Skip

Al Qaeda speaks
May 30, 2007 11:58 AM   Subscribe

al Qaeda's "Legitimate Demands". Azzam al Amreki (aka Adam Gadahn) appears in a newly released al Qaeda video to recite his group's demands and promise more bombings and destruction if we don't comply. (previously)
posted by scalefree (104 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
blah blah blah
posted by interrobang at 12:00 PM on May 30, 2007


AMERICANS THEY ARE COMING TO GET YOUS.
posted by chunking express at 12:10 PM on May 30, 2007


If "we" don't comply? Nice touch. Wartime really brings "us" together I suppose...
posted by inoculatedcities at 12:11 PM on May 30, 2007


I had forgotten about these guys now that MTV no longer plays demand videos.
posted by GuyZero at 12:12 PM on May 30, 2007


Durka durka?
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:13 PM on May 30, 2007


I can't help but thinking that in a not-so improbable alternate universe, he would be speaking Klingon to us.
posted by portisfreak at 12:14 PM on May 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


Is the premise of this website that Muslims are like Jawas? Or are they more like Sand People?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:16 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I asusme that any demands are insane and unworkable, seeing as it's no-ones interests, especially not theres, that they be met. Nothing benefits them more than bombing, carnage and destruction, of all kinds, from any side.
posted by Artw at 12:17 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


*scratches backside*
posted by Krrrlson at 12:18 PM on May 30, 2007


Yes, we. All Americans are included in this threat, as al Qaeda's attacks don't differentiate between those Americans who support the Administration and its policies and those who don't. You'll be just as dead either way.
posted by scalefree at 12:35 PM on May 30, 2007


I'm sorry, I just can't take this guy seriously. He looks like a reject from a Lord of the Rings Con who got shot down by chicks dressed as elves one too many times and turned to Terrorism.

Seriously Adam G, you should have just stayed at the RenFair, you wouldn't be wanted for treason and you could have kept the beard.
posted by quin at 12:36 PM on May 30, 2007


You'll be just as dead either way.

Man al Queda doesn't need much help with their fear mongering, eh.
posted by chunking express at 12:38 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


He's not very nice, is he?
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:41 PM on May 30, 2007


Yes, we. All Americans are included in this threat, as al Qaeda's attacks don't differentiate between those Americans who support the Administration and its policies and those who don't. You'll be just as dead either way.

Ooo, I'm totally shitting my pants! Where can I sign up to have all my freedoms stripped away to make sure I don't get hurt?
posted by interrobang at 12:41 PM on May 30, 2007 [11 favorites]


While I tend to agree that american policy towards the islamic world is the cause of this bullshit, I cannot for the life of me see why this idiot thinks he's going to be taken seriously.

However, this is the perfect propaganda on the part of al-qaeda; using an american speaking their message is brilliant, from that aspect.

However again, most americans don't read enough to understand much of anything so it probably isn't really that effective.

My opinion is just refuse to acknowledge him period. Don't say his name, don't repeat his message.

That's how insanity spreads.
posted by bobjohnsonmilw at 12:43 PM on May 30, 2007


uhhh, However again, most americans don't read enough to understand much of anything so it probably isn't really that effective.

I meant to say pay attention, not read...
posted by bobjohnsonmilw at 12:44 PM on May 30, 2007


This guy's delivery sucks. And those telegraphed hand gestures are straight out of a bad high school musical.

He needs to watch a bunch of WWE Raw so he can learn how to properly cut a "promo" and really call people out.
posted by BobFrapples at 12:45 PM on May 30, 2007


You'll be just as dead either way.

So Astro Zombie is unaffected by this threat?
posted by NationalKato at 12:48 PM on May 30, 2007


This guy is helarious.
posted by delmoi at 12:48 PM on May 30, 2007


My opinion is just refuse to acknowledge him period. Don't say his name, don't repeat his message.

If we ignore them they'll go away?
posted by scalefree at 12:51 PM on May 30, 2007


Ooo, I'm totally shitting my pants! Where can I sign up to have all my freedoms stripped away to make sure I don't get hurt?

You don't have to sign up. It's being... handled for you.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 12:51 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


My cat will totally fuck you guys up if you don't meet her demands. I'm serious -- pony up the tuna.

("pony up the tuna" sounds dirty...)
posted by LordSludge at 12:54 PM on May 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


If we ignore them they'll go away?

People, what would Jack Baurer do?
posted by chunking express at 12:57 PM on May 30, 2007


Is this guy claiming the VT killings?
posted by delmoi at 12:58 PM on May 30, 2007


Is it just me, or is anyone else imagining that someone else is just below camera doing all the hand gestures?
posted by odinsdream at 12:58 PM on May 30, 2007


My opinion is just refuse to acknowledge him period. Don't say his name, don't repeat his message.

If we ignore them they'll go away?


Yes, just like teeth.

No, I mean that not playing into the fear of propaganda. Don't give this idiot a voice.

I do often wonder, if they're sooo happy living in the desert and living like savages....

WHY DO WE CARE WHAT THEY DO? WHY DON'T WE SOLVE OUR OWN PROBLEMS FIRST?

I'm all about human rights and shit, but how about we apply them to ourselves first?
posted by bobjohnsonmilw at 12:58 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


He sounds like a cross between Emo Phillips and Wierd Al Yankovich.
posted by furtive at 12:59 PM on May 30, 2007


So yeah, when did Comic Book Guy join al Qaeda? Is this a reaction to "52"? It was awful, but his reaction seems a bit extreme.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:00 PM on May 30, 2007


"Date of Birth Used: September 1, 1978 "

Interesting that he was born used.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:01 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can tuna piano pony but you can't tuna fish.
posted by emelenjr at 1:04 PM on May 30, 2007


Now there's a guy who needs to get laid.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:05 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


If we ignore them they'll go away?

Way to derail into a strawman talking point
posted by uri at 1:05 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


PS - I think I'm statistically more likely to be killed by a vending machine than by one of these fucks. I remain unafraid of Luigi Al Dorito.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:07 PM on May 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


WHY DO WE CARE WHAT THEY DO?

Because they're making credible attempts to build or acquire nuclear weapons?
posted by scalefree at 1:11 PM on May 30, 2007


If we ignore stop bombing and shitting on them they'll go away?

Fixed that for ya.
posted by NationalKato at 1:14 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


WHY DO WE CARE WHAT THEY DO?

Because they're making credible attempts to build or acquire nuclear weapons?


