After a decade of War on Terror, America gives up trying to win


2:00 pm - October 10th 2010

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contribution by Andrew J. Bacevich

As the conflict formerly known as the Global War on Terror enters its tenth year, we are entitled to pose this question: When, where, and how will the war end?

This much we know: an enterprise that began in Afghanistan but soon after focused on Iraq has now shifted back — again — to Afghanistan.  Whether the swings of this pendulum signify progress toward some final objective is anyone’s guess. 

Just over a decade ago, the now-forgotten Kosovo campaign seemingly offered a template for a new American way of war.  It was a decision gained without suffering a single American fatality.  Kosovo turned out, however, to be a one-off event. 

No doubt the United States military was then (and remains today) unbeatable in traditional terms.  Yet, after 9/11, Washington committed that military to an endeavor that it manifestly cannot win.

Rather than probing the implications of this fact — relying on the force of arms to eliminate terrorism is a fool’s errand — two administrations have doggedly prolonged the war even as they quietly ratcheted down expectations of what it might accomplish. 

In officially ending the U.S. combat role in Iraq earlier this year — a happy day if there ever was one — President Obama refrained from proclaiming “mission accomplished.”  As well he might: as U.S. troops depart Iraq, insurgents remain active and in the field.  Instead of declaring victory, the president simply urged Americans to turn the page.  With remarkable alacrity, most of us seem to have complied.

Perhaps more surprisingly, today’s military leaders have themselves abandoned the notion that winning battles wins wars, once the very foundation of their profession.  Warriors of an earlier day insisted: “There is no substitute for victory.”  Warriors in the Age of David Petraeus embrace an altogether different motto: “There is no military solution.” 

Here is Brigadier General H. R. McMaster, one of the Army’s rising stars, summarizing the latest in advanced military thinking:

Simply fighting and winning a series of interconnected battles in a well developed campaign does not automatically deliver the achievement of war aims.

 Winning as such is out.  Persevering is in.  

So an officer corps once intent above all on avoiding protracted wars now specializes in quagmires.  Campaigns don’t really end.  At best, they peter out. 

Formerly trained to kill people and break things, American soldiers now attend to winning hearts and minds, while moonlighting in assassination.  The politically correct term for this is “counterinsurgency.”

Now, assigning combat soldiers the task of nation-building in, say, Mesopotamia is akin to hiring a crew of lumberjacks to build a house in suburbia.  What astonishes is not that the result falls short of perfection, but that any part of the job gets done at all.

Yet by simultaneously adopting the practice of “targeted killing,” the home builders do double-duty as home wreckers.  For American assassins, the weapon of choice is not the sniper rifle or the shiv, but missile-carrying pilotless aircraft controlled from bases in Nevada and elsewhere thousands of miles from the battlefield — the ultimate expression of an American desire to wage war without getting our hands dirty.    

In practice, however, killing the guilty from afar not infrequently entails killing innocents as well.  So actions undertaken to deplete the ranks of jihadists as far afield as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia unwittingly ensure the recruitment of replacements, guaranteeing a never-ending supply of hardened hearts to soften. 

No wonder the campaigns launched since 9/11 drag on and on.  General Petraeus himself has spelled out the implications:

This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.

Obama may want to “get out.”  His generals are inclined to stay the course.

Taking longer to achieve less than we initially intended is also costing far more than anyone ever imagined.  Back in 2003, White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey suggested that invading Iraq might run up a tab of as much as $200 billion — a seemingly astronomical sum.  Although Lindsey soon found himself out of a job as a result, he turned out to be a piker.  The bill for our post-9/11 wars already exceeds a trillion dollars, all of it piled atop our mushrooming national debt.  Helped in no small measure by Obama’s war policies, the meter is still running. 

So are we almost there yet?  Not even.  The truth is we’re lost in the desert, careening down an unmarked road, odometer busted, GPS on the fritz, and fuel gauge hovering just above E.  Washington can only hope that the American people, napping in the backseat, won’t notice.

—-
Cross-posted from TomDispatch.com;
Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University.  His new book is Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War

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Can an admin please close those html tags, quickly, its making an interesting post difficult to read.

sheesh, I should have checked this before posting. Apologies, all sorted now.

3. margin4error

It is pleasing to see that the American line has formally shifted this way and that the US public seems to have accepted it.

The fact is that insurgency is not akin to a military establishment. There is no means for their surrender – and taking their ‘capital’ is a meaningless concept.

The trouble is that while “victory” in any conventional sense is impossible, so is defeat. Not fighting in Afghanistan is not an option either. The Taleban and their terrorist supporters would not stop fighting us just because we stopped fighting them. And while soldiers are not housebuilders, housebuilders are not soldiers either.

So seeing the USA accept a less conventional outlook is promising. It suggests they may well take the time needed to train Afghan forces to control their own country and in doing so, hopefully find a less invasive defence of actual housebuilders.

That has to be Afghanistan’s best hope of a future, and our best hope of achieving the long term aim of getting out without abandoning.

But what do they say on Fox? This posting is all very rational, but increasingly the irrational dictates US policy and at the heart of it is Fox.

Interesting para from Bacevich’s wiki profile:

“In his article “Non Believer” in the 7 July 2010 issue of The New Republic, Bacevich compared President George W. Bush, whom he characterizes as wrong-headed but sincere, with President Obama, whom he says has no belief in the Afghanistan war but pursues it for his own politically cynical reasons: “Who is more deserving of contempt? The commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause, however misguided, in which he sincerely believes? Or the commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause in which he manifestly does not believe and yet refuses to forsake?””

Andrew: Have you read Bobbitt’s Terror and Consent? Do you have a view on the ideas he presents there. On many points you and him seem to be on the same page – yet he supports the actions in Iraq and Afganistan – if not the way they were carried out.

I think it has to be remembered that the war on terror is just that – terror – not specifically terrorists or terroism.

Where terror exists in a substantial amount there is always the threat to civillians of that area – whether the source of terror is a countries government or whether it is a non-state terrorist group not particularly important – in either case, democractic states, depending on how seriously they wish to take their responsibility to protect may wish to intervene.

Because of this, states of terror and terroist groups will almost always have an element of hostility towards the west because of the fact that they know that the free west would like to see the end of them. This of course is only compounded by the individual quarrals certain countries or groups may have with elements in the west. The result of this is that states of terror or terrorists cooperate with one another and will launch attacks on the west to undermine the wests form of government by consent. This has already happened in Afganistan.

The only solution to the problem as far as I see it is to reduce the ability to terrorist groups to attack. Pre-emption is the only solution and this is best done by reducing the sphere in which terroist groups can operate unhindered, and this in turn is done by converting states of terror to states of consent.

If a terroist group obtained a nuclear weapon, they would use it – and there would be noone to retalliate against. Actions after the fact are useless. Sitting back and doing nothing will only accelerate the number and magnitude of terrorist attacks.

I think the real and more interesting discussion is the best way in which we can reduce terror – not whether we should be trying to reduce it or not.

One cannot “win” a war on terror because to “win” one must commit acts of terror.

‘If a terroist group obtained a nuclear weapon, they would use it’

They’d also use the Death Star, the Ring of Sauron and the Ark of the Covenant if they got their hands on them.

Okay, maybe not the last one coz it’s a bit too Jewish for their liking but the fact is, no terrorist has come close to obtaining nuclear material since Marty McFly pissed off with their plutonium.

You don’t fight a war based on fantasies.

