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Bloggingheads
12-27-2007, 10:29 AM

thprop
12-27-2007, 10:48 AM
Ultimately disappointing. I don’t think Bruce Feiler was the man for this job. His style of personal narrative just kept getting in the way. His books “Abraham” and “Walking the Bible” completely ignore the real history of the middle east. The Israelites were simply another Canaanite tribe. They were never in captivity in Egypt. There was no Exodus. God did not give them the land. Just read what Israeli archaeologists Israel Finkelstein (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Finkelstein) and Neil Asher Silberman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Asher_Silberman) have written.

Ha’aretz had a great article (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=291264&contrassID=2&subContrassID=14&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y) about Finkelstein and Silberman’s book “The Bible Unearthed”. The New York Times review is here. (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A00EEDE173FF937A35751C0A9679C8B 63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1) Feiler cannot take into account reality in his own books which reflect his personal narrative.

He seemed to agree with much of what Mearsheimer and Walt had written but focused on small points that irked him – like stating foreign aid on per capita amounts rather than in total dollars. So I guess saying Israel got $2.6 billion in US aid and Egypt got $1.8 billion sounds better than $500 per capita for Israel versus $20 per capita for Egypt. But Feiler said he felt manipulated by that. My question is why are we giving Israel any money at all – it is the 42nd largest economy in the world, 30th on a per capita basis.

There is no doubt that American support of Israel instigates terrorism. Other factors do also. Feiler, like other defenders of Israel, insists that all these other sources of terrorism have to be mentioned ahead of the US/Israel relationship. I think that is done so that we do not discuss the US/Israel relationship. Feiler, like all apologists for Israel, seeks to diminish Israel as a motivating factor for terrorism.

I have some issues with the book but I still hope it will launch a real discussion and examination of middle eastern issues and the US/Israel relationship. Those attacking Mearsheimer and Walt are trying to make sure this conversation does not really get going. It pisses me off that I have to read Israeli newspapers to get an accurate picture of what is going on in the middle east.

One blogger that I would like to see on BHtv is Philip Weiss, proprietor of Mondoweiss. (http://www.philipweiss.org/)

ohcomeon
12-27-2007, 11:43 AM
Good post that added value to the discussion. I agreee with your final point. We all need to have a deeper and broader discussion of our support for Israel. This book could be a good starting point. I hope Bob will follow up with a variety of educated opinions on this topic.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 12:33 PM
thprop:

[NB: Thanks to thprop for correcting me -- I had said "Walt" instead of "John" in the original posting of this comment. I have edited this post to address that error.]

Ultimately disappointing. I don’t think Bruce Feiler was the man for this job. His style of personal narrative just kept getting in the way.

I agree. Two other complaints: First, I thought he interrupted too much (although John deserves some blame for not insisting that he be allowed to finish some of his points). Second, I found his style of asking questions more of an interrogation than an interview -- he often did not acknowledge answers and frequently seemed to jump to unrelated topics without any sort of conversational transitions.

... small points that irked him – like stating foreign aid on per capita amounts rather than in total dollars.

I take your larger point, but on this specific example, I disagree. I haven't read the book, but from the way it was described in this diavlog, it did sound like Bruce had a legitimate complaint that John was using a little statistical sleight of hand. I did not find John's response to this particular criticism adequate.

I also agreed with Bruce's point that a lack of charts in what purports to be an academic book is off-putting. You can spin the data all you want, but you have to show the data in their entirety. Otherwise, the book will come off as a political screed, rather than a work meriting intellectual respect.

There is no doubt that American support of Israel instigates terrorism.

I agree, although I do wonder how much the Arab (and Persian) world use this as an excuse, as opposed to being genuinely concerned with the plight of the Palestinians. I often think they start from an anti-American stance (some of which I can understand) and cast about for any excuse and rallying point they can find. I also think the constant program by many of the governments in the Middle East to portray Israel as unconditionally evil is a scapegoating technique to distract their own people from complaints about their own governments. It seems to me that Muslim countries in the Middle East could do a lot more in non-military ways to give aid, including inviting the Palestinians to relocate to their own countries. (I grant that there is a "holy" attachment to what they would call the Palestinian homeland, although I find this argument hollow -- it makes as much, or as little, sense as Jews saying the land was theirs first.)

You do note other factors contribute to terrorist actions, and I think I mostly agree with your statement that these all tend to get mentioned ahead of the US/Israel relationship. I think part of this is due to the "don't go there" attitude, but another part of it is that the US/Israel relationship is often exaggerated as a cause.

Finally, I agree with your closing thought that it is hard to have a rational conversation about the issues raised by John's book, especially in this country, and that this is a conversation that we should be having.

thprop
12-27-2007, 12:52 PM
thprop:
.... First, I thought he interrupted too much (although Walt deserves some blame for not insisting that he be allowed to finish some of his points).

...that Walt was using a little statistical sleight of hand. I did not find Walt's response to this particular criticism adequate.

... Walt's book, especially in this country, and that this is a conversation that we should be having.

The person in the diavlog was John Mearsheimer - not his co-author Stephen Walt. Mearsheimer is an academic - he engages in academic debate not the personal narrative that Feiler spins.

If you read the book, there is no statistical sleight of hand. Mearsheimer and Walt go in depth about all the aid Israel has received from the US over the years - $154 billion. They go over the economic aid for about ten pages in the beginning of chapter 1 - The Great Benefactor. One paragraph (page 26) states annual aid to Israel in per capita terms - and compares it to not only Egypt but also to Haiti and Pakistan. There is no sleight of hand.

I am not sure what charts Feiler wanted. You could do even more sleight of hand with them. M & W simply state facts - there is no spinning of the data. The spinning is coming from the apologists for Israel.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 01:01 PM
thprop:

The person in the diavlog was John Mearsheimer - not his co-author Stephen Walt.

My bad, and thanks for correcting me. I will update my post to reflect this. I somehow got it in my head that his name was "Walt Mearsheimer," which I think is a name from somewhere in the annals of sports, although I've lost patience trying to verify this by sifting through Google results.

I can't respond adequately to the rest of your post, about how the data were presented in the book, since, as I said, I haven't yet read it. All I can say is that Bruce's criticisms sounded valid and John's defense sounded weak. I'll keep your argument in mind, though.

jmcnulty
12-27-2007, 03:03 PM
Mersheimer, who admits that he is without religion since childhood, overlooks the essential nature of Islam. Go ahead, tell me all about the educated Muslims who want the same things that we do, modernity, freedom, personal fulfillment. The problem is that none of this is consistent with the Islam of the Qur'an. Go ahead, dismiss the Qur'an as a book of fables, just like the Bible. Muslims believe that it is the literal Words of Allah. It is not a "personal" religion like evangelical Christianity. It is a "way of life" affecting every aspect of living. Hitler himself, in his after dinner conversations, lamented that Europe developed without Islam, which he called a "fighting faith," rather than Christianity, which he regarded as a "religion of weaklings." The conflict with the West has always been there. Islam initially expanded by the sword and came within a turk's whisker of conquering Europe at Tours and later at Vienna. Ever hear of the Barbary Pirates? The West became powerful and colonized the Arab World. Even 100 years ago, when the Islamic World was weak, Churchill warned us about it. Now, the Arab World has a torrent of Western oil money to finance a renewal of the "jihad" against the West. Meanwhile, we are investigating the effects of the Israel Lobby, which apparently we are supposed to fear although Mersheimer described America as being a place of "interest groups" since the beginnings of the Republic. No, it's not a conspiracy with membership cards. But what do all the people have in common? Swedish Lutherans? Antisemitism? No, or of so highbrow and academic variety as to be unrecognizable. Yes, Israel should get along without United States aid, if for no other reason than its effects on Israeli survival will be pernicious. Annapolis is a case in point, where the Saudi ambassador insisted on entering by a non-Jew door. Does that comment make me a member of the Israeli Lobby?

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 03:12 PM
jm:

Why don't you create a web page somewhere, call it "My usual anti-Islam rant," and just make your sig link to that page. This would save everybody a lot of time.

jmcnulty
12-27-2007, 03:18 PM
I do not understand the nature of your complaint. Are you saying that my so-called rant about Islam is untrue? That should make is easy for you or Mersheimer to point out where I have misunderstood the faith. If I am accurately reporting on Islam, are you just not wanting to hear about it? Does that better equip you to confront reality? I called you "inimitable," but now I am not so sure -- if you are avoiding reality.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 03:48 PM
jm:

I do not understand the nature of your complaint. Are you saying that my so-called rant about Islam is untrue?

No. The validity of your rant is something I've disputed in other places, but what I'm saying here is that you've posted essentially the identical rant about fifty times already, counting the old forums and the new. Is it really necessary to keep repeating the same thing?

ohcomeon
12-27-2007, 03:52 PM
I just want to point out that here in Texas many, many Christians believe the Bible is literally the word of God. I try not to hold this against all Christians.

jmcnulty
12-27-2007, 04:21 PM
What does the Bible have to say about Islam? Nothing that I have said (sorry to Bjkeefe for all the boring repetition) has anything to do with Bible prophecy. It has only to do with what I have read from Islamic sources. Mrs. Bhutto, in Ayman al-Zawahiri's view, was a "hypocrite" Muslim who could be killed. She was also a disobediant female, who rejected her proper "place" in Islamic society and adopted infidel ways, such as "democracy," or man-made law, no matter how corrupt.

Message to Bjkeefe: to paraphase Trotsky, "You may not be interested in Islam, but Islam is interested in YOU." Sorry for all the repetition, but sometimes repetition is necessary to get through to slow students.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 04:41 PM
jm:

Sorry for all the repetition, but sometimes repetition is necessary to get through to slow students.

"Students" implies a group of people who voluntarily attend. It's a more accurate metaphor to think of this forum as a subway car, featuring one crank who is stuck on infinite replay. Some passengers might agree, most don't, and all are getting sick of hearing it.

jazzyd
12-27-2007, 05:31 PM
I find much to object to in this diavlog. I thought Feiler was completely out of a useful element here. Too much attention to ornate and mannered discourse, too much repetition, and an insufficient base to engage Mearshimer on his home ground.

I will engage Mearsheimer only on the matter of European anti-semitism. To say there is no such thing, or to downplay it's significance on the ground in the way he did was beyond belief. There is abundant polling evidence and in analyses of incidents of hate crimes to make his position just about beyond belief. He is either a liar or an ignorant fool on this matter.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 06:02 PM
jazzyd:

I thought Feiler was completely out of a useful element here. Too much attention to ornate and mannered discourse ...

A better way to put it: he talked too fucking much.

I will engage Mearsheimer only on the matter of European anti-semitism. To say there is no such thing, or to downplay it's significance on the ground in the way he did was beyond belief.

Yeah, that one rang false to me, too.

jmcnulty
12-27-2007, 06:17 PM
My compliments to you, from one crank to another, especially one who is so unwise as to believe that there is nothing bigger than himself. You have not disputed a single thing that I have to say, only the way that I have said it or the fact that I have said it, in a sense, within your hearing or that I have said it too often. Keep hoping that everyone, even the Islamists, shares your philosophical predilections. You can debate fine philosophical points while the house is burning down around us, and if anyone mentions it, you can call him names or blame Fox News.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-27-2007, 06:26 PM
I find Mr. Feiler likable and engaging and thought his idea of engaging Mr. Mearsheimer through his "personal narrative" was a good idea although it didn't work out as well as I hoped, to a great extent because Mr. Mearsheimer didn't seem to buy into the idea completely.

These diavlogs where they are interviewing someone about their book pose an interesting problem. On the one hand, I think it is interesting and valuable to have the questioner raise points of disagreement and to bring up quibbles that are as specific as possible (like the statistical thing). On the other hand, this can go off the rails and not allow the author the opportunity to focus on what the author really cares about and therefore let the viewer who hasn't read the book get a good handle on what the book is actually saying (See Ms. McArdle's slavery diavlog for the quintessential example of this but as I said its a common problem). I haven't read the Walt/ Mearsheimer book yet so I can't say whether the essential argument and evidences of the book were communicated, but I kinda feel like they were not.

