Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Denial, Juan Cole and Ahmadinejad, and Munich

Christopher Hitchens (previously no special friend of Israel's) deconstructs Juan Cole's Dowdification of Ahmadinejad's threats to Israel in this Slate article (via Austin Bay) entitled "The Cole Report: when it comes to Iran, he distorts, you decide."

Hitchens's contention is that, contrary to Cole's statements that Ahmadinejad never threatened to wipe Israel off the map, Cole is playing fast and loose with the quotes, and that it's indeed what Ahmadinejad has said, several times over.

Cole is an excellent example of the repeated tendency of some on the Left to make excuses for outright declarations of annihilative intent by third-world tyrants. This tendency on the Left is both understandable and dangerous.

After all, many people (and not all of them are on the Left by any means, although a great number on the Left do fit this description) believe everyone pretty much resembles them in the way they operate. And my impression is that many on the Left see the use of words as a sort of harmless game.

It was George Orwell, a member of the Left but a different sort entirely (he knew the dangerous excesses of the Left up close and personal, and spent much of his writing life warning us about them, as well as musing on the extraordinary power of words themselves), who famously told us:

So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don't even know that fire is hot.

Plus ca change...

Hitchens, who recently wrote an entire book in praise of Orwell, clearly considers himself to be in the same mold: a straight-talking leftist who's not afraid to break out of the circle dance.
The signers of the recent Euston Manifesto have also stepped out of the leftist ring and stated their unequivocal opposition to tyranny and their refusal to apologize for it:

We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy — regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces....

People like Juan Cole are the ones they are up against. What else might be motivating him, besides a lightness about the meaning of "mere words?" My guess is that it's the need to keep his conceptual world intact, to continue to dance in that circle to which he's grown accustomed without feeling undue guilt or cognitive dissonance.

And what is that conceptual world? It includes, but is far from limited to, the idea that almost everything wrong with the world today is the fault of the US and past abuses of power by Western nations. And a further corollary--perhaps a more important one--is that human beings are basically well-meaning and reasonable (with the example, of course, of Bush, Cheney, et al).

The latter principle of general reasonableness applies even to tyrannical and dictatorial leaders who have unequivocally stated the desire to destroy the US and Israel (the famous "Big and Little Satans"). If the words of those such as Ahmadinejad are unequivocal, don't worry; Cole will do the honors and equivocate for him.

Twas ever thus. Or at least, it's been thus ever since the debacle of WWI made the fear and knowledge of war's destructive costs far greater, the dream of peace ever more powerful, the need to believe in the goodwill of dictators more intense, and the ability to equivocate and deceive oneself about said goodwill more likely.

Witness, please, exhibit B: the British Parliamentary debate on the Munich Pact, which took place on October 3, 1938. Duff Cooper, speaking in the House of Commons, said:

Prime Minister [Chamberlain] has confidence in the good will and in the word of Herr Hitler, although when Herr Hitler broke the Treaty of Versailles he undertook to keep the Treaty of Locarno, and when he broke the Treaty of Locarno he undertook not to interfere further, or to have further territorial aims, in Europe. When he entered Austria by force he authorised his henchmen to give an authoritative assurance that he would not interfere with Czechoslovakia. That was less than six months ago. Still, the Prime Minister believes that he can rely upon the good faith of Hitler; he believes that Hitler is interested only in Germany, as the Prime Minister was assured....

The Prime Minister may be right. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, with the deepest sincerity, that I hope and pray that he is right, but I cannot believe what he believes. I wish I could. .


Here is a portion of Chamberlain's reply to Cooper (note, especially, the Pitt quote that ends the excerpt):

My right hon. Friend [Duff Cooper] has alluded in somewhat bitter terms to my conversation last Friday morning with Herr Hitler. I do not know why that conversation should give rise to suspicion, still less to criticism. I entered into no pact. I made no new commitments. There is no secret understanding. Our conversation was hostile to no other nation. The objects of that conversation, for which I asked, was to try to extend a little further the personal Contact which I had established with Herr Hitler and which I believe to be essential in modern diplomacy. We had a friendly and entirely non-committal conversation, carried on, on my part, largely with a view to seeing whether there could be points in common between the head of a democratic Government and the ruler of a totalitarian State. We see the result in the declaration which has been published, in which my right hon. Friend finds so much ground for suspicion....

I believe there are many who will feel with me that such a declaration, signed by the German Chancellor and myself, is something more than a pious expression of opinion. In our relations with other countries everything depends upon there being sincerity and good will on both sides. I believe that there is sincerity and good will on both sides in this declaration. That is why to me its significance goes far beyond its actual words. If there is one lesson which we should learn from the events of these last weeks it is this, that lasting peace is not to be obtained by sitting still and waiting for it to come. It requires active, positive efforts to achieve it. No doubt I shall have plenty of critics who will say that I am guilty of facile optimism, and that I should disbelieve every word that is uttered by rulers of other great States in Europe. I am too much of a realist to believe that we are going to achieve our paradise in a day. We have only laid the foundations of peace. The superstructure is not even begun....

As regards future policy, it seems to me that there are really only two possible alternatives. One of them is to base yourself upon the view that any sort of friendly relation, or possible relations, shall I say, with totalitarian States are impossible, that the assurances which have been given to me personally are worthless, that they have sinister designs and that they are bent upon the domination of Europe and the gradual destruction of democracies. Of course, on that hypothesis, war has got to come, and that is the view--a perfectly intelligible view--of a certain number of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in this House….

If that is hon. Members' conviction, there is no future hope for civilisation or for any of the things that make life worth living. Does the experience of the Great War and of the years that followed it give us reasonable hope that if some new war started that would end war any more than the last one did? No. I do not believe that war is inevitable. Someone put into my hand a remark made by the great Pitt about 1787, when he said:

"To suppose that any nation can be unalterably the enemy of another is weak and childish and has its foundations neither in the experience of nations not in the history of man."


Read it and weep. Weep for the opportunities lost, for what Chamberlain himself called "facile optimism:" so noble, so hopeful, so well-meaning, so deadly, so fatally wrong about the benign intents of totalitarian dictators who threaten others.

66 Comments:

At 12:43 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Trimegistus said...

I think that in a way you are being to kind to the apologists for tyranny. I think many of them (and Juan Cole's words suggest that he is an example) know exactly the nature of the tyrannies they are so quick to defend.

They are alienated. Modern Western liberal society is deeply unsatisfying to them, and they really do want to tear it down. I think that explains the profound rage with which they speak of people like Bush et al who are willing to fight for the West, and the profound contempt with which they view the majority of Americans.

Their tremendous hate gives them a natural and inevitable kinship with the terrorists. And since both groups know, at some level, that their respective phantom utopias will never actually come to pass, they can co-operate quite happily on the project of slaughter and destruction.

 
At 1:09 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Trimegisus: I agree that I am giving the best spin on their intents. Some indeed feel just as you say. But I truly think that many others actually do believe that people such as Ahmadinejad are more reasonable than they are.

Where on that scale Cole falls I do not know. I've only read some of what Cole has written--can you give examples of his words that suggest he really does want to "co-operate quite happily on the project of slaughter and destruction?"