Yeah, but why are they interested in doing so? What CAUSED that?

I'd argue American Policy. (for one easy target)
posted by bobjohnsonmilw at 1:15 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


bobjohnsonmilw, it's because they hate your freedom. geez.
posted by chunking express at 1:20 PM on May 30, 2007


Because they're making credible attempts to build or acquire nuclear weapons?

Not being a conservative, my every move isn't dictated by fear, so this argument isn't going to change my mind.
posted by interrobang at 1:23 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]




If we ignore stop bombing and shitting on them they'll go away?

Not likely. Our culture and economy is a threat to their fanaticism so long as it exists, even if we stop actively provoking them.

However, their tech level sucks, so I'm a big proponent of the 'develop an alternative to oil, wall them off, and go away' strategy. They'll hate us as long as they're around, but they don't have the technology to hurt us from a long way away if we don't invite them in, and they're so irrational they'll never be able to develop it on their own. If they can't strike out at an external enemy, they'll self-destruct.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:25 PM on May 30, 2007


Not likely. Our culture and economy is a threat to their fanaticism so long as it exists, even if we stop actively provoking them.

I still can't believe people believe this shit. Do you really think they would give a fuck what Americans were getting up to if America wasn't propping up Middle Eastern regimes?

Did I miss the videos where they ream out Brazil?
posted by chunking express at 1:28 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


That dude is totally juggalo.
posted by The Straightener at 1:30 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do you really think they would give a fuck what Americans were getting up to if America wasn't propping up Middle Eastern regimes?

Yes. History keeps memories hot
posted by A189Nut at 1:32 PM on May 30, 2007


Not likely. Our culture and economy is a threat to their fanaticism so long as it exists, even if we stop actively provoking them.

Mitrovarr, can you specifically state why they hate our culture and economy and not those of other first-world countries?

On preview, what chunking express said.
posted by NationalKato at 1:36 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


What I learned today:

1) al Qaeda will never attack us again
2) If they do, it's only Conservatives & people who agree with the Administration that'll be killed
3) I'm a Conservative and my life is ruled by fear
posted by scalefree at 1:41 PM on May 30, 2007


@scalefree: 3) I'm a Conservative and my life is ruled by fear

Admitting you have a problem is step one. Good luck with your impending recovery.
posted by bobjohnsonmilw at 1:44 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


scalefree, I'm not so sure you learned anything. Maybe we're reading different crappy MetaFilter posts.
posted by chunking express at 1:46 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


They hate us for our freedom.
posted by LordSludge at 1:54 PM on May 30, 2007


It is not just "our" culture that they hate, it is that of pretty much everyone who doesn't follow their narrow interpretation of Islam. However, we are the easiest target to point at as an evil and morally bankrupt society that is the reason whey their countries by and large suck, essentially they can get more mileage out of blaming us for their problems then from blaming Canada or Spain. It should be remembered that America is mostly not at the root of many problems in the middle east, we absolutely do support autocratic regimes, but those regimes came into being as a result of the crappy post colonial situations that European countries created.

I would absolutely agree that the best solution to this problem would be to aggressively develop a non petroleum based fuel source, and then just let the middle east sink back into nothingness with the foundation of its economy suddenly becoming obsolete to the people with the most money, but until that point we will have to deal with them. I am also of the opinion that Al Queda is not nearly as much of a threat as the government has built it up to be over the least decade, but the people running it still ought to be hunted down and killed, now if we could only think of a way to do that without invading countries where they WERE not in at the time...
posted by BobbyDigital at 1:59 PM on May 30, 2007


As a muslim convert who isn't much older than this guy, I can only condemn pretty much everything he says, and especially the quaint way he tries to imitate Osama bin Laden with the hand waving. Real Islam is about purifying one's ego, not being a shit stirrer. May he wake up before someone wakes him up.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:00 PM on May 30, 2007


is this guy actually anything to do with alqueda, or is he just sitting in his parent's basement making this up ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:01 PM on May 30, 2007


The part that sucks is, they are fairly reasonable demands--stop screwing around with the Muslim world and let the Muslim world figure out the Muslim world for once.

Nothing benefits them more than bombing, carnage and destruction, of all kinds, from any side.

That's as inane as when they say the same thing about you. They're not cardboard cut-outs or stereotypes of ruthlessness. Random carnage and destruction are their tools, not their ends; just like our "shock and awe."

Not likely. Our culture and economy is a threat to their fanaticism so long as it exists, even if we stop actively provoking them.

That just shows how little you know about Islam. Yes, Islam looks forward to an all-Islamic future. Rather like Christianity. Or the secret dreams of Orthodox Jews about what'll happen to all us goyim once mesach is done p0wning our asses. It's the secret dream of every worldview to become universal. But nurturing that secret dream is a very different thing than plotting world conquest. Al-Qa'ida wants to establish a caliphate--and that's not really such a bad thing.

Right now, if you follow the reasoning that we're invading the Dar al'Islam (and that's an easy case to follow), then this is defensive jihad, an individual obligation in Islam. Meaning every individual Muslim has a responsibility to fight us however they can. This, and the horrors of American policy in the Middle East, ensure al-Qa'ida a wide base of support. Most people hate us, and they hate the local despots we prop up as our puppets and client-kings, so it's easy to focus that anger on us.

But what about the longer term? This is where the neocons betray their deep cultural ignorance. They want to establish a caliphate. A caliphate needn't be a strong, central government. It can be extremely loose. And what's more, a caliphate could never be ruled just by al-Qa'ida. They need to bring in the 'Ummah, including the vast community of Muslims who might've supported getting the West out of the neocolonial business (at least in their own homes), but really aren't much interested in global conquest now that their families are safe. A caliphate would force al-Qa'ida to deal with the more moderate Muslim community, and it would strip them of the energy that drives so many people to them. It's a lot easier to get people to fight to protect their homes, than to invade their neighbors.

And what's more, the concept of jihad in Islam parallels our own understanding of defense and invasion: a defensive jihad is an individual obligation, and pretty much anything goes when it comes down to defending yourself and your community. But offensive jihad is a communal obligation that must be executed by the caliph, and then, very strict rules of war must be followed. In fact, a caliph could fulfill this obligation simply with foreign aid and charity, on the principle that such a "struggle" advances Islam abroad. In today's world, faced with the prospect of a regular war, the more moderate majority's going to require a caliph to at least consider that possibility.

