Monday, August 14, 2006

The War for Terror

Dear People With Bombs: Just what exactly do you hope to accomplish?

I am so depressed lately. We can't learn. It just seems to me sometimes that mankind is so disastrously arrogant; we refuse to learn from our mistakes, because we refuse to admit we've made any mistakes. And so we go on and on in the same way, making the same mistakes time after time, and congratulate ourselves for our strength and resolve in the face of adversity, when that strength is distilled from pure cowardice and the hubris that refuses to allow us to examine whether what we are pursuing is morally correct or even possible.

Everyone thinks they can kill enough of "the other guy" to intimidate them into backing down. But there is no "enough." The only way to stop the cycle of violence is to stop the cycle of violence by refusing to engage in it.

Israel thinks it can protect its citizens by doing more of what for sixty years now has enraged the people who threaten them, even though it's never worked. Hamas and Hezbollah think they can get Israel to follow international law by slaughtering civilians on buses and in crowded cafes or lobbing rockets over the border.

President Bush seems to think this is all fine. Israel's just defending itself, right? Even though Israel has for forty years been occupying land that wasn't part of the deal. Even though for sixty years, Israel's been making refugees out of millions of people in their own ancestral homeland, walling them into slums and excluding them from participating in the government. Israel is no more a democracy than South Africa was during apartheid.

But President Bush has a singularly warped view of reality, himself. President Bush thinks tens of thousands of lives are an acceptable price for having put one man in jail. President Bush sees no reason to acknowledge that his justifications for the invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation that had not threatened us and, indeed, had no capacity to do so, were -- shall I be generous? -- exaggerated. (Less generous: baseless. Harsh: fabricated.) President Bush thinks if you shoot/bomb/imprison/torture enough terr'ists they'll begin to understand your point of view. President Bush thinks children who saw their mother disappear in the flame of a bomb or were spattered with their father's blood as shrapnel ripped through his brain will grow up to be grateful that we imprisoned Saddam Hussein.

We call that collateral damage, apparently.

Everyone sinks to everyone else's level. The wearing of a uniform and the receiving of an official paycheck does not legitimize acts of violence aimed at achieving a political agenda. Terrorism -- attempting to scare people into doing what you want -- is terrorism.

And what really kills me -- and I use that word deliberately, as I work in Lower Manhattan just steps from the World Trade Center, living my life in Al Qaeda's bull's eye, because it just may -- is that everyone claims to be doing this for God.

But God doesn't ask us to hold strangers blood-guilty for wrongs visited on us. God is not pleased with suicide bombings or rocket attacks or the bulldozing of homes or waterboarding or cluster bombs or laser-guided missiles. God doesn't want us to avenge killing, he wants us to stop killing.

He wants Us. To Stop. Killing.

Not to get "other people" to stop killing. Us. To Stop. Killing.

60 comments:

little-cicero said...

Where in the Bible does God sound like a pacifist.

I agree that he doesn't want us to kill, but for God's sake (I mean that literally) it is imperative that we understand what God truly seeks among his people.

Justice.

Not peace. Justice.

We're only human. We can't always tell what's just or unjust, but according to His word we can try, that we may better serve His will.

DJRainDog said...

The problem, l-c, is that our current government is not pursuing justice, is not trying, is not encouraging others to do the right thing, and the American people, by and large, apparently do not care. God help us all.

Anonymous said...

Please LC,
You want to defend the acts Andy described (killing, torture, ect...)by telling us that we must satisy God, by enforcing justice through military might?
Who's justice? America's justice because you think we are the only ones who have the correct answer to all injustice? Who's stopping our injustices? Or don't we commit any?

little-cicero said...

Anonymous, let me answer you by quoting myself "We're only human. We can't always tell what's just or unjust, but according to His word we can try, that we may better serve His will."

DJ- You can't tell whether a person, much less an administration, is exerting effort on administering justice and to what degree. I think they are and you think that they aren't. I believe that we did justice simply by eliminating Saddam Hussein from power. I believe that we did justice by delivering sovereignty to millions of Iraqis.

Travis said...

I am afraid I don't follow your logic Andy -- you seem to be implying that it is not only bad when other countries kill people... but that when America kills people it is bad as well.

Why are you so doggone unpatriotic?

Gino said...

is it justice for israel to attack hezbollah? how bout for the lebanese to defend their cities?

i dont know what God you refer too, but the God i read about in the bible required all of those 'His people' to kill on a fairly regular basis.

and who was that guy who slew hundreds of philistines for possession of a bean field?
all that blood... for what? a hill of beans?
beans?!?!?!

and lets not forget that angel of death versus all the first born of egypt idea.

Gino said...

cicerino,
the USA is not pursuing justice.
it is pursuing policy.
as it always has.

personally, i'm waiting for the catholics and orthodox to decide they want their holy land back, and then i'll root for them.

until then...
i care not who wins, only who is more weakened when they face off against us.

chiron said...

Andy: Thanks a million. This is so true.
LC: I am going to speak to you and to any Christianist, who thinks Millenial History, including the tribulation, is a rational discourse and course for the foreign policy of our leaders - and Isreal's and Syria's and Iran's - and who thinks it righteous to pursue apocalyse as a Final Solution to the problems of the "oppressed." The justice you describe is not ours to carry out! The history described in Biblical text is not God's plan, but the workings of Satan and his influence in human history recorded by prophets. God has a plan to save us, and he lifts His hand of protection to let us suffer the consequences of our own shitting idiocy, but he does not torture us himself. God alone deals justice finally and completely, and the plot is so full of reversals that your poor pathetic mind can never, and will never, figure out just where the US stands in the midst of it all. We are here to find a path of peace. Let what history may have been prophesied by John be carried out by the Satanic forces, if such a thing exists! In the meantime, let the rest of us with rational minds, given us by God, determine what peace we can salvage out of this unholy mess! And for God's sake, let us vote progressive and Democratic. I hope I never hear from another Fundamentalist again unless it be their complaits to St. Peter for being seated next to the gay table at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the main entertainment of which, btw, is an in-gathering of wild fowl and beasts who feed on the flesh of the infidels slain by the Word of God on the fields of Armageddon. How's that for wedding entertainment?! Look, I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'. God help us all.

Andy said...

but the God i read about in the bible required all of those 'His people' to kill on a fairly regular basis.

Keep reading. Things change once you get to the New Testament.

DJRainDog said...

l-c: I wrote an entire post jumping off from the Lord's statement, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." THAT is how one may judge whether a person, or an administration, is striving for justice, and to what degree. You believe that justice was administered in the removal of Hussein from power? Really? And that the thousands of lives which were lost, and men, women and children who were maimed in the process were acceptable collateral damage? For shame. And you believe that we've delivered sovereignty to the Iraqi people? You're clueless. The Iraqis are as occupied now by American forces as the Judaeans were by the Romans in Christ's time. And they're reacting in much the same way. He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it.

Chiron: Looks like I was trying to schedule face-time over lunch or dinner while I was in Chicago with the wrong guy; I'd be honored to have a chat with you next time I'm around...

