President Bush's Cynical Use of the Word Freedom





Mr. Foner, a member of the Nation editorial board, is the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. His survey textbook, Give Me Liberty! An American History, has just been published by Norton.

George W. Bush's second inaugural address cynically invoked noble ideals for ignoble ends. In the course of twenty minutes, Bush used the words "free," "freedom" and "liberty" no fewer than forty-nine times. Freedom lies at the heart of American political culture, and as groups from abolitionists to modern-day conservatives have realized, it gives legitimacy to political goals of all kinds. The historic rallying cry of the dispossessed, freedom can also be what the philosopher Nikolas Rose calls a "formula of power." Bush speaks of freedom to justify both the invasion of Iraq--at a time when all other justifications have been discredited--and a conservative agenda at home.

Almost from the moment the twin towers fell, Bush has wrapped himself in the language of freedom. "They hate our freedom" became the all-purpose explanation for the attack itself and for subsequent worldwide disapproval of the Administration's Iraq policy. The National Security Strategy of 2002, which announced the doctrine of pre-emptive war, opened with the statement that freedom, as Americans understand it, is "right and true for every person, in every society." No variations and no exceptions.

Bush's speechwriters have been reading American history. His address paraphrased some of the most celebrated orations in the nation's past, especially those delivered during wars, hot and cold. It echoed Lincoln's second inaugural, the messianic addresses of Woodrow Wilson during World War I, FDR's Four Freedoms speech, the Truman Doctrine address to Congress, and Kennedy's inaugural. Like Ronald Reagan, who loved to quote Tom Paine, Bush is a master at appropriating for conservative ends language associated with his opponents.

In some ways Bush's rhetoric has become more conciliatory. "Tyranny" has replaced the "axis of evil," the post-9/11 phrase that so alarmed the world. Perhaps hoping to prepare Americans for the likelihood that an Iraqi government dominated by Shiites will not call to mind Jeffersonian democracy, the speech disavowed the idea of imposing "our own style of government" on others. It rejected the idea of America as a "chosen nation." Nonetheless, in the hubris of its assumption that the United States stands for unalloyed freedom and the divine right to remake the world, Bush's address embodied the very outlook he claimed to repudiate.

The President's actual policies, of course, belie his rhetoric. During the cold war, the "free world" included Latin American strongmen, dictators like the Shah of Iran and the rulers of apartheid South Africa. Today, talk of combating tyranny does not, it appears, apply to undemocratic allies in the "war on terror," such as Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, or to oil-rich former Soviet republics like Uzbekistan, where the United States has established military bases. It ignores how our own civil liberties have eroded during his presidency.

Bush's paean to democracy ignores the inconvenient fact that nearly every member of the "coalition of the willing" joined the invasion of Iraq in defiance of the will of its own people. Borrowing from FDR, Bush recognizes that "laboring on the edge of subsistence" undermines freedom. Yet he opposes measures like raising the minimum wage, strengthening labor unions and limiting the outsourcing of jobs to low-wage countries that would do much more to enhance "freedom from want" than the privatization of Social Security. The claim that the United States embodies the ideal of freedom in a titanic struggle with evil may be an effective means of mobilizing public support, but it makes it impossible to interpret international criticism of the United States as anything but hostility to freedom.

Despite Bush's talk of "America's ideal of freedom," no single American definition has ever existed. Freedom by its very nature is a contested concept, to which different individuals and groups have imparted different meanings. The dominant definition today, a combination of political democracy, unregulated free enterprise and freedom of choice in personal matters, is the product of a particular historical moment, not a timeless set of principles. There are other American traditions that see freedom as resting on social responsibility both to guarantee every citizen's economic security and to achieve justice for those long denied genuine equality. Bush's critics should not cede to him the language of freedom, or act as if he has a monopoly on its meaning.


This article first appeared in the Nation and is reprinted with permission.


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Foner makes excellent points, particularly (by implication at least) towards the end, concerning the spineless opposition to the incompetent president.

But he misses the essence of the Bushit about "freedom". It is not really some new conservative "appropriation" of an inherently "contested" multiplicity of definitions of freedom. Ike vs Khruschev , Nixon re Vietnam, or Reagan re Eastern Europe: those were genuine conservatives who developed particular applications and rhetorical uses of "freedom" to suit particular yet coherent geopolitical strategies. Alfred E. Neuman Bush has no such strategy.

He came to office without even a majority, promising nothing more substantive than irresponsible tax giveaways fir the rich. He stumbled into Iraq, trashing America's security in the process, in order to cover up his lack of an agenda, lack of legitimacy, and the disaster of 9-11. Now he throwing horse manure about freedom in order to cover up his Iraq disaster. It won't work, even if Al Qaeda has for once fallen into his trap, rather than the other way around (e.g on the Iraq election issue). Real historians of the calibre of Foner, but in the future and with perspective of time, will not fall for W's charades.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You are mistaken on all counts, and your comments remain utterly irrelevant to the topic here. Heuisler created the diversion and assigned me the task of substantiating his tangents, which I declined to do.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Somewhere somebody has made an annual estimate. Practically everthing in basket case countries is an estimate. I doubt that the rate of death from massacred villages was ever higher than in the last two years, but any massacres should not be allowed to go unchecked and past neglect is no excuse whatsoever for not taking action, no for Bush having put us into a quagmire in Iraq where our hands are mostly tied


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Nothing wrong with "noting" things, even if it would be preferable to confine the notes to one post at a time. Drawing conclusions from "notings" is also a very useful activity from time to time, however.

The observation that "few are willing to die merely to help others" (which is a rather narrow "note" since there are myriad ways to help others short of sacrificing one's own life) means, in the context of today's large and dangerous world, that we have to prioritize our efforts overseas: every challenge cannot be met head on. In the context of Bush's foreign policy (the subject of this page), that leads then to the obvious conclusion that if a huge portion of America's capability to help others abroad is tied down in a costly and counterproductive intervention designed only to elect an otherwise loser of an unelected president, then thousands of people at risk of losing their freedom and/or their lives elsewhere will be oppressed and/or slaughtered; people who could have been saved at a very low risk to American lives, had it not been for the costly and deceptive waste of precious American lives and resources elsewhere. Bush's Orwellian double-talk about freedom is a ploy to obscure the actual loss of freedom globally due to his blunders.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Hogwash. Foner is a New York old school liberal, with all the baggage thereto implied, but that does not mean he is not a brilliant historian. His "Reconstruction" is not without oddities, but it is an important historiographical achievement. When you actually pick it up to read it, Bill, then we can discuss it, perhaps. Your uninformed google potshots, on the other hand, are worthless. History is about objectively understanding the past, not as Heuisler's Nonsense Network pretends, about abusing it for propaganda purposes.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


The reason Bush's "freedom" is patently cynical, is that this rhetoric is flatly contradicted by Bush's deeds. Kennedy confronted the Soviets in Berlin and Cuba, he established the Peace Corps, and (notwithstanding his narrow election margin in America) was widely admired around the world, as was America during his presidency. Bush has done nothing internationally but torpedo America's security, insult our country with his clumsy ineptitude, and is despised globally like no other American president in history. You need look no further than the horrific slaughter in Darfur which we apparently can do nothing about because our abused troops are tied down in the Iraq qaugmire created by the incompetent draft dodgers in the White House. God knows, Kennedy was no saint, but comparing W to him is ludicrous.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


The point was not number of deaths from all causes, but number of civilian deaths from organized violence. I think that was approximately how I put initially above.I recall no long surge of headlines about genocide in Sudan in 1992, probablyh because it was more like a war thenand less like the systematic slaughter of whole villages of civilians. I am not excusing any past atrocities, but I don't think the press which is talking at great length about another Rwanda going on in Darfur NOW, this year, not over the past 20 years, was making the same noises 12 years ago, and I don't think that the press has been completely wrong in its reporting. That is as far as I am prepared to go in giving my non-specialist take on the situation. If you think there was a more serious genocide that happened already in 1992 and the whole world missed it, you entitled to your opinion. In the absence of any concrete facts here, we are basically left with gut feelings anyway.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

1. You continue to assume what you have been demonstrably incapable of proving: that the killing in Darfour during the Bush administration is no greater in magnitude than the various and sundry atrocities committed in Sudan throughout the 1990s. I could look up the details (i.e. probably find out that more than 200,000 a year are being murdered in Darfour currently) but I refuse on principle to do someone else's homework for them. I am trusting -at least provisionally until clear evidence to the contrary is found- the obvious impression from the press: that the Darfour near-genocide is worse than anything before it in that part of the world.

