Syria and Iraq

Sunday, June 15, AD 2014

 

 

More from Strategy Page on the situation in Iraq and how it relates to the winding down of the revolt in Syria:

 

Currently ISIL is trying to gain complete control over eastern Syria and western Iraq. That is proving difficult because of continued resistance in Syria by government forces and Kurds as well as some rival Islamic terrorist groups (mainly al Nusra). In Iraq the Shia controlled government sent so many of their best units to Anbar that the security forces in Mosul collapsed and handed ISIL an unexpected victory. That appears to be backfiring because now the Shia government of Iraq has given in to years of Kurd demands that the autonomous Kurds of northern Iraq be allowed to take control of Mosul and Kirkuk and nearby oil fields. At this point the Iraqi government doesn’t have much choice. The Kurds will have to fight hard for Mosul and Kirkuk, but the Kurdish army (the Peshmerga) have been defeating Sunni Islamic terrorists for a long time. In this fight, the ISIL is the underdog. ISIL can afford to give up Mosul and Kirkuk because these are not historically Bedouin lands but rather Kurdish. The Kurds will be fighting harder for them. Ultimately ISIL wants to control their own homeland to the south. Once that is done ISIL believes their Holy Warriors can gain control of all of Syria and Iraq and then the world. This has never worked, in large part because of the extreme brutality these Holy Warriors use against their opponents. ISIL has been deliberately murdering Shia, Christian and Kurdish civilians in an effort to terrorize their groups into surrender. That is not working and rarely has in the last few centuries. All these groups have powerful foreign allies who work hard to help their kinsmen fight back.   

Despite these problems ISIL is real and dangerous. There’s a reason for that. Islamic terrorists have long been depicted in Arab culture as noble and pure warriors fighting to protect Islam. This is partly religion and partly culture but the reality is no Islamic radicals have ever managed to do any permanent good for the Moslem world. This truth gets realized and accepted eventually and then forgotten again. For example after the 2008 defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, and the 90 percent decline in al Qaeda attacks there it was believed that Islamic terrorism was on the ropes once more and many Arabs were visibly relieved. But the Arab Spring changed all that. Terrorist attacks worldwide, most of them by Moslem religious radicals, more than doubled from 7,200 in 2009 to 18,500 in 2013.    

There have been many outbreaks of Islamic terrorism in the past but his time around the chief cause was state sponsored Islamic terrorism by Pakistan and a recent boost by the Arab Spring uprisings and continued financial support by wealthy Arabs in the Persian Gulf and fanatic young men throughout Arabia. The Pakistani policy of covertly supporting and encouraging Islamic terrorist groups began in the late 1970s and after September 11, 2001 there Islamic terrorists were increasingly out of Pakistani control. Thus Pakistan found itself in the position of continuing to support Islamic terrorists who attacked India and Afghanistan while fighting a growing number of disaffected terrorist groups at home that had declared war on Pakistan. The result was a huge spike in Islamic terrorist violence. For the Arab Spring countries it meant prolonged unrest and more Islamic terrorist deaths. Worse, it isn’t over, especially in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Algeria. Over 200,000 have died so far in the Arab Spring countries, and millions more wounded, imprisoned or driven from their homes.

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23 Responses to Syria and Iraq

  • Iran has deep-seated problems of its own. Because of its collapsing birth-rate (from a TFR of 7 in the 1980s to 1.6 today), by 2050 about one-third of its population will consist of the dependent elderly, as compared to about one-twelfth today, while its oil exports, which currently account for about one-fifth of per capita GDP will have virtually dried up by 2020. Indeed, Iran is already a net importer of refined products.

    Moreover, there are unresolved disputes over Caspian oil with both Russia and Azerbaijan (and a large part of the population of Northern Iran is Azeri.)

    It would not be surprising, if Iran sought a solution to this impending disaster by trying to gain control of the oil-fields in the majority Shia areas of Iraq and Western Arabia. Any Iranian government will, in any event, be obliged to present itself as the champions of Shia Islam. Iran is a confessional state, with religion the bond of unity between the different races that compose it. Persians make up only 60-65% of the population.

    If that is the plan, they had better do so before their dwindling financial resources and the decline in the number of men of military age renders it impossible.

  • Why is the Iranian birthrate in such decline? Is that not unusual for an Islamic country?

  • All Islamic countries have experienced a birth rate decline, but Iran has fallen off a cliff in regard to birth rate:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/10554866/Iran-attempts-to-reverse-falling-birth-rate.html

  • Throughout the Muslim world, the lowest rates of adult literacy correspond to the highest population growth rate.
    Even allowing for other factors, like urbanization, altered patterns of living, of housing, of the human relation with space and land, of marketing, employment, and consumption, and the very structure of family and social hierarchy, UN figures for the 34 largest Muslim countries suggest literacy alone accounts for 58% of the variation in birth-rates.
    What happened over three generations in the Maghreb has taken place over a single generation in Iran.
    In the Middle East, Israel presents a curious contrast with its neighbours. Although it has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, its Jewish population has one of the highest fertility rates (2.8%) and one of the lowest suicide rates (5-6 per 100,000) of any industrialised country. Amongst Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish settlers, mostly from Muslim countries, the birth-rate is even higher.

  • Thank you, Donald. So the Iranian govt encouraged birth control and look what happened!

  • The liberal main stream media rarely reports the real story–on anything–they are too busy pushing their agenda and manipulating public opinion to complete any real investigative, accurate reporting.

    A lot of the “Christian” media follow suit in the same manner–as has been discussed regularly on this blog. I was sickened to hear a fluffy, feel good, give each other big hugs & smiles to make the world a better place, kumbaya report on K-Love radio this past week re: Iran. Apparently some poor Iranian government approved artist has painted several government approved murals in government approved spots. K-Love radio hosts just thought that was the sweetest thing & commented that the artist was making the world a more beautiful place. I could have vomited while listening to the report. Mean while, as these murals are being painted, Iranian citizens are being imprisoned, raped, tortured, murdered, & denied every basic God given freedom known to man. At least we may take comfort that there is a pretty mural for Iranians to view on their way to being decapitated. *sarcasm*

    If it were not for alternative media & the internet, I would never know what was really going on in the world.

  • I would dearly love to help the Kurds in anyway possible. I know at one point Samaritan’s purse was assisting Kurdish widows & orphans.

    I have no doubt that the Kurds will fight harder for their home land than any intruders. I know I would fight with every ounce of strength in me for my family and homeland.

    Does anyone know if America still keeps a no fly zone over the Kurdish region of Iraq as we did in order to save their lives after Sadam Hussein gassed an entire town of Kurds to death. I will never forget the raw video I saw of the aftermath of that ethnic cleansing episode.

  • 2 of my very best friends in college were young Syrian Christians from their Capitol city. They lived under the dictatorship of Assad. They could only discuss their faith inside the walls of their church, their mail came to them opened (all of it,) they were followed by a government agent every where they went in public, told stories of people simply disappearing to never be seen again after an accusation of that individual criticizing the Syrian government, even in college in a foreign land my friends, women, were in fear of the government and still shuddered when thinking about having to wear Muslim head garb in their schools. Their father was working in a refrigeration plant in Saudi Arabia at the time I was in college with them. The women showed me pictures of the Christians worshipping in secret in Saudi Arabia. They said if the Saudis ever found out that their father was a Christian that he would be given 3 days to leave the country or be decapitated. Being young and niave in the ways of dictatorships at the time, I did not fully believe that the Saudis would kill another nation’s citizens for being a Christian. Then not long after hearing the threat against their father, I saw pictures of 3 Christian men who were indeed found out by the Saudis & were decapitated. The information re: those martyrdoms was received through an organization that reports on the underground/persecuted church world wide. Apparently the men who were martyred were either unable to get out of Saudi Arabia in the allotted time or simply were never given the chance.

  • Donald & MPS: To my knowledge, Islam strictly teaches against abortion as such. I have had something explained to me about Islam requiring a type of respect for unborn children. Do you know if Iran has instituted use of any form of abortion since they have introduced birth control?

  • Ms Barbara were your Syrian friends followed because they were Christians or because they were going to college and thus likely to get some new-fangled ideas about freedom? One has to distinguish between the two. At the end of the day, it is for the people there to make their adjustments. There is no need to spell out, in light of what is happening to the Iraqi Shiites right now, what the fate of the Syrian Christians would be, had the same ‘freedom fighters’ overcome the Syrian Army. No thanks surely to the US and other heralds of freedom.

  • Ivan,

    As I understand it, at that time which was in the mid to late 1980s, it was strictly because my friends were of a Christian faith thatctheyvreceived such intimidation & harrassment at the hands of the Syrian dictatorship. My friends were members of an evangelical Alliance church in the capitol of Syria. All of their church members & famiky mrmbers were followed by Syrian government agents everywhere they went in public in Syria, all mail going to households in which church members lived was opened & read by government agents, their homes & cars were bugged, they were only able to practice and/or discuss their faith inside of the walls of the physical Alliance Church, & they were not even allowed to invite someone to their church while in Syria. My understanding is that the Syrian dictator allowed the Christians to have a public presence only as a political tool to keep the majority Muslim faith from over throwing his government. The dictator was a member of a minority Muslim group & needed the Christisns to help him maintain power. Otherwise the Alliance Churches would not have been allowed to exist within Syria at the given time. My understanding was that Assad was doing all he could to keep both the majority Muslims & the minority Christians in his country under his thumb for the purposes of maintaining control & the power of his dictatorship. These young women attended a Christian college with me in Arkansas for 2 years after leaving Syria & making a treck through Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to see their family and then coming to the East coast of the US for a few months of training in the English language. Only then did they start college–far away from the dictator’s goons & his influence.

  • Barbara Gordon asked, “Do you know if Iran has instituted use of any form of abortion since they have introduced birth control? “

    No. The Shia jurists are unanimous that abortion is haram (forbidden). If a child is aborted, the diya (blood money) is payable to the heir, those heirs who connived at the abortion being excluded, which is the ordinary rule for homicide. Similarly, if a pregnant woman is injured and suffers a miscarriage, diya is payable to the child’s heirs, including the mother.

    An exception is permitted to preserve the life of the mother, relying on Surah Baqarah, 2:233: “A mother should not be made to suffer because of her child.”

  • Paul W Primavera wrote, “So the Iranian govt encouraged birth control and look what happened!”

    Of course the government policies had some impact, but comparative figures from 34 other Muslim majority countries suggest that, at most, they exacerbated a trend. As I noted above, increased literacy rates alone appear to account for 58% of the decline in the birth-rate.

    It is noticeable that, when women from Muslim countries move to a country with a vigorously pro-natalist policy, like France, their total fertility rate rises, in comparison to that in their home countries, but, in most cases, only marginally.

    Turkey 3.21 against 2.16 an increase of 1.05
    Algeria 2.57 against 1.78 an increase of 0.79
    Tunisia 2.90 against 2.73 an increase of 0.17
    Morocco 2.97 against 3.28 a decrease of 0.31

    This suggests the impact of government policies is limited, one way or the other

  • Ms Barbara, it is possible that it met with the approval of the other Christians. There was little love lost between the Evangelicals who are largely perceived to be beneficiaries of American largesse and even their agents, and the other Christians. When I was in India the Roman Catholic Church went so far as to deny Evangelical converts extreme unction and burial on church grounds, which makes sense, but was lost on the dying who needed the comfort.

  • President Taliban got in two rounds of golf (if you call what he does “golf”) this weekend. PS: Hasn’t the US and et al aided and abetted Syrian anti-government terrorists? Now the guys (we aided) are undoing the mission for which over 4,000 US GI’s died?

    Killing prisoners stiffens the enemy who quickly learns that surrender is not an option.

    That being said, What is not to like? Muslims killing muslims; and fewer spawns of filthy pagans – sounds like a win-win situation.

    In conclusion, all this proves that Washington, DC is not the only place on the planet with one, collective lump of $#!+ for brains.

  • T Shaw

    Unfortunately, about 10% of the population of Syria is Christian and the only power likely to protect them from the Jihadists is the Assad régime. They include several high-ranking officials.

    As in Iraq, the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party has always been a secular party and, unlike many countries in the region, under President Assad and his father, Hafez al-Assad, the government has allowed Christians to allows churches to preach, teach, evangelize, publish religious materials, and build churches and Christians have enjoyed access to education and employment.

  • So, that is the reason Obama backs the terrorists fighting to overthrow Assad.

  • T Shaw

    I fancy Obama’s real reason is that there has long been a strategic alliance between Syria under the Assads, father and son and Iran.

    Ideologically, they are poles apart; a secular Arab nationalist regime on the one hand and a pan-Islamic, Persian Islamic republic on the other. No one in the upper échelons of either government cares twopence about that. They share a common hatred for Israel and Syria has always allowed Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, to operate freely in its territory and given it a measure of logistical and intelligence support.

    By the by, they also shared a common hatred for Saddam Hussein, despite his being a secular Arab nationalist and, like the Assads, a Ba’athist. In line with his secularist beliefs, Saddam, too, favoured the Christian minority in Iraq and his Foreign Minister and deputy Premier, Tariq Aziz was an Assyrian Chaldean (Catholic) Christian.

    Syria destabilised poses no existential threat to Israel and weakens Hezbollah in the process.

  • Ivan,

    Let me point out that I entered the Catholic Church 2 Easters ago.

    I, having spent time in Central American countries as a missionary for Protestant churches in the 1990s, am very aware of the type of conflicts you describe between Catholics and Evangelicals taking place around the world although I was not aware that there was any presence of the Catholic Church within the borders of Syria at the time I was in college with my dear Syrian friends. There may have been a public Catholic presence or underground Catholic presence in Syria in the ’90s, I just basically was a foreigner to the Catholic Church in the ’90s and was told by my Syrian friends that the Alliance Church of which they were members was the only church allowed to exist at that time. My Syrian friends may have meant that the Alliance Church was the only Protestant Church–I simply am not sure on that point. As my friends could not discuss Christianity outside of their church building, they would not have been able to talk with other Christian faiths unless someone of that separate Christian faith attended an Alliance church service with my friends local congregation.

    There obviously is a Catholic presence in Syria now as I have read in alternative media re: the persecution taking place against Catholics in Syria.

    I, personally as a Protestant Evangelical, visited a very isolated mountain village near the Southern border of Mexico in the late 1990s under the explicit threat of physical harm from local Catholics who did not want a Protestant presence in their village. We literally risked our lives to drive to the mountain village and back.

    I, my sister, & her husband visited an isolated Honduran mountain village with Protestant Evangelical ministers to take needed medical supplies and carry the first ever medical doctor to the Catholics & few Protestants in the villages. Protestant missionaries did not care what the religious faith of those needing medical care might be. All were treated until we ran out of supplies. Again, the trips themselves were a real risk of our lives. It was common knowledge that our vehicle breaking down on one of such trips, apart from a miracle of God, meant we would never be seen alive again–if our body was found at all. My sister, her husband who is a Protestant minister, another male Protestant missionary, & an American medical doctor had to lock themselves into a sealed building in one such village over night with a rifle for protection. Without taking such extreme steps for saftey, they were not certain that they would be alive to see the morning sun rise due to threats from local Catholics–even after having provided free medical care to an entire Catholic Mountain village.

    A Protestant Evangelical medical doctor with whom I worked in Sula, Honduras had bullets, rocks, & other items s.a. Rotten food shot/thrown through the windows of the church building while he was preaching to some locals. After a few years ministry to these Catholics through a hospital the doctor built in this area, this same Protestant Evangelical doctor/preacher had delivered so many Catholic babies, sewn up so many machete fight wounds, & performed so many surgeries on the local population that when the doctor himself became seriously ill–the Catholic Church in the area said a mass for this Protestant Evangelical doctor/preacher to get well. Lol

    The Catholic powers that existed at that time in Mexico had become so concerned about the influence of the Protestant Evangelical schools that attempts were being made to outlaw their very existence.

    I look back on such risks of our lives now and know that it must have seemed crazy and foolish for us to risk our lives in such manners to some. My only explanation is that I & the others were willing to do what we felt God was calling us to do at the time to meet the needs of those to whom we felt He had sent us and trust Him for the outcome. I, literally, almost died three times during a simple 4 month visit to Honduras. I have permanent physical repercussions from my time spent in Central America. And I would do it all over again should God ask it of me. I & my sister were taught growing up that the safest place to be is in God’s will–hence our willingness to go to other continents & take such risks.

    I saw many literal, physical miracles take place during my time in Central America.

    The governing bodies of most Protestant Evangelical individual churches & entire denominations are built and operate entirely on the same Democratic Republican form of government that our founders created for us here in the US–so where ever most Protestant Evangelicals are–the American philosophy of one man/one vote, God given human rights, limited government, and self government are being taught. There are also often American federally funded feeding/health programs being administered through ministries of such churches. In more than one sense, most Evangelical Protestants can be viewed as “American agents.”

  • Barbara Gordon

    The largest Christian church in Syria is the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, followed by the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

    Then there is the Assyrian Church of the East, which separated from the rest of Christendom in protest at the Council of Ephesus in 431. They are sometimes referred to as Nestorians, but the Common Christological Declaration of 1994, subscribed by the Pope and Catholicos-Patriarch suggests this may have been more about formulae than actual belief. There is also the Chaldean Catholic Church, a branch of the Assyrians in union with Rome.

    There is also the Oriental Syriac Orthodox Church, which separated from the rest of Christendom in protest at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and who are traditionally considered Monophysites (the opposite heresy to the Nestorians). Again, this may have been more a question of words, than of belief and the Pope and the Oriental Patriarch signed common declarations in 1984. They are in communion with the Armenians and the Copts.

    All these churches and their Patriarchs enjoyed good relation with the Ba’athist Arab Socialist Party, both in Syria, under the Assads and under Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

    They all view Protestantism, in any form, as an alien and Western thing, but especially those not ruled by a hierarch, who takes responsibility for his subordinates’ actions.

  • MPS: Great info about the Catholic Church in Syria. Until about 1.5 yrs ago during RICA classes & reading a book, Catholicism For Dummies (LOL,) I did not understand the connection between the Greek Orthodox churches & the Catholic Church. I know I still don’t understand the connections fully!

    I sure had no idea about such connections as a college sophomore at a Fundamentalist Baptist College where the focus was on learning our own history/theology/philosophy, etc. My Protestant Syrian friends whom I referenced had not the least interest in Catholicism or closely related faiths to my knowledge.