#7 “One cannot “win” a war on terror because to “win” one must commit acts of terror.”

That is almost one of the points that Bobbitt makes. He see’s Guantanamo generally as an act of terror and represented an own-goal-defeat for the US. But it doesn’t have to be like this, the coalition forces can do what they can to minimise the acts of terror that they create. While there will still be collateral damage with dead civilians, this in itself is not an act of terror since it was not the civillians that were targeted.

Shatterface: If you read up on AQ Kahn and his ‘commodification’ or nuclear weapons, the manner in which he stole and traded designs and plans amongst rogue states/groups then you’ll see that we are well towards the path where weapons of mass destruction could be available to terrorist groups in the not too distant future.

Similarly, the relationships between states of terror (some of which do have nuclear weapons) and terrorist groups makes the potential trading, or even outsourcing of nuclear attack all the more inevitable if nothing is done about terror or proliferation.

The war will never end, which is exactly what the right wing politicians wanted. That way they can claim “we are at war” , and as a result they can pass a huge bunch of power grab laws like the patriot act. That act was not written after 9/11 as claimed. It had already been written and was just sitting on a shelf waiting for the chance the political elite could push it through. These laws would never have got through in peace time. So America sanctioned torture, arrest without trail, and the President having the right to ask for the assassination of anyone in the world he thinks he would like removed. It also allows them to spend on their favourite welfare system, the military industrial complex.

It is straight out of 1984. “We have always been at war .”

Note, doubters of the war on terror should read up on it and its history very carefully. If you haven’t read the Quran – recommended reading for all of us in the West.

@12 Ted

I’ve neither the time nor the inclination to read the Qran. I can’t be bothered with the Bible either, or Bhagavid Ghita or you name it. Really there’s more to life than banging one’s head up against such drivel. Nor is it necessary to read any of them to understand terrorism based upon their texts. The terrorist mindset simply uses them to justify its a priori philosophy and tactics. They could use Mrs Beeton, and though I might want to look up a recipe for Victoria Sponge I still wouldn’t read the whole text.

“While there will still be collateral damage with dead civilians, this in itself is not an act of terror since it was not the civillians that were targeted.” — Geoffff said

Are you saying that the attack on the twin towers during 9/11 was not an act of terror if the structures were the targets and the civilians were just “collateral”?

Is making a claim that the civilians were merely collateral, by the attacker, sufficient to make an attack non-terror like? What about the opinions of the survivors of such an attack. Are they allowed to label it as terror?

My point is the word terror has become quite meaningless and governments use it and change it to meet their political needs.

As examples:
How can an attack on the marines in Lebanon be considered terror?
How can the attack on the USS Cole be considered terror?
How can the attack on the Pentagon be considered terror?

In reality they are terror because violence, as in war, is by definition terror.

The US had to make the meaning to include political motives in the above examples. All wars have political motives, hence all wars are a form of terrorism.

Terrorism is a method of fighting. One cannot wage a war on a method. The whole notion of us fighting a “War on Terror” is absurd. I guess the objective of this “War” is to have perpetual war.

I’m afraid to see the blowback from invading and destroying Iraq. It has the potential to be much more severe than the blowback of backing religious mujahedeen extremists in Afghanistan that brought about al-Qaidah.

Just think about it for a moment. The US supported the most extremist and backwards group on the planet, the Mujahedeen, to topel a secular government in Afghanistan. Please don’t blame it on Reagan. This started with Jimmy Carter. Imagine if that government had been able to secularize the country more and bring rationality and stability to Afghanistan from the 1970′ to now.

16. Chaise Guevara

“Note, doubters of the war on terror should read up on it and its history very carefully. If you haven’t read the Quran – recommended reading for all of us in the West.”

Not sure how that’s going to help “doubters” of the war on terror. What do you mean, exactly?

@13

You haven’t seen anything yet !

If you care to read the Muslim Holy Book, you’ll discover that an attack on one is considered by many Muslims to be an attack on all. Unlike us Christians, they are a ‘brotherhood’

Again unlike us, the Quran is more than a way of life – it’s almost a complete law.

This is the reason we will never hear a Muslim leader openly condemn any act of terrorism. They will express disapproval but not use the word “condemn” when referring to acts of terror committed by fellow Muslims.

“Are you saying that the attack on the twin towers during 9/11 was not an act of terror if the structures were the targets and the civilians were just “collateral”?”

No, because it was an attack on civillian non-combatants of a ‘state of consent’. Even if the USA wasn’t a state of consent, the act would still be an act of terror, I mention it only for good measure.

The intended target of an action IS important in determining whether it is an act of terror. This is not to say that the USA is incapable of inflicting acts of terror either deliberatly or through wreckless actions. When that happens it does indeed represent a defeat in the war on terror.

How terrorism is defined is indeed political – after all, the popular use of the term has meant different things to different people at different times. Nearly all definitions however include a ‘political’ element.

Bobbitt’s proposed defition is: ““the pursuit of political goals through the use of violence against non-combatants in order to dissuade them from doing what they have the lawful right to do” As I recall he adds a caveat that ties in with is view that a state of terror can not be legitimatley sovereign – it’s soverignity is ‘transparent’ allowing for the intervention of other states to alleviate the terror the regime is causing. It follows that it is unlikely that those attacking the regime (although not civillians) cannot be terrorists.

Of course this is all political, but if you’re politics are in support of liberal states of consent then I’ve found Bobbitt’s framing of the current issues very appealing. If did find a great page that includes a lot of the choice quotes form the book, but it is escaping me now. In the mean time there is a breif synoposis here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/15951030/Bobbitt-Terror-and-Consent-2008-Synopsis

Or else plenty of more accessible book reviews.

19. Chaise Guevara

@17

You’re making a bit* of a leap there from “what my translation of the Koran says” to “how each and every Muslim thinks”.

*For ‘bit’ read ‘monstrous’

“Terrorism is a method of fighting. One cannot wage a war on a method. The whole notion of us fighting a “War on Terror” is absurd. I guess the objective of this “War” is to have perpetual war.”

But in the globalised world “terror” is not only a method, it is actually the end state envisioned. It’s not like fighting a war on drugs. Again, it’s something that Bobbitt argues quite persuasivly and is tied up with the concept of the ‘market state’ that is developing from the nation state system.

See: http://thedartmouth.com/2010/09/30/news/Bobbitt

“Just think about it for a moment. The US supported the most extremist and backwards group on the planet,”
Not a productive argument – we also partnered with the Soviet Union and all that it entailed in WW2.

21. Chaise Guevara

@18

I’d like to nail my colours to the mast here and say that Bobbit’s definition pretty much sums up what I understand “terrorism” to mean. Attacks on Iraqi civilians by the US could be called state terrorism, but the word ‘state’ is important there. Put bluntly, when a country overtly kills someone you know who to retaliate against.

@18

You certainly can split hairs ! Anyone who is even vaguely connected with using a loaded passenger aircraft as a missile into a very high building is a terrorist by any definition.

@19

Just my personal observations over a 40 year period and extensive travel. I have also never encountered a religion that teaches atrocities by today’s definition. Naturally I’m not including those that call for human sacrifice to please their gods.

@Ted – It’s not a wish to be pedantic, just to be clear about what we mean.

“Anyone who is even vaguely connected with using a loaded passenger aircraft as a missile into a very high building is a terrorist by any definition.”

Only they aren’t.

