Why We Need a Cool Assessment of Terrorism





Mr. Chaliand, PhD Sorbonne, has been writing about terrorism and anti-colonialism for forty years. He and Arnaud Blin are the editors of the forthcoming History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda (University of California Press, August 2007).

The State Department recently released a report on World Terrorism for 2006. More then 14,600 attacks have been recorded, an increase of more than 6% on the previous year: That gives the frightening figure of 40 attacks a day!

The public in the West, and particularly in the US, cannot be but impressed by such figures. Should we be very worried about the future or is maybe the State Department selling anxiety?

There are two possible views on the terrorist phenomenon. One is to stress its tremendous importance as a threat and to prepare ourselves to have to soon face WMDS. The other is a cooler view trying to decide if the given figure of terrorist attacks is not misleading.

The fact is that this total should not include attacks that are part of ongoing insurgencies, such as the ones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kashmir, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Why should they put on equal footing with terrorists attacks like Madrid or London?

Is it relevant to define Iraq as terrorism? A situation which required the presence of 150,000 US soldiers can only be defined as a war.

Does it make sense to label terrorism an insurrection where frontal battles occur, as in Helmand, Afghanistan or when a CH-47 chinook is reportedly shot down by a rocket?

Can we count as part of world terrorism the Israeli July 2006 campaign against Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon?

What is going on between the Tamil Tigers and the forces of Sri Lanka should not be reduced to terrorism when the insurgency uses -- along with terrorist attacks -- guerrilla warfare and frontal battles when circumstances are favorable and even, on one occasion, bombed  by air!

International terrorism, these days, is jihadist terrorism. In fact, between September 11, 2001 and the end of September 2006, jihadists have carried out, in 5 years, 37 attacks of some significance.

The countries which have been most targeted are, in order: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Turkey and Jordan. They represent nine tenths of all attacks, while some other countries have been hit once: Kenya, Tunisia, Yemen, Morocco.

As far as Western countries are concerned, we have Madrid (2004) and London (2005). The total number of deaths at the world level in those 5 years caused by jihadists is about 1250, not even half of the victims of 9/11.

The apocalypse predicted some years ago by Osama bin Laden has been rather modest.

9/11 was the zenith of classical terrorism and a case in itself. Of course, a number of planned attacks have failed to be delivered due to police action.

As for WMDs, they have been one of the obsessions in the West since 1995, when the Japanese religious sect Aum Shirinko killed, with sarin gas, 12 people and wounded many in Tokyo’s underground.

With Japanese expertise, unlimited finances and no interference from the Japanese police who did not, at that time, watch the religious sects, the WMDs of Tokyo did not fulfill the expectations of its perpetrators.

What is the aim of creating anxiety among the public and particularly in the US, by predicting the imminent use of WMD? Could it be that we are witnessing a political exploitation of fear?

What do we exactly mean by mass destruction? If these weapons are going to be used one day--and that may well happen--they will probably produce more mass panic than mass destruction. But let’s not talk about the future. A cool assessment is first concerned about what has happened from 9/11 until today.

What can be said about the terrorism phenomenon at present is that it is misleading to confuse insurrectional wars and random acts of terrorism in a global count of terrorist attacks.

It is also misleading to speak of a “war against terrorism.” Terrorism is a covert activity which is dealt with, above all, by intelligence and police action.

What makes jihadists so specific is not religion, it’s that there is nothing with which to negotiate. Ideologically jihadists are still on the march. Armed force alone cannot win this struggle. The real battle is ideological. But it seem very improbable that the US will be able to discredit jihadist ideology. Consequently, jihadists terrorism is going to be active for a generation or two. But it will never be able to shake the world’s status quo.

Though, of course, it should be taken very seriously jihadist terrorism will remain a very costly nuisance but a limited threat.

The political aims of the jihadists, some of them utopian, such as restoring the caliphate, are mobilizing young militants who have the conviction of sharing an epic struggle. However, they are not helping solve the crisis of most of the Muslim countries which involves economic growth and social reforms. While China and India are growing economically at a quick pace, the jihadists are with their attacks contributing to the retardation of reform, slowing development in most of the Muslim world, which is already late in adapting to the challenges of the day.


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

In assessing the ideological roots, the psychological/doctrinaire build up of a party, a movement etc, to better understand it and confront it, the not only reasonable but the imperative thing to do is to determine how that party perceives itself and NOT how others perceive it!

It is its own perception of its own nature, its mission and hence its goals that determine the path it follows to achieve those goals and NOT how others perceive it.
Hence I consider your, repeated, query :"Why should you, not an Orthodox Jew, so readily accept such a weird definition" and "... why do YOU accept this (1) very weird definition of a..." as a non starter of an objective discussion..

However I note that , contrary to your record, you have assiduously avoided two major points I made re Zionist /Israeli RACISM:
1-The Israeli “Law of Return”; a major indicator of the very essence of Zionism and Israel
and
2-What the late honourable Professor Israel Shahak, a man of exceptional perceptiveness and integrity, had to say on the subject.

Unless and until the syndrome of “God’s chosen people”, the “divinely” promised land, the political ramifications of the Jew/Goyim complex are objectively diagnosed for what they are and what they lead to ,and recognized as the true under pinning of the preferential treatment and special prerogatives , the ultra allowances if you wish, to which Jews(some)/Zionists(all) believe they are entitled to irrespective of how it affects others, the goyim, until that stage of common ground is attained we would be conversing on parallel, non convergent, planes.

An idealized picture of Zionism/Israel versus a demonized picture of Islam/Arabs/Palestinians have formed ( misformed?, deformed ?) Western (Judeo/Christian) perception of this conflict to the ultimate grave loss of future generations in both worlds.

