Apologists for Islam

Since I posted Dan Simmons’s
Message From The Future
, I’ve had a couple of Muslims show up on this
blog protesting that I’ve got it all wrong, that Islam is a peaceful
and tolerant religion and Islamic terror is an aberration not sanctioned
by the Koran.

Here’s a challenge to all you apologists for Islam: stand up in
your mosque and declaim, loudly, that religious violence is an
abomination against Allah — that those who use terror in a
program to restore the Caliphate, those who would execute ex-Muslims
who convert to any other religion, those who would condone ‘honor
killing’, and those who incite hatred against Jews and other Peoples
of the Book have fallen from the Narrow Way and will burn in hell with
the sons of Iblis.

If you are unwilling to do this for religious reasons, or fear to
do it because of the reaction of your fellow Muslims, then shut the
fuck up
about your so-called ‘religion of peace’, because you
are a liar and a hypocrite.

That is all.

395 thoughts on “Apologists for Islam

  1. > incite hatred against Jews and other Peoples of the Book

    I would include non-Peoples of the Book in that declaration – I believe the “Peoples of the Book” stems from the Koran saying these people can be allowed to live as dhimmis under Muslim theocratic rule. So, people not of the book, I’m left to assume, can not be allowed to live at all.

  2. A thought occurred to me while talking to a Vietnamese immigrant some time back. I asked her about the perception of the United States in Vietnam. Oddly enough, 30 years after a war of terrible destruction and loss of life, and total collapse of the South Vietnamese government (after having been defunded by a Democratic congress, of course), Vietnamese have an overwhelmingly positive view of the United States.

    This is a country that we fought a proxy war against communism which lasted over ten years and killed more than a million people.

    Have you ever heard of a Vietnamese suicide bomber? Vietnamese terrorist? Huh? What’s that? Not one? But, but….poverty and the imperialistic practices of the United States create terrorism!

    Theorem 1:
    Poverty and aggression by the United States are not sufficient to create terrorism.

    Proof:
    Vietnam. Q.E.D.

    Alternate proofs:

    Mexico. Grenada. Japan. Germany. Italy. Korea.

  3. Sir George Bernard Shaw in ‘The Genuine Islam,’ Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936.

    “If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam.”

    “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity.”

    “I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”

  4. Hypocrisy, it seems, has become an epistemological veil for those who have never faced a life and death fight – political, spiritual or physical. The best those of this strip can invoke is Rodney King’s nostrum “Can we get along here? Can we all get along?” I don’t know if this has always been the case, but the blogsphere is certainly bringing it into sharp relief.

    Another example, from the flip side of the “Apologists for Islam” coin, are the anti-American faux-news efforts from MSM. Most notable NBC’s plan to put Muslim-looking “ringers” in the crowd at a NASCAR event in an effort to provoke anti-Muslim sound bites. A challenge similar to ESR’s came from a reader (Eric Hall) of Instapundit.com: “Dateline NBC ought to take some Christian-looking people to Riyadh and see how things work out. Don’t forget the bikini-clad sister.”

  5. ESR: “Here’s a challenge to all you apologists for Islam: stand up in your mosque and declaim, loudly, that religious violence is an abomination against Allah — that those who use terror in a program to restore the Caliphate, those who would execute ex-Muslims who convert to any other religion, those who would condone ‘honor killing’, and those who incite hatred against Jews and other Peoples of the Book have fallen from the Narrow Way and will burn in hell with the sons of Iblis.”

    Many non-extremist Muslims have already said this in mosques and elsewhere. I find ESR very biased against Islam. I live in Pakistan and I don’t know of any of my family or friends who would have any hesitation in saying all of the above IN PUBLIC. And that stands true for most of the educated class. ESR, you should get some Muslim friends. Believe me, we aren’t that different. And stop stereotyping us.

    As for the fictional story by Dan Simmon, most Muslim states or people have no reason or military power to wage a (century) war against “the West”. Do you actually believe that Muslims will actually unite against the rest of the world? If anything, petty terrorist attacks will continue and the US will wage “preemptive wars” against regimes it wants to replace by using them as an excuse. And the cycle with continue.

    I won’t defend Islam or any religion for that matter. A religion is what the believer wants it to be. While some may find a calling to violence in holy verses, others simply find spiritual peace in them.

  6. In reply to diablovision:
    Vietnamese don’t think they are under threat, culturally or otherwise by the West. While some Muslims see the influence of Western culture in their youth and their military power as foretold signs of the apocalypse.

  7. HJ,

    I’m imagining how ESR might respond to your statement that Muslims are peaceful.

    Does your religion contain scriptures advocating violence against non-believers?
    Do terrorists follow those scriptures when they commit their violent acts?
    Do you believe, if your religion is truly inspired by a god or the god, that you can merely ignore the parts of your religion that you don’t like?

    I personally don’t know much about Islam. I come from a fanatical (but non-violent) Christian background. My questions were not sarcastic; I really want to know.

  8. Eric is right. Islam fucking sucks! Eric, write something about the Mohammed cartoons! On how stupid some moslims were.

  9. I would on whole agree with ESR on this. However, I would note that Islams attitude to people not of the book (Hindus, Buddhists, etc) is even less generous.

  10. HJ “I find ESR very biased against Islam.”

    I won’t speak for ESR, but I will speak for myself. I am “biased” against all organized religion, including Islam. Unlike other major organized religions, Islam is actually trying to live up to its precepts right now. Which means subjugating or killing non-believers.

    If muslims are standing up all over and speaking against the extremists, show me the record. The media, considering its views, would be trumpeting it from the rooftops, but they aren’t. The reality is that a very small and isolated number of muslims have spoken out against the violence. The vast majority have said nothing. There have been no large protests, no defections from the mainstream of Islam because of this, none of the indications that the majority of muslims oppose the violence and extremists views. I can point you to any number of stories of muslims demonstrating in support of 9/11, though. Those actions, that observed pattern, speaks much louder than your words.

  11. > While some Muslims see the influence of Western culture in their youth and their military power as foretold signs of the apocalypse.

    Boobies are signs of the apocalypse?

    Wowsers.

  12. Eric Cowperthwaite,
    Try to keep in mind that for a Muslim to speak out against violent extremists is DANGEROUS, as in they’ll kill you. Such a person gets no help from the Western intellectual elite, who share many of the extremists goals (Al-Qaeda and the Left both want the US driven from Iraq). Bush would not exact bloody vengeance for the murder of someone like Hirsi Ali, because Islam is a ‘religion of peace.’

    From the perspective of a rational, ordinary Muslim, how can denouncing Al-Qaeda be considered a smart move? They’ll just kill you and NO ONE will avenge you, or defend you, or even denounce (seriously) your murderers. The only reason to pursue such an irrational course is because you believe God wants you to. Yet based on my understanding of the Koran, there is no indication Allah wants his worshippers to follow Voltaire (‘I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’).

    Standing up for tolerance may be the right thing to do from our perspective, but I think that the average Muslim would consider it just stupid. Can you muster any RATIONAL argument for why it is not?

  13. Who’s speaking out against Christian fundamentalists? I don’t hear much talk about that in the mainstream press. Could it be that those same Christians own much of the mainstream media. There is enough hypocrisy to go around. Pure nonsense. Were the Holy Crusades non violent? The Pope blessed the weapons used by Mussolini to massacre countless Ethiopians.

  14. I stuck with “People of the Book” because there is at least some tenuous support within Islamic tradition for treating them with respect. If a Muslim can’t even bring himself to demand an end to violent bigotry against “People of the Book”, how he’ll treat Hindus and Buddhists and neopagans like myself is locked in — as khufrs to be put to the sword.

    >Try to keep in mind that for a Muslim to speak out against violent extremists is DANGEROUS, as in they’ll kill you.

    And why do ‘moderates’ tolerate this state of affairs rather than rising up and expelling the extremists? It’s because in Islamic terms, the violent crazies have the best arguments. It is not possible to oppose them and be Koranically correct, and everyone (including most of the ‘moderates’) knows this.

    As for George Bernard Shaw praising Mohammed, the man praised Stalin too. He was a socialist, which tells you everything you need to know about his willingness to shill for tyrants.

  15. >Who’s speaking out against Christian fundamentalists?

    Me, for starters. One of my continuing themes on this blog is that many Westerners avert their eyes from the evil at the heart of Islam because to really confront it would require noticing that the same evil lurks at the heart of Christianity — and all other chiliastic monotheisms, for that matter.

    In any case, “Christians have behaved badly” is not a free pass for Muslims to behave badly.

  16. One argument for why they should stand up for tolerance is because if Islam does not learn to make nice we will kill them all, and then there will be no more Muslims. But who’s gonna do it? Bush? Spain? Israel? Who among them could muster the necessary ruthlessness to push the nuclear button and commit genocide, given the firestorm of recrimination and guilt that would follow?

    When we ask Muslims to adapt our ways, to become liberal and secular and compassionate toward the Other, keep in mind that they can see clearly where those values have led us, and they do not want to join us. Yes, we are prosperous. Yes, we are free. But our elites are a bunch of smug, spineless, self-hating toadies to any and every dictator they can find.

    We face an existential threat to our civilization and our very lives, and no one in our leadership class can bring himself to name it, let alone fight seriously. Why would the Muslims want to be like us? When they look at us, they see a people who have pursued individual choice and material prosperity to their logical conclusions, and while they have reason to fear our wizard-weapons, they have no fear of US.

    Bin Laden believes that we are the weak horse, with brilliant technology and no heart, no spine. When you look at the rhetoric of our leaders, our spokespeople, and how desperate so many of them are to surrender, can you blame him?

  17. Dean, that doesn’t change anything in practical terms. Anymore than it made any practical difference whether the average German didn’t oppose Hitler due to fear or because he supported the Nazi’s. Aside from that, my observation is that most practicing muslims probably don’t have any objection to Islam “winning”, they just aren’t committed to fighting actively for it.

    AG, plenty of folks speak out against and condemn Christian fundamentalists on a continuous basis in the West. Christian fundamentalists DO NOT own the media, that line is nothing more than a twisting of the “Elders of Zion” garbage. All that said, Christians are not flying planes into buildings, fighting a major guerrilla war to retain power, or preaching the violent restoration of the Holy Roman Empire. Your other points are just as silly and diversionary.

  18. esr,
    >in Islamic terms, the violent crazies have the best arguments.

    That is undoubtedly true. But the world being what it is right now, the violent crazies have the best rational arguments, too. Observe how the world cow-tows to the Islamo-nut jobs, and the Danish cartoonists must live in hiding.

    When you are fighting cowards, it pays to be scary. And beheading people makes your enemies pay attention and fear you.

  19. Eric Cowperthwaite

    Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit fame, likes to point out that if the Christians wanted to be taken more seriously by the Western elites, the best thing they could do would be to START flying airplanes into buildings and beheading people. I doubt he will be the last one to notice that.

  20. esr has stated previously that he has read the Qur’an and studied Islam for some time, and he indeed seems knowledgeable. A few years ago, in an effort to understand “the enemy” better, I also started studying these things. I shortly gave up. I quickly realized it doesn’t matter what the religious texts profess. Whether they support or contradict the behavior of extremists or the broad population of practicing Muslims, makes no practical difference. What matters is the behavior itself. While few of the billion+plus Muslims are active terrorists, the overwhelming majority are virtually monolithic in (at least) their silent acceptance, if not their outright support (usually silent also).

    Mybe Islam IS the enemy, but the word can’t kill me. It’s the person who follows the word (or convolutes its meaning; it makes no difference to me) that is the real danger. So, I will not argue about what the Qur’an says|doesn’t say or what it means|doesn’t mean. I will simply observe and recount behavior.

  21. According to Eric Hoffer, one reason why the evil that men do lives after them lives after them is that we naturally tend to imitate those we hate, as they seem more formidable in our minds than those we love.

    It made more sense to be a Western atheist in the 20th century, which was a secular era dominated by the threat of Communism. We are embarking on a religious era, where supernatural beliefs (and the actions which follow from them) are the most important issues of the day.

    I suspect there will be a whole lot fewer atheists in 50 years than there are now. In the new century, if you have nothing interesting to say about religious matters, it will become ever increasingly difficult to be heard at all.

  22. “I suspect there will be a whole lot fewer atheists in 50 years than there are now. In the new century, if you have nothing interesting to say about religious matters, it will become ever increasingly difficult to be heard at all.”

    I doubt it. I think the second half of the 20th century supplied a secular, humanistic, and frankly atheistic replacement for the philosophical underpinnings of libertarianism and conservatism. Both the left and right ends of the political spectrum can be fully formed and argue convincingly without the need for religion. It’s my hope, as I suspect it is for most people like ESR, that religion can be drained from the mass consciousness and people can actually argue on a rational basis.

    There is a rise of a new modernism coming from the ashes of post modernism, where all of the setbacks of the early twentieth century have been acknowledged and integrated with more sophisticated technology and mathematics. Postmodernism and deconstructionism are powerless; and Christian fundementalism is unnecessary to sustaining the new modernism.

    Islam will face a major reformation in the next half century. It will mature psychologically or the west will have no choice but to destroy it utterly. That is, if we have the guts.

  23. Dean, “being an atheist” _is_ an interesting thing to say about religious matters. Actively believing that god doesn’t exist (or that the question doesn’t make any sense) is a religious belief, an important one at that, and one that sparks as many interesting questions as any theistic religion.

  24. HJ,
    You guys still sacrifice?
    Do you eat the animals afterword?

    Having spent the night in Muzdalifah, the pilgrims now go back to Mina. It is now the 10th of the month, the day of Eid ul-Adha. As the first part of the stoning of the jamarat ritual, pilgrims throw seven pebbles at the large jamrah (wall) in Mina. After this an animal is sacrificed. Traditionally the pilgrim killed the animal himself or oversaw the killing. Today many pilgrims buy a sacrifice voucher in Mecca before the greater Hajj begins; this allows for an animal to be slaughtered in their name on the 10th without the pilgrim being physically present.

    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajj

  25. diablovision,
    >Islam…will mature psychologically or the west will have no choice but to destroy it utterly. That is, if we have the guts.

    But Bin Laden’s contention is precisely that we lack the guts. And this is not a foolish proposition. The West is currently cruising for dhimmitude at high velocity. If we don’t change course we will be there in a generation, two at the outside.

    These secular, humanistic, and frankly atheistic philosophical underpinnings of yours have no power to repel suicide bombers. How do you argue with someone who is willing to die to either kill you or force you to submit?

    You don’t. You have to kill them. And our enemies have no compunction about hiding behind schoolchildren and other civilians so as to force us to either harm innocents or else give up the fight. They laugh at our scruples, seeing them as weakness.

    Meanwhile our own elites positively pant to see us lose. They rule every realistic option we have off limits to civilized discussion and then argue that Bush et al want to commit nuclear genocide.

    The Islamozoids argue that our freedom and prosperity produce enervated, desiccated, decadent metrosexuals who are unprepared to risk their comfortable existence for any principle imaginable. Certainly our soldiers in Iraq give lie to that proposition, but do our senators and congressmen? Our professors? The vast majority of our secular humanistic atheists?

    What real incentive does Islam have to mature psychologically? Who gets better treated in this world: Hirsi Ali or Yasser Arafat?

  26. I got to introduce myself first. I come from a moderate Muslim background but grew up loving and then hating (all) orgranized religion. My defense of Muslims is strictly because I find they are being misrepresented by a paranoid misinformed bunch. I’ll try to give religious-neutral answers to some of the queries.

    davidf
    >on-Muslims are not permitted to enter Mecca…are you aware of it?
    Yes, they aren’t. Not because the Saudis don’t want them there but because the Islamic religion forbids it.

    diablovision
    >Islam will face a major reformation in the next half century. It will mature psychologically or the west will have no choice but to destroy it utterly. That is, if we have the guts.
    Muslim attitudes are already changing. A few years ago, many Muslims considered Bin Laden a religious leader. Not since Sep 11. Also, consider a woman led the prayers in a mosque (perhaps in Morocco). This is just as controversial and revolutionary as a female priest in Catholiscism.
    “The West” is and will coexist with Islam. We just have to learn to respect our differences as long it doesn’t hurt the other. Wearing a scarf doesn’t hurt anyone!

    Dean, do you truly believe the West’s freedom is under threat? With all its military might?

    esr, Valis
    Yes, moderate educated Muslims have failed to throw out the extremist ones. Efforts to get rid of the blasphemy law, which has claimed as many Muslim victims as nonmuslim ones, have failed time and again in Pakistan. Yes, Islam, in some matters, is less generous towards people not of the book but not so much that they are discriminated against. If a ‘kafir’ commits a crime, his punishment is chosen according his own code of ethics.

  27. davidf
    I didn’t realize sacrificing animals was an issue. For the record, there are a set of guidelines on how the animal has to be sacrificed. Maybe you can find them in your source of all wisdom i.e. wikipedia. How come I don’t find any critiscism of the inhumane Spanish tauromachy?

  28. HJ,
    >Dean, do you truly believe the West’s freedom is under threat? With all its military might?

    There is the having of the military might, and then there is the will to use it.

    diablovision,

    I don’t mean to pick on you, but since I have already raised this issue with Eric Cowperthwaite and gotten no response, allow me to issue you this challenge:

    Other than the Randroids (who themselves worship an idol) can you name me one large, readily identifiable group of people, who are DEFINED BY THEIR SECULAR HUMANISM, who have shown anything resembling courage in the face of the Islamicists quest to place us in a state of dhimmitude?

    The Feminists? The Gay Rights crowd? The One World lefties? The Environmentalists?

    Anyone?

    It seems to me that there’s W, and his Jesus-freak religious kooks, and a scattering of utterly unorganized Libertarian types, and that’s about it. If you don’t want to be a dhimmi, pray that the Christers’ god gives them courage and resolve. Because you are not likely to find those qualities in too many other places.

  29. HJ,

    I am not religious. If i had to choose a religon it would be the sun,
    ‘our local star’.

    as for Spanish tauromachy, bullfighting goes back much farther in history
    than that,

    i do not claim wikipedia to be a source of all wisdom, it is a reference,

    i am just curious why you sacrifice animals at a religious gathering,
    and why does islam forbid non muslims in mecca?

    Do muslims stereotype other religions?

  30. >There is the having of the military might, and then there is the will to use it.

    Eric’s side consistently abuses terms like ‘will’. It doesn’t take any will on the part of a country to deploy troops. I think you will find that any country is willing to deploy its military when it _believes_ it is sufficiently threatened.

    >Other than the Randroids (who themselves worship an idol) can you name me one large, readily identifiable group of people, who are DEFINED BY THEIR SECULAR HUMANISM, who have shown anything resembling courage in the face of the Islamicists quest to place us in a state of dhimmitude?

    This is a misleading question. I would hazard a guess that most people who oppose the war in Iraq do not believe ‘Islamic dhimmitude’ is approaching or that this is not an effective way to fight it. This forum is yet to produce a convincing argument as to how it is that the West is going to roll-over and die.

    >It seems to me that there’s W, and his Jesus-freak religious kooks, and a scattering of utterly unorganized Libertarian types, and that’s about it. If you don’t want to be a dhimmi, pray that the Christers’ god gives them courage and resolve. Because you are not likely to find those qualities in too many other places.

    You are basing this on what? The fact that some people are opposed to the war in Iraq? The only people who have the moral right to play the ‘courage and resolve’ card are soldiers who have performed actual tours of duty. Supporting the deployment of troops from the comfort of Western soil does not qualify one as courageous. It’s disappointing to see word usage from presidential speeches make its way into serious discussion.

  31. BIG_HACKING
    >The only people who have the moral right to play the ‘courage and resolve’ card are soldiers who have performed actual tours of duty.

    So, if after the Madrid train bombings of 3/11/04, the people of Spain had voted to retain Prime Minister Aznar and keep Spanish troops in Iraq, you would not consider that courageous? And I suppose you don’t consider the vote they did cast to be an act of cowardice?

    So, obviously, anyone who supports a war, who is not a soldier, is a Chicken-Hawk. But anyone who opposes the vigorous prosecution of a war is, what? A noble dissenter?

    These are lovely word games, and I hope they keep you warm at night, but I’m not really interested. The Islamicists say that they will kill or enslave us or die trying. I feel obliged to take them at their word.

    I would argue that you should too, but this is not something I can should you into. You have to WANT to be free and to leave that legacy to your children. If it’s all just a game to you, I don’t suppose I have anything left to say.

  32. And I suppose you don’t consider the vote they did cast to be an act of cowardice?

    I thought it was a vote to get rid of some cheesy liars myself. The fact that the cheesy liars were the ones keeping a contingent of troops in Iraq didn’t look like the central issue.

    The Islamicists say that they will kill or enslave us or die trying.

    Some of them. Don’t you think it’s worth making a reasoned estimate of their ability to carry out their fantasies?

  33. >So, if after the Madrid train bombings of 3/11/04, the people of Spain had voted to retain Prime Minister Aznar and keep Spanish troops in Iraq, you would not consider that courageous?

    I would not.

    >And I suppose you don’t consider the vote they did cast to be an act of cowardice?

    I do not, although I do not consider it to be the right decision. Flip-flopping on your original decision to deploy as soon as the going gets tough can only embolden your enemies.

    >So, obviously, anyone who supports a war, who is not a soldier, is a Chicken-Hawk. But anyone who opposes the vigorous prosecution of a war is, what? A noble dissenter?

    I neither said nor implied this. I implied that it was hypocritical to accuse people of lacking courage without setting a higher example yourself. Going to war should be a matter of pure pragmatism, and I would support the war if I felt it was going to be effective. It is you who insists on bringing overloaded terms like ‘will’, ‘courage’ and ‘resolve’ into the discussion.

    >These are lovely word games, and I hope they keep you warm at night, but I’m not really interested. The Islamicists say that they will kill or enslave us or die trying. I feel obliged to take them at their word.

    You are playing the word games, not me. I am merely pointing out that the choice of whether to deploy or not is not an indicator of cowardice or courage. You just couldn’t resist tacking on an emotional and irrelevent outburst about Islam wanting to kill us (which I haven’t disputed), could you?

    >I would argue that you should too, but this is not something I can should you into. You have to WANT to be free and to leave that legacy to your children. If it’s all just a game to you, I don’t suppose I have anything left to say.

    You’re trying to put words into my mouth again. Does this really qualify as a convincing argument on these forums? I merely suggested that terms which muddy the argument be kept out of the argument.

  34. Other than the Randroids (who themselves worship an idol) can you name me one large, readily identifiable group of people, who are DEFINED BY THEIR SECULAR HUMANISM, who have shown anything resembling courage in the face of the Islamicists quest to place us in a state of dhimmitude?

    I imagine the secular humanists mostly regard this quest as a quixotic dream on the part of people who lack the means to realize it, and the subsequent charges of “DENIAL” as a *litte* tinfoilish. Though obviously the situation in Europe bears watching. If the trends you seem so certain of continue and gather pace there, I imagine some will gradually come round to your way of thinking.

  35. I recently heard a muslim woman (living in the US) on a talk show who argued against Muslim violence, etc, in the hopes of starting a movement to denounce the Islamic fundamentalists. She seemed pretty believable, and said she has had several death threats for speaking out.

    I’m pretty certain this Islamic crap is going to go on for a long time. And why do I care? I’m an atheist, and as far as I can tell most of the problems are all Middle East based (Christianity, Judaism, Islam). They can’t make up their mind about what religion they want to follow, and feel the need to kill all those they converted the last time, along with everyone else. It’s some wierd macho abberation.

    Let’s spend the money to develop nuclear power, isolate the bastards, and forget about their strange ideas.

  36. I do not have a problem with Islam.

    I have a problem with Arabic culture, which is separate from Islam in many ways, and is a culture based on the principle of envy and jealousy and an inferiority complex. It is, to my knowledge, nearly unique in its cultural state of self-abnegation.

    Indonesian and Turkish and Kurdish Muslims manage to run societies that aren’t driven entirely by cultural inferiority complexes.

    Even the disasters of post-colonialism Africa, while driving themselves into kleptocratic squalor and warlordism, don’t have that sense of inferiority lashing out at the world.

    I feel it is doomed to fail; the question is how long and costly that failure will be.

    But then, I was always of the opinion that the Battle of Fallujah should have been presented on no uncertain terms as

    “You have 72 hours to leave through one of these three checkpoints. You will be strip searched. Your search will be recorded with a time stamp, and you will be provided with a copy of it; this recording is for your protection and ours; should your account differ from our account, we will compare the time stamps on the recordings and let them determine if you’ve been wronged.

    “If you do not leave, we will assume you are an enemy. As you are not abiding by the Geneva Conventions, we will treat you as terrorists and spies. As terrorists, the restrictions against torture do not apply to you. Nor, for that matter, does the right to treatment by the Red Cross. The least of our soldiers has the unequivocal right to torture you for information, or execute you out of hand, provided that this is done with proper digital surveilance and timestamps. Personally, we recommend that it done by punji-stick over a nest of fire ants, so that by your death, you may save the lives of others by demonstrating the strength of our resolve.”

    “If you choose to surrender after we have entered the city, you may do so – approach any sentry point wearing nothing but your underwear, so that we can see that you do not have a suicide vest, and perhaps the fellow there won’t kill you out of boredom. If you are not dressed this way, we will assume you are a combatant and take appropriate measures.”

    “If you choose to wage war from a mosque, the attack from the mosque will be video taped. That mosque will be destroyed, and salt sown into the ground where its foundations stood. A video tape of this destruction will be played, with appropriate musical scoring, on national television, and will be sold at cost over the internet as a free download, so that your co-religionists can see the consequences of your idocy.”

    “There are some who will preach that we lack the balls to carry this out, that we are weak and lack resolve. That the scorn and ire of the international community will prevent us from doing this. Listen to them as you will, but understand that you are to blame for the destruction of your mosques and places of reverence when you heed them.”

    “This message will repeat every 15 minutes for the next 72 hours. The assault will begin at 0800 hours on the 19th.”

    But then, perhaps, I’ve read a bit more history than most. We’ve had excellent documented methods of dealing with insurrections dating back to the Pelopponesian War. You make the consequences of insurrection so horrific and so thoroughly and ruthlessly applied, by such strictly bound rules, that it scars the psyche of the people you’ve conquered.

  37. But then, perhaps, I’ve read a bit more history than most.

    The sowing salt thing was meant to prevent the growing of crops, not the rebuilding of mosques.

    You make the consequences of insurrection so horrific and so thoroughly and ruthlessly applied, by such strictly bound rules, that it scars the psyche of the people you’ve conquered.

    Most Americans probably aren’t ready for watching the results of this on TV, even if a majority of the ones who post to righty blogs are just bursting with suggestions.

  38. Let’s spend the money to develop nuclear power, isolate the bastards, and forget about their strange ideas.

    I suggested something along these lines, but apparently the Chinese and Indians will still give them loads of money (probably *our* money) which they will then invest wholeheartedly in plotting our downfall.

  39. Ken: Better to turn it into a pigpen. As adrian10 says, salt would be merely symbolic, whereas defiling the location of the mosque pretty much ensures that it would never be rebuilt.

    HJ: What do you think would be the reaction of Muslims to the nuclear destruction of Mecca? Because surely some largish fraction of US citizens will call for exactly that when (not if) a radioactive bomb explodes on US soil. Let’s not ignore ugly ideas simply because they’re ugly.

    There’s something everyone is overlooking. Traditionally, the people from the cold countries have attacked the people of the warm countries. Why does anybody think that people from warm countries could do anything more than poke the people from the cold countries in the eye?

  40. “The only people who have the moral right to play the ‘courage and resolve’ card are soldiers who have performed actual tours of duty. Supporting the deployment of troops from the comfort of Western soil does not qualify one as courageous. It’s disappointing to see word usage from presidential speeches make its way into serious discussion.”

    As I in fact have performed “actual tours of duty” does that then give me the “moral right” to ask what service you performed to put yourself in a position to make that claim? I find it ironic that the left, you can count the number of people on that side of the aisle that have served on the fingers of my third hand, attempt to tell other that if they haven’t served they get no voice. Yet this same left, which by and large is reflexively anti-military, tries to tell others they have no voice on military matters yet then proceeds to claim they have the right to scream “out of Iraq” and “no war.” It’s my observation that they aren’t anti-war as much as they are just on the other side. This has been true for at least 30 years in my experience. Regards your BDS, when Georgy steps off the airplane the boys and girls in blue salute him. Why? I mean, really, do you understand why?

    “I would support the war if I felt it was going to be effective.”
    Why not go this one better. Sign up. Go there. See for yourself. I know, that takes more commitment than just chanting slogans and playing on the Internet forums. It’s downright inconvenient. The pay sucks, the hours suck, it’s hard on family, but you do get a free haircut. You also get a fancy uniform and everything. As a bonus on your trips to the range you get free ammo. Sealing the deal it’s actually legal to carry a select fire weapon. What’s not not like? Why not give it a try. Then you can come back with your “moral right” to pontificate assured.

    Dean:
    “Other than the Randroids (who themselves worship an idol) can you name me one large, readily identifiable group of people, who are DEFINED BY THEIR SECULAR HUMANISM, who have shown anything resembling courage in the face of the Islamicists quest to place us in a state of dhimmitude?”

    Well, um, yes I can. Look at Uncle Sammy’s kids. Interesting aside: When they made my dogtags they asked me what religion I was. I told them atheist. They put “No Rel Pref” on the tags. Oh, I had a preference alright. If I was smarted I’d have told them Jedi Knight.

  41. Because surely some largish fraction of US citizens will call for exactly that when (not if) a radioactive bomb explodes on US soil. Let’s not ignore ugly ideas simply because they’re ugly.

    Unless whoever’s in power at the time ran on a “Nuke Mecca If” ticket, they’re quite likely to take a long view of the situation out there, however much the folks at home are hollering for instant gratification. Damascus, OTOH…

    It would be interesting, in the false-Chinese-proverb sense, to see what Muslims made of the loss of Mecca. But the Jews managed without the Temple. I’m sure they’d come up with something.

  42. BIG_HACKING
    >Going to war should be a matter of pure pragmatism

    This is a proposition which sounds wise. Unfortunately it is false. War is the process of turning living breathing human beings, each with a precious spirit and boundless potential, into bloody hamburger.

    This should never be done for purely pragmatic reasons. Any morally justifiable war must have a primarily moral justification.

    “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!”

    Otherwise you are wasting lives.

    >You’re trying to put words into my mouth again.

    Looking back, perhaps I was too harsh with you. I should confine myself to responding to the things you actually say, not the implications I perceive in your words. I apologize.

  43. >Dean Says:
    >This should never be done for purely pragmatic reasons. Any morally justifiable war must have a primarily moral justification.

    There is a difference between having a moral starting point and letting morals and emotions overtake the discussion. I was originally referring to bringing the terms “courage”, “will” and “resolve” into the argument. These are terms that you can’t apply to someone for supporting/opposing troop deployment when they themselves will not be deployed.

    >Otherwise you are wasting lives.

    I think you’re agreeing with me on this more than you believe. The most fundamental human right is the right to self-defense. It is irresponsible for a country’s leadership not to pursue self-defense on a pragmatic basis. Besides, ‘pure’ pragmatism was probably hyperbole on my part – you obviously have to begin with some moral assumptions. Pragmatism should take over after that point, however, and arguing over who’s got the biggest balls is not pragmatic.

  44. >Joe Says:
    >As I in fact have performed “actual tours of duty” does that then give me the “moral right” to ask what service you performed to put yourself in a position to make that claim?

    No, this is not implied in my statement. If I’m mistaken, feel free to make the connection clearer for everybody. Taking some phrases I’ve said and cutting them into another sentence is not an argument. What you call argument is comparable to the following:

    Kid> This tastes like shit.
    Other Kid> Gross! You just said you eat shit!

    >I find it ironic that the left, you can count the number of people on that side of the aisle that have served on the fingers of my third hand, attempt to tell other that if they haven’t served they get no voice.

    I never said this. I said one couldn’t accuse others of cowardice without setting a higher example themselves, i.e. serving a tour of duty. If you have indeed served in the military, then you have every right to claim to have acted courageously. You also have the right to claim that others are cowards for not doing so, although you may or not be correct.

    >Yet this same left, which by and large is reflexively anti-military, tries to tell others they have no voice on military matters yet then proceeds to claim they have the right to scream “out of Iraq” and “no war.”

    Please split your scattish writing up into paragraphs. Your argument has again proceeded by quoting me, then not answering what I actually said. I am not ‘anti-military’. Any country that does not maintain a military is being lead irresponsibly.

    >It’s my observation that they aren’t anti-war as much as they are just on the other side. This has been true for at least 30 years in my experience. Regards your BDS, when Georgy steps off the airplane the boys and girls in blue salute him. Why? I mean, really, do you understand why?

    Thanks for enlightening us with this nugget of information, but this is irrelevent to my post. To answer your aside: disagreeing with the wisdom of this war does not make one left-wing or against the West. You are being very transparent in your prejudices here.

    >“I would support the war if I felt it was going to be effective.”
    >Why not go this one better. Sign up. Go there. See for yourself. I know, that takes more commitment than just chanting slogans and playing on the Internet forums. It’s downright inconvenient. The pay sucks, the hours suck, it’s hard on family, but you do get a free haircut. You also get a fancy uniform and everything. As a bonus on your trips to the range you get free ammo. Sealing the deal it’s actually legal to carry a select fire weapon. What’s not not like? Why not give it a try.

    This doesn’t even make sense. I said I would support the war if I felt it was going to be effective, not that military service was easy or unadmirable. So you suggest I take a tour of duty? What the dickens are you talking about here? Wait up – I just asked a question – are you going to accuse me of ‘pleading for help’ so you don’t have to answer it again?

    Since you’ve made some personal assumptions about me, I will make some of my own. I submit that you are so emotionally caught up in this issue (perhaps due to your military service) that you are incapable of keeping your writing readable, let alone having a rational discussion. How many times have you responded to me without actually answering my points?

    >Then you can come back with your “moral right” to pontificate assured.

    Now who’s saying who does and doesn’t have the right to an opinion? Again, I only said that claims of cowardice/courage regarding troop deployment are hollow coming from people who have not served.

    Since you’ve pressed the issue, I would say this is true even of people who have served, but will not serve in the conflict troops are being deployed into. I never said anything about anyone having a monopoly over the discussion. That is your own suggestion.

  45. The entire idea that you can’t apply words like courage and resolve if you aren’t actually going to war yourself is bull, sorry. And, since I served, in wartime, I can tell you that and, by the twisted idea expressed in the chickenhawk epithet, I’m actually qualified to tell you that it’s bull. Here’s why:

    - I’m fairly sure that each and every chickenhawk yeller would be appalled by Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” come to life, yet that is exactly what they are espousing.
    - The point of the ideas that lie at the foundation of this country is individual choice and liberty. Which includes the choice to not serve, the choice to support a war anyhow and the liberty to not be forced to serve.
    - The draft is one bare step of immorality above slavery.
    - The American Army is subject to civilian control, not the other way around.
    - As Joe points out so well, this position is one of utter hypocrisy taken by the elites of the Left to try and create a meme that gives them more power in the political marketplace. It is no different than suggesting that a man who has never been on welfare cannot have an opinion on how to run a welfare system or that a woman who has never had children cannot have an opinion on how to raise children.
    - You are in danger of having it turned around on you.

    Do you folks happen to think that FDR had resolve? Had the courage of his convictions? If you answer yes, I wonder why, since he didn’t serve in the military. If you answer no, then what exactly do you believe in?

  46. >Eric Cowperthwaite Says:

    >The entire idea that you can’t apply words like courage and resolve if you aren’t actually going to war yourself is bull, sorry.

    I never said that. I said you couldn’t say someone was courageous/cowardly for supporting/opposing troop deployment, particularly if nobody involved in the argument is going to be deployed themselves. Please stick to answering what I say.

    >And, since I served, in wartime, I can tell you that and, by the twisted idea expressed in the chickenhawk epithet, I’m actually qualified to tell you that it’s bull. Here’s why:

    Chicken-hawk is both an overloaded term and an illogical argument, and I do not think it has any place in serious discussion. I have neither used it nor implied it.

    >- I’m fairly sure that each and every chickenhawk yeller would be appalled by Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” come to life, yet that is exactly what they are espousing.

    Agreed.

    >- The point of the ideas that lie at the foundation of this country is individual choice and liberty. Which includes the choice to not serve, the choice to support a war anyhow and the liberty to not be forced to serve.
    >- The draft is one bare step of immorality above slavery.
    >- The American Army is subject to civilian control, not the other way around.

    I agree with all of this. This is not an answer to anything I’ve said. I assume you are responding to me, since Joe was responding to me.

    >- As Joe points out so well, this position is one of utter hypocrisy taken by the elites of the Left to try and create a meme that gives them more power in the political marketplace.

    You have pointed this out, but Joe did not. He also did not make his point particularly well. And surely pointing out that political groups are (shock) neither honest nor intellectually sound is stating the obvious at best?

    >It is no different than suggesting that a man who has never been on welfare cannot have an opinion on how to run a welfare system or that a woman who has never had children cannot have an opinion on how to raise children.

    Agreed. I have not called anyone a chicken-hawk, as it is a spurious cop-out. You, however, have tried to make it seem as though I have.

    >Do you folks happen to think that FDR had resolve? Had the courage of his convictions? If you answer yes, I wonder why, since he didn’t serve in the military. If you answer no, then what exactly do you believe in?

    I would answer no to your first question. I can only guess what you’re asking in the second, as it is too broad a question in the context.

  47. Hello, I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and find it refreshing. Thanks for putting in the time.

    I’ve tried to get the Dan Simmons story, but that section of his website is down, perhaps temporarily due to a spike in interest… Is there another source for that story? After reading some of the comments here, I’m curious!

  48. ESR! Well, some people might be in doubt of whether Islam is peaceful or not. But no one is in doubt that you are blood thirsty, and want all Muslims killed. You have initiated a propaganda “war on Islam”. :)

    Try to take good deep breaths in the morning air in order to decrease the amount of hatred and violence that has gone all into your brain cells recently.

  49. Eric Cowperthwaite,
    I am forced to conclude that BIG_HACKING is a troll. Don’t feed the trolls. ;-)

  50. “So, if after the Madrid train bombings of 3/11/04, the people of Spain had voted to retain Prime Minister Aznar and keep Spanish troops in Iraq, you would
    not consider that courageous? And I suppose you don’t consider the vote they did cast to be an act of cowardice?”

    I’m sorry, but as a Spanish citizen I think cowardess or bravery were not at all involved in the voting choices. I shall give you some datapoints that you might find useful in thinking about this.

    The Spanish people were always opposed to the war. Official and unofficial poles from the Centre for Sociological Investigations and others estimate the opposition was greater than 90%.

    The party in the government, without the support of any other party, decided to wage the war against the people’s wishes.

    There were very significant demonstrations against the war. Biggest in Europe? I think so at any rate.

    When the elections came, it was expected that the party in government would lose its absolute majority in Parliament. there was a range of predictions, from losing absolute majority to absolute majority for the socialists.

    When the 11m attacks happened, the government appears to have, knowingly and willingly, tried to mislead the public about the authorship of the attacks. In fact, the government claimed, and some in the party still claim, the attack was not of islamic, but Basque separatist, authorship.

    Because of the controversial and unpopular war in Iraq, the government party chose to portray the attack as coming from Basque separatism, hoping that its more centralist policies would thus put them in good position before the electors. However, as information about the true authorship of the attack became clearer, people justifiably thought the government had tried to deliberately mislead them for their own partisan interest. In addition, there was a perception that the attacks might have been at least partly a consequence of the change in policies wrt the Arab world our government took. We traditionally had close relations to the Arab world, and recognized Israel only around 1985 IIRC.

    In spite of all this, the government party obtained more votes than in the 2000 elections, but lost the absolute majority and, indeed, was second after the socialists (partly due to lesser abstention and partly due to “borrowed” votes the socialists got from the communists, nationalists, etc).

    Is it cowardly to vote against a government that:
    wages a war against the people’s wishes,
    for unclear reasons,
    without a clear benefit,
    and lies to its citizens about the authorship of a terrorist attack that can be reasonably believed to be a consequence of the above?

    Is it cowardly for a people to have mass demonstrations in the days after the attack, condemning terrorist violence, which could have been excellent targets for further attacks?

    I was abroad at the time and couldn’t vote, but had I been in Spain I know what I’d have done, whether people choose to consider it cowardly or not.

  51. Derrick Snyder wrote:
    > I’ve tried to get the Dan Simmons story, but that section of his website is down

    Google has it cached, so just google “century war dan simmons”; it should be the first entry.

  52. > I’ve tried to get the Dan Simmons story, but that section of his website is down

    >Rich Baumann Says: Google has it cached, so just google “century war dan simmons”; it should be the first entry.

    Got it. Thanks, Rich!

  53. Here is a challeng to esr and his fellows/followers:

    Travel to a foreign country with a very large (and high density) Muslim population. This need not be Iraq or Iran. Indonesia, the Philippines,Afghanistan, the Sudan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Malaysia, Egypt or Algeria will do nicely.

    Once you arrive, travel from mosque to mosque and declaim, loudly that religious violence is an abomination against Allah — that those who use terror in a program to restore the Caliphate, those who would execute ex-Muslims who convert to any other religion, those who would condone ‘honor killing’, and those who incite hatred against Jews and other Peoples of the Book have fallen from the Narrow Way and will burn in hell with the sons of Iblis.”

    Feel free to take along your weapons. You may need them.

    In other words, asshole(s), get your ever-widening ass off the chair and put your money where your mouth is. Lets see if your armchair ways can be applied to the real world of open source war.

    Until you do, you’re just another REMF.

  54. >Feel free to take along your weapons. You may need them.

    I’ll bring the nests of fireants…. Bwrooo haaa haaa haaa!!!

  55. Even assuming I accept that the proportion of Muslims who really want to conquer the world and oppress everyone else in dhimmitude is sufficient to constitute an existential crisis for the West, the question is whether invading a non-Islamist nation like Iraq is actually an effective method for winning the war.

    It seems obvious to me – so much so that it surprises me that others do not argue from this premise – that the only way to win the war is for moderate Muslims to resist the extremists. I suppose there is genocide, but that seems to me a worse crime than even that which bin Laden proposes. The question we should ask on any action is “Does this make the moderate, ordinary Muslim in an Arab country more or less likely to inform competent authority when he hears about a terrorist”. I recognise that sometimes we will have to piss people off in order to achieve these goals – and that weakness does not create allies. Obviously, backing down is hardly going to make people rely on our military and police support when they confront their local terrorist. But Saddam was not that kind of a threat. Nor is Assad in Syria, nor the Hashemites in Jordan. Hamas in Palestine is; so are the al-Saud in Saudi Arabia, also SCIRI in Iran, though Iran is complex because, unlike the others, it actually has politics and politicians who have to respond to public sentiment.

    It is the attitude that demands that moderate Muslims risk their lives before you will even believe they exist, or that they are committed to `the cause’ that is dangerous. What we should be doing is convincing them that they should be doing more, not telling them they aren’t doing enough. And I accept that they aren’t doing enough. But we need to wake up the mass of moderate Islam until it purges the bin-Ladenite scum from their body politic, not reject those who are headed in our direction because they have not travelled far enough yet.

  56. >Dean Says:

    >Eric Cowperthwaite,
    >I am forced to conclude that BIG_HACKING is a troll. Don’t feed the trolls. ;-)

    A transparent way to avoid answering my argument. I am hardly spouting nonsense, and I am not being emotional about it. It should be relatively easy to shoot down my arguments if I am wrong, and yet nobody has. I have countered everything that’s been said to me (mostly trivially, since nobody’s actually responded to what I’ve said). Does that make me a troll?

    Richard Gadsen: Prepare for an answer of either a) nothing, b) spurious comparisons to past events, c) answers to points you never made or d) personal insults. That is the general standard of argument here. The only posters who get valid rebuttals here are the easy targets (i.e., left-wing moonbats).

  57. Does that make me a troll?

    Not necessarily, but your insistence on moving the goalposts and insisting that people narrowly answer your argument is boring. People have responded to your arguments in detail, but don’t necessarily frame the argument in dissembled, reductionist language. If you can’t bring yourself to conceptualize past your narrow definitions, I suppose you can simply continue to say that noone is responding to your arguments. It will help to pass the time.

    Narcissism is particularly ugly on the internet.

    whether invading a non-Islamist nation like Iraq is actually an effective method for winning the war.

    The best arguments that I’ve heard for invading Iraq frame the war in terms of a longer engagement, including an inevitable engagement with Iran. A democratically federated Iraq provides a key launching point for whatever needs to happen against Iran, since Iraq is the center of the middle eastern chessboard. I’m not necessarily convinced that this was the sole intent of going into Iraq, but given Iran’s response (their three-year financial and military support of the insurgency) seems to show that this is on their minds at least.

    Also, in moral and geopolitical terms, it seems more clear now than even three years ago that Sadaam was pursuing and harboring WMDs. New evidence suggests that he transported his stash to Syria.

    We will see soon whether taking the center of the chessboard was a worthwhile gamble, and if that was really the intent.

  58. Russell Nelson
    >What do you think would be the reaction of Muslims to the nuclear destruction of Mecca? Because surely some largish fraction of US citizens will call for exactly that when (not if) a radioactive bomb explodes on US soil. Let’s not ignore ugly ideas simply because they’re ugly.

    Ah! Americans and their notoriously poor geography. Mecca has no strategic importance. Bombing it will result in angrier terrorists not dead ones. Also, are you implying that in case of a major terrorist attack, a major sector of American public will demand the extermination ofl Muslims?

  59. >Here is a challeng to esr and his fellows/followers:

    OK, Jim Thompson, now you are degenerating into a mere idiot. I don’t have to pass the test I proposed for Muslims maintaining that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’ because I haven’t held any illusion that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’ since around 1974.

  60. Not necessarily, but your insistence on moving the goalposts and insisting that people narrowly answer your argument is boring.

    Certainly, letting them flail around like Joe attempting to pummel some strawman is more entertaining in some ways. But we aren’t all here just for yucks.

    dissembled, reductionist language…conceptualize past your narrow definitions

    Oh dear.

  61. >Also, are you implying that in case of a major terrorist attack, a major sector of American public will demand the extermination ofl Muslims?

    Yes

    Look at how the dubai ports thingy turned out, I wonder what the support level right now would be for nuking Iran, I would bet 20%.

  62. I love the armed and dangerous web site. You really get to the heart of the matter.

    When people mix religion and politics bad stuff happens. Whether it is the Catholic Church for over 1,000 years in Europe, Christian fanatics or Muslim terrorists people abandon reason when they are acting “in the name of God.”

    Consider this: The Catholic Church has a worse human rights record than the Nazi Party! Think about the centuries of repressions in Europe where they persecuted scientists and other free thinking people. It has been suggested that they killed up to 6,000,000 people (75% female) for witchcraft. (Sexual sadism in the name of God?) The repercussions of the Crusades and their military attacks on Islam are still with us today. Their reign of terror only ended when thinking people separated Church from state in the reformation.

    During the next 30 years the Muslim world will run out of oil which will be the end of their power and money.

    There needs to be a reformation in the Muslim world where Church and state are separated.

  63. Oh dear.

    Did that do something for you? Or to you?

    a major sector of American public will demand the extermination ofl Muslims?

    Let’s hope that the followers of Allah allow a distinction to be made.

    Here is a challeng to esr and his fellows/followers:

    First, your charge is hypocrisy. And it’s not hypocrisy to have an opinion on this issue, much less a strong one. You no more need to “put your money where your mouth is” on this issue than you need to be old to care for an old person.

    Second, I’ve lived in Iran. I’ve witnessed, first hand, what it’s like to be a minority, both cultural and religious, and what their religious revolution did. Put short, no one should go through it as a matter of course. But your assertion is silly.

    Plus, the onus isn’t on us, at any rate. Islam needs to change from within or not at all.

  64. Did that do something for you? Or to you?

    Near me, I think. Not sure what, though.

  65. > that the only way to win the war is for moderate Muslims to resist the extremists.

    No, it isn’t. It’s one of the nicest, but there are alternatives if the moderate Muslims don’t step up.

    I hope that the moderate Muslims are stepping up. All that I see is them trying to tell me that the immoderate folks aren’t good Muslims.

    Frankly, I don’t care whether or not the immoderate folk are good Muslims. I care whether they stop or are stopped. Telling me about their religious purity or lack thereof is completely irrelevant. Telling me that I’m misjudging Islam is, at best, a waste of time, and more likely to be a distraction campaign, which is the act of an enemy. Either you’re stopping them or you’re part of the problem.

  66. >Frankly, I don’t care whether or not the immoderate folk are good Muslims. I care whether they stop or are stopped.

    Frankly, I won’t like the immoderate folks to be stopped, unless and untill the violent non-muslim community stop violence against Muslims in different parts of the world. Unless you stop Israel from terrorising Palestine, India from terrorising Kashmir, US from terrorising Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria and Iran, no one will try to stop that innocent suicide Muslim bomber in Palestine to kill a bunch of Israeli soldiers after seering his 10 year old younger brother being shoot ruthlessly, and his home bulldozed.

    The problem is not with Muslims. It is with those power-hungry nations of the world, whom seem Muslims as a barrier to their plans, and are in a hunt for killing them all.

  67. I think you are overlooking the fact that the USA helped modern radical Islam, and some say started it, to fight the Soviet Union – the Evil Empire of the time. Then your strategy was to spread radical Islam trough the Central Asian republics of the union – the “soft underbelly” of USSR. How did the Ayatollah come in power? Who helped the Mujahidins in Afghanistan? Who’s agent was bin Laden at that time?

    I mean, you trained and armed fanatics to fight for your cause. You have supported terrorists, not only in Asia but in Latin America, too. Now they have turned against you. Surprised?

  68. Didil, agreed. They trained Al-Qaeda basically. US is their trainer. What a shame!

    Why is it that where ever someone is doing something bad, US has got to do something at their back? Al-Qaeda got trained by US. Israel gets all the latest weapons from US which it uses to bring destruction onto the area it exists in. US helps India get latest war tech which is involved in a high degree of human rights violation in Kashmir.

    US has totally lost its image as being a peace keeper. Lets see if some of the good citizens of it bring it back a good image (did it ever have one?)

  69. > Frankly, I won’t like the immoderate folks to be stopped, unless and untill the violent non-muslim community stop violence against Muslims in different parts of the world. Unless you stop Israel from terrorising Palestine, India from terrorising Kashmir, US from terrorising Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria and Iran, no one will try to stop that innocent suicide Muslim bomber in Palestine to kill a bunch of Israeli soldiers after seering his 10 year old younger brother being shoot ruthlessly, and his home bulldozed.

    Uh . . . I would not call those suicide bombers ‘innocent’; calling them ‘misguided’ is rather inappropriate. Suicide bombers have targeted restaurants, public buses, college cafeterias, and even weddings. Sure, most Israelis do serve in the military, but targeting these places still causes violence against ‘civilians’. Also, I think that Israelis ‘supposedly’ only bulldoze the houses of suicide bombers to prevent the family from profitting from the attack, which saves the lives of Israelis and the life of a misguided teen.

    > How did the Ayatollah come in power?

    I thought the U.S. supported the Shah. Why would we set him up, drive him out of power, and then give him amnesty? Do anybody have any credible evidence to support that theory?

    > I mean, you trained and armed fanatics to fight for your cause. You have supported terrorists, not only in Asia but in Latin America, too. Now they have turned against you. Surprised?

    Yes, we have supported terrorists in the past, because they were helping us fight some other (supposedly greater) threat. International politics is a very depressing subject.

  70. >Sure, most Israelis do serve in the military, but targeting these places still causes violence against ‘civilians’.

    So like, Israelis have never attacked ‘civilians’ and killed innocent people? :) Get your facts straight before you try to look cool and a propaganda master (just like ESR is trying to). The accumulative number of innocent people killed by the hands of US and Israel exceed millions, dear one! Whom do you think the tons of explosives you bombarded over Iraq were killing? Innocent children, women, and men.

  71. Those who claim that the West’s troubles with militant Muslims are a result of training anti-Soviet jihadis need to explain why those jihadis were nowhere to be found when Muslims were under attack in Israel or Bosnia or Kosovo. I never heard of an ex-jihadi in the Balkans, and the splodeydopes are all Palestinians.

  72. How did the Ayatollah come in power?

    The Ayatollah was expressly supported by Russia and by French socialists. He came to power in a pogrom against moderate, western elements within Iran. He was in no way supported by America.

    So like, Israelis have never attacked ‘civilians’ and killed innocent people?