    In one of your posts you referenced the ability of Protestants under Assad having the ability to proselytize. In the mid to late 1980s, my Protestant Syrian friends had no such freedoms in Damascus. It was strictly forbidden to discuss their faith outside of the walls of their church–they could not even invite someone to their church nor sing Christian songs outside the walls of their church. Once they were inside of their church, they could speak freely about their faith to those present I still remember the overwhelming joy the youngest sister expressed in my presence when she figured out that she could sing songs about her faith at full volume anywhere she wished here in Arkansas. She literally experienced some type of spiritual revival in her life, and against all denominational rules/regs one of our Baptist pastors re-baptized her–at her request. I was wondering what you meant exactly when you said that Syrian Protestants could proselytize freely and if you were referencing a given period of time?

    It is a misrepresentation of Protestant churches/denominations to think that there does not exist a hierarchy among them where people, in the church hiearchy, are seen as not having responsibility for those beneath them in a hierarchy. For instance, the Assembly of God has a presbytery that has local pastors, state, regional, & then national levels. When a Southern Baptist Convention pastor resigns, his entire staff of ministers including the ministers of music & education resign as well with the local church making the determination which staff ministers who resigned will stay if any wish to do so. There are independent (meaning not associated with a given formal association, cooperative, or denominational religious hierarchy) churches called “Bible” churches which are lead completely by “elders” who function as minsters and a ministerial board for the church with full responsibility for every facet of church life.

    I wish some of the hierarchy in the Catholic Church took their leadership capacity more seriously and practically dealt with things like pro-abortion politicians here in America.

    Also, I am wondering what you mean when you say that these Greek Orthodox and other Catholicly affiliated/connected churches have a good relationship with the ruling dictatorial powers in Syria. Do such faiths have the freedoms we have here in America regarding their faith & practice? Are such churches licensed/approved by the dictatorial government?

  • MPS: Also, I can see from a Syrian Catholic frame of reference WHY they would view Protestant churches as a weird Western thing. To them it IS a weird Western thing that occur from its beginning completely outside their frame of reference, geographical region, experience, or ability to influence.

  • Barbara Gordon

    There is a very long tradition, going back at least to Ottoman times, to regard religious communities as semi-autonomous and to let them follow their own laws in such things as marriage, inheritance, settling disputes between their own members. The Patriarch of Constantinople was the Rum Millet Bashi or Ethnarch, the civil, as well as the religious head of the Greek Orthodox throughout the Empire. Thus, when the Greek War of Independence broke out in 1821, the Patriarch was taken from his church – it was Easter Sunday – and hanged from the archway of his Phanar palace.

    The fact that religion and ethnicity tend to go together in the Middle East helped to reinforce this attitude. Syrians who speak Syriac, rather than Arabic, also tend to be Christians and whole villages tend to be of one faith. Even in towns, they gather in their own quarters Protestants do not fit this pattern.

    Now, in theory, Syria is a secular state: the government neither recognises, salaries or subsidises any religion – in theory. In practice, religious leaders are important channels of information, communicating the desires and grievances of their communities to government and communicating government policies back to their communities; they are, in effect, an informal but important part of the administration of a country that is a complex network of communal and tribal groups. Hafez al-Assad was brilliant at this, his son, not so much.

Iraq: Wheels Within Wheels

Thursday, June 12, AD 2014

 

 

The internet has exploded with stories of the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) taking Mosul in Iraq.  Most of the stories do not do justice to understanding the forces currently at work in Iraq.  One of my favorite websites Strategy Page is very helpful for those wishing to comprehend who the players in Iraq are currently, and their strengths and weaknesses:

June 11, 2014: In the north ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) have driven the security forces out of most of Mosul, the third largest city in Iraq. This is going to get interesting because the Kurds believe Mosul is theirs and have the military force capable of taking and holding it. What has stopped them thus far has been the Iraqi attitude that such a move would be an act of war. Mosul and Kirkuk have oil and until the 1980s were mainly Kurdish. Then Saddam began forcing Kurds further north and giving their homes, land and jobs to poor Sunni Arab families from the south. After 2003 the Kurds came back to reclaim the property Saddam had taken from them. The Sunni Arabs resisted, and continue to resist. The claims of all the Kurdish refugees have never been completely settled and the Kurdish government of the autonomous (since the 1990s when British and American warplanes and commandos aided Kurdish rebels in expelling Saddam’s troops and keeping them out) north threaten to take back Mosul and Kirkuk (and the surrounding oil fields) by force. This would trigger a civil war with the Arabs which would probably end in a bloody stalemate. The Kurds support the Kurdish militias in Mosul who keep Sunni Arab terrorist groups like ISIL at bay and since the Americans left in 2011 the two cities remained the scene of constant ethnic (the Kurds are not Arabs) warfare.  

Through all this the well-armed and organized Kurdish army in the north stayed on their side of the provincial border while the Sunni Arab Islamic terrorists fought the Shia dominated army and police force. In the last year Shia soldiers and police were joined by Shia terrorists and vigilantes carrying out “payback” attacks on Sunni mosques and civilians. This motivated the ISIL to put more armed men into the city and strive for a takeover. The radicals in the Sunni Arab community welcome more violence because they believed that if enough Sunni Arabs were killed by the Shia the Sunni governments in neighboring countries (especially Saudi Arabia and, once the Sunni rebels win, Syria) would intervene and restore the Iraqi Sunni Arabs to power. Most Iraqi Sunni Arabs understand that this would never work, but speaking up against the radicals (including ISIL, which has always been a Sunni supremacist outfit) can get you killed. Despite that threat many Iraqi Sunni Arabs do fight the radicals, but that’s a war they seem to be losing as the Shia are coming to believe that all Sunni Arabs are their enemy and all should be treated roughly. One thing most Sunni Arabs can agree on is the need to be united in dealing with the Shia dominated government. The growing violence led to calls for an autonomous Sunni Arab government in Anbar (the province that comprises most of western Iraq) and that is what ISIL is fighting for now. Mosul is the capital of Nineveh province which is adjacent and to the north of Anbar and has a 500 kilometer border with Syria. Taking control of Mosul gives ISIL another victory and even if it does not last it helps with recruiting and fund raising. ISIL is competing with al Qaeda for recognition as the most effective Islamic terrorist group in the world. Whoever holds that position gets most of the cash donations from the many wealthy Gulf Arabs who support Islamic terrorism and that means ISIL would also get most of the young Sunni men from the Gulf States looking to jihad a bit. ISIL has also made Iraq and Syria the main battleground for the continuation of the ancient battle between Shia and Sunni militants. Saudi Arabia leads the Sunni bloc and Iran the Shia. Overall, the Shia are winning in Syria and that is partly because ISIL has concentrated most of its manpower in eastern Syria and western Iraq in an effort to establish a Sunni Islamic State.

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11 Responses to Iraq: Wheels Within Wheels

  • There is one word which sums up all that is occurring domestically and internationally: “catastrophe.”

  • “What may well be going on now is the long predicted three part division of Iraq: Kurdistan in the North, a Sunni dominated state in Mosul and a Shia state dominated by Iran in the South.” Except that Turkey will never tolerate an independent Kurdish state on its Eastern border and there are enough Kurds in the North-West of that country to give the Iranians concerns about it, too.

    Given that the Turkish officer corps is the most nationalist and the most secular element in Turkey, the Turkish armed forces would be more than willing to eliminate ISIL, given the opportunity.

  • If the United States pulls out completely from Iraq, then will not Iran be tempted to sweep in to fill the void?
    .
    The following analogy isn’t perfect, but history has a nasty way of repeating itself because the state of man does not change – from Daniel chapter 5:
    .
    24 “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: mene, mene, tekel, and parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
    .
    30 That very night Belshaz′zar the Chalde′an king was slain. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
    .
    Again, the analogy isn’t perfect, but Obama with his hashtag diplomacy merits the words MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN. Soon – very soon – the Iranians will have enough Uranium-235 enriched to weapons grade or perhaps even Plutonium-239 from its heavy water Arak nuclear reactor (in spite of Iranian assurances to the contrary). May God have mercy on both Iraq and the United States of America.
    .
    PS, just one well-navigated gun boat having a small fissionable weapon come near a US carrier task force will be sufficient for Obama to utter the words of Augustus Caesar when the 17th, 18th and 19th legions were lost to Arminius:
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    Quintili Vare, legiones redde!
    .
    But I digress – again.

  • I’ve never understood this three part idea? If someone from outside or inside were to effect a division why wouldn’t it just be separating the Kurds from the Arabs? Also the Sunni and the Shia seem to be distributed throughout both of theirs geographical “parts”…a mix. The Sunni and the Shia work together when they want to or in response to outsiders. Ultimately they have to work it out between themselves don’t they? I don’t see any imposed solutions working.
    .
    Is the West (or is Israel) any safer when Islamic states are preoccupied internally, or with each other?

  • No. In the first place because they can’t keep their domestic squabbles from spilling out into the yard for the neighbors to see. In the second because they only stop fighting with each other long enough to feud with those neighbors. Soon, the entire block is involved in some manner, which disturbs the peace of the rest of the neighborhood.

  • These squabbles have a way of resolving themselves one way or another. The area of Turkey now referred to by the Kurds as “Northern Kurdistan” used to be known as “Western Armenia,” the Armenian inhabitants having been displaced by the Ottomans in 1894-6 and 1915.

    It is a great mistake to talk of these things in terms of “questions” or “problems,” for a question implies an answer and a problem a solution; conflicts have neither, merely outcomes.

  • “,” the Armenian inhabitants having been displaced by the Ottomans in 1894-6 and 1915.”

    For “displaced” read massacred. The Middle East is a poor place to be born into.

  • Yes Donald. I just became aware of the Armenian holocaust within the last couple of years. We have to take it upon ourselves to study history since some things are only very rarely mentioned in history classes or books.
    Michael P-S I don’t understand how we Christians can live with the idea that we can not work to solve or answer problems, that we don’t in fact influence the outcomes for good or for ill.
    We have responsibility because we love, and we believe in Good to help shape events. Otherwise it sounds pretty fatalistic. Fatalistic.

  • Anzlyne wrote, “I don’t understand how we Christians can live with the idea that we can not work to solve or answer problems”
    I agree there are real problems, to which solutions can be found, in health, in agriculture and in many other fields where the human lot can be ameliorated. Politics is not one of them.
    The Catholic political philosopher Carl Schmitt argues that every realm of human endeavour is structured by an irreducible duality. Morality is concerned with good and evil, aesthetics with the beautiful and the ugly, and economics with the profitable and the unprofitable. In politics, the core distinction is between friend and enemy. That is what makes politics different from everything else.

    The political comes into being when groups are placed in a relation of enmity, where each comes to perceive the other as an irreconcilable adversary to be fought and, if possible, defeated. “Every religious, moral, economic, ethical, or other antithesis transforms itself into a political one if it is sufficiently strong to group human beings effectively, according to friends and enemy.”

    Of course, he denies the possibility of neutral rules that can mediate between conflicting positions (the Liberal fallacy); for Schmitt there is no such neutrality, since any rule – even an ostensibly fair one – merely represents the victory of one political faction over another and the stabilised result of past conflicts. Internal order is usually successfully imposed only to pursue external conflict

    “The peaceful, legalistic, liberal bourgeoisie is sitting on a volcano and ignoring the fact. Their world depends on a relative stabilization of conflict within the state, and on the state’s ability to keep at bay other potentially hostile states.”

    And, no, I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is.

  • I hope the Kurds take Mosul. The Christians will be safe under them. They practice a secular form of Islam and are the most gentle and kind to Christians, however remain with their heads still attached to their bodies.

Impotence as Foreign Policy

Saturday, April 26, AD 2014

Foreign Policy as Bad Joke

Since 2008 I have often suspected that the Obama administration is one huge, unfunny, practical joke.  That is certainly the only rational explanation for the reaction of the Obama administration to the ongoing slicing and dicing of Ukraine by Mother Russia under the leadership of Vladimir “Fearless Leader” Putin.  James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal gives us the details:

 

Here’s a case in point. On March 13, a week or so after that interview was published, Samantha Power, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted about Moscow’s intervention in Crimea: “I missed the day at law school where self-determination was defined as #Russia-determination. Russia must halt its military action.” Two days later, she added: “Russia can veto a Security Council resolution, but it can’t veto the truth.”

It would appear the State Department is seeking to maintain the balance of power through a strategy of mutually assured derision.

One problem with using sarcasm as a weapon is that its proliferation is uncontrollable and widespread. Even the Canadians have it. In a column for the Toronto Sun, Ezra Levant mocked “the ironically named Ambassador Power.”

Another problem, as Levant suggested, is that the Russians appear to be better at mockery than their American counterparts. After a phone conversation between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, Levant wrote, “the Kremlin release[d] this note: ‘Mr. Obama congratulated Mr. Putin on the success of the Paralympic Games and asked Mr. Putin to pass on his greetings to the athletes.’ . . . At least Samantha Power stomped her feet and wrote a mean Twitter tweet. But Obama personally congratulated Putin, during a phone call about a war?”

Wait, it gets worse. Some of Foggy Bottom’s tweeters are deadly earnest, making them totally defenseless against post-Soviet sarcasm. On March 26 Jen Psaki, State’s top spokesman, tweeted this: “To echo @BarackObama today-proud to stand #UnitedForUkraine World should stand together with one voice.” In an accompanying photo, a smiling Psaki gave a left-handed thumbs-up while holding up in her right hand a sign with the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag and her Twitter handle, @statedeptspox.

Yesterday, National Review Online’s Patrick Brennan reports, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account started including the hashtag in its tweets on the subject. Example: “[Foreign Minister Sergey] #Lavrov: Our US counterparts must compel the acting officials in Kiev to bear responsibility for the current situation #UnitedForUkraine.”

Barack Obama’s political operation frequently sees its Twitter hashtags “hijacked” by conservative antagonists. Remember #WHYouth? But in domestic politics, mutually assured derision is just good clean fun. Partisan politics thrives on antagonism. If the purpose of the domestic hashtags is to motivate Democratic base voters, conservative mockery is a help rather than a hindrance.

At Foggy Bottom, however, they seem utterly clueless as to what the Russians are up to. Brennan notes that Macon Phillips, who runs the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, tweeted in response: “Welcome to the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag @mfa_russia! 2 steps to join in: First watch an intro video [titled ‘Sanctions: How Did We Get Here?’], then RT!”

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16 Responses to Impotence as Foreign Policy

  • Is this diplomacy today? Who put these mouthy immature no- knowledge or respect-for-history-or- civilization people in charge!?

  • A majority of the American people who voted in the last two presidential elections unfortunately.

  • I can see the power of social media for organizing grass roots, regular folks who don’t have a state department and the largest most powerful military on the planet at their immediate command. However one would hope that this administration would have a foreign policy based on more than aggressive tweeting.

  • Yes I know what you are saying – that the president gets to appoint and does so out of his own framework
    I know we didn’t vote for John Foster Dulles or Dag Hammarskjold. Maybe Presidents then had a better pool to draw from. There seemed to be a higher and deeper level of education then.
    Are these the best and brightest in the liberal camp. Surely there could be statesmen.

  • “Are these the best and brightest in the liberal camp.”

    The port side of our politics long ago lost liberals with even a passing familiarity as to how real world, as opposed to cloud kookoo land, foreign policy should be conducted. The idiot male gold digger John F. Kerry as Secretary of State symbolizes what fools, and worse, currently are charting our course with the rest of the world.

  • I watched TV with a terrible contortion on my face when Powers and Hegel were being approved in the Senate. By the time of Kerry the muscles in my grimace had gone slack
    Shod be a hue and cry over some of the business as usual..
    Yes I wish there was more depth than tweeting. Apparently shallow president and correspondingly shallow administration.

  • No foreign leader with a modicum of competency respects the narcissist President more interested in golfing and Beyonce than in the safety of the Republic. He is a baby murdering, sexual filth promoting godless man of sin and depravity intent on vacationing with Moochelle Jezebel while Rome burns. I despise, loathe, detest and abhor liberal progressivism.

  • One difficulty you have with these situations is that the President’s mouth is invariably running ahead of whatever tools he has on hand to enforce compliance or impose costs. His subordinates take their cues from him.

    You notice he has twice put working politicians with next to no experience as line administrators in charge of the diplomatic corps and has put the military and its auxilliaries under the command of a man with some military and business background but no history of superintending organizations with more than a two digit census of personnel; he also appears to suffer from intellectual deficits. Before entering politics full time, John Kerry was a perfectly common-and-garden rank and file attorney working in Boston; Hillary Clinton was a skeezy small-city corporate and commercial lawyer who had been sanctioned by superiors for unethical conduct before the ink was dry on the notice of her bar exam results. That’s who these guys are, yet in the minds of many journalists and partisan Democrats, the dimensions of these two expand (like a gas) to fill the space of whatever office they have occupied.

    Say what you want about Ronald Reagan, the man built the finest apparat of any occupant of the office in the last fifty-odd years, one which accomplished (within the limits set by Congress) what he wanted accomplished with only light intervention from him. The current incumbent hires people who share his defects.

  • Paul. Don’t mix words…..how do you honestly feel? 🙂

    I’m with you Mr. Primavera! 100%

  • It is definitely amateur hour. As with everything else that the Democrats do. Except pandering to voters and rigging elections.

  • I am pleased that an adult such as Mr. McClarey wrote this piece and I agree with his viewpoints. Obumbler never had any foreign policy interests, other than appeasing Muslims. Obumbler could not care less if Putin gobbles up all of Ukraine – what’s it to Obumbler? Nothing. The small Ukrainian diaspora and descendants of Ukranian immigrants from long ago aren’t nearly numerous enough to make Obumbler notice.

    Putin knows weakness and will prey on it. I think that Russian Eastern Ukraine is next on his hit list, followed by some sort of union with Belarus. Putin won’t likely go farther West because Poland will fight to the last man – and Poland has started fracking to get their own natural gas supplies.

  • “Paul. Don’t mix words…..how do you honestly feel? 🙂
    I’m with you Mr. Primavera! 100%”
    .
    Add my name to your list, Paul.

  • I will add to the title, Impotence as Foreign Policy, the following:

    Impotence as Energy Policy – San Onofre 2 and 3 shut down, Vermont Yankee shut down, Crystal River shut down, Kewanee shut down.

    Impotence as Health Care Policy: Obamacare, infanticide of the unborn, state sponsored euthanasia of the useless

    Impotence as Education Policy: common core, liberal Academia.

    Impotence as Military Policy: homosexuality among the troops, a green Navy instead of a Nuclear Navy.

    The list of impotencies is endless.

  • PS thank you Philip and Mary

  • Perhaps, the President should look for someone from the divinity schools.