If I alone, as an individual was in a bad mood one day and hijacked an aircraft and flew it into a building – I wouldn’t be a terrorist, I’d be a criminal. Similarly, if a citizen of North Korea hijacked an aircraft full of military workers and flew it into a government building in Pyongyang then they wouldn’t be terrorists – they are fighting against terror, but from a weaker position.

This is where the “one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter” starts to fall apart. If it is carefully analysed, and analysed from the political position of wishing to pursue liberal states of consent then in most circumstances the definition of terrorist isn’t so fuzzy. There are of course still areas of grey, but nowhere near as much as some would have you believe.

As for Islam and the Koran – I think it’s important to note that the enemy is “terror” and not specifically Islamists – they just happen to be presenting the most pressing threat. Having said that, not understanding political islam (Sayeed Qutb’s writing and their implications are required reading here) then you underestimate and cannot understand the dynamic that a lot of current terrorism is working in. Again, much as states of terror may have disparate aims but network together when it suits them – the same can be said for politcal islam and it’s supporters.

“Not a productive argument – we also partnered with the Soviet Union and all that it entailed in WW2.” — Geofff said

So now you are the judge of what is productive and what is not? How convenient. So the historical arguments should only be made when they are advantageous. I see.

Need I remind you of the expression dealing with history and memory?

I think we should ask the victims of US and US sponsored terrorism how they feel about the terror that’s being committed upon them. The commentary in this article is very myopic and assumes that they US has some higher purpose and moral standing on this planet. Sorry to tell everyone this is not the case. If one counts all the dead civilians that the US caused one would begin to under how the “others” feel.

It doesn’t matter if it was intentional or not, terror is still instilled in the psyche of the survivors. A civilian killed by an alleged non-intentional bomb is still a killed civilian.

@23

You’re not aware of the genocidal nutjob who looms large in the Old Testament, then?

~

On-topic: the war on “terror” cannot be “won” because as others have pointed out “terror” is a concept (an abstract noun I believe) not an army or a state or a people or whatever. It’s as stupid as the “war” on “drugs”. Personally I think within 30 years or so we in the west are going to have to sit down with the Islamists and have a good old chinwag over tea and crumpets, much like the British government did with the IRA, eventually.

“This is the reason we will never hear a Muslim leader openly condemn any act of terrorism” — Ted claims

Ted, please tell us how man languages you speak, read or understand? What are you basing your assumption on?

BTW, Muslim leaders openly condemn US and Israeli terror quite often, but I suppose you don’t care and I suppose you wouldn’t even notice because you would call their condemnation of terror a form of terrorism because it was directed at a privileged group of people.

“I think it’s important to note that the enemy is “terror”” — Geofff said

That’s such a meaningless statement. When you fight terror you create terror and then you are a terrorist. The next empire can say now we are going to have a war against american terror, etc. etc.

“I have also never encountered a religion that teaches atrocities by today’s definition.” — Ted said.

You didn’t have to travel far. Open up an Old Testament and you shall find multiple commands to commit genocide. We would call these war crimes in the modern world.

I have read the Quran (in Arabic and English) and the Old Testament/Torah and can comfortably say that the Old Testament appears to encourage genocide against non-believers. The Quran is very mild compared to the Old Testament. BTW, I am a non-theist.

Here’s a mainstream discussion on this topic http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124494788

” If you haven’t read the Quran – recommended reading for all of us in the West.” — Ted said

I don’t disagree, but I would also recommend that the West read the Old Testament/Torah next to it and compare. They will quickly realize how violent and xenophobic the Old Testament is. The “christians” seem to forget that their holy book is far more violent and genocidal than the Quran.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124494788

“Naturally I’m not including those that call for human sacrifice to please their gods.” — Ted said

You do realize that Abraham, in the Old Testament, was commanded by Jehova to sacrifice his “first” son in order for Jehova to be pleased.

Ugarit said: “That’s such a meaningless statement. When you fight terror you create terror and then you are a terrorist.”

This is nonsense. A state of consent that fights terror is enforcing the law, law created by the representatives of their citizens and ‘universal law’ covering unalienable rights/human rights.

“The commentary in this article is very myopic and assumes that they US has some higher purpose and moral standing on this planet.”

It’s not the USA in particular. Note that I’ve made the point that the USA has perpetrated acts of terror as well. I am assuming that states of consent that by and large protect unalienable rights and freedoms DO have a higher moral standing on this planet. Afterall, it is exactly countries and organisations that don’t operate through consent, and don’t respect these rights that I am characterising as purveyors of “terror”.

Ugarit, the reason I said that your point re USA’s past wasn’t productive is because it doesn’t add anything to the conversation. What state has not partnered with an unsavoury state in the past? I was making the point that the Allies fought with the Soviet Union in WW2 – to many an unsavoury nation. It’s like you are suggesting – even if the USA is in the right, they partnered with someone horrible years ago so therefore they *must* be wrong.

@27 – Mr Pill said:
“On-topic: the war on “terror” cannot be “won” because as others have pointed out “terror” is a concept (an abstract noun I believe) not an army or a state or a people or whatever.”

Did you read this link that I posted: http://thedartmouth.com/2010/09/30/news/Bobbitt
The argument requires acceptance that the consitutional order is changing from nation state to “market state” – again something that seems quite persuasive.

“The “christians” seem to forget that their holy book is far more violent and genocidal than the Quran”

The question isn’t who’s relgion is the most violent. I’ve already made the point that Islamists (not necessarily Islam per-se) just happen to be the current primary terrorist threat. The Christians have certainly had their time as purveyors of terror in the past and may well significantly purvay terror in the future, or the buddhists, or anit-globalisation group or any other number of groups.

Geoffff admits the U.S./U.K. have perpetrated terror but argues that “it doesn’t have to be like this“. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be like that, man, but it is! Civilian casualties are very much the norm. In its essence the “War on Terror” is creating more of it. In Afghanistan, for example, civilians have good cause to fear the Taliban, the ISAF and their own state. In Iraq the fear of Saddam has been replaced by a fear of sectarian violence, occupying troops, bigots, resource shortages and, yes, its own state. Whoever – if anyone – is fighting against “terror”, “terror” is winning.

“A state of consent that fights terror is enforcing the law, law created by the representatives of their citizens and ‘universal law’ covering unalienable rights/human rights.” — Geofff said

So invading Iraq and dismantling it and directly and indirectly causing the death of over 1 million civilians and causing the displacement of millions internally and many externally is enforcing the law? If it were the case, that means the citizens of the state that is allegedly enforcing the laws need to be held accountable for their crimes. Don’t you think?

So was the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afganistan a legitimate enforcement of laws because Mujahedeen terrorists (supported by an allegedly democratic republic) were threatening its security?

Whose state of consent and whose laws are being enforced.? This is an argument that any regime can make.

” It’s like you are suggesting – even if the USA is in the right, they partnered with someone horrible years ago so therefore they *must* be wrong.” — Geofff said

The thing is invading countries is usually the wrong thing. The US has the tendency to do this far more often than other countries. My point was that US self righteousness is often destructive because of how little it knows about the peoples and nations it’s invading. The invasions are more about economic interests but the non-sense about us being good and spreading democracy is only believed by the US population. In fact, the propaganda is for our consumption because the victims of US power already know the truth.

Who in their right mind would have supported intellectually backwards extremists and followers of irrational and primitive thinking like the Mujahadeen to topple a secular government? I as an American would have rather have that secular government, and yes communist, succeed and be a friend of the US. There was absolutely no need to create and support the Mujahadeen (later Taliban and al-Qaidah). We are doing similar thing again and again.

