Two More Syria Links

Was there a chemical attack?  One respected journalist, anyways, having visited the site in Douma, says there’s very little evidence.

Addition: Maybe he’s a dupe at best?

And:

‘Meanwhile, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) team arrived in Damascus on Saturday, April 14th – after the US-led overnight strikes which primarily hit government buildings in the capital. ‘

Hmmm…maybe it’s just me, but I see a crisis of belief all throughout the West and relatively poor leadership (what to believe, and when to act?).  This can lead to greater instability.

Another argument against the American military strikes (we pulled our influence in the region, and all this is now too little, too late…come what may):

‘To reiterate my own longstanding view: Russia is a nasty place and Vladimir Putin is a nasty man, of the ilk that always has ruled Russia, a country where nobody talks about Ivan the Reasonable. On my Ogre-ometer, Putin barely registers a 1.9 against Stalin’s 9.8. Russia is NOT our friend and NOT a prospective ally. But we have two choices. One is to attempt to bring Putin down and bring in a government we like, and the other is to strike a deal with Putin that we can live with.’

How about we avoid gazing into Putin’s soul this time?  Is the French-American alliance durable?  Perhaps this is what to make of a dimished thing, which means more compromise, strategy, and vision with our military.

What’s the plan, here?

—–
As posted:

Michael McFaul at Foreign Policy: ‘How Trump Can Play Nice With Russia Without Selling-Out America:’

After some policy suggestions, there’s this:

‘I continue to believe that it is in the U.S. interest to promote the independence, territorial integrity, and security not only of Ukraine, but also Georgia, Moldova, and all countries threatened by Russian hegemony. And the United States and its allies must develop new strategies for engaging Russian society and other societies throughout the former Soviet Union, including even in the Donbass region of Ukraine now occupied by Kremlin-supported separatists. We need more student exchanges, more peer-to-peer dialogues, more business internships to increase connections between our societies. We cannot revert to a policy where we only speak to officials in Moscow and attempt to do right by the Kremlin.

A lot of those former Soviet satellites, especially the Baltics, needed courage, hard-work, and luck just to get far enough away from Moscow to recieve NATO protection….:

Not exactly a foregone conclusion…

Here’s Putin, back in the 80’s, meeting Reagan. Ho hum, just a tourist, snapping some photos and meeting, how do you say, your premier.

What goes around, comes around-An oldie but a goodie-George Kennan: ‘The Sources Of Soviet Conduct

60 Minutes had an interview with ‘Jack Barsky,‘ an East-German Soviet spy who ended up living in America.  To hell with it!

From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’

European Anti-Semitism, Marxism, Immigration And Bad Ideas

Via Mick Hartley.

Oliver Kamm:

‘Why would the leader of a mainstream political party declare that he is opposed to antisemitism? The answer, in the case of Jeremy Corbyn, is that otherwise it would be impossible to tell.’

Of course, NPR will tend to see ‘anti-semitism’ as a ‘far-right’ phenomenon and overlook how complicit naive idealism and authoritarian collectivisism can be in exacerbating the problem.

Let’s not forget that greasing many a cog, found grinding within many a big-city American political machine (exiquisitely corrupt), can be found similar activism.

My two cents:  Fashioning the same, tired ideas into a political platform and leading many of the same ‘People’ ritualistically against the world that is (the oppressor’s world), misunderstands much of human nature and much of what is politically possible.

Merely subjecting one’s Self to the continually fresh challenges and foibles of political leadership doesn’t necessarily legitimate bad ideas.

Labeling all individuals as either ‘racist’ or not, ‘misogynist’ or not, ‘Islamophobic’ or not, is serious mislabeling.

This can expose, sooner or later, genuine ‘minorities’ (definitional) living in plain sight to many of the abuses and legitimate fears minorities tend to face pretty much all the time and in all places.

The divisions within the human heart towards the known, familiar and comfortable tend to re-assert themselves, sooner or later.

Hopefully, this occurs magnanimously and within families, as part of institutional best practices and under laws which leave individuals free to practice charity, prudence and reasonable judgment where possible.  A solid friendship can weather much more than yet another political crusade.

