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Bloggingheads
01-02-2008, 10:58 AM

TwinSwords
01-02-2008, 12:04 PM
I have a question for the wise folks of BHTV.

Anyone who speaks more than one language knows that idioms and figures of speech do not translate into other languages.

When I was in the 4th grade, I asked an Italian friend how you say "What's up?" (the American greeting) in Italian. He looked at me and laughed. You could find Italian words for "what is up," and even speak them to an Italian, but he would have no idea what you were talking about. "What's up" is strictly an English expression and cannot be translated. In Italian, it would be taken literally, and sound like nonsense, something like: "What is above you?"

Another expression we have in English (a metaphor) is "wipe them off the face of the earth." Not "map," but "earth." No one ever said "map" instead of "earth" until Ahmadinejad's statement about Israel.

We Americans have been using the idiom "wipe them off the face of the earth" for decades, at least. I remember when we were pulling out of Vietnam in 1974 or 1975, someone at the dinner table said, "We could have wiped their red skin off the face of the earth." He meant we could have destroyed them and their country like we did to Japan or Germany.

That's what "wipe them off the face of the earth" means; it means we will destroy you utterly. It is an inherently violent concept, but more than that. It implies not just violence, but total destruction.


What did Ahmadinejad really say?

Neoconservatives are always talking about how Ahmadinejad said Israel should be "wiped off the face of the map." Did you notice how all of a sudden the long-standing and well-established idiom, "wipe them off the face of the earth" was subtly changed to "wipe them off the face of the map"?

What's that about? Why this subtle change? Does it give us any clues about what Ahmadinejad really said?

Did he really say anything that could be translated into "Israel should be obliterated, annihilated and utterly destroyed" as the translation to "wipe them off the face of the map" implies?

Or was he talking about recognition of the state of Israel in a political sense? Was he talking about Israel's borders? Was he claiming that the land should belong to the Palestinians? And if so, does that explain why the neocons have subtly changed a well-established idiom from "face of the earth" to "face of the map"?

My understanding is that Ahmadinejad did not threaten to destroy Israel in the violent sense implied by the deliberately misleading translation. Instead, it is my understanding that he said that he did not accept the right of Israel to exist as a nation -- that he did not acknowledge the borders of the state of Israel.

If I am right about this and I would like to hear what other people here believe then aren't the neocons basically lying to us and using misleading and inflammatory language to make people believe that Ahmadinejad threatened Israel with violent destruction when in fact all he was doing was repeating a long-standing position of most Arab states which deny Israel's right to exist as a political entity?

Markisme
01-02-2008, 12:41 PM
Muravchik's smug paranoia was revealing. All threats must be attacked, end of story. His suggestion that a law-enforcement approach to global terrorism would be like handing out subpoenas in a terrorist-training camp showed an inability to see any tactic short of military victory. I so rarely get to see the workings of the hawk mind, and I'm awed. Muravchik is scared shitless, and because we're a superpower, the only response he can entertain is to attack.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 02:10 PM
The workings of such a mind are utterly bizarre. Although he supported the invasion of Iraq, he seems kinda ambivalent about it and admits that he thinks we probably shoulda "focused" on Iran -- although he's not quite stupid enough to say the U.S. should have invaded Iran, it makes his overall prescriptions even harder to understand on any level of reason. You see here one of the main functions of the silly and intellectually vacuous term Islamofascism, a way to somehow argue that Al-Qai'da, Saddam Hussein, The Saudi monarchy, and the Iranian regime, four entities that all hate and have been at war with each other for years are really all just part of a single entity and that if we don't like what one has done, striking back at any of them is a logical response.

Of course the real end goal of this terminology from people like lgf, horowitz, spencer, podhoretz, pipes, etc. is to also link with the group not only any Muslim who practices their religion in any type of public way, even if they are completely nonviolent, but also anybody on the left of the political spectrum who is not subservient to the right wing U.S. foreign policy agenda (from Hugo Chavez to Dennis Kucinich). It is breathtaking to step back and ponder the way these peoples' minds work.

So, people either want to fight this war against this "ideology" (of course the groups linked in no way share any ideology) or one is for surrender.

To sum up, you either want to go around engaging in military action against everyone who doesn't surrender to your will under the pretext that they all subscribe to some dangerous ideology or you just want to surrender. That's about it.



Muravchik's smug paranoia was revealing. All threats must be attacked, end of story. His suggestion that a law-enforcement approach to global terrorism would be like handing out subpoenas in a terrorist-training camp showed an inability to see any tactic short of military victory. I so rarely get to see the workings of the hawk mind, and I'm awed. Muravchik is scared shitless, and because we're a superpower, the only response he can entertain is to attack.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 02:32 PM
Twinswords and others,

I think Juan Cole did a good job addressing this issue last year,

According to Cole's analysis, what Ahmadinejad actually said was a quote from Imam Khomeini that "the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time."

You can read Cole's analysis here :

http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/hitchens-hacker-and-hitchens.html

You are right that one cannot really translate any figure of speech without deciding what one means by that figure of speech in the original and then expressing that meaning in the new language.

Of course, I'm not sure why you bring this up here twinswords, I don't think much sensible people that are not hawkish neocons spend much time trying to parse the words of Ahmadinejad, while those that are have absolutely zero sincere interest in what he actually said or what he actually meant or what he or the Iranian regime actually intend to do.

I am happy to see that you do care, however. I don't really understand why so many people are afraid of actually understanding people, regardless of how much you may disagree with them or even how much you may feel they are evil. This is why academic analysts are so much more productive to listen to than political ones. In academia, the goal at least is to understand people, in politics there is never a sincere goal to understand people but rather to present people as being a certain way to justify yourself. The problem with the axis of evil rhetoric (for me) was not the use of the word evil, but the fact that it was based on a completely false understanding of those nations. Similarly with Bush's "War on Terror" rhetoric or Goldberg's "morality" arguments for invading Iraq. The problem is not the use of moral language or even the promotion of one's own ideology -- the problem is the misrepresentation of others to fit into your own little morality play. Thus, bin Laden hates "our freedom" and Ahmadinejad is a new Hitler. Regardless of how despicable one finds bin Laden or Ahamdinejad these are simply false claims.

So, to return to the original point, Ahmadinejad is expressing his feeling that the current state of Israel is not legitimate and his trust and belief that God will deal with that situation. Now, I assume people from all over the spectrum in America will disagree strongly with that view, but for some reason people do not trust to communicate it correctly. Instead they have to transform Ahmadinejad into someone with a program to commit genocide upon all Jews and think this is the ony way to get people to actually oppose him.

I guess its like the nuclear threat exaggeration or inflation argument that was discussed on bh Tv.

uncle ebeneezer
01-02-2008, 02:52 PM
So Muravchick believes that Iran doesn't necesarrily fear a response by the US if there was ever a terrorist strike on the US (say a suitcase bomb) that was generated from Iran. I call bull-shit on that logic. If an attack killed a substantial amount of Americans I have no doubt that we would eagerly take our revenge on Iran even if we weren't completely certain that they were the culprits. Iran must know that America can behave just as irrationally as anyone else. Hell, all they have to do is look over the border to Iraq and see that America doesn't need ANY reason to attack a country once we set our mind to it.