( Of lesser importance but still worthy of attention is your note that:” The solution to the injustice done is compensation……,”!
NOT everything , particularly crime and injustice, is liable to be resolved through “compensation”, ie money; somthings in life have a value that is never attained by a “money value”.
How much would you, plural, ask for, say, Oregon if it is colonized by , say, China and Oregoneans (?) are dislocated, dispossessed ,subjugated and supplanred by the hypothetical Chinese who brings in enough of their own to have a Chinese majority??
How much???)


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

*"However armies, or more frequently remnants of armies, and other armed organizations/ movements are as often the party which resist attempts to subjugate through armed action."

You will need to provide proof for that statement.
** A major part of the anti American, anti occupation present Iraqi insurgency is undertaken by ex Iraqi army personnel , ie remnants of the Iraqi army!
If you want names and other particulars you have to search for that elsewhere.

*and this one,
"As for the French resistance and the German army during WWII and Algerian, and Vietnamese resitance to French occupation more recently."

(a)Define Vichy? (b)Is the war in Algeria over? Did the French leave Vietnam or did the US just drop in? Just where does Vietnam rank as a US trading partner anyway?

** a-Vichy is the servile collaborationist regime established by Nazi Germany after its occupation of France.
b-The anti French colonialist occupation of Algeria, the Algerian war of independence, is over and was concluded in 1962 (+/-) with the withdrawal of the French army of , colonialist, occupation.

*Further you write, "This brain washing, states sponsored and PR induced state of affairs has made the present raging "anti terrorism" campaign a daily tool of imperialism, as for the USA in Iraq, and of racist colonialism as for the Israeli army in occupied Palestine."
Who do you personally know in the US that is 'brainwashed'?

**Too many to be named; all you have to do to get some names is to watch Fox news and commentaries!

*When did Arabic peoples stop racism in their lands? Historically speaking oh, say 7,500 years, who actually holds deed to Palestine?

**For all its shortcomings Arab history and society was ,is ,traditionally, free of "colour" racism; Sudan is an integral member of the Arab nation and "confessional " racism ;Fares al Khouri (Khouri=priest) was prime minister of Syria/ much before the USA electedits one and only Catholic President ; Michel Aflaq is the primus inter pares of the founders of the pan Arab Baath Party; Makram Obeid was a very prominent leader of the Egyptian, anti British, Wafd party and George Habash is a prominent leader of Palestinian anti Israeli resistance; to name only a few of the very many Christian pan Arab and Palestinian freedom fighters.
Arab history and life was never mired by US style "colour" discrimination or Israeli style "confessional” discrimination; both being outstanding past and present practitioners of “racism” in the general sense of the word!
I fail to grasp your point re the 7500 years period you mention. Would you care to elaborate!

However what is historically beyond dispute is that Palestine has been predominantly Arab demographically and culturally, both Moslem and Christian, for the last 1400 years pre 1948, at the very least.

*Finally,

"...the difference between aggressor and resistant to aggression..."

Using one of the following scenarios as a basis for hypothesis prove that statement?

1. Sunni v. Shiite v. Kurd
2. Pakistan v. Own People
3. Saudi Arabia v. Subservient Class
4. Hamas v. Fatah
5. Yankees v. Red Sox

Bonus Essay.

As an imperialist and racist tool identify the current leader of Egypt, how came to power, how long the rule and how stay in power.

**I fail to see your point(s) here and would rather not indulge in word play.
Would you care to elaborate?


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"2. Israel Shahak has been shown on this blog, by me among others, to have been factually mistaken (to put it kindly) in many of his statements--and Omar knows this well, because we've gone several rounds on this. "
(by A. M. Eckstein on August 3, 2007 at 12:52 PM)

Absolutely nothing of the sort,much more in the realm of Eckstein's wishful thinking!
However the best way to settle this point is to ask the general reader and viewer to READ SHAHAK for himself.
A Professor ? can hardly disagree to that!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

For heaven's sake Prof? How can you assert that:
"ONLY Omar Ibrahim Baker ended up believing that Shahak was factually correct in his accusations"; the key word being"ONLY"?
Pray do tell us..Prof???
Waiting eagerly for your response re "ONLY"!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Professor Eckstein
If you fail to see how inane and utterly worthless your reply/defense is ..then you are in much greater trouble that any body suspected hitherto...including myself!

Your statement was,is:
"ONLY Omar Ibrahim Baker ..."
you, in no way, qualified that by adding, say:"..among the posters..." or " from the participants, readers, viewers etc.."

You made an ABSOLUTE, categorical and unqualified statement:" Only Omar Ibrahim Baker..."

Your weak preamble:” in which of several posting members of HNN,…” to “ONLY” does not stand as a qualification particulaly when you go running for secour to Friedman and Simon; both being what they are, with due respect.

So it is only Friedman, Simon and Omar that count you imply…what about the rest of bloggers and readers?

Had it been :” Of the trio that count: Friedman, Simon and Omar, ONLY Omar Ibrahim Baker…” it would have been more literally correct though irrationally rational !

Others, however, do count .. they do count a great deal .

My pity for the University of M... is quickly turning into disdain, and incredulous disdain at that.
It, the U of M, deserves better than that and you certainly do NOT deserve to be anything in any scholastic institution if that is the extent of your erudition and the amount of care you show in what you write.
QED...you must be joking!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

One thing the Prof opposes implacably: that people should read Professor Israel Shahak and make up their minds about what he has to say.

Strange coming from a Professor, a genuine Prof that is, to wish that people DO NOT READ an author.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

*I notice, Omar, that you have not dared to respond to the posting I put up below this little controversy a few days ago: about “racism” and who is a "racist":

(#111880)
by art eckstein on August 2, 2007 at 9:04 PM




**For all its shortcomings Arab history and society was ,is ,traditionally, free of "colour" racism; Sudan is an integral member of the Arab nation and "confessional " racism ;Fares al Khouri (Khouri=priest) was prime minister of Syria/ much before the USA electedits one and only Catholic President/ ; Michel Aflaq is the primus inter pares of the founders of the pan Arab Baath Party; Makram Obeid was a very prominent leader of the Egyptian, anti British, Wafd party and George Habash is a prominent leader of Palestinian anti Israeli resistance; to name only a few of the very many Christian pan Arab and Palestinian freedom fighters.
Arab history and life was never mired by US style "colour" discrimination or Israeli style "confessional” discrimination; both being outstanding past and present practitioners of “racism” in the general sense of the word!

