Continuation of "I get comments"

This was followed by three online comments


Posted 07:05 AM, 09/16/2010
lefty
Mr. Gardner, nine years and all we hear from muslim spokepersons and moral relativists like you are contrived excuses of victimization. Now you subject us to islam's lack of a centralized authority for the inaction of its millions who have yet to criminalize the continued brutality of some of the other millions that support and/ or profess a fundamentalist interpretation of their Qur'an. Organizations such as CAIR foster distrust. It's leaders remain reticent even when opportunities, like the one provided by the 9/11 anniversary, offer them a reason to call out the terrorist arm of islam. Instead, America gets to hear the "moderate muslim"(misnomer)Rauf go on national TV to explain why it's so important to construct his own memorial near ground zero.

Posted 09:00 AM, 09/16/2010
Ben9
Mr. Gardner, saying it's "reasonable" to blame the entire German and Japanese nations for WW II but not all of Islam for 9-11 is a bad comparison. It would be more honest to compare 9-11 to a WW II act of sabotage, which would not have occurred without the encouragement and support of the larger Axis war effort. Would you absolve Japan and Germany of that act because it was carried out by a small group? Germans and Japanese should have resisted fascism, but it's odd that you make no mention of the majority of Muslims who fail to speak out against violent Islamic extremism. Of course there are peaceful Muslims, just as there were peaceful Germans and Japanese, the only difference being the methods of intimidating them; the former were threatened with concentration camps if they protested the war and Holocaust, the latter are threatened with ostracism, death and damnation if they question Islam's dogma and war against "infidels".

Posted 09:07 AM, 09/16/2010
Lord.Humongous
Mr. Gardner needs to remove his head from the sand as the threat is far more pervasive than he presumes. From MSNBC: "A cartoonist has disappeared from public view because she's on an Islamic cleric's hitlist for declaring "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" last spring, according to a newspaper that ran her drawings." The FBI has warned her over serious threats to her life, and she's been advised to change her identity.

I didn't respond online because there's such a huge gap in the way we see the issue. My view on guerrilla wars has generally been that the boundaries between fighters and supporters has always been fuzzy, but the participants themselves have always seen a distinction. The boundaries between hardcore, dedicated fighters and those who are less committed and more casual about the battle are again fuzzy and people can change from one status to the other, but the participants have always recognized a distinction.

When the US flattens all distinctions and says "They're all the same," I don't think that serves the interests of anyone but the very worst of our opponents. As the FDL blogger points out here, there are objective ways to determine how well an occupying/government force is doing. The beginning consideration/hope is that "the population is either a) tangibly supporting government efforts to root out insurgents [and/or is] b) refusing to tolerate insurgent operations...within their area or population." How do we know these objectives are being met? We'll have:
  1. increased intelligence from the locals about insurgent activities, and
  2. a measurable increase in the number of locals willing to put their lives on the line by siding with the local government against the insurgents.
Guerrilla war is of course a matter of dishing out punishment to insurgents, but it's also always been a matter of separating the insurgents from the locals. Guerrilla war is first and foremost a matter of politics. It's a matter of convincing the locals that the government/occupier is on the side of the locals and that it wants to serve their interests. In the first comment, "lefty" refers to "the inaction of its millions" to refer to Muslims who do not actively oppose efforts by anti-Western radicals, the radicals themselves have a "fundamentalist interpretation of their Qur'an." I interpret this to mean that Lefty understands at some level that the concept of guerrilla war as being first and foremost a political one as opposed to being just a purely military one. The idea is that we can understand the Muslim world as being split between people who are currently inactive and between active jihadists.

