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May 14, 2011

Freedom's Just Another Word for Blowing Shit Up

Why are we bombing Libya? For freedom!

BARACK OBAMA: For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom....for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity.

Why has al Qaeda bombed places around the world? For freedom!

AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI: ...when we wage Jihad in Allah’s path, we aren’t waging Jihad to lift oppression from the Muslims only, we are waging Jihad to lift oppression from all of mankind...I invite all the world’s weak and oppressed ones to Islam, the religion of freedom...

Why has Libya bombed lots of people? For freedom!

MUAMMAR GADAFFI: It is one of our basic principles to support nations that are struggling for the sake of their freedom, to support those exploited and oppressed...We are morally responsible to stand by these just causes...We have no objections as far as we are able to aiding with arms and money nations struggling for the sake of their freedom.

Other leaders with a powerful interest in freeing other people include Napoleon and Hitler.

P.S. Here's Samantha Power, apparently one of people in the Obama administration who pushed for war in Libya, in 2004:

Much blood was shed in the last century by United States forces or proxies in the name of righteous ends. Because every state justifies its wars on the grounds of self-defense or altruism, Chomsky is correct that any ''profession of noble intent is predictable, and therefore carries no information.''

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at May 14, 2011 07:38 PM

Gee, maybe I shouldn't have given away her Pulitzer Prize winner unread (after picking it up cheap in a remaindered bookstore).

It's weird how these three statements all have the same motive force: US imperialism. And weird how US imperialism makes the statements of those two nutjobs Al-Zawahiri and Gadaffi objectively* true.

* though not subjectively: i.e. neither of them has the remotest intention of replacing US imperialist oppression with actual freedom.

Posted by: weaver at May 15, 2011 03:15 AM

Comparing Gaddafi to Obama is like comparing a sherman tank to a motor scooter. It doesn't work.

I would have to say that Obama is much closer to Hitler than Gaddafi is.

Posted by: Rob Payne at May 15, 2011 10:24 AM

Congratulations on a well-presented, entertaining presentation. You obviously worked very hard, and all deserve to be praised for your effort. I'm sure you'll go far.

Posted by: Little Richardjohn at May 15, 2011 10:56 AM

The BBC documentary "The Power of Nightmares" explains all.

Posted by: swadeshine at May 15, 2011 10:59 AM

I do not believe, the Prez is going to be pleased to be compared with current and historical MEGALOMANIACS!


Posted by: Rupa Shah at May 15, 2011 11:17 AM

None of this is freedom; it is an abuse of peoples' freedoms.

Bullies are cowards, and so many of these bullies are hiding behind their own gods. Find me a religion where there is a 'commandment' that tells you go out and kill people and blow shit up.

Posted by: @HelenInCarp at May 15, 2011 11:38 AM

Find me a religion where there is a 'commandment' that tells you go out and kill people and blow shit up.

It's the First and Only Commandment in my newly-created religion. I expect to have millions of followers relatively soon, because it's a really popular Commandment. We also have some psalms about "Torture is Good".

Posted by: darrelplant at May 15, 2011 01:05 PM

Samantha Power nailed!

The Power of Nightmares doesn't answer all, but it is quite good. It is amazing how phenomenally low the level of public discourse in the US is on Middle East policy--there's almost never even a hint of the real issues. Just a bunch of idiotic drivel about Qaddafi and OBL's journals and a bunch of crap that is never even authenticated, because it's not polite to call bullshit. That isn't limited to "conspiracy theories" either--there are lots of other areas where bullshit can't be called.

I agree with Rob Payne that in some ways--notably heading a powerful imperial country instead of a small state--Obama is more like Hitler than Qaddafi is. And the US has some of Nazi Germany's bullying behavior these days too, because we are waging wars of aggression that violate international law and killing people without any juridical sanction or restraint. But that's a little like saying a mountain and an ocean are alike because they're both big. Hitler was a powerful dictator in a totalitarian state with a very nasty and powerful military and intelligence capability (the SS) under his direct control, so both the Wehrmacht AND German intelligence under Admiral Canaris had no control over him. No President in the US has ever had that kind of power, and not even Vice President Cheney did, and to suggest Obama has powers like that is silly. I find it a little hard to imagine Obama ordering the taping of the executions of his political enemies, including powerful military officials, so that he could watch them die before bedtime.

