Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Elusive War

Reader David L. has put together two points of view and put them in a table for contrast. Max Hastings takes the position that the President Bush is fighting against a variety of movements each with different grievances which GWB perversely insists on treating as a unit, called the War on Terror. In reality there is no War on Terror. There is the Palestinian grievance. There are a variety of smaller grievances. And there is a vast sea of normal, largely peaceful Muslims who are being organized by President Bush's mischaracterization as the Enemy Other, which they will eventually become. Michael Ledeen on the other hand, believes that the different conflicts observed in the world today -- Lebanon and Iraq to give two examples -- cannot be understood as purely local phenomena. It is not a case of Nasrallah's grievances or some Sunni tribal grievance. It is about a proxy war which has been raging for nearly three decades which America is only recently acknowledging, even though its authors have been openly boasting about it. Ledeen argues that if we persist on denying the connections exist we will be perversely misunderstanding the nature of the war against us.

The Real War ... -- National Review Online By Michael Ledeen, August 14, 2006 Bush's belief in a worldwide Islamist conspiracy is foolish and dangerous   -- Max Hastings The Guardian, August 14, 2006

Watching the war in Lebanon and listening to the debate about it, is just like watching the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its attendant debate. Israelis are demanding the resignation of Olmert, just as Americans are demanding the head of Bush. Israeli military experts, real and self-proclaimed, are explaining how the Lebanon war could have been won, if only the ground campaign had started earlier, or had been more ambitious. American strategists of varying competence are explaining how the Iraq war could have been won, if only there were more boots on the ground, or if only a different strategy had been employed, or if only the Baathist army had been kept intact. 

I think it’s nonsense. Both campaigns and both debates suffer from the same narrow focus, the same failure of strategic vision, the same obsession with a single campaign in a single place, when the war itself — the real war — is far wider. Our leaders and our pundits are fighting single battles, and, since their strategies are not designed to win the real war, they are doomed to fail. The failure of strategic vision is not unique to politicians, or pundits, or military strategists; it seems common to them all. It is extremely rare to hear an authoritative voice addressing the real war. 

The terror masters in Syria and Iran are waging a regional war against us, running from Afghanistan and Iraq to, Gaza, Israel, and Lebanon. Alongside the ground war in the Middle East, they are conducting fifth-column operations against us from Europe to India and on to Indonesia, Australia, and the United States; the plot just dismantled in Great Britain provides the latest evidence.  

Israel cannot destroy Hezbollah by fighting in Lebanon alone, just as we cannot provide Iraq and Afghanistan with decent security by fighting only there. The destruction of Hezbollah requires regime change in Damascus. Security in Iraq and Afghanistan requires regime change in Damascus and Tehran. Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, and Afghanistan are not separate conflicts. They are battlefields in a regional war. 

Even if the Israelis had conducted a brilliant campaign that killed every single Hezbollah terrorist in Lebanon, it would only have bought time. The Syrians and Iranians would have restocked, rearmed and resupplied the Hezbollahis, and prepared for the next battle. But if the Assad regime were replaced with a government opposed to terrorism and committed to freedom, Hezbollah would die of logistical starvation, cut off from money, weapons, training facilities, and the crucial support of Syrian and Iranian military and intelligence organizations. 

In like manner, even if we continue to win every battle in every region of Iraq and Afghanistan, we will only prolong the fighting. The Iranians and their various allies inside Iraq, from the Baathist remnant to the Sadrists to Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and other foreign terrorists, would continue to infiltrate the country, buy agents within Iraq, develop new generations of IEDs and smuggle ever more accurate rockets and missiles to use against us and the Iraqi forces of order. They will do the same in Afghanistan. But if the mullahcracy is replaced by a government empowered by the tens of millions of pro-American and pro-democracy people now oppressed by the evil terror masters in Tehran, the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan would be quickly transformed into a manageable operation with the balance of power overwhelmingly on the side of the governments. 

The longer we wait, the larger the real war becomes. Iran has been at war with us for 27 years and we have yet to respond. As time passes, and our fecklessness is confirmed, the mullahs’ confidence grows. Surely they must believe that their moment has come, that we will never respond, that they can bloody us and force us to retreat. That is the clear lesson of Lebanon, and they are undoubtedly raising the stakes for the next round. The Iranian missiles used against Israeli warships off the coast of Lebanon are now pouring into Somalia, and will be used against our ships in one of the most strategically sensitive areas of the world economy. The clandestine network rolled up in London surely extends to this country, and it is only a matter of time until they get lucky. Just a few weeks ago, the Germans fortunately discovered powerful bombs on their railroads. The French found similar weapons a couple of years ago. The Italians have arrested 40 people, are expelling many others, and have more than a thousand under surveillance. 

These are the outlines of future events in the real war. We have a president who, despite his many weaknesses, speaks as if he understands it. But we have a secretary of state who speaks and acts as if she did not, a secretary of defense who has manifestly failed to grasp the true strategic dimensions of our peril, and an intelligence community that is still obsessed with the failed theories of the recent past, notably the nonsense about the unbridgeable Sunni-Shiite conflict. The president has finally begun to speak the truth about Islamic fascists, but he has yet to level with the American people about the magnitude of the real war, and ask them to support a strategy for victory. 

That strategy does not, even today, require greatly expanded military action against the terror masters. Our most potent weapon against them remains the rage and courage of their own peoples. We must support those people, we must openly call and work for regime change in Syria and Iran. Heartbreakingly and foolishly, our failure to support revolution makes military action more and more likely. If we do not do the logical and sensible things, if we do not deploy the massive political weapons at our disposal, we will end by doing terrible things. Or, shrinking from the consequences of such action, we will suffer defeat, and the world will be plunged into a darkness the likes of which any civilized person must dread. 

Faster, please. 

George Bush sometimes sounds more like the Mahdi, preaching jihad against infidels, than the leader of a western democracy. In his regular radio address to the American people on Saturday he linked the British alleged aircraft plotters with Hizbullah in Lebanon, and these in turn with the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

All, said the president of the world's most powerful nation, share a "totalitarian ideology", and a desire to "establish a safe haven from which to attack free nations". Bush's remarks put me in mind of a proverb attributed to Ali ibn Abu Talib: "He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, and he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere." 

In the United States a disturbingly large minority of people - polls suggest around 40% - remain willing to accept Bush's assertions that Americans and their allies, which chiefly means the British, are faced with a single global conspiracy by Islamic fundamentalists to destroy our societies. 

In less credulous Britain one could nowadays fit into an old-fashioned telephone box those who believe anything Bush or Tony Blair says about foreign policy. Many of us are consumed with frustration. We know that we face a real threat from Muslim fundamentalists, and that we are unlikely to begin to defeat this until we see it for what it is: something infinitely more complex, diffuse and nuanced than the US president wishes to suppose. 

There is indeed a common strand in the anger of Muslim radicals in many countries. They are frustrated by the cultural, economic and political dominance of the west, whose values they find abhorrent. In some, bitterness is increased by awareness of the relative failure of their own societies, which they blame on the west rather than their own shortcomings. 

They turn to violence in the spirit that has inspired fringe groups of revolutionaries through the ages. It is essential for the western democracies to defend themselves vigorously against such people, whose values and purposes are nihilistic. We must never lose sight of the fact that al-Qaida's terrorists attacked the twin towers on 9/11 before Bush began his reckless crusade, before the coalition went into Afghanistan and Iraq, before Israel entered Lebanon. 

In September 2001, most of the world clearly perceived that a monstrous crime had been committed against the United States, and that the defeat of al-Qaida was essential to global security. While many ordinary Muslims were by no means sorry to see American hubris punished, grassroots support for Osama bin Laden was still small, and remained so through the invasion of Afghanistan. 

Today, of course, everything has changed. In the eyes of many Muslims, the actions of Bush and Blair have promoted and legitimised al-Qaida in a fashion even its founder could hardly have anticipated a decade ago. 

Bush has chosen to lump together all violent Muslim opposition to what he perceives as western interests everywhere in the world, as part of a single conspiracy. He is indifferent to the huge variance of interests that drives the Taliban in Afghanistan, insurgents in Iraq, Hamas and Hizbullah fighting the Israelis. He simply identifies them as common enemies of the United States. 

Almost three years ago he contemptuously challenged the Iraqi insurgents to defy American will: "My answer is - bring 'em on." Today he has widened this bold defiance to embrace a vastly more ambitious range of foes: "He who has one enemy will meet him everywhere." 

Far from acknowledging that any successful strategy for addressing Muslim radicalism must include a just outcome for the Palestinians, he endorses Israel's attempt to crush them and their supporters by force of arms alone, together with Israeli expansion on the West Bank. The west faces the probable defeat of its efforts to stabilise Afghanistan, a worthy objective, because of the likely failure of its campaign in Iraq, which began on false pretexts. 

There is no chance that the west will get anywhere with the Muslim world until the US government is willing to disassemble a spread of grievances in widely diverse societies, examine them as separate components, and treat each on its merits. America cannot prevail through the mere deployment of superior wealth and military power, the failure of which is manifest. Judicious and discriminatory political judgments are fundamental, and today quite lacking. 

The madness of Bush's policy is that he has made a wilful choice to amalgamate the grossly irrational, totalitarian and homicidal objectives of al-Qaida with the just claims of Palestinians and grievances of Iraqis. His remarks on Saturday invite Muslims who sympathise with Hamas or reject Iraq's occupation or merely aspire to grow opium in Afghanistan to make common cause with Bin Laden. 

If the United States insists upon regarding all Muslim opponents of its foreign policies as a homogeneous enemy then that is what they become. The Muslim radicals' "single narrative" portrays the entire course of history as a Christian and Jewish plot against Islam. 

It is widely agreed among western governments and intelligence agencies that, in order to defeat the pernicious spread of such nonsense, a convincing counter-narrative is needed. Yet it becomes a trifle difficult to compose this when the US president promulgates his own single narrative, almost as ridiculous as that of al-Qaida. 

Whatever the truth about last week's frustrated aircraft bomb plot, we cannot doubt that Britain faces a serious and ongoing threat from violent fanatics undeserving of the smallest sympathy. Yet we shall defeat them only when our Muslim community at large perceives that its interests are identified with Britain's polity. 

This objective will remain elusive as long as the British government supports the United States in pursuing policies that many Muslims perceive as directed against their entire culture. You and I know that this is not so. We are as dismayed as they are by Bush and Blair's follies. 

Yet, however eloquently we explain this, many Muslims respond by pointing to the spectacle of American, Israeli and British troops daily executing operations that the president declares to be in furtherance of his global jihad. It avails little that we know our boys in Afghanistan are pursuing infinitely more admirable purposes than the Israelis in Lebanon, when Bush is telling the world that the two conflicts are mere different fronts in a common struggle. 

Tony Blair - "waist deep in the big muddy", as Pete Seeger used to sing about Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam era - clings to a messianic conviction that he must continue to endorse American statements and policies to maintain his restraining influence on George Bush. This invites speculation about what the president might do if Tony was not at his elbow. Seize Mecca? 

The west faces a threat from violent Muslim fundamentalists that would have existed even if a Lincoln had been presiding at the White House. As a citizen, I am willing to be resolute in the face of terrorism, which must be defeated. I become much less happy about the prospect of immolation, however, when Bush and Blair translate what should be an ironclad case for civilised values into an agenda of their own which I want no part of.



Max Hasting's striking phrase "yet we shall defeat them only when our Muslim community at large perceives that its interests are identified with Britain's polity" is as clever a case for surrender as I've ever heard. What of Britain's interests, the ones which presumably include Hindus, ethnic Europeans, Chinese and Jews. Might one not make an equal argument for saying that Britain's policy should never rest easy until it satisfies them too? And should those conflict with the interests of "our Muslim community" then is it simply a matter of satisfying the most violent petitioners?

Michael Ledeen's argument on the other hand, has but two actors in its cast of characters yet the stage seems crowded with others. Are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia innocent bystanders? And what role does Islam play in this drama? Comment faster please.


Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...

As "moderate Muslims" stand on the sideline, their world crumbles. I have yet to hear of a US Muslim constantly, blatantly, standing up to the radicals, yelling to the rafters that the radicals are destroying their religion. Doing it publicly, in the media. Masses of them. Then, organizing an Islam brigade in our military.

Do they want to see the primitive side to validate their radical's rants? Islam needs to do a count on the deaths in WWII from Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see what the US primitive side looks like, then form that brigade.

8/15/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Jack Wayne said...

In my opinion there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. There are some scattered "insane" Muslims - college professors, young people, idealistic people - who speak of democracy. But the plain history is that as soon as Muslims become the majority Sharia law ensues. And so does the mysterious disappearance of Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, atheists et al from those countries. I am sick of the phrase that the radical Muslims have hijacked Islam. No such thing has happened. When Muslims had no money and influence they were confined to their countries. Now with money and influence they are doing as they have always done.

8/15/2006 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Michael Ledeen's basic premise, remarkable as it may seem, is that all of this, every problem that the US and the West faces in the guise of militant Islam, is somehow, miraculously, the result of a small cabal in Iran and Syria. But most particularly Iran.

