Barak Obama’s Foreign Policy Speech

Obama gave his ‘Big Foreign Policy’ speech yesterday, and a transcript is up on his website.

Rhetorically, it’s a good speech. I agree with a lot of what he says, and love his reclamation of the American role:

I still believe that America is the last, best hope of Earth. We just have to show the world why this is so.

He says other things that ought to resonate with the readers here – he wants a bigger, more lethal military, and he expressly reserves the right to act unilaterally if he believes the justification is there.

The elephant in the room remains his – I believe – fundamental misreading of the roots of the challenge we will face in the next decade.He says:

A recent report detailed Al Qaeda’s progress in recruiting a new generation of leaders to replace the ones we have captured or killed. The new recruits come from a broader range of countries than the old leadership – from Afghanistan to Chechnya, from Britain to Germany, from Algeria to Pakistan. Most of these recruits are in their early thirties.>
They operate freely in the disaffected communities and disconnected corners of our interconnected world – the impoverished, weak and ungoverned states that have become the most fertile breeding grounds for transnational threats like terror and pandemic disease and the smuggling of deadly weapons.

Some of these terrorist recruits may have always been destined to take the path they did – accepting a tragically warped view of their religion in which God rewards the killing of innocents. But millions of young men and women have not.

Delivering on these universal aspirations requires basic sustenance like food and clean water; medicine and shelter. It also requires a society that is supported by the pillars of a sustainable democracy – a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force. It requires building the capacity of the world’s weakest states and providing them what they need to reduce poverty, build healthy and educated communities, develop markets, and generate wealth. And it requires states that have the capacity to fight terrorism, halt the proliferation of deadly weapons, and build the health care infrastructure needed to prevent and treat such deadly diseases as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

He’s right and he’s wrong here, I believe. The movement we face is both something that is fertilized by the kinds of conditions he describes above – and yes, we would go far in choking it off if we were to fix these conditions, and we should.

But it is also carefully nurtured by state actors who harbor, support, and subsidize its growth for their own relatively Westphalian reasons.

I believe we face a movement seeded and nurtured by both the conditions in the ‘edge states’ and by carefully executed support from states which are not and should not be considered ‘failed’.

When I understand how Obama proposes to deal with that, I’ll be able to unqualifiedly support his foreign policy.

41 thoughts on “Barak Obama’s Foreign Policy Speech”

  1. Did the leadership of AQ et al undergo a complete turnover? AFAIK, the great bulk have come from non-failed states, and indeed from fairly comfortable circumstances. The power-push of the Islamists has virtually nothing to do with living conditions or deprivation, and everything to do with needs and demands for not only local dominance but for universal exclusive privilege.

    And can Obama or any one else name another specific source of upset and discontent which is feeding guerrillas? They are few and far between, and pretty clearly distinct from the Islamofascist crowd.

    So this canard is NOT a valid basis for foreign policy, and looks, sounds, and operates like a set up for apologetic defeatism. I sincerely doubt Obama has the vision or charisma required to wean his party away from THAT intoxicating dependency.

  2. talboto, you’re right. Now I see it. If only we’d stop killing people, the world would be all ice-cream sundaes and Twizzle sticks.

    But the serious answer is that war may or may not be the right thing to do. But I’d like to hear some plan for how he’s deal with the situation other than by writing it out of his speeches and ignoring it.

    I’m open to different answers, but not to ignoring the problem.

    A.L.

  3. So this canard is NOT a valid basis for foreign policy, and looks, sounds, and operates like a set up for apologetic defeatism. I sincerely doubt Obama has the vision or charisma required to wean his party away from THAT intoxicating dependency.

    Agreed, lest we forget Obama was hip-deep in the fever swamp and gave a speech insinuating that Karl Rove came up with the War in Iraq in order to “distract” people from issues like health care and poverty. If he really believes that, he’s quite simply nuts. If he didn’t believe it but was just said it to play to the audience, then he’s simply a rotten excuse for a human being.

  4. bq. It also requires a society that is supported by the pillars of a sustainable democracy – a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force.

    I presume he means something just like what we’re trying to accomplish in Iraq …

    If he won’t support it there, in the middle of the baddest Bad Neighborhood on the planet, he will not, frankly, support it anywhere else. Therefore, the words are absolutely empty, and he is but another self-important gasbag in the Senate, who thinks he can be President.

  5. At least in one way its an improvement over his announcement speach, where he promoted the idea of military expansion as some sort of special interest benefit:

    bq. Finally, there is one other thing that is not too late to get right about this war – and that is the homecoming of the men and women – our veterans – who have sacrificed the most. Let us honor their valor by providing the care they need and rebuilding the military *they love.* Let us be the generation that begins this work.

    “THEY LOVE?!?”:http://www.barackobama.com/2007/02/10/remarks_of_senator_barack_obam_11.php

  6. You said:

    “I believe we face a movement seeded and nurtured by both the conditions in the ‘edge states’ and by carefully executed support from states which are not and should not be considered ‘failed’.”

