87 thoughts on “Torture/interrogations debate”

  1. Nothing could be more diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Christian faith than acts of cruelty and brutality against another human being. No Christian can ever commit, applaud, rationalize or tolerate torture. A person who commits, applauds, rationalizes or tolerates torture simply ceases to be a Christian. The grace of God cannot flow through a heart filled with the malice neccesary for such acts.

  2. What do Christians do when they know someone, currently held in custody, has direct and specific knowledge of a terrorist attack that is going to kill hundreds if not thousands of innocent civilians? Should they simply ask that person nicely to help save these people? Or perhaps go back to the monastery and pray that these people are saved? What are we supposed to do? Nothing?

    I would really like to know because I live in a world with people who worship death and who will stop at nothing to kill me, my family and my neighbors because I am an infidel.

    From what I gather, by Dean’s comments in Note 1, by even raising this question I exclude myself from the Christian community.

  3. Okay, prior to excommunicating anyone let’s take the Ugandan example that Dan started in another thread. That example is true as far as it goes, but let’s complicate the scenario.

    The CIA has received information from a U.S.-based anti-Idi Amin group called the ‘Ugandan Freedom Council’ that implicates the Amin administration in a possible terrorist plot against Israel. The plot could involve nuclear material provided by Iran.

    A Ugandan businessman with known ties to Amin is in the U.S. arranging a business deal. Amin has used him in the past to facilitate black market deals. If Amin actually planned to do something like this, there is a good chance this business man would be involved.

    The FBI picks him up in New York. Under questioning, the Ugandan denies any knowledge of any terrorist attack, and requests legal counsel.

    Now what? Do you apply coercion? What kind? Routine coercion would be to threaten jail time for not cooperating, for example. If that doesn’t work, how far do you go? There could be an attack ready to occur. Then again, there may be nothing. This guy could have facilitated an exchange of nuclear material, or he could have been the ‘go-to’ guy when Amin wanted to bring in hooch under the table against the Sharia.

    The KGB defectors always used to talk about the remarkable effectiveness of the FBI. In the Soviet Union, suspects were picked up and tortured until someone confessed. Sometimes the person who confessed was actually guilty. The FBI, however, was barred from torture and so had to develop superior investigative skills that led to actually solving crimes and arresting the correct perpetrators.

    Back to our example. Suppose we started using methods of torture on our Ugandan friend in a fishing expedition. He keeps denying that he knows anything, and we keep hitting him. Eventually, he will tell you that there will be an attack. He’ll give you the time, the place, and the location of the attack. He’ll tell you anything you want to know to make you stop hitting him.

    Well, is there going to be an attack or not? Did he tell you what you wanted to hear just to make the pain stop? Or, did he make it up? Maybe there won’t be any attack at all. Or, maybe there will be an attack, just on a different day, time, and target than he confessed to.

    Torture is extremely effective as method of cowing a population. As a method of extracting information, it is extremely limited in its efficacy, aside from any moral considerations. You never, ever know if the subject is telling the truth, or if you are being led down the primerose path.

    Now, in the Ugandan example – what if the man is completely innocent? What if the anti-Amin group made the whole thing up, or just passed along a rumor?

    The Soviets made extreme use of torture in Afghanistan and never managed to break the resistance using whatever they learned.

    May be we shouldn’t take chances, some will say. Okay, what if you are the person who gets fingered as the person ‘in-the-know.’ Wouldn’t you want the protection of our laws? Or, would you be willing to submit to preventative torture so that the interrogators are sure that you are telling the truth?

    Unless I knew for 100% (which rarely is the case) that an individual under my control had actual knowledge of an impending attack, I would never even consider the use of coercion beyond that which is lawfully permitted to be used against U.S. citizens under U.S. law.

  4. I think even getting to the stage where you feel compelled to torture an enemy represents a total failure of a nation’s foreign policy, diplomacy and intelligence gathering efforts.

    First, we have to ask what it is, that we do, that provokes people to commit acts of violence against us. Is there something fundamentally wrong with our policies?

    Second, we have to ask why we don’t have greater intellegence support from friends and potential allies in the region with a greater knowlege of the enemy and a common interest interest in preventing acts of terrorism. Are we needlessly antagonizing the people who otherwise would be willing to turn the terrorists over to us?

    Third, we have to ask why our other intellegence gathering efforts, such as electronic eavesdropping and aerial, satelite and ground surveillance, have not been effective. Do we have enough human assets on the ground? Do we have enough Arab translators? Do we pay attention to the analyses of specialists at the CIA who study the activities of potential enemies in painstaking detail? Or do we ignore and/or fire them when their conclusions challenge preconceived notions? What message does it send to the CIA when we allow Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense department to create their own intelligence branches mirroring the CIA because the CIA isn’t politiocally compliant enough?

  5. Dean, thanks for the response (predictable as it is). My question was rather specific: American civilians are targeted for death by a terrorist group, exact time & location is uncertain. You have in custody a member of this group who has this information or knows people who have this information. How do we get this information from the individual? Dean’s response, “We need to ask this person why they hate us and want us dead.”

    Uh, … yeah, … right.

    Somehow I don’t think this would be an effective interrogation technique:

    “Ok, Mr. al-Zarqawi, where’s the bomb!?!”

    “Allah is the greatest! Death to the infidels!”

    “Please, tell us where the bomb is. We Americans all understand that we’ve done terrible things in the Middle East, from supporting the horrible apartheid regime of Israel to oppressing the Iraqi people with the evil regime of democracy. We are all so sorry for the horrible things the American government has done throughout the world. Tell us … where is the bomb?”

    “You American imperialist scum will all bow to Allah, or be beheaded!”

    “We don’t think you understand, Mr. al-Zarqawi, we are truly sorry for America’s misguided foreign policy, especially as it has been set out by the selected, not elected Pres. Bush. We understand that our policies have insulted Europe and most of the Middle East. We deeply apologize and will start sending huge amounts of financial aid to the Palestinians first thing tomorrow morning. Tell us where the bomb is.”

    “You’ll give our Palestinian brothers and sisters, oppressed by the fascist Zionists, huge amounts of money? What about weapons that we can use to … uh … protect ourselves from the imperial Zionist state and police the peaceful Palestinians?”

    “If that will make you believe that we are truly sorry for our horribly insensitive foreign policy, OK, we?ll make sure that you receive all you desire. Now will you tell us where the bomb is?”

    “Well there’s still this matter of you accepting Islamic Sha’ariah and bowing to Allah … “

  6. Note 4: Hitler Told Us Exactly What He Was Going to Do, So Have the Jihadis

    Dean writes:

    think even getting to the stage where you feel compelled to torture an enemy represents a total failure of a nation?s foreign policy, diplomacy and intelligence gathering efforts.

    First, we have to ask what it is, that we do, that provokes people to commit acts of violence against us. Is there something fundamentally wrong with our policies?

    ************************************************************************************
    Missourian replies:

    This comment neatly summarizes the core differences I have with Dean’s approach.

    There is no factual dispute about the responsibility of Osama Ben Laden for the Twin Towers attack. We have a videotape of him luxuriating in the death and destruction that he caused. Peter Berg is a respected journalist. Berg interviewed OBL several times in the late 80’s and in the 90’s. Osama Ben Laden has communicated many times exactly who is he, why is doing with he is doing, and what his goal is.

    Historians of WWII tell us that Hitler made many public speeches outling his plans for Germany, Europe in general and Europe’s Jews. Churchill read Hitler’s speeches and took him seriously. Between the wars no one wanted to listen to Churchill. The reason is clear. Giving credence to Churchill meant giving credence to Hitler which meant mobilizing for a difficult war. At least the English had the excuse that they had just come out of WWI. So no one listened. Churchill wasn’t a genius, he just took Hitler seriously. He believed that Hitler would do what Hitler said he would do.

    On another level, the inquiry sounds a great deal like what I used to hear as a volunteer in a women’s shelter in the 1970’s. I would constantly we asked what the women had done to “provoke the violence.” In the early days of the feminist reform of the legal system, rape victims would be asked what they were wearing at the time of the attack and whether they acted in a provocative manner. I thought we were past that.

    Dean’s question fails to take into account the possibility of the existence of evil. As a Christian I find that baffling. Do you ask murder victims what they did to provoke their murder?

  7. Missourian writes: “Dean’s question fails to take into account the possibility of the existence of evil. As a Christian I find that baffling. Do you ask murder victims what they did to provoke their murder?”

    It’s not what the individuals do but what their country does.

    I think Dean is merely stating the rather obvious fact that countries can do things that provoke attacks. It doesn’t mean that the attack is justified, nor that the victims of the attack are somehow guilty. It does mean that the prudent leaders of a country might want to reflect on what they have done in the world to provoke such a response, and whether there is anything that could be changed so as to minimize the provocation. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. The smart person at least asks the question.

    In the case of the U.S. we tend to see all of our actions as justified. If we support death squads in El Salvador, contras in Nicaragua, sell weapons around the world, support dictators, overthrow governments, etc., etc., Americans see all of that as perfectly reasonable and justified. Others do not share that perspective, and some of those look for payback.

  8. Missourian – I agree with you that Bin Ladin and his core of fanatical supporters are evil. We are beginning to appreciate the fanatical extremism of the Wahabbi sect of Islam, the source of Al Qaeda’s ideology, and the dangerous implications it has for global security. We are on the same page here.

    But we have to ask, as historians have asked of the Nazis in Germany during the early nineteen-thirties, how an extreme fringe ideology is able to gain widespread support among a population. If the question is what set of circumstances make Bin Ladin seem palatable to ordinary Muslims, the answer has to be another threat that is perceived as more dangerous.

    Why is America perceived as threatening by ordinary Muslims and what can we do to change that perception? That is a question we need to ask.

  9. Dean and Jim: Here is Why They Attacked Us. From Christianity Today

    This seems like a fairly complete answer. The jihadis want to rule the world.

    ON THE RECORD
    ‘There Can Be No End to Jihad’
    Islamist Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, in an exclusive interview, discusses the rationale for 9/11, the Christians he most respects, and the Jesus he defends.
    Interview by Anthony McRoy | posted 02/01/2005 9:00 a.m.

    Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad is the leader of one of the most controversial Islamist groups in the U.K., Al Muhajiroun (which means “the emigrants” in Arabic). He attracted global media scrutiny on the first anniversary of 9/11 by staging a meeting entitled “A Towering Day in History,” and unveiled a poster that depicted the second airplane advancing toward the World Trade Center.

    This month in Britain, Scotland Yard officials said they were investigating Sheikh Omar on suspicion of his support for “global jihad,” including inciting Muslim youth to join the insurgency in Iraq. Omar, a Syrian, resides in Britain, which granted him political asylum years ago.

    Omar is not a stranger to Britain’s Christian community. In 1999, apologist Jay Smith of Hyde Park Christian Fellowship debated Sheikh Omar and called on him to “condemn any form of religious violence, whenever and wherever it is perpetrated in the name of God.” Though differing with Smith on many issues, Omar nonetheless deeply respects him.

    Christianity Today thought readers would want to better understand Omar’s radical views on jihad and on his take on the Christian faith. Anthony McRoy, a London-based scholar of Islam, and a religion journalist, recently interviewed Omar Bakri Muhammad. Naturally, we don’t defend Omar’s views, but only present them to help Christians better understand Omar’s brand of Islam, which is so prevalent in the world today.

    Since the time Sheikh Omar granted this interview, he has issued a statement officially dissolving Al Muhajiroun. A later report in the Muslim Weekly, emanating from the Luton Council of Mosques (which opposes him), suggested that plans are afoot to re-brand the group as Ahl us-Sunnah wal Jamaah. Other British Muslim groups, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, frequently denounce Sheikh Omar.