 
At 1:13 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

trimegistus:
"in a way you are being to kind to the apologists for tyranny.
[...]
Modern Western liberal society is deeply unsatisfying to them, and they really do want to tear it down."

Indeed.

 
At 1:25 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Had a post about the corruption of power

I think it says a lot of what I want to say, about Juan Cole and their ilk. It was in reply to Bookworm's post about NOW violating women's rights.

http://bookwormroom.wordpress.com/

My take was different Neo's analysis of the psychological patterns. I analyzed the fundamental problems with realistic goal planning that Juan Cole and their ilk must do bar nothing.

Herr Hitler

Heil Hitler, the Euros must be quite nostalgic if they want Amanie so bad.

No doubt I shall have plenty of critics who will say that I am guilty of facile optimism, and that I should disbelieve every word that is uttered by rulers of other great States in Europe. I am too much of a realist to believe that we are going to achieve our paradise in a day. We have only laid the foundations of peace. The superstructure is not even begun....

He lied? A liar uh. A lying sack of liars , I see.

No. I do not believe that war is inevitable. Someone put into my hand a remark made by the great Pitt about 1787, when he said:

"To suppose that any nation can be unalterably the enemy of another is weak and childish and has its foundations neither in the experience of nations not in the history of man."


Chamberlain was right in that war is not inevitable. But when you lack power to power your goals, it is the same result as if you were wrong. If you suppose a nation is unalterably the enemy of another, that doesn't mean you go to war with them (Sovets), it basically means that once you realize the reality, you can plan thus to circumvent the problems and horrors in the future. The reason why humans are successful right now is because America overthrew European modes of analysis and warlike behavior. America has benefited fully from the European tradition of warfare, descended from Dux Bellorum the Roman Legions and the Greek phalanxes. But we do not have the baggage either.

If you wanted to stop war with Hitler, you should have believed in peace and prepared for war as the Ancients termed it. Plan for failure expect victory. Act like some batshitcrazypychos in dealing with Iran, and privately hoping for peace.

Don't wanna do that? Then it doesn't matter what you believe, Chaos will be your Child. And the deaths of millions will be your legacy.

Trimegisus: I agree that I am giving the best spin on their intents.

If Neo is spinning their remarks to the good, then I wonder what someone would term my remarks that Chamberlain was right in some of his beliefs.

But I truly think that many others actually do believe that people such as Ahmadinejad are more reasonable than they are.

I said the same thing to Richard Aubrey. To face down their guilty consciousness, they must BELIEVE. To recognize the contradictions is to face guilt, and guilt was what they did all this to stop in the first place. They believe because they have to believe. If they did not believe, then they would have be to very smart like Kerry, and somehow hold 2 or 10 contradictory thoughts in his head at once.

 
At 1:33 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

gcotharn:

Once again, I have to say I believe that some do, some don't.

Yes, of course, as I mentioned in the post:

And what is [the Leftist's] conceptual world? It includes, but is far from limited to, the idea that almost everything wrong with the world today is the fault of the US and past abuses of power by Western nations.

But most of the people I personally know who subscribe to that idea do not want to destroy this country or Western freedoms. What they want is to have their cake and eat it, too. They want a perfected, impossible West, a world that includes three mutually exclusive propositions: a country with all the freedoms we currently enjoy (they would not wish to live under the mullahs, for example), that never makes an error, and exists without the need to ever harm another living person in order to defend those freedoms.

So the belief that human beings are reasonable and can always be talked out of violence is the solution to resolving the inherent contradiction of those statements.

 
At 2:19 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Stan Smith said...

neo:

I believe that the left-liberal mindset that gives rise to the feelings that you've posted about is best summed up by these lines from Ted Kennedy's eulogy of his brother Robert:

"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."

Lovely sentiments, but largely impossible in a world of imperfect human beings.

 
At 2:26 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

It's largely impossible when the half wits are running the store, why yes.

Any truely competent engineer can engineer "undreamed of solutions". But the Democrats not engineers. They're hammers, they use brute force, money, and power to try and solve things.

Rather ham handed.

 
At 2:32 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger snowonpine said...

When I read the Chamberlain quote I thought it sounded like a John Kerry speech.

 
At 2:34 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Stan Smith said...

Interestingly enough, the quote I used actually came from a blog post by a commenter on some lefty blog. The comment itself speaks volumes about the thinking behind neo's post:

"This isn't the whole speech, just excerpts, but what's there summarizes what it means to be a Democrat. Not a conservative or moderate or liberal Democrat, but a Democrat, period. Republicans have no similar text that summarizes their beliefs because their beliefs lack pure human emotion. They are cold and calculating and driven by the dollar. As Democrats, we rely on emotions and a moral code to guide us and every now and then it's worth revisting these words to act as a reminder as to why it is not shameful to be a Democrat, but rather something we should all embrace and celebrate, no matter how liberal or conservative you are as someone who identifies with the Democratic Party."

Why, that just makes me want to go out, save some money, buy some stock, fire a few employees and kill a baby or two.

 
At 2:46 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

"They want a perfected, impossible West...that never makes an error."

Oh, I see.

"Officer, I may have just killed this man. I may have eaten him alive. Yes, yes, I may have gouged his eyes out first. What is with you people? Why do you want me to never make an error? Plus, Hitler was worse. Wait, why are you arresting me? I just told you that Hitler was worse! Why don't you ever say anything bad about Hitler?"

 
At 2:46 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

Out of curiosity, have any of you actually read what Cole said, or just what Hitchens said about Cole?

 
At 3:20 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Stan, it originally was: "You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?""
From GB Shaw (Back to Methuselah), who also wrote:
"Patriotism, public opinion, parental duty, discipline, religion, morality, are only fine names for intimidation."
What a great guy.

Spanky, Have you actually read anything, or do you just listen to what your "friends" say about things during one of your brave new circle jerks. I read Cole on a regular basis and have come to the conclusion that he has an air-tight case; i.e., it completely lack oxygen.
BTW That previous little missive was utter nonsense.

 
At 3:21 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Spank is funny if you don't take him serioiusly. But if you do, you might want to do that deep breathing exercise first for stress the military teaches.

One way I know Spank hasn't read much of anything is because as much as he writes, he doesn't "quote" anything or anybody. Now why is that?

 
At 3:25 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

"Spanky, Have you actually read anything, or do you just listen to what your "friends" say about things during one of your brave new circle jerks."

Cute. If you wanted a circle jerk, there's nothing better than an "amen chorus" that you get from an adoring blog audience. "Iran is bad. Oh yes, I agree. You're so right. What shall we do? Iran is so bad. Yes. Those liberals who disagree are traitors! Etc!"

But I was actually referring, quite specifically, to this:

http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/hitchens-hacker-and-hitchens.html

I was wondering if anyone here had actually read it, or only Hitchens.

 
At 3:27 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Spanky the Entertained said...

Oh, but wait. This is a golden, golden opportunity. Yammer concludes that I don't read anything because I don't quote anything.

