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August 30, 2004

Comments

I tend to think it wouldn't be possible, if only because (in my humble opinion) it's not clear that their ostensible demands are what's really bothering them. (E.g., in this case, is it obvious that their issue is the hijab ban in particular, rather than fury at the West in general? Not to me.)

That said, I have a hard time trying to think about this, since one of your suppositions (that acceding to their demands won't increase terrorism) is one whose falsity so totally informs my view of these things that it's hard for me to sort out what remains of my view when I try to separate this out. (And I have personal experience here; when I was nine, I spent the summer with my aunt and uncle and their kids, and one of my cousins and I kidnapped another cousin and held her for ransom. My aunt and uncle foolishly paid up, and so the next summer, when my parents were there, we kidnapped my sister. The cousin we had kidnapped was only a year old, and so didn't know that she had been kidnapped; my sister, however, was seven, and we had to tie her to a post to keep her from running away. My parents, who are very wise, did not pay, leaving us completely baffled about what to do with my then furious sister, who we eventually allowed to escape. The moral of this story was obvious to me than, and it's obvious to me now.)

Plus, in order to accept your hypothetical, I also have to abstract away from my view that there are certain tactics that one should never allow to succeed, since it wold be a catastrophe if they were at loose in the world, available to anyone who wanted to use them in order to achieve a certain result. (The view that also underlies my Big Lies post, not that I want to rehash that again.) Since, of course, if we assume that acceding to terrorists wouldn't make terrorism more likely, then resisting it would not be necessary to prevent this sort of tactic from being at loose in the world. I's hard for me to see what remains of my views on acceding to terrorists once I strip these two things away.

I certainly don't assume that giving into the demands of terrorists helps matters either. But since some people seem to take that tact, I wanted to cover all the bases.

It is not the first time France has been targeted by terrorists groups. Generally, the official demands are never satisfied. On the countrary, this kind of demand tends to undermine the cause they pretend supporting. Unofficially, like many governments, we dont hesitate to try to bribe or pay a ransom to the kidnappers.
In this case however, i think that the official demand of the kidnappers is bulls**t or if you prefer that criminals sold them the hostages and as an afterthougth they decided it could be a good marketing point. Whatever the case, no chance... Only impact will be to incense anti-musulmanism (and we already have enough of it as well as of antisemitism (yes i know that both are antisemitism but my english is poor)) as well as strengthening what can be seen as a bad law. I dont think however that support for the irak war will spontaneously spawn in the country...

But since some people seem to take that tact,

Who?

Sebastian -- I know; I was just trying to explain why I had a hard time with the hypothetical.

Most terrorist demands are probably too vague or extensive to meet, but some of their demands are simple and specific enough to be met, as in the case of the hijab ban.

Would meeting these demands do any good? Not much. Most terrorists are pretty dedicated to that lifestyle, and it is unlikely that it would be possible to meet enough of their demands for many terrorists to be satisfied & decide to retire from terrorism. (As instructed, I am ignoring the obvious incentive problem of signalling to terrorists that we'll try to do whatever they want us to do.)

However, very few people that I know of have argued that we should try to win over the terrorists by meeting their demands. The real people to be concerned about are the potential terrorists and terrorist sympathizers. These people don't issue demands, but it can be worthwhile to act with their opinions in mind so that they do not support or become terrorists. In some cases (like with the hijab ban), a course of action that could help attract these people to our side or to keep them from going over to the terrorists' side will be similar to the course of action that the terrorists are demanding. Because of the negative consequences of giving in to terrorists' demands, smart policymakers need to try to avoid the appearance of responding to terrorist demands. France, for instance, could have never passed the ban to begin with.

NYT:

Michel Barnier, foreign minister, was on Sunday sent to the Middle East to reinforce diplomatic efforts following widespread condemnation of the kidnapping by politicians and Muslim leaders. The kidnapping of Christian Chesnot, of Radio France Internationale, and Georges Malbrunot, of the Le Figaro daily, has shocked many in France. They had hoped that the country's opposition to the US-led war in Iraq would spare it from being a target of terrorists and other militant groups. The fact that there are no French forces in Iraq and that the invasion was vehemently opposed by the establishment has raised hopes that a deal may be possible.

Hat tip Abiola

I know the source is the NYT, and therefore could be shoddy reporting. But, there you have it.

Before resolution can be found to Sebastion's post, I find it necessary to make the determination if someone is truly a "Freedom Fighter" or a "Terrorist".

I disagree with the statement that one man's "Freedom Fighter" is another man's "Terrorist".

