Bush Officials Are Flunking Anti-Terrorism 101





Mr. Catsam is Assistant Professor of History at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

It is widely accepted that the Bush administration is nothing if not on message. Since the incursion in Iraq, the administration has shown at least one foolish consistency that is, to say the least, problematic. Whenever the president or his aides and advisors refer to attacks against American soldiers in Iraq, they refer to them as acts of terrorism and to the perpetrators as terrorists.* But by any standard definition of terrorism, the administration is misusing the word. This is not a simple matter of semantics. It is also a matter that is central to our developing a coherent, rational, and consistent policy toward terrorism and other forms of warfare. Terrorism is the intentional targeting of civilian populations. Attacking soldiers, or police who are functioning in a military capacity, is not terrorism.

At first the insistence upon conflating acts of terrorism with other attacks may not seem to be problematic -- after all, the individual using a car as a bomb at a military checkpoint is one of the bad guys. So too is the suicide bomber in a café. Why not just lump them all together and let God sort it out?

While viscerally satisfying and perhaps in its way logical, the fact remains that an inability to separate different types of attacks, different kinds of enemies, reveals a myopia on the part of the administration, and this could, down the road, manifest itself in shoddy policy and worse.

In the early 1960s, in the wake of the Sharpeville Massacre in which members of the South African Police forces opened fire on a crowd of black protesters from the Pan Africanist Congress, killing 69 and wounding dozens more, anti-apartheid activists faced a dilemma. In the face of a state that clearly was not going to be transformed by nonviolent moral suasion, was it acceptable to resort to violence against the State? The answer that Nelson Mandela and others came up with was that as a last resort such an approach was justifiable, and, indeed, necessary.

However, in establishing an armed wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation"), the ANC did not act blithely. Instead, Mandela was clear to differentiate between four types of violent reprisal: terrorism, sabotage, guerrilla warfare, and all-out revolution. Basing their decisions on both moral reasoning and realities on the ground - namely the fear of all-out racial civil war - the ANC strategists behind the shift in policy decided to limit their attacks to sabotage - that is, they established the proviso that they would not aim to kill or hurt people, and they would aim for targets that would pressure whites to push for changes in apartheid policy.

Why does this matter? Because today the Bush administration is too quick to label anything violent aimed at any American (or, where it suits us, allied) interests as "terrorist." This simply does not hold up to scrutiny. There are times when acts of sabotage or guerrilla warfare are necessary, just, and right. One need look no further than the struggle against apartheid. But too many in the administration have not taken the time or effort to establish parameters for what "terrorism" means. Until the administration and others in a position to make policy are willing to establish and accept that terrorism is the intentional targeting of civilian populations, they will run the risk of developing as national policy an approach whereby "terrorism" comes to mean whatever we want it to mean. This is the sort of relativism that conservatives usually deride, and yet let there be no mistake, relativism it is.

Furthermore, one should not fall into the trap of believing that by establishing definitions of terrorism we are allowing bad guys who use other means to go unpunished. Presumably we will not lose our moral compass by developing a more complex view of things. We can still fight evil when it comes in the guise of sabotage, guerrilla warfare, or revolution. The difference is that terrorism is inherently evil, where these other acts are not of themselves evil, and thus our recourse in responding to each may well be different. If nothing else, from a strategic vantage point this should make us more efficient at (and possibly moral in) dealing with our enemies, not less so.

Finally, if we refuse to acknowledge that there can be attacks against us other than terrorist attacks, then we inadvertently will push our enemies into acts of terrorism. After all, if the United States is unwilling to accept the difference, then why should those who oppose us? Beyond that, if every kind of act of violence used against us is terrorism, if it is all relative, then doesn't the opposite also hold true - that any act of violence that we use is also terrorism? And if so, will that not have an impact on our ability to use the military to protect ourselves, to intervene in humanitarian crises, and to serve our national interest?

We can never accept terrorism, and we can never accept such morally vacuous platitudes as "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." But Nelson Mandela and others were willing to make these differentiations, were willing to fight for freedom and avoid widespread terrorism, no matter what the self-serving apartheid government proclaimed throughout the 1980s. They faced a government that similarly referred to any opposition as terrorism. Are we apartheid South Africa? Of course not. But in its brazen misuse of language our current "antiterror" approach is remarkably akin to that skunk of a regime. On this issue we can do better than that South African government, and by establishing clear cut differences between terrorists and other fighters, we shall.

*In Iraq U.S. generals have occasionally referred to the attacks on American troops as the work of guerrilla forces.


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USA - 12/13/2003

It's amazing to read such vitriol against a nation that has the most educated, well-fed, prosperous populace in world history. We are the city on a hill, a beacon for the world's people. Yes we are flawed but still the noble experiment to which the world looks up to and if not always loves, certainly admires.


Anthony Kittner - 12/13/2003

I think that the Court Historians that are constantly attacked on this thread is appropriate. When those who write for HNN are drawn from the ranks of the Schlesingerian Vital Center, it reinforces the belief that divergent views exist dynamically in America.

The truth is most academics are drawn and captivated by the Empire, and with few exceptions are reinforces of its evil whether they be GOP or Democratic. A third way will come eventually but at what a frightful cost.

The Court Historians who disgrace the profession of history should examines it blood and genocide and rethink their vicious reinforcement of this horrible nation.

Yours in resistance.


Ryan - 12/12/2003

Now thankfully you have finally decided to engage the arguments that I have presented instead of standing behind a thin veil of shrewd remarks to seemingly boaster your own ego while you make dehumanize others that you deem 'hostiles' - otherwise known as ad-hominem attacks.

As for your assumption that "a soldier representing a military force cannot simply give himself a pass and then claim that any attack against them is thus terrorism" is a very good point. Nonetheless, your argument is still very much flawed. There must be some measure to which one can define when a war is over and that soldiers in a certain area are no longer acting in the formal role of 'combatants and have entered the stage of nation building, if they chose to do so. Some would argue that a war is not over until the Leader of the opposing side is dead. However, I tend to disagree, though this might be a symbolic victory it is not the useful gauge. I would argue there are a least three major events that need to take place before one can say that a war is over - i.e. Bush's 'major hostilities are over speech'. 1) Air superiority 2) Control of all major roads and towns 3) Enemy communications (both internal and external) are gone. By the criteria above I guess it is safe to say that the war is over in Iraq. Hence your claim that American's are "just claim[ing] victory" and so as to label attacks on their soldiers as terrorism is completely bogus.

As for why occupying forces "suddenly become immune to still being military" they are not. However, if the occupying force are there to safe guard peace and ensure stability in the region with hopes of creating a democratic and self-sufficient government for the indigenous people of the land then attacks by blood thirsty thugs can be considered terrorism.

I am baffled as to how there are tones to written words on the Internet. Is there something I am missing here? Maybe you aren't familiar with the nature of a critical assessment by other people. By definition critiques are meant to be critical.

My best bet is most 'guerillas' who argue that they are fighting a war of liberation and that they are freedom fighters not terrorist are really only putting on a show for the west. It would do you some good if you check out a book entitled 'Red Horizons'. It's by a Romania secret service agent who defected to the America and recounts the story of how the Romania dictator Nicolae Ceausescus tried to persuade Arafat to change his image in the west from a terrorist to a freedom fighter. Nicolae Ceausescus also stated that this could be easily done and the difference would only be a change in name. Your argument for seems to confirm Nicolae Ceausescus' theory. Terror is terror no matter who is conducting it for what reasons.

Your assumption that,

"our misuse of the word might well make others think that no matter what they do they’ll be branded as terrorists, as opposed to as legitimate fighters, which are distinct categories in int’l law"

Shows your complete misunderstanding of how terror manifests itself. Terror is the result of generations of brainwashing. Word usage has nothing to do with it. People who engage in terrorist acts are not well versed in International Law and don't sit down and discus with other terrorist the finer points of the rules of war. By the very nature a terrorist is one who totally ignores the rule of law and destroys peoples lives for a single ideology. Word usage has nothing to do with it.

And finally your statement that:

"Anonymity is gutless when you use it to go on the attack against others."

Why are you so keen on learning who I am and why should my name matter? Isn't the points in ones argument that determine it's validity not who is making it?


Derek Catsam - 12/12/2003

Some more things to consider:
I’ll respond in turn to Ryan’s points, which are numbered. (Except the last one, which is preceded by (---)

1) Since you seem to want to ignore my main point that "major hostilities have ended". Therefore we have begun the administrative/occupation phase of the war, thus making attacks on our military acts of terrorism because they fall out of the sphere of 'attacking soldiers, or police who are functioning in a military capacity'. Then you really aren't willing to debate the facts.

A soldier representing a military force cannot simply give himself a pass and then claim that any attack against them is thus terrorism. Otherwise, why not just claim victory and occupation right away and be done with it. Obviously those fighting against us don’t think hostilities have ended. And why “occupying powers” suddenly become immune to still being military is a bit beyond me.

2) I am quite calm. I don't know where you have gotten this notion that if someone disagrees with you that they are automatically this irrational raving lunatic who needs to just to feel some puppies to be cheered up. My best bet here is that you are suffering from psychosis where you project your own problems on to other – i.e. Me thinks doth protest to much.

No, your first message was quite hostile. Given that you ascribed beliefs to me that I do not hold, than namecalled those ideas, and that you claimed that I romanticized guerrillas – which I have not done except to cite the South African example where, yes, the good guys were the guerrillas, unless of course you place the Nats over the ANC, in which case, well, not much for us to talk about.

3) What does being on the same side have to do with defining correct word usage??

No, it doesn’t. My use of the word “terrorist” is right. Yours is whatever it is. But maybe you’d settle down a bit if you wrote as if I were someone trying to engage in dialogue rather than as the enemy.

4) How does proper usage of the term terrorism dissuade ‘liberation’ movements from not using it? I find that notion particularly amusing.

You might find it amusing, but Mandela decided to differentiate. So there is an historical circumstance where a liberation group realized that there was a difference and that it might matter in terms of perception and international reaction – and lo and behold, isn’t that precisely what happened?

5) Just because we properly define and use a word how does that imply that others will not misuse it?

Because our misuse of the word might well make others think that no matter what they do they’ll be branded as terrorists, as opposed to as legitimate fighters, which are distinct categories in int’l law. Again, see Mandela’s differentiation above.

---Are we flunking Logic 101 now?

You have not shown a single logical fallacy yet. And if you’d shown the courtesy of following the entire strain here you’d realize that nowhere in my article do I assert that Bush is failing terrorism 101 or logic 101. That is a title the editors gave – my original title was simply “A Matter if Definition.” Your ignorance is not my fault. But I’ve already defended myself against a title I did not give this piece. And I maintain that your tone is consistently hostile here. At least give your last name if you are going to take the air of superiority. Anonymity is gutless when you use it to go on the attack against others.


A Smart Brit - 12/12/2003

I have a hunch Mr Stemler is a Brit who writes for the Guardian. Am I right? I won't guess his real name due to privacy but I think the guy is a biggie. I could be wrong but I am about 70% confident that I know who he is. HNN, you should be honoured to have him writing. But I could be wrong and so be it.


Daughter of Stemler - 12/12/2003

I am fainting!!


USA - 12/12/2003

Please, the French never got over the demise of their Empire and are envious of ours. Move on and ignore the guy. What cult? What adoration? Give me a break!


A Non-Stemler Relative - 12/12/2003

Tough words, but you are good. I know the rift between the US and Europe has grown. I do not know enough whether your views reflect the reasons, but they are unusually forceful.


R. Stemler - 12/12/2003

At some point I shall return in more detail to harass you fiendish imperialists. Yes I am aware of my "following" on these e-mails as I have been following it with distant bemusement. I am not seeking publicity and I could receive some detrimental repercussions from Médecins Sans Frontières. We are supposed to heal the wounds that you animals cause and I am perhaps too confrontational for my employer.

I leave you wretched monsters with a new version of your "Play for Pay." If you slaughter Muslims in Iraq, you get to divide up the spoils; if you have not joined the crusade of Cheney oil and gas mob, you get nothing.

And you liberals, get up, go to school, pay your taxes, see yourself as part of the literati when in fact you are part of the most monstrous, evil, vicious, backward, horrible country in the world.

We can't stand you: money, Wall Street, death penalty, Trail of Tears, persecution of progressive professors who denounce your butchery, media concentration that destroys balanced reporting and on and on.

I say to my "children", don't focus on grammar and words, even the superior French are too conscious of language purity and preventing the Americanisation of French. No, my sweeties, fight for peace; fight for respect of Islam; fight for a third way of Socialism or Radical Green to disrupt your money driven one-party system. Write history that shows you for what you are---a rich, military empire that burns people.

Viva La France


Daugher of Stemler - 12/11/2003

I shall comply.

One caveat. If R. Stemler returns from his post in Paris, then all bets are off. I urge readers to ctrl and F for his animadversions on the US and France. It was also Ricardo, he signed that on his last post, who initiated the discussion of the topic discussed in this portion.

One other point. I did read some of the pre-deleted comments on Professor Catsam's article on Afro-American coaches. Perhaps Mr Thomas will choose other venues for his racist patois. On this article on Terrorism, except for some of the comments on the French people and presidential candidate Kucinich, there were despite the volume, tough, no holds barred criticism but not demeaning or vicious in their assessment of the author and his article.

It should also be noted that the discussion of word usage emanated from a thread and NOT the article. So much of the criticism here was frankly useful, even if not directly related to the essay that the professor wrote.


Ryan - 12/11/2003

Some more things to consider:

1) Since you seem to want to ignore my main point that "major hostilities have ended". Therefore we have begun the administrative/occupation phase of the war, thus making attacks on our military acts of terrorism because they fall out of the sphere of 'attacking soldiers, or police who are functioning in a military capacity'. Then you really aren't willing to debate the facts.

2) I am quite calm. I don't know where you have gotten this notion that if someone disagrees with you that they are automatically this irrational raving lunatic who needs to just to feel some puppies to be cheered up. My best bet here is that you are suffering from psychosis where you project your own problems on to other – i.e. Me thinks doth protest to much.

3) What does being on the same side have to do with defining correct word usage??

4) How does proper usage of the term terrorism dissuade ‘liberation’ movements from not using it? I find that notion particularly amusing.

5) Just because we properly define and use a word how does that imply that others will not misuse it?

---Are we flunking Logic 101 now?

-Ryan


Derek Catsam - 12/11/2003

At what point did I ever say I wanted us to be out of Iraq? Where? You assret that I do, but I do not. Don't ascribe views to me that I do not say. Yopur misreading of my article is not my fault. Nor did I say that we were not fighting a form of evil. Never. What I argued was that many of the acts being perpetrated against us are not acts of terror, but rather acts of war. You can fight both and should. Mine was simply a call for using the word "terrorist" properly so that 1) it is not misapplied against us and 2) so that in the future we will be able to dissuade liberation groups or others NOT to use terrorism. Terrorism is a partiocularly noxious evil, and we must be rid of it. But that does not mean that everyone we fight after 9-11 is a terrorist.
Settle down, Ryan. No need to get so hostile, we're not as far apart as you think, and neither one of us is the final word on this. Go get an ice cream cone, pat a puppy, or practice drawing smiley faces.


Grammarian - 12/10/2003

To:
Daughter of Stemler
Son of Stemler
Twin Daughter of Stemler
Ann
Ann T Communist
Not to be Mean if you are still around

I ask you now to desist from further remonstrances and or criticisms of Professor Catsam.

If R. Stemler is around, we are your cult and worship you.


David - 12/10/2003


Catsam, I agree that it does sound a bit contrived to say "an history", but that's how I learned it too, so I didn't give it a second thought when you phrased it that way.

What I did find a bit strange was that "play." In "the corner"?

So much build up for so little payoff. So much cleverness, so little wit.


Ryan - 12/10/2003

Some things to consider:

1)What does your "resume" and the fact that you are an "ardently antiterrorist" have anything the article that you presented? If you’re wrong here your previous positions or current position on a topic have no bearing on this one. The facts alone in ones argument should stand on it's own not who is making it.

2)If misuse of language and terms are the problem here than it is you who has flunked Anti-Terrorism 101 here and not President Bush. As I pointed out to you before US Army in Iraq currently is not 'functioning in a military capacity', but rather in a 'peace keeping/occupation capacity'. Therefore by your own definition of terrorism the attacks on US troops in Iraq are terrorism.

Ryan


Derek Catsam - 12/10/2003

Good work Grammarian. I love it also! I maintain that "an historian" is an accepted quirk recognized by some experts (again, Websters works for me, and no one has yet explained to me how Ambrose's title got through and I still don't place your spleen ventings over Safire) and that "an history book" would be foolish. English is not exactly the most rigidly structured language around, and there are exemptions.


Derek Catsam - 12/10/2003

Ryan --
I'm afraid you don't know my resume. I am ardently antiterrorist. I am not saying that language is more important than anything. This is not a zero sum game, and using language correctly does not mean you cannot also fight terrorism. The two are not related. I think Bush is misusing the word. I also think it is crucial to stamp out true terrorism where it exists. There is no contradiction there.
dc


Derek Catsam - 12/10/2003

I hope the patriarchy does not last forever either. When Hillary wins in 2008 maybe that will force a change. Then again, Hillary got some praise from Safire the other day.
Ann -- sure, I mistyped "sentence" but the difference is that you gratuitously insulted me and then corrected my grammar in a post riddled with language mistakes. You are setting yourself up as the final word here, you called me "dense" and then wrote :"Only the ones like you that don't know appropriate grammar." (which is not even a complete sentence; no matter, you've taken your anonymous leave of us.


Derek Catsam - 12/10/2003

I'm glad your students are following along. That Ambrose made mistakes does not mean he was not a legitimate writer, and I'd like to know what your styudents think about the title of his book -- again, this is from a major publisher. Further, look at Websters or else at the City College's writing center -- both indicate that this is simply not a cut and dried matter. I think both sides are being obdurate here.
Safire's politics have nothing to do with his status with the language, by the way. Conflating the two reveals an ideological pattern not a grammatical sgacity.


Daughter of Stemler - 12/10/2003

Wow!!


Ann - 12/10/2003

Love it!! And not cruel or vindictive, just satirical and an appropriate corrective.


Grammarian Again - 12/10/2003

Professor Catsam is walking down the hall of a classroom building at Mankato when a student rushes toward him.

Student: Professor Catsam, I lost two of my books! I don’t know what to do. I am so upset.

Professor: Gloria, now don’t get too upset. Which books can’t you locate?

Student: Oh Doctor Catsam, one is for economics and the other is for YOUR class?

Professor: Hmm. My class huh?

Student: And with exams coming on, and everything, I feel so abject and helpless.

Professor: Now let’s see what I can do to assist you. Let’s take a walk together on each of the three floors and see if we can’t find them for you.

