recently achieved some notoriety through an outspoken interview she gave on Al Jazeera, praising Western Enlightenment thought and criticizing the oppression and ignorance she feels is rampant in many Moslem countries.

Her new piece is worth reading in its entirety (although I have some disagreements with her reading of ancient history--but that's another topic, perhaps for another time). It's the part of her article that deals with recent history that I find especially interesting and provocative, particularly her take on the passivity of the Western world since the Iranian kidnappings of 1979, which she feels was an act of war and should have been treated as such.

Dr. Sultan pulls no punches, to say the least; she sets up a Jacksonian challenge to Western countries to begin defending themselves and their culture with greater vigor, or to face continuing to be perceived by the Islamicist jihadis as weak and therefore relatively easy prey. Here's some of the flavor of Dr. Sultan's article:

...our government, under the pacifist Jimmy Carter, wrung its hands and negotiated with a regime which had just broken the most basic law of diplomacy. (Two half-hearted, under-manned and under-planned rescue attempts were made, but the fiascos only underscored how unwilling the government was to use its military force to remedy the problem).

This event signaled to all observers, that though the West still had abundant physical means to defend its citizens, it had lost its will to do so. In fact, not only would it not defend its citizens, it would even act against them, as did the US State Department when, after the eventual release of the hostages, it quashed their attempt to seek redress in international courts, simply to avoid “stirring up” trouble with foreign nations!

The absence of any military response and the complete abdication of the government’s responsibility to its citizens was the first sign to the Islamic world that it could act with impunity against any Western citizen -- and act it did. A series of attacks throughout the Middle East followed.

What do I mean when I refer to Dr. Sultan's position as "Jacksonian?" It's part of Walter Russell Meade's famous schema of strains in American foreign policy (and one of those many topics I'm saving for a longer post); see here for a summary, here for an article by Meade on Jacksonians, and here for his book Special Providence.

This is a summary of the Jacksonian position:

The driving belief of the Jacksonian school of thought is that the first priority of the U.S. Government in both foreign and domestic policy is the physical security and economic well-being of the American populace. Jacksonians believe that the US shouldn't seek out foreign quarrels, but if a war starts, the basic belief is "there's no substitute for victory" – and Jacksonians will do pretty much whatever is required to make that victory happen. If you wanted a Jacksonian slogan, it's "Don't Tread On Me!" Jacksonians are generally viewed by the rest of the world as having a simplistic, uncomplicated view of the world, despite quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.

If you read Dr. Sultan's piece with an eye to Meade's categories, you'll see how very Jacksonian it is. Dr. Sultan links together the last thirty-five years of terrorist acts with responses from the West that treat them, not as acts of war, but with various degrees of appeasement, capitulation, and/or ineffective responses. Towards the end of the piece, Dr. Sultan offers the following very Jacksonian declaration of intent:

...let us resurrect Dumas’ famous Musketeers’ rallying call: “One for All and All for One” emphasizing the latter phrase. For only by standing together to defend each individual can a peaceful society exist. Thus we must stand together and protect the lonely author who dares question a religion and who is sentenced to death because of it. We must stand together to defend his publishers who are firebombed for printing the book. We must stand together to defend the individual film-maker and political dissident who criticize Islam and are sentenced to death because of it. We must stand together to defend the benign cartoonist, who pens a simple cartoon, and is then forced into hiding by death threats and bounties.

To stand together means to assert our rights with our government as our agent. To those who threaten us with force, asserting our rights means responding with force, in fact, with overwhelming force. We must say to Iran (which on February 14 just reconfirmed the Rushdie fatwa) “oust and turn over the regime which sees fit to condemn a single citizen of ours to death, or face all out war.” And if they refuse, give them the war they started, but be sure to win it decisively, not protecting their mosques and infrastructure, but instead doing everything necessary to ensure they have no capacity to ever threaten us again.

The statement of an all-out no-holds-barred Jacksonian impulse is sobering, is it not? What Dr. Sultan is proposing is no less than the threat of a World War III, and a hot one at that.

I personally hope that this is not necessary, and that Dr. Sultan is wrong, although at times I fear that she is right. Because the distinguishing characteristic of this particularly enemy is its emphasis on the world to come, and its willingness to embrace the death of hordes of its own people in the cause of establishing a new Caliphate. Unfortunately, although vast numbers of "moderate Moslems" may be against this cause (and we have no way of knowing how many there are who fit that description), it may not matter, if leaders such as those in Iran are for it, and if they've shown their the willingness to sacrifice their own people to establish their version of heaven on earth, and to defeat the Great and Little Satans.

How does the Boston Phoenix enter into this? It's a tabloid freebie paper, a relic of the 60s, and one I've read off and on for all these long years. It intersperses notices and reviews of cultural events--concerts, theater, poetry readings, all that good stuff--with actual news stories from a basic leftist/liberal perspective. You know the type of thing; probably every big city has its equivalent.

