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Bloggingheads
04-10-2008, 10:44 AM

Joel_Cairo
04-10-2008, 11:30 AM
Question (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/10093?in=00:19:55&out=00:20:00)

Answer: Turkey in the mid-80's. Perfect example of a move toward democracy which was state led, as the ruling military junta realized, under European pressure, they had a better chance of seeing a favorable outcome if they took the lead in democratizing, rather than letting themselves eventually be overthrown by a populist uprising. Now this instance may be an isolated case, with a number of specific complicating factors (the carrot of EU membership, the fact that the junta was explicitly temporary and Turkey has an informally institutionalized history of cycles between civilian and military rule), but nonetheless, contra Mickey, examples do exist.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-10-2008, 11:59 AM
Here is a report from August 2007 on the Saudi "Extremist Reeducation and Rehabilitation" program that Mr. Wright talked about. It contains some statistics and some more details on the program.

http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?issue_id=4213

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Sgt Schultz
04-10-2008, 12:37 PM
Is this anything?
Ayatollah Sistani on the Mahdi Army: “the law is the only authority in the country”

piscivorous
04-10-2008, 12:59 PM
Does Mr Wright (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/10093?in=00:02:51&out=00:03:32) see any connection by the terror events in Saudi Arabia in 2003-2004, by al-Qaeda, with any significant event that happened in 2003.

bjkeefe
04-10-2008, 02:50 PM
I never thought I'd ever say this, but thank goodness Mickey finally started complaining. For a couple of minutes there, I was afraid the Saudi secret police were battering down Bob's door.

Kudos to both for making the technological and other efforts. I hope to hear another Saudi Arabian-based diavlog, either between Bob and Mickey again, or even better, between Bob and somebody living in Saudi Arabia right now. I also hope to see a write-up by Bob after his trip.

Considering the hand-chopping punishment versus a decade in an American prison, I wonder what the numbers would be if the choice of punishments was offered to convicted criminals.

Eastwest
04-10-2008, 02:56 PM
Does Bob Like the PR-Junket Kool-Aid?

Sounds like Bob's been sipping.

What happened to the journalistic skepticism?

He really does sound like there are three interior ministry thugs sitting on his couch, sipping tea, and listening to him talk.

Yeah, they are trying to get rid of Wahabi extremists, but concerned government stability types aside, isn't Wahabism the dominant tradition in the country? And isn't completely over-the-top loathing of infidels more or less "built-in" in that particularly extreme form of Islam?

Excuse me. I must be missing something.

Hmmm.

EW

Eastwest
04-10-2008, 03:01 PM
Ghastly Mic Quality, Especially Mickey!

Bob's is bad enough, but Mickey sounds like one of those recordings of Benjamin Franklin talking to Thomas Edison.

EW

bjkeefe
04-10-2008, 03:06 PM
Abu Noor:

Thanks for the link. Very interesting and very hopeful.

It was also ironic to note, once again, how similar societies can be: just like the US, Saudi Arabia seems to have its own clump of reactionaries who can't bear to contemplate even trying something other than excessively harsh punishments for wayward youth coming from a lower socioeconomic class.

Or, to be fair about it, Saudi Arabia seems to be equally infested with bleeding-hearted, woolly-minded liberals who like nothing finer than coddling criminals.

Count me as an ovine beset by ASD (http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=11065), of course.

bjkeefe
04-10-2008, 03:09 PM
EW:

How do you know that you aren't suffering the effects of your own Kool-Aid consumption? What's your first-hand evidence to contradict Bob's impression that things are changing in Saudi Arabia?

I grant that I was quite surprised by Bob's reports. On the other hand, I think he deserves a lot more respect, based on his previous hundred diavlogs. I am willing to bet that he is calling it as he sees it, that he's not being completely hoodwinked, and were he being minded, he would not have done the diavlog in the first place.

bjkeefe
04-10-2008, 03:14 PM
Ghastly Mic Quality, Especially Mickey!

Bob's is bad enough, but Mickey sounds like one of those recordings of Benjamin Franklin talking to Thomas Edison.

EW

Yes. But considering the circumstances, I'm inclined to misquote Dr. Johnson regarding the the dog walking on its hind legs: It's not how well it it happened, it's that it happened at all.

I presume you were being ironic with your choice of telephonic pioneers. Everyone knows that the first conversation was actually between Da Vinci and Henry Ford.

Joel_Cairo
04-10-2008, 03:21 PM
Is this anything?
Ayatollah Sistani on the Mahdi Army: “the law is the only authority in the country”

Sistani is an orthodox Shi'i marja, meaning he rejects co-mingling of religious and political authorities, reasoning that since the 12th Imam is the only legitimate authority, it is presumptuous and heretical for clerics to partake in the place-holder governance that is a modern state. This stands in contrast to the radical Shi'i clerics, such as are seen within the Iranian regime, who believe in the absolute Guardianship of the Jurisprudent (aka velayat-e faqih (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hokumat-e_Islami_:_Velayat-e_faqih_%28book_by_Khomeini%29)) and hence argue for Theocracy.