Andy said...

Count me in on the lunch date with Chiron. : )

And now back to our regularly scheduled flame war.

DJRainDog said...

It's not a flame war; it's educating the ignorant. *sigh* The trouble is that there are so bloody many of them.

little-cicero said...

Um... DJ, I think that was a flame.

I'm not a fireman or anything, but I know a flame when I see one! :)

Nathan said...

Andy,

I had just the same thoughts yesterday as I listened to Meet the Press (A singularly depressing show, totally useless and and sound bite driven...come to think of it, I'd rather bash my head against the wall many times before I listen to Condelleza Rice talk about opportunity again). Thanks for articulating this thought...

Not fighting, choosing peace over war, is courageous, not cowardice.

Andy said...

Where in the Bible does God sound like a pacifist. [sic]

Gee, ermmm, I don't know...perhaps Matthew 5:38-42.

Or also perhaps Luke 6:27-36.

You might also consider Romans 3:8-11.

chiron said...

Andy, DJ RainDog: Aw shucks. I like you too.
LC: I'm sorry for the hard words. When I said pathetic mind, believe me, I include my own in the mix, and I've had a short fuse lately because militant fundamentalists have pissed in the global bowl of cheerios.

Andy said...

militant fundamentalists have pissed in the global bowl of cheerios

Well...there's a metaphor I've not run across before.

kr pdx said...

Gino, I apologize that I am taking issue with something you said so soon after our other exchange, during which you were extremely charitable. Please recognize I am not reacting to you, just this idea.

(Everyone: I cut the heck out of this to get it this short. Sorry it's still so long.)

---
catholics and orthodox to decide they want their holy land back

God allowed the Temple in Jerusalem--His physical Holy Place--to be destroyed. We never, in Christian history, have been gifted "a land" in the Israelite/Old Testament sense. Christians have a different Promised Land ... I can see four parts of this "land"--or, rather, this "promise":

1) Most importantly, in the New Testament, we are presented as each of us a Temple Of God. This makes defending our Holy Temple Grounds both less destructive and more ... um ... personally challenging ;)! ... both hallmarks, in my experience, of the life of holiness to which God calls us.

2) All of God's creation was given to us (people), in the Bible. (To a somehow lesser extent, also given to the other living things.) Wouldn't it be great if we chose to react to the enormous gift of our Holy Lands (the world/the universe) with gratitude and care, and a generosity that reflected God's generosity?

3) Less corporeally, the Kingdom of God is here. Our job: start living in it.
This is The Gospel, straight up.

4) And of course the final, mysterious, aspect of the Christian "Holy Land"--our "Promised Land," towards which all our journeying should be aimed and because of which we keep faith in the deserts of our lives--would be "Heaven:" life (of a type we don't understand) in God's direct presence forever.

---

None of these would justify a military takeover of anyplace, as far as I can see--although defending what one has might be justified.

Freeing a people from a tyrant, maybe ... but that would absolutely require making sure they were "free" (of yourself, of imposed death and suffering, etc.) after said tyrant was removed. Life is messy; imperfection (including death and suffering) happens ... but rampant stupidity and chosen lack of responsibility should be avoidable, with effort.

kr pdx said...

Israel/Hezzbollah/Lebanon: I would have hoped we, as individuals and as a nation, would respond to their human tragedy not with, "You made your bed, now lie in it," but with "I am sorry for your pain"--the same mercy we received from most of the world on 9/11. Pity in neither case there was a clear, clean humanitarian course of action obvious, at the national scale.

That leaves it to us little guys. What are you doing to relieve the violence in the Middle East? (And how do we each, individually, support the violence in the world?)

Gino said...

kr pdx aej xyz...
or whatever the alphabet soup is:

follow these steps:
1.place your tongue firmly in your cheek.
2.cop a sarcastic 'tude.
3.return to my post, and read it again.

you dont really know me well, but in time, you will.
eventually,as a result, you'll come to love me.
and passionately so.

what i'm speaking to is the thought process that says 'this land is ours,God said so'.
since i am neither muslim nor jew, any 'God' claims they make are bogus to me, since they come from flawed theologies.
being a catholic, any faith that differs theologically from my own is... well, i'll just say, less than fully accurate.

ergo, i can readily make my own claim to the land based upon their own percieved right to make a claim.
so i have.
only members of the apostolic faiths have legitimate claim to any holy land anywhere.
jerusalem isnt holy because of judaism, or islam. it is holy for the role it played in chrsitianity.
being a christian, how the hell can i accept any claim from another faith based upon their inacurate theology to have any precedence over my own?

i'm playing their game, according to their rules, as applied by my true facts, not their false ones.


also, i understand christian theology fairly well. its not likely you can teach me anything, but i'll keep my ears selectively open to you anyway, just in case you drop a pearl i didnt previously see.

little-cicero said...

Yes, I know Jesus was a pacifist Andy, but he is Jesus. We're talking about his Father here. Jesus was giving instructions to human being of the Christian era. His father gave some very different instructions hundreds and thousands of years before.

Do the pacifist teachings of Christ which were sent down from God mean that God is a pacifist? No way Jose! They signify that God doesn't want us killing each other out of pride, lust and all other (seven deadly) sinful purposes. Justice is not among those purposes.

My justification for that statement is that when Christ speaks of non-violence, he is speaking of vengence. It is a sin to kill out of vengence- God tells us that in the Old Testament. That was something that needed clarification at the time because vengence was [as it is today] mistaken for justice. I see nothing in the sermon on the mount specifying that it is wrong to kill a murderer.

As I wrote in my last post, it is only the immature that prefer peace to justice. God is the least immature being I know.

Andy said...

KR, I was hoping you'd comment on this, and you did not disappoint with your wonderful contribution.

The decision to use force is of course a difficult one, but presumably necessary at times. I am not prepared to say that America should have refrained from participation in World War II, for example.

I really like your points -- the Kingdom of God isn't just here, it's WITHIN us, according to Luke.

Andy said...

Well, LC, here you and I have a different understanding. You seem also to be implying that the nature of the Trinity includes room for dissent between Father & Son (and presumably Holy Spirit). Uhmmm...not sure that's supportable.

The Bible was not written by God, it was written by men. And the Old Testament was written by men who had a flawed understanding of God's will, hence the necessity of Jesus to come to us personally and clarify that "an eye for an eye" is not God's will; that wasn't a "change," that was a correction of the flawed principles of Judean culture, of which there were many.

I see nothing in the sermon on the mount specifying that it is wrong to kill a murderer.

But we're not killing murderers. We're killing women and children and fathers. And when I say "we," I mean "we" in the sense that Christians mean when they say they believe in the unity of mankind. No more "us" and "them," that is a false way of thinking.

kr pdx said...

Ah, Gino, and I in fact did not think you took the idea seriously ... but having the idea presented as if it had (or someday might have) credence within Catholicism feeds people who already hate "Catholicism" with more fuel for their fire, however baseless the fuel might be. Per my note to you, I wasn't trying to teach you anything at all ... I was trying to point out why Zionism should not in any way be attributed to Catholicism. In the environment here, which can be (understandably) quite condemnatory toward Catholicism, I am in the habit of defending my faith.

