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March 04, 2008

The Fire This Time

This is a recent letter in the Washington Post:

The Mideast's Real Problem

John Podesta, Ray Takeyh and Lawrence J. Korb ["A War We Must End," op-ed, Feb. 26] have confused association with causation in offering explanations for turmoil in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.

The United States is not the problem in the Middle East; radical dogma and the region's tolerance of it are. As long as our freedoms are a dominant force in business and culture around the world, American values will continue to contradict the advocates of repression.

When America was more "liked" and "respected" in the Middle East -- say, when Mr. Podesta served in the Clinton administration -- I hardly remember Saudi Arabia, Iran or Jordan coalescing to demand that Iraq comply with U.N. resolutions or that the Taliban abandon its tyrannical ways.

The region's back yard harbored terrorist training camps, and little was done in those years to interfere with those who financed, planned and carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and other violence.

Silver Spring

This is James Baldwin in The Fire Next Time:

[T]his is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it...But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime...

You must accept them and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it...

But these men are your brothers—your lost, younger brothers...this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.

Ted Milone appears to be a graduate of the Citadel and part of the private contractor penumbra that surrounds the Pentagon.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at March 4, 2008 09:06 AM

But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent.

Only if we assume that they possess free will. And that's a pretty daring assumption, I must say. Or, rather, I am destined to say.

Posted by: abb1 at March 4, 2008 09:48 AM

well, your mirror image. Ted sounds pretty dim-witted and ignorant. But I am the real redeemer of Baldwin's hopes. Me and my colleagues in banking and consulting are the people lending a helping hand to our little [ ]brothers around the world, lifting them up into something resembling prosperity. Conversely, you would have them wallow in endless poverty to preserve their countries as preserves of statism and socialism to satisfy your masturbatory political fantasies.

Posted by: xyz at March 4, 2008 10:00 AM

why do so many people who blow their own horns know only one note?

Posted by: hapa at March 4, 2008 10:45 AM

confused association with causation in offering explanations for turmoil in Iraq

Yes, I don't see how anyone can claim that the US caused the "turmoil" in Iraq. No causation there, nosiree.

Posted by: SteveB at March 4, 2008 11:27 AM

lending a helping hand to our little [ ]brothers around the world

How kind of you, xyz! Man, it makes me feel small and irrelevant to think that while I've been writing, organizing and fighting to end this illegal occupation that's killed more than a million, you've been out there banking and consulting, bringing peace and prosperity to the downtrodden. What a fool I've been! Banking and consulting is the answer!

Let us know when your canonization ceremony is, xyz - me and my colleagues in masturbatory political fantasies wouldn't want to miss it.

Posted by: slim at March 4, 2008 05:42 PM

The deluded mind fascinates me. Milone has a point: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Jordan, not to mention Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, never showed any sign of interest in stopping the Taliban. And that's sad, because they are rich and socially liberal enough to collectively have done something.

But they didn't and never wanted to. What Milone and most Americans miss is that the despotic state is ideologically neutral. Only dictators can be expected to behave in a completely sensible way. They act in their own interest. Period. Always. So why should they go out of their way to control distant and inaccessible countries? No matter what the US asks them to do.

It takes a Bush in a china shop to do that, and to try to do it WITHOUT the real support of the above countries.

Posted by: baldie mceagle at March 4, 2008 08:51 PM

Nice use of scare quotes. The US was actually more liked and respected, not that that's saying much. Alternatively, I wonder if he means that Arabs are of deceitful character and lie to pollsters (1) for some reason only now telling the truth or if they are sub-humans, perhaps satanically controlled via their "religion", incapable of genuine like and respect.

WRT the Taliban,
a) They're a product of Pakistan's interference in the country. Why would those countries want to piss Pakistan off?
b) They were actually mildly less horrible than the continuation of the US-Soviet proxy war that preceded them. That's why they were a genuinely popular movement at first. Some of you might like to think of them as Democrats after years of Republican rule.

(1) Unlike Americans: all that stuff about the pollsters who asked what magazines people read then checked their trash for comparison is either a liberal lie or was restricted to liberal neighbourhoods.

Posted by: me at March 5, 2008 03:54 AM

Oh, nobody cared about Afghanistan, anymore than anyone cared, or cares about Tajikistan, until 9-11. Oh, except when they blew up the two Buddas : )

And as for helping our little brothers around the world, the nice thing about being a well-paid consultant, I get to help out their little sisters too ; ) actually, I have found that knowing local culture pays huge dividends, that's how you get the nice girls, but most ex-pat Americans are too lazy and too stupid, so they get the cheap sluts.

Posted by: xyz at March 5, 2008 05:28 AM

Too funny:

"the nice thing about being a well-paid consultant, I get to help out their little sisters too ; ) "

This from the guy who wrote in the same thread:

"to satisfy your masturbatory ... fantasies."

I always get a kick out of these bitter, lonely frauds who claim to be globe-trotting heartbreaking millionaires who seem to have an inordinate amount of time trolling on blogs and discussion boards.

Posted by: thwap at March 5, 2008 08:47 AM