Tuesday, December 06, 2005

December 6, 2005

For some reason Iraq the Model and Hammorabi both refer to Ramsey Clark as Ramzi Clark, though that isn't really the spelling of his name.

US Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte has made a surprise visit to Manila on the same day that the Embassy was shut down to a bomb threat.

Iran is inching closer to attaining a nuclear weapons capability. There are doubts whether it can now be averted by diplomacy or whether anyone dares stop it by force.

Yahoo is reporting that a female suicide bomber killed 27 Iraqis at a police academy.


It's common to regard the story of the war on terror as a single narrative. But in reality it consists of multiple streams, which is why, despite the efforts of Representative Murtha, it will be hard to shut down. In Kazakhstan, North Waziristan, Southeast Asia, the banlieus of France, the Horn of Africa and in the Middle East, history is on the move. The only choice America really had on September 11 was to either hold itself aloof from events shaking the world or engage them.

In retrospect, there was tremendous resistance to the idea that the certainties of the 1990s had finally come to an end. Many secretly hoped that the War on Terror would be a temporary excursion into Afghanistan after which we could go back to sequestering carbon, expanding the European Union and spreading the mantle of transnationalism over the whole world. Very few were prepared for the possibility that everthing had changed; and like the generation of 1914 we would never be 'home before the leaves fall'.

That those expectations went unmet had to be someone's fault; and what better scapegoat than President George W. Bush. Had national intelligence been better, the War in Iraq more carefully planned, more troops deployed, Europe consulted more thoroughly, we could have all come back to the world as it was on September 10, 2001. What Congressman Murtha really wanted was not a withdrawal in space, but a withdrawal in time. But even tactical perfection in the military and diplomatic spheres could not have held back events. Following the climate conference in Montreal last week I was struck by the impression that despite its rhetoric Kyoto was not about the future; it was about the past.

At some point the political discourse will change from its obsession with the past -- the 911 commission, the Valerie Plame affair -- and start being about the present. It will be interesting to see which of the major Presidential candidates explicitly does this. Maybe at around the time the Twin Towers are rebuilt.


Blogger Gandalin said...

I think they call him "Ramzi Clark" for the same reason that I call our worst ex-President "Dhimmi Carter" -- the appellation reveals something about his underlying orientation. Ramzi Clark is an outspoken defender of torture and mass murder -- but only when they are committed by Saddam Hussein or some other socialist enemy of the United States.

12/06/2005 04:25:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...


Excellent observations as usual.

Current events come at us more quickly, as if the world were turning faster.

Harder to plan for the future? Most of our leaders have given up trying.

OT: I would like to salute any remaining survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack.

When I was a young man, I worked for a certain John N. who had been on the USS California that fateful morning. He was picked up by another ship that headed out to confront the Japanese fleet & was unaccounted for. Back in his home town, they conducted funeral services for him.

Many years later, after I had come to know him well and admire his qualities, I had the distinction of attending his second funeral in his home town. Later that year our son was born; our second son - John N.

12/06/2005 04:50:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Isn't that just like the liberals.

When they're in power, they de-prepare the military.

When we're in power, they blame us for not being prepared.

12/06/2005 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

LA Times
Ghost of Napoleon haunts Tony Blair
The divergence of Britain from the Continent can be traced to Bonaparte's greatest victory 200 years ago -- and his enduring legacy.
Niall Ferguson

December 5, 2005

IT IS IN Book III of "War and Peace" that Tolstoy memorably describes the Battle of Austerlitz — "the battle of the three emperors" — the 200th anniversary of which fell on Friday. This was the greatest victory of Napoleon Bonaparte's career. At the time, it seemed far more important than his navy's defeat at Trafalgar two months before. Its consequences are still with us.

By routing the combined armies of Austria and Russia, Austerlitz enabled Napoleon literally to redraw the map of Europe, conjuring up a new Confederation of the Rhine from the Baltic to the Alps.

Moreover, by obliging the Austrian Emperor Francis to renounce the title of Holy Roman Emperor, Napoleon snuffed out an institution that had been at the heart of Europe for more than a millennium.

Napoleon's idea of Europe was double-edged. On the one hand, he overthrew decadent dynasties such as the Bourbons of Naples and established what was to become the model for Continental legal systems, the Code Napoléon. Later, in exile, he claimed that he had "wished to found a European system, a European code of laws, a European judiciary" so that "there would be one people in Europe." Yet, at the same time, Napoleonic Europe was without question an authoritarian empire.

What finally killed Napoleon's Europe was the fatal combination of the English Channel and the Russian winter. Nevertheless, it proved impossible to restore the old pre-Napoleonic Europe.

Napoleon fell; Bonapartism lived on, with the civil code and economic dirigisme as perhaps its most enduring legacies.

And how they have endured! Ask yourself what are the biggest differences between England and the Continent?

The answer is that the Europeans have Napoleonic law and economics, and the English, whom he did not conquer, have common law and the free market.

Which is why Tony Blair must often feel that Napoleon's ghost has come back to haunt him. As prime minister of the country that currently holds the presidency of the European Union, Blair not unreasonably expects to play a leading role in European affairs. Yet his efforts to reform the EU's budget have brought him into collision with almost anyone who has an opinion on this baffling subject.

Frankly, the details don't much matter. But the nonsensical system epitomizes that fundamental non-meeting of British and continental European minds, which is the reason the 30-year cross-Channel marriage has been so troubled.

Yet perhaps, on reflection, it is not quite right to ascribe Blair's difficulties to the persistence of the Bonapartist tradition on the Continent.

For one thing, I am no longer sure how committed the English really are to either their own legal tradition or their own economic tradition. At the same time, on closer inspection, the EU, as presently constituted, looks less like the rationalized Europe of Napoleon's dreams and more like the ancien régime Europe he tried to get rid of.

Voltaire famously said of the Holy Roman Empire that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Perhaps something similar could be said of the EU, which seems less European and less united with every passing year. For how much longer will the EU really be European, given the profound demographic changes that are inexorably increasing the Muslim share of its population — to say nothing of Turkey, negotiating to become its newest and, before long, biggest member?

And is the enlarged European Union really a union, in the sense that the United States or the United Kingdom are, or something more like a Eurabian Disunion? At best it is a confederation. At worst it's a mess of overlapping treaties and jurisdictions.

In our age of attention deficit disorders, 200 years can seem an impossibly long time ago. Yet the bicentenary of Austerlitz is more than a matter of antiquarian curiosity. For remembering how Napoleon killed off the Holy Roman Empire not only helps to illuminate the subsequent divergence of Britain from the European continent, it also may give us an inkling of the future.

Who, I wonder, will be the next Napoleon — the one who rides into Brussels to sweep away the Holy Roman Empire of our time?

12/06/2005 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

re: reactionary rejection of 9-11. Yes. The Elites would like nothing better than to return to a time when the takers could tell the makers how worthless and base they are, nothing but beasts of burden fit to be ridden by their betters.

9-11 (and Katrina-like natural disasters) remind us all (voters) how cruel the world is, what's important, and why feel-good emotionalism has never been the recipe for survival.

12/06/2005 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger Thomas the Wraith said...

As Mark Steyn once wrote, Bush is a polarizing figure because these are polarizing times.

Don't underestimate the allure of isolationism. It is a permanent trait of American political psychology. It is very attractive to people on both the Left and the Right (for different reasons). Presidents since FDR have worked hard to suppress this tendancy in the American body politic. Indeed this has worked so well for so long that many Americans have forgotten just how powerful the appeal of isolationism is.

The Democrats are now resurrecting the logic of isolationism with regards to Iraq. But like the creature in a thousand horror films, once re-animated it will not obey any commands. It will act of its own accord.

If the US withdraws from Iraq, the logic of isolationism will stalk the land mutating quickly from Iraq to any and every other foreign deployment. After Iraq why not Afghanistan? After Afghanistan, why not Kosovo? Bosnia? Korea?

History is indeed on the march but an increasing number of Americans want to go inside, close the door and hope that it just passes them by.

12/06/2005 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger EddieP said...

Even if America had chosen to hold itself aloof from the events of 9-11, it would have been temporary. The WOT or whatever one chooses to call it was/is going to be fought. The only question was when. Osama's Afgani training camps had been turning out trained terrorists for years, he declared war on the US in 1996. There are Jihadi operations around the world, wishing or withdrawing will not appease them nor make them go away. They insist on violent confrontation, and we cannot hide. Our only choice is to fight them on our terms where possible and otherwise attempt to disrupt their financing and support organization. It is a monumental struggle which will occupy all of us for years to come.

12/06/2005 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger PD Quig said...

The Baby Boomers' preferred direction of gaze is to the past..and their two greatest achievements: ending the war in Vietnam and bringing down Nixon. When the Democrat Congressional tide of 1974 ensured that America cut off the air supply to our allies, 2 million people met their deaths. The neo-isolationist Left is content to repeat this stain on our national soul because it will save American lives. This, of course, is an absurdity--but one that just might be sold to a war-weary America if things in Iraq don't settle down after the elections.

12/06/2005 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

The disappointment of liberal expectations explains the anger I observe in many liberals. It's directed toward this country and Bush because it's easy. The anger is flavored with romance--the romance of dissent.

Dissent is romantic and attractive--it's independent, courageous, "speaking truth to power"--as recalled from the '60s. In the U.S., the romance of dissent must be manufactured to meet demand--hence the hyperbolic liberal claims about the country. But the romance does not partake of reality. The anger of liberals is directly proportional to the deviation of the fantasy from reality.

12/06/2005 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Thomas writes: "History is indeed on the march but an increasing number of Americans want to go inside, close the door and hope that it just passes them by."

Stuart writes: "The disappointment of liberal expectations explains the anger I observe in many liberals."


We're witnessing the petulance and high-chair banging of a culture which has never had to grow up. Meeting the challenge history has handed it is greeted with the same resistance young people often display when confronted with the concepts of responsibility and consequences.

12/06/2005 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Wretchard writes: "In retrospect, there was tremendous resistance to the idea that the certainties of the 1990s had finally come to an end."

This resistance is alive and well more than four years after 9/11.

The pampered West, accustomed to focusing upon various forms of self-fulfillment, is also accustomed to maneuvering around or opting out of life's unpleasantness and hardship.

Although well-traveled and well-educated, it does not come face-to-face with hard men in hard places – instead, it invites trouble by projecting its naive sentimentality and telegraphing its weaknesses, then compounding the danger by making virtues of both.

