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Tilting at Windmills

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March 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

A GLOBAL COUNTERINSURGENCY....Jonathan Morgenstein and Eric Vickland write in the Boston Globe today that the insurgency in Iraq and our lack of success in defeating it is a microcosm of the broader global struggle against terrorism:

This global insurgency can only be defeated by severing the insurgents' connections to populations that sustain them. We must isolate and smother an enemy who thrives by delivering empowerment and vengeance to populations drowning in poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization. These masses in return sustain the enemy passively with cover and actively with fighters. We have to convince those who passively support the insurgency that we are not their enemy. Unfortunately, our current strategy overemphasizing military force drives undecided millions into the insurgents' arms. Not only are we fighting the war wrong, we are fighting the wrong war.

This is not very sexy, but it's quite likely correct. Is anyone listening?

Kevin Drum 1:47 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (145)

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Comments

This is what I've been telling anyone who would listen. Cue the Repukes and the 'serious' foreign policy Dems, who derided John Kerry for claiming that the "War on Terror" is one that should be fought almost exclusively in a non-military manner. How could anyone with half-a-brain not see the veracity of Kerry's statement.

By the way, Frist!

Posted by: mrjauk on March 28, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe we ourselves should deliver a little empowerment and vengeance to populations drowning in poverty, etc. You know, compete.

Also, Charles Krauthammer really needs someone to change his diaper.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on March 28, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Another, 'This is wrong but I have no solution'.

Not as if leaving assholes in place who invent the anti-Muslim propaganda works either.

-Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Checnya. You ain't done yet.

Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Explain again how not confronting terror protects you against incidents like Beslan.

Russia wasn't in the Iraq war, was it?

If they didn't hate you for Iraq and Afghanistan. they'd hate you for cartoons.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of problems in the world where the solutions seem so obvious. However, the specific means to achieving those solutions are far from self-evident. How do we "isolate and smother an enemy who thrives by delivering empowerment and vengeance to populations drowning in poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization"? Get back to me when those kinds of specifics are addressed by the Boston Globe, or any other paper or magazine or think tank or deep thinker of deep thoughts. Platitudes and generalizations can be beautiful and energizing. Or they can be tiring and even laughable to the more skeptical among us. Sorry to say, I fall in the latter category tonight.
--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on March 28, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

4GW Theorists have covered how to win this kind of conflict ad nauseum. The problem is in the receiving end, not the transmitting.

Anything by Col. William Lind will tell you how to win. Thomas Barnett lays out a vision to destroy terrorism forever.

Basics -
You win hearts and minds through connectivity and providing security. The illicit economy attracts those who cannot achieve their goals in the white economy. Allow them those opportunities and everything works out.

The thinking is out there, just not in MSM.

Posted by: Shloky on March 28, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

Why should it be that "populations" that "sustain" this global insurgency would view the US as implicated in their "poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization"? Are they merely deluded? Mistaken? Or do they understand something causally and empirically about their conditions that we have missed?

What would be an alternative form of empowerment and an alternative to their vengeance?

This discussion - certainly an important one - has been entirely delegitimized for the last four years as we have knuckled under to the right's argument that it is irresponsible merely to pose such questions because they assume we were responsible for 9/11. Remember: we weren't attacked for anything we did, we were attacked for who we are? Remember: we are innocent? Remember: why do you hate America?

Do you have a response to these right-wing arguments?

Posted by: Friend of labor on March 28, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

As I recall it anyone who suggested that this approach be tried after 9/11 was immediately derided as either being panty-waisted or "with" the terrorists. Nothing is obvious and there are no simple solutions but it would seem to me that we should be working on addressing the issues of poverty, social humiliation and political marginalisation as a starting point. When we live in a world where people prefer partisan sloganeering to addressing the difficult issues I despair as to whether this will be achieved anytime soon.

Posted by: AC on March 28, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: We must isolate and smother an enemy who thrives by delivering empowerment and vengeance to populations drowning in poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization.

What you and Morgenstein don't understand is that as long as there are populations "drowning in poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization" there will be insurgents committed to "empowerment and vengeance" -- often righteously so. If our country and others put half as much treasure and effort into smothering poverty, social humiliation, and social humiliation as they do into punishing enemies, we would find ourselves with far fewer enemies, and a far better world.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 28, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Shortly after 9-11, it was announced that Bush would give a speech outlining a new American strategy.

Back then, I had hope. I thought that if America could demonstrate its ideals of human rights and democracy, by dealing fairly with other nations, curtailing support for military dictators and monarchs, while living up to our treaty obligations and strengthening the UN and other organizations, we might be able to turn the tide.

But Bush's speech was about how 'Merka would adopt of policy of preventive war. 9-11. Saddam Hussein. 9-11. Al-Qaeda.

I knew then that he didn't get it, nor did any of his advisors. And people have died - and will continue to die - because we're being led by a lackwit who surrounds himself with incompetents.

Posted by: Wapiti on March 28, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK


Apologies for incorrect attribution above. It should have been JONATHAN MORGENSTEIN and ERIC VICKLAND, rather than KEVIN DRUM.

Posted by: jayarbee on March 28, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

The war between the haves and the have-nots is the oldest story in the world. The Global War on Terrorism is but the latest chapter. Yawn.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 28, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

The insurgents are fighting against elitist Western colonialism. America is the last bastion of that ideology (PNAC's "new world order" and "pox Americana") as well as the last gasp of Western supremacy.

Posted by: NeoLotus on March 28, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

The Global War on Terrorism is but the latest chapter. Yawn.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 28, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

Funny, how most of those have-nots follow the Religion of 'Peace' and are led by Rich Oil Dictators.

While the have-nots elsewhere are busy outsourcing their way to wealth.

Heck, I'm repeating what the major media says. No one will notice how stupid I am.

Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

What you and Morgenstein don't understand is that as long as there are populations "drowning in poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization" there will be insurgents committed to "empowerment and vengeance" -- often righteously so.

Posted by: jayarbee on March 28, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

But in some cases the cause of all the poverty, is the leaders of the Arab people themselves. In some cases, democratically elected.

Kinda like a kid with an abusive father who vandalises the neighbourhood but grabs a gun to keep the cops from grabbing his dad.

Do you go in or not?

Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

You can't disconnect these populations by talking to them. You have to actually help them raise their standards of living.

In the countries with immense wealth like Saudi, this means wealth redistribution. Try telling the sheikhs to do that.

In the countries with immense poverty, it means investing huge sums on infrastructure to help jumpstart their economies. Try telling the Americans at home to do that.

Posted by: Anon on March 28, 2006 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

No. Noone is listening.

Posted by: firefall on March 28, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

Been reading here for some time. First toe in the water!
Honestly can say have been telling anyone who would listen how to fight a terrorist group since 2002.
Example, simplified: IRA. 30 years ago, politics and police in N. Ireland prejudiced against Catholic minority. Sectarian violence to point of civil strife. Troops (untrained in police/civil work) brought in to restore order. Short-term result: situation worsens, violence spreads. IRA itself a very small minority of Catholics has support within its community, from Eire and private US.
Over time the relevance of the IRA has been eroded, war weariness, and sufficient hope that solution can be arrived at through political means; IRA isolated, now basically dysfunctional and criminal fringe.
If the hopes go away and prejudices resurface (they are still there on both sides), an "IRA" will become rejustified.
Apply same basic outline to ETA or Palestinians.

Osama's original genius was to find a medium in which his particular bacterium could flourish. The US of A's particular genius has been to blow the bacterium out of a few dishes and supply sufficient fuel to have people all around the world (mostly, although I'll be surprised if all) within the Islamic community provide that medium. It is now far wider spread, harder to isolate and neutralize in any sense of that word. However, military operations on their own are undoubtedly the reverse of the answer.

But then, what was the point in invading Iraq? I noticed that, last week at the White House press conference, no one helped Helen Thomas find out!

Sorry. Long one for a first one. Couldn't help it!

notthere

Posted by: notthere on March 28, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

So where is the evidence that poverty has anything to do with terrorism? Were the 19 hijackers of 9/11 (15 of them Saudis) poor? Is Bin Laden Poor?

Ditto for "social humiliation, and political marginalization." How do you prove these are the "root causes"?

Posted by: JS on March 28, 2006 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

That's a big toe, notthere. Welcome to the deep end.
--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on March 28, 2006 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

Stop pickng at particular threads in the fabric.
Chines peasants are kicking up a fuss (deaths involved) because of illegal land grabs or withheld compensation. At the same time, young educated Chinese are picking a fight over lack of free speech, liberty. Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, ByeloRus, Columbia, Peru, wherever; pick your poison and throw in some cynicism for any inherent manipulation.

It is a question of perceiving an injustice and finding a way to rectify or revenge.

As to the USA, look at all the meddling we've done in any number of countries and please list any of these where we put the good of the people at the top of our list. Then list the ones where they came a poor second. See what I mean?

Posted by: notthere on March 28, 2006 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK


JS: So where is the evidence that poverty has anything to do with terrorism? . . . Ditto for "social humiliation, and political marginalization." How do you prove these are the "root causes"?

You end poverty. Should we feel cheated if such an undertaking doesn't stop all insurgencies and terrorism?

Injustices of all types are the cause. Poverty is just the biggest symptom of them.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 28, 2006 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

Injustices of all types are the cause. Poverty is just the biggest symptom of them.

Posted by: jayarbee on March 28, 2006 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

Injustice is a little more abstract than poverty and they don't always cause violence. Muslim women are badly abused by any standard, but they don't go blow up Muslim men, do they?

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

The US of A's particular genius has been to blow the bacterium out of a few dishes and supply sufficient fuel to have people all around the world (mostly, although I'll be surprised if all) within the Islamic community provide that medium.

Posted by: notthere on March 28, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

Muslims are smarter than dishes. You might also view that blowing up a few dishes, hint to the dishes that they should make sure the bacteria doesn't grow.

They are certainly more high level insurgents killed by Saudi, Pakistan and Indonesia nowadays than before.


Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 3:47 AM | PERMALINK

jayarbee, I thought the question was how we fight terrorism. You seem to be saying: end poverty first, and if this doesn't solve the problem of terrorism it has solved the problem of poverty, which is good.

I don't know if you apply this logic in your own work. Let me just say that ending poverty on the planet is well beyond our means.

Posted by: JS on March 28, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

As to the USA, look at all the meddling we've done in any number of countries and please list any of these where we put the good of the people at the top of our list. Then list the ones where they came a poor second. See what I mean?

Posted by: notthere on March 28, 2006 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

That's a false standard. Sure, all geopoliticals is cynical but even where 'good of the people' is a poor second... interventions by the Capitalist West has been positive on occasion.

-South Africa and sanctions
-Bosnia
-Fall of Soviet Union
-Reconstuction of Japan as a peaceful society
-South Korean development vs. North Korea
-Taiwanese standards of living vs Communist China
-Malaysia and Thailand versus its Communist neighbour Vietnam

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

We are pursuing more than a military solution. Promoting democracy is the other prong. But it is nonsense that we are failing against the insurgency. And, of course, the military solution is absolutely necessary, and must be pushed vigorously, as we are. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 28, 2006 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, McA, it all depends what you are willing to fight for.
If you are the Red Chinese and Mao, you convince millions it is worth their while to throw in their lot to overthrow a corrupt emperor. Doesn't guarantee a favorable outcome for you, but you're willing to risk. Same psych goes for any group; cost/benefit. Religion/ideology has always been able to skew that calculation.
Some wife-beaters get away with it forever. Others end up skewered. No one claims an exact science. Just because there isn't some answer up there in lights doesn't discount cause and effect.

Posted by: notthere on March 28, 2006 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

JS >"...Let me just say that ending poverty on the planet is well beyond our means."

You are sooo wrong but a wonderful example of the ignorance that feeds the continuation of this deadly cycle

and McAnus

Wipe yourself cause ya got a very bad case of diarrhea and it really stinks up the place

"...you cannot save your face and your ass at the same time..." - vachon@shadrach.net

Posted by: daCascadian on March 28, 2006 at 4:09 AM | PERMALINK

So where is the evidence that poverty has anything to do with terrorism?

Terrorist attacks against the US on behalf of rich peoples include...?...

Terrorists who have attacked Americans over the past 5 years have overwhelmingly been impoverished Muslims. That's because the overwhelming majority of those attacks have taken place in Iraq. The ones who attacked on Sept. 11 were not impoverished. Why not? Because impoverished Muslims can't get a visa to enter the United States. Let alone learn how to fly a 767.

People attack us not because they're poor, but because they're humiliated. But they're humiliated because they have no power, and they have no power because they're poor.