I enjoyed the diavlog though and it is incredibly difficult to engage this topic in a productive way and I admire Mr. Feiler's attempts to do so.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-27-2007, 06:35 PM
Yeah Brendan, plus this particular crank has adopted the brilliant debating technique of using the fact that most people ignore his rant as evidence of the invincibility of his argumentary prowess. The crank on the train keeps shouting, "I've been shouting at you guys this whole ride and no one has challenged my "argument" so it must be correct!"

Ya gotta at least admire his persistence. If us Muslims had the persistence of jm, we would have the world domination thing taken care of already. Sadly, most of us are just regular human beings as much as you may wish to deny it.

I think I've asked you this before, jm, but I wonder, do you know any actual Muslims? I mean, like in real life?




jm:



"Students" implies a group of people who voluntarily attend. It's a more accurate metaphor to think of this forum as a subway car, featuring one crank who is stuck on infinite replay. Some passengers might agree, most don't, and all are getting sick of hearing it.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-27-2007, 06:39 PM
Yeah, I find the chart fetish to be a bit bizarre. Since when did charts become the sine qua non of reasoned argument? Do you guys think that Ross Perot and David Petraeus are the most brilliant thinkers of our time because they use(d) a lot of charts.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-27-2007, 06:41 PM
jm:

Why don't you create a web page somewhere, call it "My usual anti-Islam rant," and just make your sig link to that page. This would save everybody a lot of time.

Brendan,

He could save himself the time of creating such a page by just linking to lgf, frontpage mag, etc. you know, all the sources that have "taught" him so much about the "true nature" of Islam.

bkjazfan
12-27-2007, 07:04 PM
I have not read the book and am not well versed on the subject. Nevertheless, I think Bruce was "over his head" as the one to interview the author Mearsheimer. Ideally, someone like Alan Dershowitz or even the author I have seen on this site before, Gershom (I can't remember his last name) would have been better interviewers than Bruce was.

At the end of the interview when the author was hammering home his point of view in a forceful, eloquent manner Mr. Feiler was noticablly silent as opposed to his constant interrupting that was his M.O. during the rest of the diavlog.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 07:39 PM
jm:

Before we get started, are you ever going to learn how to reply in the proper sub-thread?

My compliments to you ... one who is so unwise as to believe that there is nothing bigger than himself.

I hardly think that nothing is bigger than myself. I don't understand why you have this impression of me, merely because I asked you to stop repeating the same rant. I don't think it is egotistical for me to have augmented this request with the idea that my opinion is hardly unique among readers of this forum.

You have not disputed a single thing that I have to say ...

In fact, I have. Too bad the old forums aren't available, or I'd give you direct links. I tried, several times, to address your thesis in a reasoned manner, but you didn't want to hear it. As I recall, you didn't really respond well -- you basically dodged any points I raised and just restated your apocalyptic fears. The same thing happened when other commenters replied to you.

Since then, you have posted the same thesis over and over again. My recent tendency to ridicule you comes from the increasingly faint hope that you retain enough shreds of sanity to reconsider your tendency to regurgitate at bulimic frequencies.

You're entitled to be a repetitious crank if you want, but bear in mind that you're only hurting yourself, if you want your point of view to be respected on other issues.

This is the last time I'm going to engage with you on the matter of your ridiculous and paranoid view of Islam. NB: Possible future instances on my part of mocking ravings on your part should not be construed as engaging.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 07:42 PM
Abu Noor:

Sadly true. However, it assumes he has it together enough to construct a link.

Sgt Schultz
12-27-2007, 08:23 PM
Rather it was an interrogation. Quite a limp one.
Wherever the inquisitor was shot down in flames he ignored his own embarrassment and clanked verbosely (oh sooo verbosely) forward.
Capped off by the usual BhTV inappropriate smirkfest.(yawn)
I'm going back to watch Bob's BDS meltdown again. (It tickles.)

ohcomeon
12-27-2007, 08:33 PM
I am sincerely hoping he reponds with, "Some of my best friends are Muslims."

jmcnulty
12-27-2007, 08:33 PM
I assume that you are a Muslim or at least grew up in a Muslim home. What have I said that is wrong? If what I say is wrong, point out one thing that is mistaken, not just that with which you do not agree. I feel as though I have crashed a little community of Leftists at Bloggingheads.tv who were very happy to limit the "debates" to those between liberals and leftists. Instead of engaging what I say, you have either ignored it, riduculed it, or said that I repeat myself too often (a clever way to avoid answering the questions). I won't repeat my "rant" again. I will just ask you as a Muslim whether my choices, according to the Qur'an and as in infidel, are either conversion, dhimmitude, or death. Do you accept Qur'an 9:5?

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 08:50 PM
I won't repeat my "rant" again.

Noted and bookmarked. We'll see how long this promise lasts.

cragger
12-27-2007, 09:00 PM
I have to agree. Feiler spent so much time talking without addressing the main point of the book and attendant controversy that despite the length of the dialog, it seemed like not that much of substance was said. Certainly not much in depth regarding what I gather is the central thesis: that a particular interest group has sufficient influence so as to affect US government action in a way detremental to US interests overall. Given the centrality of that part of the world to current US attention, application of resources, and concern or hysteria depending on your view, I would have appreciated something more informative.

Feiler's approach seemed particularly odd given that he claimed to have spent the last week immersing himself in the book and related research. One would have expected this to result in more than quibbling over who should or shouldn't be considered as part of "the lobby", or the absence of graphics. Shades of "if you're a real scientist, why aren't wearing a white lab coat?" in the latter case.

As noted in previous comments the expressed outrage over considering foreign aid in the context of population seemed bizzare to me. If not weighing it in relation to the affected population and their economic situation, how better to compare? Give the same amount to Monaco and Africa and consider that a balanced approach? The fact that the numbers stand out in a way that support the thesis under discussion does not mean that they should have been presented in a manner to hide the relevant ratios, rather the opposite.

Should this be the subject of a future diavlog, which is probably unlikely, I think Bob would probably be the best partner. Bob has previously expressed reservations about the book, or article, and I think his style would result in a much more informative session than looking for a glib, partisan, experienced debater like Dershowitz with talking points on the tip of his tongue to show up an academic and writer in this format.

TwinSwords
12-27-2007, 09:06 PM
Muslims believe that it is the literal Words of Allah.

Muslim fundamentalists, you mean.

No one is going to change your mind about anything, but I would ask how many actual Muslims you've ever known in your life. I've known thousands, with hundreds as friends. And your description of them bears absolutely no relation to reality. You simply do not know what you are talking about.

Will this matter to you in the least?

No, it will not.

TwinSwords
12-27-2007, 09:09 PM
Hitler himself, in his after dinner conversations, lamented that Europe developed without Islam, which he called a "fighting faith," rather than Christianity, which he regarded as a "religion of weaklings."
I love how you quote Hitler as if that is supposed to be persausive.

Tell me, MCNulty, what did Hitler think of the Jews? What other brilliant Hitlerian insights can you share with us?

I love the "in his after dinner conversations." Did you just make that up for flair, or do you have a source indicating that Hitler's lunatic ravings about Islam were limited to "after dinner conversations"?

TwinSwords
12-27-2007, 09:17 PM
I just want to point out that here in Texas many, many Christians believe the Bible is literally the word of God. I try not to hold this against all Christians.
Exactly. McNulty doesn't understand the concept of fundamentalism. This is the root of his embarrassing ignorance.

jmcnulty
12-27-2007, 09:47 PM
Read the book by Hitler's secretary, Trudl Junge, who only recently died, about his after dinner conversations before the war in Bavaria. Also read Joseph Goebbels' diaries for Hitler's views on Islam and Christianity. I don't cite Hitler for authority, it's just something he said.

My questions to Abu Noor Al-Irlandee remain unanswered. Surely his knowledge of the Qur'an can be shown to be superior to mine.

Message to TwinSwords, who said, "I would ask how many actual Muslims you've ever known in your life. I've known thousands, with hundreds as friends." Whew, for a moment there I thought you were going to say that some of your best friends are Muslims. Wait a minute, I think you did.

TwinSwords
12-27-2007, 09:53 PM
Message to TwinSwords, who said, "I would ask how many actual Muslims you've ever known in your life. I've known thousands, with hundreds as friends." Whew, for a moment there I thought you were going to say that some of your best friends are Muslims. Wait a minute, I think you did.

And therefore what?

TwinSwords
12-27-2007, 09:56 PM
Hey, McNulty,

Question for you: Do you listen to Rush Limbaugh?

How about Hannity, O'Reilly, or other talk show hosts?

jmcnulty
12-27-2007, 10:13 PM
I wonder what the point of that question is? I have not listened to either "O'Reilly" or "Hannity & Colmes" in years. I have heard Rush on the radio occasionally. So what? I wish that I was as funny as his parodies. Guilt by association? Isn't there a name for that -- McCarthyism? I wonder when Ann Coulter will be brought up? Have you ever read "Daily Kos" or "Fire Dog Lake"? I have not tried to imply that your arguments are without merit because the same argument might have been made on a contentious Left blog. That's what I love about liberals -- their tolerance and appreciation of contrary ideas.

My questions about Islam still remain unanswered. I have never said that individual Muslim are difficult; only that Islam, if you examine it, is. There are "moderate" Muslims, but no "moderate" Islam.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-27-2007, 10:50 PM
jmcnulty,

I find your rants hard to respond to because you make many claims, each of which would require context as well as an agreement on definitions in order for me to label as true or false. As far as I can tell, the underlying message you seem to feel you need to urgently communicate to the world is that people should be afraid of Islam, and therefore Muslims. It is this major message which I believe to be utterly false and if you knew some Muslims (I'm still unclear on your answer to that) I think you would understand why this is false.

In this last post, you seem to try to make some distinction between Muslims and Islam, but I thought one of your major points is that "all" Muslims believe this or that...

For me as a Muslim I can understand why I believe there is certain things that are truly Islam or not Islam...for you to make the same claim against Muslims who are disagreeing with you about what Islam is...I don't really see on what basis you can do so.

As I've told you before I welcome different viewpoints and appreciate those who are interested in Islam and Muslims, it's just if you don't show a single ounce of openmindedness or willingness to believe anything other than a rightwing Islam hating party line, it becomes silly to try to engage with you.

As one example, the importance of Jerusalem to Muslims is mentioned again in this diavlog...previously you've wanted to engage in silly debates about whether "Jerusalem" is mentioned in the Qur'an. Now, "Jerusalem" is not an Arabic word so how could it be in the Qur'an, an Arabic book. The city is referred to in the Qur'an, so what is the point? Are you arguing that, the obvious testimony of one billion Muslims to the contrary, Jerusalem is not important to Islam, so says jmcnulty? What is the possible point of such a silly argument other than carrying water for a silly partisan ideology?

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-27-2007, 10:57 PM
jmcnulty,

Is there a moderate Christianity? Is there a moderate Judaism? What if, as Mr. Feiler refers to in this diavlog the religious authorities in Israel have certain beliefs about what Judaism is that are not "moderate" and that the majority of Jews in America disagree with. These religious authorities believe that the beliefs of these "moderate" Jews is not true Judaism. Why are they wrong, but when it comes to Islam, if I claim that a moderate Muslim's beliefs are not "true Islam" you would agree with me. What if someone said John Kerry is not a "true" Catholic? Do you accept that?

Let me just say, jmcnulty, I am not what you or most of the people on these comment boards would consider a "moderate" Muslim. In fact, I've self described myself previously as an Islamist. Does this mean that many people on this board who are atheists or who are leftists or liberals may disagree about some things with me? Definitely. Does it mean that any of them need to be afraid of me? I don't think so.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-27-2007, 11:02 PM
jmcnulty,

Although you've shown no willingness in the past to actually read other resources I've referred you to, your persistence in asking questions as if you really do want to learn inspires me to continue trying to point you towards knowledge.