However what is historically beyond dispute is that Palestine has been predominantly Arab demographically and culturally, both Moslem and Christian, for the last 1400 years pre 1948, at the very least.




Re: Terrorism As A State Tool. (#111892)
by omar ibrahim baker on August 3, 2007 at 6:54 PM


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Prof
Actually what I had to say on the subject of racism (post #111892)was never intended for you...you do NOT qualify for an objective discussion on the subject....

To small minds and smaller percptions racism seems a question of episodes, incidents and happenings,"examples", whereas it is in essence a question of ingrained confessional perceptions or dictates, as for Orthdox Judaism according to Shahak and others , and of a general cultural/historical outlook.

That may be hard for you to understand and even harder to accept since your only recourse is to an episode here and a happening there to bolster your blind bias...as well demonstrated by your latest post #111941 and its earlier post on the subject.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

What is needed first and foremost is the ability to distinguish between "terrorists" , being the bodies engaged in wanton ,aimless acts of violence and legitimate liberation and social action armed movements with a clear political goal in mind that use violence as a means and not as an objective.
Failure to make this crucial distinction will only help "terrorists" while misinforming, disinforming?, the Western world about what is happening in the rest of the world!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Should we adhere to the original meaning of the term, "terrorism" would denote all acts meant to "terrorize" and through "terror" subjugate the adversary who ever he happens to be.
As such armies, both official and/or their subcontracted mercenaries are often its prime subjects and perpetrators.
The greater is their terrorizing ability the more of "terrorist" they are.

However armies,or more frequently remnants of armies, and other armed organizations/ movements are as often the party which resist attempts to subjugate through armed action.

Both are NOT "terrorists" although both use armed action; the former is an aggressor while the latter is a resistant to aggression !
Therein lies the basic difference between the two: aggressor versus resistant to aggression.
As for the French resistance and the German army during WWII and Algerian, and Vietnamese resitance to French occupation more recently .

However the prevalent opinion in the Western World now seems to legitimize its own aggression and demonize the inevitable resistance to it.
This brain washing,states sponsered and PR induced state of affairs has made the present raging "anti terrorism" campaign a daily tool of imperialism, as for the USA in Iraq, and of racist colonialism as for the Israeli army in occupied Palestine.

The victims of this campaign are not solely the "resistants" but ,equally, those that have been blinded to the difference between aggressor and resistant to aggression i.e. a wide segment of Western public opinion.
.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"...dumb policies on the Mideast, no policy on energy, and no real strategy vis-a-vis criminal Islamism."; and, had you also added "unconditional support of Zionist colonial expansionism" you would have hit the nail on its head, in Americanism, Mr Clarke!

"Criminal Islamism" would have remained permanently the isolated and publicly ostracized lunatic fringe movement ,that it truly is , except for the vital blood line lent to it by USA unconditional pro Israel policies in general and the pro Settlements and pro Wall policies of the Bush/Wolfowitz administration.

Failure to recognize this crucial factor has made “Islamism" the standard bearer and the last refuge for all anti Zionist, anti Israel and hence anti American, forces in the Arab and, increasingly, the Moslem World while concurrently decriminalizing "Criminal Islamism" .

I can NOT think of a more, ultimately, damaging policy to USA interests, influence and general standing in the Middle East than its traditional and escalating pro Israel policies.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"...dumb policies on the Mideast, no policy on energy, and no real strategy vis-a-vis criminal Islamism."; and, had you also added "unconditional support of Zionist colonial expansionism" you would have hit the nail on its head, in Americanism, Mr Clarke!

"Criminal Islamism" would have remained permanently the isolated and publicly ostracized lunatic fringe movement ,that it truly is , except for the vital blood line lent to it by USA unconditional pro Israel policies in general and the pro Settlements , pro Wall and destroy Iraq policies of the Bush/Wolfowitz administration.

Failure to recognize this crucial factor has made “Islamism" the standard bearer and the last refuge for all anti Zionist, anti Israel and hence anti American, forces in the Arab and, increasingly, the Moslem World while concurrently decriminalizing "Criminal Islamism" .

I can NOT think of a more, ultimately, damaging policy to USA interests, influence and general standing in the Middle East than its traditional and escalating pro Israel policies.



omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Clarke
We have agreed, sometime ago, to disagree re the true nature of Israel.
Whereas I see it for what it truly is: an aggressive colonialist and racist intruder you prefer to see it otherwise, no doubt, under the influence of it’s mythological cum theological pretensions and an unacknowledged but deeply inherent guilt complex.
However my point was not Israel, although I stand by every word I said about it, but the tragic fact that USA unconditional support of this alien and usurping entity is the real cause behind the decriminalization, the de alienation if you wish, of "criminal Islamists" and the consequent ascendancy of Islamists, both “criminal” and non criminal, who in turn became jointly as implacable in their enmity to the USA as the erstwhile “criminal Islamists",( your expression) were.
Ultimately all Americans will have to decide whether the US's unconditional support of Israel did or did NOT serve America!
I would dearly like to read what you have to say about that.
To pretend that the USA establishment, but not the ignorant and uninterested but thoroughly brain washed American public, ever supported Israel out of utopian, ethical and other non profit, considerations will only equal the Iraqi WMD travesty and big lie.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"So "racist" sounds, excuse my impertinence, like a rather dumb way of characterizing the fight between Israelis and Palestinians."

