Fighting al-Qaida in Iraq

We make no mistake about who we are fighting in Iraq. It is al-Qaida, yes the same people who brought us 9/11 and the bombings in Madrid, London, Istanbul, Bali, Morocco … and mosques & markets all over Iraq. Busy guys, al-Qaida.

We sometimes do not see this fire because of all the smoke. There are many things going on at the same time in Iraq that caused the confusion. Iraq suffers from sectarian violence. There is general chaos. There are lots of things going wrong. It is easy to see only on these significant problems, but when you look through all the smoke, you see the enemy in Iraq clearly is al-Qaida. U.S. offensives are aimed at al-Qaida Al-Qaida is responsible for most of the car bombing. Al-Qaida is working overtime to enflame sectarian strife. Al-Qaida is making most of the bombs that kill Iraqi civilians. Do you see the common thread in all of this? Yes it is al-Qaida.

Make no mistake. The U.S. presence in Iraq is not popular with most Iraqis (outside the Kurdish north). We have problems beyond al-Qaida, but coalition forces are in general not fighting ordinary Iraqis. If you took al-Qaida out of the mix, you would still have sectarian strife, but much less. You would still have attacks on coalition forces, but half as many. You would still have some bombings of mosques & markets, but much more rarely. It is impressive what a few determined and ruthless men can do. There are lots of problems in Iraq, but the common thread through all of them is … yes, al-Qaida again.

It is important to recognize the enemy. In Iraq, they hide in plain sight. Al-Qaida likes nothing better than to amplify its reach by making it seem like it is bigger than it is. They are a relatively small number of ruthless men who are skilled at leveraging their power by creating hate, violence and the desire for revenge among those around them by bombing and murdering civilians. It is the essence of their asymmetrical war strategy. Just like a few men created havoc in our country by taking down the WTC, a few more can create even more havoc in a more volatile Iraq by bombing mosques and killing civilians and setting off cycles of revenge. That is their stated strategy & they have been succeeding.

Many Dems others have already declared that al-Qaida has defeated us in Iraq. Our offensives have just begun, but people like Harry Reid declared defeat months ago. We have started to get at al-Qaida strongholds and I hope Reid et al are wrong. Reid & many Dems also think that if we pull out of Iraq the war will be over (like Vietnam). If a quick pull out comes to pass I hope they are right. But considering who we are fighting in Iraq, I fear our Dem colleagues are wrong about that too.

Posted by Jack at June 21, 2007 10:02 PM
Comment #223714

Any evidence besides the military press briefings?

Posted by: BillS at June 21, 2007 10:47 PM
Comment #223715


Al-Qaida brags about its process in Iraq. They are perhaps bragging about more than they are actually doing, but it clearly is part of their strategy to use their leverage to create strife and chaos.

You know that Sunnis have been working with coalition forces in Anbar to fight al-Qaida.

Al-Qaida is not the only problem in Iraq, but they are disproportionately involved in stirring up trouble.

Posted by: Jack at June 21, 2007 10:50 PM
Comment #223717

Just wikied 1920 revolution brigade. They have kidnapped US Marines and shot down US helocopters etc.They call for an Islamic Iraq and their logo referes to tortureing infidels. Nice partners. I suppose these developements could pass for progress with some truly grasping at straws. This faction has merely allied itself with the strongest forign tribe in the area temporarily to defeat another and then back to killing GIs.Its a civil war and we do not belong there.This group is Sunni as is AlQueada. If even they are not willing to tolerate them what makes you think the majority Shia will. If we leave Al Queada will be destroyed by the Iraqis in short order.

Posted by: BillS at June 21, 2007 11:06 PM
Comment #223722

You’re a number of years behind the curve, because their mischief has gone beyond the point where we can simply destroy them and have peace. Enough bad crap has occured and bad blood grown between people as a result of all the sectarian conflict they helped stir into a frenzy that they really no longer need to be there.

The time to have done something substantial about al-Qaeda’s presence and do it well was all the way back at the beginning of the war. Now, it’s closing the gate after the horses have gone. al-Qaeda’s got what it wanted: a civil war. We were unable to stop that. That is a defeat, and it’s not going away. Am I a defeatist for bringing this to light?

A defeatist is a person who believed that no matter what, an approach was doomed to fail. I don’t generalize on that level. I rooted for America to win, to triumph in preventing the disasters that did happen from happening. I pushed for better Armor. I pushed for more soldiers long before the surge, back when that many soldiers could have made a difference. I pushed for getting all our ducks in a row. I did not push for defeat, nor believe that such defeat was inevitable.

In that, I am like most Americans, including most liberals. Only long, bitter experience, and going on five years of below-mediocre policy performance by this administration has convinced me that we’ve lost this war.

There’s a time factor here, of unfolding events too complex to be reversible once set in motion. The Bush administration could have one this war if it had set itself to the job of reforming the weaknesses of the initial pproach. It did not. It set about justifying the mistaken behavior, and rationalizing ongoing problems, problems that allowed to fester gave our enemies the necessary room to attack us, adn force us to this point.

What killed this war was the inability to admit error and learn from it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 22, 2007 12:18 AM
Comment #223723
They are a relatively small number of ruthless men who are skilled at leveraging their power by creating hate, violence and the desire for revenge among those around them by bombing and murdering civilians. It is the essence of their asymmetrical war strategy.

They also enjoy an enormous public relations advantage the likes of which has never, as far as I know, been seen in all the history of warfare.

In killing and targeting civilians, they can also be assured that the United States—not they—will be blamed for each and every death.

Deliberately kill 100 innocent civilians? The enemy’s own media and a sizeable portion of their population will not direct their ire towards you for it but towards your enemy’s leader. What’s more, the more you kill, the more eager large portions of your enemy’s population is to hand you victory and allow you to kill even more.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 22, 2007 12:31 AM
Comment #223725

For a party that claims to want to fight Al-Qaeda and their allies so much, the Dems sure want to abandon a strategic nation like Iraq to them in a hurry. A strange strategy to pursue. Conservatives have been bitter complainers about the administration of the war. We want to win it and feel like it has been prosecuted ineptly in many ways. The difference is we want to win it, not to give up and cede it to either Jihadists or puppet armies of Iran which for some reason is an acceptable result for the Pelosi crowd. Don’t like the war, come up with a plan to win it. Woulda, shoulda, coulda is all we hear from the Left. When one asks for the simplest of strategies from the Left in either Iraq or the War on Terror, the shattering sound of lonely crickets is all one hears.