This whole argument that the "ideology" of Iran makes them more dangerous because they just don't care and are immune to fear of retributive action, is misguided. This was the same thing that was said about the Soviet Union and communism. Meanwhile the people of the USSR and other Eastern bloc countries, wanted democratic reform. The leadership or official ideology was not representative of the populace. I think Hartung is dead-on when he makes the point that even the leaders of Iran are not suicidal themselves, they simply take advantage of the underlings who are. The trick is to use the stick to threaten the leaderships true goal, which as Hartung pointed out is power. Even radicals have self-interests, and this is what I believe makes a real attack on the US a very unlikely possibility. Iran can see first-hand what happens when someon messes with America (Iraq and Afghanistan.) There may be some radicals who like that result, but my bet would be that more of the Iranian leadership would tend to want to avoid that scenario in Iran. In short, they might seem crazy, but they're not stupid.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 02:54 PM
mvantony,

I really don't want to get into a discussion regarding Israel/Palestine, but just to clarify my own position. There is no doubt that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, like most Muslims does not accept the legitimacy of the current Israeli state and regime. Would it naturally concern Israel and its supporters that the majority of people and nations surrounding it do not accept its legitimacy? I would think so, and I don't think anyone's saying that should not be a matter of concern for the Israeli government. Of course, the enormous military superiority of Israel over those other nations and the fact that all of those governments including Iran, have clearly shown that the self interests of their own regimes take priority over any ideological or religious view of Israel's legitimacy should also be kept in mind.

Simon Willard
01-02-2008, 02:57 PM
As a child, I was amazed when told that a sailboat could sail into the wind. It was so counter-intuitive! If a wind comes purely from the west, I thought, it must be impossible to use that force to move an object east. Yet sailors do this every day. The secret is to take a part of the force (a "component" in physics terminology) which produces a force at a different angle. Then you take subsequent components of that new force.

Similarly, multiple steps of rationality can produce a seemingly irrational result.

An Iranian or Pakistani government with a weapon could cede partial control of it to religious elements, for the sake of political stability. Weapons can be moved around to other locations for survivability of the deterrent. Lax security or bad faith at any location can allow the weapon to be obtained by terrorist elements for whom its use is quite rational.

Joshua loses the argument when he mentions "suitcase" bombs. The problem is not a suitcase bomb. It's a Ryder truck bomb.

These are serious questions, and I am less sure of the answers than Bill and Joshua seem to be. But the questions should not be dismissed as neo-con paranoia.

p.s. Sorry about the pun on "bad faith".

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 03:33 PM
simon willard,

I'm not sure to whom you are responding, but let me say this.

I didn't hear anyone in this diavlog nor anyone in the comments section arguing for the position that the control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons or whether Iran has a nuclear weapon are issues that are unimportant.

The main question was whether the answer to the issue was military intervention. (I don't think anyone's suggested invading Pakistan, are you?) A sub argument that came up was whether Iran is a threat at the level of the Soviet Union.

Arguing that military intervention is not the solution and that Iran is not a threat at the level of the Soviet Union are not arguments that a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran is not an issue at all.

I don't know enough of the logistics and details to know whether there should be a concern of the Pakistani regime giving "partial" control of the nukes to some rogue element or what that even really means. To me the current regime of Pakistan is a rogue dictatorial regime, but it is one that has not shown any signs of wishing to use nuclear weapons. But, like I said, I don't know anything about the nitty gritty logistics of maintaining nuclear weapons.

Simon Willard
01-02-2008, 03:45 PM
Abu,

I was responding in a general way to some of the comments, things like uncle eb's Even radicals have self-interests, and this is what I believe makes a real attack on the US a very unlikely possibility.and Markisme'sMuravchik's smug paranoia was revealing. I don't have a quarrel with your posts in this diavlog.

Anyuser
01-02-2008, 03:47 PM
There's a topic that connects the beginning of this dialog with its end. At the beginning there's discussion of the reliability of the recent NIE re Iranian nuclear activities. At the end there's desultory discussion of why we went to war against Iraq, but without mentioning the topic of WMD. The supposed possession of WMD by Iraq was the fundamental, sine qua non reason the US went to war, and there was was an NIE issued in the fall before the war stating unequivocally that Iraq had them. That NIE was hugely influential on public and Congressional support of the war, and was the basis of Colin Powell's address to the UN. Of course, that NIE was flat wrong. Today, critics of the Iraq war accuse anybody who claims to have relied on that NIE of being gullible or acting in bad faith. Yet, opponents of a belligerent policy toward Iran embrace the recent NIE. Bob Wright was especially shameless in this regard in a recent dialog with Mickey, defending NIEs as a category of credible information.

To me, the failures of US intelligence re Iraq are more fundamental than the failures of the ghastly Bush administration. For one thing, such failures predated the Bush administration, and furthermore, according to reporting that is not the least bit sympathetic to Bush et alia, even Bush was misled by US intelligence.

Recently I've read a couple of books on US intelligence: Legacy of Ashes, a history of the CIA, and Curveball, a detailed account of how the lies of one Iraqi defector completely fucked up US intelligence re Iraqi biological WMD. They're both good, credible, but depressing books. I don't know how anybody can contemplate the history of US intelligence in general and re Iraq in particular and avoid the conclusion: US intelligence doesn't know jack shit. They never have. They've never gotten anything right, anything at all. They were ridiculously wrong about the Soviet Union, and they've been ridiculously wrong about Muslim terrorism and the Middle East. David Kay, the CIA agent that notoriously concluded "we were all wrong" re Iraqi WMD after the war, expressly told Congress, in public testimony, "we've always been wrong about everything, why would you expect us to be right about Iraqi WMD?"

My point is, . . . well, I don't know what my point is. People debate the merits of the recent NIE on grounds whether they agree or disagree with its conclusion. However, even after a long history of intelligence fiascoes, nobody questions whether an NIE, any NIE, is worth the paper it's written on.

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 04:02 PM
It never fails to amaze me how some people can dismiss statements made by their own favorite candidates as "mere campaign rhetoric" or "just rallying the base," yet place so much stock (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7665?in=00:09:37&out=00:10:55) in someone else doing the same thing. I'm not sure which is worse: that idea that Joshua might actually be so afraid of slogans spewed by rabble-rousers, or the more likely explanation, that he's still so willing to use fear-mongering to advance his policy goals.

Joshua, if you really want these ayatollahs and their puppets to stop chanting "death to America," it seems to me you'd be better off finding something else to do besides rattling your own sabers all the time. And you should also spend some time thinking about an explanation for Iran's interest in having the bomb that I consider far more parsimonious: protection against invasion by the United States. The lesson of our treatment of Iraq versus our treatment of North Korea cannot have been lost on even the dumbest Iranian politician.

I'm also thoroughly tired of the trope about the suitcase bomb (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7665?in=00:16:34&out=00:17:11). First off, Iran is barely at the stage of being able to enrich uranium. The construction of a working bomb, let alone completing the miniaturization effort, is years, if not decades, away. Second, Joshua's claim that deterrence is harder because of the idea that Iran is going to hand a nuke off to some terrorists is just laughable. If I were an Iranian leader, I'd be even more concerned about terrorists getting a nuke than I am as an American. The most likely reaction by the US to a nuclear explosion within its own borders or in Israel, based on Bush's behavior and the popular support he got for acting as he did, would be to bomb everyone it even suspects of having anything to do with it. Possibly (hopefully), the US would not immediately respond with its own nukes, but at minimum, Iran would have to expect a massive set of air strikes, justified if necessary by the same sort of dubious intelligence that led us to invade Iraq.

Oops. I should have waited for Bill to speak, since he just said the same thing. No matter -- it bears repeating.

Joshua's rejection (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7665?in=00:28:31&out=00:28:41) of the effectiveness of diplomacy and economic measures (both as a carrot and a stick) is just childish impatience. The fact is, Iran has done nothing to threaten the US homeland since their 1979 revolution, and most of their peripheral participation in the Iraqi counterinsurgency is easily explained by the reality that we are, you know, right next door to them. Just because the results of playing it cool aren't as good as we would like, he wants to abandon this mature approach and commence blowing shit up.

Joshua's blaming Iran (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7665?in=00:33:47&out=00:34:02) for our dismissal of their reaching out to us in 2003 is a flat-out denial of the realities of the situation back then. The truth is, the Neocon-in-Chief had a hard-on for global domination, and wasn't about to accept any olive branches.