For an answer to some of your concerns that comes from an American Muslim scholar trained in traditional Islamic scholarship and an upholder of mainstream orthodox belief, you can check out "Jihad is not Perpetual Warfare" by Imam Zaid Shakir (May God preserve him) here:

www.zaytuna.org/seasonsjournal/seasons2/53-64%20Jihad%20Warfare.pdf

DenvilleSteve
12-27-2007, 11:20 PM
Bruce raised a minor stink re: M&W equating US aid to Israel and other ME countries on a per capita basis. Big deal. Egypt and Jordan need US aid. And the US would be adversely affected if the governments of either of those countries were toppled. Israel on the other hand could easily manage without American handouts.

-Steve

DenvilleSteve
12-27-2007, 11:34 PM
M&W focus on the IL's control of US foreign policy. Its control there is significant, but maybe it is the main stream media where the Lobby has its most influence. Have any of the presidential candidates been asked their position on the US backing of the occupationist entity? Even the established bloggers are silent on the subject.

-Steve

DenvilleSteve
12-27-2007, 11:47 PM
Yeah Brendan, plus this particular crank has adopted the brilliant debating technique of using the fact that most people ignore his rant as evidence of the invincibility of his argumentary prowess. The crank on the train keeps shouting, "I've been shouting at you guys this whole ride and no one has challenged my "argument" so it must be correct!"

Ya gotta at least admire his persistence. If us Muslims had the persistence of jm, we would have the world domination thing taken care of already. Sadly, most of us are just regular human beings as much as you may wish to deny it.

I think I've asked you this before, jm, but I wonder, do you know any actual Muslims? I mean, like in real life?

in the northern NJ area in which I work there are large Muslim communities. I have worked at different companies the last few years, meeting people from all over the world. So far not a muslim in sight. It is a little bit troubling. Are muslims integrating into American society to a greater extent than is apparent to me?

-Steve

TwinSwords
12-28-2007, 12:03 AM
in the northern NJ area in which I work there are large Muslim communities. I have worked at different companies the last few years, meeting people from all over the world. So far not a muslim in sight. It is a little bit troubling. Are muslims integrating into American society to a greater extent than is apparent to me?

-Steve

Yes, they are. As a lifelong resident of Dearborn, Michigan, I can assure you that Muslims are integrated into American society precisely the same way as Italians, Irish, Germans, whatever.

There are a couple of exceptions:

(1) Newly immigrated Muslims.
(2) Since 9/11, there has been more white consciousness of the Muslim identity, and the increased right-wing hate speech towards Muslims has, to some extent, worked to de-integrate some Muslims.

Please note the use of the qualifier "some" at the end of the preceeding sentence.


As one person said, there are exponentially more American Muslims serving in the US Army than have even been suspected of involvement in terrorism.

Baltimoron
12-28-2007, 12:29 AM
I think it would have been fun in a totally incendiary way if Marty Peretz or Charles Krauthammer had been the guy on the left here.

Baltimoron
12-28-2007, 12:48 AM
First of all, I've not read the book, and I have only read the original article twice on unrelated occasions when I had to field a few questions about the topic. I don't consider myself a ME specialist, or even enthusiast, but mostly just dabble. I'm an IR student who has read Mearsheimer and Walt often, and used them liberally in papers. I'm also more of an East Asia enthusiast. and I do get annoyed by how ME affairs distracts American foreign policy from East Asia.

As an IR student, I'm confused by Mearsheimer's definition of the Israel lobby as a loose collection (not verbatim). My initial thought was that Mearxheimer and Walt (MW) would do a liberal analysis of how interest groups as organizational inputs correlate to policy outputs, especially with the lead-in about the Founding Fathers and interest-group lobbying. But, MW are realists, so I knew that wasn't in the cards. But, realists take states for rational actors for interests that precede human constituencies. realism works systemically, not on the state or individual level of analysis. So, I was confused by that entire part of M's defense and MW's article. Why talk about a lobby at all when interests suffice?

After that, it didn't matter for me, because the rest of the arguments seem like pundits' editorials, not IR work, even with the endnotes. I think the probelm here has to do with academics trying to write for popular audiences on topical issues. If MW had made a realist case for a pro-Israel argument, it would have been more characteristic. If a young Liberal theorist/journalist did a story on AIPAC from the inside with an organizational history, that would also be a better start. i would like to know why ME affairs trump East Asian relations so often. As is, this is just muddle.

bjkeefe
12-28-2007, 08:01 AM
Not that I think Brooks is a fount of wisdom, but this (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/28/opinion/28brooks.html) seemed to touch a nerve:

One of the best pieces of career advice I ever got is: Interview three people every day. If you try to write about politics without interviewing policy makers, you’ll wind up spewing all sorts of nonsense. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote an entire book on the Israel Lobby without ever interviewing any of their subjects.

[UPDATE] I removed the second paragraph of the quote after receiving appropriate chastising (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=67466#post67466) from Abu Noor.

DenvilleSteve
12-28-2007, 09:32 AM
But, realists take states for rational actors for interests that precede human constituencies. realism works systemically, not on the state or individual level of analysis. So, I was confused by that entire part of M's defense and MW's article. Why talk about a lobby at all when interests suffice?

Because M&W are attempting to explain why the U.S. policy towards Israel/Palestine is so contrary to its interests and is un realism. The Lobby, as a loose coalition, is by definition going to be difficult to define and document.

The US is damaging its interests, making its people, because of its policy of siding with the occupationist entity, the target of deadly attacks.. Why is it doing that? M&W assert it is the Israel Lobby, acting in its interests, overwhelming the interests of those in America who want to protect their country as a whole.

thprop
12-28-2007, 10:21 AM
Not that I think Brooks is a fount of wisdom, but this (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/28/opinion/28brooks.html) seemed to touch a nerve:

Brendan - It might be useful to actually read the book before commenting further. At least read the original article that started it all. (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html) M&W also responded to critics of the article. (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n10/letters.html#3)

Anything that appears in The New Republic about Israel should be ignored. Marty Peretz is ardently pro-Israel and an anti-Arab racist. About Jimmy Carter, Peretz wrote in his blog: "That's how he will go down in history: as a Jew hater." Peretz later had that comment taken down but it is easy to find - it is one of the comments on Matt Yglesias' blog. (http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/02/what_could_you_do_to_meits_not.php) Keep in mind what Eric Alterman says about him (http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=my_marty_peretz_problem_and_ours) :
Trust me, I could go on. As the blogger Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, Peretz's blog is "basically a museum for every anti-Arab/Muslim stereotype and caricature that exists." Nevertheless, as the Prospect's Ezra Klein blogged, "Peretz is rarely held to account, largely because there's an odd, tacit understanding that he's a cartoonish character and everyone knows it."

There has been a vastly different reception to M&W in Europe than in the US. From a BBC interview with them (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7104252.stm):
What do you think of the way your book was received in the US?

Stephen Walt: It is striking and it is probably something one would predict, having read our book, that virtually all of the mainstream reviews in the United States have been either somewhat negative or harshly negative.

And many have included many personal attacks on us - not all but the vast majority. For example, the Washington Post has run four separate pieces on our book and three of the four are harshly negative, and a couple of them raise the anti-Semitism charge quite explicitly - that's just the Washington Post.

But you would also predict from the book that the reviews outside the United States would be much better. There have been, I think, about eight or nine reviews now in the United Kingdom and virtually all of them are very positive...

Again, this in some way confirms our basic argument that it's much easier to talk about this subject, and that we get a much fairer hearing outside the United States than we do inside the US - which does not surprise us at all.

Philip Weiss wrote about the US reviews of M&W (http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2007/10/do-the-goyim-ge.html):

Do the Goyim Get to Register an Opinion Re Walt/Mearsheimer?

The latest negative review of Walt and Mearsheimer's book was particularly baroque: Samuel G. Freedman in the Washington Post writing about the Christian concept of original sin and saying that W/M have that view of Israel (and nary a word about the separate road system in the Occupied Territories). I know my people don't control the news media, but in reflecting on the many print reviews of The Israel Lobby (good and bad, but mostly bad), I'm struck by how many of them have been penned by Jews. Michael Lerner, David Remnick, Richard Cohen, Jeffrey Goldberg, Leslie Gelb, Samuel Freedman. Maybe I'm missing some gentile voices, but isn't there some value in diversity here? Could someone have assigned the book to James Baker, Francis Fukuyama, Fritz Hollings or Jimmy Carter? You say, Well we know what Hollings and Carter would say. Maybe. But we knew what Freedman would say. Mearsheimer says he unloaded on their paper last year.

Besides, if Freedman and Gelb are right and America, i.e., non-Jews, actually love Israel because of shared interests and democratic values, not because of any lobby, shouldn't the editors of America put reviewers to the test?

(Shmuel Rosner made a related point last year during the Carter book uproar. He noted that only Jews were resigning in protest from the Carter Center board.)

On November 5, the YIVO Institute held a discussion on M&W - featuring the author of the piece Brooks referenced, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Daniel Goldhagen. Weiss had this report (http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2007/11/a-frightening-e.html):




A 'Frightening' Evening at Yivo Institute, Talking About Walt & Mearsheimer

I missed last night's event at Yivo Institute cause I felt fluish (rhymes with...). My friend Rob Buchanan, a longtime journalist who teaches journalism at the New School University, went, and had this to report:

I went with the news team from the New School Free Press—Hannah Rappleye, Peter and Darya. Hannah’s writing something about the event, as a followup to an op-ed piece she did entitled "The Israel Lobby—it’s not anti-semitic.’ Of course the first thing that happened, after Marty Peretz introduced the panelists and said we were in for a "frightening" evening, was that Jeffrey Goldberg stood up and said, "I’m going to tell you that this book is anti-semitic, and he (Daniel Goldhagen) is going to tell you that it’s really, really anti-semitic." That got a good laugh, and it was kind of typical of the whole evening—lots of winks and inside jokes about how we (all of us in the room) were basically in agreement on the book and whole idea that "lobby" was just another way of saying "cabal." Of the two speakers, Goldberg was by far the more interesting and entertaining; he’s funny and urbane and totally confident. Also made some reasonable sounding noises—that settlement project was a terrible mistake, that a book needed to be written (this one just wasn’t it), that college kids in the U.S. were becoming "hostile to the narrative" of the creation of Israel as bold pioneers carving a nation out of the wilderness. Goldhagen was less impressive, going on about the "smell" of the book being not right but not producing anything in the way of evidence or real argument.

One question was interesting: why don’t you debate these guys? answer: we can’t have a debate if we can’t agree on the basic facts (Goldberg), and it would only give their argument more prominence (Goldhagen).

Here’s the crux, as it were, of my problem. Goldberg says, in his New Republic article, that the book is heinous because its “unmistakable message” is that “the destruction on September 11 was caused in significant measure by the Jews.” Yet here are the quotes from the book that he offers as support for that: “The United States has a terrorism problem in good part because it has long been so supportive of Israel” and “Many people may not realize how much America’s one-sided policies have cost it over the years. Not only have these policies helped inspire al-Qaeda, but they have also facilitated its recruitment efforts and contributed to growing anti-Americanism throughout the region.” He also quotes Walt as saying “American policy gives some individuals in the Arab and Islamic world cause to attack the United States as happened on 9/11.” I just don’t see how you can go from what seems like a reasonable thing to say—our support for Israel has allowed support for terrorists to grow in the Arab world—to the obviously ridiculous assertion that the destruction of september 11 was "caused by the Jews." Yet that’s what Goldberg, whom I really kind of liked and admired for his general competence and amiability, seems to be saying—you can’t argue that support for Israel has come back to us in the form of increased terrorism, because what you’re really saying is Jews cause terrorism. How can you have a serious discussion with someone who’s going to jump from a to e like that?

DenvilleSteve
12-28-2007, 10:46 AM
Hey Steve, isn’t calling Israel an “entity”—which you do just like the pros, mind you—a bit too metaphysically committal? I mean, do we really want to grant "it" that much?

Israel was won on the battlefield. No rhetoricist can take that away.

bjkeefe
12-28-2007, 11:00 AM
thprop:

Brendan - It might be useful to actually read the book before commenting further.

A fair point. I stand rebuked. I did like Brooks's line, though, and while I was there I figured I'd grab the second paragraph.

At least read the original article that started it all.

That I did. I have to say that it didn't hold my attention, so I only remember having read it, and not the nuances of the argument.