Posted by: David M. Huntwork at June 22, 2007 1:11 AM
Comment #223727

David M.,

I’ve yet to hear of a Republican plan on Iraq anyone believes will work. If you’ve got one, let’s hear it. It needs to be realistic; we’ve stretched our military to the breaking point. Do we reinstate the draft, draft hundreds of thousands, escalate the war? Do we hunker down in bases, stop trying to police the cities, and just focus on large-scale actions? Do we focus everything on securing the borders and let the sectarian violence play out? Or do we just keep going as we’re going and hope in the years to come it just peters out? We’re already been told not to expect good progress reports from the surge; we’re already being told that September won’t be any different from previous months. So what’s your plan, David? Stay in the middle of a civil war? If the terrorists wanted us to reduce our presence in Iraq — I don’t say eliminate; we all know the plan is to establish permanent bases — all they’d have to do is stop attacking and wait. Do you think they want us out?

What’s your plan?

Posted by: Gerrold at June 22, 2007 1:49 AM
Comment #223728


One can blame failed leadership and failed policy on the media or on politicians pointing out the obvious, but what counts is the quality of the leadership and the policy. In a democracy, people are going to debate the issues, and if an administration proves incompetent, people are going to say so. Wishing otherwise is to wish for another form of government.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 22, 2007 1:58 AM
Comment #223734

I am a captain in the United States Army. I am an S2 for my squadron. We are going back to Iraq in 3 months. I have news for you: Al-Qaida in Iraq is not, nor was it nor will it ever be the same organization that did the 9-11 attacks. Al-Qaida did. Al-Qaida in Iraq is an entirely different organization. For you to say that Al-Qaida in Iraq is the same is as faulty as me saying the Chowan Braves won the World Series in 1995. They share the same name, and are not even in the same league.

Posted by: yossarian at June 22, 2007 4:32 AM
Comment #223737


While I agree with you, I think you just ruin the conservatives latest attempt to “connect”, at least by rethoric, Iraq with 9/11.

These days every angry islamist is automagically labelled an Al-Qaida fighter. How pratical!

Anyway, good luck for you next turn there.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 22, 2007 5:02 AM
Comment #223738

I was trying to ruin the attempt. I am tired and I hate this war and I find it useless. I am not saying there are not bad people in the world. I am not even saying that there aren’t terrorits that want to destory the American way of life. I am saying that it is clear to anyone who has been there that occupying another country, isn’t helping that.

Posted by: yossarian at June 22, 2007 5:11 AM
Comment #223740


My post makes no particular recommendations. I am merely pointing out that the most intractable enemy we are fighting in Iraq is al-Qaida. Amid all the turmoil, that is something we over look. It does have implications, since - unlike the case in Vietnam - when we leave Iraq it does not mean fighting has stopped. Al-Qaida came to Iraq because it was a place they thought they could create trouble for the U.S. They have no commitment to Iraq. Their commitment is to harming the U.S. Presumably when they can no longer do that in Iraq, they will move someplace else where they can continue.


The plan I think we need to pursue is the one general Petraeus is trying now. It is probably what we should have done a year or two ago. I am sure that you will agree that a reading of history indicates that each war is nasty and unpredictable in its own way and that everybody tries to apply experience from the last conflicts that is inappropriate to the changed conditions. That means that plans never work as set out by the planners. What is required is an adaptive strategy. Both sides adapt. We probably have the capacity to defeat al-Qaida in Iraq given enough time and support. The doubt is whether we have that time and whether the Congress will supply enough support.

Re the media - we can debate the issues and we should. In any war, however, it is often very difficult to separate blunders from strategies that just did not work or ones to which the enemy quickly adapted. We often forget that side of the equation. The enemy is also smart and adaptive. They can score hits too. In the case of al-Qaida, their task is much easier than ours. They do not have to hit a precise target. All they need to do is kill a bunch of civilians in a nasty way. Which civilians do not matter to them very much.

LO is just pointing out the reality of the media war. Al-Qaida is not trying to win the war by force of arms. It is trying to win by force of media, to demoralize the U.S. and its allies. It is not blaming the media. I do wish, however, that the media would provide more context. For example, I do not believe most people know that most of the bombs are al-Qaida’s work and that their goal is not to attack the coalition but to kill civilians precisely to make the situation for them so horrible that it affects the course of the war.


I respect your practical experience and will not question that. I also agree that al-Qaida has morphed into a very different organization. It has changed and adapted in the last six years, just as everybody else has. But their goals have not significantly changed. You may be right that the war in Iraq is lost. My point in this article is that al-Qaida is fighting us in Iraq because of who we are, not where we are. They chose Iraq because they think it is a good place to fight us. When we leave Iraq, they will choose another place. Since I have no information about where this will be or the conditions, I do not know if this will be a more advantageous or a more dangerous place. But pulling out of Iraq will not end the conflict with al-Qaida because going into Iraq did not start it.

Al-Qaida moved into Iraq opportunistically. They managed to exacerbate the chaos. If you argue that Iraq is not a good place to fight them, we could debate it. But we cannot argue that we will not have to fight them someplace.


Angry Islamists often label themselves as al-Qaida. I do not know how closely associated they are. But the angry Islamists are not particularly concerned about Iraq. They are concerned with fighting and harming the West, which includes you as well as us. They are not particularly concerned with fighting the U.S. either. It is just that the U.S. is the most powerful and prominent member of the group of nations they dislike.

Posted by: Jack at June 22, 2007 8:10 AM
Comment #223750

Actually, one of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s few drawbacks in this war is that it’s made it’s parent organization look bad. They don’t like Muslims killing Muslims, and like with us, pain and suffering become understood and felt easier when the victims look like you and talk like you.

Unfortunately, we are seen as the causative agent for this. Unfortunately, that view is not inaccurate. We had the chance to do this right, to shut al-Qaeda out by not starting out with security in a shambles. We didn’t, though, have the troops, the planning, or the native police forces to confront that problem when it was manageable. Because of that, the opportunity to keep this mistake from growing into something worse passed us by. That’s what makes me angriest, especially in the face of all this rationalization your party is doing about the matter, is how these concerns were brushed aside until everything had totally fallen apart, until things, as the intelligence community would put it, was worse than civil war in the country.

We’ve burned bridges, disillusioned people, demonstrated for the historical record how bad our country currently is at managing occupations, how easy it is for the highest tech nation in the world to be brought to its knees by 20th centurty guerilla tactics. You might like to pretend that we still have face to salvage by hanging on, but we don’t. It’s obvious to everybody, set in the historical record, that we failed to do what we set out to do. Iraq has not become fair and democratic. It has not gotten under control. the war not only hasn’t vanquished a terrorist presence, it’s only created one where none was before.

David Huntwork-
Bitter complainers? Reflexive defenders more like. Supported your troops lately? We asked for armor when our soldiers needed it, favored reinforcements back when it actually might have helped, represented the plight of the soldiers, their health, and their family’s conditions from the very start.

Your President ceded the victory to al-Qaeda the moment he decided to go in light on just about everything it would take to win the war, the moment he decide he would run everything in the war on the edge of the breaking point.

You talk about strategies, as if you’ve got some great plan. That great plan, though, has been the cause of an endless downward slide for this nation in this war. Your people never planned for anything but success. All Warplans fall short, though, and those that don’t acknowledge the often simple and logical ways in which such a plan can fail are caught off guard. They are forced to work in a panic to redeem the plan, which is never the best way to get things right.