In Dr. Sultan's article, she deals with the recent Mohammed cartoons issue at some length. That's the context in which she mentions that the Boston Phoenix had refused to run the cartoons.

That fact alone didn't surprise me, but their stated reason for not running them did. Here it is:

...fear of retaliation from the international brotherhood of radical and bloodthirsty Islamists … This is, frankly, our primary reason for not publishing any of the images in question … we are being terrorized, and as deeply as we believe in the principles of free speech and a free press, we could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix … in physical jeopardy … this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year publishing history.

I did not expect such a bold statement from the Phoenix, using phrases such as "bloodthirsty Islamists," and freely admitting their fear of retaliation was the reason they desisted. Other publications (for example, the NY Times) had emphasized their sensitivity to Moslem feeling, instead.

Interestingly, the Phoenix actually pointed out the Times's hypocrisy, here, in an article in which the Phoenix called out the Times for refusing to show similar cultural and religious sensitivity when it insisted on publishing the photo of an ultra-Orthodox Jew who had already protested the publication of said picture for religious reasons.

Columnist Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe, one of their few conservative writers, got into the act as well, here:

Journalists can be incredibly brave, but when it comes to covering the Arab and Muslim world, too many news organizations have knuckled under to threats. Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, a veteran foreign correspondent, admitted long ago that ''physical intimidation" by the PLO led reporters to skew their coverage of important stories or to ignore them ''out of fear." Similarly, CNN's former news executive, Jordan Eason, acknowledged after the fall of Saddam Hussein that his network had long sanitized its news from Iraq, since reporting the unvarnished truth ''would have jeopardized the lives of . . . our Baghdad staff."

Like the Nazis in the 1930s and the Soviet communists in the Cold War, the Islamofascists are emboldened by appeasement and submissiveness. Give the rampagers and book-burners a veto over artistic and editorial decisions, and you end up not with heightened sensitivity and cultural respect, but with more rampages and more books burned. You betray ideals that generations of Americans have died to defend.

Appeasement doesn't seem to work--it merely feeds the crocodile, as Churchill famously said--but I can understand why it's used so often. If I were a journalist working for the Phoenix or any other publication, would I want to lay my life on the line to publish those cartoons? I'm happy I don't have to answer the question.

And I can well understand the West's denial, for so many years during the last decades of the twentieth century, of the nature and seriousness of the enemy we face--after all, in my own small way, I was part of that denial. Some are still in denial, and this is also understandable: who among us can face the sort of destructive prospect Dr. Sultan is suggesting be unleashed? Can there not be a Wilsonian solution instead? Please? Oh, pretty please?

Because the alternative seems very grim, indeed.

I'll close with more words from Winston Churchill on a similar matter:

If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

[NOTE: You might want to take a look at this post by Vodkapundit Stephen Green, which discusses the same issue from another angle, that of a recent time-travel short story by Dan Simmons. Vodkapundit also discussed the issue yesterday, in this post about the meaning of the phrase "whatever it takes." He writes:

“Whatever it takes” is what we’re trying to avoid. Whatever we're doing might just be working.

I certainly hope so.]


At 3:25 PM, April 08, 2006, Anonymous douglas said...

"Because the alternative seems very grim, indeed."
But when we try to avoid a 'grim alternative' so often we've wandered even farther into the muck and been forced to fight through a far grimmer reality...
History has lessons, our instinctual desire for comfort must be overcome.

At 3:43 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

douglas: That's the message of that final Churchill quote--a sobering one, indeed.

At 4:29 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger pelted said...

Neo-neocon. Do I ever feel you! I'm a former liberal, though I don't think I've gone quite as far as you have in the other direction. I've just sort of abandoned labels. I was in the East Village when the planes hit, and the world started to look a lot different. Love Iraqthemodel and Big Pharoah and Egyptian Sandmonkey, and I'm certainly far from convinced that the Iraq War was a mistake. Anyway, I don't have much to say. It's just rare to find someone else who has undergone this transformation during this time-period. My wife thinks I've gone insane, but I'm so grateful for Bush's stubbornness and resolve and fighting spirit, even though I don't agree with him about many social issues.

Thanks for the post about Dr. Sultan's interview on Al Jazeera. One of the things that 'turned' me was a long email exchange I had with an Al Jazeera reporter that showed me how these people really think.

At 4:30 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Wars are caused by misunderstandings. You might think that this is some Leftist Utopian slogan, but it really isn't if you look at the applications.

The Gulf War was caused by the misunderstanding that the US didn't care that Saddam would invade, that we were just showboating to the world with our build up.

The Iraq War was caused by the misunderstanding that France, RUssia, and China would veto any UN Resolutions calling for an Iraqi invasion, and thus without a Resolution the US would not invade. Regardless of how these misunderstandings came about, the net result is that misunderstandings cause war, even if war isn't about misunderstandings.