Because I too am a Catholic who cares very deeply and has done quite a lot of studying. And I will pay you the same respect you offer, which is the same respect I try to pay everyone but which I would phrase less ... self-sufficiently: to listen for truthful insights in our shared journey.

And: I do have a sense of humor, which I have spent years transforming from Viscious to merely Wicked. Since being Catholic is hurtful enough to many people here, I rarely set out my conscious stingers. Which is, overall, probably good practice ... speaking of not encouraging cultural violence ;).

little-cicero said...

I'm not saying there's dissent between the Father and Son. I said that the Father, in fact told the Son what to say. That the Father said one thing and the Son said another does not dissent make. There is always more than one way to reach a single goal. In this case, the goal of the Trinity is justice. The Holy Spirit achieves justice through manifestation of souls. The Father achieves justice through force and authority. The Son achieves justice through LOVE. They are all viable paths to justice.

kr pdx said...

Jesus (as presented in the Bible) was not a pacifist. At least not in the "no physical violence" sense I think professed pacifists mean nowadays.

I hate to credit Karl Rove with so much savvy, but the scheduled readings the Sunday after we invaded Iraq were the driving the moneychangers out with a whip Gospel (not even the non-whip version) and an OT, psalm, and NT reading that also suggested that physical violence associated with God's will is a throughline, not merely a cultural artifact negated by the NT.

Haven't worked out all the ramifications of that one--but it stuck out at the time.

Gino said...

kr xya pdx iou...or whatever that was:

i'm liking you! :)

Andy said...

Yes, but KR, you are missing an obvious and important distinction here. Jesus IS God. Note that Jesus did not say to His disciples, "Take ye these stones and chase the moneylenders from out my Father's house!" If God chooses to use violence for His own ends, fine, but nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus encourage US to do violence in His name.

Actually it's just the opposite. Refer again to the passage from Luke I linked to. Plus, there's nothing in the Bible that says Jesus actually hit anybody with the whip, and only John (as I recall) mentions the whip. (We might also point out that Matthew, Mark & Luke all place the cleansing of the temple during the last week of Jesus' life, while John has it as one of the first events of Jesus' ministry. Biblical literalists end up claiming that Jesus cleared the temple twice, even though no single Gospel gives any indication that it happened more than once.) That Jesus took up a whip as physical symbol of his divine power does not mean he used it.

More importantly, though, we are to look to the Crucifixion. The people committed the ultimate blasphemy: they demanded the murder of God. They denied his identity, they beat him, they spit on him, they mocked him and then they killed him in brutal fashion. Surely at no point in world history would God ever have been more justified in using violence to punish evildoers; can there be a greater sin than the murder of God? And yet Christ submitted to the atrocity, and when He was dead, God did nothing. This is the example we are to follow.

What is this life here on earth? Why act in a way to save our mortal body that costs our immortal soul? Better to die a humble victim and live on in glory than to live a warrior and disappear.

Andy said...

Gino, get with the program. PDX is the International Air Transport Association code for Portland, Oregon. Sheesh.

little-cicero said...

I thought it was short for "crosswalk" at first!

Gino said...

lax pdx atl dfw sna...
whatever.

portland.
i drove thru it last year headed north(and then back again).

they gots the worlds scarriest bridge there.
almost peed my pants.
seriously.
i hate bridges.
vancouver wasnt much fun either...

have i told you i was bridge-a-phobic?
if you ever want to see a brave fearless manly man turn sissy real quick like, put me on a bridge. in the outside lane.

i tried to go around that portland monstrosity on the return ride, but before i could find the exit, i found myself back on that damn bridge.
in was the guy going 10mpr, and sweating profusely, with cars backed up behind him, and everybody else waving a salute.

kr pdx said...

Andy, :). I see both of us have only gotten more convinced since the Iraq War started.

I was objecting to LC saying, 'yes, Jesus a pacifist.'

As I noted, I haven't figured out the ramifications of that whip passage--nor do I expect to, really, but rather I expect to muddle along as best I can, while I keep trying to figure it out. Your points are valuable. I spent half a day revising this response.

I am fully aware of the current (well, of the late 20th c, which I assume haven't changed too much) scholarly opinions regarding the literal reliability of the Gospel of John. I also was aware that even John, who gets pretty excitable sometimes, doesn't describe Jesus as actually striking anyone ... but that could easily have been because John would assume it was implied. Many psychologists might tell you that a threat, especially a threat with actual physical gesture(s) to support it, is (psychologically) damaging in itself ... and seriously, why would any legitimate, established businessperson have run from the nutter stranger unless they believed he really meant to hit them? Did Jesus, then, deliberately make an empty threat (propigate an untruth)? I would argue that "just" overturning the tables hints at a physicality that would draw more pacifist ire if the more egregious whip passage didn't exist.

Yes, he is God, and God logically has an absolute right to punish/discipline that we, Made In Their Image, may or may not share, but wasn't part of the whole Incarnation thing that Jesus was supposed to show us how to live, in this world, as a human?

It's an exceedingly messy scriptural passage, and speaks to the messy edges of our existence. I have always been somewhat surprised that it made it into The Gospels. (Hey, this wouldn't be another one of those perhaps-added passages mentioned in that Bible-history book you recently read, would it?)

The question I face is not the main one you present, about whether or not we should save ourselves through violence. That answer is obvious: Jesus asked us to be ready to sacrifice ourselves for Him and for others, even including death. (The really challenging part is extending that set of teaching into life-realms besides the physical.) The question that is more difficult is whether we have a responsibility to save _others_--and, if so, on which levels, and how?

This last question started to be brought home to me as I helped friends in college deal with rape ... and the whole abortion thing has of course always been a difficulty ... but, man, when I had kids! Yeah, that brought home very quickly the reality that I am NOT a pacifist. I would always have lept to the defense of someone, especially a child, being attacked, but before I had my own children I did not have to live with the conscious reality that I was capable of cold-blooded killing. (I would waffle ... and throw up repeatedly ... later. But I am pretty sure I would kill someone if they were, for instance, clearly trying to kidnap a child for nefarious purposes and I couldn't stop them otherwise. Luckily for me, I cannot imagine any situations in which that is a realistic event. But the self-knowledge is there. Watching myself plan out how to take down that ravening dog that was trying to get past me to my children a couple of months ago was ... enlightening.)

Jesus instructs, as I recall, his disciples not to try to save Him because His death is necessary. The "dies by the sword passage" is almost as difficult as the whip passage, because of the very real questions of guilt, premeditation, actual danger presented by the attacked individual, innappropriateness of the response ... and I've already spent half a day on the whip passage, so I'll work on that some other month.

I think God wants humans to be pacifists eventually. He seems, however, to be (mysteriously) intent on us voluntarily moving our reality into alignment with His perfect reality ... not leaving our reality behind.

The trick, as I see it (having gained some clarity through rewriting), is to try to always move towards the ideal, in our individual lives and as a collective.