    Innocents have been killed by Israel, as opposed to targeted for political gain by Hamas, Fatah, and AAMB. In war, innocents may get killed, but only a “propogandist” such as yourself would fail to see the difference.

    In case you want more evidence of propogandizing, you can look at the “Massacre in Jennin”, in which 30 + people died. It was no massacre at all, but collateral damage in pursuit of legitimate military targets.

    Again, if you want to see the difference, were the people in the World Trade Center innocent, Kawish?

  73. Some questions to ask the muslim Apologists.

    1. Why are non muslims not allowed in Mecca ‘Mekka’ ?

    2. Why are animals sacrificed in ‘pilgrims name’ during the hajj ?

    3. Why is invoking the name of the creator ‘Allah’ said while the animals throat is cut.

    4. How many of the 9/11 terrorists were muslim?

    5. What percentage of all ‘modern day terrorists’ are muslim?

  74. I too am dismayed that the liberal humanist movement isn’t up in arms against Islam, a very oppressive religion (and no, I don’t think Christianity is any better, it just evolved into something tamer, for now).

    Speaking for the gay rights crowd that someone mentioned above… You’d think people fighting for sexual freedom would be fighting against Islam, as the most sexually repressive religion there is. It’s Islamic countries that make up the majority of those that have blocked any initiatives for gay rights in the UN, for instance.

    Still, many gays feel a strange kinship for Islamists. “We’re persecuted by the establishment, and so are they.” And many western gays feel a lot more threatened by the enemies closer to home, the right-wing folks. It’s like they wilfuly ignore the fact that gays in Islamic countries fare far worse.

    But some of them are waking up and smelling the coffee. This friend of mine ended up agreeing with me, when Islamists in Russia pressured to cancell a gay pride parade.

    I’d love to see liberals and libertarians and moderate convervatives joining up to fight *all* kind of religious intolerance, be it Islamist or Christian. But sadly, it isn’t going to happen, for the many reasons ESR has mentioned again and again. The liberals lost their sense of right and wrong and justice, their guilty over any non-whites is too much to allow them to see clearly until it’s too late.

  75. >The accumulative number of innocent people killed by the hands of US and Israel exceed millions, dear one! Whom do you think the tons of explosives you bombarded over Iraq were killing? Innocent children, women, and men.

    Kawish,

    Your wearing a Paper Hat…

    The iran – iraq war and saddam hussein with his mass graves have killed
    millions of muslims…

    somebody has to stand up for civilization…. how about you?

  76. Kawish,

    1. Why are non muslims not allowed in Mecca ‘Mekka’ ?

    2. Why are animals sacrificed in ‘pilgrims name’ during the hajj ?

    3. Why is invoking the name of the creator ‘Allah’ said while the animals throat is cut.

    4. How many of the 9/11 terrorists were muslim?

    5. What percentage of all ‘modern day terrorists’ are muslim?

    6. Are you muslim and do you plan to make the pilgrimage to Mekka?

    take all the time you need to answer..

  77. > Frankly, I won’t like the immoderate folks to be stopped

    It didn’t take long for that so-called “moderate Muslim” to go from “don’t judge Islam by the bad folk” to “the bad folk are okay by me”.

  78. >It didn’t take long for that so-called “moderate Muslim” to go from “don’t judge Islam by the bad folk” to “the bad folk are okay by me”.

    Yes,

    a mild scratch at the ‘moderate’ surface and the real stink comes out…

  79. DDG:

    “The Ayatollah was expressly supported by Russia and by French socialists. He came to power in a pogrom against moderate, western elements within Iran. He was in no way supported by America.”

    While you are certainly correct in that the USA never supported Khomeini – and the poster you are replying to is certainly wrong in blaming US policy with the *whole* rise of islamic fundamentalism – i am very much surprised to learn he was supported “by Russia and by French socialists”.

    As far as i remember these times the french socialists had been the opposition party for years and were nowhere in a position to effectively support any iranian movement, pls note “effectively” which discounts loud-mouthed anti-shah sentiment, which surely was in its support of Khomeini et al way beyond sanity, here in Germany too. To explain (not to excuse): have you ever heard the tem “Jubelperser” or the name Benno Ohnesorg?

    Likewise the soviet-supported iranian communist party made the big error to cheer on everyone likely to down their perceived #1 enemy, the shah, only to find their tudeh party hunted down by islamic clergy and their “revolutionary guards”. I have never heard of any hint of russiana supporting this policy and think it the more unbelievable because the soviet war in Afghanistan had begun and any encouragement of radical muslims, especially next door should have been viewed very disapprovingly.

    Then again, i might be entirely wrong – could you kindly point me to sources to support your assertion?

  80. Woah!

    Didik and Kawish – you are flat out wrong on the facts with respect to the U.S. “training” or “starting” radical Islam. It may feel good to say such inflammatory nonsense, but you are simply, provably wrong.

    First, modern Radical Islam has two fundamental roots: the traditional Muslim understanding of Jihad and the rise of European collectivist justifications for “struggle” against modernity and capitalism. These were mixed in a toxic brew by the Muslim Brotherhood just after WWI.

    And please, don’t give me the pap about “jihad” being an “internal struggle” – go argue with Ibn Khaldun – the 14th century philosopher of Islam who, in summarizing five centuries of Muslim jurisprudence, stated that:

    “In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the [Muslim] mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force…”.

    Modern radical Islam flowered just after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in WWI with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was explicitly Muslim and Fascist. Indeed, in WWII the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem went so far as to visit Hitler and pay tribute to their “final solution” for the Jews. Its ideology was laid out in the works of Hassan Al-Banna and Sayyed Qutb. So…the roots of Islamic extremism far predate any American involvement and, as far as Western influences go, owe far more to Nazism than to any Anglo-Saxon ideology.

    Second, the idea that America sponsored radical Islam to strike at the “soft underbelly” of the USSR is laughable. While it may be a common misconception, it is laughably wrong all the same. The Americans supported an indiginous Afghani resistance movement that evolved into the Northern Alliance. They would have nothing to do with bin Laden who they correctly identified as a loose cannon and an extremist. Bin Laden was financially supported by the Saudi power elite and given weapons and logistical support by the Pakistanis. You say, “Who helped the Mujahidins in Afghanistan? Who’s agent was bin Laden at that time?” – well, it was Saudi money and Pakistani ISI coordination. The U.S. had almost nothing to do with these people. Indeed, after the Soviets left, the first thing that the Taliban and bin Laden did was to turn their guns on the American-supported Northern Alliance and drive them into the mountains to consolidate their power.

    Finally, in an astonishing display of historical ignorance you ask “How did the Ayatollah come in power?” Well, it sure as hell wasn’t with the support of the U.S.

    Thus, when you say:

    “I mean, you trained and armed fanatics to fight for your cause. You have supported terrorists, not only in Asia but in Latin America, too. Now they have turned against you. Surprised? ”

    you show a willingness to tell yourself lies and then scream at America for actions that it either opposed or for which it simply bore no responsibility.

  81. What if HJ, the guy from Pakistan who posted a comment up there, videotaped himself doing as you request in this post?

  82. Kawish – have innocent Iraqis been killed in the American-led effort to depose Saddam. You bet. And I’m sure you count each and every one as an outrage against Islam.

    Why did you not do so when Saddam was killing them? Why do you not do so when al Queda kills far more and does so with murderous forethought?

    You blame Israel for murdering Palestinians but do you blame the Palestinian leadership for always traveling with children so that, when Israel finally takes out the worst of them, they can be sure to have a few dead children to parade before the world? Do you blame the fedayeen for using women and children in Iraq as human shields because they knew the Americans would often back off?

    Do you blame the Syrians for the real massacre at Hama that left far more dead than all of those Palestinians killed in Israel over the past 50 years? Why do you speak out only against the West? Isn’t it true that Israel’s real crime is daring to throw off the yoke of dhimmitude under which the Jews throughout the Middle East suffered horribly for centuries?

    It is simple: you don’t care for Islamic people, per se, you care for Islamic pride – because that is your pride. You use the language of “oppression” – language you’ve learned from hard-leftists in the West – because that advances your cause. The aim of such language, though, is the promotion of Islamic expansionist ambitions and not in securing redress of grievance. We’ve already seen enough of it here in the West to know it for exactly what it is. Finally, isn’t it true that you want us either dead or subject to dhimmitude for daring to live in a manner contrary to everything you understand to be right and true? Answer truly – there isn’t any real cost to doing so as you’ll never convince people here of your position anyway. Isn’t it really true that you assume that your people will eventually rule over us all – that they *must* eventually rule because they are explicitly working at God’s behest?

  83. HJ: the World Trade Center had no strategic importance either. Nuking Mecca would have great symbolic importance. First, it would demonstrate that we are indeed ruthless, because somebody with ruth would not destroy a hallowed religious site of such significance. Second, it would cause great harm to Islam; without a Mecca, there is no haj. With no haj, there are no obedient Muslims. Third, it’s a target, whereas terrorist cells are not.

    The fact that you suggest that it wouldn’t happen makes me think that you don’t understand Americans. We’ll put up with a lot of crap. Exceed some threhold, and you’ll get no mercy. Think about the Japanese. They didn’t “fight fair” (of course, by their rules, they were), so we didn’t fight fair with them, and eventually they got their country nuked. We were prepared to invade Japan, however. My father was to have been one of the ones who flew soldiers into Japan (64th TCS, 13th Jungle Air Force).

  84. i am very much surprised to learn he was supported “by Russia and by French socialists”.

    France harbored Khomeni during the last stages of his exile. I can’t find a ready reference, but I have read that this was a courtship by French communists and socialists. At any rate, it appears that Khomeini accepted their hospitality and donations without accepting their philosophy.

    I should have stated that he was supported by communist elements in Iran that were in turn supported by Russia.

    I’ve come across these facts in numerous places, but here’s a history that does a pretty good chronological job. There’s also this that supports other comments that I’ve read that notes that Khomeini offered an alternative to communism and capitalism. The communist elements in some cases turned wholesale in support of Islamic Fascism, and lent their means and methods to the cause. So there was support from within that was soon absorbed into Islamic Fascism.

    In 1979, Iran was considered a prize to be won by the Soviets because of the US’s disengagement. They supported the end of the Shah’s regime, not realizing that Khomeini was a pandora’s box. I found this that is extremely prescient (written in 1980). What is clear to me is that Khomeini spent a lot of time entertaining Soviet offers and gifts without once considering a long-term relationship.

    Khomeini existed on diplomatic life support for something like 11 years while he established his plan to reenter iran and seize control. This wasn’t done in a vacuum, and I have not seen any evidence that he was supported by anyone other than communist / socialist / leftist elements (for example, i’m a little surprised at his lack of funding by militant Islamic factions).

  85. Jim Thompson: you’re not clear on the point. Pay attention! Eric doesn’t need do make this proclamation since it is not he who is asserting that Islam is a religion of peace.

  86. Perhaps some members of the religion of peace will tell us why boobies drive them into such a frenzy.

  87. # The problem is not with Muslims. It is with those power-hungry nations of the world,
    # whom seem Muslims as a barrier to their plans, and are in a hunt for killing them all.

    Nobody in America is “in a hunt for killing them all.”

    Plans for what? What great plans could any *powerful* (not power-hungry) nation have which involved the “world’s sandbox” anyway? Here in the U.S.A. we have clean paved streets, fresh water with plumbing that flushes, and I don’t have to worry about my neighbors killing me due to our religious differences. I want nothing to do with any people who haven’t accomplished those things.

    If you want America to treat you as an equal, arrest your criminals/terrorists. Stop letting people use God-Allah-whoever as an excuse to commit crimes. If you do that most basic thing for yourselves, you’ll find we’ll give you much more respect.

  88. >DDG Says:

    >Does that make me a troll?

    >Not necessarily, but your insistence on moving the goalposts and insisting that people narrowly answer your argument is boring.

    I am not moving any goalposts. I have simply insisted that people answer things I actually said. One respondent even admitted to answering points he assumed I was making. Making vaguely related assertions in response to an argument is not a counter-argument. If anything I’m trying to keep the goalposts stationary (witness the attempt to turn this into an argument over the term ‘chicken-hawk’).

    >People have responded to your arguments in detail, but don’t necessarily frame the argument in dissembled, reductionist language.

    If by that you mean that they have not answered anything I’ve said, then I agree with you. I have made a couple of simple points, and nobody has come up with a good answer to any of them. To give you a specific example, I never made the ‘chicken-hawk’ argument, and yet was given a rebuttal of that argument in response to my post. That was an attempt to muddy the argument.

    >If you can’t bring yourself to conceptualize past your narrow definitions, I suppose you can simply continue to say that noone is responding to your arguments. It will help to pass the time.

    What basis do you have for saying how I ‘conceptualise’ this argument? I’m not saying anything controversial, complex or non-sensical. If the case for invading Middle Eastern countries is so strong, it should be simple to answer questions such as: “how are we going to convince the occupants to give up their backwards-ass/volatile ideas?”

    >Narcissism is particularly ugly on the internet.

    This is baseless, personal insult number what? I’ve lost count.

    >The best arguments that I’ve heard for invading Iraq frame the war in terms of a longer engagement, including an inevitable engagement with Iran. A democratically federated Iraq provides a key launching point for whatever needs to happen against Iran, since Iraq is the center of the middle eastern chessboard. I’m not necessarily convinced that this was the sole intent of going into Iraq, but given Iran’s response (their three-year financial and military support of the insurgency) seems to show that this is on their minds at least.

    I’m not questioning the wisdom of invading Iraq as an opener to further engagements in the Middle East – I’m questioning whether the wider strategy of invading Middle Eastern countries is an effective way to fight terrorism. My contention is that invading Middle Eastern countries will not change the attitude of the occupants and will _help_ rather than hinder terrorist recruitment efforts. If we have to invade Iran for other, overriding reasons, then I am all for it.

    To be clearer, I don’t see how large-scale military deployment is solving the problem that small groups of people can easily make and set off bombs in the first world countries. As long as people want to do this and are allowed to live here, it will continue to happen.

    >Also, in moral and geopolitical terms, it seems more clear now than even three years ago that Sadaam was pursuing and harboring WMDs. New evidence suggests that he transported his stash to Syria.

    I don’t dispute this claim (although I find it dubious), but the US administration has flip-flopped on the reason for invading Iraq that one must question either their wisdom or their honesty regarding deployment.

    >We will see soon whether taking the center of the chessboard was a worthwhile gamble, and if that was really the intent.

    Indeed.

  89. >Andy Freeman Says:

    >Perhaps some members of the religion of peace will tell us why boobies drive them into such a frenzy.

    While modern Islamic reactions to sexual displays and behaviour have been far more severe than modern Christian ones, you could reasonably ask the same question of followers of Christianity. An obsession with the sexual behaviour of others would seem likely to be an evolved characteristic of humans.

  90. This is baseless, personal insult number what?

    It is neither baseless, nor primarily an insult. Narcissism is ugly, and its uglier on boards where someone consistently posts that noone is answering their questions, responding to their points, or otherwise paying attention to them.

    QED.

    As an alternative, you might consider adhering to the notion of conversation, rather than insisting on a point by point acknowledgement of the depth, power, persuasiveness, and sheer awe-inspiring brilliance of your arguments. Personally, I’m all out of acknowledgements this evening.

  91. Here in the U.S.A. we have clean paved streets, fresh water with plumbing that flushes, and I don’t have to worry about my neighbors killing me due to our religious differences. I want nothing to do with any people who haven’t accomplished those things.

    Got your car running on homegrown ethanol, have you?

  92. Narcissism is ugly, and its uglier on boards where someone consistently posts that noone is answering their questions, responding to their points, or otherwise paying attention to them.

    You’re paying attention to him, you’re just not answering his questions. But maybe he isn’t asking the right ones.

  93. >DDG Says:

    >It is neither baseless, nor primarily an insult.

    It is primarily an insult because it is transparentally false. I have simply responded to posts point-by-point, indicating reasons why each is wrong. Please explain how this equates with narcissism.

    >Narcissism is ugly, and its uglier on boards where someone consistently posts that noone is answering their questions, responding to their points, or otherwise paying attention to them.

    I never complained that noone was paying attention to me. I have simply responded to people arguing with me that they are not responding to anything I have said. Is this an unreasonable expectation?

    Suppose I make the argument that accusations of cowardice are hollow coming from people who do not set a higher example themselves. Suppose further that someone responds that I am wrong, and attempts to show it by providing reasons that the _chicken-hawk_ argument is incorrect. Supposing that those reasons are valid, is it implied that I am wrong?

    Clearly not, because I never made the chicken-hawk argument in the first place. This is exactly what happened in the post that you originally accused me of being a troll over. I think this is a clear and accurate distillation of what happened, and I challenge you to demonstrate why it is not, or why my conclusion is incorrect.

    Let’s get this quite straight: you responded to something I wrote – I put forth a clear rebuttal, and you fail to answer my rebuttal. Assuming that what I said was not non-sensical (and therefore unreasonably hard to respond to), in most corners this would be called ‘losing the argument’.

    >QED.

    This adds nothing to the argument, but it does make you look arrogant.

    >As an alternative, you might consider adhering to the notion of conversation

    Any notion of conversation which states that people should be permitted to freely make transparent attempts to misrepresent another’s argument without fear of being shown to be incorrect, is not a notion to be aspired to.

    >, rather than insisting on a point by point acknowledgement of the depth, power, persuasiveness, and sheer awe-inspiring brilliance of your arguments. Personally, I’m all out of acknowledgements this evening.

    This is plainly false, as I never asked anyone to do any of those things. If you disagree, please provide a relevent quote and I will gladly recant my position. I have merely requested responses that refer to my actual writing and not something pulled out of thin air. You are not obligated to answer my posts, but cannot expect me to sit around while you misrepresent what I say.

    I’m sorry that this strategy keeps backfiring on people, but if you’re wrong, you’re wrong.

  94. While replying I didn’t realise you emphasised the word “their” in the following text. I will double-post to make myself clearer.

    >Narcissism is ugly, and its uglier on boards where someone consistently posts that noone is answering their questions, responding to their points, or otherwise paying attention to them.

    If you are responding _their_ points and _their_ questions, what would your response refer if not _their_ points and _their_ questions? Points and questions that sound superficially similar, but that you have actually pulled out of thin air? I never asked you to pay attention to me, although you are doing that.

  95. Well, I live in Iran and I can clearly certify that a lot of the reformist clerics (those in the same political line as the former President Khatami) say things things exactly like that in their public speeches, including those made in mosques:
    * “religious violence is an abomination against Allah”: check, they say that. You can perhaps even find a quote from Khatami saying something like that.
    * “that those who use terror in a program to restore the Caliphate”: Shias don’t believe in the Caliphate, so you can definitely claim that in a Shia mosque in Iran. Bin Laden is definitely criticized heavily in Iran, by both the conservative and the reformist wings.
    * “those who would execute ex-Muslims who convert to any other religion”: this may be the most controversial one in Iran. I can’t say much about this, but the recent governmental practice has been allowing such conversions to happen, while the act can still theoretically lead to execution. I know some reformist Iranian politicians mention (even in speeches in mosques) that this should be revisited, but I can’t say I know the feelings of many muslims about this.
    * “those who would condone ‘honor killing’”: honor killing is heavily frowned upon in Iran by the government. It’s officially condemnable by death, and people have been hanged because of “honor killing”.
    * “and those who incite hatred against Jews and other Peoples of the Book”: This is definitely talked about by the reformist clerics. They
    * “have fallen from the Narrow Way and will burn in hell”: You know the thing? Some of the reformist clerics possibly don’t even believe that there is a Narrow Way. One of the reformist Iranian scholars with a deep background in Islamic Sciences (Abdol-Karim Soroush) even has a book titled something along the lines of “The Narrow Way*s*”. Talking about burning in hell is not either a common thing they mention. Burning in hell depends on a lot of factors. One act of guilt can not burn you in hell, as it depends on the total weighted sum of good and bad deeds you have done in life.

    Regarding “the sons of Iblis”, I’ve yet to hear that Iblis (aka Satan) had sons. Not in any of the Islamic Republic’s education system’s obligatory Islamic course I’ve heard that Iblis has sons.

  96. >You blame Israel for murdering Palestinians but do you blame the Palestinian >leadership for always traveling with children so that, when Israel finally takes >out the worst of them, they can be sure to have a few dead children to parade >before the world? Do you blame the fedayeen for using women and children >in Iraq as human shields because they knew the Americans would often back >off?

    WildMonk, how can you be so stupid? :) No body takes out children with themselves in order to get them killed.

    >>4. How many of the 9/11 terrorists were muslim?

    You tell me. BTW, important question isn’t how many of them were muslims. The important question is, who hired them? Who knew that after 9/11, they will be able to use US as a puppet and push it into war against Muslims? Must be a few intelligent anti-Islamic folks, but, barbarians, yes?

    >>5. What percentage of all ‘modern day terrorists’ are muslim?

    Yet again, less percentage, as compared to 100% of Israelis (all of them are trained in order to carry out violent actions against Palestinians), and also, there are a number of terrorists of US origin. ESR spreads terror around. ESR consistently asks the non-muslims to get armed against Muslims and kill them whereever they find them. ESR regularly posts violent stuff on his blog, and he totally supports the Iraq war which is nothing but a mass murder of humanity. What does “Armed and Dangerous” portray but an evil mind?

    The rest of the questions are related to religious study and you better forward them to some religion student.

    >If you want America to treat you as an equal, arrest your >criminals/terrorists. Stop letting people use God-Allah-whoever as an excuse >to commit crimes. If you do that most basic thing for yourselves, you’ll find >we’ll give you much more respect.

    We want America to stop the mass murder of Muslims that is being carried around in the world nowadays by its hands, and by the hands of its allies. Unless and untill America fulfil this request, it will be hated more and more. You don’t think someone would love you in reponse to your hatred for them, do you?

    May God give you all the necessary intelligence that it takes to understand the importance of peace. You all do not get it, do you? Peace is important. You want a land to live? Get it through peaceful process. You want Oil? Get it, but don’t kill innocent people for it. What this world needs is peace, and not wars. You people won’t understand it though, as your mind have gone all polluted.

  97. Let’s get this quite straight: you responded to something I wrote

    Good idea. I’ve never called you a troll, and defended you when you were called one. And a not-overly-careful reading will demonstrate that I’ve never responded to a point that you’ve made other than your question about necessarily being a troll.

    [America] will be hated more and more.

    If it’s a choice between being hated and alive or acknowledged in dhimmitude, I’ll take hated.

    No body takes out children with themselves in order to get them killed.

    Wrong.

    You want Oil?

    Actually, the question is, “do the middle east want to be paid for the oil you have?” If this war has brought on nothing else, it has forced America to reassess its business relationship with OPEC, seek other sources of oil and energy. Very clearly, but very quietly, AMerica is turning away from OPEC. Unless we shoot ourselves in the foot and completely succumb, OPEC will lose the plurality of its business in the next ten to fifteen years.

    The Middle East has no other exportable natural resources of any consequence of which I am aware. They are forcing themselves into a long term corner -

  98. How many of the current violent regions don’t involve Muslims?

    I can think of one, the South American drug war.

    How many do?

    Are there any non-violent regions where there’s a large number of Muslims near a large number of mon-Muslims?

  99. >If it’s a choice between being hated and alive or acknowledged in dhimmitude, I’ll take hated.

    All right, you take being hated for your evil doings, then stop complaining about you being hated. Though I would suggest you earn some respect and stop violence and start treating all humans equal. You don’t cosider all humans equal do you?

  100. You don’t cosider all humans equal do you?

    Actually, I do – “All men are created equal”. I believe in freedom froms, though, which in turn guarantee as level a playing field as is realistic. What I don’t believe in is oppression, tyranny, or in governments or religious leaders asking for my sacrifice to further their questionable aims.

  101. >>No body takes out children with themselves in order to get them killed.

    >Wrong.

    The question was stupid, and saying that I answered it wrong, is yet again, stupid, just as if I would ask you the question as to why do you people build such high buildings as WTC that they get hit by boeings?

  102. >Actually, I do – “All men are created equal”. I believe in freedom froms, though, which in turn guarantee as level a playing field as is realistic. What I don’t believe in is oppression, tyranny, or in governments or religious leaders asking for my sacrifice to further their questionable aims.

    Finally something good to hear. Well said, DDG!

  103. Frankly, Scientology scares me more than any other religion. Look what it did to Tom Cruise! :)

  104. > Actually, the question is, “do the middle east want to be paid for the oil you have?” If this war has brought on nothing else, it has forced America to reassess its business relationship with OPEC, seek other sources of oil and energy.

    There is another approach. Suppose that the US actually did what it is often accused of, invading for oil. This would require occupying the oil fields and production facilities, but we could simply ignore the rest of the area. And, with modern drilling techniques, the relevant part of the fields can be much smaller than the resevoirs.

    Note that “ignore the rest” significantly reduces our exposure. We can safely-for-us maintain a fairly large no-mans-land.

    Without oil revenues, how could the mid-east countries/people stop that plan?

    And, if they couldn’t do anything by themselves, who would help? I suspect that the Euros would become heavily involved on our side if we simply divided the fields and told them that their oil would only come from their fields.

  105. Kawish wrote:
    >The accumulative number of innocent people killed by the hands of US and Israel exceed millions, dear one!
    You mean like the “victims” in these videos: http://www.seconddraft.org/movies.php ??? If you’re going to fake atrocities, at least make sure there’s no one around with a camera to show what really happened.

    Kawish wrote:
    > Whom do you think the tons of explosives you bombarded over Iraq were killing? Innocent children, women, and men.
    ROFL

  106. Kawish wrote:
    > All right, you take being hated for your evil doings, then stop complaining about you being hated.
    That’s right, not wanting to be enslaved is evil. *rolls eyes*

    Kawish wrote:
    > Though I would suggest you earn some respect and stop violence and start treating all humans equal.
    The word “irony” somehow seems insufficient.

    Kawish wrote:
    > You don’t cosider all humans equal do you?
    No, I don’t. Some humans – like you – are criminals, while others – like myself – are not.

  107. Considering the nonsensical ramblings of Kawish & Co, this Lazarus Long quote (found at the top of this page) is quite fitting:

    “The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.”

  108. >DDG Says:

    >Good idea. I’ve never called you a troll, and defended you when you were called one. And a not-overly-careful reading will demonstrate that I’ve never responded to a point that you’ve made other than your question about necessarily being a troll.

    My apologies! This time I had you confused with someone else. My main point still stands, however.

  109. Unless we shoot ourselves in the foot and completely succumb, OPEC will lose the plurality of its business in the next ten to fifteen years.

    Of course, in 15 years no one’s going to need oil for anything. I mean, there are so many great alternatives just waiting to be developed for next to no investment. And the Chinese and Indian economies are just aching to switch over to goose butter, or something else they have lying around in profusion.

  110. >Of course, in 15 years no one’s going to need oil for anything.

    Out of business in 15 years?

    i hope yor not a betting man!

    OPEC’s mission is to coordinate & unify the petroleum policies of Member Countries & ensure the stabilization of oil prices in order to secure an efficient, economic & regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers & a fair return on capital to those investing in the petroleum industry.

    some good reading http://www.opec.org

  111. World crude oil reserves are estimated at more than one trillion barrels, of which the 11 OPEC Member Countries hold more than 78 per cent.

    OPEC’s Members in 2004 produced around 29.6 million barrels per day of crude oil, or some 42 per cent of the world total output, which stood at about 70.6 million barrels per day

    do the math

  112. I wish they would just demand equal rights for women and children in their mosques. I don’t feel any more sympathy for cultures that do not afford women and children equal rights than I do cultures that accept any other types of slavery. And really I think that is one of the fundamental issues that muslims have with western culture – they lose their slaves. (Yes, I have been in the Middle East.) I just don’t think they understand the resolve of some Americans to get rid of all slavery – it was not until 1962 that a black man was able to go to a public university in the south, and then only with Army troops there to guard him. The middle east has a much longer history of slavery – so why should anyone expect them to grok freedom overnight? It’s only going to be through generations of education – and lots of fighting – but I predict that they will lose their slaves and positions of privilege eventually.

    In the mean time, I get a happy feeling whenever Rice goes over to talk down to muslim rulers.

  113. Oh, and if that last comment about Rice makes you angry, you might want to consider why I am not threatened by powerful women, but you are.

  114. >That’s right, not wanting to be enslaved is evil. *rolls eyes*

    Buddy, you are already enslaved. Enslaved by your greed to rule the world which pushes you into being violent, and your governments into wars.

  115. >No, I don’t. Some humans – like you – are criminals, while others – like myself – are not.

    Aha! So you finally agree that you don’t believe in humanity, that whoever tries to pinpoint the injustice that west is doing to the east, specially Muslims, is a criminal for you. I guess I ain’t wrong when I say that you people have started loving to hate. :)

  116. I guess I ain’t wrong when I say that you people have started loving to hate. :)

    It’s not that so much as that (some) Americans seem to want a mission.

  117. >Sure: don’t adopt them. America has a gun murder rate that’s a thousand times higher than the rest of the industrialized world.

    This isn’t even close to being true.

  118. Kawish,

    You are a very, very confused individual. The United States wields the most massive and most advanced weapons ever devised. It possesses 8,000 nuclear warheads and enough conventional ordnance to devastate the entire middle east. Rest assured, we have enough firepower to kill the planet several times over.

    And yet you accuse us of waging an all out war against muslims and trying to wipe them out in Iraq? You accuse the United States; who at its own behest has poured trillions of dollars of research money into developing–get this–not more destructive weapons, but more precise weapons that hit their targets, and only their targets.

    The United States goes to absolutely extraordinary lengths to avoid civillian casualties, if for no other reason than the simple rationality that killing civillians and inflicting wanton collateral damage is actually detrimental to the overall strategic goals. And yet, in your extraordinary confusion, you build the US up to be some great enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy the world? Get this–in 3 years of fighting in Iraq, the best estimates put the number of civillians killed at just 30,000; two thirds of which were killed by insurgents wielding suicide vests and car bombs. How is it that we, armed with the most sophisticated and destructive weapons ever created, have killed just 10,000–a number that includes a nebulous number of enemy combatants?

    When will the cognitive dissonance wracking your brain ever be resolved? Can you not understand that it simply does not compute? How can be we be the most ruthless and bloodthirsty country on earth, hellbent on occupying and and controlling muslim lands and exterminating the dar-al-Islam if we cannot manage to kill more than 10,000 in 3 years? How exactly is it that we wish to control the world’s oil, yet we go to extraordinary lengths to pacify a country and help it to build its own self-governance and develop a replacement security force? How exactly is it that we would spend hundreds of billions of dollars and pump tens of billions into the Iraqi government?

    You are chronically incapable of making a distinction between an errant American bomb landing on an innocent’s home and inflicting damage, met without celebration, but with remorse and instant medical care–to a suicide bomber who openly declares intent to kill innocents and those who openly cheer and celebrate the death of innocent Israelis and Iraqis whose only crime was being in the wrong market at the wrong time?

    If you frankly cannot see any distinction between the incredible restraint of the United States and western powers and bloodthirsty, barbaric, and the premeditated and celebrated death wrought by suicide bombers of Islamic origin; you should excuse yourself from this discussion in embarassment. You have descended down a path of moral relativism that is so distorted and frankly so completely morally dead as to be a complete inversion.

  119. Kawish,

    You should count yourself lucky that the western world has developed civilization and technology to the point that you can have this discussion here with us–and feel absolutely safe that you have the freedom of expression and consumption of information to develop such wild and misguided conceptions of the world; you won’t be facing repercussions from the government or physical intimidation. At worst, you’ll suffer the embarassment of being sounded routed in a rhetorical argument.

    The more the west peers into the middle east, the more it confirms that we have the good fortune of inheriting a wealth of freedom, technology, information, and wisdom from our forbears, as well as the tools with which to develop them higher. If you are wondering whether the west has a superiority complex–why yes, yes we do. Some of us refuse to let the multicultural malaise restrain us from becoming aware of the glaring and chronic failures of the middle east and the tremendous, overwhelming, awe-inspiring triumph of the west.

    We’re not inherently better people, but we know that somehow, the safety that we have built for ourselves, and the freedom and rationality that we have chosen over the barbaric strictures of the dark ages has unlocked something that is inherently good in human nature–freedom and intelligence.

    But god no–we’re not allowed to realize this. If we did, we might actually want to defend our way of life and disarm the insane forces of barbarity running rampant in the world….

  120. >The United States goes to absolutely extraordinary lengths to avoid civillian casualties, if for no other reason than the simple rationality that killing civillians and inflicting wanton collateral damage is actually detrimental to the overall strategic goals.

    What the hell are these “strategic goals”? Why on Earth do America has to go at war against other nations at first place so that later it has to go to “absolutely extraordinary lengths to avoid civillian casualties”? Why can’t America just live and let live? Why can’t you people just simply enjoy the technological developments that you have managed and stop thinking of the Muslims as lab rats for your weapons to test on?

    Don’t tell me that the whole world was wrong when there were demonstrations against Iraq war everywhere, and that you were alone right to attack it. The only excuse you had were WMD, which proved out to be a lie, and America a liar.

  121. I wish they would just demand equal rights for women and children in their mosques.

    OT, I’m in favor of repealing a tremendous number of the child labor laws in America. Part of what made the greatest generation great was their work ethic – they were rewarded for effort at a young age.

    And, oh yeah, I think a lot of the jobs that “Americans won’t do”(straw man) could admirably be done by kids and teens.

    freedom from

    i meant freedom _to_. Maybe this was why Kawish liked my statement so much.

    Americans are filled with hate hate hate

    Some are. Most aren’t. It really doesn’t matter. Neither love nor hate motivate the way that you seem to think. I will point out that American Hate != other countries’ citizens’ deaths. If there was an equation, the deaths would number in the billions.

    Worse, the Isalamofascists would use our tenderest feelings against us. Consider the two bomb method adopted by the homicide bombers in Israel, wherein the first responders are the target for the second bomber. Why does the Muslim world deserve our love, compassion, or grief when we have received nothing like it in return? If anybody could benefit from a session of kumbaya, it would be the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades.

    Ironically, or perhaps through cosmic justice, you don’t need love to get along with America. Neither do Americans rely on good feelings to get along with each other. Our founders recognized that men are, at least in part, nasty and brutish, and put in place a set of laws and mechanisms that don’t rely on ephemeral good will to move things forward.

    The Islamic world needs to stop concerning itself with our moral fiber. Get your own house in order.

  122. “Why can’t you people just simply enjoy the technological developments that you have managed and stop thinking of the Muslims as lab rats for your weapons to test on?”

    Funny, that’s what Nevada is for. The land area of the western U.S’s live-fire test ranges dwarfs Israel and the disputed palestinian territories.

    “Don’t tell me that the whole world was wrong when there were demonstrations against Iraq war everywhere, and that you were alone right to attack it. The only excuse you had were WMD, which proved out to be a lie, and America a liar.”

    Don’t tell me the entire United Nations Security council was wrong when in Resolution 1441 they unanimously held Iraq in material breech of its obligations to reveal and destroy all WMD and related materials.

    Perhaps you’d care to recite the 23 reasons stated in the U.S. Senate Resolution that authorized the President to choose military action against Iraq in October 2002?

    Maybe you’d have better luck resurrecting the ghosts of 5,000 Kurds killed by Saddam’s chemical weapons attacks? Or perhaps you’d like to consult with Iran over its 1 million dead at the hands of Saddam during their long, bloody war–thousands due to chemical attacks? Or are you so blinded with hatred you’ll blame that on the United States for that too, claiming we armed Saddam, when in reality we supplied less than 3% of their arms, the largest percentages being Soviet and French weapons systems?

    You can keep carping on about how evil the United States is, and I can keep pounding you over the head with facts. Perhaps it will drive you insane with hatred as you struggle to maintain your inverted view of the world–I’m willing to take that chance. Are you?

  123. >Maybe you’d have better luck resurrecting the ghosts of 5,000 Kurds killed by Saddam’s chemical weapons attacks? Or perhaps you’d like to consult with Iran over its 1 million dead at the hands of Saddam during their long, bloody war–thousands due to chemical attacks?

    I never claimed Saddam was a good buddy. He killed innocent people, so does the US kill innocent people. The following cartoon on RMS’s homepage reveals the truth.

    http://www.stallman.org/images/cartoon-6.jpg

  124. DDG:

    Thank you for your reply and accept my apologies for answering so late.

    Having spent considerable time reading the three pages you linked over and again i find myself somehow at a loss: what are you trying to prove with this? “Russia and the french socialists supporting” the rise of Khomeini i can see nowhere in these.

    The first, the chronology, as far as i can see does not mention USSR or the french socialists at all, except the story about J.P.Sartre and another iranian exile, altogether unconnected to Khomeini.

    The second, a Khomeini-fan-text, “abuja mirror” ends with “that human ideas which are not based on any faith or divine guidance are always short-lived and temporary” which in my eyes pretty good marks the difference any self-proclaimed socialist, communist or even merely “progressive” liberation movement in the seventies would have seen to keep them from trying to ally itself with islamic republics.

    The third – especially recommended by you as “prescient” – is, sorry to say, in my view nothing more but a lazy smear job trying to equate islam and communism even at a point when – see your second exhibit – the mutual hostility could be overlooked only with effort. The reason offered to equate them does not look more convincing to me than the current “IslamoCommieFascist” rage.

    It might bei assumed that you feel safe in blaming socialists, communists or frenchmen – or, best of all, french socialists – with anything you like. Since i appreciate your answer i don’t want to bury things on this presumption right now and am asking you again: do you have any proof or hint that “”Russia and the french socialists” supported Khomeiny, meaning not individuals enamoured with a full-blown popular movement, even if “objectively” reactionary but, say, at least ongoing endorsement on leading papers, such as “l’Humanite” or the Pravda?

  125. Kawish

    Let’s put this simply: As a people and as a government, we find the death of innocents abhorrent. In our vision of a perfect world, it simply wouldn’t happen. But we know better than to think that the world is perfect. Even more important than our revulsion at the death of innocents is our revulsion to government that slaughter on a broad and purposeful scale. You admit that Saddam killed innocents but then revert to your moral equivalence by claiming that America does too. The difference you fail to see lies in both scope and intent – and these are critical differences. Saddam murdered hundreds of thousands as part of a premeditated plan to enhance his grip on the lives of those in Iraq and its neighbors. He simply could not have been stopped in either his immediate actions or his long term ambitions without extraordinary violence. America, England, Australia and Poland (among a few others) took it upon themselves to commit to his removal – yes, using the violence they knew it required – because they believed that, freed from his grip, the region would enjoy a renaissance. It hasn’t.

    Indeed, it hasn’t because people remain under the grip of beliefs like the ones that you have expressed here. If Iraq had immediately stood up on its own and the violence had evaporated then the US would have left several years ago. You try to justify violence against America and stoke the fires of resentment and violence. In so doing, you commit the very same act of selfishness and rage that has delayed (prevented?) America’s departure and made the situation in Iraq far worse than it would otherwise be. How can you live with this?

    BTW – my earlier point about the Jihadists using human shields, even children, still stands. Asserting that I’ve asked a “stupid question” without acknowledging the fact that your ideological compatriots do *exactly that* as a matter of policy (or dealing with any of my other points, for that matter) does not win the argument.

  126. >DDG says:

    Not arguing with the rest of your post, which I mostly agree with, but:

    >Worse, the Isalamofascists would use our tenderest feelings against us. Consider the two bomb method adopted by the homicide bombers in Israel, wherein the first responders are the target for the second bomber.

    We don’t do these things because we have the luxury of not doing them. Secondary explosions and similar tactics are also common amongst desperate people, and are not unique to Islamic extremists. If it was the West that was in the weaker position, would we not have the right to do anything necessary to secure our freedom from Islamic extremism?

  127. Hacking said: “If it was the West that was in the weaker position, would we not have the right to do anything necessary to secure our freedom from Islamic extremism?”

    Anything? Really? So, if we were fighting a war for independence, you would advocate acts of terrorism directed at non-combatants? Violence, such as secondary explosions, aimed at killing medics and rescue personnel? Do you think that our founding fathers didn’t go far enough during the American Revolution? They often left Tories alive, for example. Or, perhaps, the French Maquis should have done such things, although they were reasonably careful to only target German military and French collaborators and didn’t randomly detonate bombs in shopping markets, for example.

    But, of course, being weaker, it would have been excusable if they had resorted to such tactics. Morality and ethics don’t play a part when you’re weaker, right?

  128. We don’t do these things because we have the luxury of not doing them.

    Cowperthwaite got it exactly right – the Continental army explicitly recoiled from the use of tactics that inflicted terror or malice on innocents. Those who chose to use the revolution as an excuse for personal agrandizement were often punished and at least halted.

    But you’re missing the bigger picture – you’re equivocating between the Palestinian cause and a revolution in pursuit of freedom. I would go so far as to say that if the Palestinians really wanted freedom, they would change their tactics. Freedom is a concept foreign to Hamas, Hezbollah, and the remnants of Fatah. The palestinian cause is more about the destruction of Israel and less about a representative government.

  129. The palestinian cause is more about the destruction of Israel and less about a representative government.

    They want their land back, in fact. And not the bits that were sold.

    So, if we were fighting a war for independence, you would advocate acts of terrorism directed at non-combatants? Violence, such as secondary explosions, aimed at killing medics and rescue personnel? Do you think that our founding fathers didn’t go far enough during the American Revolution? They often left Tories alive, for example. Or, perhaps, the French Maquis should have done such things, although they were reasonably careful to only target German military and French collaborators and didn’t randomly detonate bombs in shopping markets, for example.

    Some of these parallels deserve to be examined a little. There seems to me to be a quality of hopelessness about Islamic resistance movements on account of the technology gap they’re up against which wasn’t there in the American revolution. Suicidal attacks happened from time to time, but not really suicide ones. I don’t quite see what benefits the Maquis would have got from killing their own people, but then they weren’t divided into Sunni and Shia (though there were quite a few Communists who were killed after liberation afaik). And the Germans probably weren’t going to be sickened into pulling out, but that doesn’t mean modern Americans couldn’t be.

  130. BTW – my earlier point about the Jihadists using human shields, even children, still stands
    Middle eastern culture does not value women or children’s lives above adult males – they are property, and sometimes their best value is to be used as propaganda against cultures that do value their lives. It’s filmed in India, but I really recommend Born into Brothels if you have not traveled much in central Asia. I think it highlights the cultural roadblocks to education and egalitarian thought pretty well.

  131. > They want their land back, in fact.

    And I want a pony.

    They (or rather, their parents), left that some of that land so they could observe Jew-slaughter safely. The rest of the land was lost in a fight that they started.

    Oslo would have given much of it back, but they’d rather kill Jews.

    Given that, it’s unlikely that they’ll stop fighting until they run out of local Jews, land or no land.

    Why should I care what they want?

  132. Adrian10 –

    “They want their land back” – this is a very typical but almost tiresomely inaccurate view of the conflict.

    What of the many Jews in communities that had lived (typically as Dhimmis) for hundreds of years in Palestine? What of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were literally driven off their property by other Muslim governments in the region who then emigrated to Israel? Is it fair to say that only Palestinians “deserve their land back”? What of the periodic pogroms against the Jews practiced by the Ottomans? For several hundred years before the birth of the modern Israeli state?

    I’m sure that the Muslims of Palestine did not like the influx of European Jews from the Zionist movement, but, if your explanation is correct, why did the Muslims first slaughter the people of the old Jewish towns of Safed, Hebron, Jerusalem and Motza when they rose up in the late 1920s? What of the repeated mass attacks on Israel throughout the 20th century? Do you know of any other people who, having won territory after being viciously attacked would be so quick to give it up? Why do you not protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet (which sprang out of pure offensive aggression) with the same passion as you do the Israeli occupation (which occurred after a defensive war)?

    Indeed, place almost any other culture in Israel’s shoes this past century and we’d be reading footnotes in our history books about the slaughter of several million Palestinians in the 1960s that paved the way for the modern state of Israel at twice its current size. Reverse the power equation between Israel and the Palestinians for even a single day and the slaughter of the Jews would be almost incomprehensible.

    The Jewish state was born in blood but it is simple-minded in the extreme to paint this as the Palestinians simply “wanting their land back.” The truth is that the same blood-hatred for non-Muslims that now drives terrorism throughout the world stands at the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  133. >Eric Cowperthwaite Says:

    >Hacking said: “If it was the West that was in the weaker position, would we not have the right to do anything necessary to secure our freedom from Islamic extremism?”

    >Anything? Really?

    Anything _necessary_.

    >So, if we were fighting a war for independence, you would advocate acts of terrorism directed at non-combatants? Violence, such as secondary explosions, aimed at killing medics and rescue personnel?

    If they were absolutely necessary to win. Terrorists simply have no chance fighting us on fair terms, so it’s somewhat hollow to criticise them for using ruthless and immoral tactics. Note that I’m not suggesting that this changes the fact that we should want them dead and gone.

    >Do you think that our founding fathers didn’t go far enough during the American Revolution? They often left Tories alive, for example. Or, perhaps, the French Maquis should have done such things, although they were reasonably careful to only target German military and French collaborators and didn’t randomly detonate bombs in shopping markets, for example.

    In these cases, the measures you describe obviously weren’t deemed necessary.

    >But, of course, being weaker, it would have been excusable if they had resorted to such tactics.

    If their causes were justified, and the tactics were absolutely necessary, then yes.

    >Morality and ethics don’t play a part when you’re weaker, right?

    They do play a part, but you’re simplifying the issue of morality. Is it moral to give up a cause worth killing for simply because you are forced to do reprehensible things to achieve it? We should fight them because they represent a risk to us, not because we are somehow morally superior to them.

    >DDG Says:

    >Cowperthwaite got it exactly right – the Continental army explicitly recoiled from the use of tactics that inflicted terror or malice on innocents. Those who chose to use the revolution as an excuse for personal agrandizement were often punished and at least halted.

    They clearly did not think it _necessary_ to win.

    >But you’re missing the bigger picture – you’re equivocating between the Palestinian cause and a revolution in pursuit of freedom.

    I believe you’re closer to agreeing with me than you think. I’m not trying to make a point about Palestine here; I’m trying to make a point about what people consider to be unfair tactics. War isn’t sport – once one side gets into a desperate position, the other can’t expect rules to be adhered to. It’s a nasty business of killing people – any notion of fairness is an illusion.

    Besides, my original point was that the West doesn’t resort to such things because it is in a strong position. Are you saying it would be acceptable for us to surrender civilisation to Islamic extremists because of moral qualms?

    >I would go so far as to say that if the Palestinians really wanted freedom, they would change their tactics. Freedom is a concept foreign to Hamas, Hezbollah, and the remnants of Fatah. The palestinian cause is more about the destruction of Israel and less about a representative government.

    Agreed. I sympathise with the Palestinians, but the movement for resistance has been long since hijacked by Islamic extremists. That is a separate issue to their chosen tactics, however.

  134. Adrian10 wrote: “There seems to me to be a quality of hopelessness about Islamic resistance movements on account of the technology gap they’re up against which wasn’t there in the American revolution.”

    Actually, during the first years of the American Revolution the cause was considered quite hopeless and much of the continuing fight was because of the force of personality of men like Washington, Adams, and Hancock and the ability of Franklin to raise some limited amounts of money in Europe. Plus the continuing hope that France or The Netherlands would enter the war against the British. In fact, the British had the best Army and Navy in the world at the time, in many ways the fight is analogous, in strictly military terms, to Iraq. Including the fact that the American Revolutionaries had no true foreign sponsor.

    Regardless, the bigger point is that atrocities are atrocities. Morality and ethics don’t change just because it’s not the Americans on the other side. Yet you appear to be saying that Middle Eastern terrorists are fully justified in committing immoral atrocities or that the Maquis would have been justified if only it could have a chance of being successful against the Wehrmacht, SS and Gestapo.

    More moral relativism.

  135. >Regardless, the bigger point is that atrocities are atrocities.

    Indeed, but moral absolutism is oversimplifying the issue. Many cultures throughout history have commited horrible atrocities – it is part of human nature – but that doesn’t mean they can be written off wholesale as monsters. Western civilisation has overcome these things through education and progress, not any intrinsic superiority.

    >Morality and ethics don’t change just because it’s not the Americans on the other side.

    Nobody said they do. I thought we were done putting words into peoples’ mouths.

    >Yet you appear to be saying that Middle Eastern terrorists are fully justified in committing immoral atrocities or that the Maquis would have been justified if only it could have a chance of being successful against the Wehrmacht, SS and Gestapo.

    I haven’t said the terrorists are justified, but I have said that Westerners would do the same if it were similarly desperate. I have also said that is it unreasonable for Westerners to expect terrorists to play by rules which will obviously lead to their losing.

    Again I ask you: if the necessity arose, would you rather give up civilisation to Islamic extremists, or resort to morally unpalatable measures? I am rather curious to hear Eric’s answer to that question also.

    (Btw, I realise you’re responding to adrian here, but you _seem_ to be answering both of us.)

    >More moral relativism.

    If someone attacks you on the street and you shoot them dead, is that not different to shooting someone dead unprovoked? Morals are relative.

  136. What of the periodic pogroms against the Jews practiced by the Ottomans? For several hundred years before the birth of the modern Israeli state?

    The Palestinians are paying for Turkish crimes? Kind of mean, isn’t it? It’s like saying that because I was brought up a Catholic the Inquisition is my fault.

    I’m sure that the Muslims of Palestine did not like the influx of European Jews from the Zionist movement, but, if your explanation is correct, why did the Muslims first slaughter the people of the old Jewish towns of Safed, Hebron, Jerusalem and Motza when they rose up in the late 1920s?

    Because they regarded the influx of Ashkenazis as a threat, afaict. Hard to say they were totally off base there.

    What of the repeated mass attacks on Israel throughout the 20th century?

    1948 and 1973, you mean? 1948 doesn’t surprise me much, though I know some people can’t help wetting themselves with admiration over the Israeli victory – imagine, a bunch of Jewish veterans of the war in Europe proved better trained and motivated than their opponents. Wow.

    Why do you not protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet (which sprang out of pure offensive aggression) with the same passion as you do the Israeli occupation (which occurred after a defensive war)?

    I hold self-styled democracies to a higher standard. Tibet doesn’t seem to be a severe irritant in a strategically important part of the world, either.

    Indeed, place almost any other culture in Israel’s shoes this past century and we’d be reading footnotes in our history books about the slaughter of several million Palestinians in the 1960s that paved the way for the modern state of Israel at twice its current size.

    Say what you will about the Israelis, they do know a thing or two about PR. “Zionazi” is an unreasonable slur, and they’d like to keep it that way if possible.

    Reverse the power equation between Israel and the Palestinians for even a single day and the slaughter of the Jews would be almost incomprehensible.

    What would be difficult to comprehend about it? Living with constant humiliation brutalises people, film at 11.

    The Jewish state was born in blood but it is simple-minded in the extreme to paint this as the Palestinians simply “wanting their land back.”

    Do you acknowledge the reality of things like Deir Yassin, then? They were driven off their land – “ethnically cleansed”, and they do want it back.

    The truth is that the same blood-hatred for non-Muslims that now drives terrorism throughout the world stands at the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    “Blood hatred”? Have you ever *met* any Muslims?

  137. Just think about the American soldiers who fought in Iraq and compare them with the Muslims that you hate. Most of the soldiers are Christians and have you ever thought about what did they do to those who were in Iraq? Put aside the Iraq case for a while. Have you ever thought how you were cheated by your own President? George Bush promised to capture Osama bin Laden. Until now there is no news regarding Osama. He never promised about capturing Saddam, but he captured Saddam anyway. Now that the Americans have got Saddam, let the new Iraq government handle their damn country. Why exactly did Bush capture Saddam, you ask? Because of the damn oil. By stealing the oil from Iraq, they are taking away what really belongs to the Iraqis. If I were to steal your gold, would you NOT be mad at me for doing so? The Iraqis are of course not happy about it and that is the reason why you keep on seeing how many American soldiers were killed everyday. When you watch CNN, do they tell you how many civilians the Americans killed? They label the ones who did the 9-11 attacks as terrorists. What about the Americans who kill others? How about the Jews who kill Muslims? Does the other innocent Muslims deserves to die because of what had been done by the other people of the same religion? If your answer to that question is yes, then you deserve to die just like the other Christians (or what ever religion you believe in) who had committed a lot more sins than you can imagine (eg. Hiroshima Bombing). Did you not know that by showing your hate to the Muslims will actually increase the chances of you getting hit by another Muslim. You might be safe today, but you will never know when. If not this life, maybe the next.