A lot of wars end up being caused by misunderstandings, and then being about something totally unrelated or just simply lenghtly related. Like the American Civil War. Or WWI for that matter. Or WWII. A simple misunderstanding about Hitler's intents and goals, causes a war about the future of Nazism, racial purity, and the exintinction of the Jews.

The purpose of diplomacy is to ease misunderstandings, to communicate in the language of the Other so that the Other understands your aims and can communicate their interests to you, without confusion. Thus wars can be prevented if the underlying causes are understood and a peaceful method reached in agreement by all parties. WWII, caused by the biggest misunderstanding yet. Hitler hath told them that he was out for world domination in his book, Mein Kampf. The Diplomads in ENgland just didn't believe it, so they misunderstood both his honest intent and his fabricated lies in diplomacy, and thus caused a world war to consume millions of innocents and combatants alike.

When a nation or a people declares their undying hatred of you and their manifesto to destroy you and your people, there is already a state of undeclared war between you. There is no need for diplomacy in an unstated declaration of war between 2 people or two nations. That is why diplomacy didn't work against Hitler and Germany, and this is why diplomacy doesn't and will not work against Al Qaeda or Iran. Diplomacy, in a state of undeclared war, simply becomes a tool of that war. As diplomacy was a tool to stall for time as the Japanese diplomats talked and talked about treaties, all the while while they knew their country planned for a pre-emptive first strike.

You can tell real diplomats from fake ones, simply by locating which diplomats understand the state of undeclared war and which diplomats seem to think war only comes if the other side declares it openly. Bush, seems to think war only comes if one of either two parties declare it. As on 9/11. Bush is wrong. Condi might understand it the other way, but she works for Bush so it doesn't matter. The UN is in a state of undeclared war against the United States. Most Americans seem to think we're still at peace, and that if we can keep the UN close, we can get an edge. It doesn't matter what edge you get, if you aren't willing to kill your enemy but your enemy is willing to kill you. Having that enemy close to you, gives him the advantage, not you.

The military hopes and prays that the diplomats solve problems peacefully. Because what the diplomats pock up, the military has to clean up. With blood and vigilance, no less. However, the longer the diplomats do nothing and let the military do nothing in a state of undeclared war, the more damage the military will incrue. I.E. the 6+ months given to Saddam increased military casualties dramatically simply because it allowed Saddam to implement Black Hawk Down plans, which the insurgency is still benefiting from, irregardless of all those weapons caches Saddam hid in the boondocks. It's not just Saddam, Syria and Iran planned for 6 plus months the weapons, logistics, and payment installations for suicide bombers while Bush dickered in the UN.

Do not dick around with diplomacy in a state of undeclared war. You'd think the diplomats would have understood the basic purpose of diplomacy after the lessons of Pearl harbor, 9/11, WWII, and a host of others.

When diplomacy works, like with Libya, that's fine. It is the way it should be. When diplomacy is contributing between a misunderstanding between two nations, like with Iran and the US, diplomacy is Not Fine.

As for the journalists, we all know that they are human, and humans are ridiculously easy to manipulate. Anyone who takes a journalist's word for it that they are reporting the truth, needs a second opinion. It's the naivette of people who say Bush is controlling the media, and don't understand how easy they themselves are susceptible to manipulation that is the problem. Journalists are not brave supermen, for one thing they don't carry weapons. People who don't carry weapons, nukes, and SF escorts are called "prey" to violent people. When the prey say they are standing up to Bush Hitler for Truth and Justice, you got to understand that most people don't risk their lives for Truth or Justice. Most people who do, already went into the military and have gone out of it already. Or went into other fields of work, and then tried to join the military after 9/11. Or died on Flight 93 when the Truth came to them unbidden. The few reporters who are brave, don't have the influence, power, or weight of opinion as editors do. As is the case in most organizations. The front line troops know most of what is going on, the paper pushers in the back have a decidedly more narrow view.

who among us can face the sort of destructive prospect Dr. Sultan is suggesting be unleashed? Can there not be a Wilsonian solution instead? Please? Oh, pretty please?

I can get you a Wilsonian solution, but it requires some things you might not want to contemplate. You can get almost any solution you want, you just have to be willing to pay the price. There are no free stuff in the world to be had at no risk. Except death anyway, that's always free. Death and taxes, the only things that you can acquire without doing anything at all.

They want to see the U.S. involved on a worldwide basis with a peaceful international community based on the rule of law.

If you want the US to be the police, then the US basically has to commandeer the military power of the globe and monopolize the use of lethal force. Reserving only self-defense to the rest. You're not going to have that without shedding some blood, preferably the other guy's. They're not going to give up their guns and armies just cause we say we're the police, and we are all going to live in a peaceful international community based upon the rule of law instead of the rule of guns. The use or presence of nuclear weapons would probably mean instant retaliation, like a SWAT or ATF raid. Except with more boom, like nuclear mushroom boom. The police can get ahold of crime, because the police has better guns than the criminals. What's a better gun than a nuclear bomb? Who is going to pay attention to the police and the rule of law, when they have a nuclear bomb? Nobody, unless of course you make it plain that the cost for having a nuke is less than the cost for not having a nuke. The fundamental implications of international rule of law is very easy, almost too easy, to figure out.

