In the Middle East President Bush Has Dared to Be Different





Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is http://www.danielpipes.org.

The Middle East has so defined the presidency of George W. Bush that historians will, I expect, judge him primarily according to his actions there. And so, too, will American voters in just more than a week, when they go to the polls.

It has not been fully appreciated that, when it comes to the Middle East, Bush has systematically responded to the region's problems by dispatching decades' worth of accepted practices and replacing them with stunningly different approaches. In contrast, John Kerry unimaginatively holds to failed policies of the past.

Bush has upturned U.S. policy in four main areas.

War rather than law enforcement. From the beginning of Islamist violence against Americans in 1979 (including the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, for 444 days), Washington responded by seeing this as a criminal problem and responded by deploying detectives, lawyers, judges and wardens. On Sept. 11, 2001, itself, Bush declared that we are engaged in a "war against terrorism." Note the word war. This meant deploying the military and the intelligence services, in addition to law enforcement. In contrast, Kerry has repeatedly said he would return to the law-enforcement model.

Democracy rather than stability. "Sixty years of Western nations' excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe." This declaration, made by Bush in November 2003, rejected a bipartisan policy focused on stability that had been in place since World War II. Bush has posed a challenge to established ways such as one expects to hear from a university seminar, not from a political leader. In contrast, Kerry prefers the dull, old, discredited model of stability.

Preemption rather than deterrence. In June 2002, Bush brushed aside the long-standing policy of deterrence, replacing it with the more active approach of eliminating enemies before they can strike. U.S. security, he said, "will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives." This new approach justified the war to remove Saddam Hussein from power before he could attack the United States. In contrast, Kerry waffles on this issue, usually coming out in favor of the old deterrence model.

Leadership rather than reaction in setting the goals for an Arab-Israeli settlement. In June 2003, I dubbed Bush's revamping of U.S. policy to the Arab-Israeli conflict perhaps "the most surprising and daring step of his presidency." Rather than leave it to the parties to decide on their pace, Bush came up with a timetable. Rather than accepting existing leaders, he sidelined Yasir Arafat. Rather than leaving it to the parties to define the final status, he made a Palestinian state the solution. Rather than keep himself out of negotiations until the very end, Bush inserted himself from the start. In contrast, Kerry would go back to the Oslo process and try again the tired and failed effort to win results by having the Israelis negotiate with Arafat.

I have some reservations about the Bush approach, and especially what strikes me as the president's highly personal reading of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but I admire how he has responded to what clearly are the country's worst external problems with energy and creativity. His exceptional willingness to take risks and shake up the malign status quo in the Middle East stands a good chance of working.

It is easy to overlook Bush's radicalism in the Middle East, for in spirit he is a conservative, someone inclined to preserve what is best of the past. A conservative, however, understands that to protect what he cherishes at times requires creative activism and tactical agility.

In contrast, although John Kerry is the liberal, someone ready to discard the old and experiment with the new, when it comes to the Middle East, he has, through his Senate career and in the presidential campaign, shown a preference to stick with the tried and true, even if these are not working.

Ironically, when it comes to the Middle East, it's Bush the radical versus Kerry the reactionary.

___________

This article was first published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and is republished with permission of the author.


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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I hope (faintly) that we are coming to "closing summaries" here.

I reject the assumption (which fits perfectly Rove's strategy although I'm sure that was not N. Friedman's intention at all) that the only choice last year was between Cheney's predictably botched invasion (and much more badly botched occupation) of Iraq on the one hand, versus doing nothing, on the other. There was a panoply of alternatives in March 2003: from sending in troops with the inspectors to pursuing Saddam for war crimes (the only legitimate ground for invasion, it turns out). There was however, only one route to follow that involved an invasion in the relatively cool early Spring 2003, a "mission accomplished" photo op by early summer 2003, and a "hand over" to a "democratic Iraqi interim government" a few months before the 2004 Republican National Convention.

I see two basic "intellectual" issues here (to use Friedman's vague but not erroneous terminology): WHETHER to try to depose dangerous and murderous tyrants such as Saddam and HOW to do go about doing it. Far too little attention has been paid by the news media to the second issue (based partly, I think, on a lingering Vietnam complex, because in that war "whether" was indeed the more acute and relevant question).

HOW we went into Iraq last year was very poorly managed (at the top) and that has lasting consequences. This will not be the last time that America ever has to take drastic action against a foreign dictator - of that much we can be virtually certain. Crying wolf about WMD and rushing to war in 2003 for reasons that would have been just as valid in 1988 or 1998 in Iraq or just as valid against Pakistan or North Korea in 2003 is a blatant hypocrisy that has damaged America's ability to persuade others to assist on a whole range of international problems for years to come (One silver lining here is that claims by Kristol and PNAC et. al. about the potential power of American unilateralism have been exposed for the idiocy that they always were).

Moreover, if we end up in 10 years with 10 Saddams across the Mideast as a result of Iraq's meltdown, than we will indeed be worse than with the one we had. So there I agree with Friedman's earlier position, that it is too early to say whether the "status quo ante was worse". I do not consider it, however, too early to realize that our options for the future have been needlessly diminished by the Bush's administration's reckless and corrupt incompetence.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"What does a passport have to do with things ?"

The point (#45304 above) was that a president, of the -by far- most powerful country on earth ought to have a clue about the rest of the world before he traverses it, cajoles it, insults it, seeks to remake it, etc..

I am not favorably impressed by rote anti-Europeanism.
We speak are speaking a European language in a country founded by Europeans on principles developed in Europe.
And, by the way, if one of the European countries had not had a prime minister who decided to be lap dog last year, we might be talking instead about some other issue. Maybe Bush's new 2 trillion dollar missile defense system. Or how faith-based initiatives are saving America from terrorism. Or the need for regime change in Venezuela.
Or...fill in the blank. Rove had many fall backs, no doubt.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You think Bush really believed, for example, that Saddam was behind 9-11 ?

You think Bush had not been trying to deceive the public into thinking there was a connection ?

It is a good thing you are not a historian.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


A radical, unmitigated, and unprecedented disaster for America's national security.

But long time HNN readers know better than to expect neo-demagogue Pipes to bite the corrupt hand that feeds him, or to talk honestly or openmindedly or with valid historical facts about anything. For a rather more realistic assessment see, for example:

http://www.latimes.com/la-oe-scheer31aug31,0,1696573.column

Israel's Albatross: U.S. Neocons
August 31, 2004
by Robert Scheer

"...The neocons are unstable ideologues, more in love with their own radical dream of breaking the world to remake it in their image than they are with protecting Israel or the U.S...."


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007




The Friedman-Clarke dialogue ran out of room in the thread above (which was not originally intended to such), and thus continues here, preceeded by a brief reprise of this latest twist:


(#45263) N. Friedman: I prefer the Talmud. It has profound things to say...

(#45363) N. Friedman: ...as far as I am concern, Europe can fall off the map.

(#45411) Peter K. Clarke: Including even your European idols Bat and Levy ?

(#45434) N. Friedman: No. We can put them up in the US.


N.:

Which passages of your Talmud, or in your revered books by Levy and Yeor sanction the annihilation of an entire continent of 300 million people ? It sounds more like you have been reading from the Protocols of the Elders of Hamas. Normally advocates of genocide are not welcomed into the United States.

Of course Europe includes Mount Blanc, at over 15,000 ft (far higher than the mountain of Israelis killed as a result of the policies of the current war-criminal-turned apartheidist prime minister), so it is unlikely to vanish beneath the waters of the Atlantic anytime soon.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"Traitor" certainly comes to mind on a daily basis, the arch traitors to America, of course, being President Cheney and Pretzelhead Bush who are doing the bidding of Sharon and Al Qaeda and whose botched and corrupt policies have greatly damaged America's security.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/24/opinion/24friedman.html?8hpib

OP-ED COLUMNIST
Jews, Israel and America
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Published: October 24, 2004

I was speaking the other day with Scott Pelley of CBS News's "60 Minutes" about the mood in Iraq. He had just returned from filming a piece there and he told me something disturbing. Scott had gone around and asked Iraqis on the streets what they called American troops - wondering if they had nicknames for us in the way we used to call the Nazis "Krauts" or the Vietcong "Charlie." And what did he find? "Many Iraqis have so much distrust for U.S. forces we found they've come up with a nickname for our troops," Scott said. "They call American soldiers 'The Jews,' as in, 'Don't go down that street, the Jews set up a roadblock.' "

I have no idea how widespread this perception is, but it does not surprise me that some Iraqis would talk that way. Our communications in Iraq have been so inept since we arrived, many Iraqis still don't know who America is or why it came. But such talk is also indicative of a trend in the Arab media, after a century of Arab-Jewish strife, where if you want to brand someone as illegitimate, just call him a "Jew." Indeed, this trend has widened since 9/11. Now you find a steadily rising perception across the Arab-Muslim world that the great enemy of Islam is JIA - "Jews, Israel and America," all lumped together in a single threat.

This wider trend has been fanned by Arab satellite TV stations, which deliberately show split-screen images of Israelis bashing Palestinians and U.S. forces bashing the Iraqi insurgents. The trend has also been encouraged by some mosque preachers looking to explain away all the Arab world's ills by wrapping all the Satans together into JIA. This trend has been helped by the Bush team's failed approach to the Arab-Israel problem, which is to tell the truth only to Yasir Arafat, while embracing Ariel Sharon so tightly that it's impossible to know anymore where U.S. policy stops and Mr. Sharon's begins.

This trend of JIA is now metastasizing from the core of the Arab-Israel conflict, across the Muslim world and into Europe. There is no quick fix. One thing that Israel can do is push harder to defuse the conflict with the Palestinians in order to deprive the Arab media of the raw images that help to feed this phenomenon, not because the continuing conflict is all Israel's fault - it is not - but because Israel has such an overriding interest in forging a partnership with a legitimate Palestinian Authority, and getting this poisonous show off the air. A generation of Muslims raised on these images on the Internet is enormously dangerous for Jews, Israel and America.

This brings us to this week's vote in the Israeli Parliament about whether to proceed with Mr. Sharon's plan for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Mr. Sharon, a man of the right, has finally realized the demographic threat posed by Gaza to Israel and wants to get out. He is being opposed by the Israeli far right - the Jewish Hezbollah. This includes settler rabbis who have urged soldiers to disobey orders and, with winks and nods, have let it be known that if someone were to eliminate Ariel Sharon he would be acting out God's will. In this struggle between Jewish fanatics and Ariel Sharon, we must stand with Mr. Sharon. These settler rabbis are a blot on the Jewish people.

