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Interview with Daniel Pipes

Historians/History




Following is an interview with Daniel Pipes. The interview was conducted by historian Jamie Glazov, the managing editor of frontpagemag.com, where the interview was first published.

Glazov: How do you see the capture of Saddam affecting this war?

Pipes: Thanks for the invitation and the kind words. I see Saddam Hussein's capture having powerful repercussions within Iraqi society and perhaps beyond, but having least impact on the adherents of militant Islam, who are not much impressed by the seizure of a thug.

Glazov: But surely this is a great boost for the War on Terror, no? Among other things, won't it demoralize our enemies, whether they be Saddam loyalists or Islamist terrorists?

Pipes: His capture is a historical first that will surely have many benefits. I don't, however, see it demoralizing the Islamists, who are fighting a larger, deeper, and more ambitious war and for whom Saddam's antics count for little. It is almost like asking whether the Soviet Union was demoralized by a U.S. military victory in Central America.

Glazov: Fair enough, but the war in Iraq in general is integral to the War on Terror, right?

Pipes: It was not so originally. Problems posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq, by the regimes in Syria, North Korea, China, Cuba, etc. are vestiges of the last war, the cold war, in which the enemy was communism in its many guises (including Ba`thism). That said, the main forces attacking coalition troops in post-Saddam Iraq are Islamist and so the Iraq problem is now indeed becoming integral to the current war on militant Islam.

Glazov: So will the capture of Saddam in some way facilitate/help the hunt for Osama? Or is there no connection here aside from a psychological boost for the Osama hunt?

Pipes: It could help the hunt for Osama bin Laden by freeing up some manpower, but not so in a deeper fashion. Note some of the ways in which the two cases differ:

*Bin Laden forwards militant Islam, an ideology larger than himself. Saddam forwarded only Saddamism, a cult of personality. This means that whereas Bin Laden can find refuge among tens of millions of like-minded comrades, Saddam in the end was alone.

* Bin Laden could be hiding in many countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, or even Egypt or India. Saddam could rely on no such network. 

* Bin Laden has not ruled a country, much less has he done so ruthlessly, so he lacks the millions of die-hard enemies Saddam has made over the years.

Glazov: What do you make of the Palestinians' reaction to Saddam's capture, which is reportedly a combination of disbelief, humiliation and despair?

Pipes: Their reaction shows again – as if one needed more proof – the radicalism and nihilism endemic to the Palestinians' political life, the degree to which they reject existing realities and are attracted to whomever challenges the status quo. Not until they come to terms with those realities, and the existence of a Jewish State of Israel in particular, can the Palestinians make real progress.

Glazov: Let's turn now to the terrorists' recent targets. Why, in its previous strikes, has al-Qaeda picked Turkey and Saudi Arabia?

Pipes: I am not convinced that al-Qaeda is specifically responsible for these attacks (for my reasons, see http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1112 , so I'd rather answer the question, “Why are militant Islamic groups targeting Turkey and Saudi Arabia?” To which, my reply is that those groups want to take power in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and just about everywhere else. As for when and where they attack, that probably has more to do with capabilities than with sending a specific message.

Glazov:So when you state that militant Islamic groups are attempting to take power in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and “just about everywhere else,” you are implying that militant Islam is bent on world domination, just as the communists and Nazis were. In other words, this isn't about – as liberals would argue -- solving poverty in the Middle East, or about giving the Palestinians a homeland, or whatever. There is nothing that we can really do to accommodate militant Islam except to give up our way of life and surrender to theirs. Correct?

Pipes: Correct. I see militant Islam as a true successor of the fascist and communist movements, not just in its totalitarian methods but also in its cosmic goals. There is no way to accommodate any of these ideologies; they will either destroy the civilized world or be destroyed it. As Abraham Lincoln put it in 1838, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”

Glazov: So is there any good news in the War on Terror?

Pipes: Yes. Arrests are taking place, law enforcement is cooperating in new ways, a seriousness of purpose is paying off. But overall, after major improvements on the heels of 9/11, I see quite a bit of backsliding. As an example, note the growing critique of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Glazov: What is the greatest danger to America and free peoples posed by Islamism at the moment?

Pipes: Islamism poses a long-term totalitarian threat to all peoples, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. The prospect of living in a Taliban-like state is about as attractive as living in a fascist or communist one.

