Friday, February 17, 2006

Hearts and bytes

Donald Rumsfeld says Islamic extremists are winning the propaganda war.

"Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but for the most part we — our country, our government — has not adapted," he said.

He quoted Ayman al-Zawahri, the chief lieutenant of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, as saying that their terrorist network is in a media battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims. Rumsfeld agreed, saying that the battle for public opinion is at least as important as the battles on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The extremist groups are able to act quickly on the information front, with relatively few people, while the U.S. government bureaucracy has yet to keep up in an age of e-mail, blogs and instant messaging, he said.

"We in the government have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences," Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld has often described the U.S. government as being disadvantaged by its ponderous approach to dealing with the media, and he has pushed for the U.S. military in particular to try innovative approaches to getting out its message to the Islamic world.

He has also complained that the U.S. media tends to focus too much on the negative aspects of U.S. involvement in Iraq.


When blogger Bill Roggio went to Iraq, funded largely by contributions from his readers, the Washington Post denounced it as an attempt by the US military to buy favorable opinion. When the US military placed stories in Arab newspapers, the stories, even though they were factually correct, were likewise denounced by a press jealous of its independence. How can Donald Rumsfeld's claim that Jihadis are shaping public opinion unopposed be understood in this light? Readers are invited to comment.


Blogger orlandoslug said...

simple; the Jihadis have the ear of Al Jazeera, and the rest of the main stream press; whereas, this lot do not want to the U.S. and its allies to win...

2/17/2006 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Citizen Duck said...

How can Donald Rumsfeld's claim that Jihadis are shaping public opinion unopposed be understood in this light?

I don't think it's a matter of shaping public opinion, as if the shapers were molding public opinion out of thin air.

I think it's much more likely that Ayman al-Zawahri's audience (as well as their fellow travellers and like-minded individuals in the West struggling for ideological and partisan political advantage) is more receptive to his message than we in the West are. There is a predilection towards what seems an uncritical acceptance of his claims by those who support his aims.

We in the West, on the other hand, live in what I think of as the culture of the counterculture.

We're taught to question information, as well as the bearer of that information regaring any bias or vested interest they may have in delivering their message, to the point where it's reflexive.

2/17/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Helvetix said...

As this is posed, it's an ideology versus a government. The way I see it, a government is a codified instantiation of an ideology. But the government is NOT the ideology. What is needed to answer the ideology of islamic fundamentalism is an ideology of princples that people hold as fervently as the islamists. Where are those people? Because once we have them, they will be able to keep pace with the email, blogs, instant messaging and so forth.

It seems to me that the ideology the US was founded upon, has generally been outsourced to the politicians.

2/17/2006 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Handsome Hu said...

I sometimes wonder how causal phenomena such as "public relations" campaigns are.

Is the multi-headed superorganism of Al-jazeera and al-arabiya etc really the dragon people make it out to be?

Surely its content is quite beastly. However, Wretchard's previous post reminds one that human beings - more specifically the behavior of humans - is not a product of what sticks to your blank slate. Humans have the capacity to evaluate and attempt rational strategies in whatever game they find themselves in - whether you are at an exchange trading derivatives or in an Islamic society seeking...well...what do they seek? If they could be satisfied by watching thier muslim children be well-educated and successful and productive etc, then the al-jazeera superorganism seems to matter less. Perhaps its the brutish economics (including the trading of religious acclaim) of the Islamist games that plays a part in persuading humans to take the battle into Satan's pizza parlor. Al-jazeera is certainly an announcer in such a game.

But if Al-jazeera wants to make as much money as top-down media operations over here do, perhaps they only reflect the underlying memetics of Islamic societies. They cater to some "liberal" ideas such as whether torture is preferred. But then theyll have RoP programming (in the LGF sense) on right afterwards.

The thing I try to keep in mind when looking at the violently dastardly deeds done by our media and that of the "islamic superorganism" is that many (perhaps even most) human beings are not zombies, borgs etc.

Humans, if they are sharp and worth their brain tissue, will be able to see through bullshit, independent of any thought-engineering etc. I thought this was one of the biggest boons of OIF: spin the lead up and the post-war "chaos" however you want, the country is transformed and it was done by Iraqis, Americans, Brits, Australians and Poles. It changes the media context and you have to wonder how well Islamist lines will propagate in the new context. They can adapt, but its gotta require some serious creativity to convince someone whose not already convinced that Islamist interpretatiosn of events remain explanatory. Important question is how many fence-sitters are over there? How much can the Islamic superorganism be expected to trump the brain's inherent criticality? [Granted, the brain can delude itself, but perhaps there are much different survival rates for those who delude themselves very much (suicide bombers, sunni cannon fodder etc) and those who delude themselves less.]

This phenomena no doubt has the cards stacked against it in a society that plans its information. But the Internet has made planned information into competitive information, competitive easily accessed information.

If there are regimes that stifle such access, what is the value of a strategy of parking a few satellites over the given territory and giving away free internet access?

2/17/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Plant false rumors in the Arab world to goad AQ into crazier and crazier messages.

Fund or plant cartoons making fun of AQ and terrorists or cartoons which depict them as foolish and bloodthirsty.

Expose leading imams and spokesmen or their friends and supporters as child molesters, thieves, rapists, and killers and plotters(if they are indeed these kinds of men). Use national technical means to collect this information and "leak" in via "viral" means to the world at large. Video, voice, and written exchanges should ne leaked.

2/17/2006 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger BigLeeH said...

There is an interesting photo (see it here)
that shows a demonstrator in a burqa holding a sign that read "FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IS WESTERN TERRORISM." That photo fascinates me because, in a lot of ways, the statement is very apt.

We have recently seen Hamas elected to lead the Palestinian Authority. We can expect to see Hamas bow to pressure to renounce their official support of terrorist activities... but it will continue because other individuals and organizations will continue with it but Hamas will need to seek deniability.

The Islamicists are currently exerting all their efforts to control their internal press and to intimidate the international press and so to limit the access that the Islamic man-on-the-street has to problematical ideas. Pressure from the international community and the increasingly unsympathetic US press will require that the US government have a degree of deniability on that front, too.

What intersts me about the sign is that it identifies the greatest fear of the two sides. Our side fears casualties, especially civilian casualties. We don't much like bad press but we fear bombers and other acts of physical terrorism. The other side fears ideas. They don't much like to have their stuff blown up but it is alien ideas that really has them sweating.

So far in this conflict both sides are employing the weapons against the other side that they themselves fear most. We have had an advantage in open warfare because their military systems are vastly inferior. They have had something of an advantage in the war of ideas because our media is on their side much of the time.

That said I am optomistic about the long term (if we can stick it out long enough to have a long term.) I think the goal of an Iraq that has a tolerable degree of security and a good economy is doable. And that will be a desaster of the first order for the other side. They may be able to control and/or intimidate the mainstream press but, international borders are very permiable to the alternative media (blogs, email, etc.), and a prosperous, modern, peaceful, mostly-pro-Western Islamic country right next door will be impossible to conceal from the man on the street.

2/17/2006 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Ticker said...


The principal task of any terrorist organization is to maintain control over its mass base. Defeating the 'enemy' army is unimportant as long as the population it claims can be terrorized.

Historically, all successful terrorist campaigns have spent more time keeping their population in line than killing the enemy. In the Algerian War for example, terrorists killed two or three times more Arabs than Frenchmen of all types. The same is probably true for Palestine. They key to defeating Israel is not beating the IDF; as long as the terror masters can keep control of the Palestinian population the IDF will eventually be defeated politically.

So you're correct. Propaganda is primarily a battle for internal control. Anyone who reads 1984 will immediately realize that the Ministry of Truth was designed not to convince the foe but to convince the proles.

2/17/2006 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Ever since Algore invented the internet, America has been the superpower in cyberspace. Housewives in the Midwest are infiltrating Jihadi web sites. We have a lot more computer-literate people than they do. We need to get them organized and on the same sheet of music.

We need monitors who find the poison and writers who can refute, rebut, and counteract the poison. It doesn't take a soldier to do this.

There was an idea bandied about after 9/11 which proposed that closed circuit television monitors at strategic dams be monitored by a network of volunteers who signed up to watch the screen for specific time blocks. They accessed the CCTV monitors over the internet, password protected, and did their part, at their convenience, from the comfort of home.

This looks to me like an opportunity for unpaid, volunteer cyber-warriors and pajamahadeen to step up and engage the enemy. Imagine hundreds of thousands of bloggers and lurkers and surfers, on their own time, seeking out poisonous sites (in any language)and reporting them to articulate debunker/refuter counter-poison teams.

2/17/2006 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

The US government must stop looking to the MSM for actual reporting, and depend on its own media outlets (VOA, etc), local newspapers, plus the internet. I noticed a couple of Army types on CSpan, talking about body armor. More of this must happen.

The fact is, there is a cold civil war going on in the US, and instead of hoping hoping hoping the ignoramuses of the MSM will actually report (instead of opine), Rumsfeld and Co must stop whining and ACT.

For example: why not have reporters from smaller, local, specialized media outlets at the Admin press conferences? Why cater to CNN and etc. when there are plenty of bloggers who could ask good questions, and who, moreover, have very large audiences. Give THESE guys breaking news and "leaks." Let CNN and the NYT handle the latest about Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, they-re good at that.

It's so pathetic to watch Pentagon folks get all enthusiastic about Tal Afar, or Fallujah, or an election in Afghanistan... and the honchos in the 'press corps' are simply not interested. Moreover, they have no military experience.

Also: you can't have a Long War if you keep most of it secret. You have to read Robert Kaplan's book to know about US efforts in Chad. The Admin/Pentagon has to loosen up and stop being bureaucratic... or support will weaken (absent another attack on American soil.)

I have a friend who gets her news from TV. She knows about the Cartoon Kerfuffle, but has NEVER SEEN ANY OF THE CARTOONS.

This has to be a sophisticated, organized grassroots project. Maybe Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman should be moved from the re-election effort to deal with this. It is a very serious problem, and worth dealing with at the highest Pentagon level.

2/17/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

Al Jazeera is a niche just so happens to have the biggest niche in the world...
I like Red River's virus Al Jazeera is a member of their clan, and they have an inherrent mistrust of anyone outside of their clan.

2/17/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger sammy small said...

It's one thing to try to shape public opinion through the press and MSM, but quite another to achieve a useful result. I would hope that there are many internet news sites in Arabic that specialists can post to as an alternative to the MSM. But you know that good news is boring when it comes to attracting readers and watchers.

To get the maximum result, we need to replace Imams in the mosques throughout the mideast who preach jihad. When we bring our own version of jihad to the Imams, then we will be shaping opinion in a method most over there will understand.

2/17/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

Wretchard: "Propaganda is primarily a battle for internal control. Anyone who reads 1984 will immediately realize that the Ministry of Truth was designed not to convince the foe but to convince the proles."

Apply this reasoning to the US. The media's otherwise hard to explain stance is all about preserving their monopoly control over what the public at home thinks it understands. It has next to nothing to do with events overseas, which concern them but little.

2/17/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Dexter de Kalam said...

We have two existential threats. The first is the well known danger from Islamic Supremacists. The second is the menace of the Left, namely academics like Juan Cole, major media outlets and large portions of the Democratic Party leadership. The mainstream media has chosen sides, and they are not on our side.

Which is the greater threat? Islamic jihadists want us all to be dead, dhimmis or converts. The Left contrains our range of action, and enables the Islamofascists to realize their goals. I see the Left as the greater danger. As Lincoln said (quoting Jesus) "a house divided cannot stand."

2/17/2006 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

As I have said before, modern mass communication is all about "feeellliinnggs".

The Jihadists don't need facts. Like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, they strive to transmit a general feeling about events, an ambiance rather than a coherent picture.

Facts are not necessary to achieve a general feeling. True facts usually are a downright hindrance. Lies, misconceptions, and highly selective out-of-context statements work much better.

Most people "know" via their "feelings" that the invasion of Iraq has been a disaster and our losses horrific. That its had been virtually a military miracle with losses historically trivial is something most people do not have the education and experience to comprehend - so "feeelliinnggs" work so much better, and take almost no thought at all.

How can the U.S. Government compete? Well, it has in the past.
And as then, we just can't use logic.

And you can't get illogical ideas through the OSD Comptroller and Congress.

2/17/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...


"We're taught to question information, as well as the bearer of that information regaring any bias or vested interest they may have in delivering their message, to the point where it's reflexive."

While that is valid to some degree, I don't see that as being the issue here.

The problem is that most of the media and most of the left are pre-disposed to be anti-American in general, and anti-this administration specifically. Thus they generally give the terrorists the benefit of the doubt, while doubting anything that comes from the U.S. military and the government.

2/17/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The jihadists have much more than al Jazeera, they have the Pulpit, they word of mouth.

Mr Rumsfeld also said this about Ms Rice's request for $75 Million USD, a pittance if you think about it:
" ... Secretary of State Rice’s proposal to support the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people through expanded broadcasting, the Internet and student exchanges is a good start, and deserves support. But because it is new, and different, it is receiving opposition in the Congress. ... "

So there you go,
No to War
and quite possibly,
No to propaganda.
No to the battle for their minds. What member of Congress thinks our ideas and principles should not be transmitted to the outside world?

I'd put Jefferson up against Mohammed, in a "Long War",
but remember those folks over there, they cannot read.

2/17/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

In other words, I am getting tired of Rumsfeld's complaining about the terrible domestic coverage of the Long War. It is past time to DO SOMETHING REAL ABOUT IT!!!

These current Pentagon types are always talking about thinking "outside the box." Well, the MSM is no longer pro American. It is populated - at the highest, most well-paid level - with ignorant and stupid people.

So. Deal with it.

2/17/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

The problem is the visceral nature of visual and audio information, taken in by a person whose sole interface with, and understanding of, reality is visceral.

Teach them to read, teach them to deliberate, teach them to write, teach them to discern, teach them to think.

We can't expect them to act humanely if they never become fully human.

2/17/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

One of awful results of this ignorant hostile chattering by the MSM will be a lot of dead Iranians. Armageddon and Co. read the NYT and watch CNN... and believe that the US is weak, incompetent, and easily beaten in a nuclear war. This is not good at all.

2/17/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

It's been said many times on this blog that the Islamic leadership has overreached. They will continue down that path until they are stopped - either by force from outside - violently and completely, or from within, gradually.

Al Jezeera has become an effective tool in their (the bad guys) arsenel and currently enjoy the same cred level that our MSM had say 25 years ago.

To think that a counter to Al Jezeera led by the US would have an overriding effect on the masses in his time of intense news sharing is nonsense. That change needs to come from moderate Islam (perhaps with some discreet indirect funding from US) before it becomes too late to avoid a hot war; with "Islam" as the named enemy as opposed to "terrorism".

I'm going to say that we have a phenomenon in the West where the left has also overreached. Where the platform of the politicos has become a cult of death on the same level, but perhaps even more insidious due to their dishonesty, that fascist Islam itself. We are seeing the left self destruct. Better to surrender to the enemy of my enemy than to side with my enemy.

Intersting that the American conservative right has become the middle in this milleiu while being villified by both extremes.

At some point you will see the right decide to stop fighting for the idealism of the left and begin to fight solely for their own. When we finally see that will - to disregard entirely the irrelevent left, Katie bar the door.

2/17/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

If you can't affect the transmitter, focus on the receiver.