The problem with Wilsonians is that they're aren't willing to kill enough people to reach the critical mass for their rule of law. Plenty of people had to be killed before the Wild West was brought under civilization, and the Wild West wasn't even another country. The other problem with Wilsonians is that they are another Emperor Justinian, trying to conquer the Western Roman Empire and depleting vital resources and man power to do it. Sure, they may be honestly interested in law like Justinian, but what a waste of resources. Just cause you can conquer the world, doesn't mean you can keep it under the rule of law. As the Roman Empire found out soon enough when they succeded in reconquering the Western Roman Empire.

Bush could have gotten away with like a Clinton Asprin factory bombing after the iranian hostage situation, and detered them. We had plenty of chances. 9/11 was the final stop warning. Do something now, or the other attack will be a nuke (and it ain't a coincidence that the Dr Khan network was active and Iran was years in the nuke making business)

Now it escalates. Bombings is not enough deterence. Sanctions, not enough. Perhaps not even Unrestricted Submarine Warfare is enough to make Iran stop.

Iran understands that the US is weak, and either Bush does not have the resources to invade because the NYtimes will pull his head off, or they can wait until Bush goes away and then they're free with a nuke for protection.

What is Bush doing to make Iran understand that their understanding is a mistake? Showing 30% approval polls maybe? Is that going to make Iran understand that peace is better than war? Telling the Europeans we're going to work with them to stop Iran, is that going to convince Iran we're too tough to fight?

Bush is not good at diplomacy, and the State Department diplomats are most of them Democrats and love the government cushion jobs. So he gets zero help from there.

At 5:27 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger David said...

We are in great danger of seeing freedom of speech and freedom of the press become increasingly empty shells, because of physical intimidation. From the standpoint of any one organization, it's relatively painless to say "one issue of one magazine matters less than the safety of our employees and customers," or "one lecture matters less than the safety of our student." But when enough organizations make these decisions, extortion becomes increasingly common.

See some additional thoughts by Churchill on the dangers of allowing domestic politics to be influenced by intimidation.

At 6:02 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The "press" free or not, never was the guaranteer of human or civil rights. That confusion, is dangerous to have here and now.

At 7:03 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger still realizing said...

1. Ymarsakar: Your comment was as large as the article yet left out the misunderstanding of the Japanese in 1941: They believed that the US would retreat after being attacked in the Pacific. The US also misunderstood it's own Navy: Washington concluded the Japanese might attack anywhere but Pearl Harbor since Pearl Harbor must be invulnerable -- that's where the fleet is.

The Korean War was started in part because North Korea misunderstood that the US would fight when South Korea was attacked. The US didn't understand itself too well either, and didn't realize that it had to defend South Korea until after it was attacked.

2. The Islamic Revolution in 1979 was misunderstood by the US, who thought the Ayatollahs to be moderate anti-Communists.
And they didn't understand the takeover of the US Embassy by "The Students" thinking they were perhaps not part of the Iranian government. The government in Iran was new and it's nature was not known and Washington didn't want to set in concrete and anti-American attitude in Tehran. Logic indicated that the Muslims should be business partners with the West and anti-communists.
When the Soviet Union was powerful Islam seemed like a logical ally to cultivate.

Lastly, remember the media screws up everything in their own way. ABC's nightly show during the Iran Hostage Crisis was called "America Held Hostage". The whole crisis seemed like it must have been a mistake.

At 8:10 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I wouldn't say that a misunderstanding about Pearl Harbor happened though. As far as I know, the Japanese Admiral who designed the attack, knew the Sleeping Power of America and wanted to cripple it in one fell stroke (the carriers, the most important thing on the high seas) with Pearl Harbor. It would have worked too, except the carriers weren't in dry dock. They were out on exercise or something. Bad intel on the Japanese's part.

If you look at Midway, you would realize that had our 3 carriers been wrecked, Japan would have had a much higher chance to win that battle. And therefore controlled the strategic position of Midway, and they would have had the attack momentum and carried the war to our shores. Logistically, we were golden, but that would have been psychologically detrimental. It was the best the Japanese could do. If they can take the wars to our shores, then they expected we would settle for a peace treaty or some such. We were still busy with Hitler after all. The only chance a small nation has against a large nation in a war, is to end that war as soon as possible. The Japanese strategy was flawed but well begun. If they had carried through with their surprise attack instead of conserving their ships, they might have gotten more of the infrastructure of Pearl. Japanese intentions and torpedoe beliefs

It isn't true that Washington didn't understand their own navy in the way you mean it. Most Naval men didn't understand their own Navy. The power of the Carriers as opposed to the ships of the line, Battleships, were still a new concept. Most Admirals were still battleship admirals, not carrier admirals. That is a big difference in how they decided to defend strategic locations. Most of them were not concerned about a carrier launched air attack, most of them were worried about sabotage of the air wing at Pearl rendering them unable to scout and launch attacks against an enemy fleet. Washington's problem was that they were intentionally witholding stuff from being given to the Navy.