I completely agree with you about Marty Peretz. When he was still posting on TNR's blog called The Plank, he drove me away from the site. I think they ended up giving him his own blog, presumably because I wasn't the only one who reacted in this way.

jstrummer
12-28-2007, 11:09 AM
I agree. Very disappointing. I suspect there are lots of grounds on which to criticize Mearsheimer, or at least get into an interesting discussion. Bruce Feiler was out of his depth. He didn't seem to know much about IR theory or about the realist school. He seemed interested in asking why the authors had not addressed such and such topic when, it turns out, that wasn't the point of the book. And when Mearsheimer pointed out, for instance, that this is not a book about Jewish identity or the founding of Israel, Feiler continued to pursue what he thought were interesting points regardless of their relevance.

I was really hoping for a vigorous debate, and this was not it.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-28-2007, 11:38 AM
Brendan,

I don't have a problem with you quoting from David Brooks, but Jeffrey Goldberg? You quote from him on this issue without even referencing his disgraceful role as media cheerleader for the Iraq war.

Revisit Mr. Wright's dialogue on Slate with Mr. Goldberg before the Iraq war here: http://www.slate.com/id/2071670/

Mr. Wright had the stronger argument at the time, but man does Mr. Goldberg and his ilk look all the more despicable and wrong now that we have the benefit of knowing what happened.

bjkeefe
12-28-2007, 11:45 AM
Abu Noor:

I must admit I don't know anything about Goldberg. As I said to thprop, I only added the second paragraph as an afterthought, since I was already on the page to copy the line about interviewing people. I apologize for implicitly endorsing something by supplying a link.

I am going to delete the second paragraph now.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-28-2007, 11:59 AM
Brendan,

It's all good bro...I don't think you need to apologize, it was just funny that Goldberg was being raised in this context, especially given his history with Mr. Wright.

Like a lot of the debate surrounding the Walt/Mearsheimer book that I've seen, I have found it striking how much the reaction that has attempted to challenge the book has been almost entirely a confirmation of the book's central thesis.

jmcnulty
12-28-2007, 12:04 PM
I never said that "all Muslims" believe anything. That is the point. A recent survey in Germany found that there were at least 148,000 Muslims in Germany who were active jihadists or willing to support jihadism. I do know Muslims,all of whom are very nice. Sometimes we talk religion. One of my friends amazingly runs a restaurant and goes all day without food and water (working around food) during Ramadan. He is very devout and quite admirable in his faith. I defend Muslim defendants in court. But I am not going to claim foolishly that "some of my best friends are Mulims." Besides, what would that prove? Would anyone credit my arguments if I said that? Judge my arguments as arguments, not because certain people believe them -- or don't.

You are right about Jerusalem in a limited sense. The Qur'an does mention the Arabic name for Jerusalam, so you are right about that. But Osama Bin Laden's arguments that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were not Jews, but Muslims, is ridiculous. As I understnad the argument of the Qur'an, the Jews of the Torah are in fact today's Muslims, and today's Jews are imposters who have changed the Torah. No wonder Jerusalem is so important.

The problem is that Islam was infused with Jew-hatred almost from the beginning, being unwilling to accept any Jew who has not converted to Islam or become a dhimmi and paid the tax. Live-and-Let-Live is not part of Islam. Islam wants to destroy or subjugate other faiths. What about Hindus? Are they dhimmis or unbelievers to be killed? What about atheists? What happened to the Kaybar Jews?

Yes, you can point to instances of killing in the Old Testament (but not the New Testament). But no other faith preaches killing of unbelievers generally for all time. No other faith has a doctrine of "jihad." And yes, I know about the "greater jihad" and the "lesser jihad." If "jihad" were limited to an "inner spiritual struggle," we would not be having this conversation.

It is all very well to argue emphasis and nuance. Except for the name of Jersusalem appearing in the Qur'an, you still haven't pointed out anything wrong in what I have said. When you cannot answer, it is better to give a wave of the hand and say that it is too complicated to explain to an idiot of Islamophobe. Why bother?

I am not paranoid about Muslims. But is it paranoid to think people are trying to kill you? Bin Laden is more accurately thought of as a reactionary theologian than as a terrorist. He is preaching the pure, original Islam (or at least says that he is). Tell me where he is wrong. No, all Muslims do not agree with him. But the tidal pull of the faith is there. Is that why "moderate" Muslims are so reluctant, fitful, and grudging when asked to speak out against him? They are either afraid of retaliation or suspect that he may be right.

The idea that there has been some reign of terror or progrom against Muslims in this country since 9/11 is fanciful. FBI statistics show that crimes against Jews are 10 times above the level of crimes against Muslims.

TwinSwords
12-28-2007, 12:26 PM
And when Mearsheimer pointed out, for instance, that this is not a book about Jewish identity or the founding of Israel, Feiler continued to pursue what he thought were interesting points regardless of their relevance.
I'm glad that BHTV was able to secure Mearshimer for this diavlog, but agree that Feiler did a terrible job. He obviously had an agenda: He wanted to do his small part to take down Mearshimer and his book.

It wasn't even a discussion; it was an interrogation. Feiler had a long list of "gotchas" printed out in front of him — bullet points culled from various right-wing reviews (there is little evidence Feiler read the book) — and he simply marched through his list, one by one, giving Mearshimer 30-60 seconds to respond to each point. Feiler almost never responded to anything Mearshimer said; he simply ignored Mearshimer's responses and moved on to his next plagiarized criticism.

DenvilleSteve
12-28-2007, 12:27 PM
Mr. Wright had the stronger argument at the time, but man does Mr. Goldberg and his ilk look all the more despicable and wrong now that we have the benefit of knowing what happened.

At what point do democrats allow facts to inform and change their opinion? The takedown of the Baathists is developing into a great success for America and the people of Iraq. There is no chance of a nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq. Kuwait is no longer threatened. The Kurds are free. The Iraqis have a nascent democracy. The decency and competence of the US military has been demonstrated to the people of the ME. America has improved its skills and technology needed to fight back against terror and insurgents. Hip, hip, horray!

-Steve

DenvilleSteve
12-28-2007, 01:00 PM
Huh? (My topic was your use of the term 'entity'.)

then it is over my head. I assumed you were refering in some way to a denial that Israel has a right to exist.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-28-2007, 01:36 PM
jmcnulty,

You are wrong about how the Qur'an views Jews. How could "the Jews of the Torah be today's Muslims?" What does that even mean?

The relationship between Islaam and Judaism actually has some similarities to the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. Just as Christianity traces its origins to "Jews" Islam also includes in its history the prophets and their followers from the Children of Israel (Israel being another name for the Prophet Jacob). Just as Christians believe that Jewish people should have accepted Jesus (peace be upon him) as the messiah and were wrong not to, Muslims believe that Jewish people should have accepted both Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them) as Prophets.

Sometimes because of this dispute and sometimes because both Muslims are Jews are humans and can fight or hate for all the many reasons a human can fight or hate there has been some conflict between Jews and Muslims since the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him). In general, as any understanding of history will show you, prior to the 20th century there was much greater conflict between Christians and Jews and betwen Christians and Muslims than there was between Muslims and Jews. The creation of the modern day state of Israel and its ensuing behavior is seen almost universally by Muslims as a great catastrophe for Muslims and of course for the Palestinian people in particular. Many Jews who feel an attachment to the state of Israel feel insecure becasue of the fact that Muslims generally do not accept what has happened with regard to the state of Israel as being just or acceptable. There also has been actual conflict between Muslims and Jews over these issues and atrocities have been committed by both sides in this conflict. This has greatly complicated the relationship between Muslims and Jews everywhere.

Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (Peace be upon them all) are considered "Muslims" because Islam means "submission to God" and therefore those who submit themselves to God are known as Muslims. Saying someone is a "Muslim" in this sense means that we believe those noble prophets (peace be upon them) were upon the truth and we show love and respect for them and the books they brought. Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them) are also descendents of Jacob (peace be upon him) and therefore part of the Children of Israel (Ar. Bani Isra'il) and the Qur'an repeatedly references them as such. Abraham (peace be upon him) was the Grandfather of Israel, and was also an ancestor of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by lineage. In terms of belief and righteousness, all Muslims try to be followers of Abraham. (peace be upon him)

Muslims do believe that Jews have changed the Torah and other teachings of the faith and they are not in exactly the same condition as when they were revealed to Moses (peace be upon him). This is not even a controversial view amongst most Jews and "scholars" of religion of every faith. Obviously (as I understand) it is an offensive claim to Orthodox Jews. By the way Muslims also believe the Injeel, or Gospel has been changed as well...also not a controversial view to most Christians or religious scholars but offensive to "Fundamentalist" believers. Mainstream traditional Muslim belief is that the Qur'an has not been changed and Muslims have arguments to back this up although of course many non-Muslims do not accept this. Muslims also believe that previous prophets' specific teachings were applicable to their place and time while Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the final prophet brought a universal message which will remain valid until the Day of Judgement. Of coruse the general message of all of the Prophets was exactly the same and is always valid and this is one of the major messages of the Qur'an and one of the main reasons why the Qur'an, for example, spends more time talking about the lives of the Prophets of the Children of Israel than it does talking about the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

As to your arguments about dhimmis, live and let live, hindus, etc. see the article I previously referred you to by Imam Zaid Shakir.

I have never denied that Jihad refers to physical struggle. I don't know if your comment was referring to Imam Shakir's article, but if you would actually read it, he doesn't deny it either.

I also don't recall claiming that there has been any pogrom against Muslims in the US, so I'm not sure to what you are referring. There have been many specific injustices against Muslims in the U.S. since (and before 9/11), including to people I know, and of course much worse injustices to Muslims outside of the U.S. done by or at the behest of the U.S.

As to bin Laden, you'll have to be specific about what he is saying that you want me to indicate as being right or wrong. The call attributed to him that civilian Americans should be killed has been rejected openly, vociferously, and repeatedly by thousands and thousands of Muslim scholars and hundreds and hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world including every single Muslim organization in this country over and over again. But I guess all of us are wrong and that is what the Qur'an really says.

None of what I've said above is particularly insightful and all of it should just be a general foundation for any discussion of particular issues with regard to Islam and "the west" (a silly, intellectually indefensible formulation, but a common one). Unfortunately it is precisely this basic foundational understanding that seems to be completely lacking among the right wing anti-Islam crowd in this country. Without this foundational understanding, further discussion is not fruitful and really cannot even make sense, which is a characteristic I find in some of your rants.

Jm, you say you do know Muslims and I haven't heard any tales of any of them trying to kill you. Is it your contention that these people don't understand the Qur'an or are just bad Muslims? This is the base silliness of your argument that I'm trying to point out to you.

Anyways, a Muslim must always be an optimist so I believe anyone and anything can change inshAllaah.

Peace.

You are right about Jerusalem in a limited sense. The Qur'an does mention the Arabic name for Jerusalam, so you are right about that. But Osama Bin Laden's arguments that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were not Jews, but Muslims, is ridiculous. As I understnad the argument of the Qur'an, the Jews of the Torah are in fact today's Muslims, and today's Jews are imposters who have changed the Torah. No wonder Jerusalem is so important.

The problem is that Islam was infused with Jew-hatred almost from the beginning, being unwilling to accept any Jew who has not converted to Islam or become a dhimmi and paid the tax. Live-and-Let-Live is not part of Islam. Islam wants to destroy or subjugate other faiths. What about Hindus? Are they dhimmis or unbelievers to be killed? What about atheists? What happened to the Kaybar Jews?

Yes, you can point to instances of killing in the Old Testament (but not the New Testament). But no other faith preaches killing of unbelievers generally for all time. No other faith has a doctrine of "jihad." And yes, I know about the "greater jihad" and the "lesser jihad." If "jihad" were limited to an "inner spiritual struggle," we would not be having this conversation.

It is all very well to argue emphasis and nuance. Except for the name of Jersusalem appearing in the Qur'an, you still haven't pointed out anything wrong in what I have said. When you cannot answer, it is better to give a wave of the hand and say that it is too complicated to explain to an idiot of Islamophobe. Why bother?

