Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Losing my religion

I was arguing with jim and Lisa in the comments section of the post below (about the Sydney hostage-taking incident) when a bunch of gunsels claiming to be card-carrying members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Paris Local 1104 shot up the offices of a French political magazine, killing 12 people.

I was arguing that jim and Lisa were doing our readership a disservice by conflating the actions of a single criminal with some sort of global Islamic conspiracy, doing the jihadis work for them, confusing the situation whilst adding to the generalized public fear and panic over the threat of jihadi violence. It was just that sort of fear and panic that led the United States public into supporting a pointless piece of filibustering in the Middle East, invading a secular dictatorship in pursuit of a violent religious sect and, in the process, setting up a geopolitical situation where a siderunner of that sect is now fielding an actual armed field force that controls the western portions of that now-sectarian dictatorship.

But the Paris shooting is just the kind of thing they were talking about; an act of violence designed and carried out by men because of their political beliefs about religion.

I do not and never have pretended that there are not those sorts of violent men coming out of political Islam.

My point was, and is, that using the violent acts of jihadis in the West to gin up some sort of generalized fear of "Islam" and the people who hold by it is both ridiculous and dangerous.

Ridiculous because religions are supposed to be about a mystical or spiritual way to approach living a "proper life"; you can't shoot that into someone with a bullet or bomb it into them. The jihadis WANT that to be the state of play between them and the West, because that's what they know; they are, typically, men bred in violent times in violent places, and violence is what they see as their strong point. Playing it their way strengthens them and weakens us.

Dangerous because it develops into a mindset that blurs the distinction between the jihadis and "everyone else". If a single criminal nutter can be a jihadi, well, who can't? If some random joker is really part of a vast jihadi conspiracy, why isn't the FBI wiretapping those gomers at the mosque down on Clark Street? Why shouldn't we go Full Malkin and intern all those allah-pesterers for The Duration?

This begs the question, though.

If we should be looking skeptically at the poseurs, what about the genuine article?

In her comment Lisa warns of the danger of violence emerging from "...the IS - IS fellow traveler pool..." to which I'd add the other militarized jihadi factions such as AQ, AQAP, the various mujeheddin factions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Libyan militias, outfits like Boko Haram in Nigeria...and those factions are violent and dangerous and, in many cases, carry grudges against the West. Grudges held by violent men aren't to be disregarded or taken lightly.

What can, or should, the West - that is, the nations of Western Europe and North America, since the old colonial powers and the U.S. are the primary target of these Islamic grudge-holders - do in response to these groups?

I'll propose, first, than we've tried one approach, punitive expeditionary violence, and the results seem to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of this approach. It can put a band-aid on the jihadi tumor but as the examples of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria appear to show as often as not ends up in just metastasizing the damn thing into new forms in new places it wasn't before.

How about simply disengaging from the region? Walking away from the conflict?

My guess is that it would be difficult if not impossible. The well of hatred and feud is so deeply poisoned that the jihadis will continue their attacks, and even disengaging politically and militarily cannot wall-off the features of Western society that the jihadis hate and fear. It's said that the Soviet Union fell because no Russians wanted to wear Polish sneakers and listen to East German pop music. The jihadis do "hate us for our freedoms" but it is the freedom of our women to walk around in skimpy halter tops and our freedom to tell our pastors to fuck off out of our bedrooms (ironically, the very freedoms our OWN Christian "jihadis" hate and fear...) they hate.

Plus there's Israel and all that petroleum...sigh.

Okay. We're kinda stuck.

More selective violence of the Israeli targeted-assassination sort? That seems to have a sort of Darwinian effect; it can keep the jihadis from "boiling over" but it winnows out the stupid and the slow. Deconstruction the PLO simply replaced them with the deadlier enemies of Hamas and Hezbollah.

And it's well to recall that these jihadis didn't just come out of nowhere.

In 1945 the idea of "political Islam" seemed like the height of lunacy. All over the Islamic world secular governments were replacing the old colonial regimes. In fact the heartland of the current IS and AQ shenangains - Iraq and Syria - was largely run by "Baath" parties which were overtly and fiercely secular. The exemplar for the emerging Arab states was Turkey and the anticlericalism of the Young Turks.

But between the Western powers and Israel these secular states were shown up to their populations as either venal, weak, or both. Secular dictators were suborned with Western cash and weapons, or defeated by Israeli arms. The only groups that seemed to actually fight back effectively were the jihadis.

The U.S. and the West helped coddle a Saudi regime that nursed the Wahhabi madrassis that produced so many of these jihadi vipers. Charlie Wilson & Co. turned them loose on the Soviets which seemed like a damn fine idea at the time...and then cut them loose when the Soviets ran for cover.

So I'd add that, in a sense, we of the West - our governments, at least - helped make this mess. We should, at least, think about what we might do to help clean it up if that is possible...

It seems to me that the BEST answer to the jihadi problem would be the same thing that provided the solution to the Western Wars of Religion; indifference.

Think about it. For hundreds of years Europe was torn up by Protestants killing Catholics, Catholics killing Protestants and everybody killing Jews. Don't even get me started on atheists and witches...where you went to church (or whether you did..) was a killing matter in Europe for centuries. Google "Thirty Years War" sometime and read up on what it did to Germany.

And then we stopped.

Sure, some idiots still want to return to the Good Old Days when killing infidels for Baby Jesus got you into Heaven. But for most of us where our neighbors go to church - or whether they do - is a matter of massive indifference. The notion that someone is scarey because he might be Catholic and take orders from the Pope (as was said of JFK) seems ludicrous as the Blood Libel to us today. Outside of the Balkans (determined to be perverse as they have always been) religious skepticism, ignorance, indifference, and sloth is the rule in Western public life. It's considered rude outside the Issa household to parade your religiousity in public, let alone so much as upbraid anyone else for their infidelity.

So...can the West help inoculate the Islamic world with the vaccine of religious indifference? If so, how?

I'm not sure, myself, so I'm opening the floor to ideas here. What, if anything, can the West do to help the East lose their religion?


  1. Wat a minute, did you just ask what the foxes can do to help the chickens with their night time coop security problems? My head hurts.

    My response:
    a) Reduce the spending on "defense" to 25% of what it is today. This will reduce the likelihood (and scope) of future adventures.
    b) Offer free, low bandwidth satellite internet service to everyone on the planet. The service will inevitably be crappy, but even crappy internet can build communities.
    c) Demonstrate co-existence by example. To mangle an aphorism: If you worry about the logs in your eye, the motes will take care of themselves.

  2. Well, the fox-chicken thing was one reason I suggested that one option might be "walk away". It's VERY possible that there is no way for the West to really "do anything" to reduce the sort of economic, social, political, military, and religious tensions that have helped these jihadi groups prosper since the Eighties. I don't know, honestly. I recall thinking initially after the Bushies conned us into Iraq that we needed to abide by Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn" Rule and fix what we'd broken. As it turned out the "fix" just made the breakage worse; we might have done no worse and possibly "better" had every GI turned around and walked away from the border in the spring of 2003. Certainly Dubya's Most Excellent Iraqi Adventure seems to prove his daddy's good sense in NOT chasing after Saddam in '91...

    As for your suggestions, my thought would be:

    a) That'd be a good idea, period, regardless of the jihadi situation...
    b) The internet has, I think, on the whole helped the jihadis to date rather than hindered them, by helping them get their message out AND helping get Western images in to places where to messages and images piss off the local religious authorities, who LIKE living in the 10th Century. I think there's something to be said for the idea of some sort of "Internet Free Islam" to try and influence the "discussion"...but I'm not sure how the hell you'd do it. I should really look into whether this has been tried and, if so, how well it has worked.
    c) And, yeah; that was kind of my point in talking about "where did these guys come from". A hell of a lot of the current jihadi clusterfuck was midwived by Western mismanagment and fucktardry in the Islamic world. That's notto say that some of these guys wouldn't be bombing dance clubs and shooting up magazine offices anyway, but "we" haven't helped and going all Bill O'Reilly every time some idiot sticks up a chocolate cafe and asks for an IS flag isn't doing us any good, either.

