Friday, February 01, 2008

Religion of Peace

Female Bombers Strike Markets in Baghdad
BAGHDAD — Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on Baghdad pet bazaars Friday, police and Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital this spring.
Must be tolerant, must be tolerant ...

81 Comments:

Blogger Harry Eagar said...

LGF links to a report that the women were Down syndrome, wired for remote.

Disinformation (there's a lot of that about) or good reporting?

If the latter -- and there are precedents for thinking it could be -- then that moves the discussion to a whole 'nother plane.

I've been on that plane for years. It will be interesting to see if anybody joins me.

February 01, 2008 10:56 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

In a recent thread, Peter said:

One of the journalists, a libertarian named Colby Cash, is quoted as saying : "If I'm not free to say 'F--K Islam', then I'm not really free." I'd like to imagine most folks would agree with that if the [statement] were put properly ...

Perhaps this would be more proper:

Nothing could better improve Islam than its disappearance.

February 01, 2008 11:30 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Not to diminish the heinousness of these particular acts, but I would say all suicide bombers are, ipso facto, mentally - not to mention spiritually - retarded.

Hey Skipper is to be commended for coming up with a tolerance mantra, which is preferable to the one more commonly employed hereabouts - something to the effect of must kill them all, must kill them all.

I would also commend the DD readership to a very informative article by widely recognized middle east scholar Juan Cole, who helpfully delineates the difference between Islam and Muslim, a describes proper usage for each term.

An excerpt can be found at his blog, the full article at Salon.

February 01, 2008 1:18 PM  
Blogger erp said...

" ... middle east (sic) scholar Juan Cole, ...".

_____

!

February 01, 2008 2:30 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Yes. Referencing Juan Cole on the Middle East is like referencing Dennis Kucinich on space travel, or Naomi Klein on economics. It's so discrediting that it casts doubt on any other argument you make in the comment. Cole, after all, is the guy who disputed the official Iranian translation of Ahmadinejad's "wipe out Israel" comment. What an Orientalist, to claim that he knows better what Ahmadinejad said than the official, native translators.

February 01, 2008 2:51 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

SH:

Notwithstanding possibly justifiable criticism of Mr. Cole's felicity with Arabic translation, his commentary viz a viz "Islam" and "Muslim" is spot on.

Anyone seeking to garner credibility for their own commentary on the subject would do well to incorporate an understanding of it.

February 01, 2008 7:22 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Uh, not Arabic, Persian.

It isn't just that Cole made up the translation of Ahmedinejad for political purposes. When it was proven to him (by me) that the translation he attacked had been used by other Iranian revolutionaries for decades, he refused to post my citation.

Cole is the George Sylvester Viereck of Islam. He cannot be believed on any topic.

February 01, 2008 8:52 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

harry:

Your personal beef with Mr. Cole -- again, while possibly 100% justifiable -- is not the point.

I didn't cite him today for anything on which he is to be believed, any more than one must believe what one reads in a dictionary or a glossary.

Much of the rhetoric bandied about in public discourse these days concerning the "problem" of terrorism is done so by people who clearly have no idea what the meaning is of the words "Islam" and "Muslim".

I just thought the DD readership might appreciate a handy reference on the matter. If you have a different preferred one, or one that explains the terms differently than did Mr. Cole, I'd be pleased to see it.

February 01, 2008 10:12 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Here's the key quote from Cole's article:

""Islamic" has to do with the religion founded by the prophet Mohammed. We speak of Islamic ethics or Islamic art, as things that derive from the religion. "Muslim," on the contrary, describes the believer. It would be perfectly all right to talk about Muslim terrorists, but calling them Islamic terrorists or Islamic fascists implies that the religion of Islam is somehow essentially connected to those extremist movements."

The problem with this distinction is that there is no way for an outsider to say that terrorism isn't derived from the religion. The terrorists believe that it is.

If a non-Muslim has no standing to say that terrorism cannot derive from Islam, then to be consistent he can't say that love or peace or any set of behaviors do. Even Islamic art or ethics. Cole breaks his own principle by saying that these two aspects of Muslim culture are Islamic.

Lonbud tried to use the same form of semantic legerdemain to say that no Buddhists commit atrocities. Christian apologists will same the same about their religion. But if you can't tie bad behaviors to the faith of the believer, then how can you logically tie good behaviors to it?

There is no religion outside of believers. Islam is as Muslims do. Christianity is as Christians do. Buddhism is as Buddhists do.

February 02, 2008 6:43 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Duck raises an interesting point, one that Hey Skipper and I have danced around previously concerning the nature of humanity. Since human nature is capable of a range of behaviors on the good/evil spectrum, and since all religions are comprised of human beings, by that logic, no religion can therefore be described as good or evil as practised by humans.

Now, I confess that I don't know enough about Islam to say one way or the other, but I do know enough about the teachings of the historical Buddha (Siddartha Gotama) and the teachings of Jesus Christ to say this: no human who actually studies and adheres to the teachings of either man would kill another human being.

A person's claim to Buddhism or Christianity is irrelevant outside their actions.

February 02, 2008 9:19 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Cole is a professional deceiver.

You seem to think that there is some Big Spook who manages the belief system, and humans either buy into it or don't.

Religion is what its adherents do, and nothing more. There is no appeal beyond what people to to some 'real' religion. Blowing up mental defectives is as real as it gets.

And if you say 'I don't know enough about Islam,' then maybe you ought to opt out of discussions about Islam and its discontents. Some of us do know enough about Islam.

(I guess you didn't get the import of my crack about Viereck, either. It's one thing not to know the history of another people, something else not to know one's own.)

February 02, 2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Here is another quote from Cole's article:

On another occasion, asked whether a Muslim candidate for president would be acceptable, McCain replied, "I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles ... personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith. But that doesn't mean that I'm sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president. I don't say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith. I just would -- I just feel that that's an important part of our qualifications to lead."

But according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." Secularists and Jews joined American Muslims in condemning McCain's assertion that the United States was founded on Christian principles, and that Christian faith could be a key determinate for taking the Oval Office.


This brings Cole's credibility into question. Only someone profoundly ignorant, or with an equally impressive disregard for facts can possibly equate what Senator McCain said with Article VI of the constitution.

That the Salon editors let it slide says nothing in their favor, either.

The rest of the piece is riddled with selective omission and category errors, but there is nowhere near enough time to enumerate them.


Regarding the key quote Duck cited above (which I was also going to cite, except Duck beat me to it):

That is a distinction almost without difference.

While I also am no expert on Islam, there are some things that can be said despite that.

The Quran is the literal, true, word of Allah.

The Hadith is a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad that, with accounts of his daily practice (the Sunna), constitute the major source of guidance for Muslims apart from the Koran.

The Quran and the Hadith are Islams canonical texts; that is, they are genuine, sacred and directive.

Between them they contain a tumbrel's load of vile statements regarding apostates, infidels, Jews and homsexuals. Column-inch for column-inch, they give Mein Kampf a run for its money. And that is even before getting to Islam's insistence upon world domination.

To pick but one example, Salmon Rushdie was certainly terrorized by the fatwah directing his murder because of his apostasy. That fatwah was absolutely consistent with the Quran.

That, Dr. Cole, is Islamic terrorism.

So, lonbud, I completely disagree. There are bad religions. Fundamentalist Mormonism is a bad religion. Christianity, particularly the Catholic stripe, used to be a bad religion. Islam, because so many Muslims take their canonical texts seriously, and because those texts are uniquely awful, still is.

As Harry has mentioned, the only good Muslim is a bad Muslim. Unfortunately, since the good bad Muslims will not repudiate the toxic portions of their canonical text, they provide plenty of top cover for the bad good Muslims: those whose knowledge of their texts is encyclopedic, which they take seriously.

Why should I tolerate a religion that wants me dead? Because that is what Westerners do, so long as the religion in question doesn't actualize that belief. Using women suffering Down's to pursue a sectarian war -- which has no meaning outside Islam -- stretches tolerance to the breaking point.

There is no requirement whatsoever, though, to accord Islam any respect.

February 02, 2008 11:53 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

harry:

Religion is what its adherents do, and nothing more.

Then, as I said above, "no religion can therefore be described as good or evil as practised by humans," since all religions have adherents who do good things, others who do bad things, and some who do things that are good and other things that are bad.

Hey Skipper:

A couple of follow-up questions:

What part of Mr. McCain's statement about "qualifications to lead" is inconsistent with raising a question, or requesting the senator to clarify his comment with respect to Article VI's enumeration that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." [emphasis added]

How, in your view, has "Christainity, particularly the Catholic stripe" rehabilitated itself as a religion that "used to be" bad?

If the actions of Muslims in pursuit of a sectarian war have no meaning outside Islam, how can they "stretch tolerance to the breaking point" in a non-Muslim? What do non-Muslims have to be tolerant of that has meaning only in Islam?