    Talleyrand had been notable as a student of divinity, both at Sâint-Sulpice and the Sorbonne and he was fond of saying that it was to theology that he owed “that instinctive sagacity, that measure in thought and expression [cette sagacité instinctive, cette mesure d’esprit et d’expression] that had been remarked on in his handling of great affairs. Richelieu, Mazarin and the Abbé Sieyès (whom Lord Acton called the only statesman of the Revolution) are other names that spring to mind.
    In modern times, we have Père Louis de la Trinité (Georges Thierry d’Argenlieu), who rose to the rank of Admiral in the Free French Forces and became one of General de Gaulle’s most trusted diplomats

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John Kerry, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Copts

Tuesday, August 20, AD 2013

 

 

John Kerry, our hapless Secretary of State, is backing the Muslim Brotherhood in the current incipient Civil War raging in Egypt between the Egypptian military, which removed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood former president of Egypt, and the supporters of the  military, and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Kerry’s fondness for the Muslim Brotherhood goes back quite a ways.  Here is an excerpt from a post by terrorist expert Andrew McCarthy at National Review Online from December 14, 2011:

 

Senator John Kerry (D., Mass.) is in Egypt, meeting with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood — the Islamist organization whose goals are to destroy Israel, “conquer Europe” and “conquer America” (to quote its most influential jurist, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi).

The Brotherhood, which operates throughout the world, seeks the imposition by governments of strict sharia law (as outlined in Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law) and, eventually, a global caliphate. Naturally, the Obama administration describes it as a “largely secular” and moderate organization — and William Taylor, President Obama’s hand-picked “special coordinator for transitions in the Middle East,” announced last month that the administration would be quite “satisfied” with a Brotherhood victory in the Egyptian elections.

As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reports, Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and key Obama administration congressional ally, “welcomed the results of Egypt’s first democratic elections,” in which “voters gave the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) nearly 40% of seats, and more than 24% went to the ultra-conservative Salafi coalition led by al-Nour Party.” [ACM: by ultraconservative, IPT means al-Nour is somewhat more impatient than the Brotherhood for the imposition of supremacist Islam; as I’ve explained on other occasions, the Muslim Brotherhood is Salafist in its ideology.] 

In addition to praising the Brotherhood’s election as a model of transparency and integrity, Sen. Kerry also called for an infusion of cash from the International Monetary Fund to undergird Egypt’s new Islamist government.

The United States, though over $15 trillion in debt, is the leading contributor-nation to the IMF, providing close to a fifth of its funding. That is about three times as much as second-place Japan, more than four times as much as China, more than six times as much as the leading Islamist country (Saudi Arabia), and more than the combined contributions of the three top European donors — Germany, Britain and France. (See Wikipedia Table, here.)  Consequently, a cash infusion by the IMF to the Brotherhood-led Egyptian government would be a redistribution of wealth from American taxpayers to Islamists whose goal is to conquer American taxpayers — assuming, of course, there is any money left in the IMF after the Obama administration gets done using it as the device through which tapped out American taxpayers bail out, at least temporarily, Europe’s collapsing experiment in trans-continental socialism.

Ironically, Kerry’s overtures and pledge of support to the Brotherhood come only a few days after a federal appeals court upheld the convictions of five top Brotherhood operatives in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, the Justice Department’s most significant terrorism support conspiracy prosecution in recent years. As the proof overwhelming demonstrated, the Brotherhood, through its American affiliates, channeled millions of dollars to Hamas to support terror operations against Israel. Hamas is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, and underwriting its campaign to destroy Israel has long been a top priority for the Brotherhood’s satellite organizations in the West — many of which were designated “unindicted coconspirators” by the Justice Department in the HLF case, and shown by the evidence to have abetted the Hamas-support scheme.

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16 Responses to John Kerry, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Copts

  • J. Christian Adams: “It’s Sunny at the White House! But not in Egypt if you are a Christian or a Franciscan nun.

    “All over Egypt, Christian churches are being burned, Christians murdered, and nuns paraded in the streets as ‘prisoners of war.’

    “The war can only mean a war of Islam vs. Christianity, right? What other ‘war’ could they be prisoners of? Their words, not mine.

    “The Muslim Brotherhood, and their thug adherents, are conducting a war of genocide against Christians, and trying to erase the Copts from the land, one of the oldest Christian groups in the world.”

  • I think we can safely put the final nail in “democracy.” It has been overrated for two centuries and frequently abused and exploited. At this point in the game I’ll take any form of government that will ensure rule of law. That seems to me the operative term.

  • I think that Democracy is the worst form of government Matt, as Churchill observed, except for all the other forms of government ever attempted. Our mistake is to view it as a panacea in situations where it is obvious that those elected will swiftly make sure that the only way they can be removed from office is by force rather than by the ballot box. Democracy is only successful if a clear majority of the citizenry are willing to play by its rules.

  • I think we can safely put the final nail in “democracy.” It has been overrated for two centuries and frequently abused and exploited. At this point in the game I’ll take any form of government that will ensure rule of law. That seems to me the operative term. –

    It generally bumps and grinds along passably enough most parts of the world, but it is a tall order in and among the Arab states and we are seeing that graphically demonstrated (though the Algerian disaster, 1988-99, should have instructed us well).

    The alternative to parliamentary government is seldom a dignified autocrat like Augusto Pinochet who makes good calls and generally only jails people who fancy they should be active in politics. You see them here and there, but mostly you get cack-handed military regimes (Argentina, 1943-83), kleptocracies (Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Mobutu and the Somoza crew), abattoirs (China, 1949-76), and cohorts of cousins who are happy to run their countries into the ground so long as they rule the ruins (the Duvaliers and the Assads).

  • To reverse Michelle Obama’s 2008 remark, this is the first time I am not particularly proud of my country.

  • Democracy is only successful if a clear majority of the citizenry are willing to play by its rules.

    I think ‘a clear majority of working politicians’ is closer to the actual prerequisite. You get publics who are fodder for capable demagogues (Adolph Hitler, Juan Domingo Peron, or Gamal Abdel Nasser), but some inscrutable process (or historical accident) must generate the demagogue to make use of the fodder.

    ==

    A real problem we face in the affluent Occident to day is the loss of any sense (in and among the chattering classes) that they compete with others and are engaged in argument. The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has been trying to dissect this phenomenon. Raymond Aron spoke of the ‘unification of the elites’ and Angelo Codevilla speaks of the regime class v. the country class and it seems about right in our time. Conjoin that to very real structural defects in our political institutions (see Anthony Kennedy and Harry Reid) and you get multiple toxic brews.

    There is another problem which has come to the fore in recent years. It is not merely that the regime class cannot process disagreement, but that sections of the fancied opposition are readily suborned. You look at the doings of figures as disparate as John McCain, Reince Preibus, David Frum, Daniel McCarthy, and the crew currently in charge of the Institute on Religion and Public Life and you do wonder if some sort of common social psychological impulse is at work.

  • Yes, USA’s Kenyan Muslim president stumbles from one foreign policy disaster to another along with his enablers.
    It appears that a Coptic monastery was attacked and burned, and this will be the first time in 1600 years that Mass has not been celebrated there daily.
    The Egyptian Army had the common sense to get rid of Morsi.

  • So John FARC Kerry made more stupid comments! This is not news considering Kerry is the source.

    I have despised John FARC Kerry for years. Do you want to know why I call his middle name FARC? FARC is the Spanish acronym for the Marxist narcoterrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. You will hear nothing about what the FARC does in any American media outside of the Miami Herald. In 2003, David Horowitz of Frontpagemag.com quoted then Presidential candidate Kerry as saying, “The FARC has legitimate complaints.”

    Former Colombian President Uribe led the Colombian government to make tremendous gains against the FARC, whcih have been reversed since Santos took power there. Former House Speaker Nancy (“Brainless”) Pelosi blew off Uribe when Uribe visited Washington.

    Muslims have hated Christianity for centuries. Protestants, mainline Protestants, reformed Protestants and evangelical Protestants, rarely did any battle against Islam until Great Britain plunged into the Levant in the 19th century. Therefore, the evangelicals in America have no history of struggling against Islam. They haven’t a clue about Islam.

    The chattering class is, of course, stupid – about Islam and about all other things.

    Only the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have any history of successful struggle against Islam…..and the Vat II bunch likes to pretend it never happened.

    Unlike a golddigging, stupid politician such as Señorito FARC Kerry, I know my Catholic history. We have our heroes – Pelayo, Queen Isabel the Catholic, Servant of God, Don Juan of Austria, and the Polish Hussars led by John Sobieski. They knew what to do when faced with Islam.

    “No more will we hear the taunts of the Mohammedans – O Christians, where is your God?”……John Sobieski

    September 12, the Most Holy Name of Mary, due to the favor requested and received by John Sobieski from the Most Holy Mother of God when the Hussars made one last charge at the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna, will be observed in the Latin Church in just over three weeks. Chances are, most parishes will not even mention it in their weekly bulletins – because it is due to a victory in a successful battle. Pope Paul VI removed the Most Holy Name of Mary from the new Church Calendar. Pope John Paul II put it back – in both the new and Traditional Church calendars.

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  • ‘a clear majority of working politicians’ must consist of statesmen and patriots. The rest are a bunch of imposters, usurpers and pretenders.

  • In the Muslim Brotherhood if a woman is raped, she is put to death, but the rapist goes freeee. I’m am so glad John Kerry as Secretary of State is on the side of Justice and upholds the sanctions against rape of another sovereign person, male or female, or is that too much trouble for Kerry?.

  • Democracy just doesn’t work with Muslims.

    The best compromise is the secular republic model set up by Turkish nationalist hero Ataturk.

    Turkey is over 90% Muslim (large numbers of Greek Christians, Armenian Christians who lived in the area of modern day Turkey were pretty. Much killed off, ethically cleansed after World War I, Muslim Turks used to enslave, tax infidel Christians, but finally they got tired of this and did what Muslim Brotherhood is doing to Coptic Christians now).

    Anyway, the Atakurk secular republic system works OK, there is limited “democracy”, with the stipulation that Tuekey is a modern secular republic, looks to Europe for science, economics, women have education rights, any religious or Marxist groups threaten the secu,ar Republic, Turkish army steps in, kills, imprisons trouble makers. The Turkish mi,Italy has Stephen in a few times since World War II. Islamic parties are pushing their luck in Turkey now.

    In Middle East, secularly army rule in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Algeria is way better than Muslim mob rule.

  • It is a sad state of affairs. As history tends to repeat itself, it would be helpful to study that of the Turkish genocide of the Armenians from the late Nineteenth Century to the time during and somewhat after World War I. Several years ago, I wrote a book report of sorts about “The Burning Tigris” by Peter Balakian. If I may impose upon your time and space, I append it here:

    Armenian Amnesia
    Bill Walsh

    “Who today, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?” – Adolph Hitler, eight days before Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

    Are you old enough to remember your mother or father shaming you to eat everything on your plate by reminding you of the starving Armenians? Most children had little idea what had brought the Armenians to the point of starvation and death. Hitler was right, at least in that no one any longer spoke of it. How much does anyone today know about the terrible fate, between 1915 and 1919, at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, of nearly an entire people who were victims of a secret but entirely official plan of genocide?

    There had been previous murderous assaults against the Armenian people, who had lived two thousand years in their ancient homeland before the Seljuk Turks conquered it. Sultan Abdul Hamid II was responsible for the massacre of about 200,000 Armenians between 1894 and 1896. Behind the opaque veil of mere statistics there transpired vicious scene after vicious scene of unspeakable horror: “soldiers” falling upon them to “outrage” many to death and slaughtering others with sword and bayonet; children set in line to see how many could be killed with a single shot.

    Throughout these years, sadistic brutality raged against the Christian Armenian population of Turkey. Rarely, a fleeting opportunity of survival was offered when the troopers would crash into an occupied church and demand the congregation to deny Christ, and embrace Mohammed. When no one answered, the troops fell upon them, and the butchery commenced until martyr’s blood flowed from beneath the doors of the church.

    In 1909, another paroxysm of persecution occurred in Adana. Over four-thousand dwellings were torched, and thirty-thousand Armenians slain. These nightmares were but practice for the carefully planned genocide the Turkish government carried out behind the obscuring fog of the “Great War”.

    The government decided that the existence of a Christian minority impeded and threatened the destiny and integrity of an expanding Turkish Empire. On November 14, 1914, to marshal the Mussulmen for the task ahead, the sheikh-al-Islam, leader of all the Sunnis, proclaimed a jihad against “infidels and enemies of the faith”.

    The annihilation of one and a half million Armenians commenced on April 24, 1914. On that day, throughout the Armenian villages of Turkey, there appeared a town crier, accompanied by a boy beating a drum, announcing that in so many days they must be prepared to relocate, as part of the war effort, and to assemble at the town square.

    Once assembled, the men were marched out of town, and shot. The defenseless women and children were marched out to a worse fate. As they stretched out upon the roads away from their ancient homes, there lay in wait newly uniformed legions of released-for-the-purpose criminals eager to fall upon them with license to kill.

    One sympathetic witness, Armin T. Wegner, described the doomed deportees arrayed along the road as “like a weeping hedge that begs and screams, and from which rise a thousand pleading hands; we go by, our hearts full of shame.” Most were tortured to death. The thousands drowned by the boatload in the Black Sea suffered less.

    Such horrific atrocities as the Game of Swords, the Dance, and the Cross are too nightmarish to describe here. Those who can endure such lugubrious material should read Peter Balakian’s “The Burning Tigris” published by Harper Collins. Those who would prefer less graphic information may go to the Armenian National Institute’s website: http://www.armenian-genocide.org/index.html

    Is the Armenian massacre alone in the mists of modern amnesia? Are the Kulaks and other millions killed by Stalin in there too? Are hidden also the millions killed in China’s “Great Leap Forward”? Are Pol Pot’s victims in Cambodia and the poor souls we abandoned in Vietnam also lost to modern memory?

    They are where “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” We remain where such terrible things can happen again. We must firmly resolve to see that they do not.

  • William P. Walsh

    I highly recommend the (now banned) History Channel documentary – the Ottomon War Machine:

    http://m.youtube.com/?reload=2&rdm=uid0m1he

    (Search on google, it comes up on youtube)

    The documentary bends over backwards to be fair, respectful to the brutal Ottomon Muslim Turks, but the brutal truths co e through that the Muslims had an open policy of conquest, enslavement of European Christians. the Conquoring Muslims had a policy to grab White Christian girls as sexual slaves, concubines and the Sultans had an interesting policy of ensuring male successors through the children of his White harem.

  • Democracy just doesn’t work with Muslims.

    There are currently elected legislatures and civil peace in two (of three) Muslim states in the Far East, one (of two) states on the Indian subcontinent, 1 (of six) Muslim states in Central Asia, four Arab states, and five (of seven) Muslim states in West Africa. In Kuwait, this has been the case about 80% of the time since 1961 and in Morocco and Senegal this has been ongoing since about 1977.

  • There are currently elected legislatures and civil peace in two (of three) Muslim states in the Far East…

    Actually, that is a pretty dismal scorecard, especially when one takes a closer look at the exceptions (say, Boko Haram in Nigeria.) If anything, one might conclude you are reinforcing the post you reference, as opposed to refuting it.

    Perhaps a better way to analyze or refute any claims regarding the compatibility of orthodox Islam with democracy would be to observe whether a country transitioning into or out of Islamist rigor becomes more or less democratic (and more importantly, more respectful of minority rights). That particular scorecard is similarly not very encouraging (though it, too, contains exceptions — given what happened in Rwanda under Christian leaders, it would be difficult to claim that the rising number of Muslims there is going to make things much worse.)

    Granted, Catholic elites took a very long time to warm up to the notion of democracy, and oftentimes fell woefully short on matters of minority rights, but they have not traditionally punctuated their reservations with suicide vests and exploding underwear to the acclaim of millions of their followers.

McCain Vs. Paul

Saturday, March 9, AD 2013

Not everyone was enamored with Rand Paul after his filibuster this past Wednesday in the Senate. Senator John McCain railed against Rand Paul on the Senate floor on Thursday. If you missed it, here’s a shot of the Senator’s performance:

Grandpa Simpson

 

McCain was joined by his Sith apprentice fellow Senator Lindsey Graham in denouncing Paul’s filibuster. I wish the camera had panned to see if McCain’s mouth was moving as Graham spoke.

McCain wasn’t done criticizing Paul, offering some choice pull quotes to various media outlets, summarized at Hot Air. This one in particular is my favorite:

“They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”

John McCain just said that it’s always the “whacko birds”” who get the media megaphone. Let that sink in for a moment. The same guy who hasn’t turned down a Sunday talk show appearance in thirteen years is implying that only kooks get the media spotlight. If you say so John.

Rand Paul couldn’t have asked for a better angry old man to scowl after him, as Jay Anderson explains.

John McCain railing against Rand Paul’s appeal to “impressionable” kids in dorm rooms is so politically tone deaf and out of touch that it makes Clint Eastwood look like a breath of fresh air by comparison. Yesterday, in a textbook example of EVERYTHING that is wrong about John McCain, just after scolding Paul on the Senate floor, McCain lamented the retirement announcement of 78-year-old Democrat Sen. Carl. Levin who has been in the Senate FOR 35 YEARS since the Carter Administration.

McCain’s world: young upstarts inspiring people to take our liberties seriously and challenging the perpetual war establishment … bad; crusty old farts clinging to power and enriching themselves on the public teet until they’re octogenarians … good.

There’s more to this dust-up than just an old guard versus new guard standoff. McCain and Paul represent two wildly divergent wings foreign policy wings of the Republican Party. Whether you want to call McCain a neocon, a hawk, an interventionist, or some other term that will be invented over the next few years, he certainly has a more expansive view of America’s role in the world. Rand Paul is a bit more of a mystery. While he clearly wishes to narrow the scope of America’s role as global policeman, for lack of a better term, he doesn’t seem to quite share his father’s even narrower vision. Some have speculated that he’s merely toning down his rhetoric in the hopes of being a more palatable alternative in the Republican presidential primaries than his father ever was, though I suspect that’s an overstatement.

Whatever the case may be, Paul and McCain are at opposite poles at least in the Senate’s GOP caucus. Ace of Spades does a good job of explaining why McCain should dial it back if he wants the more interventionist wing to have any credibility. First he explains that he’s not as hawkish as he was after 9/11, yet McCain (and his mini-me, Graham) are still pushing a “super-hawk” line that the public has widely rejected.

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43 Responses to McCain Vs. Paul

  • History will remember McCain for two things: heroically surviving seven years in a Hanoi POW hell and losing the 2008 election to the worst president in US history.

    I would have said worst president in World history, but Obama is fifth (behind Pol Pot, Lenin, Mao, and Stalin). Hugo Chavez is sixth.

