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04 June 2017


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Babak Makkinejad

No they did not and they also suffered from a severe case of historic amnesia and wishful thinking (Umma and all that)...

Babak Makkinejad

Your English friend had acted in bad faith as well as bad form.

Charlie Wilson

The fact that we have waged merciless war on that part of the world since 1991 has anything to do with what is happening now. A battered wife will eventually slice off your pecker while you sleep.


Porkchop Express


I had this conversation with a Lebanese friend from Tripoli just the other day.

Totally agree. A win - win outcome is almost an alien concept except to the Western educated--and even then, when push comes to shove...

If you beg my pardon, his explanation was it's: "I win, you lose. And then I fuck you even harder after you lose."

Following along a similar line, I'm curious if you'd be willing to discuss more in detail the idea of getting one over on the ajnabeen. How it's both a popular sport so to speak and a point of pride--whether it's ripping you off for 5 Egyptian pounds for a cab ride, presenting oneself as more powerful or influential than one is, or convincing naive milquetoasts in DC that they're absolutely on board for promoting American objectives over their own parochial interests.

You broached it a few weeks ago both in reference to Arab and Turkish culture. It's not an entirely unimportant point when it comes to American interaction in that part of the world, both politically and even personally, yet is hardly (never, really) presented as an issue in terms of American policy.


Thanks. Sorry. My point was many believe violent jihadis to be bat-sh*t crazy incomprehensible Others, thus only worthy of being bombed. This cardboard, Bush-league thinking leads to tautologies: They're crazy because they're crazy. The thinking then stops there.

When one asks WHY the jihadis act so, it opens up into the possibility of diverting or subverting forces.

I heard you saying jihad is part of religion. I agree. If the reasons why men go jihad could be made understandable, then perhaps better answers could be found.

My proposal was to find something (a) meaningful, and (b) profitable for them to do, that did not involve stomping people. Perhaps Muslim GE could build a water purification mega-factory. Perhaps a new seminary, with thousands of paid scholarships. Certainly, wild ideas; but something that fits those parameters; others better than me can run with it.

My other point was, until something changes and something better like this comes along, (jihad being a reasonably fulfilling and profitable career choice), I guess young men are going to continue to choose violent jihad over a vacuum of lesser opportunities. So, again, agreeing; until someone comes up with something better, or a better religious/conceptual frame for them, violent jihad will continue indefinitely.


Beating in heads of unbeliever heathens with your best buds, in the name of The LORD. What could be a better way to spend time??

Peter Brownlee

And perhaps the Enlightenment (self-described by its supporters, including me, I suppose).

Producing dictionaries and encyclop(a)edias can be a revolutionary, threatening and delicate activity as our French and Soviet friends (and vanishing commissars) learned.


Jihad does seem to be a root principle of Islam. What is jihad, from their point of view? It's resistance to injustice.

Why is the US getting resistance? Perhaps it's because we have arrogated to ourselves the right to control people's lives over there. The Carter Doctrine says that the US will prevent, by force if necessary, any polity hostile to the US from gaining control of Saudi Arabia. That includes forces internal to Saudi Arabia.

What would the reaction be in Virginia if China declared that it would use military force to prevent a government hostile to China from coming to power here? How would Americans feel if China actually had overwhelming military power compared to the US when it said that?

The US has killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in the Middle East in an attempt to dictate who will govern other people. (I'm counting Iraqi dead through sanctions as well as the wars here).

Why can't we just let go of the belief that we have the right to do this?


John N Gray has written a book called "Al Queda and What it means to be Modern" in which claims that the current Jihadist movement is actually a product of Modernism.


The Beaver


The latest from General Dempsey:
“There’s no airpower alone solution to ISIL either in Iraq or in Syria,” Dempsey said, using an acronym to refer to the Islamic State. “There has to be a ground component to the campaign against ISIL in Syria, and we believe that the path to develop that is the Syrian moderate opposition.”

From 5000 to 15000.
Now if everyone and his brother are saying that defeating ISIS will take years ( David Cameron is the latest ), won't that number go up.

The Beaver


The latest from the Sultan:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that a "no-fly zone" should be created in Syria to protect part of it from attacks by Syria's air force.


He is trying to pull the same stunt that Qatar did on Gaddhafi . Both Qatar and Turkey were promoting the Muslim Brotherhood until they were slap on the fingers by the Saudis.


With all the respect i have for you as a teacher for all of us, i have to ask this. How come when Christians of Europe revisit their religious dogma and practices, it is called reformation and renaissance, but when muslims want to challenge internal phenomena like ISIS, they are just indulging in vanity?


I almost find the whole episode tragic. Charles Martel, defending a middle eastern faith spread by an imperial Roman power among his people, killing a lot of northern African Berbers fighting in service of another middle eastern religion imposed upon them by another imperial Arab power.