Therefore, it's not terribly hard to see why Sistani would endorse the legitimacy and sovereignty of the Iraqi State, and condemn upstarts like Sadr's radicalism competing for authority.

radmul
04-10-2008, 03:31 PM
I have enjoyed the discussions here for while now, I appreciate the range of ideas. On a Technical note the sound differential in the last 2 diavlogs has been a huge distraction.

Ooga-Booga
04-10-2008, 03:57 PM
I'd like to see Robert Fisk on Bloggingheads.
He's one of the only people who 'makes sense' on Middle East matters.

jh in sd
04-10-2008, 04:34 PM
I wonder what the literacy rate for women in Saudi Arabia would be?

Wonderment
04-10-2008, 04:53 PM
I swore off ever listening to anything with Mickey in it, but I fell off the wagon, finding the Arabian Bob broadcast irresistible.

Bob did, however, sound like he got the Potemkin Village tour.

I also found his hesitance to pressure the Saudis (and other nations) on human rights reform surprising and disturbing. Bob needs to flesh that out a bit more.

But who would have thought -- besides everyone who has ever heard him utter a word -- that Mickey would be discussing terrorists in Riyadh and still find a convoluted and perverse way to pursue his own US-minority-bashing agenda?

Oh, the Saudis are working on ways to curb violence without beheading the perps? You know, that reminds me of those welfare chislers in Mississippi.....

ohcomeon
04-10-2008, 04:54 PM
According to UN statistics the literacy rate in SA in 2004 for men was 95.4. For women it was 91.0. By comparison in 1992 the rate for men was 91.2 and women 78.6. If these statistics are correct women have been gaining much faster than men but both have made gains.

Wonderment
04-10-2008, 05:10 PM
Literacy rates can be misleading, especially in countries with no secular education.

Two quick caveats: literacy can mean a third-grade functionally literate education; so you have to look at junior high, high school and university enrollments too (average # of years schooling). Also, if literacy is limited to sacred texts, it may have a correspondingly limited impact on social progress.

uncle ebeneezer
04-10-2008, 05:18 PM
Did this:

http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/10093?in=00:01:16&out=00:1:22

seem to anybody else, like Bob was trying to signal that he's been captured and needs a rescue by Team America?

Great diavlog. Although Mickey forgot to somehow tie-in immigration and welfare reform. Must be distracted by the bright lights of NY.

bjkeefe
04-10-2008, 05:36 PM
Great diavlog. Although Mickey forgot to somehow tie-in immigration and welfare reform. Must be distracted by the bright lights of NY.

He did, in fact, attempt to connect the problems of welfare with Saudi Arabia's new "softer" policy for rehabilitating terrorists.

uncle ebeneezer
04-10-2008, 06:21 PM
My bad. I was listening to it in only one ear while working and kept getting interrupted by phone calls etc. I should have known that Mickey couldn't get through a diavlog without at least mentioning one of the holy trinity (the 3rd being Dem sex scandals).

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-10-2008, 07:02 PM
The key to understanding Mr. Wright when he talks about the Middle East or Islam or related topics is that as far as I know he does not claim to be an expert on those specific topics. He relates to them from his understanding of international relations and more broadly his study of and thories on the way humans have evolved over enormous periods of time and how societies may evolve over not quite so enormous periods of time but still over time.

A lot of times this makes me very sympathetic to Mr. Wright's perspective because he is trying to discourage the kind of neocon attitude that we gotta go in and invade all these countries that have issues or that confrontation with various regimes is the way that they will positively change. Broadly I agree with this, but unlike Mr. Wright, I do not necessarily view every issue first and foremost from the perspective of U.S. security.

So I my share many of the criticisms of the Saudi government and I consider myself an opponent of the regime so I'm as skeptical of some of the positive flavor of Mr. Wright's comments as any right winger.

At the same time, I don't think there can be any dispute that taking the longer view Saudi Arabia is liberalizing, Saudi Arabia does not have any interest in promoting jihadism (as opposed to the quietest pro-regime kinda of traditionalist fundamentalism (to use an oxymoron of a sort) upon which the regime and its clerical establishment allies is based). And most certainly there would be no benefit for the U.S. government to somehow try and make the Saudi regime its enemy.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-10-2008, 07:06 PM
Yes Mr. Kaus constantly surprises with his ability to find new and unpredictable ways to be a parody of himself...and almost always with a completely straight face and a completely sincere tone.

I have to admit, it's part of his charm, except when you step back to think about how offensive his hobby horses really are (especially in the particular way he personifies them).