BenSix: Collateral damage that affects civillians may be common, more common than I’d like – but I don’t think that terror against civillians, like which you describe in your blog is a common occurance. A state of terror is not going to suddenly appear as a perfect model of democracy overnight. What you have described is the spectrum of terror, from a government of terror, to an insurgency, to less organised sectarian violence and acts of terror from the new state while rule of law establishes itself slowly reducing until something resembling a state of consent emerges. Terror is not winning in Afganistan, there are different types of threats and in the transition from terror to consent there may be greater violence… but terror is defintely on the back foot.

It’s worth remembering that when a state of terror is powerful, it’s ability to crush dissent is massive. There isn’t much chance that you will be shot or blown up in North Korea (unless you have the wrong sort of politics of course) – but don’t mistake it for anything other than terror.

@Ugarit: No. The citizens of the coaltion countries should not be held accountable for the crimes (acts of terror) of coalition forces. Similarly the citizens of Los Angeles should not be held accountable for the criminal beating of Rodney King.

The compairson with the Soviet Union is troublesome because it is mixing two different consitutional orders. The Soviet Union vs Mujahedeen conflict was a product of the nation state ‘long war’ 1914-1990 between parliamentary democracy, fascism and communism. The analysis that Bobbitt proposes (and that I am clumsily re-presenting) draws a distinction between the traditional terrorism that accompanied the ‘nation state’ era and the modern, networked, terrorism of al-Qaeda that is accompanying the ‘market state’.

“Whose state of consent and whose laws are being enforced.? This is an argument that any regime can make.”

Not at all. A state of consent is one that achieves it’s legitimacy to rule from the consent of the people. Normally this will be through democracy, but not necessarily. Typically the definition is expanded to include a set of inalienable rights/human rights that the state cannot infringe upon, even with majority consent of it’s people.

Sadam’s Iraq could not have made a convincing argument that it was a state of consent, no that it protected human rights. Neither could Taliban Afganistan.

“Sadam’s Iraq could not have made a convincing argument that it was a state of consent, no that it protected human rights. Neither could Taliban Afganistan.” — Geofff said

Are you saying that the US invaded Iraq for human rights and democracy? Please stop it. We’re not that naive. Because the US invades a dictator’s country doesn’t make the US “good”. It doesn’t mean that one is good if one fights evil. It’s not black and white as you attempt to make it so.

If citizens freely elect officials who then agree to go to war and then cause the death’s of millions I think the citizens of the invading country need to realize what crime they have committed. In fact, citizens of a democracy need to be held more accountable for their government’s crimes.

Some elements of the coaltion invaded Iraq for human rights and democracy. Others invaded to preempt future threat, other’s because they believed Iraq actually already had WMD, others because of economic interests, maybe a couple even because of oil.

What is really naive is thinking that there is only a single motivation for any military action. Even more so when you stumble on the most ignoble of those motivations and automatically feel convinced that you’ve found the one true one.

Before Iraq, I was a supporter of an intervention on the grounds of human rights, democracy and to preclude future threats from the regime. Did the intervention happen at the perfect time, in the perfect manner? No.

You speak as if coaltion forces are responsible for all of the deaths in Iraq and Afganistan. It is worth remembering who it is that plants bombs in markets and why they do it… and what they want to achieve in the long run. Remember, it’s not all black and white.

Great posts, ugarit. Keep it up. Neocons rely on emotion and ignorance in their arguments, never logic.

Geoffff

What evidence do you have that Iraq/Afghanistan are or will make a transition to a state of “consent“?

[*] are making or will make

@ 40

Sadam had to go. He had:

Gassed the Kurds.
Ignored 14 UN resolutions.
Invaded Kuwait and Iran.
Attacked Israel twice.

More is the pity George Bush (Senior) did not have a UN mandate to take him out first time round.

Johnf: I don’t consider myself, nor Bobbitt neocons. As I remember, Bobbitt is a democrat is critical throughout his book of a lot of the Bush adminstration’s policies. See:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3994910.ece

@BenSix: By almost any measure Afganistan and Iraq are both closer to states of consent now than they were before the interventions. Elections, greater personal liberty, women’s rights, more secular societies, less theocratic rulers… the list goes on.

@Ted – agreed, big shame he couldn’t have been disposed of in Gulf 1.

Ted the troll “Sadam had to go. He had Gassed the Kurds.”

Which within 2 weeks of doing so Donald Rumsfeld flew to Bagdad to shake him by the hand.

“Ignored 14 UN resolutions.”

So we should invade Israel then?

“Invaded Kuwait and Iran.”

The West were very happy when he fought Iran. Mrs Thatcher sold him a super Gun to help him act as a bulwark against Iran. He also stopped Islamic fundamentalism from taking hold in Iraq which is why Bin Laden demanded his removal from power.

You must be so happy you are on the same side as the person who killed 3000 in the 9/11 attacks. Come back when you know what you are talking about.

@ 41

States of ‘consent’ emerge naturally through sustained democratic behaviour towards each other first then they learn to develop diplomatic and foreign policy procedures. Iraq will do well in my opinion.

“By almost any measure Afganistan and Iraq are both closer to states of consent now than they were before the interventions. Elections, greater personal liberty, women’s rights, more secular societies, less theocratic rulers… the list goes on.”

Oh the stupid it burns.

@45
“Come back when you know what you are talking about.”

Does this mean you’re leaving LC?

Sally, rather than calling me stupid, perhaps you woud like to argue that Iraq and Afganistan were more states of consent before the intervention. I am waiting…

@ 45 and 47

Suspect you’re having a bad day, feet up, glass of wine and a slice of lemon meringue pie cures most things. You are however forgiven because you’re writing what you believe to be the truth.

Geoff – Elections I’ll agree with. In Iraq, however, we have a state that tortures, bans a union, can’t provide adequate water or electricity and hasn’t prosecuted those behind swathes of “honour” and anti-gay killings. In Afghanistan we have an awfully corrupt state whose police terrorise its populace. And, indeed, its a state that’s under dire threat. Yeah, I’d love it if this changes but it’s not inevitable.

(That goes out to ma main man Ted as well.)

@ 51

Try and remember this:

“patience is a virtue, often found in animals, seldom found in humans” Iraq will do well – irrespective of those who seek to sabotage her efforts.

But — why?

55. Chaise Guevara

@53

You could apply that to absolutely everything, though. In another hundred years we’ll all be dead. It doesn’t absolve us from the problems of the present.

“Elections, greater personal liberty, women’s rights, more secular societies, less theocratic rulers… the list goes on.” — Geofff claims

Again here is where naive and misinformed thinking can spell disaster.

Before the US attacked Iraq, Iraq was/had:

There were elections (not free but had them)
More secular than now
Women had more rights than now
Far fewer theocratic power than now
Less violent than now
Less sectarian than now
Less communal than now
Less tribal than now
Technologically more advanced than now
More educated than now
More literate than now
Fewer political prisoners than now

So where are you getting your information from? You’re assuming Afghanistan and Iraq are equivalent which is a sign of being extremely misinformed.

You’re blinded with the silly concept of “consent” which essentially implies that the more democratic you think you are the more violent you are permitted to be.

Yes there might be slightly more personal freedom now but relatively speaking it’s far worse because of US aggression and mayhem than it was under Saddam’s.