I will accept that there are some Iraqis that are willing to fight for their old lifestyle, but they are employing terrorists techniques. There are some terrorists in Iraq who are working with the Bathist leftovers, but are still terrorists.

There are also some foreign fighters who are terrorists and others that are supporting the Bathists leftover in their use of terrorists techniques.

And of course, they are all working together and independantly sufficiently complicating any method I could use to make a determinationa about them.

But, the difference is important for me because Freedom Fighters will most likely have a broader base of support that will eventually become centralized. Terrorists may have a broad base of support, but it is more decentrailized and it is less likely to maintain a broad base of support without Taliban like oppression, which is difficult to maintain in the long term. Freedom fighters don't have this issue in the same way.

A classic example of this blurry line would be Arafat. I make my distinction by looking at the results of his efforts. Terrorists intentionally kill unarmed civilians. Freedom fighters dont' do it intentionally. Terrorists maintain power for themselves. Terrorists kill their own because of disagreement. Freedom fighters don't kill their own because of disagreement. Terrorists don't share power outside the hierarchy. Freedom fighters share power.

Terrorists can't be satiated. Freedom fighters can.


I disagree with the statement that one man's "Freedom Fighter" is another man's "Terrorist".

Menachem Begin--freedom fighter or terrorist?

Jadegold,

I don't see how your question is really relevant to Sebastian's post, but based on my own personal criteria
Begin atleast meets the standard of being willing to share power. He signed a peace treaty with Egypt that is still in effect. So he seemed satiated atleast in that respect.


According to your criteria ("Terrorists intentionally kill unarmed civilians."), wouldn't Begin qualify after his Irgun group killed nearly 100, including 15 Jews, by bombing the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946?

Or by assassinating Count Bernadotte--a diplomat who, in WWII, saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis?

The relevance is that the distinctions between terrorist and freedom fighter isn't as clear as you'd care to believe.

Terrorists, freedom fighters: I tend to go literalist here. A freedom fighter is someone who is fighting for freedom. A terrorist is someone who uses terrorism as a tactic: e.g., who kills the innocent in order to spread terror in some population, in order to achieve his or her goals. Since being a freedom fighter means having a certain end, while being a terrorist means using a certain tactic to achieve one's ends, it would seem that one person could be both. Begin would be an obvious example. -- What gets in the way of seeing this is the idea that freedom fighters are good, while terrorists are bad. I agree with the second claim, but not (in all cases) with the first, since I do not think that the ends justify the means.

"Even if we wanted to fulfill terrorist demands, and even if we thought it wouldn't cause more terrorism would it be possible to do so?"

I'm with hilzoy. The antecedents are so disturbingly wrongheaded that I can't make it to the consequent.

What gets in the way of seeing this is the idea that freedom fighters are good, while terrorists are bad.

Depends on what side you're standing on. I personally think it's a pretty hopeless task to try and make a distinction. And, in a way, it's a mistake to do so as it needlessly obscures the real reasons for conflict (See: Terrorists hate freedom).

Terrorism is a tactic; it is employed by all sides. Even during the Cold War, military strategists--on both sides--discussed warfare in terms of counter-force (prosecuting the opposition's military) and counter-value (attacking the opposition's populations).

Sebastian,

The article just says that because France is not involved in Iraq, they didn't expect to be targeted by terrorists. That's much different than saying that they actively support a policy of giving in to terrorists.

I've never heard of anybody who advocates always doing whatever any terrorist demands, so I still don't know who the intended audience for this post is.

"And, in a way, it's a mistake to do so as it needlessly obscures the real reasons for conflict." Sure though I suspect you wouldn't accept a large portion of the real reasons for the conflict defined as: Islamists have a horrific political and legal system in mind for a large part of the world. They see US power in the Middle East as a major stumbling block to implementing that. They have decided that if they use enough terrorist tactics against us they will get the US to withdraw from what they see as their proper zone of influence so that they can stone women to death for being raped and topple walls on to homosexuals while keeping their daughters uneducated and hidden behind veils.

The article just says that because France is not involved in Iraq, they didn't expect to be targeted by terrorists. That's much different than saying that they actively support a policy of giving in to terrorists.

I've never heard of anybody who advocates always doing whatever any terrorist demands, so I still don't know who the intended audience for this post is.

Where did the 'always' come from?

That changes the thrust of my post considerably. I never suggested that the French want to ALWAYS do ANYTHING terrorists demand.