Wacko kids in Toronto on the receiving end of a RCMP sting? Iran! Bombers in Madrid? Iran! British kids blowing up planes, trains, and automobles? Iran! US problems with Shias? Iran! US problems with Sunnis? Sunni problems with Shia? Iran! US problems with self-proclaimed Al Qaida-ists in Iran who are blowing up Shias? Iran!

Everywhere we look, Iran, Iran, Iran. If we just blow up Iran, well, those trouble-makers in Toronto, Miami, Buffalo, London, Madrid, Bali, Fallujah, Kashmir, etc., etc., will come to an end. Let's just ignore that the logistical links between any of these actors and AQ, OBL, and Iran are tenuous at best. Let's just ignore reality completely.

8/15/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

"But the plain history is that as soon as Muslims become the majority Sharia law ensues."

Are you kidding me? Egypt? Turkey? Iraq before we invaded? Syria?

Remember, Zawahir and OBL got started wanting to create Islamist fantasy-lands in the middle east. Their efforts failed repeatedly. The bounced from country to country and ended up in one of the most backwards places on Earth. They wanted Sharia everywhere and they failed.

8/15/2006 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

previously db2m said a lot:

"In other words, 2164th, Paul's metaphor is instructing Christians (and that includes American Christians) not to be arrogant in their assumed superiority over the Jews.

And never forget, the Jewish race gave us Jesus of Nazareth, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Launch into another diatribe if you like, but in doing
so, it's not really me you would be griping against."

Total utter nonsense. Israel is the size of Paraguay. There are four times as many people in Mexico City as there are in all of Israel and almost 600 million people in Latin America. These American politicians and flacks that say that the America with 300 million people, which is 90% Christian, which has the oldest democracy in the world, which has an indigenous population and heritage that goes back 10,000 years, has been settled by over 100 ethnic groups is lock stepped and can never deviate from the foreign policy of the Knesset, formed in 1949, by less than two million Europeans, in a small piece of real estate less than the size of the state of New Jersey, are intellectual midgets and border on traitorous to the principals and national interests of the United States of America. America has no permanent allies, but has permanent interests.
This bizzare pious fideilty to Israel that supercedes or places American interests as being subservient to Israel is abhorrent to the valedictory Address given by George Washington. He had two themes from the speech which are particularly important. The first was rising sectionalism and political factionalism in the country. He urged Americans to unite for the good of the whole country.The second theme consists of harsh words warning to avoid entanglements with foreign powers. yet here and elsewhere we have this genuflection and fealty to Israel as if it is a prerequisite to Americanism.

Stop it. Be a friend to Israel or any other country but be an American first.

8/15/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

In fairness to Michael Ledeen he was talking about the centrality of Iran in the war on terror long before it figured on anyone's radar screens. Events in Lebanon and recent developments in Iraq show they were the major players he said they were.

But is the cast complete? The role of Islam's new Jihad, it seems to me, deserves some mention too. My own sense is that we also simultaneously in a war of ideas, not just in a cage match against a small set of dictators. So I would say that Michael Ledeen has a point. Where I am not too sure is whether there is not some other, perhaps even larger consideration.

8/15/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger leaddog2 said...

It ALL STARTED with Jimmy Carter's friend Kohmeini in 1979 and continues with Iran today. If you do not see that James, you are wilfully blind. Eliminate Iran's $500 million a year to Shia Terrorists eliminates Shia influence EVERYWHERE. Saudi money can be contained more readily.

8/15/2006 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

A sad fact is that the GWOT, the name we put towards a struggle against militant Islam, seems to be genuinely nothing but a pretense to invade various countries that many advocates had a strong interest in for a whole variety of reasons long before 9/11.

Maybe one of these days we could decide that apprehending Bin Laden himself is a priority. Until then, we can kid ourselves with the idea that Islamic terrorism requires state support in order to function and that gives us license to invade any state we want.

Let's just ignore the fact that 9/11 was the result of actors and sponsors that had nothing to do with Iran, Iraq, or Syria.

8/15/2006 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...


Nope, terminating Iran won't rid us of "Home-Grown" terrorists. Only some "State-Sponsored" ones.

I have not seen anyone here state that if we only destroyed Iran, all of our problems will be solved. Only that problem.

Your post seems to envision that all people that believe that Iran has to be dealt with are imbeciles. It is perfectly acceptable to rant in this forum, but damn don't think the posters here are idiots.

8/15/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


No, it didn't start with Jimmy Carter's "friend" Khomeini in Iran.

Islamic militancy, as we understand it in the 20th and 21st centuries, started in Colorado, USA, between 1948 and 1950, based on the experiences of Egyptian scholar Sayyid Qutb who was studying in the United States at the Colorado State College of Education.

He returned home with the idea of removing the influence of the West from Muslim society. He developed an ideology that violence was necessary and justified to remove western culture from Islamic lands. His writins went on to have a strong influence on both Zawahiri and then Khomeini.

8/15/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


I appreciate your comments. And yes, I'm being a bit rhetorical. But my observation is that some here do seem to have a curious enthusiasm for Iran. And Ledeen has been wanting to go after Iran for a long, long time.

8/15/2006 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wisdom and Opinion from Previous Threads

trish said...
And in the meantime, Ledeen needs to do us a favor and please STFU about instant revolution.
Ledeen states that we need to be supporting revolution in Iran. Now. In order to support one now, there actually has to be one now. That rage and courage he attributes to the Iranian populace must manifest itself before we can have a supporting role to play.

Regime change in Iran will be the work of Iranians and it will be, just my best guess, a relatively long, slow process.

In the mind of Ledeen, the long, slow part spells the absolute end of the world.

He's not just lacking patience. He's hysterical. And he's directing that hysteria at an administration, at a government, that cannot simply order up a little regime change, much less on his damn schedule.

And I'd just like to add that if there were, or were to be, certain foreign efforts underway in Iran, the worst thing to do would be to announce it to the world and to Faster Please Ledeen.
desert rat said...
In truth. luc, if I were the CiC, which is a likely as snow in Phoenix in August, I'd go for Option C first.
Include funding the Kurds and other minority groups with as much cash as needed.

8/15/2006 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


I appreciate your comments about Ledeen and Iran. Yes, he has been long pointing out Iran. So with that I think there are two possible ways too look at it: 1) he either had a unique degree of foresight regarding Iran's intensions and capabilities, or 2) it's just him staying on message.

Our latest problems in Iraq with Iran are not all surprising or unanticipated. It would almost be amazing for them NOT to take some kind of action in southern Iraq following the US invasion considering the number of individuals and groups who have been wanting us to use Iraq as a platform for which to move into Iran. This is not to say that they are justified or that we need to be blamed. But it's really sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, it would seem.

8/15/2006 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...


Root-Cause Analysis of the Jihadis does go back to Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood. At least the radical side of Islam has it's roots in the polemics of Qutb.

The ball has moved on. (I know - very simplistic, but true)

Doug - a new Shah? Bwahahahaha!
Dead man walkin'.

8/15/2006 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Juan Golblado said...

I certainly agree with wretchard that we are in a war of ideas as well as a shooting war.

I see at least two fronts to the war of ideas. Once (if!) we stiffen our backs and start to roll back the various strands of Islamist totalitarianism, we will begin to show the Islamists' supply of potential recruits that there is really no future in it, their 'martyrdom' will just be their death. Then those societies will start to concentrate their minds on real solutions to their problems and quit fantasizing at our expense.

The more difficult front in the war of ideas is against the likes of Max Hastings. As long as they whine and moan about the suffering Muslims it is that much harder a) to hit the Islamists as hard as we have to hit them, and b) to convince the Islamists that we will do it again and again until they quit effing around. Now, that sets out the problem on that front. But the solution seems a little bit more elusive. It might take a hard hand with them, too, to disabuse them of their fantasies. They don't seem open to argument.

8/15/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger greer rants said...

The "moderates" better make their move ASAP. The Brits and much of America is fed up.

Dinocrat had an interesting post yesterday re hating "annoyance" more than hating evil. His conclusion was he would take what he could get if its lead to more sane screening at airports and more freedom for our good guys to investigate.

A report on CNN highlighted the "virtual body scan". Airports that are currently using it in Europe give the ticketed passenger a choice of the machine or a full pat down.

All I could think of was Dinocrat's "annoyance" that would be exhibited by the "body conscience" female
who spends hours of time selecting fashion to hide "defects". Republicans should get those machines installed at our airports ASAP.

The lefty multiculturalists have Code Pink but we would have "Control Top Pantyhose
Ladies" pressing for profiling.

On Iran, I don't know how much longer we can have them threatening us and Israel. I am terrible dissapointed in Olmert. We need a decisive victory against these cretins. I keep trying to have faith that GW's admin has a strategy that we just can't see. At least that is my prayer.

8/15/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Some facts on how the religion of peace treats its religious minorities, with reference to Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey.

Egypt church attacks spark anger

A Brief History of 2600 Years of Jewish Presence in Iraq

Armenian Genocide

8/15/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Both our gracious host in his 07:11:55 PM comment and JK in the next are correct.
There are two major threads to the Mohammedan Wars. The Shia/ Iranian ascension and the Wahabbist radicalism funded by the Sauds.

The Wahabbists have their nuclear capacity already. While a threat that must be dealt with eventually the Wahabbists have not unleashed their weaponry to the most Radical of their sect.
The Sauds and the General President are rational actors that deterence and containment work against on a Strategic level. Though if the Paki weapons were lost to the Radicals, Kellie bar the door, though.

The Iranian threat is altogether different. Their posture is one of open hostility, today, as it has been for 20 plus years. Will a MAD policy of containment work against them?
JK seems to think so, that the Mullahs and President Abracadabra will not go off the deep end.

To my thinking both the Wahabbist and the Mullahs are different branches of the same tree.
The Iranians are the greater World threat to US interests, today. Start the pruning there.
We should give them a taste of an Iraqi style Insurgency, they should have had that bitter taste in their mouths for the past two decades, now. That they do not is a multi generational US failure of purpose and will.
The butchers bill for those past failures is coming due.

8/15/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...

"But it's really sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, it would seem."


8/15/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


I appreciate your comments that the ball has moved on. It has. I wonder, however, if instead of a single ball we're dealing more with a bunch of ball bearings.

I don't see the path to victory in Indonesia, London, Southern Thailand, New York, Toronto, or elsewhere being found in Tehran. My fussing about Qutb was simply to keep someone from falsely claiming that Iran was the fountainhead of the ideology. And, most importantly, it was to note that Qutb's revolution failed in his own home country.

There are seemingly a lot of people who really want to turn Iran and Syria into Iraq. I'm not at all convinced that is desirable in the long-term. It seems, if anything, a recipe for igniting the fight to entirely new levels.

8/15/2006 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

James, We have invaded exactly two (2) countries. Afghanistan (do you have a problem with that one?) which even you will have to admit, no one on planet earth thought about invading before 9-11, and Iraq.

I take it you're referring to Iraq. Now, James, why do You think we invaded Iraq? Do you think it was to steal their oil. Do you think it was to give Halliburton something to do? Or, do you think it was a "family feud?"

Personally, I think Dubya was really afraid that Saddam would manage to develop a Nuke, and thus, would get control of all of the Middle East Oil. I mean, the sanctions were breaking down, and things were looking pretty good from his stand-point.

What do you think?

I'll wait.

8/15/2006 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


Have you noticed this?

Occasionally for a decade after his death, Elvis was sighted.

No one has seen Osama since Tora Bora.

Does this suggest something to you?

8/15/2006 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...


As was Qutb's plan, the MB was to semi-assimilate and await the call. You are correct, in my opinion, of the ball-bearing analogy.

As nation-state sponsors are the lodestone, they must be handled. In this, the ball-bearings will possibly execute their plans. Then we handle them.

8/15/2006 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"The butchers bill for those past failures is coming due."
Accumulated interest dwarfs original sum.

8/15/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

GWB's gonna give him a tour of Graceland and declare victory?

8/15/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


No problem with Afghanistan.

Iraq? I believe that the motives behind the Iraq invasion remain obscure. I don't think its as crass and commercial as some believe. I don't think it was due to eminent fear of Hussein's potential threat to the US. I used to be sympathetic to the "a free and democratic Iraq will transform the middle east" meme. But that's pretty hard to swallow.

My biggest problem with Iraq has been the execution. With all of the people who've been calling for the sacking of the Israeli PM over this latest flare-up in Lebanon, I'm rather amazed at how our current administration is held absolutely blameless for the problems in Iraq.

Any attempts at all to point to a series of bad decisions leads to condemnations that one is a "Bush hater", even if one doesn't even mention Bush.

The result is that Iraq is left in a mess, it's been tremendously costly both in terms of dollars and lives, Iraqi society is even more traumatized than they were under Hussein. The world-wide perception of the US has taken a serious blow due to how the war was sold, the lack of diplomacy, how the occupation has been handled, etc.

The perception of people from a vast number of countries that I speak to is: it was all based on a lie, it was motivated by greed, and now Iraq is a nightmare. Reality or true intentions aside, that is the perception. And it IS causing the US some problems around the world: Iraq is constantly mentioned throughout Latin America in countries attempting to sign trade agreements with the US. It is the FUEL of the opposition. And an amazingly potent fuel at that.