You say we don’t have a plan. Yes we do. Stop trying to save face. There’s nothing left to save. The country is in utter chaos and nothing we did prevented that. Signal our departure. Make folks face the fact that nobody’s going to referee for them, that they won’t have the most powerful nation in the world to play off of their rivals. Let those who contributed to the chaos face the fact that now the games are over, and the whirlwind they’ve sown will now be reaped by them. I wish we could do better than that, but hell, I’ve wished that all along, and your side supported the president in doing just what he was doing all along: failing.

They might move on, but you forget one thing: we have the homefield advantage. They don’t have the support and the powerbase they had over there to attack folks here. They have to run the guantlet of our defenses. It’s time to do what we should have done in the first place, and build those defenses well. They cannot destroy us here. They can only frighten us into doing stupid things.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 22, 2007 9:41 AM
Comment #223754

Oil is the elephant in the living room no one mentions. One of the driving forces behind Al Quaida is objection to western military precence in the middle east. We are there and have been there for a long time because of oil,pure and simple. Could Saddam have been considered a threat by anyone without oil revenues? What if Iraq’s biggest exports were dates and goat meat? Its time to stop playing the oil game.A national Manhatten project to become energy independant is something the American people would support and sacrifice for to get our troops out of the middle east.

Posted by: BillS at June 22, 2007 10:18 AM
Comment #223757

“Al-Qaeda” in Iraq—what does that mean anymore? Make no mistake about this fact—any semblance to the Al-Qaeda who perpetrated the 9-11 attacks (i.e. Osama Bin Laden’s original network) to the factions in Iraq operating under their banner was instigated by the US military presence in Iraq (i.e. George W. Bush’s FAULT!!!!!!!!).

The “enemy,” if you want to use this term, is the jihadist ideology of Islam that is used quite effectively to not only recruit Muslim fighters to anywhere in the world that Islam is perceived to be threatened by the West, but also to motivate, rally, strength and support attacks against western culture (i.e. USA and Great Britain primarily).

The greatest unifying force in the Muslim world is Islam. The propaganda and “mixed” ideologies used to recruit Muslims to fight (by any means necessary) against the West is more binding than “Shia vs. Sunni,” “Persian vs. Arab,” etc.

The very second that Western governments finally acknowledge this reality and develop new diplomatic strategies to address long-standing issues/problems in the Muslim world the sooner the propaganda ideologies used to motivate “terrorist” acts will cease to have an effect. What mentally balanced individual is going to agree to blow-up themselves if they feel satisfied with their life and that they have “hope” in the mortal world and not just in “paradise.” The strong motivating influence of the jihadist ideology is absolutely dependent upon disenfranchisement, strife, discontent, a sense of isolation, hopelessness, and the like. Conventional military strategies cannot solve the “terrorist” consequences brought on by the aforementioned conditions. The modern day example is the now DECADES OLD Palastinian-Isreali “conflict.”

The only other alternative to helping the Muslim world help itself and its co-existence with western culture (and invading Iraq does NOT and could NOT EVER accomplish peace between Muslim and western cultures/ideologies) is the crushing/annihilating military might of the West. The US alone has the military prowess to crush any Muslim nation on earth with or without nukes. Let’s face it; such a strategy would entail the indiscriminate killing of Muslims in an attempt to “cleanse” the Muslim world of anti-West jihadists. Who, beside Dick Cheney, would be willing to attempt such a thing?

God willing, in my lifetime we will begin to make positive progress toward solving the problems of the Middle East that impact the entire world. Conventional strategies (military or diplomatic) are not working. Jordan’s King Abdullah II is on the right track with the Petra Nobel Laureates Conference.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at June 22, 2007 11:15 AM
Comment #223771


Angry Islamists often label themselves as al-Qaida.

Hum, I often read/hear news saying the “*whatever* For Revolution” islamist group, a group counter-terrorism agencies associates with Al Quaida. I’ve also read that OBL himself denied the constant affiliation done by western nations between some islamist groups and his. Maybe he’s dead. Or maybe he stop deny in vain. Dunno.

But Al Quaida as a well-structured organization doesn’t exists. At best, it has become a brand franchise.

They are not particularly concerned with fighting the U.S. either. It is just that the U.S. is the most powerful and prominent member of the group of nations they dislike.

The most aggresive pro-israel, too. It does matter a lot for them, if I didn’t miss something…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 22, 2007 12:30 PM
Comment #223773

Oil is the key word Jack. We have placed ourselves within easy reach of Al Quaeda and any other fanatical islamic group who so wishes, in order to insure future oil revenues for the likes of Exxon etc. In essence we are providing security for these mega conglomerates. Oil is the single biggest factor determining our presence in Iraq. It does not take a genius to see that. However it seems to be a dirty word becuase few are willing to make that observation and admit that it is the obvious reality.

With so many offshoot organizations using Al Quaeda to gain recognition it is truly hard to say who we are fighting in Iraq at any given time. You many be right or wrong, it is really hard to say with any assurance. But one thing is for sure. It will not be nearly so easy for them to reach us at home or anywhere else for that matter. Your insistant rhetoric of we will have to fight them somewhere else if not there may be true. But the fact is that logistically and financially it will be much much more difficult for them to challenge us elsewhere. Why should we make it easy for them? Let the Iraqis run Al Alquaeda out of their country. If we leave they will have no choice. With little American money to drive their greed there will no longer be incentive to allow this conflict to drag on. It is their civil war not ours. Once we leave it is reasonable to think that Al Quaeda will also leave, since as you say they are there to fight us.

Posted by: ILdem at June 22, 2007 12:38 PM
Comment #223777

This war is the last and maybe only way to save Bush’s reputation fight Al Qaida and make us secure.

Posted by: Max at June 22, 2007 1:49 PM
Comment #223780

Jack, from your article through your comments, you continue to miss fundamental facts.

In your article you state: “It is al-Qaida, yes the same people who brought us 9/11 and the bombings in Madrid, London, Istanbul, Bali, Morocco … and mosques & markets all over Iraq.”

Simply NOT TRUE! Not the same people at all. The only thing they have in common with those responsible for 9/11 or other bombings is their moniker. Almost all al-Queda in Iraq are Iraqis. None of the 9/11 attackers were from Iraq.

This means that the organization we were trying to defeat in Afghanistan has spread to Iraq, springing up Iraq precisely BECAUSE of our invasion and presence in Iraq.

Additionally, you seem to miss one of the most important points made in this comment section, the one where the writer says if we leave Iraq, the Shia will destroy al-Queda in Iraq, NEVER allowing them to have power, because they are Sunni.

Staying in Iraq accomplishes only one objective, maintaining the hidden military budgets and profits for American war machine corporations, whom are substantial contributors and lobbyists for the Republican Party.