The more institutions and laws with power to govern your family become governed by radicals and utopians, the weaker those institutions and more badly written the laws tend to become.  Unsurprisingly, this bodes ill for many families.

How is ‘Europe’ going to handle these problems?:

Update And Repost: From Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’

Are we back to a clash of civilizations…or are there are other options: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’ …

Thank You Bernard Henri-Levy: The End Of Victimhood & Identity Politics

Tom Wolfe wrote about the Black Panthers showing up at Leonard Bernstein’s place: Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic: That Party At Lenny’s.

Alberto Nisman, The ‘Global Community’ & Anti-Semitism in Europe-Some Links & Thoughts

John O’Sullivan On The French Elections

Full piece here.

‘So the next five years could well see a series of social crises in which two versions of young France — a multicultural one swollen by migration and a native-nationalist one fed by the arrival of a post-guilt generation — will find themselves on opposite sides of a worsening political divide.’
The fundamental instability of both current French politics and the EU are worrying, to say the least.

 

As previously posted:

Interview sent in by a reader with Hollebecq on his ‘Soumission,’ which, in his fictional world, imagines a soon-to-be Muslim candidate defeating a French nationalist candidate, followed by an ultimate submission of French society to Islamic law and political leadership.

Interesting discussion at the link (including a deflation of (R)acism as critical theory).

‘But now you’re asking words to mean something they don’t. Racism is simply when you don’t like somebody because he belongs to another race, because he hasn’t got the same color skin that you do, or the same features, et cetera. You can’t stretch the word to give it some higher meaning.’

On some of Hollebecq’s thinking behind the creative work:

‘Yes. It has to happen sometime and it might as well be now. In this sense, too, I am a Comtean. We are in what he calls the metaphysical stage, which began in the Middle Ages and whose whole point was to destroy the phase that preceded it. In itself, it can produce nothing, just emptiness and unhappiness. So yes, I am hostile to Enlightenment philosophy, I need to make that perfectly clear. ‘

Whoa, at least he’s relatively up front about that.

Isn’t it possible to reject Hollebecq’s modernity-is-dead worldview AND also put the universal claims of progressive, collectivist, ideological, postmodern, multicultural feminist discontents into their proper perspective…without suggesting the end of the modern world and some presumed next stage to be reached?

And as for discussions of art:  Is the book worth a read?

======================

From the comments:

‘Those of you regarding e.g. feminism as somehow an antidote to the patriarchal impulses in enlightenment thinking or Islam, or in broader terms postmodern political and social movements as offering a ‘third way’, something totally new and immune from this dynamic of competitive decay and decline, forget the fact that these movements are themselves the most recent outgrowths of the emancipative instinct, one of the core features deeply rooted in Western thought ever since the renaissance, as Barzun described. As an Asian living in the West myself, I have to tell you that this instinct is simply not present as a core element in other civilisations, and is indeed distinctive about the West. That Japan and Korea, and for that matter every non-western nation, modernised without a countercultural ‘values’ rebellion is indicative in this regard. The west is going to be without allies as it goes with a whimper.

Under such a depressing worldview, hope is provided for by religion and mysticism, a return to medievalism. It is sad, because the West will truly die as it numbs its own most deeply embedded instincts in the process of conversion, but the mysticism is a form of hope for the masses, who never particularly cared for high ideals anyway.

Houellebecq seems to channel Spengler, who hardly anybody reads nowadays. But that such an interesting thinker is hardly glanced at today is an indictment of us, not of him.’

Also, from the comments.  Hubristic, but there’s something to the grandiosity and deflated nihilism:

‘This is why I love French writers and thinkers. Fascinating to read even if they are always wrong.’

The French Government Is Proactively Shutting Down Some Mosques

Via The Atlantic: ‘France has Shut Down 20 Mosques

‘Of the country’s 2,500 mosques and prayer halls, approximately 120 of them have been suspected by French authorities of preaching radical Salafism, a fundamentalist interpretation of Sunni Islam, according to France 24.

“There is no place … in France for those who call for and incite hatred in prayer halls or in mosques … About 20 mosques have been closed, and there will be others,” Cazeneuve said.’