Regarding your statement that "There is no requirement whatsoever, though, to accord Islam any respect," it's a bit vague. What is the locus of authority to which you assign the "requirement" function?

February 02, 2008 2:47 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

We balance the interests, lonbud.

If on balance the adherents of Islam are a threat, then we treat the whole religion as a threat.

We do not say, as some once did, well, Hitler built the autobahns, so Hitlerism isn't all bad, leave it alone.

Just wonderin': when you read about the retarded ladies, do you place yourself, in imagination, at a market shopping for a parakeet? I suspect not.

Try it and ask yourself, how much good is my tolerance against ball bearings?

February 02, 2008 4:51 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

harry:

If on balance the adherents of Islam are a threat, then we treat the whole religion as a threat.

Tell us a little more about how you strike that balance.

Is it if "more than half" the adherents are a threat?

Or if the threat posed by a small minority of adherents is comparable to the one posed by one of the world's most well-equipped and powerful armies of its day?

Or if the threat is one that employs tactics so heinous and repugnant as to stretch the boundaries of tolerance?

I'm just really unclear as to how one might draw this elusive balance in some future conflict between opposing worldviews and I seek enlightenment.

For example, the Muslim presence in Detroit, home to America's largest concentration of adherents to Islam, dates back to the 19th Century. Detroit's suburb, Dearborn, has a population of 100,000, forty percent of whom are Muslim. Yet, not a single infidel has ever been beheaded in over 100 years there.

Help me out here.

February 02, 2008 10:33 PM  
Blogger erp said...

Could it be because the other 60% are Mafiosi?

February 03, 2008 6:33 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Until the 100K credibly and publicly renounce the doctrine of the victory of dar al-Islam over dar al-Harb, then Dearborn is a threat.

Skipper concentrates on the sacred books and sayings, but that is a second-order layer of knowledge.

The first thing we need to know we can know without the slightest acquaintance with theology.

For example, I can definitively say that Baha`i is not a threat, although I know nothing at all about the teachings of Baba al Rhum or whatever their Messiah was.

I can definitively say that Islam is a threat without knowing the Five Pillars. (I do know them.)

It can be helpful, in planning a strategy of resistance to conquest, to know why Muslims think as they do and how that drives behavior. But it is not necessary.

Anyhow, in the case of Islam, balancing the interests is easy. Islam has always been a threat to all its neighbors. There is no border today where Muslims are not murdering infidels.

February 03, 2008 6:53 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

harry:

Islam has always been a threat to all its neighbors. There is no border today where Muslims are not murdering infidels.

Interesting perspective. I pulled up the handy map and Muslim population statistics at factbook.net and derive a far different assessment of the Muslim "threat" than you, based on the current incidence of Muslims "murdering" infidels (and each other) worldwide.

But hey, as my father was fond of saying, that's what makes a horse race.

February 03, 2008 1:15 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

My lis:

Trindad and Tobago, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, India, China, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia.

Hope I didn't overlook anybody.

What's yours?

February 03, 2008 9:50 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Oops, forgot Nigeria, Eritrea, Somalia, Mozambique, Kenya, Chad, Sudan, Mali, Ivory Coast.

February 03, 2008 9:51 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Of the countries you name, I -- readily identifiable as an infidel -- have traveled in Turkey, Thailand, India, China, Philippines, and Malaysia, yet lived to tell tales.

My anecdotal good fortune notwithstanding, of the 27 countries you name, 20 are majority Muslim, 18 of those with 70% or more of their populations adherents of Islam. Moreover, in countries such as Egypt and Turkey, infidels are readily accepted and trade with them (both economic and cultural) embraced.

Qatar and Bahrain, both with nominally 100% Muslim populations, are notably absent from your list, and stand as shining examples of the myth of the "threat" posed by Islam.

I would add to my list Canada and the United States, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, all countries with clearly identifiable Muslim populations and/or within shouting distance of borders with majority Muslim countries, where the "threat" of being murdered by radical Muslims is no more so (and in many cases less) than that of being dispatched by exploding retards while shopping for parakeets.

On balance, in fact, I would say free-trading capitalists inclined to inspiration by the teachings of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Moses, or even Friedrich Hayek, Leo Strauss, and Milton Friedman, are threatened more by their own greed and self-centered egoism than they are by devotees of the Koran.

Here in the USA, we'd all do well to heed erp's unwittingly good advice: Stop all aid and let the people figure out what they want to do. All the money we send goes to buy arms so the despots can keep control.

February 04, 2008 11:16 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Unwittingly good advice?

lonbuddy, I've dealt with your kind far longer than you've lived on this earth and nothing I say or do is unwitting.

Everyone doing whatever they want doesn't include attacking us or pushing Israel into the sea.

It must be a bummer now that Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even France are on board with us. The UK is tottering, but I’m confident the brits won’t turn over their country to Islam.

February 04, 2008 1:19 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

No imputation by me of witlessness on your part erp. I'd have done better to couch your quote in terms of unintended meanings.

However, do recall who it was that attacked us; it's not who's killing our troops in Iraq.

Consider, too, who has credible power to push Israel into the sea.

Why should I find it a bummer none of the countries you list (all of which were on my own list of countries where Islam is not on balance a "threat") will "turn their country over to Islam"?

How many of the 27 countries harry listed have been majority Muslim for centuries? How many "turned over" their countries to Islam, or are in danger of doing so at the point of a gun or scimitar soon?

February 04, 2008 3:12 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

lonbud:

What part of Mr. McCain's statement about "qualifications to lead" is inconsistent with raising a question, or requesting the senator to clarify his comment with respect to Article VI's enumeration that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Every syllable.

He is expressing two opinions, the validity of which are completely irrelevant:

1. The nation was founded on Christian principles
2. Adhering to Christian principles is an important qualification for being president.

Calling this an Article VI violation is to make a stupendous category mistake. As an individual, Senator McCain may make any case he desires for what sort of characteristics an individual should have to be president. Advocating those who adhere to Christian principles (whatever those might be) is absolutely no different from Senator Clinton making some claim that a woman is best fit to be president.

Voters are still free to agree, or not, with McCain's (or Clinton's) position.

In contrast, should Senator McCain advocate a law barring any office of trust to all except those who are practicing Christians, that would be looking forward to an Article VI violation.

Voters would no longer be free to disagree with McCain's position.

The difference is glaring. Cole's inability to discern it is just as glaring. Missing something so obvious about the country in which he lives and is a citizen makes me wonder why I should afford him any credibility at all with regard to Islam or Muslims.

How, in your view, has "Christainity, particularly the Catholic stripe" rehabilitated itself as a religion that "used to be" bad?

Read "Constantine's Sword" for the full depiction of Catholic anti-Judaism.

As just one example from that awful litany, IIRC, it wasn't until Vatican II that Jews were relieved of the collective guilt of deicide. The whole notion of inherited collective guilt was an atrocious religious doctrine Catholicism is well shot of.

Regarding your statement that "There is no requirement whatsoever, though, to accord Islam any respect," it's a bit vague. What is the locus of authority to which you assign the "requirement" function?

The Enlightenment.

So long as, to paraphrase Jefferson, as some belief neither break legs nor picks pockets, I am obliged to tolerate it, just as those adhering to that belief are obliged to tolerate mine.

But toleration and respect are so different as to be wholly unrelated.

In the case at hand, I must, both as a matter of law, and as a believer in Enlightenment principles, treat Muslims without regard to their faith.

However, I am completely free to regard the Quran and Hadith (which are alleged to be Islam) as wholly concocted rubbish preferable in no particular way to Mein Kampf.

and stand as shining examples of the myth of the "threat" posed by Islam.

Well, I'm pretty sure Mr. Rushdie took that Islamic fatwah as a threat.

More to the point though. Presuming you don't disagree that Islam insists upon the literal purity of the Quran and Hadith, and that a good portion of what they say is evil, then how could Islam not present a threat?

BTW, I have traveled to many of the countries of which you speak. Keeping in mind you anecdote does not constitute evidence, what has been the experience of other-religionists in each of the countries you named?

Your last comment makes a category mistake between Islam and countries. They need not be the same in even one case for Islam to constitute a threat.

Posing a completely plausible hypothetical: presume al Qaeda gets hold of a Pakistani nuke. How long do you think it will take for them to threaten the West with the immolatiion of one of its cities?

And how much you want to bet they would rely upon the Quran for justification?

Harry:

Skipper concentrates on the sacred books and sayings, but that is a second-order layer of knowledge.

Well, actually, that is first order knowledge. The words on the page are discernable facts.

However, it is also true that Islam is not merely words on a page. In religion, there is always a gap between text and practice.

Just as clearly, though, there are key passages in the Quran that, if they had never been there in the first place, would have made Islam something other than a death cult.

The Quranic insistence the victory of dar al-Islam over dar al-Harb is just one, irony saturated, example.