I am not a pacifist. I hope someday I can be. I do not believe at this time that pure pacifism is the healthiest choice ... it denies too much of the life that God has let us be born into. It trends into old heresies, that deny the potential? fundamental? holiness of physical existence.

But then I am not "God," so very likely I am partially or completely wrong. Certainly I would prefer the clean and pretty-seeming path that is Pacifism.

Ah, would that the Bible was indeed a document that could lead us each individually clearly and easily along the path to salvation, without all this mess ... but the Bible is just as physical and historical and messy as the rest of this mysterious creation we are part of ...

SIGH.

Er, I mean, "Praise God!" (Right, right ... that's the appropriate response to the beauty of Creation ... still working on how some of creation is beautiful ... non-infinite mind and all that.)

1970s Mass-in-the-Grass -ism:
When you're walkin' with the Lord,
You don't get bored.

Sing Alleluia, AMEN!

kr pdx said...

Ah, now, see, Andy, I was still deciding whether I was offended, or whether I was curious to wait and see if Gino ever Googled the darn thing ... 'guess you are under stress, your fuse is usually longer than mine ;).

Gino, my unfortunate moniker was chosen to provide exactly enough clarity that the high school friends whose blogs I was newly entering last spring would recognize me.

In the spirit of frankness which you seem to value ;), I am decidedly equivocal in my feelings towards you at this time.

Your response at LC's impressed me.
And the outside lane of the Marquam Bridge! It's not so bad in a car, but in a tall vehicle, with nothing between you and 100 feet to the water except those piddly (very SHORT) concrete lane-dividers RIGHT up next to the car, and three kids in the back seats ... I only make the outside-lane mistake every couple of years. The adrenaline lasts for a long time.

But, as sarcasm is something I have deliberately chosen to leave behind because I have observed how destructive it can be, reading your comments is somewhat painful to me. Which doesn't mean you have to change. Just that I am less likely to warm up to you anytime soon.

Andy said...

I'll respond to the important stuff later, but I, too, wanted to add how much I freak out on the Marquam Bridge -- give me the Fremont, please, especially coming west with that glorious view! (Though trying to get to the Fremont if you're coming off the Banfield means some quick lane shifting in often heavy traffic. Yarrr.)

Andy said...

KR, a few things: I don't recall that "Misquoting Jesus" referred at all to the cleansing of the temple, but I do remember the author saying that the presence of a single event in multiple gospels typically underscores authenticity in the minds of scholars and translators. It was in another book on the problems with maintaining a belief in the literal veracity of scripture where I first noticed the temple chronology issue. Or, erm, rather, had it pointed out to me.

I, clearly, am not a total pacifist either. There are times when military action is necessary. You won't hear me argue that America shouldn't have fought for its independence or that we shouldn't have entered WWII.

But the larger question here is whether military action is the right response to stateless terrorism. Just as Little Cicero criticizes (wrongly) the LGBT movement for focusing only on a legal strategy instead of trying to win the hearts and minds of middle America (I assure him, we're doing both), military action against terrorism is futile unless we also begin to address the root causes of terrorism. Bush refuses to do this. Bush says terrorists are "evil," and that explains it. But it doesn't. We're not living in a Superfriends comic book where people do evil things for the sake of being evil. It's not a question of killing them before they kill us; it won't work. Each of us go back and forth killing each other to avenge perceived injustices. That's an endless cycle, until we sit down together and begin to address common goals. The United States, in order to achieve global peace, is going to HAVE to compromise on some issues -- because we aren't RIGHT all the time. America's foreign policy is all too often driven by what's in the best interests for corporate America's bottom line; we need to start taking into account what's best for people around the world, and we need TO STOP TELLING THEM WE KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR THEM and start listening to their own needs and desires. That is the way forward.

kr pdx said...

;). Yep. And then, all the sudden, we completely agree.

That's why I donate to Mercy Corps. They have a good record of importing useful "civilizing" influences, like clean water and literacy--not to mention crop seeds and micro-loans, so people in depressed economies can lift themselves up, with their own work and ideas. I totally accidentally found out about Mercy Corps when I was in high school and they were tiny ... what a wild ride to watch, even as a minor donor. They are HUGE now.

Mercy Corps was _invited_ in by the Iranian govt immediately after the big earthquake 2(?) years ago ... can you imagine?? Now that's the kind of cultural trust "American" organizations should work toward.

It is possible, and it has even been done ... we just need to get the pro-Americana folks out of the seats of power.

------

On evil, I've seen bits and pieces of Evil, and Osama just doesn't have the vibe. That Zaraqi(?sp) fellow, maybe maybe.

Ever notice how the most Evil folks hang behind the "leader"--as much as Hitler may have been evil, some of those people around him ... !! And Rasputin [chills, chills] ... !! Even reading a straight history of the fall of czarist Russia, which work was not condemnatory of the Revolution, the random bits about Rasputin's oddities played directly to the traditionalist concept of voluntary demonic possession. Yuck.

(I'll leave to someone else the satisfaction(?) of a parallel analysis of our situation.)

Gino said...

Marquam Bridge
so thats what its called.
i knew it must have had a name, but didnt know what it was.
the one that is rather narrow, and goes waaay up in the air, and has a curve to it, part of I-5.

seriously, you have no idea what that thing did to me...
my mind was jello'd with fear by the time i got to the other side.

kr:per your concern, i will feebly attempt to keep sarcasm in some check.
besides, i get along easily with most anybody, even strangers:

http://boileryard.blogspot.com/2005/10/roadtrippin-meeting-mike.html

andy: sorry to jack your topic. bad habit o'mine.

little-cicero said...

Andy, the conflict at hand is essentially a clash of cultures all-or-nothing battle. The Islamofascists made it that way. It is they who seek to place the entire world under Sharia law through military force. That is why they do what they do. The terrorists who get caught up in cells are not peasants who turn to this as a means of income- they are largely lost young souls without a place in society who find a social niche in their Muslim faith- and they happen to find it in the wrong place. Ultimately the guys they hang out with get more and more radical and fundamentalist- their multiple anger builds on one another until they become an active terrorist cell.

I don't know how to solve this problem. I do know that for people who want change within their societies, they can either do so through political or military action.

The Bush tactic is to give radicals a non-military means of changing their societies. You may disagree with the effectiveness of spreading democracy, but you can neither doubt the nobility nor the degree to which all humans deserve democracy.

Cicc' a porta!

kr pdx said...

Ah! LC, you've just clarified something for me.

This worldwide culture clash that so many people picture, that is a driver for the FEAR! reaction and muchof our military spending (and which closely resembles the Cold War thinking):

Believing in this "culture clash" which "risks the world!" has: handed the terrorists the upper hand, given them control, let them "win," ... (pick your poison).

As long as we let them define us/them, they are in control of the debate, the rhetoric, and to a large extent the thinking that is possible with the language in which they entrap the debate. GWB fell right into the trap, with his "evil" speeches and very real cultural elitism.

We (YOU!) must step out of those definitions that are nothing but damaging to them/you/us/the world. Otherwise we doom ourselves (all of humanity) to forever repeat the tragic chorus.