So, if you really want to destroy al-Qa'ida, give them what they want. They can't survive actually getting what they want. What's more, what they want is essentially what we should've done a while ago anyway.
posted by jefgodesky at 2:10 PM on May 30, 2007 [8 favorites]



is this guy actually anything to do with alqueda, or is he just sitting in his parent's basement making this up ?


Supposedly he's been out of the country for nearly 10 years now... afganistan, I think I read once...

Shit, at least he's getting a nice supply of hash and opium before he gets tried for treason, (if they find him alive)
posted by bobjohnsonmilw at 2:13 PM on May 30, 2007


Right now, if you follow the reasoning that we're invading the Dar al'Islam (and that's an easy case to follow), then this is defensive jihad, an individual obligation in Islam.

The problem with that is this view of "defensive jihad" is really only supported by Salafist/Wahabbi types who don't have any real basis in Islamic learning or fiqh. There is no real jihad in Iraq because Islam is not under threat. In fact, people would stop blowing things up there Islam would have a chance to flower in ways it couldn't under the Hussein regime.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:13 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


sgt.serenity scoffed 'or is he just sitting in his parent's basement making this up ?'

Not by a long shot.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:17 PM on May 30, 2007


Actually, even before Iraq, they made the case that neocolonialism amounted to an attack on Islam. It hasn't been entirely accepted, but it's not an unreasonable case to make.
posted by jefgodesky at 2:17 PM on May 30, 2007


Nothing benefits them more than bombing, carnage and destruction, of all kinds, from any side.

That's as inane as when they say the same thing about you. They're not cardboard cut-outs or stereotypes of ruthlessness. Random carnage and destruction are their tools, not their ends; just like our "shock and awe."


Hmm, no, I'd disagree: Theior aims are pretty much immaterial, sivne they are never going to reach them. Random chaos and violence on the other hand benefits them immensely, as it increases the number of dispossesed whack-jobs in the world (and therefore their resource pool), provides power vacumns for them to move into and creates a lot of unmonitored areas for them to conduct their business freely in.

The converse cannot be said of "us". Random chaos and violence errodes our position, even if we are the root cause of it.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on May 30, 2007


I bet if Dizzy baked him some date bars he'd calm down a lot.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:22 PM on May 30, 2007




I was working downtown on 9/11, and I now live in spitting distance of the Capitol building, from which all that actionable hand-waving emits. If anybody should be scared, it's me.

Unfortunately, I can't get the image of this guy as a lonely Star Wars nerd out of my head. I feel like I just watched a fan-fic video starring a teenager dressed up like Count Doku, shouting about the evils of the Galactic Republic.

Laughter > Terror.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:32 PM on May 30, 2007


scalefree - Perhaps you didn't understand my comment. "Unless we comply with their demands" implies that I, an ordinary American, have some role to play in either complying or refusing to comply with such demands, and not the very small number of people who actually have power over political and military decisions. Maybe you are actually one of those people, I don't know. But I'd suggest you drop any references to the collective "we" unless you want to seem like a jingoistic flag-waving nationalist asshole.

Also...aren't there Metafilter contributors and viewers in any other countries besides the US? Maybe the "we" talk is a little inaccurate.
posted by inoculatedcities at 2:33 PM on May 30, 2007


Artw, I don't think aims become immaterial simply because they're unlikely. By the same token, our hope for a free, stable, unified Iraq is far less credible than a new caliphate (after all, a Muslim world without a caliph is a fairly new development, and a new caliph could be less intrusive politically than the EU or even NATO), but are you equally willing to dismiss our goals as immaterial? While it's true that the violence in the Middle East does inspire more people to hate the U.S., neither the U.S. nor al-Qa'ida consciously considers random chaos and violence to be means to their ends. Al-Qa'ida doesn't pursue random violence: it's been focusing on "bleeding" the U.S., getting us stuck in a quagmire and letting us spend all of our resources there until we're done, the same strategy they used against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Terrorists and politicians horrify me for the exact same reason: they both usually espouse lofty ideals, but their willingness to kill the innocent in pursuit of those ideals make them all monsters. In that, I can't find much difference between them whatsoever.
posted by jefgodesky at 2:34 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


The camera fades in, a large, non-descript building.
The camera cuts in closer, a mechanical whirring noise builds slowly
The camera cuts to an inside view of the building, a gigantic system of industrial machines is present. Camera works in slowly, the whirring noise increases in volume. The machinery is revealed to be a paper printing press.
Panning around and up, the camera reveals the headline being printed: "GUILIANI WINS!"
posted by boo_radley at 2:40 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only sane reaction to terrorism is to ignore it completely. You CANNOT fight it. You just have to increase security and then live with it.

No Western government wants to seriously address the root causes of Islamic extremism, so we all just have to learn to accept the occasional attacks as part of the world we've created. Statistically, any of us have a far greater chance of being hit by lightning, blah, blah.

I hate that these little fucks get their way: everything they say and do makes the news. If no one is going to fix anything, I wish everyone would just ignore them.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:02 PM on May 30, 2007


I feel for history teachers 100 years from now who will have to explain why, when 15 Saudis and 4 of their buddies, flew planes into the WTC sreaming "God is great!," America's response was to invade and occupy Iraq. And then spend billions of dollars and thousands of lives empowering a pro-Iranian Shia theocracy in Iraq, ensuring that Iran is the strongest power in the region throughout the 21st century.

Pretty fucked up, no?
posted by bardic at 3:33 PM on May 30, 2007


I get this picture of him sitting painting warhammer figures in his wee cave with osama coming in to interrupt him with a row every now and then to go and do some terrorising like his more useful brother - you treat this place like a hotel etc
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:41 PM on May 30, 2007


I feel for history teachers 100 years from now who will have to explain why…America's response was to invade and occupy Iraq.

It's pretty simple, really. Powerful figures in the then-new administration had been aiming to topple Saddam Hussein for years by that point. The attacks just provided a convenient excuse.
posted by oaf at 4:04 PM on May 30, 2007


It's not going to be difficult, bardic. American history already has to contend with the awkward and embarrassing Whiskey Rebellion. A new president, eager to prove his power under an exciting, fresh constitution, issued what amounted to a summons to every farmer in Pennsylvania and other frontier states, demanding that they appear in Federal Court for harassing tax collectors and non-payment of taxes. These rebel farmers promptly organized militias near-equal in size to the force that wrested America from the British and started harassing in earnest, tarring and feathering a tax collector, intimidating federal troops at nearby garrisons and being a nuisance in general.