February 04, 2008 5:10 PM  
Blogger erp said...

Bummer because those countries have been traditional havens for those among us who can't bear to live in a country headed up by ChimpMcHitler or any of his spawn.

February 04, 2008 8:12 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Hey Skipper:

I can't see where Cole himself accused McCain of "violating" Article VI. He merely stated the fact of

"Secularists and Jews join[ing] American Muslims in condemning McCain's assertion that the United States was founded on Christian principles, and that Christian faith could be a key determinate for taking the Oval Office."

As you noted yourself, McCain expressed his opinion that adhering to Christian principles is an important qualification for being president.

I believe it's completely legitimate to have the senator clarify his remarks in the light of Article VI.

Presuming you don't disagree that Islam insists upon the literal purity of the Quran and Hadith, and that a good portion of what they say is evil, then how could Islam not present a threat?

I don't presume "Islam" insists upon the literal purity of its holy texts anymore than I presume "Christianity" insists on the literal purity of the New Testament, that "Judaism" insists on the literal purity of the Torah and Talmud, or that "Hinduism" insists upon the literal purity of the Bhagavad-Gita.

I am skeptical of theocratic orthodoxy of any stripe, and if we are to use harry's definition of "religion" as something inseparable from the practice of its adherents, Islam, like every other religion, has both its literal purists and its most casual observers, with a wide range of practitioners falling between the two poles.

Your hypothetical regarding al Qaeda, Pakistan, and nukes is not nearly so "plausible" as you imagine. One doesn't exactly "get hold" of a nuke, in the first place. In the next, gaining access to, or possession of "a nuke" in no way presumes the ability to deliver it thousands of miles or to detonate it on an intended target.

If you wish to engage in fantastical titillations involving nuclear immolation, you're better off contemplating the security of nuclear ordnance in the former Soviet Union.

Which is not to reassure anyone about the security of nukes in Pakistan, India, or China, for that matter. But the likely immolatees in those cases live in Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and not in North America.

February 04, 2008 10:29 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I do not believe lonbud has been to the Philippines. If he had, he would know about the thousands of Catholics there murdered by Muslims.

He might not have heard about the five more yesterday, though.

February 05, 2008 9:28 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Manila, Pagudpud, Panglao - 1986.

February 05, 2008 9:57 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I still don't believe you.

February 05, 2008 10:30 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

That's OK, harry. Your beliefs don't change the fact that over 2 million tourists visited the Philippines last year, with over 1/3 of them from North America and Europe.

Savvy travelers stay away from Mindanao, where Abu Sayef militants pose problems, which is too bad, because Camiguin is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

But even in the Philippines, where a small but active militant Muslim population creates fear and danger for "infidels" in the south, on balance Islam is no threat, to either the lives or enjoyment of infidel tourists, nor to the robust growth of the nation's economy, which posted an impressive 7% clip last year.

February 05, 2008 3:28 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

lonbud:

I believe it's completely legitimate to have the senator clarify his remarks in the light of Article VI.

No. It. Isn't. For two important reasons.

McCain expressing his opinion as to what it takes to be qualified as president simply does not constitute a government imposed religious test for an office of public trust. The difference between the two is glaring.

Second, stifling McCain's expression of opinion in this regard curtails his free speech rights, which Article VI does not get to do.



I don't presume "Islam" insists upon the literal purity of its holy texts ...

Whether or not you do, Islam does.

Your hypothetical regarding al Qaeda, Pakistan, and nukes is not nearly so "plausible" as you imagine. One doesn't exactly "get hold" of a nuke, in the first place. In the next, gaining access to, or possession of "a nuke" in no way presumes the ability to deliver it thousands of miles or to detonate it on an intended target.

Full disclosure. I have worked closely with nuclear weapons.

If Pakistan lost complete accountability for its nuclear weapons, Islamist blackmail of the west would commence immediately.

The ability to deliver a nuclear weapon is easily within the capabilities of a freighter.

Your beliefs don't change the fact that over 2 million tourists visited the Philippines last year, with over 1/3 of them from North America and Europe.

Those two million tourists don't contradict Abu Sayef's existence.

February 06, 2008 5:45 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I had been going to say speculate that lonbud, if he really had been in the Philippines, either was unconscious or didn't give a damn.

But now speculation is unnecessary.

I'm not indifferent to the holding of atom bombs in places like Russia, but I'm a whole lot less worried about them than I am about Muslims with bombs. MAD works for civilized people, even minimally civilized people like Russians.

It doesn't work for Muslims, because they embrace destruction.

February 06, 2008 9:25 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Oddly unresponsive of you, Hey Skipper, on the question of religious insistence that holy texts be taken as literal, pure, and true. Why is it that a small percentage of Muslims speak for the entire religion of Islam in your view, while their counterparts in Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism do not receive the same status on behalf of their religions?

I hope you didn't get any nuke-goop on ya playing around with those weapons, bud.

And the 2M tourists don't contradict Abu Sayef's existence, as you say, but they sure speak to Islam's uphill battle in complying with the Koran's literal directive to slaughter infidels.

harry:

Yes, I was a twenty-something libertine looking for as much sex, drugs, and rock & roll as I could survive back in the 80s. I'm here to testify that old saying is true: youth IS wasted on the young!

Anyway, the incredible thing ,in the context of our conversation, is that every year since then (22 and counting), millions of twenty-something libertines have roamed the earth in a similar quest, some of them even venturing into close proximity of actual bloodthirsty Muslim extremists as in the Philippines. Yet, almost none of them have ever been dispatched by a suicide bomber or a wild-eyed Muslim with a sharp sword.

Oh sure, that was nasty business in Bali, and even in Spain, but -- to use your preferred matrix -- on balance the planet remains quite a playground for the young and the young at heart.

Unless you happen to serve n the armed forces of the so-called Coalition of the Willing, that is. In that case, your odds of getting killed by mentally retarded Muslim extremists go way up.

February 06, 2008 2:36 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

lonbud:

Oddly unresponsive of you, Hey Skipper, on the question of religious insistence that holy texts be taken as literal, pure, and true. Why is it that a small percentage of Muslims speak for the entire religion of Islam in your view, while their counterparts in Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism do not receive the same status on behalf of their religions?

Islam is uniquely insistent upon its canonical texts being not only literally true, but the actual words of Allah as dictated to Mohammed. In the view of Islam, the Quran, Hadith, and Sunna contain all the universe's knowledge. What's more, since Mohammed was simultaneously a warrior, ruler, and prophet, Islam's claims are far more totalitarian than the other Abrahamic religions.

I'm not sure what you mean by a "small percentage of Muslims." Depending upon where you go (see Pew research data cited in Sam Harris's The End of Faith, those percentages get pretty large.

Never mind that, though. Islam claims, and all faithful Muslims must believe, their canonical texts are divine, true, universal and complete.

In contrast, starting with Galileo, and accelerating since Darwin, Christians (with exceptions) have come to view the Bible as divinely inspired, but not literally true, because that inspiration was "dumbed down" so that the people of the time could comprehend the Divine revelations. Yes, there are Christian fundamentalists that believe the Bible to be inerrant, but even here there are caveats. First, the New Testament doesn't contain nearly the savagery of the Old Testament. Second, because of Jesus's sole role of prophet, the New Testament provides space for a temporal, secular society that is completely alien to the Quran

Also, there are several gaps to deal with. One is the difference between what people believe about their religion, and what they are willing to actualize. In an example closer to home, some evangelicals believe we are living in the end days. But that doesn't stop nearly all of them sending their kids to school, or saving for retirement.

The second gap lies in what people elide from their canonical texts. Those Christians who are happy to point out Deuteronomy's injunction against homosexuality are just as happy to completely ignore nearly every other diktat in there.

The final gap is between what people believe to be true about their religion's canonical texts, and what is actually there. For most Christians, probably the vast majority, that gap is better termed a chasm. In contrast, among Muslims memorizing the Quran is considered a laudable goal.

In all three regards, thanks to the Reformation, Enlightenment, and Holocaust, essentially all contemporary believing Christians would not be recognized as such by their predecessors. Christianity has become an ad hoc adaptation to changes in society, a process aided by the metaphorical and largely single dimensional nature of the Bible.

Islam, to a far greater degree than Christianity, suffers what I term (largely to score cheap alliteration points) the Provenance Problem. Holding the primary canonical text as dictation from Allah, perfectly true in all respects, then it is very difficult to put aside the bad bits, say the direction to kill apostates, while retaining the rest.

Harry is correct, a religion is its adherents do. I think he misses the influence of the nature and content of canonical texts upon those adherents. Absent a very few whack jobs there is no possibility of a Christian, or Jewish, version of the Taliban, Iran, Saudi Arabia, et al. Whether it is attempting to impose Sharia law in Canada, or Muslim cabbies in Minneapolis attempting to deny fares based upon their transparently silly beliefs, there is no denying Islam's inherently aggressive nature.