Glazov:True, the idea of living in a Taliban-like state is nightmarish. No movies, no entertainment, no intellectual freedom, no fun, no alcohol, no individualism, no women in sight, etc. Yet what remains fascinating is that this nightmare is actually viewed as some kind of paradise by Islamists. What is the psychology of people who long for this dreadful existence, where the only freedom there appears to exist is the freedom to blow yourself up?

Pipes: They are people who have found what they believe to be an absolute truth – not just the Qur'an but a specific way of interpreting that document. They take great joy in living in exact accord with that truth and imposing it on others. Sounds familiar, no? Again, militant Islam replicates basic fascist and communist patterns.

Glazov:I have always been confused by the kind of people who, as you say, relish “living in exact accord” with some kind of"absolute truth." We have this in all walks of life, of course, not just with Islam. But there is something also quite particular to Islam. Aside from there being fanatic Christians, for instance, there is a healthy tradition in Christianity that questions the Bible, encourages scepticism, different interpretations, etc. Correct me if I am wrong, but in Islam, there is the impression that among most Muslims there is the holy book, what it says and that's that. True?

Pipes: You are right that Islam is dominated today by totalitarians who want to close down debate over interpretation of their religion and who reject self-criticism. But it would be inaccurate to suggest that this has been normative Islam through fourteen centuries. To the contrary, one finds that some of the greatest cultural figures of Muslim history were dissidents in important ways. It is a mistake to extrapolate back from the dire state of Islam today; things were never as bad as they are now. That has the happy implication, by the way, that things are again likely to improve.

Glazov: This is true, “things were never as bad as they are now.” Why is this? One would think that religious fundamentalism of any kind would die away after several generations, since people would be realizing after awhile how certain things just aren't working for them. What explains, for instance, the increase of burqas rather the decrease of them?

Is this all about the reality that the Western way of life has proven to be the best and that some cultures and religions, instead of joining the modern world, desperately cling on to what they have left – and also, in their humiliation, react with violence?

Pipes: Many Muslims are acutely conscious of the glories of their medieval civilization and their superiority then over Christendom. That roles have been so crushingly reversed during the past two centuries has prompted increasingly desperate efforts by some Muslims to regain the old strengths. Returning to the supposed ways of old – via Islamism – is today's most convincing method to achieve that goal.

Glazov: Do you support profiling of Muslims? Despite its political incorrectness, isn't it crucial for homeland security?

Pipes: I do support taking into account all factors – nationality, race, religion, and ideology – that are relevant to focusing in on likely perpetrators. This is plain common sense; does one look for rapist suspects among women? Given that the ranks of militant Islam are made up of Muslims and only very rarely (I can think of precisely two examples) do they knowingly receive support from non-Muslims, this unfortunately implies an imperative to focus on Muslims. I regret having to draw this conclusion, but only when we are ready to accept the necessity of such enhanced attention will we be serious about waging war on terrorism.

Glazov:So if we are serious about waging war on terrorism at home, what “enhanced attention” should we devote to Muslims?

Pipes: Here is my carefully formulated reply, as published in January 2003 : “There is no escaping the unfortunate fact that Muslim government employees in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps need to be watched for connections to terrorism, as do Muslim chaplains in prisons and the armed forces. Muslim visitors and immigrants must undergo additional background checks. Mosques require a scrutiny beyond that applied to churches and temples.”

Glazov:Do you think militant Islam represents a greater threat than communism and fascism? I find it much more frightening, because we are dealing with people who aren't that preoccupied with self-preservation. Doesn't this alone create a situation of much greater danger?

Pipes: You are correct that militant Islam uses methods that the prior totalitarians never did – suicide bombings being one example of that. (Arnold Beichman made this point the subject of a most interesting column in The Wall Street Journal , “Why I Miss the Cold War.”) On the other hand, militant Islam lacks the backing of a powerful state such as Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia and therefore lacks a conventional military force; and, other than in Sudan, it has so far killed only in the thousands, not the tens of millions as the earlier movements. Frankly, I am not sure yet if it is more or less dangerous than its antecedents; we are probably still too early in this war to make such an assessment.

Glazov:Let us suppose you became Bush's main advisor in the War on Terror; what steps would you suggest he immediately take?

Pipes: That's easy: I would advise him to surround himself with leading moderate, anti-Islamist Muslims and announce that the “War on Terror” has been redefined as the “War on Militant Islam.” That would have many and profound implications, such as (1) indicating that this is a war of ideas as well as of guns, (2) permitting us to focus on that population which supports militant Islam, (3) pointing out the key role of moderate Muslims, and (4) specifying that the immediate war goal must be to destroy militant Islam and the ultimate war goal the modernization of Islam.