The blood of dead and wounded Americans in Iraq after the capture of S. Hussein and sons, is entirely on Republican’s hands. Our military won the war in Iraq, but, for Republicans winning was not sufficient, they had to go for political gains based on ill-conceived fantasies of democratic domino theories and securing oil contracts for American companies, and extending war profits for their corporate campaign donors.

The blood is on Republican’s hands, and they seem to like the fashionable look, because 3/4 of Republicans still, to this day, want to continue throwing our soldiers lives and limbs into the Iraqi death machine, for no sane or rational purpose. Is this how Christ would act? Or is Christ irrelevant when it comes to Republicans support for war profits and prideful fantasies of saving face for despite having lost control of Iraq? You know, killing people for reasons of pride and vanity is not what Christ taught at all.

They hypocrisy is unprecedented except for the Viet Nam War when Republicans and Democrats alike shared the sin of killing to save political face.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2007 2:04 PM
Comment #223791

Considering that Al Qaida’s organizational structure is extremely loose and decentralized, I see no point in a semantic argument over whether “Al Qaida in Iraq” is the “same Al Qaida” as those responsible for 9-11 or those we fought in Afghanistan.

Arguably, the “Al Qaida” group that carried out 9-11 wasn’t from Afghanistan either. They were a Saudi cell that was centered in Germany.

But who cares where they come from? What matters is where they are now, and one of the main places is Iraq.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 22, 2007 5:22 PM
Comment #223792


You are not seeing the forest for the trees. Yes, we are fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq…but we GAVE them that battlefield. They were not there before. They went in for the purpose of taking advantage of the physical battlefield we provided.

Now, because they are NOT a nation and are more like gaurilla fighters…THEY decide the extent to which they confront us. Not the other way around. They meld into the civilian populace thus increasing the liklihood of American troops comiting atrocities and harming innocent civilians. EVEN if we actually get the right people, the insurgents or Al Qaeda, they LOOK like they are also civilians and that works to their advantage. We are giving them the propaganda they need to continue to recruit and fill their ranks.

This is not just an illegal war…
This is a LOSE-LOSE scenario.

Ask yourself:
Is Bush and this entire administration realy that STUPID? …or is there some other objective being met by this conflict that is not threatened by how badly things are going?

Well, ask yourself who is gaining the most from the curent situation?
——The oil companies are making a MINT!
The price per barrel has been way up for almost Bush’s enitire presidency. BILLIONS of dollars more than otherwise have filled the pockets of the majors.

AMericans are dying. We are involved in war that we cannot win. There are no WMD’s. The explosives that are currently going into the IED’s and killing Americans are made from the same material that was being guarded by the UN until WE told them to leave and then didn’t folow up on the ungaurded warehouse until months after…after it was all gone!

The only WMD’s in IRAQ were the ones we GAVE to the insurgency!

…and you still think this is about Al Qaeda, don’t you?

Posted by: RGF at June 22, 2007 5:31 PM
Comment #223802

It pays to look at worse case scenarios in military planning as in most planning. Rummy should have obviously. There are worse ones yet to consider with our continued involvement. Lets say the hawks prevail and we or Isreal bomb Iran. The Iranians respond with massive attacks on Iraq.Syria joins in,either as an Iranian allie or separatly. Turky takes the opportunity to invade the north to supress the Kurds thereby shattering NATO. This could be coupled with a move by NK or an assault on Taiwan for example. We lose our army. Iraq becomes the American Waterloo. We cease to be a super-power. Not likely but possible.A risk and for what?As a student of history you must be aware that this kind of thing has happened to every empire at some point,the Russians in Afganistan,the French at Dien Bien Phu, the Germans at Stalingrad,the Thesalonians at God know where,etc. Even the Brits were walloped in ww2. They were on the prevailing side but still lost their empire. Its rather arrogant to assume we are immune.And again ,for what?

Posted by: BillS at June 22, 2007 7:21 PM
Comment #223804

Loyal Opp, but, you miss the key the point. If we leave Iraq, the Shia will destroy al-Queda Sunnis in Iraq. Destroying al-Queda in Iraq is Republican’s central rationale for being there, is it not?

You can take dehydrated Republican minds right up to rational water’s edge, but, they still won’t drink. Amazing, isn’t it?

On the chance it may be genetic, I am proud my wife and I raised our daughter to never marry a Republican. Dating them is fine, but, never marry and reproduce them. :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2007 7:33 PM
Comment #223807


My son just married into a rather wealthy hardcore republican family. They are nice folks but to be honest a bit unconcerned when it comes to facing the hard realities of this world. They tend to turn off when faced with the trash emanating from the republican party these days. I have advised my son to try and avoid being sucked into that void of false comfort where as long as one denies what they are seeing it must not really be there. It almost seems as though financial comfort makes it easy to ignore the hard realities so long as they do not directly threaten that comfort. Makes me wonder if it is republican genes, simply a nice bank account or maybe a combination of both which makes one so convieniently blind. :-)

Posted by: ILdem at June 22, 2007 8:23 PM
Comment #223812

Sorry to hear about your son. Wealthy Reps at least have some internal logic. They do not want to pay more taxes etc,Crass but logical. The ones to worry about are those driven by racism,homophobia etc. They work like dogs for peanuts but hate unions etc. Reminds me of the poor white Confederate soldiers giving their lives to protect an economic system garanteed to keep them in poverty.Go figure. Later these Reps sit around on Social Security and complain about it.

Posted by: BillS at June 22, 2007 9:01 PM
Comment #223813


The means to consumption, the more conspicuous, the more potent, this opiate of the masses in America.

The reason polls show so many Americans unhappy with government, is precisely because they feel their dosage either reduced, or see the potential for a reduction in the foreseeable future. There is an income level which tends to make folks immune to such thoughts and feelings.

But at those income levels, the power to influence government is real and so, there is not too much to be concerned about. Everything for them, is under control. They finance the election campaigns of tweedle dee and tweedle dum who will do their bidding on both sides of political spectrum.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2007 9:04 PM
Comment #223814

A thought:

The core of such types of republicans comes from a narrow and SHELTERED view.

That shelter can come from a lack of understanding of the reality of others.

Such types tend to view colleges and universities as “Liberal bastions” without regard for the possibility that education expands view and understanding and that is the source of the liberal thinking.

Such types tend to NOT be travellers. Why should they expose themselves to the rest of the world? …or if they DO travel, they do so in a rather stilted way - they go on cruises or organized trips or they stick to general tourist paths and venues.

They get their news from American media sources to such a degreee that they don’t “Get it” that our media is actually CONSERVATIVELY biased!

Such types imagine that those less fortuneate could accumulate just as much wealth and advantage if only they worked…nevermind they themselves are RARELY the ones who earned the wealth they enjoy!