More died under US aggression than Saddam’s. The US facilitated the entry of al-Qaidah in Iraq. Thank you so much. Like the US did in Afghanistan.

You do appear to be a neocon in transparent liberal’s clothing.

Signs of “neocon” thinking:

Our intentions are good
Successes are due to us
Failures are due to the less capable people that we invaded
We are a democracy therefore, our aggression is legitimate
Our citizens make us invade and hence they are legitimate invasions, but our citizens cannot be held accountable.
Even though we kill millions our intentions are often good and we don’t understand why people don’t like us
There must be something wrong with their culture and/or religion and that’s why they don’t understand us. It’s not our violence. They are the problem.

The list can go on and on and these attributes are a sign of an intellectually deranged thinker. It’s in fact a form of cult worship. The cult of consent.

If in a few decades Iraq were to be a proud democracy, the necons will claim it was due to US power.
If in a few decades Iraq were to continue to be in disarray it’s because the Iraqis can’t get their act together.

58. Just Visiting

Mr Pill 27

> Personally I think within 30 years or so we in the west are going to have to sit down with the Islamists and have a good old chinwag over tea and crumpets, much like the British government did with the IRA, eventually.

By saying that, you seem to be making a parallel between the IRA and islamists.
But the IRA were actually Marxists by motivation. Religion, and the words of Jesus were something they didn’t refer to. Yes they were catholics, but that was just one of the badges of their tribe – as was their dislike of the colour orange: neither of those two factors were the root cause of their violence.

So although the IRA are often trotted out on LC – presumably to make people feel safer, that the islamists are a smaller group, with smaller aspirisations, something we don’t need to worry about – I haven’t yet seen anyone here make a case for what exactly, in detail, the parallels are.

59. Just Visiting

Ugarit

You seem to portray ‘neoncons’ in a way that make them despicable (“Even though we kill millions”) – though I can’t help feeling it is America you hate, more than neocons.

But would you be able to make a case that (as Geofff asked of Sally):
> Iraq and Afganistan were more states of consent before the intervention.

60. Just Visiting

Geoff

> Having said that, not understanding political islam (Sayeed Qutb’s writing and their implications are required reading here) then you underestimate and cannot understand the dynamic that a lot of current terrorism is working in.

Very, very rarely has anyone on LC advised folk to read up on Islamism – well done.

“You seem to portray ‘neoncons’ in a way that make them despicable (“Even though we kill millions”) – though I can’t help feeling it is America you hate, more than neocons.” — Geofff

Yes, neocons are despicable. America’s policies overseas are generally outrageous. It’s because I care for America and Americans that I want to make it a better citizen of the world.

I am able to distinguish between the policies of a country and its citizens. However, the concept of “consent” that’s being proposed here is attempting to blur citizen with policy which is extremely dangerous. Let’s face it in a democracy the citizens have to controlled more in order for them to vote and behave for the “correct” outcomes.

Clarification: the ideas that neocons hold are despicable. It’s too harsh to call neocons despicable.

“A state of consent is one that achieves it’s legitimacy to rule from the consent of the people. Normally this will be through democracy, but not necessarily. Typically the definition is expanded to include a set of inalienable rights/human rights that the state cannot infringe upon, even with majority consent of it’s people.”

Who will be deciding legitimacy of others? The US?

The US supports very oppressive regimes, towards minorities or majorities, in the world Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. Is this support legitimate or not legitimate? What if Israel is violating the inalienable rights of others? Is that a form of terror or consent, because the majority of its citizens deem it appropriate to oppress the minority?

Is it not funny that oppressive regimes that the US supports are some how not “terror” states, while they are often more oppressive than non-terror states.

I can assure everyone that the Torah is significantly more violent than the Quran and that the Halakhah is very similar to Sharia, in fact the words have similar meanings. The Torah’s genocidal and xenophobic tendencies are quite troubling. The Quran seems civilized compared to the Torah. No they are not God’s words.

Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran?
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124494788

Iraq now is more a “state of terror” than before the US invasion. The US took a “state of terror” and made it more “state of terror”, in other words, from negative to more negative. This was and continues to be done be an alleged “state of consent”. It must be the fault of the Iraqis (sarcasm).

There is no well established entity called “the Islamists”. There is not a singular movement or culture of “Islamists”. So anyone who says we need to sit down with the “Islamists” doesn’t really understand that Islam is not homogenous and and not singular in interpretation.

Imagine for one moment I said one day we’ll have to sit down and talk to Christianists (my invention of the word). It simply would not make sense. What kind of Christian? What denomination? What nationality? What is the goal? Islam is even more non-homogenous than what we call “christianity”.

There is a civil war going on between Muslims and the US supports one side and switches sides and then supports regimes that oppress Muslim and topples regimes that are becoming democratic, etc. , etc.

I think we need to sit down with Americanists ….

Ugarit, you seem to be mixing the material circumstances of a population with the level of consent that they live under. It is quite possible for a state of terror to be technologically advanced, wealthy with minimal threat to personal safety to those that conform. It is hardly surprising that Iraq’s politics is more sectarian now that it was under Saddam – he after-all quashed any dissent.

You have taken it upon yourself to deride the concept of ‘consent’ as a cult. As far as I am concerned, a state can only be truly legitimate as a state of consent. (This doesn’t necessarily mean democracy.) I’m happy to accept that this is a political position and the fact that we seem to have different views on this would explain the root of our disagreement here.

“Who will be deciding legitimacy of others? The US?”
No-one decides the legitimacy of others. The manner in which a state is governed determines it’s legitimacy. If a state is not operating under the consent of its people and does not protect the unalienable rights of it’s citizens then it cannot be fully legitimate. In these terms, legitimacy is a question of fact, not a dictat from the USA, Walmart you or I.

“The US supports very oppressive regimes, towards minorities or majorities, in the world Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. Is this support legitimate or not legitimate? What if Israel is violating the inalienable rights of others? Is that a form of terror or consent, because the majority of its citizens deem it appropriate to oppress the minority”

Israel is a difficult case since it is in conflict with other states of Terror. When Israel violates the unalienable rights of individuals then it is perpetrating a form of terror even with majority approval of it’s citizens. On the other hand it does have a reasonably well functioning system of democracy and meets the narrow definition of consent when unalienable rights are excluded… but excluding unalienable rights is not what I am proposing. For the record, I’m no fan of Israel and no fan of Hamas.

In terms of the US supporting oppressive states, I could argue it either way. The US could be facilitating the practice or terror, but one could also argue that their support for such regimes is acting as a ‘balance of power’ in the region to counter the threat from other states of Terror. Returning to the example of the Soviet Union in WW2, they were a state of terror, but we allied with them to fight a greater and more threatening form of terror.

On the question of Islamists – I would broadly agree with you. Having said that, there are a series of themes of thinking and motivations that can be identified amongst those that have perpetrated terror in the name of Islam – some of these motivations derive directly from Islam/interpretations of Islam – some of them don’t.

Geofff

Thank for your detailed and thoughtful reply.

I simply think the binary labeling of states of consent or terror very simplistic and seems opportunistic.

These labels can be intentionally biased because there is no scientific way to prove or disprove them. They are political tools to prop or appose nations that are loyal or not loyal to US hegemony.

There is no global agreement on what constitutes terror so I can’t see how labeling a “state of terror” is of any use.

69. Just Visiting

Ugarit

> The US supports very oppressive regimes, towards minorities or majorities, in the world Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Yemen..