It's helpful to think along the lines of black riots and the Black Panthers in the '60s and '70s in the US. The people who rioted were not the poorest blacks, and the people who formed the Black Panthers were not the poorest or the least educated in their communities - because to form a political movement you have to have at least some level of education, organizational skill, and resources. But it would be ridiculous to examine the question of why this terrorist insurgency developed without looking at the fact that blacks are poorer than the rest of American society.

It's true that we can't solve worldwide poverty. But we could at least genuinely try to ameliorate it, rather than just saying screw you to the world's poor (or declaring our nonsense Millennium Development Grants and then not really bothering to ever award any of them).

Look, we can bitch and whine as much as we want about how Islam is prone to violence and it's up to them to change their culture. But bitching and whining don't stop terrorism. We can either design some initiatives that appeal to angry young Muslims and try to fragment and dissipate their animus towards the US, or we can wait for them to ship themselves into the US and blow shit up.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 28, 2006 at 4:14 AM | PERMALINK

Wasn't it Chairman Mao who said that democracy grows out of the barrel of a gun? Or was it Secretary Rumsfeld who said that democracy, like shit, happens? And who was it who said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

The United States has been meddling with Latin America for at least a century, and as a result the entire Western Hemisphere is a showcase of democracy, isn't it??

Posted by: bad Jim on March 28, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

South Africa and sanctions
-Bosnia
-Fall of Soviet Union
-Reconstuction of Japan as a peaceful society
-South Korean development vs. North Korea
-Taiwanese standards of living vs Communist China
-Malaysia and Thailand versus its Communist neighbour Vietnam

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

OK, McA:
1)As I remember S.Africa it took years of demonstrations by the regular people of the street in Washington, London, Paris, Bonn before our governments even become neutral to apartheid, let alone helped to undermine it. Meanwhile, capitalism, arms trade, nuclear program cooperation with Israel . . . more?
2) Fall of USSR was (in my view) an internal event, certainly pushed from outside but always coming. How much have we helped the people since? Democracy and corruption so far on opposite paths. Do we care?
3} Reconstruction of Japan a great succcess but why was 5} Taiwan so far behnd this same curve. Took their own people to enforce better democracy than caitalism really took off. We didn't help much.
4} S.Korea, it probably helped that we've had n-thousand troops there for fifty years spending money. Glad they're doing well, but Japan tthey are not. Why?
5} Malaysia doens't border Vietnam. Their communist insurgency was supported from Indonesia and was defeated by the British in a way that compares in no way to the Vietnam war. Thailand has its own democratic problems and does not yet rank as one of the Asian tiger successes.
Whoops, 2} missed Bosnia . . . way too complicated for a sentence.

Now list all S. American, African, Middle Eastern or Asian countries where we have meddled for political or industrial reasons to the people's detriment.
Prime example: IRAN. Impose a government. Create power vacuum. Can't control long-term, Shah falls, vacuum filled by only organized possible replacement. US mismanage relationship with same for 30 years. Now uses singular lack of imagination to deal with (or not)in present day.

Posted by: notthere on March 28, 2006 at 4:31 AM | PERMALINK

As for Kerry, was he for a non-military solution before he voted for the war, or after? Kerry is a moron. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 28, 2006 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

Let me just say that ending poverty on the planet is well beyond our means.

Not beyond our means. But certainly beyond our desires.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 28, 2006 at 4:39 AM | PERMALINK

"If they didn't hate you for Iraq and Afghanistan. they'd hate you for cartoons."

Oh, well, we might as well kill them then. Gosh, what could go wrong?

Posted by: Kenji on March 28, 2006 at 5:05 AM | PERMALINK

One of the deep moral lessons we should have learned from 9-11 and didn't, is that in trying to kill one enemy (the Soviet Union), we created a new one (radical Islamists).

Christ teaches that we will never, ever kill our way to peace. We must reach out our hands to the Muslim people and stop the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 28, 2006 at 5:53 AM | PERMALINK

I sense a major leftist theme emerging here--it wasn't just wrong-headed, don't you know, to fight global terrorism by invading Afghanistan and Iraq, it was wrong to fight them militarily at all! We should have just made nice after 9/11.

Al Qaeda would like that because they know they can't afford to lose in Iraq. Take yesterday's suicide bomber in Mosul who killed 30 guys lining up to join the police. The driver of that bomb-laden car was probably not even Iraqi; most likely a Saudi or Chechen young man who was coordinated and financed out of Syria.

That's not a civil war event, that's al Qaeda or their latest clone in action. All these international terrorists know that they can't lose Iraq and Afghanistan both, so those places are where the suicide bombers keep coming out.

But they are losing both places. All the purple finger waving people are slowly feeling their power and prevailing. Let's see, yesterday's other big military event in Iraq was a U.S. special operation in Baghdad against the Shia militia of radical cleric Muqtar al Sadr. That's housekeeping--cleaning up a loose cannon.

Global terrorism has another major front, actually, and that is Chechnya. The Chechen rebels are probably staging out of Georgia but they have been quiet for awhile.

Condi hinted recently that there will be big U.S. troops withdrawals this summer. That is probably true, there being no civil war. The Iraqi government is becoming strong enough to deal with the international terrorist infiltrators that cause most of the problems on its own.

Team Bush is certainly not going to cease military operations just because most of our forces can come home. I suspect that everytime a Predator drone shoots off a Hellfire missile near the border of Syria and takes out a house or a vehicle, the MSM in its new role as an affiliate of al Jazeera will be running out to proclaim that all the victims found were members of a wedding party or children, don't you know.

I guess there is yet another front of the war on terrorism. Everytime the Israelis blow up a car with a precision-guided missile, the world MSM have to race out with a quick report on all the innocent people killed.

The other factor at work is that life is continuously getting better in all the swamps that produce terrorists. The world economy is continuing to improve. Globalization (even though I have severe doubts about it) seems to be continuing to be the magic genie in the bottle.

On the theory that you can fool all of the people some of the time, by this summer 90%of the American should be convinced that we should have never invaded Iraq at all. That sentiment will no doubt be confounded by the ever-more apparent realization that American forces are coming home to rest, re-equip, and get ready for the next big regime-change operation somewhere in the Middle East.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 28, 2006 at 6:00 AM | PERMALINK

It is too late for this. The options were always there: Treat the terrorist as the avant garde, or treat them as the fringe. Decide that their sentiments and methods represented but the crest of wave regarding the sentiments of the Muslim world as a whole, or treat their sentiments and their methods as the extreme edge of the spectrum, disdained and abhorred by the vast majority of the Muslim world. Deciding that the latter was the case would have meant treating the perpetrators of 9/11 as criminals. It would It would have meant attcking the Taliban, but devoting vast efforts to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and turning from there to beefing up our own security at home. It would have meant not attacking Iraq.

I could go on, pointing out all the things we didn't do. But what of it? What matters is that we cannot undo the things we did. We have already chosen our path. We have gone too far along it, and, if we are lucky, we will be stuck with several decades of indecisive low-level conflict, such as the 40-year's war that prevailed in Northern Ireland or the Basque country. Except that this struggle will be on a global scale, and thus be likely to last much longer. This is the pattern we have already succumbed to.

Posted by: Diablevert on March 28, 2006 at 6:03 AM | PERMALINK

Let me just say that ending poverty on the planet is well beyond our means.

Not beyond our means. But certainly beyond our desires.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 28, 2006 at 4:39 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, please. The developed world is like 15% of the population and takes up 66% of world resources. If you stuck to your share, you'd have to quarter resource consumption.

The problem is corruption. If you look at the list of leading developing nations in the 60's, none of them made it. And there was usually a corrupt dictator or socialist involved.

But at the same time, efficient order imposed without local input was colonialism and was even more unpopular than what followed.

-------------

Prime example: IRAN. Impose a government. Create power vacuum.

Posted by: notthere on March 28, 2006 at 4:31 AM | PERMALINK

A success is not measured by hitting first world status. Do you know how few countries have pulled that off post WWII?

Hong Kong - (city state, easier to manage)
Taiwan
Korea - Well, NZ levels anyway
Singapore - (city state, easier to manage)
Japan - (Rediscovered it)
Israel - (Arguably had it at their point of origin)

However if that's your criteria, almost all of them have something in common. Intervention in favor of capitalism (whether by small entrepreneurs or European style national champions). Where you intervened in favor of corrupt dictators with command economies, things usually sucked.

And of course, locals carried their weight. That's the point of capitalism. The locals get rich, have a stake and build there country.

By the way, do you have a single truly independent developing nation you want to cite as your shining example? There are none, just degrees of independence.

Everyone ended taking help from the USSR or the US. And the ones helped by the USSR all suck much worse on average. As does the USSR. And if you go back, during WWI and WWII, nearly every country on earth was part of someone's empire.

But this is a waste of time. You can selectively classify countries as intervened or internal change according to bias for this debate.

Fact is, choices aren't that simple. If you didn't prop up the Shah, he'd have got Soviet help. What would have happened then? No one knows.


Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 6:17 AM | PERMALINK

Christ teaches that we will never, ever kill our way to peace. We must reach out our hands to the Muslim people and stop the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 28, 2006 at 5:53 AM | PERMALINK

That would be nice, if the Muslims weren't keen on killing their way to peace. And if the Israeli's weren't really sensitive about genocide, having had it tried on them.

What would Christ's solution be?

Take a land the size of Israel out of the United States. Give it to the Israeli's along with billions out of Europe for reconstruction.

If you aren't prepared to do that, who are you to lecture the Israeli's?

You are asking them to risk all they have on a bunch of people who voted Hamas into power.

-------------

"If they didn't hate you for Iraq and Afghanistan. they'd hate you for cartoons."

Oh, well, we might as well kill them then. Gosh, what could go wrong?

Posted by: Kenji on March 28, 2006 at 5:05 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the message should be, 'cut the whining'.
Terrorism and shit governments are your problems too.

Let's face it. The rest of the world is deciding whether or not to censor cartoons for the Muslim world. The Muslim world is trying to decide whether or not to stop executing Christian converts.

At some point, pretending this doesn't happen isn't turning the other cheek. Its bowing down.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 6:24 AM | PERMALINK

Fact is, choices aren't that simple. If you didn't prop up the Shah, he'd have got Soviet help. What would have happened then? No one knows.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 6:17 AM | PERMALINK

Not like Cuba is all that great.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 6:27 AM | PERMALINK

One way to look at the mess is that Al-Qaeda has moved from strikes on the non-Moslem world to fermenting civil war in the Muslim world.

I guess that's one way of forcing the Moderates to take sides.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 6:28 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, please. The developed world is like 15% of the population and takes up 66% of world resources. If you stuck to your share, you'd have to quarter resource consumption.

And thank you for proving my point.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 28, 2006 at 6:38 AM | PERMALINK

Wow ... there's a lot of old-paradigm thinking on this thread, from a lot of people I tend ordinarily to agree with.

The only one who seems to be groping toward the right analysis is brooksfoe. Even McA, with his cultural familiarity with Muslims, is making a tad more sense than some of my liberal friends who tend to think in broad historical analogies.

The first thing we all need to do is re-read Ben Barber's Jihad vs McWorld, or read it if you haven't already. This guy's the preeminent democracy theorist on the planet and he has a good historical template which transcends a lot of the Tom Friedmanite shibboleths we've been hearing from neoliberals about this for decades.

Leson One: This is *not* a poverty issue. We've been saying this about the Palestinian refugee camps for years, but the al Qaeda ideology is a different animal, attuned to different needs.

Lesson Two: Lose all Cold War / WW2 analogies. While radical Islam, being quintessentially authoritarian, may have some superficial resemblances to Maoism or Fascism, "Islamofascism" is a mouthbreathing absurdity. Radical Islamism is *not* a materialist ideology. Leninism and Fascism were curdled products of the Enlightenment; they demanded at the end of the day to be judged in terms cogent to the Enlightenment -- military victory or material success. Radical Islamism is inherently anti-modern and anti-Enlightenment. We'll *never* delegitimate it by simply demonstrating that our system is superior in terms of delivering human rights and material prosperity, the way we delegitimated Communism and defeated Fascism on the battlefield.

Lesson Three: Radical Islamism is a religious ideology. It addresses spiritual needs and a sense of deep aggrievement over more-or-less abstract injustice. While analogies to the Black Power movement are less brain dead than to, say, Communist peoples' movements, they're not quite fully on point. Yes, the sense of cultural humiliation is a big part of it, but at the end of the day, you deligitimate Black revolutionary activism by granting equal rights and addressing poverty and poor education. Once again, Enlightenment vs Anti-Enlightenment.

Lesson Four: Since radical Islamism is a religious ideology, the salient analogy is to our own religious radicals. Ask yourselves: does the prosperity and democracy of America take the pressure off our own Christian fundies? Quite the reverse: It both empowers them and enrages them, because fundamentalists are threatened by the personal empowerment democracy facilitates. The more successful we become at extending human rights to women and gays, the more wealth is created and shared, the more they become convinced that America is in deep spiritual decline.