President Washington invoked martial law, sent out a Revolutionary War hero to round up the rebels and instill a little Fear of the Executive in the militias. In response, the militias... just drifted back to their farmlands. With no way to tell potential rebels from Revolutionary War vets, the Federal Forces bobbled around Pennsylvania for a bit and rode back to George with a handful of prisoners. This handful was culled from a force, remember, over 12,000 strong. It's also believed that they were chosen for merely crossing the path of the federal forces than for any provable offenses.

Iraq is a good deal Whiskey Rebellion with 2 centuries of inflation built up.
posted by boo_radley at 4:41 PM on May 30, 2007


Actually, I think you're giving the Iraq occupation far too much credit. Incompetence is one thing (Whiskey Rebellion, Bay of Pigs, Longstreet's Advance, Vietnam), but actually spending so much blood and treasure to actively empower your enemy is something unprecedented in American history, at least on this extreme a level.

You know what Iraqi Sunnis call Iraqi Shia? They call them "Iranians." Think about it. Think about what a colossal expenditure this has been, and not merely a wasted one. One that is making sure the Iranian mullahs will never go away in our lifetime, since their BFF's in Iraq will fight and die for them, and vice versa.

This isn't mere incompetence. I wish it was, honestly. We'd all be better off.
posted by bardic at 4:51 PM on May 30, 2007


Unadulterated malcompetence
posted by blasdelf at 5:58 PM on May 30, 2007


I think the Administration is doing nothing about this. So why are we supposed to listen to scalefree?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:40 PM on May 30, 2007


"why are we supposed to listen to scalefree"

"And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."

-Acts 9:18
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:06 PM on May 30, 2007


spending so much blood and treasure to actively empower your enemy

That does seem to be the result.
posted by homunculus at 7:37 PM on May 30, 2007


scalefree: I'm a Conservative and my life is ruled by fear.

Yes.
posted by Avenger at 7:52 PM on May 30, 2007


For real, my cat is fucking pissed.
posted by LordSludge at 8:19 PM on May 30, 2007


Wow, 74 comments and not one mention of Israel.

Isn't one of the radicalising factors for young Muslims the US's (and Australia and the UK's) one sided support for Israel?
posted by mattoxic at 8:19 PM on May 30, 2007


chunking express: I still can't believe people believe this shit. Do you really think they would give a fuck what Americans were getting up to if America wasn't propping up Middle Eastern regimes?

Well, yes. We spread our culture all over the world, especially when we're not at war with it. Having peaceful relations with their populations will inevitably lead to a mixing of cultures, liberalizing theirs. Their populations would eventually revolt and set up more liberal governments. Since they want to stay in power and avoid liberalization of their population at all costs, they want to prevent peaceful interaction as much as possible.

Mitrovarr, can you specifically state why they hate our culture and economy and not those of other first-world countries?

They do (witness the attacks on Europe and the UK.) However, our greater power and cultural impact, as well as our less-than-honorable past dealings with them, make us larger targets.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:21 PM on May 30, 2007


Their populations would eventually revolt and set up more liberal governments.

Demonstrably wrong. America has been expecting countries like Egypt and Pakistan, for example, to liberalize themselves gradually over decades. There's a fair amount of cultural "leakage" into those places (everyone has cable these days) and yet, if either of those nations had truly democratic elections tomorrow, they'd elect hard-line Muslim theocrats in droves. Hence, we spend billions to prop up military dictatorships (Egypt gets as much foreign aid from the US as Israel does, roughly).
posted by bardic at 8:37 PM on May 30, 2007


I think it's safe to say that the small number of people that make up al-Qaeda's fanatical core hates our culture and wants to destroy it. Just like I can imagine there is a small group of American conservatives that hates, say, France's liberal culture and wants to destroy it. There are dumbfucks with dumb ideas everywhere. That's not the problem.

The problem is that due to our policy of supporting oppressive regimes and our "boots on the ground" to enforce our will, this small group of dumbfucks called al-Qaeda now has the support, or at least the sympathy of, a much larger population of people that otherwise would just go about living their lives.

This, in turn, empowers one of our own small group of dumbfucks to get support to invade a country that had nothing to do with the dumbfucks that attacked us in the first place, and the circle of death continues. Wee!
posted by moonbiter at 9:56 PM on May 30, 2007


So what you're saying is, if we get rid of all the dumbfucks, we'll have peace?

Problem with that, of course, is that the only way to make it happen is to empower another group of dumbfucks.
posted by cell divide at 10:20 PM on May 30, 2007


Ort encourage the kind of situation that doesn't generate an infinite supply of dumbfucks - prosperous, well educated healthy societies.
posted by Artw at 10:29 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, 74 comments and not one mention of Israel.

You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by felix betachat at 10:48 PM on May 30, 2007


Wow, 74 comments and not one mention of Israel.


That could be because Al Qaeda and other Salafists/Wahabbi groups are so full of bloodlust that they don't have very good long term memories. They're more focused on killing Americans and Shiites nowadays than ranting on about Israel. The hypocrisy in this is that the mostly Muslim Palestinians are suffering just as much (if not more since the Palestinian refugees that were once safe in Iraq are now greatly imperiled) as they were when they were a hot button issue with the neo-jihadis. So, they would rather look the other way where fellow Muslims are suffering and instead advocate slaughtering clueless American soldiers and other Muslims who follow a slightly different methodology than they do.

In short, Wahabbis go home!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:55 PM on May 30, 2007


Isn't one of the radicalising factors for young Muslims the US's (and Australia and the UK's) one sided support for Israel?

Sure--but that's just one example of the U.S. propping up regimes that would never last on their own throughout the Muslim world. Why do you think they care about us?

Well, yes. We spread our culture all over the world, especially when we're not at war with it. Having peaceful relations with their populations will inevitably lead to a mixing of cultures, liberalizing theirs. Their populations would eventually revolt and set up more liberal governments. Since they want to stay in power and avoid liberalization of their population at all costs, they want to prevent peaceful interaction as much as possible.

Revolutions need support, otherwise you're just a marginal, reactionary element. If you're propping up a military dictatorship, you're whipping up a lot of support for a group like al-Qa'ida, but who's going to follow them when the big threat is Coca-Cola and the latest action flick? Then al-Qa'ida's nothing more than a bunch of out-of-touch, backwards whiners.

They do (witness the attacks on Europe and the UK.) However, our greater power and cultural impact, as well as our less-than-honorable past dealings with them, make us larger targets.