I suggested that if you want to play the game of trying to fulfill just enough to avoid scrutiny, then you are going to have problems because Islamist terrorist groups aren't unitary enough to really do so without drastic changes in everything you do. (Probably, though not certainly, if France was willing to install bin Laden as prime minister, outlaw all non-Muslim religions and give their military to Al Qaeda, they wouldn't be targetted.)

You are absolutely correct, Sebastian, I wouldn't accept your "real reasons for the conflict."

Let's not forget Iraq was a war of choice.

Let's not forget Iraq was a war of choice.

Choice is bad?

And to think that so many on this site are pro-choice.

But more seriously, I knew you wouldn't accept my proposed explanation for the real reasons for the conflict. I notice you don't give even a slight hint about what you think is the real reason. And do you disagree with all of my reasons, or just some of them? Do you think that deep down Islamists don't want sharia-style legal systems for instance? They are just kidding about that?

Some hostages may be killed and you joke ""The silly French can't even surrender properly."

You're a class act.

Never claimed to be classy. Besides which I reported my initial reactions and THEN my considered thoughts. I'm sure you have heard of an inital reaction of "Wow, shes hot." Followed by "She seems to like me." Followed by "I shouldn't encourage her advances because I'm married." Initial reactions can be bad or good or something. Maybe it reveals something awful about me that my initial reaction was like that. But I think it is the considered reactions which count in the long run. (You may find them awful too, but I would expect you to argue with them in such a case.)

Where did the 'always' come from? That changes the thrust of my post considerably. I never suggested that the French want to ALWAYS do ANYTHING terrorists demand.

OK, remove the 'always.' Can you point me to a reference that the French have done or not done anything WRT Iraq or the ME or the Muslim community because of terrorist demands? That's the part of this that I'm missing.

Sebastian, I respect the fact that you were honest enough to admit what your initial reactions were, but I think perhaps it might have been best, once you did take a moment to reconsider, to have omitted them from the post.

The NYT piece I quote in the comments above suggests that many in France specifically saw/hoped their foreign policies immunized them from terrorist response. That was a component of the foreign policy. Whether or not you can track individual policies to individual instances of terrorist demands isn't the point (to me at least). There is an impression that by being sufficiently nuanced they could avoid the war. That may turn out to be untrue.

I said: "This is the flip-side of the fact that fighting terrorist groups in the Middle East is difficult because there seems to be so many of them--satisfying their desires so they won't fight us is just as difficult for the same reason."

I'm sorry I used 'demands' in the previous sentence because it is clearly clouding what I think is the issue. Satisfying their desires may not be possible both because we are morally constrained AND because the groups are too fragmented to make 'satisfying their desires' possible.

OK, I think I understand what you're saying now. Instead of "satisfying their desires", I would've preferred something like "trying to avoid anything that could be construed as provocative". So then I guess I can agree, to the extent that their actions were motivated by trying to avoid trouble, it's not a good long-term strategy for dealing with troublemakers.

OTOH, the fact that they hoped that their foreign policies immunized them from terrorism doesn't mean that those policies were motivated by that hope. I wouldn't have any trouble believing it, but I don't think you've demonstrated it.

Sebastian: Originally, I thought that you were talking about acceding to terrorists' demands, which I'm flatly against (I hope I would have the guts to maintain this view if it were, say, my spouse who had been kidnapped, etc., but I'm not claiming that I would.) Doing things that might mollify terrorists is harder, I think.

On the one hand, if a terrorist group says to a government, "Don't do X or we will kidnap your citizens', it seems to me that for the government to not do X is generally a bad idea. ('Generally', since the government might have intended not to do X anyways, and I can imagine circumstances in which its interests in not doing X might outweigh its interests in not seeming to accede to terrorists. E.g., if Osama announced that he'd ramp up terror against us if we suspended our constitution, we should not suspend it.)

On the other hand, I think it might well be a good idea, depending on circumstances, to try to do things that will undercut people's motivations for becoming terrorists, and also from doing things that provoke them needlessly when some alternative will do as well, or almost as well. (E.g., suppose we were casting around for a site for a new military base, and it turned out that on strictly geographic grounds, the best place to put it would be on the site of the Ka'aba in Mecca. Not a good move.) It would be a good thing, if we could find the money, to try to set up free secular schools in Pakistan, for instance; and you think that undercutting terrorists' motivations by providing democracies in the Middle East is a good reason for going to war in Iraq. (I hope I'm not putting words in your mouth, but this seemed like a rather safe call.)