Here's a sample of a quotation used by Yammer on his weblog in order to bolster an argument he makes about the military:

'I was thinking, as I stood here alone, of other warriors I have known. Of Eeevaan, of course, but also of others long dead. Some of the Zheeerlikou'valkhannaiee, but even more of those who were not. Of Annnngusss MaaacRorrrrry, who I met on your world of New Hebrrrrideeees during the war against the Thebans, Raaymmonnd. And, even more, perhaps, of Ahhdmiraaal Laaantu. Do you know his tale?"

"Yes," Prescott said. Every TFN officer knew the story of First Admiral Lantu, the Theban commander who'd fought so brilliantly against the Federation in the opening phases of the Theban War. The admiral who'd led the forces of "Holy Mother Terra" to one stunning triumph after another and fought even Ivan Antonov to a near draw. And the greatest "traitor" in Theban history.'

This will never cease to amuse me.

 
At 3:45 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Trimegistus said...

In answer to your request, Neo:

Cole has acted as a cheerleader of the terrorists fighting the American "occupation" of Iraq and the Israeli "occupation" of Palestine. He may utter soothing words opposing violence, but if he supports the people committing slaughter and destruction, he must know (unless he is even dishonest with himself) that he is supporting the slaughter and destruction itself by doing so.

See his essays "All Together Against the Occupation," "Welcome to the Quagmire" or "Turning Into Israel?" on his Web site for examples.

His positions only make sense if you assume that America has no right to act in its own defense, and Israel has no right to exist.

 
At 4:10 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous stan smith said...

Yo, Spankers:

Okay, if "erased from the page of time" isn't the same, metaphorically speaking, as "wiped off the map," what exactly does it mean? And yes, I read your linky. Cole is being disingenuous when he says "there is no Persian idiom" for "wipe off the map." Kinda sounds like "it depends on what the meaning of is, is."

 
At 4:29 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

Out of curiosity, have any of you actually read what Cole said, or just what Hitchens said about Cole?

Yes I did. The most interesting thing about it was this statement:

I belong to a private email discussion group called Gulf2000. It has academics, journalists and policy makers on it. It has a strict rule that messages appearing there will not be forwarded off the list.

If you do a google search for gulf2000, you'll see that Cole is lying - there are plenty of emails posted on the web that were taken from the Gulf2000 site.

The Gulf2000 group is sponsored by Saudi-sponsored Columbia University. The academics and oilmen who belong to the Gulf 2000 spend a lot of time promoting Gulf Arab business and political interests and harassing writers and bloggers who don't agree with them.

Some of Arabist Cole's buddies used to work for Aramco. Why am I not surprised?

 
At 4:50 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger copy editor said...

Cole is still posting on it. Why the drinking reference? It just jettisons credibility.

 
At 5:27 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous the Unknown Blogger said...

maryatexitzero claimed:

there are plenty of emails posted on the web that were taken from the Gulf2000 site.

Hmm... Plenty? Can you post some links to a few please? I couldn't really find any, except Cole's own that he had posted himself. I saw the 2 linked by whataretheysaying. One of the them is from 1999 and the other is reprinted with explicit permission from the author. Hardly seems like an open forum to me.

[I can't help but notice your post had nothing to do with the content of his speech, and everything to do with trying to smear Cole and his associated institutions. Yet somehow I doubt you will get called out as a troll.]

You guys are totally missing the point of what he was saying, it was just some academic discussion about how the phrase was translated from Persian in the press. But it's much more fun to light the torches and run him out of town than to try to understand what he is getting at, right?

Cole even took pains to point out:

I should again underline that I personally despise everything Ahmadinejad stands for, not to mention the odious Khomeini, who had personal friends of mine killed so thoroughly that we have never recovered their bodies.

Nor do I agree that the Israelis have no legitimate claim on any part of Jerusalem.

And, I am not exactly a pacifist but have a strong preference for peaceful social activism over violence, so needless to say I condemn the sort of terror attacks against innocent civilians (including Arab Israelis) that we saw last week.


It must be galling to have lost friends to Khomeini's brutality and then have to suffer insults from a bunch of bloggers about being an "apologist for third-world tyrants."

Also, only someone who only read the title of his articles could argure they are "cheerleading the terrorists" as Trimegistus wrote above.

 
At 7:49 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

maryatexitzero

Thanks for the link.

When in doubt, always follow the money---in this case Aramco, it looks like.

 
At 9:37 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

I can't help but notice your post had nothing to do with the content of his speech, and everything to do with trying to smear Cole and his associated institutions.

Members of Gulf 2000 include Juan Cole, oilmen and Saudi sponsored academics. That's a fact. Do you consider that to be a 'smear'?

The content of Cole's post and the content of Hitchen's article didn't interest me very much. I'm not being paid to do this, so I concentrate on whatever I want to.

Organizations like Columbia U's Gulf 2000 or others that have ties with or are financed by Islamofascists interest me very much - especially the organizations that also have ties with the American government.

For instance, there's the State Department. Or, have you ever heard of Zbigniew Brzezinski's "American Committee for Peace in Chechnya". In this organization, American leaders were working side by side with the terrorists who were responsible for the tragedy in Beslan. I don't know much about Cole's Gulf2000, but it sounds like the same ilk.

Many of these organizations were created to support the Brzezinski/Carter 'headless chicken' strategy that's responsible for the mess Iran and the Middle East are in today.

For some reason that seems to be more interesting than Cole prattling about Hitchens' drunkeness.

 
At 10:39 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous strcpy said...

The most amusing thing about quite a few of the leftist posts here is that in contradicting what she said they do *exactly* the thing complained about. There is a large amount of Irony in that.

Though, it's not limited to the left for sure. It happens some on the right, but not really that much. But you see it a lot in social situations. For instance, lets say a wife that is regularly beat - all the guy has to do is utter a few of the correct words and the woman will latch onto them and work it out to where the guy loves her, didn't really mean, and will not do it again. The only time they are really against the other person is while the beating is going on.

Iran can say all sorts of things, follow through with the actions, basically do tons of really horrid things and as long as they end with "Ooops, my bad - sorry" the left will forgive them (much as the Chamberlain quotes did).

I really don't think most want the west to die exactly - even those that is thier goal. That is either a means to an end or they just choose to be blind. I really think that Chamberlain told the total truth there - and even had a decent idea of why he thought as he did. The whole thing can be paraphrased as "Idealism will triump or realism because idealism has a better end, therefor I do not care what else goes on and if you don't agree then you are an evil person I will ignore". Much of the left can be summed up with that now too.

Eh, in the long term things will sort out. This type of thinking can not go on forever, I would even say not for very much longer. The other side is doing everything it can to cause the confrontation (while positioning itself to lead). The idealist will die/be killed off and then we can finally go and fight the way that needs to be done - either that or the mullahs will win and the idaelist will still be killed off. Inaction and appeasement can only have on outcome.

 
At 10:57 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:05 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Here's a sample of a quotation used by Yammer on his weblog in order to bolster an argument he makes about the military:

Okay, I'll admit it, I transfered the quotation from Neo's comments section to my own. Whatcha going to do about it Spank?