They. Are. Wrong.

Theirs is not a cultural battle of world importance. I cannot think of anywhere where their "culture" has been voluntarily adopted. It has, overall, been forced on people.

What if we re-picture the world's problems, as primarily due to some "culture" thinking it has a legitimate reason to force itself on some other people?

Then, America falls straight into the pattern--and then it should not be such a horrifying shock (as it seems to have been to, say, the Administration) that we are instinctively treated much the same way any other agressive force: with resistance that only increases as our cultural forcing continues.

WE MUST STOP ACCEPTING BAD DEFINITIONS OF WINNING AND LOSING.

DJRainDog said...

Brava, KR! You've managed, particularly towards the end of your last comment, to gently and subtly frame my thoughts in response to l-c's last comment, which had I posted them, would doubtless have been more acerbic and inflammatory. To (some of) us, it seems that the Muslims are attempting to force their culture upon the world; to most of the world, it seems that America is the party trying to force its (supposedly "superior" -- bah!) way of life down their throats. Americans constantly fall victim to their own deeply flawed concepts of "good" and "bad". As a nation, we suffer from the stereotypical adolescent's know-it-all mentality. If only we could, as a people, internalise Mark Twain's comment regarding his father. ;-) But I imagine that will take several hundred more years, if God lends them to us. (Here I must confess I wish I were party to some such promise as Simeon was given, but alas! I am not so righteous.)

little-cicero said...

"Theirs is not a cultural battle of world importance. I cannot think of anywhere where their "culture" has been voluntarily adopted. It has, overall, been forced on people."

You'r absolutely right that it's not Islam that we're fighting- but it is Islam which uses fascist means to spread itself (Islamofascism) that has declared war on the free world. That's what 9-11 was- Bin Laden declaring war on the free world (World Trade Center being the symbol/hub of the free world economically and commercially- forces which they feel have intervened on their way of life).

Fascism declared war on us in the 1930's and 40's, and during the Cold War, and we fought back. If a force declares war on you, you have to fight it, and if you want to fight something you must acknowledge it.

This is a clarifying moment, but it has pushed me toward my original world view rather than away from it (sorry!).

Andy said...

LC, you are dangerously oversimplifying the situation. Specifically what Al Qaeda is upset about is the way the west, and America in particular, uses money and military power to manipulate certain middle eastern governments (Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, in particular) to secure greater access to the region's natural resources, often to the detriment of the larger population, which gets nothing from the deal.

The US -- the Bush family in particular -- has a very close relationship with the government of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is, of course, the home of the Prophet, the location of Islam's holiest sites. (The Saudi government is also, it should be noted, a lot more oppressive and undemocratic than, say, Iran's.)

During the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein, who had formerly been our "guy," someone we propped up with money and weapons because we didn't like Iran, and he didn't like Iran, therefore we liked him -- great foreign policy -- suddenly decided to invade Kuwait, and so, in the name of spreading democracy everywhere, we went to war against a secular state to defend a monarchy with the cooperation of another monarchy. (Actually, we did do the right thing by protecting Kuwait.) During that war, the U.S. established several military bases in Saudi Arabia -- and we're still there. Bin Laden, who was exiled by the Saudi government, considers the Muslim holy land to be occupied by infidel warriors (us) acting in collusion with the Saudi royal family.

It is ESSENTIAL to understand that, contrary to all the FUCKING BULLSHIT we heard about Saddam Hussein cooperating with Al Qaeda, this is ideologically impossible. Bin Laden detested Saddam as a US-backed secular despot, and directly blamed him for invading a sovereign Islamic state (Kuwait) and for creating a situation that brought America to Saudi Arabia to stay.

We must also consider Afghanistan, where in the 1970s we waged a bitter war with local tribespeople and supporters from around the Arab world (INCLUDING Bin Laden) against the Soviets, who were invading. Afghanistan was basically leveled in the conflict. We promised, time and again, to help them rebuild their country after the Soviets left. We didn't. We abandoned them. Another example of these wonderful American promises that we go around making but never fulfill -- instead, we leave the people worse off than before. (Vietnam. Afghanistan. Iraq.)

Oh, and then of course there is our consistent history of always siding with Israel against the Palestinians.

Now, you may agree with our actions and policies in these locations, or not. But that is irrelevant. Seriously. All that matters is, these are the situations that the Muslim world is upset about. For them, this is ample justification for their anger.

For you and other Americans -- and our GOVERNMENT, ack! -- to sit there and make cartoon villains out of them, claiming that they're just "fascists" trying to destroy "freedom" means we are NEVER GOING TO MAKE ANY PROGRESS. You have GOT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THESE ARE REAL PEOPLE WITH REAL ISSUES AND GENUINE COMPLAINTS AND WE ARE NOT ADDRESSING THEM.

When we went to war in Iraq, we just fulfilled to a T the accusations bin Laden made about us. In the eyes of millions of people, all the US cares about is strengthening its geopolitical stranglehold on global resources at the expense of everyone else.

kr pdx said...

Oy, this is long and should be editted, but I have to run ... sorry ...

Andy, I of course largely agree, but before I return to LC, point of correction:
Another example of these wonderful American promises that we go around making but never fulfill -- instead, we leave the people worse off than before. (Vietnam. Afghanistan. Iraq.)
Japan and Europe we did alright by ... and Japan proves that we are not inherently unable to grok helping non-"white" people, nor deeply hated (so sad) enemies.

LC.

Freaker Islamists have declared they are trying to take over the world. Yep, I see that, that's pretty clear. Twin Towers: adroit symbolism on their part, freakishly horrible gesture. (In support of DJRD and Andy, it should be noted that they sent two planes at the Economic symbol(s) ... not the military or political(?) one. It is also interesting that we assume the fourth plane was destined for a political target, and not also for the Pentagon ;). I guess Americans still associate with the Constitution more than with Military Power! YAY!)

What's NOT clear to me is how the freaker Islamists are in fact an ideological threat--particularly, a global ideological threat.

Any violently-inclined nutcase can blow people up, nowadays. Doesn't make them a world threat. Sometimes they convert a few folks. Again, this is not cause for world alarm.

The people the radicals convert agree with the radicals that they need to throw off the yoke of the "infidels"--and they agree with the radicals as to who the "infidels" are.

If an entire group of people feels oppressed by the infidels (the West), then the entire people is more likely to be open to conversion. We can see that conversion has been more likely/broader in the Philipines or the Middle East (both historically political dumping grounds for The West) than in Europe and America.

They can militarily take over poor regions, with their (limited but still worrisome) weapons and training. But even if/when they conquer and oppress those nations, even if they actually convert a large chunk of the population, they can't truly militarily threaten any rich country. The rich countries make the weapons, and eventually the rich countries would see the danger in selling and slow the supply to a black-market trickle. And an awful lot of people fall pry to the human temptation to start a family, and I am pretty sure they mostly avoid sending parents out to blow themselves up. (Rather makes the next generation hate them, eh? Besides being counter to all the Arabic and Islamic valuation of "family.")