Student: Really?

Professor: Sure, we are here to help you.

Professor Catsam and Gloria are walking up the stairs, through the halls and up the stairs again when Professor Catsam stops suddenly.

Student: Doctor, what is happening, are you ok?

Professor: In the corner, LOOK , in the corner, LOOK I can see it! There is AN history book.

Student: A Whaat?

Professor: An history book! An history book. I found it for you.

Student: You are so kind dear professor, but should it not be “a” history book.

Professor: No Gloria, according to Bill Safire, It is “an history book.”


Ryan - 12/10/2003

Funny how the author is more troubled by America's "brazen misuse of language" rather that the terror-mongers that seem to want to destroy the fabric of our great country. The author states that:

"Terrorism is the intentional targeting of civilian populations. Attacking soldiers, or police who are functioning in a military capacity, is not terrorism."

As if attacks on police are some how more acceptable if they are not termed as 'terrorist' or have a different affect when labeled differently. Yet, the definition doesn't seem to support author’s own case, for the war in Iraq is over and the US Army is not "functioning in a military capacity", but in a 'peace keeping capacity'. So therefore the attacks on peacekeepers fall outside of the authors definition of what is not considered terrorism. Hence by the authors own definition the attacks are to be deemed terrorist. It seems that the author has set up his own test on what is deemed to be terrorist acts and flunked it miserably, then he proceeds to blast the USA for "Flunking Anti-Terrorism 101".

However lets put aside the logical fallacies and focus on the main point of the article. The author states:

"Furthermore, one should not fall into the trap of believing that by establishing definitions of terrorism we are allowing bad guys who use other means to go unpunished. Presumably we will not lose our moral compass by developing a more complex view of things. We can still fight evil when it comes in the guise of sabotage, guerrilla warfare, or revolution."

So why care about definitions so much? The author has a reason:

"The difference is that terrorism is inherently evil, where these other acts are not of themselves evil, and thus our recourse in responding to each may well be different."

So there you go. The authors main point here is that what is happening to our troops is Iraq is "not of themselves evil", and that we should treat them as revolutionaries dieing for a just cause. This is complete and utter nonsense. The author should have had the decency to stand up and say what he wanted to say this out all this junk about ‘what is a terrorist and what isn’t’. His main point was that we need to leave Iraq, all this hoopla about what is and isn't a terrorist makes me sick. This absurd notion that killing is some how a 'romantic' expression of a 'revolutionary guerilla' that is fighting for his rights is utterly bogus.

In the end there is really one question that needs to be asked 'Is it okay for the blood hungry terrorist, villains, guerillas ... (or whatever euphemism you ‘intellectuals’ deem as most PC) to attack US for whatever reason they choose to be the cause of the day?' The answer is NO. There is no reason.


Ann - 12/10/2003

Derek the Great wrote: "Shouldn't your question in the sentene that starts with "How"

Perhaps DC spells sentence, sentene and will have Safire, or Sharon verify it as alternate usage.

I am done with this. Good bye all and enjoy your patriarchy. It won't be around forever.


Daughter of Stemler - 12/10/2003

My twin was irreverent. I recognize that one cannot ask Mr. Ambrose a question and she did not intend to be unmindful of his passing.


Twin of Daughter of Stemler - 12/10/2003

In case Professor Catsam reads this. We know you are a little carefree with rhetoric. The word "sire" was intended usage by my twin and you might ask Ambrose, or Ellis if they know what it means.


Daughter of Stemler - 12/10/2003

And you sire are equally irresolute and cowardly in concealing your identity. Please remember you are on the Internet!


Daughter of Stemler - 12/10/2003

Doctor Catsam, Please be gentle when addressing a woman. They are oppressed and merely expressing themselves in a male dominated website in which womyn are sorely underrepresented.

In Diana Hacker's A Pocket Style Manual, 3rd Edition, Bedford/St. Martins she writes on 49.

Note: A is used before a consonant sound: a banana, a happy child. An is used before a vowel sound: an egg-plant, an honorable person.

William Safire is a fascist and a violent hateful supporter of racism and Palestinian degradation. A COURT COLUMNIST

Ambrose is a disgraced historian who openly plagiarized and never conceded error. Go to your own website called History News Network, go to Hot Seat and look at Ambrose.

I do not deny that many, as yourself, choose to violate the appropriate usage. It is not a matterof a slightly audible H in historian; it is matter doctor of either a silent or non-silent consonant following a vowel. It is not a sliding scale and you are just wrong.

For a historian, you should feel a little embarassed. I had 3 students who have been following this thread question your obduracy in what is for them a basic matter of grammar.



David - 12/10/2003


Likewise, you also are anonymous and therefore double the lout.


Derek Catsam - 12/9/2003

And by the way, Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (10th edition) points out that often when a word starting with the letter h begins with an unstressed or weakly stressed syllable, writers tend to use "an". Thew cited example? "Many people would say, for example, “an historian” rather than “a historian.” "
Hmmm . . .


Derek Catsam - 12/9/2003

Settle down, Ann. Shouldn't there be a comma between "really" and "Williams"? Isn't the word spelled "denounce"? Shouldn't your question in the sentene that starts with "How many times home. . ." (by the way, what does that even mean?) end with a question mark? Should there be a comma after the "H" in your third sentence (assuming that the second is actually a sentence -- beyond the lack of a comma it also does not have something we Williams grads like to call a "Verb"). If you are going to proclaim yourself the final word on grammar it might be a good idea to be beyond reproach on that issue yourself. Do you have any idea what a court historian actually is, and if so, could you tell me how an article critical of the Bush administration fits? Is it really me who is the coward when I give my full name and you give only your first name? Again: Safire used "an historian." So "Ann" knows more than Safire. And again, what is the subtitle of Ambrose's last book? Oh yeah -- "Personal reflections of AN Historian." Very few historians indeed. Safire (Who writes the "On Language" column for the NYT) and Ambrose. Isn't it just possible that both usages are acceptable?


SON of Stemler - 12/9/2003

I think you are anonymous sniper and that your reluctance to reveal yourself makes you a coward and a lout.


LAPerson - 12/9/2003

As promised I will defer anymore inquiries. I recognize you could have ignored all of them and you chose to respond.

I do believe however that you are a threat to the academic community and that you seriously underestimate the advantages and the privileges of living in this country.

I also grudgingly concede you stand by your views despite a whirlwind of rage and anger for what you represent.


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/9/2003

Dear LAPerson,

You seem to be answering your questions or attempting to anticipate my responses. To put it mildly, I am somewhat befuddled by your admixture of questions and answers. I don’t play presidential synthesis games because they tend to glorify the powerful and ignore the oppressed. However, I will comment on the following:

I doubt if I would assess President Coolidge as the preeminent president in the nation’s history. Yet I am not terribly surprised with your choice here. I question if President Eisenhower, who frankly established many of the escalatory policies in Vietnam and planned to invade and kill Castro in the Bay of Pigs invasion, should be rated that highly. He also overthrew Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and so there is definitely disagreement on his presidency.

Your worse presidents seem to be anticipating or even mocking what I might submit but I don’t do lists in the manner you choose. I think condemning anyone to not rest in peace is an unfortunate utterance and certainly not one I would share.

I will answer your inquiry of historians and take you at your word that you will refrain from further questions. Instead of my listing the “top” historians which frankly I think is a little vague if not unproductive, I will name some who have had an impact on my work and teaching even if one of them was in a different area of specialization.

William Appleman Williams
Eugene Genovese
Gabriel Kolko-Howard Zinn


Peter N. Kirstein



LAPerson - 12/9/2003

Professor Kirstein,

Fair enough. I am intemperate and I know you are taking time to answer these questions. Obviously, you do not have to.

Who would you rate as the top 3 presidents in American History?

Coolidge
FDR
Eisenhower-Wilson Tie

Who would you rate as the three worse presidents in American History?

All four are mass murderers who merit utter revulsion and contempt. May they NOT rest in peace.

Truman
Jackson
Lyndon Johnson- Nixon Tie

Who would you rate as the top three historians you have ever encountered.


I will not seek any more questions from you regardless of your response or absence thereof.

LAP


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/9/2003

Sir or Ma'am,

Kindly refrain from putting people "on notice." If you have an issue over my response, then address them to me. Believe me, I don't duck fastballs and will respond, if you are civil and professionall, to any of your inquiries.



Ann - 12/8/2003

Derek, you are so dense. Really Williams grad. An precedes H, when the H is silent. How many times home, do people jave to tell you this. The Chicago Manual proves you are wrong. Very few historians say an historian. Only the ones like you that don't know appropriate grammar. Keep it up; keep defending the error. Go ahead bro. make a rep for yourself.

COURT HISTORIAN, COWARD WHO REFUSES TO DENOUCNE AMERICAN EXTERNAL RELATIONS.


LAPerson - 12/8/2003

Let me remind Ann that she is addressing a tenured associate professor and that my comments deal expressly and specifically with terrorism. A professor has equated the president of the US with Saddam and bin Laden; he has advocated socialism and communism; he has responded to various questions that deal with terrorism.

I also wish to put Ann on notice. Continued efforts to express solidarity with dangerous left-wing professors who make distinctions between small c this and large c that may find themselves suspended or otherwise extricated from the profession.


Derek Catsam - 12/8/2003

DRJ -- Fine, and fair enough. But don't think that in places where terrorism is being fought, they are not concerned with definitions and that those definitions do not in turn effect their approach. This is certainly the case in Israel, for example. I am certainly not saying that definitions are the most important thing, but no rational person would turn this into a zero sum game.
dc


David - 12/8/2003


Yet another pseudonym?


Derek Catsam - 12/8/2003

OK. Take your ball and go home. But I so far have Safire, the NYT generally, and the OED on my side about "an historian," and even the Chicago Manual agrees that there are some times when "An" precedes words that start with H.
I still have no idea why you think HNN is for losers and that writing for it, and thus a larger audience, is not worth doing.


David - 12/8/2003


I simply cannot imagine another way to deal with terrorism.

Oh sure there is. It's simple. Just blame "Bush", and "Sharon", and "Likud", or just blame "U.S. foreign policy".

That'll fix it in a pinch.


C.R.W. - 12/8/2003


says that because a piece of land has been deemed by a bunch of religious fanatics to be "Islamic," that the 5.5 million Jewish inhabitants who live there don't have a right to their own representative government?

You'd think that it wouldn't be possible to utter such a horrendously glaring logical inconsistency in a single sentence.


DRJ - 12/7/2003

Semantics seems to be the least of what we need to do in combating terrorists. The fight is what it is no matter what we call it. My concern is not that we should call guerillas by their proper name but that we should stop them and terrorists from killing us. As i see it, our strategy seems to be to: 1)Find and kill terrorists or guerillas 2)Ecourage other countries to find and imprison or kill terrorists 3)Exact a high price from countries who support and encourage terrorists. I simply cannot imagine another way to deal with terrorism. I am,however,fairly certain that one of the last things on the minds of our soldiers in Iraq or the guerillas whom they are fighting is whether we are calling them by the proper name.


Ann - 12/7/2003

As a general system for organizing governments and economies, communism has been a miserable failure, so far, I would submit. That does not mean that those who still hold to some utopian ideal of communism are necessarily un-American. Nearly every educated person in the world knows for example, that no huge caches of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons have yet been found by the occupying forces in Iraq. People who still have faith that some such some stockpile will one day been unearthed, or its disposition traced are probably wishful thinkers, but they are not therefore inherently anti-USA. Nor is there anything unAmerican about showing respect towards those older and better informed than you.

There is no simple litmus test for communism. Do you support free public education for children and a graduated income tax ? So did Karl Marx; these time honored American traditions were key planks in the Communist Manifesto of 1848.

Time to go to college LAteen, and study some History.

God Bless the US of A and the well-educated framers who established it !

Now, it only remains to ponder what the remote connection between all this and U.S. policies towards terrorism might be.


LAPerson - 12/7/2003

Ann, yes I know I appear hypocritical in using such strong language against you, and yet not revealing my own identity. I recognize that and apologize. Yet are you really of the opinion that the views of the professor are helpful and proAmerican? Do you honestly believe his statement that Bush should be tried as a war criminal is consistent with professional ethics and responsiblity?

God Bless America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


LAPerson - 12/7/2003

Professor Kirstein compares Bush with Osama and Saddam. Hmmmm. Now we know his fidelity to this country is rather shallow.

To Ann: You are a disgrace and I can well understand your hiding behind a false name as you defend traitors and anarchists.

Shame on you.


Ann T. Communist - 12/7/2003


This may come as a revelation to you, LAteen, but it is possible to oppose all the varieties of communism espoused by Peter Kirstein, as well as those not endorsed by him, and yet also not approve of your childishness. Do you suppose HNN to be some sort of time machine that allows you to go back and become Joe McCarthy ? Well, in that case, I've got news for you. McCarthy was a rude demagogue but he was neither a copy cat nor a fool. He did not try to re-enact the Spanish Inquisition - he had enough originality to develop his own variants of innuendo and guilt by association.

Ann T. Communist aka Ann O. Nomas


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/7/2003

I was about to take a Sunday afternoon off and watch the Chicago Bears when I saw this. As your president, George W. Bush would say, ”Bring ‘em on!”

"Let's see Doctor Kirstein how far I can take you with these questions?
1) In your heart of hearts, to use sophomoric emphasis, do you wish that Saddam and Osama bin Laden be captured or killed by the US?"

The killing of either President Hussein or Mr Usama Bin Laden would be indefensible and immoral. I oppose the current hunt for President Hussein by the American imperialist forces since we had no right to invade his sovereign nation. However, were indigenous Iraqi forces to capture him, then he could be tried or otherwise prosecuted under appropriate Iraqi or international law, absent US involvement. Certainly, Mr Bin Laden should be held accountable, if he were involved in the September 11 attacks, for such violent attacks against innocent civilians. Of course, neither he nor President Hussein should be given the death penalty because that is simply another form of violence. I believe President Bush is equally culpable and liable for arrest and prosecution.

2) "Do you have any sympathy or elation at the death of American forces in Iraq?"

I opposed the war. Prowar advocates, and I presume you are in this category, should ask themselves whether your preemptive policies were worth the deaths of any American lives? I say they are not and it is the prowar Bush administration, not those of us on the antiwar left, who are responsible for the needless butchering of American forces.

3) "Do you ever fantasize that American democracy and captialism would be overthrown and replaced by a one-party socialist or, if you prefer, "progressive" communist government?"

Oh, it is not a fantasy. I support a socialist alternative to the economic mayhem and contradictions of American capitalism. I support a classless society—in terms of healthcare, social security income, educational opportunity, affordable day care and truly progressive taxation. We already have a one-party state with two slightly dissimilar branches. Unlike yourself, I would support a multi-party democracy based on the tenets of socialism and even pure communism, albeit unattainable in the current order, with a small “c”. I am not supporting totalitarian rule and I will save a copy of this thread as evidence.





LAPerson - 12/7/2003

Let's see Doctor Kirstein how far I can take you with these questions?
1) In your heart of hearts, to use sophomoric emphasis, do you wish that Saddam and Osama bin Laden be captured or killed by the US?
2) Do you have any sympathy or elation at the death of American forces in Iraq?
3) Do you ever fantasize that American democracy and captialism would be overthrown and replaced by a one-party socialist or, if you prefer, "progressive" communist government?


Grammarian - 12/7/2003

Because H is a consonant and when pronounced, it is preceded by a vowel. You are really wasting your time on HNN. Get back to scholarship, get back to teaching, this is just child's play for losers like me who were denied tenure at Penn. But after today, there will be no more responses to your articles. I will act as I preach Prof. Catsam.


C.R.W. - 12/7/2003


The Harriman article:

Perhaps its publication stems from a perceived need to battle the stereotypical image of HNN as having a "pro-Likud" bias. Since everyone knows that Bush is quite *obviously* a card-carrying member of the Likud party, and the Likud party that *rules* Israel with an iron fist is nothing more than the newest apparition of the Nazis, it was inevitable that a link would have to be established.

And Ladies and Gentlemen, there you have it. George W. Bush is nothing more than a 3rd, no, 4th-generation Nazi.

What an elaborately simple world some people believe we live in.


Derek Catsam - 12/7/2003

Wait a second, KKK -- I have writtewn many posts on this strain, yes. And those posts were always in response to things people have written, often untoward, often mean, often cruel, often just plain dumb, about my article. I do not know why, when the discussion boards are here precisely for back and forth, you would deny me the ability to respond to what people have to say about my work. It is called engagement. It is called having a dialogue. Why on earth you would be so opposed to that is beyond me -- it takes up no more or less space on your hard drive, youare fully capable of not reading them, and as you have shown, you are capable of responding yourself.


Derek Catsam - 12/7/2003

You cannot have it both ways. If "lambast" is a variant of "lambaste" (though not in my dictionaries, but I do not deny that it may well be the case) I do not possibly see how you cannot acknowledge that "an historian" is an acceptable variant of "a historian."


Ralph E. Luker - 12/7/2003

Come on, John. I didn't say anything uncivil to you then or now. I believed then and I believe now that you misinterpreted what I had said. I tend not to absolutize anything that I say. There are people, I'm told, who believe that they have all goodness and truth in a little box and that their obligation is to stamp out evil and lies. It's a small step from that mentality to holocausts. I prefer to be several steps back from that.


John Kipper - 12/7/2003

Mr. Luker, I appreciate your civil response. I found the post in question, and I must admit that, after the passage of over a year, I may have overstated, but I think that I accurately stated the tone of your post. Here it is: you decide if I overreacted:

Bellesiles is Gone--The Problem Lingers
Subject: RE: What should we do, John
Posted By: Ralph E. Luker
Date Posted: October 29, 2002, 10:01 AM
Good heavens, Mr. Kipper. If folk don't read more carefully than this, it really won't make any difference at all that they read or _what_ they read. It will say whatever they want it to. You say: "You equate [_Arming America_] to 'Mein Kampf' and 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion;' primary sources that reveal the motivations of the authors."
Of course, I made no such "equation" because, if anything, what I did was note a contrast of moral impact between _AA_ and such books. _AA_ is not intended as a "primary source." It becomes that only when it is taken as evidence of the mind of the author.
If you read what I have written as a defense of Bellesiles and _AA_, it can only be because you live in a universe which is so thoroughly bipolar that matters of degree and nuance are irrelevant. In such a world, one won't have to read. You can simply be told which side is good or bad, right or wrong, black or white, credible or incredible and take up arms in the cause.

I admit that there is a difference between "not being allowed to read" and "won't have to read." However, being bipolar and un-nuanced instead of merely unwwashed is a very subtle distinction. On the whole, I believe that I would rather be unwashed. At least that condition could be easily remedied.