Lesson Five: Because fundamentalism is threatened by personal freedom, promoting democracy in conservative Muslim countries has the paradoxical effect of empowering a peoples' movement of Islamists who wish to crush human freedom (Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Muslim Brutherhood in Egypt, the conservative Shi'ites of Iraq -- all recent ballot box successes). Only when conservative Islam interacts with the modern world (as in Iran currently) will the people begin a long and arduous process of deciding for themselves that fundamentalist Islam is incompatible with human aspirations.

Lesson Six -- and the most crucial: Only moderate Muslims can facilitate the Islamic Enlightenment needed to delegitimate the radicals in their midst. It is their struggle, not ours.

Lesson Seven -- the conclusion: We do all in our power in the West to empower the moderates. When Clinton was president, the religious right felt out of power. It was thus less inclined to rein in the abortion clinic bombers and white supremecists (Rudolph, McVeigh, the Army of God) who operated in their shadow. After Bush became elected and the Christian right felt less hard-pressed, we're seeing much less domestic terrorism from those groups. Why? Because the more mainstream leaders of the Christian right felt comfortable enough now to lay the smackdown on the radicals and make it clear to them in no uncertain terms that they wouldn't be providing them cover anymore.

That's the kind of environment we have to facilitate politically in the Muslim world. But it's the Muslim world -- not us -- that has to do the heavy lifting.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 28, 2006 at 6:51 AM | PERMALINK

The column is disappointing because, although it makes the right noises, it doesn't even mention the main source of Arab/Muslim dissatisfaction with the US, which is our policies. These include US support for Israel; our claim on the resources in the area; and our past and present interference in the internal affairs of those countries. Yet even in this thread that subject isn't mentioned.

Posted by: No Preference on March 28, 2006 at 6:52 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, a little off-thread, but I remember a conversation with a colleague not long after the 9/11 attacks. I was living in South Africa at the time and was debating Bush's possible moves. My friend, a highly educated leftie doctor, suggested that to attack Afghanistan was a huge mistake, even if the Taliban were protecting the 9/11 conspirators. His argument was that we would only end up killing lots of civilians and further empowering the existing warlord structure.

I disagreed and suggested that the only way that Bush could survive politically was to drop bombs. "What else could he do?" I asked, genuinely frustrated with his insistence on a non-violent response. "Drop bread," he said.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 28, 2006 at 6:58 AM | PERMALINK

We have to convince those who passively support the insurgency that we are not their enemy.

Not acting as their enemy would actually be very convincing, I suppose.

Posted by: oldreader on March 28, 2006 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us.

-- Henrik Tikkanen

Posted by: kostya on March 28, 2006 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

I sense a major leftist theme emerging here--it wasn't just wrong-headed, don't you know, to fight global terrorism by invading Afghanistan and Iraq, it was wrong to fight them militarily at all! We should have just made nice after 9/11.

You're a Jackass, Michael Cook.

But more than that, you live in a world of your own imagining.

Posted by: obscure on March 28, 2006 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

And thank you for proving my point.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 28, 2006 at 6:38 AM | PERMALINK

Which is? How is calling for the impossible a viable way forward?

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

"Drop bread," he said.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 28, 2006 at 6:58 AM | PERMALINK

This is headed in the right direction but the issue being that autocratic regimes would take the bread using force, sell it and buy guns.

Look at oil for food. Saddam stole from it to build up bribe money and money to fund the insurgency.

Look at aid in Africa. Why don't they give it to local govts. to do it? Corruption.
And its routine for charities to have to hire security, pay local armies/warlords so they can give food out.

Look at North Korea. Permission for food, must be tied to some hard forex for the elites to buy luxuries.

Yes, people who having nothing to lose are violent.

But liberal stupidity cannot deal those who would steal the aid as you give it, because food is a tool of control.

Think about the nature of people who would spark a civil war in their own country by outrageous acts to pull their own communities into war.

Sadly, the future points to neo-colonialism. Usurping local control using force so enough order can be established to give the country a new start.

The question is, what international body can give those action legitimacy. Given that the UN has huge numbers of voting dictators, biased in favor of local sovereignity over international human rights.

The choice is carrot and stick or just carrot.

And based on the language all Americans use on the rise of China and India. You don't have the heart for just carrot.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Iraq is better of as two nations without Saddam than one with. After all, it would have had this fighting if he died of natural causes.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

We have to convince those who passively support the insurgency that we are not their enemy

We've been recruiting for al-Qaida for years... this isn't new news to anyone.

Posted by: E. Nonee Moose on March 28, 2006 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

This global insurgency can only be defeated by severing the insurgents' connections to populations that sustain them.
Damn, and how long have I been saying this? Mao's ocean and all. But I am so fricking proud of you moonbats, finally having a little light shine in.

Now, you're a little late to the party, so no doubt you ignored things like this when I brought them up.

Is anyone listening?
People were not only listening, they were acting on this long before it occurred to the left.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 28, 2006 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

India had learned this hard way with Kashmir militants. The military construction wing built schools, teached in the schools, created a irrigation system in a village, laid the electricity lines etc basically "Simi Citied" the village. When polled after that village folks were overwhelmingly voted to stay with INDIA and that reduced one harboring ground.
They even held the local elections after the basic infrastructure and all citizens were happy and trusted the military as they already did a lot for the village.
One village at a time, baby!

Iraq is little bit more difficult as there are 3 different ethinic folks with lot of history.
But still building the basic infrastructure will be the only WAY TO GO!! Every village will have one or two leaders and once they are on board, things will flow smoothly. It should be bottom-up approach, but this administration which is in a hurry to get out, wants to do top-down approach, I mean from the F-16s :-)

Militants know this that's why when US gets one transformer up, the militants bring it down, but that is no excuse to not to rebuilt it again.

Thanks Kevin for pointing it out.

Posted by: ksk on March 28, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Poverty and injustice does not "cause" terrorism. The bulk of who we consider terrorists are middle class, and comparatively well-educated. Poverty and injustice do "inspire" terrorists.

A long-term successful counterterrorist strategy is based around reducing the "sea" in which terrorists "swim" (paraphrasing Mao). This is done through cooptation and coercion.

The most important audience in the affected areas are the apathetic, who make up the bulk of the affected population. They want to get on with their lives and be left alone. They will not actively aid terrorists, and they will not actively aid those fighting them. Often, both sides make the mistake of treating those who are not "for" them as being "against" them.

This group is particularly open to cooptation, and--in theory--the state is in a much better position to do so. Providing security, addressing underlying grievances, pouring resources into affected regions, and delivering effective and responsive government, are all successful in swinging the apathetic into passive (sometimes active) supporters of counterterrorist efforts.

Ironically, the United States has been extremely successful in dealing with domestic terrorism in precisely this way.

Posted by: Wombat on March 28, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, yes, but effectively fighting a counterinsurgency involves finesse and subtlety. It's not that these two things are missing in the current US administration, it's that's a surfeit of the anti-matter versions of these qualities.

Posted by: McB on March 28, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

How long will it take to end the humiliating despair of poverty that drives insurgency? And do you do a Stalin police state in the "meantime?"

Posted by: ferd on March 28, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

This is only half accurate, at best.

Note the telling use of the words "sever" and "smother."

This is the same end and means identified by proponents of the Salvador Option. And it misses the point completely. Death squads, or any other method unresponsive to the political needs and demands of these supportive populations, will fail because they are irrelevant to the issue.

Instead, the effective response is much the opposite:

We do not need to persuade anyone of anything. What we need to do is be persuaded, ourselves, that "we" -- meaning democratic governments -- must be responsive to the legitimate political positions of the populations we presume to preside over. Both within and outside of the US.

Rather than do any "severing" of constituencies from what they obviously perceive as legitimate groups defending them physically and serving their political interests -- we should be building politically responsive bridges to those democratic / governmental institutions that we see as legitimate.

After all, if we really believe in democracy, in any form at all, then we ought to respect where their preferred loyalties are directed. And if we really feel OUR institutions are better or more legitimate or to be privileged, by any democratic measure, then we ought to prove it by substantively responding to the political needs of these constituencies.

If we can't do that, what good is having a democracy? What morally superior position could we possibly be condescending to speak from? Building bridges and installing working political conduits would legitimate our position; severing the political bonds of other social groups can only indict our policies, decisions, and leaders.

Power to govern flows from the people, and not otherwise. This is necessarily true, even where it is not made explicit in law. Else you would not have resistance movements like those against the Shah, or Bhutto, or Suu Kyi in Burma.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 28, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

McA:
Rather than taking up half of the comment space here, why don't you get your own blog? And if we're interested in what you want to say, we'll read it. Or, to put it another way: if you've posted five times in a row, odds are you're far more interested in reading what you write than anybody else is.

Posted by: Rick on March 28, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

"Global" and "counterinsurgency" are sooooo 2003.

We're up against an "Open Source War" in which Empire runs smack into the Second Amendment gone viral, and thus dies the death of a thousand cuts.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on March 28, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

At issue is America's view of the world. A large portion of her voting age population chose, in 2000, and again in 2004, to ignore reality, to put on blinders to anything except their inordinate "faith". In this case, Faith that the Great Man would keep them from harm, much as he promised. Funny how people focus on the aftermath of 9/11, and forget that the events leading up to 9/11 foreshadowed this administration's efforts all around: complacency; ignorance; politics. Funny how this administration managed to fully bungle the Hurricane Katrina efforts as well. And now, is bungling all sorts of things: the budget, port sales, immigration. AND YET, the true believers still believe. The Pew research numbers show that among republicans, Bush still enjoys a 73% (or so) favorable rating. These are the people who need to be held accountable, who need to have their proverbial feet placed close to the proverbial fire, in an attempt to show them what heat is. America needs to wake up! As the British said in the early stages of the George W. Buish v. Al Gore madness, From time to time America descends into a collective madness, and this is one of those times. WAKE UP!

Posted by: Chris on March 28, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

What is terrorism? That term sure is getting tossed around a lot.

Maybe our right-wing friends can help sort out the following.

Iraqi faction blows up a school built by the US-Backed regime and execute the principal in front of the pupils.

Terrorism or freedom fighters?

US-backed Taliban blow up a school built by the Soviet-Backed regime and execute the principal in front of the pupils.

Terrorism or freedom fighters?

Iraqi resistance movement blows up a police station created and manned by the US installed government.

Terrorism or Freedom Fighters?

WWII French resistance movement blows up a police station created and manned by the Vichy government.

Terrorism or Freedom Fighters?

Osama Bin Laden masterminds bombing of US Embassy in Naroibi

Terrorism or Freedom Fighter?

Menachim Begin masterminds bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

Terrorist or freedom fighter?

US armed Nicaraguan Contras blow up schools and hospitals built by the government.

Terrorism or Freedom Fighters?

A bomb thrown from a bus kills 20 civilians.

Terrorism?

A bomb thrown from a jet fighter kills 20 civilians.

Terrorism?

Ponder a bit.


Posted by: Buford on March 28, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

We have to convince those who passively support the insurgency that we are not their enemy.

But wouldn't that be a lie?

Posted by: Bob M on March 28, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

McA: "Russian not in Iraq war..." Russia has their own Iraq war of sorts in Chechnya.

Tymbrimi: Most of those votes were in fact not "for war". They voted to give the resident the power to go to war to be used as a stick bring Saddam into compliance. Their biggest duh was believing Dubya word that he would use war as a last resort. He in fact had every intention of going to war by hook or by crook. He used crook as it turns out.

Posted by: bushburner on March 28, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

But wouldn't that be a lie?

Aren't they supposed to be good at that thing, or does it require that all the press, rather than just the American press, strap on their kneepads?
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on March 28, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Funny, how most of those have-nots follow the Religion of 'Peace' and are led by Rich Oil Dictators.

I hope you don't get your UAE sound bite and your anti-Islam sound bite confused some day. Boy, would that be embarrassing.

If you were capable of being embarrassed, I mean.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 28, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Drum you have lost it. One of the authors of the article is from some goo-goo Lefty group called The United States Peace Institue.

Good Lord, Drum thinks these idealistic do-gooders know how to defeat terrorism?

Anybody who takes these people seriously is a fool.

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 28, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Buford,

Your post has some very good points. I believe that when we fought our own revolution the British were quite put out that we would not stand in rows and be shot at like they did. In fact the powers that be always like the status quo. I can't believe that there is a suicide bomber out there that would not rather sit in a jet and drop a bomb on Tel Aviv or Washington than strap on a bomb and blow themselves and other civilians up. You really want to end suicide bombing give them all F16s. I am not saying what they do is right. I deplore suicide bombing. My question is, is our "collateral damage" more forgivable or less forgivable considering we have more choices?