Yes, they can kill some of us, cause some economic damages. This is disturbing. But it's not like they are a potential military threat the way China could be. And any looped-out Islamic radicals who kill people here will either be killing themselves in the process or are (in my opinion) extremely unlikely to get away without being caught. If they are very very lucky, law enforcement will catch them.

It's not like they can even begin to "take over" America.

If we in fact addressed the concerns that cause people to listen to their insane world view in the first place, de facto, almost noone would listen to them.

End of movement.

That's it.

Address the root causes, not the symptoms.

The Middle Eat and SE Aisa and large chunks of Africa have very very very real beefs with The West, and with Western thinking and assumptions. You know, our thinking and assumptions have, largely, screwed them over for about 300 years now.

Why should they trust us? Why should they even BEGIN to trust us? Wouldn't it be only natural to trust the only people who have us scared and running, who have commandeered our economy and are driving us into destitution (and also exposing for the world to see our black underbelly of cultural elitism)?

As long as we accept the message of the Freaker Islamists, they pull the strings.

We (America, with or without a coalition) need to reach out to the people who legitimately hate us, who legitimately see that we have taken what we wanted and left them with less. This will be a slow, agonizing, not-headline-garnering (sadly) process, with no easy "wins" and no earthly "glory." I am not sure, with our four to six year election cycles, we can do it.

But if we want to defeat them , we have to pull the box out from under the soapboxers ... and humbly offer help ... or to leave them alone ... to the converts who (rationally) hold Islamist beliefs because of the hurts we have visted upon them.

Andy said...

Japan proves that we are not inherently unable to grok helping non-"white" people, nor deeply hated (so sad) enemies.

Yes, and as I have said, I'll never argue we should have stayed out of World War II, or that Pearl Harbor did not merit a military response, the way I believe 9/11 did not merit the military response it got.

But.

Comparisons between the "War on Terror" and our victory over Germany and Japan -- see, democracy can be won through war! -- are facile to the point of uselessness. In Japan's case, it was a purely political war. Japan was aiming to politically control the entire Pacific. "God," as such (even though the emperor was considered by some to be divine) did not really enter into the equation; the Japanese did not believe they were engaged against the US in a holy war for righteousness; the Japanese were not attacking us for perceived wrongs of ages past. Also, when comparing Japan to Iraq, it is ESSENTIAL to note that Japan is ethnically homogenous, and that its principal religious divide (Buddhist/Shinto) is not a violent one. In fact, national unity is a highly emphasized value of Japanese culture. Furthermore, as can be seen by the rapid change over the course of the 20th century, the Japanese were extremely eager to embrace western culture and adapt it to their own values.

In Iraq, we have three separate groups of people who hate each other, and have for centuries; two of those groups are deeply mistrustful of western culture and values. Third, the unrest is being fomented by both internal and foreign religious extremists who believe they are locked in a battle for the survival of their faith. The situation is not remotely analogous to post-WWII Japan.

kr pdx said...

I was objecting to your assertion that we always abandon the people we have promised to support, saying the keeping of said promises were in any particular way parallel. I was objecting to the implication that we can't potentially commit to and do something useful (although I admit it is a very DIM possibility at the moment).

Andy said...

Of course we can. Iraq is still salvageable. But we'll never succeed as long as we continue to deliberately deny what the actual problem is.

little-cicero said...

Andy, no one is saying that Iraq is like Japan- we (don't worry kr, I'm not including you) are saying that we're fighting fascism just as we did sixty-five years ago. Just like it was then, there are separate forces (all of which are fascist in some sense of the word) that are aggresive against democratic states. These forces have been Iraq, Iran, Islamic Terrorists and North Korea. They don't neccessarily like each other, just as the Japanese and the Nazis recipricolly thought eachother to be scum with their racial superiority ideologies. Does that mean that their coexistence is not a threat to the ideologies they are jointly opposed to? Not at all!

BTW Andy, in your interpretation of reconstruction, I must point out your GLARING BLINDSPOT! The Korean peninsula was part of Japan at the time of reconstruction, and if you'll remember there were ideologies implanted by the Chinese and Soviets that created a similar cultural/ideological divide in that part of "Japan". As you know, civil war ensued. Fortunately the cultural divide seems not to be as intense in Iraq, so the results will not be quite comparable, but to say that we occupied a nation in harmony, while understandably put, leaves out something I cannot let go after your embarrasing scrutiny on the subject of Palestine and democracy several months ago (no hard feelings).

kr pdx said...

LC: key difference: the ideologies we fought militarily in the Cold War had some chance of actually militarily taking us over ... and, as far as that goes, some chance of ideologically taking us over (the communists/socialists at least).

Niether is true for the Freaker Islamists. (I won't do them the honor of applying the term Fascist, which suggests that they have some sort of governmental legitimacy.)

Second thought, and I deeply wish I could remember who was the important economist who predicted this: in the 40s, Keynes or someone of that ilk predicted that USSR-style "communism" would economically run itself into the ground within 50 years. Voila, it did. Popularly, Reagan and PJPII are given a lot of credit (and I expect that we all lived in a little less fear those last few years because of the arms negotiations), but there are many in the ivory towers who say that the USSR ground to a halt independent of the Cold War, completely as a result of it's own inherent failings.

This is one thing I think of when faced with Freaker Islamist rhetoric, why I say they are blowing smoke: their worldview is clearly not sustainable (for all of your reasons about freedom being inherently prefered by all humans etc.). Even if they "won," they wouldn't "win," because there is no way to maintain the society they picture.

(Next question: what are the weaknesses that will bring down our system and worldview ;) ?)

little-cicero said...

If Bush is right about one thing it's that it is always better to misoverestimate your enemies than to misunderestimate them.

We're not facing these terrorists in a conventional war in which military capabilities matter and their victory like ours depends on being right 100% of the time- they only have to be right once (I know I'm paraphrasing Bush or Rumsfeld, but it's true!). If Al-Quaeda has 100 rockets, I'm terrified, because if they used half of them against American civilians it would be another 9-11! They can win just by catching us off guard and scaring the poop out of this nation- which is why the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Do not confuse fear with acknowledgement. Fear is what happened on 9-11 when we had not acknowledged Al-Quaeda as a people.

I have to correct what Andy said about the terrorists essentially winning as soon as we acknowledge them as the enemy. The terrorist certainly did not lose on September 11th- they lost when we acknowledged them as the enemy, drained their funds and killed and arrested their terrorists. If there is one thing we learned from this war and all wars it is that the US is a lot better at offense than defense.

If we sit down with these terrorists and give them what they want which is our total withdrawal from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (anything less will be considered an insult to the fanatics) they will simply go on to take over all of our allies in the war on terror, including India and Israel. THAT will be akin to Vietnam, where as soon as we surrendered with honor our allies were slaughtered relentlessly by Vietnamese guerillas. You have to consider the consequences of defeat! Leave Iraq and the result will not only be additional threat for Israel, but the wholesale slaughter of Iraqi civilians by al Quaeda and Iraqi insurgents.

Andy said...