I think that it's hard to draw a clear line between the bad sort of 'trying not to inflame the terrorists' (allowing them to dictate one's entire policy, say) and the OK kind (not siting an airbase on the Ka'aba); and also between the bad sort of 'catering to their desires' and the OK sort (Pakistani secular schools, the war in Iraq according to you.)

OT

What a difference a month makes.

"We have a clear vision on how to win the war on terror and bring peace to the world."
-- George W. Bush
July 30th 2004.

"I don’t think you can win [the war on terror]. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are — less acceptable in parts of the world.”

-- George W. Bush
Aug. 29th, 2004.

Well he's nice enough to let us know that despite what his campaign says, he can't see how to win a War on Terror.

(not that I thought it possible to win against a tactic but he certainly has shown that you can lose against one)

It would be a good thing, if we could find the money, to try to set up free secular schools in Pakistan, for instance; and you think that undercutting terrorists' motivations by providing democracies in the Middle East is a good reason for going to war in Iraq. (I hope I'm not putting words in your mouth, but this seemed like a rather safe call.)

I think that it's hard to draw a clear line between the bad sort of 'trying not to inflame the terrorists' (allowing them to dictate one's entire policy, say) and the OK kind (not siting an airbase on the Ka'aba); and also between the bad sort of 'catering to their desires' and the OK sort (Pakistani secular schools, the war in Iraq according to you.)

I agree almost entirely. I especially agree that it can be hard to draw a clear line, but I don't think it lets us off the hook. I mention it because I think many of the things we end up discussing are clearly on one side of the other, no matter how complicated the border zone might be on the close calls. I think a huge percentage of the 'why do they hate us' questions end up talking about things that would clearly (to me) be on the capitulation side of things if we were to give them up. Many Islamists seem interested in getting sharia law installed throughout the Middle East (as a start). I don't think we can encourage that without selling away our principles.

Yeah -- as soon as I posted that, I thought: of course, I should say something like "of course, this doesn't mean we can't sometimes tell when something is on one side of the line or the other, any more than the absence of a clear line between black and white means that there's no arguing with someone who says that all they keys on a piano are the same color." Or something. But it was too late (also too late for me to notice that I mangled line 3 in the second para. from the end: it should read: 'and also to refrain from doing things...')

Now I have to get back to work :)

Can I say that I'm really damn tired of the "French always surrender" bull$#it? France lost 1.35 million in World War I. France lost over half a million before their surrender in WWII and more during the resistance. Shut up about how the French always surrender.

If you can't criticize a nation's foreign policy regarding the Iraq War without invoking cheap, historically-inaccurate cultural stereotypes, you really shouldn't be enjoined in this debate at all.

I notice you don't give even a slight hint about what you think is the real reason. And do you disagree with all of my reasons, or just some of them?

I disagree with about all your reasons, Sebastian. First off, you paint the Muslim faith with a pretty broad brush; I'd object to that as I would someone who looked at certain parts of Utah/Arizona and asked you if you didn't believe all Christians wanted to have polygamous and incestuous relationships and the like.

Second, Iraq was a pretty secular state. If your goal was to free people from the horrors of Sharia (and you're misusing the term), you invaded the wrong country.

Third, if it was our goal to free people from oppression/tyranny/dictatorship/bad haircuts, there exist several nations whose populations are far more oppressed. Some of these nations actually possess the wherewithal to pose a security threat to the US and its allies--unlike Iraq.

No, Sebastian, we went to war in Iraq for two reasons: ideology and the economy. It certainly had nothing to do with the stated reasons of WMD and links to terrorism.

Umm, ok CJM. Please read my comment of 3:28.

Feel free to judge me purely on my initial reaction if you want. Such reactions say something about a person--which is precisely why I did not omit them. I'm the kind of person who has wise-cracks as his initial reaction to things and I'm also the kind of person that doesn't respect much of what is ascendant in French intellectual culture. Sometimes that is bad. Sometimes it goes too far. But as I intellectually climb down from that reaction, and in a forum such as this, it still makes sense to give that information.

Jadegold, I see that you are talking about a war that you think we started. I was talking about the awfully named War on Terrorism. Do you believe we started the war in which two planes were crashed into the World Trade Center Towers with the aim to kill 30,000+ civilians but which fortunately did not succeed in killing so many people?

We can talk about how Iraq fits into such a war if you like (though I would prefer you explore my site on the topic before making me rehash what I think about that), but the WTC was not destroyed because we deposed Saddam.

I mention sharia law because it is 100% tied in to fighting Sadr in Iraq.