I can't even begin to deal with Joshua's warped view of the history of the Cold War. Suffice it to say, he thinks the USSR threat was underestimated by "liberal doves," and time has proven him "right." In the reality-based universe, the more we learn about the details of those past times, the more it's clear that the Soviet threat was invariably exaggerated.

Oops. Again, Bill makes the same point. I should stop interrupting the diavlog to react to Joshua, but it's hard to contain my annoyance with his inanities. It's also a little irritating to listen to Bill's less than robust rebuttals. Stop treating this kind of world-view as still worthy of respect and subject to polite intellectualism, Bill. These guys have been proven wrong and they don't, in any case, listen to reason.

Ah, jeez. Now Joshua is comparing (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7665?in=00:55:13&out=00:55:24) the choice not to invade Iraq with staying out of the Cold War and WWII.

I can't listen to this guy anymore. I'm so sick of neocon fear-mongering. These guys should go outside more, instead of sitting inside all day, playing Risk and watching tapes of 24, and reinforcing each other's fears. Cripes, the bill at the AEI for Depends (http://www.depend.com/) must be astronomical.

Simon Willard
01-02-2008, 04:03 PM
Since you don't know what your point is, I can't disagree with you. So let me add my own point.

It's possible that NIE's are subject to political forces, at least to some extent, don't you think? I can image Bush saying "if you're going to give me an NIE, it had better be unambiguous!" Thus the NIE can be used to justify the Iraq war, and the most recent NIE can be used to justify any lack of action during the last year of the Bush administration. That's why I'm confident there will be no Iran invasion.

The "real" national intelligence estimate may have shades of gray, but this is of no use to Bush, who wants a black or white answer.

garbagecowboy
01-02-2008, 04:12 PM
I don't think anyone's suggested invading Pakistan, are you?

I think one of the liberal commenters suggested doing something like this ("put our military in Pakistan where Al Qaeda really is" or something like that) and also some of the things Barack Obama said over the summer (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2007/08/sparks-fly-over.html) could be construed as invading Pakistan in the sense of sending in attacking military forces over the border of this supposedly sovereign, allied state (even if it were not aimed at the government itself).

Nobody that I know of (and nobody in the national spotlight) has suggested invading Pakistan in order, to say, remove Musharraf and impose a more democratic government, or anything like that. But it has certainly been suggested that the U.S. should use its military assets to go after AQ in Pakistan in the context of seeing Pakistan as not doing enough itself and seeing this as going after the people who were actually responsible for 9/11.

I wouldn't argue for it, since it would seem to further destabilize the nuclear-armed powder keg of a government they've got and would seem to foment unrest amongst one of the most populous Muslim nations in the world.

Markisme
01-02-2008, 04:35 PM
This kind of hawk believes the "winning" the cold war proves any hawkish point he believes he's making. I noticed that while he conceded that Iran was in no way analogous to the former Soviet Union, it didn't keep him from pressing the analogy.

David_PA
01-02-2008, 05:15 PM
I wish Bill would have called Joshua out on his straw man arguments, which made the non-hawk position seem to be 'nothing should be done about the threats of terrorism except silly stuff like issue arrest warrants". Well, that's certainly an easy argument even for a logically-challenged neo-con to knock down.

The non-neocon counter position is - or at least as I would advocate it - let's use our covert forces and our military against terrorists in the most effective ways we can, including taking out known terrorists, bombing training camps, and even (if it could be structured in a world-politically viable way) aiding the Pakistan militarily against Al-Qaeda, etc. These aren't really dove positions, of course. But, a complete dove position isn't a viable position. Even though Bill wasn't really trying to advocate a dove position, he let Joshua paint him into that corner - not every time, but he shouldn't have even let it happen once.

The neo-cons continue to focus on the wrong things regarding terrorism. Pakistan, which possesses nuclear weapons and has a strong Al-Qaeda presence is where the terrorism threat is most prevalent. Why aren't the neo-cons talking about Pakistan? Answer: They really want to bomb Iran badly, and they know that Iran is weak and can't do much in the way of responding. Still, if the neo-cons were really concerned about the threat of terrorism, they'd be coming up with credible ways to act regarding Pakistan.

Finally - is this stated Iraq position what neo-cons believe - again? That Iraq is the central front on their "war on terrorism". That rhetoric had been discarded. Now it's back. We're supposed to believe that Al-Qaeda is the primary actor in the mess in Iraq?

uncle ebeneezer
01-02-2008, 05:21 PM
Simon, I guess the point I was trying to make was that although the political leaders in Iran may use the fanaticism of their (for lack of better word) underlings to achieve political goals, they probably are more concerned with their own self-interest than the kid on the street who is itching to strap some dynamite on thier chest and blow themselves up. Ultimately the leaders realize that any action that hurts the US is going to be paid for by their own blood (the leaders) which is why I was sort of echoing the "top down" perspective on nuclear program controls that William mentioned. Is it possible that a crazy person who got their hands on nuclear material might try to use it against the US? Sure. Would the people in charge of Iran's nuclear material like to see it get into said crazy person's hands? I doubt it. It's sort of like a mob boss who is content to let his goons use his resources to do their job, but he ain't gonna loan them the keys to his house. Again, crazy (and agressive and dangerous), but not stupid. Anyways, just my $.02. Cheers!!

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 05:29 PM
gc,

I guess I was more trying to goad the right wing commenters to clarify what they wanted since although he didn't say anything surprising, I was still kinda taken aback by Mr. Muravchik's articulation of this nonsensical we need to "take the war to the terrorists" so basically invading any Muslim country will do type strategy.

I definitely remember Mr. Obama's comments, which certainly gave him a hit in his standing in the Muslim community. I guess my assumption was that he didn't really mean those comments but was just trying to criticize Bush, which may be the same thing the 'liberal commenter' was doing by saying that invading Pakistan makes more sense than invading Iraq did. Although you are correct that it would be a disaster even bigger than Iraq as far as I can tell, although that is hard to imagine.

Also, I operate on the assumption that the U.S. is operating in Pakistan already on whatever level it feels is beneficial to it, and just would not announce such activity publicly.

Interesting sidenote re: Obama, I've actually been surprised that there has not been more a swelling of support from Muslim Americans for him. I think one of the possible reasons and this is something which may have been demonstrated by that comment is that all the "Obama is a secret Muslim" nonsense out there will actually make him go out of his way to not appear to be too sensitive to Muslim concerns and to be tough on the Muslims.

Also, although my previous analysis was that Bush had removed the possibility of any Muslim actually supporting a Republican openly for at least 10 years in this country, there actually also appears to be a growing current of support for Ron Paul among Muslims. Certainly radical isolationism is a very attractive policy prescription for the U.S. government among the majority of the American Muslim population, although I would have to think that increasing emphasis on Mr. Paul's anti-immigrant stance will put a little damper on this particular groundswell.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 05:34 PM
Bunch of nice points Brendan.

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 05:39 PM
Abu Noor:

Thanks. Now that I've gotten that out of my system and I'm reading the other comments, I see you have made quite a few yourself, as well.

David_PA
01-02-2008, 05:45 PM
Bunch of nice points Brendan.

Brendan always makes good points!

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 05:47 PM
David_PA:

Too kind!

David_PA
01-02-2008, 05:48 PM
David_PA:

Too kind!

Nah - doesn't mean I won't argue with you on the edges though. ;-)

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 05:50 PM
David_PA:

That's why I'm here.

David_PA
01-02-2008, 05:54 PM
David_PA:

That's why I'm here.

Ha, well, there's a few points I made in a post about 8 up that you might want to argue.

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 06:00 PM
David_PA:

Ha, well, there's a few points I made in a post about 8 up that you might want to argue against me.

If you mean your reply to Markisme, I find nothing to disagree with there. I'm actually not a complete dove -- I just liked the idea for the post title when it popped into my mind.

I guess my plans to run for president are sunk, though. That single line would disqualify me once the VRWC got hold of it.