I am sure Mr Clarke that you are well aware of the Israeli Law of Return which restricts that "right" to Jews or people with some Jewish blood in them.

Noting that Orthodox Judaism, as perceived by a majority (?) of Jews, pretends that Jews share a common provenance, a common ancestry i.e. that they are, one way or another, all tied together by a "blood" bond and , as such, are a distinct ethnic body or race.

Hence it is only reasonable and fair, in view of the said Law of Return, inter alia and to name one particular point only, to qualify a movement, a state, a nation or any blood based entity that restricts certain "rights" to a certain ethnic group as RACIST.
It does NOT necessarily have to be white versus black or nonwhite, as in good old USA and South Africa until very recently, or Aryan versus non Aryan as with Nazi Germany .

Should you read Israel Shahak about the distinction made by orthodox Judaism in rights and penalties, for the same crime, between Jews and non Jews (the goyim or goy)and
correlate that to Zionism and Israeli policies and practices you will NOT fail to note the underlying and explicit RACISM of the Zionist movement and its offspring present day Israel!


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

1. What does racism have to do with American policy towards terrorism? Why are we discussing racism here?

2. I googled around as best I could and came up with no indication that Orthodox Judaism considers Jews a "race." Indeed the concept of matrilineal descent argues against it. Half Jewish child "A", mother Jewish, father non-Jewish, might, for example, have a cousin (child "B") who is the offspring of A's (Non Jewish) father's sister and his (Jewish) mother's brother. By any normal definition of race in human history, A and B as "double cousins" would be of exactly the same racial mixture. BUT Orthodox Judaism would insist that A is Jewish because its mother is and B is NOT Jewish because its mother is not.

Therefore: IF Orthodox Judaism consider Jews a "race," then it MUST be using a definition of race that is utterly different from that used by the rest of humanity. Why should you, not an Orthodox Jew, so readily accept such a weird definition?

3. As far as I can tell, Orthodox Jews are a minority even in Israel and a very small minority of Jews in America (which has more Jews than Israel). Assuming you are somehow right (which I certainly do NOT) and Orthodox Judaism considers Jews a race, why do YOU accept this (1) very weird definition of a (2) extreme minority within in a religion that is not yours anyway?

4. Race is very dubious and basically anti-intellectual term to begin with (so why do you obsess on it?), but in all the myriad variations of classifications I can see, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are part of the same "Caucasian" or "Semitic" "race" of "branch of the human family."

5. If ever there was a racist bunch in human history it must have been the Nazis with their "master race" concept. But is this why they invaded the USSR in the largest military invasion in human history? "Ve are ze master race, let's go beat up some Untermenschen just for fun?" Not hardly. Their war cry was "Lebensraum." (LAND to live in). The wars, genocides, massacres, etc. of the Nazis were not the goal per se, they were the means to the goal of getting land.

The Israeli state is not built on some absurd paranoid fantasy of Race, it is built on land taken, justly to some extent, unjustly in many other ways, from Arabs. The solution to the injustice done is compensation, not playing silly word games twisting terms around to try to make them mean things they do not.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

It is all very well be reminded that the notion of a "war on terrorism" is fundamentally Orwellian, disingenuous, and counterproductive, that clusterbombs and humvees are not effective against pseudo-religious brainwashing etc., that rival mosques being blown up in Baghdad is not the same challenge as cars crashing into UK airports etc., etc.

But, it is no use cleaning up sloppy illogic and boneheaded thinking in one area by perpetuating it somewhere else.


In this same piece we can read this bit of colossal nonsense:

"Is it relevant to define Iraq as terrorism? A situation which required the presence of 150,000 US soldiers can only be defined as a war."


Forty years of writing about "writing about terrorism and anti-colonialism "evidently has not made the author immune from regurgitating neo-con baloney.

Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have been stationed in Europe for the past 60 years, but Europe has not been at war for the past 60 years.

In a war there is an identifiable enemy. Who is the enemy in Iraq? Al Qaeda? Is that why launched a rushed, unplanned, half-assed, blunder-ridden invasion of Iraq, where Al Qaeda had no presence, rather than take effective action in Pakistan, where they have been and are still based?


It is time for America to stop playing games with itself. If we were truly in a “war” in Iraq there would be no reason for Republican senators to now be tearing their hair out about how to best cover their political backsides while authorizing a cut and run from the place. Clearly America has vital interests in the region where most of the world's oil, Wahabism, and the greatest WMD threats emanate. If checking these threats were simply a matter of the planet's sole superpower waging war, we would be waging it and winning it, not having farcical all night bogus “debates” about it in Congress.

We are still in Iraq and anguishing over it, because the neo-con coward perpetrators in Washington DC and their faux-peacenik Democrat rubberstamps on Capitol Hill cannot bear to admit their asinine folly in blundering their behinds off and creating and wallowing for years in a quagmire, rather than addressing the real issues revealed by 9-11: poor internal security, poor intelligence-gathering and coordination, dumb policies on the Mideast, no policy on energy, and no real strategy vis-a-vis criminal Islamism.

Al Qaeda made a bet on 9-11, and won big time. It is stronger and more accepted than ever now, thanks to the cowardly incompetence of the Cheney administration and most of the US Congress, and the inability of the “intelligensia” including M. Chaliand to realize that these American “emperors” are naked as new-born babes.



Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Nothing in your comment, Arnold (which I mostly agree with) negates the growing consensus among historians (which I even more mostly agree with) that this administration is the most incompetent and disastrous (for America!) in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Part of the reason for that disaster, as I thought I outlined in my comment above, is the inability of otherwise intelligent people -e.g. the author here- to accept that the bungled intervention in Iraq which Karl Goebbels Rove calls a war, is not in fact a real war.