You missed Pakistan off that list. Alot of those states are dysfunctional and some semi-stable, and it can be argued that the US and other western countries that ‘support’ them do it with the aim of trying to curb their worst excesses. At the expense of billions to the West – and a good bit of humanitarian aid is in there too.

> There is no well established entity called “the Islamists”. There is not a singular movement or culture of “Islamists”.

That is just not true and not helpful. Of course there is not 100% homogeneity among Islam – but there are definitely many things they hold in common.
You have to do a ‘compare and contrast’ exercise – nit just throw your hands up and say there is no common ground.

For example, mainstream Sunnia and Shia theology both advocate the death penalty for Adultery and Apostasy.
Therefore there is no campaign by prominent maninstream Islamic leaders or scholars against the death penalty for apostates.
I’ve looked for it online. Not even British Mosque’s websites say anything against it.
Therefore it’s not surprising that 2 of my friends here in my small UK market town, being former Muslims, have been assaulted twice by Muslims – first GBH then attempted murder -and have been forced to move away.
The people who attacked them believe they are following Islam, and indeed in this case they are.

So Ugarit. We’ve heard your problems with the neocons and the USA.

What role do you see for Muslim leaders, nations and the OIC in the issue of reducing Islamist violence?

Just following:

You’re right I missed Pakistan.

You do realize that both mainstream Judaism and Islam proscribe death for apostasy. I’m sure that Christianity would too if it held power over the state. For goodness sake Judaism proscribes death for breaking the Sabbath.

The difference is in modern and acceptable behavior. Many Muslims still have a mediaeval religious education. The problem isn’t only the content of their religious books. The problem is what they focus on. I just wish people would stop believing that these primitive books are the word of God and we just move on. Yes, I would be executed in Saudi Arabia for these thoughts.

I don’t disagree that the behavior of the Muslims you describe is extremely dangerous and unacceptable. Let’s face it the Muslims you describe have received a very primitive form of religious education. By definition religion is primitive, in my view.

I would like the west to stop supporting extremist states like Saudi Arabia. They are able to propagate their primitive thinking because they have the cash. The major cause of the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan is because the US allows Saudi extremist elements to operate there with near impunity. When the US supported elements in Lebanon against the Syrian occupation they started supporting extremist Sunni religious elements. But the West is so manipulated in thinking that who they support is more modern and acceptable. As an example, the US support of the Hariri’s included support of extremist Wahhabi/Salafist elements in Hariri’s government.

Also the US appears to be supporting the Muslim Brotherhood against the Syrian secular regime. A regime that should be encouraged to become democratic. But due to the US’ irrational support for Israel it can’t distinguish a modern state from a primitive one.

The US and the West use extremist primitive Muslims as a weapon against regimes that are not in line with the west’s expectations. Example, Hamas was supported and encourage by Israel when a secular PLO was powerful.

Imagine for a moment what the consequences would be if a superpower provided power and cover to extremist and primitive Jewish or Christian thinking? Supporting a country based on the supposed word of God and where God is real-estate agent.

The US is on the wrong side of history.

Let’s ask our selves, what would an “Islamist” call himself. I highly doubt they call themselves that. So what would they call themselves? Shouldn’t we find out?

What is the west going to do about this type of Christianist who is truly applying what the bible stands for http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAy1NO6_Z-g

“Elections, greater personal liberty, women’s rights, more secular societies, less theocratic rulers… the list goes on.” — Geofff claims

Read it and weep pal…….

“Victory” in Iraq
Posted by Joe Klein Friday, October 1, 2010 at 8:05 pm

It now appears that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is going to form a new government–with the support of none other than Muqtada Sadr, who is always called a “radical cleric” by the western media and whose Mahdi Army militia inflicted some of the worst losses on the U.S. military during the recent war. Sadr is a curious figure–a populist nationalist who is intermittently close to Iran (right now he’s in a ‘close’ phase). He spent the last several years in Iran, studying in Qom, the religious center of Shi’ism. His long-term plan probably doesn’t involve civilian government, but perhaps religious authority on the order of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most revered figure in both Iraq and Qom. Some say Sadr doesn’t have the chops to be an ayatollah; he does have the family roots, however–both his father and uncle were revered figures, murdered by Saddam Hussein.

The Maliki-Sadr deal raises an absolutely crucial question: what about the Sunnis? This is precisely the government that the Sunni minority feared; they backed secularist Ayad Allawi, the top vote getting in last spring’s elections, who will now be firmly shut out of power. This may see a revival of the Sunni insurgency that David Petraeus quelled with cash in 2007.

And what about, well…us? It is not certain that the Maliki-Sadr alliance will tilt toward Iran. Sadr has been anti-outsiders of all sorts in the past. But this does look like something less than the “victory” that John McCain and others were noisily touting last month. It looks, in fact, like an ongoing mess.”

the US will unleash extremist sunni terror on the shia, oh they already did that.

75. Just Visiting

Ugarit

> You do realize that both mainstream Judaism and Islam proscribe death for apostasy.

I did know islam does.

I find it hard to believe that Judaism does – what is your source document?

> I’m sure that Christianity would too if it held power over the state.

It doesn’t mattre if you are ‘sure’ or not.
It’s the facts that count.
Show us your sources – where Christian theologians or Bishops or leaders etc have made the case for such killing.

I don’t know where you live, but here in Britain church attendance hs dropped sharply in the last 20 or whatever years – but I don’t recall a single bishop, vicar or theologian advocating violence to get them back in the pews!

I’m afraid you are not basing your worldview on facts, but on false notions that are for whatever reason attractive to you.

Lastly – my last post to you only contained one question – you missed it.
Have you a good respond to it?:
> What role do you see for Muslim leaders, nations and the OIC in the issue of reducing Islamist violence?

76. Just Visiting

Sally 73

Only time will tell how much of a mess it proves to be.

There are those who argue that ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’.

Whether of Iraq going back to sectarianism, violence and unconsensual government – or of Nigeria and it’s corruption.

I wonder if any anthropologists have examined failing nations – to see if the mainstream culture of the countries is a strong determinant?

Just Visiting:

You are mixing up what is in the “Holy” books and how people behave in the modern era. You seem to think that if a Jew or a Christian behaves in a civil manner then it is because their “Holy” book is civil. I am saying that they are civil because they have modernized, and not because their “Holy” books are civil. In fact, the Old Testament/Torah is far from civil.

Interpretations of the “Holy” books change but those books don’t change much. So it’s not the books but something else. How apostasy is dealt with changes but the texts in the “Holy” books stating what much be done to apostates doesn’t change much. I don’t think you’ve been reading the Old Testament/Torah. Please do so and you will be disgusted. Checkout http://tinyurl.com/Deuteronomy13-6-11 “You must certainly put him to death”.

But you’re going to tell me that that part of the Bible is no longer followed, blah, blah, blah, and you would be right but not because the Old Testament/Torah is a book of peace but because its interpretations and implementations have become civilized and hence non-Biblical. The same must take place in the “Muslim world”. Muslims can’t change their much milder Quran but they can change the interpretations. This is what scares the Wahhabis and Salafists and hence the violence. There is a civil war going on amongst Muslims and the US/UK “Christian” axis is making things much much worse.

You are saying that if a Muslim behaves violently, in the name of his religion, it is because of their “Holy” book but when a Jew, a Christian or a Hindu behaves violently, in the name of their religion, then it’s because they misunderstood their religion or they are crazy. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus etc. can all find justification to commit horrors against others and they have and sadly they will continue to do so.