And now, these same people who presented Iraq as both a cakewalk and the pathway to a new Middle East are now talking about working their magic on yet another country. I believe that deserves a considerable amount of caution.

8/15/2006 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Lone Star said...

Another reason we started with Iraq is because if we had started with Iran, we would have had to fight Hussein at the same time, where with Iraq, Iran cooperated with us to bring Iraq down.

8/15/2006 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...


This is not snarky - Look at the map of the ME. Iraq had to happen, strategically, to pressure Iran. All Iran did in Lebanon was push the military front further west. We thought Isreal would counter that......

8/15/2006 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


Thanks, and I agree on your comments regarding MB. I suppose where I differ is the importance of state sponsors. 9/11 USA, 3/11 Madrid, 7/7 London, Bali, and numerous others don't seem to require state-sponsorship. Thousands of cars burning in Paris don't seem to require state-sponsorship (apart from France's generous social welfare.)

8/15/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Well, wait, James; you said this:

A sad fact is that the GWOT, the name we put towards a struggle against militant Islam, seems to be genuinely nothing but a pretense to invade various countries that many advocates had a strong interest in for a whole variety of reasons long before 9/11.

Now, you say that one of the two, Afghanistan, is OK; and, you really don't have a problem with the "invasion" of Iraq so much as, "it just hasn't been done too good."

8/15/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Wretchard, I can't be sure what tree you're barking up when you state, and then ask:

So I would say that Michael Ledeen has a point. Where I am not too sure is whether there is not some other, perhaps even larger consideration.

but I will tell you this: in 1958 the United States sent a contingent from Florida A&M University on a continental tour of Africa to expressly counter the propaganda and outright lies of the Soviet Union. Other cultural exchanges were sent to other spots around the globe by other American cultural representatives.

It occurs to me that the administration, for good reasons, is taking great pains to not make plain what seems rather plain to me: all of this foolishness, and all of these proxies (including Iran), leads back to Russia.

When Ahmadinejad says the state of Israel may be a good solution to a European problem but its in the wrong place and should perhaps be next to Germany, it may be a Persian or Arabic train of thought but the cynicism strikes me as European. Eastern European. It sounds very much like 1950's Russian -- desperately trying to start a race war in America by inflaming the black population via any possible means.

Same script, same writers, just a more gullible crowd of folk willingly pimpin' for their patron who is successfully throwing rocks and hiding his hand.

The upshot: contrary to popular belief, WWIII has not yet been concluded. The Cold War still rages. The sap suckers simply changed the playing field, dropped some of their anachronistic nonsense, but retained their distaste for most things American.

It was about proxies back then, and its still about proxies right now. The brains behind this Islamofascist race to the bottom by both Sunni and Shia, however, is Russian. The brains behind those Hezbollah tunnels in south Lebanon is Russia. And the brains behind that brilliant fake "insurgency" in Iraq is Russian.

And as I constantly reflect back on September 11, 2001 -- I'm sorry, but I don't see Saudi Arabians coming up with that plan. I do see masters of the totalitarian state coming up with something as devious, and Godless, as that.

8/15/2006 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...

No James, Paris builds ghettos for em' - idiots....

We'll have to agree to disagree about state-sponsors, though. Could be a grass-roots revolution. That just means it'll be on the streets. We'll win that one (by "we" I mean the US). As long as Europe can hold out, by no means a sure thing, the Opportunists in the ME will be beaten back. But, the Europeans have gone barbaric in their past.

The only tactical blunder I see is the lack of alternative energy funding. We should be spending >100 billion a year to deflate those ticks. We aren't really getting "real" until that happens. I'd rather send 300 billion in famine aid, if you get my drift.

8/15/2006 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


No snarkiness perceived; no offense taken.

I agree on the strategic value of Iraq. I'll simply say that I believe it was not handled well, from the initial diplomatic push right down to today. There have been some severe negative consequences in the action in Iraq.

Perhaps a better way to go, following 9/11, would have been to completely clear Afghanistan, apprehend remaining AQ in Pakistan, and putting some severe pressure on those countries which were funding AQ and supplying the manpower.

You know, you, I, and many others in this forum can look at Iraq with the benefit of an historical and strategic understanding that is lost on much of the masses throughout the world. We can see a higher level of logic and this allows us to look the other way at claims of WMD, eminent danger, and so forth. We can see, or think we see, "the big picture."

But the rest of the world sees a much less nuanced story. They see lies, invasion without provocation, mess. And it is very damaging to the US. This is where I think it is important to fault the administration. There have been some spirited attempts to defend the administration, to simply blame the left or the media or Michael Moore. I don't regard these charges as unmerited. But these people and institutions do exist, they are a stategic reality, and if they aren't managed in the way that other threats are managed they can turn a campaign into a losing proposition.

Looking at that, I don't think that our current administration has the tools it needs to move onto Iran.

8/15/2006 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger luc said...

The IDF will have to resume operations in Lebanon if the expanded United Nations force being assembled does not fulfill its obligation to dismantle Hizbullah, an official in the Prime Minister's Office warned on Tuesday.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah reportedly reached a deal allowing Hizbullah to keep its weapons but refrain from exhibiting them in public. Israeli officials called the arrangement a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which passed over the weekend and was approved on Sunday by the cabinet.

"The resolution is clear that Hizbullah needs to be removed from the border area, embargoed and dismantled," the official said. "If the resolution is not implemented, we will have to take action to prevent the rearming of Hizbullah.
looks like some of JK's frinds are prone to cheating ;)

8/15/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Max Hastings:
This objective will remain elusive as long as the British government supports the United States in pursuing policies that many Muslims perceive as directed against their entire culture. You and I know that this is not so.

Of course there are no policies directed against their entire culture. But we will never change their perception.

My existence will be perceived as directed against their entire culture. So will yours.

So all the current problems started in Colorado in 48/50 by Qutb, and his little book. I don't think so.

Islam against the world, as it always was, as it always will be.

Only change since 700AD, they've got the money. Even low-life punks out of Bradford, England have the money to fly to Pakistan.


8/15/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

"... BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 15 — As stunned Lebanese returned Tuesday over broken roads to shattered apartments in the south, it increasingly seemed that the beneficiary of the destruction was most likely to be Hezbollah.

A major reason — in addition to its hard-won reputation as the only Arab force that fought Israel to a standstill — is that it is already dominating the efforts to rebuild with a torrent of money from oil-rich Iran.

Nehme Y. Tohme, a member of Parliament from the anti-Syrian reform bloc and the country’s minister for the displaced, said he had been told by Hezbollah officials that when the shooting stopped, Iran would provide Hezbollah with an “unlimited budget” for reconstruction.

In his victory speech on Monday night, Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, offered money for “decent and suitable furniture” and a year’s rent on a house to any Lebanese who lost his home in the month-long war.

“Completing the victory,” he said, “can come with reconstruction.”

And the IDF has not even left Lebanon. But since this was in the NYTimes feel free to ignore it.

8/15/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger luc said...

And obviously this is due to US poor execution of goals in Iraq!

8/15/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


"The only tactical blunder I see is the lack of alternative energy funding. We should be spending >100 billion a year to deflate those ticks"

I agree 100%. Please check Chester's latest for more on this. Learn more about www.teslamotors.com. The latest advances in solar power by US companies. We could do amazing things with $25 billion a year. With $100 billion... well, oil will always be useful.. but we could create a much more efficient economy that was radically strengthened against international instability, which would be a great competitive edge against nations such as China. Oil is only going to become more expensive. We need to move now.

8/15/2006 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

juan golblado,

Max Hastings is a brilliant writer but he's a European and as such he's acutely aware of how much of the Middle Eastern mess is Britain and France's fault. They created Syria and Iraq from maps. They promised the Arabs nationhood yet strove to subjugate them. Western Europe nearly exterminated the Jews then gave them a homeland in Palestine in recompense. France helped build Dimona and armed Israel. Then it went and helpled build Osirak. Hasting's weakness is to see the world through Europe's prism -- that supposedly sophisticated and moral vantage which poseurs adopt in lieu of thinking things out for themselves.

What he doesn't realize is that we are past Europe now; beyond both its sins and its conceits. Sam Huntington understood that the world had its own beefs against radical Islam independent of Europe's guilts. Israel, for example, wants to live. And they are a nuclear armed country with a population larger than Australia which is going to live, going to survive, whatever Britain and its "polity" make up their minds to do.

So when Osama Bin Laden swears he will convert the whole world to Islam, its wrong to regard it from the perspective of some world weary Briton. The Third World Christian, Hindu or Buddhist will not so gently go into this good night. If that creates problems for Britain, too bad. If America is not careful it will let Europe conn it into taking on the mantle of its guilt. That's the "We the West" part. When it comes to paying the bill for their folly let it not be the "You Americans" part.

8/15/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Why it is impossible to deal with Muslims.

Hizbullah: UN decision doesn't obligate us

Deputy Hizbullah leader Sheikh Naim Qassam told Hizbullah TV station al-Manar that "the UN decision does not obligate us and it does not have weight with us."

"What Israel didn't succeed in taking during war, it will not succeed with diplomacy and politics," added Qassam. (Ali Waked)

Israel threatens to resume war if Hizbullah refuses to disarm

Annan angered Israeli officials when he told Channel 2 on Tuesday that "dismantling Hizbullah is not the direct mandate of the UN," which could only help Lebanon disarm the organization. Annan upset officials further when he said that deploying international forces in Lebanon would take "weeks or months," and not days as expected.

8/15/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


"So all the current problems started in Colorado in 48/50 by Qutb, and his little book. I don't think so"

Many societies, such as Egypt, were well on their way to becoming Westernized. Qutb's movement got started in response to that. And it's created problems in Egypt ever since. But even Egypt has held out. Qutb's most famous disciple had to move on to other lands....

8/15/2006 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger luc said...

"Deputy Hizbullah leader Sheikh Naim Qassam told Hizbullah TV station al-Manar that "the UN decision does not obligate us and it does not have weight with us."

Looks like the "victory" went to his head, he is no longer the head od state within a state, he superseeds now even the UN hahaha

8/15/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Lone Star said...

James said:
"My biggest problem with Iraq has been the execution."

"The perception of people from a vast number of countries that I speak to is...."
"The world-wide perception...."

That right there summarizes the whole problem with Iraq. It is all based on the perception that things have gone horribly wrong, that we are in a hopeless quagmire. That is the perception that the US media, world media and our own democrats have tried so hard to create, each because of their own agenda. Tell a lie enough times...
The fact is that the problems we are having in Iraq are exactly the problems that any rational person would have expected to have. When I saw GWB give his "mission accomplished" speech, the first thought that went through my head was that the easy part was over and the hard part was just starting. Events since that time have played out how I expected them to at the time, because I knew that remnants of the Hussein regime, the regimes in Syria, Iran, Al Quaida, etc were going to fight back against our presense. Truthfully, I thought it would be much worse then it has been.

8/15/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

One of Ledeen's recurrent points about Iran is that it's been at war w/us for 27 years w/o response.
Highly provocative behavior on our part, weakness being what it is.

8/15/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"Islam needs to do a count on the deaths in WWII from Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see what the US primitive side looks like...."


8/15/2006 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Michelle Malkin's blog links to a story that the head plotter in Britain was roughed up by Pakistani interrogators to get at the truth.Pakistan is a bit of an enigma.They have captured Ramzi Yousef,Khalid Shaik Mohammed,Ramzi Bin Al Shieb and others.And yet plenty of western grown Muslims go there and get radicalized.Which is it?
38 years ago today I DEROSed from Viet Nam.My, how the years have passed.In my limited world "The flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away"Also on Malkin's blog,guest commentator,Mary Katherine Ham draws a nice picture of living in the South.

8/15/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Wow, Allen; Thanks for the link regarding Jews in Iraq. That was fascinating, utterly fascinating.

8/15/2006 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...

"Highly provocative behavior on our part, weakness being what it is." - Doug

I wonder what exists, now, in the ME psyche that promotes bravado?

2 states wrecked and eye-balls on the next. Ya gotta admit, they have something.... Something is just not clickin' in those gears.

8/15/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Many societies, such as Egypt, were well on their way to becoming Westernized. Qutb's movement got started in response to that. And it's created problems in Egypt ever since.

Absolutely right. But Qutb's movement only drew attention to what was going on - the Westernisation of Egypt. Westernisation was the cause, Qutb the by-product.

But I take your general point - all it takes is a few self-anointed mullah types to radicalise a group. My point is that the underlying preconditions must exist for the radicalisation to take hold.


8/15/2006 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Lone Star said...

re: state sponsors

Terrorists are dangerous enough on there own. State sponsors magnify the danger. WMD can only be obtained through state sponsors. Without state sponsors, the risks from terrorists can be reduced to manageable levels and over time eliminated by winning the hearts and minds of the next generations to come. I truly wonder how many of the children of Iraq who have been exposed to the good will of our fighting men and women will strap on bombs in the future.

8/15/2006 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


This guy is alive and talking, which means, of course, he is lying through his flea bitten beard. Sadly, the Muslim street is not populated by Mensa members; they will HAPPILY accept this nonsense hook, line, and sinker.

