Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jay Stevens gets it Wrong and Wronger

At Left in the West, Jay Stevens examines the roots of terrorism. Now, I have to give him credit that he acknowledges that poverty is not the root of terrorism, as he had previously thought. But then, in a stunning display of muddle headed thinking, he goes on to proclaim that the root of terrorism is our occupation of Iraq. Excuse me? If we didn't invade Iraq until 2003, how were the terrorists so prescient that they attacked us on 9-11, the USS Cole, the African Embassy bombings, and Khobar towers before we invaded? Could it be that Jay is trying to shoehorn the root cause of terrorism into his preconceived notions?
Jay cites to Alan Kruger who has this special observation:
One set of factors that I examined did consis­tently raise the likelihood that people from a given country will participate in terrorism-namely, the suppression of civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and democratic rights. Using data from the Freedom House Index, for example, I found that countries with low levels of civil liberties are more likely to be the countries of origin of the perpetra­tors of terrorist attacks. In addition, terrorists tend to attack nearby targets. Even international terror­ism tends to be motivated by local concerns.

So, this explains the rapid rise in homegrown Islamic terrorists in that repressive, civil rights violating, lack of freedom country of Great Britain? Don't suppose that there might be another answer do you?
Well, in the spirit of Jay, here is as good a half baked answer as any of his: Terrorism, especially of the Islamic version, is the direct result of high self esteem accompanied by low rates of real achievement. If your entire region published less books than Greece, and you haven't had any scientific development since the end of the 12th Century, you know that it just has to be the result of Satanic forces, since Allah loves Moslems. It must be Allah's will that they should be ruling the world, not apostates or infidels. And anything that prevents their ruling the world is in opposition to Allah, and therefore legitimate to exterminate.
I have been toying with the thought for awhile, that about 1200 years after a religion is founded, it goes crazy. Think of the Spanish Inquisition, and look at Islam today after the same amount of time. As a Christian, there is nothing to be proud of what was done in our religions name.
I can only hope that Moslems will feel the same way about their excesses, and hope that they don't take as long as we did.

15 comments:

Mike said...

Ah yes. The Momzer™ speaks, G-d laughs.

Here's a headline you'll never read: "Offended Muslims Remain Calm." These folks are the only group who kill others because they're angry people have called them violent.

It seems all we need to do to bring peace to the region is withdraw from Iraq, and close our bases in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Kuwait (despite the fact those governments want us there), you know, because acquiescence to the demands of radical Islamists has worked so well for us in the past.

What's also interesting to note about those who hysterically demand that we pull out troops out of Iraq because we're putting out troops in the middle of a civil war are demanding we send troops uninvited to Darfur, into the middle of another civil war that the last time I checked, these NSHWP's haven't exactly proffered an exit strategy for.

Steve said...

Throw in Bosnia, where we came to the aid of Muslims who were being persecuted by the Serbs, and we still get no credit. In fact, we get Bosnian terrorists attacking US troops in Iraq.
I think the first step in solving the problem is to admit that we may not be responsible for it. It is our own megalamania (sp?) that leads us to think that we are our own worst enemy.
Makes our real enemies jealous.

Jay Stevens said...

Uh, if you read the post, you'll see that I say our "military presence in the region," along with our occupation in Iraq. You know, of course, that al Qaeda started targeting the US as a result of our putting military bases in Saudi Arabia...

Bosnian terror attacks against US troops fits in with the theory.

Iraq just makes things worse than it was on September 10. Staying in Iraq isn't the answer to curtailing terror.

There's no correlation, BTW, between religion and suicide bombers. Check out Pape's study. A lot of the bombers were hardly fundamentalists...

The point is, is that strong military reaction against post-colonial nationalist movements -- usu. led by middle-class western-educated "elites" (see Ho Chi Minh) -- doesn't work. Period. You can't squash out nationalism or guerrillas or terrorists by conventional military means. It's got to be a combination of diplomacy and police work.

Advocating anything else, IMHO, is irresponsible.

Mike, your gross prejudice is pretty pathetic.

Jay Stevens said...

Just thinking about the role of religion in conflict...

Christopher Hitchens said in some interview somewhere -- and pls. don't make me look it up -- that religion may not actually fuel or cause conflict, but it does exacerbate already existing conflict.