TwinSwords
01-02-2008, 06:04 PM
At the end there's desultory discussion of why we went to war against Iraq, but without mentioning the topic of WMD. The supposed possession of WMD by Iraq was the fundamental, sine qua non reason the US went to war, and there was was an NIE issued in the fall before the war stating unequivocally that Iraq had them. That NIE was hugely influential on public and Congressional support of the war, and was the basis of Colin Powell's address to the UN. Of course, that NIE was flat wrong.
Ah yes, the NIE that was released just a few weeks before the Fall 2002 elections. As you are surely aware, the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans held the vote on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq immediately before the elections, with the obvious purpose of pressuring them into supporting the resolution.

A partially and selectively declassified version of the October 2002 NIE was released at the same time -- just before the elections -- with the politically calculated purpose of bolstering the Bush Administration's case for war and to make it as difficult as possible for Democrats to vote against the resolution.

The report itself was the result of massive pressure put on the intelligence agencies by the Bush Administration to produce something they could use to justify invasion.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 06:07 PM
David_PA,

I could disagree with you on your prescription, but let me put that to the side at least for now. I want to ask you about the neocons. You state that they aren't even following the logic of their own stated fears and are instead focused on Iran because they "really want to bomb Iran badly" So, why is that? If it is not precisely because of the reasons stated, what is the underlying reason they want to bomb Iran so badly? Is it because it's a threat to Israel? Is it because they are stuck in a mindset that has to focus on someone who is in charge of a state rather than non-state actors? I'm really asking...not making a rhetorical point here.

This leads to a larger point about not only neocons but big War on Terror hawks generally. They present themselves as completely in fear of the Islamofacist menace but they don't really act as if they are or they act in ways that would obviously counterproductive to such fears to any thinking person. My assumption is that the politicians realize the problem is not as bad as they are hyping it, but they do so for political reasons, because it gives them justifications to project more power at home and abroad. Such a strategy will eventually result in their destruction, I have no doubt about that.

I worry, though, about the people that these politicians manipulate, people like our friend jmcnulty, about whom I will say many things but I certainly will not say that he is not sincerely afraid of the Islamofascist menace. (although he doesn't need to be) Of course, over time, and especially if there are any further attacks in the U.S. of any scale at all, there will be a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy type dynamic to this thing which will spin out of control. This has got to be the real fear that people should have.



quote:
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I wish Bill would have called Joshua out on his straw man arguments, which made the non-hawk position seem to be 'nothing should be done about the threats of terrorism except silly stuff like issue arrest warrants". Well, that's certainly an easy argument even for a logically-challenged neo-con to knock down.

The non-neocon counter position is - or at least as I would advocate it - let's use our covert forces and our military against terrorists in the most effective ways we can, including taking out known terrorists, bombing training camps, and even (if it could be structured in a world-politically viable way) aiding the Pakistan militarily against Al-Qaeda, etc. These aren't really dove positions, of course. But, a complete dove position isn't a viable position. Even though Bill wasn't really trying to advocate a dove position, he let Joshua paint him into that corner - not every time, but he shouldn't have even let it happen once.

The neo-cons continue to focus on the wrong things regarding terrorism. Pakistan, which possesses nuclear weapons and has a strong Al-Qaeda presence is where the terrorism threat is most prevalent. Why aren't the neo-cons talking about Pakistan? Answer: They really want to bomb Iran badly, and they know that Iran is weak and can't do much in the way of responding. Still, if the neo-cons were really concerned about the threat of terrorism, they'd be coming up with credible ways to act regarding Pakistan.

Finally - is this stated Iraq position what neo-cons believe - again? That Iraq is the central front on their "war on terrorism". That rhetoric had been discarded. Now it's back. We're supposed to believe that Al-Qaeda is the primary actor in the mess in Iraq?
--------

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 06:11 PM
I'm still viable though, right Brendan? You don't think my whole "I'm an Islamist" admission or my series of posts defending Sayyid Qutb on another blog, or my openly expressed admiration for the IRA would pose any problems do you?

David_PA:



If you mean your reply to Markisme, I find nothing to disagree with there. I'm actually not a complete dove -- I just liked the idea for the post title when it popped into my mind.

I guess my plans to run for president are sunk, though. That single line would disqualify me once the VRWC got hold of it.

TwinSwords
01-02-2008, 06:13 PM
Bunch of nice points Brendan.

Agreed -- ya said it well, Brendan.

TwinSwords
01-02-2008, 06:15 PM
I'm still viable though, right Brendan? You don't think my whole "I'm an Islamist" admission or my series of posts defending Sayyid Qutb on another blog, or my openly expressed admiration for the IRA would pose any problems do you?
What do you mean by "Islamist"? Can I see a link to your defense of Qutb? Why do you admire the IRA?

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 06:17 PM
TwinSwords,

Didn't you hear Karl Rove -- it was the Dems who pushed for the vote, Bush would never want to politicize such a grave issue of national security.

:)

Ah yes, the NIE that was released just a few weeks before the Fall 2002 elections. As you are surely aware, the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans held the vote on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq immediately before the elections, with the obvious purpose of pressuring them into supporting the resolution.

A partially and selectively declassified version of the October 2002 NIE was released at the same time -- just before the elections -- with the politically calculated purpose of bolstering the Bush Administration's case for war and to make it as difficult as possible for Democrats to vote against the resolution.

The report itself was the result of massive pressure put on the intelligence agencies by the Bush Administration to produce something they could use to justify invasion.

dudeman
01-02-2008, 06:37 PM
I am so tired of reading and hearing about people trying to get the Iranian nutwads off the hook for their genecidal demands in regards to Israel. And I strongly oppose even thinking of bombing Iran!

When the Iranian English language news agency (where I bet no evil neocons work) translates Achmeinkampfenad's insane, boggle-eyed speeches, they choose to write 'wipe Israel off the map." They don't translate him by writing "asking Israel very nicely to go back to the 1967 borders, and then living in peace & harmony for eternity." Since they seem to think its an accurate translation, I'll go by what they say, instead of some terror-apologist twit like Juan Cole.

Anyuser
01-02-2008, 06:42 PM
Simon and TwinSwords,

From everything I've read, you're completely correct that the October 2002 NIE was corrupted by political pressure. But if it is the case that NIEs are subject to political pressure, that underscores my point that NIEs are unreliable. Who's to know if the current NIE re Iran is corrupt as well? The suggestion that Bush would pressure the various intelligence agencies to issue an NIE that he publicly disagrees with is a bit of a stretch for me, mainly because Bush is too stupid to be that subtle.

TwinSwords
01-02-2008, 06:44 PM
TwinSwords,

Didn't you hear Karl Rove -- it was the Dems who pushed for the vote, Bush would never want to politicize such a grave issue of national security.

:)

Hahaha, yeah. I did hear that. And it's another lie for the arsenal of wingnut talking points. All Rove had to do was throw that out there and it will live forever as the alternate reality to which all nutters, loons, and Republicans subscribe.

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 06:48 PM
Twin:

As you are surely aware, the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans held the vote on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq immediately before the elections ...

Now wait a minute. I have in on Karl Rove's authority (http://thinkprogress.org/2007/11/22/rove-lies-iraq-war-vote/) that it was the Democrats' urge that hold that vote, and Tom Daschle is solely to blame for every (bad) thing that has happened since.

David_PA
01-02-2008, 06:48 PM
Re: When Hawk Meets Dove David_PA,

... about the neocons. You state that they aren't even following the logic of their own stated fears and are instead focused on Iran because they "really want to bomb Iran badly" So, why is that? Is it because it's a threat to Israel? Is it because they are stuck in a mindset that has to focus on someone who is in charge of a state rather than non-state actors?

They [Neoncons] present themselves as completely in fear of the Islamofacist menace but ... they act in ways that would obviously [be] counterproductive to such fears to any thinking person. ... the politicians realize the problem is not as bad as they are hyping it ... .