LC: I think you're wrong about the actual goals of the terrorists.

But here's the conundrum we face -- or, rather, are choosing not to face. The tactics -- mass slaughter of civilians -- are immoral, but the complaints about US policy are legitimate. We will never "defeat" them because what we've been doing is wrong. It will only end when we stop going around the planet toppling governments and replacing them with puppets.

See, LC, you're not acknowledging the fact that the USA has done a lot of bad things over the years; often with the best of intentions, truly, but nonetheless there have been negative, if unintended, consequences for people around the world. Until we redress those wrongs, nothing will change.

That's not to say terrorism is right, but you're just going in bloody circles if you refuse to acknowledge that America is largely responsible for the hostility and instability in the middle east.

little-cicero said...

And we come back to the clash of cultures as I explain that the reason for the "missteps" of the US which you find to be "legitimate" reasons for retribution is our long-term attempt to spread capitalism throughout the world. Actually it was Carlos Mencia that inspired this point of clarity as I watched a video of him the other night (Not exactly George Will, but a pretty rational fellow) He made the observation that if you go to Kuwait now you'll find a McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Wendy's, Taco Bell, etc. (And to those Middle Easterners who want to know when we're leaving, he suggested "learn to say 'do you want fries with that'") I know it doesn't paint a pretty picture of the US, but we really are more about capitalism at times than we are about democracy. Since it is largely businessmen who fund politics, it should be no surprise that this is the case. It is capitalism, as well as democracy and liberalism that the terrorists feel is violating their country. Capitalism may be a thing of self-interest, but it is, simply put, economic freedom, just as democracy and liberalism are political freedoms. It's not greed that Al Quaeda is fighting- it is simply freedom.

Freedom allows women to take off their headscarves. Freedom allows the majority of Middle Easterners who are trying to run a business to vote against Fundamentalist reforms. Freedom allows McDonalds to lure their people to decadence as they leave the Mosque (as it is lucratively parked across the street). Freedom is altogether against their fundamentalist objectives. They can't win elections, so they turn to tyrannical means to force their religions on people.

Bottom line: the only way to solve the problem is to halt the approach of freedom in the Islamic World. Freedom and Radical Fundamentalist Islam can NOT coexist. There are two roads to solving the problem in the Mideast- either stay the course and bring economic and political freedom to the region, or pull a U-Turn and welcome tyranny back into the region.

kr pdx said...

LC:

They can win just by catching us off guard and scaring the poop out of this nation- which is why the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

NO. They can't win that way--not least because we aren't going to do it again, and even on that day the reaction was not (as it was advertised) Fear and Terror, but a collective mixture of mourning, desire to help, and "FUCK THE TERRORISTS!" Which latter sentiment leads me to:

they lost when we acknowledged them as the enemy, drained their funds and killed and arrested their terrorists.

Yep.
NOT when we improvidently invaded Iraq (and of course the events since then can hadly be described as "them losing").

If we sit down with these terrorists and give them what they want which is our total withdrawal from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (anything less will be considered an insult to the fanatics)

Please note that neither Andy nor I are advocating complete withdrawal, nor have we ever, to my recall (although others here have).
I am not saying "give them what they want" (which they proclaim is our complete absence), I am saying, "stop giving them what they need" (which is a boogeyman with which they can try to instill fear and thereby turn off people's brains and will to fight them). If we disappeared, Al Quaeda would LOSE because the people would be able to fight THEM. (You claim to believe that all people are the same, desiring freedom et al ... how do you see Americans, who like Iraqis are a largely armed population with a history of warmaking, reacting to this sort of thing?)

LC: wholesale slaughter of Iraqi civilians by al Quaeda and Iraqi insurgents.
You are conveniently ignoring that in fact the insurgents were/are largely civilians ... and the broad distribution of guns among the Iraqi populace ...

We would see civil war, and undoubtably slaughter, but I object to you presenting it as if there were "badguys" and "goodguys." (And if Al Quaeda doesn't ally with one or another of the big factions (gaining numbers and protection), Al Quaeda will be hunted by all for their careless killing of Iraqis.)

--

Freedom is altogether against their fundamentalist objectives. They can't win elections, so they turn to tyrannical means to force their religions on people.
Constitutional Amendment making marriage only M/F, anyone?

Freedom and Radical Fundamentalist Islam can NOT coexist.
I think we need to add the observation here that freedom and fundamentalism can coexist. Radical fundamentalism? Well, that maybe not. But I think regular fundamentalisms get lost in the shouting sometimes.
Also, specifically, we should here note that Freedom and Radical Fundamentalist Christianity, or Radical Fundamentalist Hindi (see scary political devoplments in India, oh, five years ago) can't exist.

It is not a war against Islam. Or, if it is, it shouldn't properly be.

There are two roads to solving the problem in the Mideast- either stay the course and bring economic and political freedom to the region, or pull a U-Turn and welcome tyranny back into the region.
staying the course does not, BASED ON EVIDENCE (not ideas or desires), seem to be doing anything of that sort in Iraq. (Afghanistan, where we are staying a different course, still might work out.)
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing that didn't work the first 5 million times and expecting it to work the 5,000,001st time.

"Trying to bring economic and politcal freedom"? I'm all for it. Let's try to find some way that it can actually be DONE.

kr pdx said...

LC:

They can win just by catching us off guard and scaring the poop out of this nation- which is why the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

NO. They can't win that way--not least because we aren't going to do it again, and even on that day the reaction was not (as it was advertised) Fear and Terror, but a collective mixture of mourning, desire to help, and "FUCK THE TERRORISTS!" Which latter sentiment leads me to:

they lost when we acknowledged them as the enemy, drained their funds and killed and arrested their terrorists.

Yep.
NOT when we improvidently invaded Iraq (and of course the events since then can hadly be described as "them losing").

If we sit down with these terrorists and give them what they want which is our total withdrawal from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (anything less will be considered an insult to the fanatics)

Please note that neither Andy nor I are advocating complete withdrawal, nor have we ever, to my recall (although others here have).
I am not saying "give them what they want" (which they proclaim is our complete absence), I am saying, "stop giving them what they need" (which is a boogeyman with which they can try to instill fear and thereby turn off people's brains and will to fight them). If we disappeared, Al Quaeda would LOSE because the people would be able to fight THEM. (You claim to believe that all people are the same, desiring freedom et al ... how do you see Americans, who like Iraqis are a largely armed population with a history of warmaking, reacting to this sort of thing?)

LC: wholesale slaughter of Iraqi civilians by al Quaeda and Iraqi insurgents.
You are conveniently ignoring that in fact the insurgents were/are largely civilians ... and the broad distribution of guns among the Iraqi populace ...

We would see civil war, and undoubtably slaughter, but I object to you presenting it as if there were "badguys" and "goodguys." (And if Al Quaeda doesn't ally with one or another of the big factions (gaining numbers and protection), Al Quaeda will be hunted by all for their careless killing of Iraqis.)

--

Freedom is altogether against their fundamentalist objectives. They can't win elections, so they turn to tyrannical means to force their religions on people.
Constitutional Amendment making marriage only M/F, anyone?