But in the struggle between Mr. Sharon and common sense, America should be with common sense. The late Yitzhak Rabin wanted to get out of Gaza to make peace with the Palestinians, because he understood the danger of "Jews, Israel and America" all getting melded together in the nuclear age. Mr. Rabin knew that no peace deal would resonate in the Arab-Muslim world if it did not have a legitimate Palestinian partner. Mr. Sharon seems to want to get out of Gaza to make peace with the Jews. His aides have made clear that he is getting out of Gaza in order to entrench Israel even more deeply in the West Bank and the Jewish settlements there.

In the face of this plan, the Bush team is silent. This is partly because the Palestinians continue to stick with Arafat as their leader, even though this bum has led them to ruin - so the U.S. has nothing to offer Israel. And it's partly because the Bush team, which is so inept at diplomacy, has never had the energy or creativity to shape a better Palestinian alternative to Arafat. As a result, the Sharon vision of getting out of Gaza in order to take over the West Bank will probably win by default. If that happens, "Jews, Israel and America" will be bound together more tightly than ever as the enemies of Arabs and Muslims.





Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


N., I was more favorably impressed last week when you called the use of the terms "winning" and "losing" in international relations "naive". I certainly think that applies to most aspects of the various messes in the Mideast. As regards Israel and Palestine, the "side" we ought to be "on" is the side of a negotiated agreement on two states. Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton, Rabin, Barak, and Ashwari are or were on that side. So were the far-sighted organizers of the recent Geneva plan, whose names I do not recall, off hand. Arafat and Sharon are on the opposite side, and probably will go to whatever mutual eternal afterlife awaits them still on that wrong side of history.

I'll look at your links when time permits.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


1. Going back to where this latest set of topics originated.

(#45262) N. Friedman: "I think that we have different interests from the Europeans and that such differences came to the fore as a result of the Iraq adventure"

The differences between European Tony Blair and American George Bush, "came to the fore as a result of the Iraq [mis]adventure" ?


2. "...when I read how Europeans treat Jews, that reminds me of past dark times."

This remark implies that hundreds of thousands of Jews who seem, to all appearances, to be law-abiding loyal citizens of European countries, and whose families have lived in Europe for centuries and still live there, are somehow not Europeans. What are they then, Zionist infiltrators ? How are far-sighted then of their ancestors moving to Europe millennia ago, to realize that 900 years later a movement called Zionism would develop and grow.

This sort of blanket "us versus them" thinking leads to "final solutions" which I would have thought were better never repeated again, or even "humorously" suggested.


3. "Europe's influence in the world is best diminished"

The influence of all 300 million Europeans ? Or all but Bat and Levy ? (Or are those two only pretending to be Europeans - see point 2 above) ?


4. What in whomever’s name is "give into the terror war" supposed to mean ? Sounds like propaganda from Karl Rove that got tongue-twisted in translation.


4. RE Ariel Sharon

a. He was not banned from many years from the Israeli government because he was a "war hero"

b. He "didn't know" what was going on when the refugees were murdered in Lebanon ? I have heard that line before..in Germany re events in the 1940s.

c. He was not declared persona non grata by America's oldest ally because he is a "responsible political leader".

d. He was not displaying friendship to America by insulting our country with his ridiculous, ahistorical and warped analogy about Czechoslovakia. Nor was Bush displaying his "consistent firmness" by immediately wimping in response.

e. He is not showing himself to be a "realist" by only now preparing to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza and building a protective wall in the West Bank. He could have taken such measures 3 1/2 years and hundreds of innocent Israeli lives ago.

f. If it looks and smells like the South African bantulands, it may be something like them. But, I cannot say for sure what Sharon is up to in pulling out of Gaza, except that a peaceful two-state agreement which G.W. Bush (contrary to the above horse manure from Daniel Pipes, -remember him, the 2nd or 3rd most common article-writer on HNN ?) supports, and a position CONSISTENT with Bush's predecessors, is surely not a top objective for Sharon.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"Ba'athism is, in part, responsible for the rise of terrorism and accordingly connected to 9/11"

Is there a shred of evidence that any Republican operative, or any sensible observer, really believes such nonsense ?


George Bush senior supported giving Central American terrorists illegal money. "Accordingly", he was connected to 9/11. Arrest him now ?

Jerry Adams worked with the terrorist wing of the IRA. "Accordingly", he helped encourage Bin Laden ? Mount a "coalition of the willing" to invade Ireland now ? Better pubs than in Fallujah, that's for sure.

It's a long way to Tipperary, or you can consider what the "Project for a New American Century" reports said about "another Pearl Harbor" and what Richard Clarke said about Bush stumbling around on 9-12 mumbling about Saddam, and then connect the dots.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I am not a fan nor even a regular reader of "Cousin Tom" but when you are clever and all over the map, as he is, you are bound to hit the nail on the head once in a while. I certainly recall him saying more than once before the Iraq invasion, that we would need broad international support, not to depose Saddam but to "win the peace" afterwards.
Clearly, the failure to pay attention to that common sensical advice was one (of the many) blunders the Bush Leaguers have made in Iraq.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


The "result of negotiations" was the 1979 Camp David accord, the Jordan-Israel agreement of 1994 and, more recently, the unofficial Geneva Agreement. It, or a version thereof is the only workable solution for the long term. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are going to go away, nor can either be denied sovereignity indefinitely. They have to live side by side with an agreement, or die side by side with endless cycles of medieval eye for an eye. That is why Sharon is pulling out of Gaza, not with full support of his "messianic" (I quote "Talk of the Nation" this minute) settler supporters, and why no Western country supports Hamas. The only issue worth debating is whether the ultimate peace deal will be postponed for decades because of the needless deaths and hatred being caused by Sharon and Arafat. Most experienced and sensible diplomats (which, of course, includes nobody in Bush's inner circle and certainly not Daniel Pipes) realize this.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

N.,

"Interested persons", as you put it, have often played a significant role, even when they did not have the final say. Think for example, of the U.S. Ping Pong team going to China, or of the Jewish leaders involved with the "Balfour Doctrine" which became the basis for the creation of Israel. Moreover, the Geneva teams were led by experienced ex-official negotiators, from Clinton's Camp David and the Taba sessions, who knew they were close to a deal (before Sharon and Arafat torpedoed it) and actually achieved it in Geneva, and that deal has had ten times the international endorsements of Bush's pitiful coalition-of- the-bribed in Iraq, and been supported by millions of Israelis and Palestinians as well. In its basic features, it is the only ultimately feasible compromise that will work in the long run (it included a dropping of the "right of return", by the way) and that is why Sharon, in his own back-handed way, is now being forced to begin moving in that direction. Unlike Bush he is no greenhorn and is able to face facts.

I realize that this is not the version of events that the AIPAC-brainwashed mainstream American press presents (let along fearmonger -here turned boot-licker0 Daniel Pipes), but I really recommend reading outside of it, and your Islamo-centric (or Moslemophobic) books. Try "Economist" again. It has its flaws, but is read and liked by socialists, the religiously pious, scientists, humanitarians, academics, and, of course, intelligent corporate executives around the globe. And it is not anti-Semitic, by the way.

But we have wandered off topic again. This is not really the page for a long discussion of the Israel-Palestine mess and our preferred solutions. The Knesset is having that debate these days, and if Sharon declares himself satisfied with the outcome, no matter what it involves, Bush will undoubtedly unthinkingly pull out his rubberstamp.

I have gone along with the tangential drift here, because I think it is actually a crucial part of the Outrageous Lie that Daniel Pipes is trying to foist on us above: that of G. W. Bush being a great success because of his Mideast Policy. Scheer is not always right, but I cited him above because he pulls no punches. On the radio last week, he put it plainly: "Bush has been a disaster for Israel". Bush being Sharon's lapdog is part of a pattern; kowtowing to the Saudi princes, being duped by Chalabi, and falling hook, line and sinker for chickenhawks Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz's go-it-alone underfunded cakewalk to Baghdad coupled with a domestic policy that has replaced "tax-and-spend" with "borrow and let Halliburton loot it".


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Friedman,

You certainly cannot be faulted for lack of scope. But writing something in response to 100% of what someone else has said is not as impressive as actually addressing the underlying substantive issues convincingly. Nowhere in your latest posting above, do you even attempt to come to grips with the deep contradiction which pervades many of your recent comments. You defend "Jews" and "Israel" with an almost fanatical loyalty, as if either entity were some kind of monolith, which they are of course not, AND you do so by repeating employing the same sort of crass, blanket, morally bankrupt, guilt-by-association, scapegoating and discriminatory rhetoric against "Europeans" (a group that is, of course, vastly more diverse and non-monolithic than "Jews" since -among many other reasons- "Europeans" INCLUDES a great variety of Jews) by which Jews have been victimized over the centuries. Clearly your hypocrisy is so deeply ingrained that you are incapable of even seeing it. Someday, perhaps, you will actually make a visit to Europe, and maybe have a long series of long conversations with Jewish Europeans who will eventually succeed in penetrating the thickness. But that is not my duty in life, nor am I interested in helping spread Pipes's fearmongering prejudices, so I will say no more on that here.

I will also not bother to correct small errors of fact in your last post, but there are two minor observations which merit specific responses.

1. You note, correctly, that: "in the case of Germany, massacres were government policy. Such was not the case in Israel and there is no evidence whatsoever that Sharon deviated from his government's policy. Instead, there is evidence of negligence - which is a very different thing."

There is however, another difference between the slaughter in Lebanon and the slaughter in Europe. Most of the thousands of Germans who maintained (unconvincingly) for years afterwards that they had "no idea", until World War II was over, that Jews and others had been systematically massacred in concentration camps, also had no armies at their command, no intelligence staffs, and little ability to do much of anything practical to avert the catastrophe that did not involve great personal sacrifice. In great contrast, Sharon in Lebanon had roughly the position of power of a Himmler in Poland. The fundamental similarity, despite the historical non-parallels, between these two instances of implausible denial is that Sharon ought to have known what he was stirring up in Lebanon, just as German voters ought to have known in 1932-33 that bad things were likely to happen ten years later, if the Nazis were not stopped while it was still possible to stop them.