    I cannot take your criticism of Obama seriously unless you make it much clearer what it is you’re saying in this sentence. After all, you’re arguing that your view of this alleged “challenge” is more accurate than his. A single vague sentence tossed off in haste does not even come close to this.

  7. Obama is an empty suit, and manifestly unsuited for any role of political leadership. But even more instructive is how he demonstrates the complete lack of intellectual failure among the Democratic Party.

    Obama is an ardent, anti-American, Black Nationalist who has made anti-American statements and is deeply sympathetic to Islam and Islamists. He’s written in his autobiography his approval of his half-brother’s conversion to Islam, and his disapproval of another’s American assimilated identity rather than that of a Black Nationalist. Obama himself has written extensively of his dislike of Whites and attends an anti-White, Black Nationalist Church.

    That’s the man personally. A Black Strom Thurmond, essentially.

    Intellectually, he fails in these areas:

    *He believes American security is obtained by “gaining the respect” of other countries or “making them like us” again. A consistent theme echoed by all Dem candidates and thinkers.

    *He believes terrorism results from disconnected/disconnected people living in poverty and not part of the global system. Another belief that is repeated by Democratic candidates and thinkers.

    *He believes the way to fight terrorism is to create strong states. Another belief spoken by Democrats, candidates and thinkers.

    Each of these is not just wrong, but idiotically wrong. Naive to the point of stupidity and to believe them requires active rejection of the evidence in favor of naive utopianism.

    Belief in the impotent and corrupt UN, toothless NATO, and feckless, cowardly and impotent EU as institutions that have effectiveness if America is “respected” or “loved” requires active rejection of the following:

    1. That the UN is dominated by corrupt oligarchies, kleptocracies, and dictatorships that launder money, cater to Islamic dynasties/dictatorships/thugocracies, and enable cheap anti-American Rhetoric. Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia are members of the UN Human Rights Council. Which spends all it’s time condemning Israel and no time doing anything else.

    The NATO and EU countries have no militaries to speak of so can offer nothing but fig leaves. One might as well ask the Holy Roman Empire for military help.

    Making America “respected” or “loved” by these institutions doubtless makes Davos gatherings more congenial. But they don’t do a damn thing to make America safer, instead by wasting time, money, and effort they make us weaker. This was Clinton’s policy and it got us 9/11.

    2. Terrorism resulting from poverty/disconnected status from Globalization? Very poor countries such as Niger, Mali, Mauritania are not participating in terrorist acts against the US. Either with their people or their states. They are simply too poor. Unaware the US even exists. They are outside all global trade networks and thus have no quarrel with the US.

    RICHER countries that have more money, and thus more connection to global trade, are the heart of jihad against the US. Rich oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, Iran, Pakistan, Algeria and Morocco, Egypt, and of course Indonesia all have through their relative riches more connection to globalization, and thus more threats to their traditional ways of life. Thus the desire to destroy it. Muslims decide to embrace jihad when exposed to the West and comprehending their societal failure.

    Reading Qutb, bin Laden, Zawahari, and others and what they’ve actually said makes this clear. Too bad Dems can’t be bothered to read.

    3. Strong states actually make things far worse for us. Look at Pakistan and Iran. Untouchable because they are strong. Compare with the failed state of Somalia which is weak and therefore able to be punished by Ethiopia our proxy. Strong states act as a shield behind which non-state actors can hide. Weak states have no shield allowing us to use our military force to kill the non-state actors.

    The major problem with Obama intellectually is the same one with all the other Dems. Aversion to force, killing, and some dying to stop threats before we lose cities. Along with their allies in the feminized, deeply pacifist Media the Dems have won this argument:

    America cannot strike until it’s been hit. Hard. Because all force is wrong and offends “Mother Gaia” and all the other feminized, pacifist, wimpy stuff Democrats love (i.e. the “Return of Jimmy Carter.”)

    So yeah, that’s the way it will be. We will simply wait until we lose several cities. THEN however all restrictions on total war will tossed aside along with the feminized and feminine Dems, for what Westerners do very well: total annihilation of the enemy and the ability to fight, death on a massive industrial scale.

    Harry Reid believes the war is lost, no military action can be useful in any way, and has said he won’t listen to what Petraeus says because he knows this. This is your Democratic Party in a nutshell: Oprah or the View.

  8. Jim R–Empty charges don’t hold any cred even against an “empty suit”. But really, you should have your own blog, don’t you think? The better to broadcast your rambing screeds from. Perhaps you can call it “Letters from a Mars Bunker” or something like that….

    And like Wei, I have no idea why Armed Liberal thinks his objection to Obama’s foreign policy statements is something worth paying any attention to. Personally, I don’t think there are any easy to articulate or good solutions to the problem that AL has framed. Good answers come from good questions, and he hasn’t posed one yet from what I can tell.