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-10-2008, 07:43 PM
Eastwest,

First, the term "wahhabi" is a slur. It is possible that it may be useful as a shortcut way of describing a religious outlook or methodology that you identify with Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, but people should not lose sight of the fact that it is a slur always used in a derogatory way and not used by anyone to describe themselves.

There have always been tensions inherent in the religious ideology promoted by the Saudi government and the scholarly establishment. The first tension is that it is based on an alliance between the Salafi (what you call Wahhabi) outlook of the scholarly establishment and the Al-Sa'ud family, who it is well known often contradicts the tenets of that ideology in its own behaviors. Still, the basis of the alliance has always been that the scholars will not publicly challenge the regime on its hypocrisy. Of course, not everyone will go along with this bargain, and there has always been a strand of Salafi thinking that was in opposition to the Saudi regime. A part of the strand that opposed the regime has decided to embrace the use of violence in such opposition and this is the ideology that has become known as salafi jihadism and is identified with Al-Qa'ida. Now, the Saudi regime has always been opposed to Salafi thinking that was anti-regime (obviously) let alone salafi jihadism that was willing to use violence against Islamic regimes. The Saudis have in the past been willing to promote a type of jihadism directed against non-Muslim regimes or foreign invaders, and of course the most prominent example of this was in Afghanistan, which of course was also backed by the U.S. So this is where Mr. Kaus is correct in alluding to the perception that Saudi has promoted jihadism as long as it was not directed against itself...because during the mujahideen war in Afghanistan and to a lesser extent in places like Bosnia, Kashmir, and Chechnya the Saudis found themselves willing to support Salafi Jihadis that were directed against non-Muslim governments in situations where the U.S. wasn't really raising a fuss about such support. The Saudi government allowed private Saudis to back such efforts financially and to participate in them because they knew this was better than having those individuals and that energy without an outlet because it always had the possibility of recognizing the contradictions inherent in the Saudi ideology and society and turning its attention on the regime (the "near enemy.") One key turning point in this phenomenon was the first Iraq War and a second was 9/11. The first Iraq war kinda destroyed any benefit of the doubt that Salafi Jihadis were willing to give to the Saudi regime and marked the point of no return in that relationship because Saudi decided to rely for its own security on a foreign non-believing Army in the Arabian peninsula, which completely went against some of the basic tenets of Salafi ideology with regard to such matters. After 9/11 and subsequent attacks in the Muslim world, many people and scholars who had sympathized greatly with the case of the Salafi Jihadis began to accept that they had gone astray in terms of their actions in terms of targetting civilians and at the same time the government decided that it had to make squashing that ideology to be at the forefront of its priorities. It's a coming together of such forces that one sees in something like the program Mr. Wright referred to where scholars, including some who may have at one time been sympathetic to critiques of the Saudi regime and still may be advocating for change in certain ways are willing to work with the regime to discourage the type of "terrorism" that they don't feel is justified Islamically and is actually harmful to the image of Muslims and Islamists.

I know many people know a lot of this, but I don't know any more appropriate way to respond to the inability to recognize that the distinctions between people that you may all label as fundamentalists or Islamists or Wahhabis are actually all important to discussing such issues in a way which is actually consistent with reality.

This without even going into the many tensions and contradictions between what I identify as a fundamentalist Salafism with a more traditionalist Salafism and the fact that although it is probably correct to say that Salafism is "dominant" in Saudi Arabia because it is government endorsed, there is obviously diversity in the relgious beliefs and practices of Saudis as a whole population.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Does Bob Like the PR-Junket Kool-Aid?

Sounds like Bob's been sipping.

What happened to the journalistic skepticism?

He really does sound like there are three interior ministry thugs sitting on his couch, sipping tea, and listening to him talk.

Yeah, they are trying to get rid of Wahabi extremists, but concerned government stability types aside, isn't Wahabism the dominant tradition in the country? And isn't completely over-the-top loathing of infidels more or less "built-in" in that particularly extreme form of Islam?

Excuse me. I must be missing something.

Hmmm.

EW

Eastwest
04-10-2008, 07:53 PM
Well, actually, Mickey had at least one good point and that's what provoked my attempt at ribbing Bob a bit, and I paraphrase:

Ever since I remember, there's been this rumored "modernization" and "evolution of human rights," blah, blah, blah.

And now we hear it again.

And you wait, as we're perched on the edge of our deathbeds, we'll be hearing about it, too.
Mickey's a curmudgeon, alright, but sometimes, being "just another one of the geezer contrarians," actually has the common-sense perspective of decades, sans rose-colored lenses.

Anyway, since he's on the other side of the globe already, I think Bob should prove his journalistic skeptic's bona fides by stopping in for a Chinese government tour of Tibet. I can't wait:

"Bob, Reporting Live from Shangri-la." (But, yes, please do interview those burned corpses of Chinese merchants and a few "oppressed Tibetan peasants" while you're there. Makes for three-dimensional complexity.)