  138. “I haven’t said the terrorists are justified, but I have said that Westerners would do the same if it were similarly desperate. I have also said that is it unreasonable for Westerners to expect terrorists to play by rules which will obviously lead to their losing.”

    The hidden premise is that it is unreasonable for Westerners to expect terrorists to lose. Whose side are you on again?

    I do expect them to lose, and what you advocate is that we jettison all standard of morality for the enemy, because they are weak, and victims. What this supplies is the intellectual fertilizer for disproportionate criticism, and flat out guilt-sowing in the West which leads to a demoralizing haze like that which much of the world has fallen under. You’re losing the will to call out evil in its most pure form, excusing it because its perpetrators are the real victims.

    I expect, and I demand, that the world holds these barbaric terrorist assholes to account.

    “If someone attacks you on the street and you shoot them dead, is that not different to shooting someone dead unprovoked? Morals are relative.”

    The key here is what you didn’t say–morals are relative to what? To the situation? To the intent? To the relative weakness of one player over another? To past victimization? To the skin color of those participating? To the cultural morals of the surrounding people? To the religion of those people involved? To the wealth of those involved? To the intelligences of those involved? To the number of family members murdered of those involved? Again, morals are relative to what?

    By cutting off your statement, you imply that morals are relative to anything and everything. I don’t think you intended that–but it was sufficiently general and abstract enough to be an absolutely meaningless statement that nevertheless could be used to justify almost anything.

    Please tighten up your definition and we might continue rationally, but this is far too imprecise for anything but to cover your rhetorical ass, and doesn’t advance the discussion.

  139. “Because they regarded the influx of Ashkenazis as a threat, afaict. Hard to say they were totally off base there.”

    Let’s play change the actors. “Because The Americans regarded a madman who indisputibly killed 300,000 Kurds and definitely invaded his neighbors and used chemical weapons as a threat, afaict. Hard to say they were totally off base there.”

    See how is it is to reverse the sense of a sentence by putting in just the right actors? In the first, “they” refers to Muslims of Palestine from the quoted post. What are the Muslims afraid of? The influx–yes just the influx of Ashkenazis Jews. So, the threshold for initiating massive slaughter, and receiving a pass from adrian, is simply fear of Jewish settlers.

    Yet somehow the second statement would be objectionable to adrian. For the Americans, a murderous dictator of indisputable reputation doesn’t even cross the threshold for initiating a war.

  140. Living with constant humiliation brutalises people, film at 11.

    So does living under constant threat of indiscriminate murder, yet the Israelis have restricted their counter-attacks to the leadership of the murders.

    Were I in their shoes, I wouldn’t.  The Palestinians haven’t been brutalized too much, they haven’t been brutalized enough… not enough to lose their will to fight and settle on peace as the only option.

  141. Adrian,

    “The Palestinians are paying for Turkish crimes? Kind of mean, isn’t it? It’s like saying that because I was brought up a Catholic the Inquisition is my fault.”

    Please don’t act dense because I know you know better. I wasn’t saying that the *Turks* engaged in pogroms against the Jews in Palestine, my point was that the Jews endured pogroms at the hands of the Muslims in Palestine when it was part of the Ottoman Empire. In other words, the ancestors of today’s Palestinians committed atrocities against the Jews living in Israel.

    RE: the attacks in Hebron, etc…
    “Because they regarded the influx of Ashkenazis as a threat, afaict. Hard to say they were totally off base there.”

    Again, you seem to be willfully missing the point. If they saw the Ashkenazis as a threat, why didn’t they attack *them*? Why did they attack the Jews who had long liveed there instead? My point is that there are aspects to this that don’t make sense if the entire “grievance” was the Ashkenazi immigrants.

    RE: Mass attacks on Israel – you say:
    “1948 and 1973, you mean? 1948 doesn’t surprise me much, though I know some people can’t help wetting themselves with admiration over the Israeli victory – imagine, a bunch of Jewish veterans of the war in Europe proved better trained and motivated than their opponents. Wow.”

    So – you have nothing to say so you just go snarky, eh? Let me give the shorthand version of what you are saying: “It doesn’t matter that they were attacked ’cause they were just Jews. ” Pathetic, really.

    RE: having nothing to say about the Chinese in Tibet, etc.
    “I hold self-styled democracies to a higher standard. Tibet doesn’t seem to be a severe irritant in a strategically important part of the world, either. ”

    So, let me get this right, if Israel implemented a police state and simply slaughtered the Palestinians, then you’d be ok with that because they wouldn’t be a “self-styled democracy.” That is, you wouldn’t criticize them because you wouldn’t hold them to a “higher standard.” Your second statement makes my point: the Palestinians need only get “irritated” (that is, commit atrocities in the name of their ideology) and you’re ready to roll over and show your throat (or you privately admire them). This is *exactly* what I find so disgusting about the modern “left” (I put the quotes purposefully). There is precious little of the old progressive spirit left. There is no “liberal” regard for human rights or a deeper understanding of the world: there is only snark for real democrats and infinite foot-kissing for the violent thugs that at least know enough to push your ‘anti-globalism’ or ‘anti-American’ buttons.

    RE: If the power equation were reversed:
    “What would be difficult to comprehend about it? Living with constant humiliation brutalises people, film at 11.”

    So, when Palestinian suicide bombers blow up children in stores and markets, this isn’t “brutal” enough for you? Your entire frame of reference is completely one way. Whatever the Israelis do is “humiliation.” Whatever the Palestinians do is “payback for humiliation.”

    RE: Deir Yassin. Yes, of course I recognize this act of barbarism for what it is. I had just stated the the state was born in blood. My problem with you is that it only counts as precious if it is Palestinian blood. You leave out the entire context of the Deir Yassin though: what of the Arab blockade of Jerusalem? What of the fact that the massacre occurred while the Israelis were literally fighting for their lives during an invasion in which they were massively outnumbered? What of the massacres committed by Palestinians in 1920, 1921, 1929 and from 1936 to 1939? What of the ambush and massacre of the Etzion Bloc convoy in 1948 just before Deir Yassin?

    This is the thing: I acknowledge that the state was born in blood and I do not claim to exonerate the people who committed such crimes. But to act as if the Israelis are the actors and the Palestinians are simply those acted upon – as if they were passive recipients of the sword – is historically and morally wrong. The Muslim world is confident in its ideology and expansionist in its aims. The Jews don’t inspire outrage for their acts victimizing Palestinians – most of the Islamic power structure doesn’t give a damn about the plight of the Palestinians or they would offer far more help than they do (or would care more for the real slaughter of Muslims in the Islamic world). Their use of the Palestinians is purely functional: they are outraged that Jews have had the temerity to challenge Islam’s expansionist ambitions.

    Have I ever met any Muslims? Of course. Until last year, my neighbor to the back was a Muslim. Three of my hang-out clan in college were Muslims (two Persians and a Pakistani). I’m not talking about them because they were not the kind of people who harbored a blood-hatred for non-Muslims that drives much of the world’s woes. You really need to get out more if you don’t see that there is a difference between “Muslims” and “Muslim Fascists”.

  142. Diablovision:

    You hit it right on the head:

    “I do expect them to lose, and what you advocate is that we jettison all standard of morality for the enemy, because they are weak, and victims. What this supplies is the intellectual fertilizer for disproportionate criticism, and flat out guilt-sowing in the West which leads to a demoralizing haze like that which much of the world has fallen under. You’re losing the will to call out evil in its most pure form, excusing it because its perpetrators are the real victims.”

    At some point, there has to be enough courage to say that the thugs, fascists, rapists, beheaders and extremists *deserve* to lose. That means a permanent reorganization in the way that they – and the people of their societies – think about things. They should be discredited, shamed so that they dare not profess to lead their people but are instead cast out. The good Muslims of the world must see them as the relics of a failed ideology and turn outward – looking to the West not for exposed flesh to cut in conflict but for outstretched hands to shake in friendship.

  143. Big_Hacking says: “If they were absolutely necessary to win. Terrorists simply have no chance fighting us on fair terms, so it’s somewhat hollow to criticise them for using ruthless and immoral tactics. Note that I’m not suggesting that this changes the fact that we should want them dead and gone.”

    and then

    “I’m trying to make a point about what people consider to be unfair tactics. War isn’t sport – once one side gets into a desperate position, the other can’t expect rules to be adhered to. It’s a nasty business of killing people – any notion of fairness is an illusion.”

    You’d make a great stormtrooper Hacking. That is, of course, the precise argument that various portions of the state apparatus in Germany and the USSR used to justify their atrocities, including Einsatzgruppen, concentration and death camps and slave labor.

    Now, let’s be absolutely clear here. I’ve served in the military, in combat. I also served in the military in Germany during the Cold War. I don’t believe in “fairness” in combat. But I do believe, having been there and done that, so to speak, that you can remain moral.

    I refuse the idea of moral relativism. If it is okay for one side to torture people, kill civilians, kidnap people and hold them indefinitely, then it is okay for everyone to do it. Either Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are wrong, in which case so are the hostage takings of our enemy, or they are just fine. You cannot have morality both ways, that road leads to Ba’athist Iraq, Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Or, compare and contrast the American and French Revolutions and consider why one succeeded in adhering to its ideals, however imperfectly, and the other did not. There is a lesson there.

    Adrian10 wrote: “If someone attacks you on the street and you shoot them dead, is that not different to shooting someone dead unprovoked? Morals are relative.”

    You, deliberately I suspect, chose two different situations to try and make your argument. There is no relative choice here. In one case we have a person defending themself, in the other we have a person attacking another person.

    I am far more ruthless and willing to condone far more brutality than most people seem to during a war. War is not about sport or fairness, it is about winning. With a caveat. If you change yourself into evil in order to win, then what was the point of winning? Ask the French Revolutionaries, who ended up under a much worse dictatorship than the one they rebelled against. Perhaps they will see things differently.

    If I were a revolutionary fighting against a repressive government or a guerrilla fighting against a foreign occupier, I would absolutely condone (and believe it to be moral) attacks from ambush, assassination of enemy leaders, both military and civilian, stealing from my enemy to support my war effort, lying, trickery and deceit, for example. But, I don’t have any moral problem with any side of a military conflict using these tactics.

    In the same situation, I would not use torture, kidnapping, killing of non-combatants and innocents, terror attacks on civilians (P.S. the US and UK’s terror bombings of the Axis powers weren’t moral either) because they are immoral. Even if it meant that I couldn’t win. There is no point to winning if you become that which you are fighting against in the process. Interestingly, your secular, leftist position on morality differs from that of religious warriors only in not using “God” to justify evil. Other than that, there really is no difference. You simply continue to confirm my belief that the Left is a “secular religion”.

  144. >Did you not know that by showing your hate to the Muslims will actually increase the chances of you getting hit by another Muslim.

    Doink, it is the muslims who hate and kill for religion…

    1. Why are non muslims not allowed in Mecca ‘Mekka’ ?

    2. Why are animals sacrificed in ‘pilgrims name’ during the hajj ?

    3. Why is invoking the name of the creator ‘Allah’ said while the animals throat is cut.

    4. How many of the 9/11 terrorists were muslim?

    5. What percentage of all ‘modern day terrorists’ are muslim?

    6. Are you muslim and do you plan to make the pilgrimage to Mekka?

  145. >diablovision Says:

    >The hidden premise is that it is unreasonable for Westerners to expect terrorists to lose. Whose side are you on again?

    Nope. Re-read my posts, please. I’ve said repeatedly that the West is also justified in doing what is necessary. I’m simply pointing out the facts: it’s unreasonable to expect people to fold over and die because they’re a thorn in our side – they will obviously resort to whatever means are at their disposal.

    >I do expect them to lose, and what you advocate is that we jettison all standard of morality for the enemy, because they are weak, and victims.

    Wrong. Re-read my posts. Again, I am simply stating that expecting terrorists to play by our rules is unreasonable. They would lose overnight.

    >What this supplies is the intellectual fertilizer for disproportionate criticism, and flat out guilt-sowing in the West which leads to a demoralizing haze like that which much of the world has fallen under.

    Re-read my posts please. I have said repeatedly that the West is justified in doing what is necessary, and I am clearly not a guilt-monger.

    >You’re losing the will to call out evil in its most pure form, excusing it because its perpetrators are the real victims.

    Oh please. “Losing the will”? We’re having a discussion on an Internet forum. Please keep the terms of the argument at least vaguely on-target.

    >I expect, and I demand, that the world holds these barbaric terrorist assholes to account.

    I’ve said this myself several times.

    >The key here is what you didn’t say–morals are relative to what? To the situation? To the intent?

    Yes and yes.

    >To the relative weakness of one player over another?

    This is part of ‘the situation’.

    >To past victimization?

    Yes.

    >To the skin color of those participating?

    Clearly not. You might as well ask if the colour of their hair is relevent.

    >To the cultural morals of the surrounding people? To the religion of those people involved? To the wealth of those involved? To the intelligences of those involved? To the number of family members murdered of those involved?

    Clearly. If someone was raised amongst the animals, would you expect them to be civilised? If someone is retarded, do you expect them to be civilised?

    >Again, morals are relative to what?

    That depends upon the situation. I thought this was obvious, but apparently not.

    >By cutting off your statement, you imply that morals are relative to anything and everything. I don’t think you intended that–but it was sufficiently general and abstract enough to be an absolutely meaningless statement that nevertheless could be used to justify almost anything.

    I’m merely stating that morals are relative to the situation. I did not at any point say or imply that they were relative to any and all aspects of a situation, as you imply. That statement is quite ridiculous on the face of it (illustration: “are morals relative to the colour of one’s hair?”). However, stealing because your children will otherwise die is clearly different morally to stealing things you don’t need.

    >Please tighten up your definition and we might continue rationally, but this is far too imprecise for anything but to cover your rhetorical ass, and doesn’t advance the discussion.

    ‘Tighten up [my] definition’ of morality? If I could come up with a tight definition of morality I would be one of the great philosophers of our time (which I am not).

  146. Let’s play change the actors. “Because The Americans regarded a madman who indisputibly killed 300,000 Kurds and definitely invaded his neighbors and used chemical weapons as a threat, afaict. Hard to say they were totally off base there.”

    If the invasions of his neighbours hadn’t taken place with American approval this might carry a little more weight, hth.

  147. Adrian, you almost got me there. When Saddam discussed “border disputes” with American envoys in 1989-1990, we thought he meant redrawing border lines. When we said we don’t get involved in “border disputes”; in his warmongering way he took this to mean “invade at will.” Funny how Saddam’s misinterpretation of our response gets pinned on us.

    Perhaps the American-led ouster of Saddam from Kuwait might suggest that we didn’t quite approve, no?

    Let’s see what else you can blame on the US. Chinese invading Korea, Italians in North Africa, genocide in Sudan; let’s play that game, it’s quite fun! After, you know, us Americans, we alone are granted free will and the world is simply reacting to our mistakes; they’re all just a bunch of good-hearted people who suffer at our maniacal incompetent micromanagement!

  148. I refuse the idea of moral relativism. If it is okay for one side to torture people, kill civilians, kidnap people and hold them indefinitely, then it is okay for everyone to do it. Either Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are wrong, in which case so are the hostage takings of our enemy, or they are just fine. You cannot have morality both ways, that road leads to Ba’athist Iraq, Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Or, compare and contrast the American and French Revolutions and consider why one succeeded in adhering to its ideals, however imperfectly, and the other did not. There is a lesson there.

    No one wants to have morality both ways. What Big_Hacking is saying is that you can’t expect someone who is losing a war to continue to play by the rules. You can hold them accountable for not playing by the rules, and in fact you should hold them accountable. You can say that what they are doing is wrong, and in fact it is wrong. You can also continue to hold the moral high ground in the eyes of outside observers by continuing to play by the rules yourself, even if playing by those rules exacts a certain strategic and tactical cost.

  149. “Nope. Re-read my posts, please. I’ve said repeatedly that the West is also justified in doing what is necessary. I’m simply pointing out the facts: it’s unreasonable to expect people to fold over and die because they’re a thorn in our side – they will obviously resort to whatever means are at their disposal.”

    I don’t expect–using the sense of expect meaning anticipation–that they will. In fact, I fully anticipate that they will not; they seem to be constitutionally incapable of that. Your broader assertion that they are desperate and incapable of any other type of resistance to occupation is fallacious; nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers were well-educated and from well-to-do families. They were neither poor or oppressed, but western educated and arguably benefitted from the west’s system as much as you or I do. In fact, they could be considered as much a westerner as you or I could. Nevertheless, via religion-infused hatred, they chose to kill as many innocent westerners as possible. How then do you play the victimization card in order to excuse their actions? Because someone of like faith was oppressed, but not them directly? Because someone of the same genetic lineage? From the same part of the world? With the same last name or skin color? What exactly is the standard? You don’t have one. You cannot, because it doesn’t seem to skin in their case.

    How about the foreign terrorists in Iraq? Are they fighting against oppression–even though their oppression or victimhood comes only at the hands of their own governments in Syria and Jordan and Iran, and not ultimately from the United States?

    How about bin Laden? His family is worth billions and is deeply integrated into the power structure of Saudi Arabia–if he had not turned to radical Islam, he could have lived a life of wealth and affluence, luxury, far better than 90% of Americans–yet he and his ilk are justified because its their only option?

    Is this what you are saying, that when a person decides to fight the west, and lacking the weapons to defeat whole countries or wage symmetric warfare, they can engage the only warfare that presents itself an option; i.e. killing innocents?

    I honestly cannot believe you owned up to such relativist idiocy. My post was almost a parody! It was a trap and you fell for it! Most leftists at least keep their tactical relativism under wraps. Here you are openly admitting how conveniently it fits your agenda to disproportionately bash the West?

    Why, why indeed, do you bother having any morals? Apparently, to be justified in committing any kind of open atrocity, all I have to do is put myself in, or perpetuate a position of relative weakness where my only option of exercising my bloodthirst is wanton killing that might have the effect of achieving my aims–and you’d be right there to cheer me on.

    Is the legitimacy of the ends the test? In that case, I’d say to hell with their ends. Iraqis have a stark choice before them; join the democratic process, disarm, and join the rest of the world that values human life and freedom, or side with the bloodthirsty insurgents who fight only because they resent the American presence and all things west, and are willing to kill anyone if they think it can advance their agenda, even peace activists!

    You are saying their ends and their methods are legitimate.

    I say no, and the whole western world rests upon our ability and courage to say no.

    If we served together in war time and you were in the foxhole next to me carping on about the enemy had just as legitimate a cause as ours, I’d ask you to choose either the other side or to leave, and I’d shoot you without remorse if you chose the former.

  150. >Eric Cowperthwaite Says:

    >You’d make a great stormtrooper Hacking. That is, of course, the precise argument that various portions of the state apparatus in Germany and the USSR used to justify their atrocities, including Einsatzgruppen, concentration and death camps and slave labor.

    I won’t contest this, as I don’t really want to get sidetracked into a pointless argument about the morality of various people in Nazi Germany.

    >Now, let’s be absolutely clear here. I’ve served in the military, in combat. I also served in the military in Germany during the Cold War. I don’t believe in “fairness” in combat. But I do believe, having been there and done that, so to speak, that you can remain moral.

    I tend to agree. I believe we differ in that you believe there are particular things that are ‘evil’ no matter what the situation.

    >I refuse the idea of moral relativism. If it is okay for one side to torture people, kill civilians, kidnap people and hold them indefinitely, then it is okay for everyone to do it.

    There’s a difference between something being ‘okay’, and something being understandable given the circumstances. ‘Okay’ implies that _we_ agree with it. I think it’s clear from my posts that I am utterly against Islamic terrorism. I just think it’s rather spurious for Westerners to carp on about the morality of taking extreme measures when this is the only way they can continue to exist as a threat.

    >Either Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are wrong, in which case so are the hostage takings of our enemy, or they are just fine. You cannot have morality both ways, that road leads to Ba’athist Iraq, Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.

    You’ve implied two things at once here: 1) that two similar actions committed by two parties, in differing situations, are morally similar, and 2) that something can only be right or wrong, with no extra qualification. I don’t see how stating these things changes the argument.

    To be clear, I’m not ‘okay’ with terrorists kidnapping people and cutting their heads off – this is behaviour that belongs in the past. However, one can’t expect terrorists to fight on our terms, as they would lose immediately. Nobody who thought they were fighting on the side of what is right and good could be said to be responsible if they gave up because they had to do morally unpalatable things.

    I’d also be interested to know exactly how being conscious of peoples’ particular circumstances leads us down the road of Nazi Germany. I do not wish to get into an argument over it, however, as it’s only going to distract us.

    >Adrian10 wrote: “If someone attacks you on the street and you shoot them dead, is that not different to shooting someone dead unprovoked? Morals are relative.”

    >You, deliberately I suspect, chose two different situations to try and make your argument. There is no relative choice here. In one case we have a person defending themself, in the other we have a person attacking another person.

    That was me, btw. In both cases, his actions are precisely the same. The difference is the situation he is in. I have only ever said that morals are relative to the situation. It can be moral to kill, if you do so to fend off an aggressor.

    >I am far more ruthless and willing to condone far more brutality than most people seem to during a war. War is not about sport or fairness, it is about winning. With a caveat.

    >If you change yourself into evil in order to win, then what was the point of winning?

    It’s not evil to want to survive, and you don’t become evil by doing reprehensible things to do so. Survival is the root of all human behaviours and morality.

    >Ask the French Revolutionaries, who ended up under a much worse dictatorship than the one they rebelled against. Perhaps they will see things differently.

    The French Revolutionaries carried out thoroughly _needless_ executions of innocent people. I never suggested that needless and reprehensible actions were acceptable.

    >If I were a revolutionary fighting against a repressive government or a guerrilla fighting against a foreign occupier, I would absolutely condone (and believe it to be moral) attacks from ambush, assassination of enemy leaders, both military and civilian, stealing from my enemy to support my war effort, lying, trickery and deceit, for example. But, I don’t have any moral problem with any side of a military conflict using these tactics.

    >In the same situation, I would not use torture, kidnapping, killing of non-combatants and innocents, terror attacks on civilians (P.S. the US and UK’s terror bombings of the Axis powers weren’t moral either) because they are immoral. Even if it meant that I couldn’t win.

    Then if you couldn’t win without those tactics, you would lose. And since your morals are absolute on this issue, you would do the same if your loss would lead to your family being executed or your wife and/or daughter being raped? Your perspective might change if you actually found yourself in the circumstances you describe.

    >There is no point to winning if you become that which you are fighting against in the process.

    How about survival for your culture and your people (in your particular example)? What’s necessary is necessary, and when action is forced on you, you don’t automatically become that reaction.

    >Interestingly, your secular, leftist position on morality differs from that of religious warriors only in not using “God” to justify evil. Other than that, there really is no difference.

    Leftist? Please, put away the labels – I’ve refrained thus far and I think it’s only polite of you to do the same. The difference you describe is an large one – using religion to justify evil is irrational. Using pragmatism – under desperate circumstances – to justify evil can be rational and necessary.

    >You simply continue to confirm my belief that the Left is a “secular religion”.

    This is of no interest to me, as I’m not left-wing.

    This is all very interesting, but my original point was that Westerners would do the same thing if they found themselves similarly desperate (although they would doubtlessly be fighting for something different). I’m still interested to hear answers from people as to whether they’d surrender civilisation to Islamic extremists due to moral qualms.

  151. “However, stealing because your children will otherwise die is clearly different morally to stealing things you don’t need.”

    This almost never the case. Instead, the state steals on behalf of your starving children. That makes things all better.

    I actually don’t agree. Your children’s need does not give you the moral justification to take from me without my permission. It’s your responsibility to first feed yourself, through your own productive efforts, by trading value for value, and then to feed your children. Your need is no claim on the world. One legitimate need you do have is a crash course in personal responsibility.

    I’m not surprised nor unprepared for such arguments. The leftists nexus of idiotic conceptions all descends from some very deep misunderstandings about the universe. As such they tend to come together. You can keep stackin’ em up and we’ll keep knocking em down.

  152. “This is all very interesting, but my original point was that Westerners would do the same thing if they found themselves similarly desperate (although they would doubtlessly be fighting for something different). I’m still interested to hear answers from people as to whether they’d surrender civilisation to Islamic extremists due to moral qualms. ”

    I think you underestimate the ingenuity of western thinkers to solve problems–in this case, how to throw off oppression without completely losing all sense of moral clarity. Given the situation, I’d like to think that westerns would actually use the enormouse wealth of reasoning power that we have taken long to develop and refine and actually subvert the system.

    One mark of barbarism is the unthinking brutality which is applied in every situation. If you don’t want to look deep into Islamic culture and see the brutality that at its very core and pervades all institutions, then you’re not going to have much to look at. Perhaps sticking to CAIR press releases statements by Hamas to the EU might allow such a delusion to be preserved.

    We’re ultimately arguing about brutality and to the degree with which it infects cultures. Islamic culture is extraordinarily brutal and will continue to be so. If we want to eradicate this brutality, we can’t be confused, as you are, as to what the source of that brutality is. It is the darkness of the human heart–not the situation that it is placed in. And soft hearts in Islam seem to be quite rare these days.

  153. >diablovision Says:

    I don’t mean to be arrogant here, but please be more economical with your writing. There are not 10 paragraphs worth of information in your post, and you really are hindering the discussion.

    >I don’t expect–using the sense of expect meaning anticipation–that they will. In fact, I fully anticipate that they will not; they seem to be constitutionally incapable of that. Your broader assertion that they are desperate and incapable of any other type of resistance to occupation is fallacious; nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers were well-educated and from well-to-do families. They were neither poor or oppressed, but western educated and arguably benefitted from the west’s system as much as you or I do.

    You seem to be confusing me with someone who sympathises with Islamic terrorists. The 9/11 hijackers were criminals of the highest order, and I have no more sympathy for them than I would Timothy McVeigh or the Unabomber.

    >In fact, they could be considered as much a westerner as you or I could.

    Most certainly.

    >Nevertheless, via religion-infused hatred, they chose to kill as many innocent westerners as possible. How then do you play the victimization card in order to excuse their actions?

    I never excused their actions. I said you can’t expect terrorists to play by our rules. If they played by our rules, they would lose immediately.

    >Because someone of like faith was oppressed, but not them directly? Because someone of the same genetic lineage? From the same part of the world? With the same last name or skin color? What exactly is the standard? You don’t have one. You cannot, because it doesn’t seem to skin in their case.

    I never said any of this. You’re really doing a good job of spamming off the other participants who actually have something to say though. Please pay closer attention to the argument; all these points were clarified earlier. Someone else please chime in if I’m mistaken here.

    >How about the foreign terrorists in Iraq? Are they fighting against oppression–even though their oppression or victimhood comes only at the hands of their own governments in Syria and Jordan and Iran, and not ultimately from the United States?

    I never said they were fighting against oppression. Re-read what I said – they’re in a desperate position such that they can’t win without ruthless tactics. It’s silly to expect them to play by our rules and lose.

    >How about bin Laden? His family is worth billions and is deeply integrated into the power structure of Saudi Arabia–if he had not turned to radical Islam, he could have lived a life of wealth and affluence, luxury, far better than 90% of Americans–yet he and his ilk are justified because its their only option?

    Without trying to be mean, but I think this whole argument went over your head. I started off by saying that Westerners would resort to the similarly ruthless tactics as the terrorists if they were in a similarly desperate position. I don’t think anybody has given a satisfying rebuttal to that statement.

    The point was raised about the morality of performing reprehensible acts in a desperate situation. I posited that this could be justified at least some of the time. At various points I also made some statements regarding it being unreasonable for Westerners to expect terrorists to play by their rules. What I never said was that the terrorists were justified in their actions.

    >Is this what you are saying, that when a person decides to fight the west, and lacking the weapons to defeat whole countries or wage symmetric warfare, they can engage the only warfare that presents itself an option; i.e. killing innocents?

    Yes, and this is clearly the case, lacking political options.

    >I honestly cannot believe you owned up to such relativist idiocy. My post was almost a parody! It was a trap and you fell for it!

    Yes you’re quite clever. Be sure to pat yourself on the back. Wait..

    >Most leftists at least keep their tactical relativism under wraps. Here you are openly admitting how conveniently it fits your agenda to disproportionately bash the West?

    Kudos on dropping the term ‘leftist’ again, but I’m not left-wing, nor am I ‘bashing’ the West. Please stay out of the argument unless you have something to contribute.

    >Why, why indeed, do you bother having any morals? Apparently, to be justified in committing any kind of open atrocity, all I have to do is put myself in, or perpetuate a position of relative weakness where my only option of exercising my bloodthirst is wanton killing that might have the effect of achieving my aims–and you’d be right there to cheer me on.

    This is a contradiction. If you are perpetuating your own position, then it is not your only option.

    >Is the legitimacy of the ends the test? In that case, I’d say to hell with their ends. Iraqis have a stark choice before them; join the democratic process, disarm, and join the rest of the world that values human life and freedom, or side with the bloodthirsty insurgents who fight only because they resent the American presence and all things west, and are willing to kill anyone if they think it can advance their agenda, even peace activists!

    Exactly what is your point here? That the insurgents are bloodthirsty? That they are willing to kill anyone? That Iraq should go democratic? Correct me if I’m wrong, but nobody was arguing any of these things.

    >You are saying their ends and their methods are legitimate.

    I never said this. Please come back when you’ve attained a high-school level of reading comprehension. I don’t wish to be insulting, but you are simply clouding the discussion. Again, someone _please_ chime in and correct me if I’m just being an asshole here.

    >I say no, and the whole western world rests upon our ability and courage to say no.

    >If we served together in war time and you were in the foxhole next to me carping on about the enemy had just as legitimate a cause as ours, I’d ask you to choose either the other side or to leave, and I’d shoot you without remorse if you chose the former.

    This genuinely made me laugh :-). Thanks for the irrelevent melodrama. Re-read my posts and see that I’m clearly on the West’s side. If you keep going, you might reach the amusing level of drama that Eric’s posts have.

  154. >diablovision Says:

    >I think you underestimate the ingenuity of western thinkers to solve problems–in this case

    I think you don’t know how to read.

    >, how to throw off oppression without completely losing all sense of moral clarity. Given the situation, I’d like to think that westerns would actually use the enormouse wealth of reasoning power that we have taken long to develop and refine and actually subvert the system.

    Thanks for dodging the question and spamming us with a three paragraph rant on Islam. You have failed to answer the question. I repeat: if there was no other choice, would you choose to give up civilisation to Islamic extremists or resort to morally unpalatable tactics.

  155. In other words, the ancestors of today’s Palestinians committed atrocities against the Jews living in Israel.

    Oh, right. Give me some dates and places, I’m not getting anything off Google except for the 1920s.

    If they saw the Ashkenazis as a threat, why didn’t they attack *them*? Why did they attack the Jews who had long liveed there instead? My point is that there are aspects to this that don’t make sense if the entire “grievance” was the Ashkenazi immigrants.

    Well, in Hebron, at any rate, they seem to have offered to spare the Sephardi if they’d hand over the Ashkenazi. But the rabbi refused. Some of the Sephardi were saved by Arabs, something you must find almost inexplicable.

    So – you have nothing to say so you just go snarky, eh? Let me give the shorthand version of what you are saying: “It doesn’t matter that they were attacked ’cause they were just Jews. ” Pathetic, really.

    This putting words in people’s mouths thing is a bad habit. Let me fix that: “It‘s not particularly surprising that they were attacked because they were taken for colonists“.

    Your second statement makes my point: the Palestinians need only get “irritated” (that is, commit atrocities in the name of their ideology) and you’re ready to roll over and show your throat (or you privately admire them).

    I don’t support colonialism, that’s all.

    This is *exactly* what I find so disgusting about the modern “left” (I put the quotes purposefully). There is precious little of the old progressive spirit left. There is no “liberal” regard for human rights or a deeper understanding of the world: there is only snark for real democrats and infinite foot-kissing for the violent thugs that at least know enough to push your ‘anti-globalism’ or ‘anti-American’ buttons.

    Yeah, yeah, whatever. I just think about energy flow – where it’s coming from, where it’s going, what the trends are. Don’t see much happening in the area of Tibet. And yet to you, I’m “left”.

    So, when Palestinian suicide bombers blow up children in stores and markets, this isn’t “brutal” enough for you?

    It’s not that surprising. They’ve been brutalised. Just because you can imagine worse levels of brutalisation doesn’t change this. They should be grateful the Israelis haven’t ground them all up and used them to fertilise their orchards? Please.

    Your entire frame of reference is completely one way. Whatever the Israelis do is “humiliation.” Whatever the Palestinians do is “payback for humiliation.”

    In any given situation, I tend to regard the side with more power to be setting the pace. YMMV.

    The Muslim world is confident in its ideology and expansionist in its aims.

    This is a sweeping statement. Recent successes of Muslim expansionism are thin on the ground, unless one accepts that Europe is inches from falling into their laps electorally, which has yet to be demonstrated to my satisfaction. Does the fuss they made about the Mohammed cartoons strike you as “confident”? To me it reeked of desperate insecurity. Confident civilisations don’t get their collective panties in a wad over things like that.

    Their use of the Palestinians is purely functional: they are outraged that Jews have had the temerity to challenge Islam’s expansionist ambitions.

    Well, you can infer that if it serves your purposes.

  156. I repeat: if there was no other choice, would you choose to give up civilisation to Islamic extremists or resort to morally unpalatable tactics.

    You would have had to say it the first time to, you know, repeat it.

    There are not 10 paragraphs worth of information in your post, and you really are hindering the discussion.

    Funny, coming at the beginning of a [I stopped counting after 20] line post.

    Again, someone _please_ chime in and correct me if I’m just being an asshole here.

    Got it.

  157. Perhaps the American-led ouster of Saddam from Kuwait might suggest that we didn’t quite approve, no?

    YM when a good chunk of those 300000 Kurds got massacred (along with plenty of Shias) because Bush told them all to rise up, help was on its way? I remember it well.

    Let’s see what else you can blame on the US. Chinese invading Korea, Italians in North Africa, genocide in Sudan; let’s play that game, it’s quite fun!

    Now you’re just being silly.

  158. >DDG Says:

    >You would have had to say it the first time to, you know, repeat it.

    If you look back in the argument, you’ll find I have asked the question several times already.

    >There are not 10 paragraphs worth of information in your post, and you really are hindering the discussion.

    >Funny, coming at the beginning of a [I stopped counting after 20] line post.

    I think it’s pretty clear that the others in our current discussion have made some reasonably crystallised points. diablovision, on the other hand, was arguing me on things I never disputed, and in several cases already professed to agreeing with. This is clearly different to supplying clear, point-by-point responses.

    >Again, someone _please_ chime in and correct me if I’m just being an asshole here.

    >Got it.

    That settles it then, I suppose. If you’re more interested in ego masturbation than genuine argument, I won’t waste your time or mine. Enjoy your circlejerk, gentlemen. ;-)

    I’m still, however, highly curious to see an answer from either you, Eric C, or esr to the following question: “If there was no other choice, would you choose to give up civilisation to Islamic extremists or resort to morally unpalatable tactics.”

    I remain puzzled as to why nobody has answered it.

  159. Were I in their shoes, I wouldn’t. The Palestinians haven’t been brutalized too much, they haven’t been brutalized enough… not enough to lose their will to fight and settle on peace as the only option.

    This is true up to a point, but the need for Israel to maintain American support introduces real constraints.

  160. >“If there was no other choice, would you choose to give up civilisation to Islamic extremists or resort to morally unpalatable tactics.”

    Are you asking to decide the lesser of two evils “Islamic extremists or morally unpalatable tactics”? are they both evil?
    is that a ?

  161. *repost*
    >“If there was no other choice, would you choose to give up civilisation to Islamic extremists or resort to morally unpalatable tactics.”

    Are you asking to decide the lesser of two evils “Islamic extremists or morally unpalatable tactics”? are they both evil?
    is that not a paradox?

  162. Big_Hacking: “Without trying to be mean, but I think this whole argument went over your head. I started off by saying that Westerners would resort to the similarly ruthless tactics as the terrorists if they were in a similarly desperate position. I don’t think anybody has given a satisfying rebuttal to that statement.”

    I’ve given several examples, such as the American Revolutionaries and French Maquis, that I believe refute the point. We can pick out others, such as the Solidarity in Poland in the 1980′s, the Hungarians and Czecho-Slovaks in the 1950′s and 1960′s respectively, the Warsaw Ghetto Jews in WWII or the Jews of Israel today. In all of these cases, desperate situations all, the “good guys” did not choose immoral and evil behavior, losing or not, desperate or not.

    Give me a situation where my wife would be raped if I didn’t behave in evil fashion and we can discuss it. I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

    You may not be “of the left”, but the position that both you and Adrian take on moral relativism (his is even stronger than yours) smacks of the left.

    Further food for thought, almost all of the actions by the US, and other Western nations, that are considered evil were situations where we felt desperate, felt the action was necessary, and yet it was obviously immoral. As evidence, I’ll cite the Japanese internment camps in WWII, Guantanamo, the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo, and the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Further, I’ll note that these “desperate” and immoral actions can be clearly shown to not have had their desired result. Since you brought up that survival is moral, I’ll point out that moral behavior is pro-survival and immoral behavior is contra-survival.

    Arguing that it is understandable that Islamic extremists resort to brutality, evil and immorality when they are “desperate” overlooks entirely that these same cultures used the same tactics when they weren’t “desperate”. What does that say about the culture?

  163. You may not be “of the left”, but the position that both you and Adrian take on moral relativism (his is even stronger than yours) smacks of the left.

    My position is that the West’s technological and moral superiority is based on energy usage patterns which have yet to be shown to be available in principle to everyone, and until we can demonstrate convincingly that it’s possible for everyone to live the way we do we should be a little more hesitant to criticise those who don’t come up to our exacting standards.

    Arguing that it is understandable that Islamic extremists resort to brutality, evil and immorality when they are “desperate” overlooks entirely that these same cultures used the same tactics when they weren’t “desperate”. What does that say about the culture?

    Which instances of using these tactics are you referring to?

  164. >Eric Cowperthwaite Says:

    >I’ve given several examples, such as the American Revolutionaries and French Maquis, that I believe refute the point. We can pick out others, such as the Solidarity in Poland in the 1980’s, the Hungarians and Czecho-Slovaks in the 1950’s and 1960’s respectively, the Warsaw Ghetto Jews in WWII or the Jews of Israel today. In all of these cases, desperate situations all, the “good guys” did not choose immoral and evil behavior, losing or not, desperate or not.

    You’ve provided examples of people in desperate situations who did not need to resort to reprehensible behaviours. I’m not contesting that this is common. I’m simply stating that if the need arose, it would be at the very least reasonable to do so.

    >Give me a situation where my wife would be raped if I didn’t behave in evil fashion and we can discuss it. I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

    Murder and rape are common-place during and after war, and so losing a war could conceivably carry the murder/rape of your community as a consequence. In a war/conflict (possibly tribal) where families in your community may be brutalised in the event of a loss, it would be irresponsible for the men of the community to allow that to happen for any reason whatsoever.

    >You may not be “of the left”, but the position that both you and Adrian take on moral relativism (his is even stronger than yours) smacks of the left.

    So be it.

    >Further food for thought, almost all of the actions by the US, and other Western nations, that are considered evil were situations where we felt desperate, felt the action was necessary, and yet it was obviously immoral. As evidence, I’ll cite the Japanese internment camps in WWII, Guantanamo, the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo, and the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Further, I’ll note that these “desperate” and immoral actions can be clearly shown to not have had their desired result.

    That last sentence indicates that they were not necessary. If your contention is that misguided people can do horrible things to no effect, then I am in total agreeance. I’m interested to hear your take on the use of the atomic bomb during WWII.

    If you look back at my original post, I am not arguing that the terrorists are in the right, only that we fight in a more civilised manner because we have the luxury of doing so. It’s clear now that we’re arguing about different things, however. Your contention (I believe) is that such situations will never arise. History will bear that question out.

    >Since you brought up that survival is moral, I’ll point out that moral behavior is pro-survival and immoral behavior is contra-survival.

    Moral behaviour is generally pro-survival, but that doesn’t imply that exceptions don’t need to be made under exceptional circumstances.

    >Arguing that it is understandable that Islamic extremists resort to brutality, evil and immorality when they are “desperate” overlooks entirely that these same cultures used the same tactics when they weren’t “desperate”. What does that say about the culture?

    That it’s stuck in a bygone era, like I said a while ago. It’s never been my contention that Middle Eastern culture is advanced, only that all people are (on average) more or less born the same. They’re caught up in a backwards culture, and we’re forced to fight them off. There’s no intrinsic moral superiority on our part.

  165. I think lots of people here (but especially BIG_HACKING) need to learn how to use the <blockquote> tag to clearly delimit quoted from added text.  A single < character at the end of a multiply-wrapped line just doesn’t cut it, and double quotes are not enough of an improvement in clarity to write home about.

  166. BIG_HACKING asks:

    If there was no other choice, would you choose to give up civilisation to Islamic extremists or resort to morally unpalatable tactics.

    Assuming that is a question, I can answer quite simply:

    Islamic extremists who even attempt to force me to give up civilization are aggressors.  I am justified in using force to repel their aggression, including overwhelming force; the moral goal is not a fair fight, it is to make them either unwilling to continue their aggression or dead with as little cost and risk to myself as possible.

    If it comes down to scraping the top fifty feet of Mecca off with a hydrogen bomb in an attempt to convince all Muslims that Allah has turned his back upon them, I’m willing to consider it.

  167. I think lots of people here (but especially BIG_HACKING) need to learn how to use the blockquote tag to clearly delimit quoted from added text.

    Cheers, although I don’t see any link describing how to do this. Then again, WordPress is open source.

    Assuming that is a question, I can answer quite simply:

    Wow – and people think I’m a jerk. It’s called a typo. I’m not even going to bite on the bland troll that is the remainder of your post.

  168. “I’m still, however, highly curious to see an answer from either you, Eric C, or esr to the following question: “If there was no other choice, would you choose to give up civilisation to Islamic extremists or resort to morally unpalatable tactics.”
    “…I remain puzzled as to why nobody has answered it…”

    Ahem…because, like many ugly questions, it demands ugly answers…answers that may not be suitable (perhaps politically) for any given current thread of discourse.

    I would answer “Yes, I would resort to such tactics”…surprise, surpise ;-)

    I do not, and I certainly doubt that ESR et al, have any problem understanding the reasons why the rag^h^h^hislamic cu^h^hfascists believe they are doing the right thing by killing us/Jews etc…

    What on earth do you think war is? Do you think it is the competition of aligned mentalities? I doubt you do. So WTF is the big issue here? One bunch of people insist on living life, and subjecting others to the same life, in a way that threatens global human stability…and some other group decides “fuck this for a game of soldiers” and decides to erase them.

    Which value system do you think deserves more respect?

  169. Dan Kane Says:

    Ahem…because, like many ugly questions, it demands ugly answers…answers that may not be suitable (perhaps politically) for any given current thread of discourse.

    I would answer “Yes, I would resort to such tactics”…surprise, surpise ;-)

    Then we’re in agreeance.

    I do not, and I certainly doubt that ESR et al, have any problem understanding the reasons why the rag^h^h^hislamic cu^h^hfascists believe they are doing the right thing by killing us/Jews etc…

    Your hatred is palpable, FYI.

    What on earth do you think war is?

    Something to be engaged in only when absolutely necessary and fought to win at all costs until such time as it is unnecessary.

    Do you think it is the competition of aligned mentalities?

    My posts of the last day or two have made it pretty clear I don’t think this is the case.

    I doubt you do. So WTF is the big issue here? One bunch of people insist on living life, and subjecting others to the same life, in a way that threatens global human stability…and some other group decides “fuck this for a game of soldiers” and decides to erase them.

    I’m not sure what your point is here, apart from making it apparent that you’re very emotionally involved in this whole issue.

    Which value system do you think deserves more respect?

    Clearly ours. Why do people keep acting like I’m some kind of enemy to the West? I live in a Western country, and believe strongly in our way of life. I simply made a point about the absurdity of criticising terrorists for not playing by our rules, and pointed out that the West is not so morally superior as it thinks it is.

  170. adrian10 Says:
    “My position is that the West’s technological and moral superiority is based on energy usage patterns which have yet to be shown to be available in principle to everyone, and until we can demonstrate convincingly that it’s possible for everyone to live the way we do we should be a little more hesitant to criticise those who don’t come up to our exacting standards.”

    Here are some small examples of ways of living the way we do that shouldn’t require *too* much technological and moral superiority:

    DON’T mutilate female genitalia just to observe some stoneage ritual.

    DON’T stone somebody to death because they commited adultery. No matter what your opinion is on the matter, what somebody else does is none of your business.

    DON’T sentence a person to death for changing from one religion to another.

    Western cultures understand basic human rights so instinctively that it could be inconceivable to do any of the above and think they could get away with it. America isn’t trying to force *their* values and customs on Islam, they’re trying to enjorce values that should be human nature.

    Under American law, a muslim is free to worship his god as earnestly and strictly as he wishes, as long as it doesn’t affect the freedoms of others. Under Sharia law there is no such freedom. The people of Iraq don’t seem to comprehend that living under American laws and values in their own country means they would be free to live their lives exactly how they choose, worshipping exactly who they choose. The only difference would be not having to worry about being taken away and being shot for saying or believing the wrong thing.

    Western values is the right to live your life exactly how you choose without harming others. It ISN’T American Idol, McDonalds, MTV, Jerry Springer. Why is that so hard for muslims to understand?

    Jason Posavec

  171. DON’T mutilate female genitalia just to observe some stoneage ritual.

    FGM is a pre-islamic custom which the Muslim clergy can’t be bothered to stamp out. It doesn’t come from the koran. Same with honour killings.

    America isn’t trying to force *their* values and customs on Islam, they’re trying to enjorce values that should be human nature.

    “Should be human nature”?

    I don’t even know where to begin with that one…

  172. “… values that [sic] should be human nature”

    If they were, we’d see them throughout history; this argues more for a cultural invention.  If this is human nature, it’s either a recessive or a relatively recent mutation.

    “… trying to enforce values”

    Enforcing values which are contrary to cultural defense mechanisms or tribal affilliations isn’t going to be easy, and the enforcement itself is going to be interpreted as aggression.

    Heck, look at how some religions in the US respond to certain findings of science, no matter how well-supported they are!

  173. I’m no muslim, but i still disagree. There are, as in christianism, many ways of being muslim. There are (as i replied to another post) muslims who believe in the Jihad with the Sword, and those who believe in the Jihad without the Sword. It would be folly to stand before a “mosque of the sword” and shout that you disagree with terror. In other words, that would be suicide. Nothing hypocrit in that. Additionally most mosques are attended by at least some muslims of the sword.

    Dude, stop generalizing all muslims into one packet.

  174. I think part of the thread that we are exploring is at best a falsehood and at worst a deliberate attempt to apologize for terrorists actions.

    1. A suicide bomber is not pro-survival.

    2. Islamic terrorists have this funny habit of crying “Allahu Ackbar” while killing themselves and others. Funny, it isn’t “freedom now!” or “let my people go!” They believe it is their duty to kill infidels in war-time and in peace time.

    I think BIG_HACKING and adrian10 need to hang out on MEMRI and just read the words of those doing the terrorizing and those apologizing for them and cheering them on.

    Terrorism goes the root of human evil, and the plight of the palestinians, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, and the temptations of western decadence are just the excuse of the day for the brutality that middle eastern and islamic culture has bred into itself.

    It’s all very encouraging for you to claim allegiance to the west in one breadth and in the next prattle on about how its “their desperate situation”, “we can’t expect them to behave”, “you’d do it too”, “poverty creates terrorism”, “brutalized people can’t help blowing themselves up”, etc ad infinitum.

    There’s something extraordinarily deep about human responsibility and free will that you refuse to come to terms with, and its preventing you from thinking clearly about what we are facing.

  175. > It would be folly to stand before a “mosque of the sword” and shout that you disagree with terror. In other words, that would be suicide. Nothing hypocrit in that. Additionally most mosques are attended by at least some muslims of the sword.

    In other words, Muslims are either terror supporters or unwilling to do anything about said supporters.

    The latter position has consequences.

  176. 1. A suicide bomber is not pro-survival.

    Not his own, no. But if he enhances the possibilities of survival for his family or clan, there may be something to it. And if it’s meme-dispersal he’s after, well…

    Terrorism goes the root of human evil, and the plight of the palestinians, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, and the temptations of western decadence are just the excuse of the day for the brutality that middle eastern and islamic culture has bred into itself.

    Assertion.

    Caricature.

    There’s something extraordinarily deep about human responsibility and free will that you refuse to come to terms with, and its preventing you from thinking clearly about what we are facing.

    Too deep to put into words? Sounds like some of that “faith” stuff, best to be circumspect about who you’re accusing of not thinking clearly if you’re going to drink that particular kool-aid.

  177. Eh, fuggit, left this out:

    It’s all very encouraging for you to claim allegiance to the west in one breadth and in the next prattle on about how its “their desperate situation”, “we can’t expect them to behave”, “you’d do it too”, “poverty creates terrorism”, “brutalized people can’t help blowing themselves up”, etc ad infinitum.

    Caricature.

  178. >In other words, Muslims are either terror supporters or unwilling to do anything about said supporters.

    >The latter position has consequences.

    Lmao. Now that is stupid. Imagine I don’t like cars. Would it be a bold and wise and ethically correct deed of me to stand in front of a car travelling at 70 mph and shout “STOP!”?

    Being afraid to be killed doesnt mean that you are unwilling to do anything about stuff, there are other ways than suicide to make your point, as people here should be very aware of.

  179. You are your own charicature.

    You won’t need to answer my question, then.

    How fortunate for you.

  180. Dude, stop generalizing all muslims into one packet.

    Generalization is a rational practice. Post-modernism and relativism rely on the notion that generalizations are false in the application, but that leads to nihilism or reductionism in the extreme. It’s also not useful – the devil is in the details, but the plan comprehension begins with generalizations and conceptualizations.

    Any policy or decision about these issues must be made with generalizations. Bush has done it from the start by saying that Islam is a religion of peace. This whole thread is about the exceptions to that, but that premise remains. By the same token, if that premise is to be proven false, we must revise the generalization, not abandon generalizations in toto.

    I’ll make whatever generalizations are necessary for me to survive and thrive.

    If they were, we’d see them throughout history; this argues more for a cultural invention. If this is human nature, it’s either a recessive or a relatively recent mutation.

    What’s funny is that America’s values are secular and religious in nature that are promulgated and enforced secularly. This makes them out of bounds for strict followers of Sharia, who just happen to be the majority of Islamofascists. The argument is over before it’s even begun by some counts. It seems that we’d almost get more traction with our enemies marching into Jerusalem with red crosses on our jackets.

  181. “Your hatred is palpable, FYI.”
    And thoroughly deserved. And proportional.

    “…you’re very emotionally involved in this whole issue”
    Am I to infer that you consider this ‘wrong’ of me? How unemotionally should one regard such psychotic barbarism? Do you think that emotional responses serve no useful purpose? I can assure you that I will strive to be icy calm when/if I ever have to pull a trigger…it’s all about shot placement, y’see…

  182. DavidF has asked, more than once, several questions that no one has addressed. Since he states his opinions with less vitriolic hatred than most, it would be good if he could get a decent answer. So I’ll try:

    1. Why are non muslims not allowed in Mecca ‘Mekka’ ?

    My understanding is that there are several reasons, but this is the most basic. Makkah and Al Mahdinah are referred to collectively as “Al Haramayn” This refers to a sacred place where ritual concepts of purity and propriety forbid the presence of all those not conforming to the standards set by Islamic Law regarding ritual/spiritual cleanness. This would automatically exclude all non-Muslims, who of course do not follow Islamic laws of purity, whether physical or spiritual. Muslims making a Greater or Lesser pilgrimage also have to take special care to follow strict laws regarding purity and spiritual preparation or their “pilgrimage” will be invalid on Judgment Day.

    An old man I knew who had been on pilgrimage twice told me Islamic law is followed faithfully there. At the 5 daily prayer/worship sevices, merchants leave their stalls and shops open with thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and other goods unlocked, go to prayers, and return to find things unmolested. Any item left unattended on the street [luggage, briefcase, purse, whatever] goes untouched for three days, to give the owner time to come back for it. After that it is given to the local authorities and reported “legally lost.”

    2. Why are animals sacrificed in ‘pilgrims name’ during the hajj ?

    According to an Hadith related by Zaid ibnArqam, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, when asked this question, replied: “It is the tradition of your father Abraham.”