    From his (intentionally, perhaps?) limited comments, I should think he is in support of going after Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, two countries that must qualify as “states which we haven’t or shouldn’t classify as failed” and that have a proven history of supporting terrorism to a degree perhaps an order of magnitude greater than Saddam’s Iraq ever did.

  9. #9 from tcg: “And like Wei, I have no idea why Armed Liberal thinks his objection to Obama’s foreign policy statements is something worth paying any attention to.”

    Yet here you are, paying attention to them.

    I think we’re hosed in Iraq, because the population is sufficiently prejudiced against us that if we could set up a stable state, it would be hostile to us. I think our best bet is to get out, and hope for major red on red attrition over whether Sunnis or Shiites will rule the land between the two rivers. So in principle, I’m looking with a kindly eye at Barack Obama’s foreign policy speeches. If you think we need to run, this is the man to do it.

    But, I want to see an indication that he can see the difference between American interests and the sales jobs of manipulative and untrustworthy agents who want to use America’s massive resources for free. I don’t see that.

    What this speech seems to suggest is a willingness to interfere anywhere and everywhere – except when Islam, an enemy Barack Obama refuses to acknowledge, attacks, as in Iraq.

    In today’s globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people. When narco-trafficking and corruption threaten democracy in Latin America, it’s America’s problem too. When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern. When religious schools in Pakistan teach hatred to young children, our children are threatened as well.

    Whether it’s global terrorism or pandemic disease, dramatic climate change or the proliferation of weapons of mass annihilation, the threats we face at the dawn of the 21st century can no longer be contained by borders and boundaries.

    That’s not good. I’d be more impressed if Barack Obama would say where America should do nothing.

    There are many issues and areas where America could do better by doing less and preferably doing nothing. And where America is not having problems now, it’s often because doing nothing is working out well.

    I know as an Australian, I don’t want to see the Americans taking an interest in Fiji, or the Solomons, or Papua New Guinea, or all sorts of places. Your best policy on all these things will be to do nothing but nod assent to whatever Australia choose to do, which will be broadly consistent with your values anyway.

    The same, allies anywhere else America has allies willing to take care of problems on their own, and preferably without interference.

    Where America has no direct interest (such as in not being flooded with refugees from Haiti), and no real indirect interest (that is, no genuine ally wants a friendly word spoken), and there is no way to reduce the global sway of Islam (for example by supporting whatever anti-Islamic forces in Africa will provide the best bang for the buck), America ought warmly to consider indifference, and saving money.

    All aid to Islam and to terrorist enemies such as the Palestinians should end immediately and permanently.

    America should quit trying to “lead” its enemies by giving them money and helping them to beat up on their enemies.

    All of this is mere prudence and good handling of tax money.

    There is no indication that Barack Obama will ever go for any of it.

  10. I actually agree to some extent with A.L., though I totally disagree with all aspects of the Iraq war.

    Clearly failed states – even if they be largely Islamic populations – do not consistently produces anti-American terrorists (or at least terrorists that are actively pursuing ooportunies to attack the homeland and/or its interests). Also, some states – like Iran – that are functional do propogate – to some extent – terrorism for “Wesphalian” purposes…..”….seeded and nurtured by both the conditions in the ‘edge states’ and by carefully executed support from states which are not and should not be considered ‘failed’…..” Again to what extent? It’s happening to be sure, but would terrorism evaporate if all of these state sponsors were somehow dealt with and their sponsorship terminated?

    Just as clearly, terrorists/terrorism can – and does – arise in modern capitalist/democratic states. Often terrorists are well educated and from relatively affluent backgrounds. How do we explain the failure of exposure to the “good life” to calm the fervor for Jihad? And how do we reconcile the answer to that question with the notion that speading “freedom” will ameliorate anti-western terrorism of the Islamic variety?

    Tough questions. No easy answer. No black/white simple solutions.

    So maybe the value of Obama’s approach lies in his contribution of a counter balance to the current policy which over laden with cold war state sponsor theories.

    My own opinion is that there always has been and always will be – even if the entire world was modeled after the US political and market system – terrorists and terrorist networks that seek to undermine the system for whatever excuse may be in vogue; yesterday the cause of communism, today the cause of Islam, tomorrow….who knows, but it will be something.

    The main difference between today and the past is that terrorists now have access to high speed global communication and the freedom to travel globally with ease.

    Therefore, I would like to see candidates addressing the need for greatly enhanced homeland security as opposed to an emphasis on taking the fight abroad.

  11. avedis –

    I actually agree (to an extent) and have written in the past that terrorism won;t go away if the state sponsors of it were to suddenly dry up. But it’s the difference between Virginia Tech or Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center; there is a significant difference in the magnitude of attacks alienated individuals will be able to carry out, and the attacks groups with state sponsors will be able to carry out.