I do wonder if you behave in this manner in polite company, and how you maintain any job with such an abrasive personality, rudeness, and outright emotional instability.

Just to clarify the logic so to speak. I take contention with your lying about the argument I make. It wasn't about the military.

Although I do appreciate the quote plug, Spank, it feels rather dirty coming from you, and you should stop, since I'm not going to pay you anything for the effort. You're going to have to do it for free.

This will never cease to amuse me.

By all means, be amused. You really can't explain what the argument is. See you do it again. You talk about the military argument, and then you don't follow up with the quote. You don't explain it, and that's the real problem. A lack of real comprehension. IQ and intelligence doesn't do you any good, Spank, if you won't use it on something other than what amuses you. I do tend to think you should take a look at that aspect of your character, first. It is a rather critical spot to be cleaned up.

Spank is afraid to use the full quote, I know, so I'll do him the favor of doing it for him.

"I hated him," Kthaara said quietly. "I blamed him for the death of my khanhaku, for it was units under his command who destroyed my cousin's squadron in the very first battle of the Theban War, and they did so by treachery. Looking back from today, it would be fairer to say he did so in a surprise attack, but I did not know—then—that Laaantu believed he was already at war against the Zheeerlikou'valkhannaiee, and so I was consumed by my hatred for his 'treachery.' Indeed, it was my need to seek vilknarma which first brought Eeevaan and me together. But in the end, Laaantu taught me the true duty of a warrior, for he betrayed all he had ever known, the faith in which he was raised, even the farshatok whom he had led into battle, because he had learned what none of them knew—that the 'Faith of Holy Mother Terra' was a lie. That the chofaki who ruled his people had used that lie to manipulate them for seventy of your years and then to launch them in a war of conquest. It was a war they could not win—not in the long run—and Laaantu knew what a terrible price would be exacted from his people if they fought to the bitter end. If their false leaders refused to surrender and Eeevaan was forced to bombard his world from orbit. And so he joined his enemies and aided them in every way he could, fighting to defeat his own people. Not for any personal gain, but because only by defeating them quickly and with as few Human casualties as possible could he hope to protect them from the consequences of their rulers' actions.

I know Chomsky uses selective quotes, so are you trying to imitate Chomsky, now eh?

Cole is being disingenuous when he says "there is no Persian idiom" for "wipe off the map." Kinda sounds like "it depends on what the meaning of is, is."

Iranian maps don't have Israel on it, so who's talking out of their asses when the Persians don't have "wipe off the map"? They already did it! Ex post facto time.


[I can't help but notice your post had nothing to do with the content of his speech, and everything to do with trying to smear Cole and his associated institutions. Yet somehow I doubt you will get called out as a troll.]


I can't help noticing that a troll is defined by Neo as someone who puts out false assertions to waste people's time, and asking questions that they are not interested in hearing the answers for. Sorta like asking if anyone read Juan Cole, when it wouldn't change the beliefs of the questioner one iota.

Mary isn't calling Cole a troll, so that's a bit of a non sequitor.

Now facts are smears, so I suppose that's another goal post moved successfully.

Cole even took pains to point out:


And Cole did this because it was out of honor or did he do it because it increased his credibility? The Chomsky bag of tricks isn't hard to pick up.

People who are good at English are also naturally good at holding two contradictory notions in their head, and believing in both to be true at once. Orwell already expounded upon this subject, it's not new. And it should not be surprising to people like Unknown, either.

Iran will do what Israel has so far refused to do. End the Palestinian-Israeli conflict decisively, one way or another.

 
At 11:43 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Unknowledgeable blogger,
You don’t seem to understand that what Cole writes is standard for academe. I t is not technically wrong, there are enough caveats and qualifiers to neutralize any pure negative objection, it simply implies a qualified truth; which is the essence of the academic essay. However, in substance, it is just wrong. He is a propagandist, pure and simple, and all else is horse manure.

 
At 11:49 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I do ponder this but, but does Spank realize that everytime he attacks commentator's personality and credibility, that he is using an ad hominem attack to argue that a person is wrong because he is X kind of person?

 
At 1:44 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Gary Rosen said...

"Cole took pains to point out ..."

Yes, and Pat Buchanan often takes pains to point out he isn't really antisemitic. But when you praise Hitler, mock Holocaust survivors and promote Holocaust denial as Patty has done, your protestations only expose you as a hypocrite. Same with Cole, he's just trying to weasel out of his obvious attempt to whitewash the mullahs. If he "personally despises everything Ahmadinejad stands for", why did he wait to say this only until after he was exposed by Hitchens?

 
At 3:11 AM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Does Anon read the Sword of Truth series or something?

 
At 8:05 AM, May 04, 2006, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

Cole is now being defended by "i'm not an anti-semite, just and anti-zionist"-type and Gulf2000 member Helena Cobban.

Cobban supports a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In her dreams, the state would be called Palestine. The ADL, an organization that dedicates its efforts to fighting hate, was not impressed by Cobban.

She's also an enthusiastic supporter of financing and negotiating with Hamas. She sees a lot of hope in the Hamas leadership:

I don't underestimate the alarming nature of Hamas's founding covenant, which calls for the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish state. But it would be foolish and counterproductive to overreact to the Hamas victory... a peace settlement reached with Hamas would be far more durable than one made with the ever-vacillating and factionalized Fatah.

Of course, peace with Hamas would mean the destuction of Israel, so of course it would be durable.

Who is going to defend Cole next, David Duke?

 
At 8:18 AM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Jen said...

This posts and many of the comments try to explain, or at least understand, why the left so often apologizes for and seems afraid to confront tyranny. I think a really good answer to this is provided by the ever-brilliant Shelby Steele in his op-ed in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.

Some quotes:
"There is now a cloud over white skin where there once was unquestioned authority. I call this white guilt not because it is a guilt of conscience but because people stigmatized with moral crimes - here racism and imperialism - lack moral authority and so act guiltily whether they feel guilt or not.

They struggle, above all else, to dissociate themselves from the past sins they are stigmatized with. When they behave in ways that invoke the memory of those sins, they must labor to prove that they have not relapsed into their group's former sinfulness. So when America - the greatest embodiment of Western power - goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. . .

"The collapse of white supremacy - and the resulting white guilt - introduced a new mechanism of power into the world: stigmatization with the evil of the Western past. And this stigmatization is power because it affects the terms of legitimacy for Western nations and for their actions in the world. . .

"Anti-Americansism, whether in Europe or on the American left, works by the mechanism of white guilt. It stigmatizes America with all the imperialistic and racist ugliness of the white Western past so that America becomes a kind of straw man, a construct of Western sin. . . Once the stigma is in place, one need only be anti-American in order to be "good," in order to have an automatic moral legitimacy and power in relation to America. . . Virtue and power by mere anti-Americanism. And it is all the more appealing since, unlike real virtues, it requires no sacrifice or effort - only outrage at every slight echo of the imperialsit past. . .

"Whether the problem is race relations, education, immigration or war, white guilt imposes so much minimalism and restraint that our worst problems tend to linger and deepen. Our leaders work within a double bind. If they do what is truly necessary to solve a problem - win a war, fix immigration - they lose legitimacy."