    Why do you believe hatred toward the United States could lead to the 9/11 attacks?

    Islam is the final revelation, therefore those believing in it submit to Allah?the only One worthy of obedience in every sphere of life. To understand 9/11, we must go back to Tawhid? the exclusive worship of God in every sphere?religious, political, social, etc. Every human action must relate to this. 9/11 was undoubtedly an unpleasant moment for its targets or their relatives (Muslims and non-Muslim), but those committing it acted as a result of the predestined divine decree (although God does give man free will).

    The “Magnificent 19” or “terrorists” are personally accountable for their actions. If these were based on God’s commands, they will be rewarded; if against his commands, they will be punished.

    The 19 referred to a divine text, Surah AL-Baqara 2:190: “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you ? ” Muslims believe that non-Muslims are kaffir?those disbelieving in Islam. This is not an insult; it is a description. The God in whom we believe did not come from the womb of a mother. The USA is a kaffir state?and kaffir includes those U.S. Muslims who ally with non-Muslims, e.g. in the U.S. Army, as in Iraq, and are therefore legitimate targets of jihad.

    Americans should listen to Muslims who believe in 9/11 and not to those Muslims who do not! “Terrorism” can be either positive or negative?i.e., for or against God. U.S. terrorism in Iraq is anti-God. U.S. voters have joint liability with the government they choose, as do Russian voters in regard to the actions of their government in Chechnya?yet they voted for Putin. Complicity in the acts of one’s rulers makes one a legitimate target.

    America is hated because they are aggressors against Muslims in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Palestine, or by supporting corrupt, puppet Muslim regimes such as the Saudis, Egypt, the Gulf states, and the Shah of Iran. After World War II, America effectively declared war on Muslims and Islam?replacing the British and French Empires, controlling ex-British puppet rulers, but especially by giving military, financial, and diplomatic support to the Israelis. America uses its U.N. veto against Muslims. It establishes U.S. bases across the Muslim world?itself an act of aggression.

    Do you believe that 9/11 was in any way Islamically justifiable?

    Speaking objectively as a Muslim scholar, and not inciting such acts, jihad can be effected outside the battlefield?it is not restricted by time, place, building, event, people, transport food, water (both of which may be legitimately poisoned in jihad), or by clothing?there is no need to wear a uniform.

    Any weapons are legitimate in jihad. Even animals may be used as “suicide bombers”! It is not restricted by target?even Muslims or children, if used by the enemy as human shields, can be killed. Only one thing can restrict jihad?a Covenant of Security [Treaty]. Non-combatant women, children, elders, clergy, insane, disabled are restricted, and non-Muslim children go to Paradise. However, if such are killed in crossfire or if used as human shields, they become collateral damage.

    Again, speaking objectively as a Muslim scholar, and not inciting such acts, 9/11 was justifiable because America had no Covenant of Security with the Muslims, although Muslims in the U.S. are under a Covenant of Security whereby they may not act militarily against America. Only qualified scholars in fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] could have planned this?because the 19 used non-Muslim aliases to enter the country (which legally allowed them to act in jihad).

    When I heard about it, I prayed to God that no Muslims in America did it because such is haram [forbidden in Islam]. After Al Qaeda admitted responsibility, it was obvious that qualified ulema [Islamic scholars] were behind it. Thus, Al-Qaeda has revived the culture of terrorism in Islam after 200 years.

    What about the hostage-taking and massacre of schoolchildren in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004?

    As stated, there is no restriction on place (it could even occur in Mecca)?so schools are legitimate targets of jihad, but it is up to local mujahedeen [those who engage in jihad] to decide the best strategy.

    Killing women and children never was and never will be part of the jihad in Islam, whether that be the women or children of the Muslims or non-Muslims. So if Chechen mujahedeen killed women and children in Beslan, I would condemn it. The children of non-Muslims, such as those at Beslan, who die in such circumstances go to Paradise.

    Would you characterize Al Qaeda’s jihad as being anti-Christian as well as being Anti-American?

    Al Qaeda comes from the Ahl-us Sunnah wa Jamaah sect?also known as Salafis or Al-Huruba [strangers], or “People of Tawhid” [Wahhabi branch of Islam], which explains why Zarqawi in Iraq uses the term. The jihad is not specifically anti-American.

    In terms of Islamic jurisprudence, only Muslims are innocent?non-Muslims are not. By default, all non-Muslims are rebel criminals against God. Muslims who engage in interfaith [gatherings] are apostate. God discriminates among man on basis of faith. The jihad is not specifically anti-Christian?it is anti-kaffir.

    Bin Laden says that his jihad is defensive. Could you explain this?

    Salafis do not use these terms, but defensive jihad is the response to when Muslims are attacked. Offensive jihad is when Islam is brought militarily by the Islamic state in conquest, or when Muslims are arrested [for their belief].

    9/11 was not an attempt to conquer America, but rather an act of retaliation. Its aim was to force America out of the Muslim world by inflicting the same pain on them as they inflict on Muslims.

    Many Muslim scholars think that all Israelis, as “colonial dispossessors,” but not all Americans or Russians, fit this category. What is the position of Islamic law? Is it halal (permitted by shari’ah law) to behead Western hostages in Iraq?

    Women and children [i.e. boys under 15] or Muslims are not legitimate targets?nor are any noncombatants [clergy, disabled, insane, elderly, etc.]. Not even Israeli children or women, unless they serve in the military, which most do, or live in properties taken from dispossessed Palestinians (Muslim or Christian), which virtually all do.

    However, if children are killed, the fault lies with the adult occupiers who brought them into a battlefield situation. There are two kinds of Jews in Palestine: firstly, the indigenous Palestinian Jews who always lived there with Muslims and Christians, with whom there is no problem unless they support the occupiers, and secondly, the illegitimate European colonists from Poland, Russia, etc., who are legitimate targets in jihad, because they dispossessed Muslims and covenanted [protected, indigenous] Christians.

    Regarding beheading, it is halal to behead Muslim criminals! It is halal to kill hostages in a war zone. Regarding what can be done to secure their release, either they or their families could embrace Islam. Or, based on the principle in Islamic jurisprudence that what benefits Islam and the Ummah [global Muslim community] is best?such as when Salah ad-Din [Saladin] after the-recapture of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] said he would only restore the True Cross to the Crusaders if it benefited the Muslims?the relatives of hostages could offer to continually denounce the Crusades, the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement that divided the Middle East between the French and British, the 1917 Balfour Declaration that handed Palestine to the Zionists, U.N. Resolution 181 that established the Zionist entity, and also American government support for what the Zionist regime does to the Palestinians, as well as condemn the situations at Guantanamo Bay, Umm Qasr, Bagran, and Abu Ghraib prisons.

    The mujahedeen then might consider that the benefits of releasing the hostages outweigh those in killing them. What happened in Spain demonstrated this: when the government announced withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the mujahedeen responded positively. Muslims appreciate the antiwar marches in the West. Bin Laden called on European peoples to condemn their governments.

    On what basis could America have peace? Could you explain the Hudaibiyya Treaty and its implications? Is it one-off or renewable?

    What the U.S. 9/11 Commission Report stated was untrue?it is not necessary for America to convert to Islam to have peace. Muslims fight America because they are aggressors; we fight apostate Muslim governments because they are aggressors against Islamic law.

    Peace could come if America withdrew its forces from the Muslim world, stopped exploiting Muslim resources such as oil, have decent relationships with Muslims, and stopped supporting the Zionist aggressors and Muslim puppet governments. In other words, “Hands off Muslim lands!” Muslims did not attack the USA?the reverse is true. 9/11 was an act of retaliation. As Bin Laden said, peace will come when the U.S. withdraws from the Muslim world.

    The Hudaibiyya Treaty was a 10-year truce between Muslim Medina and the pagan Meccans, and it is a basis for today. It is also renewable. It establishes a Covenant of Security. However, this is not possible with occupiers?so it could not be established with the Zionists or their supporters.

    Could you explain the concepts Bin Laden employs in his statements regarding 9/11 and other events: the House of War versus the House of Faith, and the other sphere, the House of Truce or Pact? Is the latter a basis for the end of hostilities? Can jihad ever end?

    Dar al-Harb, which is somewhat misleadingly translated “House of War,” refers to the sphere that wars against God or Muslims. The non-Islamic domain is either at war with Muslims or under treaty. Under Dar al-Ahad?the Domain of Security?the area becomes a suspended Dar al-Harb, because treaty prevents conflict, wherein there is freedom of speech, the right of religious propagation and no military aggression.

    Today there is no Dar al-Islam?the whole world is Dar al-Harb because it is the sphere of non-shari’ah. There is Dar al-Harb in terms of military aggression and occupation.

    The aim of the Khilafah [Caliphate]?the ideal Islamic State, which does not presently exist?is to conquer the world, either militarily or intellectually through people converting to Islam. Under the Islamic State there is no compulsion to convert to Islam, just to have an Islamic political order. If the right of religious propagation is forbidden, the USA becomes Dar al-Fitnah [Domain of Persecution]. There is also Dar al-Amen, where Muslims live in non-Muslim lands under a Covenant of Security. A Covenant of Security can be of two kinds: (1) a visa for sturdy, asylum, etc., and (2) original Shari’ah rules whereby the norm that the lives and property of non-Muslims are lawful for Muslims to take unless they embrace Islam are removed because of a Covenant of Security.

    The Mujahedeen today feel that they are like Abu Basir after the Hudaibiyya Treaty. [The treaty required Muhammad to return any man coming from Mecca. Abu Basir, a new Muslim convert, went to Mecca, but was pursued by two Meccans who successfully demanded that he be handed over. On the way back he slew one of them, but Muhammad, in loyalty to his promise, refused to receive him. Then he fled to live a brigand-like life with others in his situation, killing Meccan pagans and taking their property. Eventually the Meccans asked Muhammad to receive his group into Medina]. Thus, the Mujahedeen, knowing there is no Covenant of Security, believe all lives and property to be halal for them. However, the norm is a treaty situation.

    The USA ceases to be Dar al-Amen for Muslims in America if: (1) America declares Islam to be the enemy; (2) it starts arresting or killing Muslims; (3) it bans Islamic preaching. Muslims are not allowed to fight America from within its borders when they normally live there?they must leave and then fight.

    There can be no end to jihad?a hadith [narration of Muhammad] states this, but treaties can be a form of jihad. An example is the treaty relationship established between Medina and the Christian state of Najran, or the Jewish entity of Khaybar, where both were self-governing, but within Dar al-Islam.

    You have talked about the Islamic flag flying over Downing Street, and I have seen a hadith on your website saying that the end would not come until the White House is captured. How do you envisage these goals being achieved?

    “The final hour will not come until the Muslims conquer the White House” is a hadith related by Tabarani, a great Muslim scholar. How?

    The Khilafah is necessary for offensive jihad, though it could occur if Muslims warred to liberate captive Muslims. Realistically, it will probably occur through intellectual da’wah [Islamic missionary activity].

    How would a Caliphate operate?

    Under the Khilafah, authority is centralized, but not administration. The Caliph appoints ministers, judges, governors, army commanders, etc. Constitutionally, although all analogies are imperfect, the Khilafah is closer to the U.S. presidential system than to the U.K. parliamentary system with a Prime Minister, although the major difference is that the Caliph operates under a divine mandate.

    There could be no non-Muslim judges. Effectively, the Qur’an and Sunnah [practice and narrations of Muhammad related in Hadith] are the Constitution, Shari’ah is the law. The Caliph is chosen by Muslims, whether by popular election, or selection by Majlis as-Shura [Consultative Assembly]. Non-Muslims can enter the Majlis to represent their own community.