    But...yeah. I'm not trying to suggest that I know of - or that there IS - a "good" option here. That's why I'm spitballing here. I don't see any value in obsessing about individual actions. That's making war plans based on where an individual enemy bomber dumps its payload. But I would suggest that we take what seydlitz might call a "strategic review" of possible options for a Western response, or responses, to the challenge of the jihadis - even if it's to conclude that they really DON'T represent any sort of challenge that needs to or should be responded to...

  3. ...or that any sort of "response" would be more costly than any potential benefit and unlikely to result in a "better" geopolitical outcome than doing nothing...


    "...religion, since the Reagan years, has been abandoning the realm of private conscience (where it has every right to be) and intruding itself into national life, with politicians and public figures flaunting their belief, advocating and (passing) legislation that restricts women’s reproductive rights, attempting to impose preposterous fairy tales (think intelligent design) on defenseless children in science classes, and even, in the case of Texas, recasting the Constitution in school textbooks as a document inspired by the Bible. Abroad, militants pursuing Islamist agendas have been raining death and destruction on entire populations, with religious extremism the main cause of terrorism the world over.

    No one who cares about our future can quietly abide the continuing propagation and influence of apocalyptic fables that large numbers of people take seriously and not raise a loud, persistent, even strident cry of alarm."

    We tend to hear more about the Muslims doing this because they use bullets instead of ballots and bombs instead of laws. But the linked article does a good job of noting that ALL religions are a great tool for assholes with the overwhelming need to tell other people what to do.

    As I recall in Sri Lanka the local Buddhists found excuses in the canon for butchering Tamils. Maybe they were helping their victims off the wheel of samsara?

    More lethal than sarin, religion, when adminstered to certain people...

  5. Well, IMO, religion has nothing to do with it. Your preferred strong state controlled secular utopias have perpetrated plenty of violence and war upon the world. You know that. You're just bitchin' because you don't like religion. Recently, especially, we tried to shoot plenty of right thinking into the Muslim world; the very thing that you accuse religious people of trying to do. Your atheist kin in Russia and China perpetrated plenty of .30 cal. re-educations.

    What are you going to do? Make yourself into the world's biggest hypocrite and declare that majority of the world that lives a devoted religious life should abandon their beliefs for some watered down version approved by you because the wars they start are somehow not as cool as the wars your secular state starts?

    You might fool the libertine pot heads in an Oregon coffee house with that rap, but I got a bad sense that the Islamic world will see right through it.

    no one

  6. "assholes with the overwhelming need to tell other people what to do."

    It's a big club

    no one

  7. Oh, yeah. Here he comes. Not to come up with an idea or ideas of how to get the Islamic world to go all agnostic and cull the jihadis but just to trot out his little "conservative" tropes. Why did I know this was coming. Sheesh; you ARE "MSR Roadkill". Are you? You guys have the same style...

    I know I'll regret this, but here goes...

    The problem with those people living a "devoted religious life" is that they're basically living a life based on a belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and anyone that can be convinced to belive impossibilities can be convinced to perform atrocities.

    Those "state controlled sectular utopias? Had a religion, too. It was called Marxism-Leninism. Or Stalinism. Or Maoism.

    Oh, crap. Read the linked article, dummy. I'm not going to waste time foolin' with your foolin' except to say that YOU can't have it both ways; you can't go all boodgey-boogedy about Scarey Muslims and not bite off that's the problem with Scary Muslims is that they're the last ones still willing to go all St. Bartholomew on their enemies.

    Honestly. Trying to bang the simplest sense into your rock-like radical-reactionary head is as frustrating as trying to teach German irregular verbs to a cat.

  8. Chief, I think that a "secular" people that worship the all mighty dollar are just as scary as any Muslim. Smedley Butler would agree with me as would millions of wogs all over the world and across decades. I say that profiteering colonialism by the secular nations has caused as much war (I'm generous because it's probably a lot more) than religion in the past two centuries. So your point about religion is moot. Go ahead. tell me where I'm wrong.

    Where did I go all boogedy-boogedy about scary Muslims?

    Your not going to solve the problem of Muslims declaring war on us because we aren't going to stop fucking with them. As they see it, they are under attack by foreigners who happen to be "infidels". As they see it, they are fighting back. It's not an invalid perspective.

    There is no solution at this point. The situation can be mitigated by understanding what it is, who is involved and then improving our security based on that and other intelligence and law enforcement.

    Only a fool doesn't understand that we are at war with hard core Islam, but only a coward over-reacts to that non-existential state of affairs.

    Your problem, FDC, is that you think you hold the truth to how life is to be lived and that way, is, of course, your way. Now, why should a Muslim (or any deeply religious person) accept that and change to be like you? Being a true believer (Muslim) on jihad grants one a very clear, focused and liberating mindset. One is even able to transcend the fear of death. What will you offer in exchange? Fast food a 401K and porn?

    I don't know anyone who believes in a flying spaghetti monster. Do you? Hurling flippant insults at believers (aka people you disagree with) is hardly a way to convince them that your way is a good way. It is a good way to start a fight.

    no one

  9. I think history bears this out, Chief, that man and religion (and really, this shit has been going on long before Islam was a wet-dream for Muhammad) is that the mind of man will seize any prerogative, rationalization, and/or justification for wanting to kill another human being.

    These guys are no different than any street thug, home invader, murderous minded killers.

    These guys wanted to kill, and their rationale was/is their preposterous excuse that their particular faith was insulted.

    What the truth is...they.killed,because.they.are.murderers.

    Common criminals.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    They are no different than our own shit-for-brains assclowns who go to schools to blow away a bunch of kids.

    No...this isn't a new problem, it's a very old problem that predates Islam, and Christianity...hell, this problem probably goes back when we first climbed out of the trees.


  10. sheerahkan, Mostly agree, but one thing. What the Wahhabis want is an Uma; a borderless united region of Muslims. The most extreme minority want the entire world to be the Uma, whereas the more typical jihadist would be fairly satisfied with just the lands that currently hold the majority Muslims populations. So when I say that we fuck with Muslims, I am not defending the Jihadist actions (re-actions). One way we are perceived as interfering is that we support certain states in the region. States are anathema to these guys. So, unless we are willing to let all of the governments from Palestine to Af/Pak dissolve into the Uma, then we are going to be "at war" with the Wahhabis. The Wahhabi's goal is unrealistic and they are doomed to perpetual frustration with us as the primary focus of their anger. So, they are a little more than just thugs.

    no one

  11. Sheerahkahn:

    I think the difference is whether the thug is part of an *organized* group. Being organized makes them a lot more dangerous as the organization can learn from its mistakes and grow from its successes. If it grows enough, it takes over society and *becomes* the good guys.

    Whereas a singular perpetrator usually gets a one-shot event and then is dead (or imprisoned forever).
    Take for example this bit of domestic terrorism which is not getting much airplay. Likely a singular individual. Deeply worrying and not something to be glorified. I wish other domestic terror cases got similar treatment and were not get turned into domestic circuses.

  12. Ael,
    I see your point, and I want to guide you to our nations past history...prohibition, 1920's up to...well, hell, today. Mafia's, gangs, people killing people because someone somewhere decided, "a bitch has got to die!"

    The human condition is one prone to kill wantonly, and for the slightest of provocations.

    Someone, somewhere always has the fucking gall to think their ass is the most important thing that has ever sat on the porcelain throne of world events, and that if their frail and fragile ego gets fucked with...well, they come out guns a blazing!

    I think that if this were a scripted event...i.e. part and parcel of a larger collusion then these three goons lack the convictions of their conscience to make a stand.

    The mumbai attack...yeah, I'm on board with that being a "terrorists" attack.

    But this....nah...this was three fucktards who went to the bathroom one day, looked down at their junk, realized they were half the men they thought they were, decided a bitch had to die so they could feel more manly about their dicks being far to short to bugger a thimble, and set their sights on the one rationale that their twisted little minds thought would keep them from going to hell...killing people for their faith.

    This isn't a new event...and for the peace of mind we all seek, I think it's an appropriate prayer to pray to G-d to ask for the one favor we all would love to live in a world such as that..."Dear G-d, please, please save us from your followers."


  13. It's worth noting here that what we're talking about isn't (despite some people's paranois) talking about "banning religion".