The whole article is well worth reading. It certainly explains the tendency of the left - so baffling to the right - to soft-pedal and excuse the worst tyrants while simultaneously claiming moral superiority.

 
At 8:38 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

Steele's op-ed was rather deftly rebutted by Glenn Greenwald and Robert Farley (also here). Highly recommend you read those responses.

 
At 9:15 AM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Neo:
"They want a perfected, impossible West, a world that includes three mutually exclusive propositions: a country with all the freedoms we currently enjoy"

I might add, without exercising any personal responsibility with regards to societal ills. They want some agency to figure it out and handle it for them and send the bill to the 'super-rich' which has plenty of ill-gotten profit in which to do so.

To me it seems, the left just dont want to be bothered. They dont want to see evil unless its someone pointing out to them that there are very real costs to everything. We could probably all just get along if we just mellowed out and stopped trying to be righteous. (We dont have the right to be righteous, look at what we've done to the native Americans).

 
At 10:01 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous stan smith said...

Spanky:

If you call Greenwald's "rebuttal" "deft", then I seriously question your intellect. He, in fact, is making Steele's point for him: the whole piece reeks of "don't you see how awful these 'superior' white male warmongers are." Far from advocating "carpet bombing" and the "complete destruction" of Iraq, the writers that Greenwald cites (Steele and Goldstein) are merely saying that we should fight as if we meant to win; that is, if someone is shooting at you from the "safety" of a mosque because your rules of engagement forbid you to destroy a religious entity, you're entitled to shoot back.

As always, you misunderstand.

 
At 10:04 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Gary Rosen said...

Spanky,

Thanks for referring to me to those articles b;y Greenwald and Farley. Consisting mostly of ad hominen attacks, they helped prove Steele's point.

 
At 10:06 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

Actually, the argument that Greenwald and Farley are making is that the concept of "ruthlessness" is both fairly useless and has been rejected by our professional military, for both ethical and practical reasons.

"Ruthlessness," or the use of excessive force to devastate an enemy, is not going to be useful in the wars we're going to be fighting. As they point out, in the last century the more ruthless an enemy is, the more resistance is provoked.

But perhaps more importantly, they both point out that the very concept of "the will to be ruthless" is, essentially, a way of avoiding actual discussions of what really matters, things like skill, tactics, equipment, etc.

I love that: "As always, you misunderstand." Yet you offer nothing in the way of an argument that I have misunderstood anything. I think I'll adopt that.

Wrong again, Stan. As always! Stupid. Why are you so stupid, Stan? Always so stupid...

 
At 10:06 AM, May 04, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Ymarsakar: the anon to whom you refer is a spammer/troll.

 
At 10:07 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

"Consisting mostly of ad hominen attacks"

Please elaborate.

I don't know for sure, but I imagine that Stan, right now, is wrong.

 
At 10:08 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous the Unknown Blogger said...

Gary Rosen asked:

If he "personally despises everything Ahmadinejad stands for", why did he wait to say this only until after he was exposed by Hitchens?

Look again. The "personally despises" quote is from the original email that Hitchens obtained. Hitchen's conveniently left that out of his article though.

maryatexitzero wrote:

The content of Cole's post and the content of Hitchen's article didn't interest me very much. I'm not being paid to do this, so I concentrate on whatever I want to.

So you are not interested in content. Based on your previous posts it appears that what you prefer to do instead is cherry pick the info that supports your preconceived notions, ignore inconvenient facts, and try to discredit those who disagree with you rather than countering their arguments. Sounds vaguely familiar...

In a way though, maryatexitzero's right - Hitchen's article is essentially uninteresting: *no one* bases any policy on what either he or Cole says.

It is really impressive to me how Hitchens, who obviously has an intense (and wholly reciprocated) personal dislike for Cole can dash off this little screed over some academic's issue with a translation of a Persian phrase, and suddenly all the torches are lit and we are rounding up liberals and mourning the collapse of white supremacy.

I am proposing we stop that and look at the facts. Based on my brief reading of Cole ( I confess I never heard of him until this whole thing started ), I think he is being unfairly branded a kook and an apologist for tyranny.

I am waiting for someone around here to prove it - with Cole's own words. Not by Pat Buchanan's words or Hitchen's or Helena Cobban's (who?) or Orwell's or Chamberlain's or Shelby Steele's or Zbigniew Brzezinski's.

For all I know the man may actually BE a kook, all I am asking for is a little intellectual rigor around here before we brand him as such?

Someone please post a quote or a link to Cole's writings where he excuses third world tyranny.

 
At 11:20 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous nittypig said...

If you've read enough Juan Cole you know his MO. His comments on journalist Steve Vincent's death sums the guy up.

But I wanted to post on Chamberlain. Ymarsakr said
"If you wanted to stop war with Hitler, you should have believed in peace and prepared for war as the Ancients termed it. Plan for failure expect victory. Act like some batshitcrazypychos in dealing with Iran, and privately hoping for peace."

This is exactly what Chamberlain was doing at Munich. Britain was furiously rearming at the time, and the rearmament wasn't slowed one bit by the Munich agreement. Chamberlain wasn't some airy idealist, but a hardened realist. The appeasers (and Hitler) were right in saying that Versailles was unjust - it manifestly was. And Chamberlain was obviously right as quoted here in saying that another war would not end war and conflict (and in this he's much more prescient than Roosevelt ended up being).

Chamberlain's decision was whether to try one last time to come to some sort of an accomodation with a Germany that had opposed the international settlement of Versailles pretty much since it had been signed. As he says, the only other choice was war, and that choice was so bad the he felt compelled to try again.

I think he made the wrong decision but it's not entirely obvious. If war had come 24 months earlier the RAF would have had no ability to defend British airspace against the Germans.

None of which is to deny that Chamberlain had to ignore all sorts of evidence to believe that Hitler was someone he could deal with. He misunderstood the very nature of totalitarianism. And god knows this makes for chilling reading. But no-one can say with any degree of certainty that the world, or even Britain would have been better off if the war started in 1938 as opposed to 1940.

Using diplomacy to buy time is an age old tradition. The key is knowing whether time is on your side or not.

 
At 11:29 AM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Jen said...

Spanky, I read the post you linked to (and commented on it), and it doesn't rebut my point (or Steele's) at all, because it doesn't address it. Greenwald links Steele to OTHERS who have advocated a particular type of warfare he abhors and argues against that. Steele's central thesis, that our ability to confront and handle any type of problem that can be construed to involve is completely undermined by guilt over past evils, is never directly addressed by Greenwald, and if anything it is well supported by the comment section. Many of the commenters actually cry out against Steele because they say he wants a return to white supremacy, thus tidily making his point that the left can no longer see any other issue, nor can they deal rationally with any issue where race is involved.

For instance, there is no left-right dialog about how to win this war. We are still debating whether or not the war should have started. In a roundabout way, this becomes a debate about whether we should try to win this war, with plenty on the left coming down on the side that says we should not. Steele provides the only plausible rationale for why the left should come to this conclusion.

 
At 11:39 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous stan smith said...