    What would be the rights of Christians in a restored Caliphate?

    As citizens, in terms of welfare and security, education, etc., they will be equal. They will be exempt from national service, although they can volunteer. They will pay the Jizya poll-tax for security and signifying that they submit to Islamic law, except if they join the army. This need not be levied with humiliation. Nor is it levied on women, children, clergy, elderly, etc., only on mature, working males.

    No private schools will be allowed, and there will be an Islamically influenced national curriculum. No new churches will be permitted, but existing ones will be allowed. Private consumption of alcohol will be permitted, but not its public sale. All state officials must be Muslims, save for the Caliph’s assistants to advise him about relations with non-Muslim citizens. Muslims could not convert to Christianity on pain of execution. Evangelistic campaigns would be forbidden, but people would be free to present Christianity on TV, in debates, etc.

    You have debated American evangelicals like Jay Smith. Do you only believe in debating or do you see a place for dialogue?

    Debate and dialogue is the same. A treaty is dialogue. No inter-faith; religions are not the same. Debate is fine.

    Talking of Jay, what do you think of him and other evangelicals that you have met?

    I feel very comfortable with Jay?with him, what you see is what you get. He is no hypocrite, and neither are Salafis. His words and actions match his heart. He does not pretend by saying soft words about Islam. The Qur’an calls for debate.

    Specifically, what do you think of U.S. evangelicals?

    Most U.S. evangelicals refuse to debate Muslims, unlike the courage of Jay who boldly cries “Jesus is Lord!” I am always willing to meet him. However, I have no direct experience of most U.S. evangelicals, and I will not judge on the basis of what I see on TV. I am always skeptical of television.

    You issued a fatwa some years ago sentencing the U.S. author of the “blasphemous” play Corpus Christi to death. What do you think of Christ?

    In Islam, Jesus is called Al-Masih ‘Isa [the Messiah Jesus]. He is a Messenger of Allah, miraculously born of the Virgin Mary. He spoke in the cradle, defended the message of previous prophets?Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc., preached the oneness of God, predicted the coming of a prophet called Ahmed [i.e., Muhammad], he denied the Trinity and being Son of God.

    He will return before the Day of Judgment, and will be a Sign of the Hour. He will judge between Muslims and Christians, abolish jihad because his presence will be the point of conflict with the Dajjal [Antichrist], who will fight, allied with Jews and false Christians, against the Mahdi [Rightly-Guided one expected in Islamic eschatology] and Jesus.

    The fatwa against the author of Corpus Christi was because it was an attack on Jesus, which is the same as an attack on Muhammad and God. Muslims have a duty to defend Jesus.

  10. If circular reasoning was a crime, I could convict Jim Holman of a felony

    Jim Holman types:

    I think Dean is merely stating the rather obvious fact that countries can do things that provoke attacks. It doesn?t mean that the attack is justified, nor that the victims of the attack are somehow guilty. It does mean that the prudent leaders of a country might want to reflect on what they have done in the world to provoke such a response, and whether there is anything that could be changed so as to minimize the provocation. Maybe there is, maybe there isn?t. The smart person at least asks the question.

    **********************************************************************************

    Missourian: Given the enormity of evil of 9/11, it is a logical and moral outrage to ask “what provoked the attack.” The innocent people incinerated by jihadi maniacs provoked the attack by refusing to convert to Islam. Now that we have answered that question where do we go from here? What insight do we gain from that? There definitely would be less conflict in the world if we merely renounced our Faith, our civilization, our Constitution and became Muslims. How useful was that exercise Jim?

    The 9/11 hijackers were organized by Osama Ben Laden. Osama Ben Laden has accepted responsibility for the attacks. Osama Ben Laden has explained in detail why he attacked. Given that Osama Ben Laden the undisputed mastermind of 9/11 has admitted he organized the attacks and given that he has given his reasons, it is insulting to ask what America did to “provoke” the attacks. Osama Ben Laden is continuing the jihad against non-Muslims begun by Mohammad.

    Your question with respect to 9/11 and the jihadis is just as insulting to the United States as it the same question is to a rape victim or a beaten wife.

  11. Questions about Provocation after an Atrocity are Morally Insulting

    Jim Holman types:

    It?s not what the individuals do but what their country does.

    I think Dean is merely stating the rather obvious fact that countries can do things that provoke attacks. It doesn?t mean that the attack is justified, nor that the victims of the attack are somehow guilty. It does mean that the prudent leaders of a country might want to reflect on what they have done in the world to provoke such a response, and whether there is anything that could be changed so as to minimize the provocation. Maybe there is, maybe there isn?t. The smart person at least asks the question.

    In the case of the U.S. we tend to see all of our actions as justified. If we support death squads in El Salvador, contras in Nicaragua, sell weapons around the world, support dictators, overthrow governments, etc., etc., Americans see all of that as perfectly reasonable and justified. Others do not share that perspective, and some of those look for payback.

    ***********************************************************************************

    Reminder here, that Jim is defending Dean’s statement that the FIRST INQUIRY after a violent attack on the United States is to ask what the United States did to provoke the attack.

    Inquiries into provocation are only conducted with the goal of determining whether the victim of the violent act should have behaved differently. It is only reasonable to suggest that a victim of a violent act should have behaved differently if the victim’s conduct was improper in some sense. It is dishonest and disingenous for Jim Holman and Dean Scourtes to investigate “provocation” without admitting that the purpose of the investigation is to change the conduct of the victim. This is just as insulting with a country as it is with a person.

    Jim’s response is dishonest. In his first paragraph he presents himself as an impartial investigator just looking for the facts. He claims that his inquiry into the so-called provocation by the country which is the victim of the attack is not equivalent to providing justification for the attack. However, if you look at the second paragraph he clearly lists events which he considers to be immoral or improper conduct allegedly engaged in by the United States government. This negates his claim that his interest in the issue of provocation is neutral. He is expecting to find immoral or improper conduct which offsets the atrocities.

    Jim’s response is ill-informed. Again, Osama Ben Laden and Al-Zawquari have told us over an over again what their reasoning is and what their motivation is. Their motivation is the domination of Islam over the globe. Like Hitler before him, Osama puts his reasoning out there in plain site and the West continues to ignore it.

    Lastly, Jim suggests that “In the case of the United States, we all see our actions as justified.” This is patently false. There is a very wide ranging and free-wheeling debate on foreign policy in the United States. It is simply not true to suggest that Americans as a whole walk in lock step.

  12. Missourian writes: “Given the enormity of evil of 9/11, it is a logical and moral outrage to ask ‘what provoked the attack.'”

    First of all, I wasn’t talking about 9/11. But Ok, let’s talk 9/11.

    Attacks like this happen for reasons. This is why you try to understand the reasons for the attack. They may not be good or moral reasons, and the reasons may not make any sense to us. But you have to understand the reason. The explanation of “these people are evil” actually explains nothing. Why did they attack the U.S? Why the WTC? Why the Pentagon?

    Missourian: “The innocent people incinerated by jihadi maniacs provoked the attack by refusing to convert to Islam. Now that we have answered that question where do we go from here?”

    That’s not the reason for the attack. There are non-Moslems all over the world. Why travel thousands of miles to another country and spend many months preparing a complex operation? If you want to kill non-Moslems there are easier ways to do that.

    Missourian: ‘There definitely would be less conflict in the world if we merely renounced our Faith, our civilization, our Constitution and became Muslims. How useful was that exercise Jim?”

    It’s not a useful exercise because it has nothing to do with the reason for the attacks.

    Missourian: “Osama Ben Laden has explained in detail why he attacked.”

    There’s a start. What did he say? What is his goal?

    Missourian: “Your question with respect to 9/11 and the jihadis is just as insulting to the United States as it the same question is to a rape victim or a beaten wife.”

    It’s only insulting if you don’t want to understand the situation. If you don’t want to understand, fine, but don’t blame those who do.

  13. Note 10

    Why Osama Ben Laden attacked the United States.

    Please read carefully,Jim.

    Osama Ben Laden attacked the United States because Islam is a supremacist ideology. The success of the United States contradicts Mohammed’s prediction that Islam would rule the world. Until about 1400 the Islamic empire was expanding throughout the world. Muslims believed that their civilization would supercede all prior civilizations. Well, the success of the United States contradicted that. Muslims feel humiliation that they are not the leading civilization in the world. Mohammed promised them that they would be.

    Osama Ben Laden hates us because we stand for the rule of law, the choice of leader by election, constitutional protections of freedom or speech, thought and religion, equality of the sexes and many more things.

    WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER COUNTRIES AND CULTURES THAT HAVE BEEN ATTACKED BY JIHADIS?

    If you consider it proper to ask what the United States did to provoke Osams Ben Laden, please answer these questions?

    What have the non-Muslim Nigerians done to provoke the multiple attacks by Muslims?

    What have the Buddhists of Thailand done to provoke the multiple attacks by Muslims?

    What have the non-Muslim Phillipinos done to provoke the multiple attacks by Muslims?

    What did the Balinese do to provoke the attacks by Muslims?

    What did the Sudanese Christians do to provoke the attacks by Muslims.

    What did the Indian Hindus do to provoke acid attacks on non-veiled women in Kashmire?

    What did the Russian school children do to provoke the attack by Muslims?

    What do the Copts do to provoke attacks on their Churchs in Egypt?

    What did the Orthodox do to provoke the takeover of their places of worship, such as Hagia Sophia?

    Other than North Ireland (which is settling down), Columbia and the Basques of Spain, the VAST MAJORITY OF ALL MINDLESS VIOLENCE AGAINST INNOCENT CIVILIANS IS MUSLIM. What will it take to wake you up?

    You are being willfully blind if you do not recognize the existence of a world-wide Muslims attack on non-Muslims.

  14. Missourian writes: “Reminder here, that Jim is defending Dean’s statement that the FIRST INQUIRY after a violent attack on the United States is to ask what the United States did to provoke the attack.”

    I didn’t say “first inquiry.” I said that the prudent person tries to understand the reason for the attack.

    Missourian: “It is only reasonable to suggest that a victim of a violent act should have behaved differently if the victim’s conduct was improper in some sense.”

    Your analysis is confused. There are two different levels here. The first level is what the U.S. does in and to other countries and how our intentions and actions are interpreted in those countries. The second level concerns the casualties that results from attacks against the U.S. I’m not saying that Fred Smith, lying dead in the street after a terrorist attack should have done something differently. I’m saying that perhaps the government should have done something differently — at least that we should ask the question.

    Your view seems to be that all terrorist attacks are completely unrelated to anything we do on the world, irrational, and having no further explanation than “evil.” My view is that terrorist attacks need to be understood, and that AFTER ANALYSIS of all the relevant factors we may or may not decide to alter some of our actions.

    Missourian: “It is dishonest and disingenous for Jim Holman and Dean Scourtes to investigate ‘provocation’ without admitting that the purpose of the investigation is to change the conduct of the victim. This is just as insulting with a country as it is with a person.”

    Your analysis assumes that the United States never does anything to provoke an attack — that we are only “victims” and never provocateurs. What is the basis of that assumption? In the U.S. we look at bad things that happen as “collateral damage,” and we’re sorry about that. Other people may not dismiss it so easily.

    Missourian writes: “Jim’s response is dishonest. In his first paragraph he presents himself as an impartial investigator just looking for the facts. . . .the second paragraph he clearly lists events which he considers to be immoral or improper conduct allegedly engaged in by the United States government. This negates his claim that his interest in the issue of provocation is neutral. He is expecting to find immoral or improper conduct which offsets the atrocities.”