You have to wonder how it feels to the Iranians to have just watched billions in assets go up in smoke, with less than 200 dead Israelis. The Wahhabi's must be gloating unmercifully, thinking of the damage they inflicted on the Great Satan on 911 for a pittance. Just some good natured brotherly ribbing, I guess.

8/15/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/15/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Rattlergator, a little borscht served cold. Payback for Afghanistan. Stingers for Al Queda, as it were.

The Iranians, more of less, invented chess. The Russians mastered it.

actually it was the Indians, but it moved up to Persia pretty quickly, and the popularized it, and what the hey, who's counting, right?

8/15/2006 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

You know, that Anthrax that showed up right after 9-11 was pretty sophisticated stuff. Everyone assumed it was either ours, or it came from Iraq; but, it could have come from good old mother russia by way of Iraq.

8/15/2006 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Mr. Hastings essentially contradicts himself. He writes the following:

There is indeed a common strand in the anger of Muslim radicals in many countries. They are frustrated by the cultural, economic and political dominance of the west, whose values they find abhorrent. In some, bitterness is increased by awareness of the relative failure of their own societies, which they blame on the west rather than their own shortcomings.

That is enough for me. If one considers this paragraph in exclusion to all of the others he has written, the Islamists will never stop their onslaught unless and until they have their boots on our necks. The fact is, I regard their values as abhorrent. And there is a nasty backlash against the Islamist assumption that only Muslim grievances are valid ones.

One aspect of this general war that is not sufficiently appreciated is how a government derives its legitimacy from protecting its citizens. When the government is unable to do so, the citizenry may rise to the occasion to save their nation. When the government is unwilling to do so, it loses its right to exist. One may disagree with the strategy and tactics of the Bush administration, but it is essential for any legitimate government to attack the enemy.

I strongly disagree with many people at the Belmont Club. Islam is not our enemy, for our enemy is far more deeply rooted in Middle Eastern society than Islam. It is a bitter Middle Eastern chauvinism that is both aware of its past greatness and of its present squalor. Our foe is oriental despotism. I use the word “oriental” carefully, for although I don’t think Eastern peoples are unable to embrace liberal democracy, there are severe cultural impediments to shaking off the patriarchal despotic tyranny that keep Asiatic (and Mesoamerican) societies backward.

To even talk about personal freedom to people who cannot choose whom they marry is ludicrous. The idea of choosing one’s own spouse, while so basic to westernized societies, is horrifying to Asiatic patriarchies. It isn’t a question of “civilizations”, as Mr. Huntington claimed, for that which makes people civilized is basically universal. However, that which makes a society stale, corrupt, and tyrannical is also universal. Moreover, tyranny is far more deeply rooted in human history than freedom. I think President Bush vastly overestimates the power of human freedom, for the Pharaonic thinking of our enemies has deep historical resonance.

Our enemy is Fascism; they variety we are presently opposed to is Islamist Fascism, but it is not essentially different from the various movements such as the Iron Legion, the Nazi SS, and the Freikorps. One could legitimately wonder if Zelea Codreanu were an earlier incarnation of Osama bin Laden.

During World War II, Germany, Italy, and Japan had numerous ideological affinities. Would it have been wise to dwell on the ideological differences between Italian Fascism and German Nazism when they were both in alliance? Would it have been wise to dwell on the well-established ideological differences among the Romanian Iron Legion, the Hungarian Arrow Cross, and the Spanish Falange? The key to our war now is not whether our enemies are Muslim, but whether our enemies are enemies. Hamas gave out candy on September 11. Saddam Hussein also celebrated. Iran gives safe harbor to al-Qaeda while advocating genocide against the American people. The Saudi Kingdom is also our enemy, but I suspect the Bush administration is waiting for it to fall under the royal family’s own weight.

Mr. Hastings said, “While many ordinary Muslims were by no means sorry to see American hubris punished, grassroots support for Osama bin Laden was still small, and remained so through the invasion of Afghanistan."

He doesn’t get it. Those “many ordinary Muslims” must be shown there are negative consequences not only to attacking the United States but for taking that very attitude toward us, or else the very grassroots support for Osama bin Laden will increase due to the lack of negative consequences for supporting him as a weapon to kill non-Muslims. This very attitude he describes is a globalized Muslim lynch mob. And unless Mr. Hastings wishes to culturally legitimize the concept of "ordinary Muslims" hanging from trees and lampposts, he would do well to condemn the smugness “many ordinary Muslims” felt when they saw “American hubris punished” if he doesn't want Islamist behavior to become generally regarded as legitimate means of conduct toward Muslims.

The attitude of Mr. Hastings especially puts Tony Blair into a horrible situation. The British National Party is making inroads on the core constituency of the Labor Party – the blue collar vote. Mr. Blair is ideologically opposed to the BNP and racism in general, yet he also knows that if his defeatist critics on his backbench get their way, the way would be paved for the real racists to gain sway. What Mr. Hastings fails to comprehend is that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are in a race against time to prevent a real war against Islam.

8/15/2006 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...

Excellent post Alexis.

8/15/2006 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


I'm sorry that I missed your post of 08:11:41 PM.

I was specifically getting at the desire of those to move onto Iraq and Iran.


You're quite right. I think i might go a little further in that Qutb provided a strong (at least to his followers) philosophical set of justifications. Secondly, Qutb was first and foremost an intellectual, a philosopher. Qutb really got fired up and able to rationalize violence in response to his rather severe experiences being tortured. He got the full Abu Gharib treatment. This radicalized him and convinced him that these contemporary muslims weren't real muslims, they were nightmarish bastardizations who deserved to die.

I think this is a relevant point. The methods egyptian government used to "crack down" on Qutb and his crowd were exceptionally rough. And the result was, in my opinion, a much more violent strain of Islamism. Qutb went on to write his most influential works in prison.

This is where I think the life of Qutb has some relevance to our current situation. Some love to toss out the meme that Muslims are awed and cowed by displays of strength and ferocity. This was one of the memes used in the Iraq invasion (when they see how strong the US is, they will cower.) The same meme is being tossed out by some who wish to attack Iran: we should demonstrate our strength and ferocity and this will cause the Islamists to realize the futility of their position.

I believe that its worth keeping in mind that gratuitous displays of power, and scenes of widespread destruction will not necessarily make use more friends. They could just make us more Qutb like people.

8/15/2006 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Ledeen argues that if we persist on denying the connections exist we will be perversely misunderstanding the nature of the war against us."

And if only we collapse one more state, replace one more regime...

If we had gone to Iran and removed "the terror masters" to begin with, the argument would now be about Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan. Take your pick.

I wholehearedly agree with James that the Iran fixation, like the Iraq fixation before it, does not at all reflect an adequate or real-world understanding of the terrorism threat.

8/15/2006 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

Re: Iran, Iraq, Syria (Egypt, Pakistan, ..) having nothing to do w/ 9-11.

In my view if they'd been responsible and civilized nation-states (v. dictatorships willing to murder and promote others' doing the murdering) 9-11 would not have happened.

(After a $100M trial) We convicted Moussaoui for a sin of omission, of knowing roughly who, when and what was building up to a 9-11 and not informing. It's hard to believe that none of these three states with their secret police and network of spies and informants (and willingness to do unspeakable things to those who threatened their dictatorships - which is why they had informants in AQ and the like in the first place - for their own protection), if they had been of a mind to could have uncovered the plot and saved the 9-11 victims. I suspect this is where we get "you're with us or against us" (and a declared neutral had better be as aggressive as we are, if not better at dealing with these issues).

I believe this is the reason why the word "terror" is in GWOT and is why we've put nations on notice - now that the disruptive and destructive power of a nation-state is available to small groups and individuals, a lack of mutual assistance and civilized behavior from any nation that has fascistic cliques will / can no longer be tolerated. A nation will be responsible for what goes on inside its borders that it permits to bleed outside. If a nation isn't capable of policing their people and borders they had better ask for help. Where we expect a them in return to liberalize and move from dictatorships to something that reflects the will of the people - which could well be "death to the Great Satan" (or Israel) but even this is an improvement because democracy commits the entire populace - so when the bill is put paid (given bad and worse choices) the population can be held responsible, not a dictator holding a country hostage.

When the GWOT is over, terrorism will have joined slavery and piracy as behavior no nation-state will (can afford to) permit.

As an aside, I expect that when a dispassionate history is written in 3-4 decades, we'll discover that the Saudis were within a couple months of breaking the 9-11 plot open - they are too small to have the networks of informants of their big neighbors, but they had the money to buy information and had some of their own intelligence officers following the money and connections.

8/15/2006 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


Thoughtful post, enjoyable to read even where I disagree.

"Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are in a race against time to prevent a real war against Islam."

I would agree with this. I just sometimes wonder if they are running in the right direction.

8/15/2006 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


Thank you!

8/15/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Trish, Ahmadinejab is on his way to having Nukes. Are you saying that we should let him go ahead?

8/15/2006 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Qutb, Wahabism, state sponsors, homegrown terrorists.

Qutb found a very strictly Islamic G_d in heathen America, went home and founded a school - the rabble rousing Muslim Brotherhood arose. The Muslim Brotherhood were hounded out of Egypt and Syria by non religious governments, coming eventually to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have a state religion they use to control their plebs called Wahabism that revolves around a strictly Islamic G_d, the MB & the Sauds came to an agreement - MB not cause trouble in the Kingdom and the Sauds would preach the word of the salafist/wahabist strictly Islamic G_d to the world. The world now recieves mosques and madrassa that get chariatable donations from Saudi and preach this gospel of muslim superiority and glory. Homegrown terrorists find religion in mosques that reach out to the community and provide assistance, doing good deeds - with Saudi money and MB thought.

State sponsors do not need to be giving away Katyushas to be formenting violence.

8/15/2006 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Ledeen omits the Israelis are demanding the head of Olmert, Americans the head of Bush, for entirely different reasons. Unless he considers incompetence the unifying factor between the two.

Both Ledeen and Hastings are caricatures fairly far from the mainstream. Ledeen is transparent in his exhorations for America die, bleed, and squandor our treasure to save his favorite country from doing it. Faster, faster...Hastings is one of the dwindling number of stuffy condescending Oxford dons and journalists explaining it is a simple matter - it's all quite solvable if "just Muslim grievances are addressed" and the Americans stop being so stupid. Hastings of course has no explaination as to why Muslims are busy trying to kill or criminally target infidels in 55 other nations that have nothing to do with American stupidity or "justified Muslim grievances."

Leaving terrorism aside, 4 important events came out of the last month.

1. Israeli and American arrogance in thinking that super-accurate F-16 "evildoer-fighting" bombs matter more that the media war - continues to be properly punished...

2. Iran and Hezbollah proved a light infantry armed with modern weaponry and good training can set the Zionists best forces back on their heels.

3. Conservatives are cautioning not to ignore Iraq with our usual "terror-Israel are all the matters" obsession. Rich Lowry of NRO just did an editorial saying Bush is drifting fecklessly into another Vietnam in Iraq and he better change course.

4. It should be getting clearer and clearer to people that - wishful Democrats and totalitarian Right wingers aside - we cannot be "Perfectly safe" and the steady and progressive loss of liberty to ordinary Americans facing growingly oppressive restrictions is a major cause for concern. And no amount of Bush government expansion to "hire more gov't security heroes to tell us what to do" will defend us. And Bush should really ban both himself and any self-important security minion from saying "we in security of the nation have to be right 100% of the time, anytime the enemy is ever right, we will be defeated." It's rubbish. And we know that Bush and a good deal of the boobs in various 3-letter agencies are not 100 times brighter than the foe.


1. We need a broad rethinking of Islamist struggle strategy and how we extricate from a nation more full of backstabbing, treacherous ingrates than France - without being saddled with a "worse than Vietnam" obvious defeat. As things stand, the world knows we are stuck to the tar baby and they can play away at our expense. "Stay the course" has got to give way to We hope you noble freedom-loving purple-fingered democracy-loving heroes can stop killing us and your beloved fellow countrymen in the next two years as we draw down. Otherwise, have a wonderful time in Civil War, and know that if you want WMD to better kill one another, many Americans would love to give you some.

2. We have learned that high tech wonder toys don't mean dirt in occupation duty or when we have troops utterly ignorant of the enemy and untrained for the missions given, and sent on missions frequently by people who dont have a clue.

3. Americans are in near-revolt over Bush's Open Borders reward to his rich cronies, and the steadily tightening noose of BS restrictions on citizens liberties in the name of "counter-terror" while we refuse to look at the actual suspects. Americans are being told that travel to even visa-less countries and cruise ship trips may soon require each person to buy a 114 dollar "electronic passport" and security goon experts, thinking ANYTHING is justified to "keep America safe" are talking about having to require "a certain random number" of Americans to do strip and body cavity searches "to combat new terrorist threats and capabilities". This isn't wailing about Gitmo "enemy rights". It's about Americans saying they will be damned if they will allow their kids to be stripped searched by TSA McDonalds Rejects.