    We're talking about "banning religion" from getting all up in other people's grilles. We're talking about finding ways to make all those whackaloon jihadi-wannabees into the Muslim version of nice suburban Christmas-and-Easter Presbyterians, people who treat their religion like dandruff (as Twain described it); as something that they do no more than spend time and money fiddling with.

    I honestly can't think of anything the West can do to make that happen; it pretty much has to come from within, as it did in the West. But ISTM that if there ARE things that us pork-eaters can do, well, why not..?

    OK. So you're STILL upset about the scary Jihadi Under The Bed because Paris? Then my advice would be - do something about it!

    Go have a nice ham sandwich with a glass of smoky scotch. Shave. Encourage your daughter or sister or wife to apply to grad school or try out for the soccer team. Look at some porn, or, better yet, grab your lover and MAKE some porn. Sleep in Friday (or Saturday or Sunday) and don't go to temple or church or the mosque. Ask your candidate if he/she supports "biblical solutions" (or "islamic" or "talmudic" solutions"…) and campaign against them if they do. Teach some evolution. Kiss your lover in public.

    ISTM that there are about a gijillion better things to do than get all fretful about this nonsense. It really is like lightning; it's gonna happen (until the Islamic world gets as blase' and bored with religious nonsense as most of the West already has) and while you can take some sensible precautions spending more than a nanosecond stressing about it or, worse, declaring that "something needs to be done" about it (meaning finding some Muslims to shoot or bomb or invade...did we learn NOTHING from Iraq?).

    Either the umma will have their own Enlightenment or they won't, but unless we can come up with some ideas to help with that there's really nothing that the West can do about this sort of thing outside going about our business and not yielding to fear, panic, or revenge.


    We would have colonies outside this galaxy already if we weren't so easily distracted by irrelevant nonsense.

  15. @FDChief: "So...can the West help inoculate the Islamic world with the vaccine of religious indifference? If so, how?"

    Seems counterproductive to me. Any attempt would be met with increased entrenchment. No way we could change hearts and minds other than with a whiff of genocide and even that only seems to work for a century or two, if that.

    I'm with Sheerakhan: treat murderers like the criminals they are. And also with Sven: I was ready to help colonize the galaxy (or a small part of it) back in the 50s when I read Clarke's "The Sands of Mars", unfortunately I, like everyone else, got easily sidetracked.

  16. Actually Chief, there was an attempt at reforms a long, long time ago...a rather interesting research project if you ever decide to take it up.

    Islam was seeking to go through their own reformation, much like what swept through Europe, except whereas the Catholic Church failed to restrain and contain their reformers, the...not sure what to refer to the greater "Monolith" that was and still is the predominant Islamic unit of cohesion but for reference sake we'll just say Islamist were far more successful in defenestrating their reformers right quick.

    No, I'm serious, they literally threw the reformers out a window.

    So, I agree with Mike, even within their own fold they, the Islamist, resisted pacification, so the only thing I can suggest in terms of "well, what can we do?" is let this religion go over the cliff of irrelevance...i.e. disengage from the Middle East Militarily, maintain distant, yet guarded political communication...then just step out o the way, and let them kill each other.

    These fools want to install a caliphate, let them...the hoi-polloi of the Muslim world will either go with it, or they'll get sick of it...but it's their problem, let them enjoy the fruits of their willful inaction, or their hard earned labor...there is nothing in the code of life that says we have to rescue nations from their own actions.


  17. Right, Sheerahkahn -- if they want a caliphate, then let them have at it. Killing is a time-proven human pleasure or expediency, or at least, a behavior not too repellant once we identify those who need killing.

    Chief says he thinks we want to make the jihadis into "nice suburban Christmas-and-Easter Presbyterians, people who treat their religion like dandruff (as Twain described it); as something that they do no more than spend time and money fiddling with," but this totally misses the reality.

    "no one" has it more correct:

    Being a true believer (Muslim) on jihad grants one a very clear, focused and liberating mindset. One is even able to transcend the fear of death. What will you offer in exchange? Fast food a 401K and porn? These are Eric Hoffer's True Believers, and the West has nothing to counter that level of surety and, yes, peace. The believer inhabits a still point even in the maelstrom, and nothing in a Pottery Barn catalog can match it.

    In reply to Chief's closing comments re. the "indifference" of the West, I would say all is relative. We still serve a god -- the God of the Marketplace, and he is a rather dry thing.

    You say, "The notion that someone is scarey because he might be Catholic and take orders from the Pope (as was said of JFK) seems ludicrous as the Blood Libel to us today." Sorry, but the Blood Libel and to a lesser degree, the view of Catholics as idolators and not true Christians, is alive and well. When I moved in, my kindly neighbor welcomed me with a fruit basket (Southern tradition) and the sincere query, "Are you Christian or Catholic?", so that she might direct me to the correct house of worship; there was no box for "Other", or "none".

    Cultured people may not speak of it, and some supposedly enlightened people may have deep-sixed religion altogether. Certainly, according to stats, the United States is the most religious of the industrial nations, who we are told are primarily secular.

    I am from D.C. and enjoy a perspective from both sides of the fence. Hypocrisy, bigotry and ignorance do not stop at a certain income or education level. One simply learns how to disguise or frame these biases better.

  18. FDChief:

    Egypt's president al-Sisi seems to be in the same frame of mind as you are regarding a religious revolution:


    Not sure if al-Sisi is the right guy to lead any Muslim Reformation though. He is not a religious leader. He is a miltary strongman. And has been pilloried by many religious leaders for his ties to Israel.

    Interesting at the bottom of that IBD article I linked to is the mention of Sheikh Ahmad al-Ghamdi, the former head of Saudi Arabia's religious police. If he is pushing reform, perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    My concern is that we - the West - should stay out of it. Else we risk blowback.

  19. Chief.
    And then we stopped.
    Are you saying that the 6 million jews killed in ww2 were an illusion?

  20. Jim:

    Actually, that is an interesting question.
    Are the great ideological fashions of the 20th Century
    (Fascism and Communism) sufficiently close to being religions
    to count for the purposes of this discussion?

    Certainly, communist doctrine has a great deal of overlap with christian dogma.
    Do you need a god for a religion, or is belief (real or feigned) enough?

    1. Ael- simply replace the term "religion" with "ideology" and you remove the confusing and irrelevant issue of a "Supreme Being" and replace it with the more general term "Supreme Ideal".

  21. chief,
    nice technique answering a question with a question.


  22. Ael,
    IMO, you don't need a god to have a religion. atheistic materialist science is a de facto religion in every sense of the word; complete with illogical beliefs that are repeated as mantras by true believers. Big Bang - in the beginning there was nothing and then, "BOOM!", a whole lot of stuff. Does that really make sense to anyone? Magical thinking.

    More magical thinking/"Just so stories" is found in the belief in evolution. Lighting strikes some primordial ooze, then you have fish and a gene or two "mutates" and you end up with an elephant. Really? This is absolute suspension of reason. Speciation has never been demonstrated in a lab (nor has life emerging from electrified amino acids), is contrary to statistical probabilities in the extreme and genetic mutations that we can observe do not result in new critters, rather the result is a failure to thrive or reproduce. "Evolution" is a faulty logical leap from Darwinian adaption - the shifting emphasis of expression of genes already present in a species (e.g. long beak finch/short beak finch) due to environmental pressures - which we can observe and can reproduce in a lab.

    In fact, the more we learn about what genetics are and how they work, the more ridiculous the current theory of evolution looks. Mainstream scientists on the cutting edge of genetic research are beginning to state that randomness has nothing to do with it and that intelligent design must play a role. The mainstream meme awaits for a new easily packaged belief to be concocted before revising the existing one; humans being unable to deal with an uncertain world.

    I'm sure the reply to the above will be "well, everyone knows. why aren't you on the train with everyone else, retard" and "smarter people than you have figured this stuff out". But there are plenty of "smart" people that believe in religion too. There are smart people that have serious questions about some things that science proclaims; like evolution.