All on countries that took part on the invasion of Iraq. I'd hate to say it, but bin Laden actually made a good point--why haven't they attacked Sweden, if it's our "freedom" they hate? Sweden's a lot more "free" than we are, after all.

The problem is that due to our policy of supporting oppressive regimes and our "boots on the ground" to enforce our will, this small group of dumbfucks called al-Qaeda now has the support, or at least the sympathy of, a much larger population of people that otherwise would just go about living their lives.

Bingo.

Problem with that, of course, is that the only way to make it happen is to empower another group of dumbfucks.

Or to stop empowering the other dumbfucks (e.g., Saudi Arabia, et al). All it would take is to stop doing all those nasty things we should never have been doing in the first place, propping up all those regimes in the region and trying to run it as if we had the right to tell them how to live. The challenge is to give up our hubris. Which probably means it'll never happen.

That could be because Al Qaeda and other Salafists/Wahabbi groups are so full of bloodlust that they don't have very good long term memories.

Israel's always been a back-burner issue for al-Qa'ida. They formed out of outrage that Saudi Arabia would prefer U.S. troops over mujahideen. Their primary concern has been that the Saudis are a puppet regime of the U.S., which thus puts Mecca and Medina under non-Muslim power. Looking wider, they created a network of local resistance groups against various Middle Eastern dictators, and noticed that most of them were nigh-impregnable, thanks to U.S. support. So all the local resistance groups found a common enemy through al-Qa'ida. But Israel's always been an afterthought; I'd hardly call it a lack of long-term memory, because it's never been a very high priority for them.

In short, Wahabbis go home!

Wahhab lived in Saudi Arabia, about the same time the Kingdom was being formed. Since their primary focus is the "liberation" of Saudi Arabia, isn't that exactly what they're trying to do?
posted by jefgodesky at 6:08 AM on May 31, 2007


So what you're saying is, if we get rid of all the dumbfucks, we'll have peace?

No, what I'm saying is that people should stop listening to dumbfucks, and not be dumbfucks themselves. And that we, as a nation, should avoid foriegn entanglements (as the man said) and stop occupying the world. Then we might not have peace, but we'd at least have clean hands.

Not that that would ever happen.
posted by moonbiter at 6:23 AM on May 31, 2007


Bardic, propping up dictarships because American's are afraid of a Muslim Theocracy is a pretty stupid idea. (Nevermind it's also pretty reprehensible.) Can you actually name any countries where the US proping up the dictator was a good thing? Americans need to get over themselves. Fuck.

Parties of God: The Bush Doctrine and the rise of Islamic Democracy is worth reading.
posted by chunking express at 7:01 AM on May 31, 2007


Can you actually name any countries where the US propping [sic] up the dictator was a good thing?

I'm no fan of Mubarak, but it seems to have kept Egypt relatively stable and non-bellicose for quite a while. And Musharraf in Pakistan is certainly better than the present alternative. Oh, and I think Jordan, which is a monarchy but with an authoritarian leader and a very aggressive mukhabarat, does pretty alright by us. Wow and don't forget Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore.

I'm a democratic fundamentalist and I think that open societies and the rule of law for all citizens are an inherent good. But you're hopelessly naive if you think that U.S. involvement in other countries' affairs is always a bad thing. There are often times good and solid tactical reasons for favoring an authoritarian leader as a bulwark against anarchy. Hell, I think there are plenty on the left and right who wish that the US would have renewed relations with Saddam Hussein as an alternative to the current mess.

The problem is that these sorts of solutions are often strategically unsound. What was a guard against anarchy (or a worse brand of totalitarianism...see the Cold War) ossifies and becomes a self-perpetuating oppressive system. And that system then breeds dissent against the US as much if not more than it does against the local tyrant.

But the problem here is not the tactical decision in the first place. It's with the lassitude of the American populace and the persistent venality of its leadership. To use American soft power to nudge a benevolent dictatorship toward developing an open society is a maddeningly difficult thing to do. It takes courage, principle and vision. And unfortunately, these are not the leadership qualities that America's own democratic system routinely favors.
posted by felix betachat at 7:27 AM on May 31, 2007


felix betachat, do you think Egyptians, Jordanians, etc, are happy with the leaders they have? Why do you think these Muslim movements get traction? Or do US interests trump the interests of the people actually living under the dictatorships the US supports? (Actually, I already know the answer to that question.)

America doesn't need to help anyone or any country find their way. People around the globe are perfectly capable of doing this on their own.
posted by chunking express at 7:34 AM on May 31, 2007


Bardic, propping up dictarships because American's are afraid of a Muslim Theocracy is a pretty stupid idea. (Nevermind it's also pretty reprehensible.) Can you actually name any countries where the US proping up the dictator was a good thing? Americans need to get over themselves. Fuck.

I didn't read bardic as saying this was a good thing. Of course, it really depends on one's definition of "good." Ensuring that a country's government keeps American interests ahead of the country's interests, for instance, is something that just doesn't happen under a democracy, and if the U.S. ever had to actually foot the bill for its lifestyle, it would never be possible. So if "good" means maintaining the "American way of life," then it's "good." If "good" means keeping countries secular, then it's "good."

But you're hopelessly naive if you think that U.S. involvement in other countries' affairs is always a bad thing.

Well, depends on what you mean by "bad." Mubarak, Musharraf, and the Hashemites have been good for us, but not so good for the people they rule over.

America doesn't need to help anyone or any country find their way. People around the globe are perfectly capable of doing this on their own.

That's about it, but the extravagence of the American lifestyle isn't something Americans can actually afford. We need strongmen like this to force their people to pick up our tab. So the question really is, and I shudder to use such a classic hippie tagline, can you convince Americans to live simply, so that others can simply live?
posted by jefgodesky at 7:52 AM on May 31, 2007


There are plenty of people on the streets of Baghdad today who think more fondly of Saddam Hussein in death than they ever did in life. And there's a reason why Vladimir Putin is doing so well in Russia. Rampant anarchy is a terrible thing and a robust civil society doesn't grow on its own.

America is not the source of all the world's ills. Not even most of them. And she has in the past leveraged her influence to the national and international good in ways that were literally world-transformative.