This is why 'war is not the answer' for so many. In their entire experience living in a wealthy, healthy, well-fed and free society the right combination of soothing words, good intentions, rationalizations, intellectual gymnastics, ethical contortions and, in some cases, cash is enough to heal most wounds. Physical or existential threat is a theoretical exercise. Freedom just ‘happens.’

A global war is not only hard to grasp for people who can't imagine they have any enemies. But it's also a supreme inconvenience for a society accustomed to self-indulgence.

12/06/2005 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

It's been said before: There are two kinds of people. Those for whom 9/11 changed everything, and those for whom it changed nothing.

I understand the sentiment. I count myself among the number for whom the events of that day presumably changed everything. Prior to then I had not really cared one way or the other about George Bush or his presidency. I could hear a tawdry joke made at his and his wife's expense and think little of it. I had heard similar and worse said about Bill and Hilary. I could manage a non-committal smile in either case because I really didn't care one way or the other.

And then suddenly all that inconsequential and slightly venomous stuff stopped. The world had changed, gotten a whole lot more serious; we had all changed equally too. I remember, just days after 9/11, standing for the national anthem with a crowd comprised mainly of college students one fine autumn afternoon. It seemed everyone sang the words that day. I do not know how many others sang while fighting back tears of grief and pride and appreciation of what it meant to be an American that day, but I know without a doubt I wasn't alone.

And then slowly, inevitably perhaps, that sense of union and common resolve started to decay and vanish. Inevitably, I guess, unfavorable comments about the President resumed. But now they seemed more directed, somehow. I discovered I no longer smiled, nor tolerated them well. I found myself bristling a little instead.

I really don't care about Mr Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld as men. What I mean is, as persons they don't interest me much. What interests me is what they are trying to do, what they are in fact doing.

Some will say, "Ah, but that is the problem." I seriously don't know how to respond to such comments, to such people anymore. I hope they will change; I don't expect that they will.

Until next time.

12/06/2005 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Voltimand said...

"not a withdrawal in space, but a withdrawal in time.

Excellent epigram: the parallelism in grammatical structure highlighting the antagonism in the sense.

Multiple narratives are always difficult to take in: read Joyce's "Ulysses" where at its best you have no just different narratives elbowing each other out of the way, you have several narratives going on at the same time.

Which comes down to several narratives occurring all using the same sentence.

It is this complexity in four dimsnsions, where time and space become interchangeable, that is the challenge of Islamist terrorism. But there are some rock-solid polarities that don't shift here, and which, after all, make the fluidity of the others possible: have-nots vs. haves, which comes down to marxoids (including the Iranian president who put his little soul on display with the remark that America "acts as if it were the lord of the world"--does the Koran discuss the evils of envy?)vs. America (and not to be forgotten, the former east European communist satellites who know which country they want to imitate and be friends with). It's success vs the envious, where "success" is always what the envious are not.

What the lefties can't stand, I think, is that the jihadis have usurped their own act. The left is predicated on a society divided by haves vs. have nots, dominant vs. oppressed, patriarchy vs. enslaved women, etc. (all the same thing, finally), and that's their "narrative," going (after Marx) into its 3rd century. And lo! what pops up is an aggression founded on a real difference, a real "deprivation": jihad knows that either it conquers America, or it dies itself. And like the lefties, they all go recruiting among people with generally the same psychological profile: deprived, self-hating (so much so that they want to die), angry, the voyeurs of desire (as in "conspicuous consumption": envy is very much a voyeuristic occupation).

So W. is perhaps 3/4 right: the different narratives are different strategically and tactically. In what drives them, I think that it's all the same thing.

12/06/2005 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

It is a time for warriors. W is the first president to do anything effective about terrorism. My memory goes back to the Lebanon action of 1958, when Eisenhower sent Marines in briefly. After the Suez crisis we became the dominant power in the Mideast. But we didn't act like it until 9/11. Thank God we have a president who understands the realities.

12/06/2005 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

"Ramzi" - I love it.

And a Belmont Club discussion that evokes Joyce! Now I feel at home.

Having lived through what few Americans had the unfortunate privilege to witness in Europe on 9/11/01 and for the two years following - i.e. a widespread and smoldering anti-American reaction almost from the get go - the fantasy that Europhiles in the US continue to milk as the given alternative to a world according to Bush astonishes me. But from where I'm sitting it's everyone's ignorance of the period that unwittingly contributes to the derangement.

The context for describing the mess of today's Europe which Niall Ferguson is deriding is incomplete without a knowledge of that time, which was pre-Treaty of Nice and solidly in the hopeful throes of a united European solution to US "hegemony". If it was America's choice on 9/11 "to either hold itself aloof from events shaking the world or engage them", then the general European attitude at the time was unmistakably "aloofist".

Now despite the fact that their dreams of a postmodern paradise have largely foundered on issues other then security the current state of their aloofness (and the other aspects of what Ferguson likened to the ancien régime) was coagulating in its respective countries during the mass revulsion to America's invasion of Afghanistan. Leaving aside the question of Turkey's joining the Union, it even inconvenienced such non-security debates such as whether countries should join the common currency or not, and so on. Because the story of that revulsion remains largely untold, American Democrats don't have to deal with any of its philosophical implications.

In view of what actually transpired in Europe during the last five years and the Democrat's willful refusal to come to terms with the messes that have resulted there, the tremendous resistance in the US to the notion that the certainties of the '90s have finally come to an end is merely in a rearranging stage.

In terms of a Weltanschauung all the Democrats have really managed to do is to replace Martin Sheen with Geena Davis, or their disappointed expectations over Clinton with their disappointed expectations over Bush. If I could stand watching it, I might even be mining the latter for the inevitable signs of "neo-isolationism".

p.s.. For anyone who's interested, a few of us ex-pats documented the whole 9/11 shebang as it unfolded in the land of Joyce. In one of our efforts we represent all of the letters to the Irish newspapers of the day, a fairly edifying collection: http://home.kimo.com.tw/theirishletter/index.htm

12/06/2005 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

I suspect the liberals have repeated "Bushitler" to themselves so many times that they now see the President as more dangerous than suicide bombers. If one could get into their mindset (it's hard to do) then the "logic" of immediate Iraq withdrawal might make sense. Down in the deepest parts of hell, Joseph Goebbels must be smiling. The lunatic left is (with some success) poisoning the well of public opinion. If Hillary Clinton becomes our next President, it's doubtful her own party would allow her the scope of appropriate action in the Middle East. The Iraq War is simply one stage in an overall strategy against global terrorism. There is some evidence that Iran may acquire nuclear weapons capability in mid-2006. Iran already has a terrorist network setup through Hezbollah. The nightmare of terrorists with nukes could happen next year. Iraq's WMD technology probably went somewhere (presumably Syria). What's Syria going to do when their back is against the wall? Finally there's the inter-dynastic struggles within Saudi Arabia. Some of the opposition factions within Saudi Arabia have been quietly bankrolling al Qaeda. What happens when that Saudi opposition buys an ex-Soviet nuke from a disgruntled former Soviet general?

The Iraq War is an appropriate component of an overall strategy against Jihadist terrorism (it was the logical next step after Afghanistan). Unfortunately that strategy breaks down if we can take no further action beyond Iraq. I'm afraid that we will soon lose the initiative in the war against terrorism and the lesson of 9/11 may have to be repeated.

12/06/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

There are indeed many fronts in this war on Islamic terrorism, too many for us to defeat in a direct military manner. And because of the nature of Islamic/Arabic culture, I'm pretty sure that Western-style democracy will not work there as it has in the West. Passions are too high, education levels too low. The only traditional military approach that might actually solve the problem would be something near to genocide, and that is out of the question.

There is one, and I believe only one, sure solution to the problem of Islamic terrorism and that is the expulsion of all muslims - perhaps all Arabs - from the West. Once that is done, the threat from Islamic terrorism disappears because they have no way to attack us if they can't physically penetrate our borders, and they don't have the military means to do so and won't. (Nuclear missiles would hurt us but we could and probably would annihilate them if they used them.)

Sooner or later the Western countries will come to recognize that only a virtually complete separation from muslims will give them the peace that they seek. And before the muslim world reforms it needs to be bottled up so that it's dissidents don't simply leave for the West but stay and work for modernization because there is no alternative.

But we are years from this realization on the part of the West, with many deaths from terrorism yet to come and many more failed half-measures designed to appease muslims. The longer the West waits, the worse the pain of the separation solution will be, but it is the only solution (other than genocide, which is unthinkable) that will work and thus is the solution that will eventually be used.

12/06/2005 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Oh dear ...

12/06/2005 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

Left-liberalism today has become exactly what the Medieval Catholic Church once was - a huge dead-weight agglomeration of scholastics, careerists, doctrinal fanatics and hangers-on. It's ironic that its adherents see themselves as so far above religion.

The Catholic church never disappeared, but it did lose its ability to control, or even significantly influence, world events.

12/06/2005 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger david bennett said...

Baradei's statement on Iranian nuclear capacity is disturbing, indeed terrifying. He is anything, but a hardliner, being a great believer in negotiation.

However in such cases accuracy is important. The "few months" is after Iran restores it's enrichment capacity. According to preliminary estimates of experts this means one to two years.

Still terrifying.

The results of the recent elections in Iran are also terrifying. The recent purges of their diplomatic corp indicates that the fanatics are once again seizing the reins of power.

For those here who like to go with the left/right simplification of opinion, prominent rightists like M. Ledeen were arguing not long ago that the hold of the fanatics was very weak and could be broken with a few pushes. This now seems questionable.

Israel has been making hints for quite a while that it might strike Iranian facilities. But it is generally concedded that it's ability to do long term damage to the Iranian program is limited. We are not talking the fantasists notion so prevalent in places such as this that Iran will be nuked into the stone ages.

The United States can probably rapidly move in the capacity to destroy or cripple the 2 dozen Iranian nuclear sites as well as bringing down the anti air system along with a large number of relevant targets. It would be a massive campaign.

However any strike cold bring major trouble in southern Iraq which is controlled by Shiite militias and with the government in which SCIRI and DAWA are the major forces. The "insurgency" could widen dramatically.

So yes Iran may join North Korea as the second member of the axis of evil to acquire nuclear weapons.