    People have a fundamental need to believe in some overarching system that explains everything and gives meaning to their lives. The religion called "science" has failed in this regard. While it claims to explain (despite concocting some obvious myths) it fails to deliver on the "meaning" end. So we have 25% - 35% on Prozac type drugs (including children), prisons bursting at the seams, rampant drug/alcohol abuse, a greed based winner take all economy.....all sorts of other symptoms of a populace desperately lost in personal angst and chaos. And the world's most awesome military (consuming a huge % of GDP) so we can go about evangelizing our pseudo religion all over the globe.

    But traditional religion is a problem?

    So yeah, fascism, communism, capitalism, scientific materialism, pick your ism are all the same thing, trying to fulfill the same basic human need. Mythological systems with large numbers of true believers that will denigrate and kill non-believers if they resist conversion. And no adherent is ever able to objectively that his system is just another system like all the rest. They are all cock sure of being on the righteous team. It's as amazing as it is tragic.

    no one

  23. In the final analysis secularism only works b/c you have two main groups of people living in those societies:
    1. People that believe in nothing* and whose primary anxieties are partially placated by an abundance of creature comforts and 2. Christians, whose religion lends itself to secularism (e.g. give onto Ceaser what is Ceaser's, turn the other cheek, love thy neighbor and spread the word through love as opposed to the sword).

    Islam, not containing these key elements, is not compatible with secularism. If you believe, then you have to believe the whole thing. There is no compromise.

    Therefore it will not reform. I imagine that the conclusion will be a massive war that leaves Islam dust and rubble.

    * nobody actually believes in "scientism" either. Other than a few sociopaths, nobody behaves in real life as if we are biological robots in a meaningless purely material world.

    no one

  24. I suspect I will regret this but:

    No one, have you ever heard of "ring species".
    Close enough lab demonstration of speciation for me.

  25. Sorry Ael, ring species = a brief fad in the archives of junk science. Not taken seriously any more.

    Even in "ring species" a bird is still a bird and a salamander still a salamander.

    Back on topic. It occurs to me that Christianity was officially adopted by the Roman empire only after various councils edited and shaped its teachings; no doubt in a manner that made it compatible with the concept of the city state as ultimate authority - an authority that predated Christianity. Islam arose in a tribal society where the city state was weak and Islam, not the state, was the unifying factor. Thus Christianity is subordinate to the state whereas Islam is the state.

    Al-Sisi doesn't mean what he says about reform beyond trying to look user friendly to the west and thereby save his own skin when the west gets fed up and decides to wage total war against Islam. A few more terrorists attacks and its on. he knows that.

    no one

  26. No-one:

    Junk science??? Lets save that for another thread.

    On your thoughts about Rome's adoption and shaping of Christianity: perhaps you are right. But I am not sure that subordination to the state followed thru into the 15th century. But what you point out may partially answer FDChief's initial question if there are any Mid Eastern states today willing to try to shape Islam?

    Good of you to read al-Sisi's intent for us. Please tell how you arrived at that analysis? Isn't al-Sisi the guy who ordered the Muslim Brotherhood crackdown which resulted in hundreds if not thousands of MB dead and injured? But if what you say is true (about Sisi not meaning what he says and is just trying to look user friendly), my suspicion is that he is more interested in looking that way to Russia rather than the West.

  27. Mike, if Al-Sisi wasn't afraid of the west and he simply wanted to maintain control, he'd probably take the same domestic political tact as Erdogan in Turkey; a semi-discrete affair with the Islamic hardliners. There is no reason to stick his neck out and appeal for reform unless that message is for western consumption.

    I'm not sure what you are referring to re; Russia.

    Again, IMO, all it's going to take is another 9/11 scale attack and/or a series of Charlie Hebdo operations and the west is going to go all Roman on the ME. I'm sure the idiot takfiris won't fail to deliver.

    no one

  28. No-one:

    re Egypt/Russia: Since even before al-Sisi took office Russia has been his biggest booster. Putin urged him to run for President of Egypt. Since he became Egypt's president Russia has become his strongest foreign partner. They have a ton of trade deals and sales of military weapons despite the Western sanctions on Russia because of the Ukraine.

    al Sisi traveled to Russia twice last year and also went to China. Has he been to Washington yet?

  29. Interesting, Mike. Al Monitor indicates that the growing friendship with Putin is due to fear of the west. So while you are probably correct, I could be correct as well. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    no one

  30. R.E.M. - Losing My Religion (Perfect Square '04)

  31. No-one -

    Nothing in that al Monitor article says that al-Sisi is in fear of the west. He turned toward Russia because the West gave him a cold shoulder after the coup against Morsi and the Egyptian Army's killing of hundreds if not thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    I note that your article does reference that Putin supports Sisi in Egypts war on terrorism. They both have a stake in the jihadi issue: Russia from terrorists in Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and the various xxxxstans; Egypt from its internal Muslim Brotherhood and from elsewhere. Al-Sisi remembers the Sadat assassination. Even earlier as a young man he witnessed the Ikhwan and Wahhabis from Arabia and Yemen infiltrating Egypt and fomenting Islamic resistance against Gamal Abdel Nasser's socialism.

    And I am surprised you read Al-Monitor. Many claim that it is a mouthpiece of Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah. That may or may not be true though.

  32. Mike, I read a lot of different sources of various slants. Any media source is a merely a perspective, but it is a perspective that typically resonates with a significant proportion of a population. In other words, it sells. What sells is reality as experienced by a people. In turn (feedback loop/self fulfilling prophesy) the media's message solidifies as reality. Who knows what "objective reality" really is. In these situations it doesn't matter all that much. Ex; did it really matter if Iraq had WMD? What mattered was the perspective (WMD in Iraq) that was pushed in the media.

    As far as Sisi fearing the US. I read between the lines. In my lifetime what I have seen is that incurring the displeasure of the US means that you/your government are a target and are living on borrowed time. One way to avoid that fate is to get cozy with Russia. It's a tried and true scenario and remedy.

    no one

  33. No-one:

    What you say about that "tried and true scenario" may well be correct. Meanwhile that does not have anything to do with your original comment re: "Al-Sisi doesn't mean what he says about reform beyond trying to look user friendly to the west and thereby save his own skin...". The only people he wants to save his skin from is the Muslim Brotherhood, they are the ones that want his blood. Are you conflating al-Sisi with Erdogan in Turkey?

    And speaking of your 'objective reality', of course it mattered whether or not Iraq had WMD. We threw away a river of American blood and our entire treasury there. And because we were too cheap to pay for it ourselves we passed the bill onto our children and grandchildren. We also lost our ethical compass there in Abu Ghraib and the CIA Black Sites of Extraordinary Renditioning infamy. BTW, Cairo Egypt was one of those CIA Black Sites where we let the Egyptian intelligence services do our dirty work for us.

  34. Are we, perhaps, simply addressing different means of imposing an ideology on those who do not share that ideology. For example, how many Americans have died or been seriously disabled by the ideology that medical care should be an open market commodity, available based on individual ability to pay? Were not people with "pre-existing conditions" basically expelled from affordable access to health care? And don't fall back on the "emergency room" crap, as my daughter's life threatening auto-immune management requirements did not meet any medical or legal definition of emergency. Yet a major portion of American society is vehemently opposed to health care reform. People won't die as spectacularly as they do in a jihadi attack, but they still die, and in great numbers. So US public policy shortens lives by a couple of decades, just as a hostage situation does. Would any of you argue that more Americans died in 2001 from the 9/11 attack than our willful refusal of access to health care? How much human suffering, to include death, resulted from the 2008 financial frauds?

    As I said above, simply replace "religion" with "ideology", and let human nature take its course. Mankind will seek to promote its ideologies by a variety of means. There are three basic approaches to making an ideology dominant in a society: 1) Encouraging voluntary adoption 2) Imposing forced acceptance 3) Eliminating those with an opposing view. It's all just a matter of what tools are adopted, but approaches 2 & 3 tend to result in human suffering, be it the spectacular style of terrorists, or the less obvious style of public policy.

  35. Now back to FDChief's original questions. Not sure how violent Islamic extremism can be tamped down. Perhaps it's one of those things like dealing with children, we will "just have to let them get it out of their system"? IMHO, the behavior may be rooted in an extreme belief system, but it also is getting reinforced by a desired result - fear, and further reinforced by violent response, allowing them to say, "I told you so. They are Satan."