One of those fog of war deals. The Admiral in charge of Pearl at the time, wasn't incompetent. Roosevelt's appointed replacement, however, was incompetent, and undecisive, and a coward. Look up Wake Island. Kimmel himself lays the record straight, about Pearl. Kimmel

The idea of a carrier launched air attack, was an innovative and quite effective strategy collated and formed by one of their best strategists. The reason why Washington believed Pearl Harbor was immune to torpedoe attacks is because the bottom of the harbor was too shallow for a torpedoe to drop and then cruise onto the target. The Japanese ingeniously solved this by building a sort of wooden shaft of some kind to cushion the impact, and somehow made the torpedoes work under water at the harbor. The Japanese, masters of low tech heh. Their rifles were low tech, there pistols were low tech, everything was low tech to the Japanese. Low tech, but it worked.

The intel Roosevelt received by the British at Taranto, where they torpedoed ships in shallow waters, were ignored.

The Democrats are seen by some as the war party of America. But a Democrat run war is a damn disaster whether now or before. People think the armor issue is a big thing now, they should read what was going on with the torpedoes in WWII. Read about cheap torpedoes Roosevelt didn't do anything about

The loyalty Americans showed to Roosevelt makes the treatment Bush has received, a simple disgrace. A Democrat gets away with malfeasance on the crazy level, because nobody will criticize a President in war time, but a Republican like Lincoln and Bush gets punched in the face all the time by critics. Democrats are masters at ruthlessness, they just aren't all that wise in the end.

"Un-patriotic", I don't think so. Reading history gives you too much information about how all the time people want to manipulate you.

The Japanese issue wasn't really a misunderstanding between Japan and America. So there was no need to go off and talk about it in relation to what Neo said.

At 11:00 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Dr. Sultan's use of "one for all and all for one" reminds of Ben Franklin:
"We must hang together, or we will surely hang separately."

The clear response to the Muhammad cartoon flap would've been for every publication in America to extensively publish and comment upon the Muhammad cartoons. Strength in numbers. It is worrisome, and still shocking to me, that so few media big shots have pointed this out.

At 11:56 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

The whole "safety uber alles" rigamarole has been around a while, and our wonderful legal profession was been taking advantage of it long before the terrorists caught on.

Where did it come from?

At 9:33 AM, April 09, 2006, Blogger snowonpine said...

I have a bone to pick with Jimmy Carter. Carter's cowardice and ineptitude really got the ball rolling with the Iran hostage debacle. So now 25 of so years later we have one of the chief hostage takers, a real nut-job, threatening Israel's destruction and closing in on a nuclear weapon. Yet ol' Peanut Head, mister malaise, he of the killer rabbit, still struts about on the world stage making mischief and lecturing leaders on their moral and political failings.

To quote W.B. Yeats "Second Coming"

"...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity"

At 1:55 PM, April 09, 2006, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:58 PM, April 09, 2006, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Dear Neo-Neocon,

I’m not sure the “appeasement” 1930s metaphor really applies to Islamic fundamentalism…

The “Muslim Brotherhood” (MB) is a neo-Hambali totalitarian movement that gave birth in the past 80 years to a multitude of local organizations and franchises from Al-Qaeda’s South-Asian “Jihâdi” activists to the more presentable “quietist” Islamist technocrats now ruling Turkey and knocking politely on Europe’s (rightly closed) door.

Throughout the Cold War and even until the late 1990s when Bosnian and Albanian Islamist terrorists received generous shipments of weapons and ammunitions from NATO bases, Washington and Tel-Aviv have systematically helped, funded and trained legions of Muslim Brotherhood-type Islamist fundamentalists in order to fight the (much inflated) threat coming from the perceived enemy du jour be it “international Marxism” or “Baathist Pan-Arabism”, or even worse, “terrorist organizations” combining both ideologies such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine led by US-educated Palestinian and Jordanian Christians such as George Habash and Nayef Hawatmeh…

But, as the Neocons have “won the Cold War”, or so they think, the Prophet’s crescent seems to have replaced Lenin’s sickle as the instrumental incarnation of evil in the minds of paranoid Pentagon planners and on the TV screens of America’s living rooms: the Neocons are now desperately trying to close the Islamist Pandora Box they had deliberately opened in the first place.

Clearly, this is bad news for the bearded bigots now in power in the West Bank and Gaza strip. These days, Hamas views itself as a “centrist” Islamist organization laying somewhere in the middle of the MB ideological spectrum, as the movement’s self-deluded leaders still believe they can be both Erdogans in the West and Talebans in the Orient, an increasingly untenable positions as their (former) Israeli benefactors have started calling their bluff, using a deadly mix of financial strangulation and “targeted” mass killings to convey their message to the newly-elected Palestinian government.