By the way,if you look at your original post and my response, I think that I accurately portrayed your argument. That said, I am not of the opinion that name calling adds to the discussion. I am glad to see that you have matured over the last year.


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/6/2003

Thanks to the above but I will state the following.

1) Are you or have you ever been a member of the CPUSA? [I have never been a member of any party but would not hesitate to join ANY party that I construed as compatible with my ethos and values.]

2) In your last article for HNN, there was a link of an article YOU wrote to a Socialist publication that was SO NAMED. Are you a socialist and do you belong to any Socialist organization? [I strongly and unabashedly support the intellectual and ethical vision of socialism as articulated from Marx to Zinn. I do not belong to any socialist organization but was honoured to publish an article in New Ground that is published by the Democratic Socialists of America (Chicago). Academics at Loyola University of Chicago and elsewhere have contributed articles to this journal and I hope to again in the future.]

3) In all candor, what was your first, not delayed, but first reaction when you learned on September 11, 2002 that several airplanes had crashed into buildings in the U.S. [I was driving to Best Buy to purchase Dylan’s newly released CD, Love and Theft. One of the songs on the CD was “Mississippi,” which contains these prescient lyrics. “Sky full of fire, pain pourin’ down.” The album was actually released on Sept. 11. My first reaction to the attacks was to continue my mission of antiwar activism and demand for radical change in how the US approaches its oppression of Arab peoples throughout the world. I did not desire revenge, more bloodshed or more terrorism, but pathways to peace and reconciliation.]

Peter N. Kirstein


V. Karl Prangle - 12/6/2003

Dear LAPERSON,

The September 11 events that you allude to were in 2001. Your stupidity is immanent. Your questions reveal a contemptuous intolerance and I trust they will be ignored by your subject. It is such rank idiocy, as promulgated in these questions, that give even more legitimacy to the judicious points raised by Prof. Kirstein.

Who are you to make such inquiries, in the stale fashion of the 1950s HUAC.

V. Karl Prangle


LAPerson - 12/6/2003

Professor Kirstein:

1) Are you or have you ever been a member of the CPUSA?

2) In your last article for HNN, there was a link of an article YOU wrote to a Socialist publication that was SO NAMED. Are you a socialist and do you belong to any Socialist organization?

3) In all candor, what was your first, not delayed, but first reaction when you learned on September 11, 2002 that several airplanes had crashed into buildings in the U.S.

These questions you may or may not resent but not vile language, or insulting tone was adopted?

Sincerely,

LAPerson


Ralph E. Luker - 12/6/2003

Mr. Kipper, I'd appreciate it if you would document your claim that I referred to you as "an example of someone who should not be allowed to read." We academics are expected to document our claims all the time. I recall the lengthy exchanges. They are archived on HNN. Show me where I said what you claim. I don't deny having done so. I may have done so. If you document it for me, I can then see whatever context in which I may have said such a thing.
On a different subject altogether, if you think that name-calling improves the quality of discussion on HNN, you do live in a different world than I do. I do not regard you or most other people here as "unwashed," but like most of my academic colleagues (and in fact most people) here I see nothing to be gained by the brainless name-calling and hate-mongering that a few people engage in on the HNN comment boards.
I have treated your post as "non-hogwash." You are welcome.


NYGuy - 12/6/2003

Jonathan Dresner,

"Of course, I'm for a little more personal responsibility and a little less legalism under most circumstances, including on HNN, where I've consistently argued in favor of unrestricted membership but a higher level of civility and responsibility."

NYGuy

I agree with you. But as we used to say, "Charity begins at home." That also applies to responsibilty. Perhaps those at HNN will read your post.

I won't repeat the false stories that put our troops in danger, nor the strawman articles. The clincher to me was the decision of HNN to publish the Harriman bashing article about how he contributed to the rise of Hitler. As I remember it no respectable news outlet would touch the conclusions, but HNN passed it off as a new development in history. They should read your "responsibility" comment.

PS: Your credentials are immaterial. I don't think we know the credentials of most posters but we can judge the quality of their posts in deciding what we will read and what we will skip.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/6/2003

Mr. Kipper,

There is a difference between the occasional lapse of judgement, the earned rebuke, and a pattern of abusive and thoughtless comments. It is the third which is problematic, a category into which I don't believe Drs. Luker or Catsam fall.

I would be quite interested for you to cite a case or two where I retreated in the face of anything except clearly contradictory fact or irreconcileable ideological differences, or perhaps a case where I said and then retracted something.

I have certain restated my views because of misreadings or lack of clarity on my part on more than one occasion. That's part of having a discussion. But I'm not much for retreating when I think I'm right. Should I be?


John Kipper - 12/6/2003

Mr Luker,

It was only a year or two ago that you described me of being an example of someone who should not be allowed to read. This was in reply to a post the I made on this site about the infamous Prof. B of _Arming of America_ fame. Therefore, I find your plea to end personal attacks specious at best, hypocritical at worst. This is very similar to my thoughts about Mr. Catsam and Dressner; they never voice an opinion from which they cannot retreat when challenged; "I never said that, I didn't mean that, and you are wrong in intrepreting my plainly stated arguments negatively." The implication is that we, the great unwwashed (whatever our acomplishments in life), are incapable questioning or disagreeing with the immense mental power and erudiation of the above mentioned intellectual historians. HOGWASH!


Grammarian - 12/6/2003

Doctor Catsam, Lambast is a variant of lambaste. It may not be preferred usage but is not unacceptable usage.

Got to run get AN hamburger.




Jonathan Dresner - 12/5/2003

C.R.W.,

I don't have any absolute authority on anything. And I don't attach my resume to my posts; frankly an academic identity here is more of a target than a valued credential (though people do seem to spend an awful lot of time trying to deny the value of the credentials I do have, so maybe it's worth more than I think). Look for yourself: how many responses to my article last week were in any way tempered by my credentials or the authority of my name?

As far as the distinction between sexual harassment and campus relationships (which I think is what you're getting at with your second paragraph), I don't think it should be that hard to draw dividing lines between authentically emotionally sound relationships and power-based abuses, and I think that our inability as a society to even seriously consider the distinction is evidence of a shallowness and simplicity which is deeply troubling. Of course, I'm for a little more personal responsibility and a little less legalism under most circumstances, including on HNN, where I've consistently argued in favor of unrestricted membership but a higher level of civility and responsibility.

It's late in the semester; when I have enough time and sleep, I don't usually write sentences like that.....


Kevin Kostner Kerville - 12/5/2003


Derek, the man of a thouand voices, speaks to me in person, and I reply:

If you want to set up your own website, write and post an article for it, and then attach 28 comments to that article, go for it.


C.R.W. - 12/5/2003


I pronounce "historical" without the initial glottal aspirate when it follows the indefinite article.


Derek Catsam - 12/5/2003

Kevin --
I'm curious why you would target me for silence when it is my article that is under discussion and when my comments have been responses to comments or critiques about my piece. I am perplexed by this, and by why you set yourself up as the arbiter of who can and cannot write, comment, respond. Thuis is why the discussion boards even exist. Again -- these discussions are all based on my work, love it or hate it.
dc


Derek Catsam - 12/5/2003

1. I never dismissed anyonme without a doctorate. Some of the historians I admire do not have PhDs, including some writers vital to my field -- Taylor Branch, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Basil davidson, Alister Sparks, etc.. What I did indict was someone who claimed to be an "Oberlin Trained Historian" when Oberlin does not train historians. In otherwise, I was lambasting poweurs and liars. Having a PhD is hardly my standard for what requires excellence.
2) Ralph Luker is not an academic and does not have a PhD? Hmmm. You probably should not tell him that.
3) Meanwhile you ask me to proofread my posts better. Fair enough. I tend to dash them off -- these are not scholarly missives, and they are more freewheeling than an article. HOWEVER. That said, if you are going to hammer someone's proofreading, you probably ought to be beyond reproach. The word is spelled "lambaste."

You guys are really grasping now.


C.R.W. - 12/5/2003

See. This is an example of what I'm talking about. Notice the humongous waste of time spent backtracking on issues that are nothing but personal, or (and perhaps because of that,) political.

I said it before, I'll say it again. I fail to see how, in any way, the identity of the poster (or even contributor, for that matter) is of any relevance to what facts are included or logic employed in the post. If nothing else, I think it can lend itself more easily to distraction, or more to the point, abstraction. I am NOT arguing that people SHOULD use pseudonyms, I just think that the identity of the poster should be implicitly understood to be a non-issue.

Is this really such a blasphemous appeal? My remarks in no way are meant to offend.

Thanks.


Bill Heuisler - 12/5/2003

Professor Luker,
Why jest at scars that never felt a wound? Why grasp the word and ignore the definition? The operative word was "most". I deliberately excluded you and Professors Dresner and Catsam because what annoys is the base company you keep. HNN Liberals in general huddle together in self-righteous provincialism, but you three amiably engage and interact with conservatives rather than attack our motives with rude opinions. You three are like Unicorns among the Asses; every insult to the Asses merely enhances your stature. You should thank me, but don't bother.

Finally, were a catalogue of insults kept on this site - and an accompanying list of your protests - you'd probably find your indignation usually points in the wrong direction.
Bill Heuisler


Grammarian - 12/5/2003

To Dr Luker, I apologize and concede my error with regard to his doctorate. I stand corrected with humility and grace.

A Historian


Grammarian - 12/5/2003

"an historical religious" it should be a historical religious


Ralph E. Luker - 12/5/2003

You seem not to mind spreading your ignorance abroad. My doctorate is probably older than you are. My books are certainly better written than your posts.


C.R.W. - 12/5/2003


Sorry, I forgot there were still nimwits out there who believe there are any legitimate parallels between Israel and the Nazis.

Since I prefer to discuss items between posters who have sufficient intelligence (not to mention access to widely available background information) to contribute anything useful, I realize your lack of both makes a response unproductive.
Although it's always a hoot to hear from the idiots who believe that an historical religious role makes a country a repressive theocracy. Or that territory can be an adherent of a particular religion. "Islamic lands" - LOL! Wonder what fatwa you got that one from.

So keep up the lies, enough people aren't stupid or ignorant enough to give them the time of day. But with your motivation coming from a perceived need for the defense of France (!), it looks like you've got your audience cut out for you. And it shrinks every day.


Grammarian - 12/5/2003

I concede I did not proofread well-enough my previous e-mail. I am now retiring after a few days of fun here. If I do return, I will use my full name as one of your better contributors has urged us, politely, to do.

A Historian


Grammarian - 12/5/2003

It's "know better" Not to be Mean but you points are well taken. It seems that several of the writers do demean themselves in utilizing the same lack of tact and argumentation that sometimes accompanies the responses their pieces. I think they believe that the editor construes it stimulating interest to have say a Dr Catsam lambast those without an earned doctorate as if only those savants should deign to criticize his writings. What snobbery, however, fellow aide de camp, I urge you proofread your missives with greater scrutiny and care.

I hope Professor Catsam is not as dismissive and intolerant of his undergraduates who would dare to criticize him in class even if they do not have doctorates.

Peace Court Historians,

A Historian


Ho - 12/5/2003

Stop this arguing. Mr Luker is right to be so proAmerican and you Not to be Mean are so unpatriotic. After all, only two countries built concentration camps and one did it twice. Sweet, ain't it Ralph.

Germany in Europe
US in US
US in Vietnam ("Strategic Hamlet Programs"

Merry Christmas to you GUTLESS COURT HISTORIANS.


Not to be Mean - 12/5/2003

I apologize for my sloppiness Mr Luker. I meant: "You, I can forgive, because you do not have a Ph.D. and are not an academic."

Also sir, what did you think of President Hussein's "incursion" of Kuwait?


Not to be Mean - 12/5/2003

Now Mr Luker, are you defending a brother writer for this website? Hmmm. that smacks of good ol boy nepotism. Interesting both you and the Professor Catsam wrote, "an historian." You were both corrected and you both lack the grace to concede error. You, I can give, because you do not a Ph.D. are not an academic. But Dr. Catsam should no better.

Outing the incompetents!!!!


Ho - 12/5/2003

Collaborating with the Nazis and openly supporting a state such as Israel has significant parallels. Also, how does a country such as the US justify supporting a nation with an official religion, Judaism, and yet is so intolerant and inimical toward lands that are officially Islam.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/5/2003

Mr. Heuisler,

Since I was mentioned in the discussion, prominently identified as a liberal, I think it reasonable assume that your blanket statements about liberals apply to me as well.

I admit, "John Brown" gave you a huge target, but as a former soldier you should know that some weapons don't discriminate target from bystander.


Kevin Kerville - 12/5/2003


What are you trying to do, Ralph ? You are known as a knowledgable historian and, clearly, a popular webblogmorgifier, but are you a grand wizard as well ? If so, please change George W. Bush into his father and Derek into one of those monks who practices silence for days at a time.


Ralph E. Luker - 12/5/2003

Derek Catsam is no whiner. What is the excuse for your vitriol?


Ralph E. Luker - 12/5/2003

Bill, Why not try writing a post which does not include insult of anyone? Then you wouldn't have to pull this sort of verbal slight of hand. I think we all understand by now that you disagree with American liberals. Calling them or us names is simply gratuitous. It really doesn't add to the quality of the discussion.


Bill Heuisler - 12/5/2003

Professor Dresner,
Surely you don't consider yourself an effete, disconnected egghead, do you? Well, I don't. And my one-sided discussion with John Brown obviously doesn't apply to academics who discuss real history and deal in actual facts.
Bill Heuisler


Derek Catsam - 12/5/2003

Mr. Mean (or is it Not? -- these names are tough to deal with!)
Now be fair. My work generally speaking is on race and racism. You can (and have) accused me of lots of things. But I do not think an inability to "feel the pain of the oppressed" is one of them that holds water. Look elsewhere -- you'll see that I am otherwise described as being obsessed with the question of race (there will be more grist for that mill on Monday).
I just still believe that change in America, ugly and slow as it sometimes may be, of necessity goes through the existing institutions, and for better or worse that means the two party system. In other words, within that system I have chosen my lots with the liberal wing of the Democratic party, and with what used to be an acceptably hawkish wing of ADA-type liberals. I'm probably more traditionaly left in the case of Africa, though as you may have seen last week I can couch those concerns in more traditional/moderate terms. All of this has led me to the Democratic Party.
And I don't even want to get into judicial appojntments save to say that at the National level that issue as much as any is probably the main reason I maintain the "Yellow Dog" label, though I have never even come close to supporting the GOP in a Presidential election. Of course I've only been old enough to vote in 3 of those . . .
See, you and I can actually hold a conversation without any insults, implied or otherwise.


The Emperor Has No Clothes - 12/5/2003


if a guy has to apologize for being more familiar with a woman's smell than a man's.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/5/2003

Mr. Heuisler,

I was going to thank you for the backhanded compliment you offered earlier in this discussion. But I think I'll just let it pass, instead, because if I try to say anything after your last note, it won't come out nicely.

Good day.


C.R.W. - 12/5/2003


at the risk of sounding homophobic, I just wanted to reiterate that I think it takes less proximity to realize their problem...


Son of Stemler - 12/5/2003

I am impressed. Nixon describe his genocidal bombing of Vietnam has "interdictions." The military uses similarly obscurantist language in its Operations, and some historians just emulate it and see it as very cool.


SON of Stemler - 12/5/2003

You are one of the more interesting persons I have encountered. I hope you will revisit HNN in some capacity.

Those of us that are no longer enamored with this country have you to point out some of our fallacies.

You might have also added that you have with you lycee a superior educational system than that of the United States at least prior to the university.


Not to be Mean - 12/4/2003

You see, the problem with you liberals is that you don't feel the pain of the oppressed. You see your little parlor games of politics as meaningful. It is not dear sir. The GOP and Democrats supported your "incursion" of Iraq, and voted to authroise 400 billion in your racist DoD budget.

A Historian ;-)


Derek Catsam - 12/4/2003

Standard paragraphing techniques? Please, Garrison. Now you are reaching.
So "Yellow Dog" Democrats do not have principles? This is only true if you do not believe in party platforms and if you honestly do not believe in differences between the parties. I do. Democrats and Republicans are fundamentally different. nader tried the argument that they are not, and it was dumb then and continues to be so. I'll cross the aisles to develop policy, but I am in my heart a Democrat, and I don't anticipate that to change. If Party loyalty is somehow an unprincipled thing, than millions of Americans are unprincipled.


Derek Caqtsam - 12/4/2003

I'm not certain why Garrison would willfully misrepresent the general gist of my arguments. Anyone who has read any of my other pieces is well aware that I have condemned terrorism in the strongest terms. Of course if someone consistently acts as a terrorist, constantly tageting civilians, they are a terrorist. But in the case of Iraq, I think on the whole using the word :"terrorist" is problematic. From what I can tell the militart is the primary target. I have not seen where the rebewls or guerrillas or whatever have made their focus civilian populations.
I think this is why I gave the ANC/MK analogy -- to show that broad trends do matter. Did MK ever target civilians? Sure, sadly so. But I do not think that the ANC or their armed wing were, on the whole, were terrorists. This is the differentiation i have tried to make.
Further, one might want to be wary of saying "once a terrorist, always a terrorist." I believe we had something of an alliance, or at least a working relationship with Saddam at one point ("once a terroriost always a terrorist") and the Mujahedeen whom we supported ended up providing support for the terrorists we are fighting. ("Once a terrorist . . .").


Jonathan Dresner - 12/4/2003

Garrison,

I had to look pretty closely to find the reference. I think it would be fair to say that Prof. Catsam was labelling your behavior, not yourself, and the post to which he was replying was hostile, snide and unfair. Yes, the word "jerk" was there, but it was part of an invitation to tone down your attacks and engage in serious discussion.

Maybe that doesn't mean much to you, if you're looking for reasons to dismiss a person's arguments. But it would if you were serious about discussion, instead of point-scoring.


C.R.W. - 12/4/2003


Thanks for understanding that - I was. ;-)

What's interesting is that touting one's own authority through name recognition wasn't perceived as a possible addiction. I do recall that line about how "absolute power corrupts absolutely..."

Does it not apply to the Ivory Tower? Maybe not, considering the successful degree of resistance by profs, when contrasted against other sectors of society, in dating students - despite their role as "authority figures."

Good Day


P. Flum - 12/4/2003

Professor Kirstein has raised, I think fairly, both sides of the equation. Maybe the editors of HNN should explore in more detail the issues raised in his and the article's author's statements.

For me, I sign my name but I also like the entertainment value of the Internet. Of course, entertainment should not come at one's expense.

JF


Bill Heuisler - 12/4/2003

Mr. Brown,
Well said, Sir.
"Are liberals a bunch of effete eggheads with their heads in the clouds, looking down from their ivory towers, disconnected from the common man so ably represented by the Republican Party? Or are are they a bunch of morons?"