    A.L.

  12. Armed Liberal:

    This still doesn’t get me any closer to understanding your objections to Obama or specifically how your own position differs substantivelly enough to warrant this little swipe at his efforts to confront a complex issue.

    Let me direct you to the core of the problem.

    You said: “When I understand how Obama proposes to deal with that, I’ll be able to unqualifiedly support his foreign policy.”

    In my view, none of the candidates will be able to provide you with an answer to this question as long as you keep expressing it so vaguely.

    As a means of helping us understand what you’re talking about better, can you tell us:

    1) Why you supported Bush and the invasion of Iraq as (presumably) a response to the “dangerous conditions” that breed worldwide anti-American Terrorism?

    2) Which current candidates from either party have articulated a message that is better than Obamas, in part or whole?

  13. The only information I have from obama is what’s reported on the news (and since news doesn’t report anything anymore…). Anyway, I’m not really sure what Obama stands for yet. He made a great speech at the presidential convention 2 years ago, about working together. but again, where is the substance? What does he beleive? How would he change our course?

    Obama appears to be the future of american politics (for the moment anyway). There is a realization forming that the less you say, the less your plan can be ridiculed. George W. is a master at this, often talking about economic/social plans in vague ideas, and rarely producing actual plans until much later, with less fanfare. For example, no plan was ever displayed for social security reform, just ‘outlines’ of a plan. This has been annoying to me, because I like to see the grit when I vote, and I just don’t think it exists in any candidate at the moment.

    So, I’m still undecided. At some point, he’s going to have to produce his own ‘plans’ and then I’ll make a decision. Until then, I’m not sure I care.

  14. bq. _”The big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures, including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point are we going to, if any, are we going to take military action?” Obama asked._

    . . .

    bq. _”With the Soviet Union, you did get the sense that they were operating on a model that we could comprehend in terms of, they don’t want to be blown up, we don’t want to be blown up, so you do game theory and calculate ways to contain,” Obama said. “I think there are certain elements within the Islamic world right now that don’t make those same calculations._

    bq. _”… I think there are elements within Pakistan right now–if Musharraf is overthrown and they took over, I think we would have to consider going in and taking those bombs out, because I don’t think we can make the same assumptions about how they calculate risks.”_

    “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”:http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0409250111sep25,1,7098310.story

    (The internet used to have an Obama speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in 2004 that expanded on these views)

  15. Barak Obama: Delivering on these universal aspirations requires basic sustenance like food and clean water; medicine and shelter. It also requires a society that is supported by the pillars of a sustainable democracy – a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force. It requires building the capacity of the world’s weakest states and providing them what they need to reduce poverty, build healthy and educated communities, develop markets, and generate wealth. And it requires states that have the capacity to fight terrorism, halt the proliferation of deadly weapons, and build the health care infrastructure needed to prevent and treat such deadly diseases as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

    OK, we’ve got the formula to eliminate all Islamic militancy: just provide Muslims with everything they already have living in London, and then you’ll never see them striving for domination or conniving in terror plots. And London cannot be a place that exports terror, since Muslims enjoy favorable conditions there – though those conditions are not as favorable, that is as dominating, as Islam requires.

    That’s where this breaks down.

    Our enemies are unappeasable. And we know this, if we care to look, because we’ve made efforts to appease them, with mostly bad results.

    Armed Liberal: He’s right and he’s wrong here, I believe. The movement we face is both something that is fertilized by the kinds of conditions he describes above – and yes, we would go far in choking it off if we were to fix these conditions, and we should.

    This again seems to be a matter of looking away from the reality.

    Where Muslims live in conditions the whole Muslim world regards as a scandal and an incitement to hate, it’s in Palestine – and that’s because the Muslim world deliberately created this non-absorbed Palestinian refugee problem, as a weapon for against the Jews. Solutions to Muslim misery other than the terrorization, subjugation and ultimate elimination of Israel are considered sub-optimal, and will always be considered way-stations.

    How should we “fix these conditions”? Give Hamas more money?

    This is in a nutshell what’s wrong with defining the problem as Muslims not getting enough goodies. What’s wanted is the terrorization, domination and subjugation of non-Muslims by Muslims (and within Islam non-Arabs by Arabs, women by men, and all other sects by your sect).

    And if goodies were the problem, the greatest wealth transfers in human history, due to oil, would long ago have solved the problem.

    Armed Liberal: But it is also carefully nurtured by state actors who harbor, support, and subsidize its growth for their own relatively Westphalian reasons.

    “Relatively Westphalian” in this case points to phnomenon that are anti-Westphalian, anti-Western, anti-Western conception of the state. It’s like calling the old Politburo of the Soviet Union relatively pro-capitalist. “Relatively” in this case means “not”.

    Armed Liberal: I believe we face a movement seeded and nurtured by both the conditions in the ‘edge states’ and by carefully executed support from states which are not and should not be considered ‘failed’.