EW

ohcomeon
04-10-2008, 08:00 PM
I, for one, didn't know all of that. Thank you for the information and the effort you put into the lesson.

Wonderment
04-10-2008, 08:21 PM
A lot of times this makes me very sympathetic to Mr. Wright's perspective because he is trying to discourage the kind of neocon attitude that we gotta go in and invade all these countries that have issues or that confrontation with various regimes is the way that they will positively change. Broadly I agree with this, but unlike Mr. Wright, I do not necessarily view every issue first and foremost from the perspective of U.S. security.

Yes, Bob began to allude to larger questions -- the ultimate debate about neo-con politics, US interventionism v. isolationsionism, human rights concerns, unilateralism v. multilateralism, democracies co-existing with non-democracies, militaristic domination of natural resources (oil and water) vs. a green and peaceful world.

All these issues transcend the particulars of Saudi Arabia and even the Middle East.

A new post-neo-con political philosophy is emerging in the US and Obama may be leading it. That's why I asked Bob to flesh out more his ideas on why the US should refrain from pressuring despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia on human rights issues. It's related to so many larger questions that will shape the politics of the next few decades.

Bob should be having these kinds of conversations with people like Samantha Power or Francis Fukuyama (who has appeared on Bheads), not with goofball gossip columnists like Mickey.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-10-2008, 08:21 PM
ohcomeon,

Thank you for reading it.

By the way, one thing I should state specifically is that what changed after 9/11 is that the U.S. would no longer ever find itself in a situation where it didn't kick up a fuss about a jihadi movement, no matter where it was on the globe. So while the U.S. may not have really had an issue with support to jihadis in Bosnia or Chechnya or Kashmir or Afghanistan (at least up to a point) before 9/11 -- afterwards of course all such people, even where they were fighting against occupying armies and NOT engaging in terrorism became in the U.S. eyes not just terrorists but terrorists that had to be dealt with. There are actually many Muslims in the U.S. including some I know, who got caught up in this trap where activity that was not terrorism and did not get them into trouble with U.S. law even if it was in a kinda legal gray area prior to 9/11 suddenly became a major crime and "traitorous" to the U.S. after 9/11 even if it involved situations where the U.S. is not really a combatant.

You can also see this in regard to what has happened in the last year in Somalia. The U.S. has decided that Islamists with guns are not acceptable anywhere and even if such people did not in the past think their struggle was with the U.S., the U.S. has decided going forward to ensure that it is. No doubt the U.S. has self-interested reasons for this, but it really does up the ante and considerably increase the proportion of Muslims worldwide which view the U.S. as hostile to Islam and view the war on terror as a war on Islam.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-10-2008, 08:29 PM
I agree Wonderment and I think the reference to China was helpful in this regard. In the recent news coverage of the protests and crackdown in Tibet and then the drama with the olympic torch relay I had gotten a little caught up in anti-Chinese government fervor and was initially a little taken aback when Mr. Wright's current travel mate and fellow Blogging Head Mr. Clemons had posted something on his blog criticizing Hillary Clinton for calling for a boycott of the opening ceremonies. And then I realized of course it would be silly for me to be sympathetic to calls for engagement with Iran or Saudi Arabia and critical of calls for engaging China.

What I'm still a little unclear about is exactly what types of behavior is considered productive and what is not considered productive. For example I hear people saying that Yes, China should be called to account for its human rights issues especially during this olympics run-up but then they find something like boycotting the opening ceremonies to be counterproductive. So while I think it is clear that invading these countries is bad, short of that I'm unclear on what is considered productive and what is counter-productive.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Yes, Bob began to allude to larger questions -- the ultimate debate about neo-con politics, US interventionism v. isolationsionism, human rights concerns, unilateralism v. multilateralism, democracies co-existing with non-democracies, militaristic domination of natural resources (oil and water) vs. a green and peaceful world.

All these issues transcend the particulars of Saudi Arabia and even the Middle East.

A new post-neo-con political philosophy is emerging in the US and Obama may be leading it. That's why I asked Bob to flesh out more his ideas on why the US should refrain from pressuring despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia on human rights issues. It's related to so many larger questions that will shape the politics of the next few decades.

Bob should be having these kinds of conversations with people like Samantha Power or Francis Fukuyama (who has appeared on Bheads), not with goofball gossip columnists like Mickey.

artoad
04-10-2008, 08:36 PM
Let's accept the Bob/Saudi thesis of the material roots of jihadism and general Muslim discontent. I understand Netanyahu wants to scrap the peace process and try to build some economic partnerships with the Palestinians. That sounds like an alternative to present hopelessness of the bogged-down going nowhere situation. Perhaps that would be a test of Saudi modernization. Bob, suggest to your hosts the possibility of a Saudi/Palestinian/Israeli Prosperity Sphere.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-10-2008, 08:57 PM
artoad,

I basically agree and I know Mr. Wright would wholeheartedly agree with the idea of building economic interdependence among Arabs and Israelis throughout the region as a longterm methodology towards peaceful coexistence.