A story of Saudi money and Salafism in Kosovo by the NY Times.

Theodore Dalrymple was actually here a while ago, comparing Britain unfavorably to France.

Britain:

“…is not an ideological state; it has no foundation myths that are easy to identify with…”

According to Dalrymple, French ideological rigidity through the laws may be quite useful in handling the ideological rigidity of the terrorists, and perhaps other not fully assimilated Muslim immigrants. The French have their own brand of integration, after all (making new Frenchman), particularly since the revolution. Eventually too, the enforcement of laws and the ideals of liberte, egalite, fraternite, have the force of the State behind them.

Evidently, some Muslims in France are being raised to believe Islamic laws of blasphemy trump those of the French Republic. Add large ghettos and relatively less social mobility, economic opportunity, and integration, and you’ve got potentially serious problems. Among them, the anti-semitism that Muslims often treat as their birthright, compacted under such pressure, simmering in neighborhoods large enough where a lot of customs from the home countries linger, mutual suspicions and conspiracy theories abound, and where Islam itself can be at odds with post-Enlightenment, post-revolutionary France.

Dalrymple:

“Multiculturalism, that is, is not compatible with the founding Enlightenment mythology of France; assimilation, not integration, is the goal “

As previously posted.

Dalrymple:

But of course the most worrying aspect of the situation is the attraction of jihadi ideology for young Muslims. It is impossible to gauge exactly the degree or strength of support for it: opinion surveys are all but useless. The least one can say, however, is that jihadism attracts both those with bright and dim futures, and according to official calculations, some 2,200 youthful jihadis from France, Britain, and Belgium alone have gone to Syria. This is a far more than sufficient pool of murderous religious ideologues to cause untold havoc in Europe.’

Medieval Times-Roaming The Gloom With Theory: Interview With Michel Hollebecq

So, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’Terrifying News Story Of The Day-From The London Evening Standard: ‘Man Butchered By ‘Terror’ Pair’Horror And Hope-Some Links On Rebuilding After 9/11

‘Art’ & Ideology, Ideology and Politics-Some Links

A little more from Cathy Young on the ‘mattress artist:’

‘Rape is a vile crime; to support the victim and condemn the perpetrator are natural and noble instincts. But the presumption of innocence is a key principle of justice and a fundamental societal value. This story should be a reminder of its importance to both journalists and politicians.’

Who needs facts, evidence, and reason, when you’ve got a cause, a victim, and outrage?

Withholding judgment is often the point of many of these legal pathways and processes.  To whom does it do good to see political incentives channeled away from the presumption of innocence, and the gathering of facts and evidence?

Not people who want to live in a civilized society, generally speaking.

Cathy Young At The Daily Beast-‘Columbia Student: I Didn’t Rape Her’Cathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘The Brown Case: Does It Still Look Like Rape?

==================

Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple, I believe) reads and reviewsSoumission,’  that new novel which imagines a future French Caliphate out of the despair and nihilistic gloom of the author:

‘The plot of Soumission is simple, but clever and plausible (which does not, of course, mean that, being set in the future, it is a prediction). Having won another mandate of five years in 2017, François Hollande presides over further catastrophic economic and social decline.’

Medieval Times-Roaming The Gloom With Theory: Interview With Michel Hollebecq..Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Look Away From Europe’s Muslim Problem’

=================

And, because that particularly ideological set of interests receiving European immigrants values all faiths, ethnic groups, and ‘ways of life’ equally well, why not try it out here?  You know the kind:  Victim/oppressor, universal ‘rights’ based activism and identity politics etc.:

Interesting link.

The first thing to go is often decorum, respect and civility, because if you’re being oppressed, and you’re righteous in your cause, and virtuous in your activism, you never really respected ‘the man,’ ‘the system,’ nor his/its rules, anyways.

The attack on others’ right to speak is a potentially acceptable casualty, and the more broad equivocating on free speech limitations usually comes later, by those who suddenly find the erosion of decorum, respect and civility all around them.

======================

Repost: Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie’

Why Not Just Ban The Burqa?-Some Links

Full post here.