Posted by: N E at May 15, 2011 01:45 PM

We are saying and doing nothing about Bahrain's Saudi-backed repression, and not really anything about Yemen, for FREEDOM.

Also, if anyone explored what might be the broad and long-range effects of the US/NATO attacks on (the civilian-targeting) Qaddafi forces, it meant you hated FREEDOM and wanted all the anti-Qaddafists slaughtered.

When Hamas kills innocent civilians, it's proof that terrorists still dominate the Palestinians and that this is a reason why there cannot yet be any such state independent of occupation.

When Israel blows the hell out of hundreds of civilians and levels the protein-deficient Gazans, it's for FREEDOM.

Posted by: El Cid at May 15, 2011 01:58 PM

Find me a religion where there is a 'commandment' that tells you go out and kill people and blow shit up

Deutoronomy 20:16-18 (NIV)

16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.

Not saying I believe, just answering your question.

Posted by: Pepe at May 15, 2011 02:08 PM

Tom Friedman would tell you gun powder hadn't been invented in those days because Friedman is an intellectual.

Posted by: Rob Payne at May 15, 2011 02:27 PM


Thanks, and I agree with what you said regarding conspiracy theory.

Posted by: Rob Payne at May 15, 2011 02:29 PM

That's a superb snippet, Pepe. Thanks.

Posted by: Mike of Angle at May 15, 2011 02:49 PM

Someone in the Obama administration has heard of Chomsky, even knows the meaningful content? Time to adjust my own perceptions.

Posted by: Mark Tokarski at May 15, 2011 03:13 PM

Pepe does get a prize for that quote.

I hope I don't offend anyone, because I have known some folks in whom Christianity was really a sight to behold, including my blessed mother (may she rest in peace), but God really was pretty savage before he decided to save us all from our sins by letting his only son be tortured to death to show us all the depths of his love.

And thanks for the thanks, Rob Payne.

Posted by: N E at May 15, 2011 06:46 PM

"Find me a religion where there is a 'commandment' that tells you go out and kill people and blow shit up."

It's called Islam. The Quran's commandments to Muslims to wage war in the name of Allah against non-Muslims are indisputable. Moreover, they are authoritative since they were revealed late in the Prophet's life, and thus cancel earlier instructions to act peaceably through the principle of abrogation.

The necessity to wage jihad against infidels and the abrogation of earlier, peaceful commandments, are recognized by all mainstream schools of Suni Islamlamic thought, the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali, as well as Sufism and the Jafari (Shia) school. They only differ on some particulars.

They problem for Christians who are waging wars of aggression is that they aren't following their God. The problem for Muslims is that they are.

Posted by: Joe Theragman at May 15, 2011 06:57 PM

Joe writes: "The problem for Christians who are waging wars of aggression is that they aren't following their God. The problem for Muslims is that they are."

You don't know your theology, Joe. Let me tell you how it works. Why does God have commandments? Because no one obeys them. That's why. Think about it. If no one stole, God wouldn't have bothered commanding us not to steal. We have that commandment because humans steal all the time. See my point? There's no commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Choke on a Pretzel." That's because people naturally avoid choking on pretzels. They don't need a commandment for that. In fact, commandments are a list of things believers NEVER EVER obey. Hence the popular expression, "We're all sinners"! Once you've mastered that bit of theology, then it will be clear to you that we want a religion that says "Thou Shalt Wage Wars of Aggression." And we sinners shall have peace on earth. Amen! Or, rather, Allahu Akbar!