There can be no such program in the context of continuing Israeli occupation of Palestinians however. This is why as Mr. Wright told him, everyone amongst the Saudi elites is grabbing his arm and saying that there has to be progress on the Israeli/Palestinian "peace process" because something such as you mention needs an agreement signed off on by legitimate Palestinian leadership with Israel to establish some sort of normalization of the situation even if it is a deal with which neither side is completely happy.

I really do not understand what kind of plan Mr. Netanyahu could have for promoting economic ties in the context of military occupation and settlement expansion. Palestinians or Saudis who were part of that would be nothing more complicated than colloborators and and traitors.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

bjkeefe
04-10-2008, 09:09 PM
Abu Noor:

I second ohc's thanks. I, too, learned from what you wrote.

stiffpicken
04-10-2008, 09:34 PM
speaking of SA ... how about a diavlog focused on oil? you could go out & get robert rapier from theoildrum.com

soibois
04-11-2008, 12:14 AM
I think Bob Wright is feeling a little bit badass today.

a Duoist
04-11-2008, 01:20 AM
'Modernity' in Saudi Arabia includes eight universities, six of which are religious and none of which offer courses in philosophy. Philosophy courses, of course, would offer a compelling counter-argument to Ibn Wahhab's purity doctrines, hence the refusal of any Saudi Arabian universities to teach the various alternative thinking from around the world during the past 2,500 years. It is always a deep disappointment to listen to someone talk about Saudi Arabia who has so obviously not read any of Ibn Wahhab's theofascist works. This is important because Ibn Wahhab married into the al-Saud family 250 years ago; the ruling family is entirely Wahhab as much as it is Saud--entirely fundamentalist.

As for 'liberalize,' in the absence of an appreciation for open inquiry, liberalization in Saudi Arabia is commercial and utilitarian, not intellectual. If one actually attended the 'debriefing' and 're-education' of Saudi terrorists, one would quickly realize that the terrorist is being re-educated merely to re-direct their fanaticism away from the Saudi royal family, and instead focus on some other target outside the kingdom. Some 'liberalize.'

Perhaps if Bob picked up a few of the most popular religious/fundamentalist videotapes available at any mosque or open market in the country (they are shipped all over the world), and then had them translated, he would quickly see a truer picture of the culture and its toxic underpinnings.

Read the revered works of Ibn Wahhab, and learn what the long-term problem really is in Saudi Arabia.

bjkeefe
04-11-2008, 02:09 AM
a Duoist:

If one actually attended the 'debriefing' and 're-education' of Saudi terrorists, one would quickly realize that the terrorist is being re-educated merely to re-direct their fanaticism away from the Saudi royal family, and instead focus on some other target outside the kingdom.

Can you support this statement? It seems to me that both what Bob reported and the article that Abu Noor linked to (this (http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?issue_id=4213)) directly contradict you.

I'm not disagreeing with you about the historical record. But it does seem that there is some progress being made.

Eastwest
04-11-2008, 02:55 AM
Regarding "A Duoist":
'Modernity' in Saudi Arabia includes eight universities, six of which are religious and none of which offer courses in philosophy. Philosophy courses, of course, would offer a compelling counter-argument to Ibn Wahhab's purity doctrines, hence the refusal of any Saudi Arabian universities to teach the various alternative thinking from around the world during the past 2,500 years....
Right on post.

Splitting hairs or not about "Salafi" versus "Wahhabi" (per Mr. Abu) seems a little "precious" when the latter is the well-recognized Western Press standard lingo for what SA has been funding in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and wherever else they can find a sales representative for their home-team's line, whilst "Salafi" would be recognized by exactly nobody not an insider.

Don't wanna be too "broad-brush" about it, but frankly, it's not like the House of Saud is a lot of LSD-dropping peaceniks.

"Liberalization," etc. in SA context is a total guffaw. The royalty is just jockeying to stay on top. The last thing they want is anybody actually rubbing 2 or 3 grey cells together and thinking in terms of cosmopolitan concepts of non-theocratic freedom.

EW

scted
04-11-2008, 03:03 AM
http://kbatarfi.blogspot.com/

Dr. Batarfi writes for the English language Arab News, and in my opinion, views the world through "Moral Animal"/"NonZero" tinted glasses.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-11-2008, 08:48 AM
Eastwest,

I am sorry if all you got from my post was splitting hairs. That was certainly not what I was trying to do. Nor was I trying to defend the Saudi regime. And I tried to make it clear that, as one would expect of any ruling elite, the regime's main concern is maintaining its own power.

I am a bit surprised to see you defending use of terminology based on "Standard Western press procedure." Surely sometimes the Western press does not understand things or is not able to express them in their complexity in the habits it falls into, especially concerning the rest of the world. Why would we not want to get beyond those oversimplifications?