This isn't to absolve Christianity; the Troubles are too recent for that. However, in terms of scope and impact, there is simply no comparing Christianity or Judaism to Islam.

All of which is a very roundabout way of answering why a small percentage of Muslims speak for their religion. While the smallness of the percentage is debatable, what is beyond debate is that percentage are the truest believers: they are the most informed messengers for Islam's message.

The question we in the West should ask ourselves is whether Islam deserves any respect at all. Why should I, an infidel, view a death threat with anything other than all the disdain I can possibly muster? IIRC, a few months ago a student (probably Jewish, but the story didn't make it clear) at Columbia University was charged with a hate crime for tossing a Quran into a toilet. Yet the Quran insisting Jews are the sons of apes, pigs and dogs, gets a complete pass.

How much sense does that make?

From here you can read the Skeptics Annotated Bible and Quran. By a couple furlongs, the Quran is a much more evil text than the New Testament. And, given that most of the Old Testament savagery is time bound, whereas the Quran is not, the Quran is by far the most repellant of the two.

February 07, 2008 11:46 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Now, that's the Hey Skipper we all know and love.

Islam is definitely behind the curve, I'll give you that. But perhaps one day contemporary believing [Muslims will] not be recognized as such by their predecessors. Look to Turkey for one possible template.

Even at present, if we accept that large percentages of Islam's adherents believe the Koran is the literal word of Allah, then we can also surmise that Islam's adherents are unobservant by a wide swath, since the percentage of them who actually engage in killing apostates is decidedly small.

Again, if we rely on harry's on balance matrix, committing the attention and resources of the world's largest and most advanced fighting force to a near-exclusive focus on engaging radical Muslims seems wasteful.

February 07, 2008 2:00 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I got it that you don't give a damn about murdered innocents, lonbud. No need to keep on about it.

February 07, 2008 7:37 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

harry:

I'm hurt. I would hope my compassion and genuine feelings of care come through, despite the Internet's notorious failure to convey nuance.

Careful though, wearing your concern for the murder of innocents on your sleeve. I know a guy who's moving from Washington, DC to Texas in a little less than a year, who's up to his eyeballs in the blood of innocents...

February 07, 2008 11:14 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

That's a curious thing I have never understood, how when enemies of that person and his nation kill innocents, it's that person's fault. Is it because you can't conceive of others as being fully human, i.e. free willed agents, as those of that person's nation?

February 08, 2008 6:28 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

SH:

Why dance around the topic? You can come right out and say you think I hate America, that I'm one of those liberal, whack-job, "blame America first" traitors.

You'd be wrong, but I invite your candor nonetheless.

To be clear: I have no love for Muslim extremists. I do not believe their murderousness or cowardice serves any valuable end. I abhor their tactics and find their worldview hopelessly rooted in fear, superstition, and fundamental ignorance of the nature of humanity and of Life itself. I do not believe they act to bring glory to Allah or anything else. I condemn them.

All of that, however, does not change the fact that -- on balance -- George W. Bush and the US military are responsible for the murders of a great deal more innocent human lives than are those Muslim extremists.

The world is not safer, nor is the problem of Muslim extremism diminished in the wake of Mr. Bush's command.

February 08, 2008 7:49 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

You're right, it's not coming through.

You know why? Because you're a but . . . ter.

For any decent person, the notion that anybody would wire up retarded women to blow up children would be horrifying, full stop.

You didn't stop, didn't pause a second to digest the disgust, you just barrelled on to take slaps at the only large organization in the world devoting any energy toward putting down people who wire up retarded women to blow up children.

Then, when I objected to the murder of innocents at markets in the Philippines, you did NOT say that was a bad thing. You said that because YOU personally were not murdered in the Philippines, I was overreacting.

I think people come across on the Internet just fine.

February 08, 2008 8:08 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

lonbud;

It's telling that you need to ask me to construct a straw man in order to dispute my position. I made the point I wanted to make, and stated what I wanted to state. That leaves once of us dancing around a point, and it's not me.

P.S. Your claim that Bush & Co. are responsible for more deaths of innocent civilians is not even remotely true, unless you count victims of anti-U.S.A. force in Iraq against him. You can't legitimately do that unless you dehumanize those people, which was the original point you're still dancing around.

February 08, 2008 10:13 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

lonbud:

... if we accept that large percentages of Islam's adherents believe the Koran is the literal word of Allah.

That large percentage is equal to 100%.

... then we can also surmise that Islam's adherents are unobservant by a wide swath, since the percentage of them who actually engage in killing apostates is decidedly small.

That surmise is more along the lines of wishful thinking. The Quran commands Muslims to do all manner of things when they are able; otherwise, they are to bide their time.

... committing the attention and resources of the world's largest and most advanced fighting force to a near-exclusive focus on engaging radical Muslims seems wasteful.

I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. Would it be okay if we were to reduce our defense establishment to, say, somewhere in the middle of the top half?

But never mind that: you have posed a null alternative. Wasteful with respect to what?

Worse, you have neglected our enemy's mindset. Following our responses to Somalia, the Embassy bombings, Khobar towers, USS Cole, etc, al Queda concluded we were too decadent to defend ourselves and quite publicly declared war on the US.

In an outstanding example of fecklessness feeding Islamists preconceptions about us (and abetting their disinclination to learn from history), Clinton did nothing.

Hence 9/11.

However critical of the war in Iraq you may be, you cannot help but agree that our humiliation of Saddam's military, and subsequent determination, despite casualties (the modern american left playing right into the Islamists asymmetric warfare plans has been decidedly unhelpful), has significantly re-calibrated Islamist notions of the US's desire and ability to defend itself.

I keep hearing how the war in Iraq has made the US less safe. Yet when I look at the list of Islamist attacks on US interests, there seems to be a real imbalance: a bloody string of outrages until 9/11.

And nothing since.

You can come right out and say you think I hate America, that I'm one of those liberal, whack-job, "blame America first" traitors.

You completely misunderstood SH's point, which is unfortunate, since it is very incisive.

The left has a very real tendency, verging upon insistence, to blame everything that happens everywhere upon the West, preferably upon the US. I suspect it is due to viewing everything through an evils-of-colonialism lens. But no matter.

The consequence is to say things like up to his eyeballs in the blood of innocents, thereby removing all agency from everyone who is not the US: the rest of the world as helpless victim.

The Lancet reports regarding Iraqi casualties since March 2003 are a perfect example. Ignoring methodology and rampant bias, the report blames all those deaths upon the US invasion.

That is nonsense, removing all accountability from the Iraqis themselves. Essentially every casualty since the fall of the Saddam regime is on the Sunni and Shia who would rather kill each other then establish a civil society.

To prove this point, all you need do is imagine Iraq after Saddam's inevitable death. The lid would be off the pressure cooker of Saddam's own making. For a historical example, see Tito and the former Yugoslavia.

George W. Bush and the US military are responsible for the murders of a great deal more innocent human lives than are those Muslim extremists.

Ask yourself this question: In order to prevent those "murders", what would have been required of the Islamists in general, and Saddam in particular.

Then rethink that whole responsibility thing.

February 08, 2008 10:38 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

It's increasingly clear to me you folks aren't as interested in having a conversation as you are in maintaining a fixed world-view.

Islam is inherently Evil and all evidence to the contrary is founded on blank slate thinking, empty criticism, and null hypotheses.

Harry, my conclusion that you over-react to the threat of Islam in the Philippines isn't due to my satisfaction at having visited and not been murdered myself, it's because millions of people do so every year and go unmolested.

SH, in the extremely unlikely event that radical Muslims might have been wiped from the face of the earth on GWB's watch, I've no doubt you'd be happy to give him credit (much as I'm reasonably certain you credit Ronald Reagan - he of sainted memory - with the dissolution of the Soviet Union).

Therefore, you must also pin the death of every "innocent" victim in the WOT to Mr. Bush's side of the ledger. He and his illegal, misguided, badly-managed war are responsible for more deaths, by an order of uncounted magnitude, than are the wholly reprehensible, equally misguided fanatical Islamists.

Hey Skipper, 100% of Muslims do not believe the Koran is the literal word of Allah, any more than 100% of Christians believe God created the world in seven days.

The absence of a terrorist attack on American soil post 9/11 is more a function of the insignificance of the threat of Islam here in America than it is testament to the savvy marshaling of our military and intelligence resources by the Bush administration.

It is also well-documented that Clinton's administration did more to identify and contain the sources of terrorist activity worldwide than any administration prior, and that Bush's team rejected out-of-hand the possibility that Osama bin Laden and al Quaeda posed the greatest threat to our homeland security when they came to power.

Finally, your logic regarding responsibility for the deaths of "innocent" people in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last seven years is specious.

While Shia and Sunni agency in the matter cannot be discounted or ignored, but for American invasion, the number of innocent deaths can only be estimated with reference to past history.

