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July 23, 2005

Comments

A couple of observations:

1. The US supports the current Egyptian regime, both with money and in other ways. This is sufficient reason for the jihadists to believe that the US is involved in the secularist occupation of Egypt, even if we don't have troops. There is no point trying to talk jihadists out of believing that we are in part responsible for the 'evil' they are fighting,* and I see precious little point in trying to talk ourselves out of the idea either. We are deeply involved with Egypt, SA, and others.

2. Of course the London attack was about Iraq. As UBL said himself on the eve of our election, if they were merely striking at countries because they hated freedom, they'd attack Sweden. They are not attcking either Sweden or Canada. Why? Not only -- or at all -- because they are scared of, or deterred by these states, but because they do not perceive them to be participants in the bad stuff. The UK is a participant.

3. Lots of opponents of the Iraq thing have said lots of things, so it's always easy to pick one or two out for refutation. I spent a lot of time saying that we would make Iraq safe for Islamism, that the war there would not make us safer, even if the project turned out OK (because I don't think the creation of a US allied state would deflate Islamists, I thought it would enflame them), and that I thought victory had not yet been acheived on the central front -- the mountains of Pakistan. The thing that I have been primarily wrong about is what a piss-poor job the SecDef would have done in formulating Phase IV. Oh, and I didn't see what a good deal it was going to be for Iran, although it should have been obvious.

4. I agree with CB that the action should be in Pakistan. I'm probably a lot less willing than he is to do something that pushed that country's president out, because I think what comes next will be worse on every level. We had a lot more leverage in early 2002, but with all that has happened since, I think we're in a tough spot pushing a whole lot harder.

5. I have no idea what CB means by 'excuse.' The jihadists have a set of goals. Sure, if the US had not invaded Iraq, the jihadists would still be mad at the US. They'd still be mad at Spain. There would quite likely be fewer people out there in the ME who would believe that the West is conducting a war on Islam. This perception has tremendous value, and is judged not by the President's words, but by the actions that are taken under his authority.


* In a recent thread, we talked about Americans who were willing to strike out at any of 'them' that might be convenient, out of fear, frustration, and anger. I would guess that these human emotions are spread about liberally in all mankind.

Iraq is a front in the terrorist war against militant Islamists

This is going to be true of any middle eastern country we invade and occupy. So why not create more such fronts and do some more invading, since its such a good idea?

I agree that Pakistan is probably the most dangerous country with regard to terrorism, but I am not sure how to deal with it. Forcing military access for US troops to combat existing terrorists would probably backfire and create greater dangers. The existing government prefers to keep the terrorists on a low simmer, rather than violently confront them. It would be nice if they were more aggfresive, but it is unlikely they will ever do it unless demmed absolutely essential for survival. Nothing but crappy choices here, but it should still be a primary focus in order to take advantage of whatever slim possibilities exist to improve the situation.

Tell me again how the Iraq war helps us in dealing with countries such as Pakistan, which present a much greater potential for threats. It seems clear that in every way possible, the invsion only makes it much more difficult to combat the rise of violent terrorists in Pakistan, etc.

My view (FWIW) is that the fundamentalist issue is not an Islamist issue but a Fundamentalist issue: Islamist, Jewish (as in the current Israeli gov't and the settler movement), Christian (you know the cast of characters). Christian and Jewish fundies, through their neocon surrogates have spread just as much terror (although it is state sponsored) as Islamist (probably more), but this is not a numbers game about who has killed more. It is a question of what is in back of it.

Fundamentalism of all stripes is a reaction to Modernity. It's increaslingly vicious and desperate character is a reflection of the ovewhelming rage that Modernity is too powerful and will wash over them and destroy them. I say this without judging whether the brand of modernism that results will be good or bad. But even the right wing nuthatchery of the Fox network is loaded with sexually explicit, suggestive, violent fare because it makes money and because what it represents--a modern temperament. It not only makes money but makes money because it reflects an overwhelmingly powerful taste. Fundamentalists cannot hold back this tide and their violent reaction is testimony to this.

