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July 09, 2008

Comments

Jesus. You know, conservatives have put up a lot of protest over the idea that McCain would be a third term for Bush, and rightfully so. But I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that they've nominated someone who's just as out of touch, callous and profoundly ignorant this time around. It's like they're not even trying.

The fact that McCain has a nonzero chance of becoming president this fall should scare every American.

But I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that they've nominated someone who's just as out of touch, callous and profoundly ignorant this time around.

really? he seems like a perfect fit, to me.

Wait, guys, von hasn't yet explained to us why this is actually a good thing and we've all misinterpreted it. So simmer down.

But I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that they've nominated someone who's just as out of touch, callous and profoundly ignorant this time around.

The thing is, how can any other type of candidate emerge from the primary process?

Those traits are prerequisites. McCain himself had to carefully eliminate any indication that he deviates from such a course to get the nomination and, even now, to maintain the support of the base.

The GOP's got issues.

I'm highly skeptical of the premise that large chunks of the Iranian people are positively disposed to the US.

I think McCain ought to read a little Orwell, frankly. I'm assuming he'd get the point, and maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but I can hope.

Why byrnie?

Care to elaborate?

And let's not forget this humorous moment:

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
Because her father is Janet Reno."

OT:

"It's a bathroom door the GOP would rather keep closed.

Thousands of members of the international media will have to walk past it when they land at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul at the end of the summer.

Many will feel obligated to stop and file a story.

For the party that bills itself as stronger on family values than the Democrats, it likely will prove an unwelcome distraction.

In June of last year, Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after an undercover police officer conducting a sting in the bathroom -- which had a reputation for gay hook-ups -- said Craig looked into his stall, sat in the adjacent stall, tapped his foot under the divider and reached under the stall. (...)

The parade of airport tourists asking for directions to the stall (right at the Chili's, left at the Royal Zino shoeshine) has died down a bit since last summer, but is expected to pick up as the GOP and the press arrive in town in late August, whether or not Craig himself shows up as a delegate."

Hahahaha. ;)

and don't ask McCain how he feels about , umm, Asians!

though maybe he's changed his mind.

John's mission in Hanoi was bombing. I guess it's just a job you get used to.

@ byrningman:

Check this article out for starters.

You can rig a pack of cigarettes (dropped from the air into madrassa playgrounds, with jungle gyms) to explode in an Iranian child's hands as they run home to present the ciggies to their Dads.

There's a glitch, however. Cigarette taxes have become so onerous that even Iranian kids and their parents are disincentivized from smoking.

Plus, after Iran adopts America's health care system, they know the upfront costs for cancer treatment will rise beyond their ability to pay.

Ladies and gentlemen, my friends, economics affects all of us in our daily lives, silently moving us to slit our own throats.

I'm highly skeptical of the premise that large chunks of the Iranian people are positively disposed to the US.

Im curious about where your skepticism comes from; there certainly was a time when this was the case (sort of like how US culture became very popular in the Cold War USSR), but I dont know about current attitudes.

Some data points (pro and con)
http://www.antiwar.com/lobe/?articleid=9303
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/30/AR2008053002567.html
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb5554/is_200502/ai_n21850215

As for McCain- well, it may not get much press from the SCLM, but Im sure the Iranian press will have a field day. The tobacco industry can't be all that thrilled either, but that's upside to me.

It's a bathroom door the GOP would rather keep closed.

I'm guessing that that bathroom will somehow magically be unavailable during the convention.

But I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that they've nominated someone who's just as out of touch, callous and profoundly ignorant this time around. It's like they're not even trying.

As I said in the other thread. The GOP's strategy of nominating easily manipulated ignoramuses starting in 1980 has been highly successful. When they screw up and nominate someone who is generally intelligent and an independent thinker, he's doomed to a single term or lose outright. So, why stop now?

Hilzoy, they should replace the bathroom door with a plate glass window, diorama-style, to show the GOP in its natural habitat, on its knees, praying, without benefit of marriage or tithing.

"Children, notice the wide stance adopted by the creatures within. This insured societal stability and a multipronged approach to need gratification. Now, in our next display, we see the craigus hypocritus in his upright position ...."

One of the brilliant aspects of Islam is that it creates a malaise among the educated classes who have to choose between speaking their minds and being sentenced to death, or just going along and getting along. The calculus for the average Joe becomes go along and get along.

As a datapoint, I predict that this web-site, that has no problem calling American leadership disrespectful names, would never post the Mohammed cartoons. It is the same logical calculus on the part of Hilzoy and crew that takes place with Iranian students. It is, for the majority, simply not worth taking a personal physical risk on behalf of a movement that will probably fail.

Thus, we cannot place value on the wishes and dreams of the ‘Iranian people’. They have had decades. It’s nice that they like us though. They sound friendly.

The only hope to save the Iranians from a Zechariah-style 21st Century is to empower a Shah-style autocrat. He would need to be given a 10% cut of the oil receipts. I cannot think of one example of an Islamic theocracy being overturned by the ‘people.’ Can you Eric?

History in my opinion says that Islamic theocracies undergo economic collapse and are either succeeded by dictators or anarchy. The presence of 130 billion barrels of oil will allow the rise of a stable dictator.

As a datapoint, I predict that this web-site, that has no problem calling American leadership disrespectful names, would never post the Mohammed cartoons.

As a datapoint, I predict that BOB's cowardice will prevent him from cutting off his own toes with a butter knife.

As another datapoint, it's been a few decades since "You're chicken!" has motivated me to do what the other person wanted me to do. I hope that the same is true for the OW staff.

Thus, we cannot place value on the wishes and dreams of the ‘Iranian people’. They have had decades.

Yeah, they had their democracy in the 50s, and look what they did with it. Jerks.

"One of the brilliant aspects of Islam is that it creates a malaise among the educated classes who have to choose between speaking their minds and being sentenced to death, or just going along and getting along."

OK: evidence? I spend a few weeks a year hanging out with educated Muslims in a Muslim country, and I haven't seen a shred of this.

Wu: As a datapoint, I predict that BOB's cowardice will prevent him from cutting off his own toes with a butter knife.