I worry, though, about the people that these politicians manipulate, people like our friend jmcnulty, about whom I will say many things but I certainly will not say that he is not sincerely afraid of the Islamofascist menace. Of course, over time, and especially if there are any further attacks in the U.S. of any scale at all, there will be a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy ... This has got to be the real fear that people should have. These are excellent questions, Abu Nor. I cannot come up with any answers except those that make the neo-cons look either completely manipulative or inept. What's so discouraging about those who follow them is how they don't see how they play into the hands of the terrorists time and again. Possible reasons:

1. There is no separation from the political. They are all about fomenting fear and projecting bluster. By making it seem like we need to attack states, they foment fear and in our winning a conventional military victory, bluster is achieved. This even worked in Iraq for a while.
2. They are stuck in old mindsets and can't see the erroneousness of their thinking.
3. They are really military-industrial hawks. So, anything that shows off sophisticated and powerful military weaponry is what they are after.
4. True hawks think you win a war by creating fear in the populace in which the bellicose regime, or in this case, terror groups reside. So, an attack on Iran would, in traditional hawk thinking, create such a state of fear among the Iranian people that they'd call for their govt. and the terror actors to "surrender". This thinking worked in WWII with Japan - eventually. But, it's never worked in the "war on terror".
You're definitely right about a very real fear - the reaction if the US were attacked again - by the part of the US public that's been thoroughly manipulated by neo-con fear rhetoric. It would be a misdirected, explosive over-reaction.

TwinSwords
01-02-2008, 06:56 PM
Simon and TwinSwords,

From everything I've read, you're completely correct that the October 2002 NIE was corrupted by political pressure. But if it is the case that NIEs are subject to political pressure, that underscores my point that NIEs are unreliable. Who's to know if the current NIE re Iran is corrupt as well? The suggestion that Bush would pressure the various intelligence agencies to issue an NIE that he publicly disagrees with is a bit of a stretch for me, mainly because Bush is too stupid to be that subtle.

At the highest level of abstraction, I think you have a point. And I think at that high a level of abstraction, most people would share your skepticism of any NIE.

But when you get closer to ground level, I think it is easy to see exactly why and how the 2002 NIE was politicized. For one thing, there were contemporaneous news accounts in 2002 indicating that the White House was unsatisfied with the work product coming out of US intelligence, and that Cheney was twisting arms, threatening people, destroying careers, and physically occupying the CIA HQ with his own foul body in order to apply pressure directly to the CIA to cook the books and conjure up useful lies. Remember of the Office of Special Plans? They set up their own "intel" agency because the real ones weren't serving their neocon ambitions.

I think the 2007 NIE is exactly the opposite. I think the intelligence community is now standing up to Bush and refusing to be his patsy for another war. One of the great as-yet-unreported stories is why the 2007 NIE was even released. The Bush Administration said it wasn't going to release the report just a few weeks before it did. So why the sudden reversal?

For months after the report was made available internally, Bush and his followers continued to hype the non-existent threat of Iran's weapons program.

My opinion is that key intelligence people were probably threatening to resign or write books or leak the report, and they forced Bush (who is much, much weaker today than he was in 2002 when he was riding the wave of 9/11) to release the report with their actual assessment, instead of Cheney's manufactured lies.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 07:06 PM
dudeman,

I don't know what "get off the hook" would mean. All I am calling for is actually understanding what was said and what was meant...then drawing whatever conclusions you want.

I know you're not interested in the reality, but you'd rather repeat a talking point like It was Iranian's themselves who mistranslated it originally and then do some kindergarten style namecalling, but for those who really care, there is a lengthy analysis here http://www.antiwar.com/orig/norouzi.php?articleid=11025 in addition to what I previously linked to from Juan Cole.



I am so tired of reading and hearing about people trying to get the Iranian nutwads off the hook for their genecidal demands in regards to Israel. And I strongly oppose even thinking of bombing Iran!

When the Iranian English language news agency (where I bet no evil neocons work) translates Achmeinkampfenad's insane, boggle-eyed speeches, they choose to write 'wipe Israel off the map." They don't translate him by writing "asking Israel very nicely to go back to the 1967 borders, and then living in peace & harmony for eternity." Since they seem to think its an accurate translation, I'll go by what they say, instead of some terror-apologist twit like Juan Cole.

TwinSwords
01-02-2008, 07:13 PM
Simon and TwinSwords,

From everything I've read, you're completely correct that the October 2002 NIE was corrupted by political pressure. But if it is the case that NIEs are subject to political pressure, that underscores my point that NIEs are unreliable. Who's to know if the current NIE re Iran is corrupt as well? The suggestion that Bush would pressure the various intelligence agencies to issue an NIE that he publicly disagrees with is a bit of a stretch for me, mainly because Bush is too stupid to be that subtle.

Anyuser,
There is a very good Frontline documentary discussing the bush administration's lies in service of their warmongering:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/darkside/view/

In particular, Part 4 discusses the Bush Administration's deliberate abuse of the intelligence agencies and the NIE in order to justify Bush's desire to spill blood in the middle east.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 07:32 PM
Twin Swords,

We had some back on forth on this a while back but by Islamist I basically mean that I believe in a Muslim society the fundamental source of law should be the Qur'an and the Sunnah (tradition of Prophet Muhammad) and that all people should be subservient to that law.

Of course, this still leaves room for a lot of disagreement about how this is practically implemented even in a Muslim society. I have also said that I previously think that what being an Islamist means in regards to one's attitude to government when one resides in a non-Muslim society is still something that is being formulated and developed and the answer is I don't know.

Regarding Sayyid Qutb, I was referring to a series of posts indexed here:
http://www.ideofact.com/archives/000557.html

These posts were done by a gentleman who is not an expert on Islam but who is generally well read and who has some familiarity with Islam who read through some of Sayyid Qutb and posted a running commentary. I responded with lengthy comments to many of his posts. He is very hostile to Sayyid Qutb. Obviously since he was in control of the discussion and I was reacting to his points, its not really what I would put forth as a defense of Sayyid Qutb, but my comments are there.

Actually, real answers to all three of these topics will probably be on the top of my agenda when (if?) I actually start my blog which I've been meaning to for the past 3 years.

Peace.


What do you mean by "Islamist"? Can I see a link to your defense of Qutb? Why do you admire the IRA?

Anyuser
01-02-2008, 07:39 PM
TwinSwords, I'm clear that Bush and Cheney are bad guys, in all dimensions. For me, that's not even worth discussing. What's more germane for me is how worthless US intelligence has been for as long as anybody's kept track. The OSS didn't understand the Germans in WWII. The CIA booted Korea for Truman. The CIA screwed up Iran in the 50s. Bay of Pigs. Viet Nam. Iraq and Iran, over and over. Greece. Chile. Guatemala. Soviet arms. The Soviet collapse.

You say Bush and Cheney dictated the '02 NIE. I think that's largely true, but I think the reality is worse than that: big chunks of the CIA (and no doubt the other intelligence agencies) actually believed Iraq had WMD. Which is worse, to be rolled by the White House or to be so totally wrong? David Kay is quoted as saying that George Tenet (a Clinton appointee) still believed that Iraq had WMD even after Kay came back with his report in '03. Kay was a pariah in the CIA after his Congressional testimony.

I've got no idea if the '07 NIE is true or not. I'd like to think it is. I fear, however, that the CIA (or whatever has replaced it) has no fucking clue what's going on in Iran, whether it's an NIE or an agent leaking to Seymour Hersh or Reuel Marc Gerecht reporting in the Weekly Standard.

kenner116
01-02-2008, 07:45 PM
I'd rather not have Bill back unless he can better defend his positions. Joshua gave him several chances to knock down some of his crazier arguments and he never took them. Joshua had about 3/4 of the time and was able to paint Joshua as weak on terrorism, and Bill tended to let him do it. The comparison of the War on Terror to WWII was especially absurd. Why not compare it to every other well-known war? Personally, I believe the War on Climate Change is more like WWII. Let us now compare Hitler and carbon dioxide.