    It’s not about so-called edge states, and it’s not about non-edged states, and it’s not about conditions. It’s about Islam.

    Barak Obama won’t face that. But then, neither will George W. Bush.

  16. David – let me explain as simply as I can why I disagree with you.

    We are not (yet) at war with Islam, and Islam is not (yet) at war with us. Elements within Islam would like that war to happen, because it improves their standing within the Islamic community.

    But when that war happens, it will be short and brutal, because compared to the West, Islam is incredibly weak.

    My goal is to head that war off, without surrendering.

    How’s that?

    A.L.

  17. Armed–is your participation in this thread typical of your involvement in the blogosphere discourse? You’ve basically cherry-picked the softest queries while completely ignoring the ones that are a stronger challenge to your view and might require that you actually do some thinking before the typing begins. Or maybe your silence rather speaks volumes about the inherent incoherence of your view?

    Either way, David has a point…I see no reason to waste any more time here trying to figure out where you’re coming from. It requires too much effort on my part, and to what ends? It’d be one thing if I was concerned that your view represented a significant or pervasive one among the gen pop, but luckily I think that the general consensus at this point is that people who hold beliefs like yours are beginning to be treated as they deserve to be…with disdain.

  18. tcg,
    You are talking like this is the first time that this kinda topic has been covered here. It’s pretty galling for a WoC newby to drop in, and demand yet another rehash of the same old arguments and positions, which is what this topic is boiling down to. Might I suggest a marathon through the archives before you start calling folks out?

  19. So basically lurker what you’re saying is that he’s preaching to the converted. I would think that anyone who’s in the business of publishing their thoughts for common consumption would have a broader goal in mind…but perhaps not in this case.

    All you are doing is enumerating yet another reason to ignore him.

  20. Converted or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is folks stopping by with the rude assumption that this ground hasn’t already been covered ad nauseum, and then crying over inadequate spoon feeding.

    Frankly, I’m amazed that A.L. is still willing to post the same point for the thousandth time.

  21. Armed Liberal – let me explain why I partly disagree with you, and why I think that even though this disagreement is only partial and highly nunaced it is likely to persist for more years than it already has.

    Islam is perpetually at war with us, that is it is at war with Jews, Christians, idol-worshiping polytheists and libertarian atheists alike – all of us. This war, as well as an internal war for the purity of Islam, even in the heart of each Muslim, is formally called jihad. The aim of jihad is Islamic world domination.

    We, however, are not at war with Islam. Hence, discussions of what would have to be the case if there was mutual and symmetrical war between us and Islam are moot.

    From time to time over the years since 11 September 2001, I’ve pointed out that Islam has amply demonstrated its intractable hostility. Sufficient facts are in.

    If Robert Spencer was wrong on the facts, if Hugh Fitzgerald was wrong on the facts, and consequently if I was wrong on the facts, all you had to do was point to the true facts.

    If Muhammed (pbuh) had lived a life as blameless as the Dalai Lama and advised his followers to do likewise, so that an authentic revival of his practices and teachings had to be a pacifist one, and any revival of Islamic zeal had to be a good thing for us, it would have been easy for you to show this.

    But the facts are mostly bad.

    There would be few doubts about Islam’s status as a prejudiced, aggressive, violent and domineering religion if followers of Muhammed (pbuh) had no greater numbers and power than, for example the followers of the Reverend Jim Jones.

    There is no reason to doubt that the cougar is a cat, with a cat’s need for meat, and there would be little reason to doubt that Islam is a belligerent religion, with an innate need to dominate – but for the size of the beast.

    The numbers and power of our enemies make us doubt that they are our enemies. Unwillingness to face the truth blinds us.

    Over the years, from time to time, I’ve invited you to say what facts would get you to render the same sort of verdict on the nature the religion of Muhammed (pbuh) that you would on the nature of the religion of, say, David Khoresh, or what the problem is, other than scale. Your opinion of the characteristics, history and activities of Islam would be completely different, would they not, if it had, say, 1.3 thousand adherents rather than somewhere around 1.3 thousand million adherents?

    Your answer, over the years, has never met my point head on, because there is no satisfactory straight answer. You are easily smart enough to call up the facts if they were on your side. There are no arguments you don’t understand or have missed. Your only problem in denying Muslim holy war against us is that you’re standing on air.

    Over the years, you’ve repeatedly replied by changing the topic, often to the fantasy of a Western nuclear extermination attack on the whole Muslim world. You’ve repeatedly asked if I want war with 1.3 billion Muslims. You jump from “what is the demonstrated character of Islam, what is the nature of the beast?” to the unthinkable horror of an action you imagine us taking.

    But that’s no good answer. Neo-neocon has written at length on why the alleged fearsome consequences of attempting to fight Islam should not be allowed to bully us intellectually into providing a false answer to the question of what Islam is. Basically, she says truth is good.

