From The AP: ‘Al-Awlaki: From Voice For Jihad To Al-Qaida Figure’

Full report here.

‘On Friday, al-Awlaki was killed in the mountains of Yemen in what local officials said they believed was an American airstrike. The officials said pilotless drones had been seen circling the area in recent days.

According to American officials, the 40-year-old al-Awlaki had over the years moved from being an influential mouthpiece for al-Qaida’s ideology of holy war against the United States to become an operational figure, helping recruit militants for al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen, seen as the most dangerous direct threat to America.’

Somewhat established current thinking as I’ve heard it: A relatively smaller percentage of Muslim men, often with Western experience  (college, work, study abroad, immigration), usually in transitional periods in their lives (adolescence, joblessness, spiritual crisis, isolation and displacement, bereavement, mentally unstable) withdraw from the world, and usually their mosques, and become committed to some form of Al-Qaeda like ideology.  They may do this in small groups or alone.  They may watch videos of drone strikes, or Bosnia, or Al-Qaeda training and recruitment, or someone like Al-Awlaki, or may find a web site, and then become committed over a period of weeks or months to some kind of planning and action.  I suspect a sense of injustice is a major driver, but I don’t claim to know what justice is, only that more injustice results from their usually desperate actions.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition: Of course, the NY Times and NPR in their post 9/11 coverage were looking for a “moderate” Muslim,  not a radical Muslim in their coverage of Al-Awlaki as a bridge between the Muslim and American worlds.    I doubt such outlets will highlight their error.  I also doubt such outlets would want to live under an Islamic theocracy, nor an autocratic regime as is so often found in the Muslim world as Islam has not had anything like an Enlightenment from the inside out (and many in the Muslim world are deeply resentful at being at the mercy of so many Western influences).  I suspect such folks would rather just pursue their ideals until the public square came to be dominated by the “secular republic” ideal which seeks to keep religion out of that square.

This could be reasonable if many such folks recognized the threats posed to liberty by liberal groups and the consequences of their own ideals in action, here and especially in Europe, whose mistakes many seem all too willing to import (including real fascism, weaker economies that can’t handle Muslim immigration as does our stronger economy).  This is to say nothing of the obvious and more immediate danger that huddling another Al-Awlaki type under the banner of diversity, tolerance and multi-culturalism could pose to national security.

They made a mistake, but such foolish earnestness makes stronger and more fruitful attempts at mutual understanding harder to achieve, if such are your aims.

Another Addition: Link sent in by a reader to Alexander Hitchens essay:  As American As Apple Pie: How Anwar al-Awlaki Became The Face Of Western Jihad

Related On This Site:  Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’From Foreign Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda After Attiyya’ 

The Hitchens factor, and a vigorous defense of free speech: From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During Lecture’……From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

What kind of threats to free speech do the justice and rights crowd pose?:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant

Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Repost-Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

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From Foreign Policy: ‘Mearsheimer Responds To Goldberg’s Latest Smear’

Full post here.

I won’t comment except to say that the fulcrum of American politics and foreign policy has shifted left with the Obama administration, releasing pressures here and abroad (for which it may not have new structures and ideas…and which introduces new problems).  Walt and Mearsheimer have been arguing against the Israel lobby for a while and here Mearsheimer defends himself against the charge of being in political bed with an anti-semite.

Addition:  Volokh has more here.

Related On This Site:  John Mearsheimer’s offensive realism (Israel can’t go on like this forever, the Israel lobby leads to bad U.S policy decisions): Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington….is neoconservative foreign policy defunct…sleeping…how does a neoconservatism more comfortable with liberalism here at home translate into foreign policy?: Wilfred McClay At First Things: ‘The Enduring Irving Kristol’

Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon the raft of Kantian perpetual peace?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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Repost-From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-‘Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

Full piece here.

Metcalf is arguing, I think, that Nozick’s reasoning is unsound (philosophical father?).  Here’s Metcalf:

‘When I study American history, I can see why America, thanks to a dense bundle of historical accidents, is a kind of Lockean paradise, uniquely suited to holding up liberty as its paramount value. This is not what Nozick is arguing. Nozick is arguing that liberty is the sole value, and to put forward any other value is to submit individuals to coercion.’