Her ascendant plutocracy, on the other hand, is contemptible. You should be more precise about picking your enemies and identifying their flaws. You'd find, perhaps, that there are plenty of Americans who are quite proud of their nation's legacy and would like to reclaim it. Unfortunately, xenophobic assholes who want to paint the US as a global cancer actively hinder that effort.
posted by felix betachat at 7:52 AM on May 31, 2007


Americans who are quite proud of their nation's legacy

What legacy is that? Are you proud of what the US did in South East Asia? Central America? South America? The Middle East? America has been a blight for people all over the world since it ousted Mossadegh in Iran through till today. But I suppose we can ignore all that because the US is doing something -- i'm not sure what -- that makes American's proud.

And she has in the past leveraged her influence to the national and international good in ways that were literally world-transformative.

It is true American's buy a lot of crap, which helps keep plenty of economies around the world chugging along. I guess that should count for something.
posted by chunking express at 8:19 AM on May 31, 2007


Reclaiming America's proud legacy? Was that reflected in the blatantly imperialist conquests of the Spanish-American War, or the removal of the Native Americans, or our early dependence on the slave trade? I usually temper people's superlative remarks about Bush as the worst president ever by reminding them of some of the things the U.S. did in the Philippines. No, the U.S. isn't the cause of all the world's troubles--that's mostly the old European empires and the legacy of colonialism. Of course, the U.S.'s eagerness to pick up that standard as the neocolonial center essentially volunteers us for culpability, but I don't blame America first, I generally blame Britain first. But to suggest that the U.S. has some noble heritage of freedom to reclaim simply shows an ignorance of history.

Iraqis look back fondly on Hussein now because while he was alive they couldn't imagine anything worse; now, under the U.S. occupation, they've discovered it can be worse. Left to their own devices, people around the world would find means of orgaizing themselves that they wanted, and despots would be overthrown were they not supported by us. Of course, what they want may not be what we want. They may want Shari'a law, or they may want liberal democracy. The point is, that's their decision to make, not ours, because our history clearly shows, we're no moral exemplars to the world. Trying to teach the world about freedom is rank hypocrisy; we, like any other group on the planet, have every right to figure out how to govern ourselves, and no right to tell anyone else.
posted by jefgodesky at 8:26 AM on May 31, 2007


Ah, yes. And now come the tired leftist hobby-horses. The litany of historical crimes. The legacy of tyranny under the lurid Stars & Stripes. Give me a break, guys. Try actually thinking instead of jerking below the waist. There is nothing more tired than a position of moral absolutism shrilled loudly into the vacuum that is the internet.

What...the fuck...would you do, or have done, better? Do you actually give two shits about how to make the world a better place? Or would you rather warm yourself in the small embers of your own moral rectitude?

Because American power isn't going anywhere. Either it's in the hands of the cigar-smokers, in which case we get another century of Iraq-style adventures, or it's in the hands of the democratic idealists. Those are your choices...at least until the Chinese get their shit together and we all learn to love melamine laced food and toothpaste sweetened with antifreeze.

I've been making two points: (a) that there are good, pragmatic and situational reasons for favoring non-democratic regimes against worse oppression and anarchy if and only if it is done with an eye toward developing democratic societies down the line, and (b) that American society needs to be encouraged to express its best instincts rather than its worst fears on the world stage.

So, why don't you cut the boilerplate Chomskian claptrap and actually address my points on their merits and/or weaknesses? I feel passionately about these issues, which is why I bother to have a conversation about them. Even on the internet. Even with you knuckle-draggers. The left needs to develop creativity and enterprise commensurate with the greed and self-aggrandizement of the right. The far left even moreso. And a crucial first step is acknowledging the rules of the game as it is being played in the world today. I've done my best to lay out some basics. If you'd like to respond in kind, I'll be happy to keep talking. But I've got better things to do than stand around and watch you wank.
posted by felix betachat at 8:57 AM on May 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


under the U.S. occupation, they've discovered it can be worse

That's ridiculous.
posted by tadellin at 9:05 AM on May 31, 2007


Was it hard to type all that with your fingers in your ears shouting, "I can't hear you"?
posted by chunking express at 9:11 AM on May 31, 2007


(I find it hard to type while dragging my knuckles.)
posted by chunking express at 9:12 AM on May 31, 2007


(I could tell. You kept typing "American's.")
posted by felix betachat at 9:14 AM on May 31, 2007


What...the fuck...would you do, or have done, better? Do you actually give two shits about how to make the world a better place? Or would you rather warm yourself in the small embers of your own moral rectitude?

I did blame the U.K. first, but more importantly, you were talking about the U.S.'s superior moral heritage. That's a myth. We're a country, and like all countries, ours has no morality whatsoever. It's a system of violence for controlling the monopoly of force, and like all countries, fundamentally immoral. As Thoreau pointed out, the great achievements of American history were made in spite of our government, and by and large the best things governments do is to make themselves scarce.

The situation in the Middle East is a fine example. A positive force would surely help, but even the removal of our constant meddling would be all that's necessary. No, I don't imagine they would organize themselves as we would, but who has the hubris to think that what works for us must work for everyone? Different people have different priorities, and it's up to them to decide how they want to live their lives, without us propping up dictators to make sure they live the way twe want them to live. What would I do to make the world a better place? That's simple: less than we're doing now. There's not even a need to spend efforts to make the world better; simply suspending our active efforts to make the world worse would be more than sufficient.

Because American power isn't going anywhere. Either it's in the hands of the cigar-smokers, in which case we get another century of Iraq-style adventures, or it's in the hands of the democratic idealists. Those are your choices...at least until the Chinese get their shit together and we all learn to love melamine laced food and toothpaste sweetened with antifreeze.

I can't foresee any scenario where American power could possibly remain. The fundamental bedrock of U.S. dominance, petroleum, has peaked, and will soon go into decline. Rome powered itself on the booty of its conquests, which it put to further conquests, and when it could conquer no more, it declined and fell. America emerged as Texan petroleum replaced British coal, and that early foot in the door made puppet states of Middle Eastern regimes that controlled what oil was left when our own peaked in 1970. Now there's has peaked as well. What will continuing American domination come from if it's not going anywhere? Fairy dust?

It takes energy to rule the world, and if the world's running on less energy, that means the re-emergence of local, bioregional affairs. There's no one right way to live, and soon, there won't be any way to force that idea onto anyone else, either.

So, why don't you cut the boilerplate Chomskian claptrap and actually address my points on their merits and/or weaknesses? I feel passionately about these issues, which is why I bother to have a conversation about them. Even on the internet. Even with you knuckle-draggers.