They are both, of course. You've captured the Liberal essence: To inhabit the first option presumes the second. Thanks.
Bill Heuisler


Garrison - 12/4/2003

I have had no intimate experience with a French myn.


Garrison - 12/4/2003

It is your view that providing a person post under her real name that person may engage in "malicious ad hominem attacks"?


Jonathan Dresner - 12/4/2003

C.R.W,

No, you've got the analogy backwards, unless you were being obscurely sarcastic.

The anonymous posters are the heroin addicts; the named posters are the unaddicted; and anonymity is the drug which must be experienced to be understood, though those who choose not to can clearly see its corrosive influence on both users and general society.


Garrison - 12/4/2003

In response to me pointing out your piece was based on a straw man argument, you called me a "jerk".

You simply serve to prove folk who are most often offended by namecalling on message boards tend to engage in the practice with great facility.

Try setting a higher standard in discourse for you, Mr. Catsam.


Garrison - 12/4/2003

Well, John, as you indicate President Bush and members of his administration do not with "foolish consistency", as asserted by Mr. Catsam, refer to individuals who violently oppose the coalition presence in Iraq as "terrorists". Though they would be correct to do so.

It is often stated by military personnel on the ground in Iraq the attacks on military and civilian targets are "coordinated" by a centralized command and control structure necessary to conduct a "guerrilla" war.

If there is a centralized command and control structure ordering forces to attack US military personnel to drive up casualties to be played up in the US media to erode support for the war, attack civilian targets in order to drive aid organizations out of Iraq, attack Shi'a clerics to prevent mobilization of that population around a pro-democracy leader, attack Iraqi police forces to discourage "collaberation" with the coalition and so on (ALL OF WHICH HAS HAPPENED), that command and control structure, by ordering attacks on civilians, is comprised of TERRORISTS engaged in TERRORISM.

If the Iraqis who violently oppose the coalition forces had never INTENTIONALLY targeted civilians, I would have no problem referring to them exclusively as GUERRILLAS.

Unfortunately, it is a fact Saddam loyalists were terrorizing civilians for decades before the war and continue to terrorize civilians today making them TERRORISTS engaged in TERRORISM. And it would be good to -- with consistency -- refer to them as terrorists.

Ultimately, it makes no difference to Iraqis or coalition forces what one labels the folk who violently oppose democratic reform. The killers will kill until they are killed, captured, discouraged or redirected.


C.R.W. - 12/4/2003


This is why the ICJ is a disaster that Americans are right to oppose membership in from the beginning.

Nobody seems to understand the the relevance of *intent* and the existence of mitigating circumstances. Fortunately for the blissfully ignorant, non-extranational or non-military courts largely lack the precedence of having dealt with battle scenarios. Being in a situation where you have to kill people, (because if you don't, you will be killed), is not something upon which others can input moral considerations - unless, I believe, they speak with the experience that comes from a broad degree of military expertise.

Moral issues relating to war are legitimate to bring up, but snap judgments devoid of *careful* consideration will be the end of any attempted multilateral legal frameworks. (They also interfere with the sovereignty of a functioning democracy).

This is not to detract from the tragic nature when it comes to the deaths of noncombattants, that we should all be interested in finding ways to decrease or avoid.


C.R.W. - 12/4/2003


But then again, since I think I should clarify, I've never done heroin.

What seems curious to me is that the suggested epistemological exercise would only seem valid if I were engaging a den of heroin addicts.

(?)

To each his own. ;-)


Jesse Lamovsky - 12/4/2003

M. Stemler,

Hey, believe me, I have no problem with the French nation or with French culture. It's just I like my country too. But I'll play your game:

Race: Well, we've had a checkered past, to be sure. But I've read Fanon, and he didn't seem overly enamored about the state of race relations in your country either. Edge: Push

Revolutions: We had the first libertarian revolution; France, the first totalitarian revolution. 'Nuff said. Edge: United States

Wars: You conquered most of Europe, but you're also 0-3 against a united Germany. We're a perfect 2-0. Edge: United States

Cities: I've never been to Paris, but I've heard the vast Arab ghettoes are not so fabulous. And it's hard for me to imagine a greater city than Chicago. Edge: United States

Death penalty: You may not have it, but as far as I'm concerned, you're still doing penance for 1793-94. Edge: Push

Sport: Vince Carter jumped clear over a 7'4" French player in the 2000 Olympics. And American football is the greatest sport on Earth, bar none. Edge: United States

Iraq War: the French were definitely right about this one. But there's plenty of people over here that weren't too enamored with the war either (and a lot of them were your dreaded right-wingers, too!).

No hard feelings, M. Stemler. Come back to northern Ohio sometime and this ugly American will buy you an ice-cold Crooked River Pale Ale. Heck, we can even toast France!



Ann O. Nomas - 12/4/2003

This is a comment not poem.

Mr. Kirstein's points are logical and well-founded.
They are also fairly obvious.
And probably were, or should have been, to organizers of this website
From the outset.
Who in all likelihood are operating according to a distinctly different set of priorities.


John Brown - 12/4/2003

Well, which is it, Mr. Heuisler? Are liberals a bunch of effete eggheads with their heads in the clouds, looking down from their ivory towers, disconnected from the common man so ably represented by the Republican Party? Or are are they a bunch of morons? Why is it -- assuming it's true for a moment, as you rightists always claim -- that the majority of university professors are liberals, if they're so damned stupid? I suppose their infinite power allows them to rig the hiring process despite their conspicuous idiocy, while all the stellar right-wing intellectuals are condemned to monopolize the corporations, the media, and the White House?


John Brown - 12/4/2003

US soldiers have killed dozens if not hundreds of Iraqi civilians. It will no doubt be some time before anything like the true number is known, if the administration's candor on the number of American dead and wounded is any guide. US soldiers make little attempt to distinguish civilians from combatants or "terrorists," reasoning that because in the heat of the moment such hairsplitting can get you killed, it's better to kill all the Iraqis first. No exceptions for women and children, anyone could be a "terrorist." This is just another of the echoes of Vietnam so studiously ignored by this administration. US soldiers are so arrogantly certain that they will never be prosecuted for these WAR CRIMES that they don't hesitate to identify themselves by name and rank when talking to the press. If this is not fully clear from your usual nightly news sources, check out the following links, most of them from abroad:

http://www.hrw.org/press/2003/10/iraq102103.htm

http://www.thisislondon.com/news/articles/5401680?source=Evening%20Standard

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/content_objectid=13087653_method=full_siteid=50143_headline=-US-TROOPS-ADMIT-SHOOTING-IRAQI-CIVILIANS-name_page.html

http://belgium.indymedia.org/news/2003/04/57914.php#en


David - 12/4/2003


You are a war criminal and should be tried in the Hague for what you have done to Iraq,



What Leftists like you are doing to the english language borders on criminal. You have cheapened the words "racist", "nazi", "apartheid", etc., by their meaningless overuse.

And now you are rendering the term "war criminal" equally meaningless by your thoughtless slogan mongering.

You think yourself highminded and enlightened, a real "humanitarian" perhaps?

If only you could hear how ridiculous you sound.


Grammarian - 12/4/2003

Mr Bush,

I am assuming the president did not send this, but if it were you, you could probably get away with it due to the improbability of such a missive.

My message to you Mr President. You are a war criminal and should be tried in the Hague for what you have done to Iraq, the Middle East generally and to the 100s of families who needlessly lost love ones.

How can you sleep at night.


Ho - 12/4/2003

Dien Bien Phu was a tragic battle in which so many died. Yes it resulted in the French departure from Indochina. Compared to the Americans, the former were smart enough to give up the ghost; the latter stayed, and as is typical of the Americans, learned nothing from the war. To wit: Iraq


Grammarian - 12/4/2003

it's spelled "hygienic," enlightened one.

A Historian


C.R.W. - 12/4/2003


I think French women are actually more hygenic than French men. At least with the women you have to peek under the arms to find anything out of the ordinary.

Frenchmen stink all over.

Especially de Villepin.

;-)


John Brown - 12/4/2003

Looks like you've finally found someone to debate you at your own level, Dave. What a pity he's leaving ("Love it or leave it," I guess).

Here's one proud leftist who won't take the bait. Like the Vietnamese people, I have no preference for French imperialism over American. Apparently our sophisticated French pal was too busy sipping wine at some fashion show to have heard of Dien Bien Phu.


Grammarian - 12/4/2003

You had me worried there for a moment, with you initial posting under my screen name. I concur with your assessment of the hygiene remark.


Margaret Awell - 12/4/2003

What about men, sexist.


Margaret Awell - 12/4/2003

What about men, sexist.


Garrison - 12/4/2003

Curiously, a French citizen who believes himself a world class talent feels compelled to immigrate to America to compete in the free market with the world's best and brightest in order to know true success or failure.

Hahaha....

As for French women, someone must someday inform them of the latest in personal hygiene products and practices.


John Brown - 12/4/2003

Actually, Garrison, it is not at all certain that Saddam Loyalist X who kills US soldiers is a member of the same organization that kills an Iraqi policeman or a Red Cross member, and the fact that all of them are called "terrorist" by the Bush administration does not settle the matter. That is the crux of it.

Bush's laundry list of "Baathists, Saddam loyalists, foreign terrorists" is not offered for the purpose of making distinctions, but precisely to lump them together, as in,

"Who was responsible for the attack, Mr. President?"

"Well, er, we assume it was Baathists, Saddam loyalists, and/or foreign terrorists." Covering all the bases.


Garrison - 12/4/2003

You, comrade, might try using standard paragraphing techniques in your postings.

The definition of "yellow dog Democrat" is a person who would vote for a Democrat rather than a Republican, even if that Democrat candidate was a yellow dog. If true, your person principles and views on domestic and foreign policy, including human rights, mean little in practical political terms.


dave levy - 12/4/2003

"Good day and I support the right of free speech even when it may offend an author."

Oh shut up you plebian. This isn't a free speech issue. This is an issue of sacking up and identifying yourself when you engage in malicious ad hominem attacks. Don't hide behind a free speech canard; your free speech isn't being attacked.


C.R.W. - 12/3/2003


But this guy's hilarious. Al Jazeera - indeed. A paragon of journalism!

The French should definitely know terror when they see it. In fact, I recall they had a reign of terror...


dave levy - 12/3/2003

At least our women shave their armpits.


C.R.W. - 12/3/2003


France - saving the world with Socialism, Nazi collaboration, and U.N.-outlawed support of Baathism. But never at the expense of food, wine, and fashion.

And since freedom is certainly a higher ideal than the kind of hatred that motivates French society, we decided to get rid of Southern injustice a long time ago. The cultural legacy of bombing churches has been shipped offshore and morphed into the French synagogue-bombings that apparently "don't exist."

But you're not violent and nobody hates you - except for the rest of Europe.


David - 12/3/2003


Take your ugly money with "With God We Trust" and burn it. The Euro is also winning, losers, and so your currency with slave owners is also becoming worthless just like America.

Here's where you Leftist america-haters should pipe in to second your "Oberlin trained historian" Stemler.



Garrison - 12/3/2003

Mr. Catsam:

If Saddam loyalist X is part of an organization whose leaders on Monday order him to kill a US serviceman, on Tuesday to kill a Red Cross worker, and on Wednesday to kill an Iraqi police officer, Saddam loyalist X is a terrorist working for a terrorist organization that, by your definition, intentionally targets civilians.

You seem to argue Saddam loyalist X ordered to kill a US serviceman on Monday is acting as a guerrilla. When the very same Saddam loyalist X acting on orders kills a Red Cross worker on Tuesday, he is transformed into a terrorist. And when Saddam loyalist X kills an Iraqi police officer on Wednesday he reverts back to a guerrilla.

MY CONCLUSION: Once a terrorist, always a terrorist.

YOUR CONCLUSION: Guerrilla cum terrorist cum guerrilla.

Your conclusion, sir, is mired in a distinction without a difference.


R. Stemler - 12/3/2003

Come to Paris!

Compare your artists with ours> Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir, Monet Manet and Van Gogh (he painted here at Arles) versus your top 5.

Then

Your literary greats with ours. Perhaps a draw but we are much smaller country than yours.

Food: France

Fashion: France

Architecture: You're good but we win.

Wine: California wines are better but again France.

Standing in the world: France

Whipped your fannies, to repeat, in your war. France.

The most beautiful city: Paris

Death penalty: You violent freaks win: US

Lack of health care: You selfish capitalists win: US

No wonder we hate you. You are so inferior.

The world hates you too. You are so violent and racist.

One more:

Take your ugly money with "With God We Trust" and burn it. The Euro is also winning, losers, and so your currency with slave owners is also becoming worthless just like America.

I am signing off permanently. Your little game of Jim Crow, Vietnam, ignore the world is coming back to haunt you subalterns.

Ricardo Stemler


R. Stemler - 12/3/2003

Come to Paris!

Compare your artists with ours> Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir, Monet Manet and Van Gogh (he painted here at Arles) versus your top 5.

Then

Your literary greats with ours. Perhaps a draw but we are much smaller country than yours.

Food: France

Fashion: France

Architecture: You're good but we win.

Wine: California wines are better but again France.

Standing in the world: France

Whipped your fannies, to repeat, in your war. France.

The most beautiful city: Paris

Death penalty: You violent freaks win: US

Lack of health care: You selfish capitalists win: US

No wonder we hate you. You are so inferior.

The world hates you too. You are so violent and racist.

One more:

Take your ugly money with "With God We Trust" and burn it. The Euro is also winning, losers, and so your currency with slave owners is also becoming worthless just like America.

I am signing off permanently. Your little game of Jim Crow, Vietnam, ignore the world is coming back to haunt you subalterns.

Ricardo Stemler


David - 12/3/2003


Kucinich isn't a "midget". He's "vertically challenged", to put it in acceptable, non-bigoted, PC terms.


Jesse Lamovsky - 12/3/2003

Relax, "Grammarian". The good Congressman is safe from my bigotry and lack of sensitivity. It's okay for the self-righteous Language Police to go off duty now.

Besides, I have no problem with midg- I mean, little people.


Grammarian - 12/3/2003

To call Congressperson Kucinich a "midget" is outrageous and typical of bigotry. You are disgraceful.


C.R.W. - 12/3/2003


I agree that there is no substitute for personal experience.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/3/2003

What you are suggesting, if I understand you correctly, is that the professional historians who resent anonymous posters' attacks, and consider them corrosive influences on civil discourse, actually adopt the veil of anonymity for a while and see how it feels?

Is this a little like the heroin addict's faith that nothing is better than the rush and nobody who hasn't tried it can really comment on it? Yes, I think it is.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/3/2003

Why should someone be forced to use poor English just to seem "normal"? I knew the correct usage was "an historian" long before I became an historian, and it would be artificial for me to change, just as it would be artificial for me to use my students' slang in the classroom.


Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

Thanks, David.


David - 12/3/2003


I often disagree with Catsam, and he with me, but he is never meanspirited or malicious. Being passionate is one thing, being malicious, another. And it is one thing to intentionally abuse a troller who invests very little in showing up and taking his shots, and entirely another to abuse an author who has gone out of his way to create a piece and share it with his readers; especially when that author is generous enough to respond to his detractors. I'm not justifying either, but the latter strikes me as particularly despicable.


Derek catsam - 12/3/2003

Thanks. many good points. And certainly I believe that the administration can distinguish -- my challenge is not only for them but for Americans to do so better. It was, I felt, a call to aspire to be all that we can be.
I also agree with your un-pc but true nonetheless celebration of a good donnybrook. The problem, of course, is the anonymity makes it less fun. I don't get the hostility, I really don't. I can almost see it on an issue like Israel, where the sides are so up in arms, but on my last couple of pieces? My biggest problem, of course, si my inability to avoid the fight. I should know better. Oh well. If you look at one of Goliath's posts you'll understand that I need to go feed my enormous ego at my "4th rate college." Of course I am only posing as an historian . . .
dc


Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

Wow. That's quite a diatribe. 4th rate college? I suppose. Beyond the insult that levies to my students, my colleagues, and the people of Minnesota, your petty insult shows that you have no idea about the American history job market where routinely these positions have applicants in the hundreds. I have a degree in Poli Sci, yes, and also three in history. I have written several articles here on HNN but also lots of stuff elsewhere. Where on earth do you get off being so unbelievably meanspirited, and what in my article warranted this? For those who are justifying anonymity, your tirade is a damned good case against. Forgive me for engaging after I write something. Apparently you prefer those who write and then never say anything. As for what "makes me a historian" this is not that complex, but keep up -- i am an historian because Iam professionally trained, I have a job as an historian, and I write, publish and teach history. You may not like what I write, but you have no right to proclaim that I am not what I have earned the right to be.
I am sure you are proud of your credentials. It's just that the rest of us can never know, because you don't give us the chance.
Self centered arrogance! Real history! Bums in alleys! Ooohhh. Not surprisingly, your fecklessness now is giving way to turning tail. Someone earlier said something about standing the heat. Hmmmm . . .


C.R.W. - 12/3/2003


I have never directed any attacks against a contributor.

As for posters, I believe that anonymity, (or more to the point, pseudonymity) is a way to disincentivize against the likelihood that an ad hominem or attempted ad hominem-laden response will elicit an emotional reaction on the part of the recipient (even if muffled or bottled up). This circumvents the cycle that starts with choosing an unnecessarily civil or apologetic counter-response in an effort to moderate the tone, tranquilizing the level of the debate to one that is muffled by exhortations of mutual personal respect, and deadening the intellectual thrill that accompanies the risk of true probity.

It is no coincidence that the riskiest ventures in the intellectual history of the American revolution were coined by those operating under pseudonyms. Satire, although it lends itself to hyperbole, is also an intellectually gratifying social forum with a venerable tradition of employing pseudonyms.

I would hate to see this as breaking the rules. I think it removes the potentially stifling burden of over-appealing to emotional sensitivity. I mean for my references to apply exclusively to comments between posters, and am sympathetic to the fact that for contributors who wish to jump back into the thread, this is not the case. I respect their efforts to contribute to and moderate the thread and they are perfectly right in being concerned that an unjustifiable attack directed against them by a pseudonymous poster takes advantage of an unreciprocated need on their part for civility, and in a manner that is absolutely counter-productive.


Jesse Lamovsky - 12/3/2003

M. Stemler,

Oberlin, huh? I live an hour away from the Oberlin campus. Perhaps you should have gotten out more. We're good people around here- friendly, unpretentious, generous with friends and strangers alike. Usually we're so busy working, taking care of our families, and shoveling snow that we hardly have time to plot the deaths of innocent non-white people (and of course, everyone knows that all non-white people are innocent by definition- right, sir?). No, not many of us know French, but why the hell should we? This isn't France!