2/17/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Wretchard points out the fact that it is not just the jihadists who are undermining us, it is much more effectively our own press and TV. When the cards are turned over in this war, the opinions of Americans and Europeans are going to either win or lose the battle, much more so than the opinions of the indefatigably hateful Islamic extremists in Muslim lands. They are already doing their best to hurt us, and have been doing so forever. The only way we can really lose, is if we lose our will. That is, if this critical, global war the Islmaofascists have launched against us is lost here at home.

The stakes are much higher than they were during the bloody Cold War in Vietnam. Soviet Communism only lasted 60 years, Islamic jihad has already lived more than twenty times as long, and shows no signs of dying.

The real question is Why ... Why do Westerners not only pretend there's not a world war going on, pretending that everything would be fine and dandy if we just surrender ... but what draws them to tear down our own defenses even while our enemies grow more threatening and inflamed?

I can't believe they are that deluded, that they can't see the Islamofascist enemy - he's everywhere, in the papers, in the news, in recent history, in the giant hole in Manhattan. So it can only be that they think they can surrender for just this one lifetime, and maybe their kids and grandchildren can live in such a happy, dreamy state of ... what?

What drives Salon to reprise the Abu Ghraib frenzy ... the week after they see that even cartoons (! cartoons for God's sake!) drive our enemies into frenzies of hatred?

Apparently, they'd rather be Dead than Bush.

2/17/2006 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Greetings y'all.

So long as the Koran is sacred while the Bible cannot be mentioned we lose, because "In the beginning is the word.".

It is pretty obvious that the Main Stream Media and Acadamia and Hollywood and the leadership of the Democratic Party abhore the American military and the Bush Administration.They work tirelessly in the word foundries of the land casting endless lies and omissions to undermine our American way of life while simultaneously taking credit for everything good and honorable in our society.

Is Jesus Christ the Truth or a fraud? All of the current Western Civilization stands or falls on the answer to this question.

Our military largely has faith but they have been officially silenced. The white hat politicians have been mostly cowed. The "churches" for the most part are busy trying to show "love" to our enemies when they should be encouraging our guys to shoot straight.

That just leaves the internet. Spread the word. Bloggers rule.

Speak the truth to lies. They hate it. It's what makes life interesting. And it's lots of fun to see them squirm and try to backfill. I think with God's help we can do some exploits. We already have actually. Just remember that newsman, what was his name? He used to be on TV all the time around 6 oclock. Ohh well I'll think of it later. We caught that liar.

Evolution is a lie. The Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation. Open it up and read it and find out what's going to happen tomorrow.

Great post Wretchard, (as usual).


2/17/2006 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Look, the analysis of the problem is correct. But our options are constrained by our own principles.

What more can we do to the media than appeal to their sense of patriotism and shame, or to their professional ethics? Sure, we could open another New York Times or AP, but doing so would immediately undermine our goal. Any media organ so created would never be trusted by the audience we hope to reach.

We will never be able to control or effectively counter propaganda if an audience is already predisposed to its biases. The only thing we can do is publically attack the credibility of the propagandists, while at the same time educating the public to be able to think and discern on their own.

If I were the State Department, I would develop a brutal sense of humor. I would focus that sense of humor, not on religious icons, but on leaders. I would lampoon those leaders in a way that nobody in the society is allowed to do. I would empower the people by being their voice by proxy. I would eliminate fear by laughing at it.

Underneath it all would be the message of freedom, because we do what they are unable to do for themselves. When the propagandists are wrong, make fun of them for it. When they are right, make fun of them for it. When they are silent, make fun of them for it.

I don't know, sounds good to me. Nothing else seems to be working.

2/17/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Heather - Bush & Co. probably conclude, reasonably in my opinion, that 1) such tactics will be undermined by our MSM's reaction a) for being left out of the loop and b) because their general attitude is cynical about any Admin. efforts, and 2) the resulting distrust, sincere of false, will only serve to direct the laser of bad faith political opposition onto the Administration, and thus more deeply endanger overall efforts.

It's a terrible predicament that escaped the Founders' imagination, I think. We cannot endanger free speech, yet here we are with a virtually monolithic countercultural media who suddenly (10 years) dominate a host culture to which they are partially hostile and heavily influence a huge percentage of folks predisposed to either the medium or the message.

I don't think this problem has a solution, and I don't think there's much Rumsfeld can do about it, nor be faulted for. The man tried straight talk, and the media only tolerated it while the glow of 9/11 still forced everyone to stand in frank reality. But they've closed that wormhole now.

I'm almost tempted to say that only Democratic victory in '06 in the House and/or Senate would change things, but then of course they'd go into full barbarian-fixin-to-rape mode with their red eye on impeachment.


2/17/2006 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I agree that this war needs to be won here.
If that were to occur, the rest would take care of itself, since the enemy currently relies on that more than anything.
It will not be "won" but we must do what we can.
...and hope something changes radically before '08.

2/17/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Evolution is a lie.

Glad you cleared that one up.

2/17/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I still think, however, that feedback will save us in the end. Ayn Rand once said, "You can try to avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

When reality comes calling again, many of the worst memes will be defeated, if only for a little while. Hopefully it will be long enough to win.

2/17/2006 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So who is diminished by a lie? Not the victim (those whom about the untruth is told). The listener participates in and is diminished by the lie by not demanding verifiable truth, as the truth will eventually come out, and the liar will be doubly diminished.

I suspect most Americans feel betrayed by the media wrt Vietnam and in the clear-light-of-day feel responsible for the terrible losses that followed both in Vietnam and surrounding countries. And Mr. Rumsfeld regrets that the public (both here, abroad, and in the Muslim world) are not getting better information and would like to do something more about it, but recognizes it's not his place (other than to make sure a truthful record of DoD statements are placed unfiltered on the web.

One reason for faith in an afterlife is the satisfaction of knowing there will be an ultimate truth and accounting for our lies of both commission and omission. Where there's a promise of just punishment for those that condemned so many millions to slavery and a shortened life, devoid of liberty and individual responsibility (the opportunity to make the best of oneself demanding a minimum from others - aka "free will" - those things I do because I choose to, not because of others' utopian visions)

2/17/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This is almost getting funny, if it weren't so damn sad.

Couldn't start a "new" outlet...
Fund Mr Murduch a Billion USD and you'd have "Sky News Arabia" in half a New York minute.
And they'd kick some ass.

The Arabic News Industry is new.
As well as State Sponsored in many instances.

We do not deploy oour best assets, because they are not in Government and wouldn't pass the piss test.

But then who needs a bunch of artists and cartoonists and the like. They'd just be offensive.

2/17/2006 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Hire Mr Toles of WaPo cartooning fame to draw some cartoons that would offend, educate and illuminate the Mohammedan world view.

What would his day rate be?

Send Larry Flynt of "Hustler" fame into the International battle for free speach, pay the guy, he'll get Press.

Hire Mr Tarentino to do a Mohammedan Terrorist movie, he knows how to make a point with a mass market.

But instead Mr Rumsfeld idea of progress:
" ... In some cases, military public affairs officials have had little communications training and little, if any, grounding in the importance of timing, rapid response, and the realities of digital and broadcast media. We have become somewhat more adept in these areas, but progress is slow. And, importantly, public affairs posts have not proven career enhancing for the military. ... "

2/17/2006 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

How many of your daily readers do actually still read newspapers? That would be an interesting poll in my opinion.

I never read a newspaper anymore, and I'm far more up-to-date than everyone I personally know. Blogs, Rush and rapid response radio (Hugh Hewitt), sketch a far more accurate picture and I don't waste my time getting upset about an article that most of the time is full of holes nor do I waste my time reading editorials instead of facts.

2/17/2006 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

It just occured to me that a massive, direct mail campaign of blasphemy could start World War III.

If someone printed millions of cartoons depicting Mohammed getting raped by a pig, with Uncle Sam videotaping, and then sent this cartoon to one out of every three households in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and every Muslim who lived in Europe, I think it would start a war. Especially if it was signed 'George W. Bush.'

Is anyone else mildly terrified that circumstances are so fragile? One man, with enough money, could do this.

2/17/2006 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Send money to 'Rat, fast, he already has the presses at hand.

2/17/2006 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hillary right, Republicans WRONG on Port Security?
That plus the border is enough to put a Dem in office if they don't get their stuff together.
...ignoring common sense and the will of the people.

2/17/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Aristides: You comment about feedback caused me to recall something that relates to propaganda.

A friend of mine was an officer in the Polish Army at the start of WWII, and as result he spent virtually the entire war in a German POW camp. Near the end of the war he managed to escape, made it to U.S. forces, and served as an interpreter for them.

They encountered Soviet troops, one of whom was driving an American-made Jeep.
“How do you like this American Jeep?” he asked the Russian.
The Russian replied “This is Soviet made. Not American.”
My friend replied that all of the markings on the vehicle were in English, including the instruments; it obviously was American made.
“No,” said the Russian “it is marked that way because we export these vehicles to the United States. Americans are not very bright and need these markings. We Russians are smart and don’t need them.”

The degree of delusion in this attitude is breathtaking, but may very well be exceeded by the opinions of the “Arab street.” It is an indication of people wanting to believe obvious lies, for whatever reason.

My friend told me this story around 1976. Over 10 years or later I recalled it when I read a letter in an American plastic modeling magazine from a teenager in the Ukraine. The kid wanted to obtain U.S. model kits of American-made vehicles and aircraft operated by the Soviets, and said ”The American equipment is recalled fondly here as being of excellent performance and quality.”

The grandchild – or more probably, great grandchild – of the generation of Soviets who believed the lies they were told - knew the truth bout the equipment they received from the U.S. The truth won out over time, and the USSR crumbled around that same period, but it cost hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars that could have been better spent.

It’s kinder and cheaper to kill the lie when it starts.

2/17/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

...I thought Poindexter was in charge of the Bloggernaut!!
...or am I a little behind (they don't call me slug for nothing!)

2/17/2006 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

CSpan repeated the Rumsfeld speech. The questions by the Human Rights gal and the 'professional' Andrea Mitchell were so indicative of The Problem: When are you going to follow Kofi Annan's directive to shut down Gitmo?? When are you going to send truly "independent" crowd to "investigate" Gitmo?

There was not one question as to what the Pentagon or the Admin is planning to do about the information problem. Just no interest there.

Honestly, the world will be a better place for all of us when these stupid people lose their jobs.

2/17/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

We in the government have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences" - Rumsfeld

I can gain barely any ground at this blog for the argument that our propagandists should be armed with an extensive knowledge of Islam, and Islam's history of irony, disdain for sanctimony, and extra-Koranic dialectic and debate.

In the last thread I made the point that if we'd been ready with that kind of knowledge, "we could have used the whole cartoon kerfuffle for its enormous pedantic potential. We're nowhere near doing this even now, which to my thinking is an inexcusable lapse."

We do absolutely nothing other than hope that one day Muslims have their long-awaited discussions about how twisted their religion has become.

When I argue here that Islam's past is the key to mixing up and dividing today's Muslims, of initiating that dialogue for them, I'm routinely shouted down as an apologist for Islam, or worse.

After today, I sure wish I had Rumsfeld's ear instead of those of the posters here.

2/17/2006 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Too many stupid people!

"It’s kinder and cheaper to kill the lie when it starts."
True, but at this point the Muslim community only hears what they want, or whatever fits their worldview.

Same with the left.

2/17/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Re Soviet propaganda: in the late '70's I visited West Germany for a month as part of an exchange program with the German Navy. One weekend was spent in West Berlin. WHile in the hotel, we watched an East German broadcast of a SOviet documentary on World War Two in the Pacific. (German subtitles.) Up to that point, I hadn't realized that the Soviets had defeated teh Japanese virtually by themselves!

2/17/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Does the UAE still not recognize Israel?
Support Schumer and Hillary!

2/17/2006 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

I read specific articles/columns from a number of papers from their web sites, but don't bother reading "individual papers" anymore. Not an efficient use of time.

2/17/2006 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

My sentiments exactly.
As with so many conflicts we're fighting the last war.

With the advent of the internet, etc. this war is morphing quickly and we are not catching up.

It takes time to train translators, etc. Need to 'hire' sympathetic indigs to carry our flag.

2/17/2006 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Congressman Hoekstra had an interesting idea on how to translate all 50,000 boxes of official documents found in Iraq: put them on the internet, and let them be translated by whoever is willing.

2/17/2006 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Dan, Team: I elect this for one of the Top Ten Sentences Ever Spoken in the Belmont Club:

The man tried straight talk, and the media only tolerated it while the glow of 9/11 still forced everyone to stand in frank reality. But they've closed that wormhole now.

2/17/2006 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger vbwyrde said...

Ask Alec Baldwin.

Seriously, though, the problem as I see it is that the Government is Responsible to provide accurate information, which takes time. The Terrorists on the other hand can lie through their teeth all day long and be quick about it. So they get ahead of the curve. If the Government were to do likewise to "compete" with the Terrorists they would rightly be accused of irresponsibility.

The key is for the Government to continue doing what it is doing. Stay steady, provide accurate information. The lies will eventually come out in the wash and those who told the truth will be justified. Those who chose to believe them will eventually be ashamed, if not on earth then in the next world where their deeds will be tallied up and recompensed as deserved.

Keep steady and keep on doing what is right, regardless of what the Terrorist do. That is the way Government should always behave. It sets the right example and shows strength of character.

2/17/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

enscout - delighted we can find agreement on something.

Does it even require an affection for a thing to know how to use it against itself? I don't think I ever intended that, no matter what I think of Islam.

All of us are fighting the last war until we use our heads and our propaganda potential to direct the divisive passions of Muslims over against their other tendency to be unified against us.

That will take a great knowledge of Islam, but so be it.

2/17/2006 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Fact is the "hearts and minds" of the islamic world was NEVER our's to win..

the islamic world has already made it's mind up DECADES ago...

We need to torture the collective minds of the islamic world with cartoon contests & disrespect as this HURTS them more than mass death and destruction..

To what end? It's like popping a pimple...

Time to pop the pimple in order for the festering to heal....

Since logic is not understood, use illogic...

coat those bullets in pig fat....

drop cargo planes of shoes at them

insult their pride......

print mohammed as terrorist posters in as GWB pov, in a thousand points of lights....

time to use ridicule to drive them insane...

2/17/2006 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

In war, I do not care a damn about what the enemy thinks of me. I want him to fear and respect me. And I want to break his will and break his ability to fight. Truthfully, I do not care about what ordinary Arabs and other Muslims think of me, the unclean infidel. I will always be an infidel to him. I cease to be an infidel on the day that his "religion" is demonstrated to be false, evil, sadistic, and ineffective. Since he believes what he has been conditioned to believe, I intend to disabuse him of his illusions.

The only propaganda war that matters to me is the internal one at home. These are the people who will decide my country's fate, and perhaps even the fate of all civilization worth saving. It really is that important. And if your domestic media are working on behalf of the enemies of civilization and of your country, you have one major problem that cannot be glossed over or simply disregared like a pesky fly. By depriving ourselves of the confidence in our cause and the rightness of it, we hand over to the enemy something more valuable than any technological advantage we have: the will to prevail.

2/17/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger david bennett said...

It's so pathetic to watch Pentagon folks get all enthusiastic about Tal Afar, or Fallujah, or an election in Afghanistan... and the honchos in the 'press corps' are simply not interested. Moreover, they have no military experience.