2. Whether or not more innocents were killed in Sudan during eight years of the Clinton administration than during 4 years of G.W. Bush has, however, no bearing on my point, which is that Bush's ability to do something NOW is negatively affected by having so many thousands of U.S. forces tied down for so long in Iraq. Clinton is NOT president now. There is no known physical way for him, or anyone else NOW, to go back in a time machine to correct the errors and neglect made when he was in the White House. Bush Junior has four years ahead of him as the most powerful man in the world. Is it so hard for you to see (after having this pointed out to you about a dozen times) that W's rhetoric about spreading freedom (the subject of this page) is at least somewhat at odds with the weakened ability of the U.S. to intervene abroad in support of freedom, THANKS to the heavy American troop commitments in the blunder-ridden and no-end-in-sight Iraq occupation ? How many people did or did not die in Sudan in the 1980s and 1990s has absolutely nothing to do with how many troops America has (or, more precisely put, does NOT have) to commit to an intervention there in 2005.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


It certainly "occured" to me some hundreds of your posts ago that you suffer from Islamophobia and are ignorant of history, especially of European history. For about the 30th time I will repeat to you, that Europe consists of many diverse nations, languages, cultures, political parties, and governments.To speak of it as a monolith, as you do incessantly, is ridiculous. Most European countries have always had and will always have interests that diverge from America's interests. This was certainly the case in the 1960s. Type "defi Americain" or "De Gaulle" into the search engine which substitutes for your deficient education and see what happens. You might learn something, for a change.

The divergent interests of France, Germany, Italy, Iceland, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, and the USA will exist whether the American president is an inspiring leader, a buffoon, a weak waffler, a crook, or an arrogant hypocrite. In the first case, JFK, America was widely admired and respected. In the last case, GWB, America is NOT held in such high esteem, although most foreigners (in contrast to posters on this website) seem perfectly capable of distinguishing a people from its political or religious leaders. In fact, whether you think Osama bin Laden is hiding under your bed ready to jihad the dhimmi out of you has no bearing on world public opinion, which views the US today much much less favorably than ever before, and the fact that we have a loose cannon in the Oval Office IS relevant to that opinion.

Perhaps I am mistaken on Darfur. Pray give us the annual statistics of civilian deaths by organized violence over the past 20 years to substantiate your claim that a massacring Jihad has been going on there with no change in severity over the past two decades (i.e it is all Reagan's fault).


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Bill,

Cite the pages in Foner's book where your quotes come from, as any freshman history student would know how to do, and I'll check my copy to see (a) whether you have quoted him in or out of context (b) whether the quote has any bearing on the topic of this page, and (c) whether I agree with your interpretation of Foner's arguments. I can refrain from "sneering", but have no intention of doing your homework for you. If you want to make a point about history, and be listened to, back it up the way a historian would.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Mahan (no relation to the brilliant admiral, I presume): Are you somehow trying to talk about Bush, Foner, freedom, or American foreign policy, or anything relevant to the topics at hand here, or are you just lost in cyberspace ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


If you behave as Bush does, people in Europe or anywhere else will be inclined to dislike you for the some of the same reasons they dislike Bush. If you don't act arrogant and deceptive like Bush, there is no reason why animosity towards Bush should be any problem for you. Of course, there is plenty of anti-Americanism in Europe. There always has been. Bush or no Bush. Islam or no Islam.

Now, can your google wizardry possibly answer the question you have been mightily dodging: What are the annual statistics of civilian deaths by organized violence over the past 20 years in Darfur ? (Perhaps I should explain that "annual" means year by year. That is what we need to know, but do not, are the number of deaths in 1985, 1986, 1987 and so forth up to 2004). If you cannot unearth such figures, then I will assume that the impression derived from everything I have heard and read over the past couple of years is correct; that while wars have been raging in the area for generations, the particular Arab- and Moslem-perpetrated genocide or mass murder of hundreds of thousands is a phenomenon of the last few years. In any case, my original point remains untouched by any of this: If we did not have 150,000 troops as sitting ducks in a bungled occupation they were not trained for and should not have been criminally sent into in Iraq (by Bush) we would be in better position today (and regardless of what did or did not happen 20 years ago) to intervene against the CURRENT slaughter in Sudan.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Indeed. And a tally of each year would likely show that most of the deaths have occured in the more recent years. Massacres, even by Jihadists, are not evenly spaced over time, even if Bat Yeor would like them to be. The point remains, we are tied down in Iraq, the murdering continues, Bush is doing nothing effective to stop it, and his pious claims about spreading freedom are contradicted by his track record on the job.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

How do these google droppings about Sudan relate to Foner's critique of Bush's use of "freedom" ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"Not sure what my point is" ?

Okay, I will repeat it for about the 8th time.

Because Bush has bogged hundreds of thousands of American troops for many years in Iraq (thanks to his arrogant stupidity and treasonous disregard for America's security) thousands of innocent civilians WILL die in places like Sudan in future months and years, whose lives could be saved, because we have not got the resources available to prevent the horror.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


If this were a discussion about the foreign policies of Germany or Russia, and if I were a citizen of one of those countries, I would agree with your conclusions about those policies. In fact, I agree with you already now, but this is quite irrelevant to the question of whether Bush is doing his job properly and whether his hot air about freedom means anything in terms of actual improvement for people around the globe. THAT is what Foner has addressed, and what I started this thread to talk about. Darfur is just one of many examples of the disasters around the world that have gotten worse thanks, among of course a range of other factors, the incompetency and self-serving betrayal of America's interests by the Vice and Dejure Presidents in Washington today.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Scratch the bit about my starting the thread. But when you started it, it was about Bush and freedom, not about European failures to stop violence in Africa.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


No I wanted the annual death tally, year by year, 1984-2004, which you have been unable to supply. You might have saved a lot of cyberspace just admitting that you don't know the numbers and are unwilling to go to the effort necessary to find them, and that it is probably true after all, despite all your tangential posts, that the genocide or near-genocide in Darfur is basically a phenonomen of the past couple of years (when America has been tied down in Bush's Iraq mess) and not just a straight continuation of 20 years of various civil wars in the general region.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


That is silly. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are voluntarily at far greater risk in Iraq for a far more dubious cause. It is not the bravery of I or any ordinary American that is deficient, it is our leadership and the collective public stupidity that has so far failed to face the realities of its manifold incompetency.


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

That one is classic. As you stumble about explaining the requirements and grading criteria of the assignment made to Mr. Heuisler, YOU refuse any homework. Way to be prof.


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

Mr. Clarke,
I'm not "trying to talk", I AM talking about your silly diversion from things Bush, Foner, freedom or policy to make an "assignment" a prerequisite to your discussing the article openly, honestly, and intelligently. Look Clarke no one here is participating for a grade. That junk you pull on the kids won't fly here.


Arnold Shcherban - 2/7/2005

Mr. Heuisler,

<... Mr. Heuisler, dodged the main issue: the
dicussion of Mr. Foner's article, in particular, reflected
in its title.>

Recall this one?

How inventive of you to throw my initial objections to your comments against me now...

My position has been consistent throughout all our exchanges.
I repeat again here: there could not be discussion
with you, until your start responding to the opponent's
arguments, instead of forwarding the new ones.