Spanky:

""Consisting mostly of ad hominen attacks"

Please elaborate.

I don't know for sure, but I imagine that Stan, right now, is wrong."

"Wrong again, Stan. As always! Stupid. Why are you so stupid, Stan? Always so stupid..."

Oh, Spanky, I think you know what he means.

And then you said, "Yet you offer nothing in the way of an argument that I have misunderstood anything."

I offered the example of fighting a war with the intent to win, namely, altering rules of engagement such that the jihadists could no longer use mosques, ambulances, and hospitals, for instance, as cover for their military actions. Your response? To call me "stupid". Your pal, Prof. Cole, would be proud.

Now to go out and drink a fifth of Glenmorangie with Hitch....

 
At 11:56 AM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

Stan, you were so close, so very close........

Am I the only one who recognizes the absurdity of saying something like:

"What you said was wrong. Oh man, that was such a smackdown, I totally destroyed your argument. Haha, wrong again?"

?

Asserting that "As always, you misunderstand," doesn't really say much of anything, except what you feel about the power of your mad smackdown post.

 
At 12:10 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

But maybe I'm confused? What does Steele mean?

He believes the US shows "restraint," and that this is a bad thing. He believes we lose wars because we do not use "anything approaching the full measure of our military power." He believes that restraint "always makes a space for the enemy" and that this causes us to lose Vietnam and prevents us from winning in Iraq.

So, to sum up: restrain is bad, while the full use of our military force is good. We should do to our enemies now what we did to our enemies in World War Two.

But he's not talking about using overwhelming force. He's talking about...something else?

 
At 12:30 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous stan smith said...

Spanky:

"Main Entry: de·ter·rence
Pronunciation: di-'t&r-&n(t)s, -'ter-; -'t&-r&n(t)s, dE-
Function: noun
: the act or process of deterring : as a : the inhibition of criminal behavior by fear especially of punishment b : the maintenance of military power for the purpose of discouraging attack"

If we restrain ourselves by not pursuing the full measure of our military capability (i.e., NOT following the retreating Iraqi army into Baghdad in Gulf 1, for instance, which many on the left have used as a criticism of Bush I), or, by refusing to attack terrorists in mosques (as you constantly refuse to recognize as "not pursuing the full measure of our military capability"; this does not necessarily mean carpet bombing or Dresden), we are not practicing "deterrence" and we're not punishing the enemy so that the enemy no longer has the will to fight. Steele is not necessarily advocating nukes, a scorched-earth policy, or Sherman's march to the sea, he's simply saying, if we're going to fight, let's fight to the best of our capability. Let's not refuse to go north of the 48th parallel, let's not refuse to mine Haiphong harbor, let's cut off the supply lines from Laos and Cambodia, and let's continue to fund the ARVN after Tet. You know, stuff like that. As always, you misunderstand. On purpose, maybe?

 
At 12:38 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky the Nonpsychic said...

Stan,

I just re-checked Steele's piece, and I didn't find any reference to terrorists hiding in mosques.

What I did find was the assertion that we "restrain" ourselves in combat from using "the full measure of our military power (the nuclear option aside) in the wars we fight."

I'm not sure about you, but when someone says "the full measure of our military power," up to but excluding the "nuclear option," I tend to think a little bigger-scale than continuing to fund the ARVN after Tet.

But, I guess that your understanding of what Steele wrote is the only valid one, even though you keep referring to things he didn't write, and that anyone who makes conclusions based on the actual words he actually wrote doesn't understand what he was trying to say.

Again, I say "bravo!" to the conservative ability to read minds.

 
At 1:12 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous the Unknown Blogger said...

And bravo to their seeming inability to even get the basic facts right:

Stan wrote:

(Steele and Goldstein) are merely saying that we should fight as if we meant to win; that is, if someone is shooting at you from the "safety" of a mosque because your rules of engagement forbid you to destroy a religious entity, you're entitled to shoot back.


See article:

Marines fire on mosque to repel attacks - April 18 2006


which states:

Insurgents also fired on the compound from a mosque about 330 yards (300 meters) away in the center of the city with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.

The Marines called for air support against the fire coming from the mosque, but ground forces arrived first.

"The Marines returned fire but continued to be attacked from the mosque's minaret," the military statement said. "The Marines fired one 120 mm tank round and several 7.62 mm machine-gun rounds into the minaret, after which fire from the mosque ceased."

"Coalition forces take significant measures to respect all religious sites," said Lt. Col. Bryan Salas, a Marine spokesman. "But we always maintain the inherent right of self-defense."


Funny how the fact that things aren't going well in Iraq (which is implicit in Steele's analysis) gets directed away from Rumsfeld and the New Model Army and straight into the laps of liberals.

Back to the topic at hand, anyone find those Cole quotes?

 
At 1:35 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Jen said...

Spanky, when I quoted Steele's peice, I did so at great length, and even that was only a small portion. It's a pretty long article.

You on the other hand have quoted the same few sentences more than once. The reason for this is that those are the only sentences in the entire, lengthy article that discuss military strategy in Iraq. That is because the article is not about military strategy. It is about the paradigm we bring to bear to our decisions about fighting the war.

You have criticized Stan for offering another possibility for the kind of thing Steele might have meant by "the full measure of our military power", even though Steele himself gives no examples of what this means. Yet you do not provide the same criticism of Greenwald for theorizing, and convincing a bunch of thoughtless commenters, that Steele actually meant "carpet bombing."

In fact, Steele didn't say that either. You, like Greenwald and others on the left, seem to be merely knocking down your own straw man.

What about Steele's central point, the one that ties in very well, I think, with Neo's post about denial? The idea is that the left is loath to condemn Third World dictators and is often in deep denial about the extent of their perfidy due to a societal sense of guilt over the West's imperial past. We caused so many of their problems that we should only blame ourselves, never them, they are the victims. Would you not say that this is a widely held belief of the left?

If we can get to the point of recognizing a) that this is the belief and b) that we don't really need to convince anybody anymore that we are NOT racist imperialists, then we can get down to taking a more rational, realistic look at the sort of actions we should take in the world - including how we fight a war. Or, to put it another way, we should all agree that we want to win the war, then look at how best to do that.

 
At 1:46 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous stan smith said...

"Furthermore, this was the fourth time in less than a month that Marines have come under fire from that mosque, according to Lt. Col. Stephen M. Neary, commander of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment."

And we responded ONCE. I'd call that "restraint."

 
At 1:47 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

Jen,

"Would you not say that this is a widely held belief of the left?"

No, I would not say that this is a widely held belief of the left.

"The left is loath to condemn Third World dictators."

This is a lie.

"Or, to put it another way, we should all agree that we want to win the war, then look at how best to do that."

Jen, what you don't understand is that there is agreement. It is a fantasy that there is a vast segment of the American population that doesn't think poorly of tyrannical dictators, or that wants American to lose a war against terrorists.