I predict that BOB will move to Iran and take up smoking.

Catsy: But I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that they've nominated someone who's just as out of touch, callous and profoundly ignorant this time around. It's like they're not even trying.

They don't have to. As Avedon Carol noted: they don't have nominate someone who can win the election, they just have to nominate someone who will inspire a positive media narrative such that, when the election is rigged in his favor, the media narrative will be that he won - no matter what evidence there is that he didn't. It worked in 2000 and 2004: there's no reason to suppose that it won't work in 2008, because there's still no widespread acceptance that Bush lost to Gore in 2000, and lost to Kerry in 2004.


Hilzoy;

I think we can agree that the northwest portions of Pakistan is an Islamic theocracy. Two questions:

1. Is the territory of the northwest portions of Pakistan:

a) Growing; or
b) Shrinking?

2. Name a newspaper in any part of Pakistan that has printed the Mohammed cartoon. If you cannot name a newspaper; to what do you attribute the common mindset?

My personal opinion is that Pakistani newspaper publishers are intimidated by the threat of violence; just like the Iranian students.

One of the brilliant aspects of Islam is that it creates a malaise among the educated classes

Im curious as to how your theory accounts for the flowering of the Islamic world in science and culture during the european "Dark Ages".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age

"Highly skeptical" of Iranians' pro-American feelings was stronger than I meant to express it. Still, the articles you folks linked to confirmed my suspicions. To begin with, in a country like Iran such reports don't seem to take into account the fact that the cosmopolitan urbanites they mix with are not very representative of the general population, and those that like hob-nobbing with American reporters are a self-selecting group.

Secondly, a woman on the bus wishing that the Americans would invade to put them out of their misery is simply gallows humour, prevalent in a great many countries in the region and indeed the world.

Third, the reporter makes the classic error of conflating Westernization, in the sense of an emergent consumer culture, with 'pro-American' feelings. The pervasiveness of American cultural and consumer products even among notably hostile peoples is one the most seemingly-paradoxical and interesting ambiguities of the post-World War II era.

I thought it particularly weak on the WaPo journalist's part not to problematize supposedly rosy memories of the Shah's era. The report at least should have covered itself by pointing out how many Iranians are too young to remember that period.

I don't by any means think that the average Iranian is foaming at the mouth to slaughter yankees. I do think the general sentiment towards the US is at best conflicted, and could quickly turn virulently hostile were Washington to indulge in behaviour significantly more aggressive than selling hamburgers and iPods. (It should be noted of course that as many and maybe more people are as alienated by Friends and Sex and the City as are enarmoured with them).

In general, it seems to me that there is an emerging story line for Iran popular with the US press, which conflates right-wing and left-wing talking points by deducing that the Iranian regime has no popular legitimacy (it does) and that all Iranians really just want to be friends (some do, though the number is very susceptible to rising and falling on the basis of events and propaganda).

I cannot think of one example of an Islamic theocracy being overturned by the ‘people.’ Can you Eric?

Well, there aren't a lot ot examples of "the people" overturning many totalitarian regimes in history - at least, that are not succeeded by autocracy and/or anarchy for a period.

I would suggest that, depending on how you define "the people", Attaturk and the Young Turks should be considered.

One of the brilliant aspects of Islam is that it creates a malaise among the educated classes who have to choose between speaking their minds and being sentenced to death, or just going along and getting along

First of all, as hilzoy said, can you back up your claim of a malaise?

Also, are you suggesting that merely speaking your mind in Turkey can result in a death sentence?

You are confusing "Islam" with dictatorships that crush dissent.

I cannot think of one example of an Islamic theocracy being overturned by the ‘people.’ Can you Eric?

The Ottoman Empire. The sultanate (secular power) and caliphate (religious authority) of the Ottoman Emperor were both abolished by the (popularly-supported) government of the Republic of Turkey.

But apart from the largest and most famous theocracy in modern history? No, none that come to mind.

Mind you, how many Islamic theocracies are there still around? Iran, OK. That's one.

Er...

One of the brilliant aspects of Islam is that it creates a malaise among the educated classes

Actually, at least in countries like Algeria, Syria and Egypt, almost the contrary is true. Liberal intellectuals (historians, writers, artists etc. - you know, the type that are undermining America) tend to be very pro-Western. Professional types such as engineers, doctors, surgeons, scientists etc. are the opposite, and constitute the base of political Islamic movements in those countries. Since the holy texts of Islam consist largely of rules for behaviour rather than -- as in the case of the Bible -- outlandish stories, there is no logical fallacy in being both a brain surgeon and a very strict Muslim. This may be a contributing factor to the Islamic world being the center of scientific learning after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Another awkward point you won't hear the Republican Party discussing any time soon is that the Islamists in such countries also tend to be strongest supporters of capitalism and free trade, hence the term 'green capital' to describe the emerging dominant conservative bourgeoisie from Morocco to Turkey.

I'm inclined, perhaps out of ignorance, to think that modern Saudi Arabia is closer to a true theocracy than the early 20th century Ottoman state.

My personal opinion is that Pakistani newspaper publishers are intimidated by the threat of violence;

My personal opinion is that you're a racist [posting rule violation].

I should add that I think the notable symbiosis of capitalism and Islamism in the contemporary Middle East is another reason why reporters should be wary of looking at a fast-food chain in Tehran and concluding that the locals love America.

My personal opinion is that Pakistani newspaper publishers are intimidated by the threat of violence;

iirc it's actually illegal (as is publishing porn in newspapers in the US, a known contributor to our intellectual malaise). Being illegal, and in *hugely* bad taste, might also be factors.

Carleton Wu: "Yeah, they had their democracy in the 50s, and look what they did with it. Jerks."

You mean, if your statement wasn't tongue-in-cheek, look what the US and Britain did with their democracy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax

I'm inclined, perhaps out of ignorance, to think that modern Saudi Arabia is closer to a true theocracy than the early 20th century Ottoman state.

Might we be in for a review of the No True Scotsman fallacy?

Perhaps if someone could create a list of the True Islamic Theocracies in history, or a set of criteria upon which to judge True Islamic Theocracies.