Posted by: bobs at May 15, 2011 08:03 PM

Power quoting Chomsky reminded me of this exchange from A Fish Called Wanda between Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Klein (I've italicized the passage that her comment reminded me of):

Wanda: I was dealing with something delicate, Otto. I'm setting up a guy who's incredibly important to us, who's going to tell me where the loot is and if they're going to come and arrest you. And you come loping in like Rambo without a jockstrap and you dangle him out a fifth-floor window. Now, was that smart? Was it shrewd? Was it good tactics? Or was it stupid?

Otto West: Don't call me stupid.

Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?

Otto West: Apes don't read philosophy.

Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don't understand it. Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself." And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.

I quoted the rest because the line about Buddhism cracks me up every time.

Posted by: BDBlue at May 15, 2011 09:06 PM

BD Blue has let me go to sleep with a smile on my face.

Posted by: N E at May 15, 2011 11:04 PM

The problem with armchair theologists is that they ignore the fact that between the religion and the text like years and years of exegetics. As good post-modernists, we should understand that a text is nothing if not subject to a thousand different interpretations, and *your* reading of a text, and your belief that it is clear, is not necessarily someone else's reading of the text. For me it's clear from reading Genesis that the God depicted is a liar and a cheat, and woman and the serpent are heroic figures in the story. This isn't "clear" to the vast majority of Judeo-Christians. Similarly, although it is "clear" to you, and to some modern Muslims, that the Quran demands jihad against all infidels, that is not the product of the text - it's the product of interpretation. In your case, I imagine it's the product of your desire for the text to yield an interpretation favoring violence. It has been, and will continue to be, argued by many Muslims that the Quran supports no such thing. Islam is a practice, and that practice is based on a particular reading of the Quran, not on the Quran itself.

Posted by: saurabh at May 15, 2011 11:59 PM

If the Christians have a religion that tells them not to kill, and the Muslim (supposedly) have a religion that tells them to kill (per Joe T.), then why are the Christians out-killing the Muslims by a large margin? I don't get it, especially since there are more Muslims than Christians on the planet.

Posted by: Susan at May 16, 2011 01:56 AM

@Saurabh ... David Hume is the hero, neither a woman, nor a serpent, nor a particular school of Islam.

Outside of raw power, I wouldn't seriously say Obama is closer to Hitler than Gaddhafi. Rather, American imperialism makes him closer to Winston Churchill, trying to string together a fading empire while carrying the white man's burden. Ironic, no, given the way the developing world hailed his election precisely because of his nonwhite heritage.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly at May 16, 2011 02:13 AM

What's a little imperialism amonst a few warm friends? I know, I know, as a Zionist I'm one to talk But Folks, ya git whut ya pay fer, April 15, and EVERY time WE hit that pump. Its all about power, because WE CAN, and I don't see it as waining. WE just ripped of Planet Earth for a sweet chunk with OUR mortgage backed securities. I can EVEN see a bright future when WE are forced to drop the oil borse and go backed to a gold standard. Everybody holding dollars will get fucked like a dog in heat at 2am on a Sunday morning.
Obama got Bin Laden for FREEDOM Folks, U&I PAID for it, so's just as well look the other way. Bin Laden Got his JUSTICE WE didn't get OURS and WE'll be lucky to even see the pictures.
It won't be long before Muramar catches a head shot or a cruise missile, as will many a Lybian, rebel or not, along the way.
Gunfighter Law, Lynch Mob Mentality.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 16, 2011 05:34 AM

Completely destroy them - the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites - as the LORD your God has commanded you.

The Jebusites as well?! Holy Jebus!

Posted by: weaver at May 16, 2011 06:55 AM

These 3 examples are not all the same, because the only 1 country occupying or bullying others is the US (which try to break free from its grasp).

Posted by: xdiesp at May 16, 2011 08:59 AM

Deaf, dumb and stupid are the people who bought into and or continue to buy into "they hate us for our freedom." Baby bush has been quiet of late, both clintons sold out, and neither party is worth of anything beyond the money they take from Kochs et al, not to be trusted lack integrity and I consider them almost all liars, cheats and low-life.