As for Kucinich, I'll admit he can make a fine speech about world peace and all that, and he's not a bad little Congressman, but what he's really good at is running major cities into bankrupcy. And though I understand that many Europeans might have a thing for socialist vegan midgets who have never worked a day in their life, I wouldn't brag about it.

You shouldn't be too sanctimonious about the U.S. government's support of "the butchery of non-white people" by Israel. I'm not a fan of Sharon's government, but it's a damn sight better than the Hutu Power regime in Rwanda, which, with French military aid and diplomatic support, killed a million non-white Tutsis and moderates in three months. Can't put that one on us, M. Stemler- or the Israelis, for that matter.

It's remarkable. You say you're in Doctors Without Borders, but you have such a narrow, parochial attitude. How do you pull it off?


Goliath - 12/3/2003

You have a degree in Poli Sci and minor history teaching post at a 4th rate college. That makes you an historian ? I don't have to "compare credentials" because I am not ashamed of mine. I have read the hundreds of posts here at HNN where reasonable people try to help you overcome your self-centered arrogance and discover real history. It is quite apparently hopeless. Maybe you tried to turn over a new leaf with this article and at least act like a mature historian. Unfortunately, you failed, in part because you do not have a clue about when to shut up. If a deranged homeless bum in obscure alley hurls insults at me, I step to the other side of the road and go about my own business, and that is what I am doing right now.


Bill Heuisler - 12/3/2003

Derek,
First of all, you care too much what they call you. Most of your detractors don't have the balls to ID themselves (the worst of the lot lurk on the Left, you'll notice). Criticism? Consider the source and remember if you weren't halfway good nobody would bother attacking. Look at that Carpenter fellow: most people don't bother. Also - and this isn't politically correct - the sheer joy of a good fistfight is when you take the punches, feel the flash-bang, shake off pain and keep boring in and slugging until the other guy's either beaten or runs away. Fun.

On issues, what annoys me the most about you and others I respect(luker & Dresner) is that you are too damn smart to be Liberals. Most Liberals are just plain dumb - using rote prejudice rather than brains. Think about it a moment: Marxist historians? Like vegetarian butchers, Nazi Rabbis or arsonist cabinetmakers, they can't understand cause and effect, continuing an inertia of ignorance and defending idiocy as if it were a religion. Yes, I know none of you are Marxists, but on certain issues you're Lutherans to their Papism.

As to the Bush Admin and terrorism, the Sec. Defense is another who distinguished among enemies in Iraq.
Briefing reporters at the Pentagon 6/30 Rumsfeld:
"Coalition forces are dealing with looters, criminals who were let out of prison, remnants of the Ba'athist regime, and foreign terrorists who came to Iraq to oppose the coalition, as well as those influenced by Iran. What one has to do is to keep putting pressure on all of those categories and know that no one raid or five raids is going to deal with the entire problem," the secretary said. "The problem is going to be dealt with over time as the Iraqis assume more and more responsibility for their own country and are able to have an Iraqi face on the activities that are taking place in that country, which are for the benefit of the Iraqi people."

Take each attack as a gift and remember Nietzsche's famous line.
Bill


Trained Historian - 12/3/2003

"An historian" in nothing but a pretentious signifier to identify oneself as a member of the in-crowd. I had "an hamburger" for lunch today. Wishing you all "an happy holiday."


Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

OK -- You know more than Ambrose and Safire apparently. I'd check your references and publications, but, well, I can't. (By the way -- you might want to check out the Oxford English Dictionary while you are at it -- "an historian" might not be idiomatic in American English, but I am not certain America gets the final word in the English language).
As for "Never Admit Error" Professor Catsam, while I like nicknames, I think derisive references should only come from people who use their own names. I'm assuming mommy didn't name you "Grammarian" and she likely had a last name she bequeathed unto you. Correct my grammar (ABC's, Safire's, and the Times too -- though oddly it was you who referred me to the Times, source of both one of the articles I referred you to and of Safire. Curious. Hoisted by one's own petard, I guess.) but don't call me names when you won't give yours.


Grammarian - 12/3/2003

Well-conceived and poignantly stated. I recognize many of your points are valid and I concur you have some standing in writing on this topic.

Best,

Grammarian, my first name is Michael and I live in the state of Wisconsin.


Grammarian - 12/3/2003

Both you and the author are wrong. The word is spelled "liaison."

If a consonant precedes a pronounced consonant, it is replaced by a vowel. A horse, A historian, A house, A historiographical essay
An honor, An honorarium.

Safire and ABC News are wondrous historians. So is the Hot Spotter Ambrose--may he rest.

I agree with Never Admit Error Professor Catsam, that it is commonly a mistake but he should avoid it as I am sure he will.




Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

Let's see, what was the title of Stephen Ambrose's last book? Published by Simon & Shuster? Ahhh yes, "To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian." I must be the "only historian" indeed. According to ABC News on October 24 of this year? "An historian hired by newspaper The New York Times to review a 1932 Pulitzer Prize for a Times reporter has recommended it be rescinded, saying his coverage of Stalin's government was a "disgrace," the newspaper said." You say what would the NYT say? According to their October 4, 1998 story on Roddy McDowell they would say the following: "In his own private way, he was an historian, and among his many cinematic activities, he was actively engaged in the film preservation movement." Don't trust that? Let's see, who writes the "On Language" column for the NYT? Is it "Grammarian"? Oh wait, it is not. It is William Safire. Well how's this -- on June 20, 1997 Mr. Safire wrote the following sentence: "Were I an historian of tomorrow, taking the long view of today's summiteers trying to fuse Europe's diverse peoples into a New European Person, I would title my work The Political Theater of the Absurd."

Not surprising that "Grammarian" is another anonymous one. (P.S. your sentence "Ask the NYT and AHR if you were correct here" ends with a preposition. Tsk tsk.)


R. Stemler - 12/3/2003

Perhaps the author is unable to read as well. I wrote liaison, he said it should be spelled liaison. No, I argue it should be spelled liaison. Professor Liberal says it should be spelled liaison. Who is right?

Should liaison be spelled liaison or liaison.

A Historian in undergrad days.


Grammarian - 12/3/2003

Take a poll among your confreres and ask them if the H is pronounced in history. It is and hence is preceded by a vowel and not a consonant. Unreal! Ask the NYT and AHR if you were correct here. Ask the chair of your dept. what the preferred and proper sequence is. You are perhaps the only historian who affirms without hesitancy that it is an historian.


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/3/2003

My only comment, having read every single posting on this thread, is on the issue of anonymity. It is frequently raised on this and other websites. Initially, I found anonymity, as an unfair opportunity for some to convey harsh criticism without allowing the subject to respond. Personally, I experienced a situation where significant elements of my critics and interlocutors that were communicating with me, about me or directly to my university were of undetermined provenance.

I am tempted to believe that public comments about an individual, whether positive or negative, should contain attribution. If one is going to register a public position on a person, then the latter should have the opportunity to respond to a known interlocutor. Such is the case in print journalism, in scholarly journals and in quasi-scholarly organs such as the New York Review of Books.

On the other hand, does the Internet require the same degree of known provenance? Is it the wild west where most anything goes? Does anonymity foster a greater potential for honesty and the dissemination of creative ideas not otherwise possible due to squeamishness of origins?

While I am somewhat unsure of what the appropriate policy should be, there is no question, aside from the technological challenge of ascertaining true origins of a posting, that the numbers of respondents would be greatly reduced. It might also dampen the degree of interest in a website. Yet if the principle of known provenance is paramount, then the latter issues are secondary.

For me, this is not an issue that I approach without ambivalence. I have to decide for myself whether Internet postings should be held to the same standard of authorship as a letter to a newspaper or a journal.

Two final points:
If an author knows in advance what the consequences may be in terms of respondents, then that might mitigate against censoring anonymous or fake postings.

If the person, however, is a third party and is mentioned in an article or is the topic of interest, then perhaps the issues of fairness and provenance should perhaps be elevated to a higher standard.

Tough call.

Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History


Not to be Mean - 12/3/2003

Professor, when you write for an Internet service, you should not anticipate that all commentary will meet your standards of civility. I have read most of what your article has stimulated in terms of commentary, and found 99% of it appropriate.

Unlike print journalism, where letters etc. are usually accompanied by a verifiable writer, the Internet allows for a more freewheeling approach. I do no see you as a victim but as a whiner.

Good day and I support the right of free speech even when it may offend an author.


Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

At the risk of adding grist to the mill of those anonymous souls who somehow find it untoward that those of us who write articles would actually then deign to engage with those with the temerity to respond to what we write, here goes:
I actually appreciate those who have responded both positively and negatively to that which I have written. I must admit, I have never understood the hostility that those who write articles on HNN (or elsewhere) receive on the comment boards. I have never seen an article even close to as hateful as the comment boards would indicate. I have written articles that by any standard cover an ideological spectrum and yet I have been called everything from a "Likudnik" to "Nazi" to a "fascist" to "communist" to "socialist" to someone who is "obsessed" by race to a "Bush hater" to a "typical lefty" to a "damned radical". I wonder why this is so. I find it interesting that those who are unwilling to post their own full names are usually the most vitriolic. I think that there is something inherent in anonymity that allows people to be so mean, cruel, inconsiderate, or otherwise. After all, once you have attached your own name, things become real -- you can't be the guy from a city (of 8 million), you have to become an actual person. And I am going to say it straight out -- I don't buy the vulnerability argument. My Israel articles got me into loads of trouble, and as a junior faculty member I am far more vulnerable on a day to day basis than any graduate student is (hint -- search committees are far too busy to check your comments on HNN. Really. [Sorry Rick.])
So why so mean, folks? I admit, I have often responded harshly, but that was almost universally after I bothered to do the hard work of writing an article. I returned from an antiterrorism trip to Israel, wrote an impassioned piece about what I saw, thought, and felt, and was all but accused of being the offspring of Hitler. This past week I wrote what by any stretch was a reasonable piece about Africa and got hammered for it. Even more recently I had a piece appear on terrorism and definitions and I got pilloried yet again. One strain said that I was a bad writer, and that actually hurt more than most, even if I know that I actually write fairly well (the clue to me was the fallacious assertion that I had misused the word "incursion." I am not responsible for either ignorance or idiocy, folks. Take that up with the ideologues. Better yet, take on the idiots directly -- cut out the middle man).
So here is my advice to those of you who might want to write for HNN: Don't. Get syndicated. What, you say, that is not about to happen? Well then, I encourage you not to write. Seriously. Don't waste the time putting together a piece. Don't sweat over word choice. Don't bother to foster an opinion that you might want to share. Because if you do, if you actually decide to care about an issue, and if you dare to provide historical opinion, here is what you will hear:
You are a retrograde conservative or a Likudnik (a stupid coinage for anyone who knows Israel's history. Don't worry - - your detractors will have no idea about Israel's history -- they'll call you a Likudnik based on 1967. These people are retarded and are best ignored.) Or else if you veer left of center, you are a communist. More likely a Stalinist. Or else you are a "chickenhawk" or simply an idiot. (You may well be. They won't have proven their case. They'll also probably have misspelled something.) Let it be known that it has nothing to do with your support of Bush, Cheney or Condoleeza Rice (the administration is full of idiots, they'll say; Condi was a full professor at Stanford -- check for credentials at your own peril -- tenure track folks keep your mouth shut -- oh, and don't outpublish your senior colleagues.)
In other words, why the anger, folks? Why so vitriolic toward someone who undoubtedly spent hours working on expressing their opinion, getting it published, and then in the rare case,who might even defend their argument against those who would condemn it because their knee jerked?
Yes, I know -- you are morally right, all those who disagree with you are terrorist-supporting, racist retrogrades, and yet isn't there even a scintilla of doubt that makes you wonder if, by gosh, that wasn't a reasonable argument, even if you don't fully agree with it? And couldn't that person actually believe what they wrote? Are they that evil? Are you that right? Always? And if so, why aren't you using your name?


Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

Except that I am a real historian. I am finishing a book and have written articles. You can call me a whatever name you want. (And I have been critical of Likud -- your ignorance is not my fault.) So what we have here is that you anonymously call names irrespective of the facts. You have not given a single name where you are involved with "real history forums" (as opposed to real journal articles, books, or, god forbid, op-ed pieces) If you'd like to compare both those forums and real credentials I am more than willing to debate you . . . I thought as much. I am a real, qualified, legitimate historian. If you doubt that, you need to give your name, qualifications, and publications, and we can compare records. If you are not willing to do so, please shut up. Or let's just exchange addresses, phone numbers, or any other way in which you can have to justify your ad hominems face to face. I welcome any of the above. There is your test -- you are a punk or you are for real. Put it on the table or don't. Record vs. record, or mano a mano. Your choice. If I'm not a real historian, then let's test it in other ways. So there it is, "Goliath" - you don't want your name publicized, track me down. Why you are so afraid of you name being publicized is beyond me, but there we go. Intellectual records against one another, or a simple face to face. I'll buy the plane ticket. Or how's this?: You write an article. An opinion piece. A simple reflection. (You have to sign a real name). It's up to you: let's either face up or shut up. It is that simple. Let's just trade addresses if you are that ashamed of your name.


Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

Bill --
How I welcome your comments -- and I always do (even when I think you are butt-ased naked wrong).
Allow me to clarify -- which my other mean and hostile detractors did not allow. (I assume you find it as humorous and absurd as I do that they would call me "conservative" -- please correct them on this point at least).
Consistency is not constancy. In other words one can be constant -- saying the same thing all the time -- and not be consistent -- saying something often enough so as to portray it as a truismm. The administration may well have called attacks other things. But consistently they have referred to acts that I would not define as "terrorist" as being exactly that.
My article, in all honesty, was not about Bush -- at least not in the same way that Carpenter's articles are. It was about the fact that I truly believe that language and policy are more closely linked than most people believe. But at the end of the day, do you think that I deserve some of the crap that I have gotten here on the links? From all I've heard I'm actually a pretty good writer. And I do not think I am whining -- I feel as if I have stood up in a way that most people, right or left, have not, at least on HNN, when it comes to their own articles. And so you (Bill) and I disagree -- and because we "know" one another, we get pissy, and sometimes cross the line. But we've earned that, in a sense. I think that my views are, if nothing else, a bit sophisticated. I am solid on Israel (albeit from what I will maintain is a Labour viewpoint -- and at least you know there is a difference) but left on most social policy. Given what I have devoted my entire career to, don't I deserve the benefit of the doubt whan I call myself a liberal? In other words, I don't want to whine, but don't you think that I have earned at least a modicum of respect? A respect that you give me where Goliath and NYGuy have decided I don't warrant? I'm going to say it -- I am a good writer. I write well. It might be called "mechanistic" by those who do not agree with me, but when the day is done, I am willing to stand by the fact that i manage to balance scholarly with "popular" writing." Every so often I simply back off from HNN, take time away, because the name calling, the capricious labelling by those who do not seem to care, who certainly do not write, and who hide behind nom de plumes, gets to be too much.
Bill -- you often piss me off. But we respect one another. And I write a number of articles here, the sentiments for which I truly believe. Don't you think that I deserve at least a little respect? It all gets tiresome. I love HNN because there is interaction. I am also fully able of publishing my work elsewhere -- I've had lots of offers, despite the fact that I am apparently a bad writer -- places where there would be less interaction, and where, in all honesty, it would be less of a headache. Does this contribute to a a real dialogue? I would doubt it. But it also would save me the blatant name calling that I get here on HNN, and that I don't think I deserve. And so I ask this of you --where you think I am full of it, please continue to tell me. I'll disagree with you. And you'll be wrong (in my mind). But at least defend those of us (bad writers and all) whoe deserve better than to be called the names I've been called, dismissed in the way I've been dismissed. I may not be the smartest grape on the vine, but I deserve better than this.
dc


Derek Catsam - 12/3/2003

Actually, by any grammar standard, it is "an historian" -- given the relationship between "a" and "h" whan linked with a following consonant. If that is your grounds for correcting me, you really are beyond correction and approaching idiocy. Is that really all you have to say?
By the way -- you claimed to be a historian based upon your degree from Oberlin. A school that has no graduate degrees. None. No MA's. No Ph.D.s. And so you were "trained there"? Amazing. Joseph Ellis is calling and he hopes you'll join his club. You and Michael Bellisles will be welcome new additions. Oh, wait, -- loathsome as their behavior was, thay actually have Ph.D.'s.
By the way, for those of us who bother to care about the language -- it is spelled "liaison". And for those who are not completely beyond hope -- it is "I should really go to bed," as opposed to the barely comprehensive "I really better go to bed" Most people who understand basic punctuation wouldn't just use a semi-colon. They would also say "I had really better go to bed."
This signed by a solid left liberal -- albeit one who is not a complete idiot.


Bill Heuisler - 12/3/2003

Professor Catsam,
Critics do you injustice when they criticize your writing. Often writing can't transcend a flawed postulate when words and prose-flow must strain to reach the unreachable. Your piece on baseball was warm, lyrical and knowledgable; the article on your visit to Israel was tersely immediate, but still conversational. Your criticism of the Bush Administration, however, is wrong and the writing only reflects the problem.

How wrong? In a speech President Bush gave on 10/28/03 on a day when a car bomb exploded near a police station in Fallujah - two days after the Baghdad Red Cross was bombed. The President variously and specifically mentioned "suiciders, loyalists, terrorists, foreign fighters Baathists and foreign terrorists".
You can google the speech CNN + terrorists + Iraq.

He was selective in describing the different attackers per their targets. In fact, in one speech, the President rather adroitly used nouns that fit most Iraq prescriptions. Your supposition employs many uneasy arguments in support of a phantom.
Bill


David - 12/3/2003


You are correct, he didn't say "solar", specifically. He said far less. Something far more vague like "increase energy efficiency", which in fact confirmed that he had not one single specific solution for preventing terrorism, other than his John Anderson gas tax. He was certainly specific about that. And that was the point of my line of questioning, to expose his ideology as nothing more than a collection of slogans, and no help at all in the war on terror.

So I stand corrected, he didn't say "solar", he said far less.


Goliath - 12/3/2003

Birkenstock never said "go solar". This is the problem with pathological liars like David, after awhile they start to believe their own fabrications.


Goliath - 12/3/2003

Okay Derek,

Just continuing denying the blatant inconsistency of your critical stance towards oppression in the pre Civil Rights U.S. South and your abject apologies for the counterproductively oppressive policies of the Likud Party (which you never critically consider). Maybe that and your diarrhea of self-congratulatory comments here will help in future peer reviews. It probably can't hurt, since real historians are rarely found anywhere near HNN.

P.S. I use my real name in real history forums.


ClintonReaganWilson - 12/3/2003



...is a very common way to utilize the phenomenon of posts on society's newest medium of communication, regardless of the intelligence level of the site's patrons. Unless the site has mechanisms for it (i.e. dating/chat lines), there is almost *no* way to ever find out who you are really conversing with.

