Why I Focus This Blog On Islamic Terrorism, Among Other Things-A Few Links And Thoughts In Response To A Friend

Apparently, not all ‘individual humans’ as defined by Western intellectual traditions and Western secular humanists/idealists see themselves as Westerners do.

In spite of the last American administration, not everyone wants to be a member of a global Anglo-capitalist trading and legal order, forced to create some kind of functioning Western-style democracy, backed by American military power and guided no doubt, by some Christian belief from afar.  Nor do many people perhaps even want a Westphalian state (which means having to keep-up appearances at NATO gatherings and maintain some basic founding documents/Constitution and a minimal standing army).

In spite of the current American administration, not everyone wants to join into a state of perpetual progressive protest and activism, living under ever-growing social-democratic bureaucratic States promising their own visions of the ideal society, justifying some violence and righteous revolutionary activity in the process, exerting their will through international institutions, looking for human rights and new classes of victims.

Not everyone prefers such ideals, say, over immediate relief, money, advantage, and leverage in their relations with American interests.

There are many other models which are NOT a part of the traditions and institutions to which I am responsible, from the old Persian empire to the modern Islamic/Islamist hybrid State (or as many would prefer, a functioning, secure Islamic order like the good ol’ days).

From the ancient Han Chinese core/Mandarin system to the big-chief tribal setup found in various regions of what we’re calling the modern world.

On that note:  When ISIS holds territory, ISIS is able to amplify its reach and scope. Some ISIS folks apparently want virgins and/or slaves, guns, blood and power.  Others have a slightly bigger picture in mind, settling for a brutal enforcement regime in Raqqa…for now.

I have some concern for these lower risk, higher consequence events happening where I live, and I tend to favor cold-eyed realist leaders who will focus on such threats enough to balance my/your/our freedoms with a lighter hand.

In fact, some consideration of the above is one the main reasons on which I consider my vote, even for the two unpleasant choices currently facing me and you (candidates who both seem to consistently put themselves, and their images of themselves, above most other considerations…most of the time).

Continuing on that note: Some links

Attack In Nice Exposes Strains In Policing A Constant Threat (terrible headline).  Yeah, it probably wasn’t just a ‘lone wolf.‘  Like Bataclan.  Like Orlando.  Like San Bernadino.  Like….

What’s the plan here with the whole ‘global village’ thing?

-Really?  You don’t say? I Was an ISIS Jihadist-Until They Arrested And Tortured Me

Also On This Site:  What map are you using to understand this conflict:  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

Ayan Hirsi Ali has used the ideals of the West (especially women’s rights) to potentially confront Islam; which has served her politically as well:  Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’

Is Islam incompatibile with freedom as we define it here in the West, or is this a false choice?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Michael Moynihan jihad.com.

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’

From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”

Repost: Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie’Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’From Foreign Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda After Attiyya’….From The AP: ‘Al-Awlaki: From Voice For Jihad To Al-Qaida Figure’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”And: Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

The Multicultural Ideal And Reality On The Ground-Some Links

Christopher Caldwell discusses the New Years’ Eve coordinated attacks/gang-gropes against women by Muslim immigrants in major German cities:

“Suddenly there was a hand on my bottom .  .  .”

Caldwell:

…But the rules that protect minorities from mobs can be used to protect politicians from democracy. There may or may not be an increasing tendency to racism in Germany. But there is certainly an increasing tendency to brand as “racist” positions contrary to the interests of the government’

Maintaining German citizens’ basic security and freedom from violence in the public square would be nice.

If you’re going to cram over 800,000 mostly Muslim, mostly male, refugees from poor and war-torn lands along with German citizens in the public square, beneath your political ideals, ideals which guide your current immigration policy, then you’d better be able to demonstrate your ideals and policies are keeping citizens safe, and persuade them as to your basic vision for civil society.

Competence is often a high bar.

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Spiked Online reviews the past year since the Charlie Hebdo attacks.  Agree or disagree with the views of the Charlie Hebdo staff, a disproportionately small number of cartoonists, journalists, writers and thinkers in Europe are left to maintain one of the core freedoms of the West.

And they’re left to do it against people willing to kill them.

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Some light humor:

Michael Moynihan reviewed Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ which praised the Cuban Health Care System.