Uh huh. So if you don't want to talk history, why did you appeal to our "heritage"? But your points are immaterial. We don't support despots with an eye for developing democracy down the line. We support despots because democracies would put their own interests ahead of ours, and our way of life cannot survive that. So you're talking about a pure hypothetical, without any basis in reality.

And a crucial first step is acknowledging the rules of the game as it is being played in the world today.

Indeed, but where does your starry-eyed talk of bringing democracy to the world fit into that? That's not why we support Mubarak, or Musharraf, or the Hashemites. We support them precisely because we can't afford to allow their people to choose their own way of life.

That's ridiculous.

Perhaps, but that is the opinion that the Iraqis themselves espouse.
posted by jefgodesky at 9:34 AM on May 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a system of violence for controlling the monopoly of force, and like all countries, fundamentally immoral.

Ok, this is a good start. You're mucking up your Weber a bit, and the distinction is crucial. The definition you're groping at is Weber's in his tour de force, Politics as a Vocation:
Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.... [A]t the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the 'right' to use violence. Hence, 'politics' for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state.
Weber's definition differs from yours in that he sees the state as a means of controlling unlimited violence. It establishes a monopoly on force and presents politics as a means of channeling it. No language there of "fundamental immorality." Someone is going to kick your ass unless there are institutions in place that control whose ass gets kicked, and when.

In terms of our present problem, then, we have a situation in which American power is, and has historically been used in a manner which is counterproductive to Enlightenment values (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...what have you). The point is conceded, though irrelevant. Irrelevant because the point is not to interpret the world, as the vulgar Marxists now do, but to change it.

Sticking with Weber, there are three general ways of marshaling political influence within the system and thus channeling the legitimate violence of the state: tradition, charisma and bureaucracy. The present moment is such a goddamn mess because we have a cadre of wealthy bastards who have perfected a means of seizing legitimacy through a careful deployment of tradition (manifest destiny, the New American Century, etc.), charisma (Bushian 'folksiness') and law (American exceptionalism & unilateralism). All this combines to put in place a system of legitimation in terms of which these thugs can rape the system to their own benefit.

But their power still depends on its political legitimation. And here's where a reinvigorated left comes in. Appeal to a differing traditional narrative. Celebrate the strain of enlightenment values enshrined in our fundamental documents and occasionally put into historical practice. Understand the means of generating charismatic power. Sociologists like Pierre Bourdieu have well described how language and its mastery are an effective means of creating charisma. And insist...demand that law and bureaucracy serve the purposes of human liberty.

Weber saw the development of a professional bureaucratic class as the surest guide to securing liberty, an optimism that Hitler was soon to exploit. Today, we have to treat all the sources of political legitimation with equal and deadly seriousness. But charisma trumps them all. Let me be clear about this: We must find ways to assert our values with moral clarity and conviction in a manner which encourages others to get up off their fat asses and join the fight. Listen to Barack Obama's speech to the DNC in 2004 if you want to see what this looks like. As Bush's manufactured charisma fades, opportunities like this will increasingly emerge. There is a reason why the corporate media are so invested in fostering a discourse of mockery and contempt. They are stamping out the flames of charismatic politics wherever they flare up.

So, that's politics. I am saying: ask yourself not only if what you are saying and who you are critiquing is factually correct. Ask also if it is politically effective. Ask if it will excite others and encourage them to support your values. The left has not known how to do this since around 1968 and it is to our collective shame.

On to our second point:

The situation in the Middle East is a fine example.

Yes it is. Two of the states we are talking about, Egypt and Jordan, have in recent decades made dramatic strides toward peaceful co-existence with their neighbors under the direct intermediation of American power. Both Carter and Clinton knew exactly how to foster dialog and encourage autocrats to look beyond their own limited power-base to imagine a better, freer future. And the continuance of American aid helps to maintain the integrity of the choices that Sadat and Hussein made.

If you want to see what a Middle Eastern state in the absence of American influence looks like, take a glance at Lebanon post-1983. Chaos, opportunistic military adventurism by neighboring states, and a general collapse of a unified sense of collective nationhood and destiny. There is much America could have done in Lebanon and much it could still do.

But into the ethical vacuum that is contemporary American politics, Al Qaeda have emerged. What they do is not, primarily, for American ears. They engage us only to provoke and to enrage. They depend on unilateral American barbarism and our current leaders are more than happy to fill the order. Our plutocrats get wealthy selling the machines of war, and Al Qaeda gain the legitimacy that comes from standing up to an oppressive crusader army. In the meantime, the people of Lebanon and Palestine and Iraq suffer.

The effective use of American power could change this. No, should change this. We could be doing much to foster democracy and peace in the region. But to do so would involve mastering the tools of political influence and embracing the responsibility of power. I am cautiously hopeful that that moment is coming upon us now. The world doesn't need less America, it needs a better America.

I'll leave you with Weber's close to his essay, because it is as true now as it ever was:
Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth --that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today. Only he has the calling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say 'In spite of all!' has the calling for politics.
posted by felix betachat at 10:44 AM on May 31, 2007


What...the fuck...would you do, or have done, better?

I would contend that ANYTHING, up to and inclusing just marching the army into the sea, probably would have been better that the nonsensical Iraq invasion.
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on May 31, 2007


The world needs an America that isn't always on a crusade to change it for "the better." America doesn't even know what "the better" is, thus the economic and societal problems we have at home and multiple political viewpoints that exist. If we can't get our own act in order, it is the height of hubris to believe that we can order everyone else's lives as well.

The world doesn't want, or need, Pax Americana.
posted by moonbiter at 11:53 AM on May 31, 2007


I'm well aware of Weber, but the concept of the monopoly of force has been significantly developed since its introduction, particularly in anarchist circles, where it's used rather to argue that it increases rather than limits violence. I believe this is quite true. Of course, its sudden removal, once society has formed around it, can increase violence even more.

Ask also if it is politically effective. Ask if it will excite others and encourage them to support your values. The left has not known how to do this since around 1968 and it is to our collective shame.

The U.S. has a long history of isolationism, so I think there's probably enough there to work with, yes.

Two of the states we are talking about, Egypt and Jordan, have in recent decades made dramatic strides toward peaceful co-existence with their neighbors under the direct intermediation of American power.