2. Your invidious inconsistency also extends to the Palestinians when you assert, with typical lack of evidence or even plausibility, that, as part of his Gaza withdrawal, Sharon intends to return to the long moribund fiction that there are no Palestinians: that they are all Jordanians or Egyptians, abandoned by their real guardians. By that illogic (but, of course, not in truth), there are no Israelis either: only Poles, Russians, Egyptians etc. who have invaded the region and stolen land from Arabs.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I will not bother here to mention the dozens of other Iraq Fiasco blunders you omitted (see my earlier comment #44772 for a partial listing), but it should at least be pointed out that the arrogant Cheney administration did, unsurprisingly think that it could "forecast", and it forecasted very poorly. When you are a corporate crook like Cheney, living off government handouts, you learn to gamble with other people's lives and fortunes, and if you have to forecast one or two quarterly reports ahead, you look back one or two quarters and extrapolate.

The Cheney forecast of late 2002 was for an Iraq that would be today somewhere where Afghanistan is, with a generally respected westernized leader and citizens who can vote, even multiple times in one ballot box, without fear of death. That Chickenhawk forecast was, of course, horribly wrong (partly due to the some of those dozens of blunders), and regardless of the vote here on Nov. 2, America will pay a heavy price for years to come.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


N.,

Bush having failed to protect the "largest weapons bonanza in history" (NYT today, front page) is a "theory" of mine ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This thread is moving closer to the other one this week about America's political fantasyland.

Press secretary and doormat McClellan was quoted on today's news saying, in essence, it's okay that 400 tons of block-busting weapons vanished from under Rummy's nose in Iraq, because "there were no nuclear weapons" in that facility.

In other words, because the Administration lied the country into a hellhole claiming that "the next attack [as if Saddam attacked on 9-11] could be a mushroom cloud", therefore any disastrous blunders committed by them in that hellhole but not involving that particular lie, are no problem.

The relevant "intellectual" error here is in the minds of people who vote for these chickenhawk liars because they "are steadfast leaders" or "good Christians". I'm not a very devout Christian, but I can sure as hell read the Bible, and read what it says about hypocrites (and hell).

When Kerry jumped on that story, as he darn well ought to have, the Rovian retort was in essence, "oh, he's just campaigning in response to the headlines". My response to that is: while I look forward to seeing Rove behind bars where he belongs, I won't be dealing with his dirty trick polling booth goon squads in the meantime, because I already voted absentee for the candidate who reads a daily newspaper, and to redefeat the unelected incumbent puppet whose many disasters have produced an avalanche of headlines in those newspapers.



Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


N, You are getting hot and bothered about nothing in particular.

I read what you said. You said that Bush's main blunders in Iraq were a diplomatic misreading of European countries' stances, and a failure to appreciate the ethnic complexity of Iraq. I agree that both were mistakes, I just think they were about #5 and #6 on a list of maybe thirty. But I am not very intersted in the pecking order of those blunders. (Future historians will have their work cut out, to sift through and weigh them). What is important at this stage, in my view, is the cumulative effect: a weaker America internationally for years to come, despite Daniel Pipes self-serving claims to the contrary.

If you think America is stronger bereft of longstanding international alliances, and with Al Qaeda gaining thousands of new recruits, and with trillions of dollars of new debt, you are of course free to express your views, but if I don't go along with you, that doesn't mean I can't read or can't think.

I would say, at this point, it might be time to give somebody else a chance to say something here.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I agree, provided Bush and his team -including Rove and the PNAC nuts- go with him, and none of them be allowed to return until after the last U.S. soldier has come back from Iraq.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I agree that things could be worse. I disagree with the implication that Europe, which has dealt with domestic terrorism for decades, and not entirely badly, is less competent at it than an American president who had never even owned a passport before being unelected to the job. (I also wonder how much time you have actually spent in Europe, N.). I certainly disagree that Clinton was as bad as Bush. There is a tremendous difference between doing nothing much (Willie) and committing collosal blunder after collosal blunder, and causing the world to line up against you due to your useless arrogance (W).


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You are right on at least one point, I think. "Lied" is used too loosely, including in my comment. Substitute "tricked" or "suckered".


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


As usual Maarja, you are the voice of calm common sense here. But "heated arguments" are to be expected when voices such as Daniel Pipes are featured week after week running roughshod over truth, objectivity, and history.


Arnold Shcherban - 11/3/2004

Ladies and jentelemen!

Estonia was the best Nazi germany's ally among all
the Baltic states. This tiny country contributed
two SS divisions(!) to Nazis. They were as barbaric and
cruel, if not more, as the "cream" of German SS.
They killed as many Jews, as they possibly could.
Don't cry for poor Estonians who allegedly didn't deserve
the Soviet and Nazi oppression. At least under Nazis they felt no oppression at all (except a small number of Estonian lefties.)
The Soviets quite deservedly shot or sent to Siberian labor camps thousands of Estonian mass murderers and Nazi
collaborators.
This is the major truth about Estonia in WWII.


N. Friedman - 10/31/2004

Maarja,

Thanks. When I was in Europe last May, we were supposed to visit Tallin. Unfortunately, our boat had engine problems. My wife, in particular, wanted to visit the city as, we are told, it fortunately was not bombed (or, at least, not bombed as badly as some other cities). Which is not to suggest that the city or nation did not suffer terribly. It clearly did, just as you suggest.


Maarja Krusten - 10/30/2004

My family background is Estonian, I had mentioned that in a few previous postings but should not have assumed you had read them. Sorry about the oversight! Someone as well read as you, Mr. Friedman, doubtless knows that in the modern age, Estonia was a sovereign nation between 1918 and 1940, then was forcibly occupied by the Soviets, the Germans, and then the Soviets again until 1991. Estonia did not regain its independence until 1991. As the U.S. ambassador to Estonia noted around 2000, "Estonia's World War II past was uniquely painful. The country and its people were not given the freedom to choose between good and evil. Terrible choices had to be made. Estonia suffered terribly under two periods of Soviet occupation as well as the Nazi German occupation."

Brief recaps of Estonian history are available at a number of place, including:

http://iexplore.nationalgeographic.com/dmap/Estonia/History
and
http://estonia.usembassy.gov/history.php

For a good overview of religious issues in Estonia, see also the State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor report at
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35452.htm . This notes that the majority of Estonians who adhere to a religion are Lutheran but "There is a deep-seated tradition of tolerance of other denominations and religions." This fits with what I have read of its history and have observed generally.


N. Friedman - 10/30/2004

Maarja,

Who are your people? Where are they from?

Regarding Pipes, he is a polemical advocate when he writes short articles. His longer articles (or at least the few I have read) are scholarly, informative and not argumentative. Such leads me to conclude that he believes he moves public debate in his preferred direction by being polemical and contentious.

His longer articles (or at least those I have read) suggest that he knows his field rather well. That, presumably, is the reason he has provided testimony and expertese to Congress and the government on topics within his specialty. If he has written any books, I have not read any of them.

His critics - or at least those I have read - claim that he is prejudiced against Muslims. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps not. I suspect, based on reading a number of his articles, that he would say that he is prejudiced against those with an agenda to kill Americans and Jews. Which is to say, he would say that he has a perfect right - perhaps duty - to point out the agenda of the Islamists and to sound alarms.

In this, you will note that many of his critics chose, in the 1990's, to in effect provide intellectual cover for the Islamists by claiming that the Jihadis were a fringe element within the Islamist movement - as opposed to an inherent, inevitable element thereof (as the death camps and gulags were integral to the mindset of the Soviets and Nazis)-. I do not think history will be kind to people who provided intellectual cover for the Islamists as I think that the Jihadis are, in fact, integral to the Islamist mindset.

Which is not to suggest that I am a person who follows Pipes or agrees with him at any level of detail - except to note that I think he is right to suggest that the Islamists are dangerous -. And I do agree that he is too polemical. I have not read any book by him (assuming his has written any) and I have not read all that many articles by him. Which is to say, I do not know enough about his ideas to form any final conclusions.

On the other hand, I believe - correct me if I am mistaken - that Pipes was an advocate for the Iraq adventure. I am not a fan of the Iraq war although, as with all things, we shall see what comes. Michael Barnes make some good points about the war stirring up hostility to the US. Whether the energy so directed will remain directed at the US is, of course, an unknown and, moreover, whether the hostility is really a significant change with long term consequences is an unknown.

My best guess is that the basic direction of the Muslim world was set in motion too long ago for any given act by the West to change the basic trajectory. Such, you will note, is the most clear lesson to be learned from reading Bernard Lewis' books. Which is why I suggest that the bad consequences of the war (other than the consquences to the dead and their families) are more likely not to be as dire as predicted.


Maarja Krusten - 10/30/2004

Yep, if you can find the piece through LexisNexis or some other site, it certainly is worth reading. I for one find religious and ethnic hatreds sad to read about and difficult subjects for which to assess resolutions. You mentioned consensus in an earlier posting. Actually, I don't think it is possible to find consensus on some of the issues described in articles such as that by Professor Pipes. In reading about national or religious or ethnic disputes, so much depends on point of view. As divided as America feels right now, I consider myself lucky to live in the U.S. where we are spared the worst types of divisions and hatreds. However, the U.S. populace as a whole seems woefully ignorant about what other countries have experienced. The country from which my ancestors originally came is so tiny--less than 2 million total population--my friends jokingly call it a "speed bump on the map of Europe." I laugh at their jokes and understand why they say that. The past sufferings of my ancestors' people and their yearnings for national sovereignty and security, to say nothing of protection from deportations by occupying forces, etc., have received little attention in the U.S. That's just the way it is some times with world history.


N. Friedman - 10/30/2004

Maarja,

A very interesting article.


Maarja Krusten - 10/30/2004

For a more personal take on divisive issues, focused primarily on individual Jewish and Muslim perspectives than on the Israeli-Palestinian issues, see Paula Span’s article in the Washington Post magazine on August 1, 2004, “Across the Great Divide; Could a public conversation between a Muslim from Pakistan and the Jewish father of murdered reporter Daniel Pearl be something more than "just two grandfathers on a stage, talking"? This discusses joint public appearances of Daniel Pearl’s parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl, with Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom. They have toured, making appearances at various conferences where they sit together on a stage and talk things through.