Thus this is a period of transition, and many periods of transition are extremely painful, difficult and often violent. They can also last for reasonably long periods, and the length of the transition period can be materially affected by policies that are undertaken to cope with the dislocation that is experienced. US policies in this transition period are only serving to make it more painful and longer, perhaps because they are partially inspired by our own brand of Fundamentalism that has unnatural sway with the government.

So, yes, Iraq is making things worse. Yes, Islamic Fundamentalism is a violent threat. But it is part of a general Fundamentalist reaction that takes different violent forms, including those state sponsored ones prosecuted by our own (US) government.

Christian and Jewish fundies, through their neocon surrogates have spread just as much terror (although it is state sponsored) as Islamist (probably more),

For example..?

As always, I'm appreciative of the time and effort taken here, but I am baffled by the difference between reasons and excuses. If they were reasons, we wouldn't be having these problems?

Stan, I wouldn't wait for meaningful answers on this one....

By the way, on Sweden, it does in fact participate in the war on terror, and has faced Islamist threats as a result.

It's worth going to Tacitus' links to see firsthand what he means. The first one lists Sweden's contributions to the WoT via NATO, the bulk of which seems to be "$100 million for the period 2002-2004, with an emphasis on health care and primary education" for Afghanistan, as well as "logistics support for humanitarian aid distribution provided by the Swedish Rescue Services Agency." The second link points out that Sweden sent an Egyptian militant back to Egypt, where he was tortured. Truly the Swedes are on the front lines against Al Qaeda.

The second two links describe that there have been some Muslim radicals in Sweden who have posted some crazy stuff on the internet. So they've faced Islamist threats in roughly the same way that I've faced the threat of penis enlargement spam mail. Al Qaeda's involvement in the webboard postings are, ahem, unclear.

Tac said that the Islamist threats were a consequence of what Sweden has done in the WoT, but there is nothing at any of the links to support that, and plenty to contravene it (unless having Muslims in the country makes one a participant in the WoT, which may well be what he means).

(Approvingly quoted in one of Tac's Internet Haganah links: "Yet [Sweden] is probably the most pathetic dhimmi nation in the Western world, even if facing some stiff competition for the title, including from Norway. It has effectively, without a shot being fired, ceded its third largest city to Muslims, and the suburbs in several others.")

StanLS: Christian and Jewish fundies, through their neocon surrogates have spread just as much terror (although it is state sponsored) as Islamist (probably more),

For example..?

I thought the references were obvious, but for the record I am referring to Iraq, the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon.

Obviously if you ask, it is an opinion you disagree with. Fair enough.

It's worth going to Tacitus' links to see firsthand what he means.

Which just goes to show: always read the links.

Tacitus was counting on you not.

Charles, if you would, please read http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/000736.html>this post and comments and give your impressions? Tacitus, please don't. The American Thinker article Charles links does seem to help spread the meme by coining (?) "Islamikaze".

Stan, revere will have to defend his own proposition. Tangentially related though, how helpful has our Christian fundamentalist community been wrt Iraq? http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/06/weekinreview/06CALD.html>This old NYT article linked http://www.christianitytoday.com/ctmag/special/wariniraq.html>here href> showed some potential problems. Snippet if you don't wish to purchase:

Muslims have said they are not happy about the evangelicals' plans. "The Iraq war is being interpreted in religious terms by Muslims around the world as a war against Islam, and this is dangerous," said Abdulaziz Sachedina, a University of Virginia expert in Islam and democracy. Mr. Sachedina suggested that, at the least, Christian groups wait a while before heading into Iraq.