Not true. One proof was provied yesterday and all sorts of counters to your claims can be found regularly.

Someone arguing from the other side could point out the press does not stress that by our own metrics (including thngs like electricity, water...) 6 out of 7 key indicators are down since the invasion.

In a group which has no problem with handles like "pork rinds for Allah" or which can rationalize torture it is absurd to imagine that you can talk about ideas that will positively effect Muslims.

Nor do you have the slightest of the variety on Al Jazeera. One of it's biggest commentators remarked when the abuse stories first broke that it didn't disturb him that much because unlike Arab regimes we would correct the problem and punish the guilty.

Trying to hide info which then leaks out in dribs and drabs is the approach supported here along with sympathy for the concept that all Muslims are enemies and it is absurd to think such notions will make these people think we are their friends or bring them to our cause.

The right has made a point of confrontation, denouncing even the president for saying Islam is a religion of peace. They have also sought to ignore the miner's canaries of cultures and individuals who admire our values and us (eg. "new Europe"0 becoming increasingly alienated.

The idea that paying a bunch of cronies big time money for propaganda would counter this is silly. And the long term ideological victory which survived similar downturns in the cold war is that our system supports dissent and difference of opinion, the same things you as a group despise.

You have slandered those who have questioned tehe war and foreign policy including Generals Zinni, Odom and Scowcroft as American hating terrorists mantaining a view of reality as simplistic as that of our enemies.

And no waving your freedom fries won't do it because just like them you can't grasp that honorable humans can hold a variety of opinions in this world. Your truth is so obvious that you can't imagine why calling foreign cultures evil and in need of torture and military cleansing won't persuade the people of those cultures.

This is a group whose hold on reality is so lunatic you actually believe a great victory has been scored because Batman is joining the fight.

I suggest medical help for your time not pontificating on things beyond your ability.

2/17/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

"In war, I do not care a damn about what the enemy thinks of me. I want him to fear and respect me."

Well then Fred, you do care.

Since he believes what he has been conditioned to believe, I intend to disabuse him of his illusions.

But why? Why not condition him to believe a new thing?

2/17/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But if evolution is a lie,
and we kill the lie at the start,
how did we get here to argue about it?

The "Presses", doug, are worthless in this fight.

Visuals, docudramas, documentarys,
dramas, all with US Production values in Arabic and Farsi.
Using both historical and current themes to show the false teachings of the current crop of Imams.

Cartoons of Mohammedans fighting Mighty Mouse or better yet, Elmer Fudd, and losing should become commonplace.

We need a new "Pigman" hero figure. Kinda like the old Police Porkers, but a bit more lean and mean. Large tusks required.

Possibly retire the Devil Dog image for one of Private Porker.
Nah, the Marines wouldn't go for that.

2/17/2006 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

He's not a pigman, he's just a fat, little mental patient." - Kramer

2/17/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger vbwyrde said...

"...denouncing even the president for saying Islam is a religion of peace."

But Islam is not a religion of peace. It just isn't. Read up on the history of Islam and I think you will see a distinctive pattern. It is and always was a religion of violence, both in its precepts and its actions. I'm sorry if that is inconvenient, but it's true. From this what a lot of people are saying here follows. You assume it is a religion of peace and we disagree. All logical conclusions follow from that premis. Can you show us how Islam is a religion of peace, historically speaking? I don't think you can because even at it's most "peaceful" Islam is a totalitarian civilization. It is inimical to our own Civilization and consequently we are at war with it. We did not start the war. But we must be prepared to fight it. Part of that preparation is psychological. We can not sit around and think, "golly, we must be sick to think that the peaceful Imams would be our friends if only we weren't such right wing war mongers". That kind of thinking under the present circumstances would get us killed. There is a time for peace and a time for war. Now we must be prepared to fight.

2/17/2006 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

"But Islam is not a religion of peace. It just isn't"

Here we go ....

2/17/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger vbwyrde said...

Wishful thinking does not make something true.

There is a great deal of evidence to show that Islam is not a religion of peace.

Saying "Here we go .... " is not a refutation. But no matter. I find nothing in the history books to show that Islam is a religion of peace. I'd be happy to review any references you might care to give that show otherwise. I'm sure we all would. Instead what you will find is that from the very beginning Islam was born of violence. Do some research. It's not that hard to do.

2/17/2006 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

I completely agree with everything Sardonic has written in his last post. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of denial and obfuscation to go around. Sardonic, I have read the Qur'an, some of the ahadith (English translation), and a couple of biographies of Muhammed. I am in the middle of reading Andrew G. Bostom's "The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non Muslims." I have read every one of Bat Ye'or's texts about dhimmitude. I do not know what your educational background is, but mine (undergraduate and graduate)was not obtained at the elite Ivy League schools, whose graduates do tend to exert tremendous influence over public policy, the media, and education over the long term. Typically, the people from those schools are exposed to a faculty that is rather hostile to this country and its liberty. With respect to Islam, they get by on the innocuous drivel and bilge that is the product of historical revisionism, cross-fertilized over from Europe - where there is a distinct Islamophile flavor. Am I accusing our elites of bias and a limited grasp of history and theology? Yes, I am. People like us can cite surah and verse almost as well as the jihadis can, but somehow this is simply dismissed as rustic buffoonery by our "betters."

2/17/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

David Bennett,
Your rose colored glasses have prevented you from seeing the accomplice media for what they are...anyone who ever served on their jr. high newspaper staff could read any transcript of the major networks news and bleed all over it, like Mrs. Lynch did on my 7th grade articles: subjective! opinion! re-phrase!!

2/17/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Wretchard reminds us:
"The principal task of any terrorist organization is to maintain control over its mass base."

I am astonished at how LITTLE it would cost for Bush/Rice/Rumsfeld to arrange a cable/TV/radio broadcast, worldwide, and proclaim:
a) Muhammad was the Truthful, the All-Informed; and
b) He promised the Mahdi would come in 1,260AH; so
c) America recognizes the Mahdi, Whose coming in 1260 AH (May 23, 1844) has been reshaping our world since then; because
d) the Coming of the Lord of Hosts, promised by Muhammad, has happened in the Person of Baha'u'llah, the Glory of God; therefore
e) America endorses the Baha'i principles of Independent investigation of truth, equality of men and women, and oneness of all humankind.

Deal with this, now!" End of Transmission

It would strip the terrorists of their stranglehold over the 'mass base' because of its public declamation, its resonance with the cowed and quiescent Muslims AND Christians everywhere who yearn for the coming of their Lord, tired of clergy's continued 'scoffing and denial of our lord who redeems us' having returned.

Ten minutes that CHANGE THE WORLD!

2/17/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

sardonic - I say "Here we go" because I've been refuting both the truth but also the utility of that assertion for days. Are you new here?

Do your own research if you're not willing to keep up with these threads. It's not that hard to do.

2/17/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Dear david bennett,

My handle is in RESPONSE to the HUNDRED of times i have read in the arab/islamic press that I am the Grandson of pigs and apes...

My handle is in RESPONSE to the thousands of physical attacks by MOSLEMS to the very fact that I do not recognize Mohammed as supreme Prophet.

David, (btw excellent name, ask a Moslem WHO the F*ck was HE?) and WHY the F*uck can MOSLEMS DESTROY 1st & 2nd Temple artifacts without a care?

David, my dear david, Remember those peace loving moslems that decapitated Nick Berg, Daniel Pearl, or those MOSLEM lovers that BLEW up that Sabarro's Pizza Parlor MURDERING 20 young women?

David,. please remember that Mohammed MURDERED the Jewish people of ARABIA and ethnically cleansed them from their lands

David... I dont give a pig's ass about moslem sensiblities, if my handle makes them riot in the street, excellent, how many will be trambled by the crowd?

David, the Islamic world can offer death sentences on people for drawing cartoons or writing a book...

David, screw em if they cant take a joke...

2/17/2006 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...


I would not condition him to believe in a different thing because I think that minds work best when they are not conditioned. I think that "propaganda" should be three-quarters truth and the rest moral exhortation. In any environment where Muslims have not had to fear the retribution from apostasy, they have found Christianity much more attractive than Islam, a "religion" that is more like an ideology and is established upon violence and coercion. That is not mere opinion, sir, but fact. Sardonic is correct to recommend further research into these things. I cannot emphasize enough the inevitable fact that civilization itself hangs in the balance. The entire orientalist academic community has done this nation and the world a terrible disservice by propagating lies and revisionism about the past and about Islam's theology. Since it is the graduates of schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia that often find their careers intersecting with public service and public policy, it would behoove those people to get the correct information.

2/17/2006 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I'd say we're fighting two different propaganda wars, with two different targets.

Al Qaeda is winning the propaganda war in the Middle East.

The transnationals are winning the propaganda war at home.

I don't think they are the same thing, though their interests currently overlap.

2/17/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

The transnationals are winning the propaganda war at home and throughout the region we describe as "The West."

2/17/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

And, Opotho aside, since it hasn't been addressed on THIS thread, the 'peace' that Muslims aspire to is, and has ALWAYS BEEN, the 'peace of IMPOSING Islam on all the world', with Muslims at the top of the resultant hierarchy!

THAT is 'Islam, the Religion of Peace', and the perversion its become in the last 162 years since the coming of the One Who has authority and power to modify Islam: the Twin Candlesticks of the Bab and Baha'u'llah!

If Muslims ignore them, they have only ignorance and hatred for their bread. If WE ignore them, we have only ourselves (and our clergy) to blame!

2/17/2006 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

fred - that's a mere quibble then about what constitutes "conditioning", so fine, whatever.

(Point taken Karradine, but it gets so tiresome and stupid.)

I don't imagine that you, fed, have read much medieval Islamic philosophy, as I have.

So if you don't think that "orientalists" like Bernard Lewis at Princeton can help us defeat this foe then you and I have nothing else to talk about.

Honestly, you're all worse than a pack of liberals! If anyone disagrees then they must be taking the opposite position from you.

Do I have to swear allegiance to Bush each time I post? I will of course, but is it required?

it would behoove you fred to keep an open mind, despite the "facts" that you pompously claim make your arguments for you.

The argument is about propaganda. The decision that Islam is an essentially violent dead-end is the end of that discussion. Right?

2/17/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Free West said...

The Danish cartoon saga is a good leading indicator of what is happening in the current Sitzkrieg, as the Western World happily sticks its head in the sand behind the Maginot line.

What is really happening is a large-scale propaganda campaign being waged by the odious conspiracy of the global caliphate.

It should be clear that the techniques being used are straight out of Goebbels book on propaganda.

The odious islamists' procedure is to repeat the Big Lie and to do so loud and clear.

In addition, it helps to add a solid dose of threats, intimidation and actual physical violence. The most important ingredient of this propaganda is one thing: Fear. Disseminating Fear.

Truth in reporting, in the Liberal Western tradition, is helpless in this situation, because the audience that is targeted by the propaganda already believes or wants to believe a large part of it.

The audience that is intimidated and threatened with violence, on the other hand, may submit to it in many cases. It's not a given that they (re: Danes, Euros, even Americans) will show defiance. This would take enormous courage, unlike what drives entities in the MSM such as CNN.

It is unlikely that anything other than a massive counter-propaganda campaign analogous to the one waged by the allies in World War II is likely to even make a dent in the minds of the islamic cesspool.

Unfortunately, some of the enemy's propaganda has already had a corrosive effect on the West, by cleverly mingling the issue of religious respect and creating doubt and especially Fear, in the minds of the media.

Where is Churchill when we need him ?

2/17/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

Belmont Club is more of a hate-fest today than it was one year ago.

Karradine - "the 'peace' ... has ALWAYS BEEN the 'peace of IMPOSING Islam on all the world'"? That's true for some, but not true for all.

I say screw ALL of this self-serving hatred. Go straight to hell.

Rumsfeld is on Charlie Rose tonight for the hour. It's on PBS right now (EST).

2/17/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

I agree with Cutler that the battle for public opinion is a two fronted war;
I also agree with the earlier post that simply opening up shop with a competing network in the middle east won't work due to their distrust of outsiders...
as far as the battle on the homefront, which the transnationals have been winning to date:
Rummie should start by offering VOA broadcasts to all Public Radio stations free of charge; part of what is missing is knowledge by the American masses of what is going on in other countries, other than news of the latest roadside bombing as reported by the major networks. The transnationals are the ultimate elites; arm people with the truth, or provide them with enough sources that they can decipher the truth, and they'll do the thinking on their own. Right now some Public radio stations have BBC broadcasts at off hours.

2/17/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Free West said...

Opotho - I read all of your comments.

I think your point about knowing the enemy is well taken. In this case that includes knowing the ins and outs of their religion...perhaps.

But then, using historical analogies, do you honestly believe that an effective counter-propaganda could make use of subtle theological arguments?

Was Goebbels a subtle dialectician ?

Did he use the Socratic method ? Did he use Aquinas ?
- or did he simply use a two-by-four to get his point across ?

2/17/2006 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...

Apotho says that I, among others, propagate hatred. That is a distortion, since I have not stated anything but the truth. Apotho has also accused me of arrogance, when it is he who has not been able to refute the claim that jihad is firmly ensconced in Islamic theology from the beginning. Let me remind everyone that Averoes, the Arabic philosopher-theologian, was condemned by Islamic scholars for his enlightenned attempt to use the allegorical method to interpret the Qur'an. He was forced to recant his position and his method has ever since been marginalized and his followers are fringe players in Islamic theology. He advocated the allegorical method because Qur'anic literalism was already perceived as a problem, vis-a-vis science. It was already a popular hermeneutical tool in the Christian world, which in itself must have also added to the contempt traditionalist Muslims had for Averoes. Much of Medieval Islamic theology functions mainly as textual apologetics in defense of the Qur'an's literal inerrancy. And if it was ever so erudite, where is this in evidence today?

The tone of your first remarks made to me was sarcasm and scorn, but I was not unmindful of that and gave you the benefit of the doubt in a rather civil, courteous reply. Your further remarks made towards me displayed all of the qualities you imputed to my posts. And your parting remarks were - priceless.

2/17/2006 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

So...Rumsfeld says we're losing the propaganda war.

Given the choice, I'd rather hear that we're losing the military war at this particular moment but gaining real ground in the propaganda war. Bodes much better for the future.

As it is, I see a procession of shitty little wars for many a decade to come. The Long War by another name. That might, in fact, be the name they originally gave it - Decades-Long Procession of Shitty Little Wars - before realizing it's even less inspirational than The Long War.

2/17/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Opotho, there's plenty of divergent opinions here. Realists, neo-cons, ex-fellow travelers like Fred (do I remember correctly?), even some guys like Bennett and Ash to keep people honest, (and IOTM to throw feces when we let him out of his cage) - no need to lump us all in together.

I'm relatively neutral so far as religion goes, no need to pick on Muslims. Think neo-Conservatism deserves a chance, and in that vein also think that unnecessary bigotry and slander is generally harmful so long as our chances are interwined with their attitudes. At the same time, I don't know if I know enough to call any religion intrinsically peaceful - and I don't think it generally matters, religions so far as we are concerned seem to be what their adherents make them, setting aside the pedantic question of historical knowledge.