I think that's about right. It seems that radical Islam likely serves as a vehicle for Arab nationalism, secular conflict, and anti-Western sentiment in the region. So, no, I'm not absolving Islamic fundamentalism or defending religious extremists.

I just happen to think it's a bit more complicated than "Muslims bad, must kill them" that seems to be so popular with some folks...

Steve said...

Jay said: "You can't squash out nationalism or guerrillas or terrorists by conventional military means."
Umm, that's not necessarily true. I give you as examples, the Philipines, Malaysia and Algeria. You continue one of the misperceptions that are popular at the moment.

Mike said...

Mike, your gross prejudice is pretty pathetic.

What gross prejudice exactly? Do offended Muslims ever remain calm, true or false? Here's another one for you. Name another group of people who kills others because they're angry that other people call them violent. I have 5000+ examples, from the bombing of our embassy in Beirut, to 9/11, to yesterday in Iraq to defend my thesis in addition to the fact that if I hadn't pulled the trigger against one I would not be here today.It's got to be nice to believe that everyone who disagrees with you is a de facto bigot.

You know, of course, that al Qaeda started targeting the US as a result of our putting military bases in Saudi Arabia...

So we're supposed to remove a military base we have on foreign soil, at the invitation of its government because the terrorists say we should?

Iraq just makes things worse than it was on September 10. Staying in Iraq isn't the answer to curtailing terror.

What "things" are made "worse" because of our involvement in Iraq.

There's no correlation, BTW, between religion and suicide bombers. Check out Pape's study. A lot of the bombers were hardly fundamentalists...

Really? No correlation whatsoever between religion and suicide bombers? I realize you're frustrated in trying to label those opposed to your worldview as prejudiced or xenophobic, which I suppose is indeed a step-up from Muslims who express their frustration by strapping explosives to children, but unless and until you can show me that our enemies aren't "true Muslims," why are the "true Muslims" always so offended on their behalf? I get al-Jazeera on satellite and have witnessed no mass protests against Islamofascist actions against the West.

I just happen to think it's a bit more complicated than "Muslims bad, must kill them" that seems to be so popular with some folks...

Not counting Beirut x2, the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam embassy bombings (Kenya and Tanzania respectively) in '98, Somalia, the USS Cole, Khobar Towers, the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in '92 and the fact that on 9/11 this nation had been attacked on its own shores, women widowed, children orphaned and thousands of our fellow countrymen killed YOU'RE the one who used this as an occasion to ask, 'why do they hate us? If the insurgencies in Northern Ireland, Israel/"Palestine", Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Burma and elsewhere continue, what reason do we have to expect this one (Iraq/Afghanistan) to end so soon? On any given week, WW2 offered up more fuck-ups and catastrophes than anything that has ever been seen in postwar Iraq, yet we should immediately withdraw and instead focus on police work and diplomacy?

And you really wonder why you're known variously as either the Momzer™ of Missoula or a hand-wringing pussy? Seriously?

Jay Stevens said...

Do you even know what "bigotry" is, Mike? Here's the definition of "bigot" the dictionary: "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance."

That's you to a "t." You are, after all, the fellow who suspected a student who got into an argument at a sandwhich shop of being an agent of international jihad, without a single shred of evidence. That's classic.

By your own admittance you are accusing ALL Muslims of being naturally violent, approving of terrorism, etc. And you wonder why Muslims aren't embracing your point of view.

Comparing WWII to Iraq would be disingenuous, if I thought you actually knew the difference between the conflicts. Do you really need a history lesson here? Do you want to curtail or end terrorism, or do you want to prove your manhood by not changing your ideas even as they're shown not to be working? What's more important, your ego or solving the problem?

(That was, of course, a rhetorical question.)

Yes, I know why I have gotten nicknames from a couple of fringe and uncivil bloggers. Obviously I don't agree with your characterization; but I'm sure you'll continue to cut me down to make yourself feel better. That's your way, after all. Good luck with that.

Jay Stevens said...

Umm, that's not necessarily true. I give you as examples, the Philipines, Malaysia and Algeria. You continue one of the misperceptions that are popular at the moment.