The article discusses their joint appearances as well as their backgrounds, capturing vividly the Pearls’ life, first in British Palestine and then in Israel and the United States, and from Ahmed’s perspective, recounting the massacres that resulted when India and Pakistan were partitioned in 1947. Many of us here in the United States are far removed from the horrors of violence directed towards people for no other reason than their ethnicity or religion. Span’s article notes how Judea Pearl and Ahmed both have struggled with the best way to tell their stories:

“Pearl, who's been reading the Koran and receiving tutorials in Islam, frets about whether he's being effective, whether as a ‘proud Zionist’ who favors both a Palestinian and a Jewish state in the Middle East (as does Ahmed), he can tackle such ‘hot issues’ without appearing to be anti-Muslim.

Others worry about him, too. ‘You represent this horrible story,’ says Mariane Pearl, who understands the psychological difficulty. ‘You have to embrace other people's emotions." It entails, she says, "a certain loneliness.’

But the greater risk may be to Ahmed. In some countries, Muslim academics perceived as too Western, too critical of religious or political leaders, too sympathetic to Jews, have been arrested, deported, even murdered. In Britain, Ahmed's calls for understanding generated flak from militant Muslims, who denounced him as a naive "apologist," an Uncle Tom. He continues to get nasty e-mail in this country, too, from mistrustful Muslims (‘How can one shake hands with someone firing a gun at you?’) and angry non-Muslims ("Does your culture BUILD anything, or just blow things up?").

Being in America doesn't ward off acrimony. Three years ago, an explanatory book about Islam, commissioned by the American Jewish Committee, was assailed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and a Jordanian cleric branded its author -- Khalid Duran, then at Temple University -- an ‘apostate’ whose blood should be shed. A few years earlier, University of Virginia professor Abdulaziz Sachedina faced a heresy trial in Iraq after publishing books and articles advocating religious pluralism. The resulting fatwa (which he ignores) forbids Sachedina to speak to Muslim gatherings anywhere in the world.

So Ahmed is careful with his words and assiduous about cultivating allies -- but he is also fatalistic. ‘When you take the middle position, you are attacked from both sides,’ he says, sounding untroubled. ‘But I am dragging people along.’"

But Span’s article concludes on an uplifting note:

“A story about pushing a boulder up a hill should conclude with an uplifting moment, something to hang hope on. Something like the World Tolerance Forum.

This spring, Pearl received a manila envelope, encrusted with postage stamps, from the Pakistani city of Faisalabad. Inside, he was surprised to find a magazine in Urdu commemorating Danny Pearl's death and -- intriguingly -- snapshots of a ‘condolence ceremony.’"

They showed perhaps 50 men and women gathered in a hall hung with English banners: ‘Peace Through Dialogue, Peace Through Discussion.’ Someone, adapting the international symbol of prohibition, had drawn a picture of a gun with a line through it. Mounted on the lectern, wreathed with flowers, was a photograph of Danny Pearl; before it, a young boy was lighting a candle that said ‘Peace and Reconciliation.’

‘It's what I dreamed of,’ Judea said, looking at the photos. How often had he spoken of his hope that one day, children in Pakistan would see Danny as a role model for open-mindedness and tolerance?

Ahmed, hearing about the photographs, was skeptical. However laudable the sentiment, he cautioned, in Islam, lighting a candle before an image would be considered idolatrous, ‘wrong, religiously and culturally.’ Perhaps the group belonged to the country's small Hindu or Christian minorities.

But no, the forum's chairman replied by e-mail: The boy was indeed a Muslim, engaged in a "unique example of paying tribute to Jewish people by the Muslim Community."

To Pearl, the photos provided one more reason to keep going. If this was indeed a Muslim group, then even this single small event meant ‘the hope of more.’ And if it wasn't, if ‘decent Muslims with the same sentiments’ were not yet ready to publicly embrace dialogue? That just meant, he said, ‘that we are more needed.’"


N. Friedman - 10/30/2004

"hat I think will happen in twenty years from now is what has happened throughout our past: secret documents will surface which "set the record straight""

I think we can only guess at what will be.

That said, obviously countries pursue interests, not altruism. But, again, when we have documents and/or testimony, we can judge what was. Without them, we can substitute prejudice that may or may not be proven correct.

No doubt, documents and the like will reveal a plethora of reasons, deceptions, interests, goals, biases, etc.


N. Friedman - 10/30/2004

Feint praise, that is.


N. Friedman - 10/30/2004

Michael,

Falsehood? Moral inconsistencies? Faint praise, don't you think?

On the other hand, thank you for the complement.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/30/2004

Mr. Clarke,
Though I truly believe that you are a well read, well versed, intelligent gentleman, I think that your criticisms of Mr. Friedman are, in all honesty, unfair. Mr. Friedman obviously has his bias (as we all do), but in all impartiality, the arguments he has presented in, at least, my discussions with him are the best that I have encountered so far (from the point of view that his has committed himself to). I am certainly in much more agreement with the arguments that you present, and the knowledge you obtain trounces my own, but I think that Mr. Friedman, with all his variety of falsehoods and moral inconsistencies, is due at least some respect. My opinion, of course, is of limited scope, but for whatever it is worth, we will never convert Mr. Friedman with insults- the same goes for you, Mr. Friedman.


Stephen Thomas - 10/29/2004

Ms. Krusten:

Being the voice of reason on this board is an interesting, if baffling agenda. Are you crazy, or what?

The issue of inner city violence was confronted here in NYC by Rudi Giuliani. He was quite successful. If you read the crime figures, you will discover that NYC is now the safest city in the country. Why, then, cannot D.C. duplicate the result? NYC was a madhouse before Giuliani was elected mayor.

Beneath all the rhetoric about "community policing" and "broken windows" you will find some uncomfortable facts in the method that Giuliani used to lead NYC out of the dark ages.

NYC had had a succession of Democratic mayors who simply threw up their hands and declared the city ungovernable. Those mayors owed their political existence to black thugs who purported to be civil rights leaders. The deal those mayors cut with these "civil rights leaders" was that they would not enforce the law with vigor in every community... including black communities. The people who suffered most as a result were... middle class, law abiding blacks.

Giuliani's response to this was, if I may paraphrase: "I'm going to enforce the law in every community and if you don't like it, sue me." To just about everybody's surprise, this worked.

The difference in D.C. is that there is no political figure willing to stand up to the "civil rights leaders" in the city and in the federal government who simply refuse to address the problems of violence and poor education in the black community. This issue has no resonance on the national scale simply because there is no national leader with the guts to take it on.


Stephen Thomas - 10/29/2004

Robert Scheer is a leftist nut case. He's openly routing for a U.S. defeat. Has been since his years at Ramparts.

One can only assume that Mr. Clarke is doing the same if he thinks this nut case is worth reading.

I'm in favor of the U.S. winning. I'm tired beyond human understanding of leftists pining for the good old days of U.S. defeat... just like in Vietnam.

The word "traitor" comes to mind, doesn't it? What's so glamorous and clever about being a traitor? I sincerely doubt that Mr. Clarke gives a damn about U.S. security. Methinks he, like Scheer, is rooting for the other side.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/29/2004


On the other hand, I do note that Grenada is probably a better place under the regime which came after the invasion. Sometimes good things come in strange packages.

Re: It is what we do, but not the way you think (#41510)
by Michael Barnes Thomin on September 10, 2004 at 12:34 AM

"American soldiers have undoubtedly helped many people throughout the world at various different periods in time. However, remember that states are not moral agents. It is the individual soldier and not the squad, or platoon, or regiment, or division that fights for righteousness. States or institutions do not act as charity foundations. They act in accordance only with their interests. The instances you point out on the surface might seem noble, and perhaps at times they have served noble causes. What is interesting is to examine declassified documents and discover the planners/administrators/architects motivations for entering wars. The picture that you come out with is very different than what was originally perceived. It is also very common for nations to only remember their good deeds but to completely ignore their atrocities. We remember stopping the Nazi’s, but we forget our aggressions and support of “death squads” against Nicaragua (which, ironically, ex-nazi officers were used for counterinsurgency techniques: Klaus Barbie comes to mind). And when atrocities cannot be ignored or wiped completely out from the confines of memory (the memory hole) then they are simply brushed off as old instances that bare no relevance and are no longer practiced. What I think will happen in twenty years from now is what has happened throughout our past: secret documents will surface which "set the record straight". These will probably shed a much different light on the original reasons for getting involved in countries/wars. Regrettably, the pattern will continue of brushing these off as past mistakes that are no longer committed. Even so, this is irrelevant, because the perpetrators of these crimes (crimes against international law as well as against the constitution) are still alive and well, who could easily be brought to justice. Though, I fear like so many instances throughout the history of mankind, they will live out their days free from reaping what the sow. We must confront our victories as well as failures in order for future decisions to be made wisely. Otherwise, our future has already been determined to fail."


N. Friedman - 10/29/2004

Peter,

As for your comments regarding my exposure to Europe, my wife is European (from the USSR). I have been to Europe as recently as May, 2004. I read European newspapers. I recall visiting, as a tourist and not to pray - being a non-believer, as it were - a synagogue in Helsinki (and, in fact, the only one in Finland). The street on which the synagogue is located was covered with swastikas. The synagogue was behind a gated wall and there was a guard at the gate.

Such is a bit of traditional European tolerance, don't you think?

I also had opportunity to speak with people from England and to hear them explain that Jews in Israel ought to return to friendly Europe.

I guess you and I travel in different circles.


N. Friedman - 10/29/2004


RE: Length vs substance, kneejerk rhetoric vs thoughtful consistency (#45483)by Peter K. Clarke on October 29, 2004 at 12:35 PM

Peter,

Yes. I do defend the Jews of Israel. They have built an extraordinary country. Like other countries, Israel has made serious errors. I do not defend such errors. However, I do defend Israel and Israelis and Jews from spurious claims such as those you make.

I would invite you - since you believe I make little errors - to point them out. I think you are mistaken.

You write: "In great contrast, Sharon in Lebanon had roughly the position of power of a Himmler in Poland. The fundamental similarity, despite the historical non-parallels, between these two instances of implausible denial is that Sharon ought to have known what he was stirring up in Lebanon, just as German voters ought to have known in 1932-33 that bad things were likely to happen ten years later, if the Nazis were not stopped while it was still possible to stop them."