Of course, I don't mean to say that using ancient Islamic history to attempt to seperate the wolves from the flock is unreasonable...but I'm not yet convinced that there is any difference between the two, indeed the last few years seem to show more and more signs that they might not be seperable for the near future, a possibility that scares me. I'm working on Lewis atm - but his chapters on the Assassins seem most relevant.

My overriding point is that I'd be glad to listen to your views on historical Islam, but don't assume that mine or Fred's pov's [correct me if I'm wrong Fred] are necessarily the result of not listening, but your appeals being shouted out by the burning embassies, conspiracy theories, hatred, and other history. Keep at it, I'd love optimism, but try not to get so excited over it, though I admit they're dreadfully important issues.

Sorry if that seems at all condescending.

2/17/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

Thanks for that freedom.

But do I think "using historical analogies ... an effective counter-propaganda could make use of subtle theological arguments"?

I'm watching Rumsfeld in an interview right now, and I'd have given anything to have heard him two weeks ago in his classic, unvarnished attitude dismiss Muslim outrage over the cartoons with two simple facts: they don't unanimously prohibit images of their prophet, and they have an ancient tradition of ridiculing hypocrites in their own ranks (then provide a few of the necessary references).

We can't do that. No one in the West seems able to do that. Why the f**k not!? Are we idiots?

2/17/2006 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Thanks for the heads up on Rumsfeld, Opotho.

As an aside, I think your information is sound, your characterizations and opinions arguable, and your sincerity obvious. However, you cast much too wide a net in your criticisms of the posters here, and your sensitivity to slight is much too finely tuned.

I have a suspicion that your plan to persuade Muslims of their proper intellectual heritage would fail if it were dependent on your patience and delivery. Something to think about, at least.

2/17/2006 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

cutler - there's more divergence here than in a liberal blog probably (I wouldn't really know to compare), but at this blog I repeatedly find that proferring anything outside of certain, probably unconsciously agreed-upon cliches invites a torrent of assumptions that you are taking a liberal viewpoint, which would be pretty unlikely if you knew me.

In a word, I find narrow-mindedness. And why should that surprise anyone?

Part of the narrow-mindedness is limiting our own means of executing a propaganda war. I asked above if the argument concerns the nature of our propaganda, then the foregone conclusion that Islam is "an essentially violent dead-end is the end of that discussion."

How intelligent is it to limit oneself like that? Yet if I even ask the question here I'm instantly a "transnational"!

Because I despise bigotry, I welcome what you wrote. I didn't take you as condescending at all. Forgive me my frustration with the other lights here.

2/17/2006 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

Thanks aristides, I'll keep that in mind.

I've posted too much today, and feel I must reinvent the wheel at every turn.

For future reference, I'm pretty conservative, though I do not practice a religious faith.

I'll stop posting now before I get any crankier.

(I really look forward to looking up that Bakhtin reference, though in the boondocks here it will take some time.)

2/17/2006 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...


You are correct that I am a former "fellow-traveller" from a long time ago (over twenty five years now and counting). I don't "hate" Muslims. My roomate in college was a devout Iranian Shi'a and he was also a good friend. It is true that I do not like Islam; I consider it a violent, sadistic ranting of a delusional man who happened to have had superior salesman skills. His al illah displays no compassion, mercy, love, or peacefulness. It is only natural for me to compare the behavior and message of Jesus of Nazareth with Muhammed. When I do, it's very difficult to make a case for Muhammed and his claims about the nature of God. If you judge a message and a prophet by their fruits, someone please tell me how I am being unfair?

Our enemy draws succor and rationalization from the Qur'an. This war isn't about "grievances" with the West, after all if it were then those grievances evidently go back to 636 A.D., when abu Bakr began the conquest of the Byzantine province of Syro-Palaestina, butchering the Christians and Jews who lived in that land and who had never done a thing to provoke the razzias out of the Hijaz.

My beef it not with Muslims who want to employ their own propagada. That is their right and I would not deprive them of that, given that we do not have the power to do so anyway. My beef is with the transnational elites, who are doing anything they can to destroy their own societies and the values of liberty and minimal government. That they are willing to help the Islamists in this struggle does unhinge more of something akin to hatred in me than does Islam. I may dislike Islam and consider it a heresy or a cult, but I don't hate Muslims. I respect them in a manner that is due them, as worthy adversaries. I may hate some of the things they do to people, because those savage things are worthy of hatred.

Where I sin, and here this ex-Jesuit admits a fact of his condition (and a very Ignatian admission anyway!)is pertaining to the hatred I feel for those transnational elites. They are worthy of this hatred because of the contempt they have for the ordinary citizens of the West who enjoy and respect their liberties.

2/17/2006 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"Where I sin, and here this ex-Jesuit admits a fact of his condition (and a very Ignatian admission anyway!)is pertaining to the hatred I feel for those transnational elites. They are worthy of this hatred because of the contempt they have for the ordinary citizens of the West who enjoy and respect their liberties."

Unfortunately, I must concur. Except for the Jesuit part.

2/17/2006 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Free West said...


So we are in a religious war, whether we like it or not ...
No one wants to call a spade a spade ...
Least of all the secular, pluralist,
liberal democracies founded in the Enlightenment ...

To add to the discussion on Theopolitics:

This is a must-read by the mysterious Spengler of Asian Times - if you haven't already:

Here is an excerpt:

"Now Pope Benedict XVI has let it be known that he does not believe Islam can reform. This we learn from the transcript of a January 5 US radio interview with one of Benedict's students and friends, Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, the provost of Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, posted on the Asia Times Online forum by a sharp-eyed reader. For the pope to refute the fundamental premise of US policy is news of inestimable strategic importance, yet a Google News scan reveals that not a single media outlet has taken notice of what Fessio told interviewer Hugh Hewitt last week. No matter: still and small as Benedict's voice might be, it carries further than earthquake and whirlwind. "

2/17/2006 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

The first step in winning the propaganda war is to fight like we mean it. Rumsfield is asking the media to do his work for him. If he wants to convince the Muslims of the superiority of Western liberalism, then he needs to first convince them that we are going to win this war. A good bit of propaganda that he could accomplish tomorrow without any help from the media would be to flatten Teheran.

We'll reach the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims the same way we reached the hearts and minds of moderate Germans and Japanese after WWII: by being nice enough to dig them out of the rubble after we're done killing the radicals.

(A side benefit would be that once all the major Muslim cities of the middle east were flattened, the radical Muslims in Europe would mysteriously disappear also.)

2/17/2006 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Geoffrey Britain said...

We don't need a 'knowledge of Islam'

We simply need to understand human nature and then study the reactions of our enemies to our moves. Adjusting and modifying strategy and tactics as the War progresses.

Second to the danger of underestimating the jihadists is the danger of overestimating their capabilities.

The only real danger they pose to our society (rather than individuals and small groups) is through the acquisition of nukes.

The greatest impediment we face in blocking Islamic fanatics acquisition of nukes is those who believe that conciliation leads to peace and the MSM.

The great weakness in a free society is the freedom to be a damn fool.

There is something compelling about a fools need to convince others of the 'wisdom' of their foolishness.

Conscious denial thirsts for external confirmation...

There are two wars going on, a propaganda war within the larger WOT. That war is between those who believe a mortal enemy of our civilization has declared total war upon us and those who believe that it's all just a 'misunderstanding'.

Win the war of ideas and perception and the end of the Islamic fanatics is a foregone conclusion.

2/17/2006 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

For Freedom wrote:
So we are in a religious war, whether we like it or not ...
No one wants to call a spade a spade ...
Least of all the secular, pluralist,
liberal democracies founded in the Enlightenment

I am a secular liberal. See my previous post.

It's not a holy war. It is a war for secular liberalism vs. religious fantacism. If Christians need permission from the pope to fight, though, I hope they get it soon.

2/17/2006 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

Citizen Duck has an interesting point. The American intelligentsia has taken as its motto, "Question Authority." Cynicism is all the rage. Therefore they question every authority. Or actually, they question all authorities that speak in ENGLISH.

However, since Americans don't understand what the Muslim authorities say in the original language, their propaganda sneaks in like rumors and never meets the filters of cynicism. Therefore the only authorities they question are their own allies, the authorities that are trying to protect them from a fate too awful to allow.

Our authorities need to play the game as it's being played. Propagandize, propagandize, propagandize in the languages spoken in the Muslim World. Hire all the skillful writers they can in every language. There is no shame in doing this. It is a war for the future of liberty against idealogues of evil.

Strategic and ecret programs must be protected. Fire non-political-appointee CIA employees who get involved in partisan politics and yank their government pensions, or crush their will with micromanagement and excessive paperwork (just as Sarbanes-Oxley is doing to the corporate world). And if American citizens commit espionage against their country and leak top secret war programs, then they should be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

2/17/2006 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"The first step in winning the propaganda war is to fight like we mean it. Rumsfield is asking the media to do his work for him."

Leaving aside, for the moment, the suggestion to flatten Teheran, this is certainly true. But the kind of demonstration project you're thinking of is not the kind of demonstration project the administration has been thinking of, or executing. And now it is, as a practical matter, too late to change course.

2/17/2006 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Free West said...

Ardsgaine -

It doesn't matter whether a secular person believes this is a religious war or not.
It doesn't matter whether a Christian believes this is a religious war or not.
It doesn't matter whether a Buddhist or Hindu believes this is a religious war or not.

I say call a spade a spade because it doesn't matter what we think.

It should be clear that there's a lot of enemy who do believe it is.
And then the question is how to tailor an effective propaganda to Theological arguments.
Christians in the early Roman Empire were willing to be eaten by lions for their faith.
Ordinary propaganda with its secular message is like water off a duck's back for the faithful. Something more powerful is needed, in the realm of the spirit. And don't come back with military options, etc..., etc... because that's another topic and I probably already agree with you on it.

2/17/2006 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"I say screw ALL of this self-serving hatred. Go straight to hell."
Sometimes I get confused about who (other than our cut throat adversaries) it is that's carrying around all this free-floating anger.

People attack our cities and threaten the excercise of our liberties with death threats as they try to impose their 13th century ways on others.

But I guess we've got the anger and bigotry problem.


2/17/2006 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Helvetix: In essence, you are talking about a modern equivalent of the "New Model Army".

2/17/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"And now it is, as a practical matter, too late to change course."
Why is that, Trish?

2/17/2006 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Cutler: Actually, al-Qaeda is a multi-national corporation with Osama bin Laden as the CEO.

2/17/2006 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Yeah, Alexis, I know Scheuer in particular made that comparison.

What were you responding to though, if I may ask?

2/17/2006 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

The present set-up, Doug, weighs aginst a radical change of course - if the set-up is to be perpetuated for any length. The international community and the regional community and the domestic community have all now metabolized a given set of rules, adopted by this administration. If anyone upsets the rules, it'll have to be another administration. Under extreme cirsumstances.

2/17/2006 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"The international community and the regional community and the domestic community have all now metabolized a given set of rules, adopted by this administration."

Thanks for putting in words what I'd been trying to formulate for months...From my perspective, it's been the international equivalent of 'give a mouse a cookie...'

I wonder if we'd dropped a nuclear weapon on Kabaul and Kandahar in the months after 9-11, we'd today be debating the Europeans over whether we should drop one on both Tehran and Tabris, or just Tehran. Similarly, if we had executed Al Qaeda members on capture, they might be demanding today that we hold them until after the war's over.

I don't know if it'll take extreme circumstances, however. There's definitely some evidence that people want the war fought more ruthlessly, even if they can't identify [and haven't been told clearly] who the enemy is - but our current policy is the opposite. Given a change in policy, I could see the ground shift potentially... Americans are only human too, anger and retribution seem the natural human response, not "go out and make the world better." Very few peoples would even be receptive to the latter, perhaps it requires the aforementioned innocence, American style.

2/17/2006 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Cutler: I was responding to your comment about the transnationals winning the propaganda war in the West. I was pointing out that al-Qaeda acts more like a corporation than most Middle Eastern outfits do. Most businesses from Arabia (whether called corporations or not) are essentially family-owned businesses that go down from father to son. If the Rothschild dynasty were Muslim, it would just be a normal Arab merchant family that happened to be rich.

Al-Qaeda itself appears to be modeled after the charitable foundation, which is the closest institution within Islamic tradition to a modern corporation.

The fact is, the Saudi Kingdom widely advertises how it has invested in multinational corporations. It may be the structure of the business corporation itself that our enemies are targeting. If you think our media is bad now, just wait until Fox, Time-Warner, and the New York Times are all controlled by Saudi princes! Through a good-prince bad-prince routine, sponsors of terrorism think they can leverage control over us.

Thank God for the internet!

2/17/2006 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Interesting points Alexis.

If you're right, it'd be interesting to see if they wielded the West's own intellectual arguments against itself. Obviously, the raw fundamentalist Islam that might win over the Middle East, packaged in Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, or whoevever, wouldn't win over here. So what? Hire Robert Fisk? Pilger? Chomsky?

In a way, that'd be a complete reversal of the current situation, where the latter use the Islamic fundies to advance their own agenda...

Politics and strange bedfellows...

2/17/2006 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

And to answer Wretchard the Cat…

Dog in a manger. If the dog can't have it, nobody can.

When any new communications technology comes into being, it is nearly always political dissidents and fanatics who are able to take advantage of the new means of communication most effectively. Martin Luther was more effective at using the printing press than the Pope. Benjamin Franklin was more effective at using the newspaper than King George III. The Nazis had some real wizards in radio and cinema. Ayatollah Khomeini used the cassette tape.

Once a new media technology arrives, it takes a while for a new media hierarchy to sort itself out. Until that time, radicalism generally flourishes. And please note that proto-al-Qaeda had a strong presence on the internet by 1992! Ah, the age of newsgroups…

Our present media is incompetent at fighting against al-Qaeda. Moreover, our media does not regard it as its job to fight al-Qaeda! The problem is that if "propagandists" don't fight al-Qaeda, who will? (Nobody, of course.) But just because our media is incompetent at fighting against al-Qaeda doesn't mean it isn't jealous of its privileges.

I use the word "privilege" for a reason. Most media organizations do not compete in a "free" marketplace. Most newspapers are part of a media conglomerate with staff not particularly tied to the local community, and most local newspapers operate in reality (if not in theory) within a monopolistic environment. Newspapers can get away with business practices that would horrify any sane manager and still turn a profit. (Okay, you can tell I worked for a newspaper for a while…) Sure the "mainstream" Arab media is far more moribund (largely because it is subsidized by governments and princes), but there is still a high degree of lethargy in the American media. For example, how much investigative reporting is there in the local newspaper? You're probably more likely to get good investigative reporting from a blog! After all, while good investigative reporting sells newspapers in the long run, it is an annoying expense in the short run.

As someone with some history of political activism, I understand only too well what it is like to deal with the "dead wood" who can run political campaigns into the ground. And it is difficult to describe to an outsider the lethargic "office culture" that can pervade government. It's not that the people aren't nice or helpful, it's just that they are so caught up with office politics and bureaucratic rivalry that they have no clue what people in the real world are going through. They just don't get it. And in many ways, the editorial boards and established political parties are extensions of that governmental "office culture" into the private sector. Just try to get one of your cartoons printed in a local paper. It won't happen. The editor will tell you the public "wouldn't understand". Sure he's an idiot, but it won't matter because he is a nice guy with a nice smile and no enemies. That's the way it is.

