Sunday, May 26, 2013

Quote Of The Day

Juan Cole discusses the relative threat of Islam versus the West:

Listening to Newt Gingrich, the great bloviator, go on this morning on the alleged Muslim threat, set me off. Gingrich did his dissertation on Belgian educational policy in the Congo, where he managed to miss the genocide perpetrated by the Europeans. Gingrich knows better, he is just hate-mongering. But since he brought it up, it is Westerners like Gingrich (who supported illegally invading and occupying Iraq, which led to hundreds of thousands of deaths) of whom one might justifiably be a little afraid…

Who’s the Threat? Western Powers have invaded and Killed Millions of Muslims

He then presents a short table showing a rundown of who has invaded or attacked whom since the end of the 18th Century. Let's just say it doesn't look good for our side, unless you think that killing more people is winning. I can't think of any Muslim invasions to add to that list, that's for sure.

Islam, as a religion with some incredibly intolerant adherents and leaders, is certainly a source of evil in the world. But when I'm almost simultaneously presented with a Foreign Policy article extolling the virtues of signature strikes, and Secretary of State John Kerry lying his ass off about how America isn't bombing targets where civilians are present (see NOTE 1), I have to say that Muslims aren't the only ones who can go to extraordinary lengths to avoid admitting the human costs of what they're doing.

NOTE 1 Since when have we refused to bomb valid targets that don't happen to have civilians in the area? In World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq, our clear policy was that, while we might try to minimize civilian casualties, that wouldn't stop us from destroying something we thought was important enough to send planes to bomb.

And for those not familiar, please note, I've defended some of those bombings in the past. I just recognize those statements of Kerry's as the utter horse shit that they are.


Expat said...

Eugene Rogan "The Arabs, A History" ISBN 978-0-141-02469-1 only begins to fill the vacuum of what is not known about MENA history of the modern era (from the 1500's or the discovery of New World). This book brings together not only Arabian history and that of the Ottoman empire, but the continuing contacts and conflicts with European culture and how finance and debt were used to defeat and subject the region to the hegemony of European great powers. The book is a profound look at that history and needs be read before opinions are set in stone.

Cujo359 said...

I'm pretty sure my opinions on this haven't been set in stone. I do have to say I'm a bit skeptical about their downfall being due to Western finance, though. We get into a habit of mind of thinking that it's the lender who has the power. As with many personal analogies to nation states, this is almost completely wrong. Nations can default on loans, though most try not to do it. They hold as much power in that relationship as the lenders do.

So, either the Islamic world made the mistake of choosing really dumb leaders, or something else was at least as problematic.

When you have a vital economy that produces what you need, financing isn't much of a problem. Credit ratings are about ability to pay, after all. The story of the Muslim world starting in the 16th Century or so is at least partly about a failing economy. They couldn't keep up with Western technology, despite having had a substantial lead at one time.

My guess is that a failing ecosystem in much of its domain, coupled with a determination to lock half its most valuable minds in the closet, may have had something to do with the end of the Muslim empires.

Expat said...

OK, don't read what the historian had to offer, no big problem. Finis

Unknown said...

Having just listen to "King Leopold's Ghosts" it does bring to the fore how brutal the colonization of the Congo was; truly the "Heart Of Darkness."