12/06/2005 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Sirius Sir: let me repeat my comment of a few moments ago from another thread in which I answered
"I recall that back in the 80's a protest group came to Vandenberg AFB to demonstrate on 7 Dec.
They said that they did so on Pearl Harbor Day because if there was another sneak attack on the U.S. it would be with nuclear weapons.
Aside from the fact that 9/11/01 proved them wrong, you would think that fears of a sneak attack would
result in a desire for more military readiness, not less."
Clearly even for events of such earthshaking significance as the attack on Pearl harbor, the interpretation of what occurred and why can differ radically.
Physicists ponder the concept of parallel universes as a means to explain the behavior of subatomic particles.
For some of us, parallel universes are the only way to explain the behavior of sub-idiotic people.

12/06/2005 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Tom Frank wrote the book, What's Wrong with Kansas, to address voting patterns in poor, rural states that did not reflect what he thought were the voters' real self interests.

Leaving aside the validity of his thesis, I wonder if Mr. Frank's next book will be "What's Wrong with Most of the Rest of the World."

The rest of the world wants America to go away. If they're not careful, they may get exactly what they ask for.

Dying in horror is not the destiny of mankind, but it is the default.

Who knows? Maybe one day this Atlas will shrug, too.

12/06/2005 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...


There is no possibility of the type of isolationism you propose. It would entail a withdrawal of the worst kind, one that as a free society we should not ever either successfully implement or survive. That is my opinion, for what it is worth.

What we are doing is what we should be doing, that is, injecting the best that we have to offer into the most troublesome parts of the world.

It will not be easy and it will surely take time, and never will our absolute safety be secured. But there is no other way.

12/06/2005 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Mark offers a Fifth Option in addition to my silly Four Options thesis from last week:

1) The Wittenberg option - Islam reforms itself to become compatible with the West.

2) The Tenth Crusade option - the West "reforms" Islam through a combination of liberation, conquest, and ideological imperialism.

3) The Constantinople option - Islam "reforms" the West through a combination of terror-as-politics, burgeoning immigration and birth rates, the balkanization of Western countries into sectarian strongholds, and their de facto realization of sharia.

4) The Cordoba option - The West willingly accepts sharia and dhimmitude, covering its women and paying the levy if not converting outright.

5) The Vienna option - Transform the United States and select European countries into ideological fortresses into which no potential carriers of Islam may physically pass.

But let us remember that the walls of Vienna were undermined, and that we are staring at the modern equivalent of the tunnels beneath.

12/06/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger iotm said...

I'd like to see your proof that Iran is on the verge of having nuclear weapons.

I seem to remember you saying the same thing about Saddam Hussein, and you were incredibly wrong about that.

12/06/2005 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

sirius, in arguing the case for "injecting the best that we have to offer into the most troublesome parts of the world" it usually clarifies the discussion - with someone on the left anyway - to superimpose Realism onto whatever disorganized plan they're pretending at.

It was Realpolitik that was so existentially offensive to progressive liberals throughout the Cold War, a point which Neocons would have agreed with, in part. But today, due to a lack of imagination and a timidity of vision, it's the very same solution that most of the progressives have backed themselves into. Are there any critics I'm missing that are pointing out this contradiciton?

I suppose the difference is that a Henry Kissinger was defending and ultimately asserting some kind of a vision, while today's Leftist reactionary justifies his unwitting Realism by perpetually backing away from every situation - the isolationist tendency we've been noticing.

After all, what is is bad, right?. And it's undoubtedly our fault too.

12/06/2005 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

The burden of the proof that Iran ISN'T on the verge of having nuclear weapons is on Iran. Welcome to the post 9/11 world.

12/06/2005 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

pd quig, please remember that 'baby boomers' were on both sides of that conflict. I was heartsick because of the way we turned on our allies. I still am. Perhaps we can find another nom de merde for the left than baby boomers. I don't like being lumped in with that group.

12/06/2005 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I suppose some fraction of the calls to withdraw from Iraq is simply an expression of weariness of terrorism, of wishing for an end to the casualties. On that I'm sure we could all agree.

But calls to withdraw never address the consequences. What would happen if we withdraw now? History tells us failure can be hidden within a victory if the victor holds back at a critical moment.

Though it may seem like the most difficult choice sometimes, we must press on.

12/06/2005 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

An "expression of weariness of terrorism" is another way of sentimentalism.

12/06/2005 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...


You wrote: "There is no possibility of the type of isolationism you propose. It would entail a withdrawal of the worst kind, one that as a free society we should not ever either successfully implement or survive."

Respectfully, I don't see why it is so entirely unthinkable that we should expel muslims and declare the West a muslim-free zone. The U.S. was virtually a muslim-free zone for most of our history and we did quite well. Until 1965 or so, we weren't shy about explicitly declaring what sorts of ethnicities would be allowed into the country as immigrants, either, and we were doing quite well. This idea that America is built on the foundational concept of letting any sort of person into our nation at all is a myth. We would do quite well, thank you, with no muslims at all. In my opinion they do not add any particularly essential ingredient that American success requires. And we have every right to decide what sort of persons we allow to live in our countries.

My main point is that at some point expulsion will be the only solution that can save Western civilization as we know it, and at that point the option of expulsion will look much more appealing than the alternatives, which will be dhimmitude or genocide. The sooner the expulsion occurs, the less harm is done. But realistically it won't occur until the infeasibility of trying to convert the muslim world to our norms of behavior becomes apparent, and that is going to take more years of terrorism and failed democratic experiments.

12/06/2005 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

All I can say is, oh dear...

12/06/2005 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

"I suppose some fraction of the calls to withdraw from Iraq is simply an expression of weariness of terrorism, of wishing for an end to the casualties."

I think the better phrase, jeff, is occupation fatique - like war fatique. Can it be exploited for purely partisan purposes? Sure. Can it be aggravated by the media? Absolutey. Is it a new and unknown phenomenon? Of course not.

We are not an infintely patient people.

12/06/2005 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Our national expressions of sentimentality in the US are something that many Europeans think themselves superior to. The Patriotic urge itself can't be defined divorced from sentimentalism, nor do I think that it should be.

It's a double-edged thing though. Just as our fatigue turns on the timidity of our nostalgia (thus contributing to our impatience) this same national characteristic means we don't pose a serious imperialistic threat to the rest of the world either. That's something that I couldn't get my European friends to appreciate.

12/06/2005 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger tzanchan said...

david bennett -

The planning and execution of the bombing of Osirik in June of 1981 was made easier by the fact that the plant was above ground and not in an urban setting. These elements were of paramount importance when the plan was developed in the late 70's. The present plants are all thought to be underground as well as in major urban centres. As much as people talk about Israel's plans for taking out the Iranian nuclear centres, it is well known in Israeli military circles that the feasibility of such a plan is almost non-existant. That doesn't mean that force won't be used - however a surgical strike similar to Osirik cannot happen...

12/06/2005 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger tzanchan said...

iotm -

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "proof". Read any translation (provided by MEMRI) of Rafsanjani's speeches about their nuclear capability. Say no more... the speeches are quite "glowing" in their descriptions....

12/06/2005 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

There is a sixth option, that wretchard alluded to in his "Three Conjectures" essay -- the Carthage Option

12/06/2005 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Pomp said...

Arabic spelling is phonetic. Reading some maps the spelling will differ within the map.

12/06/2005 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The Three Conjectures is a catastrophe scenario that happens when terrorism is not addressed early. Things get bad, like cancer left untreated, until only the most desperate and destructive therapies are left. The only force that can actually make the catastrophe happen is indecision in the West itself.

There were evidently many intelligence warnings about the frustration, anger and alienation in the banlieus which ignored; and there are many warnings about nuclear weapons in Iran which are being ignored. Then in the end the catastrophe happens. And we ask why?

12/06/2005 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

While this is not a particularly optimistic thread, we should admit that there is an unseen synergy to the Universe beyond our abilities to fully understand.
Latest example:

rwe writes,
"Physicists ponder the concept of parallel universes as a means to explain the behavior of subatomic particles.

For some of us, parallel universes are the only way to explain the behavior of sub-idiotic people.

And soon, as though summoned by some Universal Alarm Clock,
MOTI appears!

12/06/2005 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger iotm said...

tzanchan, no one doubts nuclear power. That's obvious.

I want proof of nuclear weapons.

12/06/2005 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/06/2005 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I appreciate posts like Marks, because agree or disagree, it brings attention to the conventions and boxes we arrange that circumscribe our thoughts.
Who can say with certainty what solution will ultimately be required by an uncharted future?
And he does assert that the ultimate solution is to be avoided if possible.
Seems the only certainty is that the passage of time reduces the number of options available, and leaves only less desirable choices.
Looking forward to something beyond a third "Oh Dear," Opotho!

12/06/2005 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

Sorry Doug, that's all I've got on that subject. I just don't think it merits as much attention as the tiny academic points you've squeezed out of it.

12/06/2005 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Jrod said...

Speaking of "and we ask why?" here's Myanmar doing their best North Korean impression. Let the record show that it is both Russia and China blocking the subject from being put onto the formal agenda of the Security Council.

12/06/2005 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Well, at least that's a lot more definitive, Opotho!

I just fear where we might end up by simply following our present course:
Just as I believed immediately after 9-11 that our biggest challenge in a war going on for decades would be dealing with the multiple manifestations of the enemy within.

...and even tho I expected the present anti war madness, reality exceeds expectations in that I failed to put faces on the actors.

...turns out all we had to do was picture the same tired old actors we've had around since the 60's.

Perhaps that should encourage optimism that there is a temporal limit to the madness?

12/06/2005 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Although there have been other changes:
"..all the Democrats have really managed to do is to replace Martin Sheen with Geena Davis"

12/06/2005 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

There is an ebb and flow to all conflicts.

Let Iran use its Nukes.

That would be all the excuse we would need. And that would once and for all put an end to Islamic Fundamentalism.

So as Nazism died when Auschwitz was overrun, so too, will Islamofascicm die when its horrors are realized for all to see.

12/06/2005 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/06/2005 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

I’ve been pondering the power of narratives and I remember thinking on and around 911 how so many were saying that the world has forever changed due to the towers coming down and I wasn’t convinced it was the truth, that the world was forever substantially changed.