And, Mr. Heuisler, I don't need to pretend to be someone else or resort to pseudo-sophistication to beat your soundly on any issue I choose to debate against you.
When I was just 20 years old I would win polemics with
pundits of scientific communism, so don't make any mistakes that I'm capable to soundly beat any pundit of
its twin brother - Pan-Americana imperialism - like you.
Actually I already beat you on these boards and will continue to do so, since you and other "right" figures actually ruin any opportunity for Freedom and Democracy, (which you and Bushists cynically claim to love so much) to succeed around the world for the sake of US-US-uber-alles design.


Arnold Shcherban - 2/7/2005

Mr Heuisler,

<Foner is really just a polemicist, not a real historian.>

Either you're in denial, or I'm dreaming.

<Cut it out>.
What? Telling you the thruth?


N. Friedman - 2/6/2005

Peter,

Some words for the man (i.e. you) who has comments on things he has not investigated (and you wrote: "I am trusting -at least provisionally until clear evidence to the contrary is found- the obvious impression from the press: that the Darfour near-genocide is worse than anything before it in that part of the world.")

"Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darueber muss man schweigen"

("Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.")

--Ludwig Wittgenstein


N. Friedman - 2/6/2005

Peter,

On point 1, you are making yourself sound like an idiot. 2 million deaths in Southern Sudan. I have done substantial research on the topic. You have not. Darfur is, more or less, of the same degree and kind.

On point 2, no one plans to do anything because it is not of any significance to the US or anyone else. Bush has done, I hate to say it, more than might be expected on the matter. Clinton, on this issue, is a disaster.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2005

Peter,

The problem here is that you are speaking of the human race, not merely Mr. Bush. In connection with cruelty out of the Muslim world - and note, other groups also do such things but, in the modern world, the Muslim are at the top of the list -, I reiterate, Mr. Clinton could have also saved a million, if not more, Sudanese. In the Sixties, the US could have saved many of the (about) 600,000 non-Muslim Indonesians killed by a Jihad. And, the world might have stepped in to assist the Maronites of Lebanon from a Jihad - saving 100,000 people -. Efforts could be made, right now, to help the Copts of Egypt who also suffer dearly.

Were I President, I would hope I would be inclined to do something more than is being done. However, it must be said that Mr. Bush has done far, far more for Sudan than Mr. Clinton - a President I much liked during his time in office -. The truth is, however, that Clinton basically made believe that the Jihad was not occurring while wholesale slaughter via Jiahd was, in fact, occurring.


Bill Heuisler - 2/6/2005

Mr. Shcherban,
Hyperbole and exaggeration might seem terribly urbane to you, but I'm really only interested in the exchange of ideas between and among serious people. My first post and all those following addressed Foner's attitudes and beliefs on freedom. Your posts ramble on about inadequate,
inappropriate arguments to become their own illustration.

When you tire of blowing smoke and feel like discussing Foner and freedom let me know. Otherwise your pretense and pseudo-sophistication waste my time and, quite frankly, sir, bore me.
Bill Heuisler


Arnold Shcherban - 2/6/2005

I'm ready to discuss anything with you, Mr. Heuisler, as long as you stick to one of the major rules of any discussion: to respond to the bulk and essence of the arguments forwarded by other party in the discussion, before throwing the new ones in. So far, as I repeatedly underlined, you failed to do that, in my mind - deliberately.
It is such tactics of yours what causes the deviation
from the main "course", not anyone or anything else.

In regard to your accusasions of misquoting and misattribution, I just assumed that this discussion is
conducted on an intellectual and educational level of, at the least, average IQ. But I have to admit now (you see: I do acknowledge my mistakes) you (along with some others on these boards) obviously proved me wrong. Apparently every word one uses has to be explained, and every other
meaning different from the one the opponents want to read out has to be eliminated, to prevent wrong interpretation.
Otherwise, on what other reason you could ask me
something like: <Please cite exactly where I said corporations are, "saviours and protectors of traditional American freedoms">?

Did I put those words in quotes? Noooooo.
Surely you never heard of such thing as 'hyperbola'...

You also ask me to <tell me where I have attempted "to picture Republicans, in general, and Bushists, in particular, as the proponents of interests of common Americans." >

The referred-to excerpt is just a quint-essential expression (perhaps exaggerated, but in my opinion still
quite accurate) of your economo-political stance extracted from our multiple previous exchanges, plus
such quote of yours as the following one, taken from current discussion:
<Corporate taxation is double taxation because corporations are made up of individual taxpayers/shareholders who already pay income taxes on the same money. Also, corporate taxation lowers the wages of workers in that corporation who already pay income and FICA taxes on the shrunken wages.>

I hope I explained myself clear enough now, though may be not to your delight.


Bill Heuisler - 2/5/2005

Mr. Shcherban,
Since you use my name you must be referring to me, but nowhere in this stream - or for the past six months - have I commented on President Reagan. Neither have I commented on Foner's origins in over a year.

Are you imagining my potential responses or have you been channeling my alter-ego in a poli-sci classroom somewhere in the Ivy League? Cut it out. It's confusing and irritates my alter-ego.
Bill Heuisler


N. Friedman - 2/5/2005

Peter,

I am merely noting the history of these sort of things. Few are willing to die merely to help others. There is almost always a second motive.


Michael Green - 2/5/2005

First, a disclaimer: Professor Foner was my graduate adviser. But while I agree with him completely in his opinion of Bush, I think the historical point in this thread is best expressed in his book, The Story of American Freedom. We don't HAVE a true, agreed upon and most objective definition of freedom. We have defined it in different ways throughout our history, and different people have defined it in different ways. The problem with the inaugural address is, at bottom, that this is Bush's definition of freedom, historically and currently, and neither of his definitions can be easily defended.


N. Friedman - 2/5/2005

Peter,

Would you risk your kids to save the Sudanese? I doubt it. That is why, frankly, no one will help them.


Arnold Shcherban - 2/5/2005

Good comments, overall!

A couple exacting remarks, however, I think should be made.
It seems to me you are overplayed the importance of the
Auschwitz liberation, stylistically, though, when mentioning that it was liberated by "Stalin's Army".
I would find it more appropriate to express the latter
as 'Red or Russian army', as it was perceived then by the entire world. That is exactly why the event makes the act
as much liberation, as the liberation by any other "free world" army. That was probably the main reason Red army
was never mentioned in the US media over the recent celebration on the first place, which, as I became aware from the Internet sources, was noticed and received as bitter insult by Russians.
Secondly, the very comparison of the declared by the US
war on terror or Iraq war with the WWII, in general, and
Saddam Hussien with Hitler or Stalin is nothing more than
propaganda trick (though addmittedly performed skillfully
by the US mainstream propaganda, fooling ignorant and gullible American common populace, which, actually was its primary target).
If this comparison has any significant historic viability, then comparing the supernova explosion with Chicago's fire can tell us a lot about the currently proposed social security reform.
Therefore, to continuously (in the course of the last half-a-century) grant excuses to the US government for siding with the dictatorships, often of the worst kind,
based on the instillation of cosmic fear through lies and exaggerations about the enemy, as significant to this
superpower country as flies: Castro, Kaddafi, Noriega, Bin-Laden, Hussein, little Kim, and others in this weight(less) category, is amoral and wrong and constitutes a little more than support of the Grand Pan-Americana design of the American imperialist elite.
Also, being accurate in the analysis of the pre-WWII events and of the Stalin's invasion of Poland we have
to add that the Soviets did not do it because they actually sided with Hitler, but because they were left
one on one with Hitler, as the result of the "appeasement"
policy of the Western powers towards the latter, that had
been intrepreted by Soviets (Stalin included) as the invitation/provocation for Hitler to go East.
Aside from the Katyn's massaccre, no objective historian
can blame Stalin, as monstrous as he was, for such a move.