I am not paranoid about Muslims. But is it paranoid to think people are trying to kill you? Bin Laden is more accurately thought of as a reactionary theologian than as a terrorist. He is preaching the pure, original Islam (or at least says that he is). Tell me where he is wrong. No, all Muslims do not agree with him. But the tidal pull of the faith is there. Is that why "moderate" Muslims are so reluctant, fitful, and grudging when asked to speak out against him? They are either afraid of retaliation or suspect that he may be right.

The idea that there has been some reign of terror or progrom against Muslims in this country since 9/11 is fanciful. FBI statistics show that crimes against Jews are 10 times above the level of crimes against Muslims.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-28-2007, 01:45 PM
So, what's the argument here : Actually physically denying the rights of the Palestinian people to a state is fine and dandy but rhetorically denying the legitimacy of the power that is denying those rights as long as it does so is "disgusting." Interesting.

Yes, characterizing Israel as a mere "entity" — as do Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah, Bin-Laden,..., and you, evidently — is tantamount to refusing to acknowledge Israel's status as a legitimate state. It's an attitude, frankly, that I find disgusting.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-28-2007, 02:02 PM
DenvilleSteve,

What color is the sky in your world?

At what point do democrats allow facts to inform and change their opinion? The takedown of the Baathists is developing into a great success for America and the people of Iraq. There is no chance of a nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq. Kuwait is no longer threatened. The Kurds are free. The Iraqis have a nascent democracy. The decency and competence of the US military has been demonstrated to the people of the ME. America has improved its skills and technology needed to fight back against terror and insurgents. Hip, hip, horray!

-Steve

stephanie
12-28-2007, 02:29 PM
Because M&W are attempting to explain why the U.S. policy towards Israel/Palestine is so contrary to its interests and is un realism. The Lobby, as a loose coalition, is by definition going to be difficult to define and document.

But Mearsheimer seemed unable to address why a "loose coalition" of people, including journalists, with diverse opinions (some in favor of a two state solution, many, I'm sure, anti-settlements), and who come to the issue from a variety of perspectives are "a lobby." AIPAC, sure, and a discussion of how it works and its influence would be interesting. But in attributing all of the pro Israel sentiment in the media to a lobby, they overreach or at least use terms that are needlessly inflamatory and, of course, led to the response they received in the US.

Basically, when talking about the concern that a special interest lobby is causing the US to support policies not in the best interest of the country as a whole, the issue is that a smaller but especially motivated group, with money, benefits from a policy that may not benefit the country as a whole. Agricultural companies supporting farm subsidies, for example, or certain industries or unions supporting protectionism (depending on one's view on these issues). But with the so-called "Israel lobby," I hope that's not what M&W are trying to say -- that the pro-Israel voices in the press and government believe that they benefit from policies that aide Israel, even at the expense of US interests generally. However, it is not hard to see why people would read that into the argument.

The simpler, less circular answer is that there are a number of groups in the US who disagree with M&W's conclusion that the US's policies toward Israel and in the Middle East are neither in its strategic interest nor morally justified. They might well be wrong and M&W right about what would be better for the US's interests. But the question is how their arguments fail and, perhaps, why they think what they do rather than just assuming that they must not be acting in what they think is the US's interest.

After all, Mearsheimer himself argued that the same policies that he claimed were not in the US's interest were also not in Israel's, so if people could be misstaken (in his opinion) on the latter, why not the former? Why the need to explain it by some undefinable lobby?

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-28-2007, 02:36 PM
Stephanie, people who have specific interests will always convince themselves that those specific interests are truly in the interest of everybody. Few union members consciously would say I want what's good for me screw the rest of the country, and the same is even true of evil corporate types, or even farm interests.

So, unpacking the difference, while important in principle, is in practice elusive.

But I don't really understand why it's ok to accuse union members, corporations, and farmers of doing something (putting their own specific interests above that of the country as a whole) but we all must shriek in horror from even the implication of accusing Israel's supporters of the same thing.



quote:
-------
But Mearsheimer seemed unable to address why a "loose coalition" of people, including journalists, with diverse opinions (some in favor of a two state solution, many, I'm sure, anti-settlements), and who come to the issue from a variety of perspectives are "a lobby." AIPAC, sure, and a discussion of how it works and its influence would be interesting. But in attributing all of the pro Israel sentiment in the media to a lobby, they overreach or at least use terms that are needlessly inflamatory and, of course, led to the response they received in the US.

Basically, when talking about the concern that a special interest lobby is causing the US to support policies not in the best interest of the country as a whole, the issue is that a smaller but especially motivated group, with money, benefits from a policy that may not benefit the country as a whole. Agricultural companies supporting farm subsidies, for example, or certain industries or unions supporting protectionism (depending on one's view on these issues). But with the so-called "Israel lobby," I hope that's not what M&W are trying to say -- that the pro-Israel voices in the press and government believe that they benefit from policies that aide Israel, even at the expense of US interests generally. However, it is not hard to see why people would read that into the argument.

The simpler, less circular answer is that there are a number of groups in the US who disagree with M&W's conclusion that the US's policies toward Israel and in the Middle East are neither in its strategic interest nor morally justified. They might well be wrong and M&W right about what would be better for the US's interests. But the question is how their arguments fail and, perhaps, why they think what they do rather than just assuming that they must not be acting in what they think is the US's interest.

After all, Mearsheimer himself argued that the same policies that he claimed were not in the US's interest were also not in Israel's, so if people could be misstaken (in his opinion) on the latter, why not the former? Why the need to explain it by some undefinable lobby?
-----------

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-28-2007, 02:41 PM
In any event, the point Mr. Mearsheimer seemed to be making was that regardless of particular positions they may have on specific issues, the general goal of the "Israel lobby" as he described and analyzed it was to ensure that the U.S. never ever puts pressure on Israel to do something it does not want to do. And, as I mentioned in the last post, I am sure they've convinced themselves that always backing Israel, right or wrong, is somehow "good" for the U.S. While many people subscribe to this definition of loyalty it is not a good one.

The issue of the settlements was a particularly good example of this put forth by Mr. Mearsheimer. Even if people believe settlements are not in the U.S. or even Israel's interests, the lobby ensures that the U.S. will never (and have never) pressured Israel's government to stop building them whenever they want to.

David_PA
12-28-2007, 03:05 PM
I am not paranoid about Muslims. But is it paranoid to think people are trying to kill you? Bin Laden is more accurately thought of as a reactionary theologian than as a terrorist. He is preaching the pure, original Islam (or at least says that he is). Tell me where he is wrong. No, all Muslims do not agree with him. But the tidal pull of the faith is there. Is that why "moderate" Muslims are so reluctant, fitful, and grudging when asked to speak out against him? They are either afraid of retaliation or suspect that he may be right.

The thing I don't get about your posts about Islam, jm, is what you are advocating? Let's suppose (to narrow the focus) that we accept that everything you say about Islam and it's adherents is exactly correct. Are you saying US policy should change? Under the long Bush tenure, we've had very aggressive "anti-terror" policies and the "Islamo-fascist" rhetoric of the Bush administration and it's surrogates is continually at a high level.

Are you trying to win support for the Bush policies? Are you trying to advocate for support for a more aggressive set of policies vis-a-vis the problem of terrorism? What ... ?

stephanie
12-28-2007, 04:07 PM
But I don't really understand why it's ok to accuse union members, corporations, and farmers of doing something (putting their own specific interests above that of the country as a whole) but we all must shriek in horror from even the implication of accusing Israel's supporters of the same thing.

I'm actually not suggesting that trying to protect the interests of a particular group in the US is a bad thing. One can believe that protecting jobs in a particular industry is a good thing, even if the overall US arguably pays more for that protection. But surely you can see that it's a much stronger accusation to say that someone is more concerned about the interests of a country not his own than the US -- that is basically an accusation of disloyalty and it's that implicit aspect of the argument which I suspect has led to a lot of the reaction here, and not surprisingly.

Moreover, in your statement you assume something yet to be supported (as apparently do M&W). What evidence is there that the members of this "loose coalition" are actually placing the interest of Israel above that of the US. Far more likely that the person sees the policies promoted as in the interest of the US.

Indeed (as mentioned before), Mearsheimer himself argued that he believed that the policies in question were worse for Israel as well as the US. It seems obvious, then, that we aren't talking about a group preferencing Israel over the US, but one that for various reasons (which might be worth discussing*) disagrees with M&W as to what best serves the US's interests. So there is merely a dispute as to what is strategically necessary or morally justified and a third explanation (The Lobby) not needed.

*For example, would M&W argue that certain factions within the US are being unrealistic in the extent to which they believe Israel is in potential jeopardy or has enemies who cannot be expected to act rationally? I suspect differences on those issues are what lead to the differences in the policy preferences.

jmcnulty
12-28-2007, 05:07 PM
If you read Bin Laden's "message to the American people" he says exactly that: today's Jews are not the "real" Jews, but imposters who have spread corruption (and usury) across the Earth. I do not know how good the authority he cites is, but he and Ayman Al-Zawahiri always cite multiple authority for their propositions including the Qur'an, the sunna and Hadiths of Mohammed, the opinion of the ulema, what various scholars have said (Ibn Tamiya being an example). You are in a much better postiion than I to judge the quality of his authority.

There are many things that I admire about Islam. Regarding taking things out of "context," that is pretty funny since you know that the Qur'an has NO CONTEXT and was even assembled not thematically but arbitrarily by length of the suras.

I do not favor converting the "War on Terrorism" to a generalized war that will be a "defensive jihad" obligatory on all Muslims. I have said at length what I favor. Briefly, I favor a policy of complete separation and isolation. That would mean no immigration, energy-self-sufficiency, and an end to matierial support to Israel (probably a good idea and better that leveraging our aid to force Israel to make a phony "peace").

Ending aid to Israel would untie Israel's hands in dealing with the problem, foremost among them being that the Palestinians do not really want anything that we would recognize as "peace." Their goal is to destroy Israel and correct what they consider was a historial mistaKe imposed on them in 1948. To them, "Palestine," which never before existed in history, includes Haifa as well as Gaza.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-28-2007, 05:24 PM
Have you read Mearsheimer and Walt? I'm pretty sure they do discuss this. (the issue you marked with an asterisk)

As I've tried to argue previously, while important in theory, in practice it is a fool's errand to try to determine people's motives. God alone knows what is in the hearts of people, often the people themselves do not even really know.

I'm actually not suggesting that trying to protect the interests of a particular group in the US is a bad thing. One can believe that protecting jobs in a particular industry is a good thing, even if the overall US arguably pays more for that protection. But surely you can see that it's a much stronger accusation to say that someone is more concerned about the interests of a country not his own than the US -- that is basically an accusation of disloyalty and it's that implicit aspect of the argument which I suspect has led to a lot of the reaction here, and not surprisingly.

Moreover, in your statement you assume something yet to be supported (as apparently do M&W). What evidence is there that the members of this "loose coalition" are actually placing the interest of Israel above that of the US. Far more likely that the person sees the policies promoted as in the interest of the US.

Indeed (as mentioned before), Mearsheimer himself argued that he believed that the policies in question were worse for Israel as well as the US. It seems obvious, then, that we aren't talking about a group preferencing Israel over the US, but one that for various reasons (which might be worth discussing*) disagrees with M&W as to what best serves the US's interests. So there is merely a dispute as to what is strategically necessary or morally justified and a third explanation (The Lobby) not needed.

*For example, would M&W argue that certain factions within the US are being unrealistic in the extent to which they believe Israel is in potential jeopardy or has enemies who cannot be expected to act rationally? I suspect differences on those issues are what lead to the differences in the policy preferences.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
12-28-2007, 07:10 PM
I don't know what you are referring to in regards to bin Laden or Zawahiri. I don't know what "real Jews" means in this context, so I can't respond to that claim.

As I stated clearly in my post, Muslims believe that Jews and all people should have accepted Jesus and Muhammad peace be upon them as prophets and were incorrect not to do so. This is a religious belief. Muslims also believe that no one should engage in oppression, corruption, or usury (the Arabic word is riba...it is a somewhat complicated concept and debate exists about it in some circles but almost all Islamic scholars believe that any form of what we call interest would be riba and is forbidden by God completely -- anyone who has studied the history of Christianity or Judaism would know that this concept is not unique to Islam)...these are also basic religious teachings of Islam.