2. Name a newspaper in any part of Pakistan that has printed the Mohammed cartoon. If you cannot name a newspaper; to what do you attribute the common mindset?

OK, but first, I want you to name a newspaper in any part of the US that has printed pictures of Jesus sodomizing a goat.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

In general, newspapers rarely publish "jokes" that are specifically designed to offend the religious sensibilities of a large portion of their subscriber base. There are several possible explanations for why no newspaper has published such a thing: publication laws, an unwillingness to offend subscribers, common decency, the pathetically low marginal return of publishing any single picture, etc. I don't see why the same reasons can't apply in countries where most of the population is Muslim.

Halteclere,
Yeah, I was doing the tongue thing like you said. :)

Hi Eric;

The malaise to which I refer dovetails well with Carleton’s reference to Islam’s ‘flourishing’ in the Dark Ages.

Baghdad fell early to Islam and for fifty years or so flourished. It then went bankrupt, in my opinion due to the effect of Islam’s total system on freedom of thought. In the 800s, Baghdad fell from greatness into the malaise that lasted up to the modern ‘golden age’ when a series of bloody regimes learned to collect mineral revenues.

The technological advances that Carleton references, algebra for instance, was taken from the subjugated or recently converted peoples, and transferred throughout the world. If you look over the longer term, however, you see a trend of scientific though dying out in Dar al-Islam.

And the Ottoman Empire was run by Ataturk, an autocrat who worked to suppress the teachings of Mohammed. Ataturk was a dictator, similar to the one that should be installed in Iran, for the good of the Iranians.

Hilzoy: I'm guessing that BOB's evidence will be along the lines of his having once seen a picture of Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan and having once had Salmon Rushdie at a two-star restaurant and it didn't agree with him. Oh, and he doesn't like "Deteriorata". So you see, Muslim intellectuals really are hosed.

"I'm highly skeptical of the premise that large chunks of the Iranian people are positively disposed to the US."

Apparently you've never read a single article by any journalist who has visited Iran, then. You'll find endless amounts of data on this in pretty much every such article written in the past fifteen-plus years.

Google yourself, but for starters: here, here, here, here.

"having once had Salmon Rushdie at a two-star restaurant and it didn't agree with him" -- that's funny.

BOB: "1. Is the territory of the northwest portions of Pakistan:

a) Growing; or
b) Shrinking?"

Well, the Northwest Frontier Province -- which is what I assume you're talking about -- has fixed borders, which have not, as far as I know, changed recently. So I'll go with 'neither'.

I do not know of any newspapers that have published the Mohamed cartoons in Pakistan. Personally, I put this down to the fact that a lot of places do not publish stunts designed to insult beliefs they cherish, especially when those stunts are not all that funny. I don't suppose that if some country 10,000 miles away had a contest to come up with insulting depictions of George Washington, we'd be falling all over ourselves to publish them either. (Here, though, it's relevant that Pakistan has, in general, a lot less media devoted to shock value. Someone might publish those Washington cartoons, no matter how unfunny, here, just to say 'Fnck you, USA!' That genre of -- well, whatever it is -- is a lot less prevalent there.)

I also note that your response to my "evidence?" begins: "my personal opinion is..."

"Apparently you've never read a single article by any journalist who has visited Iran, then."

apparently you didn't read my posts above.

Hi Turbulence;

I think we all paid to place Jesus in urine. I don’t recall any violence.

Hi Jeff;

What race is Islam?

Regards;

My reasoning was that while the theoretical claims of the Ottoman state may have been stronger, the day to day legal impositions of the current Saudi government are greater. Your measure by which to judge these things may, obviously, differ.

I'll add that my sense is that the Islamic factor is very far down the list in understanding the nature of either state.

And here,here, here.

How about Michael Totten?

Etc., etc., etc.

Google yourself, but for starters: here, here, here, here.

Gary, unsurprisingly those links you Googled are not very edifying. Most of them recount the amazing adventures of Americans who went to Iran and discovered -- wait, you'll be amazed -- they weren't all homicidal maniacs! Another was a book on Amazon (are you going to buy it for me?).

You might want to try a more scientific approach to your research.

I should add that I think the notable symbiosis of capitalism and Islamism in the contemporary Middle East is another reason why reporters should be wary of looking at a fast-food chain in Tehran and concluding that the locals love America.

Byrnie, I do no such thing. My comment on support for the US put that support in the minority, around the 30-40% range (see, ie, the comparable favorability ratings of Bush).

Further, your critique of one article in the WaPo is less than persuasive since I was not basing my read of the situation on that article - or any one article.

The malaise to which I refer dovetails well with Carleton’s reference to Islam’s ‘flourishing’ in the Dark Ages.

If we ignore the part where you pretend the golden age didn't happen, then yes. Im saying that science and culture flourished across the Islamic world from roughly 800-1300.
Maybe you disagree with that. But please don't claim that what Im saying 'dovetails' with your theory, when I am in fact saying *the exact opposite*.

Do you have any references to Baghdad doing poorly- financially, culturally, or scientifically- during this period?

Baghdad fell early to Islam

Baghdad fell to Islam so early in it's history that, for convenience's sake, contemporary historians actually just say that Baghdad was *founded* by Islamofascists.
Quoth the Brittanica: The city was founded in 762 as the capital of the ʿAbbāsid dynasty of caliphs, and for the next 500 years it was the most significant cultural centre of Arab and Islamic civilization and one of the greatest cities of the world.

I think we all paid to place Jesus in urine. I don’t recall any violence.

I didn't ask about random artists with government grants. I asked about newspapers publishing pictures. These are different. If you are unable to come up with a single newspaper that meets the criteria I specified, have the guts to say so openly rather than furiously move goal posts by answering questions I didn't ask. That sort of behavior makes me wonder what kind of genetic defects you suffer from.

BOB: "In the 800s, Baghdad fell from greatness into the malaise that lasted up to the modern ‘golden age’ when a series of bloody regimes learned to collect mineral revenues."