A while ago, Dalrymple wrote concernedly about massive immigration to London, and even more about the British response. He went so far as to compare Britain unfavorably with France.

Britain:

“…is not an ideological state; it has no foundation myths that are easy to identify with…”

According to Dalrymple, French ideological rigidity through the laws may be quite useful in handling the ideological rigidity of the terrorists, and perhaps other not fully assimilated Muslim immigrants. The French have their own brand of integration, after all (making new Frenchman), particularly since the revolution. Eventually too, the enforcement of laws and the ideals of liberte, egalite, fraternite, have the force of the State behind them.

Evidently, some Muslims in France are being raised to believe Islamic laws of blasphemy trump those of the French Republic. Add large ghettos and relatively less social mobility, economic opportunity, and integration, and you’ve got potentially serious problems. Among them, the anti-semitism that Muslims often treat as their birthright, compacted under such pressure, simmering in neighborhoods large enough where a lot of customs from the home countries linger, mutual suspicions and conspiracy theories abound, and where Islam itself can be at odds with post-Enlightenment, post-revolutionary France.

Dalrymple:

“Multiculturalism, that is, is not compatible with the founding Enlightenment mythology of France; assimilation, not integration, is the goal “

And hey, listen, I don’t want to get between the British and the French, but there’s this:

Why do Frenchman piss on the sides of highways?

=========================================

Through American eyes, the French revolutionary esprit seems to manifest itself in different ways, bubbling up into eddies of libertinism, the-intellectual-as-rock-star, that particular brand of French colonialism, deep mistrust of authority, the monarchy, the aristocracy, the Catholic church etc. which the Charlie Hebdo folks kept alive.

On that note, here’s a drunk Serge Gainsbourg letting his intentions be known to Whitney Houston.

Smooth, Serge:

========================================

Well, the French did simply ban the burqa by law, so maybe Dalrymple had a point.

And what about the Anglo-American view?:

Another take: Walter Russell Mead discussed his then new book entitled God and Gold:  Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World.

Maybe there are other options besides Fukuyama’s Hegelian end point of history, and Huntington’s Clash Of Civilizations with regard to our current dealings with the Islamic resurgence and its anti-modern, anti-Western, theocratic impulses (liberal internationalism and Obama’s foreign policy have certainly created problems, but there are underlying issues the West will face):

Mead argues that religion, government, free-trade, capitalism, sport, and especially naval power have shaped our two cultures which have thus shaped the world (an [economic] model he suggests originally came from the Dutch).

Likely worth your time.

Related On This Site: It seems like one point of discussion is what kind of Western ideas lead the debate:  Some Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’…french Liberte?: Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

Medieval Times-Roaming The Gloom With Theory: Interview With Michel Hollebecq

Interview sent in by a reader with French novelist Michel Hollebecq on his new novel, ‘Soumission,’ which, in his fictional world, imagines a soon-to-be Muslim candidate defeating a French nationalist candidate, followed by an ultimate submission of French society to Islamic law and political leadership.

Interesting discussion at the link (including a deflation of (R)acism as critical theory).

‘But now you’re asking words to mean something they don’t. Racism is simply when you don’t like somebody because he belongs to another race, because he hasn’t got the same color skin that you do, or the same features, et cetera. You can’t stretch the word to give it some higher meaning.’

On some of Hollebecq’s thinking behind the creative work:

‘Yes. It has to happen sometime and it might as well be now. In this sense, too, I am a Comtean. We are in what he calls the metaphysical stage, which began in the Middle Ages and whose whole point was to destroy the phase that preceded it. In itself, it can produce nothing, just emptiness and unhappiness. So yes, I am hostile to Enlightenment philosophy, I need to make that perfectly clear. ‘

Whoa, at least he’s relatively up front about that.

Isn’t it possible to reject Hollebecq’s modernity-is-dead worldview AND also put the universal claims of progressive, collectivist, ideological, postmodern, multicultural feminist discontents into their proper perspective…without suggesting the end of the modern world and some presumed next stage to be reached?

And as for discussions of art:  Is the book worth a read?