    A longer answer would have to turn into a full-length essay on Semitic religious traditions, and the collected commentaries of 3,000 years of pedantic scribes carefully examined. [. . .yawn. . .]

    3. Why is invoking the name of the creator ‘Allah’ said while the animals throat is cut.

    Because it’s life belongs to the Creator, not to the person who believes he is sacrificing an animal he thinks he owns.

    4. How many of the 9/11 terrorists were muslim?

    No one knows. No one has ever taken the matter to trial and convicted anyone of that crime. No evidence of anyone’s guilt has ever been presented in an open courtroom. So far, all comments about the event from whatever source are just speculation, conspiracy theories.

    5. What percentage of all ‘modern day terrorists’ are muslim?

    I suppose that would depend on whether people building rockets and airplanes and bombs, or people who organize and fly bombing missions that terrorize people count as “terrorists.” Or is it only people who deliver low-tech explosives to terrorize people? Or is it all the people who provide financial support for either of the above classes?

    I don’t know. I don’t think the question can be answered. At least not by anyone not omniscient.

    6. Are you muslim and do you plan to make the pilgrimage to Mekka

    No.

  183. > Being afraid to be killed doesnt mean that you are unwilling to do anything about stuff, there are other ways than suicide to make your point, as people here should be very aware of.

    That’s nice, but are they actually doing anything to oppose the terrorists or are they just hoping that no one notices them until the winner is known, when they’ll claim to have been on that side from the beginning? (That may not work out so well – the terrorists may hate them for that. A post-victory purge won’t be pretty.)

    And, to the extent that their “get along” includes making coerced contributions to the terrorists, they are part of the problem.

    Note that “their fellow Muslims will kill them” is, in some very real sense, their problem. It is, after all, their religion and they should bear the costs of fixing it.

    They may not have a pain-free solution. Oh well.

  184. > It would be folly to stand before a “mosque of the sword” and shout that you disagree with terror.

    And, how, exactly, did it become a “mosque of the sword”?

    > Additionally most mosques are attended by at least some muslims of the sword.

    And those mosques didn’t deal with that problem when it was smaller.

    These problems exist because most Muslims tolerated them when they were small problems.

    Problems don’t go away.

  185. We’ve had excellent documented methods of dealing with insurrections dating back to the Pelopponesian War. You make the consequences of insurrection so horrific and so thoroughly and ruthlessly applied, by such strictly bound rules, that it scars the psyche of the people you’ve conquered.

    That’s why, of course, the victorious U.S. continues its military occupation of the South in the year 2006, following up to shooting everyone who fought for the so-called “Confederacy” and hanging all of its political leaders, yea down to the very sheriffs and chiefs of police. And sowing salt in the fields of Richmond and Raleigh and Houston and Atlanta. Because insurrection just can’t be tolerated, and the psyche of the Southern whites needs to be scarred even unto the Nth generation.

  186. LazarusM –

    You seem like a knowledgeable person. Why would you presume that “No one knows” how many of the 9/11 hijackers were Muslim? The trail they left behind (including descriptions of their mission), the cockpit recordings of Flight 94 in which the hijackers exclaim their allegiance to Allah, and the fact that Osama bin Laden and al Queda took credit for the attacks make this pretty obvious to the great mass of people. You describe the obvious conclusion from the data as a “conspiracy theory.” Does your hate run so strong that liberal democracies offend you that deeply?

    You believe that our use of uniformed military to remove Saddam and install a democratically elected alternative is akin to “terrorism.” I think the difference *should* be pretty obvious. It is interesting that you don’t see it that way given that you appear relatively intelligent. Of course, it is often the people who are most capable of devising intricate theories of “hidden” truths that end up furthest away from seeing truths that lie right before them.

    There are times when the world presents even well-meaning people with horrible choices (e.g. killing 10 to save 100). You might want to consider that this is indeed such a time.

  187. diablovision –

    You and I are on the same page on most of these discussions but Adrian does have a point. And, actually, I think that understanding it reinforces our position about the seriousness of the threat far more than Adrian would himself admit to.

    The suicide bomber crying “Allah Akbar” as he detonates himself isn’t “pro-survival” for himself but he is defending what he believes to be his community’s interests (which are synonymous, in his eyes, with God’s interests). Now, Adrian and Lazarus, among others, seem to be deeply disquieted that the West is assuming the right to impose its sensibilities on another culture. In contrast, they appear to be deeply committed to the principle that inter-cultural understanding or at least tolerance is the deepest and most productive of virtues. They are, in short, multiculturists. From this perspective, the assumption that you are making that Western action – especially military action – is appropriate strikes them as wrong almost by definition. It’s not just that we have no right to force changes upon other cultures; the very idea that we can even entertain such notions shows us to be a worse threat than the suicide bomber defending his “clan” and his God.

    I believe this to be where they are coming from because I was once there myself (a long time ago). My own transformation wasn’t so much that I just came to see America as a force for good (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t). What changed my mind was the realization that multiculturalism as practiced by white Westerners was simply the liberal face of a deep racism (or, at the least, ethnocentrism). I saw this in myself and was disgusted and sought change. This liberal racism is paradoxical – a closing of the mind that occurs when one wants desperately to have an open mind. It is “loving” black people who you don’t know when a non-racist reaction would be to ignore race and look into the eyes of the individual. It is being willing to explain away everything wrong with another culture because you cannot even bear to contemplate that your own culture might evaporate before you. When gay organizations express support for Palestinians that would surely slit their throat, they do so with the implicit belief that they are safe behind Western walls and morays. They “love” the other as an expression of shared, progressive ideals while not really wanting to even “know” the other.

    Thus, my sense is that the problem with Adrian, etc. is that they aren’t serious. They don’t take non-Westerners (and especially people of color) seriously enough to really listen to their words or peer into their souls or fear the threatening rhetoric they spew our way. They need a certain defense mechanism to process a beheading not as an expression of the maleficence of the Islamic thug but as something, anything else. Something that implicitly preserves their own sense of safety, perhaps, or their membership in a liberal internationalist elite looking down on the rest of us (which, truth be told, was what made me want to be a “progressive”).

    My arguments and those of Diablo, esr, ddg and Andy won’t change their minds because we aren’t even on the same page. We don’t even see the same facts because we don’t assume that there is always some deeper, mysterious and controlling force that will always make sure we stay safe in our little Western comfort zone. We are afraid – a reasonable emotion given the intensity of the jihad engulfing the borders of Islam – while they, quite simply, cannot admit to such fear of the other without bringing their entire world-view into question.

  188. It is “loving” black people who you don’t know when a non-racist reaction would be to ignore race and look into the eyes of the individual.

    I’m really at a loss here. I don’t “love” black people I don’t know. Is non-racism in your eyes simply a readiness to hold people from other cultures to the same standards you set for your own?

    They “love” the other as an expression of shared, progressive ideals while not really wanting to even “know” the other.

    How do you know what I don’t really want to “know”? Gotta call projection here.

    It is being willing to explain away everything wrong with another culture because you cannot even bear to contemplate that your own culture might evaporate before you.

    This I don’t get. Haven’t you read what I said about Peak Oil? The possibility of my own culture evaporating before me is quite a live one, I just don’t expect jihadis to be responsible, however much some of them might like to be.

    Thus, my sense is that the problem with Adrian, etc. is that they aren’t serious. They don’t take non-Westerners (and especially people of color) seriously enough to really listen to their words or peer into their souls or fear the threatening rhetoric they spew our way.

    Insisting that anyone who doesn’t take your ahead-of-the-curve concerns seriously isn’t serious is a little solipsistic. “Peer into their souls”? Threatening rhetoric from people without the means to put it into effect doesn’t concern me much, no.

    They need a certain defense mechanism to process a beheading not as an expression of the maleficence of the Islamic thug but as something, anything else.

    I don’t see much point in namecalling, unless you just want to feel better about yourself (something I get a much stronger sense of from others here than I do from you, mind). The insurgents are trying to sicken a culture they know to be a lot more squeamish than theirs into quitting. Seen the polls? It might be working.

    We are afraid – a reasonable emotion given the intensity of the jihad engulfing the borders of Islam – while they, quite simply, cannot admit to such fear of the other without bringing their entire world-view into question.

    So we’re afraid too, but we just can’t admit it to ourselves? Eric’s “denial”? If you know what we’re thinking better than we do ourselves there are going to be a couple of communication issues, true.

  189. “Is non-racism in your eyes simply a readiness to hold people from other cultures to the same standards you set for your own?”

    Rather, I think the world should be moving towards a color-blind society that applies standards of morality uniformly, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, background, and past victimhood. That is the ideal we should strive for. You seem to be unwilling or unable to commit to any particular set of standards. Why so? Are you too afraid our standards are wrong? Are you afraid your standards could be challenged, so reflexively, you seek not to challenge others, to avoid scrutiny and to avoid conflict? That’s what this really seems to be about–you can’t be sure that West has discovered or developed a system of any inherent advantage, so you’re hedging your bets through the multicultural mutual fund. You don’t even have the courage to stick to your own ideals, even when that causes friction, breeds resentment, and entails harsh judgments of others. This the real problem: you’re not serious about understanding the world or coming to conclusions. You don’t want conclusions, because conclusions have consequences. You’re mind so open that you seem not be aware of the absurd equations you are making; out culture has mastered all the production of all items of basic human need so fully that it can afford the leisure to allow you the intellectual freedom to pursue whatever you desire. Western culture has armed you with education and technology and encouraged you to question anything and everything–yet you equate it with cultures that have languished in barbarism and oppression, and would happily lop of your hand or your head and subject you to dhimmitude.

    “Insisting that anyone who doesn’t take your ahead-of-the-curve concerns seriously isn’t serious is a little solipsistic. “Peer into their souls”? Threatening rhetoric from people without the means to put it into effect doesn’t concern me much, no.”

    Care to present us with a pair of statements more glaringly contradictory? Did you just admit that you aren’t serious, and aren’t concerned? Perhaps you should just stick your head back in the sand, then–not much we can do for you. No one took Hitler or bin Laden seriously when they proclaimed exactly what they planned to do. I suppose an irrational sense of safety is precious when Iranian madmen simultaneously threaten to annihilate Israel and inflict horrible destruction on the west will pursuing a nuclear program. Personally I think such a lackadaisical attitude should disqualify your arguments from further consideration. If you can’t be bothered to care, why should anyone listen to you?

    “The insurgents are trying to sicken a culture they know to be a lot more squeamish than theirs into quitting. Seen the polls? It might be working.”

    And you don’t seem any connection between your relativistic attitude and that trend? Do you think that we might actually stand a chance of winning if people might take things seriously and actually commit to defending our moral standards, and actually have the courage to stick to our convictions, even when that causes friction and resentment in our adversaries?

    You call us squeamish (and clearly many westerners are), yet you can’t seem to put your finger on its source, and you reject categorically all calls for you doing some introspection into yourself. You don’t see how you can at least appear to be squeamish and weak, and how that can invite aggression in our enemies? I’m willing to at least consider ideas that the west’s arrogant attitude and meddling in international affairs has caused friction and resentment–why can you not at least consider the possibility that the attitude that you espouse here isn’t responsible for our lack of will in winning?

  190. >diablovision Says:

    >Personally I think such a lackadaisical attitude should disqualify your arguments from further consideration.

    Personally, I think the inability to break your writing up into paragraphs or clearly summarise your argument should disqualify you from the discussion. Big paragraphs of emotional ramblings and accusations are not convincing anyone who is interested in anything other than validation. If you can’t stay objective, stay out of the discussion, perhaps?

  191. Adrian –

    They “love” the other as an expression of shared, progressive ideals while not really wanting to even “know” the other.

    How do you know what I don’t really want to “know”? Gotta call projection here.

    Calling it projection is ok – that was my point – I indeed had that attitude. Messed around with some moderately nasty people and just wouldn’t really “process” the fact of what they were really all about because, in an important sense, I couldn’t see beyond what my ideology told me about their skin color. By definition, they couldn’t really be bad people – just “misunderstood.” It was actually a black friend that sort of opened my eyes about what was going on.

    You do have a point about whether the Jihadist culture has the means to deliver the destruction they promise is well taken. Right now, no, they don’t. But this kind of makes my point. I think the current power imbalance makes you complacent. But it is either incredibly short-sighted to look at the threat of Muslim extremism and just shrug your shoulders. It is willfully, ideologically blind to look at the power imbalance and criticize the West for being too strong.

    Just look at history or, for the short version, pick up a copy of Age of Empires and play it for awhile. Not so much for the historical accuracy (which it does indeed have) but for the sense of how a weaker culture with a focus on military growth can, over time, present an ever larger threat or even beat a culture that is initially stronger. If you fail to deal with madmen and tyrants when they are weak, then you will certainly pay a much higher price when they grow strong due to your inattention. And the jihadists will grow stronger: they not only have demographic advantages, they are rising to power at a time when an ongoing technological revolution is placing more and more power in the hands of smaller and smaller organizations (e.g. biowarfare, nuclear technology). I don’t worry about this technological evolution when the organizations operate in the framework of Western liberal culture but I worry a lot about medieval theocrats with millenarian visions getting nuclear bombs.

    I said:
    They need a certain defense mechanism to process a beheading not as an expression of the maleficence of the Islamic thug but as something, anything else.

    You said:
    I don’t see much point in namecalling, unless you just want to feel better about yourself…

    Well, I didn’t mean it as name calling although I understand your concern that I’m “reading into” your views a lot of things that you may not really feel. The thing is that some views really do mystify me. I know we’re looking at the same thing and I’m sure that I have my biases and that you have yours. I think I understand those because of my own past but that doesn’t necessarily help me. When I look at George Bush I see a lot of weaknesses (just as with any other human being) but the one thing he seems to have right is a willingness to deal now with issues that most other men would be content to kick along to their successor. That is, he seems to understand the time value of strategy. I applaud him for that vision and am mystified when this is exactly what drives others to hate him intensely. I don’t understand this! After all, aren’t we all looking to preserve the historical gift of liberal democracy?

  192. WildMonk wrote:

    That is, he [Bush] seems to understand the time value of strategy. I applaud him for that vision and am mystified when this is exactly what drives others to hate him intensely. I don’t understand this! After all, aren’t we all looking to preserve the historical gift of liberal democracy?

    WildMonk, I submit to you that you are seeing the exact reaction that would have occurred in “the West” had England and France tried to stop the Nazi’s when the war could have been kept small and limited. In fact, every time the Western democracies tried to do anything, the virulence of the opposition, saying nearly the same things as we are reading and hearing today, was there every time France, England and the USA threatened to grow a backbone. This, by itself, is enough to convince me that I’m on the right track. Your larger point, about the value of doing something while the cost is small, is right on target.

  193. Just look at history or, for the short version, pick up a copy of Age of Empires and play it for awhile.

    Sore point there – I’m running W2K (in Japanese, what’s more – what did that popup there mean?) on both my (rather elderly) machines, and I really do need to get hold of something a little more game-friendly for various dev aspirations.

    Not so much for the historical accuracy (which it does indeed have) but for the sense of how a weaker culture with a focus on military growth can, over time, present an ever larger threat or even beat a culture that is initially stronger.

    Population growth isn’t the same as military growth. Assloads of poor folks with no education and no infrastructure behind them do not threaten modern states IMO. The human wave attack is something even Europeans have the technology to deal with. And the ones already in Europe are being watched by an ever-increasing number of people who aren’t much inclined to cut them a lot of slack. Attitudes are hardening, and all the peecee liberalism Europe’s elites can muster won’t be able to stand in the way forever.

    they are rising to power at a time when an ongoing technological revolution is placing more and more power in the hands of smaller and smaller organizations (e.g. biowarfare, nuclear technology).

    Yeah, well, I don’t think those genies are going back in their bottles. Undertaking a proactive one-state-at-a-time enlightenment-or-else makeover of the whole Islamic world on a just-in-case basis seems to me to fall into the Biting Off More Than You Can Chew category big time. Apart from the fact that it annoys them, and there are such things as self-fulfilling prophecies. America didn’t deserve 9/11, but if anything happens now a lot of people are going to feel you asked for it.

    I don’t worry about this technological evolution when the organizations operate in the framework of Western liberal culture but I worry a lot about medieval theocrats with millenarian visions getting nuclear bombs.

    I’m still not convinced about this. Though the Sy Hersh New Yorker article (which I presume you will have read despite Hersh’s prejudices – the guy does have a lot of contacts) mentions Robert Baer’s opinion that Iran’s president, whose name I never can remember, is actually capable of attempting to nuke the Israelis, and the only thing I’ve read of Baer’s (an interview about Saudi here) quite impressed me. I suspect Ahmedj— would like to trigger a preemptive attack by Israel on Iran, because it would be a lot less thorough than any American one while making subsequent American ones harder to sell, and it would also justify revoking the current grand mufti’s fatwa or whatever it is against the development of nuclear weapons, which I imagine is probably quite binding.

    Well, I didn’t mean it as name calling although I understand your concern that I’m “reading into” your views a lot of things that you may not really feel.

    I didn’t mean you were calling me names, just that I don’t think ‘Islamic thug’ is a particularly useful term. Thugs are normally purely self-interested. Saddam was much more of a thug than these people, however ruthless they are.

    I applaud him for that vision and am mystified when this is exactly what drives others to hate him intensely.

    There are a whole bunch of things about Bush that annoy liberals, many of them to do with ‘tone’. They also don’t see the successes you seem to when they look at his record. Talking about attacking Iran when Iraq is a) looking like a civil war in suspension and b) likely to get a whole lot livelier as a result seems a little irresponsible, too. Apart from the other consequences.

    After all, aren’t we all looking to preserve the historical gift of liberal democracy?

    Sure, if possible. But I see liberal democracy as something that’s been made possible by increases in energy use, which may get difficult to sustain should supplies get more constrained.

  194. Adrian,

    I didn’t mean you were calling me names, just that I don’t think ‘Islamic thug’ is a particularly useful term. Thugs are normally purely self-interested. Saddam was much more of a thug than these people, however ruthless they are.

    Actually it’s rather apropos. The term thug, meaning a brutally violent person, comes from the Indian Thuggee cult, which considered killing a sacred duty. Oddly enough the cult claimed (though it’s unknown whether it actually had) Islamic origins.

  195. > But I see liberal democracy as something that’s been made possible by increases in energy use, which may get difficult to sustain should supplies get more constrained.

    Much of the US was a liberal democracy before the civil war, so it’s unclear that massive energy use is required.

    The inefficiencies of the welfare state may be difficult to sustain if things get tight, but the welfare state is not liberal democracy, it’s just one of the things a liberal democracy can do.

  196. Population growth isn’t the same as military growth. Assloads of poor folks with no education and no infrastructure behind them do not threaten modern states IMO. The human wave attack is something even Europeans have the technology to deal with.

    The West is particularly adept at defeating more numerous, and in some cases, better armed opponents with their favored shock infantry tactics and politically and ethically committed militias. Hanson’s Ripples of Battle is a good book to read on the subject.

    It is interesting to me that his notions, which I give credit to, fly in the face of games like Civilization III and AOE, which tend to reflect the common wisdom of tech + military that I understood for so long. There’s a host of examples, including the Battle of Poitiers, Lepanto, and Thermopoly.

    The takeaway is this: that the West fights for its survival in a vicious, dedicated way that reflects a history of freedom, training, and shock tactics that can be devastating, and it has little to do with numbers or technological advances.

    all the peecee liberalism Europe’s elites can muster won’t be able to stand in the way forever.

    Uh oh, Adrian, you’ve been hanging out here too long.

    [Iraq is] looking like a civil war in suspension

    You could say that America, Japan, or Australia are civil wars in suspension, too. My point is that if you’re keeping cw at bay in a country as factionalized as Iraq in a region as volatile as the Middle East, you could make a good point that it’s stable enough and move ahead with your strategy.

    Undertaking a proactive one-state-at-a-time enlightenment-or-else makeover of the whole Islamic world on a just-in-case basis seems to me to fall into the Biting Off More Than You Can Chew category big time.

    This is a misrepresentation of what’s happening, or at least an over-simplification. It ignores historical Turkey, the recent elections in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the Syrian withdrawal from lebanon, none of which were manifested by American foreign policy.

    I see liberal democracy as something that’s been made possible by increases in energy use

    I’m sure you have a cogent argument for this, but isn’t this belied by Athens, Italy, Britain, and then (the historical epitome) America in the 18th and 19th centuries?

    but the welfare state is not liberal democracy, it’s just one of the things a liberal democracy can do.

    A welfare state as realized under Roosevelt / Johnson is the refutation of a liberal democracy.

  197. Adrian: Yeah, well, I don’t think those genies are going back in their bottles. Undertaking a proactive one-state-at-a-time enlightenment-or-else makeover of the whole Islamic world on a just-in-case basis seems to me to fall into the Biting Off More Than You Can Chew category big time.

    Call it the American can-do attitude (g). Seriously, though. My sense is that we’ll continue using ideological pressure to reform Islam but that, in practice, we’re kind of done with the “enlightenment or else makeover” thing. Any attack in Iran will not be followed by nation-building as we’ve attempted in Iraq. Not that many don’t remain hopeful that it will occur in the long term, it is just that we’ve realized that the West doesn’t have enough confidence in itself to sustain even a 10 year effort at reformation in the Middle East.

    In essence, the debate within the West – and our debate here – is between those who had been hopeful that pressure from a unified West could create the conditions for a rapid evolution in the Middle East and, well, everyone else. The “everyone else” is everything from pro-Stalinists like ANSWER through flower-power types wishing for a return of the social relevance they enjoyed during Viet Nam, through people like yourself that I see as more ‘realpolik’ types. Of course, just the fact that the “everyone else” contingent is so large makes it hard to assume that a “Unified West” even exists.

    The thing is that this is essentially an ideological battle. I’ve come to the somewhat pessimistic view that Liberal Democratic Capitalism – at least as it exists in America in 2006 – cannot win such a battle because its claim to ideological superiority is constantly undercut by its media (the instruments by which culture is propagated over space), its Universities (the instruments by which culture is propagated over time) and many within its government (the instruments by which culture is enforced). For example, look at Bush’s core speeches on Iraq and you must admit that the ideological language is quite soaring and uplifting (and no, I don’t buy that this only came about after Iraq faltered – he gave a speech prior to the war at – I think – the Naval Academy that was among his best). But only those within the neo-con sphere of influence (many Republicans, some true liberals like Chris Hitchens) seemed to even hear what he was saying. Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s often horribly inarticulate in other settings.

    Another example: people like Chomsky and Moore, who are literally apologists for fascism and explicitly anti-American propagandists telling the shallowest of lies, are read and feted by our ‘intellectual’ elite while men like Hayek, Czeslaw and Nozick are consigned to the fringes or appreciated only within limited circles. This makes it essentially impossible to sustain an ideological argument against any form of fundamentalism. Not only do they believe that they have God on their side, they need only pop a Michael Moore ‘documentary’ into their Western-built DVD player to feel better about the supposed ideological competition coming from the West. Thus, we are left with simply nothing to say to the committed Muslim about a better alternative. At best, we can continually point out the costs of Muslim-on-Muslim violence or the cost paid by living in Islamic police states.

    You say: there are such things as self-fulfilling prophecies. America didn’t deserve 9/11, but if anything happens now a lot of people are going to feel you asked for it.

    Wow, this is an incredibly revealing statement. I look at the re-emergence of Islamic imperialism and I think that there is no question that there will be attacks on the West. You look at it and – verifying my earlier theory of an inability to understand agency on the part of non-Western actors – you see every action as a reaction to the West. Seriously, do you think that this whole thing is simply a reaction to the West? So, after the US defends Muslims against Serbian aggression, after it suffers are horrific attack on its own soil, after it lifts the iron fascism of the Taliban in Afghanistan and after removing one of the most oppressive tyrants in modern Arab history, we should worry that some people think that we “deserve” another attack? I look upon such people as pathetic, cringing materialists too afraid to stand up for what is right. Just like the Nazi apologists in the 1930s, they live in a fantasy world where rolling over and playing dead is always the way to deal with a threat rather than standing up and being counted among the defenders of the political, moral and economic foundations upon which their very lives depend. If such people don’t have the decency and courage to stand up for a people’s right to choose their leaders, for a women’s right to live free of beatings and burkas, for all people of any religion to stand equal before the law then they should at least have the decency to shut up. That they feel the moral right to schadenfreude or, worse yet, the right to applaud the Islamic fascists tells you all you need to know about the degeneracy of modern Europe and the American hard left.

  198. Diablovision – I meant to say this earlier but your comment at 8:35 on the 21st was extremely insightful. I had approached that particular gate in an earlier comment but you banged it down, entered the room and cleared it of all opposition. Well done!

  199. >WildMonk Says:

    >You look at it and – verifying my earlier theory of an inability to understand agency on the part of non-Western actors – you see every action as a reaction to the West. Seriously, do you think that this whole thing is simply a reaction to the West?

    He may view it that way, but it’s not what he said. He said that the West is aggravating Islamic extremists (and I would add for little result), and that giving them credibility is making them more dangerous. This doesn’t preclude proactivity on the part of the terrorists as you suggest.

    His statement to comes across to me as a call for a realistic evaluation and advertisement of the threat. Do you think when leaders make passionate speeches that make reference to the looming threat of terrorism, that it scares, or actually emboldens terrorists? My contention is that these speeches are made for selfish, political reasons and are counter-productive.

    The pseudointellectualism of the phrase “theory of an inability to understand agency on the part of non-Western actors” sticks out like a sore thumb. It might be a good idea to get the hang of dividing your writing up into paragraphs before applying such needlessly wordy phrasing.

  200. Interesting discussion. Much to chew on.

    Many here seem confused. For instance, some posters have used the “imagine you were them” argument as a justification for brutality. According to this posture, Radical Muslims are “justified” transpositionally: if you were them, you would also do “x”.

    There are too many assumptions and implications that adhere to this argument to go over exhaustively, but let me attempt a few.

    1. Let’s say we are talking about a true transposition, a Freaky Friday like exchange of minds, where my self-consciousness, what Bakhtin would call my “apperceptive background”, actually entered the body of a 20-something Muslim living in Adhamiya, Iraq. What would “I” do? Well, since I would have taken my apperceptive background with me, with all of my beliefs and assumptions and biases, I would most definitely not strap a bomb to my waist and blow myself up. Likewise, I would not grab an AK-47 and try to kill Americans, since my mind would still entertain an affinity for them. I would probably lay low, and try to get out of the country. Eventually, I would find a place with law and order; I would seek out a place that offered me personal safety, equality under the law, and economic opportunity so I could fashion a fulfilling and virtuous private life. For some reason, I don’t think this is quite the point the argument wants to make.

    2. Let’s say that, instead of a transposition of minds, we are talking about empathy, a walk-a-mile-in-their-shoes appeal to our common humanity, where I try to get inside the head of a 20-something kid from Adhamiya to find out what makes him tick–a Giambattista Vico type of endeavor that seeks to understand a culture from the inside. Okay, let’s do that. What makes this kid from Iraq tick? Well, to start with, we must go all the way back to his formative years, to discover and–to the extent possible–understand his experiences and the lessons he’s derived from them. Concomitantly, we need to document and–again, to the extent possible–understand the organic history of his beliefs and desires. After all, human behavior is informed by beliefs about the world, along with conscious and subconscious motives and motivators. For instance, if I believe this rock is edible–or even better, if I truly believe it will be delicious–were I to become hungry I would most likely try to eat it. In this instance “hunger” is my motivator, “rock is edible and delicious” is my belief. Take note: in this scenario, me trying to eat the rock is a Logical Consequence of these two premises.

    So, once we know the make up of the Iraqi, his beliefs about the world, his motivations, and the present situation he finds himself in, we can make reasonable statements about the logic of his behavior. If he is a true believer in his religion, and he believes it is his duty to defend Islamic territory, then yes, his violent reaction to an American invasion of Iraq is logical. If he has been told by someone he trusts that America is trying to occupy and dominate his territory, then yes, his persistence in an insurgency is a logical response to such a violation. If he truly believes that to die for his religion will purchase paradise for him and his family, if he believes that Muslims are on this earth to prove themselves worthy of Allah, then yes, his strapping a bomb to his chest and walking into a market is a logical response to the aggressive humiliation of an infidel occupier. If he truly believes that the only way to accomplish his deepest, most desired objective is to do “x”, then yes, his attempt to do “x” is logical.

    But what have we gained by stipulating this? As I stated above, trying to eat what one believes is an “edible” rock is logical, too. But is it not also wrong? In other words, is there not some standard, some absolute standard, that we can use to judge not only Joe Jihadi, but also Joe America? Or are we left impotent in the face of competing values, of competing logics? Is there not some truth we can appeal to?

    Why, yes there is. For instance, we can ask whether Joe Jihadis’ belief about American intent is “true”. We can also ask whether Joe Jihadis’ belief about his religion are “true”. But nobody wants to ask these questions.

    Look, it is a relatively recent development in human intellectual history that ‘idealism’ is valued separately from the truth of the idea espoused. Nowadays, a man would earn the same moral credit by martyring himself for the sake of a falsehood as he would by martyring himself for the sake of truth. It is the willing, the striving–the authenticity within instead of the truth without–that earns great praise today. A man who, through mistaken belief, sees his liberators as enslavers, martyring himself while trying to smite them, receives praise and understanding, instead of anger and indignation. Great weight is put on the carrying of his beliefs to their logical conclusion, instead of the fact that his beliefs are wrong to begin with. But let me ask this question. Why should we give any weight to an error of belief? Why should we take counsel from a falsehood?

    So, lost in the “imagine you were them” argument is the fact–The Fact–that the beliefs of those we fight are not worth fighting for. For the Muslim true believer, who seeks to spread Islam and defeat secularism, his beliefs are repugnant to civilization, and they should be destroyed and supplanted. For the Iraqi who fights America because he believes America is there to dominate and enslave, his beliefs are wrong–False. Fighting for a falsehood does not deserve any respect whatsoever. It should be shunned, and if at all possible, stopped. (Note: I can make these judgments without having to defend my own values as absolute. I can retain uncertainty about “x” and still know that “y” is false–or, alternatively, that “y” is wrong.)

    If any here persist in making the “imagine you were them” argument, you have to do one of two things: 1) you have to believe yourself that America is in Iraq to dominate them–an interesting assertion in light of how hard it has been to convince Americans to stay there and finish the job; or 2) you must
    defend the proposition that fighting and dying for a falsehood–the falsehood that America wants Iraq–is a worthy human pursuit.

    Another interesting note: many here assume that it is always contradictory to pursue peace by making war. This too is a false belief. But I tire.

  201. On the issue of competing values. Ask yourself this. Isn’t it true that a system, under which many values can interact and compete peacefully, is “better” than a system that excludes others or seeks to dominate and destroy others?

    Isn’t inclusiveness better than exclusiveness? Isn’t life better than death?

    Well, American values are the high-water mark of inclusivity and life (our life-expectancy has reached an all-time high). So American values are Simply Better, worth championing without embarassment and defending without hesitation.

    Often times this is simply left out of the conversation, the focus always on the horrid “effects of our foreign policy”. What must be understood is this: our foreign policy is a means, not an end in itself. It is fallible, and it can err. However, what it seeks to protect, what it tries to build, is the best system of values ever devised by man.

    The easiest way to avoid the ill-effects of American foreign policy? Get yourself the rule of law, personal safety, accountable government and economic opportunity: in other words, build yourself one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    Promise. Give it a try.

  202. It might be a good idea to get the hang of dividing your writing up into paragraphs before applying such needlessly wordy phrasing.

    It might be a good idea to get used to thinking in terms of large paragraphs when conversing with adults, as opposed to small words, small ideas, and small criticisms.

    Henceforth, in deference to you, I’ll try to keep the words small and the paragraphs short. The ideas can only be compacted so far.

    The thing is that this is essentially an ideological battle.

    We don’t want it to be. I think that we’d love to confront the enemy and get it the hell over with. Iraq is, at least in part, about this – setting the terms of the confrontation, drawing the enemy out, giving them something tangible to fight against, not allowing them to set an agenda. A good offense is better than any defense in a war against Terrorism.

    Iran has been a political enemy for 27 years, but a regional one for only 3. For the first time, we are confronting Iran face to face, and we are winning, at least militarily.

    The real problem is that most of the strategic significance is lost, in large part because of the unending stream of bad news coming from Iraq. This makes the battle an ideological one, but one at home more than abroad. And this is one that we are losing, not in spite of liberal capitalism but because of it. It is the danger of a free society that it holds the means of its own destruction.

    Though the Sy Hersh New Yorker article

    This was a pretty good article at laying out some of the issues here, but my take away was far less the Israeli component than the Iranian factor. Hersh makes a decent case that America is dealing with Iran on many levels already, engaging in a sort of brinksmanship in an effort to achieve a successful conclusion, potentially without military engagement.

    Why focus on the Israeli component? This seems to be the least compelling part of this article. And I don’t think there’s a very good case made regarding any sort of nuclear forbearance on the part of Iran’s military or theocratic leaders. The best point-by-point was made here, but at the very least, this isn’t an argue of forbearance so much as speed.

  203. (DDG) I’m sure you have a cogent argument for this, but isn’t this belied by Athens, Italy, Britain, and then (the historical epitome) America in the 18th and 19th centuries?

    Athens’ slave-owning democracy doesn’t quite fall into the liberal category (though slaves are a very significant energy source), and nor does the rule by the commercial elites in Florence and Venice, if that’s what you mean by Italy. In Britain the spread of the franchise seems to have been given a big boost by the Industrial Revolution (though you can make other arguments), while America had an energy glut from the start (plenty of wood, then coal). In a sense machines are now our slaves – ISTR reading that the average American has the energy equivalent of fifty slaves working for them. That’s a lot of liberty, especially when you contemplate the possibility that it might be necessary to give it up.

    (Wildmonk) The thing is that this is essentially an ideological battle. I’ve come to the somewhat pessimistic view that Liberal Democratic Capitalism – at least as it exists in America in 2006 – cannot win such a battle because its claim to ideological superiority is constantly undercut by its media (the instruments by which culture is propagated over space), its Universities (the instruments by which culture is propagated over time) and many within its government (the instruments by which culture is enforced).

    No doubt the Democrats are the real enemy. As I keep saying, I’d be with you totally on the ideological superiority front if I was convinced the resources existed for everyone to live the way we do in the developed countries.

    For example, look at Bush’s core speeches on Iraq and you must admit that the ideological language is quite soaring and uplifting (and no, I don’t buy that this only came about after Iraq faltered – he gave a speech prior to the war at – I think – the Naval Academy that was among his best). But only those within the neo-con sphere of influence (many Republicans, some true liberals like Chris Hitchens) seemed to even hear what he was saying. Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s often horribly inarticulate in other settings.

    His speechwriter’s not bad. Lovely orotund stuff. But you have to believe it’s realistic to be caught up in it, otherwise it’s just more neocon gas.

    Wow, this is an incredibly revealing statement. I look at the re-emergence of Islamic imperialism and I think that there is no question that there will be attacks on the West. You look at it and – verifying my earlier theory of an inability to understand agency on the part of non-Western actors – you see every action as a reaction to the West.

    I think their perception of Western imperialism (as in “invading other countries”) has a little more meat on it than our perception of theirs (which is what – some thugs raping Swedish women in the name of Allah? Delusional mutterings about the Caliphate on obscure websites?).

    I believe that the more powerful player sets the pace in any interchange, as with the Israelis and Palestinians, so with the West and the Islamic world. Yeah, they act as well, and assymetric methods give anyone who wants it plenty of room to wail about barbarism. But you seem to want to dismiss the West’s long dominance of and interference in their countries as something that’s in the past and which they should just get over. I reckon they see quite a bit of continuity with what’s going on now, and they don’t like it.

    So, after the US defends Muslims against Serbian aggression,

    Yeah, the ingratitude for that is a bummer. Tony Blair had to drag Clinton into it kicking and screaming AFAIK.

    after it suffers are horrific attack on its own soil,

    Then you had sympathy.

    after it lifts the iron fascism of the Taliban in Afghanistan

    That people could understand.

    and after removing one of the most oppressive tyrants in modern Arab history,

    That’s where the problems started, right there.

    we should worry that some people think that we “deserve” another attack?

    Perhaps America’s technological edge is such that it can largely dispense with the goodwill of other nations. But I don’t think you can rely on high-res satellite photos and the ever-useful Predator/Hellfire combination for everything you’re hoping to do here.

    I look upon such people as pathetic, cringing materialists too afraid to stand up for what is right.

    Well, if all this scorn is serving a function, OK.

    Just like the Nazi apologists in the 1930s, they live in a fantasy world where rolling over and playing dead is always the way to deal with a threat rather than standing up and being counted among the defenders of the political, moral and economic foundations upon which their very lives depend.

    Funny you should mention that. I see a widespread refusal to worry about the *energetic* foundations upon which their very lives depend. And yes, fantasy worlds.

    The Nazis controlled a modern state, with a first-class army. Not what we’re facing here.

    If such people don’t have the decency and courage to stand up for a people’s right to choose their leaders, for a women’s right to live free of beatings and burkas, for all people of any religion to stand equal before the law then they should at least have the decency to shut up.

    Again, to me these things look like luxuries, which cheap energy has made it possible to take for granted, though I like them as much as you.

    That they feel the moral right to schadenfreude or, worse yet, the right to applaud the Islamic fascists tells you all you need to know about the degeneracy of modern Europe and the American hard left.

    You’re full of judgement here. I’m just trying to observe what’s happening dispassionately.

  204. DDG Says:
    April 22nd, 2006 at 9:14 pm
    “A good offense is better than any defense in a war against Terrorism.”

    Oh dear, did Dan Simmons’ entire point about correctly stating the problem not sink in completely? Call it a “slip of the toungue” if you will, but learning to habitually call a spade a spade will be a big part of winning the war against ISLAM.

  205. Adrian, I just want to head off any criticism and say that I thought it wonderfult that your paragraphs were short.

    Truly a masterpiece.

    America had an energy glut from the start

    America has abundant natural resources. But we’ve also had the commercial sensibilities, innovation, and freedom to take advantage of them. There are lots of places with more natural resources but less freedom that are essentially relegated to second- or third – world status.

    By the same token, there’s Israel, which is far poorer wrt natural resources, but whose economy belies the size of the country.

  206. but learning to habitually call a spade a spade will be a big part of winning the war against ISLAM

    I’m not without hope that Islam can save itself. After all, it coexisted with the West for the better part of 600 years in relative peace.

    Christianity has re-invented itself significantly something like 4 times (by my amateurish count), not counting the fact that it is a reinvention itself. The original Christians were essentially pacifists who spread their message through peaceful evangelism and conversion. The pacifism caused problems when politics started to be influenced by Christianity, so the idea of a Just War was codified and implemented, ensuring short term survival. The Church underwent various schisms, first into the three divisions, and then the Catholic Church spawned various branches of reformists seeking various types of reform.

    The point is that religions can change from within for the better or the worse. Ignoring for the moment the notion that organized religion is a form of mental illness, religions can undergo vast vital reforms that change the entire landscape. I would make the case that Christianity lent itself to a lot of these more fundamental changes that ensured success and survival. Also, Christianity leaned heavily on its classical Greek and Roman traditions that gave it a fertile Western Intellectual playground in which to grow.

    Islam, otoh, seems very rigorous on some pretty important points (conversion, co-existence, usury). As long as they’re not pointing a lethal weapon at me or mine, I’m completely willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and the time to reform themselves into a modern, viable belief system. In the meantime, I don’t particularly care that they think I’m going to Hell, as long as they don’t intend to speed me along on the journey.

    So it’s a horserace of sorts. Will their imperious, theocratic, militaristic evangelism force me to put survival before my innate laissez-faire live in your own backyard good neighborliness, or will we be forced to admit that their very existence poses a threat? Right now, it’s looking pretty bad for them.

    But I also want to be really careful. There’s a difference between killing / advocating killing in self-defense, and advocating religio-cide. I’m not there yet.

  207. DDG Says:

    It might be a good idea to get used to thinking in terms of large paragraphs when conversing with adults, as opposed to small words, small ideas, and small criticisms.

    I’m quite accustomed to conversing with adults, being one myself, thank you. Writing 10+ sentences per paragraph and failing to convey any readily identifiable point is hardly characteristic of serious, adult discussion, particularly in written form. In the adult world, we call this ‘rambling’ or ‘ranting’.

    As for your criticism of my argument being small in various respects, one wonders why such small ideas were so difficult for you to counter. The fact that you failed to form an effective rebuttal aside, this is a transparent attempt to mask your own failure to write readably. There is no reason why you can’t express your so-called ‘large’ ideas in short, concise paragraphs.

    Henceforth, in deference to you, I’ll try to keep the words small and the paragraphs short. The ideas can only be compacted so far.

    I might be pleased, except that you still don’t understand. Writing in paragraphs is about identifying key points and refining those points, not compacting anything. On the other hand, I suppose that the level of coherence in your argument will determine just how practical that is.

  208. DDG:

    I think that we’d love to confront the enemy and get it the hell over with.

    We can only dream – we would win decisively if this were to happen.

    Iraq is, at least in part, about this – setting the terms of the confrontation, drawing the enemy out, giving them something tangible to fight against,

    Whilst bolstering their recruitment efforts and giving them a great deal of credibility.

    not allowing them to set an agenda.

    Islamic extremists attacked us knowing full-well that our response would likely be deployment overseas, and they understood the advantages that it would bring to them. Then we went ahead and did it. The usefulness of deployment aside, if this isn’t a crystal-clear example of our enemies’ setting an agenda, then I don’t know what is.

    A good offense is better than any defense in a war against Terrorism.

    A good offense perhaps, but not a clumsy one that plays right into our enemies’ hands.

  209. America has abundant natural resources. But we’ve also had the commercial sensibilities, innovation, and freedom to take advantage of them.

    Well, anything can be the cue for a bout of patriotic self-stroking, but I didn’t say that expanding energy resources were sufficient, just necessary. Oil in particular lends itself to centralised control, and is probably a disaster democratically speaking if there isn’t a strong foundation like there was in America when it was discovered.

    There are lots of places with more natural resources but less freedom that are essentially relegated to second- or third – world status.

    This doesn’t negate what I said. Certain types of social capital may have also acted as enablers in some regions, and kudos to you for having the foresight to be born in such a place.

    By the same token, there’s Israel, which is far poorer wrt natural resources, but whose economy belies the size of the country.

    Like Japan, yes. But the energy still has to be available somewhere else to make this sort of development possible.

    Water may be the limiting factor for the Israelis in the end. I suspect making the desert bloom like that involves draining aquifers on a pretty large scale.

  210. Aristides – Very nice post above. Your ideas mesh very well with a book I am reading: “Cosmopolitanism” by Kwame Anthony Appiah.

    Of course, for all I know, you could be Kwame. If you are not (g) then I highly recommend the book!

  211. Big Hacking,

    I’m sorry you don’t understand what I’m trying to say. I’ve not had such criticism before but you are a frequent contributor here so I’ll try to use smaller words and shorter paragraphs.

  212. Hacking –

    In response to DDG’s comment that “Iraq is, at least in part, about this – setting the terms of the confrontation, drawing the enemy out, giving them something tangible to fight against,” you say “Whilst bolstering their recruitment efforts and giving them a great deal of credibility.”

    This sounds good but I don’t think it is at all that simple. While it is true that our presence in the M.E. gives the Jihadists a rallying point (“Look they are invading our lands”), the appear of this is severely limited by two things: their perception that they’ll just get killed anyway and, more importantly, whether the message gets out that America’s true intention is Democratization and not occupation.

    This was a big part of my above critique of the European left: they insist on painting our efforts in Iraq as Imperialist despite the fact that all evidence indicates it is not. Surely they recognize that America could have dominated Europe after WWII. Instead, we chose to hand power to democratic institutions and ensure their survival by placing our own safety as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism. This ideological support acts as a prop for the Jihadists – giving them tools to convince possible recruits that our intentions are bad. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to buy into this point by not even entertaining the possibility that recruitment hinges on an error of understanding.

    This error of understanding – this nasty propagranda – was exactly the point that Aristides covered so well and so convincingly.

    We don’t buy your thesis that overthrowing Saddam would lead inexorably to Jihadist recruitment because we were hopeful that truth would win out. We were hopeful that, given a choice between Democratic freedoms on the one hand and fundamentalist police states on the other, that freedom would win. I remain convinced that Democracy and freedom stand a chance in Iraq. However, I am stunned and saddened by the extent to which these concepts are sneered at by the so-called “progressives” and “democrats” in Europe and the American left.

    I am also saddened by the fact that a lot of “realists” like yourself don’t even see that the concept has any relevance. You don’t even include calculations to this effect in your understanding of the likely impact of American action. Instead, you reflexively buy into the characterization offered by the Jihadists. I’ve pointed out this blindness over and over again here and all I’ve gotten in response is that my paragraphs are too long. Aristides and Diablovision have brilliantly framed the larger issue of the choice before us but, again, I see no substantive understanding of the points they are making.

  213. Adrian,

    I understand and have a lot of sympathy for your energy theory of Democracy. While it isn’t the whole story, I think that you get at something quite important and often overlooked. However, I don’t buy your “energy crest” argument at all. It reminds me a lot of the bet that Paul Ehrlich made with made with Julian Lincoln Simon regarding resource depletion.

    While energy costs are bound to go up in the short term, the long term costs will be determined solely by our willingness to permit new sources to be built. That is, we can have all the energy we want (e.g. via nuclear power), but we won’t if the political will isn’t there. Like most in the West, I am committed to environmental health and safety. But it bothers the hell out of me when people use “the environment” as a prop for what is really an anti-growth or anti-Western ideology.

    By the way – I’d recommend Jack Hollander’s “The Real Environmental Crisis” and Benjamin Friedman’s “The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth” if you have an appetite for more on this topic.

  214. Diablovision – I meant to say this earlier but your comment at 8:35 on the 21st was extremely insightful. I had approached that particular gate in an earlier comment but you banged it down, entered the room and cleared it of all opposition. Well done!

    I didn’t feel that way about it myself, but since you reckon it had merit I’d better chew it over a bit.

    Rather, I think the world should be moving towards a color-blind society that applies standards of morality uniformly, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, background, and past victimhood. That is the ideal we should strive for.

    So that would be American standards of morality, I take it.

    You seem to be unwilling or unable to commit to any particular set of standards. Why so? Are you too afraid our standards are wrong? Are you afraid your standards could be challenged, so reflexively, you seek not to challenge others, to avoid scrutiny and to avoid conflict? That’s what this really seems to be about–you can’t be sure that West has discovered or developed a system of any inherent advantage, so you’re hedging your bets through the multicultural mutual fund. You don’t even have the courage to stick to your own ideals, even when that causes friction, breeds resentment, and entails harsh judgments of others. This the real problem: you’re not serious about understanding the world or coming to conclusions. You don’t want conclusions, because conclusions have consequences. You’re mind so open that you seem not be aware of the absurd equations you are making; out culture has mastered all the production of all items of basic human need so fully that it can afford the leisure to allow you the intellectual freedom to pursue whatever you desire.

    You’re not reading what I write. Our culture has mastered the production of many fine things, but ever-increasing energy supplies may not turn out to be among them for much longer. And if so, that is going to limit the applicability of everything else.

    If not, great, I’ll start worrying about Islam. Or possibly the Singularity, that also makes me nervous.

    Western culture has armed you with education and technology and encouraged you to question anything and everything–yet you equate it with cultures that have languished in barbarism and oppression, and would happily lop of your hand or your head and subject you to dhimmitude.

    I’d probably convert, except for the fact that circumcision is a big no-no in my book. But the likelihood of them exerting that much power over anywhere I’d like to live is vanishingly small – and I’m considering France (they have a very sound attitude to nuclear power, and I can speak the language better than I ever will Japanese).

    Care to present us with a pair of statements more glaringly contradictory? Did you just admit that you aren’t serious, and aren’t concerned?

    I think you’re exaggerating the threat of militant Islam, yes.

    Perhaps you should just stick your head back in the sand, then–not much we can do for you. No one took Hitler or bin Laden seriously when they proclaimed exactly what they planned to do.

    Nobody takes Bin Laden seriously now, if you ask me. They’ve got bigger fish to fry, or something.

    I suppose an irrational sense of safety is precious when Iranian madmen simultaneously threaten to annihilate Israel and inflict horrible destruction on the west will pursuing a nuclear program.

    This has also been discussed. It was a (fairly offensive) opinion, not a threat. And the horrible destruction is the *retaliation* they’re promising, hopefully in vain, for any American or Israeli attack.

    Personally I think such a lackadaisical attitude should disqualify your arguments from further consideration. If you can’t be bothered to care, why should anyone listen to you?

    The circle jerk has always seemed to me to be one of the less ambitious options, but if you must.

    “The insurgents are trying to sicken a culture they know to be a lot more squeamish than theirs into quitting. Seen the polls? It might be working.”

    And you don’t seem any connection between your relativistic attitude and that trend? Do you think that we might actually stand a chance of winning if people might take things seriously and actually commit to defending our moral standards, and actually have the courage to stick to our convictions, even when that causes friction and resentment in our adversaries?

    Well, I look at it this way – large numbers of undecided folks probably aren’t coming across this blog and saying to themselves “Hey, some English asshole in Japan thinks the US should reduce its interference in the ME, that’s it, I’m voting for Hillary!”

    We’re spectators here.

    You call us squeamish (and clearly many westerners are), yet you can’t seem to put your finger on its source, and you reject categorically all calls for you doing some introspection into yourself.

    Don’t be silly, I’m not calling *you* squeamish, you clearly can hardly wait to see beardies converted into ionised plasma in large numbers. Introspection? You just want me to agree with you.

    You don’t see how you can at least appear to be squeamish and weak, and how that can invite aggression in our enemies?

    And now the camera fades (with a slight sense of deja voo) to a couple of Al Qaida operatives in a cave, hunched over an aged laptop connected by a circuitous route to http://www.ibiblio.org/esrblog/. Subtitles translate the gutteral tones of their Arabic: “See, Ahmed – we have broken the will to resist of the Englishman! Soon all the rest will follow, bwahahaha…”

    No. I’m not particularly squeamish, but if I can see larger and larger sectors of the American public going “Euww…” each time some unfortunate gets the chop on a bad video, there’s not a lot of point in pretending that if I added my voice to yours and intoned “Yes…we can do this…all together now…we just have to *believe*…” that that would tip the balance in our favour, is there?

    I’m willing to at least consider ideas that the west’s arrogant attitude and meddling in international affairs has caused friction and resentment–why can you not at least consider the possibility that the attitude that you espouse here isn’t responsible for our lack of will in winning?

    Because I believe in Ockham’s Razor. The whole idea of going into Iraq and turning it into a democracy in the first place was fucked from the get-go, and that is considerably more responsible for our lack of ability to win than the fact that some folks predicted it. Iraq will turn itself into a democracy, or not. But I fully realise that after the withdrawal this will turn into Son of Vietnam, and attempts will be made to shoot the messenger.

    We will take what entertainment we can.

  215. Islamic extremists attacked us knowing full-well that our response would likely be deployment overseas,

    By all accounts, this is not true. There is a lot of evidence that bin Laden expected us to not retaliate, or to retaliate on a much smaller scale. Sadaam as well. Certainly Iran never expected us to sit on their doorstep.

    Whilst bolstering their recruitment efforts and giving them a great deal of credibility.

    This is a canard in two respects. First, they were recruiting quite well before any sort of involvement by the US, since the West has had a presence on the “peninsula” for 50 years. One “A” is that recruitment within Iraq is severely down, since there is no state support for terrorism. The terrorists that have been caught or killed have inevitably been non-Afghan and non-Iraqi.

    This is the short version, since I know the above is a bit longish – They are importing their insurgents into Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Second, the issue is not to reduce, curtail, or diffuse their recruiting efforts. The issue, in the short term, is to recruit (in Iraq and Afghanistan) a committed population of nationals who are anti-terrorism. Police and military recruitment is going along just fine in both countries as infrastructure is put in place.

    Again, the short version – local police and military are being replaced much faster than they’re being killed or scared off.

    In all seriousness, unless esr has a problem with my paragraph length, I’m just not going to attempt to cope with your version of Strunk and White’s. Get over it.

    A good offense perhaps, but not a clumsy one that plays right into our enemies’ hands.

    Any offense plays into a determined defense. That’s implicit. The game is to overwhelm the resistance with mass, tactics, and strategic maneuver before your offense becomes a defense. In other words, aotbe, it’s always easier to sit and wait for them to ome to you than it is to go and get them. But the reason to go on offense militarily is to take the initiative away from the enemy. This has been achieved politically and militarily. This, in spite of the fact that any reasoned critique of our offense will show myriad mistakes.