Freedom and Radical Fundamentalist Islam can NOT coexist.
I think we need to add the observation here that freedom and fundamentalism can coexist. Radical fundamentalism? Well, that maybe not. But I think regular fundamentalisms get lost in the shouting sometimes.
Also, specifically, we should here note that Freedom and Radical Fundamentalist Christianity, or Radical Fundamentalist Hindi (see scary political devoplments in India, oh, five years ago) can't exist.

It is not a war against Islam. Or, if it is, it shouldn't properly be.

There are two roads to solving the problem in the Mideast- either stay the course and bring economic and political freedom to the region, or pull a U-Turn and welcome tyranny back into the region.
staying the course does not, BASED ON EVIDENCE (not ideas or desires), seem to be doing anything of that sort in Iraq. (Afghanistan, where we are staying a different course, still might work out.)
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing that didn't work the first 5 million times and expecting it to work the 5,000,001st time.

"Trying to bring economic and politcal freedom"? I'm all for it. Let's try to find some way that it can actually be DONE.

kr pdx said...

Andy, If you can remove that repeat comment, I'd appreciate it.

Blogger hated that comment.

I really DID check to make sure I wasn't doubling it ... which, once I figured out how to do it, has always worked in the past ... SIGH.

Sorry.

little-cicero said...

I mostly see where you stand, kr, but I'm still not sure if I'm misunderstanding/oversimplifying Andy's position. I try not to lump you guys in with nutty leftists, but to be honest, sometimes you share their positions at least to a nuanced degree! :) (the emoticon means don't hurt me for saying that- kr)

"Al Quaeda will be hunted by all for their careless killing of Iraqis.)"

BY WHOM! ONCE WE WITHDRAW FROM IRAQ, WHO WILL REPRIMAND THE TROUBLE MAKERS?! This is the argument for staying in Iraq- we know that al Quaeda plans to move in and kill Sunni and Kurdish Muslims and anyone else who is helping US forces now. We know that crimes against humanity of the Hitler variety will take place. When they do are we just going to reenter Iraq and occupy it over again- Gulf War III? We have to finish the job even if it means turning Iraq into a confederacy or federation rather than a nation (which I maintain is a wise route to consider rather than withdrawal). By leaving Iraq for another Presidency, you're only repeating Bush I's mistake.

On giving the terrorists what they want- I know it's a horrendous oversimplification to say that that is what you want, but when you say that we need to communicate with the terrorists and solve the problem by listening to their legitimate complaints as Andy has, I can't help but chuckle- these are radicals! We can't talk to radicals as if they're going to make moderate resolutions when for years their demands have been "Annihilate Israel, Death to America, Get the Fudge out of the Islamic World,". The truth is- those ARE their moderate demands/goals. Their radical goal is to dominate the world with Sharia Law by what they percieve as the will of God.

You know how much I love discussing and communicating with those I disagree with, but that dog won't hunt here. We can't communicate with the leadership- only the people they control are reasonable enough that we can change their minds by exposing them to democracy and capitalism.

kr pdx said...

LC, I have not advocated, at any time, withdrawing. Andy, at least mostly, hasn't either--and has taken heat from others here who do so advocate.
Because you see two (and-only-two) options, and we clearly don't agree with you, you have lumped us in with the option you don't agree with. This is a major failing of Thinking in Boxes, especially if you've so oversimplified a complex political situation that you think there are only _two_ (2??? Seriously???) boxes.

But "staying the course" is clearly madness.

We (all of us) need to THINK. About how we can CHANGE.
Because the trends now all point to worsening and not bettering of life in Iraq.

[huge cut]

America has made itself more noxious than AQu. Really _think_ about that. The Iraqis are more and more prefering civil war and/or AQu to our presence. THAT is what we should be worried about. THAT is incredibly definitive evidence that WE have completely screwed up.

It is too late to "stay the course."

There are more than Two Options. I am sorry you can't open your eyes to the complete, continuing, and growing failure that is Bush II's "strategy" in Iraq.

I do not want to wait for the next president. Were you suggesting we should get rid of this one?? Because even if people like Andy and I, who DON'T advocate withdrawal, managed to get a good chunk of the nation behind us, Bush II doesn't seem to care what The People think, and he certainly seems to not be able to think even in two boxes. What is your solution besides waiting for the next President?

kr pdx said...

OK, "complete" was a bit much.
I'm irritated.

Sorry.

There have been notable success points.

But the overall trend is bad.

little-cicero said...

This is what I think the course currently is that we ought to "stay":

Build infrastructure necessary for democracy: educational, government, law enforcement and municipal infrastructure.

Promote moderation in the Iraqi politick as well as secular government.

Develop the Iraqi Military and give them the equipment and training they need to face the al Quaeda threat.

Withdraw in increments according to progress- not time. By progress I mean Iraqi military progress- they get 100 troops, we pull out 500. Something like that. Timetables are idiotic and no different than withdrawal in that they invite opposition at the very moment that defense is let down.

Withdraw political influence when the Iraqi politick is at its stablest.

Resolve to avoid civil war by either loosening the nationalist bond or forcing unity.

One way to force unity is to take away the "legitimate" US target of al Quaeda by withdrawing when their military is capable, then allowing the entire nation of Iraq to unite against the singular enemy of al Quaeda which would then be targeting Iraq rather than the US.

This method allows Iraq to be powerful in its unity. A contributing factor would also be the capitalist market, which blurs theological lines amid commerce.

The course has many bumps- that is apparent, but there is only one logical course here, and it seems that the President, whether he was right or wrong in the past, is trying to abide by it. He is trying to force them into unity, and considering the inevitability of al Quaeda's eventual aggression, it is likely that it will materialize as such.

I admitted that I may have been lumping you guys for a reason- because I'm trying to see the distinction. Maybe the problem is that I always here "this is the wrong course" but I've never heard what is the right course. I've never heard from either of you "this is what I would do", or "we need to confederate Iraq to solve civil strife" or "we need to withdraw our troops so they can unite against the common enemy" or any other plan like that. Clarity is hard to come by with this issue.

kr pdx said...

LC, I apologize entierly for my tone and overal bitchiness (the bad kind).
I had had a Very Bad Day, and shouldn't have been near a keyboard at all.

As I am still entirely unhappy, I will not respond at this time. Your reply shows sense, and much more restraint than mine.

I think Andy and I have off and on suggested paths, but I can't swear to that; part of what frustrated me was that despite each of us repeating again and again that each doesn't think an immediate pullout was a good idea you somehow lumped us into the group that did ... so you not having "seen" any suggestions from us is hardly a reliable measure of whether or not they were there.

On the other hand, it is not unlikely I have been assuming too much as well, in my text.

However, tonight, I am too tired to build anything coherent.

Busy the next few days, unsure if I will be "around."

Ta ta.

little-cicero said...

No problem. If there's one thing I know from my blogging experience it's that you should always blog with a smile on your face.

Anyways, if you'd like to move this dialogue (which Andy isn't participating in anyway) to e-main it might do us some good.