Posted by: RGF at June 22, 2007 9:08 PM
Comment #223823


My son will be fine. I raised him to form his own thoughts and not do that following the masses thing. He tends to keep his political opinions to himself around the inlaws just to keep the peace. But I do enjoy an occasional provacation where the inlaws are concerned. Being a rare democrat in my area it is not difficult to raise the political ire of most at social functions. It is always fun to stir them up and leave knowing that once I am out of site they will now have that lowly dem to talk about. Fun stuff. : )

I am all too aware of the other repubs you talk about. They are the ones that are republican just because that is what they have been raised to be. Anyone with an education beyond highschool must be a liberal thinking pervert with no moral compass. I guess it takes all kinds to make this nation work or is that maybe not work.

Posted by: ILdem at June 22, 2007 10:00 PM
Comment #223824


Actually they cannot destroy us there either, only frighten us into doing foolish things. That is their plan.


You are right, but you miss the point. Oil wealth is what made Saddam dangerous and gave him the resources to threaten others. Somebody like Robert Mugabe is probably as nasty as Saddam, but he lacks the resources to cause trouble outside his borders. So oil IS the root of the problem, but not for the reason you say.

Re bombing Iraq, I am against it. I wrote several posts explaining why I think it is a bad idea. I do not think the Administration plans such an attack.


Even if we accept that Iraq is Bush’s fault, it is America’s problem. Bush will be out of office in a couple of years. Our problem will still be there.

Islam’s problems with the west predates the Palestinian problem. The modern proximate cause was the fall of the Ottoman empire. But the jihads started when Mohammed returned to Mecca. The counter jihads (i.e. Crusades) started soon after (actually in Spain).

BillS is right about oil. We had a very unfortunate situation when oil was discovered under the lands of some of the most puritanical and intolerant Muslims. Absent oil, Wahhabbis would be picturesque desert folk. With oil and the things it can buy, we have a big problem.

The Muslim world and especially the Arab Muslim world is in a sorry state and has been for hundreds of years. More books are translated into Greek (not a widespread language) each year than into Arabic and moderately wealthy Spain has a GDP greater than all the Arab countries combines, despite the oil wealth.

The Arab development report, which came out a few years ago and has been updated since, details many of the problems. It is a sad state of affairs resulting from centuries of bad luck, bad choices and bad policies.


Please see above. Muslim anti-Semitism is merely an excuse. The Arab world was in serious decline way before the establishment of Israel. It is time they got over it. Nearer where you live, millions of Germans were forced out of homes in Silesia and Prussia their ancestors inhabited for 1000 years. You do not have them setting off suicide bombs in Warsaw. Poles were forces West. They do not become suicide bombers in Moscow. We have diasporas of Poles, Bulgarians, Hugarians, Tyrolians, Sudeten & Donauschwaben. There are many millions. They were dispossessed only a couple years before the Palestinians and there are many more of them. Why did they integrate more or less peacefully while the Palestinians are still an open wound?


Most of the deadliest al-Qaida in Iraq are foreign fighters. Iraqis are less enthusiastic about murdering the local people and destroying their country, which is why many Iraqis are starting to cooperate with us to fight al-Qaida.

You are right that when we leave Iraq it is likely that al-Qaida will too. They will go where we go. This is not a comforting thought.


See above. It does not matter if we gave them that battlefield. That is where the battle is now. I wish I could believe that we can just leave Iraq and all those troubles behind, as we did in Vietnam. But I do not think that is true.


Many Republicans are well established and have nice bank accounts. I think many Dems do too. But it may be that they have nice bank accounts because of their habits and skills. I started off w/o any money in the bank. I remember very well what it is like not to have much. I prefer to have things, but I was not despondent when I didn’t.


I do not object to paying taxes. I object to the government getting bigger and more intrusive. Taxes allow it to do that. Government is necessary and good as long as it does not get too big. The difference between a life saving medicine and a deadly poison is in the dosage.


I noticed an interesting anomaly. I am the most conservative of my immediate relatives. I also have the highest income. BUT I also have the smallest car, the most modest house and the fewest fancy clothes. I do not have a big screen TV. My bike, which I ride to work is more than ten years old and I still have (and wear) suits I bought when Ronald Reagan was president. Consumption is not a big thing to me, nor to many of my Republican friends. Remember that it is John Edwards who gets the $400 haircuts, Hillary Clinton who gets the millions in book deals & John Kerry who is the billionaire.


By the time I was 20, I had hitchhiked across our great country. Hitchhiking is not living a sheltered life. Since then I have driven across it five times. I have lived in Latin America and Europe and traveled a lot. Your stereotype of Republicans is just silly.

re making money, luck is involved. Hard work is also important. I do not believe everyone can get rich, but I do believe with reasonable luck & diligence you do not have to be poor.

Posted by: Jack at June 22, 2007 10:08 PM
Comment #223835

I define foolishness as refusing to see that the desired consequences of a plan are not coming. I define foolishness as refusing to face failure and wrongdoing because the admission might give encouragement to those who are benefiting from your problems anyway.

I’ve often observed that people can be smart and foolish at once. You believe that the terrorists would be encouraged by our departure, that we would encourage them to take over the region. To withdraw, Republicans have often said, would be comparable to the appeasement given to Hitler.

Actually, the problem was that they denied themselves options all along the way, starting with the unnecessarily punitive Versaille Treaty, and working things up to the Munich capitulation. They didn’t think things through properly, and future generations paid for it.

Munich wasn’t so much the irrational avoidance of war, since the First World War was an abomination of unnecessary carnage right in these people’s backyards. It was that they took an unnecessarily hardline approach at the start, one they couldn’t maintain in the absence of the fevers of war, and went for an option in the naive hope that they could predict their enemy’s actions. Not unpoetically, the groupthink-saturated belief that a plan would work out perfectly, is part of what lead to WWI in the first place. Millions died as generals tried to vindicate the wrong tactics and strategies in the wrong place and time. Churchill himself was partly responsible for the terrible and useless carnage at the Dardanelles, a fact many neocons conveniently neglect.

And now, we commit the same kind of error.

One big factor is the refusal to believe that the consequences of the error are not reversible, that the damage has soaked into the battlefield in a way that would compromise the winnability of the war. Sometimes, there is no more playing catch-up, there is nothing more that can be done.

I’m an optimist, but I’m also a pragmatist, and I don’t see how Bush’s plan makes the crucial difference. The people who know about such things believe the numbers are too low, and what’s more, not sustainable. This isn’t defeatism talking, but the frank assessment of the manpower situation, one backed by the fact that Bush has been extending tours of duty, and repeating them as well.

Bush can’t build a bigger army without a draft. Without that, there’s no military control, and therefore no victory. We count on the Iraqis to hold the ground we take, but their loyalties are divided, and often inconsistent. We didn’t solve the right problems at the right time, like we should have.