4. We may not have time to wait for a good President to get in office before we HAVE to deal with a nuclear Iran threat, have to start on energy independence that includes the conservation measures Bush and Right Wing fanatics have opposed that have blocked bills for ten years. Or wait to address the fiscal meltdown and loss of our competitiveness in global trade that has happened under Bush's time and policies.

8/15/2006 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


I can't answer for Trish, but I'll say this: even if Iran wasn't going for nukes we'd be hearing the same prescription from Ledeen and others. And we'll hear similar justifications for whoever is next, provided their real estate is sufficiently "strategic."

8/15/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


As usual, you have forged a profoundly erudite thesis. Thanks.

If I may, please consider whether non-Asian converts may act as falsifiers. I am thinking here specifically of Afro-Americans, who frequently come out of a matriarchal hierarchy.

Your work is exceptional; therefore, you will take my challenge in the collegial spirit intended.

Again, it is a pleasure.

8/15/2006 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

James, I have stated before, I could give a whit for Ledeen. My question to you and Trish is this, "Do we Allow Ahmadinejad to have nukes?"

8/15/2006 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

No. Right now I'm letting the administration go ahead, rufus, as it is the administration's stated position that it will not countenance Iranian nuclear weapons.

And really, one can hardly endorse them.

8/15/2006 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...


Read the Jewish Iraqi article. Thanks. Looks like it all started to unravel in the '20's with the Zionist movement.

8/15/2006 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


If there is insufficient success in isolating Iran and developing support for disarming them it may be preferable to attempting to disarm them. The consequences of this administration doing to Iran what it did to Iraq could be more damaging than anything Iran could do with a nuke. And that's pretty damaging.

Simply put, "do we allow them to have nukes or not?" is not as simple of a question as "do you want coke or sprite?" Coke and Sprite cost the same. The costs and consequences of taking action in Iran are subject to change by all sorts of factors. What are the military options, what are the risks, what are the diplomatic and PR realities?

Perhaps a better way to put it would be this: how many people are you willing to see die to make sure Iran remains disarmed? How much damage are you willing to inflict on the US's reputation and influence? How many billions are you willing to spend?

At what point would you say, "the risks are not worth the rewards?" This is a relevant consideration. And to a large degree the costs/risks will be shaped by the leadership of our administration.

Sure, I'd like to see Iran disarmed. And several other countries. But what price are we talking about?

8/15/2006 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

$2.99 for you, Senor Kielland.

8/15/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

ari tai, 9.13 pm

15 Saudis (+ 4 others) in a Saudi money sponsored organisation led by a Saudi and spouting the state religion of Saudi carried out 9/11. You expect Saudi involvement to be refuted by dispassionate analysis in about 2040 and I expect the opposite.

As an aside Niger permits slavery and there are pirates operating out of Somalia.

8/15/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...


What. Ever. It. Takes.

But that's just me.

8/15/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...


You are hamstrung with worry. Reward/risk has always been the decider in going to war. If the reward outweighs the risk it's a no-brainer. A non-nuclear Iran is worth the risk I would have thought.

8/15/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...

re: "does not at all reflect an adequate or real-world understanding of the terrorism threat."

The path taken has created an inertia that can't be slowed easily. The targets change, the tactics change, but the strategy hasn't.

What strategy is correct? If inertia doesn't show us soon, isolation will give us time to lick our wounds and rebuild our economy.

But, I just can't get passed that school-yard analogy - "Don't punch the big guy and expect not to get punched back." I'm not implying that revenge is an internationally accepted method for solving grievances. But, it seems the current expansion of power that the Islamists (et al) perceive they possess had to be addressed. The strategy has been set.

Question the strategy? You bet. But, I support it while it's being played out.

8/15/2006 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"I believe that its worth keeping in mind that gratuitous displays of power, and scenes of widespread destruction will not necessarily make use more friends."
Rufus, sure used to help win wars!

8/15/2006 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


I listed three Islamic countries with a history of intolerance. Time permitting, the same could be said of any Islamic country. Tolerance and pluralism are not considered virtuous by your average Muslim and his totalitarian overlord, any suggestion to the contrary in this thread notwithstanding.

8/15/2006 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Señor Doug,

That's 1500 colones. ;)

8/15/2006 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Our Foreign Policy Needs More Cojones!

8/15/2006 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...

So James,

Know a good spot for an expat bar in CR?

8/15/2006 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hey 2164th:
Are you really one of those expat's too?

8/15/2006 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...


In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. “It’s a moment of clarification,” President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th.

Several current and former officials involved in the Middle East told me that Israel viewed the soldiers’ kidnapping as the opportune moment to begin its planned military campaign against Hezbollah. “Hezbollah, like clockwork, was instigating something small every month or two,” the U.S. government consultant with ties to Israel said.

Earlier this summer, before the Hezbollah kidnappings, the U.S. government consultant said, several Israeli officials visited Washington, separately, “to get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear.” The consultant added, “Israel began with Cheney.

Watching Lebanon

8/15/2006 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

At what point would you say, "the risks are not worth the rewards?"


Don't get a whole lotta traction on that here. The set-up is already in place.

Whatever the costs, they will be inevitably smaller than if we don't do...whatever.

8/15/2006 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Watching Lebanon

8/15/2006 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Unemployed Capitalist,

Are you looking for one that exists or are you looking for a location to build one?

8/15/2006 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

That James is a slithery fellow.
The Cojones Test
National Defense Counts for 10% !

8/15/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger UnemployedCapitalist said...


(Sorry for the chatter here folks)

Buy or build. Preferably build.

8/15/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Contact me through the email on my profile page.

8/15/2006 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sorry for gratuitous slur, James.
Didn't think unemployed's designs went beyond recreational.

8/15/2006 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: nukes

Mr. Bush holds an MBA. That being the case, he has been exposed to conflict negotiation in some detail.

In negotiating, the first rule is that "interests" are non-negotiable. Instead, "positions" are negotiated.

For instance, I need a truck for my work. This is my interest. Try as she may, the nice saleslady will not convince me to purchase a Smart Car instead. What we can negotiate will be such things as financing, sales price, delivery date, etc.

How does this apply to Iran? Well, Iran says without hesitation that its interests require nuclear capability. Mr. Bush says that the interest of the US can be met only by denying Iran such capability. Therefore, there is now an impasse.

The EU has attempted to negotiate all manner of positions with the Iranians, to no avail.

If the American public will support Mr. Bush's iteration of interest, there will be war; the particulars of which remain the subject of continued debate.

I will add that Mr. Bush could help himself and his supporters were he to explain in some detail why he considers Iran a threat. Without malice, I suggest that he dispense with "evil axis", no matter how apropos, and get to the nuts and bolts of the matter.

8/15/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Costa Rica's Internet Access taken down by e-mail spam attack originating from US DHS"

8/15/2006 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/15/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"I just can't get passed that school-yard analogy - "Don't punch the big guy and expect not to get punched back." I'm not implying that revenge is an internationally accepted method for solving grievances."

Well it goes on internationally all the time.

I think it terribly unfortunate that our nearest enemies are camping out in allied territory. I think allied territory needs to be rethunk.

8/15/2006 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

James K's plan to win the so-called War on Terror
It's already won IHO, so take it for what it's worth!

8/15/2006 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Come on, Doug, now you're getting mean.

8/15/2006 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Achilles Jones said...

I would like to offer a few thoughts, and I hope they will come across in the spirit of Wretchard's peaceful fairmindedness. Please forgive me for being a bit long-winded

I think we are facing what can best be called a "planetary clash of worldviews." It is clash between late (and somewhat decadent) modernity and pre-modern, naive religion. When we, the West, last clashed on the basis of emergent rationalism verses received absolutist religion, our 'thirty-years war' wiped out at least half the population of Europe. The only other such blood bath of apocalyptic vision was, perhaps, the American civil war.

Now, the structure of such a worldview confrontation does not require an internet conspiracy nor a global insurgency with central headquarters somewhere. THe logic of conflict is inherent in the very presuppositions, many held unconsiously, that make up a worldview. Part of what identifies a shared worldview is the subjective feeling of the "obvious" depravity of the opponent, and the 'obvious' validity of one's own beliefs and values. Such rudimentary prejudices are the cement of group identity. And so it is that absolutists and relativists, believers and skeptics, ideologues and freethinkers, moslems and non-moslems abhor one another on a viceral, pre-critical level. It is not rational because it is pre-rational, or sub rational. One experiences one values on the level of emotion. All of us hold such 'felt' presuppositions that colour our attitudes, evaluations, and world-construals. None of us is free of recieved opinion and value gained by osmosis before we ever became critical adults.

Thus, the Islamic Jihadi worldview we are facing now does not need a central conspiracy nor a headquarters that we can bomb. It is a learned or acquired prejudice. As is any religion. It takes the place of foundational beliefs that will determine all other beliefs. It is truly, then, a battle of beliefs and ideals, and ones that are held so deeply, that the true believer's eternal destiny is being staked on them. [Pascal's wager is powerful stuff when it picks up a gun.]

We must, therefore, begin our battle of ideas with an apologetic for the rational worldview of the west, for the authenticity of Jewish and Christian religion, and a clear understanding of the parasitic and bastardized nature of Islam as a false derivative of the authentic monotheisms.

We will, of course, face ad hominem responses, as well as attempted murder, but that is just the sign of a really good debate. For modernity itself is hitting home so brutally in the Islamic world, that they feel it as an existential threat.

I read somewhere that Ayatollah Khomenei once said of the West, "I do not fear your weapons, I fear your universities." IF true, this comment reveals the core of the clash. It is indeed what Huntington said it was, a fundamental clash of civilizations and the ideas upon which they stand.

I think there is really only way way to proceed then. We must identify the common values and beliefs that are held by both civilizations. We must build mutual understanding upon those. We must also clean up our own house, for we are indeed morally filthy in ways that our own forefather would also abhor. With some genuine moral reforms in the West, and dialogue based in mutual values, we can at least separate the so called 'moderate' muslims from the rest of the mob.

Then we will have gained accurate target acquisition.

Sorry for the monoloque. I love and respect all of you. It's been a fascinating month following all this discussion.

Shalom. Achilles Jones

8/15/2006 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Xmarine said...

Michael Ledeen is right. We must continue the offensive into Syria and/or Iran. The Moslem nations, Sunni or Shia, Arab or Persian, must come to understand that destroying parts of New York City and hitting the Pentagon will only end up bringing blood-thirsty Marines to your home. Now, they don't want that do they?

It doesn't matter if Syria or Iran are indeed culpable for 9/11. What matters to the Mohammeden is that we will in fact respond with OVERWHELMING AND DISPAPORTIONATE FORCE.

After disposing of those regimes I'm quite confident we will see a wholesale refutation of Jihad ideaology that everyone is waiting for from other nations such as Saudi or Pakistan. If they do not however repent then the war continues.

I assure you they love life as much as anyone else, in spite of their terror propaganda. They will demand mercy or they will be destroyed. That is the lesson of WWII.

8/15/2006 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


8/15/2006 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Iran has blood of our soldiers and marines on their hands from 23 years ago and today.
(Of course, so does Mr. Sadr.)
Mr. Ledeen is on most solid ground backed up by History when he references our total lack of response being a clear and present danger, imo.

8/15/2006 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Ari Tai - I believe this is the reason why the word "terror" is in GWOT and is why we've put nations on notice - now that the disruptive and destructive power of a nation-state is available to small groups and individuals, a lack of mutual assistance and civilized behavior from any nation that has fascistic cliques will / can no longer be tolerated.

Yawn. So 9/12/2001 rhetoric.

We are in a war with an ideology. Not the tactic of terror. We are not in a global war against the Tamil Tigers, abortion clinic bombers, Basque separatists, FARC, gangs of cannibal 13 year old boy thugs in the Congo, or State-Sponsored terror in Tibet.

The enemy is radical Islam. Terror is one tactic they use. Demography is another. Using the ACLU and the Left against us is another. Use of straight national force on Jihad. A global effort to radicalize and fundamentalize Muslim youth and gain Western prisoner and Armed Forces converts.

1. If Iran shuts down the Gulf for 4-5 months, it is not terrorism, but a big problem.
2. If Iran gets a nuke weapons stockpile and deliverable missiles, it is not terrorism, but a big problem.
3. If Iraq dissolves into open civil war, it is not terrorism. It is a big bloody mess. But not "terror".
4. If Europe explodes again into riots between Muslims and others, it is not terror. But it is a huge problem.
5. If other countries further abandon secularism as they become more democratic, more militarily aggressive, and more opposed to the West not to mention the zionists, it is not terrorism. But it is a huge problem.
6. The discovery that Islamic warfare costs a dollar or less for every hundred the US spends as it is pinned down or chasing shadows so they can bleed us down to where the Bank of China is unwilling to fund Bush anymore and wants payment is not terrorism. But it is the way you slowly weaken a foe until they cannot fight anymore without real sacrifice.
7. Similarly, the threat of terrorism is not terrorism...but a tool of warfare that will force foolish nations like the US to squander money on phantom menaces. If the radical Islamists have no intent to use cargo containers, but make the US think they will, a 10 dollar threat could cost us 30 billion in added security costs a year. Same with building a MANPAD-resistiant 20 billion dollar jet upgrade program that only defends against a few types of MANDPADs. Thousands of possible threats to be made, and a security bureaucracy and arms merchant network only too eager to demand we spend hundreds of billions more to add to their power or enrichment to "plug dangerous holes"..