*******I’ve never been to Medieval Times, but I am told there will be flagons of mead and tournaments of strength:

======================

From the comments:

‘Those of you regarding e.g. feminism as somehow an antidote to the patriarchal impulses in enlightenment thinking or Islam, or in broader terms postmodern political and social movements as offering a ‘third way’, something totally new and immune from this dynamic of competitive decay and decline, forget the fact that these movements are themselves the most recent outgrowths of the emancipative instinct, one of the core features deeply rooted in Western thought ever since the renaissance, as Barzun described. As an Asian living in the West myself, I have to tell you that this instinct is simply not present as a core element in other civilisations, and is indeed distinctive about the West. That Japan and Korea, and for that matter every non-western nation, modernised without a countercultural ‘values’ rebellion is indicative in this regard. The west is going to be without allies as it goes with a whimper.

Under such a depressing worldview, hope is provided for by religion and mysticism, a return to medievalism. It is sad, because the West will truly die as it numbs its own most deeply embedded instincts in the process of conversion, but the mysticism is a form of hope for the masses, who never particularly cared for high ideals anyway.

Houellebecq seems to channel Spengler, who hardly anybody reads nowadays. But that such an interesting thinker is hardly glanced at today is an indictment of us, not of him.’

Also, from the comments.  Hubristic, but there’s something to the grandiosity and deflated nihilism:

‘This is why I love French writers and thinkers. Fascinating to read even if they are always wrong.’

=======================

Robert Merry took a look at Oswald Spengler:

‘So it is with America and Europe. Hence, an analysis of American decline must lead to questions about Western decline. And an analysis of Western decline must lead to Oswald Spengler, the German intellectual who in 1918 produced the first volume of his bombshell work Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West), followed by the second volume in 1922. Spengler’s thesis forced his readers to look at history through an entirely new prism. They did, and he enjoyed a surge of influence. But the man and his work are in eclipse today, and there’s little evidence that scholars pondering American decline have consulted the dark musings of this German romantic or his overarching theory of history.’

As much as I’m hoping for a break-up of Islamist ideology, I suppose I’m hoping for some light into these dark, post-Enlightenment corners as well.  Something other than the existential void and the ideas and ideologies which so often rush in.

I have to give Hollebecq some credit, too, for as he points out, the major religions have been dealing with questions of purpose, suffering, telos, why, what, when, and the stuff human nature for a lot longer time…
=======================

Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’…

Roger Sandall, Australian critic of romantic primitivism and the Western’s Left’s penchant for the Noble Savage: His home page where his essays can be found. Here’s “The Rise Of The Anthropologues“ and…

Robert Hughes, Australian and often fierce critic of modernism and post-modernism.

***I should add that Herzog’s ‘Into The Abyss‘ was worth my time. Herzog is probably not a proponent of the death penalty, but I thought he left me to decide what I thought, and he didn’t flinch from the crime, the tragedy and the loss.

Related On This Site:  From The NY Times Book Review-Thomas Nagel On John Gray’s New ‘Silence Of Animals’From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘The Evolution of Mind and Mathematics: Dehaene Versus Plantinga and Nagel’

From Edward Feser: ‘Nagel And His Critics Part IV’A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

John Gray Reviews Jonathan Haidt’s New Book At The New Republic: ‘The Knowns And The Unknowns’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Savagery And Speech-A Few Thoughts On The Charlie Hebdo Attack

One wonders if the often self-selecting guardians of cartoons in America would show the same courage to publish freely and provoke, day-in and day-out, as did those at Charlie Hebdo.

From The Independent, a little backstory:

‘Reappearing months later under the name Charlie Hebdo, its left-libertarian team of writers and illustrators, whose crude caricatures provided the magazine’s signature style, gleefully mocked all sources of political and religious authority. It folded in 1981 but was resurrected in 1992.’

One suspect in the attack has turned himself in.

Ross Douthat:

‘But if publishing something might get you slaughtered and you publish it anyway, by definition you are striking a blow for freedom, and that’s precisely the context when you need your fellow citizens to set aside their squeamishness and rise to your defense.’