What happened that day that shook the world? 3,000 people died? Really, that’s not a very large number in the grand scheme of things. 19 terrorists sacrificed their own lives to take on the symbolism of those towers? Yeah, that was a shock to many. It violated a strongly held notion that in a hijacking situation the hijackers were interested in surviving the ordeal. The sheer terror was driven home that you could be on a flight and it could be driven into a building. This whole thing was magnified because it was televised and the world witnessed it in real time, and then over, and over, and over again.

But did a fundamental shift really happen in our world? I think the only fundamental shift that occurred was through the narratives that followed. The Bush leadership has stoked the terror fears with alerts and warnings and proclamations of Great Never Ending Wars, but really, nothing has fundamentally changed in our world since before that day. There were Jihadi’s before, there are Jihadi’s now, Islam and its conflicts were present before September 11, 2001 and they are now. It is our narratives that have changed, the narratives that we, and more importantly, our leadership, CHOOSE to tell.

So, in the end, I’m not convinced still, that the world really changed on that day, but our narratives sure as hell did and I have come to appreciate the power of our narratives.

12/06/2005 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

Thanks for the nod Doug. And notice how the memory of their disappointment with Clinton *at the time* has been thoroughly wiped from the slate. "Quick, appoint a new fake president!"

On the subject of narratives, you'd better keep that conceit to yourself Red River before it becomes the seed of Soderburgh's next Syriana-type conspiracy story. (Better yet, copyright it.)

Too abstract for me Ash.

12/06/2005 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

Ash, there's an alternative reading of 9/11 and of all post-9/11 narratives which singles out the danger we pose to ourselves whenever we rely on our own obtuse misapprehensions about the nature of the enemy combined with the arsenal of newfound technologies available to him. I'd even call your ideas quaint if they didn't also suggest the relativistic premise that all narratives are created equal.

(Am I supposed to ignore this person? Their initial comment seems merely provocative.)

12/06/2005 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

It's been said before: There are two kinds of people. Those for whom 9/11 changed everything, and those for whom it changed nothing.

and there are those, like me, that before 9/11 were shouting about the real threat, but since i am nothing but a jew, who cared....

the problem is for those who believe in creating their own truth "construct", the truth is simple folks....

if the jihadist is coming at you with his knife, no matter how much you want to "belief" that he's really just looking for "love" he will still slice your throat and use your head as a soccer/football(EU) ball.

we are at war, the enemy has declared it whether you choose to listen or not......

12/06/2005 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

ash: This whole thing was magnified because it was televised and the world witnessed it in real time, and then over, and over, and over again.

actually, in my opinion, the trully graphic movies of the people jumping were NOT shown with great frequency, whereas in the arab/islamic world, very bloody things are repeated very often to accomplish the big lie theory.

12/06/2005 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Ash, what do you think is the relationship between narrative and reality? Has anyone on the left ever given a convincing explanation of the relationship? If not, why not?

Surely you would agree that that the narratives that transcend our real-time experiences of reality must bear some contingent relationship to that reality. And, on the other hand, would you not agree that the reality of events is that they unfold as the players in them consciously sow the seeds for the narratives that will eventually transcend the event? If your answer is affirmative, then 9/11 did change reality and the narratives with which we make sense of reality, as the terrorists themselves surely realized.

12/06/2005 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

And of the two kinds of people, a further statistic to describe the few who didn't listen closely enough before, but sure do now.

I confess that I was one who'd held out for something worthwhile in the European perspective in the late 90's, but that that illusion had almost completely evaporated by the end of the summer 2001 (mostly from arguing with friends there about 'Kyoto' and also about their motives for suporting the ICC). A few weeks later and everything became crystal clear to me one morning.

It was bizarre to then return to the US only to hear the same derivative nonsense repeated ad infinitum about the next war.

I've been listening to NPR on and off for the last three hours and their attitudes today are just as derivative as they were in the run-up to the Iraq War (never mind before then). Today's vexation refers to NPR's headline news, delivered afresh each half-hour in a British announcer's voice CONTAINING NO HINT OF IRONY the Iranian claim that their plane crashed because "US sanctions prevented them from buying the parts they needed" ... (They do report that it was an American-made C130.)

So let's see ... what was NPR's motive there?

I've just looked at truepeers's question. I think I'll leave you all to count angels on pinheads now.

12/06/2005 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Mark's one way out of our present dilemma is utterly unrealistic.we live in a global economy.Isolationism is the fantasy of paleo-Conservatives who long for some 1890 midwestern rural idyll in a Winslow Homer painting.
Where does disinfecting ourselves of Muslims differ from the venal position of Howard Dean?Either way we withdraw from the middle east.The oil spigot stops(will they still fuel our SUV's when we confiscate the convenience stores?)China and India will line up at the pump.Armageddon will come to Israel without American support.At least then we'll find out who really has nukes.
No there's only one way out of this current struggle.That is to fight hard,suck up our losses,hope all Islam isn't spawned in hell and ignore delirious fools like Ash and Iotm.
The victor in this struggle is no way assured.God ,give us will and courage to see it through.

12/06/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

truepeers, I don't think the relationship between narrative and reality is a left/right issue. I do agree with you that there is a relationship between reality and the narrative, a strong relationship. In fact, I think that all we can know of reality is our narrative(s) of it thus you may as well speak of the narrative as reality. So, in the end I must concede that 911 did fundamentally change our world. However, it does not follow that because the world changed on 911 that Iraq should have been occupied by the US.

12/06/2005 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

I can't let this one slip by.

To go from "all we can know of reality is our narrative(s) of it" [fine so far], to "THUS you may as well speak of the narrative as reality", as if those two ideas are simply convertible, is sophistry pure and simple. I've been noting some of its predictable consequences all along.

12/06/2005 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/06/2005 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/06/2005 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Saudi Al-Qaeda Terrorists Recount Their Experiences in Afghanistan on Saudi TV and Arab Channels:

Abdallah Khoja, former Al-Qaeda member: "The Emir of the Uzbek mujahideen in Afghanistan came to Taif, where I worked. I wanted to meet with Taher Khan, so I found him and talked to him about my strong desire to go to Afghanistan or to any region where there is fighting for the sake of Allah, under a clear banner.

Ziyad Ibrahim 'Asfan, former Al-Qaeda member: "I returned to Afghanistan by myself, and I joined the training camps. At first, I joined a camp called the Al-Sadiq camp.

Saudi Terrorists

12/06/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Ash, you may be right that the question of narrative and reality is not a left/right issue, but it is surely an issue of orthodoxy and heresy. And those who make a life out of being romantic heretics (i.e., to use shorthand, the modern left) have a vested interest in avoiding certain fundamental questions about humanity, such as the real nature of the relationship between narrative and reality, questions that might have the effect of justifying certain orthodoxies behind conservative faith in social practices, or perhaps regarding conservative faith in the free market, or the constitution, as a form of mediation that makes safe our necessary modern indulgences in heresy. In other words, those who would stand up to defend either their society or their freedom - from those who are out to sympathize with violent heresies - may have a certain interest in devining the truth about narrative and reality.

I'm not going to try to spell out my understanding, because this is not the place for essays, except to criticize statements as they arise.

all we can know of reality is our narrative(s) of it

-but this is to ignore the question of the relationship between texts or signs and narratives. What, ultimately, is a narrative about, if it is not a story of a sign's emergence. (E.g., consider a sign like "help" or "fire" or "god" and its relationship to the story you tell of going about your day and then hearing or seeing the sign, and what follows.) This is a chicken and egg question, we could answer in one or two ways. I'll just note that it is perfectly possible to use various sciences and metaphysics to look at reality before getting to the point of integrating the signs (and their relationship to real-world referents) that we discover through such studies into our narratives.

you may as well speak of the narrative as reality

-nope, and not simply because this is sophistry, as Opotho says, but because there are all kind of non-narrative realities that clearly exist, independently of our narratives, such as certain sociobiological realities. Knowing this provides us a way to test the veracity of our narratives. And if the root cause of war is ultimately an animalistic fight for our survival, you can't wish war away by simply decrying bad narratives.

12/06/2005 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

"devining"? the devil made me say it

12/06/2005 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...



Wretchard's post, dealing with divergent perceived realities since 9/11, given on the eve of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, hits me in the face with its powerful message. I'm reminded of the scolding of a young reporter by one of the few remaining members of Company E, 506th PIR.

"We were attacked. It wasn't like Korea or Vietnam."

12/06/2005 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...


divine; to intuit.

Some just don't get it.


12/06/2005 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

I have not read the comments, but my thoughts exactly and most astute, if I may say ;) I don't do echos but this is an exception. Everything I have been saying, blogging, and thinking for the last couple of years - in four succinct paragraphs.

And, yes, it will be very interesting.

12/06/2005 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...


I was at the Center of the Civilized World today.

Afterwards, I walked a couple blocks to the World Trade Center. They have a respectable big fence around the hole now, with big panels listing Names of Honor and others laying out the Timeline of Events on 9/11/01. One solemn sign says: Please Do Not Buy Anything on this Site, or Give Money to Anyone, Preserve This Sacred Site.

A guy who looks like Santa Claus is leaning against the fence, so I walk up next to him and look up to where Windows on The World should be, and see nothing but blue sky and heavenly clouds. Santa Claus plays a silver flute, the coda to Battle Hymn of the Republic.

. . . Glory glory Halleleuah ... glory glory . . .

You see hard eyes with cold tears ... glory glory Halleleauh.

Never Forget

Merry Christmas

12/06/2005 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

my contention is not that all narratives are true, as in sophistry but that we may as well speak of our narratives as if they were a reality. I guess narrative is an odd word to use in this context but what I was trying to get at was that since everything is based on interpretation (i.e. narrative) then when we speak there is no use in saying, this is my interpretation, but rather ones interpretation and the underlying reality being described are essentially the same. Words and their referents and such.

12/06/2005 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Things are true independent of our ability or inability to describe them That that even has to be articulated shows that YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT IDEAS ARE AND ARE NOT, not that you or your masters are profound.

12/06/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger felix said...

One thing I would hope we can all agree on is that individuals so identified as Radical Islamists should be deported. That it is too dangerous to allow radical islamists freedom of movement in the USA. To the extent we need legislation to enable this to occur, this must be a priority.

12/06/2005 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

The first "honest" debate of what is to be done will occur after the 2006 election cycle. Until then the Republicans must hang together as pro-staying-Bush's-course and the Democrats as anti. After 2006 it is all about 2008 presidential candidates establishing their own position.