  216. DDG Says:

    By all accounts, this is not true. There is a lot of evidence that bin Laden expected us to not retaliate, or to retaliate on a much smaller scale. Sadaam as well. Certainly Iran never expected us to sit on their doorstep.

    I most definately agree with you on the account of the scale of retaliation, but the intention to retaliate militarily should have been obvious to anybody. I would question the seriousness of the threat of a terrorist group that is so clueless about the US.

    This is a canard in two respects. First, they were recruiting quite well before any sort of involvement by the US, since the West has had a presence on the “peninsula” for 50 years. One “A” is that recruitment within Iraq is severely down, since there is no state support for terrorism. The terrorists that have been caught or killed have inevitably been non-Afghan and non-Iraqi.

    I have no doubt that this is all true, but it says nothing of recruitment throughout the Middle East and in the Western countries. Israel is generally acknowledged as having one of the best trained militaries in the world, and they are certainly no less hardline on terrorism than the US. Have they killed off all their terrorist enemies?

    This is the short version, since I know the above is a bit longish – They are importing their insurgents into Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Second, the issue is not to reduce, curtail, or diffuse their recruiting efforts. The issue, in the short term, is to recruit (in Iraq and Afghanistan) a committed population of nationals who are anti-terrorism. Police and military recruitment is going along just fine in both countries as infrastructure is put in place.

    If this strategy works, it would seem to be a definite win for us. The question is whether or not it is going to succeed. Let’s hope it does. I would contend that the Iraqi people have stronger allegiance to their religion than to democracy.

    Again, the short version – local police and military are being replaced much faster than they’re being killed or scared off.

    In all seriousness, unless esr has a problem with my paragraph length, I’m just not going to attempt to cope with your version of Strunk and White’s. Get over it.

    You already did – your paragraphs are of a good length in this post. Kudos on the clarity and focus, also.

    Any offense plays into a determined defense. That’s implicit. The game is to overwhelm the resistance with mass, tactics, and strategic maneuver before your offense becomes a defense. In other words, aotbe, it’s always easier to sit and wait for them to ome to you than it is to go and get them. But the reason to go on offense militarily is to take the initiative away from the enemy. This has been achieved politically and militarily.

    I understand the reason given for deployment, I just don’t think it’s effective. I contend that military deployment will not break the commitment of Middle Eastern people to their religion, and I dare say our enemies understand that.

    This, in spite of the fact that any reasoned critique of our offense will show myriad mistakes.

    I think the key mistake of the anti-war movement has been criticising small, inevitable mistakes in the war effort. These things happen in war, and I think a lot of people understand that. What’s needed is a critique of the broader strategy. We won’t get that from the next Democratic canditate, because it’s easier to let this debacle run its course and then blame it all on Bush.

  217. > Israel is generally acknowledged as having one of the best trained militaries in the world, and they are certainly no less hardline on terrorism than the US.

    Neither of them are actually all that hardline.

    For hardline, you have to look to the French, the Russians, or the Germans. Heck, even the Brits are considerably more hardline than the US or Israel.

  218. If this strategy works, it would seem to be a definite win for us. The question is whether or not it is going to succeed. Let’s hope it does. I would contend that the Iraqi people have stronger allegiance to their religion than to democracy.

    There are already stories that US military trainers are having to be a bit careful about what they teach the Shia recruits, on account of the undefined proportion of them who are probably working for Iran.

  219. DDG – I think that this is a very important point.

    “Second, the issue is not to reduce, curtail, or diffuse their recruiting efforts. The issue, in the short term, is to recruit (in Iraq and Afghanistan) a committed population of nationals who are anti-terrorism. Police and military recruitment is going along just fine in both countries as infrastructure is put in place. ”

    While it makes sense to ask what effect our actions have in the recruitment of terrorists – it *is* a legitimate point – the leftist talking points always seem to assume that our actions will always produce unwanted blowback. Well, sometimes, they produce exactly the intended consequence. Police and military recruitment in Iraq is a perfect illustration of this point!

  220. The Home of Mohamed Atta, 9/11 terrorist.

    ATTACKS ON EGYPT TOURISM
    * April 2006: Bombings at Dahab, Egypt 23+ dead
    ‘Eyewitnesses spoke of seeing debris and body parts flying through the streets.’
    * July 2005: Bombings in Sharm El-Sheikh kill 64, mostly tourists
    * April 2005: Two attacks on tourists in Cairo, leave three dead
    * October 2004: Bombings in Taba and Ras Shitan kill 34, including 12 Israelis
    * Nov 1997: Gunmen kill 58 tourists and three policemen at Hatshepsut temple in Luxor
    * Sept 1997: Nine German tourists killed in a bomb attack at Egyptian museum in Cairo
    * April 1996: Gunman kills 19 Greek tourists outside Cairo hotel

    i keep asking myself what Egypt has done to recruit terrorism…
    10 years on

  221. Following up on this comment by DDG and the subsequent comment by WIldMonk:

    Second, the issue is not to reduce, curtail, or diffuse their recruiting efforts

    In fact, the strategy here, even if never articulated publicly, was almost surely to enable recruiting by Islamic extremist leaders and present them with a nice, tasty target. This was done, I believe, knowing full well that the US military was more than capable, both technically and on a soldier for soldier basis, of killing the bad guys at an enormous ratio. In my opinion, the strategy was a rewrite of the Vietnam attrition and body count strategy, no matter how much the White House and Pentagon may say otherwise. I believe that the best strategy would have been to strike the centers of gravity with mass and violence (boot, don’t spatter as Guderian would have said). In fact, we did just that in Afghanistan, before shifting to the attritional strategy in Iraq.

    The clear choices to continue to strike at the centers of gravity within Islamic extremism were Saudi Arabia, Iran and Palestine.

    The above sums up the standard critique of the current strategy by the opposition who thinks we should be fighting in some fashion. The opposition to this war who don’t think we should be fighting tend to grudgingly accept Afghanistan as unavoidable. Both groups usually say something rather disparaging about “taking our eye off the ball” with bin Laden, clearly ignorning the military reality in Afghanistan at the time and the political/ideological reality that bin Laden, in and of himself, is not particularly important.

    What both groups seem to overlook is the indirect approach to the aforementioned centers of gravity. An incredibly well trained, well equipped and experienced American military is now sitting on the borders of Saudi Arabia and Iran (and Syria, of course) and within easy striking distance of Palestine. Afghanistan and Pakistan may still have Taliban and al-Qaeda cells running around in the mountains, but they are neutralized as training grounds and launching pads for asymmetrical warfare. Iraq’s terrorist training camps, oil for food corruption (and funds diverted to bad guys), not to mention “small” stocks of chemical weapons and significant engineering knowledge and production capacity for such weapons.

    There is strategy, which most are focusing on and criticizing, and grand strategy, which few seem to understand. Right or wrong, the White House’s grand strategy is not limited to overthrowing Saddam and toppling the Taliban. The truth is that the campaign in Afghanistan was a success, although perhaps not unqualifiedly so. The truth is that the war against Saddam’s regime and the ensuing multiple guerrilla wars (Ba’athist insurgents, al-Qaeda terrorists, etc.) was quite successful, on both counts. The truth is that we don’t know, yet, what the outcome of rebuilding Iraq will be, but it’s no worse off than Germany was in 1947/48, in most ways.

    This is a long war folks, and it’s mostly ideological. The major military battles are probably over with for a while, assuming, of course, that the Europeans manage to not let themselves lose their own culture. That seems sorta dicey, but I’d say that Britain and France will probably come through in the end, even if they are somewhat more fascist than they already are afterwards. Having redefined the military fight from one where the enemy attacks us and we retaliate, to one where we attack and he retaliates, we now have positioned ourselves on his border, rather than the other way ’round. The question is, do we have the will to hang on to this quite favorable position and let time work to our advantage?

  222. present them with a nice, tasty target.

    Agreed. Honeypots were around long before DMZs.

    In my opinion, the strategy was a rewrite of the Vietnam attrition and body count strategy, no matter how much the White House and Pentagon may say otherwise.

    Maybe. I think a more likely theory is that we ocupied ground that terrorists couldn’t afford to give away. Iraq is the center of the chessboard. By geography, its the center. But the “exporting democracy” strategy made it the center politically as well.

    By the way, this presupposes that one of the terrorist paradigms is wrong, ie, that they don’t have strategic needs and that they are acepholous and amorphous. If this is correct, then terrorism as an enterprise is necessarily supported by state actors. More – the “incompetent” US military planners get it, got it.

    Either way, the result is the same, and I don’t mean to quibble.

    The major military battles are probably over with for a while

    There have been some significant battles on the Syrian border and significant actions on the Iranian border. Neither have received a lot of press because of infrastructure, but you can find hint, references, and small articles. These strike me as highly significant in showing the scope and breadth of the opponent.

    But they were not, by any accounting, big battles.

    Great post.

  223. dear eric , i am a muslim and i have some agreement with you about this issue but not completely true. every human have a will to do its work as the Nietszche said .

  224. Because I believe in Ockham’s Razor. The whole idea of going into Iraq and turning it into a democracy in the first place was fucked from the get-go, and that is considerably more responsible for our lack of ability to win than the fact that some folks predicted it. Iraq will turn itself into a democracy, or not. But I fully realise that after the withdrawal this will turn into Son of Vietnam, and attempts will be made to shoot the messenger.

    We will take what entertainment we can.

    Dispassionate indeed.

  225. DDG wrote:

    By the way, this presupposes that one of the terrorist paradigms is wrong, ie, that they don’t have strategic needs and that they are acepholous and amorphous. If this is correct, then terrorism as an enterprise is necessarily supported by state actors. More – the “incompetent” US military planners get it, got it.

    What we call terrorism today is actually two different things.

    1. State sponsored – in other words, asymmetric warfare. When a nation-state sponsors “terrorists” with training, weapons, money, documents, etc. then they are, in effect, arms of the state being used to further the goals of the state. If you fight them through traditional anti-terrorism means, treat them as criminals, hunt the terrorists, defend soft targets, etc. then you make the fatal mistake of ignoring the center of gravity, which is the nation-state sponsor. Both Afghanistan and Iraq were state sponsors of terrorism.

    2. Armies and states that have lost and are attempting to continue fighting asymmetrically. The PLO falls into this category. This can only work if the terrorist organization has a sponsor of some sort. The PLO had multiple sponsors, including Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the USSR. So, we come back to state sponsorship. Strike at the center of gravity.

    The point of asymmetric warfare is to protect your center of gravity by not presenting one. Failing to understand that we are being fought by proxy is extremely dangerous.

    Adrian, some of your points about energy are interesting, but your Malthusian predictions assume that no improvement in science or engineering is ever going to occur again.

  226. > The opposition to this war who don’t think we should be fighting tend to grudgingly accept Afghanistan as unavoidable.

    No. They accept it because it seems to be a win. They rejected it entirely when that wasn’t true and show signs of returning to that position every time there’s a set back.

  227. Which reminds me – if Afghanistan is the model, shouldn’t we have fewer troops in Iraq?

    The fact is that we don’t know if things would be better if there were more (or less) US troops in Iraq. We do know that the only folks who can put more troops in Iraq are the Russians or the Chinese, so if you want both more troops and less US involvement, those are your choices.

    That’s why I ask “if you want more troops, whose troops are you going to get?”, “if the US pulls out, who goes in?” and “if you can’t have more troops, what do you want to do?” Note that the EU can’t do all that much, so if you want something done….

  228. BTW – Why is it the US responsibility to invent the high-efficiency stuff? Surely the Euros are smart enough and will be willing to sell it (thus enriching good people instead of those damn Americans). Americans are notoriously cheap, so they’ll buy it.

    So, why aren’t folks demanding that the Euros do more energy research? Why leave it to the ugly Americans?

  229. DDG:

    Any offense plays into a determined defense. That’s implicit. The game is to overwhelm the resistance with mass, tactics, and strategic maneuver before your offense becomes a defense. In other words, aotbe, it’s always easier to sit and wait for them to ome to you than it is to go and get them. But the reason to go on offense militarily is to take the initiative away from the enemy. This has been achieved politically and militarily. This, in spite of the fact that any reasoned critique of our offense will show myriad mistakes.

    There is an important corollary to this that psychologically, the paranoid radical Islamists are so far gone into their delusions that any intrusion into their world is perceived as an affirmation of their belief that the United States is the focus of the west’s evil. Bin Laden himself cited as justification for his attacks against American embassies in Africa in the 1990′s our involvement in the Iraq war–a war that nearly all in the west believed then was just and proportional (hell, even the French participated in that one!), and until the recent spat of the usual leftist amnesia, the responsibility for that situation was laid entirely and rightly upon Saddam Hussein’s expansionist aspirations. Yet Bin Laden objected to the very presence of American troops in the holy lands, which he perceived as an affront to Islam. The fact that we were actually rescuing Kuwaiti Muslims from oppression at the hands of other Muslims was immaterial. Similarly, the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid given to Palestinians, the fact that western petrodollars are in the primary lifeblood of the entire middle east, and $2 billion in aid to Egypt mean nothing in the face of our intrusion into their wild delusions. Instead, support of the evil Israel, full of those accursed Jews (sons of pigs and apes they will assure you) and “imperialistic” ambitions are all they see.

    The middle east’s psychosis is so deep that even intrusions by the UN, a self-espoused defender of humanity and peacekeeper are met with extraordinary violence. In the 1990s, besides Israel, UN embassies were the primary targets of terrorist bombers. Literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people were killed in dozens upon dozens of attacks. Anyone venture a guess as to what exactly the UN did to attract such a violent reaction?

    Does anyone honestly think that we will ever get any credit for the billions of aid, both in food, supplies, medical personnel, and logistics support for the victims of the tsunami, nearly all of whom were muslims? Kosovo? What about the tens of billions of dispersements from Muslims working here in the United States who send money back to their families in muslim countries?

    The fact is that the psychopathology of the middle east is so deep that anything that we do will be interpreted in the most negative way possible and relentlessly distorted by both their own and our own media to put us in the most negative light. We could retreat to total isolation and they’d curse us for “starving” them of their oil money and computers that are their birthright. We could fly over and drop planeloads of $100 bills and they’d curse us for blotting out the sun.

    Yes, it is that bad. And it’s taking time, but I think the cartoon jihad is starting to wake up the west.

  230. Andy Freeman:

    No. They accept it [Eric: Afghanistan] because it seems to be a win. They rejected it entirely when that wasn’t true and show signs of returning to that position every time there’s a set back.

    More eloquently put.

  231. There is no ‘religion of peace’ ! The most people are killed by believing people. Christians or muslims… I don`t care. The most wars and genocide are done in the name of Jesus. Look at the Indians in NorthAmerica, the Aborigines in Australia, the Indians in Southamerika. Talking and praying about peace and practice war and genocide in the reality. A bad mind behind a beautiful face.

  232. Adrian, some of your points about energy are interesting, but your Malthusian predictions assume that no improvement in science or engineering is ever going to occur again.

    I trust engineers more than I trust economists to tell me what engineers can come up with.

  233. Just-a-woman: perhaps you missed the past century.

    See WWII. Stalinist Russia. Maoist China. More than 100 million dead.

  234. Diablo:

    See WWII. Stalinist Russia. Maoist China. More than 100 million dead.

    Of course, if you happen to believe, as both ESR and I do, that communism/fascism and theistic authoritarianism are opposite faces of the same coin, then Just-a-woman’s comments work just fine. I don’t think she actually meant it that way, though. I think she really believes that Christianity and Islam, in and of themselves, have been worse than communism and fascism.

    Adrian:

    I trust engineers more than I trust economists to tell me what engineers can come up with.

    Funny, your continued points about energy and future outcomes sound like something from Krugman, not an engineer. I’m an engineer and I disagree most strongly with you, not on the realities of the need for energy, but on the realities of energy efficiency and new sources for energy. As an example of the facts disagreeing with your position, the US economy and population have grown tremendously since 1980, yet our per capita and per dollar consumption of energy has decreased and our actual consumption of energy in that same time period has been nearly flat. At the same time, alternative energy sources with comparable energy densities to oil have made good progress. I anticipate that in roughly a decade we will begin to see the transition from oil to hydrogen as the energy basis of our economy start to happen.

    If space elevator technology continues to advance, I would guess that space based solar power is somewhere between 2 and 3 decades out. Within 50 years, if the trends continue, oil’s primary significant use will be the manufacture of plastics. As long chain molecule synthetic materials (kevlar, etc.) continue to advance, even that will fall by the wayside. The pace of technology and engineering change is accelerating, not staying flat. Malthusian predictions, such as Peak Oil, are based on a view of the world that has technology following a linear rate of change and population following an accelerating curve. Since we actually are seeing the opposite, such theories and predictions are nearly always wrong. This is no different than the predictions, extremely widespread at the time, 3 to 4 decades ago, of worldwide famine that would crush the world economy, bring on worldwide die-backs, massive wars between the haves and have nots, etc. The reality, today, is that the Green Revolution of the 60′s solved the problem. Peak Oil replaces World Famine for the doomsayers, and will be solved as well, and then, when Peak Oil is solved, the doomsayers will find their next crisis theory.

  235. >I trust engineers more than I trust economists to tell me what engineers can come up with.

    I endorse all of Eric Cowperthwaite’s points, and add this: I’m both an engineer and an economist. And I think your energy doom-’n-gloomism is piffle on both levels.

  236. Oh, just to add to my comments, from an economic perspective, Peak Oil is pure baloney. Engineers should no more try to come up with economic theory than economists should try coming up with engineering practices. Since Peak Oil was first advanced as a theory, the world’s oil known reserves that existed then have been completely depleted. Yet we now have proven reserves of around 1 trillion barrels, about 45% greater than the total oil consumption of the past 35 years. I won’t go into all the details, but those proven reserves are probably underestimated by about 2 to 1 (i.e. there’s really 2 trillion in proven, known reserves) and that doesn’t take into account unproven reserves and alternative oil sources (Tar, coal, etc.). The total known reserves are on the order, right now, of about 6 trillion barrells of all sorts. Assuming the worst curve for increase in consumption, that will not “peak” for about 40 years. Long before then, our energy basis will be well on its way to hydrogen and solar. That assumes we never find another barrell of oil anywhere in the world.

    Based on the experience of the past 5 decades, that’s utter hogwash.

    Peak Oil is silly whether you are an economist, an engineer, or both. But it’s a great way to scare the kids, about on par with the World Famine theories. A whole generation of moms will be telling their kids to “turn off the lights, there’s kids with no oil in Africa” or some such nonsense, just like our moms told us to eat our spinach because of the starving kids in China.

  237. I endorse all of Eric Cowperthwaite’s points, and add this: I’m both an engineer and an economist.

    What kind of engineer? Computer/software doesn’t count, Moore’s law has given that crowd delusions along the lines of all-resource-constraints-disappear-if-you-wait.

    And I think your energy doom-’n-gloomism is piffle on both levels.

    I hope you’re right.

  238. At the same time, alternative energy sources with comparable energy densities to oil have made good progress.

    Do you mean storage systems? Hydrogen is a storage system, frex, not a source. And it has lousy energy density, and it leaks. The “Hindenburg in every garage” dangers may have been overstated, but the new infrastructure required is going to take a while to put into place all the same. A decade sounds optimistic.

    This is no different than the predictions, extremely widespread at the time, 3 to 4 decades ago, of worldwide famine that would crush the world economy, bring on worldwide die-backs, massive wars between the haves and have nots, etc.

    Ehrlich was indeed crying wolf, yes.

    Yet we now have proven reserves of around 1 trillion barrels, about 45% greater than the total oil consumption of the past 35 years.

    Are you including OPEC claims? There are reasons to be skeptical about some of those.

    The total known reserves are on the order, right now, of about 6 trillion barrells of all sorts.

    Depends on the ERoEI whether they’re worth counting or not.

  239. Actually, Adrian, when I said alternative energy sources I’m talking about reasonable stop gaps from now until we transition to something else. Such as biodiesel and E85. Not that they can totally replace petroleum, but that they can provide increased capacity for the near future.

    I’m aware that hydrogen is a storage system, not a source and I’m aware of its energy density. On the other hand, with appropriate extraction and tanking systems, hydrogen is far more cost effective, has incredibly lower emissions issues and cannot be depleted in the medium term. In fact, the majority of the US portable energy needs could be met by 20 GWe nuclear plants, which would also provide the hydrogen extraction capacity needed for private transportation needs. When I said 10 years, I was talking about (and thought it was clear in what I wrote) the time frame to begin the transition from oil based to hydrogen based.

    As for oil reserves, are you including the fact that American and European reserves have consistently been pessimistically under estimated? The North Sea fields now have been estimated at more barrels than the estimated reserves in the mid-90′s, in spite of the amount extracted during the last decade. Same goes for Alaska. There’s good reason to believe that Shell, Exxon, etc. have significantly under-estimated non-ME reserves. This, of course, doesn’t take into account American and Canadian tar, shale and coal reserves or South American tar and sand reserves. All of these are much more efficient with current technology than they were during the last round of “oil crisis”. The combination of alternative sources and heavy oil reserves doesn’t bode well for Peak Oil doom and gloom.

    As far as computer engineers go, of which I am one, you appear to completely misunderstand our thinking. On the flip side, I probably understand better than most the energy cost of a modern post-industrial economy, considering the energy costs required for massive IT infrastructures.

    Aside from that, I’m not suggesting that if we wait long enough the problem will solve itself, although there is a certain amount of truth to that position. What I’m trying to get across is that the technology growth curve is accelerating far more rapidly than the population or economic growth curves. Peak Oil, and related theories, just about completely ignore this and work off the opposite assumption. Neither historical evidence nor current trends support such an idea. But it makes for great scare tactics.

    Finally, you may trust engineers more than economists as you say, but that’s hard to tell from what you write.

  240. Oh, and Ehrlich (and othes who bought into World Famine and Population Bomb theories) were working off the same ideas about technology trend lines vs. population growth curves that the Peak Oil guys seem to be working off of. 20 years from now we’re going to consider Peak Oil to be as silly as we consider Population Bomb to have been.

  241. Find out terrorist incidents in oil rich reigons!

    Have a look here…

    MIPT Terrorism Knowelege Base
    A comprehensive databank of global terrorist incidents and organizations.

    This site has a very good map function, or data graphic functions.

    you can find out what all those ‘booby frenzied psychotic muslims’
    and their ilk have been up to…

    caution! 18 or older here, the numbers are staggering….

  242. > Rather, I think the world should be moving towards a color-blind society that applies standards
    > of morality uniformly, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, background, and past victimhood.
    > That is the ideal we should strive for. You seem to be unwilling or unable to commit to any
    > particular set of standards.

    We can argue about this issue in many ways, but if you are going to reject post-modernism and multi-culturalism and take a universalist tact, then let’s be intellectually rigorous and apply the same intellectual and moral rules to our own behavior as we do to them. If we are going to create a universal standard, then we have to live by it.

    Is it OK to invade a foreign country because they have a resource that you want and then force people in that country to sign contracts which steal between $74 and $194billion of profits on that resource?
    http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/z_sys_publicationdetail.aspx?pid=215

    Is it OK according to your universal moral standard to torture people and to arm and fund death squads?
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-1433353,00.html

    Is it OK to rig elections to get the results that you want?
    http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/050725fa_fact

    Is it OK to invade a country, then rearrange set up that country so it will be your perminent military client with 14 of your long term bases on its territory? Is it OK to rearrange a country so that their agricultural sector is destroyed and their farmers can’t sell their crops, but your agri-businesses can dominate their markets. Is it OK to rearrange their tarifs and taxes, so their manufacturing sector is destroyed and their people unemployed, but your businesses have easy access to their markets? Is it OK to steal from them their national businesses and their natural resources and sell them off without their consent? Is it OK to occupy a country and stay even when even though British Army polls show that over 80% of the populace want you to leave immediately?

    Is it OK to lie and accuse foreign rulers of acts of terrorism and possessing a nuclear threat when you know that they had no connect to the said terrorism and they don’t possess nuclear weapons? Is it OK to lie in front of the United Nations and try to hoodwink them into giving you authorization to attack a largely defensely nation?

    What does your universal moral standard say about these things? And does your universal moral standard say that you have the moral right to defend yourself?

    Let’s apply a universal moral standard to our own actions, before we start accusing other peoples of not adhering to our supposedly universal moral standard. And if you don’t think that we really do these things, then you haven’t been paying attention to US foreign policy for the last 100 years in Latin America. We have a long history of lying, overthrowing rulers that we don’t like, rigging elections, destroying democracies, and stealing resources that we want.

  243. You’re right, amos. I forgot that we’re super-powerful, evil, greedy, mega-corporate nutcases who fuck the world.

    And our $600 billion trade deficit that pumps billions of cold, hard cash in to the rest of the world is–imperialism?

    I won’t even bother to debate your points, as you’ve obviously pushed them well past the point of being open to discussion and instead state them flatly as facts with a religious passion I haven’t even seen in my holy roller mother. Seek therapy.

  244. Adrian, some evidence to back up my contention that American and European proven oil reserves are not accurate and that the number is higher, not lower, from an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Since you may not subscribe, I’ll summarize.

    1. American companies have to declare proven reserves to the SEC
    2. They must do so using technical means approved by the SEC in 1978 and never updated since
    3. They are not allowed to use average market price for calculating profitability, they have to use end of the year pricing.

    A very interesting couple of paragraphs:

    An example: One company judged that it had 658 million barrels of oil classified as proved, or reportable, under current SPE guidelines using a widely accepted technique called the “pressure gradient” method. Under SEC guidelines, based on the older technological approach, it could only disclose 261 million barrels of proved reserve. At $50 a barrel, this represents a $20 billion difference in future reserves. On the pure science, it is generally agreed that over the 20- or 30-year life of the field, it will bring to market a volume much closer to 650 million barrels.

    The current system also insists on using year-end prices to calculate whether oil and gas reserves count as “economic” and thus as proved, rather than some kind of average. But this is no sure guide either to what happened during the year, or what will happen in the coming year — or even what happened on that particular day. The price for Canadian heavy oil dipped at the very end of 2004, owing to particular short-term pricing conditions, and so a substantial amount of heavy Canadian oils lost their standing as proved because they were temporarily no longer profitable and thus two billion barrels had to be “debooked.” Yet the price quickly bounced back, and those reserves once again counted as “proved.”

    If this is consistent across the industry, non middle eastern reserves may be underestimated by a factor of 3. In any case, they are certainly dramatically under estimated. The interesting thing is that the folks arguing Peak Oil tend to accept proved reserves as accurate or even over stated.

  245. >We have a long history of lying, overthrowing rulers that we don’t like, rigging elections, destroying >democracies, and stealing resources that we want.

    Let’s say that’s true: the United States has, in the past, lied, overthrown regimes, rigged elections, destroyed democracies, and purloined resources. Let’s say that, for each of these things, anecdotal evidence exists. What next?

    I’m not sure what the thrust is here. Could you be saying that, since we have failed to live up to our ideals, we should not profess to have any? Or are you saying that we are damned as hypocrites, unworthy of our power?

    Or perhaps you believe the US is the well-spring of evil in the world: if fate had failed to marry our power to our greed, the world would be a better place. Perhaps you believe that, in all the harmonious rhythms of the world, only the US strikes a discordant note–or, alternatively, strikes the most. Is that what you believe?

    I wonder how much of your peace of mind is derived from this emotive criticism. I am well aware that your position is a popular one, so I’m assuming the psychological benefits of raising your fist is quite high. It must really feel good to finally, in all of human history, be able to criticize _with no cost_!

    Ah, but you see, there’s always cost. Right now you, and the world, enjoy benefits you choose not to see, while slandering the benefactor mindlessly and viciously. True, it is an imperfect benefactor, but it is still _your_ benefactor nonetheless. A while ago I saw a movie entitled _A Day without Mexicans_; I don’t think you’d want to see _A Day without America_.

    I wonder if you have really pondered what kind of costs your petty criticisms, writ large, might have on the world, what would happen if the US, weary of being vilified, withdraws her stable hand and retreats to her ramparts.

    Have you ever seen _The Invincibles_? Yeah, well, it’s like that, but much, much worse.

  246. Adrian, one more thing on your oil doom and gloom. If you really do trust engineers (let’s say geologists are included in that) then why on earth are you spouting nonsense about energy doom? The most respected geologists and engineers in the world (and even international agencies, usually totally full of bunk) say that Peak Oil is nonsense.

    See this Reason article for more details.

  247. >We have a long history of lying, overthrowing rulers that we don’t like, rigging elections, destroying democracies, and stealing resources that we want.

    amosbatto, your wearing a tall paper hat.

    All of your claims are what saddam hussein has done, he invaded kuwait for oil,
    killed people for political control, even his own family members, while rigging his
    own elections, destroying democracy.

    not to mention the mass graves ‘women and children’ and the iran iraq war that
    killed more than 1 million people, while gasing the kurds in his own country.

    did you forget what has been done under his rule?

    a modern day hitler.

  248. >We have a long history of lying, overthrowing rulers that we don’t like, rigging elections, destroying democracies, and stealing resources that we want.

    amosbatto, your wearing a tall paper hat.

    All of your claims are what saddam hussein has done, he invaded kuwait for oil,
    killed people for political control, even his own family members, while rigging his
    own elections, destroying democracy.

    not to mention the mass graves ‘women and children’ and the iran iraq war that
    killed more than 1 million people, while gasing the kurds in his own country.

    did you forget what has been done under his rule?

    a modern day hitler.

  249. > Let’s say that’s true: the United States has, in the past, lied, overthrown regimes, rigged elections, destroyed democracies, and
    > purloined resources. Let’s say that, for each of these things, anecdotal evidence exists.

    I suggest reading John Perkin’s _Confessions of an Economic Hitman_ before you characterize all this as anecdotal evidence. He was a US operative for the CIA who was employed to do exactly these things. He wrote a book about his experiences and it is very damning about what US foreign policy actually does rather than what our president says US foreign policy does. I study Bolivia, and we did a number of these things in Bolivian history. We tried to swing elections to elect our favorite candidates, We funded dictators in Bolivia to suppress, disappear, and torture democrats who advocated policies that we didn’t like.

    > What next? I’m not sure what the thrust is here. Could you be saying that, since we have failed to live up to our ideals, we should not
    > profess to have any? Or are you saying that we are damned as hypocrites, unworthy of our power?

    What I’m trying to point out is that our rhetoric is a shame, and our true intentions in the Middle East have little to do with the ideals which we publically proclaim. If we truly believe in “freedom and democracy” as we proclaim, then our foreign policy ought to be consistant with creating freedom and democracy. Our actions in Iraq show that we weren’t interested in creating “freedom and democracy” in Iraq. You don’t say that you believe in democracy, then try and rig an election as we probably did in the Jan 30 2005 election. When Seymour Hersh writes about something, he almost always turns out to be right–there is a reason why he is the most famous investigative journalist in America. If you believe in democracy, you don’t come in as Paul Bremer did and mandate vast economic changes which people don’t get to vote about. You don’t go and try and force them to turn over their oil to your companies, when you know that the vast majority of the people are opposed to it. You don’t tell people that the president they elected isn’t acceptable and must be changed because you don’t like him as we just did. My point is that our rhetoric is a sham. You don’t go and fund and arm death squads and set up torture centers, then talk about the rule of law and bather on about how you are creating a democracy, because you aren’t. What we are trying to create in Iraq is a client state which designed to protect our geostrategic interests, give us a military foothold in a vital region, and give us control over their oil without their consent. We wrap this up in rhetoric about democracy, but we only wanted Iraq to create a democracy that does what we tell it to do. On the critical questions of privatization, neoliberal economics, national defense, and our occupation of their country, Iraqis have no voice. It is a sham democracy. Our first administrator in Iraq, Jay Garner, wanted to try and work toward true democracy in Iraq–he wanted to hold elections in 90 days and make US troops leave almost immediately. He didn’t want to throw the majority of Iraqis out of employment and he didn’t want to force Iraqis to have to privatize their 200 state businesses and he wanted Iraqis to be in charge of rebuilding their country rather than turning it over to Halliburton and a bunch of US companies. He envisioned all the major factions sitting down together and hammering out an agreement on the route forward. But the neocons in Washington took one look at his plans for how to build a peaceful and democratic Iraq and they sacked him. Instead they appointed Paul Bremer to transform Iraq into a client state of the US. When we first came in, many Iraqis would have been willing to work peacefully to a new Iraq, but the moment that we made clear that we were only interested in creating a client state under our control, they logically turned to rebellion. You or I would do the same in the same shoes. The classic case for me was when a delegation representing a secular mainstream party approached Paul Bremer and said to him that they wanted to participate in the jan 30, 2005 election but they could only participate if Bremer could give them his personal assurances that the US plan was to withdraw after the elections. Bremer flatly refused to say that was the US goal, so people in that party refused to run in what was obviously an election to set up a client state. If you are a patriotic Iraqi, then you don’t want to see a foreign power controling your country.

    The way to go forward is to stop trying to impose our unilateral will on other countries and work through the UN. When we see a problem, we first try and negotiate a solution. We say that terrorism is a threat, but we only have a problem with terrorism because of our US foreign policy provoked people to attack us. Read what Osama bin Laden and people in Al Quaeda are actually saying and why they say that they attacked us. Osama bin Laden said in the tape released right after 9/11 that Al Quaeda would continue attacking America as long as 1) the US had troops stationed in Saudi Arabia (remember that we had 5000 troops there), 2) the US sanctions were killing the children (Remember that our sanctions killed between 1-1.5 million Iraqis) 3) the Palestinians didn’t have a homeland (Remember that we were sending 3 billion a year Isreal). Remember that Osama bin Laden didn’t start trying to overthrow the Saudi government and didn’t form Al Quaeda until the Gulf War I when the Saudi government invited the US to set up bases in Saudi Arabia–it was that action that caused bin Laden to start attacking the Saudi government, and eventually to attack us because we are the force in the world that props up the Saudi government. In short, we are being attacked because of our foreign policy. If we changed our foreign policy, I wouldn’t be facing these foreign threats.

    In any case,we shouldn’t be supporting the stealing of Palestinian lands in Isreal, we shouldn’t have permanently stationed 5000 troops in Saudi Arabia, and we shouldn’t have killed 1 – 1.5 million Iraqis with sanctions. Our ambassador in Iraq also should not have given Saddam the diplomatic green light to invade Kuwait. Instead we should have insisted that Iraq and Kuwait sit down and negotiate over the disputed oil fields. We also shouldn’t have refused Saddam’s offer to withdraw if he could have control over the disputed oil fields (which the Kuwaitis had been illegally using to horizontally drill into Iraq and steal Iraqi oil. We also shouldn’t have armed Iraq in the 1980s and supported him when he attacked Iran.

    Over and over, the problem is US foreign policy. Now I’m not saying that radical islam will go away if we had followed a more humaine foreign policy, but there are ways to deal with radical islam without turning them into terrorists who are willing to blow themselves up because they see no other option. In Palestine, we ought to demand that the Isrealis stop the land grab, and stop the settlements. If they refuse, we stop sending billions of aid to them and make clear that we don’t support their illegal actions and their violations of UN resolutions. When the Palestinians elected Hamas, we could have made clear that we disapproved of who they elected, without trying to undermine their democratic rights. We we have no moral or legal right to implement policies that are designed to starve all Palestinians and punish them for electing Hamas. Instead we should have first sat down with whoever the Palestinians elected and find out whether it is possible to negotiate with them–we made no such effort. If Hamas doesn’t want to negotiate then we still have no legal or moral right to interfere and try to throw them out of power as we are trying to do now.

    We shouldn’t make plans to go and invade Iran when they elected a populist islamic fundamentalist who we didn’t like. We have no moral or legal right to threaten to go to war, because they are 8 to 10 years away from a bomb. Even if they had a bomb, we still have no right to invade them because of it. Having WMDs is no justification for attacking another country–it is blatantly illegal under international law. We shouldn’t accuse Iran of violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty when they haven’t and we shouldn’t accuse them of being part of an “axis of evil” when we are the country which is violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We are the country which is a rogue nation when we threaten to illegally attack Iran and openly making plans with Isreal to do it.

    In the case of N. Korea, we shouldn’t have made an agreement to give them aid if they stop working on their nuclear program, then turn around and not honor our side of the bargain as we did because the Republican congress refused to fund Clinton’s agreement with the N. Koreean govenment. After N. Korea rightly decided that they had no obligation to adhere to the agreement since we didn’t honor our side, we had no right to accuse them of being part of an “axis of evil” and publically denounce them. What right does the biggest nuclear power in the world have to tell other countries that they can’t develop nuclear weapons? We are bullies and hypocrits and our foreign policy has become downright agression when we threaten to attack countries for doing what we have already done.

    Almost every major threat to the US has become a threat because of our wrongheaded foreign policy and our refusal to deal reasonably with others. We have needlessly turned Iran and Korea ino threats. We needlessly caused the Afganistan War which ultimately led to the creation of Osama bin Laden. When Omar offered to turn bin Laden over to a group of Islamic nations for judgement, we should have accepted the offer instead of deciding that we needed to invade and militarily conquer Afganistan. All we are doing is creating needless aggression. Yes, the world would be better off without the US foreign policy. The only sane way out of this mess is to change our foreign policy and stop blathering about how “moral” we are and how we are making the world safe for “freedom and democracy”. We are only making the world a much more dangerous place with our agression and perverting the ideals of “freedom and democracy” with our current foreign policy. We are also making it impossible for secular and moderate groups to come to the fore in the MiddleEast because people turn to radical groups in defense against our agression.

  250. Wow Amos! Too bad the real history doesn’t agree with your claims. Other than that, there’s really no point to discussing this with you. You and Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer must get along well.

  251. not to mention the mass graves ‘women and children’ and the iran iraq war that
    killed more than 1 million people, while gasing the kurds in his own country.

    The attack on Iran was approved by America with considerable enthusiasm, so I wouldn’t shout *too* loudly about it.

    did you forget what has been done under his rule?

    a modern day hitler.

    Have you seen maps showing how much territory was under German control at the peak of Axis power?

    Saddam had Kuwait. HTH.

  252. >The attack on Iran was approved by America with considerable enthusiasm, so I wouldn’t shout *too* loudly about it.

    He did not ask for our approval to start a war, we gave aid to help stop it.
    show me where the U.S. gave the approval!
    what year did that happen?

    some history->

    The Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988)

    In 1979 Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution, thus giving way to an Islamic republic led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The influence of revolutionary Shi’ite Islam grew apace in the region, particularly in countries with large Shi’ite populations, especially Iraq. Saddam feared that radical Islamic ideas — hostile to his secular rule — were rapidly spreading inside his country among the majority Shi’ite population.

    There had also been bitter enmity between Saddam and Khomeini since the 1970s. Khomeini, having been exiled from Iran in 1964, took up residence in Iraq, at the Shi’ite holy city of An Najaf. There he involved himself with Iraqi Shi’ites and developed a strong, worldwide religious and political following. Under pressure from the Shah, who had agreed to a rapprochement between Iraq and Iran in 1975, Saddam agreed to expel Khomeini in 1978.

    After Khomeini gained power, skirmishes between Iraq and revolutionary Iran occurred for ten months over the sovereignty of the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway, which divides the two countries. Iraq invaded Iran by attacking Mehrabad Airport of Tehran and entering the oil-rich Iranian land of Khuzestan on September 22, 1980. Saddam declared Khuzestan a new province of Iraq.

    In the first days of the war, there was heavy ground fighting around strategic ports as Iraq launched an attack on Iran’s oil-rich, partly Arab-populated province of Khuzestan. After making some initial gains, Iraq’s troops began to suffer losses from human wave attacks by Iran. By 1982 Iraq was on the defensive and looking for ways to end the war.

    Iraq quickly found itself bogged down in one of the longest and most destructive wars of attrition of the twentieth century. During the war, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces and Kurdish separatists. Many of these chemical weapons, along with Iraq’s nuclear program, were developed with the help of companies from East and West Germany.

    On March 16, 1988, the Kurdish town of Halabja was attacked with a mix of mustard gas and nerve agents, killing 5,000 civilians, and maiming, disfiguring, or seriously debilitating 10,000 more. (see Halabja poison gas attack). The attack occurred in conjuction with the 1988 al-Anfal campaign designed to reassert central control of the mostly Kurdish population of areas of northern Iraq and defeat the Kurdish peshmerga rebel forces. The United States maintains that Saddam ordered the attack to terrorize the Kurdish population in northern Iraq , but Saddam’s regime claimed at the time that Iran was responsible for the attack. Former senior DIA officers have said that the U.S. intelligence community was so “desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose” that the U.S. aided Iraq in the war despite knowledge about Saddam’s use of chemical weapons. According to former DIA officer W. Patrick Lang, “The use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern.” He adds that his agency “would have never accepted the use of chemical weapons against civilians, but the use against military objectives was seen as inevitable in the Iraqi struggle for survival.” Another officer who was involved noted that the Pentagon “wasn’t so horrified by Iraq’s use of gas. It was just another way of killing people — whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn’t make any difference.” The above statement attributed to an anonymous member of the intelligence community was made in reference to the Iran-Iraq war, not the attack on Kurdish civilians.

    Saddam reached out to other Arab governments for cash and political support during the war, particularly after its oil industry severely suffered at the hands of the Iranian navy in the Gulf. Iraq successfully gained some military and financial aid from the United States, the Soviet Union, and France, which together feared the prospects of the expansion of revolutionary Iran’s influence in the region. The Iranians, claiming that the international community should force Iraq to pay the casualty of the war to Iran, refused any suggestions for a cease-fire. They continued the war until 1988, hoping to bring down Saddam’s secular regime and instigate a Shi’ite rebellion in Iraq.

    The bloody eight-year war ended in a stalemate. There were hundreds of thousands of casualties. Perhaps upwards of 1.7 million died on both sides. Both economies, previously healthy and expanding, were left in ruins.

    Saddam borrowed a tremendous amount of money from other Arab states during the 1980s to fight Iran and was stuck with a war debt of roughly $75 billion. Faced with rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, Saddam desperately sought out cash once again, this time for postwar reconstruction. The desperate search for foreign credit would eventually humiliate the strongman who had long sought to dominate Arab nationalism throughout the Middle East

  253. >Have you seen maps showing how much territory was under German control at the peak of Axis power?

    Hitler started WW2 by invading a lesser country with tanks just like saddam…

  254. >I suggest reading John Perkin’s _Confessions of an Economic Hitman_ before you characterize all this as anecdotal evidence. He was a US operative for the CIA who was employed to do exactly these things.

    No amosbatto,

    Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an auto-biographical book written by John Perkins and published in 2004. It tells the story of his career with consulting firm Chas. T. Main. Before employment with the firm, he interviewed for a job with the National Security Agency (NSA). Perkins claims that this interview effectively constituted an independent screening which led to his subsequent hiring by Einar Greve, a member of the firm (and alleged NSA liaison) to become a self-described “Economic Hit Man.”

    No amosbatto,

    The NSA has nothing to do with Economic hit men!

    it is a cryptological (codemaking and codebreaking) organization, not an economic organization and that its missions do not involve anything remotely resembling placing economists at private companies in order to increase the debt of foreign countries.

  255. For those who are interested, I know quite a few Americans and Brits who worked for Aramco as far back as 1973. They are ex-pats who have lived in the Middle East, primarily Saudi Arabia, and a lesser amount of time in Kuwait, for the past 30 years. They all tell a consistent story about Saudi Arabia. Throughout the 70′s the Kingdom was liberalizing, western dress was seen on the streets, women were seen without full veils, drove cars, went shopping without being escorted by male relatives, etc. Some restaurants in An Khobar and Al Jubail had begun to serve women in the main dining room. The religious police were all but unknown outside of Mecca, and to a lesser extent Ad Damman. Westerners, such as my acquaintances, lived reasonably normal lives and could travel somewhat freely, with the exception of Muslim shrines. I’ve confirmed this with several Saudi ex-patriates that I know.

    In 1979, after Khomeini came to power in Iran, the Shi’ites in the Kingdom, Kuwait and Iraq was on the verge of open rebellion. Ultimately, the response of the Saudi monarchy was to return significant amounts of power to their Wahhabi (or Salafi) extremists. Additionally, both the Saudi Kingdom and Kuwaitis spent tremendous amounts of money supporting and encouraging Saddam’s war against Iran. They also used their extensive influence (petro dollars and petro sales both) in Europe to convince France, Germany and Britain to support Saddam. The vast majority of all aid and arms sales from the West to Iraq from 1980 to 1988 came from France, Germany and Britain, more than 90% of it. The US arms sales to Iraq amounted to less than 5%. All of this, of course, discounts the very significant aid levels that Iraq received from the USSR. In fact, Iraq was a client state of the USSR by 1985. As with many other Soviet proxies, the USSR was providing weapons, advisors and training, not to mention advisors who “volunteered” to fly missions with the Iraqi air force and run many of their anti-aircraft and surface to surface missile systems for them.

    This response came about after it became very clear that Khomeini fully intended to export his Islamic Revolution to Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. While the Shah was not a “good guy”, the Islamic Revolution was significantly worse. Iran is a major state supporter of terrorism, religious police as bad as, or worse, than anything under the Shah, secret nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs and fomenting revolutions in other countries.

    None of this, of course, justifies Iraqi aggression or the use of chemical weapons against internal and external enemies. The point is, rather, that Iran is not the guys in the white hats. Nor, of course, is Iraq, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. The situation is far more complex than the simplistic explanations being put forth by some on this board. Iraq was not, and never was, an American puppet or client. At best, the US was relatively neutral towards Iraq during the 1980′s, since it neutralized both Iran and Iraq and kept the Gulf relatively stable. Stable compared to what? Well, either a Shi’ite Islamic Revolution or Ba’athist regime bent on expansion throughout the Gulf. Neither, obviously, was in the best interests of the US or Western Europe. With the Cold War still in full swing, little choice was available to the West in the Gulf, the alternative being to stay completely out of the Gulf and watch the countries there quickly become Soviet clients in order to avoid the otherwise inevitable domination by a radical Iran.

    It is, of course, convenient to ignore all of this history and simply blame the US and, to a lesser extent, Britain. Even more conveniently, the very major role played in all of this by France, Germany and the USSR is simply ignored by those who wish to blame all of the problems on the US and our Israeli sock puppets.

  256. The attack on Iran was approved by America with considerable enthusiasm

    By approved, I assume you mean endorsed. Endorsement means neither “sanctioned” nor “aided” nor “abetted”. Your selectively reading geo-political tea leaves, and supporting your own claim with the word “enthusiasm.”

    The way to go forward is to stop trying to impose our unilateral will on other countries

    This is such a mistaken notion. It is naive, and I won’t try to educate you, but I will posit the following:

    1) America has every right to protect her interests
    2) America has every right to use all means in her power to accomplish #1

    Now I’ll add a caveat that is both factual and mitigating: That America has in toto exercised restraint and moral prudence in pursuing #1 above. Define it using whatever tortured version of “moral” you want.

    Taking Bolivia as an example without endorsing any of your claims, you should ask yourself why we haven’t simply exercised carnage and turned Bolivia into a principality. The fact that we can’t or won’t do things like that does not change the fact that we still have to protect our interests.

    Finally, there is the not so small matter that we are often asked to intervene militarily, politically, and diplomatically to protect our commercial and political partners in parts of the world where the rule of law, the right to property, democracy / republicanism, and so on are not respected or are seen as weakness. So to put a face on your claim, you are basically excreting the multicultural line that all civilizations weren’t created equal, but that we should indulge in that fantasy.

    Supposedly this is to endear us in some way to those who want to destroy us, but cannot do so. It ignores, of course, the fact that a country’s will to live and thrive starts and stops with its leadership and with that leadership’s response to those threats. That will to live is perpindicular to any military force that a country may choose to field.

    Ultimately, the situation in Bolivia, if your facts are correct, has little to do with our imposing our unilateral will on it. Our unilateral will is nigh irresistable. Whatever happened there was at least tempered.

    After N. Korea rightly decided that they had no obligation to adhere to the agreement since we didn’t honor our side, we had no right to accuse them of being part of an “axis of evil” and publically denounce them.

    Of course we do. Kim is an evil, deluded SOB who prefers to keep his people starving and in the dark ages.

    As to the agreement, Clinton was a fool to make it, and the Republican Congress had every right not to endorse it when it was clear that the principles of the agreement were ridiculous. It’s called checks and balances.

    Why are you so on love with authoritarianism and bad decisions? What’s nice about being in America is that we seem to be able to recover from a lot of bad decisions.

  257. > 1) America has every right to protect her interests
    > 2) America has every right to use all means in her power to accomplish #1

    Does every other nation in the world have this right? If every nation asserts these rights, the globe will be turned into a swath of wars. China has “interests” in the oil in Sudan. Does that give China the right to send a force to invade Sudan and turn it into a client state that will dutifully supply oil to China?

    What if there is a dispute between our “interests” and China’s “interests”? In the past we at least had the principal that every country’s actions should be restrained by international law. Disputes should be taken to the UN, WTO courts, World Court, etc. But what you are implying is that we should shred international law when our “interests” are at stake. In essence, international disputes should be resolved through the principal that “might makes right”. The party with the most power gets to overrule the weaker party regardless of their rights under international law.

    Do our “interests” overrule the democratic rights of people in other countries to be self-governed? Do our “interests” justify overthrowing democratically elected presidents?

    Let’s look at two of the classic cases in Latin America. When Guatemala was under a dictatorship in the 1920s and 30s, United Fruit used very questionable means to gain control over large sections of Guatemalan land to keep competitors from growing bananas. When a democratically elected government was established after WW II, the Arevalo administration found that its progressive reforms were being undermined by United Fruit, When Jacobo Arbenz was elected, his administration decided to nationalize the uncultivated lands that United Fruit was holding. There were millions of Guatemalans who needed land, and UF wasn’t using the land. Moreover, UF gained control over much of that land through bribery, coercion, and support of a previous corrupt dictatorship. UF had gotten the land to be listed at a very low value under the previous dictatorship, so the taxes on that unused land would be very low. At the same time, UF was cheating the Guatemalan government by underpaying its taxes per bunch on the bananas. Arbenz decided to nationalize the undercultivated land and pay UF the listed tax value for that land. UF turned around and lobbied the Eisenhower administration to overthrow the Arbenz government and engaged in a $0.5 million dollar misinformation campaign in the US to propagandize the idea that the Arbenz government was a front for communism. (The Communist party in Guatemala had just formed a few years previously and was a tiny party with very little influence, although there were a few members in the Arbenz administration). Eisenhower decided to put his newly created CIA to work and overthrow Arbenz. In 1954, the CIA flew planes over Guatemala City dropping a few bombs and lots of leaflets saying that an invasion force was coming. Meanwhile radio stations blared news about the invasion and called for Arbenz to resign. A small force funded and trained by the CIA invaded Guatemala from Honduras and marched toward Guatemala City. Arbenz saw the writing on the wall, and fled abroad.

    For the next 3 decades Guatemala was ruled by US-backed military dictatorships. An armed insurgency arose to overthrow the dictatorships, and Guatemala was engaged in a civil war for over 3 decades. The military regime not only tortured, killed and disappeared any democratic opposition to their rule, but they used death squads and paramilitary groups to eliminate union leaders, peasant leaders, students, priests, and anyone who they vaguely suspected. Roughly 200,000 people died–93% of them at the hands of the official military or its right-wing paramilitary proxies. In the early 80s under Gen. Efrian Rios Montt, 400 Maya villages were raised with the full backing of the Reagan administration. Finally Bush I decided that all these civil wars in Central America were blocking his proposed CAFTA plans and bad for business, so he began urging Latin American governments to end the civil wars and negotiate with the guerrillas. In Guatemala the peace negotiations dragged on for years, but finally in Dec 1996 a peace accord was signed and the civil war ended. In 1998, a Catholic Archbiship led a Peace and Justice commission to investigate the murders during the civil war. Two days after the final commission report appeared, he was assassinated on the streets of Guatemala City. Today, death squads are still reported to operate with impunity. Guatemala currently has some of the lowest standards of living and highest illiteracy rates in the Americas and huge inequalities between the rich and the poor.

    I wish that this story was unique in US history, but the US has undertaken similar actions in Chile, Dominican Republic, Brazil (disputed), and Haiti. Most recently we attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela in 2002 because we have “interests” in their oil. By some estimates, Venezuela has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Iraq. We now know that the US participated because phone records show that our US ambassador was regualarly conversing on the phone with the leaders of the coup. Internal Bush administration documents also predicted beforehand that the coup would take place. The coup attempt was overthrown in only 28 hours, but during that time, the Bush administration officially recognized the government installed by the military coup. The Bush administration even had the gall to publically accuse Hugo Chavez of having caused the coup.