Anyuser
01-02-2008, 07:49 PM
Abu Noor,

I would be interested to know what motivated you to convert to Islam, and why you think your home country would be better off governed by what is, as a matter of historical fact, an alien doctrine: Sharia.

David_PA
01-02-2008, 07:57 PM
I'd rather not have Bill back unless he can better defend his positions. Joshua gave him several chances to knock down some of his crazier arguments and he never took them. Joshua had about 3/4 of the time and was able to paint Joshua as weak on terrorism, and Bill tended to let him do it. The comparison of the War on Terror to WWII was especially absurd. Why not compare it to every other well-known war? Personally, I believe the War on Climate Change is more like WWII. Let us now compare Hitler and carbon dioxide.

Yup, yup, and yup.

Really hate it when people get weak-kneed around the neo-cons. Gotta fight 'em aggressively, and point our their fallacies - straw man and red herring are their favorites. Like most bullies, they don't know how to handle it.

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 08:26 PM
Abu Noor:

... when (if?) I actually start my blog which I've been meaning to for the past 3 years.

I'd like to read that. A lot. Please start one.

A little advice: I postponed starting a blog, too, because I kept thinking about how it should be perfect from day 1, and also because I worried about putting up three or four posts and then being unable to think of anything else to say. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing you're like me in this regard -- you sometimes let perfect be the enemy of good.

Which, of course, is not to claim that my blog even maintains a consistent level of good. But I have my moments, at least as far as personal satisfaction goes. And the weird thing is, the posts that seem to generate the most interest are often the ones that I've put up with little thought at all.

Last tip: write for yourself, or at most, with one person at a time in mind. Nothing worse than a blog that consciously tries to appeal to an audience. Just be yourself and let your voice develop. You'll gain a readership eventually, and being yourself will make that readership more loyal and otherwise worthwhile.

Just go start one on one of the free sites. (Despite gripes one hears, I have no significant complaints with Blogger/Blogspot, especially given the price.) You can always fuss with it later, move it to a different site, whatever. The important thing is to start.

Final incentive: I'll blogroll you once you get started, which should mean an immediate jump in traffic. Of at least one or two people.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 08:43 PM
Anyuser,

First let me say I love your U.S. intelligence has never been worth anything angle. I'd love to hear the topic discussed on bhtv since I don't know that much about it. It certainly isn't for lack of spending resources on it.

As to your questions to me: my quick responses are : Islam is a beautiful way of life combining a strong emphasis on social justice with a rigorous personal moral discipline and a profoundly simple theology: there is nothing worthy of worship (no 'god') except God (the One Creator of the Universe to whom we will all return) in a way that establishes a universal brotherhood of humanity and recognizes the prophetic legacy of Abraham (peace be upon him) and his spiritual descendents. Of course, that's why I became a Muslim...a decade plus of study and experience of living life as a Muslim have given me thousands of affirmations of why Islam is, in my view, completely unique and absolutely true and such a tremendously powerful core of beliefs and way of life. (too much to list here)

As to Shariah being an 'alien doctrine,' you lost me a little there. I explicitly stated that Islamic law should rule Muslim societies and I don't believe that imposing Islamic law on people who are not Muslims or even on Muslims who don't wish to be governed by Islamic law is appropriate, wise or beneficial. (Most people in most Muslim societies actually do wish to be ruled by at least some form of Shariah even now after all that has been done by both Muslims and non-Muslims to tarnish all that the noble term actually represents with images and practices that have nothing to do with it) Of course, having said that, I don't believe that Shariah is alien to any land. I don't know if you believe that Christianity or Democracy or Capitalism are "alien" to the United States, but I certainly don't believe that Islam or Shariah are any more 'alien' to the U.S. than any of those concepts are, but perhaps I completely misunderstood your question.

The reality in most of the Muslim world, contrary to what the media would like you to believe is that dictatorial anti-democratic regimes allow less room for religion in law and the public sphere than the people of those countries desire if they were allowed the choice.


Abu Noor,

I would be interested to know what motivated you to convert to Islam, and why you think your home country would be better off governed by what is, as a matter of historical fact, an alien doctrine: Sharia.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-02-2008, 08:51 PM
Brendan,

Thanks for the encouragement and the advice.

Abu Noor:



I'd like to read that. A lot. Please start one.

A little advice: I postponed starting a blog, too, because I kept thinking about how it should be perfect from day 1, and also because I worried about putting up three or four posts and then being unable to think of anything else to say. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing you're like me in this regard -- you sometimes let perfect be the enemy of good.

Which, of course, is not to claim that my blog even maintains a consistent level of good. But I have my moments, at least as far as personal satisfaction goes. And the weird thing is, the posts that seem to generate the most interest are often the ones that I've put up with little thought at all.

Last tip: write for yourself, or at most, with one person at a time in mind. Nothing worse than a blog that consciously tries to appeal to an audience. Just be yourself and let your voice develop. You'll gain a readership eventually, and being yourself will make that readership more loyal and otherwise worthwhile.

Just go start one on one of the free sites. (Despite gripes one hears, I have no significant complaints with Blogger/Blogspot, especially given the price.) You can always fuss with it later, move it to a different site, whatever. The important thing is to start.

Final incentive: I'll blogroll you once you get started, which should mean an immediate jump in traffic. Of at least one or two people.

Baltimoron
01-02-2008, 08:51 PM
The conservative critique of the concept of GWOT starts from the premise that creating this international threat actually lends credibility to the assortment of nationalist, religious, and tribal groups associated with the various terms (islamofascism, jihadism, etc.) It's not even clear how al-Qaeda works with all these organizations, and it doesn't seem as if western intelligence agencies have the competence to find out. The problem with this internationalization is manifesting itself now in Pakistan. Since the Soviet-Afghan War, the CIA allowed the ISI to dictate Afghan policy, and now some of the same Taliban warlords the ISI supported with American money have now destabilized the hinterlands.

Hartung I agree missed an opportunity to flesh out a full strategy because he never challenged Muravchick on the above issue. I think the model Hartung was searching for is the cooperation between the US and The Philippines against Abu Sayyaf. This is a low-intensity effort conducted by SF forces and RP units placing emphasis on intelligence and stabilization, not set-piece battles. It's more like diplomacy than war. I'm a bit ambivalent about the ideological context of this effort and how Manila considers the Muslim South, but the fact is, islands are stabler. Robert D. Kaplan has also documented SF efforts in North Africa. The key is not to internationalize, but to support states to stand up to destabilizing forces. The US should have as little fottprint as possible, because the prestige and legitimacy of the indigenous governments is what is important. Afghanistan and Iraq failed in that respect because the US had no clue how to establish an effective government.

I also think the Cold War analogy is self-serving. Barnett has argued that the GWOT has given neo-cons a reassuring unifying concept after the fall of the Soviet Union deprived them of an enemy. WW2 was about European power politics, even Japan,which became part of the pre-ww2 system by playing by western rules and winning, but now there are so many states in need of assistance to achieve legitimacy and real control. This is a development problem, especially when one considers how neo-cons want to do development at the end of a rifle, instead of working through indigenous governments.

Muravchick is such an arrogant, ignorant example of how neo-cons are dumbing down serious issues into moral slogans.

Baltimoron
01-02-2008, 09:13 PM
I'll blogroll both of you!

Here's at least two sets of tips I would support, although I've yet to monetize my blog:

1) http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/12/30/tens-tips-for-writing-a-blog-post/

2) http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2007/05/25/john-chows-five-beginner%E2%80%99s-blogging-tips-2/

Also, comment on other blogs and at bhTV as often as you blog (one of my faults) and (my #1 problem) stay cool! I always let flame wars take me into the dark side. It ruined my rep!