But let's talk about Steele's argument. Even if he's not advocating the full use of force, his argument is still garbage. "We don't fight the way we should because we're afraid that people will call us racist." Is this really what you think of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, the people who planned the war? Do you really think they're afraid of being called unilateralist cowboys? Racist Imperialists? If you do - if you think that they are restraining themselves because they are afraid of being made fun of, then you have an even lower opinion of them than I do.

Hilzoy over at Obsidian Wings, however, puts it better than I ever could:

"My best guess is that the reason so many bloggers on the right have applauded this tissue of fantasy is as follows. They know that things are not going well in Iraq. They are not prepared to blame the administration that has, you know, actually run the war. Luckily, here comes Shelby Steele with an alternative explanation that happens to invoke a narrative to which many of them are already wedded: the idea that America has been emasculated, its vigor sapped, and its "superior strength" tied down with a million Lilliputian ropes. Effete liberals rush about, cooing: "Oh no, America, you can't possibly do something so brash and bold!". We claim to be motivated by lofty principles, but in reality it's something much darker: a love of death, uncontrollable envy, the will to power. "

I think it's clear that the right has a love of death, uncontrollable envy, a terrifying fear of admitting that they are wrong, a crippling fear of danger that leads them to gladly give up their freedoms so long as a faux-tough authority figure offers them platitudes about keeping them safe, and a horrifically power sense of their own smug superiority.

Would you not say that these are widely held beliefs of the right?

 
At 1:49 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

Sorry, that should read " a horrifically powerful sense of their own smug superiority.

 
At 1:58 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous stan smith said...

"Would you not say that these are widely held beliefs of the right?"

Yup. It's why Glenmorangie tastes so much better than Heinz ketchup.

 
At 2:35 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous the Unknown Blogger said...

Stan Smith said:

"Furthermore, this was the fourth time in less than a month that Marines have come under fire from that mosque, according to Lt. Col. Stephen M. Neary, commander of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment."

And we responded ONCE. I'd call that "restraint."


We agree then. I call that restraint too. What I don't call it is a "rule of engagement" forbidding our troops to attack a mosque.

That is an entirely different degree of restraint and does not describe what is happening in Iraq now. As the Lt. Col said, our troops "always maintain the inherent right of self-defense."

I guess though where we disagree is that such restraint is a bad thing. I admit it may seem irrational to us, but given the value muslims place on those darn mosques, I am at loss to see how their unrestrained destruction is going to make our troops' job any easier.

Now if our enemies were "Iraqis" we could *maybe possibly* get away with it. But since we are in fact "the liberators of Iraqis" it seems to make sense that we would do our best to avoid destroying their ancient holy shrines.

 
At 3:12 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous stan smith said...

UB:
"What I don't call it is a "rule of engagement" forbidding our troops to attack a mosque."

It was, until the commander got fed up with his guys being shot at, and changed it.

"I admit it may seem irrational to us, but given the value muslims place on those darn mosques, I am at loss to see how their unrestrained destruction is going to make our troops' job any easier."

But you see, that's exactly Steele's point: if we respond, and actually KILL the guys using the mosque (that's "going to make our troops' job easier" by the way), we're unrepentant racist thugs who have no respect for "ancient holy shrines." It's what gives rise to the original rules of engagement that prohibited the Marines from responding in the first three instances the mosque was used as a firepost.

We can't have it both ways, and expect to win with the ease, minimal destruction and "humane" conflict that the left apparently wants...and THAT'S what Steele was talking about.

I haven't had time to check, but I'm sure the outrage over the incident you cite was pretty widespread, both among the Muslim world AND the West. And with the EU crying "diplomacy" daily, you can bet that such things have a chilling effect on how vigorously the Administration feels it can prosecute the war.

 
At 3:50 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

Stan,

So you believe that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the generals care enough about what Euroweenies and liberal traitors and Ismalofascists think of them to actually shift military strategy to appease them?

 
At 3:59 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous stan smith said...

"So you believe that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the generals care enough about what Euroweenies and liberal traitors and Ismalofascists think of them to actually shift military strategy to appease them?"

"Care enough"? No, but they recognize that 49% of the electorate, the "world community" and the "Arab street" have a great deal to do with how effective they actually can be in implementing their policies, and adjust policy accordingly (as did Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton, Carter, Ford, and Bush I before them); again, EXACTLY Steele's point. I'm glad to see you finally saw the light.

Do you think Truman would have dropped the Bomb in today's political climate? Or even in Korea?

 
At 4:01 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

I find this fascinating. You think so little of the president that you believe he would choose a losing strategy in order to win votes when he's not even up for re-election?

 
At 4:23 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger maryatexitzero said...

So you are not interested in content. Based on your previous posts it appears that what you prefer to do instead is cherry pick the info that supports your preconceived notions, ignore inconvenient facts, and try to discredit those who disagree with you rather than countering their arguments. Sounds vaguely familiar...

No, this particular argument doesn't interest me because it's a fact that Ahmadinejad is an anti-semite and a lunatic and it's a fact that other Arab/Muslim leaders are too.

Like most of the leaders in that part of the world, Ahmadinejad should be living in a halfway house and taking his meds. The fact that he has any power at all is proof that our foreign policy has failed.

None of that matters. Western powers will continue to give these zealots and kleptocrats legitimacy and responsibility because, well, we've been doing it for years, and even though we know now that they really want to kill us, we can't come up with any alternate policy. So we'll give these losers legitimacy and responsiblity - especially if they scare us by talking about nukes!

Cole and his friends in Gulf2000 support this non-plan. Cole criticizes Bush all the time, but if you ignore his Bush/Republican bashing, you might note that his opinions are sometimes similar to Bush's. He supports our alliances with Islamist nations, he supports Islamists in general. That's why it's no surprise that some of his best friends are oilmen.

It's not clear how much influence the Gulf 2000 people have over national policy. I do know that the opinions of Saudi-sponsored academics are used to back up foreign policy decisions.

 
At 4:34 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous stan smith said...

Spanky:

"You think so little of the president that you believe he would choose a losing strategy in order to win votes when he's not even up for re-election?"

"World opinion" and the "Arab street" have nothing to do with winning elections, but everything to do with the alliances and diplomacy that the left is constantly harping that this President doesn't care about. If those of you who continually criticize policy could craft something better, I would certainly listen, but as it is, I find the incessant litany of quagmire and incompetence a little tiresome in the face of no viable alternatives.

Let us in on a little, secret, Spanks: In the GWOT, WWSD?

 
At 4:53 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Sorry, guys, but despite his disappointing use of vile rhetoric (listening, Spanky & co.?), I think Greenwald has made a valid point.

Though I believe that 'white guilt' is now one of the defining characteristics of Western culture today and affects our political discourse and policy decisions, it is not the main reason for our restraint in using military force.

First, you have to define "restraint." That just means refraining from bringing your total available force to bear on the enemy. (Although after reading Greenwald's comments, I think he defines it as never bringing any available force to bear on anyone, ever. How do you define it, Spanky? Just curious...)