In many Muslim countries, the American military and its dominant religion appear inseparable, said John C. Green, the director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. True or not, he said, "you have the image of a deeply religious president essentially giving Christians a green light to come into Iraq. "The Arab press has noted that Franklin Graham, who has called Islam a "very evil and wicked religion," delivered the invocation at Mr. Bush's inauguration.

The Arab news media have also publicized the views of the Rev. Jerry Vines, a past president of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention. Last summer, Reverend Vines described the prophet Muhammad as a "demon-possessed pedophile."

The White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, denounced that view, saying that it was "something that the president definitely disagrees with." And last week, after news of the evangelical groups' plans for Iraq were publicized, Mr. Fleischer again distanced Mr. Bush from the Christian leaders' past remarks, calling Islam "a religion of peace." Both Mr. Fleischer and a spokeswoman for the United States Agency for International Development, which coordinates humanitarian aid, said that the government could not control the work of private charitable organizations because it did not finance them.

The last line had me scratching my head a bit, though IANAL. How is it working out? An update http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050702/NEWS/507020316/1021>here href>.

Credit where credit is due, our recent diplomacy with India looks like good policy. It is hard to play both good cop and bad cop, but our strengthening of relations with India may help provide some of the cover that Musharraf needs to crack down on extremists in Pakistan. We'll see.

I think Tacitus' link is a perfect example of a blue node in a pattern of emergent communities dedicated to war.

Victor, in the comments to that link, you quoted a German officer who said "the Wehrmacht is like an elephant, and the Russians are like ants. The elephant can stomp and kill millions, but in the end -- the ants will prevail."

What is different about the current situation that the ants are not going to prevail?

Cmatt, what specifically are you referring to concerning US diplomacy and India? Rice's recent visit in March, or something in the longer term or more recent that that? Thanks.

LJ, the PM of India was just in Washington. Big doings.

revere,

I thought the references were obvious, but for the record I am referring to Iraq, the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon

Uhm. Jewish and Christian "fundies"? Hm. I am confused. I thought Iraq was all about oil? As for West Bank/Gaza/Lebanon - know your history.

Charles, if you would, please read this post and comments and give your impressions?

I think Pape is interpreting the data to fit a Buchananesque worldview of no foreign entanglements.

Tangentially related though, how helpful has our Christian fundamentalist community been wrt Iraq?

I have no idea. The NYT gives only a slice, and the piece is pretty old. Iraq has a small Christian community, its most famous Christian being Tariq Aziz. Missionaries go to Muslim countries all the time.

Whatever the state and history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it's utterly unfair -- indeed, bordering on stupid -- to attribute any of it to the actions of Jewish "fundamentalists." Ultra-orthodox Jews -- who comprise, as I understand it, a fairly small portion of the population -- tend to concentrate their ire and violence on other Jews. Throwing rocks at ambulances on the Sabbath, and that crap.

Toadmonster does an excellent job refuting the contentions that Sweden is a major participant in the war on terror, and that the Islamist threats against it emanated specifically from al Qaeda. One wonders who made either claim, but bravo indeed.

The obsessive freakshow continues.

I have to say, this is the best coverage of the event that I have found so far.

Thank you.

liberal japonicus,

For the US to prevail, it must stop behaving like an elephant.

Unfortunately, the probabilities of that happening under the current administration's term are virually nil.

Furthermore, one should make a difference between operations in Iraq, which are counter-insurgency ones, and against AQ globally, which are counter-terrorism ones.

Re. the latter, I think the US Nacht und Nebel policies of Gitmo, Navy brigs and extraordinary renditions are horribly inefficient.

Probably, the most effective way of combatting such a decentralised organistaion as AQ is first and foremost through infiltration.
Basically having hundreds of agents posing as potential jihadist recruits.

Thanks CC, I had forgotten that Singh was coming, though now, I remember the mention of how Rove and Roberts were going to be the questions that Bush had to take in front of the PM.