The Torah is far more violent than the Quran and by the way the Torah tends to be genocidal. Some Jews use the Torah to commit acts of terror against non-Jews. Any educated person would know that the permitted acts within “Holy” books can be used for good or for ill.

Let me ask you: What role do you see for Christian leaders and nations in the issue of reducing “Christian” violence?

Why is US/UK violence against Iraq not considered “Christian” violence, when even Bush said this is a crusade (he later retracted but the damage was done) and many US soldiers invoke the name of Christ prior and during battle?

For goodness sake the US/UK “Christian” axis facilitates the deaths of over a million Iraqis and facilitated the migration of millions and you are asking me about the role of Muslim leaders? Order your “Christian” leaders to call back the dogs of war.

78. Just Visiting

Ugarit

Why do you fail to support your own statements, when questioned?

Any chance of answering my specific questions, one by one?

Just following

“Why do you fail to support your own statements, when questioned? Any chance of answering my specific questions, one by one?”

I would but the premise behind most of your questions seems weak at best. I’m trying to show you that your thought process is incomplete. It reminds of religious extremists. You want a black and white answer, but there is no such thing.

I see that you are attempting to dodge the issue of violence in the Old Testament. I don’t hide the violence in the Quran nor the violence of Muslims. I do see the causes of the violence differently than you, however.

And tell me who are these “Muslim” leaders? How would you know what a Muslim leader is? What if one Muslim leader says what you want to hear and another that doesn’t what then? Do you think there is some certification program for Muslim leaders so the westerner can say: oh, there is a Muslim leader and let’s ask him to condemn the latest violence. Because you somehow know that every single violent act a Muslim commits is because they are Muslim and their “Holy” book tells them to do it.

You know I am an American that lives in the US. Often there are vial and hateful statements, that are made by “Christian” “clergy” and Rabbi’s and they can get away with it. Calling gentiles animals, stating that the killing of gentile babies may be permitted, etc., etc. If a Muslim did the same they would be in jail and/or deported and their religion would be blamed.

I look beyond religion because religion is a form of mental illness.

80. Just Visiting

Ok Ugarit, I give up.

You make wild statements, then are unwilling to support them in anyway.
You ignore simple questions.
Then throw wild accusations and questions at other posters.

Acting like that, suggests that you are not here for a meaningful debate – but either to troll, or to grandstand.

It’s clear that you have swallowed unquestioningly some of the more unpleasant anti-semitism that appears to circulate freely in some Muslim countries (“Rabbis….stating that the killing of gentile babies may be permitted”).

In the words of the Dragons – I’m out.

My, admittedly sketchy, knowledge of the qu’ran/koran tells me that it specifies the death penalty for leaving the faith, adultery, and various other things.
Now, I appreciate that there are other verses which promote tolerance, forgiveness etc but it seems to me that the death penalty thing is pretty clear and it’s also clear that, if you’re a muslim, you believe that the qu’ran is the word of god. I, therefore, don’t see how it’s possible to be a muslim without believing in killing people who leave the faith. This leads me to conclude that, pretty much however you dress it up, islam requires it’s adherents to either commit violent acts or to condone them.

Just following:

Ok here’s the link from a reputable Israeli newspaper that talks about the Rabbi who endorses the killing of gentile babies:

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/who-is-funding-the-rabbi-who-endorses-killing-gentile-babies-1.4005

Are you going to run away from this one too? Perhaps it’s in the Bible?

Read it carefully. So I suppose you’re going to now call the Haaretz an anti-semitic newspaper. Like I said religion is a mental illness and it exhibits itself in Christianity, Islam and Judaism and others.

Please tell us what you find in the Old Testament when you begin to read it and then you can lecture Muslims about the Quran.

Grumpy:

You are right about the Quran, but before you lecture folks about what the Quran has in it please read the Old Testament/Torah and tell us what you find about killing non-believers. BTW, I am not a Muslim and I view religion as a form of mental illness.

In fact I’ll make it easy for you, look here:

http://tinyurl.com/Deuteronomy13-6-11


If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 ****You must certainly put him to death****. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again

Very pleasant (sarcasm). Isn’t it?

Just following:

Also, I would recommend that you read about the history of christianity. It’s replete with the killings of unbelievers and heretics and its spread by violence.

The death of each heretic is death due to being an apostate. Oh and the inquisition, let’s not forget that.

Grumpy:

“My, admittedly sketchy, knowledge of the qu’ran/koran tells me that it specifies the death penalty for leaving the faith, adultery, and various other things.”

Yes your are right, but you make it seem as if it were out of the norm.

The Old Testament/Torah proscribes death to apostates, death to anyone who worships other gods, death to adulterers, death to Sabbath breakers, genital mutilation of males (called purification!), etc., etc., etc. I can provide you with references if you like.

The Quran is very mild when compared to the Old Testament/Torah.

A religion is not judged only by what it’s holy books say but also by the beliefs and more importantly, actions of it’s followers. Islam, Christianity and Judaism all have horrible things included in their holy books. Having said that, it is largely irrelevant which book says the nastiest things. The real issue is the effect these teachings have on the real world – and this comes down to the interpretations and fanatacism of the religion’s followers.

I am also an atheist. I have no horse in this race, but from my perspective at least, TODAY Islam is the motivation for for far more terrorism than Christianity or Judaism. This has not been the case in the past, and may not be the case in the future.

Geofff:

Thank you for your rational perspective. Your last point is very similar to what I’ve been trying to say but I think you’ve said it better.

@83 Ugarit, I think you may have misunderstood the point I was making. Probably because I didn’t make it very well.

I wasn’t lecturing anyone, just stating my interpretation of a small part of the qu’ran which is, I was careful to admit, based upon a shaky knowledge of that document. That said, if I did choose to lecture people on what the qu’ran says I don’t think I’d be, in any way, duty bound to read the old testament (or, for that matter, the new testament, the torah or any of the Harry Potter books). The unpleasantness of some of what the qu’ran says isn’t diminished, or affected at all, by what’s said in any other books. It’s not a requirement for someone expressing a negative view of islam to, at the same time, express a negative view of other religions any more than it’s a requirement for someone expressing a negative view of, say, violence by Basque terrorists to add the caveat that Irish terrorists are also violent. The two have nothing to do with each other. To put it another way, I’m turning your statement round to say “don’t YOU lecture ME on who I can and can’t criticise or the manner in which I do it.”

That said, I actually think you’re making some pretty valid points and I’m not opposed to your overall argument. I also agree that the last paragraph in Geoff’s post sums things up quite well.

@88 Grumpy:

You’re right. I should not have used the word lecturing. It’s not very useful and can be rude. I could have communicated more effectively. Fair enough.

Let me ask you this question. Since you now know that the Bible ALSO proscribes death for many things that you mentioned that the Quran proscribes death for, would you write either one of the statements?

This leads me to conclude that, pretty much however you dress it up, *Christianity* requires it’s adherents to either commit violent acts or to condone them.

or

This leads me to conclude that, pretty much however you dress it up, *Judaism* requires it’s adherents to either commit violent acts or to condone them.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that you would write either one of the above statements, because you would immediately realize that they are too general and not constructive.

@89 I would write both. Christianity and judaism both have those requirements. Most christians, jews and, I think, muslims probably wouldn’t act on said requirements but the fact remains that they exist.