There are plenty of reasons for electing not to use all your available force. We did so in Korea and Vietnam and various other "little" conflicts because we were afraid of starting World War III with the Chinese and/or Soviets. And Greenwald is correct about Iraq - we've used restraint (my definition, not Greenwald's) there because massive force would do absolutely nothing to defeat the insurgency or build a working democracy in Iraq. Decisions about military policy are based on many factors - including the country's "image" in the rest of the world - but to blame 'white guilt' seems to me to be a lame attempt to explain the lack of a clear-cut victory (so far) by blaming the old leftist straw man.

I'd have to ask Steele what other options he would use in Iraq if we were suddenly freed of our 'white guilt,' and what he thinks it would accomplish. I would also point out that, when large numbers of insurgents tried or were compelled to engage our forces in more-or-less open battle - as in Fallujah and other parts of the Sunni Triangle - the military has not hesitated to employ the heaviest weapons appropriate in the situation. That those didn't include tactical nukes was a logical military choice, not a symptom of 'white guilt.'

The situation is frustrating, but unfortunately that is the nature of counterinsurgency operations. As we all know from Vietnam, frustration is one of the insurgent's primary psychological weapons. I'm not familiar with all the guerilla wars of the 20th century. Can anyone tell me if a Western-style mechanized army has ever won one, and if so, how?

Apart from that, I found Greenwald's tone completely offensive. Guaranteed to bring discussion to a halt. He's preaching to the choir - his audience of fellow Bush-haters - and not trying to convince the unconvinced that he's right. If you can filter out his hatred and locate the facts in this screed, however, you may find a few points to agree with.

 
At 5:09 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

To Nitty,

I'm not criticizing Britain's war preparations. France were the ones who did not go into the Rhineland and had their foolish incomplete Maginot Line, that would have worked, had they stopped putting funding. Talk about war on the cheap.

Chamberlain is guilty of one thing, and that is that he deceived both himself and the people he was responsible for. He did not prepare them psychologically, regardless of the war assets he was able to acquire which prevented the occupation of Britain even when France surrendered and gave the Nazis their entire army and logistics base. (That always hurts)

It was Chamberlain after all, who appointed Winston Churchill as some senior guy to his cabinet, can't remember which, after Cham woke up to the smell of the house burning down. Lord of the Admiralty or some such. But you have to recognize that Chamberlain never BELIEVED Churchill's warnings, which meant Chamberlain was deluding himself. How can you be right when you're that bad at judging things? One of the things necessary to prepare war is logistics, yes of course, but it is also psychology, land, and allies. Letting Poland fall (which had a pretty good army, disciplined, but not very modern) was not "preparing for war". When you prepare for war, you don't let your allies get cut apart piecemeal. France's problems were France's, but Britain did not come to the aid of Poland and that is entirely on Chamberlain's shoulders.

The thing is, Germany would have been just as unprepared in 1938 as Britain was. Germany was rearming as well, you have to remember. These things aren't cookie cutter graphs. Hitler himself said he would have backed down if the French moved to oppose him in the Rheinland. And Poland was his way of "testing" Western resolve. When you fail that test, Germany would have waited longer. The real question is, would the war have gone better had Germany started the war in 1941, 1942, 1945 than it would have been earlier on. German Nuclear Programs, which Heisenberg deliberately sabotaged, Russian non-aggression packs. All these things are variables, too many variables, to know. But whether a decision is the right one or not, is not based upon hindsight at all, real correct decisions were correct at the time regardless of what you learned afterwards or what resulted.

Please elaborate.

I'm too busy debating with my triumverate personalities, so you're just going to have to google up ad hominem, yourself. Peace Ouss!

I do ponder this but, but does Spank realize that everytime he attacks commentator's personality and credibility, that he is using an ad hominem attack to argue that a person is wrong because he is X kind of person?

That's not elaboration, but it is a requote, to help people understand what ad hominem is of course. Spank serves as a good example, so there you go.

I am waiting for someone around here to prove it - with Cole's own words.

I'd like to see someone prove that you can know an object's specific space location and its specific velocity at the same time, using Heisenberg's UnCertainty Principle and his wording.

Asserting that "As always, you misunderstand," doesn't really say much of anything, except what you feel about the power of your mad smackdown post.

Spank's playing Pro Wrestling name on his game console?

"Coalition forces take significant measures to respect all religious sites," said Lt. Col. Bryan Salas, a Marine spokesman. "But we always maintain the inherent right of self-defense."

This is a quote that doesn't mean what Unknown or Spank thinks it does. It really shows that Steele is right, deterence works, and not at the cost of Spank's military book about excessive force. Unknown is also making a specious argument, talking about facts when the quote he used was talking about arguments. Steel argues that Marines should do as they are doing now, maintaining right of self-defense, and perhaps become a little more proactive in making the terroists stop using mosques at all. Unknown comes back and says because Steel is right and that the Marines agree, people talking about the argument are wrong factually.

It's a specious argument, because it isn't based upon logical analysis, but rather logical axioms that Unknown is right and conservatives are wrong.

I like Jen's manner of argumentation and the piece Jen did us the favor of posting here. It reminds me of when I was so reasonable and rational, before Spank came and my personality branched into tri of course (wink wink)

If Jen seeks to continue the discussion with Spank, I hope Jen has a high tolerance for pain and emotional distress. Hey, that's what discipline and pain tolerance training is for, eh?

Bookworm's blog is probably a site Jen might like to read. That and vari frank.

http://bookwormroom.wordpress.com/

 
At 5:56 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Spanky makes the point that we should respect the respect the insurgents have for their people's places of worship. My God, that pinhead is sharp!! GOLDEN DOME SPANKY!!

 
At 6:27 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous Spanky said...

"Spanky makes the point that we should respect the respect the insurgents have for their people's places of worship."

I wonder if you could point out where I said this.

The person who brought up the whole mosque issue was Stan. Stan invented, from whole cloth, the notion that Steele was talking about attacking mosques. Steele certainly never mentioned it, and I never mentioned it except in the context of pointing out that Steele never said it.

So I wonder: in what way does saying "Steele didn't talk about mosques" translate into "Spanky loves terrorists?"

Oh, right. Sorry. Forgot where I was writing. Pretty much anything that diverges from rigid party line = loving terrorists. My bad.

 
At 6:30 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Stan invented, from whole cloth, the notion that Steele was talking about attacking mosques.

Let me coo it dawn ya?

Stan believes, as I do, that Steele's central argument can be extended by logic to cover the application about mosques. It's not arguing that stan is right about mosques because steele talks about it, that would be the fallacy of appealing to authority to justify your beliefs.

Come on Stan, I dare ya to deny it. I doube dog dare ya!!

So I wonder: in what way does saying "Steele didn't talk about mosques" translate into "Spanky loves terrorists?"

You loved terroists too Spank? I thought I was the only who ever loved a terroist.

 
At 9:23 PM, May 04, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Never mind the loving terrorists - what about their girlfriends?

Hey - dude becomes a holy martyr, leaves behind an exotic little desert blossom lookin for a big strong shoulder to cry on...next thing you know that burqa's comin off and you don't have to wait for no 70 virgins to peel your grapes for ya...

Tasty.

 
At 4:55 PM, May 07, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

There are no girlfriends in the Middle East. When men have 9 wives, of various ages, there ain't much left for the sons.

 

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