  • Mr. McCain has his virtues, but he has long been known as somewhat choleric and impetuous in his inter-personal dealings (“wacko birds” does not rhyme with “brother trucker”, but some of McCain’s Senate colleagues have been called something that does, to their face, rather loudly). Some of us might hope that Rand Paul will formulate a reconstituted isolationism – one free of the often grotesque silliness ambient in palaeoworld (including his father’s utterances).

  • I am far closer to McCain’s views on foreign policy than I am as to what I suspect are Rand Paul’s views on foreign policy although he has cagily left those views unclear. That having been said, McCain’s reaction to the Paul filibuster was absurd. First, because it was the first clear win for the Republicans over Obama since the election. Second, because Paul’s reason for the filibuster was very reasonable: use of drones against American citizens on American soil should be bound by the same restrictions imposed whenever the military is used in police activity domestically.

    In regard to McCain, other than foreign policy he is far from a favorite of mine. In 2008 my wife and I voted for McCain only in order to vote for Palin. Any Republican would have lost in 2008 after the economic melt down, but McCain with his eagerness to suspend his campaign and his desire apparently to win the title of Miss Congeniality, threw any chance he had away. McCain has always been tough on his fellow Republicans and soft on Democrats. In 2010 he won a tough primary race by running as a born again conservative and promptly went back to his old ways after he was safely back in for another six years. I honor the courage McCain showed in the Hanoi Hilton, but that is the only honorable thing about the man.

    In regard to the term “neo-con” I find that hilarious. I was a conservative long before many of the self-described paleocons. My views are by and large the views of Ronald Reagan and if he is called a “neo-con” then the term is devoid of meaning.

  • am far closer to McCain’s views on forein policy than I am on what I suspect are Rand Paul’s views on foreign policy

    In the balance I’m probably a bit closer to McCain, though I think both sides represent flawed thinking in some way. That was my single point of departure from Santorum last year.

    As for the term neo-con, it has been widely misused. I think my favorite use of the term was when it was applied to William Buckley. That said, it does represent an actual strain of right-wing thinking, but it’s just not nearly as prevalent as some paleocons would have you believe. Then again, they seemingly apply it to every right-leaning person who strays even a hint from their way of thinking, particularly on foreign policy. They seem to be more forgiving on economic and social issues.

  • They seem to be more forgiving on economic and social issues.

    Actually, the mask is slipping over at The American Conservative on those subjects.

  • John McCain is IMHO everything wrong with politics. He is a career politician and he is a complete meely mouth in dealing with the opposition. When dealing with his own party he is meaner than a wolfpack hunting down prey.

    McCain will likely be done after the 2016 election. I hope so. Arizona has foistered him on the rest of us for too long.

  • It is a matter of principle. It is an anti-Constitutional act and an immoral act to kill an American citizen not actually engaged in combat against the United States. By the way, ask Obama and Holder if they favor the death penalty.

  • I agree with Don’s comment pretty much word for word. If we had “likes” or “+1s” here, I’d use one.

    John McCain has been posturing in the Senate for so long that the moment he saw someone taking a stand, he assumed it was posturing. His DC guidebook said that Rand Paul is a Republican, so he immediately started shouting him down, never bothering to notice that Paul was objecting to something objectionable. The thing is, this is exactly the kind of issue that McCain would normally be out-front on. McCain’s not a blithering hawk; he’s more than happy to leverage his military experience in exchange for something like closing Guantanamo Bay.

    Everyone else in Washington has to check himself to keep from putting party over principle. McCain puts bashing his own party over principle.

  • As already established, I definitely tilt towards the “realist” school of IR, and find the idea of artificially manufacturing a “world safe for democracy” to be unpalatable, let alone impossible.

    I think the filibuster was important, not only for what was said but for what it showed. The majority of what Rand Paul had to say is common sense, barebone fact, that any reasonable person could accept with only minor disagreement. The fact that McCain, Graham, and Co. feel the need to so forcefully and vehemently attack Paul makes it perfectly evident how far out of touch with reality the “war wing” of the GOP is. The GOP’s foreign policy may not look like Paul’s, but after this eye opening event, it will hopefully begin to look less and less like McCain’s.

  • my main issue with Paul, which isn’t relevant to the narrower point he was making, is that he seems to share his father’s “blowback” theory of U.S. foreign policy. i got this impression from comments he made during the Kerry confirmation hearings.

    understanding why certain people hate you is of course different from sympathizing with their reasons, and worthwhile just as far as general knowledge. but when it comes to drones abroad, the blowback talk makes the potential secondary effect (it will enflame Muslim populations against us) the main point of concern, when to be blunt, if there’s a terrorist we’re unable to apprehend normally, i wouldn’t want someone dwelling much on unintended consequences.

  • There’s a reason they call him McLame.

    In all seriousness, Rand Paul is all over the map when it comes to foreign policy. He isn’t his father, that’s for certain. Most of you appreciate that. I find it unfortunate.

    I’m willing to accept that the US has to remain engaged in world affairs, but I certainly reject the whole project of remaking the Middle East in a Wilsonian democratic fantasy as well as the encirclement of Russia. I can’t even call this a neo-con policy, since our social democrats seem to be even more enthusiastic about it at times. It was Obama, Hillary and Susan Rice who pushed for regime change in Libya, one of the more irrational foreign policy adventures of the 21st century.

    No, there is the establishment/political class consensus on foreign policy, with perhaps minor strategic and tactical differences between the neo-cons and social democrats, and a growing consensus on the margins that is slowly becoming a force at higher levels through men such as Rand Paul. The “marginal” consensus is unclear, beyond a vague desire to dial it back.

    I say let Japan pay for its own army, stop thumbing Russia in the eye, and forget about democracy in the Middle East, forever. Let Europe reap the jihad it deserves for its apostasy and decadence, and put our troops on the Southern border.

    As for the term “neo-con”, well, its convenient at this point. Its out there. If it is offensive I can go with “interventionist.” But when will I ever be paid the courtesy of being called a non-interventionist as opposed to an “isolationist” (i.e. someone who rejects free trade and virtually all diplomacy, like, say, Kim Jong Un)?

  • ” if there’s a terrorist we’re unable to apprehend normally, i wouldn’t want someone dwelling much on unintended consequences.”

    Yes, why think about consequences? Just act, and let everyone else pick up the pieces. Even if those pieces are body parts strewn about a city street.

  • “understanding why certain people hate you is of course different from sympathizing with their reasons, and worthwhile just as far as general knowledge.”

    No, it’s worthwhile for more than just general knowledge purposes–it’s certainly relevant to how policy is crafted and implemented.

    “when to be blunt, if there’s a terrorist we’re unable to apprehend normally, i wouldn’t want someone dwelling much on unintended consequences.”

    Yah, when this type of thinking underlies the entire rationale of the drone program, it’s a big problem. You more or less just said that the attempt to eliminate a terrorist can justify any unintended consequences. I’m sure drone handlers feel the same way, thus the disturbing number of unconfirmed combatants killed, though they fudge the books in order to claim close to 0% civilian causalities. Easy to do when you “count all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”

    Excuse me, but BARF.

    I’ll side with Robert George on this one: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2012/06/18/catholics-should-criticize-indiscriminate-drone-use/

  • “Yah, when this type of thinking underlies the entire rationale of the drone program, it’s a big problem. You more or less just said that the attempt to eliminate a terrorist can justify any unintended consequences. I’m sure drone handlers feel the same way, thus the disturbing number of unconfirmed combatants killed, though they fudge the books in order to claim close to 0% civilian causalities.”

    How does the use of a drone attack differ from the use of an air strike? Would you feel better if we sent troops in to risk their lives to attempt to capture those waging war against this country in areas they control? Our adversaries routinely conduct their opertations in civilian areas. Should that give them immunity?

    When Rand Paul worries about the use of drones in the United States against civilian targets I share his concern. If he wishes us not to use drones to attack those waging war against us, I part company from him.

  • “How does the use of a drone attack differ from the use of an air strike?”

    In theory it doesn’t. But in practice, the advantages of drones (unmanned, lessened fuel restraints, more discreet) allow them to be used in a way that planes never have been. Drones lack many of the restrictions and costs associated with planes; as a result, they are used more indiscriminately.

    “Would you feel better if we sent troops in to risk their lives to attempt to capture those waging war against this country in areas they control?”

    Yes, I would rather put our trained military in harm’s way than innocent goat herders and children. I’m sure this will be a “controversial” claim on these forums, but as a Catholic, I really don’t think there’s any other way to look at it.

    “Our adversaries routinely conduct their operations in civilian areas. Should that give them immunity?”

    George:
    The use of drones is not, in my opinion, inherently immoral in otherwise justifiable military operations; but the risk of death and other grave harms to noncombatants are substantial and certainly complicate the picture for any policy maker who is serious about the moral requirements for the justified use of military force. Having a valid military target is in itself not a sufficient justification for the use of weapons such as predator drones. Sometimes considerations of justice to noncombatants forbid their use, even if that means that grave risks must be endured by our own forces in the prosecution of a war.

    The wholesale and indiscriminate use of drones cannot be justified, and should be criticized. This is something that Catholic intellectuals across the spectrum ought, it seems to me, to agree about. If we don’t speak, who will?

  • “But in practice, the advantages of drones (unmanned, lessened fuel restraints, more discreet) allow them to be used in a way that planes never have been.”

    The barn door has been open in regard to that for some time. We have had cruise missle technology since the eighties and cruise missle strikes tended to be used in operations that we now use drones for. The difference with drones is that we have greater control over them and can target them more precisely than we ever could with cruise missles.

    “Yes, I would rather put our trained military in harm’s way than innocent goat herders and children.”

    Your tender concern for those who go in harm’s way for us is duly noted, along with your falacious assumption that a fire fight with our troops and those shooting at them would not involve civilian casualties. If your main concern is minimizing civilian casualties than the advance of drone technology should be cheered by you.

    “The wholesale and indiscriminate use of drones cannot be justified,”

    That formulation has no intellectual content since terms like “wholesale” and “indiscriminate” are very much in the eye of the beholder. In the type of war we are currently engaged in I view the use of drones as an unmixed blessing as it deprives those who operate terrorist networks of their main defenses which are intermingling with civilians and operation in areas sympathetic to them. They do lessen enemy civilian casualties which I view as a good. Like all military technology it is not a panacea and countermeasures will eventually lessen their utility, but for now they give us an edge. I suspect that those complaining about drones are normally not in sympathy with the war against Middle Eastern extremist groups and that is where the real debate lies and not over a piece of military technology that will inevitably be used in any conflict that arises until the technology is no longer useful.

  • “The barn door has been open in regard to that for some time. We have had cruise missle technology since the eighties and cruise missle strikes tended to be used in operations that we now use drones for. The difference with drones is that we have greater control over them and can target them more precisely than we ever could with cruise missles.”

    Certainly. And that greater control has led to more widespread use, probably in situations and with regards to targets that we previously wouldn’t have considered important enough to vaporize.

    “Your tender concern for those who go in harm’s way for us is duly noted, along with your falacious assumption that a fire fight with our troops and those shooting at them would not involve civilian casualties.”

    I contend that if putting troops in harms way were necessary, a majority of the threats we eliminate would be considered far less “imminent.” Sure, some drone strikes have yielded high profile targets, I’m not going to for a second deny that. Drones are legitimate military technology, and I’m not advocating a ban on them, wholesale. But the ease with which a drone strike can be carried out has decreased our threshold for what constitutes a “positive ID,” while also expanding who we consider to be “enemy combatants” worthy of extermination.

    “They do lessen enemy civilian casualties…”
    While greatly increasing the incidences in which citizens are at risk. Better than the odd cruise missile that kills 30 bystanders, but hardly an “unmixed blessing.”

    Also, you say, “enemy civilian casualties.” I’m not sure how terrorist groups can have “civilians.” Seems you’re either a terrorist or you’re not, and deserve no association with such groups. Perhaps this difference in perspective is the source of our disagreement.

    “I suspect that those complaining about drones are normally not in sympathy with the war against Middle Eastern extremist groups and that is where the real debate lies and not over a piece of military technology that will inevitably be used in any conflict that arises until the technology is no longer useful.”

    Both/and. I have very little sympathy for our campaigns in Yemen, Pakistan, etc, but even if I condoned our involvement therein, as it seems Mr. George does, I’d have grievances with how drones are being used.

  • I suspect that those complaining about drones are normally not in sympathy with the war against Middle Eastern extremist groups and that is where the real debate lies and not over a piece of military technology that will inevitably be used in any conflict that arises until the technology is no longer useful.

    Agreed. Political arguments of this sort tend to be shot-through with humbug.

  • “Yes, why think about consequences? Just act, and let everyone else pick up the pieces. Even if those pieces are body parts strewn about a city street.”

    it must be very easy to take the moral high ground when you don’t accept any level of threat exists/if it does, it’s ultimately the U.S.’s fault for provoking it.

  • JDP, enough with the false dichotomies. There are a vast array of nuanced stances between your position of “I don’t care about unintended consequences” and the straw-man you’ve constructed.

  • “Also, you say, “enemy civilian casualties.” I’m not sure how terrorist groups can have “civilians.” ”

    Considering the support that the terrorists enjoy throughout the Middle East I think it is a fair conclusion to consider those civilians supporting the terrorists to be enemies, just as much as if they were citizens of a state the terrorists controlled.

  • They told me if I voted (holding my nose) for McCain, America would assassinate people all over the globe. And, they were correct.

    He’s a media darling.

    McCain no longer needs to open his mouth, i.e., provide additional evidence. We all know he is a superannuated imbecile.

    Obama’s praetorian media love McCain. He makes the GOP look stupid.

  • but I certainly reject the whole project of remaking the Middle East in a Wilsonian democratic fantasy

    Just to point out it has been attempted in two (2) countries that we were occupying for reasons of state. The alternative suggested to erecting an elected government in Iraq was to appoint Ayad Alawi dictator and leave. That was suggested by Daniel Pipes, whose personal associates are remarkably similar to those of Norman Podhoretz. It is hard to see how that plan was supposed to work. The alternative to attempting that in Afghanistan – laissez-faire – was the policy from 1989 to 2001. The results were deficient in some respects….

  • And that greater control has led to more widespread use, probably in situations and with regards to targets that we previously wouldn’t have considered important enough to vaporize.

    “Important enough” or “enough of a priority”? Do you have any numbers or a list of criteria employed before or after the introduction of this technology?

  • and forget about democracy in the Middle East, forever.

    Assez silly.

  • As already established, I definitely tilt towards the “realist” school of IR, and find the idea of artificially manufacturing a “world safe for democracy” to be unpalatable, let alone impossible.

    IR theorists have long had a common problem, which was distinguishing between the descriptive and the prescriptive in their writings. Realism purporting to be a descriptive account of the dynamics of international politics does not incorporate within it evaluative criteria which tolerably instruct the actor which costs are worth paying and which are not.

  • I guess that for once, I agree with Paul. But at the same time, I do hate young people…a lot.

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  • “the straw-man you’ve constructed.”

    i was responding to one person, and in this particular instance it’s not a strawman

    truthfully though i don’t see a ton of nuance. do we have the right to capture/kill terrorists operating internationally (AKA, themselves rendering the sovereignty arguments moot) if we’re unable to apprehend them normally, or do we hamstring ourselves cuz of “unintended consequences” handwringing, as though secondary effects are the main thing we should be worried about?

  • “between your position of “I don’t care about unintended consequences””

    i said “dwell on”

  • So you “care” about innocent people killed in such attacks, but you don’t “dwell” on their deaths? How disproportional of a non-confirmed combatant to combatant ratio would have to exist before you “dwelled” on the deaths of innocent civilians?

  • “Considering the support that the terrorists enjoy throughout the Middle East I think it is a fair conclusion to consider those civilians supporting the terrorists to be enemies, just as much as if they were citizens of a state the terrorists controlled.”

    Donald, what constitutes “support for terrorists?” Cheering for terrorist attacks? That seems like an absurdly low threshold.

  • “Cheering for terrorist attacks? That seems like an absurdly low threshold.”
    What else would they have to do JL, apply for membership cards? Yeah I regard those ghouls cheering when the twin towers came down to be supporters of the terrorists, just as Germans who thought that the Jews had it coming in the extermination camps I would regard as supporters of the Nazis.

  • ” “Important enough” or “enough of a priority”?

    Seem interchangeable to me. We wouldn’t be using cruise missiles to take out Al Qaeda peons, just like we wouldn’t have authorized the assassination of a Nazi page boy. The alleged “precision” and ease of usability of drones has increased the number of hit-listesque strikes, to the point where I think it’s pretty clear that we’re killing people that fall below “imminent threat” criteria. Makes sense and has precedent– you need some kind of metric to justify continued support for a program. “Suspected combatants killed” is to the drone programs in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia what the “neutralization quotas” were for the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.

  • “How disproportional of a non-confirmed combatant to combatant ratio would have to exist before you “dwelled” on the deaths of innocent civilians?”

    well you could ask the people who decide to operate in these regions

  • Seem interchangeable to me.

    They are not interchangeable. You are lost in the distinction between negligible utility and utility cancelled by costs.

    I think it’s pretty clear that we’re killing people that fall below “imminent threat” criteria.

    You really should not pretend to granular knowledge about that sort of thing.

    The burden of your argument is that the utility of the technology makes it a bad thing because you disapprove of its uses a priori. That is not the most compelling of arguments.

  • JL, I think he is suggesting you pose the question to people who do this what criteria and metrics they are using, instead of just winging off the top of your head (betwixt and between suggesting that the military fire at targets because they have the ammunition).

  • (are my comments being deleted? if so, that’s pretty pathetic, too)

    You’ve confounded Tito Edwards with Mark Shea and Rod Dreher.

  • “Pass the moral decency buck to the Islamic extremist. Bravo, Mr. American Catholic.”

    lol. i didn’t say the fact that al Qaeda exists means we get to wantonly bomb places for kicks, but we aren’t doing that are we

    i just don’t really see what the argument is? either some people are a threat or they aren’t. if we can capture them regularly with cooperation from friendly governments in the region, OK, but it’s not always that simple, and in the case they evade authorities/are out of their reach what should we do

  • also to clarify — i was saying terrorists operating in remote regions place people around them at risk of getting caught in one of these strikes. i wasn’t playing the “they’re worse” card.

  • JL, I deleted your last two comments since you chose to lower yourself to petty insults against another commenter. That is not what this blog is here for. I am placing you on moderation for the time being.

    If you wish to continue to comment here, you might wish to read my post on moderation and banning linked below:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/09/05/why-i-am-friends-with-moderation-and-ban/

  • Interesting, Donald. I’ve been called a jack ass before, but I’m sure my interlocutors were treated accordingly.