As usual, innocent Palestinian civilians will be caught in the crossfire while America’s Neros pursue their geopolitical “great game” and Europe’s Pontius Pilates wash their hands and courageously look the other way.

Prof. de la Vega
The Middle-East Memo

At 2:16 PM, April 09, 2006, Anonymous vanderleun said...

Fear of Death seems, this morning at least, to be a driving force behind the liberal position we see exemplified in the stated reasons of the Phoenix. This is because, if you look more closely at the philosophical underpinnings of the Phoenix and the portion of society they represent, you'll see that the primary thing they believe in is to keep living at all costs in the Happy World for as long as possible.

The touting of the Happy World life uber alles is a common feeling among, if we are to believe the polls, a goodly portion of our citizens. Since they believe in nothing other than life in the moment, they will value that above all.

And from having no higher value that life in the moment -- note that I do not say that is the only thing that is valued or is even the only value -- they will act first and foremost to preserve it.

Freedom, freedom of speech, freedom from oppression, all these will be subsumed and shunned.

I can't say I blame the Phoenix. After all, they are in Boston/Cambridge and that part of the world holds enough radicals and, frankly, Islamic students and others to make an assessment of the risk to their offices and their persons palpable. In other words, they are not wrong to be paranoid.

But they are wrong to make it policy -- not in this instance, but in all the other instances that will follow.

It seems to me that this is a primary example of how the central philosophy of Left/Liberalism has shifted in the past couple of decades.

Where once you had a crusading political spirit that opposed tyranny and other attempts to shackle the life and mind of man, now you have a spirit that is, frankly, ruled by hedonism and self-doubt.

You have a Party of Hamlet, a philosophy that is obssessed with always "doing the right thing for the wrong reason":

"Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action."

Hummm, I can see I'll have to write something a bit longer about this.

At 3:49 PM, April 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Journalists are not brave. They just know that their usual targets - politicians and corporate executives - will lose far more if they try to suppress a story by killing journalists than they could ever hope to gain. Heck, if a journalist dies while pursuing a story, people will instantly assume that someone mentioned is the story has to be responsible, even if the case never makes it to trial.

It is not bravery to attack those who dare not fight back. It is not cowardice either, really, but acting as though you face death daily from your helpless victims and then refusing to take a stand against Islamic barbarians for fear they will kill you, is cowardice in its purest, most hypocritical form.

At 5:56 PM, April 09, 2006, Anonymous armchair pessimist said...

Liberals, post modernists, seculiarists, or whatever you prefer to call them, are mortally afraid of the religious right, but I think that the religious right is the only force with the courage and conviction to fight Islam. Since 'understanding' Islam clearly doesn't work, that leaves killing it. Oh, of course, I forgot the approved option: letting Islam kill us. How insensitive of me.

At 11:30 PM, April 09, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

The anti-warriors can always be counted on to appear & air out favorite anti-warrior themes, Doc Vic’s latest comment being mainly the Islamist version of the well-worn America-created-all-bad-people meme.

The Doc Vics of the spectrum also think America created Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, etc. Post a blog article on any despot & for sure a Doc Vic will show up & vehemently declare that the US ‘constructed’ them. They favor this oddly Gothic/Frankenstein theme almost as much as their beloved, revered, all-purpose The-US-Causes-Terrorism-By-Fighting-Terrorism motif.

The rest is the usual vitriolic Israelis-Are-Monsters! line, paler echoes of which abound all throughout the MSM & Western academia.

Neo-neocon, on the article by Dr. Sultan, what is the title, please? Your link takes me to an article by someone named Amit Ghate.

WW3 started in 1979 in Iran. I think it may be that WW3 is the first religious war in which one side is so tardy(27 years to date) to comprehend its nature. The enemy has military resources but is not strong enough to openly attack the West & instead have used their proxies, the so-called terrorists. Some Westerners have realized this but most have not & continue to deny the fact of WW3.

I believe that Iran will develop a nuclear device. There will be much diplomatic dithering around by the US, Europe & Israel but nothing that will stop Iran’s march toward the nuclear front. I believe there is a very good chance once Iran has a few nuclear devices to spare that the terrorists will end up setting one or more off in the US. The Big Strike the enemy lusts after. Then all Hell would & should break loose.

The leaders of Iran may not realize what will happen if Iran goes nuclear. They may believe they can slip the WMD goods to bin Laden, have him blow away an American city or two & they will be safe because the weapon is untraceable. Iran & others have probably been lulled by years of passive, weakly reactive US foreign policy, beginning with the desertion of South Vietnam. Children attempt to strike matches while taunting an increasingly impatient soldier armed with a flamethrower.