I haven't the faintest idea what you mean by the Qur'an "not having context." It is true that Muslims believe the Qur'an to be the uncreated literal word of God and valid for all times and places but it certainly each verse of the Qur'an has to be understood in the context of its particular Sura (Chapter) and in the context of the Qur'an as a whole and in the Context of the hadith (statements and actions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to be understood correctly. This is something all Muslims have known and understood since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

For example there are verses that tell Muslims in some situations we should fight (I'm sure you know all of those jm.) There are also many verses which instruct us to make peace and to respect people of other faiths. (I think you can get a list on juan cole's blog) So how do you know which verses apply to which situation and how do we know what situation we are in -- we have to know the CONTEXT of the verses and we have to try to understand the reality of our times.

It is also wrong to say that the Qur'an is arranged arbitrarily and it is wrong to say it is organized by length of Sura. (although it is generally true that the suras at the beginning of the Qur'an are longer and the ones at the end are shorter.)

Keep learning, jm, life is a learning process. You gotta be open to it however.

I will not respond to yours or anyone else's further discussion about Palestine..it is too emotional for me and the comments made are too ignorant to justify the little benefit that would be gained from rehashing issues that have been rehashed endlessly.

Why don't you talk a little more about all the things about Islam you admire jm, I was waiting for you to mention some but you left me hanging. Even Mr. Romney was able to give a specific example.

What do you do with Muslims who are here, jm? Deport us, put us in camps, or just ban the practice of our religion. I mean you gotta take this threat seriously man you can't just leave millions of us walking around can you -- you can see how much harm we're doing, just stopping immigration won't do the trick...why I have four children myself, and I still like to thing of myself as a young man -- although I've had the soul of an old man since I was a teenager. You know what they say about us Irish Catholics -- well Irish Muslims who used to be Catholics are even more into the big families thing. :)

Peace.


If you read Bin Laden's "message to the American people" he says exactly that: today's Jews are not the "real" Jews, but imposters who have spread corruption (and usury) across the Earth. I do not know how good the authority he cites is, but he and Ayman Al-Zawahiri always cite multiple authority for their propositions including the Qur'an, the sunna and Hadiths of Mohammed, the opinion of the ulema, what various scholars have said (Ibn Tamiya being an example). You are in a much better postiion than I to judge the quality of his authority.

There are many things that I admire about Islam. Regarding taking things out of "context," that is pretty funny since you know that the Qur'an has NO CONTEXT and was even assembled not thematically but arbitrarily by length of the suras.

I do not favor converting the "War on Terrorism" to a generalized war that will be a "defensive jihad" obligatory on all Muslims. I have said at length what I favor. Briefly, I favor a policy of complete separation and isolation. That would mean no immigration, energy-self-sufficiency, and an end to matierial support to Israel (probably a good idea and better that leveraging our aid to force Israel to make a phony "peace").

Ending aid to Israel would untie Israel's hands in dealing with the problem, foremost among them being that the Palestinians do not really want anything that we would recognize as "peace." Their goal is to destroy Israel and correct what they consider was a historial mistaKe imposed on them in 1948. To them, "Palestine," which never before existed in history, includes Haifa as well as Gaza.

basman
12-28-2007, 07:33 PM
I'm sorry: Feiler may have a thesis named after him--"...faster etc."--but, with all due respect to him, he was not up to this discussion. It needed someone stronger, civil to be sure, but stronger. Mearsheimer made some good, provocative points that cut against some pieces of at least my understanding of conventional wisdom. A real debate with a non flame throwing opponent would have been a stimulating pleasure.

jmcnulty
12-28-2007, 09:48 PM
There is no problem with having different religious beliefs. It becomes a problem when someone thinks that differences in religion are a suitable basis for killing, instead of letting God sort it out at death. Islam, as you know, is not just a personal religion. It is communal in its emphasis. The umma is very important. I can't remember the last time someone spoke seriously about Christendom. Muslims believe that the Jews ignored the Torah and that Christian monks changed the Gospels. The Qur'an is a document preaching Islamic supremacy. Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri are very candid about their eventual goal: a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, with all other religions either destroyed or subjected to Islam.

I have great admiration for Islam: its moral clarity, its solidatiry of believers, iits universality, its recognition that we all exist by God's Will, it recognition of the importance of Jesus and Moses. I would like to think of it as a fellow Abrahamic faith.

What I do not like is that Islam, no matter how admirable, does not take a live-and-let-live approach to other religions. Those who did -- the Mar'jites -- are considered heretics.

There is no context in the Qur'an. One sura has nothing to do with another, except in the larger sense that all parts of a religion relate to some other part. You cannot claim that the Qur'an is in any way like the Hebrew Bible, with books of history, prophecy, or poetry, or the Gospels, which offer (whether one believes it or not) details of the life of Jesus. The idea, expressed in the Qur'an, that Allah did not allow Jesus to be subjected to the indignity of crucifiction, leaving another man (presumably innocent), who looked like Jesus to be crucified in his place, denies the central belief of Christians and makes Jesus less important and only a precussor of Mohammed.
The capricious of Allah, which flows from his sovergnity and singularity, means that Allah is free even to mislead his creatures (although he is merciful and compassionate).

I have never proposed deporting American citizens or those born here, wherever their parents came from. There would be some form of loyalty oath howver, and close monitoring of mosques. The alternative is either doing nothing (assuming that every Muslim is harmless) or prohibiting the public practice of Islam, an unacceptable step. Would anything less be done in Egypt or Jordan? This is an existential conflict, whatever you believe it or not (I suspect that as a Muslim you understand). We cannot avoid hurt feelings when the worst result is so bad. We are only one bullet away from Al Queda having nukes in Pakistan, a very violent place as we have all seen this week. If, as it appears, the assassination was carried out partially by an Al Queda-infiltrated military team, you have to wonder how likely it is that an Islamist could infiltrate Musharraf's security team.

There is no point in arguing the Israel/Palestine question. It will never be settled unless there is some willingness to compromise. If people thought that the Palestinians were really willing to compromise, that is, to accept the reality of Israel and peaceful coexistence and lost properties (perhaps with financial compensation, but not a "right of return" which would swamp Israel), it could be solved, and most Americans would insist that Israel do what is necessary to reach a fair settlement. As long as the Palestinians insist on ther maximalist demands -- and they have shown no indication of wanting to run a state -- stalemate will continue. The Palestinians were once known as a mercantile, educated population. What happened? How did this come to the place where Hamas is throwing Fatah representatives off buildings?

Salaam.

bjkeefe
12-28-2007, 10:20 PM
jm:

I can't remember the last time someone spoke seriously about Christendom.

Did you forget about the recent Pinkercorn diavlog?

Here's the relevant segment: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/401?in=00:30:39&out=00:47:00

And here's Jim's related article (NB: cover story): http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_09_10/cover.html

There's also a chance that a few of these 2,860,000 links (http://www.google.com/search?q=christendom) point to something serious, too. Just guessing.

I have never proposed deporting American citizens or those born here ...

You say that like these are two different categories. In fact, everyone born in America is an American citizen. See the first line of this old thing (http://usconstitution.net/xconst_Am14.html).

And anyway, you did earlier say:

Briefly, I favor a policy of complete separation and isolation.

which suggests to me you're looking at a choice of deportation or concentration camps.

The craziness continues:

There would be some form of loyalty oath howver ...

You think? And why shouldn't I compel you to undergo this, too? Seems to me you're way more of a threat to America than, say, Abu Noor.

... and close monitoring of mosques.

And churches. Make them stop politicking or take away their tax-exempt status. I also call for immediate arrest of anyone who implies from the pulpit that abortion clinic bombings are good. No more Latin masses, either. That's the way They give coded instructions. And what's up with those closed Mormon wedding ceremonies?

The alternative is either doing nothing (assuming that every Muslim is harmless) or prohibiting the public practice of Islam ...

Charlotte would think you're very mature, Mr. Black-and-White.

jmcnulty
12-28-2007, 10:37 PM
You do not understande that I am proposing the minimum actions. Wait until New York disappears in a nuclear flash. See what is proposed then. I know that anyone born here is a citizen. That opens up the whole question of so-called "birth right" citizenship, something the Fourteenth Amendment was never intended to confer. It was intended only to legalize the slaves after the Civil War, not immigrants. How do you think that would poll today? I do not want to see people locked in camps, but FDR certainly did it with the Japanese, with far less reason (not one incident of Japanese terrorism). In a sense, the Japanese were protected from the larger society. No one has ever questioned whether they were given enough to eat or mistreated. It is a misnomer to call them "concentration camps." We all know what images that calls up: dead bodies being bulldozed into mass graves, not Japanese playing baseball behind the wire. How did the Japanese treat American nationals during World War II? If the next terrorist act kills 100,000 people -- and remember, Bin Laden has obtained a fatwa allolwing the killing of 10 million American civilians -- you will be glad that someone proposed limited deportations rather than camps. What you are really saying is that all Muslims will disagree with Bin Laden that this is a "defensive jihad" to defend Islam, "defensive jihad" being obligatory for all fit Muslims.

bjkeefe
12-28-2007, 11:42 PM
jm:

... and remember, Bin Laden has obtained a fatwa allolwing the killing of 10 million American civilians ...

There's little chance of me forgetting, given your tendency to repeat this on a near-daily basis.

Nonetheless, I remain hugely unconcerned.

DenvilleSteve
12-29-2007, 12:00 AM
The simpler, less circular answer is that there are a number of groups in the US who disagree with M&W's conclusion that the US's policies toward Israel and in the Middle East are neither in its strategic interest nor morally justified. They might well be wrong and M&W right about what would be better for the US's interests. But the question is how their arguments fail and, perhaps, why they think what they do rather than just assuming that they must not be acting in what they think is the US's interest.

After all, Mearsheimer himself argued that the same policies that he claimed were not in the US's interest were also not in Israel's, so if people could be misstaken (in his opinion) on the latter, why not the former? Why the need to explain it by some undefinable lobby?

Close ties with Israel are in the interests of the United States. Militarily, economically and culturally. But the US can get all of that from an Israel that honors its 67 borders just as much as can be gotten from an Israel that occupies and abuses the neighboring Palestinians. The US has none of its interests advanced or preserved by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Yet the US has supported, financed and cheered on the occupation since its inception. Makes no sense. The reason - the Israel Lobby.

DenvilleSteve
12-29-2007, 12:16 AM
But Mearsheimer seemed unable to address why a "loose coalition" of people, including journalists, with diverse opinions (some in favor of a two state solution, many, I'm sure, anti-settlements), and who come to the issue from a variety of perspectives are "a lobby." AIPAC, sure, and a discussion of how it works and its influence would be interesting. But in attributing all of the pro Israel sentiment in the media to a lobby, they overreach or at least use terms that are needlessly inflamatory and, of course, led to the response they received in the US.

Basically, when talking about the concern that a special interest lobby is causing the US to support policies not in the best interest of the country as a whole, the issue is that a smaller but especially motivated group, with money, benefits from a policy that may not benefit the country as a whole. Agricultural companies supporting farm subsidies, for example, or certain industries or unions supporting protectionism (depending on one's view on these issues). But with the so-called "Israel lobby," I hope that's not what M&W are trying to say -- that the pro-Israel voices in the press and government believe that they benefit from policies that aide Israel, even at the expense of US interests generally. However, it is not hard to see why people would read that into the argument.

The simpler, less circular answer is that there are a number of groups in the US who disagree with M&W's conclusion that the US's policies toward Israel and in the Middle East are neither in its strategic interest nor morally justified. They might well be wrong and M&W right about what would be better for the US's interests. But the question is how their arguments fail and, perhaps, why they think what they do rather than just assuming that they must not be acting in what they think is the US's interest.

After all, Mearsheimer himself argued that the same policies that he claimed were not in the US's interest were also not in Israel's, so if people could be misstaken (in his opinion) on the latter, why not the former? Why the need to explain it by some undefinable lobby?