Christopher Hitchens took a helicopter ride with Sean Penn, and that tracksuit-wearing strongman of the people, Hugo Chavez-Hugo Boss:

It’s a long way out of socialist and revolutionary solidarity, which continually occupies the South American mind. One more revolution: Adam Kirsch takes a look at Mario Vargas Llosa. The Dream Of The Peruvian.

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As previously posted:

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Salman Rushdie at about minute 57:00:  ‘This idea of separate treatment for separate cultures…I think essentially if we follow that to its conclusion…destroys our ability to have a really moral framework for society.’

From Theodore Dalrymple:

‘The doctrine of multiculturalism arose, at least in Holland, as a response to the immigration influx, believed initially to be temporary. The original purpose of multiculturalism was to preserve the culture of European “guest workers” so that when they returned home, having completed their labor contracts, they would not feel dislocated by their time away. The doctrine became a shibboleth of the Left, a useful tool of cultural dismantlement, only after family reunion in the name of humanitarianism became normal policy during the 1960s and the guest workers transformed into permanent residents.’

Robert Tracinski At The Federalist: ‘With Bergdahl Trade, Obama Stops Going Through the Motions’

Full piece here.

‘That’s the pattern we’re now seeing. Obama has stopped going through the motions of caring what happens in Afghanistan. Before his term is over, he wants us out of Afghanistan, he wants terrorist detainees out of our custody, he wants to wash his hands of the last vestiges of American intervention overseas.

This is his declaration that he’s just not interested in the War on Terrorism any more. Unfortunately, I suspect we’re going to find in the years to come that the war is still interested in us’

It’s tough to imagine how the Haqqani network and the Taliban are people we can do business with. They’re generally Islamic purists and reactionaries who’ve treated th[eir] own people badly enough. In taking territory, they often kidnap and kill civilians who get in the way, clearing out villages and halting all economic activity during the fighting. When in charge they are usually brutal (unsurprising in a land run previously by tribal and ethnic warlords).

So why are our troops there? Well, even though we supported some of these same guys during the Russian invasion, the Taliban most recently ran Afghanistan from 1996-2001 and still run parts of the tribal, non-government controlled Pakistani border regions (Pakistan is a big draw for terrorist activity all around). They have their own local concerns and ambitions, but acting as Islamic guerrilla fighters, they were natural allies to bin Laden and Al Qaeda leadership whom they harbored; that pan-Arab group of Islamist radicals and guerrilla fighters with global ambitions and briefly, terrible reach.

We have objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they are mainly are to ensure there aren’t further attacks on our soil, nor that this area again becomes a place that harbors the kinds of people who can pose a direct security threat to make attacks on our soil or interests. More broadly, they can threaten not only us, but the West and beyond, and arguably even global stability and order. There are pockets of sympathetic groups throughout the Muslim world, and some even living in the West. But this is the region where pound for pound, it’s most likely you’ll find folks like A.Q. Khan running around, people with nuclear know-how and perhaps the willingness to use it so that it might fall into questionable hands.

This blog welcomes any criticism, or new thinking as how to best address these objectives, and protect our interests, and maybe even redefine or challenge those objectives and interests.

Simply aiming to close Guantanamo Bay where many enemy combatants are being held, or expecting to withdraw troops and announce the end of the conflict in Afghanistan with political timing in mind strikes this blog as naively optimistic, and quite possibly very dangerous without proper consideration of those objectives.Let me know what I’ve got wrong.  I don’t know what I don’t know, and I’m trying to figure out what I do know.

There’s Susan Rice again, staying on message.

At what cost?

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Related On This Site:  From Michael Yon: ‘General Petraeus Letter’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”From Bloomberg: More Troops To Afghanistan? A Memo From Henry Kissinger To Gerald Ford?

A Few Thoughts On The FATA Region Of PakistanFrom The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?’

Related On This Site:  18 million people and growing: Via Youtube Via Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘VICE Guide To Karachi’

Julian Sanchez At CATO: ‘Why The NSA Collecting Your Phone Records Is A Problem’

Full post here.

Julian Sanchez has been following these issues for a while, as his beat is national security, tech, law, and government.  I would classify him as libertarian minded, with liberal/liberaltarian tendencies.  He’s worth following.