Sebastian's orginal question is whether it is possible that we can surrender so completely to the Islamists that they will stop attacking us. The answer is undoubtedly yes -- amending the Constitution to allow the foreign born to run for president and electing Osama bin Laden by acclamation would be just the start.

Sebastian's more recent question, though, cuts to the heart of the reservations many of us have about the neo-imperialism we're seeing. There's no serious consensus in the US in favor of a policy of "encouraging" the adoption of Sharia all over the ME, or even in any single country. The question is whether and to what extent we should resist the adoption of Sharia in any country. Put another way, can a society freely decide to be governed by laws that a majority believe to have been decreed by the Almighty, when those laws conflict with the values of the world's superpower?

I'm not saying you have to like it when some country adopts rules you don't like. However, unless you are prepared to give up the death penalty, and whatever else we do in our society that is widely considered barbaric, you're going to have to be willing to live with some degree of national autonomy. The alternative is to crown the US Dictator of the World -- a fine gig while it lasts, I suppose, for some of the people.

Yes, Sebastian, I know it was just an initial reaction. I'm just tired of seeing it offered up in print as if to suggest that the imagined cultural shortcomings of a country most of us haven't even been to allow us to write off any objection any potential ally has to the way we conduct our foreign policy. Rebuttal by cultural caricature isn't dialogue, it's intellectual cowardice.

(This is not to say that this is what you were doing. But it's exactly the childish cliche consistently used by the likes Jonah Goldberg, Andrew Sullivan, and Glenn Reynolds to substitute for actual debate and analysis. Your invocation of it was disappointing, to say the least.)

Do you believe we started the war in which two planes were crashed into the World Trade Center Towers with the aim to kill 30,000+ civilians but which fortunately did not succeed in killing so many people?

Saddam Hussein masterminded that? Better get your evidence to BC04 Campaign HQ. They could use the good news that the Iraq-Al Qaeda link's been discovered.

Jadegold, did you by chance read only the portion of my comment which you quoted?

CharlyCarp, we aren't talking about every country. We are talking about Iraq. We are talking about what would happen if we were to withdraw from Iraq given the fact that we have already invaded it and gotten rid of its leader. In my view the duty we have to the country is different than we might have to just any random country for that reason. If you want to say that the fact we are forced into resisting the implementation of sharia law shows that Bush was a fool to invade, have at it. But personally I think that ensuring the lack-of-foothold for a system which encourages executions for victims of rape is a good side-effect of the Iraq policy rather than a detriment.

Here's another question. The headscarf ban is, I believe, not only an oppressive but a stupid policy. It restricts freedom of religion, speech, and expression in the name of stifling religious tension, but it has only served - as many predicted - to exacerbate that tension. I believed last week it should be done away with. Now that terrorists are demanding the same, would removing the ban be "appeasing" terrorists when last week it would've been sane and sensible policy?

Let's pry this away from the issue of Islam a little while we're at it. Let's say terrorists kidnap two Americans and state that they will be beheaded if both parties don't produce major plans for reforming the tort system within the next 48 hours. I think good tort reform is pretty crucial to lowering the cost of health care in America; so do a lot of people. But, oh crap! Osama's just come out against trial lawyers! If we reform our beleaguered tort system, the terrorists win.

How much attention do we need to give to the notion of "appeasement" in the abstract - of pure emotional satisfaction of terrorists? I would argue very, very little. We should not negotiate with terrorists, or concede to their demands because they are terrorists' demands. We should be concerned about satisfying terrorists only to the extent that it generates incentives for future terrorism. But the US has not made terrorists or radical Muslims in general happy over the last few decades, and terror still happened. It's the nature of terror, as a tactic, to raise a body count. They'll do this whether our policies happen to coincide with their wishes or not.

I hope the US never has to face an unwinable scenario in Iraq. But if that day ever comes - and if the cost of remaining outweighs the cost of disengaging - we will have to pull out, regardless of how much it gratifies our enemies. At this point, they want to kill us regardless.

OK, Sebastian, we can stick to just Iraq.

Of course the danger that we would make Iraq safe for Islamism was obvious before we went in. And should perhaps have been taken more seriously (at the least as part of the "risks of not acting outweigh the risks of acting" calculus). But then, there's not much that could really have been done about it. Suppressing religious movements is difficult business even in the best of circumstances -- that a foreign occupier, after a humiliating defeat, allied with Israel, could be thought to have much of a shot at doing so is pretty optimistic even for this bunch.