I think you are right about this. I have not heard M&W make the case that the 67 war and Israel's expansion from the 67 borders was not necessary for its security. After all, if the threat from the Palestinians against Israel is real, if the Muslims will never rest until they have driven all the Jews from Palestine, then the occupation can be justified. If the occupation can be justified on security grounds, then the Israel Lobby is doing America as a whole a service by advocating for American protection of a besieged ally.

-Steve

jmcnulty
12-29-2007, 02:43 PM
We have reached the point where even intelligent people like you find a repitiition of the truth tiresome. I hope that you are right. I would advise living somewhere else other than the New York (the center of "Jewish" world finance) or Wasington (the seat of the infidel government). I understand that you think me obsessed; my kids do too. The difference is that they are too young to realize the implications of what I am saying.

TwinSwords
12-29-2007, 04:10 PM
Not a debate (as misrepresented in the title) Rather it was an interrogation. Quite a limp one. Wherever the inquisitor was shot down in flames he ignored his own embarrassment and clanked verbosely (oh sooo verbosely) forward.
Exactly...

jmcnulty
12-29-2007, 11:53 PM
Are you really so dense as to think that abortion bombers (there haven't been any abortion clinic bombings in 10 years) are in any way an equivalent danger with Islamic redicalism? Are born-again Christian suicide bombers prevalent? I am always amazed at not just the opposition to Christianity encountered from a certain kind of atheist, but the actual hostility to and bitterness towards Christianity, as if Christians were burning atheists at the stake (But don't forget, "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition"), that they harbor. What is the basis of this? Did every atheist have some sort of gastly childhood that causes such anger? Maybe free tickets to the "700 Club" would cheer you up. It always seems to mee like a little child shaking his fist at the heavens: "Take that, God. That'll teach ya."

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 12:45 AM
Are you really so dense as to think that abortion bombers ... are in any way an equivalent danger with Islamic redicalism?

Are you really so dense that you don't understand when someone is using an example to illustrate a larger point?

To make the larger point explicit: I am more concerned about Christian fundamentalists than I am about Muslim fundamentalists. Radical Christians negatively affect my life and threaten the long-term health and strength of my country far more than do radical Muslims. The incessant venting of your own personal hang-ups doesn't change my view.

Did every atheist have some sort of gastly childhood that causes such anger?

I can't speak for them all, but I was raised in a fairly strict religious environment, and yes, it was pretty ghastly. That aspect, anyway.

garbagecowboy
12-30-2007, 01:38 AM
That's interesting, Brendan, because I was raised without any religion, and I think that the radical Muslims represent a much bigger challenge to the way of life of both the U.S. and Europe (particularly Europe) than radical Christians. In case you missed it, Democrats are the majority party in the U.S. now, and Bush has approval ratings below 40%. It might be fair to say that the moment of evangelical Christian political hegemony within the U.S. is over, no? And that the threat of crazy Muslim nutbars blowing themselves up wherever and whenever they can if it will kill people is not going to stop anytime soon, yes?

mockmook
12-30-2007, 02:10 AM
I still don't get it.

So, if a person actively opposes Israeli policy, and that opposition is in the best interest of Israel, isn't that person the true Israeli lobbyist?

I thought Feiler did a good job; defining a problem is critical to solving it.

And, the admission at the end by Mearsheimer that scoring candidates is impossible because there is no uniform Israel position, well, that kind of undercuts his thesis. He should have written a book on (and titled) "Expansionist Zionists and Their Supporters" if he wanted to focus on the true problem (and followed that book up with one on another problem being Expansionist Islamists).

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 02:33 AM
GC:

... I think that the radical Muslims represent a much bigger challenge to the way of life of both the U.S. and Europe (particularly Europe) than radical Christians.

Europe and the US are two different animals. There is little problem with radical Christians over there, from what I understand, although there are some recent hints of attempts to meddle with education. There also seems to be a problem with larger and less well-assimilated Muslim populations in some European countries. So, comparatively, yes, Europe probably has more to deal with regarding radical Islam. But that's not saying a whole lot. It's just saying one's almost a non-existent problem, and the other is more than that. Not much of a bar to clear.

In case you missed it, Democrats are the majority party in the U.S. now, and Bush has approval ratings below 40%. It might be fair to say that the moment of evangelical Christian political hegemony within the U.S. is over, no?

It might be fair to say it, but I wouldn't agree with it. I'd say it's been knocked back a little bit, but it's very far from being over. Four out of ten Republican candidates for president have been happy to say in public that they don't believe in evolution. That's a powerful symbol, and maybe even an indicator. Even allowing for the weakness of the competition and the fawning of the MSM, the fact that Mike Huckabee has been able to do what he's done speaks volumes to me.

The Democrats have gained some voter share back, sure, but they're benefiting mostly from an anybody-but-Bush mood, and they're doing a fair amount of compromising with religious people to maintain their position. Remember the gay-basher Obama hired to campaign for him in South Carolina?

What are the chances any atheist could get elected to national office? We've got one, and I'm pretty sure he came out only after being safely ensconced in office.

How much progress have we made on resolving the abortion issue? How much progress have we made on measures designed to prevent pregnancies in the first place? How's science education going lately?

When was the last time you got out of the greater NYC area, and flipped on a radio? Go a couple hundred miles north, and scan through the stations. FM, too. And that's still within the confines of a blue state. Have you ever driven across country?

And that the threat of crazy Muslim nutbars blowing themselves up wherever and whenever they can if it will kill people is not going to stop anytime soon, yes?

I think that's an exaggeration of the situation, at least by implication. How many Muslim suicide bombers have we had in the US since 9/12? Granted, it gets messier in other parts of the world, but I'm talking about the threats that are closest to me.

garbagecowboy
12-30-2007, 03:07 AM
How much progress have we made on resolving the abortion issue?


Last time I checked, abortions were legal throughout the country. There are practical issues in very, very conservatives places (such as I understand that there are so few abortion clinics in the deep south that practical access to abortions may be effectively very little) but I'd bet that for the vast majority of women in this country, getting an abortion is possible.

Yes, there is fear that the Christians will win and make it illegal again, but I don't see it happening in my lifetime. If I am wrong, I will be more troubled, but I just don't think that there exists the political will amongst most of the population to stand for large-scale restrictions on access to abortion. Tell you what, if abortion becomes illegal again across the country, I'll buy you a coke.

The odds that abortion will ever become illegal anywhere other than the reddest of the red states, though, is nil. I think Rochester will be spared.


How much progress have we made on measures designed to prevent pregnancies in the first place?

Again, there are exceptions (pharmacists who won't dispense the pill or something) but here again the legal facts on the ground demolish the bluster of the Christians. For all the harping on "abstinence only" education, birth control remains legal and relatively affordable (the problem with subsidies for college women is a problem, but should be fixed) and in ever more convenient and different forms.

In case you didn't realize, while starting at a high rate compared to other industrialized countries, teenage pregnancy rates have fallen since the early 90's (http://www.siecus.org/media/pdf/AGI_TeenPregnancyByState.pdf). Like in so many other categories, it's hard to just directly compare the U.S. to other industrialized countries because of its large demographic discrepancies with other countries.

quote:
---------
How's science education going lately?
---------

Aside from a few crazy local school boards trying to get intelligent design into the curriculum, I am pretty sure that evolution by natural selection is taught in public schools to the virtually all American students. The quality of that education may be shitty in many cases, but that has to do with the overall crapiness of much of the U.S. public school system, not with Christians.

On the other hand, at our institutions of higher learning, we lead the world in many respects in science education and research. We attract the best and brightest from all over the world to come here and do work in American scientific research. Glad you asked, because there is much to be happy about with regard to the current state of U.S. scientific education!

quote:
---------
When was the last time you got out of the greater NYC area, and flipped on a radio? Go a couple hundred miles north, and scan through the stations. FM, too.
---------

Hmm... well I'm in Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota and Wisconsin pretty regularly. The last time I was out of the NYC area was in November, when I was in Phoenix. In October, I visited my cousin Andy who lives an hour from Minneapolis in Wisconsin. And he's a big Michael savage fan, so yea, I hear red state radio. Also me and my friend Bob absorbed the local color of Christian radio for a bit as we drove to Charlottesville, VA for a Ween concert in April of 2006. Doesn't freak me out too bad, though. I hear just as scary things from extremists on the left. Sometimes scarier. Christians have no monopoly on crazy, believe me.

quote:
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And that's still within the confines of a blue state. Have you ever driven across country?
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First of all, you can hear crazy Christian radio in the NYC area, or at least in New Jersey. I listen to it sometimes on long drives when I'm tired of listening to music and there's nothing interesting on NPR (for instance WNYC plays classical music after 7 PM most days, which I can't stand, and I don't get the Philly NPR WHYY in a lot of NJ).

As for seeing the country, I have never personally driven myself all the way from the West Coast to the East Coast, but I've been to virtually every part of the country except for the deep south (I've been to Virginia and the Carolinas, only). Other than that I've been to some pretty red places; spent a lot of time driving out west. In the summer of 2004, I took a road trip with my girlfriend from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to Moab, Utah and then to points elsewhere in south-central Utah. There were some religious crazies out there (we drove through some towns I'm pretty sure were home to splinter groups off of the main Mormon church, for instance, judging from the names of their churches) but honestly I found Utah to be one of the most beautiful states in the union, and their people to be some of the friendliest. Also the cost of living is probably 1/3 of what it is here in New York. Other than their crazy laws about buying booze, it seems like it'd be a pretty nice place to live.

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 01:06 PM
GC:

Last time I checked, abortions were legal throughout the country. There are practical issues in very, very conservatives places (such as I understand that there are so few abortion clinics in the deep south that practical access to abortions may be effectively very little) but I'd bet that for the vast majority of women in this country, getting an abortion is possible.

Yes, abortions are still permitted under the letter of the law, and a hat tip for you for going on to say that availability is not great in all places. However, I think you soft-pedaled that concession: abortion clinics are practically non-existent in several states in the South and the Midwest. If I remember correctly, Mississippi and the Dakotas are all down to one each, for example. Many others are in the single digits.

Also, many states have onerous regulations; e.g., 24-hour waiting periods, that compound the travel problems for poor women and single mothers. (There's a nice clickable map here (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/clinic/etc/map.html) that let's you examine the details on a state by state basis.)

Further, thanks to Henry Hyde and his eponymous 1977 amendment, Medicaid may not be used to pay for almost any abortion. Unless the pregnancy results from rape or incest, you're out of luck, IIRC. This says to me that one group's moral proclivities have biased against a medical procedure.

Finally, while actual violence is down, threats and harassment continue to be real issues. I know the former director of Planned Parenthood in New York state, and she has told me stories about clinics that sounded like life in a war zone.

Yes, there is fear that the Christians will win and make it illegal again, but I don't see it happening in my lifetime.

It takes a lot of effort, a lot of money, and a lot of political capital to maintain the current holding pattern. This was really my original point, that we're wasting a lot of time and energy on an issue that should have been settled long ago, and as a consequence, other issues get shorter shrift.

Again, there are exceptions (pharmacists who won't dispense the pill or something) but here again the legal facts on the ground demolish the bluster of the Christians.

I don't have the data, but I think you're underestimating the problem. On a regional basis, this is a real issue. There are plenty of cases of the only pharmacy in town refusing to distribute birth control pills.

The availability of the morning after pill ("Plan B") is another indicator of the pervasiveness of the Christianist influence. This shouldn't be anywhere near as hard to obtain as it is, and it never should have taken as long as it did to be approved in the first place.

Also, there is a lot more than just bluster coming from the wingnuts. They spend a lot of time spreading disinformation; e.g., that condoms don't work and that abortions cause cancer.

... (the problem with subsidies for college women is a problem, but should be fixed) ...

Thanks for being aware of the issue of birth control costs on college campuses. Slate recently ran a good article (http://www.slate.com/id/2180259/) which describes the details. I offer it to you if you haven't read it, and to anyone else reading this who might not be aware of the problem. The key issue for me is that the discount for birth control pills was allowed to expire, and even though reinstating it won't cost dime one out of public monies, Congress hasn't got the guts to rectify the issue. Attempts to add reinstatement to bills have been defeated. Guess why.