Apparently you just want us to say: Saudi Arabia equals Wahhabi equals bad equals ignorant equals relgious equals not modern. We don't want any more complexity than that. I don't really see the benefit in that, as human beings, let alone whole societies are more complex than that.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-11-2008, 09:03 AM
Duoist,

What is the source of your information regarding Saudi universities. There is a Wikipedia page which lists many more than six in the country.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_universities_in_Saudi_Arabia

Certainly, Saudi does not have universities of the number or quality as a "Western/developed" country and they recognize this. The government sponsors over 10,000 Saudis to be students at U.S. universities. They are also working to bring more western universities to Saudi in "partnerships."

"Education
U.S. Universities Join Saudis in Partnerships
By TAMAR LEWIN
Published: March 6, 2008
Three prominent U.S. universities are starting five-year partnerships, worth $25 million or more, with a graduate-level research university being built in Saudi Arabia." See article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/education/06partner.html?ex=1362546000&en=c3fd3f1b37c19d03&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

It is correct, though, that I haven't seen any reports of Philosophy being a big focus of the push to improve education in KSA, and it is mainly directed towards economic development ends.

I have read many of the works of Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab...they contain little else other than quotations from the Qur'an and the statements of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). I don't know what is meant by "purity" doctrines. I personally don't find philosophy compelling, but as I said before there is no doubt that Saudi society and its government have a lot of deep problems.

You are right that the alliance between Al-Saud and the family of Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab includes intermarriage. I do not agree that in general the Al-Saud family is fundamentalist, but then again I give a positive connotation to that term, while I am sure you mean it negatively so maybe we don't understand it the same way.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

'Modernity' in Saudi Arabia includes eight universities, six of which are religious and none of which offer courses in philosophy. Philosophy courses, of course, would offer a compelling counter-argument to Ibn Wahhab's purity doctrines, hence the refusal of any Saudi Arabian universities to teach the various alternative thinking from around the world during the past 2,500 years. It is always a deep disappointment to listen to someone talk about Saudi Arabia who has so obviously not read any of Ibn Wahhab's theofascist works. This is important because Ibn Wahhab married into the al-Saud family 250 years ago; the ruling family is entirely Wahhab as much as it is Saud--entirely fundamentalist.

As for 'liberalize,' in the absence of an appreciation for open inquiry, liberalization in Saudi Arabia is commercial and utilitarian, not intellectual. If one actually attended the 'debriefing' and 're-education' of Saudi terrorists, one would quickly realize that the terrorist is being re-educated merely to re-direct their fanaticism away from the Saudi royal family, and instead focus on some other target outside the kingdom. Some 'liberalize.'

Perhaps if Bob picked up a few of the most popular religious/fundamentalist videotapes available at any mosque or open market in the country (they are shipped all over the world), and then had them translated, he would quickly see a truer picture of the culture and its toxic underpinnings.

Read the revered works of Ibn Wahhab, and learn what the long-term problem really is in Saudi Arabia.

brucds
04-11-2008, 10:22 AM
Mickey's contributions here would feel more appropriate to me if they were delivered from the end of a bar.

johnmarzan
04-11-2008, 10:26 AM
i'm a little worried about bob today. he seems more sedate, not joking around like in previous DVs with mickey. but i can understand since he is in saudi arabia and is out of his comfort zone.

and i'm glad mickey asked the tough, skeptical questions when bob was listing down the saudi talking points.

if i were a saudi with no job, i'd sign up to be a terrorist too. look at the benefits!

cacimbo
04-11-2008, 10:37 AM
This was too funny. B. Wright says the Saudi government denies torturing people in prisons in a, gee whiz, not sure I can trust them on that one tone. Yet goes on to apparently swallow whole heartily everything else told to him by the same characters.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
04-11-2008, 11:19 AM
There is of course no doubt that Saudi Arabia uses torture frequently. Saudi Arabia is also deeply racist society where migrant workers are badly treated. The criminal justice system is biased against religious minorities, women, non-Saudis, and biased in favor of those with connections to the royal family.

Here is one report on torture in Saudi from 2007

http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2007/04/27/saudia15774.htm

I want in no way to create an impression that I am a defender of or apologist for the Saudi regime. I would just like people's critiques to be more precise and accurate than "they're too muslim" or "they're wahhabis" or "they don't want to modernize."

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

thouartgob
04-11-2008, 11:37 AM
As for 'liberalize,' in the absence of an appreciation for open inquiry, liberalization in Saudi Arabia is commercial and utilitarian, not intellectual.


This is different from what other culture/country in history ???