    We are talking past each other. I say: this is what it is. Therefore we are in a war, and our policies should all be based on the recognition of that. You say: we must not get into a war with Islam, and you require descriptions of the situation we are in to conform to your predetermined policy.

    Each of us will continue to think we are the one that is doing this the right way round.

    Here is Tony Blankley in the Washington Times, in a very good piece explaining the intractability of disagreements on this topic. (link)

    In the good side, this is an infinitely less radical and more pleasant disagreement than our difference of views on abortion. :/ But it may be equally futile.

  22. Trying again with my new metaphor.

    Muslims are calling us all to Islam. This side of our conversion, there has never been and there is no indication that there ever will be any end to their dissatisfaction with us, and their willingness to turn that dissatisfaction into all sorts of moves towards Islamic domination. The least part of these moves is terrorist violence.

    This beast has paws and claws, not hooves, and it eats meat, not grass. It does not have to feast all the time, but I promise and assure you, it will grow hungry. If you invite it in to the back yard to play with your children, it might not eat today, it might not eat tomorrow, but in the end it must and will eat.

    That’s why my attitude to Islam is never going to be anything other that adversarial and wary, and why the amount of Islam I want in Australia will always be “less than last year”.

  23. #21 from tcg: “So basically lurker what you’re saying is that he’s preaching to the converted. I would think that anyone who’s in the business of publishing their thoughts for common consumption would have a broader goal in mind…but perhaps not in this case.”

    Assuming you are speaking about Armed Liberal: I have not met and cannot readily imagine anyone with a bigger appetite than Armed Liberal has for real conversation with people who deeply disagree with him on “hot” topics, and who seriously and routinely contradict him. (And he has a vastly greater tolerance for baiting and personal put-downs than I have, which may also be to his credit, depending on whether you think that putting up with angry, negative people is a good idea.)

    #21 from tcg: “All you are doing is enumerating yet another reason to ignore him.”

    Have you seen The Incredibles (2004)? Remember the bit where Bob Parr (Mister Incredible) tells Edna Mode he’s retired, and she answers that she is too. “Yet here we are.” (smile) That’s such a great movie, and that line is still funny.

    #22 from lurker: “Frankly, I’m amazed that A.L. is still willing to post the same point for the thousandth time.”

    I am too.

    Say what you like about A.L., he is John Stewart Mill’s implied liberal ideal brought to life: always willing to engage with reasonable, intellectual opponents (and with vast forbearance and good manners), yet regarding war as a bad thing, but not the worst of things. To be a solid example of what a worthwhile moral philosopher thought people should be like is good going.

    Which said, I will continue to damn him regularly, as I have, for being wrong on morally vital topics. Praise he may get in abundance, for manners, self-restraint and generosity. But agreement? Never.

  24. So David–

    How many Muslims do you know? Perhaps California and Montreal differ from Australia, but just about all my firsthand experience contradicts your statements.

    A.L.

    I’d like to say we aren’t too, but if we are at war with “Islam” I’d say we’ve certainly been kicking their asses for quite awhile now. I know it goes against a lot of the aggressive victimhood around here, but take Iran for example, which funded an action which killed just under 300 hundred of our soldiers, while we funded a war which killed over 500 thousand of theirs. That’s nice odds.

  25. “Muslims are calling us all to Islam.”

    “Islam is perpetually at war with us….”

    These are incredible statements. They are as baseless as they are bigotted and stupid.

    Given the size of the global muslim population, the number that act as terrorists is extremely small; statistically insignificant. The terrorists are outliers, not the norm.

    And of course your amazingly ridiculous perspective fails completely tp take into account some of the very modern muslim states with whom western non-muslim interests do business every day, like Indonesia, the UAE coutries…….etc

    And don’t bother trying to prove your point with examples because for each and every one (and then some) I could counter with an example that shows it is the non-muslim world has aggressed against the muslim world. Same for quotes from the Koran because we all know the bloody harm done at times by christian “missionaries” doing “god’s work” (though, at bottom, I don’t see the conflicts as being at all one religion versus another…..just ordinary power politics with religion being an excuse – at times – to do the unspeakable).

  26. #26 from SAO: “So David–

    How many Muslims do you know? Perhaps California and Montreal differ from Australia, but just about all my firsthand experience contradicts your statements.”

    Now? Only one, and that’s just an acquaintance. Lovely fellow. In the past? A few, quite well. No problems.

    I’ll say it again: the problem is with the system of Islam. The problem is not the guy you roomed with in university or whatever.

  27. “…But it’s the difference between Virginia Tech or Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center; there is a significant difference in the magnitude of attacks alienated individuals will be able to carry out, and the attacks groups with state sponsors will be able to carry out….”

    I don’t see why you would need a state sponsor to carry out 9/11. In fact there really wasn’t a state sponsor.