Addition:  NSA leaker comes forward.  Edward Snowden is interviewed below by Glenn Greenwald, on what he thinks is in the public interest to know about what he saw begun as a narrowly tailored approach becoming broader with regard to data collection and filtration.  Seems like the kind of thing worth kicking back into the public square.  For a man potentially risking his life, and potentially standing on principle to do so, it seems worthwhile to hear him out:

An idealist?  Is there a backstory?

Another addition:  As others have pointed out, Snowden (and Greenwald, to some extent) are likely upset with the current administration and the NSA from the Left, which has joined with the discontent of the Right.  It’s quite an achievement.  All we need now is Noam Chomsky and Pat Buchannan giving a joint press conference.

Occupy! and the Tea Party meet again, to some extent.

Another:  Justin Amash wants to debate Obama on the issue.  If you act irresponsibly online, you can expect some entity to grow out of/contain that behavior.

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Sanchez:

‘This collection is probably well enough intentioned. The problem is that these records are likely to be retained in databases indefinitely. Which means we don’t just need to worry about whether the government’s motives are pure when they collect the information. Even if they are, someone with access to that data, maybe in five or ten years, may be unable to resist the temptation to use that information for other purposes. That could mean investigating ordinary crimes: If you can data mine for suspicious terrorist activity patterns—which as Jim Harper and Jeff Jonas have pointed out is likely to be extremely difficult—you can plug in “suspicious patterns” that may identify drug dealers and tax cheats as well. Still more disturbing is the possibility that, the intelligence community has repeatedly done historically, those records could be exploited for illegitimate political purposes, or even simple greed. (Imagine probing communications for signs of an impending corporate merger, product launch, or lawsuit.)’

Much of the law hasn’t caught up, and is often behind, the tech revolution, and how people and institutions are using technology in our daily lives.  Genetic information, drones for domestic and theater of war purposes, medical records, search engine history, digital fingerprints etc. are all changing the face of what’s possible.

Maybe libertarian Arnold Kling’s formulation could help illuminate some of the political/philosophical interests, which I’ve copied/pasted from elsewhere:

‘Conservatives use a civilization vs barbarism axis.

Libertarians use a coercion vs freedom axis.

Liberals use an oppression axis to view the world – oppressed vs oppressor.’

On the Kling model, I’m with conservatives insofar as they are most able to recognize that we are in a frontless war with the practitioners of a global, pan-Arab religious ideology.  No, not everyone outside the gates is a barbarian, but some of our current enemies are acting enough like it.  They thrive on violence and push for a totalitarian, impossibly ideal, narrow, anti-modern, anti-Western Islamic resurgence. Some people are planning to kill us as I type this, despite their diffuse nature and the low probability/high consequences of an attack.  Our response has required varying levels of conflict, intelligence, and engagement in order to protect ourselves so far.  Some basic trust is necessary for those in power given to discharge their duties on the people’s behalf to conduct our business.

Addition:  It’s not just the narrow focus of Islamic terrorism, but a global network of espionage, State and non-State cyberwarfare and security following Moore’s law.  What still separates us from most other governments is a government working for the people, even if that may compromise us in the data race.  These are deep and complex issues.

I’m with libertarians insofar as we do not want to cede too much power and authority to our government in order to prosecute this war, because yesterday’s rules become today’s furniture and incentives of governance.  Power really can and does corrupt, and we’ve got to get the incentives right for our own leaders and for our own selves as citizens, especially with the big data race going on.  I think most Americans are more psychologically able to handle this reality since 9/11, but it’s questionable as to how well our security complexes are handling our business.

I can find common ground with liberals on civil liberties issues, but I’m generally against Leftism, progressivism and its discontents.  Such ideologies bend our institutions to impossible ideals, and get our security, human nature and the incentives very wrong in my opinion.  I don’t want to see multiculturalism, nor the ‘isms’ of the Left have too much direct political influence because I think they’ve led to many of the failure of European immigration/governance, for starters.