Actually, Baghdad's destruction by the Mongols in 1258 destroyed Baghdad's greatness.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Baghdad_%281258%29

"Baghdad was a depopulated, ruined city for several centuries and only gradually recovered some of its former glory."

and

"Some historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that had sustained Mesopotamia for many millennia. Canals were cut as a military tactic and never repaired. So many people died or fled that neither the labor nor the organization were sufficient to maintain the canal system. It broke down or silted up."

Byrnie, I do no such thing. My comment on support for the US put that support in the minority, around the 30-40% range (see, ie, the comparable favorability ratings of Bush).

Further, your critique of one article in the WaPo is less than persuasive since I was not basing my read of the situation on that article - or any one article.

Sorry, I meant to clarify already that my comments were in reference mostly to these dubious media reports people are linking to, not to your original post. I did note that "highly skeptical" was stronger wording than I intended.

My basic point is that people ought not to exaggerate the extent of 'pro-American' sentiment in Iran. Most investigations of that phenomenon suffer from one or many of the fallacies I mentioned above.

However if people are operating from the assumption that everyone in Iran wants to spill Yankee blood, which I guess it what the administration wants us to think and which prompted your post to begin with, then your reminder that they are normal people after all is very timely.

"I cannot think of one example of an Islamic theocracy being overturned by the ‘people.’ Can you Eric?"

I'm not Eric, but of course I can. Let's try Turkey. Let's try the largest Muslim nation in the world. Let's try Iraq. Let's try Syria, too. Let's try... oops, can't do any more cites this comment.

Hilzoy;

My reference was to the political system established in the northwest, not geophysical boundaries.

And, with that clarification, the correct answer is A.

For 'evidence', I’ll refer you to Iranian regulations regarding women’s dress, sentencing for those insulting the prophet, sentencing for gays, bans on the Bible, the whole list. It's called 'Sharia'. One reference you can refer to is the Qur’an. Another more accessible reference is:

www.ask-imam.com

With that, I’ve got to go for now with the disclaimer that I do not disrespect Islam. I have great respect for the religion. It is a brilliant system of government, as evidenced by it’s growth.

Let's try Nasser's revolution in Egypt. I can keep going. It's not hard to answer questions like this when one actually has a clue about the history of Islam, or of the modern Mideast, as it happens. Note that the story of political revolution in the 20th century in Islamic countries was overwhelmingly a history of secular revolutions.

Hard to miss, but if one has no clue whatever, not impossible.

However if people are operating from the assumption that everyone in Iran wants to spill Yankee blood, which I guess it what the administration wants us to think and which prompted your post to begin with, then your reminder that they are normal people after all is very timely.

Yes, but above and beyond this, there does appear to be a stronger pro-America attitude amongst Iranians than, say, Saudis.

And this stands in sharp contrast to the position of the regime in power. Which was another of my points.

My reasoning was that while the theoretical claims of the Ottoman state may have been stronger, the day to day legal impositions of the current Saudi government are greater. Your measure by which to judge these things may, obviously, differ.

Im not really trying to pick nits- my point is that any general theory of something as diverse as "Islam" is bound to run into problems translating into actual cases.

BOB's examples are a picture-perfect case of this: Musharraf's dictatorship in Pakistan isn't particularly religious in nature. Yet that serves him as an example of Islamic theocracy, because it has characteristics he would like to prove exist in Islamic theocracies.

BOB: "My reference was to the political system established in the northwest, not geophysical boundaries."

The system of government in NW Pakistan is: tribal government in the federally administered areas, normal state government for the rest of the NWFP. Again, none of these boundaries has changed recently. They are not "geophysical boundaries", they are political boundaries, like the boundary between Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which separate one jurisdiction from another.

BOB ignores the active and successful campaigns of terrorism inspired by "Christian values" in the US: the pro-life campaign against doctors and health clinics, and the homophobic hate crimes directed against lesbians, gays, and anyone who just looks queer. (Not that American Christians are the only ones guilty of participation in these campaigns, but BOB was trying to make a case that Muslims are somehow worse than Christians in this respect.)

Calling these campaigns "Christian terrorism" makes exactly the same kind of sense as referring to al-Qaeda as "Muslim terrorism": they are not evidence that Christianity or Islam are religions of hate, but only that hateful people will use their religion to justify horrible things.

BOB,
You would make me so much happier if you could respond to the criticisms of your grandiose theories. Or at least acknowledge that the facts upon which you've based your theories (eg the conquering and subsequent decline of Baghdad) are actually not true.
It would be sublime if you would then alter your theories to fit the new set of facts (colloquially known as "the actual facts"). I won't mind if your theories continue to be conservative in nature, or even derogatory towards Islam- I just want the impression that the brick wall upon which I am beating my head is shifting just the *tiniest* bit in response to the banging.

Wait, guys, von hasn't yet explained to us why this is actually a good thing and we've all misinterpreted it. So simmer down.

Why should I defend McCain here? It was a stupid statement on a number of levels.

OTOH, I'm hard pressed to find a single criticism of any aspect of Obama's policy by any of the regular Obamaphiles. (That may be evidence that Obama is perfect, of course.)

OTOH, I'm hard pressed to find a single criticism of any aspect of Obama's policy by any of the regular Obamaphiles

Off of the top of my skull, he's been criticized heavily for supporting the FISA compromise. iirc one of the largest communities on his own website was put together to pressure him to change his position on this.

OTOH, I'm hard pressed to find a single criticism of any aspect of Obama's policy by any of the regular Obamaphiles. (That may be evidence that Obama is perfect, of course.)

von, is it your contention that no one who supports Obama at OW has criticized his FISA policy?

One last one response on Baghdad for Carleton;

Don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia. In 945, the Abbasids were toppled by a rival Shiite Muslim group (sound familiar?). By the time the Mongols arrived the former power center of the world was a shell of its former self. And it fell readily in the face of organized resistance. Irrigation had been in decline for centuries.

The Mongols did, however, submit to Islam, as the leadership recognized the power of the belief system.

I think it's time for my annual Hodgson promotional post.

Everyone with any interest in understanding Islam, Islamic culture, or world history needs to read Marshall Hodgson's The Venture of Islam. 3 Volumes, not quite finished when Hodgson died in 1968 and mostly published posthumously, and still marvelously relevant. One of the great works of cross-cultural interpretation, and a gripping yarn, too.