  • JL, I am certain that it will come as a shock to you, but I do not spend all my time minding this blog. I have a 60 hour plus a week legal practice, along with my family responsibilities. When I view anything that I regard as a breach of blog decorum I act upon it. I am more likely to see something if it happens in the comboxes of one of my posts or on a post by someone else that I have commented upon. (Not always even then, since days can go by during the work week when I have little time for the blog depending upon how busy I get at work.) I have placed on moderation and banned commenters of all stripes of political beliefs. T.Shaw, who I have on permanent moderation, tends to have similar views to me on most issues and I find him amusing. Nonetheless, because he does not obey the blog rules, he is a permanent guest of House Moderation on this blog.

Libyan Questions

Thursday, September 13, AD 2012

13 Responses to Libyan Questions

  • Another questions:

    1) Have the extremists in Libya access to US weapons ou Kadafi weapons? They used against US embassy?
    2) Why Obama is refusing to listen Israel?
    2) Does Obama administration think that Egypt is ally or not? How so?

  • Why did Obama miss the daily intelligence briefing for the week before the attacks?

    http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/obama-intelligence-briefings-embassy/2012/09/12/id/451610

  • Is a majority of the voting population of the US aware of these issues (in spite of the disinformation from the main steam news media) so that it can finallly see through the smoke and mirrors of this President and his supporters?

  • This fits into the Demoralization category.

    There are answers, but these would cost tickets to partying at the parties of infamy and, probably their press agent jobs.

    No one will give answers to a journalist because our violence conductors are covered by power now and want to expand that power.
    And security forces protect them from the people who are the instruments of violence.
    And there is no ‘court’ on temporal earth to sort it out.
    Accountability and transparency not this time either.

    It is another attempt for wrong to defeat right into oblivion with unanswered questions.
    And, also, to obliterate that line between both good and evil, and truth from lies.
    And, to tire and defeat the questioners.

    They can try, meanwhile the press agents and people who are tools should check out the holder of the qualities of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence for a better perspective.

    Just who is waging war on peace with hate, lies, and violence? It’s a big story to write for both the uninformed and for vindication.

  • The president missed his daily intel briefing because he’s too busy doing what he does best- campaigning. This guy has done NOTHING but campaign since he entered the U.S Senate. Unfortunately, the American people are too focused on the likes of Jersey Shore and Keeping up with the Kardashians and the politics of envy to care what happens to this country.

    Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves.

  • For #4– It’s 9/11 and you’re in the middle east. Seriously, how much of a “credible warning” do you NEED?!

  • “For #4– It’s 9/11 and you’re in the middle east. Seriously, how much of a “credible warning” do you NEED?!”
    Bravo, Foxfier!

  • Turner Classic Movies is airing “55 Day at Peking.” How appropriate!

  • One of my favorite films T. Shaw! Note the prayer and artillery sequence at the beginning of this clip:

  • Phillip asks “Why did the President miss his daily intelligence briefing the day after the attacks?”

    Because the attack had already happened. Nothing to worry about at that point. And Axelrod and the media had the scoop on the culprits who caused it all – the filmmaker and Romney.

  • Thanks, Mac.

    I missed much of the movie, but saw that scene. Mr. Heston taking the orphan on his horse was (to me) a fitting end.

    What struck me was that the make-shift mortar was about a million times more dangerous to Heston and the padre than to the Boxers.

    Of interest, Sgt. Maj. (then Pvt.) Daniel Daly, USMC won his first (he had two, the other 1915 for Haiti) MoH for extraordinary action in that campaign.

    “for service as set forth in the following

    “CITATION:

    “For extraordinary heroism while serving with the Captain Newt Hall’s Marine Detachment, 1st Regiment (Marines), in action in the presence of the enemy during the battle of Peking, China, 14 August 1900, Daly distinguished himself by meritorious conduct.”

    re: “meritorious conduct”: From “Unto the Breach” blog:

    “During the 56-day seige of the international compound, Capt. Hall went to bring reinforcements to reestablish their defensive line when the German outpost was pushed back. Pvt. Daly remained behind, singlehandedly defending a bastion on the Tartar Wall against hundreds of Chinese forces – armed only with a bolt-action rifle and bayonet. Daly held his position overnight, and Marine Corps legend states that the bodies of 200 dead Boxers littered the ground when reinforcements arrived.”

    “Born: 11 Nov. 1873, Glen Cove, N.Y…. One of only 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice… Of the 19 double recipients, is one of only two men to receive the Medal for two separate engagements… Offered a commission on several occasions but refused… Also saw action at Hayti and fought during World War I… Also awarded the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Cross… Retired as Sergeant Major in 1929… Namesake of USS Daly (DD-519)… Departed: 27 Apr. 1939.”

    Legend has it that at Chateau Thierry (I think) he motivated his troops, who were held up by machine gun fire, by shouting, “Get up, you s.o.b.’s! Do you want to live forever?” I imagine Achilles and Hector used similar motivational oratory.

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Egypt and the Obama Doctrine

Friday, February 11, AD 2011

 

 

I was inclined to cut the Obama administration some slack initially in regard to the crisis in Egypt.  It is a tough situation and it was difficult to see anything that the US could or should do.  Mubarak has been a friend to the US during his 30 years in power, faithfully kept the peace with Israel, and worked with our intelligence agencies against Islamic terrorism.  However, there is no doubt that he is a dictator, albeit one of the best of a very bad lot in the Middle East where dictatorship is the norm outside of Israel, Turkey and Iraq, and no American can weep for his fall.  However, what replaces him could be far worse.  A tough situation and not a whole lot the US can do to influence events.  Therefore I was initially sympathetic to Obama’s dilemma.

However, the utter cluelessness of his administration throughout this mess has ended my sympathy.  Endless, feckless posturing, combined with impotence, is not a foreign policy but rather a vaudeville act.  This was on full display yesterday when Leon Panetta, CIA director, stated publicly that he had reports that indicated Mubarak would be stepping down yesterday. This was completely erroneous as events proved, but it made worldwide headlines.  It then turned out that Panetta was not basing his prediction on intelligence gathered by his spooks, but rather on media reports.  I can think of few better illustrations of the level of amateurish bungling that has been the hallmark of the Obama administration in regard to everything they have touched.  The Obama Doctrine consists of the following elements:

1.  Speak loudly and carry no stick.

2.  Watch a lot of tv to find out what is going on in the world.

3.  Make endless statements to the press and, never, ever, have a plan as to what to do if you actually have to back up the statements.

4.  Always remember to never let a crisis go to waste and attempt to get maximum positive press coverage out of it, because that is what all crises are truly about.

5.  Obama needs another Nobel Peace Prize to keep his first one company.

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12 Responses to Egypt and the Obama Doctrine

  • Panetta’s cluelessness was pathetic. Still bleary and without coffee to clear the cobwebs, I woke up Thursday knowing that Mubarak would effectively tell Obama to butt out. For 30 years, Hosni did our bidding, took our money, enriched himself and was a good boy. Now he is no more the useful idiot.

    Consider: 80 million people and 0.5% gather to demonstrate — a rabble at best — and this is supposed to be the spark of democracy, which has become the running media narrative. Had tens of thousands of protesters, fed up with high taxes and inflation, surrounded the White House and called for Obama to step down, they would have been branded Tea Party radicals and, not leaving and growing more restive, would have been arrested and hauled off to Gitmo for questioning.

    OK, an exaggeration, but the point being that it is palpably true that Presidents, past and presidents, pick and choose which dictators to support or oppose (Allende, Pinochet, Castro, Musharaf, The Shah Ahmedinejad, etc) solely on the basis of “national interest.” So what is the “national interest” in Obama pushing a known ally, Mubarak, out the door, in favor of an unknown person or entity. Such a power vacuum would not only be filled by radicals (Muslim Brotherhood, bent on destroying Israel, our best Mideast ally), or lead to civil war, which could have dire economic consequences if the Suez Canal is shut down. Talk about a world economic collapse!

    As I write this, CNN and all the other networks are broadcasting live shots of mobs chanting anti-Mubarak slogans, sticking microphones in some camel driver’s angry face, eliciting more invective, which purports to reflect the “mood of the people.” Egged on by the likes of Richard Engel of NBC, Ben Wedeman of CNN (both fluent Arabic speakers), ginned up by the anchors back home, hoping for some “action” – some blood would be good for starters but the best would be to see Mubarak dragged from the palace and be strung up like Mussolini. Can you imagine the ratings?

    “We warn viewers about the graphic images they are about to see. If you have children in the room you might want to tell them to leave. We’ll have exclusive new video of the Egyptian President’s gruesome death after this commercial break.”

    Turn off the TV cameras, let the Army restore order and by September Mubarak will be gone. But then that would ruin the show, wouldn’t it?

  • Panetta should’ve kept his mouth shut. But events have unfolded as the Obama Administration had planned. Mubarak screwed up his announcement, maybe intentionally.

  • On closer inspection, maybe the angry mob has lots of Steeler fans upset by the no-call on Big Ben’s failed 4th-down pass. : )

  • None of this makes sense if you think in a rational context. It makes a heck of a lot of sense if you consider that Obama and his minions are revolutionaries and use the power they have to instigate ‘change’. This smells a lot like 1789.

    Should we be surprised? The petrodollar oil regimes, the global financiers, the socialist/Marxists have been in control of the ‘education’ of Western bureaucrats, journalists, academia, think-tanks, private ‘philanthropic’ foundations for over 20 years. The level of indoctrination makes the Western view of Middle-East murky at best. What do the jihadists, autocrats, socialist/Marxists all have in common?

    The fear of American inspired democratic processes toppling the current order. Whether they want a Caliphate, a personal wealth enriching dictatorship, or a Marxist revolution is irrelevant so long as American ideas might gain ground. They intend to take out the common enemy, us, and then battle it out for domination. Unfortunately, we have been infected by a parasite at the highest levels – we have more Marxists and jihadists running things now than at the height of the Communist infiltration during the Cold War.

    American ideals and Marxism and Jihadism are not compatible. One or the other must win. How do you win a fight if you won’t acknowledge that you are actually in a fight?

  • I dunno. There’ve been some sloppy moments, but I don’t think President Obama has made any bad plays. There weren’t a lot of options.

  • Announcing that Mubarak is definitely stepping down, right before he says that he isn’t going anywhere, NOT a bad play?!? Please elaborate, this should be interesting.

  • It seems that the dog has caught the car. Now the dog has to figure out what to do with it. Tremble.

  • Did the President himself ever say that, other than in an open-ended way in reference to Mubarak’s statement that he’d step down after future elections? If he did, I missed it.

  • The chief executive is responsible for the public statements of those he manages and directs. Whether he said it directly or not, he certainly didn’t correct anyone who did say it.

    Voting ‘present’ may work for an Illinois state Senator, but it is not permissible for the chief executive.

  • It’s funny how Obama found out about today’s resignation (2-11-2011 AD) of Mubarak, which reflects Obama Doctrine #2 2. Watch a lot of tv to find out what is going on in the world..

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2672229/posts

    How feckless.

    I’ve haven’t seen feckless leadership like this since Cardinal George vacated the USCCB presidency.

  • Well at least the teleprompter wasn’t the one that told him.

  • Folks,

    Obama is an idiot with an ego just like the rest of the useless Democrats. And nope, I don’t put my faith in the RINOs either. Vote Constitution Party. At least their platform more closely conforms to Christian principles, and even though they can’t win, by voting for them you’re conscience will be clean.

Obama Approves Assassination of Citizen

Thursday, April 8, AD 2010

When Catholics justified their decision to vote for Obama, they did so on two grounds: healthcare and foreign policy. The premise was Obama would actually save lives through healthcare and through his more peaceful foreign policy, thus outweighing the damage he would do through his promotion of abortion.

I never found that premise convincing. Not only did I think they underestimated the damage abortion does, but I also believed that they were ignoring what Barack Obama was actually promoting in his foreign policy. To make a long story short, I think most people assumed that since Obama was a Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq that he would be the opposite of Bush when in truth their positions are very similar.

Since taking office, Obama has largely followed the lead of his predecessor. However today news is coming out that he has surpassed his predecessor in circumventing due process: Obama has authorized the CIA to kill a US citizen believed to be involved in terrorism (H/t Vox Nova).

The idea that an American citizen can be killed without a trial outside of battle is a troubling one, regardless of whether you voted for Obama or not. The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.

To take away human life outside of self-defense is a power no one, including the President, possesses. One will hope that the media will publish this and emphasize it so that public pressure will dissuade Obama from taking this course of action. Unfortunately, one has to doubt that that hope will be realized.

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63 Responses to Obama Approves Assassination of Citizen

  • Oh, but surely the president deserves the benefit of the doubt! He has “more information” than we do! And he should be allowed to do anything to save american lives!

    At least, this is the defense you people made of Bush. Now you’re criticizing Obama on the same grounds?

    Of course, much of Obama’s foreign policy is sheer evil, just like Bush’s. But do forgive me if I find your opposition of it laughable, considering you defended Bush’s policies. Your concerns ring hollow.

  • An interesting debate on this topic taking place on National Review Online:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/

    I found this comment by Jonah Goldberg interesting:

    “Re: Assassinating Awlaki [Jonah Goldberg]

    Just my quick two cents: I think this is a good and fine debate to have, but it’s worth considering that one reason we’re having it is that the White House wants us to. As Steve Hayes noted last night on Special Report, the news that we would be targeting Awlaki was leaked months ago, around the time of the Christmas bomber. It was releaked this week, perhaps to counterbalance the news that the White House is considering removing references to Islamic extremism in its national security strategy.”

  • The Catholic Anarchist’s response to the news that the man he voted for is willing to have the CIA assassinate an American citizen is to rant against Bush and his supporters. I am shocked, shocked!

  • I will have to let the others included in the group of “you people” answer for themselves, whoever “you people” is meant to address.

    However, I think you need to show me where I defended Bush’s policies. To my knowledge I have never done so on a blog. While I was very much a neocon in 2004, as I learned about Church teaching in college I came to oppose Bush’s foreign policy in regards to the war in Iraq, treatment of prisoners, etc. I don’t believe I have ever blogged supporting Bush’s actions, so I presume your accusation against me is nothing more than reasoning by stereotype & generalizations rather than any substantial basis.

    But of course, I digress. Whether or not my concern is has ill motives does change the fact that what I’m saying is true. I’m the one who voted against the man who’s trying to assassinate American citizens and you’re the one who voted for him.

    Donald:

    That is an interesting idea. Obama’s pretty good about getting the media to follow along; I wonder what the strategy is.

    And you are more than welcome to continue to post clips from Casablanca on any post I write. In fact, this post is surely deficient for lacking clips from that classic movie.

  • One of my rules of life Michael is that there are few things that cannot be made better by a Casablanca reference!

  • To quote my mom:
    “Life is technicalities.”

    I have no problem with murderers being targeted for death, I object to this one being killed without a trial to revoke his citizenship. (on the basis of having declared war on the US, if this is the youtube fellow I seem to remember)

    (Ed note-No profanity, even if merely abbreviated.)

  • I have no problem with murders being targeted for death

    Typical view of The American Catholic.

    (Ed-I changed your quote of him to what I changed him to say without the language).

  • Foxfier:

    They still retain human dignity and ought not to be killed, regardless of what they have done, unless self-defense requires it. There is no reason this man should not be “merely” imprisoned.

    MI:

    You really need to stop arguing by association.

  • You really need to stop arguing by association.

    And you should take your own advice, methinks.

  • MD-
    Sure there is: we can’t do it, and trying to will make for a nice big pile of dead bodies. Failure to act has already resulted in innocent deaths– in part because this unspeakable has been able to be at war with a nation without even losing his citizenship of that nation.

  • Foxfier:

    Do you have any evidence of someone who has died b/c the United States was trying to capture this man rather than assassinate him?

    MI:

    This thread is not about my decision to blog for TAC so please stop submitting comments in that regard. Needless to say, I do not agree with everything my co-bloggers or the commenters say. In fact, I accepted the invitation to discuss those differences.

    Furthermore, as one of your co-bloggers has just mentioned some support for Obama’s decision at your blog, you should check your own house.

  • Question:

    What’s the standard?

    What I mean is, under what circumstances may the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States authorize armed force against an enemy person?

    Obviously we don’t try all enemy soldiers in American courts prior to bombing their positions.

    On the other hand, obviously the President shouldn’t be able to declare any given Person X somewhere in the world to be an enemy and have him shot.

    Somewhere between those two extremes is a line, which can be demarcated on the basis of moral principles.

    What’s the standard?

    I notice that the article brought up whether the target was on a battlefield. In this war, what battlefield would that be? A Paris nightclub? An apartment in Beirut? A city street pretty much anywhere?

    It seems more pertinent to me to ask whether the subject is armed…but once the Nazis bedded down for the night, they weren’t armed. Yet I suppose we were perfectly willing to bomb the Nazi barracks, and I don’t suppose that was unjustified.

    What then?

    Perhaps the concern is whether the man is an American citizen? Hmm. The only way that seems pertinent to me is that, if we can capture him, we should try him for treason instead of locking him up until end-of-hostilities as an unlawful combatant. I mean, if we’re talking about a matter of human rights, and not just the particular privileges of citizenship.

    I don’t mean to make absurd comparisons here. Of course I see the difference between blowing up a guy’s house in Kentucky and blowing up a Nazi barracks.

    But I want to see the standards and criteria for authorizing force spelled out in plain language. It seems to me that doing this allows those standards to be evaluated dispassionately.

    So: Those of you who think the CIA hit isn’t okay: What’s the least alteration in the situation required to make it okay? Those of you who think it’s fine: What alteration would make it beyond the pale?

    Where’s the line? What’s the standard?

  • God Bless America! I just want everyone to know how much I love my country.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    If this doesn’t make you cry, you’ve got the devil in your soul.

    (Ed-note: This is not an actual comment from Iafrate but a joke played on him)

  • I for one find this development troubling on several levels. This is very much in line with the previous administration’s foreign policy, but it goes a step further.

  • Yes, the thing that Obama defenders seem to be missing out on this topic is that by ordering the killing without trial of an American citizen, Obama is taking a step which the Bush administration explicitly declined to do. (And rightly, I would argue.)

    Ordering any kind of assassination is troubling from a moral and a legal point of view, and it is (I think) with good reason that US law has generally forayed this. Setting the precedent of ordering the assassination of a US citizen (even on suspicion of terrorist involvement) without trial essentially means that Obama is claiming the authority to order the death of any person, at any time, for any reason.

    That’s not something one wants any authority to claim. (And someone who imagines this is “the same” as having the authority to order military action is either ignorant or duplicious.)