I do not see what you have in mind. ***Millions of Poles died during WWII***. According to the Red Cross, about ***400 Palestinians died at Sabra and Shatila***. The Israelis thought that the Red Cross may have underestimated the number of dead and concluded that about 700 Palestinians died. On your view, the events in Sabra and Shatila are similar to what occurred in Poland. Do you live in dream land?

And, I might add, it was Israel which investigated the massacre. How is that similar to what happened in Poland where the Nazis were the perpetrators and were, evidently, proud of what they did?

I note that during WWII, there were massacres committed by Western armies. These are rightly condemned - as they should be and as the events at Sabra and Shatila should be - but no one claims that what the West did in fighting the Germans was Nazi-like, which is the thrust of your comment, because of errant events on the ground. In short, you are engaging in propaganda, not analysis and not history.




N. Friedman - 10/29/2004

Peter,

You would do well to read what I wrote instead posting propaganda points.

The case against Ba'athism and terrorism is rather well established. Ba'athist Syria, you will note, is one of two major supporters of Hezbollah, which among the world's foremost terrorist groups.

Moreover, the case that poor governance in the Middle East, including in Ba'athism countries, plays a role in creating terrorism is also rather strong. In particular, the governments in those countries, which pretty much all suppress public dialogue, have pushed dissent into the Mosques where radical preachers have played a major role in formenting terror. You might read A Portrait of Egypt : A Journey Through the World of Militant Islam
by Mary Anne Weaver for evidence of that. Further, one direction toward which the governments of that region thought it rather useful - since it deflected attention from home - was to channel dissent was against the US.

So, again, I think the point is rather well established.

Which is not to say than an invasion is the way to solve the problem. It is, instead, to suggest that your view of the dispute is incorrect.


N. Friedman - 10/29/2004

RE: The problem with sweeping generalizations (#45457) by Peter K. Clarke on October 28, 2004 at 6:52 PM

Peter,

"The differences between European Tony Blair and American George Bush, "came to the fore as a result of the Iraq [mis]adventure" ?"

No. The differences between the US and France, Germany, etc. Britain sided with the US. France said it would *veto* the UN resolution. Remember that little fact? That is a lot different from saying that France had a different position from the US or viewed the matter in differently.


"This remark implies that hundreds of thousands of Jews who seem, to all appearances, to be law-abiding loyal citizens of European countries, and whose families have lived in Europe for centuries and still live there, are somehow not Europeans. What are they then, Zionist infiltrators ? How are far-sighted then of their ancestors moving to Europe millennia ago, to realize that 900 years later a movement called Zionism would develop and grow."

I suggest you read a few books regarding Jews in Europe. And I was not speaking of Zionism or anything of the sort when I made that remark.


"This sort of blanket "us versus them" thinking leads to "final solutions" which I would have thought were better never repeated again, or even "humorously" suggested."

If you were to have attended (or seen films of) peace rallies in Europe before the Iraq war, you would have seen large crowds of people - and not just people of Middle Eastern origin - calling out "Death to the Jews." You will also find signs to that effect at such marches.

In France, Jews are afraid to walk down the street while wearing any religious insignia. Who are we kidding, Peter?

I did not suggest that the Nazi party had taken over in Europe. What I suggested is that attitudes in Europe were rather reminiscent of ages thought long gone. You might, for what it is worth, consider a possible appropriate analogy for what is occuring in Europe as being the dispute surrounding the French officer Dreyfuss.


"The influence of all 300 million Europeans ? Or all but Bat and Levy ? (Or are those two only pretending to be Europeans - see point 2 above) ?"

No. The political influence of Europe.


"4. What in whomever’s name is "give into the terror war" supposed to mean ? Sounds like propaganda from Karl Rove that got tongue-twisted in translation."

I have no idea what you have in mind. The cause I have in mind is the struggle against Islamism.



"a. He was not banned from many years from the Israeli government because he was a "war hero""

He was banned for violating Israeli rules. He was, prior to that time, viewed as a war hero. Recall his role during the Yom Kippur War. Against orders from his superiors, he crossed into Egypt in order to cut off the Egyptian armies supplies into the Sinai. Recall that such tactic brought the war to an end as, by the end of his campaign, he was marching on Cairo.


"b. He "didn't know" what was going on when the refugees were murdered in Lebanon ? I have heard that line before..in Germany re events in the 1940s."

There is a difference here that is rather significant. No one who has actually carefully investigated the facts - and, frankly, only one group has done any real investigation - claims he knew what was going on. What the report - and, again, no one else has ever taken any sworn testimony on the matter - states is that he acted negligently. I note - were you to read the report - that those Israelis at the camp did not even know that a massacre had taken place until after the fact. Which is to say, you are reading a lot into very little.

But note: in the case of Germany, massacres were government policy. Such was not the case in Israel and there is no evidence whatsoever that Sharon deviated from his government's policy. Instead, there is evidence of negligence - which is a very different thing.

I suggest you read the Kahan commision report. It might help you better understand the events.


"c. He was not declared persona non grata by America's oldest ally because he is a "responsible political leader"."

He was declared persona non grata by Britain because there are many supporters of the Palestinians in Britain. Note: King Hussein who murdered 20,000 Palestinians is not persona non grata in Britain. And, unlike Sharon, the massacre by Hussein was actually carried out by orders from his government. Which is to say, you are speaking politics, not fact.


"d. He was not displaying friendship to America by insulting our country with his ridiculous, ahistorical and warped analogy about Czechoslovakia. Nor was Bush displaying his "consistent firmness" by immediately wimping in response."

You are correct that he was not displaying friendship to the US. He was protecting his country's interest. His point was rather exact in what he had in mind, namely, that Israel would not make any sacrifices in order to appease the stupid Europeans.

"e. He is not showing himself to be a "realist" by only now preparing to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza and building a protective wall in the West Bank. He could have taken such measures 3 1/2 years and hundreds of innocent Israeli lives ago."

1. Were you to follow Israeli politics carefully, you will note how difficult, politically speaking, the issues are for Israelis. Gaza, you will note, has little historical importance to Israel.... yet, there is substantial political opposition, from his own party, to the idea including in his own party. Moreover, there have been death threats against him that are based on religious edicts published by people who believe that God set the borders of Israel. One has to do what is possible. And, clearly he is doing what is possible under rather difficult circumstances.

2. The barrier started to be built quite some time ago. Such takes time to complete. Now that a major portion of the wall has been completed, it has had the impact it was intended to have. Which is to say, terror attacks are rather more difficult to perpetrate.

3. Despite his protests to the contrary, one purpose of the wall is to end the question regarding the final settlement with the Palestinians. Which is to say, his government has made the political decision that the settlements that are within the Israeli side of the fence will remain part of Israel, permanently. You will note that the route of the fence only minimally exceeds what was proposed in June of 2000 by Barak.


"f. If it looks and smells like the South African bantulands, it may be something like them. But, I cannot say for sure what Sharon is up to in pulling out of Gaza, except that a peaceful two-state agreement which G.W. Bush (contrary to the above horse manure from Daniel Pipes, -remember him, the 2nd or 3rd most common article-writer on HNN ?) supports, and a position CONSISTENT with Bush's predecessors, is surely not a top objective for Sharon."

I believe that Sharon has made rather clear what he has in mind. He intends to put an end to the notion of a Palestinian state. That is a very different thing from saying that he seeks for Israel to rule, even indirectly, the Palestinians.

If you examine what has been said and done, it is consistent with restoring the status quo ante that existed up until June of 1967, with some border modification. Which is to say: he likely intends to comply with UN 242 as it was originally written. And, you will note: UN 242 speaks of settlements with countries, not between the Israel and the Palestinians, who are merely referred to in the document as refugees. In simpler terms, Gaza will likely become part of either Jordan or Egypt and the bulk of the West Bank will likely become part of Jordan. Or, at least, that is Sharon's likely intention.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/29/2004

Watch this for free: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/pentagon/


N. Friedman - 10/28/2004

By violence, I am referring to the Intifadah which is directed toward destroying Israel - as Palestinian polling clearly reveals.


N. Friedman - 10/28/2004

Peter,

Sharon is a lot of things. I remind you that Sharon is also a war hero. Anyone reading about the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War knows his place as a tactical genius. You might read Michael Oren's Six Days of War. The account of Sharon in the Sinai is rather extraordinary.

Palestinians call him a war criminal because Lebanese Christians committed a massacre of Palestinians. You will note that "war criminal" was not the view expressed by Palestinians at the time. Their anger was, not so oddly, at the Lebanese Christians who committed the massacre. The propaganda about Sharon began after the Kahan commission report. The theory by which he is evil is that he should have realized how deranged the Lebanese Christian army was. Maybe so. But that hardly makes him a war criminal. It means he had terrible political judgement.

No doubt you will tell me that he has done other bad things. I gather that a man of the military in a country cursed by frequent war time circumstance will have taken steps loved by some and condemned by others. But war criminal? I do not think so.

My distinct impression is that Sharon is a realist. Realism dictates that there is not now, and will likely not for generations, any real settlement with the Palestinians. Under such circumstances, he is doing what any responsible political leader does. He has worked to protect his country's citizens.

Were I an Israeli - something that does not remotely interest me - I would not have voted for him in 2001. However, I think that history will look back rather kindly on his tenure. Which is to say, defeating the Intifadah cannot help but advance the cause of peace for his country and eventually lead to a settlement with the Palestinians. And it is now rather clear that the Intifadah has basically been put down. I think historians will notice that he was rather courageous: first facing down President Bush by saying, back in 2001, that Israel would not play the role of Czechoslovakia, then defying the pressure from Europe to give in to the terror war, and then moving boldly toward separating the Israelis from the Palestinians.

The charge that he is involved in anything akin to apartheid is propaganda and nonsensical. Even the South African ambassador to Israel - who used to make such comments - has, after spending time living in Israel, come to realize that the dispute is rather different than he had imagined. Which is to say, the violence is, itself, a central issue in the dispute becuase it is not directed toward creating a state (but rather destroying one, namely Israel) and one that is central to how Israel pursues its goals and to the goals actually being sought.


N. Friedman - 10/28/2004

Peter,

Without humor, there is no fun. obviously I do not wish anyone ill will anywhere - even in Europe.