Bill Heuisler - 2/5/2005

Mr. Shcherban,
Please advise me which article and which posted responses you've been reading. Apparently you've missed the point in both cases. Foner discusses his version of freedom and criticizes President Bush's. My original post disagreed with Foner's statist, agenda-driven version of freedom and proposed that freedom was either individual or did not exist except for certain elitist social engineers.

Discussion is useless if one side misquotes and deliberately misattributes. Please cite exactly where I said corporations are, "saviours and protectors of traditional American freedoms". Had you read my post you would have seen I said corporations are merely entities made up of people and are monitored and regulated by government to control people and collect taxes.

Also please tell me where I have attempted "to picture Republicans, in general, and Bushists, in particular, as the proponents of interests of common Americans." My only reference was to the President's words. The rest of my remarks were directed at where my concept of freedom differs from Foner's.

Discuss the use of the word freedom with me if you can. But please don't put words in my mouth.
Bill Heuisler


Arnold Shcherban - 2/5/2005

The core of the matter lies not in who appropriated one or another term from whom (extremely debatable issue from the historical viewpoint), but in the true, agreed upon, and most objective definition of it.
That's where the major ideological differences kick in!
(Though you're quite right about the grand abuse of the term "freedom" by both sides of the debate that made it
sound so "hypocritical" to the less biased observer.)


Arnold Shcherban - 2/4/2005

Mr. Heuisler,

It is interesting to see you reaction to the claim of
illegitimacy or the failure of Ronald Reigan in the role
of politician and President based on his non-professional, cinematographic credentials.
References to the non-historical origin of the Foner's
credentials has as much validity in the analysis of his historico-political articles and books, as the suggested above claim.
On the other token resorting to such references tells volumes about the strength and validity of your own arguments in this discussion.


Nathaniel Brian Bates - 2/4/2005

While I may disagree with much of what Eric Foner believes politically, I can agree that the use of "freedom" is cynical.

I would rather hear the truth, even if unpleasant, than to have a confused use of language.

I also believe that much of the "Left" is hypocritical in its use of the concept of freedom. Indeed, it is not only the language of "freedom" that the Necons have appropriated from the Left, but also the hypocritical use of that language.

Bates


Nathaniel Brian Bates - 2/4/2005

While I may disagree with much of what Eric Foner believes politically, I can agree that the use of "freedom" is cynical.

I would rather hear the truth, even if unpleasant, than to have a confused use of language.

I also believe that much of the "Left" is hypocritical in its use of the concept of freedom. Indeed, it is not only the language of "freedom" that the Necons have appropriated from the Left, but also the hypocritical use of that language.

Bates


N. Friedman - 2/4/2005

Peter,

What follows is another section from the same article, namely,The Sudanese Battle for American Opinion, March 1998, Middle East Forum:

1983-1996

A number of factors contributed to the failure of the Addis Ababa Accord and the igniting of a second round eleven years later; for example, the central government divided the south into three provinces, thereby preventing it from seeking a future special status as a single entity. But the most important development was the increased strength of fundamentalist Islam. The Numayri government initiated an Islamization campaign in 1983 when it imposed Islamic law (the Shari‘a) on all citizens, including non-Muslim southerners. This campaign also required the use of Arabic in schools to teach the Qu'ran and to impart Islamic culture; the segregation of females and males; and the enforcement of Islamic dress codes. It led to the expropriation of Christian schools and the severance of financial links with foreign Christian donors.11

The Islamization effort broke the backbone of the fragile 1972 peace and triggered a second round of fighting in the south. In the appraisal of a southern Sudanese scholar,

the Addis Ababa agreement was the last chance for a historic Peace in the Sudan. The Arab north was given a chance to demonstrate its ability to rule the African south with justice and fundamental rights. Instead, the Arab regime opened the door for Islamic fundamentalism to destroy African-Arab peace. By attempting to steal our basic liberties as a people, they forced us to reclaim our land, as the only guarantee for our freedom.12

The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the military branch of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), led the new uprising. Headed by Colonel John Garang, SPLA included many veterans of the first round and was better organized than Ananya had been. It achieved significant successes in the field during the 1980s, gaining control over most of Equatoria province. Garang, a U.S.-educated military officer, won the backing of Ethiopia's leaders and espoused a leftist agenda in which he portrayed his struggle as an anti-imperialist struggle. If Ananya had called for the separation of the south, SPLA sought to bring down the ruling power in Khartoum.13 As explained by the SPLM spokesperson in Washington, Garang believed "all democratic and progressive forces of the Sudan should join the SPLM in its struggle for a better and just country."14

This strategy won military and political successes for several years. But in 1989 General ‘Umar al-Bashir toppled the elected government in Khartoum and installed a military regime that enjoyed the support of the fundamentalist Muslims led by Hasan at-Turabi's National Islamic Front (NIF). With this coup d'état, Turabi became the real power broker in an ethnically divided country; and the first-ever Islamist regime had come to dominate an Arab country.

The Islamist takeover had tremendous implications for the civil war. Government forces, armed with sophisticated weapons and Islamist morale, waged an unrelenting jihad against the "atheist and infidel" southern rebels. By 1991, the Islamist north had taken the offensive and soon after the south Sudanese resistance movement was almost isolated and near defeat. SPLM effectiveness was undone by strife among the southern guerrillas; by late 1992, the "liberated areas" in the south split in two as an all-out war flared between the two southern factions. By the end of 1993, the south was militarily crippled and socio-economically in disarray.15

Southern disunity resulted from several factors. Ideologically, Garang's mission expanded from its origins as a local liberation movement to aspire to pan-Sudanese revolution, a goal too radical for many of his early supporters. A dissident wing led by Ryek Machar reaffirmed the initial objective—self-determination for the south—and criticized Garang for "entangling himself with Arab opposition groups."16 Tribal competition played a role, as Garang and his principal aides belong to the Dinka, Sudan's largest African tribe. Machar and other opponents criticized the "Dinka dominance" in the guerrilla zones. Political maneuvering made matters worse, as Turabi's strategists succeeded in creating rifts among the southerners. Lam Akol, a senior official with Garang, then with Machar, split from the latter, and signed a separate peace agreement with Khartoum.

Turabi, who is arguably the leading Sunni Islamist figure of his era, also found support from foreign Islamist forces. The Popular Arab-Islamic Congress he convened in Khartoum in 1992 brought the Iranian, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Algerian leaders of powerful Islamist movements to Sudan. Such foreign backing provided Turabi with a psychological and logistical endorsement that had significant implications inside the country.17 Turabi's government also profited from assistance from Iran,18 Syria, and Libya. These many advantages permitted Khartoum's soldiers to recapture many strategic strongholds and march into the southern hinterland.19 By 1996, the Sudanese army and its auxiliaries from the NIF militia had invaded most of Equatoria Province and pushed the southern forces to the borders.


N. Friedman - 2/4/2005

Peter,

Walid Phares has written a fairly definitive article about the war in 1998, when he reported, "War in Sudan between the mostly Muslim north and the mostly Christian and animist south started in 1956 and has been going on intermittently for over four decades. Total deaths number from 2.1 to 2.5 million,1 making this one of the most bloody conflicts of the post-World War II era."