One might well argue that many actors within the convoluted multitude of the various Shiite and Sunni tribes in Iraq are HOPING for a chance at a civil war, once the Americans finally get out. It is not a war there now. Call it terrorism, call it anarchy, call it the law of the jungle, call it 21st century Hell on Earth, call it a free-fire zone, call it every family clan for itself, call it a training and recruiting ground for Al Qaeda handed to them on a golden platter by Dick Cheney, call it Colin Powell's and Donald Rumsfeld's broken pottery shop, but don't ape Rove's Orwellian ape droppings and call it a war, if you have a mind of your own, is my point.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Well, Mr. B., as you probably know already, I don't quite agree with your either your formulation or choice of vocabulary, but I suppose we share the view that however dumb U.S. policy on the Mideast might have been before Dick Cheney got ahold of it in 2001, it has become a lot dumber since. IF ( a bigger IF than this keyboard will type) some kind of new peace process floats down upon the Mideast in coming months, it will be because Sharon and Arafat, those old bloody tricksters are gone, and not because Condi Rice offers their sucsessors tens of billions of US taxdollars to waste.

There are a few good suggestions in the article here in the direction of a less dumb set of policies, but putting them into action will have to wait until the current gang in the Exec branch of Washington finally starts trying to lie its way out of its enormous disasters by disappearing to write memoirs.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Well, Mr. B., as you probably know already, I don't quite agree with your either your formulation or choice of vocabulary, but I suppose we share the view that however dumb U.S. policy on the Mideast might have been before Dick Cheney got ahold of it in 2001, it has become a lot dumber since. IF ( a bigger IF than this keyboard will type) some kind of new peace process floats down upon the Mideast in coming months, it will be because Sharon and Arafat, those old bloody tricksters are gone, and not because Condi Rice offers their sucsessors tens of billions of US taxdollars to waste.

There are a few good suggestions in the article here in the direction of a less dumb set of policies, but putting them into action will have to wait until the current gang in the Exec branch of Washington finally starts trying to lie its way out of its enormous disasters by disappearing to write memoirs.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Baker,

Maybe I am an ignorant racist American, but if ten Israelis and ten Palestinians were randomly mixed in a police line-up, I doubt I could do much better than flip a coin as to which was which. As unracist as you may well be, I am quite sure you would have no such difficulty distinguishing, for example, ten Caucasians and ten African Americans similarly lined up in Atlanta. So "racist" sounds, excuse my impertinence, like a rather dumb way of characterizing the fight between Israelis and Palestinians.

We have been through the inapplicability of Zionism before, so here is a short recap. Zionism (says Wikipedia) is an "international political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel." That state was successfully established 60 years ago. Its most recent territorial expansion (never internationally recognized, by the way) occurred 40 years ago. By constantly ranting about Zionism, you remind me of an old general who wants to refight an old war. This is a good way to start a new war, and lose it, but it is no way to undo the past, because there is in fact no way to undo the past. Many Arabs realized this and that is why they signed land for peace treaties with Israel. The problem with Israel is not its existence as a Jewish homeland, but its misbehavior towards its neighbors and the Palestinians in its occupied territories. The solution is not a fantasy about a revolution in Israel that will never happen, but a negotiated settlement such as the one almost reached by Barak, Clinton and Arafat, and mainly wrecked by the latter.

Now, let's get to your question.

About unconditional support.

There are different degrees of support short of full unconditionality. I think every American president since FDR, for example, has been to some extent pro-Israel. But only the current one has been a lap dog for the Israel government, which since 2001 shares with our incompetents in Washington the deserved reputation of being the worst in the country's history. Even without that recent decline, basic geopolitical political history means that American support made more sense in the past, when the Cold War was on. Nonetheless, non-lapdog presidents got benefits for America out of the relationship even then. For example, during the Gulf War, which was about Iraq trying to steal Kuwait's oil, not about Israel, colonialism, racism, Zionism or which side to crack open an egg on, Saddam tried to distract attention from his aggression by drawing the Israelis in. Daddy Bush told them to stay out and they obeyed. After the war, he told them to talk to the Palestinians, for the first time, and they fell in line again. In both cases, AMERICAN interests in a peaceful Mideast were served! Needless to say, things have been radically different with Junior Bush.

In conclusion, conditional support for Israel conducted by a competent US government can benefit America. Unconditional support for an unusually misbehaving Israeli government and coming from an unusually incompetent US government is sure to NOT be in America's interest, and the disasters of the past 7 years are the proof.


art eckstein - 8/9/2007

Wayne, you have some nerve.

But I will good-humoredly answer you.

But...One of the things you would be taught in law school is never ask question you don't know the answer to--you might be unpleasantly surprised. Like here.

Assigned books or articles which I profoundly disagree with (300-level Honors course):

Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound (required)
Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy (required)
Thomas MacCaulay, "Literature and History" (required)
John Hobson, Imperialism: A Study (required)


Fish in a barrel: splash, splash, splash


Wayne Coyne - 8/9/2007

OK, let's break this down shall we into the most fundamental basics so that even you, an obviously highly talented college Professor, can understand.

1.) List two or more of the five or six different classes you will teach this upcoming semester?

2.) List the assigned prerequisite text(s) for each class by name & author. Discount lab books/ periodicals/ selected short readings.

3.) List the counter readings assigned or at the least the ones that you require/ recommend yet, profoundly disagree with? Again, by name & author. In this third exercise you may use reference periodicals/ selected short readings as I still believe you to be hesitant to assign hard cover text material you oppose.

Remember, preassigned internet readings count.

Ready begin.

I'll be back following a few happy-hour cocktails.


art eckstein - 8/9/2007

I am not upset, merely amused. You said you thought I never recommended books with which I disagreed. I proved you wrong. Then you denied you made such an accusation in the first place. Then I quoted you, showing that you made that accusation. You followed with another ridiculous remark, equating my not recommending, let alone assigning to students, books which have been proven factually false and mendacious to my advocating burning those books; I pointed out that these are not the same, and that the one doesn't logically equal the other at all. Then you accused me of being "unhinged" because I protested your irresponsible behavior (and, I must say my protests were not in a harsh way, although backed, to be sure, with facts). So this now becomes yet another false accusation from you.