I'm agnostic on how much was accomplished and how much was based on the fact that Bush had a full plate of domestic concerns. Some links

Asia Times article details the business cooperation

Here's The Hindu's summary of Singh's address to Congress. This comment, which I take as a shot at Pakistan, should be noted:

Dr. Singh pointed out that India had adhered to every rule and canon in the area of non-proliferation and its record was impeccable. India's neighbourhood had witnessed "unchecked nuclear proliferation" which had directly affected the country's interests. India as a responsible nuclear power was fully conscious of the immense responsibilities that come with the possession of advanced technologies, both civilian and strategic. "We have never been, and will never be, a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies," he said.

These letters to the editor make interesting reading.

This analysis from The Australian was particularly fascinating, especially for the anecdote that it begins with about Indian nuclear armed subs and this

Astoundingly, one of Singh's greatest applause lines was: "I would like to reiterate that India's track record in nuclear non-proliferation is impeccable."

It is certainly true that India has never given nuclear technology to anyone else, but India has also never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and, less than a decade ago, earned great US and international condemnation for testing a nuclear weapon. Singh's Washington visit is the emphatic end point of any sense of illegitimacy of India as a nuclear power.

Not only is India not a signatory to the NPT, but also hasn't signed the CTBT.

The nuclear agreement and acceptance of India into the cool kid's club seems predicated on the fact that India needs energy and wanted to build a gas pipeline from Iran to India over several volatile areas of Pakistan, though this op-ed suggests that the subject never came up, though I think it is equally possible that it was the 400 pound gorilla in the corner of the room. Here's an article with more details. If one reads the NYTimes on this, one would search in vain for any mention of this. The excerpts from the WaPo interview (which seems incredibly truncated) with Singh are much more to the point, but also is noteworthy for the rhetoric that suggests India as being an 'anti-Pakistan'.

Finally, from this editorial

This is why the controversy over the agreement that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has signed with President George Bush is inevitable. India's nuclear capability, built by every Prime Minister since freedom across party lines, created without the permission of the West or the Soviet Union, constructed despite their active hostility by Indian scientists and them alone, is at the heart of India's sense of itself as a power that, after a long while in its turbulent history, will not take dictation from anyone. Any suspicion that a Prime Minister has taken dictation from Washington does not travel well with public opinion.

No one expects complete transparency on issues as complex as nuclear weapons. It is possible that gains have been made by Delhi beyond the verbal fluff offered by Bush, as for instance the patronising statement that India is a responsible nuclear power without according it a formal status. Bush pointedly and categorically rejected this option.

I say this not intending to insult India, but to point out the shortcomings of US foreign policy, but I think that the US doesn't realize that India and Iran have a lot more in common than is realized.

Tacitus,

One might as well ask who claimed that Sweden was not involved in the war on terror and that it had not had threats issued against it on the internet. Rather than be childish, though, I assumed you were responding to CharleyCarp's #2: "As UBL said himself on the eve of our election, if they were merely striking at countries because they hated freedom, they'd attack Sweden."

So I pointed out that your comment was non-responsive and weak. If you weren't actually responding to CharleyCarp, and just posted in the wrong thread or something, that's understandable.

Victor,
thanks for the reply. While I have reservations about the 'blue node' analysis (very truncated explanation is that it looks at blue and green nodes as being basically fixed in their orientation, I don't think that is necessarily the case), I agree with the stop acting like an elephant point as well as almost everything else you point out.

Basically having hundreds of agents posing as potential jihadist recruits.
This reminds me of an anecdote (dimly remembered so caveat lector) about a bright young Agency recruit who decided that he wanted to work in the field and further decided that a particular experienced battle scarred vet would serve as a role model and he approached him. The vet said 'open your mouth and let me have a look'. The recruit, perplexed, did so. The vet said 'well you've got a good set of teeth there, but I'm sure that if we knock a few of them out, you might be able to pass'. Needless to say, his interest in fieldwork declined markedly.