According to Phares (and the rest is a quote from the article):

Third, Khartoum pursued a systematic policy of Arabization and Islamization in the south, which prompted a severe backlash. It isolated non-Muslim regions (or regions inhabited by blacks who are Muslim but not Arabic-speaking), notably Nuba, from the outside world.23 It made schools24 and churches25 prime targets. Christians who refuse to convert are denied food; others are kidnapped and enslaved.26 In the north, particularly around Khartoum, the NIF's "peace camps" (mukhayyamat al-salam) forced hundreds of thousands of southern refugees to convert.27 The intensity of this repression against the southerners directly benefited SPLA and other opposition forces, to which flocked thousands of young men and women. It also prompted Boutros Boutros-Ghali, then United Nations secretary general, to express his deep concern over the "serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Sudan, as a result of the unilateral and unjustified obstruction by the Government of Sudan of urgently required humanitarian assistance to the affected population in southern Sudan."28

Fourth, the utter barbarism of the northern troops increased popular revulsion among southern Sudanese against the fundamentalist regime in Khartoum. Government forces—mostly the NIF's militia, the "Popular Defense Forces"—perpetrated terrible atrocities.29 The policy of continuous jihad mobilized tens of thousands of peasants and urban dwellers, many attracted by the prospect of acquiring weapons, conquering lands, and collecting booty. The Popular Defense Forces engaged in violent offensives that relied on overpowering force (including air strikes) and employed extreme measures (with civilians denied humanitarian relief and widespread acts of brutality). Entire villages might be eliminated during its advance.30 According to Rev. Eiffe, an official with the Norwegian People's Aid with ten years in Sudan, the NIF "used the element of Islam to launch a jihad and mobilize young men to go to the south and convince them that if they fought for the defense of Islam, they would go straight to Allah."31

But perhaps the most characteristic and horrifying aspect of the civil war has been Khartoum's consistent practice of enslaving the black populations of southern Sudan and the Nuba mountains.32 So extensive is the practice of slavery that it can be taken as the symbol of the southern Sudan's tribulations. Armed factions, mostly NIF militiamen, raid villages, kill the elderly and those attempting to protect the habitation, then round up other adults, mainly women, and children. "Slave trains" carry these abductees to the north where they are sold to slave merchants who in turn sell them to work on plantations growing crops or for use as domestic servers. Some slaves are shipped to other countries of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, and possibly the United Arab Emirates.33


Arnold Shcherban - 2/4/2005

Besides you Mr. Heuisler, dodged the main issue: the
dicussion of Mr. Foner's article, in particular, reflected
in its title.


Arnold Shcherban - 2/4/2005

As it has become traditional in our exchange you refuse
to respond to the bulk and essence of my arguments, outbranching the discussion into the new direction to begin with.

Further, my "selection" of corporations as "bogeymen" has become "knee-jerk mantra" not a bit more than your solemn odes to them as the saviours and protectors of "traditional American freedoms" and American life-style.
You are partially correct when blaming the US governments
(but apparently not the Bush's or Reigan's one) for many
economic, social and financial woes of the American society.
And I clearly elucidated in my previous comments, my position: it is almost as far from defending the US government, as it is from beating bows to its
Holiness - corporate power.
However, as it has been analytically proved by
many political economists and socilogists the US governments, in general, and especially the Bush administration are not much more than the truest representatives of the Big business/corporations.
Moreover, the majority of them has come from the highest ranks of corporate power and never really severed their
close "relations" with the corporations. Most of them, when retiring from governmental positions in under-senile
age are ushered the 6-7-figure "jobs" in those corporations.
Stating the essence of these well-documented FACTS briefly: they ARE corporations!
In fact, to continue along the same lines, the political,
economic and financial power in this country are united
in such strong totalitarian type of an alliance, directly or indirectly controling practically all spheres of the American life, (including even the most intimitate ones, like sexual behaviour), the most corrupted, in this sense, regimes in the world can envy.
Nowadays, many serious, (not far left) researchers and analysts deliver this kind of extremely unplesant diagnosis on the "state of the Union".
Therefore, your attempts to picture Republicans,
in general, and Bushists, in particular, as the proponents of interests of common Americans, small business owners versus the government, are at the least, awkward (to remain politically correct).
It is under the full protection of the US governments
the corporations in this country historically became essentially governments within governments, totalitarian-type structures where the role of individuals, excluding the few on the top, is being part of the herd.
The formula used is clear: government*corporation = CORPORATION, not - CORPORATION/government = corporation.
Of course, these formulas are just the derivatives of the
pearl and essence of it all: Money + Politics = Corrupted Power = Anti-Democracy.
Thus, you are absolutely right in the observation:
"Traditional American freedoms are being slowly strangled...", but the blame has be fairly shared by the two "faceless" armies.


N. Friedman - 2/4/2005

Bill,

I only half agree with you. The government is necessary to protect us from corporations. Or to put the matter differently, corporations should not become shadow governments for everyday life. On the other hand, the government should not become too large either. There is a happy medium which, as with all things, is difficult to find.


N. Friedman - 2/4/2005

Peter,

You are actually mistaken. A Jihad was declared in 1992 and it was very violent. Large numbers of people - nearly two million - were killed, rather systematically, as provided explicitly for in the Jihad doctrine. Large numbers of people were, moreover, forced to convert including children taken from their parents and parents deprived of food unless they converted. Moreover, large numbers of people were literally and intentionally - as in premeditated - starved to death.

All of this was in the newspaper at the time, but not on the front page - just as the Shoah was not much reported on the front page but, in fact, was well reported as shown by Walter Lacquer -. Moreover, the UN issued reports on the matter with the events being recorded in matter of fact manner. As I said, Bat Ye'or reproduced a substantial portion of a UN report on Sudan in her book Islam and Dhimmitude so I am quite sure of my facts, having read the book and the report very carefully. In addition, I recall reading about the details of the war many years ago.

I am not quite sure what your point is here, Peter. The case of Sudan is a classic Jihad which resulted in the death of millions of people. It is not the only one. It was not the only one in the Twentieth Century - far from it -.


Bill Heuisler - 2/3/2005

Mr. Shcherban,
Your selection of corporations as bogeymen has become a hackneyed, almost comic knee-jerk mantra when protecting - or promoting - big government. I'm surprised since the facts do not support your contention that Americans need protection from corporate power. Rather, Americans need protection from self-aggrandizing government at all levels in order to preserve what freedoms still survive.

Most (90%) of all US Corporations are small type S legal shelters against legal liability and from certain taxes. The legal structures of even the largest corporations are heavily regulated by government and many federal laws exist only to monitor and control corporations. Corporate taxation is double taxation because corporations are made up of individual taxpayers/shareholders who already pay income taxes on the same money. Also, corporate taxation lowers the wages of workers in that corporation who already pay income and FICA taxes on the shrunken wages. Therefore, your accusations about corporate power should more accurately be directed at big government.

At a lower level, small businesses and S corporations in Tucson hire most of the work force as a percent of the whole, but unfortunately nine of the top ten largest employers in Tucson are government entities. Further, government unions (AFSCME and TEA) control municipal and school district hiring to a large degree and no School Board member ever gets elected without TEA support. Even in local government the electorate is controlled by those who wield the power given them by government.

The largest, most onerous force in our society has become government at all levels with its army of unregulated, unelected regulators and tax collectors. Traditional American freedoms are being slowly strangled by that faceless army Orwell foresaw.
Bill Heuisler


N. Friedman - 2/3/2005

Peter,

One further point. Would you risk your children's lives to save people in Sudan?


N. Friedman - 2/3/2005

Peter,

In all likelihood, the years of the most deaths were the years immediately after the declaration of a Jihad. That was in 1992. I might add, I recall reading figures in the millions back in the mid-1990's.

In any event, the cause of the war in Sudan was the attempt to enforce Shari'a. I, again, remind you that a central tenet of Shari'a, so far as non-Muslims are concerned, is conversion, the dhimma or death. And, for any non-Muslim, the dhimma is not a good thing. In any event, the non-Muslims refused to convert and refused to accept the dhimma agreement. Hence, the Jihad with all it entails, including massacres, slavery and the like.

Please do not tell me I am anti-Muslim. I am tired of hearing that. If you think I make things up, provide me with evidence that I am wrong. In any event, I reiterate, I am anti-Jihad and anti-dhimma and anti-forced conversion. It is my impression that many, many Muslim reject the Jihad doctrine. However, most accept it at least in principle while, of those who accept it, a small number, percentage wise, actually engage in Jihad.

At this point, Peter, it is your turn to put up or shut up. Find me evidence that I am wrong and, in particular, find me evidence that I have quoted Ibn Khaldun out of context or that he was mistaken. Find me evidence that I have quoted the other jurist I mentioned out of context or that they were mistaken. I am waiting.