It’s not terribly fashionable to point these facts out and religious apologists tend to get all worked up and over – excited when someone does, which is hardly surprising. The more barbaric passages in the “holy” texts are an embarassment to them. They are a reminder of the irational and primitive elements of their belief system and the argument, frequently relied upon in various forms, that such texts aren’t meant to be taken literally is quite difficult (impossible would be more accurate) to deploy when the sections of the text in question make it perfectly clear that the only acceptable reading is a literal one. If you’ve invested a great deal, personally, in adherence to a belief system which is based entirely on a particular text because that text was written/dictated/revealed by god then it’s bound to create a few conflicts when parts of that text are shown to require you to condone or do things which are just plain wrong. That’s why “believers,” other than fundamentalist nutters of all persuasions, will do whatever they can to avoid the issue. That’s why your description of religion as mental illness has a lot to be said for it. I would add that, fundamentalist nutters apart, it’s a form of mental illness which usually doesn’t make the sufferer much of a threat to the rest of us. Unless, of course, the sufferer in question happens to be, say, the pope or in charge of a boarding school.

91. Just Visiting

So if there is agreement that Geofffs point is valid:

> TODAY Islam is the motivation for for far more terrorism than Christianity or Judaism.

Then the next obvious question – is what should the role of Imams, Muslim theologians, Muslim leaders and the OIC be: regards Islamic Terrorism.

Could we or should we expect for example – British Mosque websites to make statements against terrorism?

And if they don’t, what does that tell us?

@91 “TODAY Islam is the motivation for for far more terrorism than Christianity or Judaism. ”

You missed an important bit:

“This has not been the case in the past, and may not be the case in the future.”

90 Unless, of course, the sufferer in question happens to be, say, the pope or in charge of a boarding school.

So were the 9/11 bombers and the 7/7 bombers Popes and/or in charge of boarding schools? My guess is that they were neither…however they were fanatic Moslems. Does that make a difference to your analysis?

@92 “So were the 9/11 bombers and the 7/7 bombers Popes and/or in charge of boarding schools? My guess is that they were neither…however they were fanatic Moslems. Does that make a difference to your analysis?”

No, why would it? I think you missed the point. Completely.

The OIC is a worthless organization run mostly by dictatorial thugs. I would rather condemn them than ask them to condemn anything. No respectable Muslim would regard the OIC legitimate (or Saudi Arabia for that matter) or worthy of being asked to condemn anything.

Most Muslims are so disappointed with their so called leaders and their current predicament. Most feel powerless and shell shocked and the ones that want to make a positive difference are either killed by extremist Muslims or by the US/UK extremist axis.

Muslims are victims of US/UK terror, terror by their state and terror by some of their co-religionists. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Muslims are in a civil war akin to the Protestant Catholic wars of Europe or the Greek Orthodoxy against Syrian Monophysite Christians.

OIC==Organization of Islamic Conference
Moderate==quite regime that follows US’ dictates

I’m not sure there is an international agreement on what constitutes terrorism.

Many in the world consider the US/UK aggressions as a form of terrorism.

I would exclude any form of attack on any military target as a form of terrorism. The hijacking of an airliner full of passengers is terrorism but attacking the Pentagon is not a form of terror. It’s an act of war.

There isn’t an international agreement on what consitutes terrorism as without it becoming an issue of perspective it needs to take into account the actions and nature of the state. States of terror are certainly not willing to agree to such a definition and states of consent are also unwilling to support such a definition as they don’t want to open the potential of them being accused of terrorism if (and when) they cross fit the definition.

@Grumpy: Actually, the important bit was what he quoted – the “TODAY”. The situation today is what needs to be responded to.

Just visiting is making a valid point about the pronouncements (or lack of them) from key figures in the muslim community. If al-Qaeda’s actions and objectives are so unrepresentative of the faith, I am surprised there is not more explicit statements to that effect. Perhaps there isn’t anyone that speaks for islam, but there are certainly those that can speak for significant consituencies.

“I would exclude any form of attack on any military target as a form of terrorism. The hijacking of an airliner full of passengers is terrorism but attacking the Pentagon is not a form of terror. It’s an act of war.”
IMO, that’s not a workable exclusion. If a military target belonging to a state of consent is attacked by a group (say anti-abortion campaginers) for political reasons with an intention for the attack to spread fear outside of that specific target then that is terrorism.

Forgetting that it was a hijacked airliner full of passengers (and that there were 3 other targets), on what grounds would you say that an attack on the Pentagon is a ‘just’ act?

@97 Geoffff asked: “… what grounds would you say that an attack on the Pentagon is a ‘just’ act?”

Don’t know, but what I had said is that an attack on the Pentagon is an act of war regardless of it being just or not.

@97 Geoffff said “Just visiting is making a valid point about the pronouncements (or lack of them) from key figures in the muslim community. ”

How do you know that there were no “pronouncements” from members of the Muslim community?

A simple google search yields Muslim pronouncements ( http://tinyurl.com/45v8z ) that condemn terrorism by Muslims and non-Muslims.

Who would you consider key figure in the Muslim community?
How would you know who is a key figure or not?

“Second, heaping an expectation on Muslims – to call out “their” criminals – is absurd when no similar expectation is placed on any other religious, ethnic, or ideological group. Is it appropriate for a white man to tell “the hispanics” to make proclamations against the drug trade? Why should a hispanic who has never even touched drugs speak out against drug lords? His abstention from engaging in the drug trade is condemnation enough. The same goes for Muslims and terrorism.” — http://tinyurl.com/yrzrog

“..reality is that condemnations of terrorism [by Muslims] have been pouring in for years. The reasons that so many Americans are still ignorant about them are because they have willfully chosen not to pay attention. ” — http://tinyurl.com/yrzrog

Here’s a google search: http://tinyurl.com/2djcw5m
Here’s a yahoo search: http://tinyurl.com/23jad4m
Here’s a bing search: http://tinyurl.com/3482fpg

“There is something wrong with the basic premise of the idea that Muslims must condemn terrorism, because at the end of the day there is no such thing as The Muslim Collective.” — http://tinyurl.com/yrzrog

98

“Don’t know, but what I had said is that an attack on the Pentagon is an act of war regardless of it being just or not.”

Of course the attack on the Pentagon, or any other such action, is neither just nor an act of war, any more than any of the countless other outrages perpetrated by such deluded murderers is an act of war.

This is pretty basic stuff, International Relations 101. Dignifying the crimes of some bunch of sectarian/religious/ideological/racist wing-nuts as in any way legitimate because they are an act of war, or a response to attacks on one’s made up religion/ideology simply won’t wash.

102. Galen10:

I think you misunderstood. An act of war is nothing heroic, just or unjust. I get the impression that you think that somehow an act of war is more glorious. It’s not.

An act of war is a more aggressive form of violence than terrorism because it targets a more formidable target.

103 ugarit

I didn’t misunderstand, you’re just not very coherent.

I said nothing about whether war was heroic, glorious or not.

The attack on the Pentagon simply does not qualify as an act of war; it was a terrorist act of mass murder carried out by a bunch of criminals. It is no more an act of war than the 7/7 bombings in London, the Atocha station bombing in Madrid, the Mumbai attacks, the Bali bombings.

Similarly, it cannot in any way be seen as “just” since it involved the slaughter of innocent civilians.

Simple really.

Imagine for a moment if a Muslim had said this:

“The sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews, according to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages and a senior Sephardi adjudicator.”

The quote is from the very “anti-semitic” Israeli Jerusalem Post http://tinyurl.com/2b5njk9

Religion is a mental illness.


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