Off of the top of my skull, he's been criticized heavily for supporting the FISA compromise.

Not on Obsidian Wings, not by any of the front-page posters. He's been defended for supporting the FISA "compromise" on Obsidian Wings, quite heartily - of course some commenters have criticised him (me, others) but the balance of the threads discussing his decision to support repealing the Fourth Amendment, saving Bush from being prosecuted for warrantless wiretapping by giving telecoms amnesty, and giving himself (if he's President next year) the legal right to do what Bush did illegally, was indeed to defend him and to argue that he had good reasons to do all that, it wasn't going to be that bad, and anyway Obama wouldn't use the power this legislation will give the next President.

This blog joined the anti-Clinton mob (along with most of the rest of the liberal blogosphere) so comparing ObWing's treatment of Obama with treatment of Clinton certainly makes Obsidian Wing's treatment of Obama appear uncritical.

"I do think the general sentiment towards the US is at best conflicted, and could quickly turn virulently hostile were Washington to indulge in behaviour significantly more aggressive than selling hamburgers and iPods."

I'm confused: is there a country on earth that whose people would be made friendlier by being bombed? Or is this a uniquely Iranian trait, in your view?

"The report at least should have covered itself by pointing out how many Iranians are too young to remember that period."

Why? People believe what they believe; why should a reporter try to find reasons to dismiss their beliefs and preferences in favor of... what, exactly?

"apparently you didn't read my posts above."

Was working through; done now.

"Another was a book on Amazon (are you going to buy it for me?)."

No, I hoped you'd read what was written there.

[...] She portrays Iran as a country that both adores and fears America and has a deeply rooted sense of its own historical and regional importance. Despite government propaganda that portrays the U.S. as the "Great Satan," many Iranians have come to idolize staples of American pop culture while clinging to their own traditions. This is clearly not a relationship to be taken a face value.

[...]

The crowd, which overflowed the square, dutifully sang patriotic songs and chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” on cue. Many carried crude signs insulting Israeli and American leaders. Hey Bosh, Shut Up declared a poster that showed a caricature of President Bush standing on a globe wearing underpants made from a U.S. flag. Nuclear Technology Is Our Legitimate Right read another. The Holocaust Is a Big Lie said a third. And, as is de rigueur on such occasions, demonstrators burned U.S. and Israeli flags and crude effigies of Uncle Sam.

Some of the signs looked handmade, but most were props handed out by government officials. Much of the fervor seemed feigned, and the crowd’s attention wandered. Near a wooden scaffold where I stood with several other reporters and cameramen filming the rally, hundreds of schoolgirls bused in for the event milled about as though on a field trip to an amusement park. Over their requisite black scarves, they wore green headbands proclaiming allegiance to Hossein and support for Iran’s right to nuclear energy. On their backs, over enveloping black cloaks called chadors, they wore signboards also declaring that Nuclear Energy Is Our Legitimate Right. But they fidgeted and gossiped with each other other during Ahmadinejad’s maiden Revolution Day speech, barely paying attention to him. And when they spied me on the platform with the other journalists, and found out I was American, they started calling out in English, “What’s your name?” and “We love you!” Then dozens of the girls began passing me small scraps of paper asking for my autograph. Azam Zamani, thirteen, apologized as the “Death to America” chants rose around her. “I’m sorry,” she said. “We love Americans.”

Outside and inside the Iranian regime there is tremendous ambivalence about America. No other country is so fixated on the United States. No other foreign government so aspires to and fears a U.S. embrace. No other nation has provoked such a complicated response in return. Iran has been dubbed “the Bermuda triangle” of American diplomacy for swallowing up good-faith U.S. efforts to end the hostility. Iranian officials have struggled to understand domestic U.S. political pressures, while U.S. officials have tried to decipher the motives of Iranian leaders who have decried the Great Satan and funded anti-U.S. terrorists while reaching out to Washington for dialogue and respect. A few American officials have understood that Iran’s harsh rhetoric, support for Middle Eastern militants, and quest for nuclear technology are predicated as much on a sense of insecurity as on a desire to dominate the Middle East. But few have been willing to try bold approaches to deal with that insecurity, for fear of bolstering a repressive government and risking political opposition in the United States.

Iranians are at least equally to blame for the long estrangement between the two countries. Hatred for the United States was a central tenet of the revolution against the U.S.-backed shah and became a habit that was difficult to break. There has been a constant fear among Iranian politicians that they would reach out to America only to be humiliated, or that rivals in Iran’s complex political system would use such overtures against them. “Suppose we sit in dialogue with the United States, and they reject oil pipelines from the Caspian Sea through Iran,” Abbas Maleki, a former deputy foreign minister, said in a 2001 interview, referring to U.S. pressures on Central Asian nations to send their oil west out to Turkey rather than using the shortest route, south through Iran to the Persian Gulf. “We would lose the image of Iran in the Islamic world,” he said. Conservative political forces repeatedly sabotaged attempts by Iran to improve relations with the United States when the reformist Mohammad Khatami was in power. That would make him too popular, they feared, and doom their own chances for a comeback. Once in power, some of these same conservatives seemed to fear reconciliation with the United States as much or more than a U.S. military strike, which could consolidate support for the regime.

Iranian efforts to drum up hatred of the United States have waxed and waned over the years, and the lobby of the Homa Hotel was a good barometer of prevailing official sentiment. On my first visit, in November 1996, there were large gold letters over the elevator bank: Down with USA (although the spacing between the letters was off so it actually read: down withu sa). By my next visit, in 1998, after Khatami’s election, the slogan was gone at his command. In 2001, it was replaced by a discreet placard downstairs from the lobby on a bulletin board near the men’s room. Attributed to the “Islamic association of Homa hotel,” it said in small letters: Down with Israel. Down with USA. It was put up in honor of Jerusalem Day, a pro-Palestinian event celebrated yearly by the Iranian regime on the last day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, in which the Koran was revealed to the prophet Mohammed. Two days after the holiday, the sign had vanished.