There will always be a significant faction within Iraq who wants Sharia to be enacted. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if advocates of doing so did very well in the '05 elections. (IIRC, our appointed Governing Council enacted Sharia for domestic matters, only to have Bremer veto it.)

And if a majority wants it, who are we to prevent it from going into effect? Are we going to be guarantors for the rest of all time of whatever equivalent the Iraqis develop to our Establishment Clause?

I agree that while we were occupiers, we had the right to veto the GC's law. I do not see where we get any right, much less have any obligation, to intervene in internal Iraqi affairs now, should the government wish to enact Sharia.

Now this is a completely distinct question from the question of whether we have a right and an obligation to assist the transitional government in resisting armed insurrections. I think we have both,* and that it is only the procedural question -- Al-Sadr is waging rebellion -- rather than the substantive one -- he wants Sharia to be enacted as the civil law -- that gives them to us. If, as seems possible, al-Sadr decides to take advantage of whatever immunity deal he's been able to make, and runs for parliament, wins, and gets a majority to enact Sharia, we have nothing to say about it.

Except "Mission Accomplished," is this result would be a vindication of the whole strategy. The point of creating democracies in the ME is not to wipe out Islamism -- which can never be done -- but to domesticate it. (Can this be done? I have doubts, but then I always thought the whole policy was a little ambitious . . .)


* Neither of which excuse us of the obligation to act with extreme prudence.

"And if a majority wants it, who are we to prevent it from going into effect? Are we going to be guarantors for the rest of all time of whatever equivalent the Iraqis develop to our Establishment Clause?"

Nope, we can do like we did for the Japanese and Germans--guarantee their Constitutions for the first decade or two until it has become a part of their national character. And while we did that we found we didn't have to intervene much after the first 5 years. (Note, WWII parallel invoked for the limited purposes of showing precedent and possibility against committed and warlike nations--religiously fanatical in the case of Japan. Not invoked to justify righteousness of war or any other reason).

Re: parallels to WWII.

Since this site is often visited by people with a much better understanding of history than I, could someone please explain the following.

WHY DID THE GERMANS AND JAPANESE ACCEPT OUR IMPOSITION OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW?

various threads here and at tacitus have discussed, ad nauseam, the fact that the surrender of those two countries was complete -- there were no effective resistance movements in either country even after the Allies started redrafting constitutions. Why not? what was the role of religion in the governmental institutions prior to the war? was it the nature of defeat, that WWII was a total war waged against both the governments and their people?

and, parenthetically, how do we, as the country with the most powerful Free Exercise clause of any that I'm aware of, justify the suppression of a particular religious sect?

cheers

Francis

Francis,

I am sure there is a lot of room for debate regarding your question but here is my two cents’ worth:

The big fear of Germans (before, during and after WW2) was the Soviet Union. Hitler exploited that fear but ended up leaving a chunk of the country in Stalin’s hands. America offered protection in return for doing things America’s way. Not a bad deal. To some extent the same is true of Japan, which feared China even more than Russia (both of them within striking distance).

Also, both Germany and Japan had weak democracies which succumbed to fascism. The theory, in part, was that democracies are inherently prone to decadence and military weakness. WW2 demolished that theory in the most brutal manner imaginable. Undoubtedly the sheer scale of the defeat helped the allies.

Religion didn’t really come into it in Germany (mostly Christian). In Japan, where State Shinto effectively gave the Emperor the status of a god, it helped that he called for co-operation with the occupiers.

Sebastian, I may have this wrong -- and I hope you will correct me -- but I don't think we intervened militarily in either Germany or Japan after the occupations ended. Sure our military has been there, but I don't think in either state any citizen believed that he/she could appeal an unconstitutional enactment of the national legislature to the US Army.

On the other point, we did not have to hear a return of militarism in either country because in both militarist regimes had been totally defeated and discredited -- with attendant loss of life touching every family. Blamed, in both countries, on their overthrown regimes. I'm not sure that in Iraq we can say that Ba'athism is totally defeated and discredited, much less blamed for the death and destruction. We certainly cannot say that Islamism has been defeated and discredited in Iraq.

I know, Sebastian, that this is what you want the ultimate result to be. That requires a war beyond the one we're fighting now (much less the one we already won), and an agenda far beyond anything the public supports or has been prepared to support. In addition, I think it's impossible to get the full benefit (discrediting Islamism) without our defeating an actual Islamic regime, that would be seen by the survivors as having been illegitimate. And as having brought the destruction down upon every family in the country.

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