Posted by: bushburner on March 28, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Before anyone gets too fond of this strategy, let's remember this was tried by the US during the Vietnam War. It led to so-called "relocation camps", relentless bombings of villages and the odious Phoenix program that was a series of My Lais, if one actually reviews the program's history. "Draining the sea" is a metaphor for what quickly fits within the definition of a "war crime", as defined during the post-WWII Neruenberg Trials.

We either now fight a war against Iraq in a conventional way--or we get out. My view is to get out, rest our soliders and regroup as a nation. We have other issues out there, starting with Iran and North Korea.

Posted by: Mitchell Freedman on March 28, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone ever hear of Thomas Barnett and his "core and the gap" meme???

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/index.htm

Posted by: * on March 28, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK
Explain again how not confronting terror protects you against incidents like Beslan.

Russia wasn't in the Iraq war, was it?

The Iraq war has nothing to do with "confronting terror", it had to do with creating terror.

And Russia has been fighting wars with Islamists -- more actively, consistently, and brutally than we have -- for quite some time. Maybe you've heard of Chechnya? So it's hardly as if they are "not confronting" anything relevant.

It would be nice, McA, if sometime you'd post anything that wasn't both stupid and ignorant.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I just went to the United States Institute of Peace web site. What a bunch of do-nothing nut-jobs.

The have a "Center for Conflict Resolution and Mediation." You lefties think Al Queda has signed up for any of those conferences?

How about their "Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention." Oh, too bad Saddam didn't take some courses there!

The USIP is staffed and run by idealistic bureacrats who write papers and go to conferences and have meetings at the UN.

No serious person thinks these people know how to fight terrorism.

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 28, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yes Freq, unless we're waging WAR against the wrong enemy - we're doing nothing.

Posted by: ckelly on March 28, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

these are games like never before. they has gotten much better in the past few years. The best example for this is the best room ever.

Posted by: mika on March 28, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK
Why should it be that "populations" that "sustain" this global insurgency would view the US as implicated in their "poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization"?

Maybe because of US policies that protect the status quo in the Middle East, the hypocrisy of which has been underlined with Bush's praising of, e.g., Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for democracy while criticizing Iran, when clearly Iran's government is less friendly to the United States, but equally clearly it is (at least) no less democratic than Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

What would be an alternative form of empowerment and an alternative to their vengeance?

That's the tricky thing, of course. Their is no real alternative to their vengeance, though perhaps it could be redirected to the proximate rather than remote causes of their conditions, where it might do more good; and that dovetails with the alternative form of empowerment, which starts with acknowledging that sooner or later the US is going to have to accept the cost in short-term instability -- and long-term oil prices -- of seeing the totalitarian regimes which practically enslave their popoulations in the Middle East with free and democratic regimes which may not be mouthpieces for Washington. And accepting that we cannot replace those regimes ourselves and design their replacements if we expect them to be stable and viewed as legitimate, but that it must be their own people who replace the regimes, though we may be able to provide assistance.

Of course, that's hard work, and takes a lot of thought, analysis, and restraint. Its a lot easier to just find someone to bomb the hell out of and occupy without any credible or coherent strategy.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Poverty helps destabilize societies but not all poverty-stricken societies produce terrorism. Robert Pape's argument about foreign occupation, or the perception of occupation, seems more plausable. Or if not occupation, some continuing sense of injustice that the terrorist decides can only be fought through the targeting of civilians.

AQ was motivated to target the US primarily because of the US troops 'occupying' Saudi Arabia, as silly as that sounds. The way to cut-off al-Qaeda's grass roots support is simple. Withdraw Western, 'Christian' troops from the Middle East and Afghanistan as soon as is practical.

Politically speaking, that's what the Democrats should rally around. Bringing ALL the troops back sometime before Bush leaves the Oval Office.

Posted by: Renwick on March 28, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

We have to convince those who passively support the insurgency that we are not their enemy.

Unfortunately, we are their enemy. The US has been hijacked by capital, using military hegemony to politically control the internal affairs of any country that possesses any resource, material or political, that may be of some use to it.

The US needs a proper political movement that repudiates the use of military suasion to achieve its political international goals. Until that happens, we are the enemy.

Posted by: Hostile on March 28, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

these are games like never before. they has gotten much better in the past few years. The best example for this is the best room ever.

Posted by: logan on March 28, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

I see FrequencyKenneth is trying to resurrect the Know-Nothing party.

Not only pig ignorant, but proud of it, too.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK
Leson One: This is *not* a poverty issue. We've been saying this about the Palestinian refugee camps for years, but the al Qaeda ideology is a different animal, attuned to different needs.

I don't believe this for a second; I've seen the arguments, they aren't remotely convincing. Mostly, they seem to ignore that issues that are centered around and appeal to poverty and disenfranchisement always have a lot of peripheral baggage that manifests in different ways, usually have a non-poverty oriented ideological aspect, usually attract elites (either do to identity motivations or ego motivations), etc. Yes, al-Qaeda doesn't draw solely on the poor, but the conditions that allow it to foster are the same conditions of poverty and social injustice that foster most violent extremists movements, whatever the overt ideology.

Lesson Two: Lose all Cold War / WW2 analogies. While radical Islam, being quintessentially authoritarian, may have some superficial resemblances to Maoism or Fascism, "Islamofascism" is a mouthbreathing absurdity. Radical Islamism is *not* a materialist ideology. Leninism and Fascism were curdled products of the Enlightenment; they demanded at the end of the day to be judged in terms cogent to the Enlightenment -- military victory or material success. Radical Islamism is inherently anti-modern and anti-Enlightenment. We'll *never* delegitimate it by simply demonstrating that our system is superior in terms of delivering human rights and material prosperity, the way we delegitimated Communism and defeated Fascism on the battlefield.

I don't think either Communism or Fascism is dead today, so I don't think we defeated them that way, either (indeed, they seem to have mated and produced Neoconservatism); their are Communist and Fascist -- though, in the latter case, not with the name -- regimes today. We defeated specific organized groups of Communists and Fascists, not the ideologies.

Lesson Three: Radical Islamism is a religious ideology. It addresses spiritual needs and a sense of deep aggrievement over more-or-less abstract injustice. While analogies to the Black Power movement are less brain dead than to, say, Communist peoples' movements, they're not quite fully on point. Yes, the sense of cultural humiliation is a big part of it, but at the end of the day, you deligitimate Black revolutionary activism by granting equal rights and addressing poverty and poor education. Once again, Enlightenment vs Anti-Enlightenment.

Most movements born from poverty and injustice have some form of religious, ethnic, cultural, etc. identity factor in them -- this is as much true of superficially internationalist Communist movements (many of which, in practice, had strong racial, ethnic, or national features) as of the Black Panthers. But this isn't about the Enlightment vs. anti-Enlightment, at root. Sure, the ideological conflict can be described that way, but the ideology espoused in revolt against the perceived unjust conditions is a symptom, not a root cause.


Lesson Four: Since radical Islamism is a religious ideology, the salient analogy is to our own religious radicals. Ask yourselves: does the prosperity and democracy of America take the pressure off our own Christian fundies?

I don't know. I do know the people who exploit those fundies for the powerbase do everything in their power to undermine democracy and to prevent wide distribution of the benefits of prosperity, to maintain a narrow elite and a wide class that is at least comparatively very poor, that can perceive injustice and be demagogued around that perceived injustice as others are blamed for it and identity politics used to motivate them.

So, granting that their is a degree of salience in the analogy, I don't think it supports your point.

To the degree that there is less absolute and relative deprivation, I will note that our own fundies are less likely to blow up dissenters in their own community -- i.e., there is plenty of evidence the difference you point does de-radicalize, comparatively, our religious extremists.

More later.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, those pacifists are unrealistic dreamers. You can tell that from how well our "realistic" policies have worked.

For example, in the 50s the peaceniks would have handed Vietnam to the Vietnamese by letting them hold free elections. Lucky for us the U.S. had refused to sign the Geneva Accords and could prevent the reunification elections from happening.

In the 70s our "realistic" policies scored great advances, putting dictatorships in place in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, and probably some others I've forgotten- like Cambodia, where we supported the Khmer Rouge.

Emboldened by these successes, in the 80s the U.S. supported Al Quaeda and Saddam. Sure, they were less than perfect, but we had to be realistic- supporting democracy, human rights, and decent living standards might have been a big waste of money.

Along the way, several trillion dollars worth of fighter planes and other weapons came and went, their true potential hobbled by the requirement that they only be used to shoot peasants. Useless junk now, but it was the only realistic thing to do.

Schools, clinics, clean water- these are pie-in-the-sky solutions that have never been proven to prevent terrorism. Belligerant armed intervention worldwide, on the other hand, has achieved the desired result- an American people so terrorized by our own "leaders" that we'll elect an insane sock-puppet if we think it will buy one more day of blessed ignorance.

Because you have to be "realistic".

Posted by: serial catowner on March 28, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

People who cannot behave should be given time outs. Quarantine societies that raise their children to hate and attack us, and whack their leaders whenever they act overtly against us.
South Africa would have been far better served by the Sullivan Principles than they were with divestiture. Zimbabwe was a food exporter until the new leadership, lacking any understanding of farming, drove off their farmers.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis on March 28, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Before anyone gets too fond of this strategy, let's remember this was tried by the US during the Vietnam War. It led to so-called "relocation camps", relentless bombings of villages and the odious Phoenix program that was a series of My Lais, if one actually reviews the program's history. "Draining the sea" is a metaphor for what quickly fits within the definition of a "war crime", as defined during the post-WWII Neruenberg Trials.

Actually, there were some counter-insurgency success in Vietnam, most notably by the Marine Corps' Combined Action Platoon (CAP) program (the Marines had gained experience with such tactics in the "Banana Wars" in the Caribbean and Central America). The U.S. Marine Corps Small Wars Manual in 1940, for example, stated that:

"In regular warfare, the responsible officers simply strive to attain a method of producing the maximum physical effect with the force at their disposal. In small wars, the goal is to gain decisive results with the least application of force and the consequent minimum loss of life. The end aim is the social, economic, and political development of the people subsequent to the military defeat of the enemy insurgent forces. In small wars, tolerance, sympathy, and kindness should be the keynote of our relationship with the mass of the population."

They attempted to apply this strategy in Vietnam, and the result, according to British counterinsurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson, "Of all the United States forces the Marine Corps alone made a serious attempt to achieve permanent and lasting results in their tactical area of responsibility by seeking to protect the rural population."

CAP units consisted of a twelve to fifteen-man squad assigned to a particular hamlet. CAP Marines were volunteers and were given basic instruction on Vietnamese culture and customs so they could fit in with the locals and become part of village life. They worked with platoons of local Vietnamese militia, conducting joint patrols and ambushes, and gradually forcing the local Vietnamese forces to assume a greater share of responsibility for their security. CAPs were immediately successful, and there was a direct link between the degree of security and the time a CAP stayed in a hamlet, and the VC never regained control of a ville protected by a CAP.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Dems, I have an idea for you: You like this goofy Peace Institute stuff? Then bring back the "Global Test." Bring back Kerry's desire to fight a "more sensitive" war on terror. Bring back trying to "understand why the terrorists hate us."

And do it before the 2006 elections, OK?

Posted by: MountainDan on March 28, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Serial catowner,
You're right, "Schools, clinics, clean water- these are pie-in-the-sky solutions that have never been proven to prevent terrorism." No nor are they likely to be proven soon. It is very hard to prove something not tried.

MountainDan,
Yes that is a crazy idea to try to understand your enemy and more importantly his supporters. It is much better to blindly bomb and hope that wins hearts and minds. The problem is that people get caught up on the sound of the words and don't pay attention to the sound idea underneath. Knowing your enemy and his motivations is a very important step toward victory. Of course I don't mean to deride in any way the wonderful progress that blind flailing has achieved.

Posted by: bushburner on March 28, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

When we capture terrorists, we should treat them as soldiers, enemy combatants.

Then we should charge them with war-crimes for fighting without uniforms, targeting civillians, and using civillians for cover. Then execute the fuckers.

But Bush doesn't want to do that. Because he'd have to accept the proposition that there IS such a thing as a "war-crime". Neocons don't believe in war-crimes. For them, anything goes in war. And since to them, war is really just a money making enterprise, that means anything goes in business too.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 28, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Bring back Kerry's desire to fight a "more sensitive" war on terror.

I see the urban myth is alive and well.

Republicans: harnessing the power of stupid.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on March 28, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

The White House is staffed and run by idealistic bureacrats who write papers and go to conferences and have meetings with the AEI and the Rand Corporation.