Well, I could argue that, in the Phillipines and Algeria, what ended conflict was Western governments removing themselves from the scene -- tho' it's true we ended the Phillipine insurrection by arms...a hundred years ago? Still conflict continued until the US-back Marcos dictatorship was ousted...

But we're talking about international terrorism here, aren't we? There aren't many terrorists in Iraq. Al Qaeda's been squashed there. I don't see how "winning" in Iraq would do anything to curtail terrorism.

What do have to gain with dominance in the Middle East, anyway? Is it all about the oil? A serious question, that. Why are we there?

Steve said...

Boy, this take me back. Alright, the advantage of winning in Iraq: First, what is wrong with a peaceful and democratic country that is not a threat to its neighbors, nor spends its resources killing its own citizens? Second, as I have said before, the two major sources of Islamo facism are Iran and Saudi Arabia. Guess which country connects the two?
If Iraq can stabilize, it has tremendous potential for changing the dynamic of the Middle East. For too long, our image abroad has been based not on our military presence, but on our cultural presence. Think Hollywood, and the American media and how they portray us. We may not believe that Abu Ghraib was anything but an aberration, but the nutcases over there rely on that interpretation as symptomatic of all of us. So, if you have GIs who aren't raping and murdering, but instead are trying to establish security and order to provide the start of a flourishing economy, we are changing the dynamic of how people think.
If all of your life you have been told that Americans are evil, and then you see with your own eyes that they aren't, don't you think that might lead you to question what else you have been lied to?
So, to answer your original point, our presence can actually do more to change the driving force of terrorism, than our beating feet. That would only validate their world view of us, as seen through the Beiruit bombing and Blackhawk Down situations.
I for one would rather change their view than corroborate it.

Steve said...

And Jay, as to your analysis of the effectiveness of counter-insurgency, I think you are misreading history. The Moro rebellion was effectively quashed before 1917. And Algeria did stabilize by using the same methods that we are currently employing in Iraq. I did notice that you skipped over Malaysia, but just to add to the mix, we were also successful in counterinsurgency ops in Viet Nam. Albeit with the aid of the North Vietnamese who expended them all in Tet 68.
Guerrilla ops are not necessarily successful just because they are guerrillas. It requires support of the populace, and has been shown, the sheiks of the various tribes are figuring out that it is counterproductive to support terror against us, and instead, it can be very lucrative to drive them out.
So, yes, we can win Virginia. As we must.

Jay Stevens said...

Well, I don't share your optimism on Iraq, Steve. And I don't think the goal of westernizing Iraq is realistic, if Iraqis are fighting, as the studies seem to indicate, because we're trying to westernize Iraq.

Personally, I think it's counterproductive to try to install western-style secular democracies where we're not really wanted. The goals you mention are all admirable; I just don't see them as realistic. Obviously, or I wouldn't be such a critic of the policy.

I skipped Malaysia, b/c I don't know anything about it! Ha ha.

I'll have to mull your other examples.

Thanks for the considered replies. This is a good discussion, despite the outlandish headline, heh heh...

Mike said...

That's you to a "t."

Appreciate the definition and all but those in glass houses...I suppose it never dawned on you that accusing conservatives of hating children vis a vis SCHIP and all manner of other claims you've made in the past approaches the definition you so blithely apply to others? If you guys could get away with it you'd trot out an orphaned child whose parents were brutally hacksawed to death to put a face on your next effort on SCHIP.

You are, after all, the fellow who suspected a student who got into an argument at a sandwhich shop of being an agent of international jihad, without a single shred of evidence. That's classic.

Was waiting for that. Thanks! Actually I never suspected the student of being an agent for international jihad, the sentence was added more for the shock factor...and it worked. The tres amigos of the Montana Mewling Pussy Brigade (you, Singer, and Balboni) all got worked into a lather over that one. Forget for a moment that the main point of my post at the time, which you and the others apparently never got to because you were tripping over yourselves to defend someone you didn't know, was that the student claimed he was not involved in the incident because he was, correct me if I'm wrong, a "devout Muslim," and would never have been out on the streets at night. My POV is that those from "X" religious background don't go around claiming themselves to be "devout" when they're standing in line at the Pickle Barrel, which certainly has no Halal certification that I'm aware of. I would have said the same thing about an Orthodox Jew at the Pickle Barrel or a Mormon at a sports bar but didn't think it was necessary at the time.