We need to face the consequences, or we make things worse, and squander much of the strength we have left to regroup and rework our strategy. I do not advocate surrender to al-Qaeda. I advocate we withdraw to shed the dead weight of this war from our backs, so we have strength to face the real threats in the world around us, not just the blundering bluster that seems to be our standard response to things nowadays.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 22, 2007 11:20 PM
Comment #223848

Re: Edwards haircut. At first I was disillusioned.Just the idea of spending that much on a haircut! Great.Another millionaire running as a populuist and then I read a column that set me striaght.A number of years ago there was another millionaire running as a populist also. He not only had one mansion but two.One for summer and one for winter. His passion was yachting,about the most elitist sport imaginable.He won. That would be FDR.

Posted by: BillS at June 23, 2007 1:19 AM
Comment #223859

Jack, and you are typical are you? NOT! There are of course exceptions to nearly every generalization about statistical measures and assessments of human behavior. The anecdote does not make an argument or generalization true or false.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 23, 2007 2:33 AM
Comment #223860

Jack said: “Most of the deadliest al-Qaida in Iraq are foreign fighters.”

I would sure love to see your source information for that claim. Especially since I have yet to find a source that measures al-Queda by deadliest, merely deadly, least deadly and cheerleaders. Your joking right? Every source I have seen indicates the majority of al-Queda in Iraq are Iraqis.

But, please, if you have a source to support such an apparently overthetop claim, I am always open to new credible evidence and changing my assessments based on it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 23, 2007 2:40 AM
Comment #223861

It is not just luck that vast oil reserves are so often found under the feet of despots.There is a cause and effect.Countries with vast oil,or any great marketable mineral reserve for that matter, breed despotism and instability.My theory for why is because the upper economic classes do not need a vibrant economy to create wealth to draw on. This is evident all over.The mineral wealth of apartide S.Africa,Venezuala(Chavez is a reaction),to a degree the Philippines(gold),the Soviet Union and perhaps Russia today. You can probably think of more,especially in Eastern Europe. I would add Texas,but I am biased.
More evidence of this can be seen in the UAE. Two of the three califates in the federation are running out of reserves. They are moving slightly more democratic and working hard to develope a civilian economy.
The Arabs are in bad shape as you pointed out. I would submit this as the prime reason and another good reason to stop buying their oil.

Posted by: BillS at June 23, 2007 2:44 AM
Comment #223868


Of course the problem will remain after Bush is gone but he has complicated it far more than he has does any good for the situation—not to mention the small matter of the nearly 4,000 American deaths for whom GWB is responsible. Moving toward a positive resolution of Middle East problems that affect the entire world MUST now include strategies to counter the effect of GWB in that region. He has added layers of complications to Mid.-East politics and the only thing he has to show for it is the senseless deaths of nearly 4,000 Americans. So he is part of the problem, NOT the solution, whether Bush-devotee can face it or not.

Also, I presented the Palastinian struggle as MODERN DAY EXAMPLE. I could have listed others and probably should have for the sake of thoses who may be tempted to believe your version of history.

What is your point about the Ottomans? They were NOT intolerant of other religious or cultural groups. In fact they held that regions together longer than any other empire in history.

What is your point about Muhammed’s so called (by you) “jihad” to Mecca? My geography may be a bit rusty, but I don’t think Mecca is a city in the “West.”

Regarding the Crusades following “soon after.” Soon after what? There is a 400 year span between the first crusade and the “death of Muhammed.

Care to make any valid and accurate points regarding history and the dissucion that you presented?

Posted by: Kim-Sue at June 23, 2007 4:34 AM
Comment #223890


You are talking about the resource curse. Despots tend to rise in places where resources are too easy to acquire with too little work. I am not sure about the causality, however. Despots are common. It is just that most of them (the Mugabes of the world) do not have the resources to become world class bad guys. I would disagree about your examples of Russia and Texas. As much as I disagree with how Russia is run, it is not an easy place to extract resources. I have thought about Texas for a long time. I was in Amarillo a while back and I went to a museum that described the geology and the oil industry. The oil men back then innovated and worked really hard. It was not a gift. The difference in the Middle East is that the local people did almost nothing to earn their oil wealth. They imported everything, technology, innovation, management even labor.

It is generally a bad thing to get wealth w/o earning it, for people and for countries.


Re Mohammed and Jihad, I am not talking a conflict of east and west and your geography is not rusty, but your history may be incomplete. Arabia was (of course) not an Islamic country before Mohammed. He and his followers were pushed out of Mecca and went to Medina. They returned in force and captured the city and continued on conquering Arabia as well as the great ancient cultures of the ancient Middle East and N. Africa. You can see the results today. Throughout the region are the ruined cities of the pre-Islamic populations.

If you want to do the east/west thing, places such as Syria, N. Africa, Asia Minor and the Levant had been part of the western cultural area for more than 1000 years before they were conquered by the armies of the Prophet.

The Crusading movement started in N. Spain. When Spain was conquered by Muslim armies, the Spanish Christians were forced into the northern mountains. They never stopped fighting and gradually pushed the Muslims out. They Ferdinand and Isabella finished the job in 1492. This is the Andalusia debacle Osama bin Laden talks about and it still seeking revenge for.

In the East, you may recall the Eastern Roman empire hung on against Islam (Arabs and later Turks) until 1453. The Roman Empire occupying most of the lands of the Ottoman Empire, held what is now the Balkans and Turkey for around 1500 years. They are history’s record holders for holding the region together. The Ottomans managed only about a third as long. The Ottoman Empire was not quite as tolerant as you think. The Ottoman Empire was well managed and tolerant by the standards of its time, but those standards were very low, from around 1450-1650, but then went into steep decline. BTW - they developed slavery, castration, concubines and pillage to fine arts. Visit Istanbul sometime and listen closely. There is very much to admire in Turkish history, but do not over do it.

Anyway, when I trace the problems to the fall of the Ottoman Empire, I am not blaming the Ottomans. The fall of the Empire was very messy and the decline went on a long time before the fall. You may recall that they called the Ottoman Empire the sick man of Europe. Ottoman weakness contributed to such diverse problems as the Barbary pirates, the Mahdi in the Sudan and even the Serbian and Bosnia crises that help lead to WWI. The actual collapse of the Empire gave us much of the modern Middle East. Problems such as the ethnic mix of Iraq, the Kurdish situation in the whole region, the weakness of the nation states and even (what Osama complains about) the destruction of the Caliphate, happened at that time. It was a sort of a time bomb, or many a series of them. They were created in 1920 and they still go off today. Even the Jewish immigration to Palestine begins to be an issue at that time.

You and I have a different view of history and I think we misinterpret each other. You are looking for blame or justification in history. I am only after explanations that might help us understand the current situation.

I respect Islamic civilization’s ability to quickly conquer and assimilate so many ancient civilizations. But it would be a mistake not to recognize it as conquest and coercion. The only place Islam came as peaceful conversion was Indonesia.