At 6:23 AM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Coming late to this discussion, it's hard to decide where to start; what nonsense to try to refute. Not that it'll do any good anyway: "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest".

Let's start with neoneocon's premise -- but before we even get to that, let's make note of the fact that her post is based on "an outspoken interview she [Dr. Sultan] gave on Al Jazeera".

I would think plaudits would be in order to neoneocon for even reading
Al Jazeera, except that she doesn't quote Al Jazeera but Dr. Sultan's blog. I recommend to you all that you don't restrict your reading to Fox News, but include the NYT, the WAPO, and even Al Jazeera. (Full disclosure: I subscribe electronically to the NYT and the WAPO, I visit Drudge more days than not, and my bookmarks include both Fox and Al Jazeera; I visit Fox probably ten times as often as AJ). I was particularly moved by a passionate article on AJ which unreservedly condemned the "foreign fighters" killing innocent civilians in Iraq. Give AJ a read: It's not the poisonous nest of anti-Americanism you may think.

I'm worried by neoneocon's "Jacksonian" proposition which seems to be, boiled down, that the US should exercise its overwhelming military superiority to crush any government or faction that opposes it. (I'm especially concerned being a Canadian mouse living cheek-by-jowl with the American elephant). That's a particularly frightening prospect when the U.S. has a "messianic" president with nothing to lose in a 2008 election.

Wow, this looks like it's going to become a long, loooong post; I haven't even got started yet. If I maintain my interest, maybe I'll continue later.

At 7:00 AM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Ymarsakar: "The Iraq War was caused by the misunderstanding that France, RUssia, and China would veto any UN Resolutions calling for an Iraqi invasion, and thus without a Resolution the US would not invade. Regardless of how these misunderstandings came about, the net result is that misunderstandings cause war, even if war isn't about misunderstandings."

Preposterous. Bush's mind was a clean slate when he was elected: He couldn't have found Iraq on a map. His claque of neocon advisers
wanted, above all, conquest of Iraq. 9/11 was not a reason but an excuse.

No misuderstanding here: Bush & Co. acted on a ten-year-old plan of the PNAC crowd.

At 7:22 AM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Moving on down your post -- it's hard to maneuver through so much verbal diarrhea; any chance you could shorten your posts? As Reader's Digest says, "Brevity is ... wit".

"When a nation or a people declares their undying hatred of you and their manifesto to destroy you and your people, there is already a state of undeclared war between you."

"The UN is in a state of undeclared war against the United States."

It must be tough to live in such a state of fear and paranoia.

At 7:39 AM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Oh, by the way, December 7, 1941, a day which will live in infamy: I guess the Japanese realized that the U.S. was a growing threat to their dominance of the Pacific region, and that war with the U.S. was inevitable, and that they had best address the threat by military action now, rather than later; thus the attack on Pearl Harbour is totally justifiable, from the Japanese point of view, as being a perfectly legitimate preventive -- and not agressive -- war?

At 7:50 AM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Nope. Sorry. Aggressive war -- which, by the way, is defined by the Nuremberg trial as being the ultimate war crime within which all other war crimes are contained -- is aggressive war, whether it be the attack on Pearl Harbor, the invasion of Poland, or the invasion or Iraq.

At 9:37 AM, April 10, 2006, Blogger ELC said...

Allow me to point out that the linked article "All For One" is not by Wafa Sultan but by one Amit Ghate. It had been published earlier at the blog Thrutch.

At 10:39 AM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous grackle said...

Give AJ a read: It's not the poisonous nest of anti-Americanism you may think.

Poor TequilaMockingBird is evidently very impressed by al Jazeera’s sanitized English website. TMB should read MEMRI & Palestinian Media Watch for translations of the vitriol & hatred that al Jazeera & other Arab media outlets broadcast to the Arab world, cheerleaders of terrorism as they all are. While TMB is at it a visit to HonestReporting& for a look at US news outlet distortions might also be in order.

I'm worried by neoneocon's "Jacksonian" proposition which seems to be, boiled down, that the US should exercise its overwhelming military superiority to crush any government or faction that opposes it.

With the above statement TMB’s reading comprehension gets a failing grade. Please, TMB, read more carefully: The driving belief of the Jacksonian school of thought is that the first priority of the U.S. Government in both foreign and domestic policy is the physical security and economic well-being of the American populace. Jacksonians believe that the US shouldn't seek out foreign quarrels, but if a war starts, the basic belief is "there's no substitute for victory" – and Jacksonians will do pretty much whatever is required to make that victory happen. But misplaced worry is ever the hallmark of anti-warriordom. They worry all the time about the prospect of a Coalition victory in Iraq(Heaven forbid!) but never seem to worry about the Islamists. Up is down, in is out, white is black.

Bush's mind was a clean slate when he was elected: He couldn't have found Iraq on a map. His claque of neocon advisers wanted, above all, conquest of Iraq. 9/11 was not a reason but an excuse.