Conclusions are by no means clear or as easy to draw as you presume.

here is but one reference to rebut your assertion that the level of bloodshed we have seen in the wake of American involvement in the matter would have been somehow inevitable or possibly worse had we not involved ourselves.

February 09, 2008 11:00 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

lonbud;

I find your reasoning quite bizarre. If I credit a coach with winning a football game, I must also blame him if an opposing linebacker clothe lines the quarterback? If FDR won WWII, that makes him responsible for the Holocaust?

— While Shia and Sunni agency in the matter cannot be discounted or ignored, but for American invasion, the number of innocent deaths can only be estimated with reference to past history. —

You contradict yourself, by discounting the Iraqi agency you mention in the first clause in the second, by implicitly presuming that they had no control over their actions after the invasion. I.e., once America acts, all responsibility becomes American, no others have agency to make their own decisions.

This just comes right back around to my original point. You are completely unwilling to hold anyone except Bush and by extension the USA responsible. Whatever anyone does in Iraq, you assign responsibility to Bush. But responsibility is the essence of moral, free willed beings. To deny it is to dehumanize. I am not willing to hold such a low opinion of the Iraqis, or even the Caliphascists.

February 09, 2008 1:59 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

SH:

My reasoning is neither, bizarre, convoluted, nor difficult to follow.

As the catalyst for sectarian violence in Iraq since 2003, Bush's invasion bears indirect responsibility for all the deaths that have occurred in its wake.

Shia and Sunni themselves bear direct responsibility for some deaths, owing to their agency in the matter.

Had Bush not launched his war, however, there is no evidence to suggest those killings would have gone on anyway during this most recent time period, therefore Bush does bear a measure of responsibility.

However, what I have been referring to, what you seem to discount or ignore altogether, is Bush's direct responsibility for the uncounted deaths of innocent victims of American bombing and at the hands of ground troops and US military contractors, all of which represent by far the majority of lives lost since 2003 in that blighted land.

As I said above, up to his eyeballs. Directly responsible for many tens, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, or in his preferred parlance, collateral damage.

February 09, 2008 8:01 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

First, you're all wrong about sunni-shia murders, which were running in the millions before we got involved.

Second, you're just making crap up about hundreds of thousands of innocent deaths.

February 09, 2008 10:40 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Harry, you made such a thing about my not giving a damn about the loss of innocent lives, and yet, here you are not only refusing to count them, but pretending they don't even exist.

Unfortunately, the pure physics of the situation give the lie to your position. You simply cannot drop as much ordnance as we have in Iraq without killing, as I said, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent bystanders.

February 09, 2008 11:35 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

lonbud;

The ultimate cause of the invasion was Saddam's Hussein's decision to invade Kuwait, and his subsequent refusal to abide by any of the cease fire (not peace treaty, note carefully). But of course, in your world view the prime mover must always be American, facts not withstanding.

I also agree with Mr. Eager that direct deaths from USA actions are far fewer than deaths from Iraqi / Caliphascist actions. As for the amount of ordnance used, yes, in fact, they are that accurate that "hundreds of thousands" of deaths are implausible. If your theory were correct, we'd see devastated landscapes such as those in Japan and Germany after WWII, but we don't. You claim Mr. Eager is pretending hundreds of thousands of deaths didn't occur. You, on the other hand, seem to be claiming that they did but the bodies evaporated in to thin air, because there's no record of their death or burial. I find Mr. Eager's view more plausible.

February 10, 2008 7:48 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

lonbud:

Islam insists the Quran is complete, correct, and literally true.. To be an adherent of Islam, one must agree.

Now, to be sure, there may be Muslims who do not see things quite this way; they are the good bad Muslims. They also are not the ones using retarded women to blow up shoppers in a pet market over dueling fairy tales.

The point here being that to be a good Muslim (in the eyes of non-Muslims) requires being a bad Muslim in the eyes of Islam.

Christianity by and large insists the Bible is not literally true. And, even for those sects making that claim, the New Testament is leagues shy of being as offensive as the Quran.

The absence of a terrorist attack on American soil post 9/11 is more a function of the insignificance of the threat of Islam here in America than it is testament to the savvy marshaling of our military and intelligence resources by the Bush administration.

Wow. Talk about having it both ways. The Great Satan is the Islamists' prime target, yet Islam is an insignificant threat for some entirely unknown reason more powerful than military and intelligence resources.

While Shia and Sunni agency in the matter cannot be discounted or ignored, but for American invasion, the number of innocent deaths can only be estimated with reference to past history.

Unfortunately for you, that past history is damning. While Shia and Sunni have lived peacefully for long periods, the opposite has also been the case. Try googling a bit on relations between Sunni and Shia (IIRC, Ask the Imam -- based in South Africa -- is a good source.) It is sectarian hatred and stupidity on parade.

That is bad enough. But what makes it worse is that Saddam used the Sunni minority in Iraq to oppress the Shiite majority.

Wherever government has colluded with sectarianism (or its fraternal twin, tribalism), the results are always awful.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that Iraq did not have a blood bath in its future; putting that at the US's feet is an act of historical blindness. Our action there is no more a catalyst then is taking the lid off a pressure cooker. The fire was already lit, and that lid was going to come off, sooner or later.

Bush's direct responsibility [is] for the uncounted deaths of innocent victims of American bombing and at the hands of ground troops and US military contractors, all of which represent by far the majority of lives lost since 2003 in that blighted land.

Cite, please.

Never mind that. Once again you are succumbing precisely to the Leftist tendency SH has pointed out: responsibility is the essence of moral, free willed beings. To deny it is to dehumanize.

To repeat. Had the Shia and Sunni agreed to let bygones be bygones, we would have long since left Iraq. They did not. To deny that is to dehumanize.

You failed to answer this question: To avoid the invasion, what did Saddam need to do?

February 10, 2008 9:32 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Hey Skipper,

Had the Shia and Sunni agreed to let bygones be bygones, we would have long since left Iraq.

You can't be serious. The United States is engaged in (and planned from the outset) a long-term occupation of Iraq, complete with the world's largest, most expensive "embassy" and a network of permanent military bases. John McCain: "We'll be there for 100 years."

To avoid the invasion, what did Saddam need to do?

There is absolutely nothing he could have done to avoid the invasion.

Pearl, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Cheney were going to see their criminal enterprise through one way or the other. Saddam and his pitiful "army" were adjunct nuisances in the way of a larger quest to establish command and control over the most valuable source of crude oil US interests could get their hands on.

February 10, 2008 10:45 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

SH:

It turns out human bodies do evaporate into thin air when you drop bombs on them. Therefore, little to count, nothing to bury. Even Bush is willing to accept 30,000 as a working figure for the number of Iraqis killed in his war. The high-side number reported by CNN stands at over 600,00. credible estimates by non-aligned organizations put the figure at around 150,000.

Those inconvenient facts are less telling, however, than the Coalition of the Willing's refusal to even attempt a count of Iraqis killed or injured since the invasion.

In addition, I'm not sure where your get your video and picture feeds from, but much of Iraq looks exactly like Germany and Japan did in the wake of allied bombing in WWII.

February 10, 2008 11:06 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

lonbud;

The only time you lose track as you claim is from either saturation bombing or incendiary attacks of large areas, neither of which occurred in Iraq.

As for the imagery I look at, I get my impressions of this from satellite or large landscape imagery. Pictures that show only a few buildings or a single street are highly misleading (see the Battle of Jenin for how that works - note how the before picture is the whole town, and the after is just a few block area).

As for totals, note several things:

1) If it's 30,000 civilians, then it is almost entirely due to Caliphascist attacks, not the USA military.

2) The 150K figure is for everyone, including military personel. That still leaves the balance due to Caliphascist.

3) The 600K figure has been widely discredited and is prima facie laughable for the reasons I have enumerated in my previous posts.

I end with noting that you're evading the invasion of Kuwait issue, even though that marks the de facto and de jure start of the war.

February 10, 2008 1:04 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

SH:

You need to be real careful bandying Latin phrases about like that. Those of us who know what they mean will get the idea you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was the pretext upon which #41 initiated US participation in what is known to history as "The Gulf War", a conflict that was over by the Spring of 1991.

Your wish to portray #43's adventure as some sort of continuation of his father's enterprise is preposterous fantasy, a view shared by exactly zero serious people inclined to examine the matter.

If ever a de jure finding is rendered concerning US action under the command of #43, GWB will be getting housed in a penal facility as a de facto war criminal.

Be that as it may, I'm not sure what is your standard for saturation bombing, but the DOD plan (such as it was) for the air campaign in #43's war budgeted for a minimum of 15,000 tons of bombs to be dropped per month. In addition, US use of napalm has also been documented in the current conflict.