As a for instance in the US of A women only started to gain a major foothold in terms of power and influence in this country when industry was FORCED to accept them because of commercial and utilitarian reasons. Fundamentalism is fundamentalism whether practiced by "white" people or "non-white" people. It is a REACTION to modernity and ebbs and flows based on the fears of people who feel their traditions way of life are being attacked. The point of all traditional cultures is to have it's inhabitance identify with those traditions the way you internalize the love of a particular deity for instance. When the pressure to change those traditions comes from the inside it causes plenty of problems, when modernity comes from an outside source the fundamentalist reaction is so much more acute.

Christianity was more "liberal" and diverse in the first couple of centuries (AD, see we get to use "our" calender ) and it solidified when the Roman Empire got pre-pended by Holy and stayed static for a millenia. This dynamic plays out again and again. So replace the power of EMPIRE with OIL and tweak the names and dates. SA has little choice but to get yanked into the 21st century and so they grasp and whatever levers of power that they have to try to control it. Sorry if I have heard this story before.

Since when did LIBERAL become a "clean" word again anyway ?

thouartgob
04-11-2008, 11:52 AM
I want in no way to create an impression that I am a defender of or apologist for the Saudi regime. I would just like people's critiques to be more precise and accurate than "they're too muslim" or "they're wahhabis" or "they don't want to modernize."

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Ignorance and fear work both ends of a conflict. We complain about the lack of nuance that more traditional cultures have when look at us (we aren't all materialistic and greedy ) but we don't want to really indulge in the hard part of being "liberal", having to keep track of those shades of grey is boring.

Eastwest
04-11-2008, 01:52 PM
On Abunoor's:

I am sorry if all you got from my post was splitting hairs.

Your post was informative. I appreciate that. (Still, you'd serve your argument better by getting past the "578-word unbroken single paragraph" syndrome.)

Nice to have nuanced presentation of your POV. Still, SA's role in widely spreading Wahhabi / Salafi hate doctrine in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond can't seriously be denied and the effect of your post was an artful finessing of this fact, hence my characterization as "precious." Also, you know I had no slur in mind in using the Wahhabi label when "Salafi" would be Greek to readers.

I don't want to go into the history of the ghastly bloody Islamic conquest of nearly all of South Asia and beyond justified by what really were and are outrageous slurs ("infidel" and "idolator"), but it's well known among those who read history. In this sense, SA is just fueling a time-honored tradition pre-dating the "Wahhabi versus Salafi" symantic dance.

That, coupled with the absurd Saudi PR obfuscation, make me pessimistic in the extreme about any of these so-called "liberalization" trends which are really just self-serving power-maintenance stratagems.

EW

Wonderment
04-11-2008, 03:53 PM
Mickey's contributions here would feel more appropriate to me if they were delivered from the end of a bar.

Or from the set of the Archie Bunker show. Bob could play the earnest liberal son-in-law, appalled by Archie's xenophobia and patriotism on-the-cheap.

Wonderment
04-11-2008, 04:04 PM
i'm a little worried about bob today. he seems more sedate, not joking around like in previous DVs with mickey.

Bob's been drugged. He's now part of a sleeper cell of prominent US intellectuals who will play critical roles in the Islamicist administration of Barack Antichrist Obama.

johnmarzan
04-11-2008, 11:21 PM
Bob's been drugged. He's now part of a sleeper cell of prominent US intellectuals who will play critical roles in the Islamicist administration of Barack Antichrist Obama.

haha, that would be interesting, but unlikely.

I grant that I was quite surprised by Bob's reports. On the other hand, I think he deserves a lot more respect, based on his previous hundred diavlogs. I am willing to bet that he is calling it as he sees it, that he's not being completely hoodwinked, and were he being minded, he would not have done the diavlog in the first place.

or it's possible that after being wined and dined and treated well, he felt obligated in his own mind that the least he could do is report all the things the saudi said to him verbatim to mickey (with no sketicism), and the mickster was having none of it. not buying into some of the assertions at all.

and maybe bob wasn't being minded, but the saudis are not tech-stupid either. they know he's from bloggingheads and they can easily monitor his DV with mickey.

bjkeefe
04-12-2008, 12:45 AM
johnmarzan:

Since you quoted my words (without attribution, mind you), I will reply to some of yours.

... it's possible that after being wined and dined and treated well, he felt obligated in his own mind that the least he could do is report all the things the saudi said to him verbatim to mickey (with no sketicism) ...

... and maybe bob wasn't being minded, but the saudis are not tech-stupid either. they know he's from bloggingheads and they can easily monitor his DV with mickey.

This is either conspiracy thinking at its most banal, or a classic example of ignoring a mountain of earlier data in favor of a regurgitating a predisposition.