However, when I read how Europeans treat Jews, that reminds me of past dark times. It makes me rather suspicious of the European mind. The same, I should note, is true when I read how Europe treats Muslims.

When I say that Europe can fall off the map, that means that Europe's influence in the world is best diminished. Wby? Because they have nothing useful to add to the debate other than shortsightedness.

Regarding the Talmud, my expressed view was to the system of thought it employs, not to any particular passage. However, you might start with the Sayings of the Fathers.


N. Friedman - 10/28/2004

Peter,

No. We can put them up in the US.


N. Friedman - 10/28/2004

Michael,

I have no doubt you are right that the Europeans, in the late 1930's, knew all about war and that such contributed to Chamberlain's decision. However, facts are facts and Chamberlain did, in fact, misjudge things rather badly - which is too mild a word - and, frankly, in the typical European way.


N. Friedman - 10/28/2004

Michael,

I never said or suggested that the US owes Israel anything. I think my comment was directed to what the Europeans are doing.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/28/2004

Perhaps that last sentence was a bit too harsh.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/28/2004

"British PM Chamberlain and his idea to buy off Hitler."

You trivialize the matter. This is unlike you. In my opinion, the reason why Hitler got away with annexing the Rhineland is because the Europeans knew what war truly was. And as far as I am concerned, the United States owes Israel nothing.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/27/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Perhaps, but then again, the former government never had a chance...


N. Friedman - 10/27/2004

Maarja,

No, consensus was an original with me.


N. Friedman - 10/27/2004

Peter,

You are quite right that European civilization has contributed much.

However, in the field of international relations - which is what we are speaking of -, it is more the case that their strategies have led to rather terrible wars. What I see out of Europe these days is short sighted politicians believing that the Islamists can be bought off. Such reminds me of former British PM Chamberlain and his idea to buy off Hitler.

I also see - and I take this part personally - a cynical attempt by European politicians to advance the Arabs' agenda regarding Israel and such attempt has had the entirely predictable result of stirring up the pot of traditional European hatred for Jews. Which is to say, as far as I am concern, Europe can fall off the map.


N. Friedman - 10/27/2004

Peter,

I think they, including Bush, believe that Ba'athism is, in part, responsible for the rise of terrorism and accordingly connected to 9/11.

The connections people, including the Bushies, draw are closely associated with their motives and agendas.

I note that they, indeed, attempted to draw a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. I take that as a product of their mindset. Which is to say: they thought that (a) there was a clear connection between Iraq and international terrorism and (b) Ba'athism is, in part, connected to the rise of International terrorism which, in turn, is clearly connected to 9/11. I think that such can be argued - as it basically was - with a straight face. In fact, it may perhaps be true although it may also be more facile than true.

Of course, the opposition drew connections as well. They blame, for example, Israel for all sorts of problems in the Middle East even though, quite clearly, while, in most instances, the connection is more facile than true.


Maarja Krusten - 10/27/2004

Thanks! I 'm missing the connection to consensus, where does that part comes from? I of all people don't look for consensus on HNN, in fact, I'm fascinated by how people's opinions are all over the place! And, as I've mentioned elsewhere, we live in a large and diverse country where issues of concern to one group don't even appear on the radar screens of others. Did Mr. Thomas or someone else mention consensus? I'm on my lunch break, don't really have time to re-read everything on this thread,, LOL!! Gotta run, take care.

Posted on personal time on lunch break.


N. Friedman - 10/27/2004

Michael,

I do not like things which cause people to die.

My impression is that the Grenada invasions - or at least its timing - was related more to the suicide attack on the marines in Lebanon than to any threat from Grenada's connection with the USSR.

On the other hand, I do note that Grenada is probably a better place under the regime which came after the invasion. Sometimes good things come in strange packages.


N. Friedman - 10/27/2004

Maarja,

One of the fun things about posting a comment is to have that comment debated. Voice of reason, I would think, should not be confused with a voice of consensus. Leave consensus to politicians.


Maarja Krusten - 10/27/2004

Mr. Thomas:

You write, "Being the voice of reason on this board is an interesting, if baffling agenda." That is not my "agenda," that merely is the way someone else, who had read my postings, had described me. Nothing more, nothing less. I have no agenda, I mostly read HNN to see what people think. I am most interested in postings which place current events in an historical context.

Your comments about NYC vis a vis DC are interesting. I know something of Giuliani's efforts from contemporaneous news accounts. My original posting focused on a narrower matter, the issue of guns and the number of children killed in DC. It was in response to a note from Andrew Todd about hunters in West Virginia.

Posted on personal time during lunch break.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/27/2004

I should also note that another reason for invasion, after the other two main one's were blown out of the water, were that a Soviet puppet Marxist regime took control and Reagan wanted to bring the light of democracy. I guess that did not work out too well:

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gj.html

"Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Daniel WILLIAMS (since 9 August 1996)
head of government: Prime Minister Keith MITCHELL (since 22 June 1995)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general"


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/27/2004

"In the case of Central America, locals were not the object of US policy, just the occasion for acting against the USSR. In the Middle East, it is an ideology which the administration says it hopes to destroy at the source. In other words, the aim of the policy and the place of action are basically one and the same."

You are correct in so much as this is what the administrations were claiming as justifications. However, upon further investigations of the matter we can conclude that in many causes this charge was utterly baseless (Grenada, Nicaragua, etc.). In regards to Grenada, I remember reading the book “Delta Force: America’s Elite Counter terrorism Unit” authored by Sgt. Major Eric L. Haney who happened to be in an assault team during Operation Urgent Fury (the invasion of Grenada). When gearing up for the operation Haney recalls that when first notified of an aggressive mission in a Latin American country by another member of Delta Force he thought it must be Cuba. When informed of the country he exclaimed, “Grenada? What the hell are we going to Grenada for?” The reasons for going to war, according to the Reagan administration, were that the Soviets were building a landing strip and submarine base which could be used for an invasion point in the U.S. (as if the Soviets didn’t have their hands full in Afghanistan). This of course, was later to be proven as utterly false (not to mention moronic- as if Cuba wasn’t willing to supply a base). As far as Soviet’s in Nicaragua, it is true that the Sandinistan government opened up talks publicly with Moscow, but it should be noted that the Sandinistans did try and buy fighter planes through France and the U.S. before it turned to the Soviets. The U.S. refused to sell the Sandinistas planes and blocked France from doing so as well; they were trying to acquire fighter jets to intercept CIA missions being flown out of Honduras into Nicaragua- missions which included dropping chemicals and guerillas (which were the Contras who in turn many of the officers of the Contras were ex-Somozan soldiers). So, of course, they had no choice but to turn to the Soviets to buy interceptor jets. In short, the reasons given for going to war and the motives for truly going, historically speaking, have been two opposite things (the Nazi's invading Poland because of "terrorist attacks").


N. Friedman - 10/27/2004

Michael,

Hypocrisy is an amazing thing. I agree with you on the noted point.

I live where it is cold in the winter. It is not so cold yet and I am enjoying the baseball game.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/27/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Your point is taken, but I just grow tired of hearing how Saddam treated his people badly and committed genocide- I presume in reference to the Kurds, which just to play devils advocate, the one serious study I have seen from the U.S. Army War College in 1990 came back as inconclusive, further stating that it might very well have been an action of Iran- as the main reason (main reason because all the others have since been blown and scattered to the wind). As a matter of fact, not ten minutes ago I heard the current incumbent running for Congressman in my district during a debate state that, "The U.S. should not be used for humanitarian purposes", when asked about the crisis and confirmed genocide in Sudan, yet a few sentences later suggested that the war in Iraq was justified because Saddam was a "bad guy". To me, this line of reasoning is exactly on a humanitarian basis. The hypocrisy is chilling at times- thank god I live in a warm climate.


N. Friedman - 10/27/2004

Peter,

What does a passport have to do with things?

If I recall, there have been about 3,000 dead in Europe during the last 20 years. How is that a good job? And, the Europeans have not, other than in Spain, had to deal with the new terrorism. Let us see how well they do with the Jihadis.

I note the following: in the 20th Century, the worst blunders were made by Europeans. Think WWI and WWII. Think their unwillingness to cooperate with the US when we sought to modernize the weapons that were protecting them from the USSR.


N. Friedman - 10/27/2004

Peter,

I do not think they sought to trick anyone. I think they basically believed what they said. I think there was some advocacy involved and such always takes an outer view of reality but the word "lied" or "tricked" is not the issue - except for politicians wishing to take an outer view of what Bush's administration actually did -.


N. Friedman - 10/27/2004

Michael,

To the extent that I understand International law - and I have some knowledge of the field -, the convention would likely be applicable to Sudan including to the current circumstances.

I find the silence about Sudan from so-called human rights advocates - in my view, bigots and Antisemites - to be remarkable. Such disgusting people, it seems to me, are wasting their time on bad mouthing the Israelis. Such is because, in my humble view, they do not care about the rights of actual people. Meanwhile, in the last 20 years or so, there have been about 2 million people killed in Sudan.

In any event, I was merely noting that the convention would be a theoretical justification for the Iraq invasion although it was not employed in the US. Such was, in fact, argued in the UK by advocates of the war.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/26/2004

Mr. Friedman,

"The war was morally justifyable - although I reject the war - under the convention related to genocide."

Where is the intervention in the Sudan?


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Peter,

I think I raised a somewhat wider point tha you addressed. At least I intended to.

I was not suggesting that the choice was war or disaster. You misread me. I was suggesting that the policy of the past several decades - and, most particularly, of my beloved Clinton - failed, big time.

I note: you are decidedly of the view that the Bush has created a disaster which places the Muslim world on a collision with us and denies us allies. My view is that Bush may have responded rather erroneously to the problem of the Islamists but that his response did not create the problem and likely did not make things much different than they were. And my view is that there is no policy toward the Middle East which would retain us European allies like France because such Europeans are, almost by contract, aligned with the status quo in the Muslim world.