    Why would it take a state sponsor to, say, make a Tim McVei style fuel fertilizer/Rider truck bomb (or 2 or 3), drive it down to Wall Street during the busiest hour and detonate it (them)?

    So I disagree with you.

    Furthermore, I think it is preferable to have state sponsors as opposed to non-state (if one had to make a choice) because a state sponsor can be monitored, it can be threatened and there is an opportunity for negotiations over time, game strategies like M.A.D. and, at worst, outright destruction by the US military.

    Not so with non-state actors.

  28. #27 from avedis: “Muslims are calling us all to Islam.”

    “Islam is perpetually at war with us….”

    These are incredible statements. They are as baseless as they are bigotted and stupid.”

    They are statements founded on realities. They are true of Islam, and not equally true of all religions.

    “Hindus are calling us all to Hinduism” would be an untrue statement, based on mainstream historical Hinduism, while “Muslims are calling us all to Islam” has the basis the same statement lacked before.

    “The Old Order Amish are perpetually at war with us….” would be an untrue statement, as the Old Order Amish have no dostrin of perpetual and universal holy war comparable to jihad, while “Islam is perpetually at war with us….” has the basis lacking with the Amish.

    Islam is not interchangeable with every other religion. It has distinctive and stubbornly persistent characteristics, some good and some dangerous.

  29. #27 from avedis: “Given the size of the global muslim population, the number that act as terrorists is extremely small; statistically insignificant. The terrorists are outliers, not the norm.”

    Yes. But special forces troops are outliers too, not the norm. That doesn’t mean they are unimportant, or that they don’t say important things about what we want, and what we’ll do to get it.

  30. #27 from avedis: “And of course your amazingly ridiculous perspective fails completely tp take into account some of the very modern muslim states with whom western non-muslim interests do business every day, like Indonesia, the UAE coutries…….etc”

    Does too. United Arab Emirates support my point that no amount of wealth transfer is the solution. Indonesia is right next door, and Jemaah Islamiyah is of more interest to me than Al Qaeda, except that Jemaah Islamiyah is so fast and flexible in reconfiguring itself that it’s really hard to keep up with how those guys are structured.

  31. #27 from avedis: “And don’t bother trying to prove your point with examples…”

    (shrug) OK.

    This thread is supposed to be about Barak Obama’s foreign policy anyway.

    It’s just that Armed Liberal called attention to a large problem Barak Obama ignores, and I agreed in part but said there’s another large problem still to be accounted for – while at the same time, Barak Obama’s conception of American global leadership, or as I would characterize it American global interference, pleases Armed Liberal but not me.

  32. Obama has a foreign policy handed to him by some slick writers but looking at his experience in foreign policy, Mr. Obama is an empty suit.

    His record on Iraq and the war on terror, which is predominate in Iraq, leaves me to believe his foreign policy rhetoric is an attempt to move center but the Left won’t approve of this.

    To get votes Obama will have to stay off the fence and reside where he has always been, in Left field.

  33. “….the war on terror, which is predominate in Iraq….”

    Many of us – perhaps Obama included – don’t see Iraq as having much to do with the war on terror (except maybe making the problem worse).

    Iraq is a civil war that was started when the US created a massive upheaval for no apparent reason (e.g. no WMD for a relatively effective and ongoing inspection process to uncover, etc).

    Again it’s a civil war fought mostly by internal factions. The presence of Al Qaeda in Iraq is generally set by experts to be at around 1,000 to 2,000 members, tops. If the US would pull out and allow the warring factions to settle their problems once and for all, instead of causing a prolonged blood letting at our expense as well, then it is most likely that who ever triumphs among the internal parties will exterminate AQ; that or AQ will leave.

    Prior to the invasion AQ was not a factor in Iraq except for a small base outside of Saddam’s control and in the Kurdish region. This is fact and has been again submitted for the record by agencies responsible for such intel.

    So how can Iraq be central to the war on terrorism?

    Answer, it is not. It is a diversion from the war on terrorism. Remember the guy who attacked us on 9/11? The guy who is still running around ut there? The guy whose commander recently threatened us yet again?

    Maybe that is who/what Obama sees as central to the war on terrorism. Obama seems like a smart guy, so this is probably the case.

  34. “I’ll say it again: the problem is with the system of Islam. The problem is not the guy you roomed with in university or whatever.”

    Heh, perhaps but one would think that the some evidence of this nascient aggressivity/war would show itself when I met the roommates family, girlfriend, religious and secular friends, etc.

  35. Yes. But special forces troops are outliers too, not the norm. That doesn’t mean they are unimportant, or that they don’t say important things about what we want, and what we’ll do to get it.

    Perhaps, perhaps not–but you cannot make very many observations about the army in general based on that small and specialized element. Does your average infantryman or tanker go through SERE training? Are they all trained to use a sniper rifle, or lethal in bare-handed combat? Are they all capable of making a paradrop, or a covert insertion? Your own example undermines rather than supports your argument.