I grant that many of your Republican friends seem astonishingly susceptible to granting enormous favors in return for a night out on the town, so I can imagine where your thinking stem from, but you have absolutely no basis to say that Bob Wright is as easily swayed. You may doubt the veracity of what he reported, but your suppositions as expressed are nothing short of mindless slime.

johnmarzan
04-12-2008, 03:11 AM
i'm not saying there's a quid pro quo, BJ. i'm saying that once he comes back from saudi arabia, we'll have our old bob wright back. the guy we all know and love.

the hosts were hospitable, and he being a guest is just being nice and polite with his words while staying there. can you imagine if he said some not so nice things re them in BHTV how awkward that would be the next day when he has to meet with the same people again?

a Duoist
04-12-2008, 03:16 AM
'Modernity' and 'liberalism' are not a function of any theology or ideology, despite our Western parochial triumphalism crediting one or another of the major branches of Christianity--or 'progressive' politics since the French Revolution--as the source of modernity. The major factor of modernity--open inquiry--is precisely what is missing in all authoritarian forms of governance around the world, including historically repressive governments in Christian countries in Europe and South America, Hindu India, the Muslim Middle East, or today in Communist China.

Liberalism is certainly focused upon broadening education, but modernity is focued upon open inquiry, a very specific educational skill. All of the nations of the world which value open inquiry most (there are twenty of them) are also the same twenty countries with the highest levels of prosperity and, not surprisingly, have the highest levels of human rights. King Abdullah's call (at the OIC 2006 meeting) for more education in the Arab world can easily be interpreted as an effort to "liberalize" Saudi Arabia, but again, liberalization is most definitely not open inquiry.

For example, Christian Europe's long 800 years of intellectual stagnation (5C-13C) had plenty of education for the clerics and nobility, but no open inquiry. When Copernicus and Bacon and Descartes and especially Gallileo introduced an entirely new standard for being educated--open inquiry--Christian Europe exploded out of its long centuries of intellectual stagnation.

Liberalizing education counts; but teaching open inquiry matters far more. The Saud royal family, by not understanding this key difference--or perhaps, they understand this difference all too well--might be slowly 'liberalizing,' but they very definitely are not 'modernizing.'

As for Ibn Wahhab's "Kitab at Tawhid," may I respectfully suggest reading Douglas's classic anthropological study of 'purity,' and then re-read Ibn Wahhab just before re-reading Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and Mussolini's works. Then, read Abul Mawdudi from Pakistan, Sayyid Qutb from Egypt, and Ruhollah Khomeini from Iran.

The puritans, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, are killers.

bjkeefe
04-12-2008, 03:27 AM
i'm not saying there's a quid pro quo, BJ. i'm saying that once he comes back from saudi arabia, we'll have our old bob wright back. the guy we all know and love.

the hosts were hospitable, and he being a guest is just being nice and polite with his words while staying there. can you imagine if he said some not so nice things re them in BHTV how awkward that would be the next day when he has to meet with the same people again?

Okay, that sounds a bit more reasonable. Still, I think it's an unwarranted assumption. For what it's worth, my feeling about Bob's manner is that he was half reporting, straight up, what he'd been told, and half expressing surprise that the story really struck him as plausible.

But I agree: once he's back in these United States, it'll be interesting to see if he has a different tone. My prediction: he doesn't. Or if he does, the change will be due more to something else he learned, and not due to fear of, or kowtowing to, Saudi officialdom.

Eastwest
04-12-2008, 05:55 AM
On Bob's Supposed Decerebration & Mickey's Geezer Contrarian Mode:

Can't speak for others, but I was only ribbing Bob a bit where he had so nicely teed himself up for a tease.

It was clear he was doing a little "finessing" given the sensitivity of his situation. Still, in fairness, he was giving us enough of a "wink, wink" (per his style, anyway) that nobody should seriously question his critical faculties (yet).

Nonetheless, I'd like to hear the less varnished out-take after he's had a chance to go through the whole experience and meditate on it a wee bit.

I think there's a "charitableness deficit" on this forum towards Mickey. He's been around a bit, knows the whole Potemkin village thing can't really be trusted given SA's tendency to keep dribbling out the occasional teaspoon of "modernization" reassurance with never any real alteration in the wacko stance and power of the "Vice & Virtue Squads." I thought his comments were mostly fairly defensible.

Besides, even when he's sort of "off the wall," Mickey serves a valuable function in periodically throwing a little ice water into this cozy little greenie-left echo chamber.

Too much agreement is unhealthy.

EW

bjkeefe
04-12-2008, 11:41 AM
EW:

I agree with your points about Mickey. I thought he was pretty good in this diavlog, too.

LordBaltimore
04-16-2008, 05:52 PM
Since Mickey quoted me a few diavlogs back with my criticism of Bob's attitude when speaking to Mickey (but hey, Mickey, you didn't mention the nice things I said about Bob!) I feel compelled to attest that Bob has taken the criticism from myself and others to heart and no longer seems so dyspeptic in his conversations with Mickey. We've now had three civil and edifying diavlogs in a row from B&M, and I find myself once again looking forward to their now weekly get-togethers. Nice going, guys!