You simply cannot escape the de facto reality that GWB is up to his eyeballs in the blood of uncounted tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of innocent people who have died as a direct result of his decision to commit US military aggression in Iraq since 2003.

You are far better off sticking to trying to justify all those deaths in the context of an effort to remake society in the Middle East.

At least that is a line of argument for which your great, great grandchildren could one day gain some grudging support.

February 10, 2008 8:17 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Over in 1991? Could you perhaps provide a cite for that? Such as a peace treaty, or even a declaration of the end of the war? Or perhaps a date on which American military operations in Iraq ceased, or ceased to be present in Iraq?

Beyond that, I simply can't take seriously the claim that the invasion of Kuwait was a mere pretext for the later invasion of Iraq. The events are intimately tied together.

With regard to saturation bombing, 15,000 tons a month is not saturation for an entire country. And napalm is not, by its very presence, saturation bombing either. By the way, could you provide cites for either of those claims?

February 11, 2008 9:16 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

lonbud:

You can't be serious. The United States is engaged in (and planned from the outset) a long-term occupation of Iraq, complete with the world's largest, most expensive "embassy".

You are right, I typed too hastily. Except for the best outcome -- a completely functional civil society in a country capable of defending itself -- we would still be there.

However, your use of the term "occupation" is pejorative. By your standards, we are still "occupying" Japan, Korea and all of Western Europe. To the extent Iraqis decide they would rather live in a decent society than kill each other, our presence in Iraq will become like those other "occupations", and will end the moment the Iraqi government decides to end it.

There is absolutely nothing he could have done to avoid the invasion.

You can't be serious.

Saddam needed to observe the terms of Desert Storm cease fire. To wit, allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq, and provide them free and unfettered access. There must have been a dozen UNSC resolutions demanding just that; surely you must have heard of them.

Had he done so, the invasion would not have happened. Perhaps he invested too much credibility in the French. In any event, he miscalculated.

... quest to establish command and control over the most valuable source of crude oil US interests could get their hands on.

That is pure, evidence free, rant. The US will establish command and control over Iraq's oil just as the US has over Saudi Arabia's, Kuwait's, Quttar's, etc.

Which is to say, not at all.

It turns out human bodies do evaporate into thin air when you drop bombs on them.

Well, yes. But no. The most typically used air dropped munition is a precision guided 500 lb warhead, of which roughly 375 pounds is explosive. Contrast that amount with car and truck bombs, which are up to 10 times as large.

Yet still manage to leave plenty of countable bodies.

Also, since blast is inversely proportional to the square of the radius from the explosion, unless bodies are at, or very close to, the impact point, then they aren't going to be vaporized.

And that is before any structure attenuates the blast.

So, yes, if you drop a bomb directly on someone, they will be vaporized. But that really amounts to a special case; it is certainly not the rule.

BTW -- I have been through the USAF Fighter Weapons Instructor School, so I have a certain amount of expertise in this area.

Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was the pretext upon which #41 initiated US participation in what is known to history as "The Gulf War", a conflict that was over by the Spring of 1991.

No. It. Was. Not.

Combat operations ended with a cease fire, not a peace treaty. If you have trouble with this concept, see the Korean war as an historical example.

Further, you have handily ignored Northern Watch and Southern Watch, as well as all the punitive cruise missile attacks the Clinton administration directed.

Any serious person inclined to study the matter would conclude that Saddam grotesquely violated the terms of the cease fire following his invasion of Kuwait. Indeed, the UNSC threatened Saddam with serious consequences for those violations. Granted, in UN speak, serious consequences amount to a sternly worded letter; however, in the real world, those words carry a rather different meaning.

Be that as it may, I'm not sure what is your standard for saturation bombing, but the DOD plan (such as it was) for the air campaign in #43's war budgeted for a minimum of 15,000 tons of bombs to be dropped per month. In addition, US use of napalm has also been documented in the current conflict.

Your use of facts is disingenuous. You have cited casualty counts since March of 2003, then deploy a munitions planning factor without noting it was only for the time required to eliminate Saddam's regime. What was that, three weeks?

Also, napalm was used several times, but only during the invasion, and only against entrenched Iraqi troops. So rather than use the passive voice, some specifics would have been appropriate in deciding just how much napalm contributed to the overall casualty count.

The correct answer: nearly zero.

You simply cannot escape the de facto reality that GWB is up to his eyeballs in the blood of uncounted tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of innocent people who have died as a direct result of his decision to commit US military aggression in Iraq since 2003.

Yes, I can.

The US bears some responsibility for those deaths that occurred during the invasion, which is, considering the magnitude of the enterprise, a very small number.

Sunni and Shia sectarian hatred, fanned by Saddam, is responsible for all the rest.

By your removal of moral agency from Iraqis, the inevitable consequence of your logic is to put the US in a triple bind: responsible for deaths subsequent to the invasion, responsible for deaths due to Saddams' cynical manipulation of the sanctions, and responsible for deaths Saddam caused by all other means so long as he remained in power.

You need to ask yourself this: had the Sunni and Shia not started killing each other, what would the casualty count be today?

February 11, 2008 10:15 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 11, 2008 6:30 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The genocide of the Marsh Arabs didn't end in 1991, it began after that.

February 12, 2008 12:50 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

I had issues with the blogspot server yesterday; it kept hanging the copy of Firefox installed on my Mac and then it garbled what I wrote, so I'm trying again from a Windows box.

Harry: Huh?

SH, HS: Gentlemen, you are now officially embarrassing yourselves.

Here are just three of the hundreds of thousands of citations available in support of the widely recognized understanding that the Gulf War was a discrete military conflict that began in summer 1990 and ended in spring 1991:

For the general-interest reader, this, and this.

An inside account from the current SecDef, Robert Gates, who states the official position of the US government was the conflict "ended" in spring 1991.

I'll be happy to review any credible citation you can provide for the position that the invasion of Iraq launched by GWB in 2003 was a mere continuation of the same conflict his father joined in 1990.

In the absence of such, I am forced to conclude you are both at odds enough with the terms of reasoned debate so as to preclude additional discussion of the matter.

February 12, 2008 9:11 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Huh, indeed.


Everybody knows about the genocide of the Marsh Arabs, and how it was the contination of the invasion of Kuwait.

At least, everybody who would talk about Iraq in public would know.

February 12, 2008 10:15 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Everybody knows about the genocide of the Marsh Arabs?

A quick Googling of the terms reveals the subject to be mainly the concern of socialists, legal theorists, and academic environmentalists, returning just 11,000 hits when a search of something more general, say, "Gulf War," or "Kuwait invasion" returns hits in the several hundreds of thousands.

That's fine, though. I've already learned something new and the day is yet young. Thanks Harry.

BTW, my reading of the subject tends to bolster the claim that the Gulf War ended in 1991, at least in the view of forces aligned against Saddam.

The Marsh Arab business looks to have been considered yet another example of Saddam's ruthlessness toward his own land and some of the people within its borders... no doubt deplorable but not enough so to inspire action on the part of those who would constitute themselves a decade later in the "Coalition of the Willing."

February 13, 2008 8:13 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

lonbud:

From your first cite: Official cease-fire accepted and signed (April 6) [1991].

Emphasis mine.

From your second cite: [crickets]

From the Gates cite: absolutely no sign of who states the official position of the US government was the conflict "ended" in spring 1991.

BTW, just when was Gates' oral history recorded?

(Hint: it doesn't say explicitly, but there is a line in there that pins down the year. Can you find it? Presuming you can find it, perhaps you can explain what possible relevance this citation has to the point you are trying to make.)

Please review the following:

Did Desert Storm ended with a cease fire, or a peace treaty?

Between the end of DS and March 2003, how many attacks did the US conduct on Iraqi air defense systems?

During that same period, how many cruise missile and bombing attacks did the Clinton administration conduct on Iraq?

How many UN Security Council resolutions were there, and upon what were they based?

Did Hussein violate the cease fire agreement by impeding, and ultimately expelling, weapons inspection teams?

In the absence of such, I am forced to conclude you are both at odds enough with the terms of reasoned debate so as to preclude additional discussion of the matter.

Your citations were almost completely devoid of evidence, and what little there was contradicts your position. All of the questions I posed above have concrete, objective, answers.

Why don't you dig them up, then we can proceed.


Also, may we agree that your statement, but the DOD plan (such as it was) for the air campaign in #43's war budgeted for a minimum of 15,000 tons of bombs to be dropped per month. In addition, US use of napalm has also been documented in the current conflict.
has absolutely no bearing on the number of Iraqi deaths since Operation Iraqi Freedom ended?

Oh, and one other thing. Had the Sunni and Shia not started killing each other, what would the casualty count be today?

February 13, 2008 11:17 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

lonbud, I wouldn't try to be too much of an expert based on a Google search.

Saddam decided to exterminate the Marsh Arabs when they showed a little too much enthusiasm for the prospect of being liberated by the Allies driving out of Kuwait.