But it's an unsustainable peace. They hate the peace because it was forced on them. Nothing was actually resolved, you simply have all parties restrained by despots propped up by the U.S. When U.S. support inevitably falters, the despots will fail, and the conflict will resume--exacerbated by the built-up tensions. When the British withdrew from Iraq, they drew the boundaries specifically to surround a Sunni minority in Baghdad with hostile Shi'ites to the south and Kurds to the north. T.E. Lawrence had warned them that this would be unstable, but that was the point: it would force the Sunnis to look to Britain, and establish a strongman in Baghdad to make the country work. But of course, such despotism cannot last forever, founded as it is on such a radical concentration of power, so when the center falters, you get a result like Iraq today--exacerbated by thr built-up tensions. There can be little doubt, for instance, that the Shi'ites are more violent towards the Sunnis because of the actions of Saddam Hussein, or that increasing tensions restrained by the U.S. prescence will not further enflame the region once we leave, regardless of how long that is in coming.

If you want to see what a Middle Eastern state in the absence of American influence looks like, take a glance at Lebanon post-1983. Chaos, opportunistic military adventurism by neighboring states, and a general collapse of a unified sense of collective nationhood and destiny. There is much America could have done in Lebanon and much it could still do.

That's hardly a good example--most of the regional powers, and the U.S., all had stakes in the Lebanese Civil War all the way back to 1975. That's what's kept the war going in Lebanon, all of the foreigners fueling it.
posted by jefgodesky at 12:25 PM on May 31, 2007


I'm well aware of Weber, but the concept of the monopoly of force has been significantly developed since its introduction, particularly in anarchist circles, where it's used rather to argue that it increases rather than limits violence. I believe this is quite true.

I'm really sorry, but that's just simply harebrained. The beauty of Weber's formulation was its forthright acknowledgment of the inherent nature of violence to human society. By focusing on the state as the controller of violence and politics as the collective means to direct the actions of the state, Weber was able to formulate a coherent political philosophy. Unless you have some sort of magic wand that could automatically transform everyone into happy anarchists, then your "development" of the Weberian model is just a willful disengagement from political reality. In the long durée, resurgent anarchism is just a waypoint on the road to fascism. In the current political climate, it's simply a ceding of the field to more savage men willing to bend the tools of the state to their own will.

But it's an unsustainable peace. They hate the peace because it was forced on them.

Who is this "they"? Arabs are not some reified thing that operates collectively. The problem is not that America intervened to foster peace, but that America's involvement has been so spastic and selective. Again, to repeat my above point, there is a place for acknowledgment of the political status quo, for working with repressive regimes and encouraging the gradual development of open and free societies. The problem is not that some American leaders have tried this, but that not all of them have and well enough.

Have you been to the West Bank? USAID, the UN and a host of NGO's are heavily invested in the sustaining Palestinian economic, social and political life. Return homo Americanus to the state of nature and all that collapses. And the tattered remnants of Palestinian society along with it. What would follow would melt the heart of even the most battle-hardened anti-globalist. For better or worse, we're in. And the key is to figure out how to make sure that, being in, we can do the most good. There is a space for states to foster political dialog between former belligerents and to offer economic incentives for peacemaking. Your isolationist "anarchism" makes a mockery of the seriously hard work performed by many many people, state and non-state sponsored actors, who are working hard to encourage peace and social development in the region.

That's hardly a good example--most of the regional powers, and the U.S., all had stakes in the Lebanese Civil War all the way back to 1975. That's what's kept the war going in Lebanon, all of the foreigners fueling it.

Give me a break. The civil war in Lebanon was a proxy battle on Lebanese soil between Syria, Israel and the PLO. The intervention of the multinational peacekeeping force in 1982 was an attempt to calm the region leading directly to the May 17th agreement. The US was pursuing no particular strategic objective there and it was only the weakness and hesitation of the Arab signatories that caused its collapse. And of course the Marine barracks bombing put an end to America's attempt at direct intermediation, teaching Arabs a good lesson about the effectiveness of political terrorism in the process.

If you want to know more about why Lebanon is such a mess, I suggest you look at Fouad Ajami's The Dream Palace of the Arabs. Of course, no western power's hands are completely clean. But the problem has more to do with the collapse of secular Arab nationalism than it does to do with specifically American malfeasance in the region. Again, there is a history there, but the problem before us (well...those of us who don't want to retreat into our squatters camps and sing the Internationale) is how to influence the future of the region for the good. Without a mediating presence, preferably multinational, Syria, Iran and militant Palestinians will continue to use the country as their bloody playground.

With that, I'm out. I've got to catch a flight to Berlin in an hour and I can't stick around to argue the merits of political defeatism in the 21st century. Email's in my profile, feel free to drop a note if you'd like to get in a reply. In the meantime, I'll lay a wreath at the Reichstag for you.
posted by felix betachat at 1:46 PM on May 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


The beauty of Weber's formulation was its forthright acknowledgment of the inherent nature of violence to human society.

Of course, if human society isn't inherently violent, then the monopoly of force makes it so. This is something I could defend at length (and I have), but it would be derailing to do that here.

Who is this "they"? Arabs are not some reified thing that operates collectively.

Granted, but the majority of them are not content with the terms of the peace America and its client kings have enforced.

Have you been to the West Bank? USAID, the UN and a host of NGO's are heavily invested in the sustaining Palestinian economic, social and political life. Return homo Americanus to the state of nature and all that collapses.

Of course, so does Israel, which is what keeps Palestinians in the West Bank so impoverished that they need all those NGO's.

Your isolationist "anarchism" makes a mockery of the seriously hard work performed by many many people, state and non-state sponsored actors, who are working hard to encourage peace and social development in the region.

And your blind refusal to consider any possible change insults the autonomy of the rest of the world, and instead treats them like children. Sure, we send lots of people to try to help, but they're only a partial solution to the problems we've created by being there. We're not stuck there; we can leave any time we like, and to stop causing the problem would be far more effective than wasting the effort of so many conscientious, hard-working people on what can only ever be a partial solution.

Give me a break. The civil war in Lebanon was a proxy battle on Lebanese soil between Syria, Israel and the PLO.

Oh, yeah, none of those are foreign.

The US was pursuing no particular strategic objective there and it was only the weakness and hesitation of the Arab signatories that caused its collapse.

The U.S. was quite clearly supporting Israel.

But the problem has more to do with the collapse of secular Arab nationalism than it does to do with specifically American malfeasance in the region.

I didn't say it was specifically American, though; I said Lebanon's problems are the result of foreign meddling, not just America's. We're hardly the only country that needs to learn to stop imposing our will on the world.
posted by jefgodesky at 2:13 PM on May 31, 2007


« Older Don't Be That Guy   |   Street Dentists of India Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post