In case you didn't realize, while starting at a high rate compared to other industrialized countries, teenage pregnancy rates have fallen since the early 90's.

Actually, the trend has been slowing and has lately reversed:

The birth rate had been dropping since its peak in 1991, although the decline had slowed in recent years. On Wednesday, government statisticians said it rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006.

The reason for the increase is not clear, and federal health officials said it might be a one-year statistical blip, not the beginning of a new upward trend.

However, some experts said they have been expecting a jump. They blamed it on increased federal funding for abstinence-only health education that doesn't teach teens how to use condoms and other contraception.

(source (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hNr8EfEubvWa5704kidhUIPhvkiwD8TBJF081))


Sorry I couldn't find the original source. The CDC's site search is pretty crummy. However, this story was widely reported, as a Google News search will show.

I did find this, in an earlier report on the CDC's site:

U.S. teen pregnancy and teen birth rates are the second highest among 46 countries in the developed world.[5] These data show that U.S. teens’ sexual behavior is similar to teens of other developed countries in terms of when they start to have sex and how often they are having it. Yet, U.S. teens are less likely to use contraception or to consistently use more effective methods of contraception when compared to the teens of several other developed countries.[6] Recent data show that 77% of the decline in teen pregnancy rates among U.S. teens aged 15–17 years is because teens have increased their use of contraception and 23% of the decline is because teens are having less sex.[7]

(source (http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/AdolescentReproHealth/index.htm))

In summary, I'd say that a lot of the success in reducing teen pregnancy is due to, or at least correlated with, policies put in place more than a decade ago. The fact that the decline is slowing, and in fact reversed most recently, says to me that the Christianist program of ignoring science when addressing the problem has had measurable negative consequences.

Like in so many other categories, it's hard to just directly compare the U.S. to other industrialized countries because of its large demographic discrepancies with other countries.

I see what you're saying, but I don't accept this explanation as an excuse for the US's poor performance. I think the diversity aspect makes a small contribution, and is far outweighed by Christianist agitation for things like abstinence-only programs, and against things like contraception distribution and education.

Aside from a few crazy local school boards trying to get intelligent design into the curriculum, I am pretty sure that evolution by natural selection is taught in public schools to the virtually all American students.

Again, I think you understate the problem. I'll also repeat my original point: we have to spend a ridiculous amount of time and money to keep the wingnuts at bay on what should be a non-issue.

The quality of that education may be shitty in many cases, but that has to do with the overall crapiness of much of the U.S. public school system, not with Christians.

I'll agree that the problems are not all due to the Christianists, but I maintain that they're a major factor.

On the other hand, at our institutions of higher learning ...

I agree that post-high school science education remains good, in large part.

... so yea, I hear red state radio. ... Doesn't freak me out too bad, though.

The individual programs don't much bother me, either, and I'm not for banning them by any stretch. My point had more to do with the pervasiveness. Here in upstate NY, especially once I get out of the range of Rochester stations, scanning across the FM dial yields a majority of stations that are all-proselytizing, all the time.

I hear just as scary things from extremists on the left. Sometimes scarier.

Such as?

Christians have no monopoly on crazy, believe me.

Conceded. I do think they have majority ownership, though.

bkjazfan
12-30-2007, 01:49 PM
John is another diavloger who has been in the military. I am always confounded struck by the few people who appear on BHTV who have served in the armed forces.

jmcnulty
12-30-2007, 03:24 PM
Bjkeefe said: "I am more concerned about Christian fundamentalists than I am about Muslim fundamentalists."

That is exactly the problem. You are worried about Christian fundamentalists who might want "intelligent design" taught in the schools and abortion restricted. On the other hand, you have Muslim fundamentalists, some born in this country, who want to impose Sharia and are prepared to blow you up ("martyrdom operations") to achieve it.

Meanwhile, you and John Edwards believe that the "war on terrorism," whatever it should be called, is just a "bumper sticker." No wonder that we have "creeping Sharia" with municipal airport footbaths and Muslim prayer rooms on college campuses (partitioned into male and female sections), when the equivalent accommodations for Christians ("Eucharist rooms" or "Christian witness rooms") would set off a storm of denunciations and warnings that theocracy is just around the corner.

The reality is that the Left is in opposition to America -- not the Leftist idea of America, but to the real America as it exists -- and willing to make endless excuses for radical Islam, as a third-world faith, which wants to destroy America and is not reluctant to say it.

One can imagine that the Islamists, if they ever gain influence, will stop abortion, although they may continue to permit for infidels, as a way to limit the infidel population. But then again, I do not want to seem alarmist.

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 03:29 PM
jm:

But then again, I do not want to seem alarmist.

Little late for that.

jmcnulty
12-30-2007, 06:52 PM
I guess no one likes to be awakened out of a sound sleep by someone yelling "fire." Maybe he just smells smoke?

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 06:57 PM
jm:

I don't like to be awakened every five minutes by someone yelling "fire," I'll tell you that. Especially when the smoke is just condensation emanating from said alarmist's overheated orifices.

jmcnulty
12-30-2007, 07:07 PM
Perhaps you will feel differently when the next airliner crashes into a skyscraper? Or when someone, as happened at my daughter's university, rams his SUV across a crowded quad for the greater glory of Allah. Or when a Muslim goes around shooting Jews on the streets of San Francisco -- all of which have happened.

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 07:49 PM
jm:

Perhaps you will feel differently ...

No. I won't.

I'm not saying there aren't any people out there looking to do crazy shit. What I am saying is I'm not going to let fear of the possibilities run my life.

I'm sorry you are unable to attain the same level of maturity.

jmcnulty
12-30-2007, 08:41 PM
Before you go around congradulating yourself on your admirable "maturity": Which fear is more realistic -- fear of theoracy, fear of American "faacism," fear of "Christianist" domination, or fear of Islamic supremacy?

I don't walk down the street constantly thinking that someone is going to drop a piano on my head, but what if thousands of people around the world think that God commands that a piano be dropped on my head (and they are willing to give up their lives and gain Paradise and the promose of lithesome virgins to do it) and 19 people have already done it and killed 3,000 of my fellow citizens? Is it "alarmist" to point out the danger of it happening? Of course, you would point out how difficult it is to get a piano to the roof of a tall building, that the piano might miss anyway, that we really don't need so many pianos with all the electonic instruments available, that we don't want to hold it against someone because they dropped a piano off a building (it's almost a prank), that we don't want to discriminate against piano-droppers, or suggest that because one type of person dropped a piano that another person of the same kind might be disposed to drop one, and besides, it I hadn't been on the street in the first place, they would not have dropped the piano (so it's really my fault for provoking it).

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 09:10 PM
jm:

Excellent job rationalizing your irrational fears. I pronounce you incurable.

jmcnulty
12-30-2007, 09:47 PM
Okay, so I am incurable. You are uneducable.

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 10:01 PM
jm:

Okay, so I am incurable. You are uneducable.

My dismissal of your insanity is not a measure of my ability to learn.

jmcnulty
12-30-2007, 10:05 PM
You haven't shown any ability to learn so far. Your only responses have been denial and contempt.

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 10:25 PM
jm:

You haven't shown any ability to learn so far.

I haven't bought into your craziness, you mean.

Your only responses have been denial and contempt.

Stop giving voice to your terrified inner child and I might offer something else in response.

TwinSwords
12-30-2007, 11:34 PM
Maybe free tickets to the "700 Club" would cheer you up.
Can I ask you a question? Have you ever been in the audience at a recording of the 700 Club? Is that a show you watch on television? Are you a Pat Robertson fan?

TwinSwords
12-30-2007, 11:40 PM
That's interesting, Brendan, because I was raised without any religion, and I think that the radical Muslims represent a much bigger challenge to the way of life of both the U.S. and Europe (particularly Europe) than radical Christians. In case you missed it, Democrats are the majority party in the U.S. now, and Bush has approval ratings below 40%. It might be fair to say that the moment of evangelical Christian political hegemony within the U.S. is over, no? And that the threat of crazy Muslim nutbars blowing themselves up wherever and whenever they can if it will kill people is not going to stop anytime soon, yes?

GarbageCowboy,
You've said you're a libertarian. Does this mean you are a 3rd party voter? I realize you said you've never voted, but when you do (if you do), will you vote for 3rd party candidates, or Republican candidates? I'm wondering because I want to know if it would be accurate to call you a Republican. Many "libertarians" vote Republican, but dodge responsibility for their actions by refusing the "Republican" label, as if changing the label can absolve the responsibility for how they vote. At the end of the day, how you vote has impact, while the label does not, so this strikes me as a dodge, when libertarians do it.

TwinSwords
12-30-2007, 11:54 PM
I hear just as scary things from extremists on the left. Sometimes scarier.
Brendan already asked you to clarify what you mean by this, but I will second his query. If you can, please elaborate on the "scary things" you hear from the left — especially the things which are "scarier."

Even if this is true, you would certainly have to agree it doesn't reach anywhere near the total saturation of right wing lunacy that blankets the airwaves from (as you pointed out) coast-to-coast.

Regarding Democrats being the majority party: They have been the majority of the population since the 1930s, but this has not translated into political power since, at least, 1994.

Today, two of three branches of the federal government are controlled not just by right wingers, but extremists who are more conservative than any recent precedent. The right wing faction on the Supreme Court threatens to take us back to a time prior to Plessy v. Ferguson, having already taken the first step in overturning Brown v. Board of Education last term, and working rapidly to erode modern American society in favor of a Republican dystopia circa 1885.

The executive branch is in even worse shape, and I would say the odds are 4:1 than we will "elect" another right wing radical extremist in 2008.

One more question: by chance, are you a Randite?

ledocs
01-01-2008, 07:46 PM
I agree that Feiler was bad, very bad. How can you discuss this book for over an hour without even broaching the mechanics of lobby influence? And that way of not responding to a response from Mearsheimer was very weird. Feiler's obsession with foreign aid per capita as a distortion is garbage. It's clearly more relevant than the absolute number. Then, Feiler did not ask the obvious question of whether the US would be able to influence Israeli settlement policy, even if it threatened to cut off all aid. Mindblowingly bad. Is it really that difficult to find a competent interviewer of Mearsheimer?

stephanie
01-01-2008, 10:42 PM
Have you read Mearsheimer and Walt? I'm pretty sure they do discuss this. (the issue you marked with an asterisk)

As I've tried to argue previously, while important in theory, in practice it is a fool's errand to try to determine people's motives. God alone knows what is in the hearts of people, often the people themselves do not even really know.

Just the article -- I'm trying to decide if I want to read the book. The article definitely does not discuss why certain groups within the US read what is either good for the US's interests or morally justified policy differently than M&W. Instead, it assumes that all reasonable people would of course agree with them that our foreign policy approach toward the Middle East cannot be explained by interest or legitimate moral concern -- that our approach has jeopardized our security more than the approach M&W would prefer.

I, actually, agree with this in some respects (that our policy has jeopardized our security), but I think it's offensive and false to claim that those who argue otherwise are really putting the interests of the US second to Israel, which is the argument that the article made.

I agree with you that trying to determine the motives of others is generally not a good approach -- better, IMO, to treat them as acting in good faith if possible -- but I think that's precisely the problem with the Israel Lobby argument, at least as made in the article and the diavlog did not convince me that the book had fixed the problem.

From what I've read about the book, I'd be interested in its discussion of the workings of AIPAC, and would somewhat agree with the argument that the accusation of anti-semitism is sometimes used to chill dialogue (although I think it's more of a grassroots accusation often than M&W seem to acknowledge, and I suspect that I would see it as warranted more often than they do, given the complete dismissal of the European anti-semitism charge). As to the why are we acting in a way which is (arguably) not in our best interest, I think it's a lot more complicated than the assertion that all the people who make up the "loose coalition" are really part of some lobby that preferences the interests of Israel to the US -- instead, taking them at their word, it would be interesting to examine how and why those people think so differently than M&W about Middle Eastern policy.