N. Friedman - 2/3/2005

Peter,

Agreement at last. I shall cherish those words.


N. Friedman - 2/3/2005

Peter,

You would do well to read what I said better. I said before that I did not know the figures on a year by year basis. However, the figures were, for sure, estimated to be 2 million at the time Bush II came into office. I know this because the website of the State Department reported as much in February of 2001.

I also know, from examining the web site of the State Department that there could not possibly be year by year figures because no one was keeping statistics. Such is what happens in wars that no one cares about.

In short, the 2 million figure is very well considered estimate. However, if you examine the data which are available, it appears that there were hundreds of thousands of deaths up to about 1989 and then several million in the period after 1992; the number of deaths dropped dramatically around 2000 until they started up again recently (i.e. when the Darfar crisis began).


Charles Lee Geshekter - 2/2/2005

As an academic, Foner also loves racial and gender double standards. His embrace of group stereotypes is deeply illiberal and reactionary. Foner exemplifies the degradation and debauchery that has come to mar academia in the past 15 years. His latest outburst is perfectly consistent.


Edward Siegler - 2/2/2005

It can't be avoided. As long as democracies and dictatorships exist together on this planet there will be relationships between them.

The recently celebrated 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is a reminder of this fact. It wasn't overly played up in the media but Auschwitz was liberated by Stalin's army, and Stalin was about as horrific a dictator as Hitler. Does this make the act any less of a "liberation." No, politics makes strange bedfellows. Always has, always will.

The current war on terror cannot be fought effectively without good relationships with the likes of Pakistan's General Musharraf, to give only one example, just as World War II could not have been won by the Allies without Stalin's help. Recall that Stalin invaded Poland along with Hitler but the Western powers did not declare war on him because it would have been suicide.

This does not mean that the way to eradicate dictatorships is by declaring war on them. There are other alternatives such as international pressure forcing them to grant basic freedoms to their people. Bush has yet to really define what he intends to do to advance democracy through non-military means.


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Peter,

It is quite possible that there were more killings post 1992. I have no idea. Such, you will note, makes Mr. Clinton look very, very bad. I note that, pre-2001, more than 1.9 million people had died in Southern Sudan. As such, most likely died long before GW Bush's time in power.


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Peter,

Since I am not an advocate of the war, I make no excuse for the Bushies. They ought to do more than they are doing.

On the other hand, the pious Europeans - and I could, to make you happy, list the countries rather than refer to them collectively - have also made pious noise and done very, very little.

As I have said, what has occurred over the last 20 years in Sudan brings shame on the whole world, not just the US.

Now, to note, the problem in the South has abated due, perhaps in part, to some outside pressure but, now, the crisis in Darfur continues. What is France doing to help? What is Germany doing? What is Belgium doing? What is Russia doing? What is Saudi Arabia doing? I believe you will find that the answer is basically nothing. So, do not get holier than thou on me!!!


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Peter,

They respond to your specific request for information and your comments with respet thereto.

You wanted the information so, I suppose, you should tell me why they are relevant.


Bill Heuisler - 2/2/2005

Mr. Mahan,
Allow Mr. Clarke his little conceits. Playground pejoratives are his style and refuge. He can't discuss hard concepts, so he raises objections to the discussion.
This obvious dodge probably gives him smug comfort - he thinks it allows him to ignore notions like individual freedom vs Statism without seeming completely absurd.
Bill Heuisler


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Peter,

In addition to the articles above posted regarding Sudan, read the following article from the Aegis Trust:

Darfur and the ideology of Sudan, at http://www.aegis.tv/index.php?option=content&;task=view&id=199&Itemid=207

The article ties together and connects the thread between what is happening in Darfur and what happened in Southern Sudan. You will also note that the article speaks about the mass killings which occured in the 1980's through to more recent times.

From the article:

"Under three Islamist regimes since 1983, there have been various instances of genocide against African groups, most notably the Dinka and Nuba tribes. The Government used its vague definition of apostasy in Article 126 of the Penal Code that it introduced in 1991 to legalise the annihilation of populations they regarded as obstructing their radical Islamization agenda. This reflected the absolutist Wahabi ideas which informed the Islamist ideology by which indigeneous forms of Islam were rejected and those adhering to these forms of Islam were labelled apostates by the government.



"Helen Fein defines the actions to which the Dinka were subjected as ‘genocide by attrition’.10 Between May 1983 and May 1993, the Dinka were subjected to a policy of forced starvation. Both Sadiq Al Mahdi’s government, from 1986, and the NIF (National Islamic Front) Government, armed the Baggara tribe – historical enemies of the Dinka – who systematically looted the land and cattle on which they relied for survival. Humanitarian aid was denied. Government reactions to outbreaks of disease were to herd the displaced Dinka closer together, and medical attention was denied. Children were kidnapped and herded into camps where they were forcibly Islamised. This a clear example of the forcible transfer of children from one group to another – an action prohibited in Article 2e of the Genocide Convention.11



"Jihad was declared specifically against the Nuba in Kordofan; central Sudan; in 1992, three months after the jihad on the South. Approximately 50% of Nuba were Muslim; a large proportion of the population relative to other populations in the south. The jihad was aimed as much against the Muslim population as it was against the Christian and animist Nuba. Nuba villages were terrorised and destroyed by the Popular Defence Force (PDF) and Arab militias leading to resettlement of 170,000 and the deaths of an estimated 100,000.12 Like the Dinka, the Nuba were rounded up into ‘Peace Camps’ where they were confined for Islamization. The ‘Peace Camps’ were located in hostile environments where the means for survival were minimal. The land from which the Nuba were removed was sold to supporters of the regime.13"

[Peter, I note that the Aegis Trust is a reputable group with patrons including Desmond Tutu and Elie Wiesel.]


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Peter,

A good summary of the events in Sudan, going back to 1956 when the dispute began, can be found in the collection of materials from the Center for Religious Freedom (a branch of Freedom House). Read these two articles to start:

Testimony by: Mark T. Ajo, Church Worker, May 27, 1999, to the House Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, at http://www.freedomhouse.org/religion/country/sudan/sudan_crimes.htm

Sudan's Unpunished Atrocities, By Mary Ann Glendon, originally published in the New York Times, December 8, 1998. http://www.freedomhouse.org/religion/country/sudan/sudan_maryglendon.htm

I think that the gist of your position is crushed by the testimony of Mr. Ajo, meaning that the effort to Islamize Sudan did not just begin but has been part of a campaign going way back and has included substantial violence going way back.


Robert F. Koehler - 2/2/2005

January 30th will prove everyone wrong.


Mark A Newgent - 2/2/2005

I find Foner's comments about freedom and Bush's use of the term, extremely hypocritical. Let's not forget Foner criticized Gorbachev's reforms near the end of the Cold War. It is altogether disgusting that a man who held the Soviet Union (that paragon of freedom and democracy) in such high regard has the temerity to excoriate Bush's use of freedom in his inaugural speech. Professor Foner should stick to 19th century America he has a better track record there than 20th and 21st. He was wrong about Hiss and the Rosenbergs, and January 30 proved him wrong about Iraq.


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Peter,

The issue in Sudan for the last 20 years has not been in Darfur but in Southern Sudan. As such, I cannot give you statistics on such events.

In Southern Sudan, the murder - the correct term, not "disaster" - of 2 million people in 20 years by massacres, etc., can be calculated by dividing 2 million by the number 20. That will give you the average annual rate. No doubt, some years had more suffering than others.


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Peter,

My above comment had an error in the opening sentence. I meant to say that you missed one of my comments answering your comment in "Why Elections in Iraq Are No Panacea," by Stuart Schaar. I reprint my comment below:

Peter,

One other point. Thus far you have argued that Islam does not require Jihad. I showed you that you were wrong. You, as usual, sought to deflect your error.