The bellmen, desk clerks, and waiters in the hotel, many of whom had worked there when it was a Sheraton, welcomed me back each time I returned to Iran like a long-lost relative. On my first visit a doorman said, “America very good” and put his two pinkies together, signaling his desire for better ties. Ten years later a bellman pulled out his old identity card from the 1970s with his name in English and his photo with long hair and sideburns. “Those were the good days,” he sighed.

A poll taken in 2002 showed that more than 70 percent of Iranians wanted relations restored with the United States. The pollster—ironically a ringleader of the 1979–81 seizure of the U.S. Embassy—was jailed, and no such survey has been taken since. Opportunities for reconciliation have come and gone repeatedly over the past twenty-eight years, especially since the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists. From Iran’s perspective, those attacks were both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because the Bush administration declared war on Iran’s two greatest regional foes: the Sunni fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan that harbored al-Qaeda and also had murdered Farsi-speaking Afghan Shiites and Iranian diplomats; and the secular Baathist dictatorship of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, which had invaded Iran in ...

Possibly you skipped reading this, since your only comment was "Another was a book on Amazon (are you going to buy it for me?)"; any further comment now?

"Most of them recount the amazing adventures of Americans who went to Iran and discovered -- wait, you'll be amazed -- they weren't all homicidal maniacs!"

Apparently you clicked on some different links.

"You might want to try a more scientific approach to your research."

What do you suggest? I'll keep experimenting on what sort of information you find persuasive, to be sure. Is there a twin byrningman I might use as a control?

"My basic point is that people ought not to exaggerate the extent of 'pro-American' sentiment in Iran."

I'm anti-exaggeration, myself. My basic point is that every piece of information on popular Iranian sentiment in the past twenty years is that they're largely quite pro-American, although not so wild about the U.S. government, which is hardly surprising, giving the fact of the U.S. government overthrowing theirs, and consistently working to thwart Iranian sovereignty, and which is right now engaged in massive terrorism against Iran.

"OTOH, I'm hard pressed to find a single criticism of any aspect of Obama's policy by any of the regular Obamaphiles."

I'd recommend reading ObWi comments more often, since there has been a vast amount of criticism of Obama's policies on FISA, Israel/Palestine, faith-based programs, his support for leaving troops in Iraq to engage in training and "anti-terrorism," his trade stances, his lack of standing by Rev. Wright, his non-anti-imperialist approach, his often pro-corporate approach, his lack of speaking out prominently about sexism, his not supporting gay marriage, his... I mean, I can keep going, and this is purely off the top of my head.

How many dozens of cites to ObWi comments alone, would you like from the past three months alone, Von?

"Not on Obsidian Wings, not by any of the front-page posters"

Meaning "not by Hilzoy or publius," a sample of two.

And I suspect I might find some criticism of Obama from one or another if I bothered looking.

"This blog joined the anti-Clinton mob"

"This blog" has no mind or volition, and is as much you as it is any other commenter.

Jes: "Not on Obsidian Wings, not by any of the front-page posters."

Oh?

Bob: "One last one response on Baghdad for Carleton;"

Actually I'm the person who linked to Wikipedia, which I used as a reference because it dovetails in with off-line historical information I have but don't have access to at work.

I am interested in reading further your history, if you would be so kind as to provide a link.

when one actually has a clue

You could have stopped right there.

======

He's been defended for supporting the FISA "compromise" on Obsidian Wings, quite heartily

I'm too slow. Obviously my search techniques were just like those in Zimbabwe.

For the record:

While not via a front page post, and only in the comments, I have criticized Obama in the following ways on ObWi:

1. Health care plan not as good as Clinton's/as I would like
2. Ethanol/nuclear and other enviro policies, not as green as Clinton's/as I would like
3. Social security rhetoric/policies buy in to GOP frame

On my other blog(s) I have written about those in multiple full blog posts.

Though I haven't blogged about it, I have commented elsewhere on his stance on FISA. Which I strongly disagree with.

But my beat here, and elsewhere, is primarily foreign policy.

I'm anti-exaggeration, myself. My basic point is that every piece of information on popular Iranian sentiment in the past twenty years is that they're largely quite pro-American

Ironically, I think saying Iranians are "largely quite pro-American" (hedging qualifier notwithstanding) is the kind of exaggeration I'm warning against.

But the real question here is distinguishing between attitudes to American cultural and economic power, on the one hand, and political power on the other. Most of these writers seem to have begun with the assumption that Iranians in general loathed "America" in all its guises, and are surprised to find this not to be the case. This observation is very necessary given comments like McCain's on the issue -- which is why I want to note again that I appreciate the main gist of Eric's original post. That said, I think this realisation is leading to an over-estimation of pro-Americanism.

Firstly, I think these writers have a skewed impression of how popular 'American' economic and cultural influences are. The people they cite in their articles tend to be exactly those who would most appreciate Western cultural production: urban, relatively comfortable economically, young, educated etc. They are also those who would have done well under the Shah. According to the CIA World Factbook, 26 years is the median age in Iran, so most don't even remember the former regime and all its unpleasantness.

Nevertheless, it is unclear to what extent Iranians associate a consumer economy with America. Moreover, while many are clearly enarmoured with depictions of canoodling and kissing in Western media, many are also repelled by such images. The current regime didn't appear from nowhere. The journalists aren't talking to these people.

Finally, I think it's worth thinking of how Americans might view a country that was a mix of China today and the Soviet Union 30 years ago. Chinese cultural and economic penetration of the USA is evident and growing, and urbanites in particular are clearly enarmoured with Chinese cultural production. Nor do they hate Chinese people. Likewise, Americans surely retained an admiration for Russian culture even at the height of the Cold War, when Soviet-American relations were perhaps a good approximate of Iranian-American relations now. On the other hand, suspicion of Soviet culture (remember McCarthyism) and growing suspicion/resentment of Chinese influence today are also in evidence. Suspicion of either regime's motives are/were essentially unbounded, even if most Americans support having official relations with these countries.

So ask again, just how substantial are Iranians positive sentiments towards the United States? When I say 'aggressive', I don't simply mean military action. I mean also a greater degree of economic and cultural penetration of Iranian society -- I suspect you would get a pushback.