By your own admittance you are accusing ALL Muslims of being naturally violent, approving of terrorism, etc.

By what admission? You are aware that I employ two legitimately devout Muslims, right? How many do you employ, assuming you were actually a productive member of society? Quite frankly I could go into more detail about my business activities in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world but why bother? Any sentient person has to be concerned that he might make an argument or employ a turn of phrase that will be discerned by the progressive cult as a "code word" evincing a hateful or racist tendency. The only safe course is to be consciously and stultifyingly boring, as you prove in virtually every post.

What's more important, your ego or solving the problem?

Ahh, the most delicious part of your comment...being lectured on ego by the most narcissistic self-seeking blogger out there! "Hey, look, I was on PBS!" "Did everyone see my post on TAP?" "I'm a really important part of the movement!" Naw, it's probably has more to do with the fact that you continue to live in the shadow of your wife, who is more educated and obviously more successful that you'll ever be...but that's playing on a different projector.

I hardly need a lecture on WW2 from the likes of you. The FACT is that prior to the start of WW2 there was a lot of pacifist an anti-war sentiment in the US, most of which disappeared following Pearl Harbor. Nor, once we were in the war, was there any visible or openly expressed defeatism, not even in response to actual defeats. Nor was there a national or international (such as it was at the time) fixation on the mistakes of FDR or Churchill, of which there were many. Some of their mistakes were so large and consequential that by comparison, those of which the Bush administration stands accused seems inconsequential. Care to discuss the incredible command and intelligence blunders leading up to the Battle of the Bulge, that in only 40+ days cost more than 19,000 American lives, not to mention another 47K+ wounded, another 23K+ missing or captured, and an untold number left with gangrenous feet because they had not been properly equipped for the winter weather? I guess we can all feel lucky that bloggers like you weren't on the scene 60+ years ago!

Do you want to curtail or end terrorism, or do you want to prove your manhood by not changing your ideas even as they're shown not to be working?

I can't help but notice you haven't exactly been discussing what ideas you think aren't working. The 18-month "rush" to war and you still didn't have enough evidence to conclude that Hussein (Saddam, not Obama) was a threat. Yet you can make a split-second decision that Bush is a threat or is ruining civil liberties despite any evidence to support your claim.

Jay Stevens said...

Ahh, the most delicious part of your comment...being lectured on ego by the most narcissistic self-seeking blogger out there! "Hey, look, I was on PBS!" "Did everyone see my post on TAP?" "I'm a really important part of the movement!"

Wow! Now I understand your anger.

BTW, I totally agree with you about my wife. She kicks *ss! I don't know if I'm "living in her shadow," I think we have a lot of mutual respect for each other and recognize the contributions we each make to the family. I, for one, am an awesome dad. But she is much smarter and more accomplished, that's for sure. But then...why would I want it any other way?

As for the attention I've gotten and drawn to myself: yeah, it's enjoyable sometimes. I don't think it's because of any exceptional ability: in fact, the opposite. I've heard that folks like to read the blog b/c it gives them an idea of what regular folks are thinking. If my contribution is that I let some inside the beltway fools know what the "regular guy" is thinking, then so be it. Who am I to complain?

Sorry to see you carry around so much baggage about it. What can I say? People like talking to me and reading what I write. Maybe it's because I dont' go for the angry bigot angle...

Mike said...

The only thing I'm sorry about, Jay, is that you've been provided ample opportunity to actually address any number of issues brought up in the post and subsequent comments, but other than calling me a bigot, and claiming the war simply isn't winnable because Bush is the one waging it there's simply nothing there. Perhaps you've not only ran out of ideas...but adjectives well?

Jay Stevens said...

Hm. Looks like somebody needs reading comprehension lessons. I thought we were talking about curtailing Islamic terrorism, not the Iraq war?

In any case, I've made it abundantly clear in my original post and in these comments I think we're facing an anti-Western nationalist movement, which I don't think is winnable through force of arms.

In the past I've written extensively on the subject. (See, for example, the case for withdrawal.) The burden is on you to rebut, not me to reiterate. So far your whole argument appears to be "Muslims are bad," which seems a tad simplistic to me.