    So this is where your principal of US “interests” will lead you. Your principal gives us the right to shred international law, overthrow democracies, and overrule the freedom of all those people in Guatemala and Venezuala who voted for Arbenz and Chavez. Isn’t it troubling that this same principal of protecting US “interests” in the Middle East have led us to the point that we support dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Eygpt, but now want to practice regime change of the democratically elected governments in Palestine and Iran. As much as we tout the “democracy” that we created in Iraq, we couldn’t even respect Al Jaafari as the elected leader of the government and decided that he had to be removed when he proved to not properly do our bidding.

    > Of course we do. Kim is an evil, deluded SOB who prefers to keep his people starving and in the dark ages.

    All our foreign policy is doing is giving KIm an external enemy that he can use as an excuse to crack down on dissent inside N. Korea. If times are bad in N. Korea and people are starving, then he can blame it all on the “evil” Americans. He can tell his people that the Americans are the cause of their suffering. They must be prepared for the US attack on their country–to save their country, they must support him as the leader that will stand up to US aggression.

    Attacking a country ruled by a dictatorship only makes the dictator stronger. Look how Fidel Castro uses the threat of the Yanki Imperialists in all his speeches to the Cuban people. Every time there is shortage or privation in Cuba, it is the fault of the American embargo and every CIA plot justifies beefing up the Cuban military and cracking down on dissent. Castro didn’t have an excuse to throw the dissendent leaders in jail, until we started sending them NED funds–then they could be charged with collaborating with foreign enemies. Saddam skillfully used the same American external threat in the 90s to stay in power even when most experts thought that he would topple shortly after Gulf War I.

    It is a fallacy that we can encourage democracy by attacking a country ruled by a dictator. Democracy grows from within until it eventually overthrows a bad leader. Look at how Serbia finally got of Slobodan MiloÅ¡ević, who had turned into a de facto dictator although he was orignally elected. When we were attacking Serbia, the Serbian people rallied around Milosevic in defense of their “country”. Milosevic finally fell in Oct 2000 when there were no longer any external enemies attacking Serbia and people no longer saw a reason to support the Milosevic dictatorship. People rose up and demanded a return to democracy, but it probably never would have happened as long as Serbia was being bombed by the US. Democratic forces grow from within, they can’t be imposed from outside.

    If we want to encourage democracy, we harbor their dissidents, we have trials convicting dictators of human rights abuses, we freeze their bank accounts abroad and we refuse to sell them arms. These are the ways to encourage democractic forces to grow inside a dictatorship. Threatening to bomb and invade only undermines democratic forces and encourages a crack down on internal dissent.

    Everytime we threaten a foreign leader with a military action, we are just strengthening his appeal to the people and undermining his opposition. Look how skillfully Ahmadinejad in Iran is using our threats today. Now he has an excuse to go and close down all the newspapers which criticize him. Our current threats are just undermining the Iranians who want a more democratic system which can’t be vetoed by religious leaders. We are probably hastening Iran toward building a nuclear bomb by our threats. Similarly, our current efforts to starve the Palestinians because they elected Hamas will only make Palestinians angry and make them denounce anyone who wants to work with the Americans or Isrealis in the future. We may temporarily starve the Palestinians into submission today, but in the long run, we are only encouraging the extremists who are seen as the one force that is capable of standing up against the external threat.

    We rally around our leaders when we are attacked, why do we expect the Iranians, Cubans, Koreans or Serbians to do any different when they are attacked.

  258. “If we want to encourage democracy, we harbor their dissidents, we have trials convicting dictators of human rights abuses, we freeze their bank accounts abroad and we refuse to sell them arms. These are the ways to encourage democractic forces to grow inside a dictatorship. Threatening to bomb and invade only undermines democratic forces and encourages a crack down on internal dissent.”

    We tried all of the above with both Cuba and North Korea–two nations we never were serious about invading. I’d argue that the lack of a credible outside threat has allowed dictatorships to feel defiant and overconfident while they commit the most agregious crimes humanity has ever known.

    Oh, but I forgot those are our fault.

    Your kind likes to point out how the United States is just 5% of the world’s population. If polled, I doubt that few of us would have supported the supposed black ops globe trotting you accuse the CIA of. The CIA might emply 6,000 people–about one millionth the population of the planet. Yet somehow they are responsible for all of its evil–and by extension–all 300 million Americans are evil. You cannot possibly believe such idiocy.

    Nnnnoo….it’s…it’s the evil megaKKKorporations!

  259. “Attacking a country ruled by a dictatorship only makes the dictator stronger. Look how Fidel Castro uses the threat of the Yanki Imperialists in all his speeches to the Cuban people. Every time there is shortage or privation in Cuba, it is the fault of the American embargo and every CIA plot justifies beefing up the Cuban military and cracking down on dissent. Castro didn’t have an excuse to throw the dissendent leaders in jail, until we started sending them NED funds–then they could be charged with collaborating with foreign enemies. Saddam skillfully used the same American external threat in the 90s to stay in power even when most experts thought that he would topple shortly after Gulf War I.”

    This is ridiculous on its very face. One doesn’t attack a dictatorship to play tiddling winks at war. One attacks a dictatorship to rub it off the face of the earth. Attacking Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito might have made them seem stronger for a short time, which is inevitable when one considers that any enemy will draw strength in bracing for an attack. Hitler had more tanks, planes, and soldiers after we declared war than before–but what else were you expecting? You might also be surprised to find that fighting a war involves violence and death. Is this fact matter shocking to you? This is what you cannot seem to grasp:

    Insane people will use any excuse, any intrusion into their space, to justify their core neurotic feelings and paranoid delusions. A paranoid schizophrenic almost certainly regards their doctors and family members as enemies or agents of their delusional tormentors–is their perception reality? Is there any way to actually help such people without them thinking you’re the enemy? No! Even the most altruistic, and ultimately most successful therapy will appear to them as an outright attack. To use your logic, one should not help schizophrenics, or defend ourselves against them when they become dangerous, because we might intrude into their psychosis–they may use our actions as justification for their actions. This is the world you advocate–to treat the insane, we should simply sing songs and prescribe medications in the hope of appealing to their inner sanity. Is this what you’d hope for if one held a gun to your child’s head?

  260. Let’s play a fun game. I’m going to take a quotation by you and underline the actions of the United States. Then I’ll dissect the information you presented about the US actions. Finally, I’ll remove your inferred motives that are sprinkled throughout as fact.

    Original:

    “For the next 3 decades Guatemala was ruled by US-backed military dictatorships. An armed insurgency arose to overthrow the dictatorships, and Guatemala was engaged in a civil war for over 3 decades. The military regime not only tortured, killed and disappeared any democratic opposition to their rule, but they used death squads and paramilitary groups to eliminate union leaders, peasant leaders, students, priests, and anyone who they vaguely suspected. Roughly 200,000 people died–93% of them at the hands of the official military or its right-wing paramilitary proxies. In the early 80s under Gen. Efrian Rios Montt, 400 Maya villages were raised with the full backing of the Reagan administration. Finally Bush I decided that all these civil wars in Central America were blocking his proposed CAFTA plans and bad for business, so he began urging Latin American governments to end the civil wars and negotiate with the guerrillas. In Guatemala the peace negotiations dragged on for years, but finally in Dec 1996 a peace accord was signed and the civil war ended. In 1998, a Catholic Archbiship led a Peace and Justice commission to investigate the murders during the civil war. Two days after the final commission report appeared, he was assassinated on the streets of Guatemala City. Today, death squads are still reported to operate with impunity. Guatemala currently has some of the lowest standards of living and highest illiteracy rates in the Americas and huge inequalities between the rich and the poor. ”

    Alright. So we have: the United States “backed” military dictatorships. Well, two words is a bit vague. What part of the US? Who in the US? In what way did they back the dictatorships? Did they provide material, money, logistical support, troops, weapons? Were they officially recognized as allies? Were they invited to the United States, promoted as friends, and were their actions endorsed or supported by the administration and the American people explicitly? First of all, who in the government even knew? Or maybe you are talking about individual Americans? American Corporations? Which ones? What are their names and who in their administrations were making the decisions?

    You aren’t giving any information here. Just very big and fuzzy terms like the “US” and “backed”. But you aren’t trying to inform. You are just deliberately trying to give the impression that the crimes that follow are as much the fault of the “US”–including me, who wasn’t born at the time, and others here, whose only crime might have been to have been in grammar school at the time. The guilt you are trying to spread is both flimsy and by association, and your method here is deeply ingenuous beyond the point of disproportionality.

    The second thing is that you suggest that the Reagan administration “fully backed” the razing of Mayan villages. Who in his administration? The CIA? The defense department? Who had authorization, and again, what sort of backing did they do? Who in the public supported this–who even knew about this to give their consent? You won’t, and likely can’t, provide these details.

    The third intrusion of the United States is when Bush I urges peace. But you can’t leave it at that, you temper this with about every negative slur that you can think of–none substantive. You impugn Bush’s urging of peace because it must have some ulterior motive, which you happily supply with a good helping of demonization. You supply this ulterior motive and state it as fact. This is a deliberately deceptive tactic and you deserve extra dishonesty points for this one.

    For the sake of argument I’ll posit it that Bush’s motives are as you stated. It still remains a simple truth that war generally is bad for business, and for free trade. It has a tendency to kill people, destroy property, upset lives, unleash psychological trauma, and eliminate wealth. The implication here in the demonization you are making is that business is bad. Yet you try to slip this under the radar as if I wouldn’t notice. Most people, and probably a majority of Guatemalans, believe that free trade is actually a good thing. You probably drank Guatamelan coffee this morning without knowing it, and the thousands of workers who would not otherwise have a job but for your addiction can survive.

    You see, when you strip away the idiocy from your post you see that most of what you left out is the actions of the militants and insurgents in Guatemala. It’s they who have been waging a civil war. It’s they that make the decisions, that carry the weapons, that nationalize the property, that lie, cheat, steal, kill, rape, destroy and burn each other and their lands. You wouldn’t think that by reading your post. It seems like these people have no free will, and no moral responsibilities. As soon as a single American dollar is involved, then its all our fault!

    Hey, gotta give you points though. When an American president calls for peace in other lands, even that’s bad.

  261. Amos, how much more nonsense are you going to toss us to debunk? Here’s the thing. You toss out nonsensical strawmen to convince us that the USA is evil. The USA is not evil, but some of the men and women who create and execute policy for the US are foolish, misguided, and sometimes even evil. But, you betray your collectivism with your guilt by association. You betray your anti-Americanism with your refusal to see that sometimes bad is a better choice than worse. You betray your anti-liberalism with your defense of genocidal dictators. Is there even one reason that I should continue to read your foolishness?

  262. amosbatto:  You are complaining about Iraq policies passed by the UN Security Council.  If they were flawed, blame the Russians, French and Chinese for refusing to allow the US and Britain to do it right.  In short, you’re a blame-America-firster, a classic moonbat.

    I normally agree with most of what Eric Cowperthwaite writes, but not
    this:

    Yet we now have proven reserves of around 1 trillion barrels, about 45% greater than the total oil consumption of the past 35 years.

    You’re probably talking about OPEC nations for most of that, but they pulled a shell game:OPEC restricted annual oil production to some fraction of reserves.OPEC countries obligingly increased their claimed reserves.They did this without any new oil discoveries or improvements in recovery; it was all bookkeeping ledgerdemain.
    You don’t seem to realize that bigger oil fields are easier to find (because they’re easier to hit!) than smaller ones, and oil fields do run out.  Looked at E. Texas lately?  At one time it produced 1.2 million barrels per day.  Now it produces twelve thousand.  Even Prudhoe Bay is down more than 50% from its production peak.  The whole world is going that way; we burn 30 billion barrels a year but discover only about 5 billion, and the last year we discovered as much oil as we used was 1985.

    You talk about the North Sea, but both British and Norwegian production has been falling substantially year-over-year for several years.  The Burgan field in Kuwait (biggest in that nation) has peaked and is now declining.  Cantarell (PEMEX, tied for second in the world with Burgan) has peaked.  The al-Saud family is very tight-lipped, but there are indications that Ghawar, biggest field in the world, is also peaking.  The number of drilling rigs being rushed to the Middle East are proof that they can’t keep up any more.

    It will no doubt gall you to say this, but it’s true:  Jimmy Carter was right!

    E85 and biodiesel are boondoggles.  Ethanol in general isn’t an energy program (with EROEI of only 1.34:1, it can’t be), it’s a farm price-support program.  Oilseed crops are not productive enough to replace petroleum diesel, let alone all motor fuel (but they make another price-support for soybeans and rapeseed).  I like the idea of cellulosic ethanol because it can turn a huge amount of waste into useful product, but even at Iogen’s claim of 330 liters (87 gallons) per ton, a billion tons of biomass won’t replace even half of the gasoline we use (139 billion gallons in ’04, last I checked).

    Now, as for tar sands, coal-to-liquids and the like:  both demand huge amounts of water for conversion to stuff we’d consider decent fuel, and that water simply isn’t available where the coal is.  The plants to do it are also expensive and polluting.  You can wield the idea as a talisman, but I want to see some cost and resource numbers before I take it seriously.

    On other matters, you’re simply wrong.  E.g.,

    In fact, the majority of the US portable energy needs could be met by 20 GWe nuclear plants, which would also provide the hydrogen extraction capacity needed for private transportation needs.

    Power delivered to wheels in the US is on the order of 200 GW, not 20 GW.

    How does this relate to Islam?  If we want to stop empowering the Wahhabis and other terrorists, we’ve got 30 years of social and technological catching up to do.

  263. Looked at E. Texas lately?

    The oil fields in east texas are not depleted to any great extent. Oil Production in the Continental US remains notoriously expensive due to labor, taxation, and defacto environmental taxes. E. Texas remains high on the list of Natural Gas Production.

    Even Prudhoe Bay is down more than 50% from its production peak. The whole world is going that way; we burn 30 billion barrels a year but discover only about 5 billion, and the last year we discovered as much oil as we used was 1985.

    Until two years ago, you couldn’t pay an oil company to drag a bbl of oil out of the ground, because it resulted in a net loss. The break even for getting a bbl of oil out of the ground used to be around $28 (late ’80s). I’m not sure where it is now – much higher, I’d think. So cost and net were factors.

    Also, the producing wells are turned off when it doesn’t pay to move the oil. Refineries in the US are at least 25 years old – no new ones, no efficiencies, too much NIMBY caused by hysterical, frothing greens.

    I’m not sure about the statistics of oil exploration for last year, but in my research, I know that they weren’t exploring in the gulf and in the US – they were trying to figure out how to get oil out of the ground that they’ve known is there. The oil fields in East Texas, eg, are well mapped and verified.

    What you are _forgetting_ is the notion of technology. In the ’30s and ’40s, they could only pump x% of verifiable oil. What is verifiable has grown at the same time that pumping techniques and drilling techniques have matured. It’s not a static system.

    What’s more, for the first time in something like 20 years, there is actually economic incentive to do oil exploration and energy tech research.

    In short, while conservation is good (in the Aristotelian sense), this grieving concern that we will run out of oil any time soon is a canard.

  264. Engineer-Poet, the 1 trillion in proven, known reserves is not “just OPEC”. As for the so-called shell game, if the Saudi’s know that their oil is about to run out, as the Peak Oil folks claim, then why on earth are they investing billions of dollars in new wells, extraction and pumping equipment and pipelines? That seems pretty silly to eat up their last profits on useless equipment.

    DDG is dead on target with why production in Prudhoe Bay, E. Texas and the North Sea is falling. It has little to do with how much oil is there and much to do with how regulation and labor adds to the cost of extraction.

    Read this article in the Wall Street Journal if you want some facts on how proved reserves are reported, as mandated by the SEC (say thanks to Jimmy Carter for this really screwed up methodology). In case you don’t subscribe to WSJ, here’s an excerpt that makes the key point:

    Surprising as it might be, the current rules for reporting reserves — what might be called the “1978 System” — essentially insist on 1970s technology and methodologies. Back then there was no digital revolution, and the frontier for offshore development was 600 feet of water; today it is 12,000 feet. The rules do not recognize the vast technical progress over the last 30 years, and as a result, standard techniques used today by companies to set multibillion investment programs are not approved, or only partly approved, for use in describing proved reserves for disclosure purposes to investors.

    This article at Reason is the single best piece on the fallacies of Peak Oil that I’ve yet read. It substantiates just about everything I wrote and provides sources. I am not making this stuff up, nor taking it from unvetted or inexpert sources.

  265. P.S. there are three key reasons why oil and gas prices are up:

    1. There is very little slack in oil supply right now. To find out why, see DDG’s commentary on the cost of pumping oil. It will take time to bring new pumping capacity online.
    2. Iran, Iraq and Venezuela are unstable and this is causing major jitters in the oil futures market.
    3. Refinery capacity is only about 101% of what is needed. This is because, due to Jimmy Carter’s insane energy policies it is essentially impossible to build a new refinery in the USA. It has been more than 30 years since the last new refinery came on line in the US.

    In the late 80′s and 90′s there was significant slack in the oil supply in the world due to the oil crisis years of the 1970′s. The obscene profits that could be made in those years encouraged massive amounts of new production capacity to come online. This is, by the way, the opposite of the claims of Peak Oil, which says the oil crisis delayed the peak by reducing demand. That’s not actually true, since production went up. That’s a normal reaction in the market to increased ability to make money. Due to ridiculous regulations, environmental laws that make it all but impossible to open a new oil field in the USA, and high labor costs, almost no new capacity has been brought to market since the 80′s. The slack is now all gone. This round of “crisis” is going to bring about new slack, and prices will drop again.

    As far as 20 GWe plants, that is not to provide electricity to cars. Those 20 plants will create significant slack in electricity production in the US, allowing oil and gas to be shifted to transportation. At the same time, those 20 plants provide the ability to create significant amounts of readily available hydrogen for transportation. Those plants won’t do the trick all by themself. Instead, they will bring the additional capacity to the table needed to alleviate the current transportation problems.

    FInally, alt fuels like E85 and biodiesel are not boondoggles if they are viewed appropriately, as supplements to petroleum for the short term. Which is the point I continuously tried to make. Any other view is silly, but it’s not a view I take.

  266. There is very little slack in oil supply right now.

    There are two other points to mention in regard to the price of gas. One is the federal and state gas taxes, which are outrageous. The Federal Government pocketed much more “profit” than Exxon did in the third quarter, I would bet, even on a per capita basis.

    More importantly are the EPA-mandates on additives / substitutes that are decreed on a per-region basis. These mandates hurt the gas supply even more, driving up costs and effectively reducing the supply. The gas “crisis” of 2000 (ahhh, our public memory is so short) was in large part fueled by this. This has been lifted, though, with the new rules going into effect on May 6. Good news, as it should bring about a cost reduction for refineries. Hopefully, they won’t have to significantly re-tool so that the costs will filter down more quickly.

  267. I’ve sometimes trolled moonbat websites (both left and right), so I have some familiarity with the human capacity for self-delusion and the attraction of pleasant falsehoods.  But I never expected to find so much of it here.

    DDG’s textbook example includes:

    The oil fields in east texas are not depleted to any great extent. Oil Production in the Continental US remains notoriously expensive due to labor, taxation, and defacto environmental taxes.

    “Not depleted to any great extent”, you say?  Perhaps you’d care to explain this, then; lower 48 oil production peaked in 1970 at 9.4 mmbd, and as of 2004 was down more than 50% to 4.5 mmbd.  Alaska peaked ten years later and is already down about 55%.

    Those wells were drilled at least 25 years ago.  The costs are sunk, just about everything that comes out of them goes to the bottom line.  Why the hell wasn’t $40/bbl oil enough to crank them back up to max several years ago?  Why isn’t $74/bbl oil enough today?

    I’ll tell you why:  their production rate is maxed out.  They are pumping all they can, which decreases every year as the oil gets used up.  That’s why people are talking about making motor fuel out of everything from coal to turkey guts.

    E. Texas remains high on the list of Natural Gas Production.

    That’s nice.  If we can get what we need from there, why were we drilling far enough into the Gulf of Mexico that hurricanes were able to wipe out 15% of US gas production?

    the producing wells are turned off when it doesn’t pay to move the oil.

    Like when the water cut gets so big, it doesn’t pay for the electricity to run the pumpjacks?

    Pennsylvania used to be a big oil producer, but some years ago a lawsuit forced Quaker State to stop claiming their product was from the “Quaker State”; it turned out that Pennsylvania produced less crude than Quaker State’s motor oil shipments!  Are you going to claim that Pennsylvania isn’t in depletion, but just “turned off” because it didn’t pay… half a century ago?

    No informed, thinking person can believe what you say.  It is to laugh.

    Refineries in the US are at least 25 years old – no new ones, no efficiencies

    No efficiencies?  Existing refineries have been steadily and repeatedly expanded; that’s why some old refineries were shut down during the recently oil-company mergers.

    Past peak oil, the world will never need any more refineries.  We’ll need to add cracking units, cokers and hydrodesulfurizers to handle heavy/sour crude, but no new refineries.  We won’t have the oil to run through the ones we have.

    In short, while conservation is good (in the Aristotelian sense), this grieving concern that we will run out of oil any time soon is a canard.

    No, the claim you’re making is a strawman (the claim that peak-oilers make it is a carnard).  The concern is that oil production for the world as a whole will peak and then decline, just as it has for every oil-producing region that’s been in production long enough.

    What you are _forgetting_ is the notion of technology. In the ’30s and ’40s, they could only pump x% of verifiable oil. What is verifiable has grown at the same time that pumping techniques and drilling techniques have matured. It’s not a static system.

    So you’re lecturing the author of The Weyburn Option about improvements in pumping techniques.  That’s rich!

    But enough laughing at you, Eric wants his turn on stage:

    As for the so-called shell game, if the Saudi’s know that their oil is about to run out, as the Peak Oil folks claim, then why on earth are they investing billions of dollars in new wells, extraction and pumping equipment and pipelines? That seems pretty silly to eat up their last profits on useless equipment.

    Let me tell you a little thing about supply and demand:  when shortages drive prices up, small and expensive sources become economical.  Of course, the only reason anyone would bother developing them is if they expect prices to remain high – and supplies short – long enough to pay back their investment.

    You see exactly the same thing in the US.  Go back to Table 5.2 and look at the count of producing wells (second column on the right).  US production peaked in 1970, about 8 years after the first peak in wells.  You can see the oil-price shocks in the well counts; they started going up in 1974, and really surged from 1978 to 1985.  Higher prices made it economical to drill and pump lower-quality resources.

    But that did nothing to eliminate the fact of depletion.  Look at the last column, barrels/well/day.  That figure peaked in 1972 and has been headed down ever since.

    if the Saudi’s know that their oil is about to run out, as the Peak Oil folks claim, then why on earth are they investing billions of dollars in new wells, extraction and pumping equipment and pipelines?

    Because West Texas Intermediate is fetching upwards of $60/bbl.  A whole lot of little things that weren’t good investments are worth serious dough now!  But note one thing:  those investments are only worthwhile if the price stays up there.  All of those projects are bets that the price will not come down by much, if at all.

    Look back at the 70′s data.  People drilled over a hundred thousand wells which struck something (that count doesn’t include dry holes), but no amount of drilling or other investment in US oil fields could change the fact that the easily recovered oil was gone, kaput, used up.  There was plenty of stuff left in the ground called “reserves” because it can be recovered (at least in principle), but that remaining stuff is stuck tightly in pores in the rock and doesn’t move quickly or easily.  You can get it, but you’ve got to be patient or you’ll do something like pulling water through to your well and isolating the oil permanently.  The sustainable production rate keeps falling with time as the remaining oil gets to be harder and harder to extract.  (You can change that with solvents such as CO2, but even that only gives you a bump to a higher spot on the downward production curve – look at the past and projected data for the Weyburn field.)

    There’s plenty in the ground that will come out sooner or later, but it comes slower and slower over decades.  That’s peak oil.

    If Saudi Arabia has hit peak, no amount of drilling in heretofore-unattractive sites will offset the production declines from the giant fields.  If that worked, it would have worked in the USA three decades ago.  All you have to do is look back at US historical data to see Arabia’s future.  Canadian oil sands and coal-to-liquids have their own limits (natural gas for separation and hydrogenation in Alberta, water on both) and won’t change things much.

    DDG is dead on target with why production in Prudhoe Bay, E. Texas and the North Sea is falling. It has little to do with how much oil is there and much to do with how regulation and labor adds to the cost of extraction.

    How much did regulation and labor restrict oil production during the Reagan administration, during which US wells fell from 8.6 mmbbl/day (1981) to 6.3 mmbbl/day (1988)?

    Read article at Reason is the single best piece on the fallacies of Peak Oil that I’ve yet read.

    It’s behind a subscription wall, so I haven’t seen it.  If I understand correctly, the course of action proposed in the Reason article fits the definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.  FWIW, I quit reading that rag about fifteen years ago because the editors routinely betrayed its title in favor of dogma.

    And I know that you are spouting talking points that you don’t understand when you say things like this:

    Refinery capacity is only about 101% of what is needed.

    If refineries were the bottleneck, crude oil prices would be down due to slack demand.  Think, man!

    You should also take a look at what’s known about the top 20 oil fields and production rates and refinery capacity.

  268. DDG has a point about price spikes due to additives (and maybe USLD, which could be why I paid $2999/gallon for diesel tonight compared to $2.759 two weeks ago), but if they were the main problem crude prices would be down due to the bottleneck.  They aren’t.

    State and federal fuel taxes average only about 48¢/gallon, and haven’t been changed lately anywhere I’ve been; they are clearly not responsible for the recent price spikes.

    If we wanted to do something about oil prices, we’d aggressively shift taxes from wages (esp. FICA taxes) to petroleum; cutting demand by even 5% would put half a million barrels a day back into global trade and turn the 1% refinery margin into a 6% margin overnight.  We’d adopt a trade policy which puts the brakes on imports from China, forcing them to moderate their demand in turn.  Last, we’d adopt a policy of running our vehicles (and everything else) on stuff we can’t run out of, insofar as is possible.

    What’s possible at the moment is to run on electricity for 20-30 miles and then switch to burning fuel.  Felix Kramer does this and averages over 100 MPG.  This is a no-compromises car that’s a bridge to a full EV.

  269. No informed, thinking person can believe what you say.

    Right. Got it.

    So you’re lecturing the author of The Weyburn Option about improvements in pumping techniques. That’s rich

    I wouldn’t presume to lecture such high personage as yourself. I am the sand that falls from camel’s toes on the road upon which you deign to tread.

    However, you’re still not answering my argument.

    EP, I’ve gone through your argument and most of your links. It’s pretty clear that they form a sketch of a coherent, if flawed, argument. For one thing, you continue to ignore the elastic nature of exploration / capacity as it relates to price. For another, you continually carp on depletion by using well production as your evidence. But you haven’t answered the compelling point that production has to be paid for.

    You seem intelligent, at least insofar as you see yourself as brilliant, but you also seem to continue to miss the cogent points about technology qua production efficiency and as it relates to drillable oil. Or at least your talking points don’t address them. Cowperthwaite has made the point several times – every time someone says we’re on the downslope of capacity, either more resources are discovered or the resources that are available are more efficiently retrieved. I should add that it would appear that that more efficient retrieval on reduced fields costs more, but that doesn’t equal your “sky = falling” argument.

    If refineries were the bottleneck, crude oil prices would be down due to slack demand.

    This makes no sense. Demand has little to do with refineries. Refineries are related to supply.

    DDG has a point

    Stop it. You’re embarrassing me.

    crude prices would be down due to the bottleneck

    I think I get it. In oil _lower supply_ = _lower prices_, which is just the opposite of the rest of the commercial and natural world. Glad we finally found the exception that makes the rule.

    EP, lower supply = a rise in prices.

    And additives don’t affect the supply regionally. They do affect the supply in toto however, because gas created for Arizona, eg, cannot be sold in California. Unlike the electricity grid, overcapacity cannot compensate regionally, which would have the effect of smoothing prices. At any rate, it looks like the EPA has done away with those rules. The question is how long it will take the plants to re-tool.

    State and federal fuel taxes average only about 48¢/gallon, and haven’t been changed lately anywhere I’ve been; they are clearly not responsible for the recent price spikes.

    For clarification, I never said they were. My point is that if you are interested in reducing the price of gas, a good place to start would be to reduce federal and state excise on gasoline consumption, and stop carping that oil companies are making too much money.

    If we wanted to do something about oil prices, we’d aggressively shift taxes from wages (esp. FICA taxes) to petroleum;

    Ahhh, yes, social engineering based on hopes and dreams. I think I see where this is going.

    This is a no-compromises car that’s a bridge to a full EV.

    Bully for Felix.

  270. > amosbatto: You are complaining about Iraq policies passed by the UN Security Council. If they were flawed, blame the Russians,
    > French and Chinese for refusing to allow the US and Britain to do it right. In short, you’re a blame-America-firster, a classic moonbat.

    I blame America for what it actually does, and listen to US government propaganda with a skeptical ear. It is the duty of Americans to hold our government accountable for what it does, but most Americans seem to have forgetten this patriotic duty.

    The UN authorization for Gulf War I was to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait and for regional disarmament. These goals are all consistant with the UN charter. The UN never gave authorization to practice regime change and invade Iraq. For me the most troubling action of the UN was endorsing the embargo, which was largely enforced by US and British troups. It is important, however, to recognize that there were UN administrators who tried to stop the embargo on humanitarian grounds. The first two UN administrators put in charge of the oil-for-food program both resigned in protest after they saw that Iraqis were still dying under the oil-for-food program. The first administrator, Assistant Secretary-General Dennis Halliday, went around the world speaking about all the children dying in Iraq–I heard him speak in Austin after he had resigned. By the end of the 1990s, the Russians, French and Chinese all wanted to end the embargo, but the Americans and British insisted that it continue. Remember that the guy in charge of the Iraqi Nuclear Program was Hussein’s own son-in-law and he had fled to the US and told us that all the weapons had been to destroyed. Even at the time, many thought he was a very credible witness and today we know he was telling the truth. So the Americans do bear a large measure of the responsibility for what happened.

    What the American press never acknowledges is the role of our US ambassador in Iraq who gave Saddam the diplomatic signal that the US would not be opposed to the invasion of Kuwait. She had orders from Washington to generally cooperate with Saddam, and she probably thought that Saddam would just annex the disputed oil fields rather than try to annex all of Kuwait. We also never talk about the fact that Saddam made offers to withdraw from Kuwait if he could have the disputed oil fields and Bush I refused to negotiate.

    > We tried all of the above with both Cuba and North Korea–two nations we never were serious about invading. I’d argue that the
    > lack of a credible outside threat has allowed dictatorships to feel defiant and overconfident while they commit the most agregious
    > crimes humanity has ever known.

    Did you ever hear of the Bay of Pigs? We did try to invade Cuba in the Bay of Pigs but failed miserably. We would probably have tried again, except for the Cuba Missile Crisis. Cuba was so concerned that we would attack again, that they asked Moscow to install missiles so they could attack the US if the US tried to attack again. The Russians were willing because we had just installed more powerful missiles in Turkey which could attack Moscow. The Cuban Missile Crisis ended when Kennedy made a secret agreement with Moscow promising not to invade Cuba, if the USSR would remove their missiles in Cuba. Kennedy also promised to dismantle some of our missiles in Turkey and Italy. Even after we made this agreement we regularly attempted to assassinate Castro and we have maintained the embargo on the island to this day. Bush II has made the embargo even tougher.

    Since we fought the Korean War, but we have stationed troops on the N. Korean border. Basically, we realize that we can’t attack N. Korea, because they could instantly kill 15 million people in Seoul with a nuclear bomb. Instead we issue lots of axis-of-evil type threats.

    > You aren’t giving any information here. Just very big and fuzzy terms like the “US” and “backed”. But you aren’t trying to inform.
    > You are just deliberately trying to give the impression that the crimes that follow are as much the fault of the “US”–including me,
    > who wasn’t born at the time, and others here, whose only crime might have been to have been in grammar school at the time. The
    > guilt you are trying to spread is both flimsy and by association, and your method here is deeply ingenuous beyond the point of
    > disproportionality.

    > The second thing is that you suggest that the Reagan administration “fully backed” the razing of Mayan villages. Who in his
    > administration? The CIA? The defense department? Who had authorization, and again, what sort of backing did they do? Who in
    > the public supported this–who even knew about this to give their consent? You won’t, and likely can’t, provide these details

    The average American bore almost little responsibility for the 1954 coup in Guatemala because the CIA action was covert. They voted for Eisenhower because he promised security from “communism”, without fully realizing that it meant overthrowing democracies. A number of US congressmen in the approriate congressional committees and some members of the Eisenhower administration knew what was going on and none of them denounced the action. By the 1970s, the American people bore a much greater responsibility because it was clear what our money and arms were supporting in Guatemala and news about CIA covert actions was made public following Watergate. The only time that the US military and monetary aid to Guatemalan dictators stopped was during the Carter Administration after Carter declared that we wouldn’t send aid to governments which practiced massive human rights abuses. There is some speculation that the US government decided to continue covertly supporting the Guatemalan dictators, by routing arms and funds through the Isrealis, who in turn stepped up their aid to Guatamala during this time. Reagan ran on a strong anti-Communism platform and criticized the Carter for stopping the aid to Central American dictatorships. Americans who voted for Reagan are to blame for electing a President who made his intentions clear about supporting dictators in the name of Anti-communisms. Americans are also to blame for election US congresses which passed Reagan’s appropriation bills which sent funds to Guatemala. Reagan gave speeches supporting Efrian Rios Montt, the Guatemalan dictator who razed 400 Mayan villages and organized death squads to kill and dissappear thousands. Rios Montt had been trained in the US Army’s School of Americas. US Democrats were so outraged that they passed a bill to stopped the funds to support Montt because of his human rights abuses. In Dec. 1982, President Reagan visited Central America and met with Rios Montt, whom he publically called a “man of great personal integrity and commitment” who was “totally dedicated to democracy,” and was “getting a bum rap on human rights.” Three months later Reagan and Republicans pushed through a bill to fund the Guatemalan dictatorship again. Funding has continued to the present day. In 1989, Dianna Ortiz, an American Catholic nun working in Guatemala was abducted, raped repeatedly, beaten, and had 111 cigarrette burns on her body. She was put in a pit of dead bodies being eaten by rats and forced to hold a knife as it cut through another woman, probably killing her. The people to abducted Ortiz refered to an English-speaking man as their boss, who eventually decided to let her go. After Ortiz returned to US and told her story, ABC News reported that Lewis Amselem, the US embassy’s human rights officer in Guatamala was responsible for disseminating a rumor that Ortiz was involved in bizarre lesbian SM which left her body bruised and covered in cigarrette burns. The Guatemalan military then echoed thisline by accusing Ortiz of a “lesbian love tryst.” Since that time, Ortiz has tried to get CIA documents relating to her case but has been blocked. US Rep. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) later revealed that a CIA-paid D-2 intelligence officer, Col. Julio Roberto Alpirez, was involved in a number of torture and extra-judicial executions in Guatemala and was probably the English-speaking officer described by Ortiz. The US Army continues to train Guatemalan military members at the WHIS institute at Fort Bennings Georgia, despite the fact that it is well documented that the Guatemalan military has participated in tortures, killings, and dissapearances in the past.

    Nobody today disputes that during the 1980s the US government provided arms, funding, and military training for the Guatemalan military which was engaged in scorched earth campaigns against Mayan villagers in Guatemala. That funding was approved by US Congress and publically praised by the US president. There are a number of credible reports that the US had CIA operatives and US military advisers who were present while Guatemalans were being killed and tortured. There are also credible reports that American ere advising the Guatemalan military on how to conduct military campaigns which razed Mayan villages. I won’t go into the history of El Salvador and Honduras at the same time period, but the US had similar involvement in human rights abuses in those countries as well.

    It is up to you to decide how much responsibility you personally bear for what has happened in Guatemala, but don’t try to claim that the US government didn’t “fully back” the military dictatorships in Guatamala. The history is well documented. I suggest that you start with _Bitter Fruit_ and read the research of Dianne Nelson and Greg Grandin if you have doubts about US involvement.

    > You betray your anti-Americanism with your refusal to see that sometimes bad is a better choice than worse.

    It isn’t “anti-americanism” to criticize your government’s foreign policy–in fact it destroys America when its citizens don’t bother to try and stop their government from committing human rights abuses abroad. I actually love my country enough to hold her to her ideals. A true patriot fights for those ideals, whereas a false patriot says that “I support whatever my country does whether it is right or wrong”.

    Our foreign policy often makes the situation worse, not better. I detailed why I think US foreign policy toward Cuba, N. Korea, and Guatamala have made things worse for the Cuban, N. Korean, and Guatemalan people, not better. I’m not trying to coddle dictators, but I am trying to show is that many of our foreign policy decisions have actually furthered the rule of dictators and deepened the repression.

    Today in the MiddleEast, we are supporting dictatorships in Eygpt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and but we want to overthrow the democratically elected governments of Palestine and Iran. This policy actually makes the situation worse in all 5 of those countries, and sends a horrible message to the Muslim world about US ideals and intentions. I already detailed why we are making the situation worse in Palestine and Iran and causing people to support Hamas and Almadinajad more than before.

    We justify our support of Pakistan’s dictator, Musharif, because he cooperates in our war against terrorism. Pakistan is a country with a long history of democratic governments, and Musharif would probably have been toppled by now and Pakistan would have returned to democracy if we hadn’t baled Musharif out of a financial crisis and helped him beef up the armed forces which maintain his rule. Today the muslim fundamentalists are becoming increasingly popular because they are seen as the group most opposed to Musharif’s dictatorship and American hegamony. We are driving people who are normally moderate into supporting fundamentalists. Eventually Musharif will fall, and whatever government follows will probably declare America to be an enemy, because we supported dictatorship in their country.

    We say that we must support the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia because they guarantee us access to oil. Wouldn’t it be better to start working toward energy independence and alternative energy, rather than supporting one of the most repressive regimes on earth? By supporting the Saud Royal family with arms deals and oil contracts since the late 1940s, we have helped the Sauds stay in power. In Eygpt, we say that we must support Mubarak as dictator because he represses the Muslim Brotherhood. By supporting Mubarak, we have made the Egyptian people hate us, and when Mubarak falls, whatever government follows will probably employ lots of anti-American rhetoric.

    We will have much less influence in the region when the current crop of dictatorships in the Middle East are overthrown. If a democratic government arises, it will probably take the Iranian form, which is implacably opposed to us because we overthrew their efforts to establish a popular government in 1953 and reimposed the Shah. Nonetheless, the people of Iran are much better off living under an Islamic fundamentalist government which allows for democracy with a religious veto than a dictatorship like Mubarak or Musharif. I’m not apologist for the Iranian supreme council or censorship of the press, but by any objective measure, the Iranian people are much better off under their present limited democracy than under the Shah. Even the Iranians who want a more democratic government and oppose the Shiite fundamentalists are overwhelmingly opposed to Bush’s foreign policy toward Iran and say that it does not help them.

    We may gain a few very limited objectives by supporting dictators in the MiddleEast in the present, but in the long run we are making the people of the region hate us. We should stop supporting these dictatorships and recognize that anti-American fundamentalists who proclaim populist and democratic ideals are a far better alternative than dictatorships who do our bidding. Whatever you may think of the Muslim Brotherhood or other popular Islamic parties, the people of Egypt would be much better off under an Iranian-style government than their present government.

  271. I remember the drop in gas pump prices during the gulf war and after 9/11.

    That ties into this gasoline price graph out of texas, but the recent price jump does not make sense to me…

    I just spent 3.25 a gallon for chevron regular in calif. today!

    I had visions of the great old one
    and the end of days
    when world oil begins to run out…

    *you dont have to be crazy, but it sure helps*

    all the old stories of gas ration and conservation during WW2,
    grandma coasting down hill to save gas in the “model T” with
    the engine off, turning everything in to recycle, no tires available,
    etc.. etc…

    well, the energy problems are looming, and i think we will be forced to conserve,
    lower speed limits, horsepower limits on all automobiles, more nuclear
    power, and alternative energy.

    now is the time to do it….

  272. well, the energy problems are looming, and i think we will be forced to conserve,
    lower speed limits, horsepower limits on all automobiles, more nuclear
    power, and alternative energy.

    You’re forgetting that none of these provide any emotional satisfaction to right-thinking people, except possibly more nuclear power.

    Much better to contemplate bombing the bejasus out of someone.

  273. You’re forgetting that none of these provide any emotional satisfaction to right-thinking people,

    A10, certainly you are not engaging in stereotyping.

    To be clear, the conservatism and the Republican party in America spawned the conservation movement. You can engage in stewardship of the earth without firebombing the local Hummer dealership.

  274. DDG, thank you.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.  I kiss you, mwa mwa mwa!  You have done more than I ever could to show how ignorant and un-questioning you have to be to hold to your weltanschauüng.  I could never have done it without such a textbook example as you have provided.

    But you haven’t answered the compelling point that production has to be paid for.

    On the contrary, it’s implicit in everything I said.  What YOU haven’t answered is the economic truth that market price is determined by the marginal cost, and the cost of the marginal barrel of oil has gone through the roof.  The only way to cut prices is to force producers to idle that marginal barrel of production.

    You haven’t exactly provided proof that history will be different THIS time, either.

    you continually carp on depletion by using well production as your evidence.

    Your POV depends on the existence of unlimited oil resources which can be provided to consumers at any rate desired, limited only by economic investment.  Such resources do not exist.

    every time someone says we’re on the downslope of capacity, either more resources are discovered or the resources that are available are more efficiently retrieved.

    This “more efficient retrieval” has NEVER restored a post-peak oil field to its peak historical production and kept it there.  (If you claim otherwise, name two.)

    If these techniques could supply an increasing demand for years, we’d have expected them to be used in the USA first.  US oil production continued to fall even before the OPEC-orchestrated collapse of world crude prices (which helped bring down the Soviet Union, now being reconstituted due to HIGH oil prices) in the 1980′s.

    Historically, we have responded to the depletion of one area by exploring and exploiting untapped ones.  Aside from outer continental shelves, we’re at the ends of the earth now.

    If refineries were the bottleneck, crude oil prices would be down due to slack demand.

    This makes no sense. Demand has little to do with refineries. Refineries are related to supply.
    Thank you again (mwa!) for showing just how ignorant you have to be to say what you do.

    Refineries are CONSUMERS of crude and PRODUCERS of gasoline, diesel, LPG and other hydrocarbon mixtures.  If you have a bottleneck in refining, demand UPSTREAM (crude) is depressed and prices will go down even as prices DOWNSTREAM (products) go up.  The increases in refiner profits tell refiners to go like hell, and if they do the margins will decrease again.

    This is not what we’re seeing.  The price of WTI is now up to about $1.70/gallon, or 55% of the price of gasoline; it used to be 45% as recently as last year.  Whatever problems the refiners are having, they are not preventing crude from being converted to product.  Despite those problems, demand for oil is strong enough to drive crude to new highs – which is proof that there’s a bottleneck upstream of the refineries.

    Which is exactly what the peak oilers have been telling everyone.

    This would not surprise you if you paid attention to the news.  Saudi Arabia has announced (clicky) that production at its historical fields is now dropping 8% per year, but with infill drilling and new fields it can… hold the decline down to 2% per year!

    Just offsetting the declines from Saudi Arabia will take another 200 kbbl/day coming on-line every year.  You claim to be the expert on the economics of oil production, where’s that going to come from?  It was one thing when Pennsylvania was declining but we were finding new elephant fields in Texas and Oklahoma; it’s another thing when most of the world has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb and the North Sea, Middle East and even Indonesia are in decline.

    All of this should have been obvious to anyone who understands economics, but your omissions and contradictions prove that you don’t; you merely repeat talking points you read elsewhere.  This makes you easily (and profitably!) misled.

    My point is that if you are interested in reducing the price of gas, a good place to start would be to reduce federal and state excise on gasoline consumption, and stop carping that oil companies are making too much money.

    The oil producers make too much money (which is dangerous to America by two routes, economic impact and terrorism).  But cutting taxes will not decrease the cost of gas, because production is already maxed out; all you will do is increase the margins of the oil producers, as the additional money bids up the price without increasing supply.  In short, you want to make the problem worse.

    I want taxes increased because that will cut demand, inject some slack into both production and refining, and decrease the profits of the oil producers both from lower demand and lower prices; the tax money could be offset by tax cuts to keep the overall economic impact neutral.  It would also be a policy move that would end the notion that this is a temporary situation and get Americans moving toward far higher efficiency or conversion to other energy sources altogether.  This hasn’t happened because the public has been believing all the people (like you!) who say there’s no need to change because Big Daddy Will Make It All Better.  Time for the US voter to grow up and realize that wishing won’t make it so.

    Yes, it will hurt.  But we have to take the hit sometime, and not doing it will hurt more later.  We dicked around with half-measures like CAFE standards while Europe and Japan got serious about incentives to conserve via taxes, and look where we all are now.

    Ahhh, yes, social engineering based on hopes and dreams. I think I see where this is going.

    It’s pure economics, based on the law of supply and demand.

    The power to tax is the power to destroy.  We’re at war with Saudi Wahhabism (and Venezuelan Marxism to a lesser extent), we should be hitting it with taxes as well as guns and propaganda and popular culture.

  275. A10, certainly you are not engaging in stereotyping.

    Just calling it like I see it. A lot of people around here are claiming to be rationalism-driven on pretty tenuous grounds, looks like.

    To be clear, the conservatism and the Republican party in America spawned the conservation movement.

    It would be nice to think that the etymological link indicated a deeper connection. But can you indicate how this happened, unless you mean that they gave the conservation movement something concrete to mobilise against?

    You can engage in stewardship of the earth without firebombing the local Hummer dealership.

    Doubtless. And what did the Republicans do again?

    We dicked around with half-measures like CAFE standards while Europe and Japan got serious about incentives to conserve via taxes, and look where we all are now.

    Admit that the Euros were *right* about something? Never! They don’t understand market forces!

  276. > But can you indicate how this happened, unless you mean that they gave the conservation movement something concrete to mobilise against?

    The conservation movement started among hunters. Think Teddy Roosevelt.

  277. EP, if the link to Reason that I gave was actually requiring any sort of subscription, you might convince me of something. It’s not. The Wall Street Journal link I gave did require a subscription, which is why I provided the pertinent quote from the article. Which you ignored.

  278. The only link you provided in the post I quoted is as follows:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114610122696037164.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep%3Cbr%20/%3E%E2%80%9C%3Ethis%20article%3C/a%3E%20in%20the%20Wall%20Street%20Journal%20if%20you%20want%20some%20facts%20on%20how%20proved%20reserves%20are%20reported,%20as%20mandated%20by%20the%20SEC%20(say%20thanks%20to%20Jimmy%20Carter%20for%20this%20really%20screwed%20up%20methodology).%20In%20case%20you%20don%E2%80%99t%20subscribe%20to%20WSJ,%20here%E2%80%99s%20an%20excerpt%20that%20makes%20the%20key%20point:%3C/p%3E%3Cblockquote%3E%3Cp%3ESurprising%20as%20it%20might%20be,%20the%20current%20rules%20for%20reporting%20reserves%20%E2%80%94%20what%20might%20be%20called%20the%20%E2%80%9C1978%20System%E2%80%9D%20%E2%80%94%20essentially%20insist%20on%201970s%20technology%20and%20methodologies.%20Back%20then%20there%20was%20no%20digital%20revolution,%20and%20the%20frontier%20for%20offshore%20development%20was%20600%20feet%20of%20water;%20today%20it%20is%2012,000%20feet.%20The%20rules%20do%20not%20recognize%20the%20vast%20technical%20progress%20over%20the%20last%2030%20years,%20and%20as%20a%20result,%20standard%20techniques%20used%20today%20by%20companies%20to%20set%20multibillion%20investment%20programs%20are%20not%20approved,%20or%20only%20partly%20approved,%20for%20use%20in%20describing%20proved%20reserves%20for%20disclosure%20purposes%20to%20investors.%3C/p%3E%3C/blockquote%3E%3Cp%3EThis%20%3Ca%20href=

  279. That’s not Reason. That link is the Wall Street Journal. Since you may not subscribe, I provided this quote from the article.

    An example: One company judged that it had 658 million barrels of oil classified as proved, or reportable, under current SPE guidelines using a widely accepted technique called the “pressure gradient” method. Under SEC guidelines, based on the older technological approach, it could only disclose 261 million barrels of proved reserve. At $50 a barrel, this represents a $20 billion difference in future reserves. On the pure science, it is generally agreed that over the 20- or 30-year life of the field, it will bring to market a volume much closer to 650 million barrels.

    The current system also insists on using year-end prices to calculate whether oil and gas reserves count as “economic” and thus as proved, rather than some kind of average. But this is no sure guide either to what happened during the year, or what will happen in the coming year — or even what happened on that particular day. The price for Canadian heavy oil dipped at the very end of 2004, owing to particular short-term pricing conditions, and so a substantial amount of heavy Canadian oils lost their standing as proved because they were temporarily no longer profitable and thus two billion barrels had to be “debooked.” Yet the price quickly bounced back, and those reserves once again counted as “proved.”

    I also provided a link to Reason, in a follow up entry, that is well worth reading. It has plenty of cites and support to refute the ideas of Peak Oil.

  280. Another good article. This one is on the false facts of Ethanol. Ethanol and E85 are not a way to alleviate oil dependence. They can be used as a supplement, potentially. The interesting tidbit, though, is the last paragraph:

    9. Finally, as for some who suggest that Peak Oil is around the corner, maybe not. In Dr. Hubert’s time, the commonly held view was that the world started with 2 trillion barrels of recoverable oil. In the late nineties, the United States Geological Survey put that number closer to 3 trillion barrels. Now the head of Shell Canada has suggested that the Canadian Tar Sands holds 2 trillion recoverable barrels. Add into that mix the fact that the Rand Corporation released a study last August that claims the Green River Formation in Western Colorado likely has one trillion recoverable barrels and suddenly Peak Oil doesn’t look like it is going to happen anytime soon. This is not to be confused with the end of cheap oil, which may well happen in our lifetime.

    Exactly. Just because we can no longer buy gas for $1.50/gallon does not mean that Peak Oil is true or accurate. The evidence is all there that there is plenty of oil in the world, but it’s not easy/cheap to produce it. Some of the reason it isn’t easy to produce is because of increased regulation and labor costs. It is essentially impossible in the United States to open any new oil production, whether we are talking about ANWR, the California coast or Colorado’s Green River formations. It is quite true that Prudhoe Bay and E. Texas have not done new work to recover the very substantial reserves still available because of cost and regulation. Until just recently, it cost more to build the new extraction capabilities than could be recovered per barrel. With oil over $40/bbl that changes, and I would expect to see new equipment, wells, etc. going into those areas.

    Yes, known fields are declining in terms of easily recoverable oil. But the imminent disaster that is being predicted is completely untrue as far as I can tell. Both respected engineers and respected economists disagree with the disaster theories of Peak Oil.

  281. I ignored that because reserve numbers are a bookkeeping exercise which is essentially irrelevant to the main question.  You keep ignoring it, too.  In case you forgot, it is:

    How fast can you produce this oil, and for how long?

    Doubling the remaining oil which can be recovered from a field is great, but it’s irrelevant to peak oil.  The peak is about peak production, not reserves.  If your recovery rate is maxed out and declining, it doesn’t matter how much you have left; growth in productivity depends on increases in efficiency or conversion to other energy sources.

    Production constraints also increase the market power of the producers, which efficiency and conversion erode.  In short, fighting Wahhabism means using less oil.

  282. WHT has a post on this very subject that I didn’t see soon enough to cite in the above.

    Alberta bitumen isn’t oil as such.  It may be fuel, but it currently requires about 1 million BTU of natural gas (rapidly depleting) to produce 6 million BTU of syncrude.  The gas can be replaced with gasified bitumen, but the process is also limited by the availability of water.  On top of this, toxic emissions appear to be responsible for greatly elevated disease rates downstream.  If boosting production in Texas means taking huge hits to public health, it’s not worth it (and I speak as someone who looks sideways at Texans).