Your point that the war was ever really about WMD is something I reject. The war was morally justifyable - although I reject the war - under the convention related to genocide. In any event, I note that the Bushies proposed many reasons, all from early on. And those most interested in the war were mostly focused, in what I read and heard, primarily on the vile nature of Middle Eastern governance. In my (maybe not so humble) view, the WMD's were an excuse to act. The Bushies merely could not fathom the idea that Saddam had take a different course. of action.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Michael,

On your second point: In Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, Bernard-Henri Lévy discovers, nearly everywhere he turned in Pakistan, a rather grotesque and intense hatred of all things Western and American and Jewish and proudly committing heinous crimes against any and all of the above. And such, you will note, was well before the Iraq war. The noted ideology, you will note, was in considerable measure behind Pearl's murder. I might add, Lévy uncovered evidence suggesting the involvement of Pearl's killer in the 9/11 attacks.

My point in mentioning this is that the Islamist ideology was already rather widespread long before the Iraq War.



N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Michael,

Fair points. Very, very well stated as well.

I think that people are creatures of circumstance and not merely habit. The circumstance in Central America was fear of a regime with seemingly close ties - military and political - to a rival of the US, namely, the USSR. By contrast, the circumstances in the Middle East involve regimes run by Romanov calibre leaders out of which has brewed an entirely new and, in Bush lingo, evil ideology that rivals Nazism and Fascism and Communism.

In the case of Central America, locals were not the object of US policy, just the occasion for acting against the USSR. In the Middle East, it is an ideology which the administration says it hopes to destroy at the source. In other words, the aim of the policy and the place of action are basically one and the same.

I think it makes little sense to believe the Bushies hope to retain the status quo and merely knock off one Middle Eastern Romanov (i.e. the Middle Eastern Ivan the Terrible, Saddam). The Bushies would, in that event, all really be morons.

Which is to say, I think it correct to believe that the Bushies are, for all their incompetence, quite sincere in what they are doing. You might want to read this article/interview of Christopher Hitchens in which he addresses the neocons and, most interestingly, the much demonized Wolfowitz: "In enemy territory? An interview with Christopher Hitchens - Islamofascism and the Left," by Johann Hari, http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=450


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/26/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Quite alright and I hope you do not mind me responding to it.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Michael,

I did not mean to leave you out, by the way. Which is to say, you might note your views on my points if the subject interests you.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/26/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Just to clarify some points:

1) I do not believe I have ever stated that invading Iraq was a complete mistake. In fact, perhaps not on any of these posts, but I have always held the long belief that I cannot possibly know with absolute certainty what the outcome of any event will be (though I can, however, make educated theories based upon historical content and well mapped and charted analysis). If I have insinuated that, let me just explain that I fully agree with your comment, “I do not discount a long term benefit.” Indeed, it is quite possible. It is also possible that the current administration has had an illumination and has come to the conclusion that establishing actual democracies that act in accordance of the best interests of the people is a “good idea”, while placing in “Top-bottom” democracies that are brutal and act first and foremost with the interests of Washington and it’s minions is a “bad idea” for the long term. Yet, when several officials are placed in high offices that have been merely regurgitated from previous administrations that claimed they were doing the same thing (that is, placing democracies throughout Latin America) as they are currently engaged in, I think it is only natural for anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge about what the Reagan acolytes did in that region to take what comes out of the “public relations” office with a grain of salt. When people like John Negroponte are made ambassador to Iraq who oversees the largest American diplomatic facility in the world, it only heightens my suspicion. Recall that Negroponte was also ambassador of Honduras (which was the second largest covert CIA base at the time), which helped fund, train, and equip the Contras in the 1980s. From this, it occurs to me that we might be witnessing history repeat itself. In any case, I would not rule out the possibility that the long-term effects of the Iraq war might have positive outcomes… I just highly doubt it.

2) The trajectory of the region might have been established long ago, but the Iraq war certainly seems to have made the situation worse.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Michael,

This post was actually meant for Peter Clark. My apology for the confusion.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

I think where we disagree is in this:

1. While, like you, I think that the war in Iraq was a mistaken - one with a predictable downside -, I do not discount a long term benefit. Which is to say, there is a realistic possibility that the war will not only stir up the hornet's nest in the Middle East but that such a stir up might, maybe in five or ten or 20 years, lead to some good (e.g. the House of Saud, of Mubarrak, of Abdullah, of Assad, etc., may be overthrown and, with a lot of luck - and emphasis on the word "lot" -, replaced with something, maybe a system of government, not quite as awful).

2. Unlike you, I do not buy into the theory that those stirred up by the Iraq adventure alter the basic trajectory of that region against the US. Instead, I think that trajectory was well established even before the Clinton era. I believe that President Clinton - whom I voted for twice and would perhaps, were the Constitution amended, vote for again - did much to make a bad situation far, far worse by failing to address sufficiently the camps established in Afghanistan, al Fuqrah, al Qa'eda, the lies spread about the US and Jews by the Islamists, the first WTC bombing, the embassy bombings, the Cole attack, the Jihadist party which dominates Pakistani policy, the public declaration of Jihad against the US and Jews by bin Laden, the financing of the Jihad against the US and Jews, etc., etc. And, I recall, back on 9/11, distinctinctly seeing films and pictures of people in the Arab world (and, I might add,also among Muslims living in my home city) jumping up and down for joy and handing out celebratory sweets. And I do not recall any substantial voices from the Muslim community mounting - pre Bush - a serious intellectual challenge to those who want and who celebrate our demise. In fact, the thing most striking, from then to now, is the paucity of such voices. Which all leads me to conclude that as bad as Iraq is, the status quo ante was worse.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Michael,

On this, we agree.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Michael,

I think where we disagree is in this:

1. While, like you, I think that the war in Iraq was a mistaken - one with a predictable downside -, I do not discount a long term benefit. Which is to say, there is a realistic possibility that the war will not only stir up the hornet's nest in the Middle East but that such a stir up might, maybe in five or ten or 20 years, lead to some good (e.g. the House of Saud, of Mubarrak, of Abdullah, of Assad, etc., may be overthrown and, with a lot of luck - and emphasis on the word "lot" -, replaced with something, maybe a system of government, not quite as awful).

2. Unlike you, I do not buy into the theory that those stirred up by the Iraq adventure alter the basic trajectory of that region against the US. Instead, I think that trajectory was well established even before the Clinton era. I believe that President Clinton - whom I voted for twice and would perhaps, were the Constitution amended, vote for again - did much to make a bad situation far, far worse by failing to address sufficiently the camps established in Afghanistan, al Fuqrah, al Qa'eda, the lies spread about the US and Jews by the Islamists, the first WTC bombing, the embassy bombings, the Cole attack, the Jihadist party which dominates Pakistani policy, the public declaration of Jihad against the US and Jews by bin Laden, the financing of the Jihad against the US and Jews, etc., etc. And, I recall, back on 9/11, distinctinctly seeing films and pictures of people in the Arab world (and, I might add,also among Muslims living in my home city) jumping up and down for joy and handing out celebratory sweets. And I do not recall any substantial voices from the Muslim community mounting - pre Bush - a serious intellectual challenge to those who want and who celebrate our demise. In fact, the thing most striking, from then to now, is the paucity of such voices. Which all leads me to conclude that as bad as Iraq is, the status quo ante was worse.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/26/2004

Mr. Friedman,
Honestly, I do not think that we disagree on very many issues, just on very important details within those issues. Regardless, I really do not expect anyone to agree with my point of view (if you can call it that), and I am more than happy for solid arguments to challenge them. As far as our exchanges have gone, I think they have been healthy in nature, as well as helpful (at least for me).


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Michael,

I am happy to get along. However, do not expect me to agree with your point of view - unless, of course, you can convince me (or I you) of the error of my (your) ways.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/26/2004

Maarja,
To put it simply... Can't we all just get along?


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/26/2004

I second that motion.


Michael Green - 10/26/2004

I think the solution is simple: drop Mr. Pipes into Iraq and let him see how well the current administration's policies are working. Of course, it would be the first time that Mr. Pipes ever has been exposed to reality, but maybe he could tell Mr. Bush what that's like.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Maarja,

Sometimes I get a bit overheated in these sorts of debates. I was kind of hoping that Peter would engage my arguments instead of merely restating his point, over and over again. Sorry about that.


Maarja Krusten - 10/26/2004

Maybe some of our differences as HNN posters relate to the competencies and skills required for our disparate jobs. For example, Mr. Friedman is a lawyer. Lawyers, especially litigators, are advocates. They succeed when they prevail in court. I'm a civil servant, a Federal government employee. I've always worked in an environment where we must balance varying viewpoints. In that environment, too much of a focus on prevailing may lead to failure. (We are judged in our annual ratings on colloboration and teamwork.)

Sometimes my work has required screening facts and evidence to accept those that are best supported, and leaving out those that won't stand the test, no matter what my own personal views, etc. Some of our assignments have required us to reach consensus, others force us to make the best of things when there are no good answers available. Probably explains something about differing styles of discourse, eh?

Speaking of jobs, gotta run now, I have a subway train to catch, LOL.


Maarja Krusten - 10/26/2004

I already know that Mr. Pipes is a controversial figure, I've read articles about him, pro and con, on the Internet. I'm more interested in past debates on HNN which may illuminate the nature of the exchanges among the posters above.


Maarja Krusten - 10/26/2004

Saw the posts above this morning and a question came to mind: doesn't this style of debate stress you guys out?

Two examples of style:

"You clearly have not read a word I have written in the last several weeks. All you seem to know how to do is spout drivel. Nothing you write is original. No thought is employed. I do not get it. Try reading what I write." http://hnn.us/comments/45246.html

Maarja's comment: Everyone who posts here thinks, one way or another, and none of the postings are entirely original nor unoriginal. They all reflect the way the writer has synthesized what s/he has read and experienced.

"However, you have ignored my theories which, frankly, are right on the money."
http://hnn.us/comments/45232.html
Maarja's comment: How can anyone's theories be "right on the money," especially in a thread about the difficulty of predicting the outcome?

Why do arguments here get so heated (last week it was Peter whom I gently tweaked, this week it is Mr. Friedman)? What am I missing here in the back story?

Frankly, I don't see myself as being defined by what I post on HNN. There are many other factors, other than how and what I post, that define me, most of which never are on display here. And I don't care whether they are on display here or not--it simply does not matter to me. Maybe that is why I don't care whether anyone thinks I'm right or wrong--yeah, right, as if I feel able due to my employment situation to actually state positions much of the time, LOL--or even if anyone reads my stuff. Even when no one responds to me I learn something!