Then you argued that I was shameful for noting that the rules of Jihad require massacres. I, again, showed you were wrong. Again, you sought to deflect your error.

So far, I have no reason to believe you have read a single book about the history of Islam. I know you have read popular titles like Richard Clarke's book or Imperial Hubris. However, the notion that Jihad is a requirement of Islam is Islam 101 and the basic rules are well known to anyone who has read a book about Islam other than a table top decoration. You, however, hope to transpose Islam into a form of Christianity. It is not.

Please note: I am ***not*** anti-Muslim. I am anti-Jihad. And I am anti-Jihad because the impact of Jihad has been terrible for its victims - millions of them have died in massacres -. And, moreover, in our time, the notion of a Jihad directed against the US is, given the history of that form of warfare, frightening.

When I hear you claim that massacres are not a required part of the Jihad, I am sickened by your ignorance. Have you not read about the Armenian massacres or the massacre of the Indians or the massacres in historic Palestine, etc., etc.? Have you not wondered how it is that Turkey, which was almost all Christian, came to have almost no Christians living in it? The same for North Africa? The same for what is now Iraq? Note: it was not because millions of people voluntarily converted.

On the other hand, the contribution of the Muslims has, historically, been very, very great. One of the great pieces of that contribution has been in the field of history. Hence, the monumental contribution of the Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun - someone who you evidently had never heard of since you dismissed his explanation of Jihad when I quoted it even though it is considered a fairly definitive account of the subject (at least by scholars of Islam) -.

Are you beginning to see my problem with your manner of arguing?


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Peter,

You missed my comment answering me from one of your comments in "Why Elections in Iraq Are No Panacea," by Stuart Schaar. I reprint my comment below:

Peter,

One other point. Thus far you have argued that Islam does not require Jihad. I showed you that you were wrong. You, as usual, sought to deflect your error.

Then you argued that I was shameful for noting that the rules of Jihad require massacres. I, again, showed you were wrong. Again, you sought to deflect your error.

So far, I have no reason to believe you have read a single book about the history of Islam. I know you have read popular titles like Richard Clarke's book or Imperial Hubris. However, the notion that Jihad is a requirement of Islam is Islam 101 and the basic rules are well known to anyone who has read a book about Islam other than a table top decoration. You, however, hope to transpose Islam into a form of Christianity. It is not.

Please note: I am ***not*** anti-Muslim. I am anti-Jihad. And I am anti-Jihad because the impact of Jihad has been terrible for its victims - millions of them have died in massacres -. And, moreover, in our time, the notion of a Jihad directed against the US is, given the history of that form of warfare, frightening.

When I hear you claim that massacres are not a required part of the Jihad, I am sickened by your ignorance. Have you not read about the Armenian massacres or the massacre of the Indians or the massacres in historic Palestine, etc., etc.? Have you not wondered how it is that Turkey, which was almost all Christian, came to have almost no Christians living in it? The same for North Africa? The same for what is now Iraq? Note: it was not because millions of people voluntarily converted.

On the other hand, the contribution of the Muslims has, historically, been very, very great. One of the great pieces of that contribution has been in the field of history. Hence, the monumental contribution of the Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun - someone who you evidently had never heard of since you dismissed his explanation of Jihad when I quoted it even though it is considered a fairly definitive account of the subject (at least by scholars of Islam) -.

Are you beginning to see my problem with your manner of arguing?


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Peter,

Try reading this about the end of the 20 year war in Sudan (from the British paper, The Guardian, which tends to sanitize all comments regarding any bad acts by Muslim Arabs):

"Yesterday's signing in Nairobi of the Naivasha Protocols was a historic moment. The Naivasha agreement, ending two decades of war in southern Sudan, was three years in the making. Until the last moment, a final peace deal remained uncertain.

In many respects, the agreement is to be welcomed. The north-south war produced some of the world's worst disaster statistics: 2 million dead and 4 million driven out of their homes, almost one in five of the entire Sudanese population."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sudan/story/0,14658,1387074,00.html

"Disaster" is not quite the correct word - as if there were a flood rather than a Jihad -. According to the UN account, which appears in Bat Ye'or's (and I know you can't stand her name but, frankly, get use to it as she is a major author on the topic of non-Muslims living in the Muslim regions) book Islam and Dhimmitude, the Jihad included slave raids, forced conversions (by depriving food to people as a method to compel conversion to Islam), widespread massacres, etc., etc..

As to who is at fault, I think the world is at fault when a country starts a jihad or war against its own citizens and millions of people die - almost silently -. A similar thing happened a while back in Indonesia and the world did not say boo. I think that a major reason that the world has trouble seeing problems in places like Sudan is that the world wants harmonious relations with the Muslim world for business reasons and, in particular, for oil. Hence, in disputes in that part of the world, there is either silence (e.g. in Sudan, or in Egypt with respect to the Copts) or the world tends to take the Muslim side (e.g. in the Lebanese civil war and in the Arab Israeli dispute where Muslims control was challenged).

Not well understood is that the millions of non-Muslims who live in the Muslim dominated regions are treated very poorly and are subject to massacres, brutal discrimination, forced conversions and other harsh treatment. As I have noted repeatedly, among the worst, if not the worst, violators of the rights of religious minorities are the Muslim countries.

To reiterate: I am not anti-Muslim. I am, however, anti-Jihad and anti-dhimmatism. In that Jihad goes to the core of Islam and the dhimma is at the core of the Jihad, I think the religion very much needs to re-interpret doctrine. Judaism and Christianity have done so.

I do not take Europe to be one country, Peter. However, I note that regions have interests. And, there is every good reason to believe that Europe, particular France and Germany and Belgium, have very different interests in the Middle East than does the US. And I think there is good reason to believe that such is a major cause of the strain. Another reason is Mr. Chirac who misplayed his hand even worse than Mr. Bush.

As for the world's dislike of Mr. Bush, it is a troubling thing. On my last trip to Europe - last May -, I heard plenty of comments. However, I do a lot of business with Europeans and, so far as I can discern, people will get over their dislike in due course.


Bill Heuisler - 2/2/2005

Mr. Friedman,
Same here. Clarke bludgeons instead of discussing. Sometimes scorn and derision become habitual and mordantly malignant. Sad. I wonder if he ever smiles.
Bill


N. Friedman - 2/2/2005

Bill,

Well said. Peter accuses me of google information. I plead guilty because otherwise I would have to spend time copying passages from the books I read.


Arnold Shcherban - 2/2/2005

The so-called, free individualists and supporters of the life "unfettered" by governments, are nothing but self-indulged or double-faced demagouges, who are the first among those calling for govermental support when troubled.
It is been proved by the entire history of mankind that
the overwhelming majority of individuals, as long, as they live within human society are "largely" not free, they are products of the economical, social, intellectual, political medium and paradigms that form the living fabric of the societies they belong to.
It is true that American tradition developed a couple of centuries ago treated governments with suspicion and even contempt. But only "statists" (aren't they traditionally called "conservatives"?) can ignore the evolution and devaluation that ALL traditions go/have gone through.
20th and 21st century America (and other most developed
countries) was/is "largely" not the nation of individualists, but the nation of corporatists.
It is the lawful society we are told, and lawful society
cannot exist and be maintained by and through the individual choices, but primarily by the societal choices, i.e. the choices of the consented majority. The democracy by itself, by its very nature, the laws and regulations it imposes on people effectively suppresses individual choices of the minority that can account for millions of men.
And who performs the function of developing, declaring,
and enforcing those laws and regulations? The government, of course. I'm not talking already about the miriads of other mechanisms of control and enforcement imposed on individuals by private corporations, some of which are actually much more influential than the governmental one.
Therefore, we can only talk about the relative freedom
of choices, relative to other countries.
Besides what some often call free choices are largely far from being free, unless one consider individual dying of hunger who "opted" begging for food, as free choice too.
You Bill is correct in pointing out that in this country
the government interferes into individual/private affairs less than probably anywhere else in the world, and that's very positive feature of the American life.
But, you have to also admit that probably nowhere else in the world big corporations - non-governmental structures -have so much influence on the people's life, as in this country, often negative and anti-democratic influence, that are not only unwelcomed, but direclty opposite to
the free choice of the majority of the individuals affected, provided the majority would have this kind of choice. And nowhere else in the world the goverment is as supportive of these corporate monsters, as in this country. In fact, I haven't heard or seen a single middle class American who over the last, say, 50 years, managed to be elected or even ran close race with the elected US President or Vice-President, before becoming a rich, "incorporated" individual.
The only individuals who are "largely" free (not on paper, bur because of paper) in the American society are the wealthy ones. (Though, even they mostly become
slaves of theit assets.)
Thus, the "traditional American Freedom" is "largely" just a sweet illusion and myth for ignorant.
And you Bill are about a century late for its burial procedures.