Well, it’s good to see a modern liberal appeal to Lockean life, liberty and property, even if for other ends (to position Nozick as extreme, and libertarians as outside the norm of a more reasonable definition of liberty).  Here’s the Internet Encyclopedia Of Philosophy’s page on Nozick:

‘Nozick takes his position to follow from a basic moral principle associated with Immanuel Kant and enshrined in Kant’s second formulation of his famous Categorical Imperative: “Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.” ‘


‘But if individuals are inviolable ends-in-themselves (as Kant describes them) and self-owners, it follows, Nozick says, that they have certain rights, in particular (and here again following Locke) rights to their lives, liberty, and the fruits of their labor. To own something, after all, just is to have a right to it, or, more accurately, to possess the bundle of rights – rights to possess something, to dispose of it, to determine what may be done with it, etc. ‘


‘So far this all might seem fairly uncontroversial. But what follows from it, in Nozick’s view, is the surprising and radical conclusion that taxation, of the redistributive sort in which modern states engage in order to fund the various programs of the bureaucratic welfare state, is morally illegitimate. It amounts to a kind of forced labor’

Perhaps you find Nozick’s minimally intrusive, all-that’s-morally-justifiable “night watchman” state inadequate for how people actually behave (Nozick was well prepared, however, for many of your arguments). Let’s say you’re OK with paying taxes for roads and public education (as for me I know quite well that incentives can be distorted: state workers often getting lazy, bored, resentful at their bosses, aiming for retirement etc…teachers not often being the best minds, some quite mediocre, also aiming for retirement and benefits, bored, the creative ones ground down by the red tape and petty bureaucracy…and this is if both groups DON”T unionize).  But no state services for roads and education?

So, what is Metcalf’s response to Nozick?  After two readings, I’m still unclear:

The ploy is to take libertarianism as Orwell meant it and confuse it with libertarianism as Hayek meant it; to take a faith in the individual as an irreducible unit of moral worth, and turn it into a weapon in favor of predation.’

The ploy?  Predation?  Clarity please.

‘When Hayek insists welfare is the road is to serfdom, when Nozick insists that progressive taxation is coercion, they take liberty hostage in order to prevent a reasoned discussion about public goods from ever taking place.’

Not too impressive.  I could see how liberals might want to keep Rand and F.A. Hayek and perhaps Nozick (thinkers grappling with communism and socialism on the ground in the former cases…and the results in both Russia and Austria…from defining the debate, but….well…make the arguments).   Comments might be worth a read.

Addition:  Libertarianism often rises during liberal administrations, and is particularly active in California.  If liberalism has at its core some socialist and communist elements (and in my experience, it does), then I see a real need for a Nozickian defense of liberty as do many libertarians and Californians who’ve seen the rise of a union and special interest controlled democratic party, crony capitalism, and much corruption and waste.  Those are serious threats to individual liberty as are the good intentions of many universalists and idealists, even if you find Nozick extreme.

As to Nozick perhaps unwittingly building a Kantian/Lockean extreme defense of liberty, built upon the largesse of a mix of state/private enterprise that modern liberalism has helped build, then where is a more clear path from modern liberalism to classical liberalism, and to Locke?

Related On This SiteA Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”Link To An Ayn Rand Paper: The Objectivist Attack On Kant

On anarchy: Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’The Politics Of Noam Chomsky-The Dangers Of Kantian Transcendental Idealism?

Tuesday Quotation: J.S. MillPeter Singer discusses Hegel and MarxFrom Philosophy And Polity: ‘Historicism In German Political Theory’

There are other ponds: A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Report From The Middle East: Part One’

Full post here.

Some analysis of the Israel/Palestine situation:

‘This is the reality and it is a bleak one.  Peace is no closer than at any time since 1948 because neither side is yet willing to settle for what it can actually get.  Israelis don’t want a small and insecure state with a Palestinian enemy next door; Palestinians don’t want a weak microstate that fails to solve the refugee problem. There are some people on both sides who are willing to accept peace on those terms — but not enough.’

Related On This Site: Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘French Secularism Dies In the Middle East’From The New Yorker: ‘Obama And Israel’…The Hamas Charter is pretty scary:  Repost: A Few Thoughts On The Current Israeli Military Operation Into Gaza: A Shift In U.S. Attitudes?