12/06/2005 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

...those expectations [of quick war] went unmet had to be someone's fault; and what better scapegoat than President George W. Bush. --Wretchard

There is an old debating trick were one tryies to tar his opponent with common problems.

For example: "Terrorist attacted New York and Washington DC because Bush was insenstive to their grievnecs." Or, "Hitler crossed over Poland because the UK did not honor its agreements."

Yet, as history has shown, appeasement of aggressors only multiples the aggression.

This same trick of associating the innocent with guilty has evolved into the MSM's "Bush Lied And, People Died" war cry. Thanks to left amplifying said call, it is almost believable.

But, it's not the truth. Because of the Internet the "Bush Lied and People Died" mantra, it has over splashed their cause.

This is because of "fact checking" by numerous Web Log participants (Wretchard and others). And, the fact that most US people are for the war.

As most of you know, the "blame Bush" mantra has it's own satire blog.

Just go over to the 'Blame Bush! Because Bush is to blame for Everything' blog (the author has a pen name "Liberal Larry") for some satire and examples of Bush being to" blame" from "natural disasters" to "stealing the oil (it's quite funny).

One can appreciate the preposterous theme of blaming Bush for the world's problems.

Blame Bush highlites the absurd method of blaming President Bush for everything in the world that has gone wrong. This hidden in deep satire at "Liberal Larry's" place (Blame Bush).

Now, if one can get past Liberal Larry's flamboyant headlines and four letter words, one can enjoy the satire of blaming President Bush for every negative act in the world (which is ridiculous).

Or, one can enjoy the farce of blaming one President for the World's troubles. For example:

[Liberal Larry blames President Bush for breaking his mothers fan belt in her automobile]:

...At 10 o'clock this morning, received a desperate call from my dear mother.

"Damn that Bush!" she cried. "Damn him to HELL!"

"Take it easy, Ma. What's the problem?"

"My car broke down!" she told me. "I have an appointment at the unemployment office to extend my benefits another two years, and I have no way to get there!

DAMN THAT BUSH! He sent my job overseas, and now he's trying to take my unemployment insurance away! What am I going to do?"

Ma has been out of work since Boeing laid her off in 2002, thanks to Bush and his tax cuts for the rich. The union hasn't called her back, and no one is hiring 65 year old Airplane Restroom Toilet Paper Dispenser Installers anymore. So she's had to subsist on her pension, social security, her 401k, alimony checks, welfare, and unemployment insurance benefits for the past two years.

"Don't worry, Ma. Tell me where you are and I'll come help."
"At the White Horse Tavern in Marysville. That's as far as I made it before the damn thing quit!"

"Mom, that's totally the opposite direction of the unemployment office."

"Oh that Bush has got me so riled up, I've lost all sense of direction!" Ma cried...

See: "George Bush Broke the Fan Belt on My Mother's '95 Jeep Cherokee"

Those of you who enjoy satire can examine the site and find many amusing vignettes.

See: Liberal Larry's site "Blame Bush"

forget the typo's. This thread runs to fast to fix the.

12/06/2005 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


It's a very effective trick, creating the "Bush is the root of all evil" meme. Firstly, it personalizes the object of hatred. It's hard to hate an abstract object, such as terrorism. Of course, it would have been possible to create a hate-stereotype, like those in the World War 2 posters. That would have been indecent, but the Left is not similarly constrained. They've created a rich variety of hate objects fit to rival the buck-toothed Nip and dirty Kraut of the 1940s to use in their campaign. The Chimp, the moronic cowboy, BushHitler etc.

Many people are glad of something to hate, something to blame whenever something goes wrong with their lives. There are a lot of people who will never accept a god who will eagerly accept a devil.

12/06/2005 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

trangbang wrote:

Mark's one way out of our present dilemma [deporting muslims from the West] is utterly unrealistic.we live in a global economy.Isolationism is the fantasy of paleo-Conservatives who long for some 1890 midwestern rural idyll in a Winslow Homer painting.

The "isolationism" I propose is nothing more than scouring Islam out of the West. It is not economic isolationism, nor is it cultural or military isolationism with regard to Europe, Japan, China, South America, or anywhere else Islam is not a force. And I am not proposing an 1890s utopia at all. I propose a society just like we have now, except with no muslims until such time in the future as there is no remaining threat from muslim fundamentalism (which may be never).

Which brings me to another comment by trangbang:

The oil spigot stops(will they still fuel our SUV's when we confiscate the convenience stores?)

Oil is a fungible commodity and there is no chance the Islamic world would deprive themselves of their only significant source of income by refusing to sell oil to the West. The Arabs tried an oil embargo in the 70s as a political punishment of the West and all it accomplished for them was a big decrease in the price of oil when the West responded by economizing.

The reason that separation from muslims will be required for Western survival is that (1) their religion commands them to convert the whole world to Islam by force if necessary and there will always be a percentage of them who, because of envy and resentment of the West or for other reasons, will take that commandment seriously; and (2) as long as we allow muslims into the West there will be terrorist acts on as large a scale as the muslims can manage. We can't kill all the fundamentalists; we can't change them; we can't reason with them or placate them except by surrendering to them. If they had military and economic power equal to ours we would be in for a serious world war for our survival. As it is we have the luxury of a generous economic and military advantage over them and thus can resort to the more humanitarian "build a wall to keep the barbarians out" strategy.

It wouldn't keep out Europeans, non-muslim Asians, or indeed practically anyone of political or economic significance to our society's health. It's a simple solution, it's an effective solution, and it's the only solution other than the unthinkable alternative of genocide or near-genocide (a war of oppression against muslims so severe that they fundamentally abandon their desire for religious conquest) that will work.

12/06/2005 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

what I was trying to get at was that since everything is based on interpretation (i.e. narrative) then when we speak there is no use in saying, this is my interpretation, but rather ones interpretation and the underlying reality being described are essentially the same.

-well, as has been said, reality will persevere and intrude into your life, no matter what your interpretation. Bing bang bong.

I'm not sure how much I can help clear up the conceptual confusion, Ash. But I'll give it a quick try. Consider that an interpretation or narrative is like a hypothesis. And what makes the hypothesis necessary is that at the moment I make it, there is some uncertainty about the proper relationship between the world of language and the worldly world of things and nature, and of people in conflicts.

In other words, there is not a simple, mirror-like, relationship between words and things. An interpretation or hypothesis unfolds over time, as an attempt to bring words and reality together. When they are together, and everything seems right, there is often little to talk about...

We generally talk about things that have intruded onto the scenes of our consciousness - things that have emerged and are in some sense very real. But their purpose or future on this scene remains somehow undetermined, and to some degree it depends on us what this will be.

The question of the relationship between narrative and reality is thus a question of where we are in time. Your interpretation will be a hypothesis about what has or will happen; and it may differ from mine. If so, we will compete for an audience and for people to act as if our interpretation were the right one. BUt we can't just make things up, according to our fancy, if we want to convince others. We have to appeal to a shared sense of the reality that is out there, of what has already emerged onto the scene. We are in the middle of an ongoing series of events. Something has happened and the question of what exactly has happened will depend on our waiting for the closure of the present scene or event.

While our interpretations fight to shape the nature of that closure, we won't convince many others to follow us if our account of what has already happened doesn't appeal to their real world experience, and make sense to them. It is that experience, that shared human reality, that our story is fighting to transcend or close. Interpretation can vary within a certain range, but it can't stray too far from reality or it just won't make any sense.

12/06/2005 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


I don't it is possible, short of genocide, to scour Islam out of the West, any more than it was possible to remove a much smaller population of Jews back when governments and societies could be unashamedly brutal. The most that can be hoped for, I think, is to revive the other traditions of the West, without which Islam will simply expand into a vacuum. One danger is that radical strains of Islam may engender radical rivals in ways found in the Balkans.

12/06/2005 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Wretchard notes:

ledger presents story,

It's a very effective trick, creating the "Bush is the root of all evil" meme. Firstly, it personalizes the object of hatred. It's hard to hate an abstract object, such as terrorism. Of course, it would have been possible to create a hate-stereotype, like those in the World War 2 posters. That would have been indecent, but the Left is not similarly constrained...

Yes, but there are many people who can see the political manipulation (not the least of which are our troops).

As Liberal Larry would say: "Bush may use hurricanes, tidal waves, earthquakes, to silence his liberal adversaries. If that fails then he send in Karl Rove (well, KKKarl Rove).

Yes, your right. But, remember this is cloaked satire. And, let's note there are various sites who mock liberal arguments. It's obvious that President Bush cannot direct "hurricanes" to wipeout democratic voters in the south, nor is possible for Bush to cause a deadly earthquake in Pakistan. Yet, Liberal Larry propound such nonsense - only to destroy is democrat visitors.

The object behind my post was to bring to your reader's attention that there are web sites that makes a complete mockery of the left's beliefs. 'Blame Bush' is one of them.

Liberal Larry (pen name) leads the few liberals he attracts down the road - then over a cliff. It is only half way through one of Liberal Larry's triads that he sends his liberal customers in to a free-fall.

What humorous is, when an unsuspecting liberal reader buys into one of "Liberal Larry's" stories only to find himself at the bottom of a cliff.

Granted, Liberal Larry is not for the faint of heart. In fact, his humor is for the strong of stomach. He does a good job of hoodwinking his liberal subjects - but in the end they have been lead to edge of the cliff by "progressive" speak - then are pushed over. He his a brilliant writer. I find it quite amusing (most of his comments are hard-core conservative cloaked in "progressive speak.")

Here is 'Liberal Larry" explaining the facts of life:

...what republican radio hacks want us to believe, Sen. Kerry is absolutely correct: the U.S. government is indeed ordering jackbooted squads of armed goons to bust down the doors of private residences and terrorize women and children – actions that are entirely inexcusable unless done to reunite nice little Cuban boys with their loving Uncle Fidel. During these nightly raids, Muslim customs such as the ceremonial greasing of the sacred yak are completely ignored, and large collections of priceless weaponry and improvised explosives are confiscated without recompense.

See: Bush

[bypass all of the typos]

12/07/2005 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger enuff said...

It's actually quite sad and I'm certain the effects will be absolutely devasting, when the vast majority of world are shaken out of the denial we've been a world at war.