This is a bit different than most anti-warrior ad hominem attacks on Bush. Most claim Bush had already made up his mind to topple Saddam even before he was elected. TMB’s version has him influenced by a “claque” after election. I’m wondering why TMB thinks Presidents hire advisors – to ignore them?

TMB, 9/11 was neither the reason nor the excuse for action against Saddam. Saddam’s harboring of terrorists & his failure(for over 10 years!) to abide by the conditions of his defeat after he was kicked out of Kuwait were a couple of reasons for the toppling of Saddam. There are many more reasons, but 9/11 itself had nothing to do directly with the toppling of Saddam, except as an horrific example of the end result of a timid US foreign policy in the years after Vietnam.

Folks like TMB must think the terrorists & the despots that use them as proxies make threats just for fun. Hamas threatens death to all Americans & Israelis? Not to worry – they are just letting off some good natured steam. Bin Laden extols the virtues of the Caliphate? Just a sweet fellow momentarily upset. Apparently nothing the enemy says(or does) has any effect on the TMB’s of the world.

At 1:30 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Robert said...

"Bush couldn't have found Iraq on a map". How stupid. Doesn't TMB know that Bush came to office determined to attack Iraq because of the assassination attempt against his father after the first Gulf War? I could have sworn that war involved Iraq. Some people have no compunction about lying out of both sides of their mouths, even when it exposes their utter cluelessness.

At 5:59 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Tom Grey said...

Islamic repression of free speech, and free religion, thru state agents, seems to me to violate UN Human Rights ideals.

Therefore, such states should not enjoy the protection of territorial sovereignty that the UN gives other states.

At 6:21 PM, April 10, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

As Reader's Digest says, "Brevity is ... wit".

Tequila has Five posts in succession... Maybe brevity isn't so much wit, as it requires a wit to quote

If Tequila was actually paying attention, he would have noticed that it wasn't Wafa Sultan that did the article. Sometimes you lose your head, if you go too fast.

Tequila, Jacksonianism boils down to one thing. How many people are you willing to kill to protect this here little 5 year old American child?

Canadian mouses say zero. American eagles say 1,000 for 1.

Most Jacksonians wouldn't really have a problem with the United States sending a Seal team backed by a Marine MEU to Aruba, and finding justice for an American citizen. Zero problems.

Tequila, you got to go find and google Jacksonianism and actually read about it. Because American political spectrums are not like Canadian ones.

The reason why we invaded Iraq is because Saddam wouldn't return the American POW he held, the pilot that crashed.

Since Saddam didn't show us his body or the person alive and speaking, Saddam was going down. If I was Bush's advisor, that's what I would have told him to say and do.

If Bush only had the Democrat's ruthlessness at stoking up the public thirst for war like Roosevelt, Kennedy, and the Democrats in the South during our Civil War had done. If Bush had been as ruthless, he would be far more successful, period. Everyone likes a winner and everyone hates a loser.

Bush says,

"We don't leave anyone behind, no matter how low the odds."

It sounds a lot better than,

"I am confident we will find WMDs".


You don't "fire up" the public by saying WMDs are out there.

At 9:35 PM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous peter jackson said...

I would quibble with the notion that wars are caused by misunderstandings. Ignorance being a universal human condition, misunderstandings may indeed affect this particular or that particular regarding the way a given war may have unfolded, but I believe that the closest thing to a common cause for war that can be stated would be the existence of an aggressor who believes he has something to gain from attacking another nation.

The truth is, however, that there are at the very least as many causes of war as there have been wars. There is no universal necessary condition that we can mitigate and by doing so avoid all war. There will always be aggressors and maniacs and maniac aggressors that will manage to find a reason to war.

On the other hand, there is an historically validated cause of peace, and that constant is victory.

I'm very glad I found your blog.


At 10:52 PM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Misunderstandings, as a concept, already covers the idea that an aggressor believes he has something to gain by invasion and annexation. The misunderstanding is that the victim doesn't believe the aggressor will do so, and the misunderstanding on the aggressor's side is that he can grab a bunch of land and hold it. Scenarios vary of course. The victim acts by lowering his defenses, increasing the chance of attack. The aggressor is more likely to attack as he sees weakness and land grabbing.

The reasons for war are whatever people believe to be valid and beneficial reasons. Their misunderstanding comes in their thinking. If you communicate the correct understanding, you will change their thinking, and thus influence their actions.

If Britain/France communicated the correct understanding to Hitler that no violations of any treaty or sovereignty would be tolerated, Hitler would have backed off when he crossed the Rhineland. The De-Mil Zone part of the treaty.

You may think aggressors are insane, but they're really not.

At 10:55 PM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

As for the existence of aggressors being a commonality, the interesting thing is that in WWI and many other wars, wars can and did happen without any aggressors at all. If two parties just wanted to live in peace, but they didn't speak each other's languages and both saw the worst of the other, then they would have a war. No aggressors needed.


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