  36. Mike, "Meanwhile that does not have anything to do with your original comment ...."

    Sure it does. Sisi, being afraid of the US, wants to move himself down on the US target priority list. If he's "reform minded"....well maybe we deal with him after the Ukraine, Al Asad and a couple of tin horn flunkies in Africa. Meanwhile Sisi scrambles to get Russia to protect him.

    Sisi probably does also fear the MB. Again, things need not be mutually exclusive. If strategies can kill two birds with one stone, all the better. We need not pick one or the other as being the motivator. That said, how does Russia protect Sisi from the MB? How does making statements about reforming Islam protect him from the MB? To the contrary, would seem to make him a target of the MB (even more than he was prior to the speach). And, in his reform speech, he supplied a justification to the muslim world for his assassination. That's one reason why I conclude that he fears the US more than the MB.

    "of course it mattered whether or not Iraq had WMD..." Really? Are you sure? The Bush admin said Iraq had WMD and it got what it wanted. There have been no repercussions for for the Bush/neocon crowd. He even got re-elected after it was apparent that there were no WMD. Some swath of the US population got what it wanted, some pay pack for 9/11 in the form of blowing up some Arab stuff, killing some ragheads and generally throwing US mil might around (never mind that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11).

    My point was that objective reality doesn't matter. Reading the "news" or watching on the tv anytime in the year or so before spring of 2003, it was clear to me that we were going to invade Iraq and the reason was WMD and ties to AQ.

    no one

  37. Aviator, "Now back to FDChief's original questions. Not sure how violent Islamic extremism can be tamped down"

    Muslims aren't born with that crap in their heads. They get indoctrinated at an early age. All over the M.E., every day, there are schools and social events where adults have children chanting and screaming about killing infidels. There are clerics that keep on preaching it adults. All of this has to stop. It would be the responsibility of the governments to make it so. But the governments find the US to be too convenient a scapegoat for their own failings.

    Then the US always rises to the bait and does something that reinforces the clerics' point.

    The cycle won't end - at least I don't see it.

    no one

  38. No-one -

    Regarding Al-Sisi and his attempt at Islamic reform (or not, as you say), here are two bios. One is from Israel, the other from the BBC. See links below.

    Additionally his enemies in Egypt, the Muslim Brothers, and their foreign allies (Saudi Wahhabis) are attacking him with propaganda by insinuating he has Jewish blood from his mother's side and is a tool for Israel. See YouTube link below but there are a ton of other internet hit-pieces on him by Islamic fundamentalists that are googlable. (is that a word?)

    PS - those are my last words on this al-Sisi subject. Sorry I brought it up in the first place. I agree with Aviator47 that America's so-called world-class-medical-system has killed (or let die) more Americans than al-Quaeda, ISIS (or ESIS as I call them), the Taliban, Sadaam, or lone wolf terrorists such as Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

  39. Gwynne Dyer has some appropriate comments on this topic. He calls it a civil war within the 'House of Islam'.

  40. mike- I would offer that there is no healthcare system in the US. Healthcare industry, yes, but system, absolutely not. A system would insure rational allocation of resources to the entire population, based on need, not what the market will bear.

  41. Ael - Good link, thanks. Dyer is spot on I believe. Years ago I read one his book "War, the Lethal Custom". Wish I still had a copy. I need to start reading him more at his blog and elsewhere.

    Aviator47 - agreed in general. But systems are not rational and not perfect. I have witnessed (or heard about) - and I am sure you have too - systems that not only failed but failed spectacularly in a cascading fashion, i.e. massive power blackouts, the Galloping Gertie bridge over the Tacoma Narrows, Wall Street in 1929 and 2008

  42. For that matter, Mike, more Americans have killed themselves through obesity than Hitler killed.

    no one

  43. From this morning's Ekathimerini:

    Even if we have difficulty grappling with complex and complicated notions, and even if we are ruled by an urge to divide the world into Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, Civilized and Barbaric, it is still necessary to turn an ear to the lessons of history.

    A first lesson is that Good and Evil have no geographic relevance. Good exists in no greater quantity in Europe and America than in Asia and Africa, and the same goes for evil. In recent history, the West has on numerous occasions flirted with the forces of Evil to promote its interests, which should make us skeptical to claims of purity and goodness.

    A second lesson is that the religious and cultural map that we have come up with in a bid to conveniently give locations to our ideas is too a product of biased fantasy. No matter what the Scriptures say, there has never been a religion that was purely benign. Similarly, no civilization in history has ever been virtuous and immaculate through and through. Our Greco-Roman legacy has its own failings simply because it was the product of history, not metaphysics.

    So if we insist on treating history as a clash of civilizations, the conflict is not one between Western and Afro-Asian civilizations, or between the Christian and Muslim religions. The dividing line is between the culture of freedom, solidarity, tolerance and democracy on the one hand, and the culture of violence, intolerance, authoritarianism, religious zeal and theocracy on the other. The two camps are clear, but they have no relevance to geography or race. After all, how can one forget US President George Bush, a religious fundamentalist in spite of his Western background?

  44. Sorry I've checked out of the net, guys; my Bride was off on a girls-gone-wild vacation and between kiddos, work, and the usual other distractions I've been too pulled in every direction to check back and see what's going on.

    Reading back through the comments it seems like the general consensus on the ability of the West to influence this struggle is "nothing"; that is, nobody seems to have any better idea of what to do about the present Islamic War of Religion (or civil war of religion, if you accept Dwyer's formulation, which seems as accurate to me as anyone's...) other than a sort of generic "do no harm".

    Which is fine, frankly; I'd have accepted that if that had been the Bushies response to 9/11; go play whack-a-muj in Afghanistan then grab a hat, pay off the local dictator to continue to kill jihadis, declare victory and go home. Don't waste blood and treasure turning Iraq into a failed state and playground for your jihadi enemies.

    The bottom line appears to me that this is an internal Muslim "problem"; that the various places and peoples within the Islamic world will have to decide for themselves whether they want theocracy, or secular democracy, or secular dictatorship, and that this process is going to be as messy, brutal, and difficult to understand and anticipate as such things always are. It would seem to me that Western governments, organizations, and groups can try and lend what assistance they can to the more "humane" elements within the Islamic world, but...

    Here's a good example of how difficult this is; Boko Haram. Nasty piece of work, isn't it? Probably needs a good war on terrorism there to "solve" it, right?

    Except who does that warring? The government of Nigeria? The one of which even freaking Wikipedia says: "Ethnocentrism, tribalism, religious persecution, and prebendalism have affected Nigerian politics both prior and subsequent to independence in 1960. Kin-selective altruism has made its way into Nigerian politics, resulting in tribalist efforts to concentrate Federal power to a particular region of their interests. Nationalism has also led to active secessionist movements such as MASSOB, Nationalist movements such as Oodua Peoples Congress, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and a civil war. Nigeria's three largest ethnic groups (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba) have maintained historical preeminence in Nigerian politics; competition amongst these three groups has fuelled corruption and graft."

    Anybody volunteering an Operation Nigerian Freedom? No? Well, that's good, at least. But what else does "the West" do? Clearly Boko Haram are some evil sonsofbitches. But where's the "good guys" here? How do you do anything with the Hausa tribal forces behind Boko Haram that isn't utterly Roman and yet somehow "solves" this?

    I'm saying I don't see it, and from what I'm reading I don't see anyone else here with any better idea. So it seems very likely that "do no harm" is the ONLY real Western option...meaning, basically, "cautiously and as little as possible".

    Which seems pretty fucked up, but, then, so's the whole situation.

  45. Actually, I do have a recommendation. It is the same recommendation I made several years ago.

    Take all the old American cash that is about to be burned, load it into C130 Hercs and fly them at high altitude over rural Muslim districts. Release the cash loosely so that it scatters over everywhere. The density of the cash will be quite low, but people will find it from time to time and be able to buy stuff with it. It will be hard for any elites to control this cash because a few sawbucks are very easy to hide.

    The beauty of this approach is that it will tend to bring the general population into contact with the modern world, thereby subverting those who would wish to roll back their countries to the middle ages.