Really, Wayne, you only make yourself look foolish and intellectually untrustworthy. I should of course stop replying to your irresponsible remarks, but my wife says I have a weakness for shooting fish in a barrel.


Wayne Coyne - 8/9/2007

Good morning Professor.

I am sorry Professor but, to a casual reader with whom I've shared this dialogue over coffee, their opinion is that you are... how should I put it... quite unhinged.

It is my hope that you do not treat your paying customers (students) with hostility/ disdain when their opinion differ ever so slightly from your limited/ narrow world view.

Time to make the donuts.

Good day.


art eckstein - 8/9/2007

"Another shortcoming in an educator..."

Hmm. To begin with, Wayne, you haven't proven the FIRST "shortcoming". On the contrary, I've caught you twice now in totally irresponsible and completely unsubstantiated accusations.

And, the fact is that I've won several teaching awards from my university.

So, frankly, you simply don't know what you're talking about.

And by continuing this hopeless contest with me, you are just making yourself look increasinglyfoolish. If you want to be taken seriously, here, just apologize and move on.


Wayne Coyne - 8/9/2007

You seem to be a bit agitated. Another shortcoming for an educator.

I'll respond again tomorrow Professor.

Good night.


art eckstein - 8/9/2007

Wayne Coyle writes:

The Best Offense... (#112086)
by Wayne Coyne on August 8, 2007 at 9:33 PM:

"As for 'look terrible' nothing could appear more ugly than ill play of the 'slander' card especially, when clearly no accusation was made".

But the accusation WAS made, Wayne. Here it is:

No Excuses. (#112080)
by Wayne Coyne on August 8, 2007 at 7:17 PM

"I believe the root of your discontent is that you just wouldn't recommend readings you disagree with."


Wayne, you should now simply apologize.

I repeat: you have NO evidence that I wouldn’t recommend readings I disagree with. That is slander. In fact, I ASSIGN such readings to my students. That is the truth. You’re wrong, and you should admit you were irresponsible to make such an accusation.

But I don’t assign unscholarly trash, or crude and false propaganda, such as Churchill or Shahak. That’s true. And reasonable. But, in addition, not recommending, or not assigning as reading, false and crudely propagandistic work is NOT the same as recommending that it be burned, despite (again) your #112086. “My advice for you is to secure a wheel barrow, some petrol, your least favorite writings and a propane torch.” That’s just ANOTHER slander from you, Wayne—really, you ought to learn to restrain yourself.


Wayne Coyne - 8/9/2007

...of course is a good defense. Neither of which you provide in the above rebuttal my dear Professor.

As for 'look terrible' nothing could appear more ugly than ill play of the 'slander' card especially, when clearly no accusation was made. If I touched a nerve Sir please accept my humble apology for any inference.

Obviously, you did not pay attention to the words of Mr. Bukowski nor did you understand the premise of my post. Rule of emotion over rationale. Not a good trait in an educator.

"THAT would be a waste of time for everyone." also, is not a typical statement for an educator to spout. Churchill, Shahak or whomever, your nemesis may be at the time, should only welcome inquisition to dissect the works with solid counter and fact sorely lacking in your debate above. Only then can truth be glistened.

As for "worthless drivel" there was a man, Bernhard Rust, I believe his name, who systematically eliminated mundane musings as Minister of Education of the Reichserziehungsministerium.

My advice for you is to secure a wheel barrow, some petrol, your least favorite writings and a propane torch.


Wayne Coyne - 8/9/2007

This is a short list of nations that are ruled by terror.

* Egypt (Hosni Mubarak, Terrorist In Chief)
* Iran (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Terrorist Islamist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Top Terrorist Henchman)
* Syria (Bashar al-Assad, Junior Terrorist)
* Saudi Arabia (Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Terrorist King)
* Pakistan (Pervez Musharraf, Terrorist General)
* Libya (Muammar al-Gaddafi, Retired Terrorist)
* Lebanon (Emile Lahoud, Terrorist Proxy)
* Palestinian State (Mahmoud Abbas, Soon To Be Ex-whatever)

It is disheartening that the great Arab peoples and their neighbors welcome rule by thuggery. Also, unfortunate is vast numbers of Arabs denied their quest for freedom and liberty by armed state terror machines such as those in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But, what is totally unacceptable is an apologist for an allegedly peaceful peoples totally not free of violence, racism, prejudice and injustice as portrayed in your writings.

Just where is this Arabia that you write of in such glowing terms?


art eckstein - 8/9/2007

Of course, I set a curriculum, have required and recommended readings for each class, and the readings get more difficult as one progresses from a 100 to a 400 level.

You have NO evidence that I wouldn't assign a good book with which I disagree. NONE. This is just slander. Such irresponsible accusations don't constitute an argument and don't particularly harm me, because they are so ridiculous, but they do make you, Wayne, look terrible.

I can think of many fine books and articles that I assign as a main reading in my undergraduate and graduate courses with which I do not agree--often I disagree at a profound level with them. To be sure, I do NOT assign lying propaganda such as the work of Ward Churchill or Israel Shahak. THAT would be a waste of time for everyone. I suppose I might assign such worthless drivel ONLY as an example of what not to do, but never as a historical authority. I cannot understand why you disagree with that.


Wayne Coyne - 8/8/2007

First off, there is plenty enough time to read. Anyone who would answer otherwise is either lazy, attending too many keggers or is looking for a copt out. Look at the time you academics waste here... reading and writing no less.