  • I just wanted to make sure you all saw this, so here it is again.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    Why, I love this song so much that I may never post anything else here again.

    (Ed-note: this is not an actual comment of Iafrate but a joke played on him.)

  • First, will whoever it is that is manipulating Michael I’s posts stop?

    Second, Michael D: did you read the updates on the link? Already the discussions are open.

    Third, Darwin, are you so sure?

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/politics/2856-cia-has-program-to-assassinate-us-citizens

  • Only American citizens deserve human dignity?

    I’m not really worked up over this one way or the other, maybe because I don’t see any other president doing any differently, but I do find it somewhat disturbing that some believe killing Americans is somehow less immoral than killing non-Americans.

  • Would you be worked up about it if Bush did do so?

  • Restrainedradical

    For me, the issue is that this is another step away from human rights; I agree with you that assassination is wrong, whether or not an American. However, there has always been a sense that Americans are given more rights and protections – rights and protections I think which should be extended outside of America, but instead, we see the rights and protections being eliminated, to make everyone equal.

  • Henry,

    Is this the WaPo article – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012604239.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2010012700394 – with this correction:

    “Correction to This Article
    The article referred incorrectly to the presence of U.S. citizens on a CIA list of people the agency seeks to kill or capture. After The Post’s report was published, a source said that a statement the source made about the CIA list was misunderstood.”

  • The posts attributed to Iafrate are simply wrong. I disagree with the guy on a lot of things and I wouldn’t exactly consider him the most considerate and thoughtful person around the blogosphere, but while I appreciate the humor of it, it’s just wrong and makes you all look bad.

    It’s your blog to do with as you see fit. I’ve voiced my opinion in the past that I don’t think you should moderate even the worst of his comments because most people can see them for what they are. They’re a true reflection of what he stands for and his character. Posting comments under his name that he clearly didn’t write shameful and even worse than the way the other blog refuses to post comments that challenge the fallacies and unwarranted assertions offered.

    I would remove the comments, apologize, and promise to not do anything like this in the future. Common decency dictates that, and your regular readers deserve better (at least this regular reader thinks he deserves better).

  • Michael’s posts are faked?

  • Jonathan

    A couple things. If you read beyond that, there is still the assertion of Americans being targets, just the CIA source is wrong. Second, there are other articles and discussions on the CIA affair– not just that one article. So, it is possible they were wrong, but as I said on the VN post, there are all kinds of indications which the Bush administration favored such actions and did them — even if we cannot prove it, I suspect this is not new, a creation ex nihilo, but an open admission to what was once not open. That is my intuition. Even if I am wrong there, there is nonetheless evidence which, though not proof, shows why one can suspect it is the case — and again, the line beyond what you quote is indicative of that, too.

    Still, Obama is bad for doing this. But to believe it is new… and the Bush team opposed such an idea? Read Cheney.

  • The posts attributed to Iafrate are simply wrong.

    Agreed RL. Completely classless. Michael’s a troll on this blog, no question about it. And anyone familiar with his writings will recognize the joke. But editing comments that way is a basic violation of blogging etiquette (as is the delete-all-dissent (DAD) policy at VN from some writers) and it shouldn’t happen. Apologies are owed to Michael I.

  • I generally approve of what Obama is doing here. I can see the other side but I think he is solid COnst grounds here.

  • If it was found in WWII tha there were in a army camp numbers of Japanes Americans that had returned to Japan to fight could we bomb it or since it they are citizens would we have to send in the FBI to arrest them

  • “The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.”

    I think calling this the Death penalty , while a good way to try to put this in the Civil Context , is largely incorrect.

    We currently have an young American Citizen from Mobile Alabama that is in Somilia (at least was) creatingterror and destruction in his for work for AQ. In his spare time he sends out videos urging all to the join the war against the United States

    Woull targeting him be the death sentence or would it be valid military exercise?

  • I woke up this morning to the altered comments. As they’ve been discussed, I don’t think it’s fair to delete them but for the sake of avoiding any confusion I have added a note to both comments making it clear that the content was not of Iafrate’s doing. As I didn’t do the editing, I think that’s all I can do other than to promise that there will be no further editing of comments in my threads other than modifying inappropriate language. I apologize for the editing that took place and am trying to rectify it as best I can.

    If there’s anything else MI would like me to do (or anyone has suggestions for me to do), please let me know.

  • Jh:

    I’m thinking about it, but let me ask you a question: what is the difference between an assassination and a “valid military exercise?” That is, is it always permissible for another country to execute kill orders for the leaders of the opposition? If say Robert E. Lee had been shot in the back during the Civil War by a Union sniper, is that morally acceptable as a “valid military exercise?”

  • Michael D:

    Actually, there is a real-life example you can use: the targeted shooting down of Japanese Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto’s plane while on an inspection tour. Yamamoto’s plane route was discovered because we had cracked the Japanese military code. The attack was authorized by President Roosevelt:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoroku_Yamamoto#Death

  • Michael There would be nothing wrong for a Union Sharpshooter to shoot General lee in the back

    Union and Confederate sharpshooters were shooting Officers all the time

  • Jh:

    My example was poor. Let be more specific-General Lee is sitting 300 miles from a battlefield visiting with his family. He sits down to the dinner table with one of his kids on his knees. At that moment, the Union sharpshooter fires. Or we can play with the example of a regular private, sitting at home with his family.

    I think we would agree that a sharpshooter in the heat of battle is justified in aiming at officers-it causes confusion and makes victory more likely, not to mention it is battle. One can further argue that when one is conducting military missions, like the example Price gave, one can expect to be attacked and so is permissible.

    I don’t think that however we can argue that a participant in war is subject to be killed at all times regardless of whether or not they are involved in the war. A soldier on leave is not a target.

    What makes the problem fuzzy w/ Obama’s decision however is trying to decide what constitutes a battlefield here. I’m not prepared to say that the decision to be a terrorist constitutes a continuous act of war. I think the US has the right to seize him arrest and use force to do, including the force necessary to defend the soldier’s lives. I’m not prepared to say that if they find him unarmed & alone they can kill him.

  • Michael D:

    A soldier on leave is not a target.

    Exactly. It is more than this, but this is the heart of the issue — for a war to be just, there are all kinds of rules for war; among them is how one finds targets (which goes with the question, is the soldier acting as a soldier, or outside of that domain). To approve of assassination in this instance is to extend the domain of the battle and the domain of what is and is not soldiering, both of which are troubling.

  • Of course the classic example is Adolph Hitler. Even before we were at war with Hitler I would have had no problem, moral or otherwise, with anyone assassinating Hitler after he came to power in Germany. The question gets much murkier when we are dealing with smaller fry in service to evil.

  • I don’t think that however we can argue that a participant in war is subject to be killed at all times regardless of whether or not they are involved in the war. A soldier on leave is not a target.

    I may be wrong on this, but I’m not aware of any restriction on killing enemy soldiers who aren’t on the battlefield or on leave or whatever. Nor is it clear what the moral difference would be.

  • If there’s anything else MI would like me to do (or anyone has suggestions for me to do), please let me know.

    Whoever did it should personally and publicly apologize.

  • I may be wrong on this, but I’m not aware of any restriction on killing enemy soldiers who aren’t on the battlefield or on leave or whatever.

    You are wrong. The church condemns the killing of non-combatants.

  • BA

    Actually, just war theory discusses the status of soldiers, and makes sure that they must be, when engaged, combatants; military necessity and proportionality are a part of the ways this is addressed in classical terms. The soldiers can be captured, but if they have given up fighting, they can’t be killed as if they were still fighting. And if they are, for example, off the battlefield, they are no longer fighting.

  • BA

    BTW, this is why we can’t just take out wounded soldiers or prisoners of war; just because they are soldiers does not mean they fit the status of combatants, they can lose that status in various ways.

  • Actually, just war theory discusses the status of soldiers, and makes sure that they must be, when engaged, combatants; military necessity and proportionality are a part of the ways this is addressed in classical terms. The soldiers can be captured, but if they have given up fighting, they can’t be killed as if they were still fighting. And if they are, for example, off the battlefield, they are no longer fighting.

    I agree with all of this except the last sentence. I’ve never seen any discussion of Just War stating that you can’t kill enemy soldiers when they are “off the battlefield,” whatever that means.

  • BA

    Just gave you an example where this debate actually exists in the tradition — naked soldiers taking a bath. And if you agree that prisoners of war or wounded soldiers cannot be taken out indiscriminately, why? What makes them no longer free game, if they are still soldiers?

  • BTW, this is why we can’t just take out wounded soldiers or prisoners of war; just because they are soldiers does not mean they fit the status of combatants, they can lose that status in various ways.

    Soldiers who are captured or wounded are *incapable* of fighting, and thus have traditionally been protected as noncombatants. That’s a far cry from someone who is capable of fighting, and who isn’t doing so at the moment only because he’s not aware of your presence.

  • Just because they are wounded or captured does not mean they are incapable of fighting; many wounded people get up and fight, and many people who are captured struggle for release. They might be less capable, but so is someone who is not on the battlefield, without any weapons of any kind. Capture them, if you wish. Assassinate when they don’t possess a threat? What?!

  • You are wrong. The church condemns the killing of non-combatants.

    Well sure. But an enemy soldier is a combatant.

  • Just gave you an example where this debate actually exists in the tradition — naked soldiers taking a bath.

    Larry May (the author you cite) argues that you shouldn’t kill a naked soldier but says that this is not a matter of justice but humaneness, and admits that his position is not the standard one. The only source he cites discussing the issue, Walzer, treats it as obvious that killing the naked soldier is permitted.

  • Just because they are wounded or captured does not mean they are incapable of fighting; many wounded people get up and fight, and many people who are captured struggle for release.

    Right, and if a wounded soldier picks up a gun and starts shooting or an enemy soldier tries to escape then they lose the protection of noncombatant status. Do you not agree with that?

  • BA:

    The point of the article is that it is an issue of concern and debate within the framework of just war discussions. And humanness and mercy is within the context of just war discussions (see Augustine). More importantly, your answer “and if they pick up a gun and starts shooting” goes back to the naked soldier point. They are not with a gun, not shooting. Remember, one aspect of just war theory is response must be just — which goes with the humanness issue of the article but he didn’t put it in that context — that is, if you can capture without killing, that is what is expected.

  • “if you can capture without killing, that is what is expected.”

    In the case of al Qaeda-style terrorism, the likelihood of a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed arrest scenario is probably low. More likely the “combatants” will go out like the Madrid train bombing cell.

    This is what is so vexing about jihadist terrorism; it exists in limbo somewhere lower in intensity than conventional warfare, but significantly more intense than organized crime. The Catholic moral philosopher has his work cut out for him. What is the battlefield, and who are the combatants? Is a UAV-fired missile strike legitimately called assassination, or is it just the regular course of this type of warfare? I’ve seen this stuff argued back and forth in comboxes ’til everyone is blue in the face, but I haven’t found a good treatment of the subject from a Catholic perspective.

  • Well sure. But an enemy soldier is a combatant.

    No, not always. I saw a Marine havin’ lunch at the Pizza Hut the other day. Is he a legitimate target?

  • I saw a Marine havin’ lunch at the Pizza Hut the other day. Is he a legitimate target?

    No, but then he’s not an enemy soldier either.

  • No, but then he’s not an enemy soldier either.

    Not to his fellow lunchtime buffet diners, no…

  • This is a fascinating discussion. With regards to these latest posts, though, how plausible would it be that an individual Marine would be targeted for an attack?

    For the purposes of the analogy, it might be better to consider a high-ranking officer, someone who has been promoted off the battlefield but nonetheless plays a major role in directing operations–say, a member of the joint chiefs of staff, or the enemy organization’s equivalent.

    When and when would not that individual be a legitimate military target?

  • And what about civilian commanders like a head of state? What about president-elects who have no power yet but certainly will unless stopped?

  • Pingback: Blog Comment Policy and Conflict « The American Catholic
  • Has anyone yet proposed a standard for what constitutes a combatant who may be legitimately targeted?

    I mean, IF…

    1. He has participated in attacks, or the planning of attacks, against the U.S.; and,

    2. He declares himself to be at war against the U.S.; and,

    3. It is not feasible to capture him;

    THEN, if he’s in a cabin or compound by himself, is it okay to blow the place up with a Hellfire missile?

    Under what circumstances is it not okay?

  • * crickets chirping *

  • The way I understand it is that in war one does not directly aim to kill but rather one aims to stop an unjust agression. Such is the case with self-defense also. Not clear at this point but some argue this is how the Church has moved captial punishment – from punishment to defense of society. Thus the moral object (perhaps) is the use of force to render an attacker impotent and not killing of the attacker. That consequence may be forsee under double effect but again is not directly intended.
    Can such an argument be used here? There is a person who is in fact, if not at that moment at some point in the past and probably in the future, involved in attacks on the US. Can we apply the above reasoning. It seems hard to make the argument that one is not directly intending the killing of a specific person in this situation. Perhaps an argument can be made that it isn’t and is licit. Perhaps, if as noted above capital punishment is not direct killing, one can apply the principle of the state executing a person to defend society.
    Then it would seem clear the guilt of the individual would need to be clearly established. In that case one would need to argue that a finding by the President on secretly held information would suffice. Does the Church say that determinations of guilt must be public and/or judicially based?

  • Phillip:

    I don’t know of any direct Church teaching on that point.

    Unless there is some passage of which I am unaware which says otherwise, I expect that the rule is a matter of the morality of individual action, initially, with social and corporate action envisioned as an outgrowth and an organization of the former. It is to the individual act that universal and objective moral laws are directly applied; the corporate organization of a nation’s laws is reflective of this individual obligation indirectly, showing forth the moral pattern at higher levels of organization in a fashion similar to the way a fractal pattern is repeated at larger scales.

    If so, then a need for determinations of guilt to be public and judicial in character is not a primary moral obligation but an outgrowth of that which is healthy for society; namely, the rule of law and the need that society’s judgments in matters of life and death be carried out in “daylight” and with great deliberation whenever possible.

    That, of course, is healthy for society. But note the caveat “whenever possible.” It is not always possible.

    The law, as it ought, provides for instances in which a man defends his family or even his property by armed force against an intruder “in the gravest extreme”; that is, when the need to stop the criminal attack is now and the soonest intervention by police is ten minutes hence. If Person Y comes storming into Person X’s house in the middle of the night, and Person X stops the invasion with a firearm, thus killing Person Y in the process, no crime is committed. (Provided there’s no disparity of force, that Person X didn’t chase Person Y while Y is fleeing the scene, and so on.) The normal orderly intervention of society was not possible in this instance.

    So too there may be — in fact, certainly are occasions when a trial and a civilian conviction and incarceration are impossible responses to an attack. Military initiative is therefore required instead. I don’t think anyone denies this; the question is how to write our laws in such a way as to (1.) adequately anticipate this need and allow for it under the law, so that the rule of law is not visibly violated every time one of these exceptional cases arises, and (2.) write the law in such a way that it does not allow the unscrupulous, incautious, or confused to exercise military initiative in instances where a capture and trial are plausible.

    Writing the law to meet those two goals in a fashion sufficient to satisfy all observers is impossible. Satisfying most observers is extremely tricky even if some of them weren’t biased towards finding fault. In an adversarial political system, in which half the observers are finding fault wherever possible in order to win the next election, you probably won’t even be able to satisfy a majority of observers.

    Which is why I wasn’t surprised when, in response to my two requests that someone propose a standard or even lay out where they thought the lines should fall, I got the blog equivalent of chirping crickets. (Even among this usually quite vocal crowd!)

    Now in a sense that request isn’t quite fair of me. Or, if the request is fair, it isn’t quite fair that I should waggle my finger at everybody for not proposing a standard. After all, I haven’t proposed one, either!

    But I’m making a larger point; namely, that criticism of a president for “going too far” in this area of policy is meaningless unless one has a standard by which one may judge he has gone too far. Without the standard, how does one know if he has gone too far?

    We have here a crowd of folks some of whom gave G.W.Bush quite a tongue-lashing for the laxity with which he carried out policies in this area. Later, a slightly different crowd with (tho’ with some overlap) gave Obama equally nasty language for doing basically what Bush did, or perhaps a bit more.

    Now one would guess from all these loud pronouncements of fire and brimstone against both presidents that every poster here has in mind a standard of what is and isn’t appropriate target-selection, which (1.) he knows to be the correct standard, (2.) can articulate, (3.) can defend against other proposed standards, and (4.) which one or both presidents have violated.

    But I suspect very few if any of the posters here really do have a well-defined standard in mind. At least I haven’t heard one articulated. And I myself am having difficulty coming up with one, so I suspect others are as well.

    But why, then, are folks giving Bush and Obama a lot of grief, if they can’t even say for sure that either man is operating outside the correct moral standards for this area of policy-making?

    I suspect it’s for two reasons: (1.) We have a gut feeling that this targeted assassination (what a choice of words: why is it considered assassination, I wonder, rather than an attack or assault?) is going too far; and, (2.) Even if it isn’t, we’re aware that a precedent granting the president power to do this sort of thing is dangerous when wielded by a man without a well-formed conscience.

    Now item (2.) is entirely logical, and if we all opposed this policy on the basis of avoiding the precedent, I would not complain of holes in our argument.

    But it seems to me that some folks are composing their criticism in such a way as to imply that Bushama have violated a standard of policy-making which everyone ought to know and which Bushama has no excuse for not knowing and following. It seems to me that they’re making this implication, without actually articulating the standard, because in reality they don’t have a clue exactly what the standard is.

    And, as I said before, I’m not sure what it should be, either.

    But let’s face up to it. On Argument 2 (dangerous precedent) we can articulate exactly what the problem is. But on Argument 1 (violation of an objective moral standard) all we have is gut feeling. And I don’t think it’s very just to blame Bushama for not having the same gut feeling as we, and following it.

  • R.C,

    I think your points are well made. There is certainly a tendency to think politically and it affects both sides of the house. I think this is showing up now on this issue. I think it has been more prominent on the torture issue. I have asked plenty of times some very vociferous opponents of torture what licit interrogation looks like and gotten no answer. I think the terrorism piece makes traditional assessments more difficult and need to be looked at dispassionately. But this is perhaps a reflection on the current state of American politics.