Ari Tai - When the GWOT is over, terrorism will have joined slavery and piracy as behavior no nation-state will (can afford to) permit.

Nonsense. Terror works. It's a great tactic. Revolutionaries, insurgents, states, generals throughout history find it a necessary tactic if they are restrained people - lot's of fun if they are not.

In 1980, it was estimated that 60% of the world's nations were headed by former terrorists or leaders who had used terror as a tool. Including some of America's dearest allies like Pinochet, Sadat, Rouisburto of El Salvador death squad fame, Israels Menachim Begin. The whole world was whining to free terrorist Nelson Mandela back then. Many terrorists are generally beloved by their people, even if their own people are the greatest victims.

Terrorism is embedded in military doctrine ranging from Carthage to Mongol head piles to Shermans terror march through the South to Lemay and Bomber Harris's incineration of cities to demoralize enemy civilians. Terror in Revolution is one of the most studied phenomena in human history. From the French Revolution onwards. And how to perfect it. The Jewish Bolsheviks like Leb Bronstein (Trotsky) came up with mature policy on making terror a permanent phenomenon to serve as the glue of state control. They, as transnationalists, also conceived of the transnational export of terror and global ideological Revolution...until their al Qaeda-like path was stifled by Stalin and other members wishes to consolidate control in the Soviet Union and subvert just adjacent nations preferentially.

Even counter-terror becomes most effective when (morality of doing so aside) terror is used to combat terror. Had Iraq been a war of necessity for the US and the world more understanding that it was an existential conflict, the insurgency could have been crushed in a few years by flattening several cities. The Japanese managed China, Indochina, Burma, Korea with very few troops because everyone knew the Japanese were absolutely ruthless in dealing with what they connsidered treacherous rebellion after surrender. The British defeated the Mau-Mau by sending the Selous scouts into a village they knew terror attacks came from and killing every male above the age of 12. Or just packing up a whole village of a tribe involved in terror, then driving them deep into an enemy tribe's territory and letting them go - knowing few would make it back without being butchered by tribal rivals.

Terror is just too good a tactic for the world to let go. Terror-using allies like Reagans cherished "freedom-fighting Holy Mujahadeen Warriors" he feted at the White House, Dubya's "heroic Northern Alliance liberators", the Kurds active in terror use against Turkey, us playing one terrorist off against another in 20 African countries in the Cold war. We happily use terrorists, and will in the future. If some well organized and large numbered insurgent force is found to be in N Korea that says they want money to buy weaponry to use for terror and ambush to aid in toppling 'Lil Kim...the American checkbook would be open...OK, the unmarked 100 dollar bills would be handed over by a spook with plausable deniability..the only question would be "how much??"

8/15/2006 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Pep Talk from the 2/58

8/15/2006 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


Great post.

8/15/2006 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Achilles Jones said...

Physical destruction by conventional forces is exactly what asymetrical, guerilla and terrorist tactics are meant to counter. It will always be a war of ideas first, that is why we lost this last Lebonese round. The damn reuters and AP propaganda photos work. They use our values against us; guilt will sap our will to prevail.

THat is why I suggest we combine physical forces with a billion dollar propaganda campaign against Islamism. We need satellite TV broadcasts that basically mock, undermine, ridicule, subvert, disprove, and expose Islamic fascism. NOthing pisses off a mullah as much as being disrespected and ridiculed. We need an Arabic and Farsi equivalent to South Park. Something that just makes the average moslem laugh his head off as he recognizes what a bunch of hypocritical pompous frauds are steering his realm over the edge.

Jokes undermined the USSR long before the iron curtain fell. Russians produced the most acidic ridicule of the communist regime. It amazes me that we are not pumping billions into counter propaganda now that we live in internet information age.

And I don't mean stupid little Danish cartoons. I mean serious movies, sit coms, talk shows, documentaries, poets and musicians....a whole counter-culture in which moderate muslims can invest themselves, and say "Hey, that's how I feel about about those parasite bastard mullahs."

Let's use the thing we invented and own: mass communications. And not just with an alternative to MSM, but with entertainment that relentlessly exposes and ridicules the Islamofascist while respecting and dignifying the moderate.

[Psst...this way, we can help create the very moderates that don't seem to exist as yet. Give 'em something to rally around.]

8/15/2006 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Allen, Bush has one major seemingly/possibly unsolvable problem when it comes to negotiating with Amadingdong.

It takes two rational actors to have a negotiation. It's looking altogether likely that Bush is one rational actor short.

What do you do in a case like that?

8/15/2006 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Bypass negotiations.

8/15/2006 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

"I believe that its worth keeping in mind that gratuitous displays of power, and scenes of widespread destruction will not necessarily make use more friends."

Doug, I don't know about friends, but I've always found that was a damned good way to make "Dead" Enemies.

It, also, made for incredibly "polite" survivors.

8/15/2006 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Achilles, the problem is, the ones that know how to do that type of stuff are on the "Other Side."

8/15/2006 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger Ilia Capitolina said...

7. Similarly, the threat of terrorism is not terrorism...but a tool of warfare that will force foolish nations like the US to squander money on phantom menaces.

Iraq with nuclear weapons was not a phantom menace. Iran with nuclear weapons is was not a phantom menace. AQ with nuclear weapons via Pakistan will not be phantom menace. Neither is Islam's oil weapon a phantom menace.

In addressing Islam's oil weapon, addressing Iraq was a prerequisite to addressing Iran. Addressing Iran is prerequisite to addressing Saudia.

8/15/2006 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Achilles Jones said...

Hey Rufus,

History does some strange stuff. A simple comment can cascade into a deadly fireball. The Danish cartoon fiasco is an example. If we just peppered cyberspace with jokes and pithy wise refutations of Islamofascims, who knows, maybe a simple sentence will begin an effect that will bring down the whole idiotic house of cards. Never forget how Lech Walenza, the Polish electrician put the hole in the dyke that eventually flooded the whole commie world.

It will be a picture, a comment, a joke, a slogan....but something will be said that will so perfectly capture the pure evil and pure absurdity of Islamic fascism that it will become the tombstone of the whole filthy mess.

Let us begin a thousand posts in the hope that one of them will be a stake through heart of the beast.

8/15/2006 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Rufus and Doug,

I believe you're misinterpreting me. Displays of savagery are a very different thing from actually harming your opponent. And they can often times win you new opponents.

The Japanese had no hesitancy to display gratuitous savagery. It didn't intimidate the US. In fact, their savagery against others (and us) served to further motivate us.

Not to put to fine a point on it, gratuitous, by its definition, means unnecessary, unneeded, and irrational.

8/15/2006 11:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ilia Capitolina said...

Terror works. It's a great tactic.

Nukes as terror weapons against Islam. Works for me.

8/15/2006 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

Sam, Thanks for the "Pep Talk."

You sent this old Marine to bed happy. I'll sleep good.

Good Bless our Troops.


Semper Fi

8/15/2006 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

Well one certainly doesn't have to deep into the postings to find your institutional whack job.

james kielland
james kielland
james kielland

The old saying that if a person wants to make a fool of themselves then just get out of the way. Fits

james kielland
james kielland
james kielland

perfectly...does he get paid by the word or the absurd? Either way he's made a bundle on this topic.

8/15/2006 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

One last thing;

You're right Achilles. I'll do my part to pump up the true wits. Maybe they'll come up with the "Killer."

G'nite all,

and you too P'Tater, wherever you and Ms DaiseyFresh are.

8/15/2006 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Me, Larsen, that Dr. Guy, and others will ramp up the True Twits.

8/15/2006 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger j willie said...

While I know a lively debated was well underway when Rattlegator responded to Wretchard's query - is the cast complete? - by suggesting that Russia may be the unseen actor catalyzing Islamic (and other, e.g., Chavez)fascism, I am surprised that only Rufus has followed up on it.

Russia supplies weapons to Syria and Iran (among others, including now Chavez in Venezuela). Russia supplies nuclear technology to Iran. Russia supplied arms and who knows what else to Saddam's Iraq, and has been rumored to have assisted Saddam with relocating his WMD. Putin, as former KGB, prefers to operate behind the scenes, not out in the open. As former CIA Director James Woolsey observed during Congressional testimony, a Russian businessman could also be a member of organized crime as well as an undercover intelligence operative, and none of the three institutions for which he worked have a problem with that arrangement. A writer for the Weekly Standard observed that the weapons Russia sold Venezuela may be less worrisome than the agreement to allow Russia to explore for oil there, which means the Russian mafia will not be far behind.

Putin and his politico/military/mafioso allies certainly have ample motivation to make havoc for the US, given the Bush administration's opportunistic encircling of Russia in the Caucasus post 9-11 and its support for anti-Russian, pro-democratic political outcomes in former Soviet-bloc countries. And, as Rattlegator reminds us, they know how to play the proxy game better than anybody. Any other takers on this line of reasoning?

8/16/2006 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger sam said...

The New Band of Brothers:

Terrorist-infested Ramadi in the wild west of Iraq is for U.S. troops the meanest place in the country, "the graveyard of the Americans" as graffiti around town boast. There is no better place to observe American troops and the fledgling Iraqi army in combat.

The Iraq war is covered mostly by reporters who hole up in Baghdad hotels and send out Iraqi stringers to collect what the reporters deem news, as an article in the April 6, 2006, New York Review of Books described in great detail. The reporters convert these accounts into prose and put them on the wire.

Ten days before I arrived, during the night of April 9, 1st Battalion suffered its worst casualties of the deployment in a mini-"Black Hawk Down" situation. An IED flipped a Humvee, killing the driver from D Company.

Great video clips here. They get better as you go.

8/16/2006 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

The focus of most of the posts here at the BC seems to be:

How can we win (avoid being defeated) by the fascist/terrorists forces that are radiating out of the islamic world?

To me, the more fundamental question is: how can the West avoid commiting suicide? The Western self-hatred and fellow-travelling in our "elites" a far more serious threat than the bankrupt tyrannical theology of the Mullahs.

Here is a mind-blowingly prescient piece that speaks to this way back in 1978, mid-WWIII...With no further ado, I give you Mr. Solzhenitsyn speaking at the Harvard commencement 1978:


8/16/2006 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger sam said...

J Willie,

Here's some stuff on the Russia/Venezuela relationship:

Chávez’s efforts to limit the role of the U.S. military within his country came to head in April 2005 when Chávez called for the termination of military ties with the U.S., evicting one or more U.S. diplomatic attachés he accused of inciting dissent within the Venezuelan armed forces. At the same time, Chávez has secured agreements with Russia in a $3.5 billion deal to purchase 100,000 AK-103 assault rifles along with combat helicopters and fighter jets, supposedly preparing for what he claims to be an imminent U.S. invasion.

Also frustrating Washington is Venezuela’s independent, multipolar foreign policy extending beyond the customary hemispheric limits of Latin America’s political involvement that includes strengthening relations with countries the U.S. regards as threatening rogue regimes. While the U.S.’s hegemonic influence in the region has often predetermined the foreign policy of its subservient allies there, Chávez has forged closer ties with China and such rouge nations as North Korea and Iran.

Anti-US Initiatives

8/16/2006 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


If you want to take issue with a point I've made, feel free. I'm an easy target. I'll certainly admit to being a fool, no question. As to "whack job", well, there's plenty of my words on this page. If you feel so strongly in your convictions you've got plenty of material to work with.

But save the insults for another forum.

8/16/2006 01:49:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Limbaugh argues along Ledeen's lines. He's at his best, read or listen to the whole thing.
He links to an article by Caroline Glick, below. Her case seems irrefutable.
UN Ceasefire Will Lead to More Death;
West Lacks Will to Fight Islamo-Fascism

Our continuing reliance on the UN is a disaster....

"This is a religious war. It is viewed in too many circles as just episodic events, an episode of terrorism here, an episode of terrorism over there, an episode there, but not really related, we'll just keep dealing with these episodes.
But it's more than just an episodic series of events here, and I am stunned
-- I was stunned all weekend that we have reversed course and now push for this lame ceasefire BS.
How many ceasefires have we had?
Too many to count and they all end up being the same thing. You can look at all the celebrations. This guy in Iran today is cheering. Bashar Assad is out there saying the US vision of the Middle East is nothing more than an "illusion."
Hezbollah is out there pounding their chest, saying they won -- which they would do anyway, regardless.

When I say it's a religious war, religious wars are numerous. You can look them up historically, and one of the things about religious wars and one of the reasons why so few people really want to categorize this as a religious war is because there is no room for compromise in a religious war.
Fervently devout religious believers don't compromise.
That's the whole point. As an example, you don't go to the pope and say, "Hey, Pope, in order for us to have a little peace, will you please accept that Mohammed did fly to the heavens and so forth on a horse and that maybe Mohammed is actually Jesus, just for peace?" The pope's not going to do that.