    The point is not whether a terrorist attack is “balanced” against something we have done. The point is to understand the dynamics behind the attack — to understand how our actions are interpreted in the larger world.

    Missourian: “Jim’s response is ill-informed. Again, Osama Ben Laden and Al-Zawquari have told us over an over again what their reasoning is and what their motivation is. Their motivation is the domination of Islam over the globe.”

    Not domination over the globe, I think, but reestablishment of the Caliphate, and a removal of Western influences. But very good, at least you’re trying to undertstand their reasoning. This is my point. You have to understand the thinking, the reasons, the interpretations, the goals. Otherwise you have no idea how to respond. Prime example: the invasion of Iraq.

    Missourian: “Lastly, Jim suggests that ‘In the case of the United States, we all see our actions as justified.’ This is patently false. There is a very wide ranging and free-wheeling debate on foreign policy in the United States. It is simply not true to suggest that Americans as a whole walk in lock step.”

    I’m speaking generally here. There are always dissenting voices, but as a rule whatever the U.S. does in the world is perceived as acceptable by its citizens. We’re real sorry that Iraqi civilians got killed in the war, but it’s not a particularly significant issue for us. For many Iraqis that is the lens through which our actions are interpreted.

  15. Not Domination Over the Globe?

    Why the attacks on:

    Russian children in Checnya?
    Buddhist monks in Thailand?
    Eastern orthodox churches in the Balkans (still after the war)?
    Nigerian Christians?
    Philiopino non-Muslims?
    Chinese non-Muslims?
    Dutch film-makers?
    French Jews?

    How is this not a world wide attack.? Looks pretty world-wide to me.We know that jihadis are active in North Africa and in South America. What part of the Caliphate is South America, Jim?

    Should we encourage this thinking by withdrawing from the Muslim world? Should we prohibit travel to the Muslim world by non-Muslims? Should we prohibit intellectual exchanges between the West and the Muslims world. The Muslim world is a tottering wreck that cannot feed its people, educate its people or inspire its own young people to live in their homelands. The Muslims world is a failure and the United States, by its example, just points up what a failure it is.

  16. Does the “Muslim world” have a right to block the progress of the world?

    Does the Muslim world have the right to object to the fact that the rest of the world has progressed beyond them?

    Does the Muslim world have the right to be free of criticism?

    Should Muslims be forever shielded from intellectual challenges to their cultures or practices?

    Do Muslims have the right somehow to continue to restrict the intellectual freedom of their own citizens?

    Is it right and proper for Saudi Arabia to arrest and kill a Muslim who converts?

    Are we morally bound to approve of reprehensible practices just because a Muslim does them?

    Is a Muslim Army conquered a piece of territory in 900 A.D. are non-Muslims forever to be treated as second class citizens in that territory?

  17. NOTE IN YOUR NAME

    A writer for the Times of London did a great essay about the Iraqi elections. He titled it “Not in your Name.” He addressed it to Robin Cook, the former official with the Blair administration who was very vocal in opposition to the Iraq war.

    The reasoning applies to Jim Holman and Dean Scourtes. If Iraq manages to hold itself together. If it manages to come up with a Constitution that creates representative government which respects minority rights, it won’t be in your name Dean or Jim. You may not celebrate the accomplishment.

    There is one thing we do know now. No matter what happens we know that the people of Iraq will brave bullets for the right to choose their leaders. We know that at least 30 brave Iraqis paid the ultimate price for trying to vote. They didn’t do that for any reason expect their own self-respect.

    No dancing in the street for you Jim.

  18. Jim, Answer the Same Questions

    Why did, Osama Ben Laden, attack America?
    What does Osama Ben Laden want?
    What did America do to provoke Osama Ben Laden?
    What should America do differently to avoid having her citizens incinerated in tall buildings by suicide pilots willing to kill anyone in order to hurt America?

    I await enlightenment.

  19. This covers Bin Ladin’s stated aims, “The principal stated aims of al-Qaeda are to drive Americans and American influence out of all Muslim nations, especially Saudi Arabia; destroy Israel; and topple pro-Western dictatorships around the Middle East. Bin Laden has also said that he wishes to unite all Muslims and establish, by force if necessary, an Islamic nation adhering to the rule of the first Caliphs.”

    This is what he said. He wants to destroy Israel, but his stated purposes behind attacking the U.S. were strictly connected to U.S. actions, not the existence of the United States or its form of government. I believe that we should give credence to what he says, not what we believe he means.

    Now, Osama is a Utopian dreamer, and his ideas are considered far outside the mainstream in the Middle East. Most Muslims live in the borders of their new nation states, and appear to be relatively happy to do so. All attempts at ‘Pan-Arab’ unity, whether along the national socialist model of Nasser and the Ba’ath, the radical socialist model of Khaddaffi, or the new Osama revived Caliphate, have all come to nothing. Mostly because the governments and ruling elites in the existing nations would all end up being displaced in such a pan-Arab venture. Besides, look at the problems getting the Kurds, Shia, and Sunnis to live together in Iraq. A revived Caliphate would be a polyglot nightmare, and in the era of nationalism, multi-ethnic states have a rough time of it.

    In addition, most Muslims in the Middle East have not been convinced by Osama’s rhetoric that the U.S. is out to attack their nations, kill their young men, and rape their women. That is, of course, until now. The Iraq invasion seems to have played into the fears of the Muslim street that the U.S. is out to re-colonize the region. This has suddenly lent street credibility to Bin Ladin, who heretofore looked like a crackpot. Everytime President Bush talks about spreading democracy, I can well imagine that urban, well-educated Muslims unlucky enough to inhabit a dictatorship, such as Egypt, cringe at the idea that bombs may someday be used to liberate their nation.

    Muslim groups that use terror do so from a variety of motivations. Some groups, like Al Queda, are offended by U.S. actions in the Middle East and wish to force us to change our policies. They may also have other motivations such as winning prestige to further another agenda, but they are definitely not killing us just for the sake of killing us or because we have a Bill of Rights. These folks have a beef with us, and many are interested in attacking our interests throughout the world. I’d refer to them as true jihadis, and doubt we can do much to really make peace with them at this stage. They’re ideologically driven dreamers and are a small minority.

    Other groups using terror are concerned primarily with local conflicts. I consider the majority of the Iraqi insurgency to fit into this category, along with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and other groups. These groups have gripes that are confined to a specific geographic location. Often they are most nationalistic than religious, and they are using terror in pursuit of rather concrete goals. They want to end an occupation, overthrow their local government, free a local Muslim-dominated province (A non-Muslim example of this would be the IRA). Often Group 2’s get assistance from Group 1, whether they want it or not. Most people fighting against us in Iraq, for example, would have no interest in traveling to another place in order to attack Americans. The same goes for many Afghanis.

    Terrorists in Group 2 don’t have an automatic beef with the U.S. and often don’t even attack or threaten U.S. targets. Just like negotiations with the IRA have proven fruitful, I think most of these groups can be negotiated with.

    Interestingly, in the past, a lot of U.S. problems have come from these type groups. Iraq aside, in Lebanon, for example, the Marine barracks was actually hit by a Shiite group only AFTER the U.S. had actively committed the Marines to multiple days of combat action in support of the Phalange and Israelis. Had the U.S. not blundered into active combat, while failing to properly secure its Base of Ops at the airport, there is a really good chance we would never have gotten hit.

    There are, in fact, a lot of Muslim thinkers who are committed to destroying the West, and they have a plan. In fact, they talk openly about the plan. And, it usually doesn’t involve terrorism. The weapon of choice isn’t the AK, its the cradle. The farsighted Muslim Imans started encouraging Muslim immigration in the 1920’s, with an eye towards eventually changing the West through a combination of immigration, high birth rates, and democracy. Yes, democracy.

    Muslim fundamentalists are fully aware of the utility of democracy in peacefully seizing control of a government. In fact, Muslim extremist groups from Algeria to Syria to Turkey regularly call for free elections, since they would win, just like Al-Sistani’s slate most likely won the recent election in Iraq. In the West, a high Muslim population and one-man, one-vote could lead to the end of civilization. (The Iraqi insurgency is Sunni-dominated. The Sunnis are a minority, hence their opposition to elections they couldn’t win. That objection does not apply in areas where Muslim-dominated parties expect a victory at the polls.)

    That is the real Muslim threat, in my estimation. Not terrorism, not war, but the steady stream of people into Europe and the United States who do not share our values, and could eventually vote themselves into power.

    Curiously, Bush’s foreign and domestic policies are doing nothing to address this. In fact, in the State of the Union, Bush called again for greater immigration and even less control of our borders.

    Missiourian and all, there are probably hundreds of Muslim extremist groups around the world among a population of 1 Billion people – most of whom just want to be left alone. Painting with too broad a brush leads us into strategic and tactical blunders from which it is difficult to recover. “Know your enemy” is the first maxim of war, but also important is, “Don’t make enemies when you don’t need to.”

  20. I’ll be glad to take seriously this idea that America must examine its behavior vis a vis international politics and its foreign policy before it can claim it is justified to act on the world’s stage when and only when someone, anyone, on the Left stands up and says,

    “Look, Kim Jong Il, if you don’t look at your behavior internationally and with regards to your own people, don’t come complaining to us when the United States puts you on the Axis of Evil and enacts sanctions against your government. Look at your own behavior, you so-called ‘beloved Leader’ in order to figure out why people don’t like you.”

    Or maybe someone on the Left can say, “Look, Fidel Castro, as long as you continue to support Communist uprisings throughout South America, as long as imprison people for trying to set up libraries, as long as you continue to restrict freedom of travel, assembly and speech, you’re just not going to get any pity from us. Look at your own behavior, Fidel, in order to understand why some people don’t like you.”

  21. Missourian writes: “The reasoning applies to Jim Holman and Dean Scourtes. If Iraq manages to hold itself together. If it manages to come up with a Constitution that creates representative government which respects minority rights, it won’t be in your name Dean or Jim. You may not celebrate the accomplishment.”

    Well, we did help pay for it, and will continue to pay for it. So give us some credit, if only for our money. But if everything works out, that’s great. It just goes to show that people can make risky decisions, ignore sound advice, and come out on top. But just to make you happy, I promise not to affix an “I supported the invasion of Iraq” bumper sticker to my car.

    That said, I’m not sure what moral or political calculus we would apply here. It appears that we’ve given bin Laden a great recruiting tool, to the point that even Rumsfeld didn’t know if we were killing more insurgents than we were creating. It appears that we’re providing on-the-job training for terrorists all over the region, and that training is portable and will be used elsewhere. But yes, the scenario you describe is entirely possible. Not likely, but possible. I sincerely hope it is realized, because the alternative scenarios are grim to contemplate.

    Missourian: “Jim, Answer the Same Questions: Why did, Osama Ben Laden, attack America? What does Osama Ben Laden want?,” etc.

    I’m not a terrorism expert. But I look at bin Laden’s fatwah or declaration of 1996, whatever one would call it. He raises a number of points. I don’t have it in front of me, but as I recall his primary gripe is that U.S. troops occupied a country, Saudi Arabia, containing two holy Islamic cities. That’s his main beef. In addition he talked about the role of the Western countries in supporting governments that oppressed Moslems. Interestingly, bin Laden doesn’t like the United Nations either, because it does nothing to end the oppression. He believes that the U.S. is also economically exploiting the various nations of the region.

    The 1998 fatwah again addresses the continuing U.S. presence in the Middle East, with particular mention of Iraq.

    These are his gripes, more or less.