I've got news for you. There is one place where al-Qaeda has met its match in terms of propaganda -- and that's us. Right here in the blogosphere. If we don't respond to their onslaught, nobody else will. Forget for a second about the Arab audience. Al-Qaeda can reach the American audience any time it pleases, for the most part unfiltered. In contrast, what we say IS filtered by the mainstream media.

If we want to reach out to the Arab audience, there is a very easy way to do it -- don't. That is, we are more likely to get our messages to them heard by them when we publish them domestically than if we aim them at them directly. Just as I don't even bother to listen Arab propaganda about a "peaceful" Islam but listen instead to translations of mosque sermons in Arabic, Middle Easterners tend to tune out anything that appears to be aimed specifically at them. They assume our propaganda will be as two-faced as theirs.

Although the Danish cartoons were taken out of context and willfully distorted by the enemy, they were a propaganda coup of sorts against Islamism. Why? One is that it was a test, a feeble test at that, to assert the freedom of speech after the murder to Theo Van Gogh. The other is that the ideological content of those cartoons have seeped into Muslim consciousness, far more than was planned in fact.

It matters less what we say now than the fact we are expressing ourselves at all. So long as we refuse to be silenced, we will not have lost. So long as we refuse to be silenced, Islamists know they are far from victory. So long as we refuse to be silenced, what we say will filter back into the minds of our enemies. If our will is not broken, our enemies will not win.

And why are they so shrill? Perhaps the true reason behind their fanaticism is their deeply held desire to rid themselves of Islam, so they express their hatred of their own religion in the only way they can allow themselves -- by seeking out enemies to persecute. Think of Saint Paul before his conversion.

Right now, our most pressing problem is that what Islamists see of us is only the most decadent part of our culture. (Decadent in the sense of cultural suicide, in the sense of believing that one's society is not worth defending from totalitarianism.) It's partly their fault because they (like the Nazis before them) only want to see those of us who are decadent. But it's also the fault of America because the image Muslim students see here is from Hollywood, the Mainstream Media, and our college campuses -- the very institutions within our society whose wills have already been broken by the hard Left over thirty years ago. If they are weak, it is assumed that we must all be weak.

We are also hampered by a demographic imbalance causing a political predominance of an older generation whose worldview is frozen onto the year 1968 (or 1973) without realizing that life has changed since then. (Shades of the Fall of the Third Republic…) In that sense, the 2004 election was an ideological disaster because it was fought by both sides as a battle over an ancient culture war that not only saps our strength, but is largely irrelevant in the context of our present struggle. It is as if our political leaders on both sides are trying to repeat the social devastation visited upon the Byzantine Empire by the Iconoclasm. Or the corrupt factionalism that weakened Poland and Sweden during the 1760's and 1770's. American politics (and Western politics in general) ought to be focused on constructively debating how to defeat our enemies, but it seems to be more focused on pinning the blame for our defeat on the other party. Bad move. We sink or swim together whether we like it or not.

2/17/2006 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Similarly, if we had executed Al Qaeda members on capture, they might be demanding today that we hold them until after the war's over."

Not just al Qaeda members.

Guy after my own heart.

2/17/2006 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Wow, Alexis. Thanks for that.

2/17/2006 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I will say that Rumsfeld is right. At this pin-point moment in time the dark side has the propaganda advantage.

But, make no mistake many Americans realize the propaganda and adjust to it. Those who distribute it will not go unnoticed (voters will not soon forget who fed the enemy).

One of the main reasons that said enemy propaganda reaches the Average Joe is the "K Street consulting firms" who accept payments from the dark side.

I would not be surprised to find Wretchard's insight to the infamous "Haifa Street Murders" recorded by AP "Stringers" is the tip of the iceberg (reguarding MSM stringers and manipulaton).


"While most killers seek to hide their faces and plan their attacks so no one can see them, these killers scorned masks and chose a busy street in Baghdad to carry out their work because they wanted to send a message. According to Abdul Hussein Al- Obedi of the Associated Press..."

See: Haifa Street

Quite frankly, it appears that the enemy has used hard currency (and intimidation) to manipulate various Western MSN News Agencies. This is very bad.

Because we are in a war for our very survival, it may be necessary to counter said enemy incited propaganda in our media or expose those entities who are aiding the enemy.

In a worst case scenario, it may be necessary to freeze all assets of the enemy propaganda machine, questions those players who have aided said propaganda machine and block further manipulation of our media.

Are these drastic steps?

Maybe - and maybe not.

President Lincoln basically did the same during the Civil War. There probably are equivalent cases during this last century (in both the US and EU).

Next, it's a true economic war. It's clear that the enemy is recycling some American dollars back into weapons that kill Americans and propaganda that disparages Americans. This is very disturbing.

It's time to take a look at the monetary flow from Americans to Western Banks and into the enemy's coffers. Clearly there can be steps to reverse this flow.

On the monetary front, I would suggest utilizing any and all banking measures that halt the flow of cash to the enemy.

If necessary steps should be taken to freeze all parties who feed cash to the enemy.

This would include all US Governmental sponsored cash transfers, all civilian transferors and all tangential transfers by "allies" of the US.

Is it a big project - yes.

Is it larger than the Manhattan Project - No.

RWE: How can the U.S. Government compete? Well, it has in the past. And as then, we just can't use logic. And you can't get illogical ideas through the OSD Comptroller and Congress.


"How do you like this American Jeep?" he asked the Russian.
The Russian replied "This is Soviet made. Not American."
My friend replied that all of the markings on the vehicle were in English, including the instruments; it obviously was American made.

"No," said the Russian "it is marked that way because we export these vehicles to the United States. Americans are not very bright and need these markings. We Russians are smart and don't need them." The degree of delusion in this attitude is breathtaking...It's kinder and cheaper to kill the lie when it starts

[Yes, it's better to nip the lie in the bud]


The problem is that most of the media and most of the left are pre-disposed to be anti-American in general, and anti-this administration specifically. Thus they generally give the terrorists the benefit of the doubt, while doubting anything that comes from the U.S. military and the government.


While in the hotel, we watched an East German broadcast of a Soviet documentary on World War Two in the Pacific. (German subtitles.) Up to that point, I hadn't realized that the Soviets had defeated teh Japanese virtually by themselves!

[The big lie can be accepted by the masses if it is repeated enough times - repetition of a lie is a proven method of indoctrination]

Fred: In war, I do not care a damn about what the enemy thinks of me. I want him to fear and respect me.

[Exactly, respect is earned by deeds - not talk]

Sardonic: ...what you will find is that from the very beginning Islam was born of violence...

[Very true but remember the US sould always use the age old stragey of divide and conquer.]

One final point. If the enemy uses deception then it best for us to destroy the deception or reciprocate with equal or higher methods psychological warfare. Give the enemy it's own medicine!

2/18/2006 01:00:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

From Rumsfeld's speech, transcripted off of C-span's video:

This is the first war in history, unconventional and irregular as it may be, in an error of emails, blogs, cellphones, blackberries, instant messaging, etc. There has never been a war fought in this environment before.

For instance, our enemy knows that a single news story handled skillfully can be as damaging to our cause, and as helpful to theirs, as any other method of military attack. This allows them to be highly successful at manipulating the opinion elites of the world.

A growing number of foreign media outlets have immature standards and practices, that serve to inflame and distort, rather than enlighten and inform [...]

Today’s correspondents are under ‘hyper-pressure', to meet a constant news scrawl and produce exclusives, and daily deadlines have turned into hourly. The fact is the government, at the speed in which it operates, doesn’t always make their job easier: the standard government foreign affairs operation was built to respond to individual requests for information; it is reactive not proactive; and still operates at a 8 hour five or six day a week basis while world events and our enemies are operating 24/7 across ‘every time zone.’

That’s an unacceptable dangerous deficiency [...]

The longer it takes to put together a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy, and news informers who most assuredly not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place [...]

I don’t know what an Information Agency should look like in the 21st Century. There’s no guidebook for this, no roadmap, that says here’s what you got to do if you get up in the morning and you are the government of the United States. These are tough questions and its tough to find the answers for them, and to do it right.

But we have advantages as well. And that is quite simply that the Truth is on our side. And ultimately, in my view, Truth wins out. I believe with every bone in my body that free people exposed to sufficient information will over time find their way to right decisions.

So there you have it: our plan is to institutionalize the rapid dissemination of corrective facts, enabling truth to compete in the framing of perception and debate.

Interestingly, he mentioned blogs twice, and newspapers only once (and that was just to observe their increasing obsolescence). Also note that Rumsfeld said "sufficient information", not perfect or complete or total information.

2/18/2006 01:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Peace through superior BS Power.
(Inspired by Opotho)

2/18/2006 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Bush Sees Need to Expand Role of NATO in Sudan
President Bush also said he favored doubling the number of peacekeepers operating in Darfur under U.N. control.

2/18/2006 03:39:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Evangelical Christians have been particularly outspoken in their calls for a more active American role, and Mr. Bush's remarks, in a question-and-answer session in Tampa, appeared to focus increased attention on the issue."
It's them hateful, violent, Christian Bigots again.

Meanwhile the RoP thinks up new ways to impose Sharia in the West.

2/18/2006 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Joe Iraqi going to work at a real job every day is all the propaganda we'll ever need. In the alternative we can write fancy articles about medieval Islamic jurisprudence. God knows that nothing blunted a SS Panzer advance like a good article about Nietzsche.

2/18/2006 04:35:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I always wondered what Patton's Secret was.

2/18/2006 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

I feel like a slug after Alexis's great analysis!..nonetheless, I slide on...
Rummie, you need to take a few baby steps right away:
Get a neo-con answer to Thomas Friedman; have someone go over there and talk to the elites like he does.
Have a Bloggernaut handler to sort through the foreign posts for reportable facts; I agree that we need 75-90% facts, and shape the rest to our liking.
And finally, we need people over their working among the people, taking the pulse of those we're trying to influence, rather than people like me on the internet rehashing & regurgitating what may be facts I've read - that is we need more experience and facts on which to base our subtle manipulations

2/18/2006 04:46:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

On the other hand,

the Islamists do provide their own dab PR.

This cartoon rioting - now in Libya, I gather - really is completely ludicrous, all the pseudo-theorizing aside.

Nice. Particularly if it ends up providing an excuse to hit Pakistan following a Musharraf coup.

(I'm trying to figure out your strategy, rat - and thanks tony!)

2/18/2006 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Opotho,I'm no doubt one who you consider a dolt in not appreciating the subtleties and ironic traditions in Islamic history.I just don't see what that has to do with breaking the will of the rabble on the Arab street.
Al Qaida and the Taliban were birthed in the Madrassas of Pakistan where impoverished Muslim boys are starved of any knowledge of the outside world and force fed Wahhabi malice while living in emotionally sterile drudgery.
In the process perfectly monstrous machines are created.Irony doesn't enter into the equation when the greatest thing one can accomplish is to slit the throat of an infidel or dash a Jew baby's brains out on the rocks.
This is why the only propaganda that will work is the one that grows out of the barrel of a gun.Kill the conscience seared androids and convince the masses its a lost cause.Do we have the heart to do that?Probably not so it will be a long war.
Here's a test for the brave soldiers of the left.Instead of throwing a pie in Ann Coulter's face,throw one in the face of some iman giving his friday night pep rally.

2/18/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger gmat said...

The comments I read here about the "MSM" reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the business that the "MSM" are in.

Eg, "The media's otherwise hard to explain stance is all about preserving their monopoly control over what the public at home thinks it understands."

No, that's not what it's all about, and it's definitely not "hard to explain".

It's about the product that they sell, and to whom they sell it. (hint: their product is not "news" or "information" or anything like that)

2/18/2006 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Hey all, first-time poster, long-time reader. Anyhow.

Liked the suggestion (waaaay up at the top) to set up a voltunteer corps of fact-checkers ... kind of like Scopes for the terror war, no? It strikes me that it could be set up without the government being involved at all, and on the cheap. So why don't we start it up? Get the word out in the blogosphere, and the site could be going in months.

Of course such a things is useless for convincing muslims ... a suckers game if ever there was one. But it could be invaluable for our side.

Regarding the MSM. I think they're useful idiots, but not for the enemy. The Islamic world is for the most part belatedly adjusting itself to 20th century realities; internet penetration is very, very low, so the masses and probably most of the intellectual class get their dirt on the West via TV. The picture they get on TV is, of course, somewhat slanted and out of step with reality, but then it's out of step in a way that fits their slant (ie, the West is decadent and ready for the picking.) Meanwhile, an increasing number of people at home - largely, I think, the people that really matter - get their news via the internet. So the morale-sapping effects of CNN et al is, if not completely neutralized, at least mitigated, while giving our enemies a false picture that leads quickly to overconfidence.

Anyhow, if anyone's interested in starting such a project (the poison-finders/fact-checkers/debunkers thing) I'm game.

2/18/2006 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Well just look at the facts.

Iran, while noisey and capable of inciting Civil unrest in Europe and around the Med, is impotent militarily. They have NO NUKES.

They may have them someday, but not on the "close horizon".

The Home of aQ, however already has 48 Nukes. Under the rule of the General President the Pakistanis have attacked India, in Kashmere, and are providing Sancturary to Osama and Dr Z.

Given enough cash, the General President, publicly, changed course, becoming our "Best Ally".

US troops are still not permitted to enter Pakistan in hot pursuit of Terrorists. We we had microscopic air strike, killing a dozen or so, the protests were not those of a "Best Ally".

What is the largest Mohammedan country, by population, on the EuroAsian land mass ?
Where are the Mohammedan Nukes, today?
Where are 300,000 armed militia men ready to fight for Jihad?
Where is Osama?
Who has the largest ground army in the Mohammedan Arc?

Funny all these are answered by a single word, Pakistan.

Yet we are led down the Wahhabist trail, into believing Iran poses the greatest threat to US and Civilization.

What BS.

Fools and Knaves, suckered by Saudi & Israeli propaganda.
Learn from the Masters, but first, as in any War,
the Enemy must be identified and named.

Wonder why the US refuses that simple first step.

2/18/2006 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Condi Rice asks Congress for $75 Million USD.

That is hardly enough to produce a major movie, let alone change the course of information flows in Iran.

It is hardly a drop in the bucket, when compared to the $10 Billion per month we expend on military operations in Iraq.

Let US be real and admit it, these Mohammedans ain't to be taken all that serious.
Just look beyond the Rhetoric to US ACTIONS for the proof.
Five years since 9-11, three years since invading and defeating Iraq.

Not much since.

Isn't it time to change course and get serious, yet?

2/18/2006 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

welcome matt - good comments.

trangbang - why shouldn't we know more about Islam than the rabble on the Arab street does? Why shouldn't we confuse and divide them by recalling their own history back at them? But anyone reading through these threads would think that it's better to tie our hands than to educate ourselves this way. (Maybe they're just interested in saving that $75 million?)

For Chris'sake, you write as if you think I'm trying to reach al Qaida!

Imagine someone with Rumsfeld's attitude and knowledgeable delivery simply shrugging off the cartoon protests as so much fundamentalism, and at odds with Islam's greatest traditions. That has the virtue of being true, but even if it wasn't true - since someone's going to demand that I spend the whole day defending this, and thus missing my point - can anyone here be so sure that it isn't true enough to effectively divide those given to the fundamentalist impulse from those with even a little common sense?

I can tell you another thing too, that knowledgeably criticizing Muslim reactions to this, that, or the other "outrage" would make it politically suicidal for the Clintons, Gores and Carters to travel the world lecturing people about OUR supposed short-comings and cultural insensitivities.