No serious person thinks these people know how to fight terrorism.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on March 28, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the populations on this planet "drowning in poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization" are doing so only because of their own tyrannical leadership, and not because of anything that the U.S. or any other external force has done to them.

Needless to say, that same leadership enthusiastically broadcasts the view that the suffering of their people is due to America, Israel, capitalism, and the usual laundry list of "oppressors."

The West doesn't "claim" Middle Eastern oil and resources. We pay tons of hard cash for it, and have dumped billions into those nations. If the cash isn't getting down to most of the people of those nations, why exactly is that?

Where are the billions that were sent to the poverty-stricken Palestinians over decades? Where did that end up? For that matter, where does much of the foreign aid to places in Africa end up?

The U.S., Israel, and the West in general are convenient scapegoats for the plight of much of the world's people. Bad enough the leaders of these nations try to pull this off without people who should know better in the West buying it.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 28, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

For that matter, where does much of the foreign aid to places in Africa end up?

Probably servicing debt to the Western nations an the IMF and World Bank.....

For every dollar the West gives to the Third World in aid, it probably takes back ten dollars in debt service and exploitative trade and economic policies.

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,

So when we went into Iran and replaced an elected and what appeared to be a benevolent if somewhat socialist leader with the Shah that had no ill effect? What about in Argentina where we did the same for the same reason?

Buying stolen goods because you can get them cheaper does make you complicit. I don't know of any reasonable adult that does not think so. I would like to say the money does not get beyond the tyrannical leadership because we don't care if it does or not. In fact the two examples above and many others indicate we try to make sure that they don't. We don't have to try to insure justice in the world but it would be of more benefit to most of the citizens of the US than what we do instead. It would however not be of more benefit to the giant corporations or the government(s) they own.

Posted by: bushburner on March 28, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK
Lesson Five: Because fundamentalism is threatened by personal freedom, promoting democracy in conservative Muslim countries has the paradoxical effect of empowering a peoples' movement of Islamists who wish to crush human freedom (Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Muslim Brutherhood in Egypt, the conservative Shi'ites of Iraq -- all recent ballot box successes).

With democracy without prosperity, groups that promise (or have demonstrated) the ability to provide enhancements in more basic needs (those related to survival and basic security) will be more favored than those who offer plans addressed primarily at higher level needs (personal freedom, etc.) quite often.

The problem I see with your analysis is you seem to see ideology as fundamental and uncaused, and therefore something that must be adapted to rather than addressed.

Only when conservative Islam interacts with the modern world (as in Iran currently) will the people begin a long and arduous process of deciding for themselves that fundamentalist Islam is incompatible with human aspirations.

It is a mistake, in my view, to pretend that conservative Islam doesn't generally intaract with the modern world, and that its virulent, violent strain isn't largely a product of the condition of Muslim societies in that interaction.

Lesson Six -- and the most crucial: Only moderate Muslims can facilitate the Islamic Enlightenment needed to delegitimate the radicals in their midst. It is their struggle, not ours.

That's certainly, I'd say, true, but only in a rather narrow sense: because of the role that religious identity has, only more moderate Muslims can proximately articulate an alternative interpretation on how to interpret that identity to that presented by the extremists. So, yes, they have an essential and indispensable role in solving the problem.

At the same time, though, it is not exclusively their struggle, and they can't solve it alone. Because the objective conditions and environment will affect which ideas win out, and as long as the conditions which have fostered extremism persist, the deck is stacked against the moderates. And we do have a capacity to affect those conditions. And, given as how we're often the target of the extremists, its definitely our struggle, as well.


Lesson Seven -- the conclusion: We do all in our power in the West to empower the moderates. When Clinton was president, the religious right felt out of power. It was thus less inclined to rein in the abortion clinic bombers and white supremecists (Rudolph, McVeigh, the Army of God) who operated in their shadow. After Bush became elected and the Christian right felt less hard-pressed, we're seeing much less domestic terrorism from those groups. Why? Because the more mainstream leaders of the Christian right felt comfortable enough now to lay the smackdown on the radicals and make it clear to them in no uncertain terms that they wouldn't be providing them cover anymore.

Oh, bull. Where is the evidence of this smackdown? Heck, where is the evidence that they aren't providing them cover?

Look, with such a small number of successful attacks, large apparent swings are produced just by chance. There certainly have been lots of cases (though poorly reported) of attempted terrorism by these groups under Bush, and, given the targetting, its not entirely inconceivable that the anthrax attacks were from such a group.

Further, even granting, arguendo that there is a notable downturn in active violence by these groups, I don't think the smackdown argument holds water -- I just think that, seeing those sharing their movement identity in charge of the government, they've taken a momentary pause because they see the opportunity to acheive their goals by less personally risky means.


Lesson Six -- and the most crucial: Only moderate Muslims can facilitate the Islamic Enlightenment needed to delegitimate the radicals in their midst. It is their struggle, not ours.

Lesson Seven -- the conclusion: We do all in our power in the West to empower the moderates. When Clinton was president, the religious right felt out of power. It was thus less inclined to rein in the abortion clinic bombers and white supremecists (Rudolph, McVeigh, the Army of God) who operated in their shadow. After Bush became elected and the Christian right felt less hard-pressed, we're seeing much less domestic terrorism from those groups. Why? Because the more mainstream leaders of the Christian right felt comfortable enough now to lay the smackdown on the radicals and make it clear to them in no uncertain terms that they wouldn't be providing them cover anymore.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

Quoted, almost word for word, right out of the same playbook the dictators use.

Get past "probably" and actually track the aid to, for example, the Palestinians. Only in the past two or three years have some attempts been made to pry well over a billion dollars out of Arafat's dead hands and put it into the hands of the Palestinians in general.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 28, 2006 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK
The West doesn't "claim" Middle Eastern oil and resources. We pay tons of hard cash for it, and have dumped billions into those nations. If the cash isn't getting down to most of the people of those nations, why exactly is that?

Because the people we're paying are using a share of the money to buy stuff from us -- often weapons to keep the rest of the money out of the hands of everyone else in their country.

Often, we encourage them to do this, in order to promote stability, and because we're afraid that if other people got control of the things we're paying for, they might make us pay even more.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Quoted, almost word for word, right out of the same playbook the dictators use.

Well yes, that's where I got it from: "Dictatoring for Dummies."

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sullivan's writing always gives you the sense that, more than anything else, his main objective is to advertise himself.

Posted by: nut on March 28, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, the previous post was meant for the other thread.

Posted by: nut on March 28, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

"JS >"...Let me just say that ending poverty on the planet is well beyond our means."

You are sooo wrong but a wonderful example of the ignorance that feeds the continuation of this deadly cycle"

You are correct. Free markets and the rule of law will end poverty anywhere they are given a fair trial. Mexicans end their own poverty by coming here where free markets and the rule of law allow people to work and keep what they earn.

In the 1930s Argentina had the largest gold reserves in the world. Then came Eva Peron advocating policies that look a lot like what the majority here favor.

The radical Muslims are closer to the Nazis and Bolsheviks than they are to traditional Islam. Many are well educated and most come from middle class backgrounds. Many are engineers or doctors. It is all about power. That is the only language they understand. Of course most of you think that Gaddafi gave up his nuclear program out of spiritual renewal or something.

The policy suggestions in this article are mostly mush. Fortunately, you aren't running the government.

Posted by: Mike K on March 28, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

...the West in general are convenient scapegoats for the plight of much of the world's people. Bad enough the leaders of these nations try to pull this off without people who should know better in the West buying it.

What ignorant tripe!

Well, nothing less could be expected from this person.

Posted by: lib on March 28, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

The West doesn't "claim" Middle Eastern oil and resources. We pay tons of hard cash for it, and have dumped billions into those nations. If the cash isn't getting down to most of the people of those nations, why exactly is that?

Ooh! Ooh! I know! Pick me! Because the Saudis, et al, don't have any of those namby-pamby income redistribution policies to interfere with the mighty free market?

That's a great system you've placed your faith in there, tbrosz. Shame in you.

Posted by: Gregory on March 28, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

The West doesn't "claim" Middle Eastern oil and resources.

1) I like your conflating the US with "The West" there, tbrosz. It makes it appear that we have lots of company. However, polls show that France, for instance, is popular. It is not "the West" whose actions the Arab/Muslim public dislikes. It's the US.

2) US Presidents from Carter to the current Bush have stated that the preservation of American access to Middle East oil is a strategic necessity that we will defend by force. If that's not claiming the oil, what is.

Posted by: No Preference on March 28, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

About 45 years ago Kennedy introduced his Peace Corps idea. This was very popular with the American people, but they don't make the decisions around here.

So, for 45 years, we've spent $99 blowing people up for every 10 cents we've spent on the Peace Corps.

That is basically the entire productive working life of the Baby Boomer demographic- wasted, flushed down the drain, gone.

In fact, the part that is actually gone is the good part- we still have to worry about the munitions and chemicals we've distributed around the globe. And, of course, there are still those 600 overseas bases sitting out there as juicy bait for terrorists.

This tremendous waste has been so huge that, a few years ago, an audit showed the Pentagon, in addition to stockpiling now-obsolete weapons for decades, had simply lost about $100 billion worth of stuff.

Basically, the U.S. is the Paris Hilton of the world community. It should come as no surprise if we eventually get mugged in some late-night coke sniffing adventure.

Posted by: serial catowner on March 28, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Forget global security, what about our illustrious Department of Homeland Security ("You want fries with that?").

By ERIC LIPTON
Published: March 28, 2006

WASHINGTON, March 27 Undercover Congressional investigators successfully smuggled into the United States enough radioactive material to make two dirty bombs, even after it set off alarms on radiation detectors installed at border checkpoints, a new report says.

Investigators say they were able to smuggle small amounts of radioactive material over the Canadian and Mexican borders, even though they set off detectors like the one above.

The test, conducted in December by the Government Accountability Office, demonstrated the mixed progress by the Department of Homeland Security, among other federal agencies, in trying to prevent terrorists from smuggling radioactive material into the United States.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/28/politics/28radiation.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

Posted by: Jeff II on March 28, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K: Free markets and the rule of law will end poverty anywhere they are given a fair trial.

Even assuming that is true, itpresumes that "free markets and the rule of law" they can be universally applied and "given a fair trial".

Right. It's not the idealogy, but the application and practice in our imperfect world that's the problem... that must be why the U.S. has so many people living below the poverty level. I'm sure Karl Marx would understand your position.

Your assertion is even more fancifal and far-fetched than anything suggested by Morgenstein and Vickland.

Posted by: has407 on March 28, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

has407,

I agree. In fact I have been saying for some time that in a perfect world Socialism, Capitalism, Communism and any number of other isms would work just fine. In the real world, however none of those will work without intervention and some blending.

Posted by: bushburner on March 28, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

The West doesn't "claim" Middle Eastern oil and resources

Oh no?

Larry Wilkerson said that's what almost happened this time:

We had a discussion in policy planning about actually mounting an operation to take the oilfields in the Middle East, internationalize them, put them under some sort of U.N. trusteeship and administer the revenues and the oil accordingly. Thats how serious we thought about it.

Instead we tried Plan B, where former Shell CEO Philip Carroll was brought in prior to the invasion to draw up plans to privatize Iraq's oil companies and open them up to foreign ownership, taking the wealth out of the country and away from the Iraqis. He refused to participate, but U.S. efforts to influence an outcome in this direction were and are ongoing.

And if we're talking just "resources," then the theft of reconstruction contracts where Iraqi comapanies weren't even allowed to bid for the business they'd been doing all along since Halliburton and others were guaranteed the work instead stands as a glaring multi-billion dollar counter example to your nonsense.

And what was the invasion itself but a move to guarantee our claims on access to Iraqi oil reserves and to land for strategic basing? Do you think those billion dollar bases we're building with neighborhoods and restaurants and olympic sized swimming pools are going anywhere?

Uh, no. We've "claimed" that land as ours.

The West does indeed "claim" Middle Eastern oil and resources, whenever it damn well pleases.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 28, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

The West does indeed "claim" Middle Eastern oil and resources, whenever it damn well pleases.

Many Americans think the US should declare war on Iran and nuke them just so we can take their oil. I have read their comments here.

Posted by: Hostile on March 28, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Right. It's not the idealogy, but the application and practice in our imperfect world that's the problem... that must be why the U.S. has so many people living below the poverty level. I'm sure Karl Marx would understand your position."

And millions all over the world would exchange what they have in a nanosecond for the "poverty" level life that the US has so many living.

"Your assertion is even more fancifal and far-fetched than anything suggested by Morgenstein and Vickland."

Thank you. To be considered "fancifal" (sic) by a typical poverty pimp sympathizer is high praise. I don't doubt that there are cultures that have more trouble with rule of law and free markets but most of them haven't tried them. Especially Africa where both have been rooted out by 50 years of do-gooders.