  46. Chief, a question for you if you dare - does your losing my religion formula also apply to Israel? I mean there it is, the giant elephant in the room that we aren't supposed to talk about, and it's raison d'etre is all about religion; i.e. WE are G-d's chosen people and HE gave us this land. Sans religion, Israel is just another might makes right power play backed by the US.

    no one

    1. For the record, I consider the idea of a "Jewish" state no less loathsome than any other theocracy. The original secular-ish socialist state founded in 1948 was at least nominally nonsectarian, but after the influx of the Russian ethnics and the proliferation of the ultraorthodox the notion of spending U.S. tax dollars on Israeli dreams of a new Crusader State seem as senseless as funding Utah as a self-declared "Mormon nation"...

  47. Ael,

    I presume your "sawbuck bombs" idea is made tongue-in-cheek, for what could it possibly accomplish, beyond their seeing the West as more of a capitalistic joker enabling them to buy some transitory stuff, provided they have proximity to a bazaar at which to buy this stuff?

    As FDC observes, 'Do no harm" -- that is our only position. Per Aviator's, "we will "just have to let them get it out of their system" -- what if it IS their system, through and through?

    1. Were we having this discussion in central Germany in 1650, Lisa, we would probably be agreeing the Catholicism (or Calvinism) were religions of blood, drenched in horror and breeding grounds for brutality and violence.

      The fact that Islam is still fighting its wars of religion now rather than 350 years ago has absolutely zero correspondence to the fundamental violence or lack of same in that faith.

    2. But at least Christianity has the overlay of "love thy brother". Correct, it took awhile to seep in (and one might well say still, it has not yet), but Islam has no such pretense: "Kill the infidel".

      The pretense vis-a-vis Islam is that this dictum does not exist, and that it is a religion which touts love through-and-through. One need only read the Quran (granted for most of us, in translation) to find this difference.

      Of course, we're all thoroughly modern men who find this to be a quaint albeit problematic anachronism, a misunderstanding. But Christianity is also a quaint anachronism, and we are capable of parsing it's dictates fairly well (and amending those that no longer serve, if dyed-in-the wool believers would admit to this reality.)

      What is problematic for us in the West is the idea that the violence we witness in the name of Allah is actually in the name of Allah, and committed by thoroughly modern acolytes. It's not a Lone Wolf's interpretation, for he would be swiftly disowned.


    3. Horseshit, Lisa; you know better than that.

      "O mankind! Allah created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." Nobel Qur'an (49:13)

      All the monotheistic religions make quack-quack noises about "love thy neighbor". But people, being people, hear just the quacking on the way out to the shed to sharpen the axe.

      Now, admittedly, the Muslims and the Jews are a little closer to their desert-patriarch roots; their Gods are the gods of a tribal chieftan - loving to the tribe but bloody murder to outsiders. Christianity has to do a little more creative juggling to get around its' Messiah's commands about turning cheeks and Golden Rules. we know; generally speaking the Christianity of the actual Christ hasn't been tried and found difficult. It has been found difficult and never tried.

  48. I am completely serious about the proposal.
    I don't know what they would buy with this money.
    I do know that thought would be put into their purchases.

    And *everyone* has a bazaar of some sort near them.
    As the book says: "If you have dealings with them, they are your brothers".
    I want to ensure they have dealings with us.

  49. I kind of like AEL's propsal. But perhaps in a different form. Alms giving or Zakat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and those who give alms are respected throughout the mideast. Perhaps we should drop those "sawbuck bombs" on the two to three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees that are now freezing and going hungry in refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan and Lebanon. They are the forgotten ones in this conflict.

  50. Haven't we already spread $billions in alms all over the Muslim world? They take it and demand more, but do not change.

    Also, to be clear re; Israel - the perspective (might = right) is from the Muslim side. Personally, I think Israel has a right to exist and is better than Islam.

    no one

    1. Israel's has the "right" to exist to the moment some foreign invader raises its flag over the Knesset building. Israel, as a nation, as a concept, is no "better" than any other nation and derives its "rights" from the same "right" that any nation has; its ability to preserve its own existence.

      I yield to nobody my respect for Israel's toughness in fighting off all its neighbor's attempts to kill it off, and wish it well in those efforts. However, as a U.S. citizen I see Israel as any other state and my assessment of it and its "value" politically, diplomatically, militarily, and economically rests on how it affects my country's interests. Therefore, if Israel's "right to exist" is not in the best interests of my country, then good wishes are all it would receive, in my view.

      Callous? Yep. Guilty as charged.

    2. FDC, 100% agree with your Israel outlook. I think that there are many in DC that are not so objective. In those cases of unqualified support for Israel that are something other than pay-off and intimidation by the Israeli lobby, I do concede that religion is a problem. A lot of right wing religious nuts* in this country are pro-Israel (over US interests) because of events prophesized in the New testament and Jesus returning and all of that. Some of these people really want the end of times and see Israel as a key to making that happen.

      * I am not one who interprets the Bible literally. Actually, I think it is pretty low grade spiritual material. I prefer other spiritual practices.

      no one

      no one

  51. There is a difference between giving billion$ to a few, and giving millions to many.

    As I have learned from my fellow man...nothing makes a man with a quarter jealous is another man with a nickle.

    I don't see it working...only because the "few" are always wanting more than what they have.


  52. Charles Cameron at zenpundit has a well thought out analysis of al-Sisi's speech on Islamic reform. Definitely worth a read. See link below.

  53. lisa- "what if it IS their system, through and through?"

    Obviously, there is a battle raging at present to determine exactly what "their system" really is. Judgements by Western critics parsing their Koran isn't going to answer that question. Those same Western scripture parsers have managed to crate over 20,000 Christian denominations in the US also, based on their parsing expertise.

    My point is that Islam is going to have to define itself before the West can properly make a response.

  54. Aviator, The result of this "battle" that you imagine is being waged will be more of the same - come meet the new boss/same as the old boss, king is dead/long live the king, etc. etc. etc.

    Being a half breed (middle eastern/yankee doodle) and having spent my formative years with one foot in each culture I feel somewhat qualified in saying that these people in the ME don't think like Americans. Never did and never will. Islam or no Islam.

    My grandfather on the ME side killed a man when he was 88 years old and was proud of it. It was an old blood feud from the old country and when they happened upon each other in this country (in Detroit), so many decades later , the man got right down to disrespecting my grandfather. Gramps stayed up all night digging a pit, which he then covered with potato sacks and a little soil and some plants. The man ( a Turk) had a habit of walking where the pit was dug. He fell in (as planned) and broke his hip, got pneumonia and was dead three or four days after his retrieval from the pit. Gramp's only regret was that he had not been able to place sharpened stakes in the bottom of the pit. True story. Americans that I have told it to are horrified by it. The people of ME descent that were of my father's or grandfather's generation chuckle and nod approvingly.

    Tribes versus country, a highly subjective sense of personal honor, emotionality versus rationalism, violence as a means, multi-generational vendettas, zero sum business dealings - that is the culture and it's way too ingrained to dissipate. Religion is gasoline on this already burning fire.

    Americans - especially progressives - just don't get it because they have some dingbat idea that all people are the same and, at their best expression, Americans; though multi-culturism is cool because you get to eat something other than pork and beans.

    Think about it. A lot of these terrorists have lived in western societies for years before they erupted in a homicidal rage. The experience changed them not one iota. They handled plenty of greenbacks. Got to shop at malls and all that.

    no one

  55. Mike, see my preceding comment. I repeat that Sisi is lying about reform. There is no way he could pull it off even if he was serious. What's he going to do, write up a constitution? So what. They'll shoot him down and then tear the constitution to shreds and install some entirely different regime which in turn..........

    no one

  56. Pegida in German organized protests against Islam. For each of their protester (except in Dresden) 100 counterprotesters showed up. The German Muslim organizations are organizing protests for freedom of speech in front of news outlets.

  57. And - I'm just getting warmed up - let's remember it was Turkish "reformers" who claimed to seek to bring the Ottoman Empire up to European standards who - as part of their secular reform - genocided a couple million + Christians. That was a hundred years ago, which is like totally time out of mind to the point of irrelevance for Americans, but I still know the thing handed down to me via stories around the campfire.