However, I can certainly understand the frustration of professors who put their reputation "on the line" with researched articles, especially when they are met with ferocious attacks by anonymous posters who go on in a mean-spirited, unenlightened, and uncritical fashion.

I can only suggest one remedy if a contributor becomes upset enough to test his ability to maintain a professional demeanor...

STRIKE BACK ANONYMOUSLY!!!


David - 12/2/2003


But our "empire" is not so inferior that you would not choose to come to this capitalist hell hole to get your academic training however. Right? You probably attended Oberlin on a grant provided to your school's endowment by capitalist terrorists and imperialists. You gladly took their money, and now you show them no gratitude, you socialist leech.

What happened? Did you not qualify on your O levels in France, and the prospect of trade school didn't appeal to you perhaps? So you fled to the land of milk and honey, our "empire", and milked the system, a system you claim to hate, for all it's worth.

That's despicable, but entirely in order for a Leftwing hypocrite. At least show some damn gratitute if you're going to be a leech.


david levy - 12/2/2003

"Thanks for giving us so much work as we repair fractured non-white bodies that you butcher for Israel throughout the world."

Such poignant analysis. Really top-notch.


Derek Catsam - 12/2/2003

I see. Historians get screwed either way. Either we write from our rarefied air and we are condemned for living in the Ivory Tower or else we try to engage our detractors (and supporters) in which case the anonymous masses get to claim that we are not real article writers. The point of HNN, however, is explicitly to engage. I am sorry you do not see it that way. But i shan't have my qualifications judged by someone without the temerity to give his real name. As for whether they are nit picking responses, well, that would imply that the comments being listed against my articles are mere nits. Come to think of it, that might categorize some of them rather well, Mr (Ms.? Miss? Mrs.? Dr.? -- it's so hard to tell these days, what with the androgynous anonymity and all) Goliath.
I also have written a couple of Israel articles. I do not need to go point by point through your tedious list of questions loaded fully in your direction to prove my bona fides. Fine. You do not believe that I am a liberal, that's your prerogative. You are incapable of acknowledging the important role of the Labour Party in Israel and thus to differentiate between them and Sharon, that's fine also. I did not realize you set the litmus tests for global and American politics. I'll make sure to run my book on the Freedom Riders past your desk before it goes off to the printers.


R. Stemler - 12/2/2003

'an historian' It should be "a historian" Dr. Einstein, I will match Oberlin over Williams and France over you any day of the week.

I work for Doctors Without Borders, which I won't translate since you folks don't know French. I am a liaison in PR, not an MD. Thanks for giving us so much work as we repair fractured non-white bodies that you butcher for Israel throughout the world. I really better go to bed; it's late here. Kucinich would do well in France. There, of course, he is marginalized by you centrists.

Viva La France



dave levy - 12/2/2003

Whoa! A bit touchy aren't we?

Unfortunately, the France of today is not the France of the late 18th century. In the 18th century it was a great power. Today it is struggling to remain a regional power.

The world hates the U.S. you say? Well they simply laugh at France.

P.S. you didn't write anything for HNN.


Derek Catsam - 12/2/2003

Well, I am the odd "court historian" who is criticizing the court. I write an article in which I am critical and then am told that I need to look at my own country, the exact country I am looking at in the article. Little did I know that in addition to producing fine wine, world class cooks, and a particularly noxious form of self-righteous politics, France is also the other side of the looking glass.
But, folks, here is what is telling: Oberlin does not have a graduate program in history. Not a PhD, not an MA. So we are being scolded by someone who calls himself an "Oberlin-trained historian" by which he means he has an undergraduate degree in history. Forgive me if I am less inclined to be lectured to in this instance. I respect my undergraduates. Many are quite bright. Some will do very well. But when they leave here with a history degree, they are not historians. When I left Williams in 1993, I had a history and poli-sci double major, but I was neither an historian nor was a a political scientist. In other words, the sanctimony is not warranted. I believe we have a pretty good case of a poseur (that's French, ain't it?) on our hands. Sacre bleu.


R. Stemler - 12/2/2003

Unfortunately, we were there for you and won your revolution for you. A travesty I admit. You should have lost and the world would have been a lot better for it. You should feel disgraced in living in that country. The world hates you, despises you, and it happened so fast. Can't explain it? Oh, we can in Europe. You folks are finished except for your bombs and JDAMS and

COURT HISTORIANS. GUTLESS


david levy - 12/2/2003

"Got to run."

Yes, run away. One thing you frogs are good at.


R, Stemler - 12/2/2003

I really can't tell, because your comments are cartoonish enough and could easily be satire. But I do know we've got clowns like this in our colleges and universities teaching our impressionable young students.


Yeah, you folks don't think twice when it comes to "impressinable young students" when forced to recite the Pledge of Imperialism with god included in it. You liberals are whatever, who complain about radical islam, who rant about the madrassas look at your own country, your propaganda-centered press.

Then go to your money with "In God We Trust On It." You bet, we in France are more attractive, have a more beautiful language, or more sophisticated, eat real food instead of your butchering meat, whipped your little derriere over your war against Islam.

Oberline trained, yes and now in France looking at your country being assaulted as your Empire strikes back. This historian writes an article about use of the term terrorism and ought to look in the mirror at his country.

Shame on your court historians! Got to run, no more time, will watch Al Jazeera which you hypocrites censor throughout your colonies.


Sinister Southpaw Slayer - 12/2/2003


They are everywhere, these insufferable leftists. Even on HNN (the Heroically Neoconservative Network). In your schools, at your local drinking fountains, on the left side of BART trains, in the Quartier Latin in Paris, amidst the oncoming traffic heading down I-5. There's probably one under your bed, right now, David. Quick, at him with your rapier wit !


Goliath - 12/2/2003


Scream all you want, Catsam. It won't cover up your pandering past. You want to be "liberal" and "neo-conservative" at the same time. It might fly on this two-bit website, most of the time. Your half-baked version of "middle of the right lane" is not going to work in the real world, most of the time (thanks Abe). This particular piece here is not bad, but it does not excuse your incessant waffling and kissing up in hundreds of prior postings. Show us, if you feel inclined, the .001% within your torrent of previous comments here that are critical of

a) Sharon's winking at mass murder in Lebanon in 1982
b) his deliberate provocations on the Temple Mount in 2000
c) his insulting comparison of George W. Bush to Nevill Chamberlain
d) the killings under his command of civilians and international aid workers on the West Bank and in Gaza
e) his pitiful and counterproductive obsession with Arafat
f) his arrogant defiance of the new Geneva plan
g) his unending kowtowing to terrorist settlers and their illegal and hideously ugly settlements
h) his building of an apartheid-like wall deep WITHIN the occupied West Bank in an arrogant and useless defiance of international law
i) the disaster wreaked on the Israeli economy under his reign of fear

P.S. Real article writers don't send in dozens of nit-picking comments to a discussion on their own article.


David - 12/2/2003


And finally, I agree with Birkenstock about oil efficiency. I think there should be serious tax incentives for automakers to develop cars with greater fuel efficiency. The idea of sending any money to Arabia makes my skin crawl.

I agree with him too, but I'm under no illusions that paying more for gasoline, and going solar will have one whit of influence on Osama bin Laden and prevent terrorism.


David - 12/2/2003


You provide me with you name, your occupation if employed in this capitalistic, terrorist nation, and then you will be given the opportunity to read what this Oberlin trained historian has written. Shame on you court historians!

"Senator Joe", "court historians", "terrorist nations", etc. etc. You're kidding right?

Professor, are you for real? Is this an unfortunate case of unintentional Leftwing self-caricature? Or are you a rightwing prankster satirizing as a Leftwing college professor just to get a rise out of us?

I really can't tell, because your comments are cartoonish enough and could easily be satire. But I do know we've got clowns like this in our colleges and universities teaching our impressionable young students.

So "professor", are you for real?

then you will be given the opportunity to read what this Oberlin trained historian has written.

Oh my god, how insufferable. He is for real.


Richard T. Deichman - 12/2/2003

Join us!! http://www.marxist.com/


david levy - 12/2/2003

Hehe. I'm unemployed. No actually, I'm a waiter.


R. Stemler - 12/2/2003

You provide me with you name, your occupation if employed in this capitalistic, terrorist nation, and then you will be given the opportunity to read what this Oberlin trained historian has written. Shame on you court historians!

Shame.


dave 3 - 12/2/2003

"Google search a ittle more and you will find Sen Joe that I have written missives for HNN."

Can you provide a link please? I'd be interested to read it R.


david 3 - 12/2/2003

I support Bush, and I supported the War in Iraq, but I believe that Bush and the State Department mangled our diplomacy royally for two reasons.

First, the state department has done a pisspoor job of explaining our reasons for going to war in Iraq to the Europeans. Not simply focusing on WMD--although it should be enough that a genocidal madman ruling a large country in the Middle East was furiously attempting to develop such weapons--but an explanation of the untenable nature of the status quo in the Middle East after september 11th, and the necessity of action to change the sq. Bush didn't start talking about this until recently. Such a message might have resonated with the European intelligentsia.

Second, as a superpower the United States must act magnanimously towards its allies in issues not fundamental to its national interests so that, when such a fundamental issue arises, the acquiescence of allies to the American position is more likely. Viewed in a vacuum, Bush may have been right in his handling of Kyoto or the ABM treaty. But his handling of such issues was quite antagonizing to allies, and much currency was lost that might have been used later on, when allied support was needed.

(As a sidenote, I personally think that Bush should have gotten behind the Kyoto treaty, and then sent it to the senate with instructions to Lott to make sure it didn't pass. Which wouldn't have been a problem anyway considering previous votes on the treaty. Then he could have gone back to the europeans and said "my hands are tied on this one." But Bush is more straightforward and honest than I am.)

And finally, I agree with Birkenstock about oil efficiency. I think there should be serious tax incentives for automakers to develop cars with greater fuel efficiency. The idea of sending any money to Arabia makes my skin crawl.


George Bush - 12/2/2003

Ok professor, you have outed me. I just do not have enough to do these days; I don't read newspapers; I can't jog outside the White House anymore. No more secret trips to the colonies. I read HNN and enjoy the conservative bias of you and other authors.

It seems the purging of the left, the removal of left-wing ideologues from history is working. Bless you and keep those Zinnites at bay.

George "It was an INCURSION" Bush


Cram - 12/2/2003

Regarding use of real names, I appreciate people's frustration at anonymous posters.

However, I chose to use a fake name, not for some hidden fear of exposure, but simply because when I contribute my thoughts to these articles, I do so out of interest, not out of a need for recognition or affirmation (not that I am accusing others of contributing for any other reason) and I simply don’t recognize the need for anything else.

Anyone who is familiar with my posts knows that I have never tried to rely on attacks, insults, or any other form of meaningless rants, to which I would be ashamed to assign my name to it.

I respect those who use real names, but I really don’t see the relevance in whether I choose to call myself Marc (my real name) or Cram (my “on-line” name which I have become accustomed to using). What is important to me is the thoughts and ideas expressed in the message, not the name attached to the person making it. You can call yourself John Doe or anything else you like, it will not influence how I receive and respond to your comments, whether you are Republican/Democrat/racist/radical/Jew/Christian/Muslim.

To quote Shakespeare, what is in a name? An argument that I disagree with is an argument I disagree with by any other name (or at least, that is what he would have said if he were writing here- and maybe he and just isn’t using his real name)

Just my thoughts on the matter, nothing more. Feel free to reject or accept them. That is what this is all about.


Derek Catsam - 12/2/2003

I would pose that criticizing someone's writing, under guise of anonymity, without substantial criticisms, is mean spirited. It certainly was not constructive.
What I oppose about anonymity is when it is mean, or personal, or heated there is a lack of symmetry -- someone who puts his name behind his work has to take grief from someone who doesn't. I also do not support David not using his last name and Cram not givinh his or her name. And I've chastised David before where we have disagreed elsewhere. But right now they are not jumping me so I'll let it slide. But let's be clear, I oppose the anonymity on HNN.
As for standing the heat, anyone who knows me, or knows me through HNN knows that I'm not about to leave the Nagasaki kitchen, so I'll see you down the road -- which often though not always leads to more respectful exchanges.


Derek Catsam - 12/2/2003

R. Stemler --
Missives are far from articles. If you've read any of my stuff, you'd know I am not right wing -- indeed, how can THIS piece, which criticizes the Bush administration, be categorized as right wing? My writings on race and racism? My piece on Africa last week? And you apparently are a great writer but not a good reader -- it was rather clear that my assertions of gutlessness were aimed explicitly at those who use anonymous posts, in this case Goliath and company. I have never published under a name other than my own. That you would make the grundless accusation shows how litle substance there is to your criticisms.
dc


Cram - 12/2/2003

Mr. Stemler,
You still have not explained to me why the word incursion was inappropriate to use. The fact that you personally would have used another word doesn't give your insults any credibility.


David - 12/2/2003


Or as the saying goes, if you can take the heat, stay in the kitchen.

Cheers.


Not To be Mean - 12/2/2003

I would merely say to Professor Catsam, to whom I have been polite and professional, that one might note a certain absence of criticism toward "David" and "Cram" for opining supportive statements of the author.

Anonymity is quite common on this website and I do not believe I have abused it in terms of substantive criticism of the author.

That is all I am going to say on this matter on this website but I am sure President Truman, being one of the author's heroes, would say: "If you can't stand the heat, leave Nagasaki."


R. Stemler - 12/2/2003

Mr Catsam should not call me "gutless" but evince an appropriate professionalism to those who dare dissent from his poor writing style and his right-wing politics. Google search a ittle more and you will find Sen Joe that I have written missives for HNN. I signed my name; do you all the time Derek or do you fake it?

I just think the author should note that when writing an article that develops a thematic critique concerning the use of a word , than using incursion to cover up a "terrorists" venture may strike one as somewhat hyprocritical.


Cram - 12/2/2003

David,
I am forced to agree with your interpretation of this line of debate, and would stress the word "these" Leftists, as opposed to ALL Leftists
:)


David - 12/2/2003


Like you, I'm not trying to be mean, but I find it the height of irony to hear criticism of Catsam's writing style by an illiterate who can't even put together a grammatically correct sentence.


Derek Catsam - 12/2/2003

This is literally the first criticism I have had of my writing. generally I get praised from the left and right for my style. To each his own opinion.
I am not a moderate conservative. I certainly do not think I am Nixon. I am a yellow-dog Democrat, quite liberal on Domestic policy, more hawkish on foreign policy, but still firmly within a liberal trqdition that believes that human rights should have some role in policy.
Why do I think that this actually has nothing to do with my writing. It is nice and mean spirited, though, and I can't help but run through my memnory banks and admit that I do not recall any articles by "Not to be Mean" -- who, by the way, not only apparently cannot put together actual sentences, but who tells me I am a bad writer under the guise of anonymity. Gutless -- R. Stemler or John Kapita -- indeed, a google search does not reveal much of a published letter from all three of these critics. I guess at least I am a bad writer who writes.


David - 12/2/2003


The word "incursion" doesn't carry the sense of vitriolic indignation that these Leftists feel, therefore it must be "an ideological alteration of the reality." After all, "reality" is defined by them, didn't you know?


Derek Catsam - 12/2/2003

How many times do I have to say this? Supporting Israel is not supporting Ariel Sharon. I have never explicitly supported Sharon, I have always said that my politics lie on the side of Labour, and I have pointed out numerous times that protection and defense of Israel has long been Labour's policy (who has controlled Israel's parliament for the majority of Israel's existence? Indeed, whio was at the head of Israel in and after 1967?) and that the constant accusations that anyone who believes in Israel's right to defend itself as being supportive of Sharon are borne of a shameful ignorance. Ignorance that fuel comments like the ones levied in this post normally do not warrant response, except that I think my record (beyond "comments" Goliath -- let's check out the articles I've written, including this one, in support of Africa, on Israel, and on baseball -- and oh yeah, in my own name: so you are apparently both ignorant and gutless. Mrs. Goliath must be proud).


Derek Catsam - 12/2/2003

David -- settle down. And jump to anthropology class if you want to jargonize. Are you telling me that there ius no deterrent element to military action? This is why I used my example of the ANC/MK. Because at least some groups do discern between these different actions. But if everything is terrorism why should they? In other words, as the implications should be clear, my concern is not merely for the present, but also for the unforeseeable future. Someday, somewhere, there will be a vailid liberation struggle. My article is as much aimed at that as at the present. If you really think that every single opponent of the US ids a terrorist, fine. But this is simply not the case, even in the Iraq crisis. Triple exclaimation points and troiple question marks are shrill and they are haughty. they are not much of a sign of thought, however, and frankly I've written enough excoriating terrorism and trying to deal with it that your junior high sense of indignation does not cow me. I'm not the enemy here.


Cram - 12/2/2003

"If a nation invades a nation, then it is an invasion."

Websters defined incursion as "invasion or raid." Unless someone can show me how the usage is incorrect, please save useless attacks on the word choice as "an ideological alteration of the reality."

The word was used correctly, whereas the point of the article was that the word "terrorist" is not used correctly by the Bush administration. The fact that you would have personally used a different word to describe the (insert word here) of Iraq says nothing about the credibility of the article.


R. Stemler - 12/2/2003

If a nation invades a nation, then it is an invasion. To call it otherwise is simply an ideological alteration of the reality. I am sure --and I think Mankato was the predecessor to his current university--that the professor would have described Hussein's "incursion" of Kuwait as an "invasion."

He's probably a young professor who is developing his writing skills, and yet he is not without nuance, and I am sure with a little more prewrite sweat, his prose will be more fluid.




Cram - 12/2/2003

I find the use of the work incursion to be appropriate, although it is not one that I would have chosen. Calling it a war would have been fine, although the United States has not technically been at war since WWII in the strict sense of the word. Calling it an invasion would have been fine as well, although that carries with it negative connotations. Liberation is an equally politically loaded term. His use of the word "incursion" was, to me, a fair and honest way of trying to label the conflict (if I may use the word) as innocuously as possible.


Not to be Mean - 12/2/2003

I love it. I was not commenting on the good professor's ideology but on his rhetoric. I am a neoconservative adjunct in Texas and yet even we do not call the Bush liberation of Iraq an "incursion." Maybe the author likes war and approves of the invasion but want to utilize a favorable and less grating word.


Yet I am wondering if the audience construes the quality of his writing as up to par for this website. That is all I will say of this matter because I do not want to needlessly offend or degrade this Mankato State scholar.


John Kapita - 12/2/2003

Note the word "incursion" he uses to describe the Bush invasion of Iraq. The author is a moderate conservative who thinks he is President Nixon describing the "incursion" into Cambodia in May 1970. I admit this is not a matter of style, he gets a B- as a writer, but is just a stupid prowar word.