    I don’t think that we’re ever going to make bin Laden happy. But certainly we can act in ways that don’t add to his cause. In invading Iraq we basically turned him into a prophet, while at the same time taking down an admittedly brutal middle eastern country and giving it the opportunity to become an Islamic state.

    So here’s rule #1: don’t act so as to benefit your enemy’s cause.

  22. Daniel writes: “Or maybe someone on the Left can say, ‘Look, Fidel Castro, as long as you continue to support Communist uprisings throughout South America, as long as imprison people for trying to set up libraries, as long as you continue to restrict freedom of travel, assembly and speech, you’re just not going to get any pity from us. Look at your own behavior, Fidel, in order to understand why some people don’t like you.'”

    Or maybe we can just invade Cuba. If you’re not doing anything, I hear there are openings in the infantry. If we don’t invade Cuba, they can really use you in Iraq. How about it? Let me know when you get to Camp Anaconda and I’ll send you a care package.

  23. Missiourian, your answers:

    Why did, Osama Ben Laden, attack America? Osama wants to resurrect the Caliphate. He believes that the U.S. dominates the Middle East and props up a series of corrupt, un-Islamic, oppressive regimes. These regimes stand in the way of his dream of uniting the Middle East into a new Caliphate. Osama seems also to be quite upset about the Iraqi sanctions, the basing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and U.S. attacks on Muslim nations such as the Sudan (under Clinton). I don’t believe he cares much for our culture either. On the other hand, I have yet to read any of his statements in which he takes on either the Bill of Rights or our republican form of government.

    Unfortunately, in the Middle East the U.S. props up a series of corrupt and oppressive regimes, and makes a habit out of bombing things. While Osama’s Utopian idea of resurrecting the Caliphate is way, way out of the mainstream in a Middle East where most Muslims seem comfortable in their nation-states, the behavior of the United States does make a lot of people nervous.

    What does Osama Ben Laden want? He wants us out of the Middle East. In our absence, Osama would be a thorn in the side of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other governments that he wants to overthrow. Remember, Osama called Hussein an infidel. Among ruling elites, Osama is NOT a popular guy in the region. In fact, he’s nuts. Many, many secularized, westernized Arabs have pointed out that Osama is clearly a Utopian nutjob, but that by provoking the U.S. into Iraq, he has suddenly proven himself to be a prophet. It suddenly appears that the U.S. really is out to dominate the region, steal the oil, kill the men, and rape the women. Osama has gone from being some kook to having street credibility.

    What did America do to provoke Osama Ben Laden? Well, in addition to the things I mentioned before, Osama has spoken often and angrily about the U.S. bombing campaign in Lebanon in the early 1980’s. Our Marines had been committed to Beirut as peacekeepers. The Reagen administration based them in an almost indefensible location at the airport (bottom of a depression, no defensible perimiter), and then allowed the detachment to get sucked in to open combat by directing it to support the Phalange and the Israelis. As part of the fighting, Muslim villages got shelled. (One of the men who lost family in that shelling later flew a plane into the World Trade Center.) Hezbollah retaliated by attacking the Marine barracks. The U.S. then rained down Hell on areas of Beirut and WHOLE LOT of people died. This seems to have upset Osama, even at a time that he was sucking down large amounts of U.S. aid funneled via Pakistan. I am sure there is more, but again, given the fact that we stand in the way of Osama’s big dream, it is hard to know how much is really a ‘trigger’ in his mind and how much is simply convenient pretext. The truth is, however, that Osama’s organization is full of really, really upset guys who have a bone to pick with us over something we actually did.

    What should America do differently to avoid having her citizens incinerated in tall buildings by suicide pilots willing to kill anyone in order to hurt America? Ah, good question. We could start by tightening our borders and ending both immigration, study programs, and tourist visas for residents of Muslim nations. (All of the 9/11 hijackers came in to the U.S. through airports and were allowed in by the INS.) Deporting the ones here illegally would help. We could also ban Muslim Imans from prison. We can also refocus our military efforts on defending our own borders. We can then disengage from the Middle East as much as possible and stop propping up tyrants.

    Now, as to the nature of worldwide Muslim attacks. The fact is, two very distinct types of Muslim militant organizations exist. The first is like Al-Queda. It has big, huge plans and a breathtaking vision. It is transnational and not tied to any specific conflict. These are true Jihadis out to change the world for Allah.

    The second kind is more localized and may take the form of either a rebel army or terrorist cells. This kind may use Islamic language and imagery as an organzing tool/ideology, but its activities are really tied in to some local conflict with a very concrete objective in mind. Free a province, establish the Sharia, overthrow the local government, etc. I consider the indiginuous insurgents in Iraq to be of this variety. The vast majority of the 5,000 to 20,000 Sunnis fighting us are from the country, and are fighting for a variety of aims. Now, frequently the local groups get help from the transnational jihadis, however, their reasons for fighting differ. The locals want to win and get on with their lives. For the true jihadis, this is their life.

    Unfortunately, Muslims are hard to rule. This has always been the case. In the 11th Century, the Byzantine Empire had fought back and crushed the Arab caliphate. The Byzantines pushed their boundaries outward until they reached a line beyond which further expansion would have required ruling large numbers of Muslims. At that line, they simply stopped expanding. The Empire made a conscious decision that ruling Muslims was more trouble than it was worth. Smart move on the Emperor’s part.

    It is these localized groups that spring up in response to U.S. actions on that ground, like the combat action in Lebanon or the invasion of Iraq. They usually aren’t interested in striking targets in the U.S., they are instead just interested in solving what is happening in their own country.

    Now, you asked why the following groups are being killed:

    Russian children in Checnya? The Checnyans have had, historically, a raw deal at the hands of the Russians. When other nationalities were allowed to become independent, Moscow insisted on hanging on to them because of the technicalities of their inclusion in the Russian Federation, rather than as a separate Soviet Republic. They beat Yeltsin into submission, and then proceeded to push their luck by fomenting rebellion in neighboring provinces. Putin then took power and POUNDED the country flat. Nobody really knows how many men, women, and children were killed. Putin, of course, has access to modern weapons. He did his killing from 10,000 feet up and no one said much about the dead children. The Muslims don’t have MIGs, so they did their killing up close and personal. Killing civilians is wrong, and both sides are guilty of it. The Chechnyans are trying to ratchet up the cost of the war and convince the Russians it isn’t worth it to stay.
    Buddhist monks in Thailand? Muslim Thais want independence. Why kill monks? I have no idea. Got me on this one.
    Eastern orthodox churches in the Balkans (still after the war)? Protected by NATO, the Albanian Kosovars are trying to erase all traces of the Serbian presence from Kosovo. This is a shrewd plan on their part to force independence. “Look, we can’t go back to being part of Serbia! There aren’t even any Serbs left in the country! And, hey, there aren’t even any churches left! See, all gone! Now, we want an independent country allied with greater Albania please!” This is a struggle that has what is known as cross-cutting cleavages – the combatants are both different ethnicities and religions. Unfortunately, the U.S. has made this situation worse.
    Nigerian Christians? Brewing civil war. The Muslims want a Muslim state, the Christians are getting so uppity as to resist this. Bad, bad time for all.
    Philiopino non-Muslims? Phillippine Muslims concentrated in the southern islands have wanted independence for over 100 years. We fought them for almost two decades in the early part of the 20th Century. In truth, the Phillippine government should just let them go. Same strategy as in Chechnya. The Muslims are trying to ratchet up the cost in blood so that Manila throws in the towel.
    Chinese non-Muslims? The Muslims want independence. See previous examples.
    Dutch film-makers? Muslims don’t do well living in multi-ethnic societies. Mass Muslim immigration – bad idea!!!!!
    French Jews? See previous example.

    The thing is, these situations do have some commonality. As I said earlier, Muslims are hard to rule and I see no value in trying. Second, they are almost impossible to integrate. Again, I see no reason to try. However, these various groups are not coordinated to any large extent, are mostly concerned with local events, and are not necessarily concerned with the United States.

    But, by involving ourselves in the internal issues of so many nations, we necessarily end up coming into one side or the other of these conflicts, and then we become their enemy. Not my idea of a sage foreign policy.

  24. Daniel,

    The left is shallow and hypocritical. Everyone knows that codling Castro and the Soviets exposed the lack of moral clarity of the left. However, their lack of morals does not justify a similar lack of morals on the right. Just because someone else is worse doesn’t excuse a failing on your part. Castro is and was evil. Then again, so was Noriega and Pinochet. I think it is important to tell the truth and not place a game of justification by ‘lesser evil.’

  25. Glen:

    Thanks for the comments. I was generally aware of the Russian conflict, I knew it was wretched on both sides. I certainly agree that there are groups who are focused on their own long-standing grudges and vendettas and that there are groups that have grand dreams of the revival of a world wide Caliphate.

    I had really hoped that Jim Holman would answer the question about the non-Americans targeted by Muslim jihadis. I readily concede that American governments are fully capable of making some terrible blunders. I do not tie myself to every foreign policy ever adopted by a U.S. President. However, I still consider it morally offensive that Americans should be asked FIRST to examine themselves to see what could have provoked the incineration of thousands of innocent people. My point in reciting the non-American victims of Muslims was that there had to be some kind of connection. The world is covered with trouble spots that involve Muslims, there are literally dozens of them all over the world. It is logical to conclude that there is something about Islam which generates conflict. I suggest that it is the openly supremicist teaching of Mohammed.

    You remark several times that Muslims are hard to rule and that they don’t assimilate. Could that possibly be the result of Mo’s promise that they are “the best people” and they are destined by Allah to rule all non-Muslims who are “unclean.” Might have something to do with it.

    Observation. If you remember the old song “How you gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen New York.” Globalization means that young Muslims see how the West lives. They clearly perceive how backward their region is. They rightly blame the retrograde restrictions of Islam and are tempted to leave the Faith or water down its observance to a point considered heretical by their elders. Is this not a danger for the Muslim world? The bright light of the day of the 21st Century. (Note, I am not an unqualified fan of American life in the 21st Century, but I have hope that we can regain some of what we lost culturally and morally in the 20th C. However you cannot deny the dynamism of the American economy and many parts of the American culture. I sincerely hope the tide has turned culturally and morally)

  26. Glen

    I don’t know how we can avoid “involving ourselves” with the internal affairs of so many nations.

    Take trade. Most people see trade as a benificent force. The argument is that the more two countries are tied together by peaceful trade and treaties which govern trade, the less likely they are to disrupt mutually advantageous agreements and go to war. Decisions we make in our economy affect people overseas. Decisions people make overseas affect our economy.

    Take war. If another country acquires the technology to launch long-range missiles which threaten our territory, we have a stake in their internal affairs. Russia and North Korea come to mind.

    Take population shifts. The political class seems bent on ignoring the will of the vast majority of Americans. It, the political class, permits the illegal migration of 8 to 20 million Mexicans with an assortment of others thrown in. Sometimes other countries are virtually moving here.

    Take homeland security. Homeland security is working with the governments of other countries to check cargo destined for the United States before it leaves it home country, same with passengers on planes.

    I would dearly love to isolate my country from the world, I think those days are past.

  27. For Jim Holman

    Please address:

    WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER COUNTRIES AND CULTURES THAT HAVE BEEN ATTACKED BY JIHADIS?

    If you consider it proper to ask what the United States did to provoke Osams Ben Laden, please answer these questions?

    What have the non-Muslim Nigerians done to provoke the multiple attacks by Muslims?

    What have the Buddhists of Thailand done to provoke the multiple attacks by Muslims?

    What have the non-Muslim Phillipinos done to provoke the multiple attacks by Muslims?