    If gasoline is going to be $4-$5/gallon without taxes, other energy supplies are much cheaper no matter how much of it we can pull out of sands and shales.  Compare wind.  Texas has an estimated 1190 billion kWh/year of wind potential, the energy equivalent of roughly 32 billion gallons of gasoline (and far more after conversion losses).  If you divide by the 15% tank-to-wheels efficiency of the average gasoline vehicle, there’s enough power in Texas wind to run every car and light truck in the nation with some left over.  At $5/gallon, battery replacement costs are far lower than fuel costs.  It gets even better if you make some infrastructure to support e.g. zinc-air batteries.

    It may be possible to make more oil from whatever, but unless your feedstock is waste it no longer makes sense to do so.

  283. EP, Peak Oil is based on an idea about how much oil reserves are available. If those numbers are wrong, then Peak Oil theories have to be adjusted. Aside from that, there are two different things.

    1. Peak Oil, a catastrophe theory that predicts major economic and cultural collapse occurring rapidly after everyone realizes that we have gone past the 50% mark of world oil reserves.

    2. Reaching the peak of possible oil production leading to increasing prices and an impetus to change our energy basis in the long term.

    While I happen to agree with #2, I disagree with the premise that we have reached the peak. What we have reached is the point where $10/bbl oil will be available. As a side note, if you were to adjust for inflation, gasoline has sold for $2.00/gal, using 2004 dollars, since 1919 until late 2005. In other words, gasoline and oil prices have been steadily, or slightly declining, for nearly a century. The price surges since last summer are quite readily explained without resorting to the catastrophe theories of #1. In my opinion, if you support #1 you are playing into the hands of the neo-Luddites that control the Left and the environmental movement.

  284. I should add that you are playing into their hands for no good reason, with no good evidence. The reason that the book keeping of reserves is important is this:

    1. Reserves are based on how much oil can be economically recovered
    2. Peak Oil is based just about entirely on “known, proved reserves”, meaning the book keeping.

    Since the book keeping is probably off by an order of magnitude, this is extremely important to understanding the foundation of Peak Oil. If we are going to predict that oil production will decline, we need to base it on real numbers.

    Aside from that, ask yourself WHY oil companies would not be in favor of opening up new production. This is important, since Shell, Exxon, etc. don’t spend much, if any, money lobbying to open ANWR, more capacity in Prudhoe Bay or the Santa Barbara oil fields. Why?

    Because it is in their interest to have a restricted supply of crude oil.

  285. > We dicked around with half-measures like CAFE standards while Europe and Japan got serious about incentives to conserve via taxes, and look where we all are now.

    Where are we now? I keep hearing how Euroland is paradise but is that reflected in immigration? If not, why not?

    Note that there’s nothing stopping a car company from selling a very high mileage car in the US.

  286. As a side note, if you were to adjust for inflation, gasoline has sold for $2.00/gal, using 2004 dollars, since 1919 until late 2005.

    Exactly. Not much has really changed.

    I’d go one step further – if you ask what has really changed since oil was sitting at $18 / barrel? Only politically have things drastically changed. It seems unrealistic to see doom around the corner given current conditions.

    Aside from that, ask yourself WHY oil companies would not be in favor of opening up new production.

    Exactly, again. Oil companies are integrated vertically. They make money from nearly every stage of a supply chain. Even if they sell at the pumps at a minimal gain, they are still in the supply and distribution chain for petrochemical companies, electric consortiums, etc. Reducing labor, taxation, and refinement expenses in TX, along the gulf coast, and in ANWR is nothing but a huge win for oil companies.

    How fast can you produce this oil, and for how long?

    The real question is how fast can you shift away from oil-based energy consumption. Taking your claims as factual, the retooling of the entirety of the American Service and manufacturing base would be costly and difficult.

    I suspect that when it needs to happen it will happen with expediency, without any taxation-based social engineering. Our service based economy is much more savvy / sensitive to its underlying structures than any centrally-planned tax measure would be.

  287. I have to ask. How old are you EP? Just out of curiousity. See, I’m old enough to remember the following:

    - Population Bomb (aka World Famine) disaster theory
    - The coming ice age predicted by environmental groups and left leaning scientists of the 1970′s and 1980′s.
    - Peak Oil disaster predictions of the 1970′s and the predicted era of expensive, difficult to get energy.
    - The predicted, global success of Soviet style socialism and the failure of capitalism and liberalism
    - The shift in environmental disaster predictions to the “hole in the ozone” that would leave the planet dead/dying of ultra-violet radiation. Turns out that there have been holes in the ozone layer off and on for most of the planet’s history and they have just about nothing to do with humans, and obviously the planet is doing fairly well.
    - The next shift in environmental disaster predictions to global warming and climate change.
    - The revival of Peak Oil disaster theory in the past 5 years.

    The folks that love to scream about disaster will find it around every corner. Some folks will try to understand whether the predicted disaster is real, or not. We invariably find that the data is cherry picked to support the pet theory. The vast majority of humans ignore the disaster theory by and large and get on with their lives.

  288. Eric, you can just as easily cite some of the environmental disasters which have happened in the Earth’s history to prove that we should pay attention to current theories about disaster.

    Five times in the Earth’s history, there have been massive species extinctions:
    Ordovician-Silurian Extinction, 440-450M BC: 57% species die.
    Devonian Extinction, 375M BC: 50% species die.
    Permian-Triassic Extinction, 251M BC: 83-90% species die.
    Triassic-Jurassic Extinction, 205M BC: 48% species die.
    Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction, 65M BC: 50% species die.

    Richard Leakey estimates a current loss of between 50,000 and 100,000 species per year, and says we are in the middle of a mass extinction like the 5 previous massive species die-offs. Even environmentalist skeptics like Bjørn Lomborg, says that in the next 50 years, about 0.7% of all species will go extinct—if you extend that over a couple thousand years, then you still get a massive species die-off like previous extinction waves.

    There is lots of other evidence that we are in the middle of a current environmental disaster:

    Since 1950, 90% of big fish stocks have dissappeared from the oceans.

    Widespread coral reef bleeching begins in the 1980s. By 1998, 16% of the world’s coral reefs had died. In 2002, surveys of the Great Barrier Reef found bleeching between 60% and 95% in individual reefs.

    Between the 1950s and 1990s, the thickness of the ice sheet in the North Pole reduced 45%.

    It is estimated that 160,000 people are currently dieing every year due to global warming.

    It seems really stupid to dismiss environmental disasters expecially since one is happening as we speak.

  289. The folks that love to scream about disaster will find it around every corner.

    As an aside, those who scream the loudest generally have the least to say.

    EXCEPT on the internet, of course.

    The vast majority of humans ignore the disaster theory by and large and get on with their lives.

    I’m not a fatalist, but I don’t see the need to run around and “do something” when it’s not exactly clear to me that something needs to be done. Contrary to EP’s proclamation, I’m not interested in making the problem worse. Instead, I’m not sure that we really know what the problem is / whether there is a problem in the first place (unless the problem in general is rich white Americans – there’s something we can all get behind). That being the case, I recommend some waiting and analysis before we go hog-wild with some centrally-planned taxation scheme designed to “do something.” Plus, I just can’t envision that taxation is _ever_ a constructive plan.

    Put another way – high gas prices. Are they going to hurt? Sure. Will $3 gasoline (or even $6) mean the stalling of the American economy? I just don’t see it.

    Finally, Peak Oil is just a theory – a coceptual construct. Most annoyingly, its supporters keep moving the goal posts, so that when you refute the original tenets, you hear some version of “oh well, we used to base the analysis on x, but now we reach the same conclusion via y,” as if the premises are unimportant to the conclusion. Remember “global cooling?” That was before the hole in the ozone layer. Now, rich white Americans are still going to hell for the destruction of the earth, but now it’ll burn instead of freeze. I suppose the important thing is that we all know the foregone conclusions, and we can work backwards from there.

  290. Ordovician-Silurian Extinction, 440-450M BC: 57% species die.
    Devonian Extinction, 375M BC: 50% species die.
    Permian-Triassic Extinction, 251M BC: 83-90% species die.
    Triassic-Jurassic Extinction, 205M BC: 48% species die.
    Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction, 65M BC: 50% species die.

    Wait a second – do you mean to tell me there were environmental disasters _before mankind_?

    That would mean …

    wait for it ….

    … that man isn’t responsible for global ecological disasters.

    If we are in the middle of an ecological disaster, don’t you think it would make sense to allow mankind unfettered access to the problem solving capabilities of our best and brightest rather than trying to foist some collective guilt on them? That somehow the products of mankind and man’s mind are respoonsible for the destruction of the earth?

    The environmental movement has never been about survival – it has been about blame and intellectual blackmail.

  291. >Five times in the Earth’s history, there have been massive species extinctions:
    Ordovician-Silurian Extinction, 440-450M BC: 57% species die.
    Devonian Extinction, 375M BC: 50% species die.
    Permian-Triassic Extinction, 251M BC: 83-90% species die.
    Triassic-Jurassic Extinction, 205M BC: 48% species die.
    Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction, 65M BC: 50% species die.

    Yes, and the species keep growing back after every disaster like the green grass in the springtime….

    The wonderful earth and all of its life will not be so easy to destroy.

    My favorite method is the ‘Hurled into the Sun’ approach.

  292. Amos: Five times in the Earth’s history, there have been massive species extinctions

    Yes, and three times in the past 20,000 years there have been major (and I mean really major) changes in the environment in California alone. Two of those were caused by humans. The point is that the world is in a constant state of change. The predictions of disaster caused by evil humans in the past 200 years are silly. They completely ignore the historical and archaelogical reality.

    Amos: Richard Leakey estimates a current loss of between 50,000 and 100,000 species per year, and says we are in the middle of a mass extinction like the 5 previous massive species die-offs. Even environmentalist skeptics like Bjørn Lomborg, says that in the next 50 years, about 0.7% of all species will go extinct—if you extend that over a couple thousand years, then you still get a massive species die-off like previous extinction waves.

    And testing only one species of tree to determine if there has been climate change produces a completely invalid view of climate change. Without going into 4,000 paragraphs, this is cherry picked data.

    Amos: Between the 1950s and 1990s, the thickness of the ice sheet in the North Pole reduced 45%

    More cherry picking. The Antarctic ice cap, which contains 90% of the world’s ice, is growing. The Arctic only shrank 45% by certain measurements that not all geologists and climatologists agree with. Iceland and Greenland’s glaciers appear to be growing.

    National Geographic tends to cherry pick data that only supports their political agenda. Given that, I’m generally quite suspicious of what they have to report.

    In the past 3 decades we have gone from geologists and climatologists predicting a new ice to predict massive global warming. The very data they are using to predict these things has been changed during that time period. There is evidence, for example, that the supposed global warming trend is related to measuring temperature in urban areas. If you subtract the data gathered in urban areas (because the buildings, asphalt and energy use distort the data) and only use data gathered in rural areas, you see a minor cooling trend since 1840. If you set your date right, you see what appears to be a warming trend, if you change it by 2 decades that trend disappears.

    In other words, the real answer is that we actually don’t know what’s happening. To claim that the inconsistent, inconclusive and contradictory proves anything other than “don’t know” is using science to further a political agenda, nothing more, and nothing less. Peak Oil, at least, is fairly conclusively false. Global climate change is a big, fat “I don’t know”.

  293. Oh, before I forget. The two ecological changes in California that were caused by man? Yeah, they were about 10,000+ years ago, when the first hunter/gatherer tribes arrived in the region and deforested using massive forest fires. White Europeans had nothing to do with it.

  294. >Yes, and the species keep growing back after every disaster like the green grass in the springtime….

    a correction, i meant to say

    Yes, and the new species keep growing back ‘or variations of’ after every disaster like the green grass in the springtime….

  295. >Richard Leakey estimates a current loss of between 50,000 and 100,000 species per year, and says we are in the middle of a mass extinction like the 5 previous massive species die-offs.

    Richard Leakey and you have potato head syndrome!

    The numbers of currently dentified species can be broken down as follows, 287,655 plants; 10,000 lichens; 1,190,200 invertebrates (including 950,000 insects); and 57,739 vertebrates, including 28,500 fishes, 5,743 amphibians, 8,163 reptiles, 9,917 birds, and 5,416 mammals.

    The recorded number of extinctions since 1500 B.C is a total of 784 species.

    Life is thriving on this planet, we are currently unable to count the total number of
    fish in the seas, and the insects on land we can only estimate.

  296. The numbers of currently dentified species can be broken down as follows, 287,655 plants; 10,000 lichens; 1,190,200 invertebrates (including 950,000 insects); and 57,739 vertebrates, including 28,500 fishes, 5,743 amphibians, 8,163 reptiles, 9,917 birds, and 5,416 mammals. The recorded number of extinctions since 1500 B.C is a total of 784 species.

    Most species have not been identified, especially in the tropical zones and on the microscopic level. The estimated number of species ranges between 10 and 100 million. 784 is a vast undercount of the number of extinctions in the last 500 years.

    Life is thriving on this planet, we are currently unable to count the total number of fish in the seas, and the insects on land we can only estimate.

    Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

    According to a 1998 survey of 400 biologists conducted by New York’s American Museum of Natural History, nearly 70 percent of biologists believe that we are currently in the early stages of a human-caused mass extinction, known as the Holocene extinction event. In that survey, the same proportion of respondents agreed with the prediction that up to 20 percent of all living species could become extinct within 30 years (by 2028). Biologist E.O. Wilson estimated[3] in 2002 that if current rates of human destruction of the biosphere continue, one-half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in 100 years.

    More cherry picking. The Antarctic ice cap, which contains 90% of the world’s ice, is growing. The Arctic only shrank 45% by certain measurements that not all geologists and climatologists agree with. Iceland and Greenland’s glaciers appear to be growing.

    The British Antarctic Survey estimates that over 13,000 sq km of sea ice in the Antarctic Peninsula has been lost over the last 50 years. In 2000 some climatologists predicted that the Antarctic ice cap would grow thicker in the 21st Century, because higher world temperatures would cause increased snowfall. In 2002, the West Antarctic Ice sheet did grow thicker according to one study, but two of the other icesheets grew thinner at the same time. The evidence from the last 3 years, however, has shown that Antartica ice sheets are melting and are not growing thicker as predicted back in 2000. The Antarctic is loosing an estimated 152 km3 of ice per year according to a NASA study. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2006-028

    While there has been some dispute about ice melt for Antarctica, there is no serious scientific dispute that most of the other glaciers and icesheets are melting. 98% of the world’s mountain glaciers are shrinking in size. As for the claim that the North Pole is not melting, look at the satelite photo for the North Pole between 1979 and today. Page 27 of this slideshow: http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2004/0615Oppenheimer.pdf

    Satellite data shows Greenland’s ice has been melting at higher elevations every year since 1979. A conservative estimate of annual ice loss from Greenland is 50 cubic kilometers (12 cubic miles) per year, enough water to raise the global sea level by 0.13 millimeters per year. In 2005, the maximum melt extent of 264,400 square miles exceeds by 2.6 times the melt area measured in 1992 in Greenland
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NasaNews/2002/2002120710965.html
    http://cires.colorado.edu/science/groups/steffen/greenland/melt2005/
    http://www.physorg.com/news10948.html

    There is evidence, for example, that the supposed global warming trend is related to measuring temperature in urban areas. If you subtract the data gathered in urban areas (because the buildings, asphalt and energy use distort the data) and only use data gathered in rural areas, you see a minor cooling trend since 1840.

    Starting back in 1840 is seriously suspect. Of the major greenhouse gases, only nitrous oxide began rapidly increasing that early in history. Look at graphs of CO2 production and the other greenhouse gasses and you will see that most greenhouse gasses were rising slowly at that time. Their production picked up around 1900 and then began rising very dramatically after 1950. http://www.umich.edu/~gs265/society/greenhouse.htm If you distrust urban data, look at the data from the oceans. The Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans have collectively warmed an average of 0.06 degrees C since 1955–a time frame which corresponds to the dramatic increase in greenhouse gas production. http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2001/2001-04-16-06.asp

    Global climate change is a big, fat “I don’t know”.

    ExxonMobile spends 20 million a year to spread disinformation about global warming and the right-wing rags love to discount it, but the scientific consensus is almost universal that global warming is in fact happening. The only real debate is whether it is man-made or not. For most scientists, the 2005 data seems to have settled that argument. I don’t know why people let themselves be duped by polluting corporations and ideological spin machines on this issue.

  297. I see that the alternative energy folks are out, so I’ll ask one of the obvious questions.

    They’re telling us how profitable alternative energy investments are. So, how much of their money have they personally invested?

    I’ve asked this question in over a dozen threads like this and only once has any of the advocates claimed to have made personal investments. (I’m being charitable – he claimed that he wanted to invest in something other than the hot idea that he claimed should be tax subsidized.)

    Will this time be any different?

    If these schemes are such a good idea, why aren’t their advocates willing to profit from them? (Do good and do well – seems almost like a moral imperative.)

  298. You can’t have natural selection without natural unselection.

  299. Amos,

    Why is it that leftist boobs swallow whole the constellation of hate against the West? Somehow it all fits together into a massive nexus of hated megaKKKorporations and EXXXon and Helliburton and Bush BUSH BUSH global warming guatemala!!! RrrraaaaRRReagan!!!!

    Give it a rest already. You are flamebait armed with the Encyclopedia of Distorted Moonbat Reality.

    If you actually cared about what you are saying, you wouldn’t be here trying to convince a bunch of no-good low-down American KKKorporate whores that you’re right–you’d go away, put on some work gloves and start out plowing your fields. A bit late to start plantin’–substistence farming is a bitch!

  300. >Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

    According to a 1998 survey of 400 biologists conducted by New York’s American Museum of Natural History, nearly 70 percent of biologists believe that we are currently in the early stages of a human-caused mass extinction, known as the Holocene extinction event. In that survey, the same proportion of respondents agreed with the prediction that up to 20 percent of all living species could become extinct within 30 years (by 2028). Biologist E.O. Wilson estimated[3] in 2002 that if current rates of human destruction of the biosphere continue, one-half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in 100 years.

    Extinction is a natural process and we humans are a species competing for life like
    all the others….

    >In biology and ecology, extinction is the ceasing of existence of a species or group of taxa. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of that species. Extinction is usually a natural phenomenon; it is estimated that more than 99.9% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct. Through evolution, new species are created by speciation — where new organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche — and species become extinct when are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition. A typical species becomes extinct within 10 million years of its first appearance, although some species survive virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions of years.

  301. *Repost*

    >Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
    According to a 1998 survey of 400 biologists conducted by New York’s American Museum of Natural History, nearly 70 percent of biologists believe that we are currently in the early stages of a human-caused mass extinction, known as the Holocene extinction event. In that survey, the same proportion of respondents agreed with the prediction that up to 20 percent of all living species could become extinct within 30 years (by 2028). Biologist E.O. Wilson estimated[3] in 2002 that if current rates of human destruction of the biosphere continue, one-half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in 100 years.

    amos your not seeing the big picture.

    Extinction is a natural process and we humans are a species competing for life like
    all the others….

    In biology and ecology, extinction is the ceasing of existence of a species or group of taxa. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of that species. Extinction is usually a natural phenomenon; it is estimated that more than 99.9% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct. Through evolution, new species are created by speciation — where new organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche — and species become extinct when are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition. A typical species becomes extinct within 10 million years of its first appearance, although some species survive virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions of years.

  302. Amos, you are cherry picking data, and so are your beloved climate change scientists. They have used suspect data from the start. Everytime someone with solid training in some other scientific or engineering discipline looks at their data they walk away shaking their heads. They pick and choose data in such a way that it supports their conclusions. For example, not wanting to use temperature data all the way back to 1840. For example, including urban temperature data. For example, disregarding on the ground measurements of Iceland’s glaciers because they contradict some satellite data.

    I really don’t care to listen to “scientists” that do that. Apparently you do since it supports your politics.

  303. > Why is it that leftist boobs swallow whole the constellation of hate against the West?

    If you think that it is “hate against the West” to criticize our foreign policy and point out that corporations have had a pernicious role in making that foreign policy, then I wonder what you think the West stands for. Is it “hate against the West” when you stand up for Western concepts like human rights and international law? Is it “hate against the West” when you criticize a foreign policy that support dictators in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Eygpt, but seek to overthrow democratically elected governments in Palestine, Iran, and Venezuela? In my opinion, the neocons making US foreign policy are the ones who seem to promoting “hate against the West”–they certainly want to destroy Western tenets with regard to democracy, human rights, international law, the UN, right to privacy, and trial by jury.

    > You are flamebait armed with the Encyclopedia of Distorted Moonbat Reality.

    Funny how my “Distorted Moonbat Reality” is being echoed by people all over the world, especially all those crazy French and Germans who obviously are also promoting “hate against the West” as well.

    > If you actually cared about what you are saying, you wouldn’t be here trying to convince a bunch of no-good low-down American
    > KKKorporate whores that you’re right–you’d go away, put on some work gloves and start out plowing your fields. A bit late to
    > start plantin’–substistence farming is a bitch!

    You seem to hate Western concepts of logic by claiming that my criticizing US foreign policy and US corporations somehow leads to subsistence farming. I’m not sure what “Distorted Moonbat Reality” you are living in–but it certainly isn’t a reality which allows for logical thinking or rational argument.

  304. Amos, apparently your criteria for a good or bad government is whether it was democratically elected. In that case, you should oppose the war the US fought against Germany and Italy from 1941 to 1945.

  305. > Amos, you are cherry picking data, and so are your beloved climate change scientists.

    I’m not cherry picking and neither are the climatologists. In science you make your reputation by disproving your peers, and climatology is certainly a contentious field like all scientific fields. They argue about a lot of things,but they stopped arguing about whether Global Warming is real a long time ago. There is almost universal concensus in the field–only the right wing spinmeisters would have you believe otherwise. If there were real evidence disproving global warming, you can bet that there would be at least a small number of climatologists writing about it in scientific journals, but there aren’t such articles being written. If there was any indication that global warming wasn’t happening, climatologists could easily get grant money to carry out the research to prove it. There are tons of industries which would be delighted to pay for such research and the US government would love to fund such research, but all the research points in the same direction. If you don’t believe me, try and find peer-reviewed articles in reputable science journals which argue that global warming isn’t happening.

    Frankly, there is more debate about Darwin’s theory of evolution amond biologists than there is debate that the world is heating up among climatologists. Naomi Oreskes, a science historian at UC San Diego did an analysis published in Science of 928 peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate change issues and she found that none disagreed with the “consensus of scientific opinion that Earth’s climate is heating up and human activities are part of the reason.” The papers were drawn from a random sample of the more than 11,000 scientific papers on climate change written between 1993 and 2003. See: Oreskes, Naomi. 2004. The scientific consensus on climate change. Science. 306, 1686.

    What is happening is that people who want to disprove global warming go and search through the science literature and come up with minor blips in the data–things like one thickening ice sheet in 2002 in Antarctica or one measurement showing that some glacier in Iceland isn’t melting. It doesn’t matter that the author of the original science article doesn’t see it as evidence that global warming isn’t happening. The people who professionally study the climate know that there will be a lot of localized variation. To get a sense of global climate change, you have to survey of data from all around the globe over a long period of time–looking a few outliers is meaningless. When climatologists do those wider surveys of all the evidence, they conclude that one thickening ice sheet or one expanding glacier doesn’t disprove global warming.

    If you really think global warming isn’t happening, you should go and check out the original science articles that global warming skeptics cite. You will see the same pattern over and over. They take a few blips in the data that even the original researchers don’t think is significant and make a mountain out of a molehill.

  306. If you think that it is “hate against the West” to criticize our foreign policy and point out that corporations have had a pernicious role in making that foreign policy, then I wonder what you think the West stands for. Is it “hate against the West” when you stand up for Western concepts like human rights and international law? Is it “hate against the West” when you criticize a foreign policy that support dictators in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Eygpt, but seek to overthrow democratically elected governments in Palestine, Iran, and Venezuela? In my opinion, the neocons making US foreign policy are the ones who seem to promoting “hate against the West”–they certainly want to destroy Western tenets with regard to democracy, human rights, international law, the UN, right to privacy, and trial by jury.

    The key to unlocking the mystery as to how this supposedly fair, balanced, and logical criticism of the United States is nothing other than objective–is proportionality. You just spent numerous multi-paragraph posts focusing on mistakes by the US and trying to convince us that we are responsible for the sum-total of evil in the world. I know your hate is palpable because in every case, at every turn, and given every opportunity, you take the most relentlessly negative view of the United States and the developed world possible. An adversarial view–not to provoke reasoned discussion, but to support madly inflamed rants about our supposed evil, simultaneously elevating yourself to moral champion in your vigorous and principled defense of decency, democracy, and western values. You claim to be such and idealist but you’re blinded by your rage at the imperfections of the west, which even if I spent the balance of a thousand pages deconstructing the distortion of your anti-American bias, you would not concede, but fight more ferociously about how all the evil that has ever been manifested in the world is due to us, or others’ rational reaction to our choices. You refuse to blame anyone but the United States and its leaders–preferrably directly if you can manage it, but you’ll settle for insinuating that nefarious, shadowy, and unnamable factions that can neither be defended nor summoned for comment are at work distorting the balances of power and exploiting the good people of the world. You strike at dark, amorphous, hidden and monstrous conjurings and expect us to dispel them–it’s a wonder that your entire psyche doesn’t collapse in a malodorous tangle of your deceitful and viscious, but ultimately baseless attacks.

    You trade in myth and distorted reality and overlook the very basis of human nature. You ignore whole worlds of pain and genocide brought by truly tyrannical regimes that still exist on this earth, yet you reserve your harshest judgment for the one and only one true evil that you can see in this world–the United States? You hate the United States and its policies with such passion and such rage that it is the only entity that you hold to blame. In your analysis of Guatemala, the most striking fact is that you deliberately and continuously overlook the very reality of who is doing the killing, and dismiss with a flick of your wrist genocide–to focus upon Reagan, to focus on the CIA, to focus on corporations–anything, desperately, to find a way to tie it back to the United States, and by extension, all of us here.

    You pretend to fight for idealism but all you fight for is your own self esteem, to rid yourself of the stinking, clinging, monstrous guilt that you feel for having been born into a system that is so good that it not only feeds its members into obesity and caters to their every distracted whim, but affords you the time to reflect and the materials with which to enhance your knowledge, but the very freedom to criticize it without limit. You are a fool. You believe that your righteous adolescent rage puts you above evil in the world–and that by recognizing one flaw in our system, or a number of them, and trumpeting your idealism by distorting the rest of the world out of the picture, that you become a hero, an enlightened one–an upper class, super-moral, and blameless savior. You’re a fool. While you curse us, and hate us, and focus all of your energy upon us, and our misdeeds and misdoings, whether real or invented, you ignore the rest of the world, to their peril and ours. This is how we know that you hate the United States. You spend all of your energies here, refighting past battles in a desperate attempt to convince us that you’ve unravelled the key to human evil and discovered the secret inner workings of a shadowy conspiratorial under belly upon which the United States feeds and dominates all the resources and wealth. The more you dig the more you are convinced you have discovered something special–like a plot twist in some dangerous movie when the police are revealed to be true evil and the viewer is granted exclusive view to a deep hidden knowledge hidden from the mere flat characters who fall unsuspectingly in the traps of the wily and unscrupulous cops.

    Funny how my “Distorted Moonbat Reality” is being echoed by people all over the world, especially all those crazy French and Germans who obviously are also promoting “hate against the West” as well.

    And this is extraordinarily telling. The only thing that matters to you is to be echoed by people all over the world, and ingratiate yourself with the more progressive, more moral side of the world. Here we find not a statement of dedication to reason, to reality, and to true scientific integrity–your measure has always been, and always will be, whether your ideas are echoed in your fellow men, and whether you are seen as moral, as a savior. You seek favor in others to assuage your own guilt and elevate yourself beyond your tremendously low self esteem. You tell yourself that it is your moral nature, that it is your tremendous conscience and religious devotion to the higher, the better in man and humanity–in all humans everywhere. You appeal to some fundemental love of the other, and hate the self that torments the other, and believe that dissociating from self, you can become one with the other and live in peace. But you cannot comprehend this–you cannot comprehend why you hate the US so–perhaps you have never reflected upon it. But we know the marks of this idealism, and your distorted, wild, and insane rants, disguised so cunningly with references to those who fuel your phantasmic conjurings of evil don’t fool us.

    We adults know that perspective is precious, and we know that people are both good and evil, and that our government, and factions within it, and corporations within our country, have interfered in the world to its detriment at times. But we also know that that does not absolve others of their freedom of choice, and obligation to choose the good. We know that in the balance, what the United States has contributed to this world far outweighs the evil foisted on it by uncooperative and destructive forces within our own nature, and within factions who choose evil without our consent.

    It is not that you criticize the United States. We can take that. We can work with that, and accept blame when necessary–and try to correct the damage. But this is not it–the fact that you would so readily choose, in the balance, to absolve mass murderers of guilt and place their crimes at our feet brands you, amos, as a fool and a bigot–a hater, and the deepest, most special of hypocrites. You are a sower of guilt–you seek to inflict it where you can, when you can, for your own purposes. And whatever contorted position you have to put yourself into to sow guilt here, you will.

    Idealist. Pah!

    Go now from this place and take your ass with you!

  307. *The ‘envirionmental hysterical nuts’ in the U.S have prevented any new nuclear powerplant construction for years forcing us to burn coal and fossil fuels for our energy needs. At the same time they claim that co2 emmisions are warming the
    earth we are forced to burn fossil fuels that create excess co2.

    They are totaly insane.

    *Here in Calif. the bird-brains introduced MTBE into the gasoline for emissions control
    and later found out it is a ground water pollutant, it is now the biggest environmental
    disaster in the state.

    Why are we not building new nuclear power plants?

    no problems for years with the currently operating ones!

  308. *These guys have the right ideas!

    *India is presently constructing more than 10 civilian nuclear power reactors – the highest rate in the world.

    with our technology the rest of the world will advance without us….

  309. *would everybody write a letter or email to your elected representative
    and demand action on our nuclear energy policy or you will not vote for
    them in the next election.

    in my letter i will also state that buying oil from states that sponsor terrorism
    in the middle east is providing aid to our enemies!

  310. Amos: If there were real evidence disproving global warming, you can bet that there would be at least a small number of climatologists writing about it in scientific journals, but there aren’t such articles being written.

    Do you happen to know how many articles of that sort have been rejected in the past decade because the publisher didn’t want them published?

    Amos: To get a sense of global climate change, you have to survey of data from all around the globe over a long period of time–looking a few outliers is meaningless.

    Right, which is why the temperature data that doesn’t fit the model is discarded, for example. It’s why climate patterns based on flawed studies continue to be accepted as valid, even after other scientists spoke out against the flawed studies (i.e. using only one species of tree).

    Outliers are exactly what is used to falsify a theory. At least in physics it is. Apparently in climate studies we discard them because they don’t fit our notion of what must be happening. Of course, the interesting thing is that the supposed outliers were used 2 decades ago to prove that we were entering an ice age. Ooooops.

  311. Oh yeah, one more thing of interest. The productivity and wealth gains of the past 400 years, or so, may actually be attributable to the increase in average temperature that occurred as we came out of the mini ice age at the end of the Dark Ages.

    The bottom line, the one us “right wingers” (I’m not, but that’s another day) keep trying to get across. We don’t know what is happening because we don’t have enough data to know. The data has been studied from a biased political basis from day one. The outliers discarded, the data cherry picked to support specific theories, the theories changed every time the data starts to be shown not to support it.

    I would support a truly apolitical effort to understand climate, environment and man’s impact on it. I have yet to see such a thing. I see, instead, an ideological battle between two camps who are struggling to beat each other because of the power they will gain from winning. I don’t see real science here, not at all. I see distorted science that cannot be trusted. When I was younger, I used to agree with many of the concepts related to both Peak Oil and Climate Change theories. The more I read, the more I looked, the more I found that the theories couldn’t be trusted. And, in fact, I started with the folks that supported these ideas. But, being relatively intellectually honest, I looked at what those who disagree have to say. And found that the rigor of “your side” is sadly lacking.

    And here’s a question, if you truly believe these things are coming, why aren’t you (and those who think like you) getting behind the only things that can possibly save us from your looming disasters? Kyoto, and similar ideas, have no hope of achieving anything. The only thing that will work is a paradigm shift to nuclear and space based energy, accompanied by a dramatic effort to start significant permanent colonization off this planet and travel outside this solar system. Not one of you people ever talks about such things. All you talk about is evil white men and neo-Luddite BS.

  312. Not one of you people ever talks about such things.

    I do. I’m in favour of nukes, though how you can get private enterprise to build them without first being absolved of all liability by the government these days is a bit of an issue. I mean, it doesn’t sound like the result is going to be all that “private”. And I would prefer distributed power generation to centralised, I think centralisation is prone to lead to abuse.

    As for space…I’d like to believe in beanstalks, but when I heard that the strength necessary was near the theoretical maximum for buckytubes I was kind of disheartened. Got something stronger than buckytubes on the horizon? There’s also a need for peace, those things would be major terrorist magnets.

    There’s a bit in one of Lynn Margulis’s books where she says “Earth is going to seed”, evidently with both meanings – she sees ships leaving earth to set up space colonies and whatnot, at the same time as the biosphere is going through a massive human-induced “simplification”. But I don’t see the colonies. I think they’re *possible*, but they’d require financial and energy investment on a wartime scale over decades, and nobody’s going to vote for that until it’s far too late.

  313. Geez diablovision…I think there’s an award for clobbering people like that… ;-)

  314. But I don’t see the colonies.

    Can we all imagine the left when we announce that we are going to colonise planet X?

    I’d say the chances of our successfully colonising another planet / planetary body are directly proportional to the West’s self esteem and sense of reality.

  315. > amos your not seeing the big picture. Extinction is a natural process and we humans are a species competing for life like
    > all the others….

    Extinction is natural and it has happened before, but it is not necessarily a pleasant thing for the human race to live through. I don’t think that we will kill off the human species (unless we decide to unleash our whole nuclear arsonal in a moment of madness), but I do think it is highly likely that we will kill off 50% of the species on our planet within a very short time period. It is almost inevitable if present trends continue. Killing off 50% of the species is going to decrease the quality of life for humans.

    Yes I will miss the whales and the polar bears, but that isn’t what really bothers me. What bothers me is the prospect of the coral reefs dying and most of the fish that we eat dying because we raised the temperature a few degrees so the plankton and most of the food chain which depends on plankton disappears. A lot less people will be eating ocean fish in the future. It won’t be the end of the world if I’m not able to eat tuna, but it won’t be pleasant when millions of people need to find another source of food because the plankton food chain dissappeared. Eventually some other species will take the place of the plankton, but it will be a pretty rough transition while we wait for evolution to take its course. The algae food chain sure ain’t going to provide much food while we wait.

    There are thousands of species and dependencies in nature which we rely upon. The Biosphere experiments where they tried to create an artificial environment showed how little we understand. Even with our brightest scientists working on it, we were unable to create sustainable life in a bubble for more than a couple months. There were little dependencies which they hadn’t thought to include in the bubble or some balance kept getting out of wack and everything in the bubble started to die. That is why I say that we aren’t ready for space travel–”life support” would die before we got very far in space.

    Species loss will impact our ability to find new medicines as well. For me, the scariest prospect is the destruction of many of the plant species which are edible. What modern agriculture has done is promote a tiny number of plant species, while killing off most of the other varieties.

    For instance, there are thousands of potato species in the Andes, but they are dissappearing very quickly. The same is happening with corn species in Mexico and Central America. The future is not far off when we will have less than a couple dozen species of corn and potatos if the present rate of species destruction continues. We can do a lot with genetic engineering, but our food supply is much safer is we have thousands of potential species. Right now we breed for an agriculture based upon petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides with lots of water inputs. What happens when we need potatos or corn that won’t use petrochemicals and can grow in drought or a high carbon atmosphere. (Studies show that a high carbon atmosphere can reduce yields of grain plants by 20%.) What happens when a blight which we can’t kill hits our present corn or potato species, like the blight that killed the American Chestnut. If we have thousands of species, then we have many more choices and more chance of finding a resistant strain. Don’t be so sure that pesticides and herbicides will kill everything that attacks our food plants–the bugs and the weeds appear to be adapting pretty fast. Having lots of species to draw from will ensure our food security. It is in our own self interest to make sure that the indigenous people in the Andes and Mesoamerica who cultivate these rare corn and potato species aren’t forced off their land and replaced by big agro-business.

    The only thing that will work is a paradigm shift to nuclear and space based energy, accompanied by a dramatic effort to start significant permanent colonization off this planet and travel outside this solar system.

    Nuclear power is only economical when you leave out the costs of dealing with the radioactive waste afterwards. Even if we reprocess and reuse the nuclear waste (which Carter stupidly made illegal), you still won’t entirely eliminate the storage problem. A couple million years half-life makes it pretty expensive and it only works if the government subsidies it heavily. It also takes a lot of energy and causes a lot of environmental damage to dig up uranium ore and it can get us into nasty foreign adventures like supporting the overthrow of Brazilian democracy in 1964 in order to get access to the Amazonian uranium fields. If we are going to subsidize any form of energy, we ought be subsidizing wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal power, since they have little environmental impact, unlike hydroelectric, fossil fuels, and nuclear. Unfortunately, these clean alternatives provide much less energy so we are going to have to cut down on our energy use and figure out how to use multiple energy sources. Fortunately, the cost of Wind and Solar is dropping so fast, that it will eventually be cheaper than fossil fuels and won’t need to be subsidized to be competitive.

    From what I understand, space colonization is pretty unsustainable environmentally and probably will be for a long time to come. It would take massive amounts of energy and raw materials here on Earth to sustain a colonization program in space. Let me give you an example. Almost nobody has figured out how we are going to do metallurgy in space. You need a lot of energy and pollute a lot of air on earth when mining and forging metal. So metal manufacturing is out of the question in space even if you have a good source of ore in space. Plastics manufacturing can’t be done because you need petroleum, but where are you going to get your plastics. You can use plant-based plastics, but right now it takes more energy inputs to make plant-based plastics than using petroleum. Maybe some day we will figure it all out, but not in the near future.

    Right, which is why the temperature data that doesn’t fit the model is discarded, for example. It’s why climate patterns based on flawed studies continue to be accepted as valid, even after other scientists spoke out against the flawed studies (i.e. using only one species of tree).

    I find it hard to believe that every climatologist is so closed minded or so biased that they would ignore all countervailing data and all the science journals are so sloppy, that they would publish thousands of articles on global warming which were based upon of flawed studies. Are these scientists who are raising objections to a particular study, arguing that global warming isn’t happening? There is a big difference between saying “tree ring data from one species of tree is not very reliable” and saying “the conclusion of the hundreds of studies on Global Warming are wrong”. People find flaws in particular studies all the time, but it would be awfully strange if hundreds of studies which all arrived at the same conclusion were all flawed. Yes the scientific community has often been wrong in the past, but it is generally wrong about things which nobody has thought about before or before some advancement in the technology allowed new insight. For instance, the physicists were wrong about how space and time worked before the theory of relativity and biologists were wrong about the existence of cells before the invention of the microscope. But you aren’t arguing about a radical new theory which changes the paradigm so people are thinking in ways that they never thought before nor are you saying that there has been a radical change in the technology. Remember that most climatologists used to believe that the climate was cooling several decades ago. They changed their mind because they saw lots of compelling evidence showing that the climate was actually warming. This is not the action of a closed minded group of scientists. It took a long time for the climatologists to agree that global warming was actually happening and many argued against it for a long time in the 1980s and early 1990s.

  316. >It is not that you criticize the United States. We can take that. We can work with that, and accept blame when necessary–and try to correct the damage. But this is not it–the fact that you would so readily choose, in the balance, to absolve mass murderers of guilt and place their crimes at our feet brands you, amos, as a fool and a bigot–a hater, and the deepest, most special of hypocrites. You are a sower of guilt–you seek to inflict it where you can, when you can, for your own purposes. And whatever contorted position you have to put yourself into to sow guilt here, you will.

    diablovision, that was absolutely the finest hunk o’ smackdown I have ever seen in the comments on this blog. You have nailed amosbatto and his ilk perfectly.

    The only bit you forgot is the one where amosbatto redefined “freedom” as “collective control”, revealing what an Orwellian suckup to the world’s totalitarians he truly is.

  317. Amos: There is a big difference between saying “tree ring data from one species of tree is not very reliable” and saying “the conclusion of the hundreds of studies on Global Warming are wrong”. People find flaws in particular studies all the time, but it would be awfully strange if hundreds of studies which all arrived at the same conclusion were all flawed.

    Horse puckey. All the journals can easily do just such a thing. 95% of all newspaper articles and editorials are slanted to suit the editorial board. You scream and yell about all the studies funded by the evil oil corporations all the time, but don’t even bother to take into account where the funding for the scientific journalist and climate studies come from. It’s obviously bad, according to you, if an oil corporation funds the study, but it must be unbiased, accurate science if it agrees with what you want it to say, regardless of where the funding comes from. Those scientific journal editorial boards and publishers would never slant things, they are all far too altruistic. Is that what you’re saying? Ever heard of what happened to agricultural studies and science in the Soviet Union? But, of course, that could never happen here in the West, could it? Oh, wait, it can if it is of a political or sociological bent you disagree with, but not if you agree with it. Ever heard of Population Bomb? Which the vast majority of the scientific community agreed with, I should point out. There were all sorts of studies and published articles and you couldn’t find anyone who would say anything against it. Ever considered what will happen to those scientists who don’t go with the flow? How their funding might dry up and their work opportunities disappear? Oh, wait, only evil right wing McCarthyists do those things, right?

    Diablovision pegged you right from the beginning. You aren’t interested in trying to get at the truth. You’re interested in branding Liberal, Western culture, generally, and America specifically, as evil.

  318. You ignore whole worlds of pain and genocide brought by truly tyrannical regimes that still exist on this earth, yet you reserve your harshest judgment for the one and only one true evil that you can see in this world–the United States? You hate the United States and its policies with such passion and such rage that it is the only entity that you hold to blame. In your analysis of Guatemala, the most striking fact is that you deliberately and continuously overlook the very reality of who is doing the killing, and dismiss with a flick of your wrist genocide–to focus upon Reagan, to focus on the CIA, to focus on corporations–anything, desperately, to find a way to tie it back to the United States, and by extension, all of us here.

    No, I do blame segments of the Guatemalan population which supported the dictatorship. The Coffee plantation owners, the military, and the business community were all strong supporters of the razed earth policies which killed thousands of Maya villagers. But I am a US citizen, so my primary responsibility is for what my government does. If I were a Guatemalan, I would be criticizing Efrian Rios Montt, not Reagan. Since I am an American, I chose to focus my energies on my own government because It is my responsibility as a citizen and I have the power to change it. I have only limited power to do anything about the governments in most other countries

    In the case of Guatemala, however, the dictatorship of Efrian Rios Montt was heavily tied to support from the US. We actually do bear much of the responsibility for the fact that Guatemala was under a dictatorship and for the fact that 400 Maya villages were razed in the early 1980s. Now we could have an interesting discussion about how much responsibility is ours, but it was US policy to fully support, arm, and fund the efforts to kill Maya villagers in the name of anti-communism in the early 80s. We will probably only know our full responsibility in what happened after the documents get declassified, but it is clear to everyone that the Reagan administration wanted the Guatemalan government to carry out a dirty war against anyone who was conceived of as “communists”, In most cases we haven’t had such a direct role in the evil of dictatorships, but that still doesn’t mean that we should ignore the ways that we are responsible. For instance, when Kissenger made a deal with the dictator of Indonesia in 1975 to give him US permision to invade East Timor, we can’t pretend that we don’t bear some responsibility for what followed. I’m mindful of the fact that Clinton actually supported the East Timorese two decades later in helping them to regain their independence, so I think I do see both the good and the bad, unlike most Americans who can only see the good.

    You accuse me of “lacking perspective” and hating my country, which is total BS. I have traveled through 20 countries in my lifetime and have lived in Mexico, Bolivia, and Guatemala for short periods of my life, so I think I have more perspective than most Americans about what is good and what is bad about our country. I don’t mistakenly assume like may Americans that the US is the best country in the world. There are all sorts of ways that we are worse than other developed countries–a quick perusal of our health statistics, crime statistics, murder statistics, and gini index should convince anyone that the US has some major problems. There are a lot of things that I like about my country, but they don’t blind me to what our government and our corporations do abroad. I have seen the suffering that our foreign policy can cause. I know what suffering results from our neoliberal trade policies, the US arms trade, and our support of militaries in places like Bolivia.

    In many cases, US foreign policy is making the situation worse in countries ruled by dictators. When we threaten to attack dictators, we are actually making them stronger and making people rally in support of their dictators to defend their country. When we decide to aid dictators because it is expedient to acheive some other goal, we are only aiding in the repression of people in that country.

    Off the top of my head, I can think of only one dictatorship in the world where I think that we are helping the situation: Burma (Myanmar). We have made sure that US companies don’t do business with Burma, but otherwise have not tried to invade it or issue crazy threats against it. That is the correct policy with regard to dictatorships. In contrast to this one good case, I can think of 8 dictatorships off the top of my head where I think we are making the situation worse. I can think of a 12 countries off the top of my head where I think we are helping to undermine democracies.

    Sometimes I think that we are doing both good and bad–china is a case where I see this–but in most of these cases, I think that the people in these countries would be better off if the US government had decided not to mettle in their country’s affairs.

  319. > We have made sure that US companies don’t do business with Burma, but otherwise have not tried to invade it or issue crazy threats against it. That is the correct policy with regard to dictatorships.

    In other words, don’t disturb the killing fields.

  320. Did the cerebral palsy get the rational, tolerant side of the brain?

    If Muslims are terror induncing, violent, unjust, etc. etc. whatever other virulent slander you can come up with, then my question to you is why is Islamic violence so low for a religion of 1.3 billion followers and why do you say nothing about the Christian violence being done by the LRA (who have killed THOUSANDS more than the 9/11 attacks) and the hatemongering by many Christians in the United States such as Reverend Phelps and other individuals who picket the funerals of AIDS victims and attack our men and women in uniform for allowing themselves to be a part of a military with a don’t ask don’t tell policy.

    Really, stick to writing software commentary. It’s all you’re good at.

  321. Im muslim and im not terorist, and i hate terorism!!
    I live in Indonesia, and Muslim is not just arabic!!
    Bin laden for me is just another “asshole” like Bush!!

  322. Eric,
    I decided to go and look at the scientists who are cited as disproving Global Warming. I started with the wikipedia article “Global Warming Controversy” and followed the links when I could. It appears that most of the scientists who are cited as being Global Warming skeptics have now reversed their position or have never questioned that the temperature is rising:
    ————————————————————-
    Here are the list of the principal Global Warming skeptics who are real scientists:

    * Patrick Michaels, Department of Environmental Services at the University of Virginia, fellow at the Cato Institute, edits a magazine put out by the Western Fuels Association.

    Michaels recently stopped saying that global warming wasn’t happening. Now he says:
    “modest scientists know quite precisely how much the planet will warm in the foreseeable future, a modest three-quarters of a degree (C)” in 50 years.
    http://washingtontimes.com/commentary/20031015-085235-5134r.htm

    * Robert Balling of Arizona State University, director of the Office of Climatology and professor of geography at Arizona State University.

    Balling testified before congress in 1996 that global warming wasn’t happening. However, in 2005, he writes: “there is substantial evidence that a non-solar control has become dominant in recent decades. The buildup of greenhouse gases and/or some other global-scale feedback, such as widespread changes in atmospheric water vapor, emerge as potential explanations for the recent residual warming found in all latitudinal bands.”

    Balling, R.C. and Sen Roy, S. (2005), Analysis of spatial patterns underlying the linkage between solar irradiance and near-surface air temperatures, Geophysical Research Letters 32 (11): art. no. L11702 June 8 2005

    * Sherwood B. Idso of the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory and Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change

    Idso wrote a paper in 1988 arguing that CO2 wasn’t responsible for last mini-ice age, so it also isn’t responsible for the current temperature swing upward. He argued: “Since something other than atmospheric CO2 variability was … clearly responsible for bringing the planet into the Little Ice Age, something other than atmospheric CO2 variability may just as well have brought the planet out of it.”

    Today Idso no longer seems to hold to this theory. Instead he seems to accept the premise that CO2 is the main cause of Global Warming in his recent papers. See:

    Sherwood B. Idso, Craig D. Idso and Keith E. Idso, (2003) “The Specter of Species Extinction Will Global Warming Decimate Earth’s Biosphere?”, Marshall Institute, http://www.marshall.org/pdf/materials/150.pdf

    In this paper, Idso and his 2 sons also accept the premise that a warming planet is causing plants to shift their habitats poleward, but he argues that it shows that plants can adapt to a changing environment and won’t go into extinction. He argues that drastically reversing CO2 production may cause a sudden change, which will kill more species than gradually increasing C02 production.

    None of Idso’s recent papers are published in any peer reviewed journals. StopExxon.org reports that the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has received $65,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2003. Both of his sons have been on the Western Fuels Association payroll at one time or another. The Center works with the Greening Earth Society, a front group of the Western Fuels Association.

    * S. Fred Singer, atmospheric physicist and professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia

    Singer doesn’t deny that warming is taking place and that CO2 is rising. Although Singer considers the observed increase in CO2 and CFCs to be anthropogenic, he disagrees with IPCC conclusions about how much warming is to be expected.
    Singer has numerous ties to organizations that have received oil industry funding. See: http://www.kwikpower.com/AREAS/GC/gc04.htm

    * Richard Lindzen of Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Lindzen was a lead author of Chapter 7 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report of 2001, but he doesn’t accept the IPCC’s conclusion that significant global warming is caused by humans. Nonetheless, he accepts that the warming has occurred, saying global mean temperature is about 0.6 degrees Celsius higher than it was a century ago.
    See: http://meteo.lcd.lu/globalwarming/Lindzen/canadian_reactions_to_sir_david_king.html

    * Ross McKitrick, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute

    This guy is an economist, not a scientist, and his book _Taken By Storm_ has been widely refuted. He doesn’t seem to question that the temperature is rising, instead he questions the mathematical models being used.

    * Frederick Seitz

    in 1994, Seitz authored a report published by the George C. Marshall Institute entitled “Global warming and ozone hole controversies.” This guy was born in 1911 and is way past retirement . He accepts that the temperature rise as real, but not yet properly explained.

    ————————————————————-
    These are your principal Global Warming skeptics who can claim to be real scientists. Most of these real scientists accept that the temperature is rising, they just question its impact or its cause and question policies based upon global warming. Eric if you want to tell me that Global Warming isn’t happening, please cite me a credible scientific source that verifies that. If you want to claim that all the studies are sloppy and there is contradictory evidence, please point me to a source. I’m willing to be persuaded if I see real evidence, but I have yet to see any credible evidence.

  323. Amos, check the bibliography of Chrichton’s “State of Fear”. He’s done a much better job than I ever could of putting together a definitive list of sources on climate change. The argument I have continuously tried to make is that the evidence is contradictory and flawed, the “science” is heavily biased politically and the conclusions are not substantiated. Further, over the past 20,000 years there have been multiple climate changes and environmental changes, both regional and global. Some were caused by men, some were not. Change in climate and environment is part of the lifecycle of this planet. We don’t know if the temperature, long term, is going up or down. We don’t know if climate change is good, or bad. We don’t really know much about it at all. The immense over reaction to something where we don’t even know the truth is ridiculous. And probably a guarunteed recipe for disaster. That you have bought into something that we just don’t know the answers to is telling.

    Adrian, the alternative to moving off the planet is that, ultimately, the race dies. In the really long view the issues you bring up are blips.

  324. Oh yeah, Adrian, why can you believe that McCarthyism, Communism or Fascism could create environments that would cause everyone to give the acceptable answer, but when it comes to something you agree with you don’t think it could happen?

  325. Amos,

    There are three issues:

    1) Whether the earth is warming or not. This is at least arguable.
    2) Whether man is causing the earth to warm (or, larger, whether man is causing global climate change, or better, whether man is in any way responsible for global climate change). Again, arguable.
    3) Whether scientists who explicitly support the notion that “man is causing global climate change” get preferential treatment, research dollars, &c. because of this political position, and whether the converse is true (no support = fewer research dollars, stigmata). This has become tautological. Being fundamental, it influences #1 and #2 above.

  326. I wonder why it is that a study funded by an oil company is considered tainted, but a study funded by an environmental group is not. Both have agendas to pursue. They should both be equally considered problems, I would think.