Posted by: Mike K on March 28, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

It also does not take a genius to figure out that if we had put Iraqis to work rebuilding Iraq the insurgency would have had much more of a challenge garnering support. Many more Iraqis would have been working and seeing some benefit and when the insurgency started blowing up mostly fellow countrymen and the fruits of their labors it would have been view differently. But then that wasn't our objective was it.

Posted by: bushburner on March 28, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K,
Is that what you think we have here? Pure capitalism and rule of law? I guess if you don't count the fact that the rich and powerful have less rule and more law on their side. Oh yeah, there is also the even playing field in which the government protects the capitalistic interests of the wealthy disproportionately to those of the poor.

Posted by: bushburner on March 28, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

The vast majority of kilings are Arabs belt bombing each other.

Posted by: Matt on March 28, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K: "Free markets and the rule of law will end poverty anywhere they are given a fair trial."

Mike is not only right, but Mike represents the current opinion of the UN poverty establishment. The concept is all based on the discovery that the poor have an order of magnitude more assets than they are given "bank" credit for, and they do not have access to their capital becase of third world restrictive economic laws.

It is a view point outlined in "Te Mystery of Capital", one of the most popular books and theories among poverty figters everywere. It is the theory that supports micro-loans and small business establishment.


Posted by: Matt on March 28, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Free Markets? Rule of Law? Oxymoron much?

I'd say that Mogadishu represents one of the more pure examples of free markets in existence during the late 20th century.

That sure worked out well, huh?

Posted by: kenga on March 28, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K -- I did not state that "free markets and the rule of law" wasn't among the best alternatives evailable. Nor did I use poverty in the US as an indictment of "free markets and the rule of law".

That "poverty pimping apology" is no more and no less than an example that your assertion "free markets and the rule of law will end poverty anywhere they are given a fair trial" is false and unspported by the facts in the real world, specifically per your counterpoint to " ending poverty on the planet is well beyond our means".

Your assertion may be correct in some hypothetically perfect environment. However, we don't live in that world.

If you think it's possible to create such perfection, then I have to admire your optimism, however ignorant and misplaced it may be. NB: it is the same sin of which you accuse the "do-gooders".

Posted by: has407 on March 28, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

We must isolate and smother an enemy who thrives by delivering empowerment and vengeance to populations drowning in poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization.

The problem you have is that, for many, poverty, social humiliation and political marginalization are consequences of their choices. People who study at madrassas are not going to invent new technologies or otherwise lift their families out of of poverty -- but madrassas are the main educational institutions funded by the Saudis, a completely self-destructive waste of their wealth. Besdies that, there is a murderous faction endemic to Islam (including the senior clergy in Afghanistan, Egypt and Indonesia who actively urge their parishioners to kill all Christian converts.) That murderous faction initiates murder and terror independently of any "humiliations" they suffer.

It just isn't true that all "insurgency" results from injustice and is sustained by victims.

Obviously these few sentences are not the whole truth. We in the US benefit from some extremely productive Moslem scientists and engineers. But worldwide we see evidence in support of Churchill's aphorism that Moslems are either fanatically violent or crushed by passivity. The active, energetic peaceful segment of Islam seems to be slim.

Posted by: republicrat on March 28, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Matt -- Microcredit efforts have yielded some good results, some mixed results, and some not-so-good results. Microcredit is not The Solution, but part of a solution set--as most in that UN establishment (or other participating organizations) will be the first to tell you.

Posted by: has407 on March 28, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

The have a "Center for Conflict Resolution and Mediation." You lefties think Al Queda has signed up for any of those conferences? How about their "Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention." Oh, too bad Saddam didn't take some courses there! The USIP is staffed and run by idealistic bureacrats who write papers and go to conferences and have meetings at the UN. No serious person thinks these people know how to fight terrorism.

Again, here's from the 1940 edition of the U.S. Marine Corps Small Wars Manual:

"In regular warfare, the responsible officers simply strive to attain a method of producing the maximum physical effect with the force at their disposal. In small wars, the goal is to gain decisive results with the least application of force and the consequent minimum loss of life. The end aim is the social, economic, and political development of the people subsequent to the military defeat of the enemy insurgent forces. In small wars, tolerance, sympathy, and kindness should be the keynote of our relationship with the mass of the population."

The "least application of force" for "the minimum loss of life"; the "social, economic and political development of the people"; "tolerance, sympathy and kindness" -- man, that US Marine Corps is really staffed by a bunch of wooly-headed tie-dye wearing peace-loving hippie commies, isn't it? No serious person can think that the Marines know how to fight terrorism....

Posted by: Stefan on March 28, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Energy independence.

Posted by: catherineD on March 28, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Woah ... interesting opportunity to have a lengthy discussion
on a rarity -- something on which we fundamentally disagree.

> "Leson One: This is *not* a poverty issue. We've been saying this
> about the Palestinian refugee camps for years, but the al Qaeda
> ideology is a different animal, attuned to different needs."

> I don't believe this for a second; I've seen the arguments,
> they aren't remotely convincing. Mostly, they seem to ignore
> that issues that are centered around and appeal to poverty and
> disenfranchisement always have a lot of peripheral baggage that
> manifests in different ways, usually have a non-poverty oriented
> ideological aspect, usually attract elites (either do to identity
> motivations or ego motivations), etc. Yes, al-Qaeda doesn't draw
> solely on the poor, but the conditions that allow it to foster are
> the same conditions of poverty and social injustice that foster
> most violent extremists movements, whatever the overt ideology.

First point: this is an original argument. Though I'm extremely
influenced by Ben Barber, this is a product of my own thinking
on the subject, so I don't know which arguments you've seen.

What I want to avoid, Chris, is reductionism. Does poverty and
ignorance play a part by fostering the kind of conditions in
which Osama's ideology finds support? Surely. Is it *motivated*
by these conditions? I would argue no. After all, the Ottoman
Caliphate was hardly a model of equitable wealth distribution.

I'd argue that these conditions play a much more instrumental role
in fostering Palestinian resistance to Israel, or to the popular
support for Ahmadinejad, the Turkish Justice and Development Party
or Hamas. But their sense of economic justice is inseparable from
their sense of Islamic justice; the latter flows from the former.
Thirst for economic justice coexists quite well with extreme gender
inequality, whereas in Western ideologies these things conflate.

In other words: Is Osama's rhetoric functionally equivalent to
20th century revolutionary / anti-imperialist rhetoric? There
are points of similarity, surely. But also vast differences.

> "Lesson Two: Lose all Cold War / WW2 analogies. While radical Islam,
> being quintessentially authoritarian, may have some superficial
> resemblances to Maoism or Fascism, "Islamofascism" is a
> mouthbreathing absurdity. Radical Islamism is *not* a materialist
> ideology. Leninism and Fascism were curdled products of the
> Enlightenment; they demanded at the end of the day to be judged in
> terms cogent to the Enlightenment -- military victory or material
> success. Radical Islamism is inherently anti-modern and
> anti-Enlightenment. We'll *never* delegitimate it by simply
> demonstrating that our system is superior in terms of delivering
> human rights and material prosperity, the way we delegitimated
> Communism and defeated Fascism on the battlefield."

> I don't think either Communism or Fascism is dead today, so I don't
> think we defeated them that way, either (indeed, they seem to have
> mated and produced Neoconservatism); their are Communist and Fascist
> -- though, in the latter case, not with the name -- regimes today.
> We defeated specific organized groups of Communists and Fascists,
> not the ideologies.

Well, this could be an interesting digression, but I don't think we
need to pursue it. Suffice it to say that neither Communism nor
Fascism is anything it like it was in years past; in fact, no party
of either ideology can openly identify itself as such in the West.

My point, I think, stands. The fight against radical Islam cannot
be compared to the fights against those two materialist ideologies.

> "Lesson Three: Radical Islamism is a religious ideology. It
> addresses spiritual needs and a sense of deep aggrievement over
> more-or-less abstract injustice. While analogies to the Black Power
> movement are less brain dead than to, say, Communist peoples'
> movements, they're not quite fully on point. Yes, the sense of
> cultural humiliation is a big part of it, but at the end of the
> day, you deligitimate Black revolutionary activism by granting
> equal rights and addressing poverty and poor education. Once again,
> Enlightenment vs Anti-Enlightenment."

> Most movements born from poverty and injustice have some form of
> religious, ethnic, cultural, etc. identity factor in them -- this is
> as much true of superficially internationalist Communist movements
> (many of which, in practice, had strong racial, ethnic, or national
> features) as of the Black Panthers. But this isn't about the
> Enlightment vs. anti-Enlightment, at root. Sure, the ideological
> conflict can be described that way, but the ideology espoused in
> revolt against the perceived unjust conditions is a symptom, not a
> root cause.

Well, I disagree with you here, Chris. I think it is precisely
about Enlightenment vs anti-Enlightenment, although of course all
these movements share characteristics that in some way resemble a
religious quest for universal justice (the oft-noted observation that
doctrinnaire revolutionary Marxism resembles religion is well-taken).

But Osama and Zawihiri are hardline Salafists -- who not only take
the Koran literally but some of the more extreme hadiths, to the
point where they've revived the old doctrine of takfir, which
contradicts Koranic teaching against rising up against even despotic
leaders to preserve social harmony. They believe that the Koran
and the hadiths contain all the answers to the problems of life,
and roundly condemn "innovation." While the soil in which this
ideology has taken root has been preconditioned by material injustice,
this ideology has at root nothing to do with it. Otherwise, Islamic
peace in despotic regimes would be inconceivable, when indeed that was
the condition of the Islamic caliphate for centuries. Indeed, secular
ideologies which roundly condemn imperialism and social inequity
were tried in many Mideast countries which are now reviving Islamism.

What does Islamism provide that these secular ideologies don't?

> "Lesson Four: Since radical Islamism is a religious ideology, the
> salient analogy is to our own religious radicals. Ask yourselves:
> does the prosperity and democracy of America take the pressure off
> our own Christian fundies?"

> I don't know. I do know the people who exploit those fundies for
> the powerbase do everything in their power to undermine democracy
> and to prevent wide distribution of the benefits of prosperity,
> to maintain a narrow elite and a wide class that is at least
> comparatively very poor, that can perceive injustice and be
> demagogued around that perceived injustice as others are blamed
> for it and identity politics used to motivate them.

Don't confuse the Rovian political manipulation of the fundamentalist
impulse for the benefit of a larger GOP coalition with the
fundamentalist impulse itself. Ask yourself what causes it? A
perception that American culture has gone soft and decadent through
a material prosperity which lulls people into spiritual complacency.
The main point is that greater material prosperity will only
contribute to this perception among the hardcore faithful, even
while it pries even more people away from fundamentalism as
they become more educated and less materially fearful. This is a
paradox which often confuses observers. Prosperity simultaneously
delegitimates fundamentalism even as it makes the remaining
fundamentalists that much more fervent about decadence. That's
why you can say America is becoming more and more secular even as
the fundamentalist movement is simultaneously strengthening. People
are becoming less religious, but of those remaining, they're becoming
fundamentalist at a greater rate than the loss of religious people.

> So, granting that their is a degree of salience in
> the analogy, I don't think it supports your point.

Sure it does. As Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Iran become
more prosperous, more and more of their citizens are pried away from
strict Islam. And as those people are pried away, the remaining
fundamentalists become more strident. That's why you can have
Ahmadinejad elected to re-Islamicize Iran even though he won't
touch Khatamei's social reforms and the bulk of the younger
population ignores Islamic strictures at an increasing rate.

Do these two tendencies synergize and allow the political
exploitation of Islamism by hypocritical elites? Of course.

> To the degree that there is less absolute and relative deprivation,
> I will note that our own fundies are less likely to blow up
> dissenters in their own community -- i.e., there is plenty of
> evidence the difference you point does de-radicalize,
> comparatively, our religious extremists.

You can't make that close a comparison between modern Islam and
Christianity in terms of the tolerance of dissent, of course.
It's sufficient to note that fundamentalist Christianity has
been in resurgence for decades and is stronger now than ever.

> "Lesson Five: Because fundamentalism is threatened by personal
> freedom, promoting democracy in conservative Muslim countries
> has the paradoxical effect of empowering a peoples' movement of
> Islamists who wish to crush human freedom (Hamas in Palestine,
> Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Muslim Brutherhood in Egypt, the
> conservative Shi'ites of Iraq -- all recent ballot box successes)."

> With democracy without prosperity, groups that promise (or have
> demonstrated) the ability to provide enhancements in more basic
> needs (those related to survival and basic security) will be more
> favored than those who offer plans addressed primarily at higher
> level needs (personal freedom, etc.) quite often.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, sure. But don't try to tell a
poor Afghan woman that educating her children is a "higher
need" when the local Islamists come to blow up the school.