    What did the Balinese do to provoke the attacks by Muslims?

    What did the Sudanese Christians do to provoke the attacks by Muslims.

    What did the Indian Hindus do to provoke acid attacks on non-veiled women in Kashmire?

    What did the Russian school children do to provoke the attack by Muslims?

    What do the Copts do to provoke attacks on their Churchs in Egypt?

    What did the Orthodox do to provoke the takeover of their places of worship, such as Hagia Sophia?

    ***************************

    Please instruct the prudent Russian, Indian Hindu, Copt, Turkish Orthodox Christians, Sudanes Christians, Balinese, Philopino, Thais and Nigerians about what they did to provoke the attack?

    What did they do Jim?

  28. What Did Ward Churchill Do to Provoke the Vandalism

    I am saddened to learn that Ward Churchill’s car has been vandalized. Following Dean Scourtes and Jim Holman’s suggestion, I think we should contact Mr. Churchill and ask him to consider FIRST what he may have done to PROVOKE the vandalism. Now I am not suggesting that Mr. Churchill is partially responsible for the vandalism, I just want an honest inquiry into the matter. After all, here in the United States were take it for granted that tenured professors are correct in their actions.

    Only part of the foregoing is facetious.

    I am saddened to see his car vandalized. Vandalism is a criminal act, if only a misdemeanor in most cases. The vandalism was of the type which might be considered a threat. I don’t want to see Churchill threated or terrorized. Violent acts of this type against Mr. Churchill make it more difficult for responsible people to address the core issues.

    I don’t even want to see him lose his job. I think that the logical consequences of his actions should play out unfettered. A large number of people will learn who he really is and he will lose respect in the academic world. That is sufficient for me.

  29. Volcker Report: United Nations corruption runs high, runs deep

    We need a new international organization consisting of democratically elected governments that respect human rights. No more being unequally yoked with tyrants and crooks. Shut it down and start over. Exclude Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Chavez of Venezuela and their ilk.

  30. Missourian writes: “Observation. If you remember the old song ‘How you gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen New York.’ Globalization means that young Muslims see how the West lives. They clearly perceive how backward their region is.”

    Surprisingly, it works the other way too. Many become radicalized after living in western countries. A feeling of being alienated from the larger culture draws them into the mosques, even if they weren’t particularly religious before.

    Missourian writes: “WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER COUNTRIES AND CULTURES THAT HAVE BEEN ATTACKED BY JIHADIS?”

    Frankly, I don’t know a lot about these other places. I think Glen’s distinction between local and global jihadist movements is very helpful. You’d have to look at the dynamics of the local situation to see why attacks occur.

    But I see your point. Look, I’m not making a global assertion that every victim must have done something to have provoked the attack. I’m making a very narrow and, in my view, obvious assertion that the U.S. has done a number of things around the world that have proven to be provocative. Glen has summarized some of these things.

    I think the solution is not to be isolationist, but also not to insert ourselves into situations unless there is an extremely compelling reason for us to be there. Many of these situations have ways of working themselves out over time. I don’t know if it’s still in print, but look for a copy of Endless Enemies by Johnathan Kwitny. He analyzes a number of situations in which we did and did not intervene; overall, the situations in which we have intervened have gotten worse and made us enemies.

  31. You don’t have the right to ignore facts which undermine your thesis.

    When you the factual basis for your argument collapses you simply state that you will not consider facts that don’t suit you.

    Here is the significance of the facts from Russia, Thailand, Phillipines, Bali, Kashmir, Nigeria. The Muslim world has declared a HOLY WAR on the non-Muslim world. It begin sometime around 660 A.D. when Mohammed invented his cult. When the dispassionate investigator looks around the world and sees this happening at the same time at 9/11, that investigator has to take it into account in his explanation of 9/11 or his explanation of events is worthless.

    ******************************************************************************
    ******************************************************************************

    I have argued that it is morally and logically indefensible to ask the victim (whether a country or a person) what they did to provoke an atrocity.

    You seemed to agree that it is immoral to ask a rape victim or a beaten wife what they did to deserve the atrocity visited on them. You seem to agree that that was just what misogynists said in the early days of the feminist legal revoluation.

    But,you stated the question legitimate for countries. Remember we are discussing Dean Scourtes’ assertiong that the FIRST thing a country which has been visited with an atrocity should do is ask how the country provoked it.

    Now, you state that the United States and only the United States has a duty to ask what the United States did to provoke an atrocity?

    If the concept is valid for the United States, it is valid for all countries.

    I am still waiting. What did the United States do to provoke the 9/11 attack?

    Please respond.

  32. Jim Holman, What did the United States do to provoke the 9/11 attacks?

    Please explain. For the sake of argument I have accepted your premise that the FIRST thing the United States should do when it suffers an atrocity is ask what the United States did to provoke the atrocity?

    What did the United States do to provoke the atrocity of 9/11?

  33. Missourian writes: “You don’t have the right to ignore facts which undermine your thesis. When you the factual basis for your argument collapses you simply state that you will not consider facts that don’t suit you.”

    Again, I thought Glen’s distinction between local and global jihadis was informative. It’s not that I’m ingoring the situations you mentioned. I simply know little about them. If Glen’s distinction is meaningful, then I suppose that the reasons why moslems attack non-moslems in Nigeria may be very different from the reasons behind the attack on 9/11.

    Missourian: “I have argued that it is morally and logically indefensible to ask the victim (whether a country or a person) what they did to provoke an atrocity.”

    I think in the case of a country it does make sense. When Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki were largely reduced to ashes, would it have been prudent for the people of Japan to reflect on the circumstances that brought them to that point?

    Missourian: “You seemed to agree that it is immoral to ask a rape victim or a beaten wife what they did to deserve the atrocity visited on them.”

    Yes. But you extend the analogy to the United States. You compare someone who is minding her own business with a country that overthrows governments, sells arms, supports dictators, provides military training, coerces, threatens, invades, destroys, kills, etc. Now it may very well be that some or all of those actions are the right things to do, since the moral considerations for a nation can be very different from those of a person. But the people actually living in those countries may see our actions very differently from how we see them.

    Missourian: “But,you stated the question legitimate for countries. Remember we are discussing Dean Scourtes’ assertiong that the FIRST thing a country which has been visited with an atrocity should do is ask how the country provoked it.”

    Dean was talking about torture — he was saying that when you reach the point at which you consider torture you need to reflect on what you’re doing in the world.

    Missourian: “Now, you state that the United States and only the United States has a duty to ask what the United States did to provoke an atrocity?”

    I didn’t say “only.” But we certainly are in a unique position in the world. For example, Russia and China don’t have hundreds of military bases around the globe.

    Missourian: “I am still waiting. What did the United States do to provoke the 9/11 attack?”

    Glen already discussed that in his posts 19 and 23. He knows more about the situation than I, and expresses it better than I would.

    But upon reflection, I don’t think I like the word “provoke.” That sounds like there is one event or action that offends. Rather, I think what happens is an accumulation of grievances over decades. It’s more an issue of the approach that we take to the rest of the world than a single, discrete event.

  34. Those Who Committ Atrocities Violate the Norms of Civilized Conduct, and consequently are not Entitled to Consideration of Their Interests on the same Basis as the Victim of an Atrocity

    ****************************
    Quote from Jim Holman’s Note 33

    Missourian: ?I have argued that it is morally and logically indefensible to ask the victim (whether a country or a person) what they did to provoke an atrocity.?

    I think in the case of a country it does make sense. When Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki were largely reduced to ashes, would it have been prudent for the people of Japan to reflect on the circumstances that brought them to that point?

    **************************

    The core moral error of the moral thinking of the current American Left is their willingness to give the interests of a criminal the SAME consideration of the interests of society and the victim. When an individual criminal commits a crime he uses force to injure another human being OR he uses force or trickery to deprive another honest human being of something to which the honest human being is entitled. The criminal act injures BOTH society and the individual victim. The criminal act is an assault on the peacefulness of society, if left unchecked all order would crumble and society would cease to function.

    The proper response is to attend to the interests of the society and the individual victim first. The criminal should be apprehended and his guilt properly established after a fair trial and due process. The victim should be assisted by society to recover from the crime. After this is accomplished, society can turn to the criminal and consider his interests.

    The feminist movement rightly agitated in the 1960’s and beyond to reform the treatment of rape and wife-beating by the American justice system. This movement was essentially a Victim’s Rights Movement. Liberals supported this movement.

    I maintain the analogy holds in international affairs. An atrocity such as 9/11 is a crime against the individual human beings who were killed, the American nation and international order. The world community should attend to the interests of the victims of the atrocity first. The criminals should be apprehended and their guilt properly established. Only after this is accomplished should the interests of the criminals be attended to. This is why it is morally offensive for someone to suggest that a country which has been the victim of an atrocity should FIRST asks what it did to provoke the atrocity.

    This is why, in my opinion, the Left, as it exists today, is essentially anarchic and works to destroy the rule of reason, morality and order in society. The Left is “anti-social” in the true sense of the term because it refuses to distinguish between the criminal and the crime.

    Caveat: Please note that I have not argued that the criminal should never been given consideration. Society should work to rehabilitate criminals, for their sake and for the sake of socity. I have argued that the criminal should never be given the SAME consideration as the victim. In order for society to continue, the criminal MUST lose something of value permanently. Criminals should be treated humanely and rehabilitated but it is fully right and proper that they lose certain civic privileges after committing a serious crime. Erasing the distinction between the law abiding and the criminal is immoral.

  35. Why Anti-Americanism is Wrong

    I can tell you with specificity WHY I love my country, it is because I revere the Constitution. I support the United States Constitution because I support the rule of law as the practical foundation for the dignity of the individual. I support protections on freedom of thought, speech and religion. I support an orderly criminal justice system which provides due process to the participants. I support a system which provides for free debate and peaceful change.

    We have had both glorious moments and disgraceful moments in our history. Given that this is a free country, those tradegies and injustices are recorded and discussed and debated and lessons can be learned from them. When injustics occure America has fallen beneath the standards of its Constitution.

    Why am I not dissillusioned with my country as a result of the tragedies and injustices which have incurred in it? Because my allegiance is to the Constitution.The Constitution provides for peaceful change after full debate, given that, it creates a self-correcting mechanism.

    Nothing in my love of country prevents me from criticizing particular policies adopted by the government at different points in history. There is nothing inconsistent with my love of my coutnry and reasoned criticism of any particular policy.

    ********
    Here is an excerpt from a recent Jim Holman post:

    Yes. But you extend the analogy to the United States. You compare someone who is minding her own business with a country that overthrows governments, sells arms, supports dictators, provides military training, coerces, threatens, invades, destroys, kills, etc. Now it may very well be that some or all of those actions are the right things to do, since the moral considerations for a nation can be very different from those of a person. But the people actually living in those countries may see our actions very differently from how we see them.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Our country is described as ” a country that overthrows governments, sells arms, supports dictators, provides military training, coerces, threatens, invades, destroys, kills, etc.”

    Using the same approach we could characterize America as a country who came to the defense of freedom in Europe against the Nazis when it had already been attacked by Japan and could have attended to its own defense in the Pacific. From the point of view of a Nazi, America conquered his country and abolished his party. It would be immoral to give the point of view of a Nazi the same weight as the point of point of view of a person committed to human rights and the rule of law. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said to Jimmah Carter “You have adopted the point of view of the enemies of your country.”

    The post also lays bare, Jim Holman’s reflexive anti-Americanism. Like Jimmy Carter he has taken the point of view of the enemies of his country. Since my allegiance is to the Constitution I am free to criticize any President or any administration or any policy. Jim’s allegiance is to anti-Americanism. This puts him in the position of assuming and defendint the point of view of people
    who are totalitarian, misogynist, fascistic IN PRINCIPLE.