Secondly, Do you set a curriculum each semester Professor? Do you have recommended readings for each class that you teach? Are the reading assignments more difficult as the classes progress say, a 100 versus a 400 level? Do the texts match the subjects you instruct and do you hand out a reading syllabus during the first class? Are any of the required reading texts written by you personally as author or co-author?

If the answer is yes Professor to any of these questions then you not only recommend readings but, require for grade said readings. However, if you answer no to any of the above Professor then the question begs... does your campus have a bookstore?

Remember Professor, it is the students who pay you to teach not the other way round. It is my belief that teaching is to provide as many views as possible to let the paying customer decide what is truth.

I believe the root of your discontent is that you just wouldn't recommend readings you disagree with.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1e5Jeh2Fk0


art eckstein - 8/8/2007

Wayne, your position is absurd--what is the point of assigning the reading of an author who has been proven to be grossly inaccurate? The ONLY purpose for such an exercize would be to teach students how to AVOID the example set by such an author! That would be the only reason to assign anyone to read the lying plagiarist Ward Churchill, who makes up entire incidents and people. The fact is that however much Omar enjoys Israel Shahak's propaganda, Shahak makes things up as well, not minor things but events that are major to his hypotheses--he is factually wrong (makes things up), as was proven on this very blog. So why should you criticize me, then, for saying he's not worth reading? That makes no sense.

Students have a limited reading time, even most adults have a limited reading time, and it would be irresponsible to assign the reading of provenly propagandist and false history when there is so much work to read that is actually factually correct (unlike Churchill or Shahak) and even insightful.


Wayne Coyne - 8/8/2007

The Algiers War ended, so you say, 1962.

Yet, 160,000 to 200,000 have died in Algeria since 1992. Ask a Berber if the Algiers War is over.

Think about the essay question in these terms and I will continue the dialogue. If not, get lost propagandist.

Who is the aggressor and who is the resistant to aggression between Hamas and Fatah?


Wayne Coyne - 8/8/2007

Only an extremely weak professor or one seeking tenure at Liberty University would dare write,

"Professors are simply not in the habit of recommending that one read ANYONE, and especially not writers whose information is false on the facts."

Is it any wonder why are schools K- College are failing us?


art eckstein - 8/6/2007

1, Omar, general statements which grossly exaggerate the "niceness" of Islamic rule in the past, an inaccuracy for which you have previously been taken strongly to task by others on this blog, are simply NO substitute for answering specific questions about the specific racist and genocidal policies and specific racist and genocidal actions of Hamas and Fateh. Period.

2, Omar, suppose there were a government in Israel that specifically encouraged and approved the intentional murder by governmental entities of innocent Palestinians, on the grounds that killing ANY Palestinian is a good thing for Israel--as there ARE Palestinian government agencies that DO specifically encourage and approve the intentional murder of Jews, on the grounds that killing ANY Jews (men, women, children) is a good thing for Palestine. Suppose, for instance, there was an Israeli government that approved the intentional murder of Palestinian men, women and children as they were going to school or to work on buses, or who apologized to the Israeli public for accidently killing a Jew who "looked Palestinian" on the grounds that the government missed their goal, which was to kill any Palestinian they could find and this guy just had bad luck--there ISN'T such an Israeli government, Omar, but suppose there were. Well, I think your attitude about the racism of that policy would be QUITE different.

I doubt, however, that you can even comprehend what I'm talking about.






art eckstein - 8/5/2007

Omar, your answer has nothing--NOTHING--to do with the specific examples of horrendous racism I cite, examples of horrendous racist behavior which are also the stated POLICIES and STRATEGIES of the major Palestinian groups involved. Both Fatah and Hamas in the first example, i.e., the bus bombings; Fatah in the second--Fatah "apologized" for assassinating Khoury instead of their goal, which was to kill some--ANY--Jew. Too bad Khoury looked "Jewish", eh?


art eckstein - 8/5/2007

A very weak response, Omar. Professors are simply not in the habit of recommending that one read ANYONE, and especially not writers whose information is false on the facts. It would be irresponsible to assign as a reading to the innocent an author who had been proven false on major facts. Except as an experiment in recognizing lying fanatical propaganda as opposed to real history-writing.

So one should be VERY VERY cautious about reading someone who has been shown to be consistently factually incorrect on major items he discusses. Like Israel Shahak--he falls into that category, however much Omar for his own ideological reasons loves what Shahak says. Why, reading Shahak incautiously would be like reading Ward Churchill without being very cautious about whether the facts Churchill retails are correct. They so often are not. Or...like reading Mr. Omar Ibrahim Baker without being very cautious about whether the facts he retails are correct. They so often are simply not.

I notice, Omar, that you have not dared to respond to the posting I put up below this little controversy a few days ago: about “racism” and who is a "racist":

(#111880)
by art eckstein on August 2, 2007 at 9:04 PM.

Palestinian terrorists climb on board a bus to kill JEWS--and ANY Jews will do, men, women, children. Just as long as they are JEWS. What could be more racist than that, eh?

Except this: George Khoury, a Palestinian jogging peacefully in an upscale Jewish neighborhood in Jrusalem, is gunned down by Palestinian terrorists simply because he LOOKED JEWISH. This really happened, in 2004.
Who's the racist, again?


art eckstein - 8/4/2007

Omar, once more you show either that you cannot read English well or that you suffer from a disorder of perception or of thinking.

This is what I wrote:

(#111894)
by art eckstein on August 3, 2007 at 8:24 PM:

"For those who actually want to see the Shahak controversy, in which of several posting members of HNN, ONLY Omar Ibrahim Baker ended up believing that Shahak was factually correct in his accusations." Get it? OF SEVERAL POSTING MEMBERS OF HNN, ONLY BAKER ENDED UP BELIEVING SHAHAK WAS FACTUALLY CORRECT

This doesn't say that the whole world supported me on Shahak's gross inaccuracy and disbelieved you, or that a theoretically huge number of readers of HNN supported me on Shahak's gross inaccuracy and disbelieved you. It says that of those members who followed and participated in the detailed discussion of Shahak's crazy charges, and who posted about it, they all supported me and no one supported you. And they were quite right, too.