They rejoiced too soon, as Bush 41 was using borrowed infantry and our friends did not have the stomach to go to Baghdad.

If we'd had a big Army, or if the people who criticize us so harshly today had had any gonads then, perhaps several genocides would have been averted.

February 13, 2008 4:24 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

You get points for perseverance, Skipper.

Despite your many questions, however, you have yet to provide a single source for the proposition that the Gulf War -- as it is widely known -- did not end in 1991.

While the vehicle for supposedly ending hostilities was indeed a cease-fire and not a peace treaty,the official US gov't position was that it was over.

From the Gates cite:

Q: Ending the war... How was the decision taken?

Gates: On Tuesday morning the 26th...I remember very clearly Colin Powell saying that this thing was turning into a massacre. And that to continue it beyond a certain point would be un-American and he even used the word unchivalrous...he thought that they were probably within 24 hours of concluding the war of completing their objective...it clearly was a discussion between the two military officers in terms of the timing and only when at the end of war--at that particular juncture--first being raised by Colin and then ratified by Schwarzkopf with the addition of several additional hours, at Schwarzkopf's request, that the decision was made to end the war. [emphasis mine]

Hard to be more plain than that.

I'm happy to accept your evidence of continuing US aggression against Iraq under Clinton for the proposition that the United States pursued undeclared and illegal acts of war against Iraq after Iraq had ceased hostilities against Kuwait and against Allied forces.

But George w. Bush did not send Colin Powell to lie before the UN, nor did he cherry-pick and corrupt US intelligence to spew falsehoods before congress and the American people during the run-up to his own distinct, unconscionable aggression against Iraq 12 years after his father's war was finished with an inkling of suggestion that it was anything other than a brand new war.

By your line of reasoning mankind has never not been at war and all conflicts might as well trace their genesis to the spat between Cain and Abel.

Additionally, Saddam did not, in fact, expel the weapons inspectors, they left of their own accord to avoid dodging American bombs. Or, did youmiss that?

February 13, 2008 4:55 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Harry, bless you, I'm sure you'd have driven the Russians back to Moscow back in '45, too.

February 13, 2008 4:58 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

You're a newbie, lonbud. In '45 Stalin had the big battalions and we'd have been massacred.

In '91, we could have waltzed to Baghdad, given a few tens of thousands of infantry to protect the tanks. We didn't have any infantry and our allies who did hadn't the guts to close and finish the job.

More's the pity.

The colloquy between Schwarfkopf and Powell was window dressing. They both knew they couldn't go are farther.

Call it a hudna.

still, don't you think it admirable that a genocidal maniac was brought to justice and his depredations stopped?

That's something that's never happened before and if people like you have your way, will never happen again either.

February 13, 2008 8:26 PM  
Blogger joe shropshire said...

Given a few tens of thousands of infantry to protect the tanks

Mmmm, no. Lord knows I don't know a fraction of what you do, but I know you're quite deliberately full of it there, Harry. For reasons which I cannot quite fathom, except maybe that you take too much pleasure in being an historical Red Army re-enactor (thanks to aog there for his useful concept of protest re-enactor.)

Here is an order of battle for Desert Storm (click on the map and then on the button to the lower right to get it to expand.) Note particularly where the 101st Air Assault and the 82nd Airborne were. Two perfectly good infantry divisions, both of them basically told to go guard a dumpster. If you'd given Schwarzkopf five more infantry divisions, he'd have done the same thing with them that he did with the two he had: parked them someplace safe. Nobody was going nowhere in that war unless they were inside a tank or a Bradley. (The Marines down by Kuwait City weren't supposed to do much either, but then Marines will do something to get themselves killed in any event.) All this was perfectly obvious, from watching CNN, to any of us dragging our knuckles down the flightline at MacDill at the time, so therefore you cannot possibly be confused about it either. What is it with you and infantry?

February 13, 2008 11:15 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Well, if you're not willing to take infantry casualties, then you don't have infantry.

I've never been an admirer of Powell or Schwartzkopf as commanders, anyway. The goal of fighting a war without any own casualties is appealing in one way but bad, mad military thinking.

I suspect the risk assessment was overrated. I never thought at the time that the Iraqi army would fight hard, but that's an unprovable.

It was pretty obvious from what Powell and Schwartzkopf said that they expected a genuine butcher's bill and were not willing to pay it.

The strategic direction of the war was typically incompentent, as was all military planning during the Reagan-Bush I era.

Recall, if it had come a standup fight, all the infantry we had was going to be chopped up, except for the 10th and 25th divisions.

February 14, 2008 8:05 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

still, don't you think it admirable that a genocidal maniac was brought to justice and his depredations stopped?

I do, actually. Though it would have been more admirable and, for the Iraqis, both more satisfying and less lethal to their society and nation, had they done it themselves.

We in America are now in a similar pickle. Do we recognize and bring to justice the genocidal maniacs who have been leading our society and nation down the path to ruin these past seven years, or do we just let it go and trust that one day the forces of Good will show up in all their terrible splendor to do the job for us?

February 14, 2008 8:43 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

lonbud:

... with the addition of several additional hours, at Schwarzkopf's request, that the decision was made to end the war. [emphasis mine]

Hard to be more plain than that.


Your quote mining reminds me of ID/Creationists. It is clear from the context of the oral history that Gates was referring to ending combat operations. The existence of a cease fire, and its conditions clearly meant hostilities were ended contingent upon Saddam's compliance with the cease fire. What's more, that oral history does not constitute an "official US government position."

To conclude otherwise requires entirely abandoning the concept of a cease fire; that is the basis for my line of reasoning. The conflict with Iraq was no more ended than is the conflict with North Korea.

The UN Security Council Resolutions you have ignored were completely predicated upon the cease fire.

(BTW -- the interview was relatively soon after the end of combat operations, no later than 1992, which means most of the cease fire violations were still in the future, making your characterization of the Gates quote baseless.)

But George w. Bush did not send Colin Powell to lie before the UN, nor did he cherry-pick and corrupt US intelligence to spew falsehoods before congress and the American people ...

The cease fire and subsequent UNSCRs required Saddam to completely divest himself of NBC weapons, as well as provide free and unfettered access to UN weapons inspectors.

His continuous obstruction on the latter made the former impossible to verify. In fact, if you google around a bit, you will find a Foreign Affairs article with transcripts of some of Saddam's meetings. He clearly believed he still possessed chemical weapons (also, a recent 60 Minutes broadcast of an interview with Saddam contains his intent to pursue NBC programs as soon as he could.)

Intelligence is inexact; we had very good reasons to believe he still possessed chemical weapons. His past performance strongly advised erring on the side of caution.

More telling, though, is that if the Bush administration is as evil as you insist it is, they certainly would have manufactured all sorts of chemical weapons to be found.

Whether the weapons inspectors were expelled, or left of their own accord, is a distinction nearly without difference. What does matter is Saddam's direct actions making their mission impossible to execute.

Finally, you (and the rest of the Left) are essentially arguing a null hypothesis. Given the status quo ante (the effects of sanctions, corruption in the oil for food program, the French and Russian undermining of the sanctions, the increased difficulty of maintaining Southern Watch, Saddam's subsidizing Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel, and Saddam's obvious intent to pursue NBC programs as soon as the sanctions were lifted) what the heck would you have done?

Nothing is not an option.

BTW, regarding the charge that Bush is responsible for all the deaths in Iraq, I'm still curious what the casualty count would have been absent Shia v. Sunni sectarian violence.



Harry:

Recall, if it had come a standup fight, all the infantry we had was going to be chopped up, except for the 10th and 25th divisions.

Except there was no possibility of a standup fight; by the time ground operations started, the Iraqi army was effectively destroyed in place.

February 14, 2008 11:33 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

HS:

And I'm still waiting for a single credible citation supporting your claim the Gulf War did not end - as a matter of widely accepted understanding - in 1991.

I understand your parsing of the cease fire agreement and the UN resolutions, but where has anyone other than an endless war advocate such as yourself expressed an understanding that GWB was continuing his father's war and not launching a new one of his own?

In any event, Saddam was obviously - as events have by now proved - a convenient excuse for pushing forward with the grander plan of attempting to remake Arab society and install western-style democracy in the Middle East, something everyone in the Bush administration repeatedly assured the public and the congress was not what we were about going in there in 2003.

Given the totality of the circumstances, I may well have acted to take Saddam out of the picture. I'm glad I didn't have to make that call. But if I did, I'd have taken him out and got the hell out of Dodge.

February 15, 2008 1:27 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

lonbud:

You are making two mistakes.

First confusing the end of the Gulf War with the end of hostilities. The existence of a cease fire -- which requires no parsing -- means hostilities continued, even in the absence of large scale combat.