    Islam may call the whole world to convert, but so does every evangelical Christian sect. The difference is that recently, the most vocal and visible source of terrorism has been from radical Islamists who make noise and news far out of proportion to their numbers. Twenty years ago, it was the IRA that made the most news. And over the last century or so, we’ve seen radical Christianists engaging in domestic terrorism in the form of the KKK. We didn’t call it terrorism then, but that’s what it was, in spirit and in substance. And they used Christian scripture to justify their acts, just as today’s Islamists use the Qur’an.

    Someone with as strong a grasp of history as you seem to have, David, cannot fail to be aware of these facts, along with countless other examples. You correctly identify Islamic terrorism as a threat to be defended against and eliminated. You correctly identify Islamists as being inimical to the civilized world. From there, however, you make a completely unfounded leap to the conclusion that Islam itself is a threat to the world. That is, simply put, wrong on its face. It is a blanket assertion falsified by the vast majority of Muslims who do not engage in or approve of terrorism, including millions in America. You ask for facts to refute your ridiculous assertion that Islam itself is “intractably hostile”, but you conveniently ignore this most obvious, most self-evident fact that makes your breathless hysteria worthy of little more than ridicule.

    You don’t quite come out and say it, but I’m calling you on the implications of your arguments: what you are advocating is the extermination of the Islamic religion from this world. You can step around it all you like, but that is the logical endpoint of every assertion you make about Islam. You are obviously well-educated and capable of putting together arguments that sound intelligent. Unfortunately, you’re apparently unaware of the irony of how much your unqualified animus towards Muslims resembles the Islamist animus towards Jews.

    I recall another group of well-educated, articulate people from the last century who were convinced that everything wrong with the world stemmed from one particularly noxious religion. As I recall, they’re not really considered part of polite society anymore.

  36. Anyone who confuses the war in Iraq with the problems of international terrorism from Islamist extremists is simply ignorant. Period. End of discussion as far as I’m concerned.

  37. #37 from Catsy: “Islam may call the whole world to convert, but so does every evangelical Christian sect.”

    That’s a red warning light flashing for Christianity, as far as I’m concerned. But Islam has a Christmas tree of warning lights all lit up.

    #37 from Catsy: “Twenty years ago, it was the IRA that made the most news.”

    More like thirty years ago. And I’ve always called that sectarian Christian terrorism. Which, by the way, I see no reason to assume we’ve seen the last of.

    #37 from Catsy: “You don’t quite come out and say it, but I’m calling you on the implications of your arguments: what you are advocating is the extermination of the Islamic religion from this world.”

    “Extermination” is part of your baseless implications of Nazi-dom.

    But I do think we should aim at less Islam. There’s no mystery about that. I don’t say it in every thread, but in this thread I said: “my attitude to Islam is never going to be anything other that adversarial and wary, and … the amount of Islam I want in Australia will always be ‘less than last year’.” That is hardly evasive.

    #37 from Catsy: “Unfortunately, you’re apparently unaware of the irony of how much your unqualified animus towards Muslims resembles the Islamist animus towards Jews.

    I recall another group of well-educated, articulate people from the last century who were convinced that everything wrong with the world stemmed from one particularly noxious religion. As I recall, they’re not really considered part of polite society anymore.”

    Again, your implications are unfounded. If you want to attack modern analogues to Nazis, take on Islam, not me.

  38. #36 from SAO: “I’ll say it again: the problem is with the system of Islam. The problem is not the guy you roomed with in university or whatever.”

    Heh, perhaps but one would think that the some evidence of this nascient aggressivity/war would show itself when I met the roommates family, girlfriend, religious and secular friends, etc.

    Nah. I’ve known and been friends with Communists. The problem isn’t with Slovo at the bookshop or Jane at the school (or Mohammed at the other bookshop for that matter). The problem was the system of Communism, and it still is the system of Islam.

    We needed less Communism. (And North Korea and Cuba and China still do, though with reservations about what might come after Communism in China.) We still need less Islam.

    Stymie the system. Defeat it. Break it. Diminish it in every way.

    Don’t be rude to so-and-so’s cousin, who’s a Muslim or a Stalin worshiping Commo or whatever. That’s got nothing to do with it.

    But don’t assume that because Muriel the Maoist is OK or cousin Pete who’s a fanatical fan of Pol Pot (I kid you not) is OK, that living under the domination of an Aussie or American Pol Pot would be nice.

    It’s the same with Islam.

  39. tcg wrote “Anyone who confuses the war in Iraq with the problems of international terrorism from Islamist extremists is simply ignorant. Period. End of discussion as far as I’m concerned.” That’s a claim, tcg, not an argument supported by fact. If you want to make it into an argument, please do – otherwise you’re assuming away your opponents arguments, which is a nice way to win a fantasy debate but works less well in the real world.

    A.L.

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