Ben9 suggests that the actions of the Muslim world support and are consistent with the actions of al Qaeda. In essence, al Qaeda is acting as the Muslim world's agent. LH (I refuse to use self-glorifying titles that begin with terms like "Lord" or "Thoughtful," won't do it) substantiates Ben9's point by observing that there are some pretty nasty people in the Muslim world. Problem: Muslims worldwide number a little over 1.4 billion. The US is a bit over 300 million (Europe is over 830 million, so the US and Europe together equal about 1.13 billion, but it's hard to say whether Europe can be drafted into a global struggle against Muslims). Yes, we have more technology, but the Nazis had more technology than the Soviet Union did during World War II. A German unit was worth about two Russian units on the battlefield, but the Russians had many more they could deploy than just twice as many as the Germans could muster. I notice that Lefty doesn't recommend any way to separate the passive millions from the active jihadists.

I just don't see any alternative. The only possible way for the US to prevail (Without at least wrecking half the world and killing people in the tens or hundreds of millions) is through the application of politics. The US has to split off the active, hostile fighters from the passive people who aren't doing much one way or the other. The strategy for doing that? I truly hate to quote this guy, but his Second Inaugural Address suggests the way to go:

For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

If we truly and seriously stand for freedom and dignity, first and foremost we'll have to start by putting our own house in order and by putting aside useless and destructive policies (PDF) like torture and indefinite detention, then we'll have the ability to truly stand for a better way. But we can't just preach it. We can't simply talk the talk without walking the walk. That doesn't mean the US has to be perfect, but it
does mean we have to be trying our best. The fact that torture victims are pretty much locked out of the US justice system and that they don't seem to be able to get any relief from US courts really doesn't help matters any.

Standing up for US principles of justice and fairness is a strategic issue. If the US acts hypocritically, if the US continues to allow "regions of the world [to] simmer in resentment and tyranny," then the cause is lost. In 2003, when the US invaded Iraq, US soldiers were initially considered "liberators" by at least a significant percentage of Iraqis, but by early 2004 the bloom was off the rose and the majority of Iraqis wanted the US gone. As Common Sense World puts it:

Our moment as liberators quickly transformed into an eternity as occupiers who have become little more than catalysts for chaos.
...
After all, democracy is great to this president [G.W. Bush], so long as he’s the one calling the shots. Remember, he’s the decider guy.

Being a "City on a Hill" is not simply a nice thing to be, it's a necessity. We need to at least be seen as trying our very best to do it. So no, the US can't allow the world to see us as discriminating against Muslims by saying "No, we can't allow you to establish a house of worship near ground that is precious to us. Your very presence defiles our sacred ground. Our sacred ground extends well beyond where the attack of 2001 occurred and it extends to everywhere where the dust settled from the attack and from where bodies were thrown!" No one in the US has claimed that Muslims do not have the right to build houses of worship near what we term as sacred ground, but insisting that our sensitivities should override their desire that they be treated as any other religion does not strike me as wise.

Update: This sort of thing really doesn't help matters much for the US either. In fact, I'd call it wildly counter-productive and incredibly damaging to the cause of getting Afghans to take our side in the struggle.


Further update: Have the prisons in Iraq improved at all? No. They're just as bad now as they were under the evil dictator Saddam Hussein. Again, this is simply counter-productive and completely at odds with gaining any trust/loyalty on the part of Muslims anywhere.

Yet another Update: Good letter in the Inky:

Blaming all for acts of a few

A small-minded letter writer says "Damn right I am" anti-Muslim, as he blames all Muslims for the actions of a few un-Islamic terrorists, and implies that since he personally hasn't heard any apologies (for 9/11, etc.) from any Muslims, his venom toward them is justified ("Too many fear Muslim terror," Tuesday). How would he feel if African Americans blamed all white people, living and dead, for slavery? Would he be understanding of Native Americans if they said they have a legitimate right to be antiwhite because of the near-genocide of Indians at the hands of white settlers and the U.S. government during the early years of our republic? Does he blame all Christians for the murder of abortion doctors by "Christian" fanatics? Would he approve of Jews blaming all Germans, living and dead, for the Holocaust?
There are people who form opinions from emotions and not intellect; use generalizations, innuendo, and stereotypes to describe people different from themselves; let themselves be driven by fear and ignorance; and/or use religion to justify bigotry and intolerance. I consider many of those people to be extremists, but I don't blame all of humanity for the actions of the few.
C. Theodore Lang