I say it would help to be knowledgeable for propagandistic purposes, but when I say this at Belmont Club nearly everyone immediately jumps to two conclusions:

!. That I believe metaphysical discussions would be an interesting cross-cultural exercise, and

2. that my idea of a propaganda war is mutually exclusive with the kind of persuasion "that grows out of the barrel of a gun".

So what's up with THAT? What does that say about other posters here? These are the primary assumptions that I consider doltish and far too routine.

2/18/2006 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Starling said...


"The comments I read here about the 'MSM' reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the business that the 'MSM' are in. ... It's about the product that they sell, and to whom they sell it. (hint: their product is not "news" or "information" or anything like that)"

GMAT, do enlighten us!


2/18/2006 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Ever wonder why US Security interests are always against the KSA's & Israel's worst Enemies and never against the Real threats to US Security, like the Border Bandit in Chief, or his Doctor. Together those two have managed to kill more US citizens than all the Iranian attacks on US and Israel combined. And they are closer to obtaining a deliverable Nuclear Capacity then the Iranian President is.
But yet, US assets remain in Iraq, policing their Internal Political development. Saving the Sunni insurgents, there, from the results of their actions.

US Assets are limited, fight the fight that will change the course of history, not one that embeds US enemies deeper into their Sanctuary.

Talk about your Propaganda Machines.

2/18/2006 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...


If you were not so pretentious perhaps your big idea about Western politicians lecturing Muslims about Islam would not seem as ridiculous - oh, wait a minute. Yes it would.

2/18/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...


Wouldn't starting a dialogue about the essence of Islam require Islamic voices courageous enough to shout down the mad imans.It seems whenever someone tries to(the courageous Somali woman in Holland for example) they must flee for their lives.
Without rehashing all the arguments in the last thread,Christianity is and has been characterized by reflection,debates over apologetics and largely peaceful argument(at least in modern times)
That is part of the problem in Islam's refusal to modify.Every challenge to the Jihadi mindset is seen as apostasy and is a capital offense.
Personally I don't see the west as having enough time to let that debate play out.
I would suggest anyone watch a documentary entitled "Relentless" about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.It is chilling to watch small Arab children ,brainwashed no doubt profess their greatest desire in life is martyrdom.

2/18/2006 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

trangbang - I think you're saying two things here.

1. that moderate Muslims (if they exist) live in fear of speaking up.

2. that all Muslims by definition "refuse to modify".

But what do we gain from refusing to see that the second argument makes the first one redundant? What can such a double-message mean to "courageous Somali [women] in Holland", or wherever else?

What does sending mixed messages have to do with having enough time or not?

Why do you assume that a debate has to "play out" before we allow ourselves to wipe out another safehouse in Waziristan?

2/18/2006 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger gmat said...

Hi starling

Sorry, I hit the post button before I got to the punchline.

The product is audiences.

The customer is the advertiser.

The content, which many mistakenly think is the product, is actually the bait that attracts the attention of sufficient numbers of viewers for sufficient minutes, to make a bundle of viewer-minutes, which is sold to the advertiser.

Hence, if the "MSM" aren't helping in the propaganda wars, it's because the propaganda isn't effective bait.

2/18/2006 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Incidentally, I never said anything on any thread about "starting a dialogue".

Rather, I keep repeating the word "propaganda"..

2/18/2006 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger fred said...

Someone a lot smarter than I am, who is an accomplished theologian having also studied other religions, by the name of Joseph Ratizinger, uttered an assessment that dovetails with the legal and theological opinions of the most respected schools of Islamic theology. The very words of the Qur'an are "ipsissima Dei" - from the very lips of God. They are literally and historically perfect, unchanging, eternal, and uncreated. Those are the very qualities which the majority of Christians DO NOT ACCORD to the Bible. As Ratzinger explains, the "Word of God" is mediated by human language, symbolism, and historical context. This is why reform and renewal have allowed us to evolve to this point. I completely understand where the wishful thinking about "moderate Islam" is coming from. It is a quest for something that would fit the template of our own historical development, based on the assumption that their scriptures function along the same theological framework as ours do. It is a quest to hope that what we see at the moment is an aberration from the norm. Unfortunately, it is not. There is continuity between the 7th century and the 21st century in their tradition. It's just that the very people who make policy or who tell us, the unwashed, what to think, are operating on a different agenda than we are. We the unwashed want to understand why something is the way it is. Our Ivy League betters want to fit the world into the political alliances and diplomatic niceties that help them to make sense of the world. Respectively, we are operating out of different narratives of how the world is supposed to work. We the common folk are in no position to barter with the Muslims about the boundaries of power. Our "betters" live with a consciousness that they have the connections and the understanding of power that leads them to think they can modify how the enemy moves in the modern world.

2/18/2006 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

fred, pertectly great assessment, I would think the word "manage" instead of "modify" how the enemy moves would be a tad more accurate.

But having lived in both worlds during the course of my life, your idea of the Elites having different perspective is quite accurate. It matters little what their personal politics happen to be, the World is seen through a different prisim.

2/18/2006 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Remember, as well, just what Party both of the last two candidates for President were members of:

The Skull & Bones.

Don't take much more than a hat to change an image, that qualifies for Propaganda, as well.

2/18/2006 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It would certainly seem to me that there are many Muslims, in Iraq for example, that support "Western" means & mores.

Other wise where did our Allies there come from? Certainly not Europe.

No the 200,000 troops that have come to the aid of a streeeeched US Military, Muslims almost to a man.

Will the US find other Muslims willing to fight the Mohammedans, willing to stand for Freedom, Liberty and Choice.
Only if we look.

Only if we see beyond the Political Rhetoric to see the Actions that create Reality.

2/18/2006 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Yeah, well I read that about Ratizinger too. Someone who claims he knows him overheard him saying something, yes?

And he probably does believe that too, despite John-Paul's assertion that the two religions can be reconciled. (Was he just 'Ivy Leaguing' it?)

Short of rushing to mika's answer for everything (i.e. to nuke them ALL into eternal hell immediately) what will be the likely parameters of a discussion that assumes we're ineluctably headed for an all-out civilizational war? Fairly limited I'd say.

And what would be the benefit of concluding beforehand that we're headed for this sort of war, other than that it definitely sews seeds of hatred that will move us in the direction of fulfilling its own prophecy.

That there is an unbroken "continuity between the 7th century and the 21st century in [Islamic] tradition" is a bogus claim.

That the majority of Christians don't accord the same literalism to the Bible as the majority of Muslims seem to accord to the Koran doesn't say anything about Muslims in the minority.

2/18/2006 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Now that the Russians are about to deem Hamas as legitimate and is in the midst of an Arms Deal with them.
Best bet is the Iranians, before US Elections, will agree to have Russia supply it with Nuclear fuel, which I personally heard Mr Bush say was an acceptable solution to the "Crisis".

What if as part of that agreement with the Russians for the fuel, there was a Bilateral Defense-Security Agreement as part of the Deal, also.
That old grey bear, she ain't what she used to be.
But she ain't dead yet.

Then who is the target in the next Phase of this War?

2/18/2006 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"That the majority of Christians don't accord the same literalism to the Bible as the majority of Muslims seem to accord to the Koran doesn't say anything about Muslims in the minority."
did you accidentally hit post before you finished?

2/18/2006 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

'Rat 9:26 AM,
What War?

2/18/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

doug - is the demand that I spoon-feed you just a tactic to waste my time? Please explain to me why you're not 'trolling' in this case?

2/18/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The one on Terror, of couse, doug.

The one we need the Patriot Act for.
The one that requires tapping Foreign Phone calls.
The one that requires the random searching of backbacks in NYC.
The one creates Security slow downs that keeps me off commercial airplanes.

The two Wars that are, according to Mr Biden, authorized by Congress, the first to destroy aQ and the second, depose Saddam and support the emergence of a democratic government, there in Iraq.
The latter War is complete, the former Enemy has found Sanctuary.
We should finish the first War, before starting a third.

2/18/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Asher Abrams said...

OT - My deepest sympathies to the families of those lost in the recent tragedy in the Philippines.

2/18/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

I thought i saw a post about the mudslide and then it disappeared

2/18/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger fred said...


Joseph Ratzinger is a far more accomplished theologian than Karol Woytyla was, which is not intended as a denigration of the late Holy Father. In fact, JPII knew this as well, which is why he promoted Joseph Ratzinger to the post he was assigned to. An educated Roman Catholic like myself can appreciate the subtleties of this, whereas outsiders' judgements are a tad less refined on that count. I happen to agree with Joseph Ratzinger: the two religions are not compatible. Any person who picks up the respective scriptures can attest to the radically different values, strategies, and views of God.

This is the frustration people who have read the Qur'an experience in forums or discussions experience. We know that the jihadis are the true Muslims and the rest are what I would call "Five Pillar Accolytes." They generally do not read classical Arabic, so they don't read the Qur'an and tend to get direction from the clerics in their mosques. They are doled out what is expedient and palatable for their circumstances. The more committed get the fuller message, and many probably get some language skill with Arabic in order to read the texts.

Anyway, just because JPII said does not make it accurate. The frustrations of many bishops, priests, and cardinals with his inability to appreciate the hardships of dhimmi status were known. JPII was out of his depth in this matter, not for lack of effort, but because his life was consumed with other issues.

opotho, why do you have a vested interest in trying to advocate the position that Islam is not a threat to the West? What is your angle? I mean, the jihadis have not pulled their rationalizations out of thin air. The surahs and verses they cite are all used correctly. Many of the leadership are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, with its ties to al Azhar University in Egypt, the most reputable and respected school of Muslim theology and jurisprudence there is.

Are you a Muslim? If so, and you are what are called a "moderate" do you think you can win this battle of abrogating and negating whole swaths of the Qur'an and ahadith without encountering deadly threats from the mainstream? They would call you an apostate and whenever you alter the meaning of the Qur'an's inconvenient verses you would be accused of blasphemy. In any event, you are a brave fellow and for that at least you have my respect. I would support any "moderate" Muslim for the simple reason that to fail to defend them is a lapse of morality and rationality.

2/18/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Cultures collide: Muslim immigrants will be expelled from Europe unless they reverse the growing perception of them as a social threat

Young Muslims protest French government policy. French tolerance is waning.

Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, Canada
Published: Friday, February 17, 2006

The Muslims refused to assimilate. They were expelled. This was the story in Europe 400 years ago. We are watching the sequel today.

Europeans are rarely welcoming to outsiders, even when the outsiders are blond and blue-eyed and come from the country next door. When the outsiders are un-European, swarthy and Muslim, they are tolerated at best. When some Muslims also insist that Europeans stop acting like Europeans, on pain of death, European tolerance comes to an end.

In the clash of cultures between secular Europeans and extremist Muslims, there can ultimately be no compatibility or compromise, only loss by one side or the other of the absolute values it holds dear. European capitulation on European soil, where they remain the dominant majority, is unlikely: Europeans revel in their liberty to mock religion, to poke fun at sacred cows, to be outrageous, even to offend.

European leaders have reacted to the Muslim upset over the cartoons two ways. Publically and to buy time, they seek to calm the protesters by deploring the abuse of freedom of speech. More significantly, they seek to preserve their societies by legislating Western norms, by tightening or ending immigration from Muslim countries, by enabling the expulsion of radical imans and other Muslim activists, and by raising the spectre of mass deportations.

For the rest of the article click here

Remember these muslims have to be returned to their countries of origin. If they are allowed to come to the USA they will MURDER this country.

2/18/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Aristedes ,
""One is not interested in teaching metaphysics when the student has a gun to one's head."

"No offense aristides, but I see this repeated assumption here that we can only do one thing at a time
If one is convinced the brakes are inadequate to avoid a collision with a rock wall, and one further believes that a preventive deployment of the airbags might be the only way to avoid death, one might reasonably decide to spend all available time deploying the airbags with a tin foil bridge rather than recalculate the physics of the braking conundrum just in case a mistake might have been made.

Similar to concluding that if there is no possible way humans can significantly affect the future course of global warming, humans time might be better spent on other endeavors.

But then you were on the wrong side of THAT argument, also.

2/18/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

There is a school of thought that says our enemy--our only enemy--is Radical Islam, not Islam in general. This school of thought hopes to defeat Radical Islam ideologically where it can, militarily where it has to, but also hopes to inoculate ordinary Muslims against what is now a marginal movement.

Of course, there is nothing substantial separating Radical Islam from Islam proper, just artificial conceptual designations. Radical Islam is just a subset in open-set Islam.

To understand the nature of Radical Islam it is not very helpful to analyze it on its own: its most significant property is the way it is connected to the rest of Islam.

The reason why is easy to understand. Insofar as there are certain universal properties in the various iterations of Radical Islam, they have been stretched, not borrowed, from the source of Islam entire. The stretched not borrowed distinction is important, because this implies a connection, dependence, and responsiveness in Radical Islam. Information that affects Islam Entire also affects the shape and properties of Radical Islam. While the concepts exist separately, in reality they are intricately meshed, continuously interacting with each other while simultaneously interacting with the outside world, which then, in proper feedback loop fashion, also has input on the interior dynamics of Islam Entire.

And so, while one is correct to call Radical Islam the enemy, in order to truly defeat it, one must register one's will on two separate interfaces (at least). The first interface is obvious, and that is Radical Islam's causal connection with us. This is basic offense and defense, minimizing their impact on our lives or maximizing our impact on theirs.

The other interface we must affect is the relationship between Radical Islam (RI) and Islam Entire (IE). The problem, as we've seen, is that not only do RI and IE exist in a feedback loop, and the West and RI exist in a feedback loop, and the West and IE exist in a feedback loop, but our Strategy I (West/RI interface) and Strategy 2 (West/IE interface) exist in a feedback loop. Success in the former can spell drastic setbacks for the latter, and vice versa--and that's not even thinking about short term, medium term, and long term, or the various other interactive systems that exist in our phase space.

As you might have noticed, the complexity of these interactions might be their most consequential feature. But that's the game. That's what we have to win.

We really have no idea how to manage such a game. Anything we do could have horrible consequences and opportunity costs, immediately or further down the road. On the other hand, we do know that the game is semi-bounded. There are certain outcomes that are so improbable as to be statistically negligible, and certain outcomes that are eliminative, i.e. end the game. The greatest improbability, I would think, is the defeat and subjugation of America under a global Caliphate. The latter's potentialities concern the elimination of the feedback loops themselves. Now, since it will not be America that disappears from the causal loop, the other options are Radical Islam, or Islam Entire.

Eliminating Radical Islam is our goal, as I've stated. However, if you really think about everything I've said, you will see that getting rid of Radical Islam should be, for Islam Entire, a very serious imperative. So long as Radical Islam interacts with the West, the danger will grow for Muslims in general. This is precisely because RI and IE are interconnected.

Depending on the West to distinguish between RI and IE is not a good evolutionary strategy for IE. Our patience is not infinite, and neither is the dynamic of the game. If the feedback loops shift, precluding us from interfacing with IE constructively, that is when you will hear talk of a final solution.

2/18/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Pork 10:17 AM,
That's the nature of mudslides, Cmon!
Kind of like the nature of the RoP, but don't get me started! ;-)

2/18/2006 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hey, Aristides 10:43 AM,
for a short synopsis of your post, see
Doug 10:39 AM !