Second, and completely independently, the end of the Gulf War did not mean there would be no casus belli ten years on.

n any event, Saddam was obviously - as events have by now proved - a convenient excuse for pushing forward with the grander plan of attempting to remake Arab society and install western-style democracy in the Middle East, something everyone in the Bush administration repeatedly assured the public and the congress was not what we were about going in there in 2003.

That isn't what I remember. I thought it was pretty clear that one of the hoped for goals was a unitary Iraq whose government was exposed to periodic approval by its citizens. If you had asked anyone in the administration if they would have been happy with a Turkey-like Iraq after all was said and done, I think you would have gotten a "Well, duh" in response.

Given the totality of the circumstances, I may well have acted to take Saddam out of the picture. I'm glad I didn't have to make that call. But if I did, I'd have taken him out and got the hell out of Dodge.

That might well have been the best call. Unfortunately, since life isn't a repeatable experiment we will never know.

There are two things worth keeping in mind, though.

First, it is nearly impossible to avoid comparing the costs of the path taken with the purported advantages of the path foregone.

Second, it may well be that the Bush administration, through no skill of its own, stumbled upon the best strategy for the long term, despite its short term costs. How better to expose al Queda's exterminationist and totalitarian impulses, or the nihilism of the Sunni - Shia sectarian conflict, then to give them a few years.

In other words, perhaps the best way of defeating this kind of insurgency is to let people have a taste of the results.

The surge is working, but it probably would not have worked in 2004.

And it may well produce better results than getting the heck out of Dodge.

We will never know.

February 15, 2008 12:26 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

I have very clear recollections of Bush campaigning against Gore with this rhetoric:

I'm worried about an opponent [Gore] who uses nation building and the military in the same sentence.

I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building.

... a nation-building corps from America. Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight.


Google 'nation building iraq' at YouTube and you can watch and hear the very words come out of his mouth.

Now, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and that crew of thugs certainly had nation-building in mind all along, but if you will remember, during the run-up to the 2003 invasion Powell, and Bush, and Rice made it all about the WMD and about removing Saddam; and they were the ones who went on TV, and to the UN, and before the congress to make the case that we were going to war to prevent 'another mushroom cloud'.

The real agenda of the neocons was kept quite hush-hush until well after-the-fact, when it became clear there was no exit strategy, that the short-term was indeed turning into a quagmire.

You are right about the fact we will never know whether getting out of Dodge would have been the better call.

But we do know that Bush did exactly the opposite of what he said he would do prior to receiving the keys to the kingdom, which makes him either a premeditated dissembler or an executive unable to maintain command and control of his organization -- if not both.

February 15, 2008 5:54 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

lonbud, I dunno how it is where you are, but all the Code Pinkos here agree that this war is the continuation of Bush I's war.

++++

'the Iraqi army was effectively destroyed in place'

I think that's probably about right, but that's not what the American high command purported to believe.

Recall that before going in, there was much talk about Iraq having the fourth largest army in the world, with elite Republican Guards.

At the cease-fire, the guards had not been engaged.

Given the performance against Iranian militia, I think the Iraqi army could have been taken out by a much smaller force than we had, and even -- though it would have been daring -- by an all-armor thrust.

But I wasn't advising Powell. He seemed to think he was in a real war, and I take him at his word.

Recall, however, how this thread started.

Americans do not strap bombs to the mentally retarded and then use them to blow up children. Americans -- some of us, anyway -- are horrified by such conduct.

It is not clear to me that Muslims are.

Somewhat OT, on orders from the suits in Wheeling, I am now blogging, have been for a week. I don't think it's the most effective use of my paid time, but if they're happy, I'm happy.

Later today I will post my first comment on the Democratic contest.

Blog address is www.mauinews.com/page/blogs.detail/display/16.html

It's called Restating the Obvious.

February 15, 2008 6:32 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Harry:

Good on ya, lad! What a life, eh? Living in Paradise, getting paid to blog...some guys have all the luck.

Can't remember if it was here or elsewhere in a thread with HS that I mentioned I am a confirmed skeptic of global warming hysteria, so, of course I approve of your first post.

Interesting too, to learn you and I share Tennessee roots.

As for Saddam, Iraq, War and all, my guess is neither the HS's nor the Code Pinkos of the world will have their take on the playing out of events there represented in the history books.

I'd be willing to bet a slug of clear corn whiskey against a meyers' n' tonic they'll have chapter headings along the lines of The Gulf War and The Second Gulf War.

Not sure about your recollections re: the Republican Guard, but here's what Gates said Powell reported during their discussions about ceasing hostilities at that time:

...the next day the morning of the 27th, Colin said we'd basically done it. We have destroyed the Republican Guard, we have expelled them from Kuwait, we have essentially completed our objectives.

February 15, 2008 9:35 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

but if you will remember, during the run-up to the 2003 invasion Powell, and Bush, and Rice made it all about the WMD ...

Perhaps not.

While you are at it, review the comments regarding the aftermath of Desert Storm.

But we do know that Bush did exactly the opposite of what he said he would do prior to receiving the keys to the kingdom, which makes him either a premeditated dissembler or an executive unable to maintain command and control of his organization -- if not both.

Bush, of course, was reacting to our mission in Somalia.

You, of course, have made the error of excluding a third option: he was wrong.

Harry:

We should have let Desert Storm go on for another 36 hours. It is that whole damn hindsight thing.

February 15, 2008 10:37 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

Oh, he was wrong, all right; that much is now abundantly clear.

February 16, 2008 12:27 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I'd rather say, we should have continued until regime change.

At the level of grand strategy, what in the world were those guys thinking?

1. Weren't we supposed to have learned the infelicities of limited war in Vietnam?

2. Hadn't we gained an understanding in the '30s that a certain type of aggressive totalitarian state (Hitlerite Germany) needs constant external agitation to distract from its external failures? Wasn't it true that Saddam had shown that he was on a path of serially attacking every neighbor, without provocation?

3. Hadn't we learned that appeasement doesn't work?

4. Hadn't we learned that action sooner rather than later was cheaper? That eradication of the regime was the only way to control it?

Given all those understandings -- which I guess the geniuses in Washington hadn't learned, but I sure had -- how could anyone embarl on a war solely to clear Kuwait?

You may say, the US wanted Iraq intact as counterweight to our real enemy in the region, Iran, and that should have been a consideration.

However, if that was an issue, then the air campaign was way overdone. It was overdone anyway. After the ceasefire, Iraq was so damaged that it wasn't any kind of counterweight for a while.

What in the world were they thinking?

February 16, 2008 10:01 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Harry:

Remember what else had been going on in the couple years preceding Desert Storm.

Countries by the score were, more or less peacefully, casting socialism into the dust bin of history.

"They" assumed that, after the DS debacle, Saddam would join the Ceaucescus (sp?). There is no point killing someone who is committing suicide.

Or so they thought.

I don't think it had anything to do with appeasement.

IIRC, Schwarzkopf, in his book, excoriated one of his battlefield commanders for incorrectly reporting his position, which led to the cease fire happening a day or so sooner than it would have otherwise done.

Whether that is self serving historical revisionism, I have no idea.

lonbud:

You have provided not a whit of substantiation for:

All of that, however, does not change the fact that -- on balance -- George W. Bush and the US military are responsible for the murders of a great deal more innocent human lives than are those Muslim extremists.

Bush's direct responsibility for the uncounted deaths of innocent victims of American bombing and at the hands of ground troops and US military contractors, all of which represent by far the majority of lives lost since 2003 in that blighted land.

You simply cannot drop as much ordnance as we have in Iraq without killing, as I said, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent bystanders.

Saddam and his pitiful "army" were adjunct nuisances in the way of a larger quest to establish command and control over the most valuable source of crude oil US interests could get their hands on.

... during the run-up to the 2003 invasion Powell, and Bush, and Rice made it all about the WMD ...

Are those statements still "operative", or may we put them in the rant category?

February 19, 2008 11:54 AM  
Blogger lonbud said...

You can call those statements whatever you want.

By the time my son's generation is cranking out scholarly assessments of the US war on Iraq, complete wit footnotes and bibliographies and references to the actual historical record, I believe it will be clear they represent as accurate a framing of the situation as any blogger in his pajamas was likely to come up with.

February 20, 2008 9:49 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Not without evidence they won't.

With all the only-time-will-tell caveats, how will those history books read if within, say, ten years Iraq becomes roughly like Turkey is today?

February 20, 2008 9:57 PM  
Blogger lonbud said...

In the event you and I are both alive in 2018, HS, should Iraq be roughly like Turkey is today, I will come to Alaska with one of the bottles of 2000 Grand Cru Bordeaux I've been saving for my son's 21st birthday in 2021 and present it to you instead.

Meanwhile, we can bandy about the definition of that conditional state.

Does it mean an officially secular, medium strength military power willing to exercise unilateral aggression against neighboring ethnic groups with whom it has a bone to pick, or what?

February 27, 2008 7:14 PM  

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