    As I maintained in another post, it is immoral to elevate the interests or point of view of an actor which commits an atrocity to the same level as that of the victim of the atrocity. The victim should be care for first, good order in society should be restored, THEN and ONLY THEN, our attention should be given to the interests of the criminal.

  36. Missourian writes: “Our country is described as ‘a country that overthrows governments, sells arms, supports dictators, provides military training, coerces, threatens, invades, destroys, kills, etc.'” . . . The post also lays bare, Jim Holman’s reflexive anti-Americanism.

    The discussion concerned why people in other countries might feel ill will toward the United States. The discussion was NOT about why they would be well-disposed toward us. You can’t just pull a line out of the discussion and claim that it reveals a sinister attitude. You have to look the context of the discussion.

    It is true that the U.S. liberated Europe. Going out on a limb here, but I’ll bet that the liberation of Europe 60 years ago by the U.S. doesn’t have much traction these days with Islamic radicals. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s a widower in Iraq who says “well, the U.S. military accidentally killed my entire family and destroyed my house. But they meant well, and by golly they liberated Europe 60 years ago. So I guess that’s Ok.” Yes, there may be people like that. I just think that there aren’t very many of them.

    Concerning the point of view of the enemy — the purpose isn’t to adopt that point of view, but to understand the point of view, and to take that point of view into account in the execution of foreign policy. It doesn’t mean that the point of view of the enemy is definitive; it just means that you have to understand how your actions are going to be interpreted and potentially used against you.

  37. First step is to examine what the victim country did to provoke the atrocity.

    Persons, countries or political movements that commit atrocities should not have their interests considered BEFORE the interests of the victim. This is immoral.

    Jim’s latest post is a predictable obfuscation of the issue. Remember the controversy was generated by Dean Scourtes statement that the FIRST step a country which has been the victim of an atrocity should take is to examine what the country did to provoke the attack. No such inquiry is ever initiated UNLESS the investigator believes that the victim did something immoral or improper. This is why people no longer ask rape victims what they did to provoke the attack.

    Jim Holman initially replied that the use of the phrase “examine what may have provoked the attack” was a non-judgmental inquiry. Just the facts, mam. The provocation inquiry did not imply guilt or justification. Yet a few posts down, Jim trots out a rag-tag list of alleged American wrongdoings covering different countries, different Presidencies and difference decades. Jim clearly, in practice, fully expects the inquiry into provocation to produce a finding of American wrongdoing. As my allegiance is to the American constitutions and the principles it embodies, I have no difficulty under appropriate circumstances in examining and debating American foreign policy. What I object to is giving PRECEDENCE to the interests of an entity that has committed an atrocity, which is what Dean Scourtes asks us to do. It is an immoral practice.

    Again, my argument holds true. After an atrocity has been committed, society’s first concern should be the wellbeing of the victim, then the apprehension and appropriate punishment of the wrongdoer. After this, and only after this, should society or the world give attention to the interests of the wrongdoer.

  38. How Anti-Americanism causes its proponents to support tyrants and dictators

    *******
    Here is a quote from a recent Jim Holman post:

    Missourian: ?Now, you state that the United States and only the United States has a duty to ask what the United States did to provoke an atrocity??

    I didn?t say ?only.? But we certainly are in a unique position in the world. For example, Russia and China don?t have hundreds of military bases around the globe
    *******

    Now Jim Holman’s thesis here is that it is understandable that non-Americans would dislike Americans because of all the awful things that Jim Holman thinks that America has done around the world. Jim actually thinks that there would be fewer reasons for non-Russians to dislike Russia and non-Chinese to dislike China.

    Let’s look at some recent events in Russia’s history. Russian agents are the prime suspects in the poisoning of the democratically chosen leader of the Urkraine. Russia is currently selling nuclear technology to Iran. Everybody on the planet know that Iran is brazenly supporting terror, oppressing its population, and working on buildling a bomb. Until 1989 Russia used Cuba’s army as a proxy army in Africa. Perhaps, Jim you are unaware that the Cuba army working hand in glove with Russia occupied large swatches of AFRICA!!!

    Let’s look at China. China constantly threatens the existence of Taiwan, a small prosperous island off the coast of China. Taiwan is too small to be any type of military threat to China. The people of Taiwan do not want to live under Communist Chinese rule. China just choked off the last vestige of democracy in Hong Kong. China had promised Britain that it would preserve the democratic rights of the Hong Kong people. China has also initiated closer ties with Iran.

    American military bases. Until 1989 Russia had thousands of tank batallions and thousands of nuclear warheads aimed at Western Europe. In 1981 the Russias moved more nuclear warheads into place in Eastern Europe, tilting the pre-existing arms balance in its direction. The American military bases were there to protect Europe from Russian. Since the fall of Soviet Russia, America has drawn down its bases in Europe. You are a dishonest pacifist. I call you that because you oppose anything remotely related to the military, however, you aren’t honest enough to simply call yourself a pacifist. Military bases were part of a very strong NATO alliance that kept the peace for a very long time. It was called PAX AMERICANA.

    Has America sponsored bad foreign policies from time to time. Again, my allegiance is to the Constitution, not a particular President, particular party, or particular policy. I am free to criticize them.

    Jim, your reflexive and unthinking antipathy to the country that has given you historically unprecedented personal wealth, safety, comfort and freedom, leads to you defend tyrants like those running China and Russia. Backed yourself into a corner, Mr. Holman

  39. Missourian,

    Could you limit your delimiters to ten characters or so? The program doesn’t know where to apply the line breaks so it reads it as one long stream of text and pushes the margings beyond the edges of the screen. Thanks.

  40. Stinking to High Heaven

    Paul Volcker, long-time supporter of the United Nations has turned in a report that shows that Kofi Anan’s right hand man, Bevan, was on the take from Saddam Hussein. It is pretty clear that Kofi’s son was also milking the United Nations. Most shocking is that fact that Volcker says that the evidence points to Boutris Boutris Ghali, the former Secretary General.

    These are the reprehensile, child-starving, dictator-boosting criminals that were in charge of that lofty organization.

    Shut it down.

  41. One of the assumptions in Jim Holman’s analysis is that the United States is the source of the world’s evil. This is a corollary to the liberal belief that evil does not really exist, which translates into a blindness towards evil when it manifests itself. This is one reason, for example, why the carnage in Sudan is never reported in the mainstream media. It is also why the Eritrean starvation was never properly understood. (It was not an agricultural problem, but a political one. The Marxist regime in the north wanted to starve the resistance in the south.) It’s why liberals went apoplectic when Reagan named the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” — which it was.

    Missourian mentioned there exists a will toward anarchy in the heart of the liberal moral vision, which is true. Malcolm Muggeridge defined it further as a “death wish.” Dennis Prager wrote about this recently as well (“The Left is Worth Nothing).”

  42. Fr. Hans writes: “One of the assumptions in Jim Holman’s analysis is that the United States is the source of the world’s evil.”

    Not my assumption. What I’ve tried to emphasize — apparently unsuccessfully so far — is that the key is not just what we do per se, but how our actions are perceived and interpreted. Note those words: perceived and interpreted.

    Yes, there are countries that do evil in the world. But Cuba wasn’t attacked on 9/11. Peking wasn’t attacked. Moscow wasn’t attacked. Why the U.S.? Perhaps it has something to do with what we have done in the Middle East over the last few decades, and how those actions have been and are currently interpreted.

    Missourian: “Jim Holman initially replied that the use of the phrase ‘examine what may have provoked the attack’ was a non-judgmental inquiry. Just the facts, mam. The provocation inquiry did not imply guilt or justification. Yet a few posts down, Jim trots out a rag-tag list of alleged American wrongdoings covering different countries, different Presidencies and difference decades.”

    Well, you asked for examples of why people would be offended by our actions. I give you examples, and then you complain about the “rag-tag list.” So why do you think the terrorists chose to attack us, rather than some other country? Because they are “evil?” How does that explain anything?

    I think what you want is for the U.S. to be able to do virtually anything it wants, in any country it chooses, and then everyone in the rest of the world should just suck it up and not be offended. Well, that would be nice, wouldn’t it. But that’s not what is happening.

    For example, a passage in a publication of the Rand Corporation nicely sums up the difference between how we in the U.S. perceive our own actions and how others perceive us. With respect to the 1983 intervention in Lebanon the article says that

    “No one seems to have thought through what the implications were if the Marines were seen as the ‘handmaiden’ of the Lebanese government. . . . There was a persistent habit of viewing ourselves as a neutral actor and a concomitant delusion that all of the hostile forces in Lebanon would so view us.”
    http://www.rand.org/publications/CF/CF129/CF-129.chapter6.html#fn*

    Note the distinction between how we view ourselves vs. how others view us. Note the word “delusion.”

    Now I don’t know if sending the Marines into Lebanon was metaphysically “good” or “evil.” I don’t know if they “liberated” anyone. I don’t know if their presence “advanced democracy.” But I do know that how others saw us was very different from how we saw ourselves, and as a result over two hundred Marines died.

  43. Jihadi Violence is Worldwide:

    ***************

    Jim Holman writes:

    Fr. Hans writes: “One of the assumptions in Jim Holman’s analysis is that the United States is the source of the world’s evil.”

    Not my assumption. What I’ve tried to emphasize, apparently unsuccessfully so far, is that the key is not just what we do per se, but how our actions are perceived and interpreted. Note those words: perceived and interpreted.

    Yes, there are countries that do evil in the world. But Cuba wasn?t attacked on 9/11. Peking wasn?t attacked. Moscow wasn?t attacked. Why the U.S.? Perhaps it has something to do with what we have done in the Middle East over the last few decades, and how those actions have been and are currently interpreted.

    **************

    Jim, you simply choosing to ignore a world wide epidemic of jihadi violence. How can you say Moscow wasn’t attacked? Don’t you remember the people killed in the theatre? Don’t you remember Breslan? China has had trouble with jihadis also. I will review them for you. Here is a recap of some of the jihadi trouble spots.

    Russia. Breslan and Moscow theatre
    China. Muslim riots in Western China
    Indonesia. Muslims rebels in various provinces
    Thailand. Muslim attacks on Buddhist monks
    Bali. Muslim attacks on native Balinese and international tourists
    Australia. Muslim attacks on Australians in Bali
    Nigeria. Intense Muslim attacks and suppression of Christians by Muslims
    Eastern Europe. Continued destruction of Orthodox Christian holy sites, Muslim riots against Christian
    Sudan. Muslim genocide against Sudanese Christian population
    Holland. Muslim assassinations of public figures foolhardy enough to criticize Islam.
    Sweden. Suppression of art that Muslims consider offensive.
    Kashmir. Muslim acid attacks on women who don’t wear veils.

    While each of these situations is has its particular characteristics, it is all jihadi violence. Jihadi violence aimed at imposing sharia law. None of it has to do with American policy in the Middle East.!

    Where have you been? What we are trying to point out is that there is a major, world wide pattern of Muslim violence. What planet do you live on? While it is true that the specifics of each case varies slightly, all of these jihadis have been encouraged by OBL and many of them have been funded by Saudis. Are you aware of the exposure of the Arabic hate literature found in AMERICAN MOSQUES by investigators from Freedom House? How can you ignore this mountain of evidence JIHAD violence and ask America what it did to provoke the jihad. It is fatuous and immoral at the same time.