Finally, even some of these writers acknowledge the genuine, heartfelt popular expressions of anger at the US during the recent war in Lebanon. I suggest that if "pro-Americanism" is extremely shallow or soft, it does not really exist.

"I cannot think of one example of an Islamic theocracy being overturned by the ‘people.’ Can you Eric?"

I'm not Eric, but of course I can. [...] Let's try the largest Muslim nation in the world.

Indonesia's reformation is anything but an example of an Islamic theocracy being overturned. The Suharto regime was rigorously secular and an avowed enemy of Islamists in that country. If anything, political Islam is far more influential in Indonesia now than it was before reformasi.

@BOB
As a datapoint, I predict that this web-site, that has no problem calling American leadership disrespectful names, would never post the Mohammed cartoons.

This has really been sufficiently addressed above, but I'll pull a few separate comments together and point out that, while I'd have to scour the ObWi archives to be absolutely sure, I don't know of any publication of Piss Christ on this site either. Guess Hilzoy et al must really be complacent cowards, eh?

The "Mohamed cartoons" were devised explicitly to offend Muslim sensibilities. Period, full stop. The point was not to champion free speech, the point was to make an explicitly offensive statement for the sake of portraying the publisher's ilk as "better" and "more tolerant" than an "intolerant, close-minded 'other'". They were not intended to tout free speech itself as laudable, but rather use it as a divisive bludgeon in pursuit of an agenda. They were intended to provoke, so that the provocateurs could make a flattering comparison between themselves and the provoked.

(I'm reminded of Islamophobic anti-feminists who wax long about the tyranny of misogyny in Islam, come to think of it. While that might be unfair to the Jyllands-Posten in particular, it seems a fair comparison with numerous blogospheric champions of said cartoons.)

Don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia.

I wholeheartedly agree- I checked the dates against the Brittanica & used that for the quote.

But Im afraid you're taking this principle a bit too far- it isn't necessarily *false* just bc it's in wikipedia. So, it'd be nice to see some evidence backing up your assertion.

It'd also be nice to see a walkback of some kind about your earlier statements. First, Baghdad is conquered in 800 by the Moslems & begins a decline within 50 years. But Baghdad was founded by Moslems & appeared to have been something of a cultural center. Then it's supposed to have begun a decline in 945- but again, I've got no idea why you think this.
I mean, I could go do more research to debunk this, but sooner or later you've got to step up to the plate and back facts up- particularly when your first set of facts were not, in fact, facts.

von,
OTOH, I'm hard pressed to find a single criticism of any aspect of Obama's policy by any of the regular Obamaphiles. (That may be evidence that Obama is perfect, of course.)

That turned out not to be the case, but it was no less accurate that the original smear against you. And, while you are now suffering the vilification of the many, the original inaccurate attack goes un-responded-to.

Therefore, in my newfound and presumably short-lived spirit of bipartisanship:

Phil, you are a big ole twinkie.

Well, Brick Oven Bill's history lesson has convinced me: The idea of killing Iranians really is funny! McCain '08!

Obama is a uniter! Who else could have brought Jes and von together?

Hilzoy: Oh?

Yeah. Oh. You defended Obama for shredding the US Constitution, just as you took part in the mobbing of Clinton for misremembering an incident in Bosnia 15 years earlier. Tightly contested Democratic primaries evidently are bad for character.

liberal japonicus: Who else could have brought Jes and von together?

Doesn't Von support McCain? And McCain also supports the FISA bill - not that this was disappointing in McCain, since who expects better from Bush III?

Yeah. Oh. You defended Obama for shredding the US Constitution, just as you took part in the mobbing of Clinton for misremembering an incident in Bosnia 15 years earlier.

Um. That didn't occur in my reality. Or does "Bleccch" indicate a sign of approval to you?

No, but von and you have the same version of the ObWi=Obama mania. Baby steps. You two will be singing from the same sheet music by the time the election comes around...

No, but von and you have the same version of the ObWi=Obama mania.

I'm sure other people besides ourselves have noticed that. Nor is "observation of a blog's political stance" generally referred to as a mania, except by the kind of people who refer to "Bush Derangement Syndrome".

Nor is "observation of a blog's political stance" generally referred to as a mania....

Except for that makes no sense in response to LJ's comment.

No, but the same mistaken observation suggests convergence in the future. If/when McCain proves himself to be totally unacceptable as a presidential candidate, all that will be left is to diss the majority opinion here. You and von will be like two peas in a pod.

Ugh, I think Jes is referring to my use of the word 'mania', failing to understand that it was playful hyperbole. Or perhaps she knew it was playful hyperbole, but she might have felt that chuckling at the suggestion would be to acknowledge some flaw in the original summary of the state of opinion here. The whole thing was just meant to be a playful (and completely unsuccessful) comment aimed at reducing tension, so I'll just leave it at that.

just as you took part in the mobbing of Clinton for misremembering an incident in Bosnia 15 years earlier.

Misremembering! If only there were some sort of pictorial or video evidence of what had really happened . . . oh, wait. There was. That was actually the problem.

"You defended Obama for shredding the US Constitution, just as you took part in the mobbing of Clinton for misremembering an incident in Bosnia 15 years earlier."

Um: where? I hated it.

it isn't necessarily *false* just bc it's in wikipedia.

Kinda OT, but... I've found it very useful to check the discussion page of Wiki articles. If there's no discussion, either the facts presented are correct, or no-one cares enough to argue against them. If there is discussion, it lets me know what the controversies are, and the arguements around them. If there's an archived discussion, it lets me know that the controversy is fairly unresolvable, and what's on the main page is the best agreement among the parties.

Much better than an article in an encyclopedia, where you have no knowledge of controversies or arguements.

BTW, I've found that any time someone complains about how terrible Wiki is because there's an article that says something they disagree with, when I go and check, the article has been changed. I guess the complainers don't understand that "anyone can edit" includes them.

=============

just as you took part in the mobbing of Clinton for misremembering an incident in Bosnia 15 years earlier.