It is also true that Islam was more advanced than the West until around 1300. But the West continued to develop, while Islam stagnanted. It may be useful to try to understand the explanations for that. We also much recognize that the Arab region is certiainly one of the most backward in the world, despite its wealth and proud history.

Posted by: Jack at June 23, 2007 1:09 PM
Comment #223894


Do not be too hasty to dismiss cause.My inclusion of Texas was largely an attempt at humor although what happened in its developement does not change the fact that now money flows from the ground. The Soviet Union’s economy was underpinned by high oil income. When oil prices collapsed so did their economy and empire.There is again a danger that their leadership will not take the steps necessary to build a stable economy again because of high oil prices.As to difficulty extracting oil the Russians are good at overcomming difficulties.I read an article that said they have to stop work in the Siberian oil feilds at 80 below because the steel tools break like glass.BTW,Islam also advanced peacfully in the southern Philippines in stark contrast to the violent Christian conversion by Spain.

Posted by: BillS at June 23, 2007 1:35 PM
Comment #223902


I do not discount the corrupting nature of this kind of wealth. But the biggest despot problem comes from unearned (or not much earned wealth). This has been the case in extractive industries in developing countries.

You have interstings case study in Holland & Norway. They both came into significant oil wealth, but their economies were diverse and their cultures strong. Even in those place, oil wealth created troubles, but not despots.

If you are refering to my answer re Islam to Kim, I should have been more general and said the E. Indies instead of the modern state of Indonesia. There are also parts of E. Africa where Islam came peacefully with trade, but mostly it was brought by guys with swords and fire.

This is a fundamental difference with Christianity. Christianity began as an oppressed religion. It did not have access to the power of the state for more than 300 years after its founding and always maintained a separation of church and state, even at the start (render onto Caesar. My kingdom is not of this world etc). Islam has ALWAYS been a religion of state and rulers. These differences have affected the developments of those religions and the societies they helped form.

Posted by: Jack at June 23, 2007 2:45 PM
Comment #223915

“…always maintained a separation of church and state” What! I seem to recall several centuries of the Pope calling the shots in Europe. Even now the RCC wields much power in many parts of the world.

“bad guys with swords and fire”You could as well be talking about the conqistadors spreading the “true faith” in South America,Mexico,or the RP.There is no shortage of bloody history associated with any of the desert religions. None has cleaner hands.

Posted by: BillS at June 23, 2007 4:55 PM
Comment #223918


When you were 20, where were your values?
You were a Liberal, were you not?

However, I agree in part. ALL stereotypes are ultimately silly. People are more dynamic than that. There is, however, a grain of truth in the observation.

I recently was eating lunch with some friends in Austin, TX. The next table over was occupied by a coupel colege age kids and their father (I suppose but it could have been an uncle or friend). The father was talking rather loudly about how the universities and colleges around this country have become “Liberal bastions” and how much the kids needed to “not listen to the professors” or “allow themselves to brain washed.”

The experience was disturbing to me. It is a mentality I have run across far too many times. These are WILLFULLY ignorant people. When faced with TRUTH or reality, they claim political bias and stick their heads in the sand like cowardly ostriches!

Why should the religious right, for instance, fight so hard against studying evolution? Do they, themselves, have such fragile and shallow faith that they imagine it is even POSSIBLE to disprove God? Why do they even care unless it is out of some kind of fear that they might be wrong!

I am both a christian and a believer in evolution but then I have read Te’llar de Chardin and I realize how infantile and shallow the faith of the creationists must necessarily be.

That doesn’t make me BETTER. It just means that I have grown as a result of being more open to the growth that came my way.

Posted by: RGF at June 23, 2007 6:23 PM
Comment #223922

If it weren’t for Nero making martyrs of the Christians in bloody sport, it is very unlikely anyone but historians would know much about Christians. Very hard to weigh Christianity on a scale of good vs. evil which it delivered over the centuries, or more accurately, which was delivered in its name.

If I were God, I would regard Christian tenets as a bit incredible but, pretty doggone good for story tellers of an oppressed people. And I would regard Christians through the centuries like the night sky, bright spots of great humanity and divine love, against a black and morally devoid background of perversions by most touting the faith with ritual and habit instead of divine inspiration. Christianity is a very tough religion to follow. All those prohibitions against bearing false witness and killing, damn near unpatriotic in societies that thrive on deceit and war, as cornerstones of their political and economic systems.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 23, 2007 7:17 PM
Comment #223928

yeah David

When they asked Ganhdi his opinion of Christianity he said he thought it was a great religion and he would even convert to it if he ever met a Christian.

Posted by: BillS at June 23, 2007 9:17 PM
Comment #223929


The whole history of the middle ages is filled with the conflict between the Pope and the secular rulers. It made room for freedom. The Holy Roman Emperor was not the head of the Church and the Pope was not the Emperor. The division helped lead to the Reformation. Islam does not have that sort of distinction.

Let me be clear re history. Most of history is the record of oppression. You know the old joke that in some systems man oppresses his fellow man, while in others it is the other way around. The interesting thing to think about comparative history. In the year 1000, I think you would have figured that Islam would produce more science, tolerance and prosperity than Christianity and it would remain the more powerful. The question was why all this changed so much. Imagine the world today and tomorrow. What if someone told you that in a century Africa would be the most advanced and prosperous continent and colonizing Asia, N. American and Europe. You might be interested in what they did right and the others did wrong.


When I was 20 my main interests were beer and girls. I did not read newspapers. I fell for anything and I was generally ignorant about how the world worked. Yes, in those days I was a liberal. As I learned more, my opinions changed.

I think there is a reason why people become more conservative as they get older and it is not the cynical idea that they get more money. When you are 20, you are largely the product of your parents and your neighborhood. You have yet to make many of the life shaping choices. Society looks random. Some people seem to have more than others and your experience does not tell you why. As you start making decision and seeing the results of your decisions and those of others, you come to understand that choice makes a big difference. By the time you are 50, much of what you have become is the results of your decisions, mistakes and luck.

When you think about it, you understand that there are more things that can happen than will happen. Hard work and skill does not GUARENTEE good outcomes, but it makes it much more likely, while the opposite almost certainly leads to ruin. Those cool guys who just laid back and didn’t work are now poor. Those nerds who studied and saved are now well off. This experience does not mean you have changed your ideals. It does mean that you have come to understand the opportunities and limits.

I do worry about universities being too liberal. I am not greatly frightened by this, but it leads to waste. Large areas of scholarship are dominated by gender or ethnic studies or weird sociology which do nobody any good. I told my kids to be skeptical in general. Ask the disconfirming questions. That is good advice in general.

Posted by: Jack at June 23, 2007 9:41 PM
Comment #223952

What I was getting at was that historical perpective is always seen through the eye of the perciever. There is a certain smug denial from the Eurocentric in this regard that can lead to the wrong conclusions. Example: When the Spanish contacted the Aztecs the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice to appease their Gods.Abhorant certainly. At the same time the Spanish were burning heretics,human sacrifices, to appease their Gods.Who was better? Who more righteous?