    The Muslim jihadis have told us exactly why they are doing what they are doing.
    They want to revive and extend the Caliphate and they want to impose sharia law on the world. They are partially succeeded in Canada. Wringing our hands over the Middle East is a waste of time.
    We will lose unless we recognize the nature of the enemy. We could abandon Israel to the tender mercies of the Palestians and the jihad would not stop!!! Sure they want Israel, but they want Europe and Canada also. They are progressing very nicely in Europe and Canada right now.

  44. American Actions Favoring Muslims

    What about the support for the Muslim world that the United States provided Muslims. What about Bosnia? That was an intervention in favor of Muslims by the United States. What about the tsunami aid? What about Somalia? Somalia was an intervention on behalf of a Muslim population that was being starved by a native warlord.What about support for Afghanis after the Russian invasion? All of these policies clearly favored a Muslim group. Apparently none of that matters.

    Seems that the only thingsthat register on your CAUSE-O-METER are things which the United States allegedly did wrong.

  45. The Roman historian Tacitus, describing the fall of Celtic Britain to the Roman forces in AD 60 would quote these words from the mouth of a conquered Celt:

    “Harriers of the world, now that the earth (The continent of Eurasia) fails their all-devastating hands they probe even the sea (the Atlantic island of Britain); if their enemy has wealth, they have greed; if he is poor, they are ambitious. East and West have glotted them; alone of mankind they behold with the same passion of concupience waste alike and want. To plunder, butcher steal, , these things they minsname Empire; they make a desolation and call it peace/”

    Review of “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins.

    “In this riveting personal story, John Perkins tells of his own inner journey from willing servant of empire to impassioned advocate for the rights of oppressed people. Covertly recruited by the United States National Security Agency and on the payroll of an international consulting firm, he traveled the world-to Indonesia, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other strategically important countries. His job was to implement policies that promoted the interests of the U.S. corporatocracy (a coalition of government, banks, and corporations) while professing to alleviate poverty-policies that alienated many nations and ultimately led to September 11 and growing anti-Americanism.

    Perkins’ story illuminates just how far he and his colleagues-self-described as economic hit men-were willing to go. He explains, for instance, how he helped to implement a secret scheme that funneled billions of Saudi Arabian petrodollars back into the U.S. economy, and that further cemented the intimate relationship between the Islamic fundamentalist House of Saud and a succession of American administrations. Perkins reveals the hidden mechanics of imperial control behind some of the most dramatic events in recent history, such as the fall of the Shah of Iran, the death of Panamanian president Omar Torrijos, and the U.S. invasions of Panama and Iraq.

    Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which many people warned Perkins not to write, exposes the little known inner workings of a system that fosters globalization and leads to the impoverishment of millions of people across the planet. It is a compelling story that also offers hope and a vision for realizing the American dream of a just and compassionate world that will bring us greater security. ”

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?endeca=1&isbn=1576753018&itm=3

  46. Note 44. Lebanon was a strategic blunder, not evident to the Reagan administration until the 200 Marines died. It also tragically fueled the megalomania of Bin Laden and crew who believed it proved American weakness in the face of attack. Let’s be careful not to paint Muslim radicals as freedom fighters, however. If the elections in Afghanistan and Iraq proved anything, its that the Islamic jihadists are not loved by the people they ostensibly set free.

    Note 46. Sifting through the conspiratorial tone of the note, two facts refute some of the assumptions. First assumption: the US is repsonsible for poverty in the world. Fact: the closer ties a country has to the US, the more prosperous they are likely to be. Second assumption: Poverty is the cause of terror. Fact. Terrorist organizations are usually run by the middle and upper class elements of a society. (Terrorist leaders send their children to elite European schools.) The support for terrorism is usually the result of tyranny at home. Lift the tyranny and terrorism abates.

  47. Missourian writes – “We could abandon Israel to the tender mercies of the Palestians and the jihad would not stop!!! Sure they want Israel, but they want Europe and Canada also. They are progressing very nicely in Europe and Canada right now.”

    Well, what exactly are we doing to stop this progression? You mention the hate literature found in mosques in the United States. How is our policy in Iraq going to stop the ongoing infilitration of committed jihadists into the U.S.? How are our current policies in Bosnia and Kosovo going to stop the Islamization of Europe?

    Terrorism is a tactic employed by groups attempting to creat some kind of political outcome. It is limited in its effects and limited in its capabilities. Truly transforming power comes not from the AK-47 but the cradle. The truly visionary Imans are the ones who understand that a successful Jihad in the face overwhelming Western superiority will be won through a combination of immigration and high birth rates. The literature found in the mosques in the U.S. confirms that there are Saudi funded organizations with this goal, and that we are doing precious little about it.

    The vast majority of Muslim immigrants just want jobs, not the chance the create a new Muslim state. However, their leaders can use their alienation from their new countries, and channel this towards transforming existing societies into new Muslim ones. That is the true danger, and one that George Bush, with his insistence on open borders and the inclusion of Turkey in the EU, is not addressing in the slightest.

    It is true that Muslims make violent neighbors and even worse subjects. Yes, it is because of Muslim religious doctrine, though knowing that doesn’t seem to help the situation much. There is a transnational Jihadi movement that is built around the core which the U.S. assembled in Pakistan to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. However, this goup of people appears quite small. The majority of people engaged in a jihad appear to prefer to fight close to home, and the reason is almost always that they want independence from non-Muslim rule, to seize control of a government in a multi-ethnic state, or to overthrow a secular government and replace it with a Muslim one.

    Almost none of these conflicts is actually any of our business, nor are the groups waging them interested in the United States. We have problems of our own, without looking to make others our own as well. Unfortunately, the rhetorical hyperbole surrounding the ‘War on Terror’ and the President’s Inauguration makes it appear that any terrorist, anywhere, is a problem against which the U.S. make take action.

    This is simply not the case. We should not go around making any more enemies than necessary, no matter how noble our intentions. Let the Russians, the Indians, and the Chinese deal with ther own Muslim mess. Perhaps if we focus on the real problem, then we can avoid importing one of our own.

    On the subject of patriotism, you love your country because it is yours. That is why Chileans love Chile and Belgians love Belgium. Its the same reason you love your mother. If your mother drinks too much at a party, are you anti-mother because you point this out? If your government tends to step too far into other people’s business, and gets into trouble over it, are you anti-American for pointing this out?

    Let me give you a quick example. In 1953 the U.S. in concert with Britain overthrew the democratically and largely secular government of Iran. (This was in response to the nationalization of oil reserves on the belief that since the oil belonged to Iranians, perhaps they should have control of it.) Here is how one writer summed up our role after reviewing the final CIA documents released in 1998, “Perhaps the most general conclusion that can be drawn from these documents is that the CIA extensively stage-managed the entire coup, not only carrying it out but also preparing the groundwork for it by subordinating various important Iranian political actors and using propaganda and other instruments to influence public opinion against Mossadeq.” Mossadeq was the democratically elected prime minister, and represented a real opportunity to set Iran on the way to becoming a vastly different place than it is now.

    Following the coup, the Shah told CIA Mideast Agent in charge, “I owe my throne to God, my people, my army and to you.”

    The net result of this was that the Shah was established as an absolute ruler. The Constitution was in shambles and the Shah ruled through the use of CIA-trained secret police. Mossadeq had represented the moderate course towards nationalism, and had ended up in house arrest. As the Shah’s tyranny worsened, the primary opposition to him began to center around the Mullahs. As we were the primary support for the Shah, that hate and anger was also directed at us.

    When the Shah fled into exile in 1979, he initially left a U.S. general in charge of the country. He refused to exercise power, and I am sure most of you know the rest.

    Are the Mullahs in Iran Muslim expansionists? Yes, absolutely. But what was it that made millions of Iranians back them? What made them truly dangerous?

    American blundering is what turned the country over the Mullahs. Had we stayed out of Iran in 1953, and let the Shah rise or fall based on the Iranian people themselves, how might history have been different?

    Our intervention in the affairs of Iran took a local problem (the Iranians’ desire to control their own country and their own oil) and turned it into an international nightmare as the Mullahs are now the leading proponents of Shi’ite religious rule throughout the world.

    We’re doing the same thing in Iraq, turning a nuisance dictatorship into a new Shi’ite state allied with the Iranian Mullahs we, ourselves, helped bring to power through our misguided policies to begin with. At the same time, in Iraq, we have raised up tens of thousands of Sunnis who are fighting us in an attempt to get us out of their country, and prevent a Shi’ite dominated state. Most of them will stay home after the fighting is over. A percentage of them, however, can be expected to join the global jihad – a step many of them might not have taken had we not come calling. Will we end up meeting any of them in the future, inside the U.S.?

    Finally, one last thing on all this. Father Hans and others seem to think that if we allow Muslims to vote in free elections, somehow this will reduce terror. I am not sure where such thinking originates. If you allow Muslims to vote in free elections, they quite frequently vote for hardline Muslim parties. The very parties most likely, when in power, to support terrorism abroad and repression at home. Iraq is going to be a showcase for this reality. (Iran in the early 1950’s was a noted exception.)

    The problem appears to be Islam itself – its mindset and its totalitarian nature. Free elections will not solve this. Letting the Muslims overrun our nation and Europe will not solve this. What can help to solve this is economic development which often leads societies to become more secular. (More secularism among Christians is bad. However, more secularism among Muslims is a really, really good thing.)

    The policies of the United States are helping to forestall true economic development by propping up the existing kleptocracies in the Middle East. Egypt and other nations get billions in US aid every year. This allow them to avoid the consequences of their own internal policies. To turn the corner, Islamic states are going to have to be allowed to ‘bottom-out.’ This will only happen when the money spigot from Washington stops flowing.

    Again, we can use Iran as an example of this. Without the U.S. as a sugar daddy, the Mullahs have wrecked the economy and alienated both the youth and young professionals. Give them enough time, and they will surely hang themselves and we will probably see a growing movement in Iran away from religious rule. This will arise out of the society itself as a reaction to the excesses and failures of religious rule. The same kind of transformation over time can occur elsewhere, but not as long as the existing regimes are being propped up by, and identified with, the United States.

  48. Glen writes: “Finally, one last thing on all this. Father Hans and others seem to think that if we allow Muslims to vote in free elections, somehow this will reduce terror. I am not sure where such thinking originates. If you allow Muslims to vote in free elections, they quite frequently vote for hardline Muslim parties. The very parties most likely, when in power, to support terrorism abroad and repression at home. Iraq is going to be a showcase for this reality.”

    Democracy is certainly no cure-all. I’ve just started reading _World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability_. The book jacket describes the contents thus:

    “For over a decade now, the reigning consensus has held that the combination of free markets and democracy would transform the third world and sweep away the ethnic hatred and religious zealotry associated with underdevelopment. In this astute, original, and surprising investigation of the true impact of globalization, Yale Law School professor Amy Chua explains why many developing countries are in fact consumed by ethnic violence after adopting free market democracy.

    “Chua shows how in non-Western countries around the globe, free markets have concentrated starkly disproportionate wealth in the hands of a resented ethnic minority. These ‘market-dominant minorities’ – Chinese in Southeast Asia, Croatians in the former Yugoslavia, whites in Latin America and South Africa, Indians in East Africa, Lebanese in West Africa, Jews in post-communist Russia – become objects of violent hatred. At the same time, democracy empowers the impoverished majority, unleashing ethnic demagoguery, confiscation, and sometimes genocidal revenge. She also argues that the United States has become the world’s most visible market-dominant minority, a fact that helps explain the rising tide of anti-Americanism around the world. Chua is a friend of globalization, but she urges us to find ways to spread its benefits and curb its most destructive aspects.”

    Again, I just started the book, but it looks like an interesting thesis.

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