Given our President’s ideological interests and political bedfellows, do you trust him with this power?  What about the next guy who comes along, and the one after that?:

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Related On This SiteFrom CATO@Liberty: Julian Sanchez On ‘Wikileads And Economies Of Repression’

Big Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-’Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’

Repost: Trevor Butterworth At Forbes Via The A & L Daily: ‘Beware The Internet As Liberation Theology’

Martha Nussbaum wants to steer the moral thinking behind the laws away from religion, and was influenced by John Rawls:  From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.

From George Will on Stephen Colbert:  “What conservatives say is that we will protect you against idealism.” Originalism vs. The living constitution: George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government’.

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Civil Liberties After Boston’

Full piece here.

Epstein finishes with:

‘Indeed, it seems as though the FBI had received intelligence from Russian authorities that Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the Tsarnaev brothers, was herself a potential terrorist. With that, any doubts about Russian intelligence or the motivations of the brothers falls by the wayside. Law enforcement officials must follow such leads to their bitter end in dealing with the prevention and deterrence of terrorist activities. The quicker public officials shed their reluctance to move decisively in these areas, the safer we all shall be’

Civil liberties are often the broadest platform where left and right can meet in American life, especially about so important a topic, which cuts right at the heart of of us, much like the bombing cut deep.

There have been, and will be other terrorists, and while the profile is generally second-generation, younger men, divided between the West and Islam, American culture and Islamic identity (Islamist and radical), we have to be careful.

Addition:  Yes, I still think civil liberties are the best place to start in resisting the urge that both parties, and our currently gridlocked politics will have, to increase security and promise citizens that they can do the job of protecting them, which ultimately, they may not entirely be able to do.  This requires all of us to be strong, and send the right signals, and expect the most from them.

Related On This Site: A more Burkean look:

Via Youtube: ‘Roger Scruton On Islam And The West’

If you want to see some responses to these ideas, go to Alexandria, where it’s cross-posted

A Few Thoughts On The Marathon Bombing-From ForeigndiPolicy: ‘Portrait Of A Chechen Jihast’

Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’

Link From A Reader: ‘Richard Epstein Introduces Chicago’s Best Ideas To Students’

Repost-Immigration: Will A Wall Work?

Originally posted 07/21/07:

Clearly, Mexico does not have the political will to examine why so many of its citizens come here to work.   Mexico has corruption, lack of education, and an enormous wealth disparity to deal with, among other things.  They’re getting angry at us for not solving their problems to their satisfaction.

A wall could work as a deterrent, but personally, I don’t think think it’s the most effective long term solution.  People climb around walls, or under them, or tear them down.  Walls can get covered in resentment, graffiti and wasted dollars.  I think it’s more of a way for some politicians to release the steam of their constituents at the moment.

Here’s a recent wall proposal:

  • from 10 miles west of the Tecate, California, port of entry to 10 miles east of the Tecate, California, port of entry;
  • from 10 miles west of the Calexico, California, port of entry to 5 miles east of the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry;
  • from 5 miles west of the Columbus, New Mexico, port of entry to 10 miles east of El Paso, Texas;
  • from 5 miles northwest of the Del Rio, Texas, port of entry to 5 miles southeast of the Eagle Pass, Texas, port of entry; and
  • 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry to the Brownsville, Texas, port of entry.
  • Estimated cost: at least $2.1 billion dollars

    Here’s some Robert Frost.

    It’s a long, difficult border to police, and if you’re worried about cost after the virtual fence project (boondoggle?), the minutemen have their own proposal.

    Addition:

    1.  Perhaps we’re still suffering from the logic of excessive relativism and multiculturalism, the closest some elements of the left can get back to reasonable nationalism (at the moment, anyways), and enforcing the laws that illegal immigrant are breaking…is not close enough for my taste (or at least the other side…those who would take the law into their own hands and in their own mission statements).  We’re losing our middle ground, and the more effective solutions that come with it.

    This would not merely a problem of the left, of course…and that is if this is a proper analysis.

    2.  Sadly, this is politics, and once we leave it to the politicans, it will be used accordingly…from where I sit (generally center right, and libertarian) I expect Obama will use the broad middle ground election appeal (still!) but then end up having to fire up the base on immigration too.  Such is politics.  I would not likely be happy with the result.

    I’ll leave the rest of the debate to those most directly affected who live with these issues every day (jobs, crime, safety, taxes, local government) and people who know more than I do (too many to count).

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