====================

More broadly, the West is at war with many Islamist ideologues and holy warriors motivated to be in a state of constant war/conflict with the West, especially through terrorist and guerilla-style attacks such as this one.  Simmering away in caves and enclaves, real-world havens created by leadership like the Taliban, as well as virtual havens and floating cells, online screeds and video feeds, some people are quite busy.

Some would go so far as to the draw the West into battle and face the full force of organized Western violence (they can’t seem to imagine anything else), in hopes of ultimately driving the infidel from the Arabian peninsula, achieving glorious purity, domination and ideological conquest.  This part of the conflict will likely be going on for some time, hot and cold.

I should point out that I don’t think the West is in a war with Islam, per se (nor its universal claims forbidding such cartoons), which is a vital distinction to make.  I encourage others, as always, to think for themselves, gain new experiences, to get to know parts of the Islamic world, faith and people and make their own judgments.

That said, many in the West often take for granted the freedoms, opportunities and obligations of living in post-Enlightenment societies (their own roots).  In the case of Charlie Hebdo, these conflicts were sought out in the pursuit of truth and principle, often to provoke, but only one side made it bloody, savage, and terminally personal.

At certain points, the claims made by those living in the West are universal of course, including religious and faith claims as well as knowledge claims, but also (especially in Europe) the potentially violent and revolutionary claims of socialist solidarity, the softer claims of secular humanism and multi-cultural tolerance which seem to have congealed into majority opinion in many places, exported around the globe, glossing over a past, bloody century and many debt-ridden, aging, more culturally homogenous populations.

It seems to me that on the part of the citizen, a response to such violent attacks doesn’t necessarily require the bravery and valor of soldiers, but simply the quiet courage and the strength to look such barbarism in the eye for what it is.

To call it what it is.

As many people as possible must not tolerate such a violent response to the expression of ideas; a struggle in which we all have a part to play.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

See Also:  Why Lars Hedegaard Still Matters…Michael Moynihan At The Daily Beast: ‘The Repentant Radical’In The Mail-More On The Boston Marathon Bombers: ‘The Fall Of The House Of Tsarnaev’

From The Middle East Quarterly Via A & L Daily: Europe’s Shifting Immigration Dynamic

Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie

Theodore Dalrymple argues that France has the potential to handle Muslim immigration better because of its ideological rigidity, which can better meet the ideological rigidity of its Muslim immigrants…Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In Britain

How do you reasonably deal with relativism anyways?: From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn

Repost-Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’

If you thought the cartoons were bad, more on the Fitna movie here.  Libertarians stand firm on this issue:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant

Via The A & L Daily-Interview With Christopher Caldwell At Spiegel Online

Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea…as a more entrenched radical British Left and Muslim immigration don’t mix too well: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Flogging Mali Again (and the Attack in Algeria too)’

Full piece here.

Want to read the best roundup of Mali so far?:

‘In short, from a strictly military point of view, what’s going on in Mali is going to keep going on in one form or another for a while. This will not end soon. It is also fairly likely to spread to Niger, possibly to Mauritania, Burkino Faso, Chad, Algeria and back into Libya, too, where the Tuareg live. And, as I have already suggested, a serious French-led intervention in Mali may help to spread it faster. There’s nothing like an “imperialist challenge” to stimulate resistance and high morale. On the other hand, an expansion of Tuareg activism might dilute the Islamist element within it, and might make the Arabic-speaking guest fighters unpopular and unwelcome, much as occurred in Iraq.’

Garfinkle isn’t sure if these are Al-Qaida directly affiliated groups or not.

Addition:  Please see Garfinkle’s follow-up piece on Algeria and the backstory. He suggests the USS Cole, Benghazi, and the Algerian gas plant may best be defined as insurgency.

—————–

I suspect it’s true that people in the Muslim world have their own interests, schisms, tribal affiliations and local politics.  Al Qaida is more like a franchise, even a myth, spoken of darkly, but also with some sympathy by some Muslims on the street.  It can be incidental to their lives, but most know Al Qaida involvement is more likely to provoke an American response.  There are a few converts and copycats ‘corrupted’ by the West consistently looking back for a more pure Islam from America and Europe, but Al Qaida’s strength is often grafted from the root of local struggles, and specifically where enough of a power vacuum develops on the ground.