Posted by: Fred Jakobcic at May 16, 2011 11:23 AM

The US government is no longer legitimate : It does not adhere to the US Constitution and the Congress does not represent constituents, rather the interest of the large campaign contributions.

Money buys power. Who would have guessed?

Progressives and Federalists, often the same people, have lead these changes, and have a lot to answer for.

Posted by: Lew Glendenning at May 16, 2011 01:52 PM

re the Deutronomy quote:

Completely a destroy them? How is the "a" missing yet needed? You are perhaps referring to the 'Jersey Shore' NIV, yes?

Posted by: fozzie at May 16, 2011 05:07 PM

I long to be an armchair theologist, but where is my much dreamed-of lazy boy? I am a good post-modernist, I really am, and I always eat my exegetics, and still I have no armchair. That is wrong wrong wrong, and I have begun to think that maybe it's because I'm not a Muslim. I am starting to think the Muslims must have all the armchairs, and I bet that is why we are outkilling them, Susan, because we are so angry about that. The thought of all those terrorists getting butt sweat all over MY armchair galls me. I haven't been this mad since fluoridated water. They have taken and hidden (or blown up?) all the armchairs, and I say invade them now to get them back. That skinny-assed bitch Ann Coulter was right--kill them and turn them into Christians so they know what it's like to not be able to find a comfortable armchair when you really need it.

Posted by: N E at May 16, 2011 08:23 PM

No U.S. Politician has ever been like Hitler, none. Saying so is buying into the paranoia being promoted by Alex Jones which I see some here already have what with the praise of David Ray Griffin(also a holocaust denier).

Posted by: Jenny at May 16, 2011 09:41 PM

"No U.S. Politician has ever been like Hitler, none."

Well, sure. But also, every U.S. politician has been like Hitler, all of them. What's the uniqueness of Hitler you're emphasizing, here? The genocidal paranoia? The totalitarianism?

Posted by: saurabh at May 16, 2011 10:59 PM

So, Jenny -

(the usual punchline)

What are you? In real estate?

Posted by: weaver at May 16, 2011 11:16 PM

@fozzie - sorry, should have removed the [a], or included which was a hypertext link to a footnote


Deuteronomy 20:17 The Hebrew term [destroy] refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the LORD, often by totally destroying them.

Posted by: Pepe at May 17, 2011 12:04 AM

bobs wins!

Posted by: almostinfamous at May 17, 2011 03:07 AM


David Ray Griffin a holocaust denier!?! I defer to Weaver's wit, but I do hope you find your way out of whatever hole you have fallen into before you starve.


I thought I said, or at least implied, what was different about Hitler, but basically the power he had and how he acquired it, and also how unrestrained he was by it and with it. There are evil people everywhere, and evil powerful people everywhere, so that's not why the US hasn't made Hitlers yet. Anyway, you're smart, so read Sebastian Haffner's The Meaning of Hitler sometime. That's a lucid book written by someone who lived through the whole sordid experience and had much valuable insight.

Posted by: N E at May 17, 2011 02:57 PM

I'm not sure the "Christians" are really out-killing the Muslims. Very little murder in the world is expressly committed in the name of Christianity these days. It is kind of sophistical to ascribe US-NATO caused deaths to Christians, unless like Osama bin Laden you see all history strictly in terms of 12th-15th century religious wars.

On the other hand, lots of people are killed every day in the name of Islam. Is there a week where a car bomb doesn't slaughter a marketplace full of Pakistanis? And Coptics in Egypt and Gaza Christians are murdered all the time.

If modern Israel is supposedly following the mandate to genocide spelled out in Deuteronomy they are clearly doing a crappy job of it, as the Palestinian population has rapidly increased in the past 60 years.

Posted by: seth at May 17, 2011 04:11 PM


General Boykin would probably disagree with you.

See also, spiritual fitness

Posted by: Pepe at May 18, 2011 03:48 PM

Why pepe, I thought of boykin too. And the air force is also full of bombers for jesus.

Posted by: N E at May 19, 2011 01:53 PM