    Reform - I don't think word means what you think it does.

    Then we have Syria, where my grandparents lived in sanctuary before arriving in the states and where many of their tribe lived until last year or so. Muslims and Christians living in harmony in a relatively secular state...but no. this won't do. We (the US) have to destroy that state and replace it with a bunch of genocidal takfiri freaks because yet another tribe, Israel, doesn't like the relatively secular state to the north because that state sides with still another tribe that is engaged in incendiary politics on Israel's borders as a backlash to Israeli zero sum dealings with said tribe's land (or that's the excuse) and both tribes pointing fingers screaming "they started it!" and "you just can't deal with these people!". .....and then there was Saddam who, it turns out, wasn't so bad after all considering the alternatives and who ran a secular government. So he had to go as well.

    Secularism in the ME, it seems, has a bad tendency to make you a target of the US.

    If I was conspiracy minded, I say the US and Israel actually want their to be perpetual strife along religious and tribal lines so as to keep the rag heads divided and weak.

    The Palestinians have much touted democratic elections and, despite Mossad and CIA efforts, they elect a party that is considered a terrorist organization. More reform in action.

    Come on, who are trying to fool with this reform talk?

    no one

  58. Do I even need to mention the US' good friends in Saudi Arabia and their funding of terrorism to include the takfiri scum calling themselves IS? When is reform going to come to SA? Would the US allow it? Doubtful.

    A pattern is emerging here. See it?

    no one

  59. Keep following the bouncing ball now.........Libya, sworn off terrorism and relatively secular - now, with US help, a fuckup jihadi cesspool.

    Losing my religion LOL LOL LOL

    no one

  60. In summary, the problem is not religion. It is US imperialism (soft form that it may be) that has caused a backlash and a power vacuum among the natives. We want unruly tribal people managed according to our plans. We prop up despised dictators and we topple relatively effective dictators. Whatever our policy whim happens to be. As a result a radical form of religion has emerged among the natives as a means of establishing and maintaining esprit de corps in their battle against the imperial US and its proxies.

    It is not the middle east that needs to reform. We need to reform.

    no one

  61. We were able to blast the ghost dancers into submission at wounded knee. They were small in number. Their children were then sent to re-education camps and given American names. Progressives now want to do the same to the takfiris, but they are large in number and have a better symmetry of ordnance and other technology. It doesn't work. Modern day Geronimos raid from New York to Paris. Modern day Custers execute punitive actions and attempt to establish reservations, but the Bureau of Indians affairs is corrupt and the natives keep going renegade.

    Alas....the white man's burden is so heavy.

    no one

  62. no one- in climbing on your soapbox of exclusivity in knowledge, you completely missed my point. It is up to Islam to define who they are, be it monolithic or heterogeneous, and the West can then act in accordance. Obviously, if Islam cannot settle on a single thrust, then they are no different than the 20,000 different US "christian" denominations, and the West will have to act accordingly. I am sure that the Westboro Baptist Church is not considered part of the same Christianity as the Episcopal Church in the USA. Our problem is a strong notion of "kill them all and let God sort the bodies out".

  63. Aviator, I don't think I missed your point. How do they settle on anything when we persist in keeping them off balance?

    no one

  64. no one - as I said, we have to consider the old parenting term: "let them get it out of their system"

  65. Aviator, In an ideal world, agreed. In the real world - we won't allow them to mature on their own.

    as I said, we have to change first.

    no one.

  66. Today Cameron posted a follow-up on his earlier post regarding Sisi's call for a revolution to modernize Islamic thought.

  67. MSR...sorry, no one...sorta-kinda repeats the point I made in the body of the post, Al; that a lot of this jihadi nonsense is a Frankenstein monster we had a hell of a lot to do with creating. In the Forties and Fifties I get the sense that the Muslim world was very unimpressed with theocracy and religion in general. The West had just won WW2, Western science and economics looked like the "big winners" of the post-war world (and the other "winner" was Soviet communism, a "religion" in its own right but clearly NOT a theocentric one).

    So what I get from reading accounts of the period is that at least initially a hell of a lot of the Islamic portions of the Middle East were fairly secular; you had Baath parties in Syria and Iraq, a nonsectarian dictator in Iran, officially-atheistic military rule in Turkey and Egypt. I mean, yes, you had jokers like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem trying to gin up "jihad"...but nothing like today.

    My assessment is that the West and Israel's repeated defeats and humiliations of these secular governments - along with the visible and despised corruption, venality, and incompetence of those governments - that, in effect, left the jihadis as the "last Muslims standing" against what a hell of a lot of Muslims saw as the rapacious and predatory Westerners and the neo-colonial Israelis.

    Mind I'm NOT saying that this IS what these powers are, or were...I'm saying that this is how they were perceived. Shit like Mossadegh and the Shah, and Operation Blue Bat, and the U.S. and Israeli incursions in Lebanon (and, of course, Dubya's Excellent Middle Eastern Adventure...) didn't help, of course.

    So, frankly, there's a LOT of "do no harm" we could do just by refraining from that sort of well as giving a swift kicking to any idiot who suggests that the West and Islam are engaged in a "clash of civilizations".

    Vienna 1683 was a "clash of civilizations". Shooting up magazine offices and bombing jihadis ain't just not in the same league, it's not playing the same sport.

  68. Would that I could send the MSR's to drown in their foreign swamps to validate their crusade. Salafists aren't the only ones who need to burn through a generation or two. Yin, yang, baby.

    I'd hoped that a near-decade of Bush Loving would purge that, but I guess we need a bit longer.

  69. If one were a numbers cruncher, the number of extremists battling their fellow Muslims dwarf the numbers found or estimated to be conducting "terror" in the West. Yet there is abject fear and constant poking at them in their homelands. Makes no sense. As you say, Chief, it's a monster of our own making, and we continue to nurture it.

    Enforce the law at home. Let them fight it out amongst themselves in their homelands, while we do no harm.

  70. FDC - We more or less agree!?? I'm going to have to re-think my position. Where did I get it wrong?

    But seriously - you are correct. The region, despite tribalism, zero-sum business philosophy, etc. and, especially relevant, despite Islam was, as recently as the 40s and 50s, benign towards the West. That is, at least, also my perception. In fact, I'd go further and say that there was even a fair degree of pre-Western sentiment.

    So we get to still disagree b/c I say "especially despite Islam". I feel better now.

    I repeat that the form of Islam that is a problem now is a means of establishing and maintaining esprit de corps among fighters, but that fight was already on.

    It is difficult to get a good background on the development of "the fight" and of radical Islam's role in it. When I read Western sources there are a bunch of theories based on Western social sciences. These have, to my mind, a veneer of pin headed ivy league bullshit and, often, outright pro-Western propaganda. When I read Islamic sources it's all about the evil imperial Western pigs and their rotten little dog Israel.

    I tend to lean toward giving more credence to the self-assessment of the people that are actually under study ( in this case the Islamists). At least we can understand how they *feel* and what they *claim* motivates them. However, people are self-justifying. So a large grain of salt is recommended; just as with the Western sources.

    In the final analysis, there most certainly is not a single cause; instead a variety of internal and external pressures and opportunities - some synergizing and some ameliorating.

    no one

  71. ooops. meant to say there a fair degree of "pro-western" sentiment. My typo would reflect the current state of affairs better than the past.

    no one

  72. Now here is a big question: When we are told that we need to go over there to defend our interests, just what are "our interests". For the better part of my 51 years on this planet I have been hearing about these interests, but nobody using the term has ever explained exactly what those are.

    What are our interests in the ME that would cause us to continue the foreign policy that we, here, agree has caused the jihadi reaction?

    Because our proposed solution depends on our ability to disengage. In order to disengage we need to be able to either forego these "interests" or find a new and better way of looking out for them.

    no one

  73. "Our interests" seems to be dictated by economics, money if you will, and not by any sense of importance. Oil once was the predominant reason the US was involved in the Middle East, but it would seem with Peak Oil come and gone, the irrelevance of the Middle East is becoming glaring.
    What do they offer?
    I'm not saying this to belittle, but rather from an economic stand point...the Middle East, without oil, has squat to offer in terms of tradable goods to the world around it.