In London there is this statue of Boudica next to parliament house. When i stood there, it made me wonder how complete was the annihilation of her identity that she was being celebrated in a very Roman way with a statue, surrounded by structures and ideas that were brought by her enemies to her land.


"but the projection of stereotypes of the universality of cultures is dangerous"

Yes, I think this is a MAJOR problem of our times, the denial of which padoxically fuelling the very "Clash of Civilisations" it purports to ignore.


Col., in re: "if you think I am spreading bigoted stereotypes, go somewhere else to read." I do not think anything of the kind, since your posts reflect your eyes-wide-open observations f a number of places and cultures. My remark on projection referred to those who seem to believe there is an arc of history in which the world will come to embrace American values and beliefs.



Now I understand. Good, but it is not just stereotypes that poisons the American mind about strange peoples and places. It is also a problem of sheer ignorance and a desire to believe that all people are equally and identically motivated. even after all that has passed I still hear people say that "all people are the same," etc. This statement and its implied criticism will probably draw a response. pl



Much of European angst and communal struggle over doctrine and dogma was also a matter of vanities variously displayed. A key difference from the past and present situation in Islam was the existence in European Christianity of religion administered in a hierarchical manner. The Catholic and Orthodox churches are authoritarian and ruled from the top down, much like an army. The Protestant Reformation challenged that organization with the result that there now exist Christian sects such as the Evangelical Anabaptist derived groups that exercise the kind of dogmatic independence that has always been the universal situation among Muslim ijma' groups. I insist that to deny that the process of forming ijma' among separate groups of Muslims is the rule is vain. pl


I would argue that you are right. However it would have been as irrelevant as in england if catholics were as well off as protestants in northern ireland. Without the economic discrimination I doubt we would have had as much violence. Of course, the counter argument is that the economic discrimination was rooted in religion.

Or so I think.

Disclaimer, british catholic of jewish descent.



The "of Jewish descent thing" means little. "You may be whatever you resolve to be." Stonewall Jackson. I think of you as English. pl


It was merely disclaimer. I am of course, a north londoner.


Jihad has become such a loaded term now- like Nazi, I wonder if it's useful anymore. I know a guy named Jihad who now goes by John because hes so tired of dealing with it.

One thing I'd try to point out- the very notion of 'church' and 'state' which came out of the European experience of the Renaissance and which underpins a western culture of 'modernity' doesn't really exist in the Middle East except as in a fragmentary way.

The Middle East is in many ways both pre-modern and post-modern. Pre modern in the sense that life, religion and politics retain a much more unified character- medieval or fuedal in the context of European history.

But also post modern in the sense that the modern and pre modern exist simultaneously as fragmented experiences. There really is no unified 'ism' left in the Arab Middle East. Perhaps in turkey and Iran, for now.

The very suggestion that church and state can and should be separated is a western imposition on the people there.

The 'jihad' under discussion is a manifestation of a local resistance to exactly these kinds of impositions. This resistance- and I think resistance is a more useful term- will never really go away, even in periods of quiet.



Your comment is yet another version of the tired social sciences inspired theme song the refrain of which insists that culture and in this case religion are a disguise for what is really going on. pl


Colonel Lang :

I'm not sure I'm in on "what is really going on". All I was saying is that any interaction on the west terms is bound to encounter resistance in the Middle East by the locals. That resistance is religious today - you can call it jihadi, fine by me. But it hasn't always been thus. For a very long time it was called anti colonial.

But it's not a disguse at all, the resistance IS religious cultural and politcal- and the very idea that those things are distinct is preposterous to the people doing the fighting.

My question is about the nature of the conflict. If the jihadi thing is hard wired into the religion,all I would also say is that maybe the western appeal to universality for all people, which is that brown skinned people want the same thing is as white skinned Europeans is no less wired into western civ. Maybe we aren't there because we made a policy mistake, maybe we are there because it is our 'manifest destiny'.

If not then why are we there? Just because of a children's crusade? Why has the west continued to go back again and again since the time of Alexander?

THAT would be an enlightening thread.


I just read the Armstrong article. My comments were trying to get at precisely this line of thought, but in a far less articulate and informed way.



I think it is worth mentioning that you are probably a Swedish Air Force person. "... maybe the western appeal to universality for all people, which is that brown skinned people want the same thing is as white skinned Europeans." Islam is not a religion of "brown skinned people." Europeans of the Germanic descended type; English, Scandinavians, Finns (whatever they are in descent), etc. tend to see "brown skinned people" in everyone who comes from beyond Calais. When I worked with an English headquartered company I heard Arabs, Turks, Pushtuns, Parsees and the like described as "colored." Often these people are as "white" as I am and I am quite White. Sometimes people of that kind of genetic endowment said this themselves. "The English will never accept us because we are Black!" Many, many Muslims can only be described as White and the religion does not admit of such distinctions as race, although there are a lot of Muslims who are quite prejudiced against others of African descent. pl

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