  • The danger in this case, and many other cases, in this thing we used to call the “global war on terror” is this- we become too accustomed to the demonization effect that creating a special kind of warfare always produces.
    Because the Muslim jihadists who cloak their cause for war in their faith make us uncomfortable, we decide that they are terrorists, rather than merely being unlawful combatants engaged in combat against a signatory nation to the various Geneva Accords. When we have to make them special because they are non-standard enemies, we commit ourselves to mental, legal, and geo-political gymnastics that always seem to produce bad results and bad decisions.
    The no-good, non-state, illicit Muslim jihadi swine declared, through action, war upon the United States (a signatory to the Geneva Accords).
    Congrtess should have declared war upon them and their supporters wherever they may be found- what they did, was authorize the POTUS to take whatever military action necessary to bring them to heel.
    In this case, the POTUS had, and still has, the legitmate authority over the armed forces of the US to prosecute the war as necessary (in compliance, where understood, with international standards for war).
    What you describe here, and what is not particularly new, is the POTUS ordering civilian (non-military) security and intelligence personnel to take lethal actions in cases where such authority is suspect at best. If the military commander assigned to the area of responsibility locates, targets, develops and strikes said scuzzy individual into non-existence, so be it. But where and when will end the POTUS’ authority to issue “kill” orders against “terrorists” at his own discretion, apparently independent of his authority as commander in chief? Certainly not at the conclusion of hostilities. Unable to even formulate a strategy to defeat global jihad without conducting all-out war, the Pentagon has adopted the capstone military concept of “persistent conflict.” Do not look for the conflict to ever end, nor for the military to seek victory.
    At water’s adge? That famous dividing line for domsetic politics is now long gone politically, as well as operationally. The new administration has been most vocal first in extending to domestic political enemies the moniker of “potential terorrists” and in declaing that home grown extremism (worded to appear to account for MAJ Hasan, in reality the wording more closely fits previous warnings about Tax Tea Partiers) is a gfreater threat than Al-qaida.

    In my opinion, the lout is an absolutely valid target. So kill him in combat, not as a covert operation of clandestine intelligence services.

4 Responses to Biden Was Right

The US of Empire

Thursday, January 15, AD 2009

This is a thesis that could use far more development than I can give it at the moment, but I hope I can lay it out clearly enough that to generate some interesting discussion and perhaps revisit it later.

It’s frequently complained that the US is in danger of becoming a global empire. Traditionally one elaborates on this by quoting Washington’s farewell address if one is of the right, and by citing the evils of colonialism if one is of the left.

I’d like to suggest that the imperial horse has pretty much left the stable a long time ago. The US has been a global empire since World War II, and since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been the sole global power. Although, like the later Roman Republic, the US has not actually taken direct political control over countries beyond its traditional borders (nor does it collect tribute from abroad) it has a sphere of influence covering much of the known world and is repeatedly involved in exerting pressure or deploying force to ensure regional conflicts do not spin out of control.

This in itself is perhaps not a terribly unusual thesis.

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29 Responses to The US of Empire

  • What of — not only lefty americans but — the countless peoples throughout the world who do not see u.s. imperialism(s) as “generally a good thing.” Do their voices matter?

    Are global empire and “isolationism” the only alternatives?

  • Also:

    Empires are obviously not the only means of “keeping the peace” and spreading “culture and technology.” What of those who see the u.s. not as a force for peace but of destabalization? The Iraq experience should at least clue you in to this possibility. Do the views of these people not count?

    Does the u.s. “keep a lid on nationalistic conflicts”? Really? Has it done so in the Middle East? Elsewhere? What of the u.s.’s own nationalism?

    I could go on. But these questions are glaringly absent in your brief reflection.

  • Its okay for me for the US to step back and let other nations resolve international issues. France has attempted to do so in Georgia and the EU has attempted in Iran.

    The problem is that these countries also have to be willing to do the heavy lifting (financial aid, military intervention etc.) when called to do so.

    As my dad says, “You drive the car, you gotta pay for the gas.”

  • One other thought. As Mr. Obama is about to find out, its one thing to make pronoucements from the grandstands, its another to actually try to call the plays on the field. I look forward to the efforts of other countries.

  • Michael,

    What of — not only lefty americans but — the countless peoples throughout the world who do not see u.s. imperialism(s) as “generally a good thing.”

    Certainly everyone “matters”, but when there is disagreement among people as to which of two alternatives should be followed the supporting of one side over the other does not mean a rejection of the worth or human dignity of those one opposes.

    The question I would ask in this regards is: Overall, do people _want_ the US to withdraw back within its own boarders and keep to itself, or do they sometimes find their pride offended by the US’s power, and yet actually appreciate the results of having it be a global power.

    I’m reminded, tangentially, of the interview I read some years ago with an Iraqi man who’d been wrongly jailed (they got the wrong guy) and suffered some of the abuse at Abu Graib. At the end of the interview he was asked, “What can the US ever do to make up for what it’s done to you and your country.” He answered immediately, “I would really like a green card.”

    Also instructive is the experience of many former British colonies. They pretty universally wanted Britain out, and yet increasingly people in places like Singapore and India are realizing they are actually much better off as a result of their colonial experience. Historical evidence would similarly suggest that most peoples brought into the Roman sphere of influence at first resented Rome’s presence, and yet the world still benefits from the legacy of Rome’s empire.

    What of those who see the u.s. not as a force for peace but of destabalization? The Iraq experience should at least clue you in to this possibility. Do the views of these people not count?

    I would tend to think that their analysis is wrong. Remember, the reason the US was even in the area in the first place is that Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia, with the result that the US stepped in and pushed them out again.

    It’s certainly a subject that could be debated, but my current impression is that the US is more stablizing than destablizing.

    What of the u.s.’s own nationalism?

    As I wrote recently, I think the modern US is actually pretty free of nationalism properly definied. In that sense, it’s well placed to act on the global scene in a way that more nationalistic powers (such as China) are not.

  • Philip,

    Its okay for me for the US to step back and let other nations resolve international issues. France has attempted to do so in Georgia and the EU has attempted in Iran.

    The problem is that these countries also have to be willing to do the heavy lifting (financial aid, military intervention etc.) when called to do so.

    Agreed. I guess my contention is: I think we and the rest of the world have got used to the benefits of having some sort of global power keeping order — and none of the other candidates (as shown by the failures of the UN, EU, France, etc.) are really cut out to do the work.

    I’m not at all sure that I like that we’ve got to this position, but it strikes me that it may be a situation we need to recognize and live with.

  • What of — not only lefty americans but — the countless peoples throughout the world who do not see u.s. imperialism(s) as “generally a good thing.” Do their voices matter?

    Of course they matter, but keep in mind that neither their disapproval nor the general approval of the right makes or breaks the argument. As I note, I only bother saying this because too often I’ve encountered relativistic discourse in which “feelings” alone are the guide to anything. Arguments for or against American imperialism need to consider a number of prospects like the question you asked at the end of your first comment:

    Are global empire and “isolationism” the only alternatives?

    I like this question, because it is probably one of the most serious questions we can ask. As a global power, can we only either hide away from the world or be overbearing in the world? I would argue that global empire and isolationism are not the best way to set up the question as either-or. I would say that the first either-or is either we can interact with the world, or we can isolate ourselves. After that, if we choose interaction, we then have to ask to what degree and in what realms.

    Economic interactions seems quite sensible, since trade typically benefits both parties involved (unless one partner runs up a huge deficit importing and does very little exporting). But once economics are involved, politics have to become involved in order to protect trade investments. (I know this may be a point of contention, but simply put, do we really believe, given fallen human nature, that without political involvement trade will always proceed peacefully and justly?) And once politics are involved, then the military necessarily becomes involved, at the very least as a means of last resort.

    This does not mean that a global power must needs be overbearing in dealing with other nations. Hubris is always a problem when power is involved. But here there are also important questions to ask. Why is a particular nation a global power? If it is because it is doing things right, one could make an argument for having a stronger influence on neighbors, allies, and others. If it is because it is doing things wrong, then one could make the argument that national influence should be kept to a minimum. But then, who thinks it is going to be one way or another?

    Let’s look, for example, at the case of “exporting” democracy to the world. Now, we know that–for quite a while, anyway–that the American experiment of a democratic republic has worked with amazing results. Because we’re doing something right in here, it makes sense that we’d want to encourage others to do the same. What many–Bush included–got wrong was that they supposed some sort of “immaculate conception” of democracy, that anyone with a democracy will automatically find themselves in a better society. Yet underpinning the success of our democratic experience is the strong Christian principles that we are rapidly sloughing away. Without any firm grounding of moral, social, political, and even theological truths, democracy is nothing more than the “tyranny of the majority”. Anything goes, as long as a majority of people agree with it. Thus we have democracies that we’ve backed immediately elect terrorists into office, or at least people who hate Western values and would revert the newly democratic state back to a dictatorship.

    Back to the question of how influential a global power should be. This question essentially boils down to: what are the power’s legitimate needs, and how threatened is that power by other powers in the world? For example, how important was it to the United States to keep Hitler from conquering Europe? How important was it to the United States to keep Europe from falling under the Iron Curtain? How important is it to the United States to protect Europe from a) itself b) secularism and c) Islamic radicals? How important is it that United States deals with terrorism abroad? I’ll concur that Iraq wasn’t really necessary, by the way, but what about Afghanistan and the Taliban?

    Frankly, I think the United States could step back a ways from the national scene and let others shoulder some of the burdens, but we can’t forget that because of her power, the United States has grave responsibilities to the rest of the world. The degree of influence, I believe, is what we’re talking about, and let more learned men than myself haggle over the details.

  • “Agreed. I guess my contention is: I think we and the rest of the world have got used to the benefits of having some sort of global power keeping order — and none of the other candidates (as shown by the failures of the UN, EU, France, etc.) are really cut out to do the work.”

    Yup, I think they’ve gotten pretty used to having the military (and a large part the financial side) taken care of by the US. I just think there won’t be a desire by most countries to shoulder the responsibility their decisions will entail. At least not till we’ve refused to follow their lead and they’ve had to pay for the gas.

  • “Frankly, I think the United States could step back a ways from the national scene and let others shoulder some of the burdens, but we can’t forget that because of her power, the United States has grave responsibilities to the rest of the world.”

    I would agree. But I would also say the rest of the world has responsibilities towards the US in the use of its power. I think the debacle in diplomacy leading up to the Iraq war was fueled in large part by international powers not addressing legitimate US concerns. Also the occasionally hinted at hope for an Athens/Rome nature of a future European/American relationship smacks of European intellectual arrogance not to mention historical amnesia.

  • Ryan,

    a sphere of influence covering much of the known world and is repeatedly involved in exerting pressure or deploying force to ensure regional conflicts do not spin out of control

    I think you’ve done a great job of defending the notion that this interaction is largely good for the world.

    US of Empire…evils of colonialism

    I would suggest that opposition to the use of “empire” and “colonialism” to describe this interaction is in order as well. While it’s common in left-wing and certain right-wing rhetoric to use such language, I think that America’s world position is decidedly different from one of colonialism or empire. All of the nations in the US sphere of influence are completely free to leave that sphere and many have. They do not need to fear military reprisal, or even, in most cases economic reprisal. The use of force or sanctions against any country by the US has not been a result simply of departing the “empire” but due to other obvious reasons.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • All of the nations in the US sphere of influence are completely free to leave that sphere and many have. They do not need to fear military reprisal, or even, in most cases economic reprisal.

    You ARE aware of the history of u.s. military interventions since WWII, right? A good overview is William Blum’s book Killing Hope. It may open your eyes just a little bit.

  • How about the Friedman-ites’ economic meddling in Central and South America, oftentimes complemented by U.S. military power…

  • Michael,

    I am aware of the history of u.s. military interventions since WWII. Why don’t you tell me which ones involve a state that tries to leave the US sphere of influence and is met with reprisals? Of course, the example could not involve cases where US citizens are kidnapped or killed, US embassies are bombed, genocide or massive human rights violations are involved, as those circumstances would at least arguably be the principle reason for the US reprisal.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Mark,

    perhaps it would be best to discuss a particular instance rather than vague generalities?

    To be clear, US foreign policy has not always been ethical, and benevolent to a particular country. I’m simply on the one hand agreeing with DarwinCatholic’s assertion that US interactions have on the whole been beneficial, and on the other hand that the US sphere of influence can not be reasonably called an “empire”.

    When Ceasar puts down a rebellion he doesn’t do it with economic meddling or low-level covert operations….

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Interesting post, DC… it reminds me of a a couple books that I’d started back in November but had to return to the library before I could finish (all in good time, I guess), both by Andrew Bacevich, a conservative who came to see US policy and culture as overly militarized. (It’s one of those unfortunate realities of human nature that I was more willing to give this thesis a hearing from someone like Bacevich precisely b/c of our broader agreements… I need to keep working on that. 🙂

    He did prompt me to reexamine some of the premises which serve as the foundation for my own views on US foreign policy, among them my somewhat reflexive assumption that a foreign policy which has (military) power projection as a key component is an absolute. As he notes, this is a view which is taken for granted on both sides of the aisle in Washington, but which *needs* to be reconsidered.

    More apropos to DC’s post, I think we need to look again at the idea that if we don’t do “it”, no one else will… perhaps that’s true, but perhaps rather than simply going it alone, we might make new, differing attempts to rally others to the cause (advancing the common good of humanity). People who’ve known me for years will be shocked that I’m saying this, but wouldn’t it be great if we could redirect a significant portion of our defense budget in another manner, whether by giving it back (tax cuts), paying down the debt, or other domestic programs?

    Okay, time to shut down the rambling. As I said, DC, nice post.

    (Sorry for the absence of late, btw… between work, holidays, impending birth, and sickness, it’s been a crazy couple months.)

  • Matt,
    Read about Guatamala in 1954. The coup backed/initiated by the Eisenhower administration against the socialist government.

  • How do you see the principle of subsidiarity coming into play, in the situation of a U.S “empire” generally, but especially in those countries that experience the influence of the U.S.?

  • Zak,

    I won’t defend the CIA backed coup in 1954. However, let’s be honest about the facts around it and the concerns that led to US support for it.

    Unlike you I will actually make a case instead of telling you to read a book. In my point that this was not empire-building it is necessary to consider the point of view of American leadership, and not 20/20 hindsight.

    1. Arevalo the overthrown leader’s predecessor had greatly expanded freedoms and was moving Guatemala towards stable democracy while preserving a free-market economy. At the same time, there was a degree of communist penetration into his administration.

    2. The key opponent of Arbenz to succeed Arevalo, Franciso Arana was killed in a gunfight. While it appears this was the result of a failed coup on his part, Arbenz and Arevalo concealed this and reported that he was killed by unknown assassins. This led CIA to conclude that Arbenz had done away with his opponent to ensure his subsequent electoral victory.

    3. The US initially had hoped to work with Arbenz and considered him a moderate. He received US military aid early in his regime.

    4. Communism was becoming stronger under Arbenz. Given the the Cold War, a strong communist presence in Central America was seen as a serious threat to US security.

    5. As Arbenz electoral coalition began to fold, he relied heavily on his close friends in the PGT (communist party), this was particularly concerning to the US.

    6. A “land reform” law (read confiscation of private property, which was ruled unconstitutional by the supreme court untel Arbenz fired all the justices) that was believed to be initiated by PGT began to radicalize the moderate revolution which had been occurring in Guatemala. This radicalization would empower the PGT, and was thought to be under the influence of the Soviet Union. This radicalization was criticized by the Catholic Church.

    Subsequent investigations have mostly proven that the action taken by the US was not justified, and was unduly influenced by private concerns (US Fruit), that doesn’t change the fact that at the time the US was deeply afraid of communist expansion. Bear in mind that this was during the Korean War, which we suspected then, but now know involved participation of the Soviet Union in attempting to expand communism by force in a region that it was able to establish a foothold.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Kyle,

    US foreign policy does not well respect the principles of subsidiarity, buy then again neither does the federal government’s domestic policy, at least since FDR.

    On another note, if the US “sphere of influence” is an “empire” it seems to be a particularly ineffective one because we can’t even get our “colonies” to vote with us in the United Nations.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt,

    I think that you’re right generally speaking “sphere of influence” is a more accurate term than “empire” for what the US currently has. The reasons I chose to use the more inflammatory terms were basically:

    1) A case of adopting the terminology of those who advocate a much smaller global role for the US while arguing challenging their assumptions as to whether those terms necessarily connote something negative.

    2) Trying to work towards awareness. It strikes me that in many ways the US right now is in the position of the Roman Republic circa 200-150 BC, post Carthage but prior to actually taking control of any lands outside of Italy. At that point, it did not have an “empire” but was behaving increasingly imperial in the sense of enforcing order outside Roman territory, and then retreating back to Italy once they’d secured a friendly power in charge.

    It strikes me that if this way of looking at the US position in the world is accurate, it’s important to realize it so that we can make the right kind of decisions for ourselves and for others. In many ways, it was the Romans’ refusal to admit that they were running an empire of influence that led to some of their decisions which resulted in running an empire of direct authority instead.

  • Kyle,

    From a subsidiarity point of view, I don’t really like the situation, though as I said: One of my fears is that since we’ve effectively been doing this for the last 60 years, we can’t really back out now without either passing power pretty obviously to another power (as the Brits did to us after WW2) or creating a lot of chaos.

    However, I think the right course of action would be to maximize subsidiarity within the existing order in the sense of being clear about what sort of things we _should_ push for in order to maintain international order and otherwise knowing to back the heck off and let people do their own thing.

  • Michael & Mark,

    I’m not trying to argue by any means that every time the US has intervened in international situations in the last 60 years, it necessarily made things better or did the right thing. More that the benefits of the US being an empire of sorts outweight the negatives — and that since this seems to be the situation it should perhaps be acknowledged more clearly in order to maximize benefit and minimize harm.

    Nor would I necessarily say that the US has some sort of innate right to hold this role, or is ordained by God to do so or some such nonsense. Clearly, other nations have done similar things before, with varying results. The Soviet empire was pretty appalling. The British empire a mixed bag but certainly seems to have done the “anglosphere” a lot of good in the long term. The Hellenistic Greeks and the Romans both ran empires that were are times cruel and clumsy and oppressive in their actions, and yet in the long run did the world great benefit.

    I’m mostly arguing that we should both recognize what we are for what we are, and following from that seek both to do the best that we can at the position that we have taken upon ourselves and also think to the future and make sure that we work well with our potential successors (at the moment, India springs to mind) since no nation holds international hegemony forever.

  • Darwin/Brendan,

    a fair point, I guess I’m a little leery of surrendering the language on this. Your concern about crossing a threshold to true empire is valid, and something that is important to discuss while attempting to avoid the blind rhetoric.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt,
    My principle goal was to point out to you a case where a state tried to leave the US sphere and was met with reprisals. Your description of the events makes clear that you recognize that it happened, so your scepticism about it in your comment to Michael seems unwarrented. I will not defend Arbenz, but I will say that “fear of Communism” is the position used to justify a multitude of sins in US foreign policy, just as fear of Islamic extremism has been used to justify torture, preventive war, and a foreign policy that has diminished our ability to secure allies to achieve our goals.