Hells bells, let the guy write and complain to the editor if you think he is below par.


R. Stemler - 12/2/2003

You might proofread your own e-mail; I believe you left out a word in your first sentence. Yes, the author's writing is a little mechanical, but he is able to make his points reasonably well.


Not to be Mean - 12/2/2003

I just Professor Catsam could write better. There is a nagging awkwardness that appears seemingly every week. I would spend more time, developing your essay, rewriting it for a more polished and fluid style and labor on it.

Sorry but I wonder if others are of the same mind.


Marianne - 12/2/2003



When a country is invaded and citizens of that country defend themselves and attack the invading/occupying forces what is that called? Is it terrorism?

I might have missed something, but did the Iraqi government officially surrender?

My understanding of what is now occurring in Iraq with "insurgents" is that when coalition combat forces suffer casualties at the hands of Iraqis or other anti-coalition elements, that constitutes an ongoing war situation--guerrilla war to be sure, but still war.

When civilians and non-combatant international people--contractors, aid services workers etc.-- are targeted for violence that would seem to fit the terrorism definition.

I agree with Mr Catsam. The Bush administration's liberal use of the term "terrorism" distorts the word's meaning, but, of course, it serves a political agenda.


David - 12/2/2003


I never claimed that "saving gasoline" was the one and only solution to terrorism, I offered energy efficiency as one small specific practical step towards reducing our ransom payments to Mideastern terrorist supporting states,

I ask you for specifics, rather than slogans, and the highlight of your answer is to pussyfoot around with a "small specific practical steps" like taxing gasoline and going solar??? Why not offer me the real meat then, instead of wasting my time with your John Anderson and Ariana Huffington solutions for saving the world. Where's the beef Birkenstock? The truth is, there is no beef, and this is probably the first time in your life you've been forced to confront that crushing fact.

I challenged you, and waited with an open mind. But your typical leftist inability to rise about sloganeering irritated me, it's true, and my continued pressing irritated you.

Because the truth is that you've written much, and offered little, save your "little steps" which basically amounts to Osama hates us because we buy oil. So we should stop buying oil, and Osama will like us. That's your thesis so far. Brilliant solution to our terrorism problem Birkenstock. It amounts to zero.

but at least it apparently has finally penetrated your dense cranium that I am not part of your stereotypical and not-understood "Left".

I understand the Left intimately, and though you flatter yourself by making the usual and stereotypical claims to being ideologically "unique" and "nuanced", it matters not your shading of red, or your placement on the Leftist spectrum. I know one when I see one. So as far as I'm concerned, another looney leftist dismissed.

out







Goliath - 12/2/2003

Once you animalize people, it is not hard to then anthropomorphize them back into people. This sort of endless back and forth, tit for tat, finger-pointing insanity has been carried to its ultimate pinnacle of absurity on the West Bank in recent years. Which makes Catsam's generally valid argument here the harder to fathom in light of his many previous postings in support of Ariel Sharon, who makes Bush look like a paragon of differentiation in comparison. I will resist the temptation to speculate about the motives of HNN posters by use of animalistic analogies to canine territory marking.


Ed Birkenstock - 12/2/2003


I never claimed that "saving gasoline" was the one and only solution to terrorism, I offered energy efficiency as one small specific practical step towards reducing our ransom payments to Mideastern terrorist supporting states, and broached that idea only because you whined about never being given "specifics" (here:http://hnn.us/comments/24798.html). By your weird economic illogic now, the more money funneled to Osama, the less "mean" he will be, and thus the better off his victims.

I get no thanks and only misplaced insults for having indulged your silly deception about wanting specifics. I gave you several, for which you supply none in return, but at least it apparently has finally penetrated your dense cranium that I am not part of your stereotypical and not-understood "Left". So, therefore I am instead "driven" by a nameless "slogan-driven ideology” ? Utter ignorant garbage. Go back to High School, David, if you actually graduated already, and study a little History this time. Your blindly-followed President has not even been remotely consistent with the Mideast policies of his own father, let alone with American policies generally. Not that those prior Mideast policies were anything to be particularly proud of, but at least they did not involve hundreds of billions of U.S. taxdollars being wasted in a bungled war and an even more bungled occupation by incompetents dragging America's name into the mud.


David - 12/2/2003


Thus the incentive is equally to target innocents at bus stations as soldiers in foxholes.

There you go again. They don't need an "incentive" to target civilians !!! They will do so with or without incentive, or what language we use!!! They attack targets of opportunity and don't care one way or the other if they are civilian or military !!! All western targets are equal in their eyes. Why do you insist on anthropomorphizing those animals???


David - 12/2/2003


Oh, you don't want to "go solar" only, you also want to "tax gasoline" (like John Anderson). That is your solution to terrorism? And you're asking ME to thing? How will economizing on gasoline convince the terrorists not to be terrorists anymore? All that will do is make the terrorists unemployed, poorer, and a lot meaner. So much for your "alternatives" to Bush and Co.

Don't feel like you need to "educate" me. I'm plenty informed. All I'm doing is calling you out and exposing your slogan-driven ideology for what it is. The slogans are great for the choir, but don't withstand even minor scrutiny. You can respond with an intelligent answer, or you can respond with another slogan. Your choice.

I support current U.S. policies in the middle east, which are fairly consistent with our policies over the last 50 years, especially now that Bush and Co. are in charge and ACTING upon it.




Derek Catsam - 12/2/2003

That's the difference between you and me. You do nto see difference between your laundry list of victims. I do. And since you do not, why should they, because if they attack through "legitimate" (which is not to say "right") military or guerrilla means, you are going to label them a terrorist anyway. Thus the incentive is equally to target innocents at bus stations as soldiers in foxholes. Your sense of moral outrage notwithstranding, I think it is bad policy, I thinkit is moral relativism, and I think that you then cannot possibly claim immunity when others accuse us of being terrorists because we kill civilians. Your way makes you feel morally superior. Mine is smarter and more long range policy. Someday again the US will be in a conflict, the enemy might not be quite so obvious, and they will not bother with the niceties of differentiation, because, well, the President of the US and some guy without the courage to give his own last name didn't. Differentiation gives us more moral legitimacy over the long run, gives us a consistency that is not stubborn, and gives us a policy that is not ad hoc and self justifying. I'm still not certain why this is so godawful bad. Just because it makes things a bit more complex, does not make it bad. That it is right makes it good.


Ed Birkenstock - 12/2/2003

Too bad you did not think first, David.

I never said "go solar".

There is nothing "preposterous" or "in the clouds" about energy efficiency. Japan and West Europe have been practicing it for half a century.

Saudi living standards have been in decline for many years. The "chaos" you claim to fear has already arrived. There are a great multitude of good alternatives to Bush & Co's ever-shifting non-policies. Listen to Pat Buchanan and Howard Dean for two divergent examples of many.

Now comes your turn, David, after throwing dozens of semi-informed questions at me, to answer a few for a change:

What is the "Left" and which comments of mine make me part of it ? Let's not have any more "sloganeering" either. Specific definitions and evidence, please.


David - 12/2/2003


Most people would appreciate being responded to with the degree of meticulousness that I did your post. But I can understand how that degree of scrutiny would make you uncomfortable. After all, I challenged you to provide me specifics so that you could "educate" me, and you failed. Instead, you offered me only more slogans in order to "indoctrinate" me. But I would have preferred the former over the latter.

But let's talk about the first "solution", or alternative, you offer to Bush and Co. You say we should stop buying middle eastern oil and go solar.

You realize that the countries of the middle east depend on the sale of oil for their survival right? Let me ask you, what do you think would happen to the countries and the peoples of the middle east if the world stopped buying their oil? Take a wild guess. Unless they found a clever way to market sand, the economies of those countries would collapse. Would that cause some chaos do you think? Take a wild guess. Do you think it would have a positive or negative effect on world terrorism?

Take a wild guess.

And that's your alternative to Bush and Co.?

This illustrates why the slogan mongering Left is so defensive when pressed for REAL alternatives; when asked to descend from the clouds to the real world. Because what you offer is so preposterous it couldn't possibly withstand scrutiny before a serious audience.



Ed Birkenstock - 12/2/2003


David,

If you were to put 1/10th the effort you expend on dissecting every sentence of mine (as if that constitutes some kind of rebuttal) into instead proposing "can-do solutions, some positive and affirmative steps", as you insist of me, you might actually come up with an original thought.

It is not my job to educate you, nor is it really appropriate for me to present my wish list of constructive improvements to America's foreign policies. I would settle for the Bush Administration, easily the least competent of many incompetent U.S. administrations over the last half century, acknowledging their mistakes and dropping their counterproductive arrogance.

But, since you ask so insistently, here's one thing we could do as a country to gain more leverage over the madrasses (which if you reread my earlier comment are, in my view, ONE of many important root causes of Islamic terrorism): Reduce dependence on foreign oil, which means dependence on the House of Saud.

How "specifically" to do this ? Well, take a trip to Western Europe or Japan, where they use a fraction of the energy we use in this country. Or, have a good look at your local freeway during rush hour. How many millions of tons of unneeded steel and millions of hours of unproductive time so you suppose are wasted in gridlock every day around America. Concerned about "leftists" taking over ? Okay, how about letting the "marketplace" allocate resources instead ? Let the drivers of gas guzzling vehicles pay for the military defense of their oil suppliers in the Mideast. Why should taxpayers subsidize their gridlock ?

Or if you want a more practical and immediately implimentable step along these lines, go back to John Anderson's 50 ¢ per gallon gasoline tax, proposed in 1980. Maybe you were not born yet then, David, but the Economist magazine (surely not a "leftist" publication according to whatever template of “right” and “left” you might be unwittingly using) has proposed such a tax ever since, as a partial offset for the many dollars per gallon of tax subsidies already provided.

To belabor what should be, but probably is not, obvious: I have never said and am not saying now that the Afghan war or the Iraq war was “all about oil”. They quite clearly had nothing to do with oil except in the indirect sense that going after Saddam in 2003 was a leftover bit of unfinished business from the 1991 Gulf War which was, partly, about keeping Saudi oil out of Saddam’s murderous hands. Refer back to my previous critical remarks about Kucinich and kindly cease falsely lumping me in with your leftist bogeymen, David, just because I am not a fan of the pretzel-slaying President. I am saying we would have a less hamstrung foreign policy if we had a more sensible and farsighted domestic energy policy.

I am, to repeat (since subtlety is often lost here), also not your educator, David. I am not going to give you a long comprehensive essay on the origins of terrorism, the nature of evil, or the electoral future of the Republican Party, nor will I list, for you to irrelevantly parse to pieces, my twenty other, better ways of fighting terrorism than declaring war on it (just the kind of cowboy foolishness Osama was hoping for). But take a chew on the wasted energy which makes our country so dependent on the terrorists’ main revenue source, if you feel so inclined. And reflect a bit on the opportunities wasted by our oil and gas funded President. Think it over first, and then reply.


NYGuy - 12/2/2003

Thanks Garrison,

You are right about his leadership against world terror. But for the immediate future think of all the joy and happiness he is bringing to the American people during the holdiday season because of his economic brillance and his bold economic moves.

What a guy.

Sant will be here in 24 days. I can't wait.


Garrison - 12/2/2003

You are on target, NYGuy. There is a concerted effort to attempt to portray President Bush and his administration as incompetent, lacking in mental acumen or foolish.

As you point out, it is the leadership of President Bush that liberated peoples of two states from the iron grip of governments that supported terrorism at home and abroad. It is the leadership of President Bush that put together a vast international coalition to fight terrorism on many fronts. It was President Bush who outed the North Koreans as having an underground program to enrich uranium. Only President Bush among international leaders has pressed for sanctions against Iran for its ongoing violations regarding development of nuclear weapons. Notice how the frequency of MURDER/SUICIDE attacks in Israel have been dramatically reduced in numbers as Saddam hides in ratholes and Bashar al-Assad of Syria reigns in the terror groups he provides safeharbor? NOTE: America has not experienced a terror attack in the homeland over the last two years. Hardly evidence of an administration having FLUNKED Anti-Terrorism 101.



It is


Garrison - 12/2/2003

Unlike you, I cannot label the Fedayeen Saddam or Ba'athist remnants or guerrillas that engage in lethal attacks on US military personnel, UN personnel, Iraqi mayors, Iraqi liquor store proprietors, Red Cross personnel, civilian engineers, Mosques and clerics and worshippers, foreign embassies, foreign diplomats, movie theatre operators, drivers of trunks delivering food and medical supplies to Iraqis, anyone who happens by an improvised explosive device placed among civilians, and anyone within the killing zone of a murder/suicide bomber's detonated explosives anything other than terrorists involved in terrorism.

Consequently, though the President, his aides and advisors do not consistently label as "terrorists" the individuals who violently oppose the coalition presence in Iraq and would, presumably, like to restore the mass murderer, criminal against humanity, war criminal and sponsor of international terrorism Saddam Hussein to power, the President etal would be absolutely correct to do so.


Derek Catsam - 12/2/2003

Except that it still has been a foolish consistency -- they do it too often, and they misuse it. If everything is terrorism then nothing is terrorism, if we can label acts as terrorism indiscriminantly, then so too can others who oppose us and then can rationalize that to engage in whatever acts they want. Further, if they know we are going to call them all terrorists no matter what they do, then that gives them no incentive NOT to attack innocent civilians. So yes, I differentiate acts from actors -- if on one day a group kills civilians, they are engaging in terrorist acts; if the next day they attack a military convoy they are engaging in guerrilla acts. I'd rather deal with an opponent who engages in the latter and not the former. If we don't differentiate, or if we falsely do so, then it will likely bite us in the rear end. Already others -- white supramacists in South Africa is the example I know best -- have said "ahh, now you know what we were dealing with." No. This slippery and morally vacant relativism has no place. Conservatives of all people should know this, since they supposedly so hate relativism. Why it matters that we label them "terrorists" in perpetuity is beyond me. What matters more is that we don't label particular actions as being terrorist acts if they are limiting their attacks to military personnel or police and other state officials acting in a military capacity. Why you are so irked by this is beyond me. Are you saying that you do not care whether or not the targets are children at a bus stop or soldiers at a checkpoint? I do. It matters. One is different (and worse) than the others. Our leaders should make that clear, if only to provide a model, and perhaps an incentive, to those who would do us harm. Why our being better than the bad guys has you in such a tizzy is beyond me. I maintain that we can do better and we should.


NYGuy - 12/2/2003

Agree with David and Garrison’s rebuff of Birkenstock. It is time to return to the real world.

Following the example of Carpenter the use of straw men has become the norm on HNN. Meanwhile, we had 9/11, Bush takes charges, becomes a world leader and declares war on worldwide terrorism. Still we wind up with a meaningless debate on semantics in a narrow part of the world. .

Just like Clinton many in academia continue to put on blinders and focus on some small area of the world to create their propaganda while the rest of the world grows up. After all they have a vested interest from putting time and energy into the past and can’t open their minds to the new real world.

Clinton's focus on about 7 million people in Palestine/Israel throughout his Presidency just to get a Nobel Prize allowed terrorist to be embolden and allowed the rise in world terrorist. Such terrorism was further permitted by Clinton kissing up to world leaders from Germany, France, the UN etc. who in turn filled their pocket with money.

Now Bush leads the entire world in the fight on world terrorism and is being respected for his leadership. World terrorism hurts everyone, no matter what form it takes. We saw it in Indonesia, the Philippines. Italy, Africa, England etc. World leaders understand what Bush is saying since they now terrorism when they see and don’t need someone to set up definitions. As a result the world has followed his lead and is fighting it. We already see his leadership is being listened to as world terrorism has declined.

Meanwhile, his economic plans to pull us out of the Clinton recession is producing a strong US economy recovery and since the U. S. economy is the engine of growth in the world all world leader want to benefit from his economic leadership. They understand that he is right on the worldwide fight on terrorism, (no matter how it is defined), and if they don’t follow his lead they and their people will suffer. The real world is a tough place to operate in and that is why we need the strong leadership of Bush in the fight against terrorism.

We have to focus on the big picture as Bush is doing and not follow the siren’s call of a Nobel Prize by only focusing on a small segment of the world. The WMD race is already coming under control because of Bush’s vision and North Korea, Israel/Pakistan, Iran, Pakistan/India and other countries are learning the world is not going to self destruct.


Garrison - 12/2/2003

Mr. Birkenstock's list of "mistakes":

Ridicule international treaties and organizations

Presumably you refer to the Kyoto Treaty the EU has never and will never ratify, the watered down Bonn Agreement the EU has never and will never ratify, and the watered down watered down Kyoto-Bonn-Marrakech Protocol the EU has yet to ratify. The ABM TREATY that was a bilateral agreement between the USA/USSR that was voided in accordance with the provisions of that ABM treaty. As for international organizations, the USA went to the UN and secured UNSC Resolution 1441 passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter authorizing the use of force to bring the target country into compliance and promising serious consequence -- use of force -- for any further material breech. The UNSCR 1441 the French, Chinese and Russia signed then refused to enforce in accordance with your precious international law. BTW, it is not the USA which is violating the NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION TREATY. Perhaps you should summon up a bit of bile for the Russians and the Chinese.

Missile defense

Much of EUrope, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia now want to be covered by a missile defense shield. Something about nukes in the hands of Kim Jong Il and the Ayatollah of Iran changed some minds, I suppose.

War on Terrorism

I suppose it could have been called the war on Islamic-Fascism and the state sponsors of terrorism. Might have been politically incorrect to single out Islamists though. And the war on terrorism does include intelligence gathering, attacks on financier of terrorism, conventional police work in numerous nations, special operations and conventional military operations.

Rushed into war with Iraq

Tolerating twelve years of violations of the 1991 ceasefire agreement before acting hardly seems like a rush.

Ignored experienced advise givers

We now know the FRENCH and RUSSIAN advise givers were telling Saddam he need not worry about complying with UNSCR 1441, as the French and Russians would uses the UN Security Council to thwart use of military force. Maybe, perhaps, possibly the war could have been avoided had Saddam not taken the advice of his French and Russian friends.

WMD stockpiles

The Saddamites were telling Saddam they had WMD. Saddam was sending agents to the West to leak details of his WMD stockpiles. Saddam refused to provide proof he had destroyed WMD stockpiles he had previously reported in his inventory. Damn us for allowing Saddam to play such a joke on us. Or was the joke on Saddam?

The UN solution to the Iraqi problem would have led to the Saddamites remaining in power, sanctions being lifted, oil revenues flowing into the Saddamite treasury, and the Saddam being free to order up all the WMD program components he desired from willing sellers in France, Russia, China, North Korea, and other nations.