2/18/2006 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Das said...


Take it easy; each post is read for itself so don't worry too much about the other posters; you state you position well so just write and don't worry about other commentators frittering your points away - we onlookers can figure out what's what.

2/18/2006 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

he does, and I conclude he's wrong.

He accuses others of hatred and bigotry,
I simply assert that I think he is wrong.

2/18/2006 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

On the question of fundamentalism and inerrancy of Scripture;that is a moot point for Christianity in these timesand if one is to literally believe the words of Christ,for all times.Baptists don't behead Pentecostals over speaking in tongues.Premillenialism isn't the reason to acquire biological agents to use in an urban center.A majority of those who profess faith in Christ are probably not believers in inerrancy.At least they don't live like they believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.The result of that is a church in America that is often weak and culturally indistinguishable from the unbelievers.Those who attempt to live a life of authentic christian discipleship based on Biblical faith are in my opinion a great asset to society as they will give themselves to service and good works.
I have read that probably 10% of Muslims are Salafists,Wahhabis,Muslim Brotherhood ,etc.If this is the case
its not an insignificant number as that would mean between 100 and 200 million zealots whose mission is conquest .It seems the 90% are cowered into silence by the threats of reprisal from the true believers.
When given the chance under American arms to rebel against the system,many do.This seems the Bush mission.
I don't see any success in winning hearts and minds without cutting a wide chunk out of the 10%.

2/18/2006 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yes, aristide, quite the Gordian knot you'll weave with your Game theory and projections and promabilities of future outcomes.

But in the end Alexander had the solution. Cut through the BS to the Heart of the Matter.

The US is involved in two authorized Wars, according to Mr Biden, neither mentions Islam, Radical or otherwise.

One mentions Saddam the other aQ.

Not Mr al-Sadr, not Iran, not even Syria. No, the US is at War with none of those.

We fight those that oppose the emergence of a democratic Government in Iraq and aQ.

The fight for the emergence of a democratic Iraq is over, that egg's been laid, the Government has hatched and emerged.

That leaves US with aQ, not Islam or Muslims, Radical, Moderate or Well Done, as the Enemy of US, as per Act of Congress.
They do represent, do they not.

2/18/2006 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

I appreciate that das.

aristides - I couldn't have written that better myself, and whole-heartedly agree with your assessment. I'm not waiting for IE to decide anything anymore. We should have been testing their own knowledge of Islam a long time ago, forcing their hands, and yes instructing them.

The assumption was that they'd figure out how to resolve Islam's contradictions as soon as they got near a Walmart and a ballot box. Maybe that was a slightly hasty assessment?

That the feedback loop may shift at any moment is my greatest fear.

fred - Our "respective scriptures" are not the sum total of our respective faiths. A fellow Roman Catholic should be especially aware of that considering the history of Christendom. An Irish Catholic even more so.

What's my interest in advocating the position that Islam isn't inherently a threat to the West?

"My angle" is that when the equation Muslim=jihadi becomes a commonplace in America, then we will see a World War begin in earnest, something that reduces ineluctably to a final solution between civilizations.

Many people seem to secretly revel in the promise of an apocalypse, never mind their stated religions. It's a psychological proclivity of many lefties, never mind that they pretend to be secular; it's the related totalizing spirit that enables one to believe in a utopian ideal.

"My angle" is to prevent this totalizing spirit from becoming any easier for ourselves, even for my own lazy tendencies, while there are still alternatives to investigate.

Even at this blog, I can find little appreciation for my ideas about how to tweak American propaganda wherever it's a foregone conclusion that the intended recipients are as a rule evil as a group. ("Of course each individual Muslim is probably very nice, yadda, yadda ...")

I've been visiting 'Belmont Club' since the very beginning (though I seldom comment) and I'm worried that these threads are beginning to resemble KKK screeds here and there. I think that someone should notice the change even if he risks being hated for it.

I agree emphatically that failing to defend and "support any 'moderate' Muslim [would be] a lapse of morality and rationality."

How then does the half-informed language which can only lead in the direction of apocalypse defend and support morality and rationality? How does it ensure our safety? Our children's safety?

All I keep saying is that we could have used a knowledge of Islam to our advantage in this cartoon episode, but that we can't manage that (we can't even allow that as a possibility here) is just dumdfounding to me.

2/18/2006 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But perhaps, like secure US Borders, this Administration only engages in easy Parade Ground Leadership.

Never engaging in the difficult responsibilities and actions required to enforce the Law.

Or to win the War, as authorized by Congress.

2/18/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Now, one of the largest problems we face is that Radical Islam is faster, and more skillful, in manipulating these interfaces with propaganda. A good example is the Koran abuse story. Rumsfeld talked about how the global dissemination of this story was near-instantaneous--emails and text messages and then audio-tapes and sermons brought this news to impressionable ears before the government could even start responding:

The US had to be sure they had the facts before they responded. Because of this, we could not compete with the few days it took to be spread. Appropriately, and of necessity, we took the time we needed to try and ensure we had the facts before responding.

But in the meantime some lives had been lost and damage had been done to our country.

What complicates the ability to respond quickly is that, unlike our enemies who lie with impunity, with no penalty whatsoever [this suggests a solution of sorts: find a way to penalize propaganda], our government does not have the luxury of relying on other sources of information, anonymous or otherwise. Our government has to be the source. And we have to tell the Truth.

Now think about what he says next. He says:

This is the first war in history--unconventional and irregular as it may be--in an era of emails, blogs, cellphones, blackberries, instant messaging, etc. There has never been a war fought in this environment before.

What complicates our position even further is the kind of war we are in. Our battles are taking place in phase space, at nodes of interaction between the West and Islam Entire, the West and Radical Islam, IE and RI, and even within the West itself. All these nodes are manipulated with information, whether we are talking about the deed or media communication.

As Rumsfeld says, "A single news story handled skillfully can be as damaging to our cause, and as helpful to theirs, as any other method of military attack..

The primary short term problem is that we have "barely begun to compete for reaching their audiences." And our elites aren't helping:

"The US government has sought non-traditional means to provide accurate information to Iraqi people, yet this has been portrayed as inappropriate [...]

The resulting explosion of critical press stories caused all activity and initiative to stop. It has a chilling effect, for those who are asked to serve in the military p affairs field. The conclusion is that there is no toleration for innovation, much less for human error that could be seized upon by a press that demands perfection from the government but does not from the enemy nor, sometimes, themselves.

This timidity and lack of innovation is a huge problem in a quick reaction and adaption game:

We’ve become somewhat more adept, but progress is slow and ‘importantly public affairs posts have proven not to be enhancing for careers.

Anyone that looks at those careers and recognizes the near instantaneous public penalty imposed on someone who is in the military who is involved in anything the media judges instantaneously to be imperfect, or improper, and that then requires a long time to figure out what actually took place. Military people are intelligent, they’ll move away from those careers.

It stands to reason that, in the Age of Information, the US government will have to adapt to and master Information Warfare, just like we had to adapt to and master trench, horse, mechanized, aerial, and precision warfare. We must do to fourth generation warfare what we did with all the others: make it incredibly disadvantageous for an enemy to choose to engage us.

The conundrum has been how it can do so and still uphold American ideals of truth. The problem flows from the speed at which the US government must respond, compared to the speed at which the truth can be ascertained.

The other problem has already been solved, which is distinguishing Information Warfare from sheer blatant propaganda. The answer is obvious: we must battle with Truth. America's government must become the honest, and final, arbiter of facts. Not the people, for they have agendas. The government must do this, in its capacity as a (supposedly) impartial protector of the people.

Sorry for all the long posts, but the significance of all this is as far-reaching as you can get. Our last stand will take place on the hollowed ground of the Enlightenment, and our sword will be Truth.

2/18/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I've found a lot of the Preppy Generation to be like that, doug.
Wanting to be off to the next, new & exciting project, well before the current task is even near completion.

So what else should I have expected, from a frat boy and his friends, like that Mr Brown, now he's become the Katrina "Scapegoat".

That my friends, is Propaganda for ya

2/18/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

""My angle" is to prevent this totalizing spirit from becoming any easier for ourselves, even for my own lazy tendencies, while there are still alternatives to investigate."
I feel better:
Instead of being a bigoted hater, I carry a totalizing spirit.
Meanwhile Opotho great dismisses Karridine's Faith as perhaps being
Does everyone who disagrees with you automagically become a proponent of Nuclear Genocide?
If so, why?

2/18/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

The idea that our enemy is only radical Islam seems to be akin to saying that in WWII our only enemy in Europe were the members of the Nazi party. But when the rest of the Germans (which was the majority) supported the Nazi government, and fought in the Nazi army, and didn't speak up against the Nazis, it didn't really matter that they weren't members of the Nazi Party. So I disagree. Our enemy is the entirety of Islam, until such time as the non-radicals stop supporting the radicals.

2/18/2006 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Will Rayford said...

The mainstream American press, along with their comrades in Europe and the Middle East, have formed the second front of the war - clearly against U.S. interests. The U.S. center-right blogosphere is, in essence, the counter-insurgency in this media war. As soldier in this counter-insurgency, I feel we need to stike more skillfully with our information bombs. We need to be even more proactive than we have been. We've done some good, but we need to do better.

2/18/2006 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

aristides - we agree again, though you've spelled out for my eyes an unbearably tall order.

It's a shame that we didn't accidentally hit Al Jazeera long before we accidentally missed it.

doug - the "totalizing spirit" is always the stupid and creepy thing.

As for Karridine, whatever his faith is (I never learned) I playfully suggested that it could be "BS", as an element of the discussion we were having on the previous thread. To him, someone else's faith was BS.

Unfairly bringing in other thread discussions which didn't involve you? Making parallels with global warming? You ARE a troll.

2/18/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"The answer is obvious: we must battle with Truth.
America's government must become the honest, and final, arbiter of facts.
Not the people, for they have agendas.

Now that is a strange assertion, especially given that I find more truth on the street than in government.

I like 'Rat's outsourcing argument, but since the Govt would screw that up also, my faith rests with the people coming up with ways to profitably market truth.

2/18/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I wish it were so, ex helo, but those are not the Policies of this President, nor the Congress. Not even close.

When there is a Resolution to that effect introduced in Congress, regardless of final vote, then the Enemy may well be seen for what it is, but as of today, it is still a word unspoken.

The War, such as it is, is against Osama and his fellow bandits, as unromantic, mundane or dangerous as that may turn out to be.

Anything more, a Bridge to Far.
At least for the near horizon.

2/18/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

will rayford,

2/18/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"But when the rest of the Germans (which was the majority) supported the Nazi government, and fought in the Nazi army, and didn't speak up against the Nazis, it didn't really matter that they weren't members of the Nazi Party."

ex helo,
When moderate muslims do not resist imposition of Sharia in the West, they lend passive support to something antithetical to our founding principles.

It was found in France that when they REQUIRED the moderates to act differently in their dress, it made it easier for the moderates to resist the pressure of those that want to impose their customs on us.

2/18/2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

The idea that our enemy is only radical Islam seems to be akin to saying that in WWII our only enemy in Europe were the members of the Nazi party.

Now this is an important point, one that will be brought up time and time again, and must be addressed.

Try to imagine what would have happened had the Nazi's come to power in an age where only fourth generation warfare was available to them, an age where America had mastered all other types of warfare, an age where engaging America as a nation-state was suicidal. One thing you will notice as that the top of society is no longer where you find maximum freedom of movement. The Nazis, if they took power in Germany today, would have their ability to inflict damage seriously constrained. They would not get many shots before America brought down her terrible swift sword.

The smart move for the Nazis would be to try to defeat America in irregular ways, over the long term. To do this they would have to become decentralized networks, with tacit and overt support from fellow-traveler states. They would no interact with America as germans qua germans; they would interact as Nazis, and we would be able to address them accordingly.

The problem is that such a group can disappear in a sea of genus likenessess, which is the same problem we see with Radical Islam. Sure, we can simply evaporate the sea, and kill all the fishes, good and bad. But the choice of warfare they are forced to make out of weakness allows us to approach the problem differently as well.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on...

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.

2/18/2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If anybody ever had an Agenda, doug, it's the people that work for the Government.

Those are some of the most dishonest, untrustworthy folks I have ever dealt with, Government employees. Gotta watch 'em like a hawk.

From small town featherbedding to the Federals thinking the National Forest is their private park.

Won't even go into the Military, Dept of State, or IRS oversteps. Let alone ATF and it's shootouts and mass killings.

The people Government employees are not smart enough to run a successful Propaganda Campaign. If they could, they wouldn't be in Government, they'd have a real jobs, running successful Propaganda Campaigns.

2/18/2006 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Don't care to discuss trolling doug?

2/18/2006 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

America's government must become the honest, and final, arbiter of facts. Not the people, for they have agendas.

Sorry Doug, I ment that to be ironic. I was just thinking how our Founders would be spinning in their graves if told the Government has become more trustworthy, and therefore more indispensable, than the people.

I agree that it will be the people, unconstrained by the government, who will be the standard-bearers.

2/18/2006 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Osama and his fellow bandits, and a Golden Chain, which the Government claims to be addressing, w/o being persuasive.

2/18/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Aristedes 11:49 AM,
Thought you'd lost your marbles under the influence of the Evil Rummy, who himself is but a pawn of Mastermind Rove.

2/18/2006 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Don't care to address my point, Opotho?
Better to cast a new label?

2/18/2006 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

re: profitably market truth

Exactly. What's interesting is that the government has decided to subsidize this market. According to Rummy, in the next twenty years the US government is going to pour massive amounts of money into this cause, which will in turn open up quite a few new and innovative employment opportunities.

Rummy has specifically talked about "outsourcing" this task to the private sector, mirroring the recent push in the service sector towards specialization and independent contractors. This is a huge opportunity for people who like to read and write a lot. Area and subject matter experts will be needed, new forms of human resource, information, and content management and will be needed, new competitive structures will be needed, etc.

Each one of these needs will need a specialist, and each type of specialist will need a school. An entire industry is about to take off.

2/18/2006 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


UAE? United Artists Ex-employees? No diplomatic ties that I'm aware of. But Israeli agents do operate a "corporate office" there. Something to do with a plot to replace camel jockeys with robots.

2/18/2006 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Maybe if we get them to handle the Ports, the crafty Joos will be the real power behind our Transportation Security War?
Kind of ironic to have hatred and bigotry brought up tangentially when discussing modern Muhammedism, ain't it? ;-)

2/18/2006 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...


Here is an example of how an individual Muslim can undergo stages in the advancement of one's practice of Islam. When I knew my roomate and friend during our days together at the University of New Hampshire, he was a funny and engaging fellow. He had no problem doing his daily prayers and observing Ramadan, going to mosque prayer on Fridays, all the while partaking of some of the very mild debaucheries of campus life. He was not shy at all around the ladies and they seemed to like him as well, while his shy roomate was more of a quiet wallflower. Years later, after having lost touch with him after I had graduated, gone off to the Jesuit novitiate and then on to Chicago for studies, I had left the Society of Jesus and "re-entered the world." I was in M.B.A. studies and had met my wife. About two weeks before I was married, my wife and I were grocery shopping at a local market and out of the blue I saw my friend in the company of another Muslim. I was quite happy to see him and wanted to get together to catch up on what was happening in each other's lives. He would not shake my wife's hand or even look at her. He sort of fobbed off my invitation to visit us and I never saw him again. My impression was that he had gone deeper into the Islamic faith and considered my wife and I a contamination of sorts. It was a shock to go from friend and roomate to filthy infidel not worth anyone's time.