  • principal, not principle, althoughI think my goal was principled.

  • DC,
    Are you familiar with the work done on Empire as an alternative model of international relations (as opposed to anarchy, unipolarity); not as a pejorative criticism? One of my professors at Georgetown, Daniel Nexon, has been exploring this subject at length.

    http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=F0168951CF6824F3DB911A28D402F80E.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=1028252

    He argues that since WWII, the structure of international relations has definitely been imperial, and that understanding US relations with Pakistan, for example, is best done using this framework (like understanding Roman relations in the Near East from 50BC through 100AD).

  • Zak,

    My principle goal was to point out to you a case where a state tried to leave the US sphere and was met with reprisals. Your description of the events makes clear that you recognize that it happened, so your scepticism about it in your comment to Michael seems unwarrented.

    I guess I should have been more clear in my post and that is my fault. Referring back to my original post:
    The use of force or sanctions against any country by the US has not been a result simply of departing the “empire” but due to other obvious reasons.

    The other obvious reasons are fear of Communist take-over followed by aggression which would ultimately lead to the destruction of the USA and her allies.

    I will not defend Arbenz, but I will say that “fear of Communism” is the position used to justify a multitude of sins in US foreign policy,

    It was expressly not my intent to defend this, or any other particular US action, but to demonstrate that it was not aimed at building or maintaining an empire, but at protecting itself from Communism (justifiably or not).

    just as fear of Islamic extremism has been used to justify torture, preventive war, and a foreign policy that has diminished our ability to secure allies to achieve our goals.

    Are you saying that the fear of communism or Islamo-fascism are not legitimate and grave enough to take extraordinary measures?

    In any event, there is no justification for torture, nor has their been any significant defense of it. Only an important argument about what torture is.

    God Bless,

    Matt
    ps. on a side note, I think the people of Guatemala today are doing much better than those still imprisoned under Castro…The ensuing events in Cuba suggest that the dangers of a communist takeover were serious and long-lasting to the inhabitants and to the USA.

  • I’m mostly arguing that we should both recognize what we are for what we are, and following from that seek both to do the best that we can at the position that we have taken upon ourselves and also think to the future and make sure that we work well with our potential successors (at the moment, India springs to mind) since no nation holds international hegemony forever.

    On the contrary, rather than simply “recognizing what we are,” perhaps we can think of what we are called to do christologically (as we are supposed to do in ethics, right?). The united states, rather than “recognizing what we are” needs to engage in a little bit of political kenosis or self-emptying, as Paul talks about. If Jesus is really Lord, and if we are really supposed to follow him, then we can’t isolate our foreign policy from his influence.

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Did the U.S. Commit "Terrorism" in Syria?

Tuesday, October 28, AD 2008

Michael Iafrate of Vox Nova condemns the United States for a brutal act of “terrorism” in conducting a strike into Syria against an al Qaeda facilitator.

In typical fashion, Michael likewise insinuates that Sarah Palin approves abortion bombings and alleges that, by virtue of the fact that nobody at American Catholic has yet commented on the story, we are quite obviously racist:

Of course the “pro-life” Cathollic barfosphere, so vocal in the “defense of human life,” remains utterly silent in the face of the Bush administration’s ongoing acts of terrorism. Of course, these weren’t cute white babies who were slaughtered, were they? That explains it.

Michael’s penchant for profanity, libel and general elementary school antics does nothing to enamor readers of his position or the Catholic blog he represents. Yet I think he deserves a response (however meager) …

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37 Responses to Did the U.S. Commit "Terrorism" in Syria?

  • More background on the Abu Ghadiyah network in Syria

    http://counterterrorismblog.org/2008/02/aqi_facilitation_networks_stil.php

  • The idea that countries may give sanctuary to terrorists and be immune from the consequences of their actions defies history and common sense. Syria has now been put on notice that the US will no longer tolerate their collusion with Al Qaeda, and my only regret is that we didn’t do this years ago.

  • The always indispensable Michael Yon has an informative piece on the strike.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/syria-iraq-bloody-border-messy-politics/

  • I hope Michael or anyone else who disagrees with Chris will engage the substance of this post… great post, Chris.

  • Donald,
    I would disagree. I think, rather than primarily signifying that you can’t harbor terrorists, it signifies that powerful states can ignore international law.

    International relations depend on the norms accepted by the participants, and here the US is suggesting that the norms are those of Thrasymachus.

    A grand strategy that would better serve us (and which would arguably be more Christian) is for us to argue that powerful states must abide by the same rules as all others, and to have our actions match our words.

  • Aside from Blosser’s typical cut-up job in which he suggests that comments I made about the Catholic blogosphere in general were made in direct reference to your blog (which is misrepresentation and nothing more), Blosser’s main point seems to be: this certainly could have been an act of terrorism, if we knew that civilians were directly targeted. But since we don’t have all the facts, we don’t know. Blosser assumes that, even though their goal was to kill one human being, these eight human beings were somehow not directly targeted. (Reminds me of that old show Sledge Hammer in which the main character often would blow up a building in order to kill a criminal who had run inside to hide. The show made a mockery of the notion of double effect that Blosser carelessly applies.) The assumption that these deaths were “collateral damage” is an assumption just as much as mu view that they were intentional. The thing is, my assumption is based on the actual history of united states military actions, while Chris’ is based on the illusion that the united states only kills when necessary, or by accident.

  • And for someone who claims in his writings to take just war tradition seriously, that Blosser would actually defend such an action shows that he does not take it seriously at all. Just war teaching allows for no such actions.

  • shows that he does not take it seriously at all

    Or that he might be mistaken in his application of it, but that wouldn’t fit with your preconceived notions of Chris, Michael. Better and easier just to impugn him.

  • Chris, I could charitably say that he was “misapplying” just war teaching if there was any evidence of him actually attempting to apply it at all in this case.

  • For the sake of argument, Michael, I’ll grant that there is no such evidence. My point is simply that it seems (as I’ve proposed elsewhere) better to give Chris the benefit of the doubt and *inquire* and dialogue with him about that. Instead of saying that he doesn’t take just war teaching seriously at all, given that he does even attempt to apply it in this case, why not *ask* him if he’s applied said teaching, and how he arrived at the position he did having done so?

  • [Michael]: Blosser’s typical cut-up job in which he suggests that comments I made about the Catholic blogosphere in general were made in direct reference to your blog

    After Chris Burgwald protested charges of racism, classicism and nationalism, you responded:

    I’ve noticed your blog, Chris, has not condemned this action of the united states against innocent people. And of course it won’t. You guys are too busy belly aching over how badly Joe the Plumber is being “persecuted.”

    I think it a fair assumption that your prior remarks would apply to “his”/our blog as well, insofar as American Catholic is presumably part of “the Catholic blogosphere in general.”

    However, if you’re willing to retract your charges and amend your post, I’m perfectly willing to accept your apology.

    [Michael:] Blosser’s main point seems to be: this certainly could have been an act of terrorism, if we knew that civilians were directly targeted. But since we don’t have all the facts, we don’t know. Blosser assumes that, even though their goal was to kill one human being, these eight human beings were somehow not directly targeted.

    All you had rely on in your post, Michael, is a rather flimsy story culled from the headlines — your impulse was to play judge, jury and executioner on the basis of sparse details and rival claims as to the intent of those involved and the identities of those slain.

    My point: I think charity demands we refrain from doing so.

    You bemoan my hesitancy to apply just war teaching in evaluating this particular incident — I would go further in saying that there are likely those who are far more qualified than you or I to make an accurate assessment of what happened based on the facts, and that we do a disservice to the just war tradition when we indulge in speculations and condemnations based on insufficient evidence.

    (The history of a similar “rush to judgement” further compels me to wait until “all the facts are in”).

  • Mr. Blosser,

    What has been your stance about the US invasion and occupation of Iraq?

  • The irony is that to garden-variety leftists like Michael I., it’s America’s fault both for 1) allowing Arab terrorists to enter Iraq and kill people there (i.e., for allowing people to die in Iraq), AND for 2) trying to stop Arab terrorists who have killed people in Iraq. Catch-22.

  • Michael I.,

    Why are your posts on Vox Nova so full of hate and vitriol, but in the American Catholic comments box you are very civil and polite. I hope your commenting skills will spill over into your posts.

  • S.B. – The united states does not have the right to invade other countries whenever it feels like it, even if Syria is “harboring terrorists.” It goes against international law as well as the just war tradition of the Catholic Church.

  • Blosser – Is that your advice for the families of the victims? “Just wait until the ‘facts’ are in. Charity, charity.” Give me a break.

  • Michael, since when is this about what *advice* to give the families? I thought the point was regarding the *justice* of the actions… even if it *had* been a just action, there’s no “advice” that would have solaced the families of innocent victims… would you tell them, “Oh, it’s okay, this strike was justified under the auspices of just war teaching of the Catholic Church.” Of course not.

    Tangentially, Michael, why do you capitalize “Syria” but not “United States”?

  • Because he’s a classic troll . . . he writes not for the purpose of rational debate, but just to ignite other people into reacting.

  • Blosser – Is that your advice for the families of the victims? “Just wait until the ‘facts’ are in.

    As far as “advice” to families of those killed, I agree with Chris Burgwald.

    Given the deaths of civilians I would hope there to be a full investigation into the matter by the proper authorities to determine culpability.

    On the other hand, we very well could form a mob, hold a public lynching of the soldiers involved and get it over with, facts be damned — just as Senator Murtha did in the case of Haditha.

    It would certainly save us a lot of time and thought.

  • On the matter of international boundaries, Zach says “rather than primarily signifying that you can’t harbor terrorists, it signifies that powerful states can ignore international law.” True, but there are limits to the case. Weigel makes a good point that “the principle of state sovereignty must not be considered exceptionless.”

    Suppose an Indian government, controlled by militant Hindu nationalists and capable of deploying nuclear weapons, decided to settle the “Pakistan problem” and redress what it considered to be the fundamental injustice of the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, using its claims to sovereignty in Kashmir as the opening wedge for military action. Or at a somewhat less apocolyptic level, suppose the government of Turkey decided to rid itself of the Kurds in the manner in which it had once decided to rid itself of the Armenians. Does the principle of state sovereignty mean these affairs would be no one else’s business? Would it constitute a fundamental breach of the principle of sovereignty of an international force — or an individual state, for that matter — intervened to stop the genocide of Christian tribesmen in the south of Sudan?

    Put that way, the question seems to answer itself: whatever else it might mean, the principle of state sovereignty cannot mean that states are free to engage in the indiscriminate slaughter of religious, racial, or ethnic minorities within their borders. When that is taking place, othes have a right — perhaps even a duty — to intervene to stop the killing.

    (Idealism Without Illusions/U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1990s pp. 99-100).

    Syria continues to be a state-sponsor to terrorism — but quite apart from Syria’s hosting of terrorists within its borders, the problem remains of its porous borders. According to the December “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” report to Congress, nearly 90 percent of all foreign terrorists known to be in Iraq had used Syria as an entry point.

    The target in question — Abu Ghadiyah — was not only complicit in funneling terrorists across the border, but himself a leader in terrorist acts:

    Last spring U.S. intelligence picked up similar reports that Abu Ghadiyah was planning an attack in Iraq. The information — not detailed enough to act on — was followed by the murder of 11 Iraqi policemen. Abu Ghadiyah personally led the attack, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press.”The trip wire was knowing an attack was imminent, and also being able to pinpoint his location,” the official said Monday.

    So there is no question that the target was legitimate.

    According to the same AP report, the U.S. had requested Syria “hand over Abu Ghadiyah months prior to the raid, the intelligence official said. Syria rebuffed the U.S. request, saying it was monitoring Abu Ghadiyah’s activities.”

    Should they have gone across the border? — I don’t know.

    How much actionable intelligence did we have?

    How close were we to taking out Abu Ghadiyah?

    Was it a reasonable presumption that those men in Ghadiyah’s company were complicit in his activities?

    Was there any off-the-record notification of Syrian authorities? — One account alleges that “The Syrians were unwilling to be seen publicly bowing to US pressure to tackle the group, he says, but in the end gave the Americans the green light to do so themselves.”

    Did the authorities give consideration to the minimization of civilian casualties? — According to the AP, “A ground attack was chosen over a missile strike to reduce the chance of civilian casualties.”

    Meanwhile, the Syrian government appears at odds with local authorities as to how many people were killed:

    The government statement said eight people were killed, including a man and his four children and a woman. However, local officials said seven men were killed and two other people were injured, including a woman.

    A journalist at the funerals in the village’s cemetery saw the bodies of seven men — none of them minors. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained.

    Lastly,was the United States prepared to deal with the aftermath that would follow when the incident went public?

    There is a lot we don’t know and sorry, I’m not going to imply that I’m competent and knowledgable enough to register a judgement on the culpability of those involved.

    Tangential note: I predict we will be revisiting this argument under the next presidential administration, given suspicions that Osama Bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan and/or being assisted by Pakistani elements, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that President Obama may embark on a similar ‘across the border’ excursion to apprehend another terrorist.

  • Apologies — for some odd reason, when you insert something in “blockquotes” WordPress renders the first paragraph in bold. Never figured why it does that or how to circumvent.

  • Chris – Who are “the proper authorities”?

  • Michael,

    Q: What usually happens in the context of a military operation when civilians are killed in the line of fire?

  • What usually happens is that the event is ignored and/or justified under the vague blanket term “collateral damage.”

  • Okay… At first cut my thoughts would be:

    1) I very much doubt you would believe a claim of first person knowledge that disagreed with your preconcieved notion, so I’m not sure why we should find your reception of one that agrees with it to be so compelling.

    2) It’s entirely possible that he’s dead right, and that the site attacked was of no military value whatsoever. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a terrorist attack intentionally aimed against civilians. It could well simply mean that it was a mistake. For instance, I wouldn’t claim that Clinton was performing a terrorist attack against the Chinese when he ordered (through a mistake in building address) the bombing of the Chinese embasy in Kosovo.

  • Darwin you are unbelievable. “Must have been a mistake. My country, right or wrong.” You have no desire to know the truth. You’d rather assume everything is a “mistake,” and that the u.s. military does no wrong.

    (And, yes, Clinton was a terrorist too.)

  • Look, I think Clinton was a lot of things, but a terrorist? Is your theory, then, that the US _did_ intentionally bomb the Chinese embassy in Kosovo?

    I certainly don’t think that the US military can do no wrong — but to claim this was a terror attack doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The whole point of a terror attack is to kill lots of people in an indiscriminate and spectacular fashion so as to strike terror into the populace. Napalming several whole Syrian villages would be an obvious way to achieve that goal. Sending in a couple helicopters to attack one house, and one house only, in a remote area seems a curious approach.

    It’s entirely possible that the military was criminally negligent and struck a target based on intelligence that was flimsy and entirely wrong (though that certainly seems odd given that it probably took very high level approval to strike across and international boarder) but terrorism really doesn’t seem like a probably motivation.

    It’s not “my country right or wrong” it’s using one’s basic powers of reason. (I invite you to try it some time.)

  • So Michael links to (and thanks) an anonymous commenter who purports to be Syrian (how that Syrian guy ended up on Vox Nova, who knows) who says that the United States is lying about this attack, just like the United States lied about the fact that it arranged 9/11 to happen so that it would have an excuse to kill Muslims.

    It’s very telling what Michael I. does — and does not — disagree with. In fact, I’d guess that Michael is a 9/11 “truther,” given that he’s a sucker for whatever crap he reads on any random leftist website.

  • I don’t know the particulars about the bombing of the Chinese embassy. But in between the Gulf Wars Clinton oversaw regular bombing raids in Iraq as well as the sanctions there in which children were knowingly left to die. Madeline Albright said publicly that these children’s deaths were “worth it.” This is terrorism.

    Look, I know these actions won’t fit your definition of terrorism. But that’s part of my point. Who gets to decide what “terrorism” is? If the military was criminally negligent, I would still call that terrorism. Being careless about the power you wield over life and death is terror.

    (I invite you to try it some time.)

    And I invite you to include a little self-criticism in your reasoning, and to purge your capacity for reason of the utter denial of your country’s history.

  • Michael, if you can indulge me… why “Syria” but “united states” and “u.s.”?

  • Well, I have my suspicions, but I want to see if I’m correct.

  • He’s just being trollish, i.e., trying to poke a finger in people’s eyes, just to get a reaction.

  • Michael, so who does get to define terrorism? Or more precisely, why don’t you simply lay out your terms for what constitutes terrorism so we can all at least know what the other is talking about? Frankly I have to believe that there is a fundamental difference between targeting a single house with several helicopters and targeting a whole market square with a single bomb. One speaks loudly of restraint, while the other speaks of indiscriminate violence. I’m not saying that therefore you can’t claim terrorism on the part of the US, but then, I like to see exactly, point for point, what your criteria for terrorism are.

    Also, let me ask one further question: is there a difference between intentional and unintentional killing: for example, between murder and manslaughter?

  • Chris, feel free to email me for an answer to your question. I don’t feel like “discussing” it with S.B. again. 🙂

    Michael, so who does get to define terrorism?

    For starters, I’d say the victims of should be given special consideration as to what constitutes terrorism.

    Frankly I have to believe that there is a fundamental difference between targeting a single house with several helicopters and targeting a whole market square with a single bomb. One speaks loudly of restraint, while the other speaks of indiscriminate violence.

    If the u.s. military was going after one person, which the reports claim, then killing EIGHT other people IS a matter of indiscriminate violence. Perhaps if it was your family that was killed, you would not be calling the action “restrained.”

    …is there a difference between intentional and unintentional killing: for example, between murder and manslaughter?

    Yes, of course. But bear in mind that we often hold people accountable for unintentional killing. That’s the whole point of the concept of manslaughter. I also think that there are different types of unintentional killing. If my car hits a patch of ice and I slam into someone and kill her, that’s unintentional. But soldiers being reckless when attempting to capture ONE PERSON such that EIGHT OTHER people are killed, when this is happening on the ground and not from a helicopter, etc., this is not an accident. It is recklessness that comes from not giving a shit who gets in the way. And being willing to sacrifice whoever is “in the way” is indeed terrorism. The Syrian gov’t is absolutely right to call it terrorism.

  • Somewhat tangential here…

    Why do so many liberals place so little faith in one aspect of the US government (the military), but so much confidence in other aspects of the same government? And why do so many conservatives do likewise?

    If it’s patriotic to serve your country in the armed forces, why isn’t it similarly patriotic to be a civil servant? And likewise the opposite?

    Am I missing something obvious?