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From Foreign Affairs: ‘Is the Egyptian-Israeli Relationship Over?’

Full post here.

Well, maybe not over, but perhaps in serious trouble:

‘As long as an authoritarian government ruled Egypt, this boiling cauldron could be kept under control, largely through the same means of repression that stifled political opposition of any stripe. However, when Mubarak fell from power in February and the authoritarian grip of the government relaxed, the anger in the street erupted. So far, it has been directed as much at Israel as at the ancien régime.’

Related On This Site:  Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest Online: ‘Political Order in Egypt’From CSIS: ‘Turmoil In The Middle-East’……Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’From The National Interest Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rawls Visits the Pyramids’

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From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’

Full post here.  (including video link)

Detroit may have seen better days, and may have its problems, but is it to be seen through a tragic lens…as an artifact whose meaning is to be determined by young artists looking for a sense of community, social integration, and certain definition of “culture?”

Does it matter that much if these are the people currently adding value back to Detroit and willing to do the work?

Related On This Site: Is the same definition of ‘community’ connected with one that can stifle economic growth through political means?: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?… some people don’t want you to have the freedom to move to the suburbs and are attaching creativity to political goals: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’… From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar Man

Trading Robert Moses for Brailia…an authoritarian streak?:  Brasilia: A Planned City… Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And Aesthetics

From Reason: ‘Reason Saves Cleveland With Drew Carey’…Reason also suggests that if such creative/entrepenurial spirit gets off the ground, it will have to get around the public sector in Detroit.

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From The American Interest: ‘Unraveling-Why Pakistan Supports Radicals’

Full post here.

‘Pakistan is dominated by two groups; a feudal civilian political elite and the Pakistani army. Like the majority of Pakistanis, most members of each practice a pious but tolerant and non-aggressive form of Sufi Islam that borrows heavily from Hindu culture, if not Hindu theology. This form of Islam, the predominant one throughout South Asia, revolves around the veneration of Muslim holy men known as pirs, some of whose ancestors are venerated as saints.’

Why do people join terrorist groups?: Interesting discussion at Bloggingheads

Addition:  At the end of that above discussion, there is the rather ridiculous claim that the way to win the hearts and minds of young pre-terrorists is to have elected Obama…that in the Manichean struggle for their spirits, we must appease every potential radical through our electoral process, and the appearance of that process to others.

Related On This Site: A tense relationship: Fareed Zakaria At Newsweek: ‘Terrorism’s Supermarket’Christopher Hitchens At Vanity Fair: ‘From Abbotabad To Worse’Repost-’Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan’

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From The WSJ: ‘Taliban Strike Heart of Afghan Capital’

Full piece here.

‘The Taliban launched a coordinated attack on the Afghan capital Monday, paralyzing the city for most of the day as militants set off explosions, took over buildings and attempted to disrupt the swearing-in of new cabinet ministers.’

The security of Kabul has been transitioned to Afghan forces, and many people in Kabul don’t feel very secure today.   My pessimism comes from the rank corruption of the current administration, including the current conditions that so easily lead to corruption:  poverty, geographical isolation, high illiteracy rates, tribal identities and loyalties, decades of war and economic incentive to grow and move opium, a porous border.  The Taliban perhaps can be hoped to have some incentives to disassociate from Al Qaeda, but in many ways, not much has changed, including the logic of why the U.S. is there and why our troops have such a difficult and sometimes confusing mission.

Related On This Site:  From Foreign Affairs: ‘Q & A With Stephen Biddle On Afghanistan’

From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanRepost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry Kissinger

Repost-’Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan’

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Peter Suderman At Reason: ‘Whoops! ObamaCare Backers in Wisconsin Produce Report Showing That the Health Care Overhaul Will Make Health Insurance More Expensive’

Full piece here.

I still don’t know how you insure a projected 30 million + more people, vastly increase government oversight, and lower costs.  Clearly our current system needs to become more efficient, but I suspect a reasonable percentage of the drivers of change behind the Affordable Care Act really do believe it is the job of all of us to provide health-care in the collective, not insurance, for all:

That’s because more than half the individual market will still end up paying more: “After the application of tax subsidies,” the report projects, “59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent.”

Related On This Site:  From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’Peter Suderman At The WSJ: ‘Obamacare And The Medicaid Mess’

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