The fact is that, unlike Korea or Vietnam, we do not have the cut-outs to infiltrate. There's a difficulty accepting that there can be devout Muslims who can serve. Trumped up charges against a lawyer who coverted to Islam. We either have to create some Jesuit like Islamic center in order to create the potential recruits, or we have to accept that Islam has a place in the West and hope that we can encourage recruits. Both of those possibilities seem exceedingly slim.

The obsessive freakshow continues.

Grow up, Tac.

lj: thanks particularly for the Australian link. If Murdoch could find someone half as talented as Sheridan for Fox, they'd be harder to dismiss.

Point taken wrt India/Iran; most of us would probably benefit from additional India reading. I was looking at our warming relations for their longer term effects. We'll have plenty of chances to screw it up, but it's still promising in quite a few different ways.

Victor, you could look into the Tariq Ramadan visa cancellation for a decent example of what lj is talking about. His utopia wouldn't appeal to me (neither would the Catholic Church's) but my money was still on Notre Dame's religious studies department. Additionally, the FBI appears to have a surplus of agents practicing their tradecraft on the ACLU; they could break a few away. Oh, we of little faith.

Yes, I would be hard pressed to answer what's most (un)realistic, the adoption of effective counter-insurgency tactics in Iraq or a massive infiltration of "AQ(tm)" terrorist cells.

Regarding infiltrators, what I had in mind was more like the Russian sleeper spies, who had learned to speak English with perfect dialects in Siberian languge schools and posed as your next-door american-pie neighbour.
Such people don't have to middle-eastern or muslim, beeing sufficiently swarthy is good enough (plus, you avoid/diminish the problem of split loyalty).

The biggest problem for the US would be maintaning the secrecy of such a programme, not beeing a closed society.
But even if it was an open secret, it would be a quite a drag for 'AQ', having to constantly check and re-check their members, never beeing sure if this or that comrade was a traitor...

Of course, it'd take years to start up such a programme. Well, it will soon be the fourth aniversary of 9/11, and if it was started right after then, the first batch of agents should be operational by now...

But it seems a james-bondish lifestyle on the Ligurian Riviera is more popular with American spies than living (minus a few teeth) in a dirty madrassa in northern Pakistan...

Victor, it would be even better if they were brainwashed so that the agents themselves actually thought they were members of al Qaida, until they received a phone call reciting a few lines of Robert Frost and telling them their real name, at which point the could carry out their true mission. And Charles Bronson could get involved.

This reminds me of an anecdote (dimly remembered so caveat lector) about a bright young Agency recruit who decided that he wanted to work in the field and further decided that a particular experienced battle scarred vet would serve as a role model and he approached him. The vet said 'open your mouth and let me have a look'. The recruit, perplexed, did so. The vet said 'well you've got a good set of teeth there, but I'm sure that if we knock a few of them out, you might be able to pass'. Needless to say, his interest in fieldwork declined markedly.

They will have to start recruiting in West Virginia...

Tom Clancy has alluded to the fact that it's easy to identify where someone's from by their dental work, or lack thereof. He could be wrong on this, but if you've got a mouthful of pearly-whites and most everyone around you has got oral hygeine issues, someone's going to notice.

KCinDC,

Bronson in the Manchurian candidate? He would totally suck.

nah, you need Bruce Wilis for this part:

I am sick and tired of hearing about that ticking nuclear bomb in Manhattan. You know the one. Why? Because, if you let me put my thumb on the utilitarian scales, I can get you to agree that you have an affirmative moral duty to torture a three-year-old child to death.
[...]
The ticking nuclear bomb scenario is more plausible, of course. We capture some Al Quaeda guy, and though we don’t torture him, as we don’t know about the bomb, he folds like a cheap suit anyway, destroying his life’s ambition, by telling us that there is a nuclear bomb set to go off in Manhattan, but that he doesn’t know where it is. Then Bruce Willis and the FBI rappel into Osama Bin Laden’s secret hideout, and arrest him, and he’s all “you didn’t read me my rights”, and this one straight-laced FBI agent starts to Mirandize him, but then Bruce Willis is all: “you have the right…to get your ass kicked!”, and he goes buck wild on Osama, and he totally caves and tells them where the bomb is and what the disarm code is. So then, Bruce Willis is racing through the streets of New York, and maybe some funny things happen like a hot dog vendor gets in his way, and he has to drive up on the sidewalk. I was thinking he could maybe be in a taxi with a driver who has a humorous subcontinental accent, but that’s optional. And then Bruce Willis gets to the bomb, and it has a big red digital readout that’s counting down under one minute, but first Bruce Willis has to fight this one super-strong Al Quaeda guy who knows Islamic martial arts, and at the start of the fight Bruce Willis is totally getting schooled, and blood is coming out of his nose and stuff, but at the absolute last second he hits the guy with a tire iron, and then he enters the code right as the digital display ticks down to 0. We’ll all wipe our collective foreheads and say “phew” when that happens, I can tell you!
(link)

...the Russian sleeper spies, who had learned to speak English with perfect dialects in Siberian languge schools and posed as your next-door american-pie neighbour.

nah, that was an Alias episode.

No, no, I'm talking about Telefon (1977), with Bronson as a KGB agent trying to stop a rogue Russian from setting off brainwashed sleepers who are living out their lives as ordinary housewives and such. It's a classic!

Charles, you're so funny. "We demand access to ... Pakistan. ... [Musharraf's obstructionism] should no longer be acceptable to President Bush."

I too have demands. I demand that you become a liberal and that Powerball issue me a winning ticket!

.
.
.

hasn't happened, has it? some things in this world are beyond the power of even President Bush.

so the Pakistanis have told us to pound sand. what do you want to do about it, invade? you and what army?

Christian and Jewish fundies, through their neocon surrogates have spread just as much terror (although it is state sponsored) as Islamist (probably more), but this is not a numbers game about who has killed more.

First of all, on a tangental note, Jes, my sources are kind of 2nd-hand, liberal Jews living around Haifa; I was giving my impressions of other people's impressions (This is an answer to a query on a previous thread), so what I say should be taken with a grain of salt. You could legitimately say that I don't know what I'm talking about.

On the other hand, stating that the fundamentalist Jews are the cause of "state terrorism" by the Israeli army is not the case. Somebody correct me if I am wrong here, but I think that the really, really orthodox Jews do not serve in the military forces.

And I don't think that the US response to 911 was dictated by the fundamentalists. The Ari Fleischer statement that "we should watch what we say" was directed at Pat Robertson and Jerry Faldwell. The Bush administration's greatest accomplishment has to, so far, stop this from being a total war between religions. Yes, the Islamicists want to kill the Buddhists in Thailand and destroy the shrines in Afghanistan. They want to kill Hindus, Buddhists+foreigners in Indonesia, Christians in Nigeria, the Phillipines and elsewhere. But mostly they are killing Muslims.

If you want to blame the Catholic Church for stuff that happened 400-500 years ago, I would say "okay, but that's not now". To accuse Methodists and Baptists of terrorism is a load of humbug. Don't be an apologist for Al Qaeda by imagining stuff about Christians that simply isn't true.

I too have demands. I demand that you become a liberal and that Powerball issue me a winning ticket!

You never know what you're gonna get until you start asking, or demanding, for it, Francis. Liberals were just as tut-tuttish when a certain conservative said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down these walls." Sometimes I think we forget just how powerful and influential we are. We have the ability to change our reality (or conventional wisdom), if someone has the balls to step up and do it.

Liberals were just as tut-tuttish when a certain conservative said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down these walls."

He didn't say "tear down these walls," he said "tear down THIS wall," standing as he was in the middle of Berlin; and anyway, certainly you have some cites for this tut-tutting, right?

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