Whatever religion you go to, you could go to the Jewish people, "Would you please accept that somebody's been a messiah here so we can have some peace?" Nope, not going to do it.
Would you go to the Christians, "Come on, you know damn well it's impossible somebody could be born from a virgin mother? You've gotta give that one up." Nope, ain't going to happen.
So there's no room for compromise. That's why there's no room for the UN. There's no room for a settlement negotiated when you're talking about religious wars, and we are in the midst of a religious war, and the aggressors in this case are militant Islamists finally so proclaimed by the president.
Of course, there's outrage that he would dare refer to these people as Islamic fascists, which he did.

But, you know, it's amazing, we continue to react as though we'll be hurt and stung by words, that the words we hear will offend us. The words we speak will offend someone else.
It's a setback. I told you.
I'll just lay the truth out for you, we'll get into some detail in a minute. The enemy has not suffered a loss yet.
They've just taken Somalia, they're slaughtering people in Iraq, and they're on the rise in Afghanistan.
I'm not saying that we haven't made any progress. But we're not taking the war to this enemy. We're not doing it. This move with Israel will prolong the war when we could have used it, and it could have been used to make great advances.
And then again, when I hear the president say, "We can't let Iran take over the Middle East."
Would somebody tell me what we're doing to stop that? "
"Caroline Glick, a columnist for the for the Jerusalem Post , says the big winners here are Kofi Annan, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. Kofi Annan is a major beneficiary of the resolution because it named him the arbiter of compliance with the ceasefire, and that's why he fired off that letter to the Israelis that I just shared with you. Moreover, by retaining the United Nations peacekeepers and widening their mandate, it rendered Annan generalissimo Kofi Annan of Lebanon. Israel can expect daily condemnations from the UN secretariat's office for any act to defend itself against has strikes. The Hezbos are the big winner of the resolution because it adopts almost every Hezbo demand. Hezbollah will not be disarmed. An arms embargo will not be instituted against it. Its unsupportable claim to Lebanese sovereignty over the Shebaa farms in the Golan Heights has received international recognition.

It's not going to be forced to release the Israeli soldiers it holds as hostages. As Hassan Nasrallah put it: Yippee, we won! But we still have more demands so you better watch out in Haifa. They are being emboldened, and of course Syria is a winner because the resolution made no mention of the fact that Syria is the Hezbollah logistical base. By ignoring Syria's central role in the war, the resolution effectively gave its blessing to continued Syrian aggression against Israel and US forces in Iraq through terrorist proxy armies. Big winner of all is Iran. Iran, which was the architect of the entire war, did not even receive a mention in this resolution. It's already using this victory to force the Arab world to accept its leadership. The Iranian foreign minister's visit Sunday with Hosni Mubarak in Egypt was a clear sign that its stock is sky high.
Iran has not had full diplomatic relations with Egypt since 1979."

8/16/2006 02:39:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Lord Acton,

Solzhenytzin's address is in fact seminal and will probably feature in the next post.

8/16/2006 02:43:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

James, please read the Der Spiegel interview:
I cannot imagine you won't revise some of the things you said about him in the previous thread after doing so.
The Real Mahmoud: Der Spiegel Interview
The Pathetic Mike Wallace:
Ahmadinejad Recites Democrat Talking Points
A fawning Mike Wallace sucks up to the new Hitler...

8/16/2006 02:54:00 AM  
Blogger voyeur said...

`i suspect its a worldwide thing as they have this book which they call 'koran', but more important strains of interpretation of that book. Hastings may be short-sighted because he only sees the symptoms of those interpretations. The UK muslim condemnation of UK foreign policy [the ‘letter’] is a symptom, which can change from day to day. The next day the UK muslims wanted domestic policy changes as well [at a meeting with ministers].

But how does this thing stop? The [surviving] Nazis were still ranting at their Nuremberg trials, the fall of Berlin did not silence them, nor the discovery of Auschwitz atrocities. Only hanging silenced them. The next German generation were free of the mental disease and disowned them.

8/16/2006 02:55:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I know a man who grew up in the ruins of Berlin.
You could not know a less Nazi-like person!
We were better teachers then.

8/16/2006 03:10:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Read the Solzhenytzin link. I think you'll like it a lot!

8/16/2006 03:21:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This, for example:
"Anguish about our divided world gave birth to the theory of convergence between leading Western countries and the Soviet Union.
It is a soothing theory which overlooks the fact that these worlds are not at all developing into similarity; neither one can be transformed into the other without the use of violence.

Besides, convergence inevitably means acceptance of the other side's defects, too, and this is hardly desirable. "

8/16/2006 03:25:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

The link is heavy.

Not sure I agree with all of it, but it's a great read.

My favourite quote: If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die.

But there is no going back to the make-believe of gods either.

Perhaps a new terrible beauty is being born.

I look forward to your next post, W.


8/16/2006 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

rufus; 11:10 PM

The operating assumption when commencing negotiation is that all parties are rational.

When it becomes obvious that a party is behaving irrationally, one of three possible causes is usually discovered responsible: 1) the appearance of irrationality is being used rationally to intimidate or manipulate, 2) some manageable, although initially unexpressed need or fear is driving the behavior, or 3) the other side is nuts.

When it is found that a party is hopelessly irrational, the best advice is to minimize losses, pack it up, and leave the table. The rule is that yielding to irrational demands will only lead to escalated irrational demands. Adults, perhaps even more so than children, a quite easily reinforced.

Once negotiating ends under the above condition the relationship is 1) probably irretrievably severed or 2) can be recouped, but only with the intervention of an empowered third party mediating, arbitrating, or issuing summary judgment.

8/16/2006 04:28:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


re: third party

To be credible the third party must be neutral. That might just eliminate the UN on most issues and the French on everything.

8/16/2006 04:50:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

achilles jones said:

And I don't mean stupid little Danish cartoons. I mean serious movies, sit coms, talk shows, documentaries, poets and musicians....a whole counter-culture in which moderate muslims can invest themselves, and say "Hey, that's how I feel about about those parasite bastard mullahs."

That's great, but about the only channels that would possibly air those shows is Fox News, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and the Hallmark Channel. Everyone else is booked with sensitive portraits of Osama and his day care center for working moms in Afghanistan that was bombed by the Bush Zionist-Neocon War Machine because it competed with lucrative Halliburton contracts.

8/16/2006 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

This has to be looked at in a broader perspective,expansionist Islam was halted at the Gates of Vienna,the rapid scientific and industrial progress,especially weaponry,in the West left the Islamic cpountries way behind.The gap grew wider throughout the 18th,19th and 20th centuries,it was the discovery of oil in the Middle East,the fuel of the Wests industial might,which began the resurgence of of expansionist Islam.The vast income from oil funded the madrassas,the weaponry and the totalitarian regimes which saw that terror and mass immigration were tools to influence western foreign policy.
The Middle East has to be viewed as it was before the Arab light cavalry came galloping out of the Arabian penninsular in the seventh century,before the conquering Ottoman Turks gave the coupe de grace to the Byzantine Empire,when all the region was part of the Christian West.
No Jihad isn't new,revist Khartoum,it had simply come up against a more formidable foe.

8/16/2006 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

Achilles Jones,

"NOthing pisses off a mullah as much as being disrespected and ridiculed."

Except being shunned, or dead.

We need the ummah to shun the teachings of the radical imams, in mosques, schools, homes and vehicles.

They openly advocate war against the West, and are therefore the appropriate targets. Let no one be safe in association. 24/7. Publish the list.

Koran 2.0 can only be crafted by getting the attention of the Muslim scholars, and their acolytes. The rest of Islam is after all, followers.

Make the religious leaders publically pay for their evil proseltyzing, and we'll produce a profound sea change, more rapidly than any of our efforts to date.

Nosecone video at 11:00.

8/16/2006 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

Achilles Jones,

I suppose we could equip the drones with stakes; but Hellfires
fly truer.

What you've suggested is that we develop a meme. Interesting. The Islamofascists are just like the vampires that required that stake through the heart. No?

They're an ancient, inhuman, implaccable, non-negotiating, blood-sucking, parasitic foe, that's universally recogininzed by most in the West. We cannot easily determine who's been bitten/infected. Etc.

8/16/2006 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"A female passenger aboard United Flight 923 had Vaseline, a screw driver, matches and a note referencing al-Qaida, according to Phil Orlandella, spokesman for Boston's Logan International Airport.
All three items were banned from flights after past security threats.
Finally the Master Plan is revealed re:
GWB's reading of "My Pet Goat."

8/16/2006 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Exactly. Remember, even Comedy Central Wimped Out.

8/16/2006 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Hani al-Bassan was an Islamic radical in the early 1920's, while Sayid Qtub was still in diapers.

Jamie Irons

(Mr. Kielland might think about getting his own blog.)

8/16/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Being a psychiatrist, you might consider elucidating that diaper reference for the club.

8/16/2006 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

The Wahabist movement in the deserts of what was not yet Saudi Arabia began roughly contemporaneously with our own American Revolution.

Modern Israel wasn't even a gleam in Menachim Begin's great great great grandfather's eye.

Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Little did them ancient Wahhabis know their Sacred Lands would soon be producing the raw material for Petrolatum Jelly.

8/16/2006 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

jamie irons,

re: "Modern Israel wasn't even a gleam in Menachim Begin's great great great grandfather's eye."

There you go again, behaving as a Westerner, forcing chronology and historical fact, disrupting a perfectly good meme.

How's a guy supposed to vent? What's supposed to happen if YOU suppress rage and humiliation?

Well, I'll tell you: some tortured souls will have to go elsewhere for gestalt, that's what. Happy now!?

8/16/2006 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger geoffgo said...


I think even a rational aethiest must accept that for many citizens, a god must exist. They've not been exposed to the tools to arrive at the otherwise.

Nevertheless, a loving, life-promoting God is the most desirable kind, even if only a fantasy, for the foreseeable future.

Liberty? We're not going to convert the world in our lifetimes. Peace will need be imposed. The recitivism rate for jihad closes in on absolute.

So, start targeting the centers of gravity and thought and preaching.

That's why it's Rat's "long war."

Employ network warfare. Deploy technology they cannot hope to copy. Nose-cone videos at 11:00.

8/16/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger epictetus said...


How about, "Burkas hide bruises." See I can type a somewhat insulting/thought provoking comment on the internet. But how do you get feminists to wear T-Shirts with comments like this?

I can come up with a whole bunch of them, "Instead of blowing up a plane, how about drinking a Bud Light?"

I'm not sure any of this works though. Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason" was probably not very succesful in terms of turning people away from Christianity.

I agree with your idea, I just don't know what the best method is. Perhaps something that the left used against certainty and dogmatism in our society? Certainly I do feel that a large part of our society's corrosive strength is not being directed at the targets I would most prefer.

8/16/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

There has been claimants to the chosen one,the Mahdi since the beginning of Islam.We have Ahmadinejad trying to coax the next one out of his well on the 22nd of August.
The black banners of Islam have always been raised over conquering Arab armies.
Jihad is not a new,as you point out,modern phenomenon,it is an implicit part of the creed.

8/16/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


Love those rallying cries!

Jamie Irons

8/16/2006 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

I got to Hastings' assertion that on 9/11 "grassroots support for ObL was small" and could take no more...typical Guardian intellectual doltery; conveniently forgetting the widely publicized dancing in the streets, complete with ecstatic ululation....

I also like the "less credulous Britain" reference, but wonder does "less credulous" mean the part of Britain that needs Muslim guest workers in order to support the welfare state?

Then he flatulates: "They are frustrated by the cultural, economic and political dominance of the west, whose values they find abhorrent. In some, bitterness is increased by awareness of the relative failure of their own societies, which they blame on the west rather than their own shortcomings." How is any of that my problem? Tell them to go home and fix it. If they had any aggets, they'd go home and fix it?

BUT NO!!! They won't do that because a.) they don't want to give up the lifestyle here in the West; and, more importantly, b.) the a-holes running the various shows at the various homes won't permit it because it would detract seriously from their fat lifestyles to actually let their populations live freely and build their dreams and will rape, torture and murder to keep things as is.

They are weak. They are cowed. The truly wicked among them have them subdued and now, as is so common with the wicked, feel they can do to us what they have done to their own people. Their problem is we don't play that cowed deal and we hit back.

The diplos and the pols want to talk it out with the wicked. The weak and fearful among us just want to be liked by everybody (all the while buying books about codependence and dysfunction). I don't think I've ever heard (or seen) evil cured with talk.

8/16/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger The Mad Fiddler said...

Thank God for Belmont Club and all the people that add their comments.

Funny how easy it is to get all riled up, reacting to one person’s ideas.

Mr. J. Kielland has been particularly prodigious in firing off his blunderbuss lately. Some of his assertions seem to want some deeper research, but as I reflect on that thought, I have to admit I’m no scholar myself. I tend to look up things in a spasm, looking a range of sources (NOT all internet! I have a 1943 Encyclopedia Britannica, a mess of books at home, and a LIBRARY CARD!) I often provide references and links in the text of my posts to show a supporting source. It doesn’t seem reasonable to demand that, but occasionally there are some points of difference that might be resolved by somebody just citing an authority. This is most true of the fundamental premises upon which we then pile our increasingly derivative and zany extrapolations... If I start off making some toplofty pronouncement based on a factual error that any boob can refute in two ticks, who’s gonna take me seriously after that?