David - 12/2/2003


If you take a break from HNN and read a real newspaper or news magazine once in a while, David, you might pick up that the 9-11 hijackers mostly came from, were funded by, and schooled in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

common knowledge

It may be politically convenient for Bush & Co to ignore America's support for tyrannical regimes, WMD, and terrorist-producing madrasses in those "friendly" countries, but is not in America's interest.

I agree. Should the Bush doctrine therefore apply to other countries such as Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia? Some neocon hawks say it should. I think it should too, with the proper timing of course. But I suspect you'd be the first to object if Bush and Co. suddenly decided they'd no longer "ignore" the tresspasses of these "friendly" countries and begin to take some affirmative steps towards putting them in their place.

Of course, we know that Bush and Co. have only been around for 2+ years, so your comments so far don't address the "origins" of terrorism and how to prevent it. Bush didn't invent U.S. policy in the mid-east, which has been fairly consistent over the last 50 years, nor did Bush's policies create madrassas.

Saddam and Osama started out on "our side", too, but at least then our Washington leaders (Carter, Reagan, Senior Bush) managed to not turn general world opinion against us to the extent the Junior Bush & Co. clumsily did last Spring.

Again, the damage you perceive Bush did to world opinion doesn't address the origins of terrorism, and how regaining the world's good graces will prevent the scourge of terrorism. In fact, the world's "good will" seems dependent on our doing absolutely NOTHING about terrorism.

It is the "responsibility", as I see it, of our leaders not to shoot us in the foot by helping to create more enemies than they eliminate.

Again, this begs my original question. What did Bush and Co. do to create 9/11 ? or the 1993 attack on the WTC ? Did Bush cause the embassy bombings in East Africa? Did Bush and Co. create Al-Qaeda?

Please, I'm asking you for specifics, and so far you're not delivering (as per formula).

The madrasses are winning the hearts of minds of too many young men in the Mideast and the hypocritical claims of Bush and Co that they are bringing democracy (to Saudi Arabia ?) and curbing proliferation of WMD (in Pakistan ?) are more grist for the terrorist-production mills.

Ah yes, here we agree. What change in policy do you propose towards our "allies" the Pakistanis and Saudis? This is what I would like you to elaborate on; this specifically. Some people would say that the Bush Doctrine should apply to these countries as well, because like Afghanistan, they are hotbeds of terror. Should the U.S. pull an "Afghanistan" on these countries? But again, I suspect you'd be the first to disagree and protest Bush and Co's warmongering ways. So what do you propose?

Please, I'm asking you for specifics.

These are not easy problems to solve, as the Israelis and Europeans have learned, but it is not too much to ask of American politicians that they at least try to learn from their past mistakes instead of covering them up.

What mistakes are you talking about. So far you've mentioned "madrasas", "WMD", and democracy.

But the U.S. did not create "madrasas", and failing to allow WMD proliferation did not cause terrorism, nor is it Bush's fault. The Paki nuclear program preceded Bush and Co. So what mistakes are you talking about?

Is the lack of "democracy" the cause of terrorism perhaps? What do you propose the U.S. do to alleviate that situation? Perhaps what we've done in Iraq? Should the U.S. pull an "Iraq" on those counties and impose democracy by force? Again, I suspect you'd be the first to object if we tried to impose democracy on yet another country. So what specifics do you propose?

Please, specifics; so far, I've heard little to nothing except the same generalized abstractions/objections, but no solutions.

It was a mistake to ridicule international organizations and treaties.

It may or may not have been a mistake. But one thing I know for certain is that this is completely unrelated to the "origins" of terror and how to prevent terror.

It was a mistake to ignore terrorism and obsess on missile defense.

I agree. But again, this didn't CAUSE terrorism, and cutting missile defense will not prevent terrorism.

It was a mistake to declare a "war" on terrorism (unwinnable by definition) instead of focusing on practical measures to improve safety and intelligence-gathering.

First you say it was a "mistake to ignore terrorism", and now you say it was a "mistake to declare war on terrorism." Do you realize how incoherent you sound?

Which is it?

And then you say the war on terror is "unwinnable". Really ? It certainly would be unwinnable with the likes of you in charge. No offense, but you've offered nothing.

You continue screed by saying that we should "instead" simply focus on "practical measures" to "improve safety and intelligence."

Again, no specifics provided, just like you non-specifics regarding foreign policy. What "practical measure"? How should we "improve safety and intelligence"? Until you and your Leftists buddies like Kucinich can provide some specifics instead of just more abstractions, we'll go with Bush and Co's specifics.

Are you starting to understand what I meant when I said that the Left offers only generalized abstractions/objections and vagueness on specifics?

It was a mistake to squander the international sympathy for America in the wake of 9-11 and rush into an unplanned war with Iraq, ignore the advice of experienced advice-givers on how to organize the post-Saddam occupation.

This may or may not be true, and it's an important issue, but again, it doesn't address the origins of terrorism or how to prevent it.

Are you starting to see the pattern here?

and foolishly try to deceive people with cooked-up claims of WMD stockpiles in Iraq and Saddam-Al Qaeda links. The list of foolish blunders and gaffes made by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and W. Bush goes on and on and on.

These are familiar rants, But you're again off topic.

The "Left", by which I suppose you simplistically mean "traditional" Democrats of the "antiwar" persuasion, has made its own long list of mistakes, David, but they are not in charge of American foreign policy.

So far you've said nothing to reassure me that the Left would do a better job. In fact, you've done nothing but fill me with apprehension about Bush losing the next election. I don't mean this in a snide way. I'm simply stating it as a fact.

can rail against Kucinich, for example, if you want, and I would not dissuade you, except to point out that it is not he who is currently committing the international blunders that are making America less safe in the world.

Kucinich is a joke. He wants an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and even an infant could tell you that this would cause a state of anarchy in the middle east the likes of which haven't been seen since the fall of the Caliphate.

I'm sorry Birkenstock. There's nothing very substantive behind your abstractions. They're little more than slogans. I was hoping you'd offer some can-do solutions, some positive and affirmative steps we could take as a country, but you couldn't deliver.

I must admit, I'm dissapointed but not surprised.


Garrison - 12/2/2003

Mr. Catsam:

My use of "chickendove" was in reply to Mr. Birkenstock's use of the term "chickenhawk". The remainder of my response was also directed at Mr. Birkenstock posting, not yours.

Your support of the liberation of...er, the "incursion" into Iraq is admirable, as is your support of Israel.


Garrison - 12/2/2003

You asserted, "Whenever the President or his aides or advisors refer to attacks against American soldiers in Iraq, they refer to them as acts of terrorism and to the perpetrators as terrorists."

I have variously heard the President, his aides, and his advisors -- well before Thanksgiving Day -- refer to individuals who attack Americans using terms including Ba'athists and Saddamite remnants, dead-enders and Fedayeen Saddam.

You set up a STRAW MAN argument. I called you on it.

How unfortunate you did not state the President etal occasionally misuse the term "terrorist" in reference to Iraqis etal who kill American military personnel in Iraq.

Perhaps, you, sir, should admit you misused "consistency" when you accused the President etal of "foolish consistency".

As to your main point, I would argue an organization comprised of individuals with a long history of murdering, gassing, raping, torturing, imprisoning and otherwise terrorizing Iraqi civilians that one day attacks US TROOPS and the next day the UNITED NATIONS and the next day US TROOPS and the next day the RED CROSS and the next day US TROOPS and the next day an IRAQI JUDGE, is likely an organization of terrorists engaged in, at least every other day, terrorism.

In short, according to your application of the terms "terrorist" and "terrorism", Al-Qa'ida is not a terrorist organization as on Bloody Tuesday -- 11 September 2001 -- the Pentagon -- a military target -- was attacked, while the attacks on the WTC were merely a necessary tactical diversion required to ensure a successful assault on the primary military target in Virginia.


Derek Catsam - 12/1/2003

Garrison --
Just for the record, (and if you've read my previous pieces on HNN you would know this) it took me a lot of soul searching but I supported military action in Iraq and I have been an ardent supporter of Israel. Your inelegant coinage, "chickendoves" aside, most people are not the caricatures that the true believers on either side paint them to be, and shrill chestpounding does not substitute for solid arguments.
dc


E. Birkenstock - 12/1/2003

Okay, I'll respond to what may be a genuine request for elaboration.

If you take a break from HNN and read a real newspaper or news magazine once in a while, David, you might pick up that the 9-11 hijackers mostly came from, were funded by, and schooled in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It may be politically convenient for Bush & Co to ignore America's support for tyrannical regimes, WMD, and terrorist-producing madrasses in those "friendly" countries, but is not in America's interest. Saddam and Osama started out on "our side", too, but at least then our Washington leaders (Carter, Reagan, Senior Bush) managed to not turn general world opinion against us to the extent the Junior Bush & Co. clumsily did last Spring.

It is the "responsibility", as I see it, of our leaders not to shoot us in the foot by helping to create more enemies than they eliminate. The madrasses are winning the hearts of minds of too many young men in the Mideast and the hypocritical claims of Bush and Co that they are bringing democracy (to Saudi Arabia ?) and curbing proliferation of WMD (in Pakistan ?) are more grist for the terrorist-production mills.

These are not easy problems to solve, as the Israelis and Europeans have learned, but it is not too much to ask of American politicians that they at least try to learn from their past mistakes instead of covering them up. It was a mistake to ridicule international organizations and treaties. It was a mistake to ignore terrorism and obsess on missile defense. It was a mistake to declare a "war" on terrorism (unwinnable by definition) instead of focusing on practical measures to improve safety and intelligence-gathering. It was a mistake to squander the international sympathy for America in the wake of 9-11 and rush into an unplanned war with Iraq, ignore the advice of experienced advice-givers on how to organize the post-Saddam occupation. and foolishly try to deceive people with cooked-up claims of WMD stockpiles in Iraq and Saddam-Al Qaeda links. The list of foolish blunders and gaffes made by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and W. Bush goes on and on and on.

The "Left", by which I suppose you simplistically mean "traditional" Democrats of the "antiwar" persuasion, has made its own long list of mistakes, David, but they are not in charge of American foreign policy. You can rail against Kucinich, for example, if you want, and I would not dissuade you, except to point out that it is not he who is currently committing the international blunders that are making America less safe in the world.


Derek Catsam - 12/1/2003

Settle down, Garrison. That Bush also used other names -- thugs and assassins -- hardly an invalidation of my argument, by the way -- does not in any way invalidate my points, so before you go off telling me my logical flaws you probably ought to have a better grasp on logic, on debate, and on my arguments. I am asserting that the President and his supporters have continually used the term "terrorism" wrongly -- the evidence of this is legion -- and I think there are consequences there. No need for you to be a jerk just because you disagree with me. Further, keep in mind that publishing has timetables -- I wrote this before Thanksgiving, sent it to HNN early last week, modifed one or two things, and then went off and enjoyed my holiday. How my asserting that the president has repeatedly called the opposition "terrorists" no matter the context is neither facile nor is it a strawman, your inability to keep your fingers off the "caps lock" key notwithstanding. Yours is called an ipse dixit argument. Though you obviously must know that with your logician's mastery.


Garrison - 12/1/2003

It is likely impossible to convince chickendoves of the importance to winning the war on terrorists that is removing two regimes in two years from the members of the STATE SPONSORS OF TERRORISM club.

It is very likely the remaining state sponsors of terrorism feel somewhat disinclined to project power via terrorism given that their regimes -- like those of Mullah Omar and Saddam Hussein -- can be ended in weeks not months on the orders of President Bush.

The chickendoves will often blame Radical Islamic terrorism on the alleged support by the West -- especially the US -- for various Mideast one-person and one-party dictatorships, potentates and theocrats.

We know, of course, it was the British and French who divided up the Mideast into kingdoms and appointed puppet potentates to administer those kingdoms for the greater good of EUrope.

We now know, of course, it is the French who are the primary financiers of the state sponsors of terrorism past and present. And we know the French and Russians are the primary weapons suppliers to the state sponsors and terrorism. And the French and Russians are primarily responsible for running diplomatic interference for the state sponsors of terrorism.

So....President Bush saw to it a brutal theocracy and an even more brutal one-person dictatorship were removed in favor of democratic reform, respect for basic human and civil rights, and freer market capitalism.

Who objects??? The French, the Russians and the chickendoves.

Clearly, the world will be a better and safer place when the "chickenhawks" -- over the objections of the chickendoves -- see to it the Ayatollahs of Iran and Saudi Arabian Wahhabis go the way of the Taliban and Saddam.


Derek Catsam - 12/1/2003

You are confused with my causality here, david. These attacks are what they are irrespective of what Bush calls them. But by lumping all attacks in as terrorist, then does it not mean that anyone can call any attack against anyone at anytime terrorist? I argue here that terrorism is a particular type of attack, a particularly evil sort of attack, that is different in scale and kind than other types of attacks. Does that mean that we, our soldiers, or president Bush should accept attacks against our men and women on the ground? No. But it is to acknowledge that our descriptions of what happens on the ground should matter, and that we do open oursleves up to accusations of criticism.
I must say David, we agree on some things, we disagree on others, but I'll rest comfortably on my understanding and grasp of issues of terror.
And by the way -- The Flunking Terrorism title was not my choice. My original title was a far less inflammatory "A Matter of Definition," so before you get too involved with titularly based ad hominems, you probably should know that.


Derek Catsam - 12/1/2003

David --
Thanks. We all know by now where I stand on Israel, which at least is in part how I got to this piece.
Also do not let there be any mistake -- of course there is some terrorism in Iraq. i am not ascribing virtue to our enemy. I simply believe that we can be thoughtful and firm at the same time, and that intellectual sloppiness can come back and bite us.
dc


Garrison - 12/1/2003

Why just the other day -- THANKSGIVING DAY -- in a speech delivered in Baghdad, President Bush referred to the Iraqi "terrorists" as THUGS and ASSASSINS.

Thus, the Professor's has submitted a facile strawman argument.

Mr. Catsam has FLUNKED Argumentation and Debate 101.


David - 12/1/2003


Terrorism is a serious problem, but it has identifiable origins, which are not being competently addressed in Washington.

Please explain what the origins are, what role the U.S. has in those origins, and what responsibility the U.S. has to alleviate those conditions, whatever those conditions may be, and why those are our responsibility.

The reason I ask is because I have heard one too many times statements like yours made about "origins", and "U.S. foreign policy", etc., in very generalized and abstract terms; but when pressed for specifics I never get them. Surprise me; you might make a believer out of me.

It is the callous manner in which they [Bush and his chicken hawks] have ignored the root causes of religiously fanatical terrorism, while indirectly, through their blatant hypocrisy, assisting in the recruitment of new recruits for future terrorism.

Again, this thesis, is a repetition of the common generalized mantra of the Left, and is vague on the specifics (as per formula). Please explain; this is your chance to shine.


Edward Birkenstock - 12/1/2003


The disastrous nature of the Bush Administration's blundering foreign policy goes well beyond semantic sloppiness, notwithstanding the importance of the distinctions articulated by Catsam.

Despite what the Bush apologists would like us to believe, terrorism is not some exogenous evil, like liposuctionable fat on the couch-potatoed international body politic, easily removable using snazzy high tech force and with few unpleasant side effects. To be sure, there are evil people in the world, some irredeemably so, and probably always will be (and a "war" on evil, like a "war" on terrorism, is fundamentally hogwash designed to cover up the intelligence and policy failures associated with the 9-11 attacks). Nevertheless, blowing oneself up in order to dramatically slaughter innocent people is not a basic trait of human nature, it requires psychological conditioning, mental programming, and logistical training. Terrorism is a serious problem, but it has identifiable origins, which are not being competently addressed in Washington.

The biggest failure of Bush and his chickenhawks is not their abuse of the English language, or even their cowardly and fake imperialism. It is the callous manner in which they have ignored the root causes of religiously fanatical terrorism, while indirectly, through their blatant hypocrisy, assisting in the recruitment of new recruits for future terrorism. We are less safe then we were when Bush and his inept advisors took charge in Washington, and this is largely their fault. Calling them to account for sloppy language is a step towards rectification but only a small step.


David - 12/1/2003


Finally, if we refuse to acknowledge that there can be attacks against us other than terrorist attacks, then we inadvertently will push our enemies into acts of terrorism. After all, if the United States is unwilling to accept the difference, then why should those who oppose us?

Catsam, you've got to be kidding right? [he's kidding right?]

The attacks are entirely opportunistic, and not based on whether Bush uses the term "guerrilla" or "terrorism". Do you really think that our islamic enemies make any distinction between military and civilian targets? Of course not. And do you think they make that distinction based on what words our politicians use? How silly. In fact, they'd prefer civilian targets where opportunity allows it; and where it doesn't, they hit military targets. That's all.

And let me add, that the title of your essay is entirely unfair because it seems to based on the simple thesis that Bush should be calling the attacks "guerrilla", not "terrorist". If that's what you consider to be the crux of the matter, then maybe it's you who's flunking Terrorism 101.


David - 12/1/2003


Terrorism is the intentional targeting of civilian populations. Attacking soldiers, or police who are functioning in a military capacity, is not terrorism.

Some of the attacks in Iraq do in fact constitute "terrorism"; for instance the attacks on civilian missions like the Red Cross, the U.N. headquarters, Jordanian embassy and Italian consulate if my memory serves me correctly.

Other attacks, against U.S. military and Iraqi police targets, are more consistent with guerrilla warfare in the traditional sense. For the Bush administration to blur the difference between the two may be a bit of politicking on his part; or on the other hand, it may be his way of reminding us that the acts of both terrorism and guerrilla warfare are being conducted by the same parties. In other words, he is maintaining focus on who the actual enemy is. I don't see anything wrong with that, though I do understand where Catsam is coming from.

But given Mr. Catsam's very clear definition of what "terrorism" is, which I agree with, we can now remind everybody once again that Israel is fighting a war against TERRORISM, regardless of how you feel about the balestinian cause. Thank you Mr. Catsam for bringing a little bit of clarity into the discussion.


Stephen Tootle - 12/1/2003


It was my understanding that many, if not most of the attacks on coalition forces came from either Iraqi "dead-enders" or foreign fighters who went to Iraq in order to attack coalition forces. While Mr. Catsam is correct in his argument that they were not engaged in "terror" when they attacked coalition military forces, they might still be terrorists. If they were associated with the old Iraqi regime or various worldwide terror organizations, they are still terrorists when they attack coalition troops even if by the most precise definition the attacks themselves were not acts of terror.
And again, a slightly broader definition of terror might include attacks designed to frighten civilians. Attacks on coalition or new Iraqi security forces would fall under this definition.
Point taken though. Language is important, but by the same standard I wouldn't hold Bush's use of the word "terrorism" to be "brazen." It may be a part of a thoughtful, long-term policy. Just a thought.
And as an aside, I do enjoy Mr. Catsam's articles on HNN.

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