A bit closer to thread. The Muslums in Mindinao,Philippines, the location of the Abu Sayiff AlQueada group have been fighting whatever government is in power for a very long time.The Spanish could not prevail,the Americans could not prevail,hell even the Japanese could not prevail.It has always been that the central government only controls the cities.I am not sure that religion has as much to do with it as culture. It is also a time honored excuse for banditry.A point of interest is that is the area where the unusual (for Muslums at the time)practice of suicide attacks began. The attackers would by various means gain entry into a city and just start attacking people with krises or bolos until they were put down.They did this to the Spanish and Americans. Little is known about what happened under the Japanese occupation. These fighters were known as “amoks”and is how that term entered the English language as in “to run amok”.There are reports of one American regional commander displaying their bodies under pig carcasses in the market square. It did not stop the practice but it did stop them in his area.

Posted by: BillS at June 24, 2007 12:23 AM
Comment #223967

Christianity did start out as an oppressed religion, but much of it’s spread came as it became the state religion of Rome, an empire not known for being kind and gentle. It has been spread by the sword as well. As for ruined cities in the areas conquered by Islam?

I might want to point out that there have been wars in that region since the beginnings of civilization, with quite a few cities overthrown. Religious warfare is nothing new.

I think it’s best to have a forgiving nature about human civilizations. There are some atrocities we should rightly look down upon, but we should pause before we demonize a culture to see whether our culture is guilty of the same in its past. Only after having rejected that, and also having realized our own capacity for that, can we encounter other cultures and work with them to improve the lives of people in general. Otherwise, everybody’s going to be killing everybody else over the flawed actions and beliefs of the long dead.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 24, 2007 9:08 AM
Comment #223993

BillS & Stephen

History is full of aggressive and cruel people. They tended to win the battles and so they tend to be our ancestors and those of others. As far as I can tell from history, the only people who have not been aggressive at some time in their history are those who have not had the opportunity.

In recent times, our civilization has fostered a much more tolerant and inclusive paradigm. We currently live in the most tolerant and open society in human history. I am not sure its development was inevitable and it may not be inevitable that it stays that way.

Medieval Islam and Medieval Christianity were both nasty by our modern terms. On balance, Medieval Islam was probably a bit more tolerant, but not all that much. They conquered Christian lands and reached accommodation with them, but they never treated Christianity as an equal choice. It was and remains a crime punishable by death to convert Muslim to Christianity.

The interesting development was the divergence of the two civilizations beginning around 1200. Islamic civilization stopped developing. Scholars talk about the reasons, but it is a big question. We cannot deny it. In the year 1200, science, political developments and technologies in the Islamic and the Christian world were at similar levels. Then Christian Europe pulled in front of Islamic Middle East at an accelerating rate. This was not a random chance event. What happened? What went wrong with Islam or right with Christianity?

What I see today in the Arab world is not encouraging. I would not want us to become more like them. I do not think the growing power of Islam even in Europe is a good thing. I am sorry if that seems unfair, but most of the things I believe in - freedom of religion, separation of chruch and state among them - are not served by a resurgence of fundamental Islam. The same is true of fundamental anything, but Islam is much more overtly political. Mosques are centers for agitation in Europe.

Posted by: Jack at June 24, 2007 6:40 PM
Comment #224017

Jack, I agree, I don’t thin many people believe anything encouraging is coming out of the Muslim world. I get further discouraged when I read books like “America Alone” that talks about Muslim nations having a birth rate above 6.0, and that their birthrate is one of the highest in the world. Their religion would seem to be in a totally defensive posture, trying to protect itself from a succesful world that is moving ahead without them. The inflow of money from oil is helping the religious fundamentalists push their more controlling and conservative agenda, after all, religion is a form of control and Islamists are trying to control their people, their population growth, and to protect their oil dollars. Keep them ignorant through a belief system, and the will not notice you passing in the Mercedes on you way to ski at ther way cool indoor ski park in Dubi.

It would seem that the Muslims will have the numbers, the magazine, “The Economist” shows that in 50 years population growth in China and India will be relatively flat, whereas Muslim nations will grow substantially, they have the birth rate right now, and they are NOT secular.

Posted by: Honest at June 24, 2007 10:56 PM
Comment #224039


There is nothing in your historical review that is news to me, except of course where you take “interpretative license. I think my history is not as rusty as YOU would like it to be.

I was looking for some correlation in your Al-Qaeda discussion and the rebuttal you gave to my first post. Since you only chose to recant historical facts, I am (AGAIN) left to assume that you have no counter-points. Alternatively, the counter-point(s) was made so poorly that I could not see the connection between your original article and the comments that followed.

Finally, KINDLY KNOCK-OFF COMMENTS LIKE “I seek blame or justification in history.” You don’t know the first thing about me or what I may or may not think.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at June 25, 2007 11:55 AM
Comment #224085


The historical facts were the counter argument. You said that You mentioned that the Ottomans held together the region longer than any others. That was 500 years. I pointed out the Roman rule of almost the identical region for more than 1500 years. I thought maybe I needed to point that out since many people overlook this.

I also think it is important to mention the pre-Islamic history of the region if we are talking the really long time periods, since people tend to look at the current map and think it goes back forever. Many historians push this point of view, by treating the history of the original people of the countries colonized by Arabs the way they treat the original peoples of countries colonized by Europeans. We may want to go to more modern history, but it is necessary to mention the relevant history.

BTW - few of the current nations of the Middle East are really very old. They merely occupy land previously occupied by old civilizations. Some have antecedents that go back farther, but the analogy is like tracing American history to Alfred the Great or the Kings of Mercia.

I think the history is important and it is important to get the sequences right.

Re what you think -I only know you from what you write. I write something that explains; you look of the villain to blame. I am merely trying to explain our differences. You seem a smart person. We look at much of the same information and come up with very different conclusions. The only explanation I can think of is that we must have a fundamental difference in how we value various aspects of the story.

Since we are sometimes talking about events that took place centuries before either of us were born, I do not believe it is possible for it to be a political difference.

RE helping Arab countries - I agree it is n our best interests to help. I am not sure we can always help those who do not help themselves.

Posted by: Jack at June 25, 2007 8:36 PM
Comment #224236

“I recently was eating lunch with some friends in Austin, TX. The next table over was occupied by a coupel colege age kids and their father (I suppose but it could have been an uncle or friend). The father was talking rather loudly about how the universities and colleges around this country have become “Liberal bastions” and how much the kids needed to “not listen to the professors” or “allow themselves to brain washed.”

The experience was disturbing to me.”
Posted by: RGF at June 23, 2007 06:23 PM

Actually, as a conservative and attendee of college, I encourage all conservatives to go to college. It makes for a lot of fun when well-informaed conservatives debate the professors. I think they (the professors) learn quite a lot!


Posted by: JD at June 27, 2007 9:45 PM
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