But, I'm a really crappy blogger, so take this with a grain of salt. Blogging like anything requires planning and thinking, it's not a spontaneous activity.

cragger
01-02-2008, 09:23 PM
This is a general problem. Some folks are partisan hacks and professional idealogues and will tend to bury others who may be right, but who aren't experienced debaters and spinners with a pre-set bunch of talking points at the tips of their tongues to spout off. I tend to enjoy and get a lot more from the less partisan-adversarial and more conversational diavlogs than from having two opponents shout slogans at each other, but when it the situation results in this sort of pairing, well, its hardly worth listening to the whole thing.

Add to that, Orwell was right, just 20 years early with his timeline. Look at how the right wing has framed the entire American dialog, not just this diavlog. Someone mention the need to counter actions that parallel those in societies drifting into fascism, and the right screams "how dare you" and claims that any argument that mentions fascism or nazis is obviously invalid, and largely gets away with it. Yet every new enemy or target is "worse than Hitler" as the neocons and Bushies claimed about Saddam, or the Iranians are just like the Hitlerites or Stalinists as we just heard.

For those who have been around a while, the whole "boogeyman of the month" thing gets a little old. I could rattle off at least half a dozen "we need to be real ascaird of this boogeyman!" clowns in as many seconds. Currently we are full circle from "the Ayatollah is the boogeyman"! Right back to "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!" Think that's new? Guess you weren't around in the 70s. Those classic tunes never get old do they.

Whacky Gadaffi - he's insane, nobody can deal with him! Little Eli must have watched that one from his crib. Noriega, Ortega, the Red Menace - if Vietnam falls, the dominos of Asia will drop into the Red pocket. Be afraid, be very afraid.

The old Roman formula was bread and circuses. When a government has nothing else to offer and it comes right down to it, distracting the crowd with a circus is a lot cheaper, and it diverts less cash from flowing into the Right Pockets. Deal with real issues facing the US in the coming century, and going forward? Global warming? Its a Democrat plot! Energy? Just grab the remaining oil and ignore the longer view. Half the US projected to have serious problems with clean fresh water in the next decade? Ignore that too- its all about Islamofascists! When it gets too bad, hey, there aren't that many Canadians, we can take them out easy.

So long as the crowd is distracted who cares if they are amused or afraid. Its all a big circus. Neocons are just more of the clowns.

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 10:15 PM
Baltimoron:

I'll blogroll both of you!

Thanks for the offer. Likewise, from me.

As for your monetizing tips -- all I can say (partly for Abu Noor's ears (eyes?)) is that route is not for me. If my traffic suddenly went up by a few orders of magnitude, it'd be hard to stay ad-free, but until then, I'm happy enough to have a place to write, share links and jokes, and get the occasional comment. I'm also not into making conscious efforts to increase traffic -- I'd rather comment where I just feel like saying something and not worry about an underlying motivation. I'd like more visitors, to be sure, but I'm happy enough to link my sig in places I'm visiting anyway, and to trust to serendipity thereafter.

I'm not saying anything is wrong with any of those things you recommend, just because I choose not to do them. It's mostly, I think, the case that I don't want a fun little hobby to turn into some kind of chore. Sometimes it's fun to fantasize about being a paid blogger; other times, the very thought makes me shudder. It's probably also the case that if I didn't read so many blogs that are so much better than mine, I'd have more of an urge to toot my own horn. For now, it feels like I'm just getting started.

Finally, I don't agree with this, either:

Blogging like anything requires planning and thinking, it's not a spontaneous activity.

Blogging, for me, is almost always a spontaneous activity. Something occurs to me, or I come across something, or I take a picture, and I blast out a post. I almost never plan or think, except sometimes when I'm actually writing. (In all fairness, evidence of that last may be hard to discern.)

Again, I'm not saying my way is the only way -- there are a bunch of blogs out there that I like that show every sign of what you recommend. But the very thing that appeals to me about blogging is that it doesn't require anything. That's why I like it. I failed a bunch of different times to keep a journal back in the pre-Web days, because I kept obsessing about doing it every day, or making it into some magnificent thing, or whatever, and then I'd inevitably fail to meet these self-imposed standards and I'd abandon the effort. When I finally decided to start a blog, that was the first thing I decided: you don't have to post unless you feel like it. I tend to post in fits and starts: three or five posts in a couple of hours, and then maybe nothing for a day or six. Works for me.

garbagecowboy
01-02-2008, 11:14 PM
I would like to echo and amplify your sentiments, Brendan.

My blog is my third attempt at a blog. My first one was I believe in 2003 using a CGI script that I had written myself in perl. As you might imagine this was pretty bare bones (no permalinks, everything accessed via one master index.cgi with parameters passed in via the URL, nothing but the date and time, the formatting totally 1997) and then the second one was on Xanga, which didn't fit my needs.

The third go at it has stuck for about a year now although there have been some periods (when I was finishing up school and first started at my job) when I didn't post very frequently. I started out with an idea for some thematic content, but now I just post whatever I am thinking about.

Although I'm sure it will not win me any street-cred here, I would point out that this mentality of just doing it has won me a few links from some popular blogs, most notably apost I wrote about the fire in the Bronx last spring getting linked to from (I'm sure you'll all love this) VDARE.com.

At any rate, I get a trickle of traffic, and have never thought about monetizing the blog (I just like to think that my ideas are heard). But for people who post a lot on other blogs, I think it's something that most people would enjoy. To quote the rap group Clipse "treat it like them whiteys at Nike and just do it."

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 11:55 PM
Adam:

Although I'm sure it will not win me any street-cred here ...

Street-cred is for wannabes. Forum-cred is The One True Currency.

I do have to say I admire that your first attempt at blogging was via your own software. In Perl, no less, a language which I tried many times to like, but never succeeded.

bjkeefe
01-02-2008, 11:57 PM
TwinsWords:

Thanks!

(Real reason behind feigned politeness: That play on your uname just occurred to me, and I thought I'd annoy you with it.) ;^)

garbagecowboy
01-02-2008, 11:59 PM
It was a neat trick and I was proud when I got it up and running, but it was totally unequal to even the most basic blogging software you might use today. Basically it was a program that looked up text files stored on the server with a password protected "index.cgi?page=post" page that allowed me to generate a new text file with a textbox.

It was "lean and mean" I do have to say that, I forget how big it was and I don't think I have the code anymore (it was a computer and a crashed hard-drive ago) but I doubt it was over 300 or 400 lines long.

As for the "street-cred" thing I was talking about how my first 15 minutes of blogging fame came from VDARE.com, a site that most people here would probably consider to be somewhere between the Klan and Hitler.

BTW I love perl, I have not bothered to learn PHP but I just love a lot of things about perl. The lack of strict variable typing, its ridiculous on the fly pointer creation, its built in support of arrays whose indexes are strings or whatever as opposed to just numbers, its robust pattern matching, the way it supports dates and times, all of those things make it very, very easy to write quick and dirty (buggy, oh yes buggy) code for internet applications. I have meant to learn how to use the much-hyped AJAX to create a perl script that would communicate with a web-page. You could do a lot of cool stuff with that... I'm still waiting to think of the killer app, unfortunately. Google has kind of thought of all the apparent web apps, and done it... slightly... better than I would be able to.

Just to give you a flavor of what I'm talking about... the following is valid perl code (I'm pretty sure, it's been a few years).


#check out the totally absurd way that you can do on the fly pointers in perl
$foo = "bar";
$$foo = "furreal";
print "$bar"; # this prints "furreal"
$$$bar = "yer kidding, right?";
print "$furreal"; # this prints "yer kidding, right?"
#also the associative arrays are cool
$myassoc{$foo} = "no, this has got to stop";
print "$myassoc{'bar'}"; #prints "no, this has got to stop"


Note... this crazy multiple dollar sign stuff may have been made obsolete in Perl 5; I was using Perl 4. You can still do this crazy shit that wouldn't fly in Java at all though by forcing evaluation with brackets:

in our previous example....

print "${$foo}"; #this definitely still works and prints "furreal"

Simon Willard
01-03-2008, 12:28 AM
It's undoubtedly hard to know what the real situation is, and the "real" NIE would have lots of uncertainty and qualifiers. What good is it to release such a document? If the intelligence community is resisting Bush's hawkish stance as you claim, then Bush will demand a clean bill of health for Iran.