Besides my mom, I mean...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Alexis makes an excellent point that Islamism is not by itself the problem. Jihadist fanaticism is a particularly septic aspect of a much more pervasive cultural mindset profoundly prefigured by the harsh conditions of the desert. On the Arabian peninsula, Nomadic tribal customs were shaped by an environment that pitilessly killed off groups that failed to emphatically press their claims on water, animals, foods, and breeding-age women. Arabia is thought to have been a desert for a very long time (“Arid conditions in the the UAE [for instance] predated the Pleistocene...” from arabianwildlife.com/nature/geology/geo02.html). Those that survived from the depths of time learned reflexive aggression.

Interestingly, Islam spread across North Africa fastest, reaching from the few cities conquered by the Prophet during his life all the way across the Straights of Gibraltar into Spain and France in less than a century after Muhammad’s death! This region is thought to have been transformed to desert as a result of human deforestation over a period of thousands of years, beginning some fifteen to twenty thousand years ago. The Sahara, which now extends across the continent from East to West, was once forested and fertile savannahs, which may have shaped its human population to a much gentler temper than the marauders that invaded in the 8th century C.E.

That’s a pretty general surmise, but it’s clear that many of the most fierce groups through history derive their aggression from the conditions imposed by their homelands (the Mongols, Apaches, Bushido Japan) and the more congenial societies (Coastal Indians of North America, Micronesians) likewise were allowed to be so by the mildness or natural bounty of theirs.

I apologize for trafficking in such murky generalities, especially because I know there are glaring exceptions that threaten to completely smash my conjecture... The Hopi and Aleut, for instance, show astonishing gentleness and hospitality in extremely harsh and unforgiving environments. But that can be a survival scheme, too.

Anyhow, I would suggest to Mr. Kielland that he look a little deeper into the history of the Muslim Brotherhood. If the only reading one does were the Wikipedia entry on Sayyid Qutb, one might emerge with the impression that he is the prime figure in modern Islamist extremism, but it just ain’t so. The Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hassan al Banna in 1928, had grown from under a thousand members in the mid-1930’s to almost a quarter of a milliion members by the onset of World War II, and almost half a million before 1950. They had planted branches in Lebanon by 1936, Trans-Jordan by 1946, and Syria in 1937, Sudan by 1949. In a period of less than four years, the Brotherhood established at least six branches in Palestine alone. Before the populist Gamal Abdel Nasser threw out the kleptomanic King Farouk, radicalized members of the brotherhood were already doing acts of terrorism and assassination that would eventually bring the wrath of Nasser upon them.

8/16/2006 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Das said...

For Max Hasting mass slaughter is the opening gambit to dialogue.

8/16/2006 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Jeez, there is sure a lot of brain, language, higher learning power here.

All to say, like they are asking their mother, siblings or their teachers, what do we do now?

For us uneducated, poor ol' Texans we knew the answer to that question over thirty years ago.

The only way to defeat a religious cult is to do one or more of two things.

Kill them.

Coral them, let them kill each other.

If there are any survivors, keep them isolated from the rest of the herds for years if necessary, helping them as they help themselves.

Then maybe, just maybe they can be let out among the rest of us.

Papa Ray
West Texas

8/16/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

"You know, you, I, and many others in this forum can look at Iraq with the benefit of an historical and strategic understanding that is lost on much of the masses throughout the world."

"But the rest of the world sees a much less nuanced story."
8/15/2006 08:23:29 PM

sorry if this comment is below the bar for Belmont Club discourse,but...
anybody else smell the troll?

i find i always suspect
the self-important,self-regard of those who comment on "the masses".

it's a fairly consistent "tell",imo.

8/16/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Mad Fiddler,

You make very fair points regarding Qutb, the MB, and so forth. I'll simply say that I regard Qutb's writings on the matter to be extremely influential, something which gave tremendous force to existing trends. In particular, I believe that Qutb had a substantial influence on Zawahiri, who was just a few short years ago considered the main driving force behind what people referred to as Al Qaida.

Your points regarding Islam's general rapid spread through its early history are undeniable. I suppose one of the problems with much of the debate is that some regard Islam as the enemy and some regard contemporary Islamic militant activity expressed via terrorism to be the enemy.

Wretchard's latest post, dealing with Alexander Solzhenitsyn's speech, gets into this. Is this really a civilizational war? Does Islam, in and of itself, represent a necessary danger via terrorism, state sponsored or otherwise? I'm skeptical that it does.

Despite Islam's notable history of conquest one should note that it's been a rather slow and plodding force when compared a movement such as Marxism. The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848. The world, nearly 120 years later, was astonishingly populated with marxist governments, terrorist movements, and activists throughout the world.

And yet, as ominous as that rapid expansion was, as quickly and thoroughly as it seized control of academics and other ostensibly "thinking persons", it has largely been relegated to irrelevance. Thanks, in large part and amusingly, due to own "internal contradictions." We still deal with Marxists here and there, and they can cause some nasty violence and poverty. But they are a dying force. I suspect militant Islam is quite similar.

Back to Solzhenitsyn. Let's look at the civilizational war a different way. I suggested that Islamic terrorism is a small threat. There is, nevertheless, a problem that Islam is ideologically robust and extremely prolific. It could be argued that the West is in a state of suicide, with its low fertility combined with its seeming inability or willingness to define itself and provide its people with something to believe in.

It would seem, then, that our civilization is threatened. From this perspective, Islam's intensity, fertility, and it's integrity/fidelity are indeed quite ominous. By "integrity/fidelity" I must stress that I AM NOT praising any ideological aspects; I'm simply remarking on Islam's ability to stay on message, stay true to its rituals, and pass on its values to the next generation.

No amount of nuking Iran will change that. Faced with the West's suicide, many in the west have decided to direct their hostility towards Islam rather than taking up the much more complicated task of reviving their civilization.

The current terror doctrine of militant Islam isn't an existential threat to the West, I don't believe. Much like surving Marxist movements, they can make a tremendous mess. But in the long-term, Islam itself possesses a threat to the West because it is strong in the very areas that the West is currently weak. Will the West revive itself and its confidence? If it does, I'd guess that Islam will not be a substantial threat. If it doesn't, no amount of military action will help us.

8/16/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


You're free to call me a troll, even though my posts don't seem to indicate trolling behavior. I think my tone is decidedly non-trollish.

As to "the masses", I suppose you could try to twist that into some elitist snobbery and by adding the troll label imply that somehow regards any points or arguments I make as irrelevant.

Then again, part of what makes the Belmont Club a fascinating place is that the host clearly rises above the MSM in the quality of his output. And the opinions largely expressed by the guests in the comments section largely go beyond popular opinion and exhibit a level of sophistication and knowledge of their subjects.

That's what makes Belmont an interesting place, and I'd imagine that's why many people are here. Because they find the MSM inadequate and they don't find more popular or mass-oriented forums to be as interesting.

8/16/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

James -

my comments come from the idea that people who know their stuff
can explain the complex in plain language.

the elitism of language like "the masses" has consistently come
from the ideology that insists it is "for the common man".

in my view,history has shown they have no such motives.

you're free to disagree.

8/16/2006 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Michael Ledeen's basic premise, remarkable as it may seem, is that all of this, every problem that the US and the West faces in the guise of militant Islam, is somehow, miraculously, the result coordinated efforts worldwide, based on faith in the Koran, and currently guided by power-players in Iran and Syria. But most particularly Iran.

Sounds real to me.

But even more astounding is the observation that report after report, analysis after analysis becomes published, WITHOUT A SINGLE REFERENCE to one of the basic, root causes in all this, Baha'u'llah: His Coming, His Teachings and His World Institutions for His World Community!

8/16/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"Fervently devout religious believers don't compromise."

If this IS a religious war, then the KEY to catalyzing the peaceful conversion of the great mass of Muslim believers rests in Baha'u'llah!

By showing Islam's prophetic, truthful roots predicting His coming, no one threatens or belittles the Muslims!

By showing pre-existent, Islamic doorways, they can become Baha'is WITHOUT compromise!

And the Pope WAS told, in the Tablet addressed to him and delivered to Pope Leo IX, the ONLY Pope to be imprisoned in the Vatican, to recognize The Glory of God and lead Christianity toward Baha'u'llah!

The refusal of our leaders to accept the Divine Messenger IN NO WAY invalidates the Messenger (see, rabbis with Jesus).

It simply moves the onus of investigation ('...to him who OVERCOMES...') to my shoulders, me, the human individual...

8/16/2006 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/16/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

"During World War II, Germany, Italy, and Japan had numerous ideological affinities. Would it have been wise to dwell on the ideological differences between Italian Fascism and German Nazism when they were both in alliance? "
8/15/2006 09:02:26 PM

i enjoyed your points and your excellent post,Alexis.

8/16/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

J. Willie wrote:

"by suggesting that Russia may be the unseen actor catalyzing Islamic (and other, e.g., Chavez)fascism, I am surprised that only Rufus has followed up on it."

Sure, Russia has every interest in stirring up Iran. And Russia and Chavez has every interest in seeing the US attack Iran. I'm sure they'd both be absolutely thrilled by it.

Russia would sell a lot more arms (their business has been booming, no pun intended, since the US invasion of Iraq.) Chavez, who's recently been tooling up his own Russian arms franchise would undoubtedly be able to sell some arms, and most importantly a tremendous amount of influence, throughout Latin America. This would be a strategic nightmare for the US.

An oil rich communist, in our hemisphere, promoting anti-Americanism and pumping arms and propaganda into nearby countries. A foolish, unprovoked attack on Iran would certainly serve to buttress the claims of Chavez that the US is a wild empire, willing to invade countries with little provocation.

It doesn't really matter what the US's true intentions are. Iraq has given the anti-American agitators around the world a public relations coup, and they are really using it to their advantage. I fear that a wild attack on Iran would only further enhance the power of that propaganda.

Of course, maybe that would just give us a good reason to invade Venezuela. Considering that Ledeen makes his money from whipping people into fear and considering he works for organizations heavily funded by the arms industry, perhaps the logic of his constant urgings for war on Iran make some sense. I'm sure he would profit enormously.

8/16/2006 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger felix said...

Max Hastings wrote:

"In the United States a disturbingly large minority of people - polls suggest around 40% - remain willing to accept Bush's assertions that Americans and their allies, which chiefly means the British, are faced with a single global conspiracy by Islamic fundamentalists to destroy our societies."

I am a member of the 40%. This is the day reality of our age.

8/16/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

No need to care what the Muslims think, only what AQ et al do. In truth it is unlikely we can influence their thoughts to much extent. Preferable approach to beating AQ is to destroy its tools. Kill the any big monetary support going to radical islam and the AQ problem will fade away.

Like Papa Ray says

Kill them.

Messy and hard work.


Coral them, let them kill each other.

If there are any survivors, keep them isolated from the rest of the herds for years if necessary, helping them as they help themselves.

Take away their money and let them wallow in their own juices.

8/16/2006 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger weswinger said...

I hate to come in late, but anyway,

Mr. Kielland,
You continue to mischarecterize Ledeen. His plain language states that we should be doing all we can to subvert the Iranian mullocracy from within Iran by supporting its indigenous opposition.

More important, nobody has called out 2164th on his appeal to the founding father to justify cutting Israel loose. Israel is largely the creation of British and American post-WWII policy. They are our responsibility. Further, Israel is and has been the front line in the struggle against all forms of Arab and Persian suprematism. They are proof that the US's interest in the Middle East is not just oil. Otherwise pragmatists like 2164th would have cut them loose years ago, and we would be in the noble position of doing the bidding of the latest fashionable Middle East dictator to keep our oil supplies delivered.

Further reasons for supporting Israel and the Jewish people include the fact that the Jews have been the "canary in the coal mine" for the advancement of human dignity. When and where the Jews are persecuted, there is evil afoot in the human vineyard.

God's covenant with Abraham still applies, and we are blessed in our blessing of Israel.

8/16/2006 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


I'm not sure that I'm mischaracterizing Mr. Ledeen's position. I believe I may be guilty of stating it in more direct terms. Yes, Mr. Ledeen does call for supporting organizations within Iranian society that will subvert the current regime. But he also emphasizes that TO NOT do this will make "military action more and more likely. If we do not do the logical and sensible things, if we do not deploy the massive political weapons at our disposal, we will end by doing terrible things."

First off, I'm not at all sure what these "political weapons" may be. Secondly, to "support" these indigenous movements by "doing all we can" wouldn't seem to rule out military action. Thirdly, the basic thrust of Ledeen's article is that political action is desirable, but that this administration won't do it, and therefore direct military action will be required.

I believe that it is fair to say that when we look over Ledeen's work at NRO and other places that even when he is calling for vague "political action" there is a consistent subtext or threat of inevitable war woven into the message. There is certainly no shortage of those who call for war in Iran who reference his writings.

Nevertheless, I'm glad you pointed it out. Perhaps my way of summing up what I believe Ledeen to be about was a bit harsh or strident. I'll strive to do better in the future.

8/16/2006 11:40:00 PM  
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8/20/2006 10:03:00 PM  

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