Try reading more carefully next time. Wild accusations about me are no substitute for logic and evidence. But we've been around this racetrack several times, and this is soemthing you never learn.








art eckstein - 8/4/2007

Omar, no one else who posted on that particular blog accepted that Shahak had the facts right. Period. That was particularly true of the incident which you trumpeted--Shahak didn't have the facts right. That he was an "honorable man" doesn't change the fact that he didn't have the facts right. Among the bloggers were Friedman and Simon, to name two I remember, and, like me, they had arguments based on evidence and logic, not just assertions, endlessly repeated (like yourself)--arguments which you consistently ignored.

Here's an example:

Re: ISRAEL SHAHAK REMEMBERED (#106055)
by N. Friedman on February 25, 2007 at 11:12 AM
Omar,

"How about dealing with the substance of what Professor Eckstein writes, namely, that the material you quoted includes factual material that has been shown by reputable scholars to be made up. Note: these are not differences of opinion between Shahak and others. We are talking about questions of fact."


QED.


art eckstein - 8/4/2007

HNN Readers:

For those who actually want to see the Shahak controversy, in which of several posting members of HNN, ONLY Omar Ibrahim Baker ended up believing that Shahak was factually correct in his accusations, see the HNN article "Iran's Obsession with the Jews", originally posted Feb. 18, 2007, and the subsequent comments blog for Feb. 23 and March 3, 2007. Easiest way to find this is to google "Shahak + Eckstein + HNN." Read and enjoy. Then you wil alsol know all you need to know about Mr. Baker.


A. M. Eckstein - 8/3/2007

1. Many countries, including Norway, Ireland, France, and China, have similar "laws of return." Israel is not unique. 20 countries have similar laws.

2. Israel Shahak has been shown on this blog, by me among others, to have been factually mistaken (to put it kindly) in many of his statements--and Omar knows this well, because we've gone several rounds on this.

In arguing that Shahak must be telling the truth because in Omar's view he is "honorable" is itself a very strange logic for Westerners It is the traditional logic of the evaluation of the Hadith, however, where the historical validity of statements about the Prophet is in good part judged by the alleged "life of moral virtue" of the source retailing the story. I can only say that to people brought up in the Western tradition, this is not, per se, an impressive or logical argument in favor of historical validity of any statement.


art eckstein - 8/3/2007

Palestinian terrorists climb on board a bus to kill JEWS--and ANY Jews will do, men, women, children. Just as long as they are Jews. What could be more racist than that, eh?

Except this: George Khoury, a Palestinian jogging peacefully in an upscale Jewish neighborhood in Jrusalem, is gunned down by Palestinian terrorists simply because he LOOKED JEWISH. This really happened, in 2004.
Who's the racist, again?


Wayne Coyne - 8/1/2007

"However armies,or more frequently remnants of armies, and other armed organizations/ movements are as often the party which resist attempts to subjugate through armed action."

You will need to provide proof for that statement.

and this one,

"As for the French resistance and the German army during WWII and Algerian, and Vietnamese resitance to French occupation more recently."

Define Vichy? Is the war in Algeria over? Did the French leave Vietnam or did the US just drop in? Just where does Vietnam rank as a US trading partner anyway?

Further you write, "This brain washing,states sponsered and PR induced state of affairs has made the present raging "anti terrorism" campaign a daily tool of imperialism, as for the USA in Iraq, and of racist colonialism as for the Israeli army in occupied Palestine."

Who do you personally know in the US that is 'brainwashed'? When did Arabic peoples stop racism in their lands? Historically speaking oh, say 7,500 years, who actually holds deed to Palestine?

Finally,

"...the difference between aggressor and resistant to aggression..."

Using one of the following scenarios as a basis for hypothesis prove that statement?

1. Sunni v. Shiite v. Kurd
2. Pakistan v. Own People
3. Saudi Arabia v. Subservient Class
4. Hamas v. Fatah
5. Yankees v. Red Sox

Bonus Essay.

As an imperialist and racist tool identify the current leader of Egypt, how came to power, how long the rule and how stay in power?


Arnold Shcherban - 7/31/2007

Oh, come on Peter, stop blaming for EVERYTHING that's going wrong now Bushists and their collaborators.
Your favorite JFK's administration committed terrorists acts against Cuba, not mentioning secretly ('caused it was criminal under the international law) authorizing military agression against the latter.
The whole history of this country was
a case of imperialistic, chovinistic, racist expansion, and very poorly masqueraded agression under the fig leaf of peace, civilization, and democracy.


Oscar Chamberlain - 7/30/2007

This is an important reminder that we need to be careful in evaluating any threats to the United States. Conflating actions in a war zone like Iraq with terrorist actions outside of such a conflict, such as those in New York City or in Bali, does nothing to help us understand the likelihood of new 9/11.

That does not negate the danger posed by terrorist groups or the way that modern technologies can magnify the impact of their actions. We need to be careful and vigilant. But over the long haul, excessive vigilance based on an overestimation of our enemies can do as much harm as insufficient vigilance.

We need to search for a balance, and be aware that, on occasion, even the best possible defense will let an attack through.


John D. Beatty - 7/30/2007

Can't speak rationally about such matters. Must jump to conclusions about the socioethnic ideals of "insurgents," "freedom fighters" and other well-intended if misguded murderers. They must be misunderstood; else how could anyone sympathize with them and constantly harp on the "civil war" themes to get themselves off the hook?

No, no, no, doc. Can't be rational about conunter-imperialism when it's directed at societies dominated by white males. Didn't you know that all white males are evil incarnate and therefore must be completely disregarded as tools of the patriarchy?

Evidently not...