There is broader appeal in uniting around a central vision of Islam, and that sentiment is deeper and stronger at the moment, and usually much less violent and radical, than what Al Qaida offers.  Submission of the will in Islam is certainly not just an option at the buffet of religions that multiculturalism serves up.  I’d remind multiculturalists they are looking out from a few centuries of post-reformation and post-Enlightenment separation of church and state when they address the Muslim world (most of them wanting to project ideals of humanism, secular humanism and also direct their own governments and people toward those ideals).  We will always have to make deals with the devil in pursuit of our interests, and we should recognize most Arab leaders strong enough to do so simply stamp Al Qaida out, much as they rather oppressively stamp out most political opposition to stay in power.

Even with stronger states in the Muslim world it can be tough to find mutual interest, as they offer complex policy challenges (the Wahabi-funding Saudis, an incredibly shaky, terrorist filled Pakistan, a hostile and nuclear-ambitious Iran, a now Muslim-Brotherhood-led Egypt).

————————————

Michael Totten has an interesting piece on the relative stability of Morocco, which has a still-functioning monarchy.

Update: Over 80 dead in Algeria.

Related On This Site   Al Qaida is on the rise in Afghanistan, and our objective may not be met.  Just ask Lara LoganSome Tuesday Links-Two Foreign Fronts

I don’t believe that we can appease Islamic extremists, which seems to be the premise of this administration’s approach Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..neo-neo-colonialism? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

Some Tuesday Links-Two Foreign Fronts

Afghanistan-Have we met our objective of disrupting the Islamist terrorists that gather in Afpak?

Perhaps temporarily, but in the long run, no, probably not.  Nearly every American soldier has likely seen some good in what we’ve done.  The fighting has been very fierce at times.

From dnaindia:

‘US President Barack Obama has said that by the end of next year, America’s war in Afghanistan would be over. Obama said that the core objective, the reason America went to war, is now within reach- in ensuring that Al-Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against America  ‘

There is no way around it:  Afghanistan is a mess.  The Taliban and our opposition really aren’t going anywhere.  Karzai is a notably unstable leader.  The government is corrupt, the army seems untrainable, the border porous.  Pakistan is not really an ally.  Our policy is adrift and commitment unsteady.

Afpak is a work in progress, and will require close attention.

Michael Yon says to cut losses.

The NY Times despite and because of its worldview has pretty good coverage.

About that objective of disrupting terror networks…what’s our plan for the future?

Mali-With or without Gerard Depardieu, French leaders will be raising troop levels from 750 to a projected 2,500 and are currently using airstrikes to bottle in the Islamist insurgency that controls the Northern half of the country.  These are a brutal bunch of competing warlords, really, seeking heaven on earth.

The US and UK are offering assistance.

How is this going to work, exactly?

***It’s good to see people so sure of good and evil these days:  Mali in throes of genocide by US, UK, France evil trio: Analyst

Perhaps, as in Libya, we are giving rise to neo-neo colonialism and its discontents.

About that objective of combatting the larger Islamist resurgence that seems to be going on,…what’s our plan for the future?

Addition:  Adam Garfinkle takes the NY Times to task for shallow coverage of Mali:

‘Hence, what’s going on in Mali is going to keep going on, in one form or another. It is likely to spread to Niger, possibly to Mauritania, too. I can barely wait for the next drive-by, nomad-journalism New York Times potshots aimed at trying to convey the shape of this burgeoning mess. Maybe one day they’ll even figure out how to connect the dots back to Libya.’

Ideologically speaking, it’s not about Libya, or the Tuareg, or the broader world outside.  It’s about shifting U.S. culture and politics to a more Western universalist lens: Their favored ideas and politicians and what they can see from inside that lens.

That’s a schism in our society, Mali, Syria, and Afghanistan aside.

Related On This Site: I don’t believe that we can appease Islamic extremists, which seems to be the premise of this administration’s approach…blunt American power and incentivize Muslim societies to drive the extreme elements out through international cooperation: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Form Foreign Affairs: ‘Stephen Biddle and Max Boot Discuss U.S. Afghanistan Policy’

Obama’s vision?  His Security Report here.