12/07/2005 12:31:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

It's hard to believe you are not putting people on, Ash, but then perhaps that includes yourself.
How else to explain that you can claim not to see the significance of something that EVERYONE, liberal, conservative, Christian, atheist, in this country understood at the time?
(as Pork notes, the Jews already knew, and were ignored)

Hint: EVERY LIVING AMERICAN had lived his ENTIRE LIFE in a land that had always been free from attack by foreigners (Japanese sub attacks killed no one on land) save Pearl Harbor, which, prior to the advent of "thinkers" like you, had always been given it's special place in our history.

That you now maintain that the murder of 3,000 of our citizens in two landmark cities, and the devastation of Manhattan is something which may, or may not have changed things, is simply absurd and bizarre.

I experienced a profound change, as did everyone else, but I suppose you observed things from some philosophical vantage point that allows you to access your "great thoughts." In your mind.
They are a banal joke.

You also seem to have forgotten Bali, Madrid, London, and etc.

As Dan says:
"Things are true independent of our ability or inability to describe them That that even has to be articulated shows that YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT IDEAS ARE AND ARE NOT, not that you or your masters are profound. "

12/07/2005 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger Cuz said...

There is a single, uncomplicated solution to the war on terror.

Very ancient, very proven and very effective.

There are, however, no longer any leaders with sufficient will to enact it.

12/07/2005 06:12:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

I think "Ash" here might be the same Ash who was finally banned from freerepublic.com (multiple times)

12/07/2005 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

No Doug, he's not putting us on. It's the third time in the last month that I've heard the "9/11 was no Pearl Harbor" thing, and each time from someone who's also opposed to the Iraq War. Each have claimed that 9/11 will soon fade into historical insignificance, though the other two have been at pains to add that they supported the invasion of Afghanistan.

Though I really detest the word, is this what you'd call a new "meme"? I'd have to be stuck on a desert island to want to discuss it with them but I'd say that the chances we're likely to hear this trope more and more often is directly tied to our overall success in the WOT. I mean, they're going to have to credit anything other than the Bush doctrine, right? I think we should take it as a good sign the more absurd the explanations become.

The whole""scouring Islam out of the West" discussion is far too Archie Bunker for me. I'm a student of medieval Islamic philosophy, of such beautiful minds as Avicenna's, and Ibn Arabi's (via the Henry Corbin translations), and I hold these thinkers and others like them in the greatest esteem. The tragedy of Islam is not Islam itself, but what too many of its adherents have done with it recently (as in centuries).

Now having owned up that since the early '80's I've studied and loved those portions of Islamic civilization which are not open to interpretation (I also love their arts), I'm also always quick to remind people of the findings of that famous inter-Islamic UN study a few years back: that there have been fewer books printed in all of Islam in the last 700 years than Spain published in 2002.

Granted, it's hard to explain how that's not systemic somehow within the faith itself, but a too-bigoted and wholesale dismissal of an entire civilization seems as off the mark as those "save Africa" campaigns which refuse to entertain the possibility of rampant African corruption. The two might even to deserve each other - the first position seeming to result from a hatred of the Other, the second from hatred of self ("WE' are starving the Africans, the Iraqi children, the Iranian aircraft mechanics ...")

I believe that we need an intellectual version of Commodore Perry to open Muslim minds - and western minds too - as to our common ground and rich potential. Unfortunately our own academies are so totally warped right now that we're only likely to produce more Edward Saids in the near future, but that's no reason not to attempt to transform our own side of the dialogue. Indeed, its partly our own anti-westernism that's put us in the position of having to attempt to transform the Islamic world at the point of a gun. So far so good.

Ever willing to engage a hermeneutical discussion I'd say that It's the truth that's independent of our awareness that makes any interpretation MEANINGFUL.

12/07/2005 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

papa bear, there is another Ash I guess. No, I do not, or have I ever (TTBOMK) frequented freerepublic.

Truepeers, your points are well made and I don't really think we are far apart epistemologically. I agree there is a reality separate from our interpretation of it.

Doug, we Americans have been attacked on our own land other then Pearl Harbor. Remember Timothy McVeigh? 911 was not an attack by a nation state but rather a terrorist attack. But that is really beside the point. If we reject my acceptance of the 'truth' of narratives, as so many here argue, it brings us back to the point of the significance of the 911 attacks. On the larger historical scale the event is really quite small. I repeat that approx. 3000 dead is not a big deal in the grand sweep of history. However, the death of 1 can be a large event historically in that the political course of man is changed (insert assassination of choice here). And this comes back to 'narratives' and how the political elite use events to persuade, and the general population interpret the event. Much like your justification to me that 911 was significant because, and I quote, "How else to explain that you can claim not to see the significance of something that EVERYONE, liberal, conservative, Christian, atheist, in this country understood at the time?" Which is not an argument of fact or reality as it is, but because everyone's narrative coincides that it was significant, which, ironically was why I concluded in my first musing on this topic that it was indeed a significant event.

Ledger wrote:

"Yet, as history has shown, appeasement of aggressors only multiples the aggression."

I think there more to it then simply appeasement, I think the success of the aggression must be factored in. Take the recent aggression on Iraq, the less then successful outcome seems to have slowed the 'multiples', i.e. Syria and Iran. How many of the coalition of the willing were simply appeasers do you think? Truepeers could probably shed some light on the internal Canadian (you are Canadian are you not, sir?) arguments to join the US adventure in Iraq. Some of them revolved on 'best friends' and the 'importance of business with the largest trading partner, the elephant to the south.’ In other words, forget the moral arguments, Canada’s economic interest lies in supporting the US.

12/07/2005 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Ash, how many 9/11 deaths would have justified "our narrative"? I was there on that morning, had worked there for several months, and can tell you that if the planes had hit two hours later and lunch had ben in full force on the plaza 50,000 people easily could have died. Had the buildings around the World Trade Plaza been less sound or designed differently, we could have seen concentric rings of buildings falling for days or weeks away from the epicenter in a slow-motion enactment of an atomic detonation. Beyond the basic repugnance of your attitude and its fantastic failure of empathy, the failure of you imagination is what is most striking. What strategic inference do you think arise in a reasonable mind when confronted with such an egregious breach of our national defenses? That these strikes are possible, obviously - there it is, right on your television. Clearly you - along with all your mind-clan - misunderstand the nature of Arab, tribal and Islamic culture, which underwrites your ludicrous misestimation of the Iraqi project and war on terror in general. Here's a lightning bolt: No One is entitled to expect a broken, incompetent people, to have produced a better situation thn Iraq by now. O I know its fashionable and comforting to your venal heart to hear your comrades in the media and DNC giving you those lovely talking points, but the fact is, there were very few mistakes made in Iraq so far. Disbanding an army that 1) is a tool of actual fascism, 2)a crippled P.O.S. because of mismanagement, corruption and brutality (cf. Russia, Iraq's paranoid Mongol mentor), and 3) that essentially disbanded Itself as we took Baghdad, is not a mistake, it is self-evident responsability. That we failed to predict the work-averse, tribe-proud illiterates would ape their historical nomad-conqueror heroes and take pot shots for $50? This is a "failure"? Isn't it rather a sign of the marrow-deep decay and corruption of the Arab civilization - or do you approve of this activity? And we are supposed to correct this, the essence of Arab culture for several hundred years now, in three years? Do you believe anyone would be dying except by accident or normal statistical crime that anyone would be dying in Iraq if left solely to our troops and commanders? No, they wouldn't. So who's "fault" is it? Oh I know you're historicism determines your answer beforehand: a disembodied force. Which one? Your socialism compels the next answer: American Imperialism!

This is not sophistication, it is confusion, laziness, and vanity.

12/07/2005 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...


See? This is good news. Now, it will result in more Muslim Brotherhood victories. But of course the Muslim Brotherhood is the main problem in our world at the moment. Thus, let it win; let it provoke an invasion or a revolution. We cannot outright invade everyone; we need provocation. And of course we need the status quo to crumble enough to see what's what in the region. These false pharoahs and sheiks are precisely the norm in the region, but their tenure has been as long, incompetent and brutal as their culture is - with the important difference that the Soviet Union, the current regimes' mentor and overlord, is now ten years' dead, and its Russian replacement insufficient political defense. So the only other genie in the neighborhood with traction among the masses and enough elites is Islam is the Solution; this enables a ruling tribal aristocracy plenty of latitude to behead people and slaughter infidels like the good old Prophet. This is why we invaded: this transformation is inevitable, given the culture of the region. It is not a choice between shining English liberalism and Islamism; it is a choice between unmolested Islamism and crippled, frightened, weak Islamism. And since the heart of Islam is Awe, it will bevery useful indeed if Mubarak's regime is toppled by Islamists, the Islamists have to fight their enervating internal war, complete with purges, and then provokes something with Israel.

Because my friends, this is a war of civilizations, and we are going to take those fools over with tough love whether they like it or not. We cannot have a nuclear-armed, oil-financed bunch of Bedouin satrapies with their ludicrous childish cupidities and mere nomadic nobility to function as a constant spoiler in the pursuit of an international order, dominated by the US because of Europe's love of world war and suicide. Look at the region: LOOK AT THE REGION. The options simply are not infinite, and your narrative must take the real dynamics of the situation into account. Will it be messy? Of course, everything's always messy, everywhere, always. It's only your lying "narratives" that are clean.

12/07/2005 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Bob Baer, formerly of the CIA and currently of "Siriana" fame, will be a guest on FOXnews in about 5 minutes.

It's now 12:30 PM, eastern standard time.

12/07/2005 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

HOld on to your chairs; I have to agree, to some degree, with Ash. While the event of 9/11 certainly happened for me, I think he is right that if the left and their ideologies of terrorists as victims of western imperialism get their way, the event of 9/11 can be largely forgotten, in the sense that in the long or medium run it will not change much, e.g. the ideological dominance - in the MSM and the MSE - of leftist victimary thought.

This would be a betrayal of the real victims of that day, but it could happen (kind of like how Doug has forgotten that America was attacked in the war of 1812). Which is why Ash, in reminding us of this fact and also seeming to want it to come about is such an insidious debater.

He seems to shift his point in every iteration, desiring less to defend any point as to play a game in which his opponents can never trap him and defeat the underlying ideologies, or expose the resentments, that motivate him. He ultimately must be convicted on grounds of lacking faith in his nation, and in the communion that should follow events like 9/11, favoring instead a world of intellectual abstractions, a faith in unalloyed reason that has no actually, historically existing humanity with which to bond.