The most important thing for the man who was reading "The Pet Goat" in the second grade classroom on 9-11 is that he should not be seen as asleep with regard to threats against the nation. If he can't get the support to resolve the Iran problem, he needs absolution. To drive the point home about his vigilance, he speaks of the danger from Iran in the face of the surprisingly benign NIE.

You commenters who think Bush is too stupid to do such complex reasoning are wrong. If things go badly in the next 12 months, Bush will be the "goat", and he knows it. History will remember him as an ineffective commander-on-chief who failed to do his job. Everything else will be detail. No one will remember Abu Ghraib or waterboarding.

In the process of determining whether there is anything he can do about Iran in the next 12 months, Bush pressured the intelligence agencies to slant the NIE, one way or the other. This could be the explanation for the delay of the NIE; I believe it was delayed to the latest time for a decision about action against Iran, with the desire that the conclusion be as clear-cut as possible.

We know the President cares deeply about his historical reputation, because he was deeply affected by the criticisms of his father's tenure in office. How much sophistication does it take for a Texan to protect his reputation? Does it take degrees from Harvard and Yale? Oh, wait... he has degrees from Harvard and Yale.

bjkeefe
01-03-2008, 12:36 AM
Adam:

As for the "street-cred" thing I was talking about how my first 15 minutes of blogging fame came from VDARE.com ...

My bad. I misread. Also, to reveal my embarrassing liberal insularity, I never heard of VDARE.

As to Perl: I always had a fondness for so-called glue languages, and that's why I tried to like it. I never had complaints about its feature set or capabilities, and I believed what Perl fans were saying, especially when CGI scripts were the hot new thing. My inability to embrace it was caused by two things: First, I was being paid, at the time, to write (compilable) code for in-house software, and the part-time second hat that I wore at the company, as sysadmin, was limited enough in scope that shell scripts, and sed, grep, and awk, did what I needed.

The second reason, probably more significant, was that I just couldn't get past the ugliness of Perl. To my eyes, it looks like a cross between assembler without the nice neat columns and a distant runner-up in The Obfuscated C Code Contest. The thought of doing maintenance on anything longer than one screenful made me recoil in horror.

Then I quit being a code monkey and started banging nails, so it all went by the wayside. I know what you mean about trying to pick up a new language these days -- I'm toying with both PHP and Python, but without being able to come up with a good idea for something to implement, it's hard to stay motivated. Seems like a quick Google turns up any app I can think of needing.

All that said, I bet your Perl blogging app was quite instructive, so it's all good.

P.S. Love the salmon (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2008/01/blogroll-updated.html#c7777655121059613782)!

garbagecowboy
01-03-2008, 12:41 AM
Yea I saw the comment. Thanks, homes.

It's like I'm the Financial Times, or something.

bjkeefe
01-03-2008, 12:51 AM
Adam:

It's like I'm the Financial Times, or something.

One key difference: free on the Web!

TwinSwords
01-03-2008, 01:02 AM
Interesting theory. I guess interpreting the meaning of an NIE has a certain tea-leaves quality to it.

bjkeefe
01-03-2008, 01:12 AM
Simon:

I'm with Twin -- interesting theory for the NIE debacles, but I don't agree with this:

You commenters who think Bush is too stupid to do such complex reasoning are wrong.

First, he is stupid, or he gives the most convincing impression of being stupid that I've ever seen, which is in itself stupid.

Second, worrying about what other people think about you is hardly a signifier of intelligence. I'll grant that this indicates he's not a sociopath, but other than that, this has to be about the most common trait in human beings imaginable, once you get past the instinct for self-preservation and the urge to procreate.

I still go back and forth on whether I believe Bush is aware that he is a figure of contempt among a significant majority of the US and world populations, but I'm sure the only thing he really cares about is how much he'll be able to brag when he hits the lecture circuit this time next year. Bog willing.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-03-2008, 12:16 PM
mvantony,

You're right that there are some Muslims that are "doing" something about the existence of Israel, the vast majority of Muslims and Muslim governments are not. Even those that are trying have shown themselves thus far to be militarily incapable of threatening the existence of Israel.

Most Palestinians and most Muslim governments are in favor of a "two state" solution which would allow them to accept an Israeli state. The problem with the "Jewish" nature of the Israeli state is that it sets up a policy whereby any person with a certain kind of ethnicity is said to have the "right" to go and live in Israel on land that was taken by military conquest (despite the fact that they may have no actual prior connection to the land) while the people who used to live on that land are barred from ever returning based on their ethnicity and religion -- that's pretty hard for most people to swallow.

You know, I must say that I honestly don't know what would happen if there was a fair two state solution. The Israelis have given absolutely no indication that we'll find out anytime soon since they have clearly adopted a strategy which believes that due to their military force the status quo is just fine with them. The situation as it stands now though is so unjust that it simply cannot stand and the Israeli position is in the long term untenable. Also, every year that goes by with the Israelis continuing this position creates more hatred and resentment around the world, particularly but not only among Muslims making their situation even more difficult and more untenable.

Even the Iranian regime states that if the Palestinian people accept a negotiated solution this is their right...it does not claim that it will continue the struggle until Israel is completely destroyed. All other Muslim regimes are absolutely clear that this is their position. Yes, there will be a certain minority of the Muslim community either due to a "fundamentalist" religious belief that the land is "Muslim" land or hardline Palestinian nationalist fundamentalist view which demands all of the land it considers Palestine but as I said if there was a negotiated agreement these would be small minorities and I don't know what potential they would have to continue to stir up trouble.

History would show us that some segment of the Palestinian population like Abbas and his Fatah henchmen will negotiate some type of agreement which will be unacceptable to most of the Palestinians but they will then brutally crush any resistance to acceptance of it amongst Palestinians. They will be fully assisted in doing so by the Israelis but they, as is always the case with puppets and stooges, will able to much more brutal than any foreigner could be and get away with it. As I said, the Israelis don't even feel the need to do this much at this point and believe they can sustain brutal and naked occupation through military force long enough to steal some more land and hopefully beat the Palestinians into submission enough to give them even a worse 'deal'. I believe it is completely unsustainable and they are creating a situation for themselves that may go beyond the point at which they will be able to salvage their position in this world, and more importantly beyond the point at which they will be able to salvage the "soul" of their country.

But God alone knows what the future holds.

Abu Noor:



First of all, it's not just that Ahmadinejad and most Muslims "don't accept the legitimacy" of Israel. Presumably there are Native Americans who don't accept the legitimacy of the USA, but they aren't doing anything about it (because they can't). In contrast, the Iranian regime and other elements in the Muslim world can and are doing things -- constantly -- to bring about the destruction of the state of Israel. There have been several wars, countless acts of terror, support for terror, political pressure wherever and whenever it can be applied, ongoing efforts to strengthen their military position relative to that of Israel, etc.

Second, it's not just the "current Israeli state and regime" that Ahmadinejad and most Muslims don't accept and want to destroy. Any state or regime in part of Mandatory Palestine that is a Jewish homeland (whether democracy, monarchy, communist, etc.) would be unacceptable, and a target for destruction. It's the Jewish (or perhaps non-Muslim) character of the state that's the problem, not the particular regime that currently holds power in Israel. Compare Japan and Germany after WWII: although by the end of the war the regimes in both countries had "fallen from the pages of time," the Japanese and German peoples remained culturally and politically dominant in their respective countries. For Ahmadinejad and most Muslims, nothing comparable would be acceptable for the Jewish people in Israel -- even given a two-state solution which the Palestinians found acceptable.