  327. As an interesting aside, energy companies supply a significant amount of the environmental movement’s funding. Why aren’t the opinions and positions of environmental groups suspected because of that?

  328. > If Muslims are terror induncing, violent, unjust, etc. etc. whatever other virulent slander you can come up with, then my question to you is why is Islamic violence so low for a religion of 1.3 billion followers

    “so low”?

    Where are there significant populations of Muslims living peacefully next to/with significant populations of non-Muslims? (I can think of one place, but it’s not an argument for “peaceful Islam”.)

  329. You do have to wonder why folks who have a massively vested interest in climate change being real, being the fault of humans and being disastrous are upset that as many folks as possible will get to see the draft of the 4th IPCC report right away.

    To find out more.

    It should also be noted that when you can find obvious mistakes in the 3rd IPCC report, like an assumption that the world is going to be both much richer and have a large population increase, it makes it really hard to take them seriously when they sound off about horrific doom just around the corner.

  330. Adrian, the alternative to moving off the planet is that, ultimately, the race dies.

    Yes, having the Sun expand would tend to have that effect, but it’s some way away. I think we’re much likelier to evolve into something else – possibly many other things, a la Schismatrix – before then, if the energy’s available.

    In the really long view the issues you bring up are blips.

    What – whether it’s possible to get self-sustaining units operating independently of Earth without an investment that would make the Manhattan project look like peanuts, and which might just not be put in place in time if certain scenarios play out?

    Bifurcation point if you ask me.

    Oh yeah, Adrian, why can you believe that McCarthyism, Communism or Fascism could create environments that would cause everyone to give the acceptable answer, but when it comes to something you agree with you don’t think it could happen?

    Er…context? What system that I agree with do you see producing this soul-numbing conformity? The idea that beardies might not be the biggest threat extant? Skepticism about the ease of establishing an independent presence in space? Some random liberal strawman that diablovision’s been happily beating to a pulp?

  331. Did the cerebral palsy get the rational, tolerant side of the brain?

    Bad call. Stuff like this tends to taint anything else you have to say, IMO.

  332. “I’ve had a couple of Muslims show up on this blog protesting that I’ve got it all wrong, that Islam is a peaceful and tolerant religion and Islamic terror is an aberration not sanctioned by the Koran” … “Here’s a challenge to all you apologists for Islam…”
    since when are people who have some opinion on a given subject X called “appologist” of some other group of people whos opininon on the subject X is different ?

  333. HF,

    When they apologize, rationalize, defend, look the other way, and feel no outrage at having their God’s name invoked in support of atrocities and instead try to legitimize terrorist actions as a rational, inescapable reaction to poor living conditions and malevolent forces such as “the Jews” and “the Americans”.

    When they cry for tolerance and in the next breath march on capitols demanding death to cartoonists–or apologize for those who do, and insist on Orwellian speech codes that prohibit criticism of their religion.

    Truth invites scrutiny. Error cries for tolerance.

  334. Rock on ESR.

    All the sheepdog’s are screaming from the rooftop’s.
    All we here back in return is BAAHHHHH!!!!

  335. Eric,
    I haven’t read Crichton’s _State of Fear_, but I wouldn’t be so eager to promote it as containing any credible analysis. Read the following critiques:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/michael-crichtons-state-of-confusion/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/michael-crichtons-state-of-confusion-ii-the-climatologists-return/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/09/inhofe-and-crichton-together-at-last/

    Also you should read this debunkiing the idea that climatologists were predicting a mini-ice age in the 1970s:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94

    —————————————-
    DDG,
    > 1) Whether the earth is warming or not. This is at least arguable.

    A decade ago, you could claim this, but today there are no credible scientists who argue that the average world temperature is not rising. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_skeptics

    I only know of a couple attempts to claim that the global temperature data is inaccurate and they were easily debunked.

    Ross McKitrick.claimed that the falling number of weather monitor stations in the former Soviet Union during the 90s had distorted the global temperature averages. This has been widely disproven in the literature. Even someone who isn’t a specialist in the field could easily prove that McKitrick was wrong. See Tim Lambert’s critique: http://timlambert.org/2004/04/mckitrick/

    Patrick Michaels and Ross McKitrick wrote a paper claiming that half of the rise in global temperatures was due to economic factors which caused changes in land use, quality of instrumentation, or upkeep of records. These things may have had a small effect and distorted the data slightly, but Micheals and McKitrick confused degrees with radians, thus totally screwing up their mathmatical analysis. See: http://timlambert.org/2004/08/mckitrick6/

    Then a 2003 paper by Soon and Baliunas claimed that the 20th century wasn’t the warmest century of the last milenium by creatively interpreting a number of different studieson tree rings, glacier samples, etc. The Bush adminstration loved this paper and wanted to use it as evidence to disprove Global Warming.
    See: Soon, W. and Baliunas, S., 2003: Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years. Climate Research, 23, 89-110.

    The Soon and Baliunas paper was widely disproven and most people in the field whose research had been misinterpreted in the paper blasted the paper. See:
    Mann, M.E., Ammann, C.M., Bradley, R.S.,Briffa, K.R., Crowley, T.J., Jones, P.D.,Oppenheimer, M., Osborn, T.J., Overpeck, J.T.,Rutherford, S., Trenberth, K.E. and Wigley,T.M.L., 2003: “On past temperatures and anomalous late-20th century warmth.” EOS, 84,256. http://www.geo.umass.edu/faculty/bradley/mann2003a.pdf

    David Bellamy, a former Botanist turned environmentalist claimed that glaciers weren’t really shrinking, but George Monbiot checked up on those facts and found they were probably based upon a typo. See: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2005/05/10/junk-science/

    Zbigniew Jaworowski claimed in testimony before the US congress that his work excavating glaciers on 6 continents proves that we are entering a new Ice Age and there is no global warming taking place. See Jim Easter’s desconstruction of Jaworowski’s claims: http://www.someareboojums.org/blog/?p=7
    Also see what Tim Lambert said about Jaworoski: http://timlambert.org/2005/01/hissink3/

    Over and over you find that everytime someone claims that the temperatures aren’t rising, you find that they either made a mistake somewhere in their calculations or they don’t have credible research to back up their claim. If you still want to believe that the temperatures aren’t rising, I suggest that you read Stephen Schneider’s overview of all the Global Warming contrarians.
    See: http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Climate/Climate_Science/Contrarians.html

    Schneider provides links to their “research”. Read it, then read how others debunk it. I think you will walk away convinced that global warming is really happening.

    > 2) Whether man is causing the earth to warm (or, larger, whether man is causing global climate change, or better, whether man is
    > in any way responsible for global climate change). Again, arguable.

    Now here we do have a small debate in the scientific community, but it has reduced noticably in the last couple years, and most of the scientists who used to doubt whether man is causing global warming have retracted after seeing more recent evidence. Wikipedia lists 7 scientists who currently doubt that man is causing global warming. None of them have produced research which is very convincing.There is a reason why the roughly 1500 climatologists in the world have come to a consensus that man is the principal cause of global warming. Now there is a real scientific debate about the proportion of global warming which can be attributed to natural cycles. Some say none, and some say a small proportion.

    > 3) Whether scientists who explicitly support the notion that “man is causing global climate change” get preferential treatment,
    > research dollars, &c. because of this political position, and whether the converse is true (no support = fewer research dollars,
    > stigmata). This has become tautological. Being fundamental, it influences #1 and #2 above.

    To me this is the most valid criticism, but it doesn’t hold up. First of all, there is a lot of funding out there for climatologists who decide to go against the consensus and argue that global warming isn’t happening. ExxonMobile, Western Fuels Association, the US government, and the Austrailian government are all willing to fund their research. Look at how well Patrick Michaels has done once he switched to the camp of the global warming skeptics. Also, look how Bjørn Lomborg became an international star and received lots of funding after he wrote _The Skeptical Environmentalist. Newspapers and Magazines publicized his work after he raised doubts about the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol and questioned whether we should be doing anything about Global Warming. McKitrick certainly didn’t suffer after he cowrote his book attacking the idea of global warming. If you look at the list of global warming skeptics, you will see that almost all of them have gotten corporate funding and are not doing badly. People claim that global warming skeptics couldn’t get published, but Climate Research was willing to publish their work. Unfortunately, every one of the articles that claimed to disprove global warming, was easily shown to be based upon poor anaylsis or assertions without research to back up the claims. In the end, half of the members of the editorial board of Climate Research resigned, because the journal published articles despite the objections of some of the editors.

    Now I don’t doubt that there is a stigma in the field to producing articles that are skeptical about global warming, but that stigma is attached to people who aren’t doing real science. For instance, there are global warming skeptics like John Christy and Richard Lindzen who are respected in the field and asked to participate in the IPCC reports, despite the fact that they hold minority views. The difference is that Christy and Lindzen don’t make wild claims which aren’t supported by the data. Unlike Jaworoski, they don’t claim to have research which hasn’t been published and they don’t make stupid mistakes like mixing up radians with degrees like McKitrick.

  336. Amos: I haven’t read Crichton’s _State of Fear_, but I wouldn’t be so eager to promote it as containing any credible analysis.

    Re-read what I wrote. I did not suggest, at all, that Crichton provided credible analysis. Nor did I suggest he didn’t. All I said was that his bibliography was good. I highly recommend his bibliography. It is extensive, detailed and balanced, so far as I can tell.

  337. All the sheepdog’s are screaming from the rooftop’s.

    *Self-styled* sheepdogs (no apostrophe).

    All we here back in return is BAAHHHHH!!!!

    “Bah”, hth.

  338. “diablovision”

    “When they apologize, rationalize, defend, look…” who? what are you talking about ? you are simply making up a strawman.
    you do not know what other people do think. what you and esr are doing is simply a genearlization and dehumanization of some group of people you do not like.

  339. Eric…do you really read the comments you get? If you did you would have noticed that after you posted the Simmon’s article, it wasn’t just a couple of Muslims revealing the truth about Islam but actually, there were a number of people from other religions trying to knock some sense into people ignorant as you. Sadly, it seems you didn’t read any of those comments or else you wouldn’t have been harping about ‘people of the book’, khafir, honour killing etc…etc all over again. Hmmm…or could it be that just like so many others you too are craving for the huge attention you get whenever you write something against Islam? Have you noticed something? The muslims who comment in your blog hasn’t yet told you to ‘shut the fuck up’ despite your rough opinions (a reflection of your ignorance) about our belief? If you are thinking hard enough you just got the definition of “peace-loving”.

    Then moving on to the topic of us being ‘apologists’ hahhahha! You really dont get this do you? The truth never needs any defence. Our comments were just to enlighten the folks here who were asking for it.

    As for your challenge…hmm…that is something Bangladesh (dats where I come from) has already done…perhaps not in the dramatic fashion you potrayed but yes it has been done…read the national newspapers to know more. In case you want to comment about the acts of muslim nations read their papers. Yea…I know that can be a huge job…very tiring but when you take up on accusing some our belief to be the root of terrorism the least you can do is learn about them first and then go posting up challenges and calling us liars.

    I dont know whether Eric, or as a matter of fact, anyone commenting in this blog are realizing the point that what you guys are doing are the exact stuffs that you accuse Islam of doing…bottomline…pulling demarcations between religions…between nations…between people. You still dare to appreciate yourself as different from the suicide bombers and the murderers of 9/11?

    Right when people stopped pouring comments regarding the Simmons story, just when people got engrossed in their daily lives forgetting this hatred against some religion that they dont even choose to follow, you decide to post another blog of the same type. So hungry for attention? Or so deperate to
    make sure the misinterpretations get indelible even among people who never gave a shit about such affairs? Seroiusly Eric, what was the purpose? Be honest.

  340. >You still dare to appreciate yourself as different from the suicide bombers and the murderers of 9/11?

    Yes, I am different. I don’t fly airliners into skyscrapers. I don’t commit mass-murder while screaming “Allahu akbar!”

    The fact that some Christians have become so morally supine and politically correct that they apologize for Islam doesn’t impress me either, if only because I think Christianity is evil at its roots for much the same reasons Islam is.

    Before you lecture me about my supposed “hunger for attention”, clean up your own house. Suppress the psychopaths who hunger for slaughter. Demonstrate that the “Islamic world” is more than a cesspit of barbarians who (in the words of your own Sayyid Qutb) “love death more than we love life”. Repudiate jihad: renounce the aim of bring the whole earth into the dar al-Islam.

    Until I see a majority of Muslims do these things, I will continue to warn that Islam is a cancer that civiliized humans cannot tolerate.

  341. I’ve been trying to weigh in on this discussion for several days now, but the spam filter has not allowed me to post what I’ve written and outright banned me.  That’s why you haven’t seen anything from me.  I’m on a different IP for the moment, and I hope that this one bit of obfuscation will allow me to squeeze this past it.

  342. For those who doubt what is happening in Europe, more from The Netherlands in Christopher Hitchens latest piece in Slate.

    Before being elected to parliament, she [ed: Ayaan Hirsi Ali] worked as a translator and social worker among immigrant women who are treated as sexual chattel—or as the object of “honor killings”—by their menfolk, and she has case histories that will freeze your blood. These, however, are in some ways less depressing than the excuses made by qualified liberals for their continuation. At all costs, it seems, others must be allowed “their culture” and—what is more—must be allowed the freedom not to be offended by the smallest criticism of it.

    When a member of parliament is driven from her own country because the government won’t protect her against thugs and barbarians, it says a lot about who is winning/losing their culture.

  343. Have we managed to set a record for the most comments on an ESR blog? I noticed that this is the 354th comment so far.

    Diablovision,
    I forwarded your comments to some of my friends who got a big kick out of reading about how bigotted, foolish, and hypocritical I am. Everyone thought it was quite funny and several even complented your writing style and creativity.

    It takes a lot of creative energy to come up with an epithet like “flamebait armed with the Encyclopedia of Distorted Moonbat Reality”–maybe I should feel honored that I could provoke so much passion in someone whom I have never met. ;-)

  344. Actually 356 according to the main entry. Sheesh Amos, can’t you ever get it right! ;-) just kidding, but it seemed like fun.

    This is the most comments I recall seeing on a single entry on ESR’s blog. Interesting passions it brought to the surface.

  345. Eric C., your claims about technology increasing oil reserves have been refuted.  Technology (with some exceptions, such as CO2 injection) increases the rate of depletion without affecting the ultimate recovery.  See http://www.economics.rpi.edu/www/workingpapers/rpi0512.pdf

    Anyone (such as yourself) who argues that peak-oilers “play into (whoever’s hands)” are hypocritical.  Anyone who believes your claims will play right into the hands of the Islamists, who will have the majority of the world’s oil reserves regardless of the technology available to pump them.  The only solution to the purchase of terrorism with petrodollars is to convert away from oil as fast as we can, no matter what the other science says.

  346. EP, you clearly don’t understand how oil reserves are actually calculated. I tried to tell you that they have nothing to do with what’s really in the ground, but you don’t want to listen. The US Federal govt has set standards for how a publicly held company with stock traded in the US may calculate and report “proven reserves”. This is based on technology that was state of the art about 1970. When you read that a certain oil field has x amount of barrels in it, that is the basis for that. What is so hard to understand about the idea that a bureaucracy, heavily influenced by the Carter administration, set up rules that don’t reflect reality? This is nothing new in history, yet on this one topic you don’t want to deal with it for some reason?

    I never claimed that technology magically makes a barrel of oil appear that didn’t already exist. I have consistently said:

    1. Current technology allows more oil to be recovered than was previously able to be recovered.
    2. Current technology and prices allow oil to be recovered that was economically feasible in the past (Tar, sand, coal, shale)
    3. Oil producers consistently, for a variety of reasons, provide incorrect and inaccurate estimates of oil reserves.
    4. Significant numbers of the “best and brightest” engineers and academics in the petroleum and geology fields have serious disagreements with Peak Oil theories, based on methodology and economic assumptions.
    5. Peak Oil is a bad theory. The idea that, at some point, the amount of oil remaining on earth will be half what we started with is valid. The idea that it is here now looks pretty false. The idea that the world is going to crash into barbarism, war and a dark age (which is a significant portion of Peak Oil theory) is really bad economic theory combined with a multitude of bad theory on the availability of oil, in general.

    Continuing to promote Peak Oil is playing into the hands of the Luddites. Being realistic about the need to deal with energy resources is reasonable and sound.

  347. There is a vast difference, by the way, between debunking bad science, with Peak Oil is, and asking the question of whether we should continue to buy energy resources from countries like Saudi Arabia. I won’t use bad science to justify good political policy.

  348. Engineer-Poet,
    I agree with you about needing to achieve energy independence, but I wouldn’t argue that we need to acheive energy independence because the oil reserves are going to run out. Fossil fuels from MiddleEastern countries are probably going to be less important in the future in my opinion. _Twilight in the Dessert_ argues that Saudi oil is going to play out sooner rather than latter. The author surveys the literature from all the Saudi fields and concludes that they are taking measures which indicate that the fields are nearing the end of their productive lives. Places like Iraq and Uzbekistan will be producing oil for a long time to come, but we are going to see more hydrocarbons coming from places like Venezuela and Bolivia. Venezuela claims to now have the largest oil reserves in the world. I’m not sure if this is Chavez exaggerating, but OPEC seems to take the claims seriously. Bolivia is sitting on an estimated 250 billion in natural gas. Canada has more oil in its tar sands than any other country, although it will be extremely expensive to extract. Finally, the ocean floor is covered with liquid methane. In the short term, the MiddleEast will receive more petrodollars, but in the long term there will be more diversified sources of hydrocarbon fuels and the MiddleEast will be holding less of a monopoly on fossil fuels.

    The critical question is not how many hydrocarbons are in the ground or ocean, but rather, how much energy is used to extract versus how much energy is gained. The original Saudi oil fields used 1 part energy to extract for 60 parts energy gained. With some of the oil fields today it takes 1 part energy for 4 parts energy gained. The Canada tar sands and the methane at the bottom of the ocean will probably take 1 part energy to extract for 2 parts energy gained. At some point, you expend more energy to extract than the energy gained.

    All of this discussion about oil reserves and Hubbert’s peak is a moot point for me. I think that we should pursue a policy of energy independence to forestall global warming and to prevent the instability and corruption that fossil fuels cause. Both will make our world unsafe. See the pentagon’s recent assessment of the military risks of global warming.

    Fossil fuels seem to be a constant source of conflict, even in countries with long democratic traditions. At the same time, fossil fuels are warping our foreign policy goals, causing the US government to support dictators and undermine democratic movements abroad. In the last decade, the only Latin American countries with overthrows of the government have happened in countries where the ownership and profits from hydrocarbons were being disputed: Equador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. (Argentina has also had frequent changes of government due to the debt crisis, but their presidents resigned, rather than being violently overthrown.)

    Equador has had 7 governments in the last 8 years. Popular revolts keep overthrowing the government partly because the oil profits aren’t benefitting the common people. (People are also revolting because of issues like the switch to US dollars and World Bank and IMF pressure to repay debts, implement neoliberal reforms, and cut social services.) Likewise in Bolivia, In there have been 2 recent violent overthrows of the government partly because people are angry that the profits from the natural gas fields are being exported. A deal to create a natural gas pipeline to Chile set off the revolt which kicked Goni out of power. In Venezuela, Chavez first revolted in 1992 for this same reason, and then was finally elected in 1998 because he promised to redistribute the wealth from the oil. In 2002, a conservative counter-revolution happened because the groups that had once benefitted from the oil profits wanted to return to the old system. In Colombia, a country in a 4 decade long civil war, the ELN rebels keep blowing up the northern oil pipeline and the US is sending money and arms and military advisers to defend it. Likewise, we are building bases in the Equadoran jungle and in Paraquay, near the Bolivian border partly to protect oil assets nearby.

    Needless to say, the US has supported the rights of the transnational oil companies over the rights of these countries to control their own natural resources. For this reason, the IMF and the US government pressured Bolivia in the mid1980s to privatize its oil fields which were previously nationalized. Bolivians only got 18% royalties out of the deal and were so angry that they overthrew two presidents with the demand for renationalization of their hydrocarbons. In Bolivia, Evo Morales is popular because he promised to nationalize the natural gas fields and return the profits to the Bolivian people. When the US ambassador threatened that bad things would happen to Bolivians if they voted for Morales in a previous election, Morales’ popularity jumped overnight and he got enough extra votes to make it into the the runoff round. Nobody in recent history has ever gotten elected president on the first round, but Evo Morales won the last elction on the first round with 57% of the vote. When he didn’t nationalize the gas fields immediately, his popularity dropped 20 points, but he regained it with his announcement on May 1 that the two biggest gas fields would be nationalized with 82% of profits going to the Bolivian government. Of course, the US government is already making rumblings about undermining Morales’ government, just like they tried to do when Chavez also demanded that Venezuelan oil profits stay in their own country.

    Oil is the reason why Ogoni were murdered in the Niger delta with the approval of Royal Dutch Shell. Oil profits have also kept Nigerian dictators in power in the 90s and funded their military. Oil is part of the reason why the Sudanese government is massacring people in Darfur right now. (Diablovision, you will be happy to know that US oil companies don’t seem to have any involvement in this atrocity, although the some US investment funds do have some tenuous links.) OIl and natural gas is the reason that the US government allied itself with Karmizov, the dictator of Uzbekistan, even when he was massacring hundreds pro-democracy activists and torturing thousands more. Our government was so eager to secure oil contracts for US companies that we sent Karimov $650 million in 2003 to beef up his police state which not only keeps Karimov in power, but also enforces a slave labor regime in the cotton fields. Of course, oil is also why the CIA overthrew the Iranian democratic government of Mossadegh in 1953 and returned the Shah to power. And oil profits are also one of the reasons why the current Islamic government of Iran has managed to stay in power since 1978. The Saud royal family would probably have been swept from power a long time ago without the oil profits to basically bribe all the sectors Saudi society into obedience. Finally, oil is one of the root causes behind the Gulf Wars I and II.

    My conclusion is that the US should pursue energy independence policies, so that we no longer have incentives to pursue foreign policies which beef up dictatorships and undermine democracies in the pursuit of fossil fuels. Moreover, there would be more stability in many of these countries without these oil profits. Governments with oil profits don’t have to pay attention to the demands of their people, because they have an independent source of funds. Governments often decide to displace or oppress people in their own countries who might stand in the way of getting at fossil fuels like the Darfurians in Sudan, the Ogoni in Nigeria, the Guarani in Bolivia, and the Amazonian indians in Ecuador. Meanwhile, profits from fossil fuels also create conflict between democratic forces which want to nationalize and redistribute the profits and dictators or plutocracies which want to hoard the oil profits and use them to create stronger militaries to suppress the democratic forces. Unfortunately, we have a long history of allying with the dictators and plutocrats to ensure profits for our corporations and our access to the fossil fuels.

    Of course, I’m am going to be told that I “hate America” for simply pointing out what is happening, but the more important question is why do Americans refuse to believe what is happening abroad. And why do they attack anyone who points out these facts?

    Before you start telling me that I hate America, I would like to point out that I don’t really see most transnational oil corporations as American or belonging to any other nationality. I see transnational corporations as belonging to stockholders all over the world. Wealthy stockholders in Bolivia are just as likely to support ExxonMobile as the average American stockholder. The problem is that Americans keep electing governments that promote the interests of US-based corporations abroad. When a foreign government comes into conflict with a transnational corporation headquartered in the US, the US government interprets it as a sign of anti-Americanism, communism or even terrorism. (I was amused by the efforts of the US state department to label Venezuela as a harborer of terrorists.) Right now Chavez is labeled Anti-American despite the fact that he sells oil to low income communities at reduced prices in the US and gives quiet friendly interviews when he visits the US. When he gets up and denounces Bush as “Senor Danger”, he isn’t denouncing the American people, rather he is denouncing the foreign policy promoted by our president which is quite dangerous to the stability and well-being of the American people.

  349. > The only solution to the purchase of terrorism with petrodollars is to convert away from oil as fast as we can, no matter what the other science says.

    No, that’s not the only solution. An “engineer” who can’t see at least 3 other solutions isn’t much of an engineer.

    Which reminds me – a real engineer might well ask “how many dollars does it take to support terrorism?” and “how does the amount of money spent on terrorism vary with total income?”

  350. You might also ask yourself, once you know how much wealth it takes to support terrorism, if you can close the barn door and actually make any difference. Current petrodollars supporting terrorism is a bogeyman, if you do the analysis. There is already more than enough wealth in the hands of people who have reason to want to, to continue Islamofascist terrorism for a long time to come.

  351. Current petrodollars supporting terrorism is a bogeyman, if you do the analysis.

    This is true, even if you recognize that most petrodollars don’t feed the terrorism beast except in a mostly orthogonal way.

    Look at it this way – petro dollars are the reason that _any_ segment of those societies can at least conceive of a secular, capitalist path to the future. And I bet you would find a strong correlation between the petrodollars that do find their way to terrorism and trust-fund/inheritance/upper-class-welfare in these societies. The people funding the terrorists aren’t employing capitalism, they are only reaping the rewards through their uncle/cousin/royal family member who is.

    The problem isn’t the money. It’s the lack of freedom.

  352. ESR- Yes I am different. I don’t fly airliners into skyscrapers. I don’t commit mass-murder while screaming “Allahu akbar!”

    I am sorry if I couldn’t clarify before. I wasn’t talking about the act. I was talking about the ‘mensrea’ or what you would know as ‘intention’. And no, you are not very different than them. Both of you have a common purpose. Igniting people against others is what you both are upto…and religion???? That’s just an excuse both of you use as a shield.
    Ever heard of the Tamil Tigers? Yea…they blasted their own president, then India’s Prime Minister (Rajiv Gandhi) using suicide bombers. Their argument was “Rights is more necessary than Peace”. In case you are wondering, they are not Muslims. They are all Hindus. Surprised? So next you would be posting stuffs against the Baghavat Gita and Hinduism? I doubt it. Now you might want to mutter away “that doesn’t give the Muslims an excuse to..bla..bla…bla..” So in an attempt to make it very clear to you, the tamil tiger info wasn’t an excuse. Babarian acts always existed. It was there in the Pre-Islamic era, during the Egyptian and the Roman era. It exists not because of any religion. It is there because it’s in our nature.
    I am sure neopaganism doesn’t ask people to question other religions. Nor does it give you the responsibility to defame a class of people as ‘barbarians’ just because you don’t happen to share their beliefs. But still you’ve repeatedly done it. Should I blame it on your brains or on your religious beliefs?

    >Suppress the psychopaths who hunger for slaughter

    Suppressing psychopaths is not an easy job. Whether they are hungry for slaughter, bombing, defaming or lime-light. You guys don’t have the sense or sensibility to understand logic. Not that you don’t understand it. You just pretend not to understand, we call it the teleological approach:)

    >The fact that some Christians have become so morally supine and politically correct that they apologize for Islam doesn’t impress me either

    Sure, it must feel like a mules kick in the ass when someone else proves that you are being as dumb as a lamp-post.

    a beintot!!!

  353. > They are all Hindus. Surprised?

    No. We know that some Hindus are murderous thugs.

    However, we also know that there are significant populations of Hindus living relatively peacefully among/next to non-Hindus.

    I’ll repeat my question – where are significant populations of Muslims living relatively peacefully among/next to non-Muslims. I’m aware of one, but it isn’t a good argument for “Muslims are always peaceful”.

    How should we deal with folks who have trouble living among people unlike themselves?

  354. Andy, it seems you love asking question just for the sake of bantering on with this silly topic (not trying to be offensive or anything)…. Its frustrating to watch how you miss the point after all the hard and ‘intellectual’ deliberations.

    >How should we deal with folks who have trouble living among people unlike themselves

    Hiltler wasn’t muslim but he seemed to have had trouble sleeping with the thought that Jews existed. The two world wars wasn’t started by the muslims. But that’s ancient history right? I would love to harp about USA’s current government’s zealousness over bombing every muslim states but I am sure you’re smart enough to get my point. Now if you want to bring in that Laden topic here. I would recommend you watch 9/11 again and judge objectively. And then perhaps you can answer me regarding how we should deal with people who has trouble living with people unlike themselves or to be more precise has trouble minding their own business.

    >I’ll repeat my question – where are significant populations of Muslims living relatively peacefully among/next to non-Muslims. I’m aware of one, but it isn’t a good argument for “Muslims are always peaceful”.

    I have no idea which place you are aware of, but I am not going to support my view on stuffs that we get to know through media. I’ll tell you about my real life experience. In India, we are living quite peacefully among the hindus. Hell! The thought of who’s-of-what-religion doesn’t even cross our mind. But yea…now you would definately want to prove me wrong by what you’ve concieved through media. You just won’t get it until you’ve lived with us here. So I don’t see the point in debating about this any further.

    One lunatic, bombing innocent children doesn’t make the nation he is representing or the religion he believes in evil. So one bearded bastard flying into sky scrapers doesn’t shouldn’t make the religion he got into by birth any more evil don’t you think?

  355. I note that Mehrin didn’t bother to identify any place where significant numbers of Muslims are living near/among significant numbers of non-Muslims without there being significant amounts of violence involving said Muslims and said non-Muslims. Isn’t it odd that a “religion of peace” always seems to find war?

    S\He seems to think that the existence of other violent people somehow excuses the fact that Muslims don’t seem to be able to get along with any non-Muslims. S\He is wrong.

    Yes, there are other groups with the same problem. There are also groups without that problem.

  356. hi all,
    I feel soory for what you thinking about islam and how you understood it. Islam i a peaceful relgion but since it mixed with politics it became the Islam that you see on TV right now. I never say that Islam changed bu the islam that you see it on TV is so different from the real life’s Islam.
    anybody wants to reply? more than happy to write you back. (sha.2@hotmail.com)
    thanks.

  357. > I’ll tell you about my real life experience. In India, we are living quite peacefully among the hindus.

    Kashmir.

    Yes, that’s India’s fault. I’m pointing out that whenever there’s a large population of Muslims near a large population of non-Muslims, the Muslims always have a good excuse for violence.

  358. >I’m pointing out that whenever there’s a large population of Muslims near a large population of non-Muslims, the Muslims always have a good excuse for violence.

    Cognizant. I guess its based on the unwritten law that the stronger ones always bullies the weaker ones. Its just like when the germans (oops! nazis) had a problem with the Jews, East India Company had a problem with the Indian Rajas, Syrian Christians had a problem with the paravans, america had a problem with the red-indians, japan had a problem with the samurias, the whites had a problem with the blacks… and now West has a problem with the East.
    History has repeatedly potrayed the spoilt brat who kicked around his dog solely for the reason to feel superior…to have some authority over it…and there are more than few instances where the dog has charged back. Bitten the boy into bits. The dog becomes a hero then. Provocation is a defence.

    By the way, since you had trouble understanding my gender from my name, I am female. I am a journalist and a Law student.

  359. >the Muslims always have a good excuse for violence.

    When you say Muslim, you are actually including every single muslim in the world. Now how is that fair? Ofcourse, ofcourse you must have a ‘good’ reason behind that. What the heck! We are easy targets.

    Lets take you back in time. Iraq didn’t fly all the way to America to be bombed. Nor did Afganistan. They are not even anywhere near the non-muslim state that attacked them. Right, the search for Bin Laden had to go through…sure…then the people had to be saved from the deadly grips of the Talibans…true. Doesn’t these sound like excuses to you for invading a foreign country? To me it does. Quite good excuses for violence. Not that I think that Laden should have been spared nor do I think the people there should have been left to be oppressed. No I don’t. Bin Laden deserved death more than anyone. But when one sprays aerosol to kill mosquitoes they don’t kill the people they are actually trying to save from bites. Aerosols are made that way. Who knows how many children lost their parents/ home/legs/arms/lives/future because of the reckless search shaded by a very good excuse. Now you might argue that the afgans never really had a life nor a future under the Talibans…true. And now they have freedom…true. But would you want to trade your arms and legs or your husband or wife for freedom? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want to see my children walk around one armed. I wouldn’t want to bury my husband’s distorted body. I wouldn’t want to be a weeping widow for the rest of my life and all for the sake of freedom. I wouldn’t want to trade my family for freedom. Family means more than freedom to me and to any sane person who has one. Remember David Pearl? Who knows what amount of pain his wife had to endure hearing her husband’s death in that gruesome manner…and his child who would never know what a father actually is. Think off all those American soldiers who gave up their lives in the process. Hundred of years back soldiers died for the king they never met and today they are still dying for a president they never met. How can anyone console those lives shattered by that war? How can they be compensated? Money? Well, how much does a dead brother cost? Ofcourse, Mr. President has excuses, legitimate reasons for all the pains inflicted.

    As for Iraq, You think life really has changed for them? You are living in a fairy tale then. Nothing has changed. It was worse before and it’s still the same. Visit Iraq sometimes. You won’t feel the pain flicking through the news channel from your comfortable homes. See for yourself what they endure everyday. You don’t need to be reporter for that. You just need to have a heart.

    Then the threats of War with Venezuala. Cmon! I own something. I’ll sell it to whoever I want. What’s your problem? Sure even this time there is a ready-made excuse:China.

    You still want to stick to what you said?

  360. >the Muslims always have a good excuse for violence.

    When you say Muslim, you are actually including every single muslim in the world. Now how is that fair? Ofcourse, ofcourse you must have a ‘good’ reason behind that. What the heck! We are easy targets.

    Lets take you back in time. Iraq didn’t fly all the way to America to be bombed. Nor did Afganistan. They are not even anywhere near the non-muslim state that attacked them. Right, the search for Bin Laden had to go through…sure…then the people had to be saved from the deadly grips of the Talibans…true. Doesn’t these sound like excuses to you for invading a foreign country? To me it does. Quite good excuses for violence. Not that I think that Laden should have been spared nor do I think the people there should have been left to be oppressed. No I don’t. Bin Laden deserved death more than anyone. But when one sprays aerosol to kill mosquitoes they don’t kill the people they are actually trying to save from bites. Aerosols are made that way. Who knows how many children lost their parents/ home/legs/arms/lives/future because of the reckless search shaded by a very good excuse. Now you might argue that the afgans never really had a life nor a future under the Talibans…true. And now they have freedom…true. But would you want to trade your arms and legs or your husband or wife for freedom? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want to see my children walk around one armed. I wouldn’t want to bury my husband’s distorted body. I wouldn’t want to be a weeping widow for the rest of my life and all for the sake of freedom. I wouldn’t want to trade my family for freedom. Family means more than freedom to me and to any sane person who has one. What about you?

    Remember David Pearl? Who knows what amount of pain his wife had to endure hearing her husband’s death in that gruesome manner…and his child who would never know what a father actually is. Think off all those American soldiers who gave up their lives in the process. Hundred of years back soldiers died for the king they never met and today they are still dying for a president they never met. How can anyone console those lives shattered by that war? How can they be compensated? Money? Well, how much does a dead brother cost? Ofcourse, Mr. President has excuses, legitimate reasons for all the pains inflicted.

    As for Iraq, You think life really has changed for them? You are living in a fairy tale then. Nothing has changed. It was worse before and it’s still the same. Visit Iraq sometimes. You won’t feel the pain flicking through the news channel from your comfortable homes. See for yourself what they endure everyday. You don’t need to be reporter for that. You just need to have a heart.

    Then the threats of War with Venezuala. Cmon! I own something. I’ll sell it to whoever I want. What’s your problem? Sure even this time there is a ready-made excuse:China.

    You still want to stick to what you said?

  361. Mehrin,

    Venezuela is not a problem.

    Since they nationalized their oil, and limit oil workers to the politically reliable output is declining.

    War will not be necessary. They will collapse from their own internal (Marxist) contradictions.

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

    Islam has bloody borders. You can look it up on a map.

  362. The first time in history when christians, jews and muslims lived in a real harmony and peace was under islamic rule in Andalusia!!!

    So please STOP puting all muslims on the same spot, desperate people hang on whathever they can (and desperation is not only poverety) and in muslim countries (whom live hard times the last century, thanks to America) Islam (and better perverted one) is a kind of a solution.

    It really make me sad that you insult me, calling me hypocrite for no reason.

    I want you, sir, to go to a synagogue and shout to jews there that Israel is an Apartheid (which she is), If you can’t do it so you are an hypocrite.

    Really sad to hear that from a person that gived a lot to free software, anyway live is full of deception and this is another one.

    Peace be upon you

    zouhair

  363. Some here sayed that progressist muslims failed to stop extremist one, the problem is by making such judgement on Islam (no recourse possible) makes harder again

    Other thing, most arab and islamic countries are ruled by despots, and America is friend to almost all of them (Egypt, Lybia, Algeria, Pakistan..) and won’t let those leaders down because they are there for hers benefits. And who suffer from that all progressist muslims out there who found themselves in a big mess. With those despots in power only muslims extremists have the structure to provide help to a vast poor population (and recruit by the same way).

    So Thanks America again!!! we don’t ask America to help us

    JUST LEAVE US THE F*** ALONE DEAL WITH OUR PROBLEMS

    Peace be upon you

    zouhair

  364. > The first time in history when christians, jews and muslims lived in a real harmony and peace was under islamic rule in Andalusia!!!

    Islam can be peaceful when it is in charge. The point is that Islam isn’t peaceful when it isn’t in charge.

    Yes, America, like most peoples and countries, is occasionally violent. The point is that Islam is violent whenever it has the opportunity.

    I do like the double standard. If we take out a tyrant in a mostly-Muslim country, we’re bad. If we support a tyrant running a mostly Muslim country, we’re bad. Since we’re going to be bad no matter what we do, why shouldn’t we do whatever is in our best interests?

  365. > Some here sayed that progressist muslims failed to stop extremist one, the problem is by making such judgement on Islam (no recourse possible)

    Actually, recourse is possible. You just have to change your behavior to get it.

    If you want folks to believe that there’s a difference between “progressive Muslims” and radical terrorist ones, then the “progressive” Muslims are going to have to stop defending and supporting the terrorist ones. Hint – if your response to “terrorist Muslims are bad” is “America is bad”, you’re defending the terrorist Muslims.

    When meaningful distinctions exist between Muslims, we can talk about treating different Muslims differently.

  366. > I guess its based on the unwritten law that the stronger ones always bullies the weaker ones.

    Always? Like the Germans are currently fighting the French and Poles? Like Canada, Mexico, and the US have been fighting for the past 200 years?

    Yes, France and Germany have been at war. The point is that they’ve also been at peace. The borders between non-Muslims are often peaceful. The borders between Muslims and non-Muslims, not so much.

    BTW – Muslim Spain several hundred years ago isn’t all that relevant.

    Which reminds me, if Muslim Spain is acceptable, then why isn’t Israel? Muslims weren’t native to Spain – they won it by conquest.

  367. Well that’s just plain racist. I mean, The Qoran doesn’t say “Kill non believers” It says they will go to hell. It’s just that STUPID terrorists go and blow up stuff then say “It’s in the name of Islam” They are just doing this so Muslim people who are not well educated would support them. They MISSINTERPRET the Qoran then act on it, which they are stupid for doing so. Please do not mix Terorrisim with Islam ESR, I believe you to be smarter than that. I mean you were my role model for God’s sakes. I read your Jargon file, I read your Guide on how to become a hacker, I put the glider in all my forum signatures. What the terrorists do is their responsibility. The Qoran specificly states that it will be God that will punish non-beleivers, not humanity.

  368. > It’s just that STUPID terrorists go and blow up stuff then say “It’s in the name of Islam”

    Yet, other Muslims refuse to do anything about said terrorists. When pressed, they defend said terrorists.

  369. BH says: This is a misleading question. I would hazard a guess that most people who oppose the war in Iraq do not believe ‘Islamic dhimmitude’ is approaching or that this is not an effective way to fight it. This forum is yet to produce a convincing argument as to how it is that the West is going to roll-over and die.

    Here is my view of what is happening in the Middle East. The region is politically unstable, and it is sitting on the blood that powers Western Civilization.

    In the last ten years two major figures have emerged: Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, who have tried to unite the Araba world. Saddam Hussein used Arab Nationalism to try to do it, and OBL used Islamic Fundamentalism to do it.

    What would the world look like with a United Middle East? Pretty scary. Given Western disunity, one could imagine the ME driving a wedge between Europe and the US, and further pulling China, India, and other Asian nations into the orbit (probably not Japan given its heavy reliance on nuclear power). US debt and markets aren’t going to keep these countries engaged if they can’t get oil.

    I think a UME would greatly threaten the US and its position in the world, and given I believe the US is the most trustworthy powerful nation perhaps ever, I have to say it’s not in my interests.

    Will the West die? No, but it could be greatly diminished, leading to a future when it is simply an economic backwater, isolated from most of its current allies.

  370. Try doing what you ask in any commited (and by that I mean where people take their faith seriously (to the point of being evangelical about it)) and tell me what reaction would you expect ?

    Instead of welcoming people who advocate a more peaceful interpretation you turn on them. You obviously have no understanding or respect for the concept of tolerance.

    Please turn to any chapter in western history and try to identify where force-led police action, of the kind you are advocating with your “inciteful” posturing, has ever resulted in long term success !

  371. >Try doing what you ask in any commited (and by that I mean where people take their faith seriously (to the point of being evangelical about it)) and tell me what reaction would you expect ?

    Mostly hostility and anger, of course. It’s the right thing to do nevertheless, and ‘peace-loving’ Muslims who refuse to confront and reject the terrorists and hatemongers are still hypocrites and enablers for the terrorists.

    >Instead of welcoming people who advocate a more peaceful interpretation you turn on them.

    I have no problem with ‘turning on’ hypocrites. Their good intentions do me no good at all when the only effect is to provide cover for evildoers; they might as well be the enemy.

    >Please turn to any chapter in western history and try to identify where force-led police action, of the kind you are advocating with your “inciteful” posturing, has ever resulted in long term success !

    The British successfully wiped out the Thuggee murder cult in India. Islam is begging for a similar fate.

  372. Ok, both Christianity and Islam have shifted from being predominantly tolerant to being ridiculously intolerant. It is likely that Islam has been _far_ more tolerant throughout its history than Christianity. Only recently has the concept of radical, intolerant Islam come to the fore.

    All this bickering between religions that share so much of the same history makes zero sense….to me. Then again, I believe that religions cause more harm than good.

    Cheers,

    - Brendan

  373. Salam, hi all i would like to include that islam is a beautiful religon it talks about peace and about people are all the same no diffrence between them and the religons b4 are all related to islam and says that we have one GOD and that God is ALLAH we should all understand that ALLAH is the one and only one who create everything we see and Mohhameed is his profit why dont you all read about islam believe you wont lose anything if you just read and learn about ISLAM and you should listen or read from people that know will from islam not people like the torrest. Thank you all for reading (Fahad From Kuwait).

  374. The problem with religious extremism is that you cannot argue against it. There is no logical argument against “God says *”. You either have to accept it, or reject it.
    Personally, I feel people have the right to beleive whatever they like, either individually or in groups. However, when that belief spills over into matters that affect people outside those cliques, when it affects me, then it becomes my business, I have a right to an opinion. I have a right for the state to protect me from religious zealots just as the state protects peoples right to hold those beliefs. As Eric stated (perhaps more forcibly than I would have done, but then again I’m English so I’m allowed to be ‘reserved’!), if someone is using a group you identify with to promote unacceptable behaviour, then it is your responsibility to ensure that the your groups condemn unacceptable behaviour, and ensure that the ‘leaders’ of your community reflect those beliefs.

    The problem that Islam has (in the UK at least) is that they have allowed themselves to become isolated communities who still identify themselves with the countries that their forefathers came from. When terrorists strike in the name of Islam, intil recently they have for various reasons not distanced themselves publicly from the acts. And many of those promoting and supporting those terrorists do so from properties and organisations owned by ‘mainstream’ muslim organisations unapposed.

    However, I do feel it is a little extreme to compare all of Islam to the Thuggee Murder Cult – It’s a bit like condemning all Christians because of the actions of far right “religious” organisations like the Ku Klux Klan. When I was a student (back in the day!) I studied the Quoran for a while (at the time I was a Pentecostal and I agreed to read it in exchange for a muslim friend of mine reading the Bible) and I found that the two documents where similar in nature – that is, open to (mis)interpretation. “Infidels” are at no more risk from the Quoran than they are from the Old Testament – It’s just how you interpret it in the context of the whole.

    These days I no longer feel any affiliation to any religious organisation or book for many reasons. but I live in a multicultural area, and have several devoted muslim friends who are wonderful people. They are as horrified by the events of the last few years as I am; their reaction to the military actions in Iraq are probably more pointed than mine for they have family out there. Like me they feel that:
    1) The Muslim leadership should have been quicker to speak against those that promoted the false sense of opression that allowed the extremists to build a base in the British community
    2) That the British and American Government has fueled the existing unrest in these communities by going into Iraq.
    The latter point is not, I should add, a statement that we should not have done what we did – I just think that we should have been a little more sure of our chances of finding the WMD’s before using that as a primary reason for going in. To retro-fit Al Qaeda into the Iraq conflict when there is little evidence to link the two has just made our governments look even more culpable, and sidelined the more real reasons that the action may have been necessary (I’m not convinced either way as yet).

    Anyhow, as in all conflicts, the important thing is not to sit around arguing over how we got in this mess and who’s fault it is, but to try to agree on how we’re going to get out of it safely!

  375. I have lived and worked in Saudi Arabia and a bigger bunch of hypochrites you would work hard to find. On the plane to Saudi the Arabs would be shoving alcoholic drinks down their throats as fast as they could yet still have the prayer mats out in the isles. When the plane arrived in Saudi they would stagger down the ramp pissed as farts but ready to give the Philipino servants a good kicking.

  376. it really doesn’t matter what the Koran says as Moslems claim. this religion and the way it is taught to the children, to my openion, produces a permanent seed of extremists that will shy of nothing when it come to destruction of people and property. and I don’t accept the argument that Islam is about 500 years behind christianity and therefore this era will also pass and they become civilized at some point!. the era of crusades did not have a world of civilized nations around them and world was not connected through Internet.to call islamic relegion as the most dangerous breeding ground for production of never ending extremists, is only an under estimate!!

  377. You rightly challenge the apologists for Islam to “stand up in [their]
    mosque and declaim, loudly, that religious violence is an
    abomination against Allah … ”

    The leaders of at least one Muslim organization have done exactly that: see the following link for the full text (translated into English) of the fatwa issued by La Comisión Islámica de España against Osama bin Laden and Al Qa’ida — http://www.culturekitchen.com/archives/002868.html

  378. Great minds think alike apparently.

    I tell almost the same thing, but somehow they end up getting very poor in debating.

  379. Hi.
    I am disagree with you.In most part of quran we will find that.freedom is the most worthy thing that god give us.I will tell some parts of quran:
    we have honored the children of adam and carried them on both land and sea. we have provided them with good things and greatly preferred them above much of our creation.(Isra 70)
    we offered the trust to the heavens, and the earth, and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid of it, and the human carried it. surely, he is a harmdoer, and ignorant.(ahzab 72)(most of open minded moslims say this trust was freedom)
    by the soul and who shaped it.and inspired it with its sin and its piety,prosperous is he who purified it,and failed is he who buried it!(shams 7,8,9,10)
    these are what I remember.

  380. There is material online that mentions the quote by George Bernard Shaw as a hoax in 1936 by a Muslim writer who interviewed Shaw.
    http://wikiislam.net/wiki/George_Bernard_Shaw

    excerpted from the article>>>
    However, according to the International Shaw Society treasurer Richard F Dietrich, who had compiled a complete list of Shaw’s works, The Genuine Islam is “bogus”.[2] No such book exists. The origin of this hoax is an interview between Shaw and Muslim propagandist Maulana Mohammed Abdul Aleem Siddiqui published in a Muslim periodical in January 1936.

    Rachel Baxendale of The Australian explained, “[The Muslim periodical] contains a quotation which describes Mohammed as the “saviour of humanity” and Islam as having “wonderful vitality” and “the chance to rule of Britain, nay Europe, in the next hundred years”, but these are not recorded as the words of Shaw. The quotation appears in a separate quotation box without attribution, and not in the main body of the interview. However, the main body of the interview does feature Shaw challenging Siddiqui from a rationalist perspective.”[2]

    As with many of these fabrications, the truth is the opposite of what is claimed. The International Shaw Society treasurer pointed out that Shaw described the religion of Islam in a 1933 letter to the Rev. Ensor Walters in the following way:

    “Islam is very different, being ferociously intolerant. What I may call Manifold Monotheism becomes in the minds of very simple folk an absurdly polytheistic idolatry, just as European peasants not only worship Saints and the Virgin as Gods, but will fight fanatically for their faith in the ugly little black doll who is the Virgin of their own Church against the black doll of the next village. When the Arabs had run this sort of idolatry to such extremes [that] they did this without black dolls and worshipped any stone that looked funny, Mahomet rose up at the risk of his life and insulted the stones shockingly, declaring that there is only one God, Allah, the glorious, the great… And there was to be no nonsense about toleration. You accepted Allah or you had your throat cut by someone who did accept him, and who went to Paradise for having sent you to Hell.”[3]
    <<<

  381. Here’s another page explaining the same event.

    http://idlethink.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/being-an-unforgivably-protracted-debunking-of-george-bernard-shaws-views-of-islam/

    >>>
    Shaw nourished his fascination with religion around the early 1930s with a series of trips around the world, seemingly undertaken in large part to inspect religions in different societies — in Egypt, in Africa, in India, the Far East and Southeast Asia, North America, and at one point even to New Zealand. In 1933 he had this to say about Hinduism and Islam in a letter to the Reverend Ensor Walters:

    [In Egypt and India] the apparent multiplicity of Gods is bewildering at the first glance; but you presently discover that they are all the same one God in different aspects and functions and even sexes. There is always one uttermost God who defies personification. This makes Hinduism the most tolerant religion in the world, because its one transcendent God includes all possible Gods…Hinduism is so elastic and so subtle that the profoundest Methodist and the crudest idolater are equally at home in it.

    Islam is very different, being ferociously intolerant. What I may call Manifold Monotheism becomes in the minds of very simple folk an absurdly polytheistic idolatry, just as European peasants not only worship Saints and the Virgin as Gods, but will fight fanatically for their faith in the ugly little black doll who is the Virgin of their own Church against the black doll of the next village. When the Arabs had run this sort of idolatry to such extremes [that] they did this without black dolls and worshipped any stone that looked funny, Mahomet rose up at the risk of his life and insulted the stones shockingly, declaring that there is only one God, Allah, the glorious, the great… And there was to be no nonsense about toleration. You accepted Allah or you had your throat cut by someone who did accept him, and who went to Paradise for having sent you to Hell. Mahomet was a great Protestant religious force, like George Fox or Wesley….

    There is actually a great Hindu sect, the Jains, with Temples of amazing magnificence, which abolish God, not on materialist atheist considerations, but as unspeakable and unknowable, transcending all human comprehension.2

    Shaw was to go on to observe that “before Mahomet and the founder of the Jains were dead in their graves”, the religions they had founded had already begun to ‘backslide’ into polytheism, and “all the Gods and no Gods became hopelessly mixed up, exactly as the Apostles backslid when Jesus was killed”. A decade later, his views on Islam did not seem to have changed in essence from this; and furthermore, his remarks in 1947 show that he had not in fact taken seriously any of what His Eminence had explained to him about the nature of Heaven and Hell in Islam. In the interview, Shaw had asked the Maulana: “[How can you] possibly present the picture of Heaven and Hell, which is portrayed in the Qur’an, in a manner convincing to persons conversant with science, whose minds are inured to accept nothing without visible or palpable proof?” to which His Eminence reeled off a long explanation, relying largely on the usual argument of metaphor, as well as some cutting edge mangling of atomic theory. Shaw largely ignored this, and retained his conviction right up to his 1947 letter to Mabel Annie Stobart that Muslim Hell was something “reinvented by Mohammad”, “a very frightful hell, of disgusting diseases and no houris; [but] the sort of place that the Arabs could understand and believe in; and it put the fear of God into them”.3 Incidentally, he seems also to have retained his deep respect for Jainism.

    Given his views on the tendency of religion to ‘backslide’ once deprived of the strong authority figure (and in this one discerns traces of his peculiar respect for Stalin and other fascist dictators) it’s no wonder that in the interview he persistently asks the Maulana whether or not he can be so sure that this is in fact what the Qur’an says, or whether he can be sure that other ‘more orthodox’ or ‘present day’ Muslims would share his balanced views (he asks this at least twice). This probing, despite the genial tone of the whole conversation, is what stays with me, and what makes [C] for me, along with its slightly dubious origins, something I would at the very least hesitate to cite so freely, let alone with such unscholarly wantonness as has been exhibited in its proliferation all over the internet.
    <<<

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