Just as we "mobbed" Clinton for her useless, racist, and hyperbolic reference to Zimbabwe. That her comments seem not to faze you speaks to how you seem to view Clinton, and Obama.

Um: where? I hated it.

But did you really hilzoy? I mean: did you hate it so much that you considered suicide? Or that you considered voting for McCain or writing in Clinton? And if you didn't, can it really be true that you hated it?

Obviously, if you don't express maximal rage over whatever issues Jes values most highly, you must have no principles whatsoever.

Halteclere asks for an example of Middle Eastern history pre-Abbasid and post-Abbasid and Carleton continues his challenge. The best reference would be textbooks written before 1950. Following 1950, petrodollars have been used to influence Western educational institutions and academic works should be viewed with skepticism. Here’s an electronic link that seems to be fairly factual though:

http://www.bartleby.com/67/299.html

The link is to the post-Abbasid period. You can navigate backwards to the Abbasid period.

Between the breakup of the Abbasid Empire in the 10th century [945] and the restoration of an imperial hegemony under the Ottomans in the 16th century, the Middle East and North Africa lost any semblance of political unity.

Hilzoy challenges my argument that Sharia is not spreading in Pakistan. I counter by pointing out Swat Valley.

I hated it a lot more than Hil did, I think. As it stands now: I have no intention of donating to his campaign again, and I feel like a grade A sucker for doing so in the primary SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE I thought he was more trustworthy on (1) civil liberties
(2) not immediately caving in the face of bogus "national security" arguments. After their statements and votes today--yes, I can tell myself that if you reverse their positions Clinton would have voted for the bill & he wouldn't have. Entirely possible, even likely. But isn't that an awful lot like everyone's arguments that he would have voted for the war too in 2002 & she would have opposed it if you reversed their political situations back then? It's not like I wish I voted for Clinton, but involvement in the primaries on behalf of a candidate based on his more-or-less lying was a big old waste of time. If you care about the issues, the only thing to do is work on the issues directly or by means of supporting a long shot campaign, because a Democratic candidate who can be trusted on those issues simply will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be our party's nominee for President: even if he could be trusted before he was the nominee, and after he loses, while he has the nomination & presidency, he will be utterly untrustworthy. Involvement in presidential campaigns is a recipe for a giant time suck, a lot of disappointment, and sending my money to media consultants & giant media conglomerates to no good purpose. I learned that a while ago; screw Obama for making me forget it with pretty speeches and false promises.

(Also, Obama campaign? This was NOT the day to call & solicit donations.)

Katherine: I hated it a whole lot.

There's a difference, to me, between hating it and not wanting to donate, etc. That's driven by a whole bunch of things, and whatever I'm feeling at the moment, I always have to sit myself down and say: self, think of the Iraqis, the whoever else we might get into a war with, the people without health care, the Supreme Court, and on and on.

But God, I hated this. There's a reason I haven't posted about it yet, which is: I can't make myself.

[...]I predict that this web-site, that has no problem calling American leadership disrespectful names, would never post the Mohammed cartoons.
Coz if they did, crazed fundamentalists would send 'em death threats, right?

Good thing that doesn't happen in America.

Unless you walk away with a http://www.myfoxorlando.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail;jsessionid=912931E6387D06E86603288C86CA66A1?contentId=6932236&version=2&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1&sflg=1>magic cracker.

You know, if buying .4 seconds of TV ad time ACTUALLY had a decent chance of helping Iraqis, I could maybe motivate myself. If I were paying the salary of a 22 year old doing get out the vote work, also. But buying TV ads for candidates when the TV ad that I would buy stands an incredibly poor chance of influencing the election of a candidate who might or might not actually be trustworthy in office strikes me as a dubious use of resources for getting policy results, when compared to donating to issue groups that use the money to hire competent staff trying to get policy results. Especially when said candidate: (1) is going to have more money to run many more tv ads than his opponent in any case (2) just made a decision that demonstrated that he doesn't think de-motivating people like me actually harms his chances enough to worry about. (Probably correct--if FISA was the #1 issue for a sig. % of the population, Chris Dodd might've cleared 1% in Iowa.)

After 9-11, it wasn't just the Iranian people who were sympathetic. The government of Iran -- you know, those crazy killer mullahs -- offered its condolences and its help in counterterrorism efforts. Seems like a long time ago, huh?

Katherine, thank you for expressing so well how I feel.

I almost threw up today when that bill passed the Senate.

I keep trying to find an excuse for supporting the FISA Amendment Act, but none of them really wash.
Because it was bound to win anyway? No, actually it didn't win by so huge a margin that it's obvious to me an Obama-led filibuster would have failed.
Because he would have been vulnerable to October surprise? Kind of a tenuous connection there, and very speculative.
Because the 4th Amendment is already in shreds and this bill does no real harm? Maybe true, but he didn't just vote for it, he loved it. So he can't care much about the 4th Amendment. Besides, this bill actually makes it much easier for the executive branch to abuse surveillance tools without being caught.
No. Obama joined a naked executive power grab with his eyes wide open.

Oh, I'll still vote for him, still like a lot about him. But I don't like him much, any more.

As it stands now: I have no intention of donating to his campaign again

John McCain thanks you for your support.

Besides, this bill actually makes it much easier for the executive branch to abuse surveillance tools without being caught.

I don't understand why this is true...can you explain?

If Obama were to abuse surveillance tools in this manner, I expect he'd be ratted out by conservatives within the national security establishment who would suddenly rediscover their ethics once a Democrat was in power. A future Republican President wouldn't have that constraint, but after watching Bush for 8 years, I'm pretty skeptical of the notion that a Republican President will be constrained by mere law, so I don't see how this compromise could affect them.

Maybe I'm less concerned than most because the powers we're talking about seem genuinely useless to me...

the Middle East and North Africa lost any semblance of political unity.

Not sure how that supports your thesis that there was no Islamic golden age- cultural and scientific progress don't necessarily require political unity (eg Europe 1650-1914).

If you want to disprove the golden age, you'd best go after the target directly- take a list of the cultural and scientific events of the golden age, and show that they didn't happen (or, at least didnt happen as currently understood).

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