If there is a totalizing tendency going on in the clash of civilizations, it seems to me that it's very one-sided. My study of history and then of the Islamic texts convinced me that it is we more than they who are in mortal peril. No Christian or Jew would ever take Surah 9, The Verse of the Sword, and envision it as being something we ought to imitate on our own behalf. The very fact that we are hesitant to entertain the idea of total war speaks volumes for the highly developed moral sensibilities generally found on our side. The fact that the enemy would "slay the infidels wherever they are found" without hesitation, if they had the power to do it, should give pause to any argument that would downplay their sacred jihad duty.

Thus, having dispensed with the whole idea of the madness of genocide on our part, we can proceed to talking about less severe measures to deal with the threat to our liberty, our religions, and our civilization. I am a big advocate of deportation. I do believe them when they say that the duty to the Ummah is their greatest loyalty. If so, then we in the West would be wise then to make sure that they reside where their loyalties lie.

If I felt in my mind and heart that there could be any reason for them to abrogate the laws about the Dhimma and accept us as social and political equals, I would latch on to it and nurture that hope with all my might. However, the austerity of their scriptures (I HAVE read the entire Qur'an)outline only the most repressive measures for un-believers, women, and apostates. The choice really is theirs, not ours. We have a right to defend ourselves against jihad aggression. It is they who must change. Already we have evidence that in very subtle ways the Dhimma is being imposed on us by our unwitting leaders. This is not an acceptable state of affairs and our elected leaders have no authority to abrogate our rights. In the West we have freedom of the press, speech, and expression of dissent and to be able to criticize ideas. Cartoonists have their own genre through which to express their dissent with Islam. It isn't my choice of genre, but the artists have a right to it and if their publishers wish to print it, that is their right. What right do governments have to supress this? It is a sad state of affairs when our frightenned elite and the Left dictate to the rest of us that we must observe one article of the Dhimma.

2/18/2006 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

" My impression was that he had gone deeper into the Islamic faith and considered my wife and I a contamination of sorts.
It was a shock to go from friend and roomate to filthy infidel not worth anyone's time.
Maybe he just intstantly recognized your wife as a hateful bigot.
Maybe you are just a slow learner, or perhaps suffered permanent brain damage from those "very mild" debaucheries?

2/18/2006 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Did you check to make sure the quiet wallflower was not one of the 19?

2/18/2006 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Doug, I've already confessed:


Hope Opotho doesn't hold it against me, 'cause most of the time I don't even know what I'm talking about.

2/18/2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...


I was that shy roomate of his. Am pretty sure that I certainly was not going to convert to Islam and become a jihadi! LOL!

2/18/2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I was going to add,
a BIGOT AND a ...
but why add to the bigotry and hatred that engulfs this site?

2/18/2006 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sorry Fred, I thought it was a threesome!

2/18/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(Already coming up with ideas for Humpback, the Sequel.)

2/18/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger fred said...


I think a certain fear of a hard truth has our friend, opotho, stunned. Our appreciation of its scope and importance must be like an alien landscape to him. I don't think he's a bad fellow at all; just needs a bit more depth to his knowledge of Islamic scriptures and the history of jihad. Any sane and rational person who is exposed to it is normally affected by a sense that we have truly missed something frightenning along the way through our respective formal educations. Mr. Bostom's "The Legacy of Jihad" should be required reading in any history course devoted to the Middle East and Asia. Hindus and Buddhists seem to have a sharper memory of how they were treated for centuries. What ever happened on our end?

2/18/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

If I felt in my mind and heart that there could be any reason for them to abrogate the laws about the Dhimma and accept us as social and political equals, I would latch on to it and nurture that hope with all my might.

Now here is where the rubber meets the road. If, on the one hand, Muslims remained a very small minority (like the Quakers), it wouldn't matter if they internalized social and political equality, so long as they did not act out violently.

However, if they become a large minority, or, God forbid, a majority, then it is a matter of life and death whether they internalize this imperative. Because then violence is not necessary to accomplish their goals. The tools of the state are at their disposal.

This is the problem facing Europe.

2/18/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Haram! Were we discussing Danish ham again?

2/18/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

We declared a (unilateral) end to History, which not only allowed a glib rewriting of it, but also encouraged casting a blind eye to the ongoing threats like Rushidie, Stethem, Cole, Death to America, and etc.

2/18/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Hindus and Buddhists seem to have a sharper memory of how they were treated for centuries. What ever happened on our end?

We got successful, then we got guilty.

An interesting factoid: there were more white Europeans taken as slaves by the North African moslems than blacks taken as slaves by Europeans to the New World.

Kind of puts the slavery debate in perspective, doesn't it.

2/18/2006 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mika 12:35 PM,
What else?

2/18/2006 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/18/2006 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Aristedes 12:39 PM,
My History
(Courtesy of the Hon Elijah M)
indicates that the Sharks still troll the waters where Millions of Slaves were once thrown overboard on their way to Amerika.

2/18/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger david bennett said...

The nonsense spouted here shows you guys live in an echo chamber. You don't read the MSM much less Army Times to get a sense of what's actually published.

The following provides a list of articles from a definitely leftist blogger which touch on Colonel McMasters and the battle many have to get his approach accepted.

Here is one of these posts.


Monday, September 19, 2005
Who's Last Throe Is It Anyway?
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised anymore when the Right, cheerleaders for a man and an administration which are totally detached from reality, continue to insist on vewing affairs through an "I wish I would, I wish I might" filter.

The Wall Street Journal opined on Sunday:

the recent Iraqi victory in the battle of Tal Afar could be a turning point in the war against the terrorists...There are good reasons to believe the current operation in Tal Afar--a largely Turkoman city near the Syrian border--will be a model of things to come. Previous attempts to clean the terrorists out of Tal Afar and other cities in northern and western Iraq have too often seen the insurgents melt away only to return when the U.S. spearhead withdrew. This time Iraqis are leading the fight and, most important, many will stay so the people of Tal Afar can begin to believe they can live free of terrorist intimidation.

Only to be shot down Monday by the man on the spot:

Is there enough force here right now to secure this area permanently? No. Are there opportunities for the enemy in other areas within our region? Yes," said Col. H.R. McMaster, commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tall Afar.

So many "turning points" and "tipping points" - no wonder the ass-kiss crowd of Bush sycophants are getting dizzy and falling down all over the place.

Col. McMaster's 3rd ACR had probably the best bet at introducing the new tactics that so many experts outwith the Pentagon's politico high-ups have been pushing for but it would appear that his innovations have been squished by the "stay the course" team.

That goes some way to explaining why the airport road is still hostile territory, why insurgents can lob mortar bombs into the Green Zone with relative impunity, why so many Iraqi cities are still stronholds for Al Qaida no matter how many sweeps are conducted and why August was the thrid most deadly month yet for US servicemen.

I firmly believe advocating the withdrawal of Coalition troops now and abandoning Iraqis to their fates is callous inhumanity and shows a chauvinist attitude of "American blood is more valuable than Iraqi blood" that is a form of closet racism. After all, much of the current chaos is due to Coalition mistakes and ommisions.

But for the Good Lady's sake, can we not change the course at least as far as giving the maverick military experts ideas a try? The people who gave us so many "last throes" are themselves past the tipping point but refuse to see it. Time for a change of tactics - and personnel too.

Tis guy cares, but in your pathetic faith based reality you will decry him and so many others in the military both retired and to a shocking extent active (note how wretched ignores the actual quotes of Colonel Davis) on your "we are winning, always winning, we have absolute victory every day and twice on Sunday and anyone who questions this who doubts as all here agreed that the terrosists were completely whipped in July 2003 (see archives) is an American hating democrat.

And this nonsense is a major reason for our problems because it has kept down the political pressure to pursue a workable strategy.

But you guys don't care because you don't believe the real world exists, you think reality is something manufactured on talk radio, that your real enemy is fellow Americans and you have every confidence because now Batman is in the fray!

Just as wrecthed believes that if Australia went back to the pre PC, multicultural whites only social policy of the fifties and early sixties they would declare him an honorable white man and let him stay.

2/18/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Well, your source is half right. Throwing slaves overboard was practiced most often by the Muslim slave runners, who were, of course, fleeing from the British, who were, of course, trying to end slavery.

2/18/2006 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Interesting quote from the Thomas Sowell interview with Brian Lamb:

A history professor had a student come up to him and ask, "Well when did slavery begin?" And he said, "You’re asking the wrong question. The question should be when did freedom begin? Because slavery existed as far back as we have any records."

2/18/2006 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Details, Details!

2/18/2006 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

For anybody interested, the Intelligence Summit powerpoint presentation on the Saddam Tapes is available here.

2/18/2006 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Ah, Mr. Bennet picks up the bigot charge brigade as he denigrates "your pathetic faith based reality."
Do you ever read a Mr. D 'Rat?
Have you ever seen the many others agreeing with him?
Did you not read Trish's short, pithy summation of where she thinks we are?
Perhaps you accidentally posted on the wrong Blog?
...I'll let Wretchard try to defend his Paleolithic Bigotry for himself.
But perhaps you were reading the Kos, instead?

2/18/2006 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

The West appears to be taking the fools bargain. Not until there is a serious life and death threat to the West will we as a society (I am not talking individuals here, we get it and see the cheap sellout now coming at a terrible price later on) get serious.

No method of propaganda will change that.

The Jihadis see their struggle as life and death and they are fighting to live. Most people in the West view 9/11 as a mosquito bite no need to get all worked up over it.

History will repeat itself. The West led by noble but naive appeasers until something much bigger than 9/11 happens. It will be a nuke in some Western city. Hope it isn't mine or yours.

W is an exception and will go down in the history as a pre-scient visionary.

The West will then face up to the facts, a Churchillian figure (complete with those who cling to the fantasies that appeasment will still work) will arise and a war will erupt with casualties in the billions.

2/18/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Marcus spoils the day by giving vent to our deepest fears.

2/18/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"An interesting factoid: there were more white Europeans taken as slaves by the North African moslems than blacks taken as slaves by Europeans to the New World."

Could you give me a source for this Aristedes?

It isn't that I'm disputing it, it's just something I've never heard before.

Trust but verify, you know.

2/18/2006 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

fred - I'd taken a phone call. Thank you for not trolling me in my absence.

Is Doug's behavior acceptable? I resent it that people ignore the question and continue to speak freely with him. Oh, this is a "club" alright, if the purpose of a club is to keep other people out. Why would anyone be proud of that?

Actually fred, your own condescending tone was not appreciated concerning my supposed "fear of a hard truth". That puts me in the position of having to once again explain and defend my learning. It totally sucks that you'd do that to me, and at the same time pretend that you're being civil.

"A bit more depth to [my] knowledge of Islamic scriptures"?

The Koran, Avicenna, Ibn Arabi, Shihabuddin Yahya Suhrawardi, Nasiruddin Tusi, Mula Sadra, Rumi ... (I add that I studied with Joseph Campbell, so you'll have some notion of my approach, and how it is I'm not thereby a Muslim. I'm also not a Buddhist, a Hindu and all kinds of other things I've had to study.)

Your old roommate's decline is undoubtedly far too often the rule these days, but it would be a mistake to believe that the totalizing instinct, or whatever it is, would stay one-sided for very long.

I applaud Americans for being so reasonable, and fair-minded up to now, and I always parade that point, if I can, to any European I meet (too bad for them). It is definitely due to our "highly developed moral sensibilities", as you wrote. The European MSM was full of predictions about the nascent "racism of Americans" and the appeal of 9/11 to "our terrible, dark side". (That was on 9/12/01. They were wrong, as I knew they were. I have archived newspaper articles if you're interested.)

But have we really "dispensed with the whole idea of genocide on our part"?

I predict that the kind of half-informed "thinking" I'm seeing in these threads lately will only invite our own slow crawl towards something we may not be able to turn back from someday. If we slowly evolve to a place in what is evidently becoming a civilizational struggle, a place which would be truly horrific to have to contemplate today (a final solution type moment and choice, involving nukes, etc), are you so certain that your learning about Islam is so flawless that you were never morally culpable in the inevitability of that situation? If your judgment itself inadvertently gave rise to the circumstance, would you find a way to let yourself off the hook anyway?

"The choice really is theirs, not ours. We have a right to defend ourselves against jihad aggression."

Surely we have a right to defend, but why should we limit the scope of how we make their choices easier for them? Just so we don't waver on identifying an evil? That seems kind of silly, especially when you consider the horror of a total war, a war which might have been avoided by not throwing up our hands prematurely.

It is more likely to be avoided if we would desist from "mythologizing" their evil, to borrow a phrase from Hannah Arendt, and foisting the literalism of some, or even most, upon the faith itself. Coming from my learning, my studies, I repeat that that is just not warranted.

Yes! let's start "talking about less severe measures to deal with the threat to our liberty, our religions, and our civilization." Try me. I'm hardly one to suggest cross-cultural feelings meetings.

I can barely even get to explain why I think you are slipping morally, and that's because you're ensconced in a club here, a kind of group-think. I waste so much effort fielding the kind of cheap sniping that doug thrives on (importing unrelated things from other threads, goading me on global warming) ... and yet we all probably voted for Bush, and would again. But that means nothing now. That I have learning about Islam independent of the common notions and misapprehensions that totalize Islam (yes, due to Muslim stupidities and atrocities) is all anyone needs to hear to want to hunker down with the local trolls who brook no opposition.

F**king group think. You can have it.

2/18/2006 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Until you have lived amongst them you have learned nothing. Perhaps your self schooling will get you into a taxi on the way from the airport, but you would not make it out from that taxi. You are worse than naive. You are arrogant and cavalier.

2/18/2006 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

mika - I'll grant you that my learning has entitled me to a certain arrogance, probably not unlike Wretchard's.

But cavalier? What is that judgement based on, specifically? You have to do much better than that.

I never said that we should stop the killing. Am I cavalier because I'm not ready to drop the bomb? Then say it. Display your wisdom for all to see.

2/18/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

You evidently just trolling, like the others.

Terrific website.

2/18/2006 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/18/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

doug - I will look for those at once.

mika - those are not specific criticisms of what I've written. I don't even understand how you could say such things based on what I've written?

You know nothing about my experiences or where I've lived.

Who the hell are you that you should get away with a post like that?

As far as I can tell you're a troll.

2/18/2006 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Cutler, my source is Thomas Sowell's "Black Rednecks and White Liberals", in which that factoid is sourced from somewhere else. I don't have my book handy but I'll see if I can find it on Google.

Sowell also makes this point in his interview with Brian Lamb, which is available at Booknotes on

2/18/2006 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

In your quest to further "prove" my intractable trollish nature, you have now Twice ignored posts that explain my position, namely
10:39 AM, and 10:50 AM.
You may disagree, but my point in bringing up Global Warming was that my argument is the same in both instances, but you disagree in both instances.

Feel free, but I fear you may be suffering from some of the same anger management problems you so freely accuse others of, as witnessed here by all your angry descriptions, characterizations, and accusations.

2/18/2006 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mika 3:10 PM,
Get to your point!

2/18/2006 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

And don't pull any of those linky-joo tricks!

2/18/2006 03:17:00 PM  

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