Bill Heuisler - 2/2/2005

Mr. Clarke,
Instead of calling me uninformed, why not answer my points about individual freedom versus the so-called freedom bestowed by elites who pick victims and know better than the majority how to run our lives.

Did he not ignore the fact that our American Revolution was not a revolt of those "outside the political mainstream"? Did he not state/imply/infer that the US needs a constant reconstruction? Please answer my google nonsense and prove you know enough to sneer at me.
Bill Heuisler


Robert F. Koehler - 2/1/2005

The Half-ling in Chief has but merely mouthed what the Witless Hordes slop up like drunks with their drinks. Mr. Froner intends and speaks well concerning what he has to say, but today's America is not yesterday's. Go out into the mud of the streets and ask what passes for a common, so called American today, his or her definition of the meaning of Liberty. You will all be like Socrates walking around with an unlit lamp.

This discussion is an exercise in futility over principles, moral values and public virtues that have long been dead, done & finished. Hollowed out myths, twisted principles, corrupted institutions, evisceration of all the civic, moral & public virtues from the body politic & public square, and all the falsehoods and lies such breeds are the Zeitgeists of today.

All the Peacock did was give us a taste of our times.


N. Friedman - 2/1/2005

Peter,

I guess I think you are mistaken and, in some case, confused. I am not of the view that Iraq was a good move but your strong assertions are nonsensical.

Take the case of Darfur. Now, before Darfur, Sudan has had a civil war for 20 years running - maybe a bit longer -. In that time, there have been 2 million deaths, mostly of Christians and animists caught up in a Jihad (p.s. remember Jihad - the one which requires massacring those who refuse to convert or submit to a dhimma?). During all that time, no one has intervened - no Democrat or Republican or anyone else -. So, now you blame the President for not intervening in a new front in Sudan. Frankly, Peter, you make yourself sound stupid when you write such things.

Has it occurred to you that the US is simply not in a position to make world opinion happy? Has it not occurred to you that, as many argue, the Europeans simply have different interests in the Muslim Arab world than the US so that the Europeans were bound to perceive any policy, short of appeasing the Muslim Arabs, as dangerous? Has it not occurred to you that the Europeans believed (a delusion, as it turns out) that by appeasing the Muslim Arabs Europe would be spared terror? Has it not occurred to you that the Europeans were simply wrong (and recall March 11)? Has it not occurred to you that the Arab "leaders" oppose our policy, not because it is a bad policy - which it may or may not be -, but because it is a bad policy for such "leaders"?

I shall reiterate what you overlook. A Jihad was declared against the West. Anyone who has opened up anything but a table top book about Islam knows that a Jihad cannot be appeased, cannot be reasoned with and cannot be resolved by addressing any actual grievances - even if there are real grievances associated with the Jihad -. There are no short cut tricks which will win over the hearts and minds of the Muslims because your reasons are less important to them than their religion - as anyone with any brains knows (and conquering the world is a tenet of their religion) -. The President's idea, which came from the historian Bernard Lewis (i.e. the real intellectual force behind the war), was that a new idea must compete with the culture of Jihad, namely, a culture of democracy. Maybe, Professor Lewis is wrong. I think he is. However, calling the President stupid is, I think, a sign of your ignorance.

Regarding the speech, President Bush has sent a clear message to the Jihadis. He has told them that we will never compromise with them. Such was the reason, I think, he spoke so forcefully of freedom. Which is to say, the Jihadis now know - if they did not know it before - that the US, unlike the Europeans, takes the ideology of freedom seriously. Which is to say, he is telling the Jihadis F-- You, as Sharansky told the Soviets.


Bill Heuisler - 2/1/2005

Mr. Clarke,
Foner is really just a polemicist, not a real historian.
His "Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution" exposes Foner’s belief that Reconstruction was good for the US and should never have been ended. Foner wrote that conservatives are individualists, "militarists, racists" and "Social Darwinists". Also - and apropos to this article - Foner has said the concept of freedom was appropriated by conservative advocates of "unimpeded market economics to armed militia groups."

Foner therefore (in two examples) connects advocates of the free market to militarists, racists and right-wing militias. This is prejudice and ignorance. He also seems to emphasize how real freedom can only come from the struggles of the poor, workers, women and blacks. Ignoring the American Revolution, he writes how freedom comes from waging "social and political struggles" for "those outside the social mainstream."

Going back to his wish for an unending Reconstruction, Eric Foner doesn't like the fact that the U.S. is known as an "embodiment of freedom in a world overrun by tyranny" because Foner thinks our freedom is based on "debasement of millions of people in slavery and the dispossession of millions of native inhabitants of the Americas."

He doesn't know Americans. He doesn't know conservatives and he doesn't write history. Foner merely rails against the proven engine of freedom among the most free people in the history of the world. A poor historian at best.
Bill Heuisler


N. Friedman - 2/1/2005

Professor,

I am no fan of Mr. Bush.

However, his appeal to freedom is anything but cynical. It comes from the best of the American tradition and is certainly no worse than what President Kennedy said about freedom.

Your allegation that during the cold war the US made bad allies is to be compared with what Churchill said about fighting the Nazis, namely, "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons." Your problem, evidently, is that you do not rank the fight against the Soviets as significant as the fight against, for example, the Nazis.

As for the source of the rhetoric, you will find that the New York Times has finally noticed what I wrote in HNN previously, namely, that the great Natan Sharansky was likely an inspiration for much of Mr. Bush's speech. See, "Bush's Book Club Picks a New Favorite," The New York Times, January 31, 2005, at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/31/politics/31letter.html?oref=login.

Now, Mr. Sharansky was surely one of the great freedom fighters of the 20th Century. He certainly knows what freedom is. If Mr. Bush is inspired by Sharansky, so much the better.

Now, none of this makes Mr. Bush's war in Iraq a good or a bad idea. However, the assumption that all is cynical is, itself, a form of cynicism.


Bill Heuisler - 1/31/2005

Professor Foner,
It is significant you quote Nikolas Rose in the beginning of your article and then give an alternate meaning for freedom at the end denoting power for only certain people.

Rose's particular interest in some books is the unique causations of political authority and the psychology of power. Your definition of freedom mandates the exertion of power on a (perhaps) unwilling majority on the part of a (supposedly) deserving minority when you wrote about,
"...other American traditions that see freedom as resting on social responsibility both to guarantee every citizen's economic security and to achieve justice for those long denied genuine equality."

But who will "guarantee" and who will "achieve"? Economic security and justice are very subjective terms and cannot be promised to anyone on a broad basis - each must be checked and balanced through courts and Legislatures with various individual rights and freedoms weighed. There are no American traditions of guaranteed security or of guaranteed justice. This definition of yours requires discrimination by certain people who will choose victims and wield the power of the State to command compliance from those not chosen. So, who chooses these certain people? Hasn't this statist dream already been tried at terrible cost to millions throughout the last Century?

Traditional American Freedom means free individuals making life-choices largely unfettered by government. That is what President Bush talked about.
Bill Heuisler

Subscribe to our mailing list