At the end of the day he is just a confused chap. To wit:

How many of the coalition of the willing were simply appeasers do you think? Truepeers could probably shed some light on the internal Canadian (you are Canadian are you not, sir?) arguments to join the US adventure in Iraq. Some of them revolved on 'best friends' and the 'importance of business with the largest trading partner, the elephant to the south.’ In other words, forget the moral arguments, Canada’s economic interest lies in supporting the US.

-Ash, Canada was not part of the coalition of the willing on Iraq, I'm sorry to say. We joined the US in Afghanistan (are still there) but the government of the day refused to participate in IOF. The short answer to explain this is that there are lot of Canadians who aren't very good at either moral or economic arguments. Shamefully, anti-Americanism is a popular political card for maybe a third to a half of the population and it was played by a cynical politician - Jean Chetien - for self-interested political reasons, and perhaps, if one might speculate, because he had a personal stake or sympathy in the Oil for Food regime, as did some of his friends. Of course, many Canadians in 2003 genuinely believed the Americans would be falling into a quagmire, or that they had no right to ask Iraqis to make sacrifices for their freedom from tyranny, only Iraqis could. Perhaps, more to the point, Canada had little military capability to offer and thus perhaps tried to justify its warring weakness in such anti-war moralizing.

BUt on the question of whether Canadians are appeasers. Yes, I think we are to a significant degree. We invented state-sponsored multiculturalism to do just this. For example, there is a federal election campaign under way. ANd just before it started the government gave out over a billion dollars to various groups who see themselves as historical victims of the Canadian government. Why these groups and not others? Because they shouted loudest. THe policy of the Liberal party has long been to appease resentments and to never think beyond "root cause" mythologies of such resentment to inquire into the anthropological nature of resentment itself. Because once you do inquire into the reality of the phenomenon, to understand why it is a human universal regardless of mythologies about root causes, you become less likely to buy into every narrative that seeks to scapegoat the big man for all our perceived injustices, and you become more likely to take responsibility for yourself. Many don't want to do this, and there are always Canadians willing to appease them.

12/07/2005 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

I wasn't trying to leave the impression that Canada was appeasing the US by joining in the Iraq adventure rather, I was trying to point out that much of the pro-war view in Canada was based on appeasing the US. Much of the criticism of the Chretien government that I heard was that Canada should support the US because Canada was so dependant upon the US economically, the US was Canada's best friend ect. In other words, Canada should appease the US. At the time there was little talk of tyranny but mostly talk of WMD threats and effectiveness of Weapons inspections.

...and, BTW, my pondering of the power of Narratives vs. the reality of things is genuine.

12/07/2005 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger jakita said...


You should take some graduate level history classes.You will see that 99.9% of history is interpretation. Then you won't be so overly amazed by that fact. For example, in the Boston Massacre, about 10 or 20 people were killed (too lazy to look it up). Does that mean that the event had no significance? No, it doesn't--the American Revolution occurred, and the U.S. became independent.

The significance of 9-11 is that (1) we learned that our nation was wide open to attacks and (2) that our enemies wanted to kill or enslave us. As a previous poster said, the figure of 3,000 dead is actually small compared to what the Islamists want to occur. They wanted 50,000 or 100,000 or more dead, and buildings lying toppled all across Manhattan.

If you don't understand this simple idea, then you really haven't given the matter much thought.

Also, we now understand that the Arab/Muslim mind requires reformation. They love the "strong horse," as Osama kindly explained to us. We must be the "strong horse." Being kind, understanding, and lovey-dovey just won't impress them like military defeats will.

If Iraq can become democratic and an ally, then this will be a major step on the road to the modernization of the Arab world.

Get it?

12/07/2005 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger jakita said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/07/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Sorry that I misread you Ash. But I guess I am not so used to thinking of the US as the aggressor. After all, OIF was an attempt to resolve a situation that began when Saddam invaded Kuwait. The first Gulf War ended without resolution and Saddam continued as a threat to global security and his own people. I think many Canadians who supported the US invasion thought along these lines. I did. It's silly to suggest that many people here would be so silly as to argue that we have to join in the fight with the Americans primarily because they are our largest trading partner.

No serious person expected trading patterns to change radically whatever the decision made. Why would they? What motivates people to war is ultimately either a sense of immediate threat or a sense of moral rightness that war is the lesser evil of various bad choices.

The idea that market relations are really based on a hidden coercion - e.g. you must join us in our war or suffer economically - is a myth of the left, so deeply ingrained it may be common sense to you Ash. BUt, I have to tell you, serious people don't believe it. Yes, there can be coercion in individual cases of market relationships, but it is not a quality of the system as a whole, because the system itself works to reduce such coercion. Thus, many Canadians put their faith in the global trading system and see it as their duty to defend it, against the threats posed by coercive tyrants and terrorist sympathizers like Saddam.

Ash, have you ever reflected on the interesting paradox that it is those nations who most actively believe in the free market system who are also the most active defenders of their own sovereignty and the right to make their own choices, as regards things like war, whatever their trading partners may think? While on the other hand, it is those peoples most prone to question the market system who are also the most prone to give up national sovereignty to transnational federations that they see to be the solution to the world's woes.

IF France and the EU are on one side of the equation - give up national sovereignty because you don't trust the marketplace and want it regulated transtionally - and the US is at the other pole (defend both national sovereignty and global trade, howevermuch there is some inevitable friction between the two causes), Canada is much closer to the US in both respect for its national sovereignty and for free trade.

12/07/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Jakita, in defense of Ash's education, I have to protest that good history writing is not 99.9% interpretation. Good history writing attends to the nature of events - it describes them, provides evidence - such that whatever interpretation the author draws he has nonetheless sufficiently evoked the scene or events uch that others might imagine a different interpretation.

In other words, historical narratives are always dependent on the events they describe and cannot simply escape the contingent basis of their own existence and go into pure interpretation. Interpretation can entail a lot of b.s but reality inevitably imposes itself. Accordingly, a good historian spends a lot of time in the archives and library.

12/07/2005 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Truepeers wrote:

“Ash, have you ever reflected on the interesting paradox that it is those nations who most actively believe in the free market system who are also the most active defenders of their own sovereignty and the right to make their own choices, as regards things like war, whatever their trading partners may think? While on the other hand, it is those peoples most prone to question the market system who are also the most prone to give up national sovereignty to transnational federations that they see to be the solution to the world's woes.”

I have, actually, though I’m not sure how far out one can go regarding the link between free traders and those nations dislike of transnational federations. It is certainly true with the US but I do wonder at the Bush administrations fealty to free trade. The cynic in me wonders if Mr. Bush and crew are not really more inclined to support the Corporate donor agenda as opposed to free trade as an ideal. NAFTA/Softwood lumber and farm subsidies are two examples that make me wonder if it is not merely US advantage that drives things, though I concede that domestic political considerations are always on a leaders mind. I duly note the EU and France’s protectionist tendencies. I like it that you bring sovereignty into the trade discussion.

In general, I am a big proponent of free trade.

12/07/2005 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Ash, surely the protectionist sentiment in the US is more at home in the Congress than the WHite House. Anyway, my point is that the truth is indeed somewhat paradoxical, or contradictory: that the greatest trading nations are also the greatest defenders of national sovereignty and interests. Economic globalization and national sovereignty may not be at odds, as many on the left argue, except that, paradoxically, in opposing each other on given issues (like softwood) the two forces in fact support each other over the long term: supporting by opposing and insuring a mutually beneficial evolution, a constructive engagement of some sort. Kind of like how the left that whines so much about the market system is actually rewarded by that system with all sorts of products for and jobs in the educational and media networks.

12/07/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

One result of the illegal US softwood tariffs is that Canada has become a yet more efficient producer, and is starting to give greater attention to adding value to its forest products. Here is a prime example of how a nationalist opposition to free trade actually bolsters the global trading system by engendering higher productivity in search of markets. Not that the tariffs are in any way "right" or lawful, mind you.

12/07/2005 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

opotho wrote:

The tragedy of Islam is not Islam itself, but what too many of its adherents have done with it recently (as in centuries).

I empathize with your appreciation of certain beauties in the Islamic world and Islamic thought. No one can say that any culture has nothing at all to recommend it.

But when you say that the problem isn't Islam itself, but what many of its adherents have done with it, you are saying nothing of significance. Of course it is not "Islam" that is the problem - that is just a set of beliefs. It's the believers that are the problem. The religion brings with it a very real and historically proven danger of anti-Western violence. I don't care if the "real" Islam is all sweetness and light. The problem is what these muslim fanatics are doing. And my point is that we did very well without them in our societies for a very long time and can do well again in the future without them.

Muslims have been very aggressive over the centuries. I just read recently about the European slaves that the muslims took from the Caucasus for centuries, even establishing breeding farms for their slave stock. The West happens to be in a good position relative to the muslim world at the moment, but things can change. Can you imagine what would happen if the muslim world was more militarily powerful than the West? A thousand years of experiences of our Western ancestors ought to tell us what we could expect.

You also wrote:

I believe that we need an intellectual version of Commodore Perry to open Muslim minds - and western minds too - as to our common ground and rich potential.

Sorry, but to me this sounds like the same old "let's talk about it" approach to the problem that just isn't going to work. It strikes me as egotistical to think that the muslim world is going to change their worldview because of anything we might say in some "Commodore Perry"-like initiative. I think they might be very happy to pretend to listen, if it keeps you busy while they slip into our nations and use raw demographic change to take over. Why in the world should they change their worldview or interpretation of Islam because some kufir/infidel earnestly asks them to? This, I suspect, will strike them as pathetic weakness.

Wretchard wrote that he feels it is impossible to "scour Islam from the West" and that we should instead rely on trying to strengthen our own cultures to protect ourselves. I'm all for strengthening our cultures, but again if the muslims have a higher birthrate then we can have as strong a culture as we like and it won't change the fact that our descendents at some point will be minorities who will be subject to muslim rule, which is a terrifically unpleasant thought. They would rightly curse us for having left them such a legacy.

It may seem impossible now to "scour Islam from the West", and it may actually be impossible to completely remove it. But if current demographic trends continue, there will come a time where there will be only two alternatives: war or submission. And I would prefer to act now to politely but firmly show Islam the door rather than base my hopes on somehow changing the situation with more earnest talk.

There is still time for those who think talk will solve this problem to try their best. Good luck; I can't see that talk has changed diddley squat in our relations with the muslim world. But go ahead and try.