> The problem I see with your analysis is you seem to see
> ideology as fundamental and uncaused, and therefore
> something that must be adapted to rather than addressed.

Not uncaused, just at a culturally deeper level than some
of the other proximate causes. Again, economic, political
and status inequalities were rife in the Islamic caliphates,
yet they were internally peaceful and tolerated Christians
and Jews much better than Christians tolerated either.

> "Only when conservative Islam interacts with the modern world (as in
> Iran currently) will the people begin a long and arduous process of
> deciding for themselves that fundamentalist Islam is incompatible
> with human aspirations."

> It is a mistake, in my view, to pretend that conservative Islam
> doesn't generally intaract with the modern world, and that its
> virulent, violent strain isn't largely a product of the condition
> of Muslim societies in that interaction.

Of course; that was poorly stated. I didn't mean to imply that
Iran somehow was the only Islamic country that interacts with
the modern world. What I meant is that Iran already had its
Islamic Revolution and that this may well be a stage through
which Muslim countries have to pass before they realize that
theocratic governments can't deliver the goods. In other words,
what may be needed is for the West to tolerate this cultural
processes. Iran may only be a generation or so away from throwing
out the mullahs and becoming even more of what it already is --
the most socially progressive country in the Muslim Middle East.
I'm arguing that this internal process will found a much stronger,
more stable and more peaceful democracy than *cough* regime change.

> "Lesson Six -- and the most crucial: Only moderate Muslims can
> facilitate the Islamic Enlightenment needed to delegitimate the
> radicals in their midst. It is their struggle, not ours."

> That's certainly, I'd say, true, but only in a rather narrow sense:
> because of the role that religious identity has, only more moderate
> Muslims can proximately articulate an alternative interpretation on
> how to interpret that identity to that presented by the extremists.
> So, yes, they have an essential and indispensable role in solving
> the problem.

*nod*

> At the same time, though, it is not exclusively their struggle,
> and they can't solve it alone. Because the objective conditions
> and environment will affect which ideas win out, and as long as
> the conditions which have fostered extremism persist, the deck
> is stacked against the moderates. And we do have a capacity
> to affect those conditions. And, given as how we're often the
> target of the extremists, its definitely our struggle, as well.

Okay, fair points. But understand (and certainly you do) that the
quality of our struggle with them will have an enormous effect on
the outcome. "Building democracy" with a sledgehammer will more
likely create the same sort of siege mentality that I'd argue
the Christian right felt in the Clinton years than engaging them
diplomatically in an international law enforcement struggle that
is truly common cause. Otherwise, we trigger the Ummah mentality.

> "Lesson Seven -- the conclusion: We do all in our power in the West
> to empower the moderates. When Clinton was president, the religious
> right felt out of power. It was thus less inclined to rein in the
> abortion clinic bombers and white supremecists (Rudolph, McVeigh,
> the Army of God) who operated in their shadow. After Bush became
> elected and the Christian right felt less hard-pressed, we're
> seeing much less domestic terrorism from those groups. Why? Because
> the more mainstream leaders of the Christian right felt comfortable
> enough now to lay the smackdown on the radicals and make it clear
> to them in no uncertain terms that they wouldn't be providing them
> cover anymore."

> Oh, bull. Where is the evidence of this smackdown? Heck,
> where is the evidence that they aren't providing them cover?

Well Chris, I was online in the mid-90s on a national BBS. I certainly
remember the fallout from GHWB's "New World Order" (black helicopters
and all that), the militia movement (often on the nightly news), the
Randy Weaver and David Koresh debacles, the McVeigh revenge action,
the so-called "common law" movement, the Army of God, Operation Rescue
(and its barely concealed support for abortion clinic bombers), short
wave white supremecist radio, Deep South black church burnings, etc.

I'm not saying this stuff has disappeared; a lot of it has simply
gone underground (as any visit to the SPLC website can attest).
But when was the last time you heard of an abortion clinic bombing?
Or domestic terrorism at all, if you don't include either the
unsolved anthrax case or the Muhammad/Malvo sniper rampage?

> Look, with such a small number of successful attacks, large apparent
> swings are produced just by chance. There certainly have been lots
> of cases (though poorly reported) of attempted terrorism by these
> groups under Bush, and, given the targetting, its not entirely
> inconceivable that the anthrax attacks were from such a group."

True, but I cited a preponderance of activities that you could
loosely describe as being part of an American radical right. *All*
of them used to be a lot more visible than they are now. Of course,
I think the most important factor that let the air out of their tires
was the OKC bombing, which I think disgusted many militia types.

> Further, even granting, arguendo that there is a notable downturn
> in active violence by these groups, I don't think the smackdown
> argument holds water -- I just think that, seeing those sharing
> their movement identity in charge of the government, they've
> taken a momentary pause because they see the opportunity to
> acheive their goals by less personally risky means.

Well to be honest I'm making an inference; I have no concrete
evidence of any hard words by Christian leaders to Randall
Terry, et al. I don't think the radicals themselves would care
all that much who's in charge of the satanic FedGov. I do think,
though, that it's not considered cool anymore to be a militia
member -- especially now that the assault rifle ban has lapsed.
Nor do I think that sympathy for Koreash or Weaver cuts much
popular ice in the wake of McVeigh's atrocity. As for the "common
law" zanies, they seem to have morphed into that anti-judge nut
outfit as of late, I'm not sure. And it might very well be that
right wingers just in general feel less shut out of power today.

But granted, that was only a surmise.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 28, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely and rmck1,

I'll add just a little. When the Christian convert of Afghanistan went into hiding, senior Islamic clerics marched in public saying that it was Moslem duty to hunt him down and kill him. Senior Moslem clergy in Denmark are in favor of killing the cartoonists. Senior Islamic clergy ordered the fatwa on Salmon Rushdie. Senior Islamic clergy have publicly supported the hits on Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Not just isolated "senior Moslem clergy", but senior Moslem clergy in large numbers in almost all nations. This is entirely about attempting to attain Islamic dominance, not about poverty or humiliation.

The analogy to those Christians who support the bombing of abortion clinics and murder of abortion doctors is apt, I think. But it also shows the difference in scale. The closest analogies in Christian history would seem to be the French destruction of the Hueguenots, or the 30 Years' War.

Posted by: republicrat on March 28, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK
What I want to avoid, Chris, is reductionism. Does poverty and ignorance play a part by fostering the kind of conditions in which Osama's ideology finds support? Surely. Is it *motivated* by these conditions? I would argue no.

I would agree that Osama's beliefs and choice of ideology, transparently, cannot be motivated by poverty. Nor do I disagree with you that that kind of that narrow religious ideology itself is not a product of poverty and perceived inequity, only the latching on to it is a product of the combination of that and ethnic and broader religious (i.e., Muslim) identity politics.

After all, the Ottoman Caliphate was hardly a model of equitable wealth distribution.

That's true, but while there were, as I understand, ethnic aspects to the inequities, the religious aspects were different.

What does Islamism provide that these secular ideologies don't?

The promise of a reward even if material justice is never gained and, relevant to material prospects, the comforting reassurance that God Is On Your Side.

(Marxism's claims to historical inevitability served a similar purpose to the latter, but it naturally couldn't offer anything parallel to the former. Secular radical ideologies have an inherent disadvantage in that respect.)

And, beyond that, it corresponds well with the perceived inequities between Muslims, Israel (=, perceptually at least, "Jews"), and the broader ("Christian") West, with a lot of the hated leaders within the Arab/Muslim world identified as associated with (and corrupted by) the West.


Don't confuse the Rovian political manipulation of the fundamentalist
impulse for the benefit of a larger GOP coalition with the fundamentalist impulse itself. Ask yourself what causes it?

I'm not asking "what causes it?" because I don't think that the question of what produces the meme is nearly as important as what conditions cause the meme to thrive and spread.

A perception that American culture has gone soft and decadent through a material prosperity which lulls people into spiritual complacency.

But, see, I don't think that's what causes that meme to spread and thrive. I think its the fact that that perception gives those who feel they are not sharing as they should in that prosperity a sense of justification -- that it is not prosperity per se but relative deprivation that fuels the spread of fundamentalism.

Sure it does. As Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Iran become more prosperous, more and more of their citizens are pried away from strict Islam. And as those people are pried away, the remaining fundamentalists become more strident.

I think that relative deprivation is key here, too -- as Saudi Arabia has become "more prosperous", that prosperity has been fairly narrowly distributed. That those who are disproportionately sharing in that prosperity are also disproportionately abandoning strict Islam certainly, I think, makes the remain strict Islamists more radicalized -- not because they, by and large, feel Islam is threatened (though certainly some do), but rather simply because they are receptive to ideologies which suggest that their suffering in the context of the wealth that is in the society is a product of the apostasy of the wealthy, and radical Islamism of the type embraced by al-Qaeda fits that well.

That's why you can have Ahmadinejad elected to re-Islamicize Iran even though he won't touch Khatamei's social reforms and the bulk of the younger population ignores Islamic strictures at an increasing rate.

I don't think Ahmadinejad can fairly be said to be "elected to re-Islamicize Iran"; the more liberal opposition had been systematically excluded from election.

Ahmadinejad was essentially chosen by the Guardian Council, and done so to play identity politics to shore up their particular powerbase, and largely the conditions that make that work at all are, I'd say, the US threatening stance from the "axis of evil" speech on, more than anything particular to Islamic ideology.

There's a lot here. I'll try to get to more of it later.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 28, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

That's what I told anybody who would listen three years ago.

Posted by: whynotnow on March 28, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

McA: "Russian not in Iraq war..." Russia has their own Iraq war of sorts in Chechnya.

Posted by: bushburner on March 28, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Yup, but that's a domestic war on what is recognized Russian soil by international law.
Proving a point, if you don't fight them overseas they fight you at home.

Islam is at war with everyone. It just looks for pretexts.

Muslim rights in India, China and Russia, Muslim migrant poverty in France, reclaiming Andalusia in Spain, accuses everyone of propping up dictators by buying oil...

Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

What is terrorism? That term sure is getting tossed around a lot.

Maybe our right-wing friends can help sort out the following.

Iraqi faction blows up a school built by the US-Backed regime and execute the principal in front of the pupils.

Terrorism or freedom fighters?

US-backed Taliban blow up a school built by the Soviet-Backed regime and execute the principal in front of the pupils.

Terrorism or freedom fighters?

Iraqi resistance movement blows up a police station created and manned by the US installed government.

Terrorism or Freedom Fighters?

WWII French resistance movement blows up a police station created and manned by the Vichy government.

Terrorism or Freedom Fighters?

Osama Bin Laden masterminds bombing of US Embassy in Naroibi

Terrorism or Freedom Fighter?

Menachim Begin masterminds bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

Terrorist or freedom fighter?

US armed Nicaraguan Contras blow up schools and hospitals built by the government.

Terrorism or Freedom Fighters?

A bomb thrown from a bus kills 20 civilians.

Terrorism?

A bomb thrown from a jet fighter kills 20 civilians.

Terrorism?

Ponder a bit.

Posted by: Buford on March 28, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

This was easy. But regardless of what is what, the other side responds. Its called self-defence.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

McA:
Rather than taking up half of the comment space here, why don't you get your own blog? And if we're interested in what you want to say, we'll read it. Or, to put it another way: if you've posted five times in a row, odds are you're far more interested in reading what you write than anybody else is.

Posted by: Rick on March 28, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, you read it. And I'm trying to confront people in the secular socialist bubble.

Its easier to come here than to set up a fake socialist site.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

The West does indeed "claim" Middle Eastern oil and resources, whenever it damn well pleases.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 28, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Just because Westerners get oil contracts doesn't mean they get the profits from the oil.

No offence and post-war no Iraqi companies existed for that kinda of oil work. Or if they did, they were State Owned companies staffed with former regime loyalists.

That's like saying China owns the US because they
make your toys and electronics.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Getting back in late, here: I would quibble with Bob that Communism and Fascism were twisted products of the enlightenment; Fascism was a twisted product of Romanticism, and thus in an important sense a reaction against the Enlightenment. And that makes it to some extent more comparable to radical political Islamism than you think. It wouldn't be ridiculous to run through a comparison between the Taliban regime or theocratic Iran and, say, Franco's Spain. One would obviously find a lot of differences, but it would be an interesting comparison, anyway.

Though actually, it might be more logical to compare Saudi Arabia to Franco's Spain, since the bishops didn't actually hold political office in Spain. So then the "Islamofascism" label starts to apply to countries which its proponents don't intend as the primary targets.