    Really, Saudi Arabia is economically doomed without Oil.
    All those Arabian countries are economically doomed without Oil.
    The entire Middle East is economically doomed without Oil.

    And what will be left is a very large population of have-nots, with a very small population of haves telling the former what to do...and considering how the Imams and the Mullahs with the blessing of the Government are currently laying all of their ills and faults, some of which is their own making at the feet of the West and Israel...I don't see peace coming to the Middle East till they get tired of swimming in each others blood.

    Sorry, but the human condition is at work here, and the very human predilection to blame others so that their own faults remain un=noticed is very strong in the Middle East.

    Far easier to blame outsiders for your problems than to admit your own failures.

    As I said for ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the various Al Jumbalya, and Al-ShatoNmyhat these groups, in the grand scheme of history, are meaningless anecdotes to the greater subject that the governments of these various countries were no better than the rebels seeking to over-throw them.

    My sympathy to the quiet guy who just wanted to grow oranges and raise chickens...I'm sorry sir, who ever you are, I am truly sorry.


  74. Are the perpetrators religious? Some of the 9/11 actors spent their last night in a strip club. The Paris gang seemed motivated by that brief flash of meaning that comes with suicide-by-cop. Shouts of “Allahu Akbar” sound like what you hear at high-school football games. Propagandists for these deeds – the preachers of hate – seem obsessed with the West and its appeals. I don’t pretend to understand fundamentalism. All I can say is that the few fundamentalists I have known – Mennonites, a handful of Sikhs and supercharged Catholic believers – seemed too busy with their own projects to care much about how other people live.

  75. To all,
    the original argument that chief used as a rationale for this entry HAS NOT been answered.
    i think my original point was that we in western society must deal with the issue: therefore we must utilize police reaction to counter the threat.
    this is more important than the religion question since our laws allow religion, but not criminal activity. therefore religion is irrelevant.
    i said in one of my articles that police should give consideration to islamist hostage takers and assume that they need to be assaulted as soon as the police can muster the teams. this is just/legal and well within our philosophical system . after i said his thats exactly what the french and belgium police did. We deal with actions, not religion.
    oh yeah, chief may have been arguing, but i thought lisa and myself were discussing the issue.

  76. Jim, Yes, What you say is basic common sense. I don't see how it's disputed. Is it disputed? Chief got on a tangent with his anti-religion trip. The Belgians did right.

    no one

  77. Wait. I DO have one more thing:

    "Chief got on a tangent with his anti-religion trip"

    This wasn't a tangent, it was a whole new discussion. It wasn't about Belgium or France or police raids or tactics, but about the whole bigger question of "Is there some sort of strategic approach the West could/should be taking to the Islamic world's internal upheaval, similar to the "containment" methodology used in the Cold War with the Soviet bloc".

    That has everything to do with religion, or the lack of same, which everyone else around this joint has been trying to discuss between your repeated outbursts of Tourette's Syndrome...

  78. Amid the Tourette's, I did come across this:

    "...just what are "our interests". For the better part of my 51 years on this planet I have been hearing about these interests, but nobody using the term has ever explained exactly what those are."

    Let me try using small, simple words.

    1. Support for Israel

    You and I might not agree, but that is and has been a U.S. "interest" since 1948. I'd argue that "interest" is not truly a vital one, but there's a very large constituency for it in this country and good luck trying to get that off the board.

    2. Free movement through the transportation chokepoints

    As a trading nation the U.S. has an interest in ensuring free movement through places like Suez, the Red Sea, and around the Horn of Africa.

    3. "Stability"

    In the sense that unstable regions and failed states, with their religious implosions, civil wars and assorted production of people with little or no skills other than violence are a problem for large, wealthy polities like the U.S., and the simplicity of getting around the world in the 21st Century means that these regions can cause trouble far beyond their borders.

    Note what I am NOT saying; I'm not saying that any of these things means that the U.S. needs to spend blood and treasure in these places, or that I'm recommending a particular course of action for any nation in any of these places.

    But you implied that the U.S. has "no national interests" in this troubled region which is nonsense. You can legitimately argue that there are national interests MORE vital than the above, but not that the U.S. HAS no national interests in the Middle East.

    1. FDC - If those are the US' interests how do you know? You ascertained as much by reading the tea leaves or has some elected rep actually come out and said these things?

      Any how, 1 seems like it should be Israel's problem (as you and I agreed upthread). Why is it incumbent on the US to provide security to ensure 2? All modern nations are trading nations and have the interest. Also, the ME countries have the same interest. So why is it all (or mostly) on the US? With regards to 3, if it was ever true, then it sure seems that something has changed with all the regime toppling we have done in the past few years.

      no one

  79. I think that religion is only irrelevant, jim, if it doesn't continue to throw out violence based on the religion. If we were having this argument in 1588 we'd have no disagreement; religion - whether you were Catholic and I was Protestant - was fightin' words. I couldn't trust you if I was an Anglican and you were and English Catholic any more than you could trust me if you were a French Catholic and I were a Huguenot.

    I'm not arguing about "law enforcement". Yes, when these jokers turn up in Paris or New York or Puxatawney they're a police matter and should be and (usually) are handled as such.

    (Tho I'd argue that the fearmongering and hysteria ABOUT these jokers has done much to fuel the militarized police that tend turn up so much more in the past decade...)

    My point had nothing to do with tactics and was, and is, about "strategy", specifically, is there anything that the West can do to help "defuse" this Islamic War of Religion? Can the Western world do anything to help the way Muslims, most Muslims, 99.999% of Muslims view their religion become more like most Westerners view THEIR religions; as hobbies, as distractions, as moral guidlines for their own lives...rather than reasons to go out and try and violently struggle with others about those other people's religions.

    And what I'm getting - from here, as well as from most other sources - is pretty much a "no". This war for Islam will need to be fought out amongst Muslims. ISTM that the "best" thing the West can do is to keep calm and not let morons gin up some sort of "conflict of civilizations" when the jihadis represent no more than a subset of the Islamic world. The West can do best by avoiding the sort of fucktardry that the Bushies came up with (not that they were the first, only the worst; even Eisenhower didn't think of Operation Blue Bat as a long-term occupation of Lebanon...) that we've discussed here.

    And that's really all I have to say on the subject.

    I'm done here; who's next? We need a new post for the New Year...

  80. "ISTM that the "best" thing the West can do is to keep calm and not let morons gin up some sort of "conflict of civilizations..."

    This here, is the best thing we can do with a concentrated effort of forcing the "Lets do something for somethings sake!" crowd to actually explain what they want to do...because, lets be honest, when that crowd begins to talk, they sound reasonable for the first three sentences, and then their off and running into Crazy.

    But yes, in our backyard it's all a Law Enforcement Issue...and should be nothing more than that. People who seek to kill are murderers regardless of their motivation.

    "I killed him because he insulted my prophet!" is not considered justifiable homicide in the west.

    I can only imagine what the media here in the United States would editorialize if a Christian killed another because they said, "Jesusfuckingchrist!" and used the raison de etre, "he insulted my savior!" They would say, "Religious Extremists uses lame excuse to murder another human being." and it would be buried in the local section, not the front page.

    Our media needs to do that, too.


  81. Chief,
    i fail to understand how a bar keep could expect any tips if he insults his patrons.
    also Tourettes is a disabling condition and making fun of it is not very friendly and is not ADA compliant.

  82. There ain't gonna be any enlightened approach to the problem when the discourse is dominated by people like so called "terror expert" Steven Emerson or Governor Bobby Jindal who make baseless claims about the threat of Islam, such as their stories that European countries have surrendered sovereignty to Muslim rule in cities they call "no-go zones". Such fear mongering only fuels the idea of a clash of civilizations. First they take over Mosul and Birmingham. Who knows what's next.

    Of course, Emerson backtracked and blamed sources he should have checked, and Jindal simply refused to provide specifics, but their right wing fans see these falsehoods are exposing the truth. In short, neither can provide a specific example, but millions are now convinced these no-go zones exist and, aided and abetted by weak governments, portend an existential threat to Western civilization. Just another version of "we need to kill them over there before they come here to kill us".