12/07/2005 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Yknow I think it would be really instructive to go to a mosque some Friday. I'm curious to know the exact features of the Muslim outlook's horizon. I once hung around Russian Orthodox, which I had never done, and was amazed at the ancient character of the perspective. Has anyone been to a mosque lately? Any old mosque, not necessarily Finsbury Park or anything.

12/07/2005 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger What's the solution? said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/07/2005 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger What's the solution? said...

Ash has a point about narrative. Most of the post written show the narrative perspective of their author. That is "The Iraq war was a necessary evil. Something those birkenstock wearing berkeley schooled liberals will never understand." It's just idenity politics. I'm RED, you blue. Too bad you can't beat everyone into submission. If I follow most of the arguements, IRAN should have been the target in the "War on Terror." It is the most overt state sponsor of terrorism. Oh, "but IRAN wasn't the walk in the park that IRAQ was advertised to be. This war will pay for itself with IRAQ oil revenues" Remember that narrative (story-lie). And besides IRAN is actually going NUCLEAR.

BTW, China's GNP will equal Americas by 2060. The real war is an economic one.

I'm not soft-You needed a military response. But before IRAQ is over it is going to cost close to a TRILLION dollars. A good percentage of it going to contractors.

12/07/2005 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Is anyone still reading this thread?I have a narrative for you.Watch "Mrs.Miniver",William Wyler's WWII epic(which he wrapped after flying a mission over Germany.)
I showed the film for a group of old folks at my mother-in-law's retirement home a few months after 9/11.They lived through the world war,but I had tears in my eyes over the powerful imagery in the film.
It is a tale of quaint village life in Britain suddenly disrupted by v-2 rockets,Dunkirk and loved ones shot down over Europe.It is a great story of the will to survive with faith and love intact when evil men try to crush your dreams.
That's our narrative.Can all the political posturing and folly.Our land was assaulted by fierce and wicked men.We must fight until we prevail.There is no other story.

12/07/2005 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Hint: EVERY LIVING AMERICAN had lived his ENTIRE LIFE in a land that had always been free from attack by foreigners "
OK, inelegant, ambiguous, and etc.
It does say *foreigners,* which you know who missed but who cares?
The less clear construction picked on by 'Peers was supposed to get across the idea that in the lifetime of anyone living today, the country has been free from attack from foreign soil.
This had a profound effect on how we saw ourselves, and the rest of the world, imo, and that changed profoundly on the morning of 9-11.

...on second reading, the "kind of like how Doug" strikes me more like the sort of cheap shot one might expect from...
An inferiority complex-ridden Canuckistanian!

12/07/2005 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I agree with you:
When Reality is confronted, all the rest is just words.
Almost everyone got that at the time (even folks at The Onion) but too many now take some kind of sick comfort in the luxury of forgetfulness and intellectual masturbation and plain old dishonesty.

12/07/2005 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

On the larger historical scale the event is really quite small. I repeat that approx. 3000 dead is not a big deal in the grand sweep of history.

Do you really believe that the number "3000 dead" is an exhaustive list of what happened that day? Perhaps if you narrowed the spaces in your filter, you would pick up the finer grains of truth and consequence that 9/11 came to symbolize.

Let me give you a less truncated account of that day, though it is still hopelessly abridged.

On September 11, 2001, a group of 19 terrorists boarded 4 airliners. They had nothing in their arsenal but box-cutters in their pants, hatred in their hearts, and a willingness to die for their cause. These terrorists were beholden to a perverted, radical interpretation of the global region Islam, a religion that has over 1 billion adherents and not a few brainwashed radicals who dream of conquest and subjugation.

A mere 19 men. A mere 19 did that to us. 19 men killed three thousand American civilians, on American soil, during a time of peace. 19 men, using nothing but razors and airplane tickets, murdered 157 times their number and destroyed the lives of countless more, people who would show up at ground zero for weeks, with blank stares and vacant expressions, hoping against hope that they would find a loved one's body so they could have a proper burial and be at peace.

A mere 19 men, in minutes, destroyed two giant towers that took 10 years to build, caused $700 million dollars in damage to the Pentagon, and destroyed or damaged a further 23 buildings in downtown Manhattan. 19 men, spending only $400,000 from planning to implementation, closed down our stock market for a week, something that had not happened in 75 years, and when it reopened the cost in lost stock value came in at $1,200,000,000,000. 19 men caused our country $500 billion dollars in ongoing damages, and caused a debate in a free society over how much freedom we can afford and still be safe.

A mere 19 men, Ash! And they did this with nothing. Nothing!

The Tupamaros terrorized Peru until the democratic government fell and a military dictatorship took over. The Tupamaros had thousands, but our enemy has more.

But that is not the scariest thing about 9/11. The scariest thing about 9/11 is the glimpse it has given us of the future.

19 men, willing to die for a perversion, killed 3,000 innocent Americans, shut down our country, and caused over $1.7 trillion in damages and loss. They exposed the fragility of our existence, the illusion of our safety, and the bone-deep hatred of an enemy that wants to kill or enslave every last one of us.

Those are the facts. Never in the history of mankind have 19 men accomplished so much. Their acts are are historically unprecedented--HISTORICALLY UNPRECEDENTED...for now. Only for now.

Does that not make you tremble? Ask yourself, what will the next 19 do? If you can imagine it, then you know why we must act.

12/07/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

9/11 was the thunder before the storm. Only a fool would stay outside after that to see if it'll rain.

12/07/2005 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Very well put Aristedes.
For me, the ongoing economic impact was easy to see, as previously busy streets remained virtually EMPTY for weeks on end. How soon we forget.

One thing those 19 "men" had going for them was the ability/willingness to live among us, then in front of a planeload of our children, women, and men, calmly slit a young woman's throat..
Everything else they accomplished that day carried the same stench of pure evil.
Folks like to forget that, also.

12/07/2005 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Doug, sorry, my comment was meant in friendly jest. I just wanted to say, just as the War of 1812 and the burning of Washington is now largely forgotten (as is also largely forgotten the burning of the village of York, later known as Toronto), so too might one day be similarly forgotten 9/11. In other words, notwithstanding all the pressing realities of 9/11 on which Aristedes has just given us a powerful perspective, the event itself cannot assure its place in history. Only if it transforms us, transforms us to build a new post-postmodern reality in rejecting the worldview of the terrorists and their western appeasers, and in duly memorializing the real victims of 9/11, will the event have been the historical turning point it probably needs to become if our shared culture is to survive.

12/07/2005 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Words from another old song:
"A world became one/of salads and sun
Only a fool would say that.
A boy with a plan/a natural man
Wearing a white Stetson hat
Unhand that gun be gone
There's no one here to fire upon
He's holding it high
He's telling a lie
Talking about a world where all is free/it just couldn't be
And only a fool would say that.

-Donald Fagan and Walter Becker commenting on utopians
of thirty years ago.The narrative is the reality.Beautiful portrayal of the cost of 9/11,Aristides.

12/07/2005 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Just thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity to be first on this forum to coin the term "Canuckistanian."
Trangbang 68,
Speaking of fools,
who better than Kerry?

12/07/2005 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

I think that most of us writing here are appalled every day by what people are capable of forgetting.

Nicely penned aristedes.

"Mrs.Miniver" is now on the list, though anyone who didn't draw the same conclusions after watching the Tolkein movies is beyond help.

dan, I've been attending Ukranian Orthodox services lately for the first time and am transfixed by the ancient character and rich rituals and imagery. It's like visiting a foreign land every Sunday, one decorated with icons.

However, mark will enjoy learning that I'd feel far too hostile to set foot in a mosque. Too true. But what makes us different is that he has to hold out for putting the toothpaste back in the tube as long as he also insists on denying the possibility of TALK, the essence of all democracies. Talk is precisely what we're bringing to these twisted lands, behind a necessary barrage of firepower.

We used to believe that the Japanese weren't capable of democracy either.

Please don't represent me as wishing to bridge cultures for anyone's sake other than our own; ensuring their freedom is now the smartest way to protect our own freedom that I can think of, and I thank God we have a president who thinks the same way.

Your non-plan, mark, seems utterly nihilistic to me.

12/07/2005 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

What you say about freedom there, Opotho, is I think right on it.

12/07/2005 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Mark articulates the sum of my fears. No amount of longing for Western cultural consolidation can possibly hope to surpass the reality of demographics. Europe is being displaced from within. How soon America? What will it take for Westerners to start having children again?

12/08/2005 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

"Europe is being displaced from within."

Things change, which is apparently the message we're supposed to take away from all of those anti-Kyoto threads. Well why wouldn't the same lesson apply to your worry nathan?

The difference between Europe and the US is that if the future American is predominantly Asian or 'Latin' or whatever, as long as they live by and defend the US Constitution then I'll be satisfied.

Wouldn't that outcome be closer to our *meaning*, as opposed to whatever it is most European democracies think they represent?

Any additional understanding as to what this country MEANS is simply extra, gratuitous, and inessential, however endearing and valued its current character is to any one group of us.

12/08/2005 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger tefta said...

I learning something this morning from the History News Network. Something I never could figure out. The reason Johnson appointed Ramsey Clark as Attorney General and the real reason his father, Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark resigned and the real reason Thurgood Marshall got a seat on the Supreme Court.

It seems that Johnson wanted to appoint a Black to the Supreme Court, but there were no vacancies. So what's a master manipulator to do? Why find someone so depraved that he'd ask his dad to resign from the court so he could get a job he wanted and like the fathers of a lot of other sons who never grew up, he did what he was asked and resigned, so that's how Johnson got his Black justice and Ramsey Clark got his one and only claim to fame.

12/08/2005 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/10/2005 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...


So much of the 'cost' of the attacks of the 19 men that you state can be attributed more to our reaction to their actions as opposed to a direct result of what they did. It was our 'fear' our 'terror' which caused so much of the damage that you list. This is due, for the most part, to our choice of 'narratives' we and our elites chose to propagate in the immediate aftermath, and even currently. I think that more power has been vested in those 19 men then is warranted.

12/10/2005 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...


But that's exactly my point. Those reactions were inevitable, just like the next reaction will be. If we cannot remove the effect, we must remove the cause.

In law there are two types of causation. The terrorists were the cause in fact of those costs, whatever the proximate cause was.

12/11/2005 09:50:00 AM  

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