Anyway, I'm not sure how to make a cogent argument for this position, but my thinking on this question has been influenced by reading Mike Davis's new book "Planet of Slums", and he convinced me not with an argument, but with a metaphor, or more like a diorama. The book is about the fact that worldwide, slums are growing much faster than cities as a whole, and cities are growing much faster than countrysides; a billion people now live in slums and it goes up by 25 million a year. In the final chapter, Davis describes Sadr City in the framework of slum growth that he's already established for the rest of the world's slums. Davis is of course the great dystopic bard of Los Angeles, and you realize pretty quickly that his vision of Baghdad is like a variation on his take on LA: the Green Zone as the gated communities of the rich, Sadr City as South Central, Apaches as police helicopters and Bradley fighting vehicles as police cruisers, vicious and increasing economic inequality driving effective sociopolitical apartheid and a state of basically permanent low-intensity warfare in the slums, contained by constant police action.

In this vision, Islamist radicalism and terrorism may be malaria, but the slums are the swamp. You want to stop malaria, sure, you develop antimalarial drugs; but the falciparum mutates all the time and you're never going to beat it with drugs alone. The main thing, as with fighting insurgencies, and we've heard this from counterinsurgency experts for 50 years now, is to drain the swamp.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 28, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

What a lot of wasted words in this thread! It amazes me to read both sides of the political spectrum pontificate on the motivations of radical Islamists. Why dont you simply look at the words of Osama bin Laden himself? Osama has been very candid about when the idea to bring down the World Trade Center towers occurred to him:

And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon [in 1982], it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.

The truth, as always my friends, is hidden in plain view.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 28, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why dont you simply look at the words of Osama bin Laden himself?

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 28, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

He blames the US for allowing/helping the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. But why not blame the Syrians or the Israeli's?

Oh, because the Israeli's have sharper teeth and less bullshit tolerence.

He's also the guy who talks about following the strong horse as opposed to the weak horse - when you look at speeches to his followers and not his propaganda for the Western media.

Does running look like a strong horse? Does saying sorry and handing cash over?

That's tribute for a movement mired in the 'might is right' mentality.

Posted by: McA on March 28, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

is to drain the swamp.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 28, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

But what is draining the swamp? Using the LA metaphor is it:

-a tough approach to law and order
including outside force (Federal action / peacekeeping by foreign nations)

-handouts (welfare, foreign aid)

Posted by: Mca on March 28, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

McA,
Cuba certainly is floundering (40 plus years of embargo certainly haven't helped), but a continuation under Batista would likely have helped them compete for last place in the Caribbean with Haiti. There's scant evidence that Batista was less corrupt or less brutal than Papa Doc Duvalier. The record of corruption and brutality of US backed tinpot dictators on over the last hundred years is consistantly bad. Even when these are overthrown or even peacefully transformed into democracies the resultant country has a hollowed out infrastructure that takes decades to rebuild while racking up enormous foreign debt before economic recovery can get off the ground. Compare that to the communist dictatorships of central europe which for all their brutality managed to leave behind an educated populace and a servicable (though decrepit) infrastructure.
The only communist dictatorship that did worse was in Cambodia where wholesale slaughter and the systematic dismantaling of the infrastructure occurred and accomplished in a few scant years more damage than any US backed dictator has even with decades of corruption and neglect.

Posted by: joe on March 29, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

I believe post-war Eastern Europe has to be benchmarked against the rest of Europe - because they were reconstructed. Certainly East vs West Germany is a fair test and an illustrative one.
Along with North vs South Korea.

In any region, the crazy dictators did bad but the Communist/Sociallist ones sucked more. There are plenty of African, Latin american states that had Communism. Some of which set the stage for brutal Facism.

Its more to do with the vulnerability of the command economy to corruption than the ethics of wealth transfer or US vs USSR, but its true.

Posted by: McA on March 29, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

I like that particular paragraph, and these two guys' clarity of thought, and much of their ideas in the op/ed, but I'm going to have to give some deeper consideration to the notion of a "global counter-insurgency". If that's what the military needs to really put their arms around this, in terms of developing strategy, that's one thing, but it can't be a military objective, or effort, primarily.

Posted by: Jimm on March 29, 2006 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

-a tough approach to law and order

How does a tough approach to law and order eliminate a slum? By killing everyone in it?

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 29, 2006 at 5:21 AM | PERMALINK

Moslems are either fanatically violent or crushed by passivity. The active, energetic peaceful segment of Islam seems to be slim.

First of all, this kind of negative generalization about over a billion human beings is unacceptable.
Secondly, it's also untrue. The Texas murder rate is seven times that of Jordan, for example.

Posted by: No Preference on March 29, 2006 at 7:05 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, you read it. And I'm trying to confront people in the secular socialist bubble.

Yeah, and you're doing such a fine job!

We all think you're brainless twit with no self-awareness and no shame.

Keep up the good work, Fuckwit.

Posted by: YELLOW in front, BROWN in back on March 29, 2006 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

At the very high level of generality of Morgenstein and Vickland, it's hard to disagree with anything that they've written. Indeed, what they are writing is very similar to the stuff coming out of the military and state department and in broad contours is the policy that the US is pursuing in Iraq. Successful battles against insurgents -like the British fight in Malaya - take a LONG time and require lots of attention to politics and development and to building up local governments and local police/military forces. Anyone who thinks there's a magic pill needs to think again. Anyone who thinks victory is impossible needs to think again.

Posted by: DBL on March 29, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Dear friend McA, thank you for alluding to the fact that colonialism was the engine of social progress in its day. Also of material and economic progress. Also, "progress" is not a dirty word coined by Europeans to excuse away their crimes.

Even the Mongols advanced progress by subduing a lot of squabbling, extortionist small states, fortified cities, and local warlords in order to create an empire such that adventurers could travel from Italy to China along a more-or-less secure trade route.

The British famously unified a horrendously chaotic collection of cultures and local warlords called India, then introduced railroads, the telegraph, some cash crops, and a modern, technological language (English) that Indians could actually use to communicate with each other. When the Indians thereby became strong enough that they no longer needed the British, out they kicked them, just as the U.S.A. had done 170 years previously. And don't you know, caste-cursed India never had racism before the English showed up?

A strong case can be made that most empires are never all that profitable. Rome and Spain are the exceptions to that rule, but an obsession with sucking all profits to the center tends to morally destroy the center and decrease the competitive industriousness of all social strata of the Empire's leading citizens.

One huge intellectual meltdown of our day has been the universal academic snob insistence on lionizing E.M. Forster as the elite, unassailable moral authority on colonialism, while scathingly deriding (worse, forgetting) Rudyard Kipling's voluminous cultural insights and vast contemporary literary impact. Is Kipling "simple" in his observations and interpretations of the East-West interactions. Is he "racist?" I don't think so at all. I think that those intellectual establishments that don't read their Kipling are plunging into their own self-created Heart of Darkness.

As worthy of reading as either Forster or Kipling, however, is C.S. Forrester, who in an exciting, popular-interest kind of adventure novel style actually gives extraordinarily perceptive insight into what made the great maritime empires of the 15th to the 20th centuries, which was, first and foremost, good seamanship.

The most difficult types of seamanship were the whalers, the other long-range fishermen, and the ocean warriers, from pirates to main fleet shoot-outs. Kipling's "Captains Courageous" details for the would-be intellectual exactly how the Puritan Work Ethic and middle-class traditional values created the latest peoples who went down to the sea in ships prepared to go on the craziest adventures.

Perhaps Iraq has been a crazy adventure. I see today that Bush is miffed at Prime Minister al-Jaafari for criticizing the Sunday raid on gangster cleric al-Sadr's band of kidnappers-for-profit. The Iraqi P.M. was probably just making pro-forma objections to the Sunday raid in order to cover his ass to his right, but he went a bit too far.

At any rate, the U.S.A. will still be on the way out this summer, evicting the Democrats from their game plan of simply bitching against Bush without having to formulate EXACTLY what they would do in the future(instead of the corrupt, lazy tactic of merely claiming that they would have done everything differently and much better in the past.)

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 29, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

As worthy of reading as either Forster or Kipling, however, is C.S. Forrester, who in an exciting, popular-interest kind of adventure novel style actually gives extraordinarily perceptive insight into what made the great maritime empires of the 15th to the 20th centuries, which was, first and foremost, good seamanship.

Yes, there's nothing like good seamen.

Posted by: Stefan on March 29, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK
We have to convince those who passively support the insurgency that we are not their enemy. Unfortunately, our current strategy overemphasizing military force drives undecided millions into the insurgents' arms. Not only are we fighting the war wrong, we are fighting the wrong war.
According to Barnett's Blueprint for Action, and Pentagon's New Map and Fukuyama's The End of History, we are their enemies because they aren't integrated fully into the globalized economy. The NonIntegratedGap (what N word starts with nig?) is the name for this group of predominantly dark skinned nations. The current war is one where we forcibly coerce the remaining countries of the world to join the globalized economy on our terms. To many people, be they rioters in Seattle, or residents of Bagdad, joining the global economy with all its outsourcing and offshoring, is a fate worse than death.

The false premise that Morganstein and Vickland won't question is: is it our duty to destroy the economy of every country in the world?

...populations drowning in poverty, social humiliation, and political marginalization...
As a country, we refuse to solve those problems for the darkies of New Orleans. Why should anyone believe that we're going to do it for foreign darkies? And if we are going to try to solve it for foreigners, why won't we first solve it for Americans? Posted by: Peter on March 29, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Nah, I was in a war that was truly fought "wrong" from every consideration of tactics, strategy, or considering the adverse political effects of excess collateral human damage because the military approach was all wrong.

That war was called Vietnam. Democrats tend to think Iraq is Vietnam. Actually, from the get-go the Iraq intervention was pursued and achieved with a remarkable economy of military force. Further, we haven't killed a thousandth of the Iraqis trying to save them as we did the Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians.

Further, whether or not al Qaeda ever staged any terrorist activity from Iraq pre-9/11, they are indisputably there now. They flock to Iraq like moths to a candle, because that's where the Americans are. We can't leave because Iraq is where today's terrorist comes out to fight, which is our chance to kill them.

Today's news from Iraq was a bit disappointing in that kidnapping-for-profit still seems to be a major way that Shia militias finance themselves. In a way this is a good sign, because it shows they aren't getting Iraqi government money through back channels.

They are, in fact, competing with the Baghdad government, but kidnapping citizens off the streets is not really the way to win the hearts and minds of the people. My guess is that the elected Iraqi government will quash all these militias, but it has to do so carefully as driving them into real cooperation with each other would be bad.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 29, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Nah, I was in a war that was truly fought "wrong" from every consideration of tactics, strategy, or considering the adverse political effects of excess collateral human damage because the military approach was all wrong.

That war was called Vietnam. Democrats tend to think Iraq is Vietnam. Actually, from the get-go the Iraq intervention was pursued and achieved with a remarkable economy of military force. Further, we haven't killed a thousandth of the Iraqis trying to save them as we did the Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians.

Further, whether or not al Qaeda ever staged any terrorist activity from Iraq pre-9/11, they are indisputably there now. They flock to Iraq like moths to a candle, because that's where the Americans are. We can't leave because Iraq is where today's terrorist comes out to fight, which is our chance to kill them.

Today's news from Iraq was a bit disappointing in that kidnapping-for-profit still seems to be a major way that Shia militias finance themselves. In a way this is a good sign, because it shows they aren't getting Iraqi government money through back channels.

They are, in fact, competing with the Baghdad government, but kidnapping citizens off the streets is not really the way to win the hearts and minds of the people. My guess is that the elected Iraqi government will quash all these militias, but it has to do so carefully as driving them into real cooperation with each other would be bad.

This globalization thing brings out all kinds of conflicting emotions in me. I believe any nation is insane if it does not protect its own core of agricultural producers. You can replace technology and industrial imports if the rest of the world inconveniently ceases to supply you with them, but if you depend totally on the rest of the world to feed your nation you are begging for trouble. Any type of world catastrophe or political disruption will bring on famine.

Britain and Japan particularly have always had to consider what they will do if Australia and Canada are not available to grow their grain. In fact, there are more acres of land in Montana alonedevoted to feeding Japan than there is farmland in Japan. In a sane world, all the oil from the North Slope of Alaska or ANWAR would go directly to nearby Japan. In fact, once you get past all the fancy camouflage of oil trade deals, that may be what happens.

We will know that global warming has really changed the Arctic if the Russians are able to build an oil port in Northern Siberia and load supertankers to cruise the Polar Route (as the 747's fly) straight to Europe. I believe Exxon tried this from the North Slope back in the 1970's and the ship made it through, but the ice put too much damage on the tanker to do it regularly.

Today, that problem is supposed to be much ameliorated, so why don't we see supertankers trying it?

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on March 29, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK
Posted by: craigie on March 30, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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