Look at how I posted heartfelt messages last week on the Mondale thread about kids being killed in the DC area only to have no responses. I didn't get angry at readers at the lack of engagement. I simply concluded the issues have little resonance this year, that other voices and other matters drown them out--inner city problems were never mentioned during the Presidential debates, either. Look at how I described in my Allen Weinstein article and postings how my courageous supervisor lost her position for standing up to pressure from Nixon's lawyers in 1989. The issues mattered greatly to her and to us who worked with her, we saw them as ethical matters affecting historical records. Obviously, I still care greatly about the pressure civil servants face from powerful external forces. If my messages on those issues have no resonance on HNN, I still can learn from that silence -- if nothing else, it signals something about the road ahead for future Archives employees.

No original thoughts? A single poster holding the right answers? It seems much more complex than that to me. Maybe you should be looking at metamessages as well as messages. But then, maybe that approach fits me better than it does you. I certainly can't impose it on anyone. No easy answers to questions of style and substance, that's for sure.

If there is anything in HNN's archived postings that I should go back and read to get the back story to yesterday's debate here, do let me know.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Peter,

You missed my point. I was saying that the fundamental errors were at the intellectual level. I was not suggesting that other errors were unimportant or whatever you had in mind.

I do not, for what it is worth, buy into the "He lied" theory. I think the evidence suggests that he merely assumed facts unproven but widely held and believed throughout the world.

My suspicion, for what it is worth, is that Iraq opted for something akin to the AQ Khan program. That program outsources the components of nuclear bombs. Which is to say, the administration's supposition was likely correct but they failed to appreciate all of the implications of the world we now live in. Perhaps, at the time Iraq was planned, they did not know much about such manner of outsourcing.

I do note: the most scary thing going on in the world was uncovered in the Khan scandal. My bet (and I have no facts but am merely speculating) is that Khan was running one network but that there are others - perhaps, many others - to be found.

I note: I am not a Christian. I have, however, read the Christian testament. An interesting collection of books. I prefer the Talmud. It has profound things to say on such topics as well. And note: I am not devout either.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Peter,

I think anyone can post what they will.

I do not think the US stronger. I think that we have different interests from the Europeans and that such differences came to the fore as a result of the Iraq adventure. I think, by contrast, were the US to follow the path of the Europeans, we would be in even worse shape than Bush has put us into. And that is saying something.

Which is to say: there are many paths to take. Almost all of them are disasters. I note: Clinton's path, in which he did effectively nothing for 8 years, seems to have helped the world toward 9/11. Do I blame him? No. However, I note that his path is also a disaster, as much of a disaster as Bush's policy has been.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Peter,

That is to say, the REAL errors.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Peter,

That is to say, the REAL errors.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Peter,

That is a mere technical error. The errors in the war are intellectual in nature.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Peter,

You clearly have not read a word I have written in the last several weeks. All you seem to know how to do is spout drivel. Nothing you write is original. No thought is employed. I do not get it. Try reading what I write.


Michael Barnes Thomin - 10/26/2004

Mr. Friedman,

"C. That is meant to regard a misunderstanding of the fact that Iraq is really 3 countries with mutually hostile groups."

Though I agree, it was much too kind of you to put it that way.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

Peter,

C. That is meant to regard a misunderstanding of the fact that Iraq is really 3 countries with mutually hostile groups.


N. Friedman - 10/26/2004

And Peter,

I was focussing on the main issues. The main blunders: A. The ends were, as a matter of science, unlikely even to be possible, B. We misunderstood Europe and C. We misunerstood Iraq's nature.


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

I enjoy reading your theories. However, you have ignored my theories which, frankly, are right on the money.


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

Somehow, back in 2000, when a good idea was proposed by Clinton, Arafat allowed the situation to drift to war. I think it had to do with the refugee/offspring issue. I think, frankly, that there is no real settlement. And, I know the Israelis will not again offer what was proposed by Barak in June of 2000 no matter who is elected.


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

Negotiations with countries are one thing. Negotiations between ethnic groups competing for the same land are losing propositions.'

Further, there is no settlement with Fatah because Fatah will not cede on the refugee/offspring issue. Until they give up on that, there is no settlement.

The Geneva Accord was not a negotiation in any sense of the word. The Israeli government was not involved and the PA had no official role. Please find me wars settled by interested persons rather than the actual parties. Get real!!! I might add, the Geneva Accord would not be acceptable to Israel and, most likely, would also not be acceptable to the Palestinians.


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

The main blunders on Iraq were, I think, the misunderstanding of Europe's interests (which is largely due to Blair and Azner's incompetence) and the assumption that Iraq, short of brutal force, will behave as one country.

Such is stated apart from my general view that war is predictable in only two senses, namely, you can be sure that lots of people will be killed and the outcome is always difficult to forecast.


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

In some conflicts, there is winning and losing. In the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs, there can be winners. Moreover, the terms are rather more direct than they are in the dispute between the US and al Qa'eda. Which is to say, for Israelis, they win if Israel survives as a prospering country. To the Palestinian Arabs who fight Israel, the Palestinian Arab side wins if Israel ceases to exist.

But note: I favor a compromise. Which is to say, I have nothing against finding a better solution for the Palestinian Arabs. They, in turn, however, have to end the Jihad against Israel and agree to settle the refugees and their offspring outside of Israel. That is something which, given groups like Hamas and Fatah, is unlikely to happen in our lifetime.

In the current dispute, there is clear winner. Which is to say, the Palestinians are clearly fighting among themselves and have no plan going forward. Moreover, the Israelis have found ways to block off the terror attacks. And, as I said, Israel's economy has resumed its path of growth. In the context of the noted dispute, the Israelis appear to have won the current round. What they need to do, at this point, is convince those outside of the region that they, not the Europeans, have a plan which leads to a better future for the Palestinians. Such is possible but it will take time.

I, at this point, think that the negotiating approach - which has been tried and tried and tried - cannot work because the positions of the two sides are irreconcilable. And again: the Palestinian demand that Israel take in the refugees and their offspring flies in the face of the additional Palestinian demand for a state on the West Bank cannot ever lead to a settlement. And, such demand suggests that the Palestinian Arabs really do not seek a compromise settlement. About their proposal - and considering that Israel is asked to take large numbers of people in -: To what end the West Bank state?

And, moreover, the Israelis see in the Palestinian position the following: Where Palestinian Arabs are in the majority (i.e. on the West Bank and Gaza), no Jews can live, and, where Jews now have a majority, they must allow Palestinians in so that the Palestinians will have a majority and then.... take the same view in Israel regarding Jews that is taken in the West Bank and Gaza. Whether that would occur is speculation but it does following logically from the Palestinian negotiating position. Which is to say, such position leads nowhere if the goal is to reach a settlement.


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

Still another Nazi/Islamist article, this time from IndyMedia:

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/03/286538.html


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

My cousin Tom - just kidding - was a big supporter of the Iraq war. I am surprised you have so much faith in his view.


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

Another Nazi/Islamist article:

http://openfacts.berlios.de/index-en.phtml?title=Islamonazism


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

I note the results of the most recent version of negotiations: 4,000 deaths.


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

Also on our Nazi/Islamist connection, see

http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/artikel.php?artikelID=30


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

On our other discussion - regarding Nazism and Islamism -, read this from the Southern Poverty Law Center. While not a complete history of the early roots that connect the Nazi movement and the Islamist movement, it is rather interesting.

http://www.geocities.com/johnathanrgalt/Swastika_Crescent.html


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

On our other discussion - regarding Nazism and Islamism -, read this from the Southern Poverty Law Center. While not a complete history of the early roots that connect the Nazi movement and the Islamist movement, it is rather interesting.

http://www.geocities.com/johnathanrgalt/Swastika_Crescent.html


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

My paragraph above which reads "Without any substantial analysis, it is likely that the theory is flawed. Which is to say - as Richard Gott has written - a scientific theory must assume that the current circumstances are typical, not special. Thus, Ptolemy can be shown (20 20 hindsight always being fun) wrong, without much need for better explaining retrograde planet motion, because he assumed the Earth was the center when the current postulate is that there are rarely special locations.", should be changed to read:

Without any substantial analysis, it is likely that the theory is flawed. Which is to say - as Richard Gott has written - a scientific theory must assume that the current circumstances are typical, not special. Thus, Ptolemy can be shown (20 20 hindsight always being fun) wrong, without much need for better explaining retrograde planet motion, because he assumed the Earth was the center when the correct assumption is that there are rarely special locations.


N. Friedman - 10/25/2004

Peter,

As a critic of Bush - one who does not wish to be unfair -, I note that his theory to seed the Middle East with democracy by attacking Iraq, has serious intellectual difficulties. In particular, one might examine the Middle East by employing a scientific analysis.

Which is to say: the theory proposed by Bush is that it is possible to seed the Middle East with democracy and obtain a reasonably short term result. That theory is, to note, premised on the assumption that democracy is the norm in the contemporary world. In other words, his postulate is that the Middle East is not typical.

Without any substantial analysis, it is likely that the theory is flawed. Which is to say - as Richard Gott has written - a scientific theory must assume that the current circumstances are typical, not special. Thus, Ptolemy can be shown (20 20 hindsight always being fun) wrong, without much need for better explaining retrograde planet motion, because he assumed the Earth was the center when the current postulate is that there are rarely special locations.

Considering the Middle East as not inhabiting a special universe, the best assumption is that a change to democracy, if it comes at all, will take a good long time. Such is because - and without need for any serious research - there is a long history of a different sort of culture.

Such is not to suggest that Bush's policy will not, in the long term, lead to improvement in the Middle East. That, frankly, is more difficult to judge. It might or might not. The question, perhaps more important in the short term, is whether such will lead to fewer terrorist attacks in the US. Thus far, I note - and a bit of hope and supposition is to be employed - that the attacks have stayed out of the US.

As for Pipes: in that he buys into Bush's theory regarding Iraq, I think he is wrong.

On the other hand, regarding the Arab Israeli dispute, I agree with Bush that the best way to end the dispute is for one side to lose. After that, it may more likely be possible for the sides to reach a compromise. I do note, at least for now, the Israelis are clearly winning. Their economy has returned pretty much to normal, the Europeans have stopped being quite as supportive of Arafat and the Palestinian terror has largely turned inward while the Israelis, for their part, have done a better job at stopping attacks.