Glazov:I think you are completely right in emphasizing the importance of allying ourselves with moderate Muslims against militant Islam. Please explain the importance of this strategy. First, however, what exactly is a “moderate” Muslim?

Pipes: This was the subject of my recent column, “ Do You Believe in Modernity,” in which I offered a series of questions to ask of Muslims in order to ascertain who is a moderate. They are akin to questions one might ask to distinguish socialists from communists. (To my amusement, one author, Jim Kalb, has adopted these questions to ask of “moderate” liberals.) One topic I propose asking about, for instance, is violence: “ Do you condone or condemn the Palestinians, Chechens, and Kashmiris who give up their lives to kill enemy civilians? Will you condemn by name as terrorist groups such organizations as Abu Sayyaf, Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, Groupe Islamique Armée, Hamas, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and Al-Qaeda?”

Glazov: One theme that becomes clear in retrospect is that, long before 9/11, you were almost alone in prophesying the Islamist war against America. What gave you this foresight when so many other “experts” missed the unfolding of this war?

Pipes: Actually, it required no particular insight on my part. Rather, it required wilful denial of reality on the part of other specialists. Militant Islam's attacks on the United States began in November 1979 and killed 800 people by 9/10. These were hardly unknown episodes (for example, the World Trade Center bombing of 1993), nor was the motivation behind these murderous acts obscure. Trouble is, most Middle East and Islamic specialists apologize for their subject and ignore difficult subjects of this sort.

Glazov:True, most Middle East and Islamic specialists are apologists for their subject. Why do you think this is? My father and mother both used to teach Russian language, history and literature in academia and, with a few exceptions, I remember that quite a significant portion of their colleagues and students were communists (masquerading as"liberals"). What's the phenomenon here?

Pipes: There is a tendency to study that which one is attracted to; a desire to be accepted, even celebrated, by those one studies; and a winnowing out takes place, so those who do not fit the general outlook get excluded. Or all of these are at work at once.

Glazov:So, with most Middle East and Islamic specialists being apologists for their subject, you must have been, and remain, an “outsider” in your profession. How has this affected you?

Pipes : It has liberated me. I don't have to clip my wings, hold my tongue, or shuffle my feet.

Glazov: So what led you to be who you are? I was completely marginalized during my years in academia and it had, I think, something to do with me telling my colleagues that Ronald Reagan was my favourite American president. As the son of Soviet dissidents, my background made it impossible for me to be what most of my colleagues were: haters of their own society and lovers of foreign despotic societies. What is your background that made it impossible for you to be the kind of Mid-east scholar who would spend long hours explaining, in great historical and complex detail, how the Americans “brought 9/11 unto themselves” etc.?

Pipes: I have been a conservative since high school in the mid-1960s, when the Vietnam War was emerging as a hot issue. Being conservative has ever since made me unlike most intellectuals. So the real question is, why was I from the get-go a conservative even though I have always lived in an arch-liberal environment? The key, I think, was my having traveled extensively abroad and having therefore developed an appreciation for what the United States is. In this way, my experience roughly parallels yours as an immigrant.

Glazov:So what is it exactly that drives you? What has been the inspiration behind your intellectual career and journey?

Pipes: My career studying the Middle East and Islam began in college and focused initially on the medieval period. I was especially interested in what learning about another time and place could teach me about my own circumstances. I finished my doctoral thesis on Islam and politics in the premodern period (subsequently published as a book, Slave Soldiers and Islam (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981), just as Ayatollah Khomeini came to power and the politics of Islam abruptly became a subject of current concern. I switched to contemporary history at that point, and that is what I have engaged in during the past quarter century.

My topics bear directly on U.S. government decisions, so I have become deeply embroiled in policy debates over such subjects as militant Islam, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Iraq. As the Muslim population of the United States has dramatically grown, I have become involved myself in its issues too; these are of a domestic nature, however.

Glazov:For what are you fighting? Are you content and satisfied that you have achieved some of your objectives?

Pipes: I am trying to apply the principles I believe in to the subjects I study. My goal is to help Americans figure out how to deal with some challenges. The satisfaction I have that my views are listened to is roughly balanced out by dismay, especially these days, at the nature of the debate itself, which is coarse and absorbed with irrelevancies.

Glazov:What are some of the things that you hope to accomplish?

Pipes : My hope is to be useful in developing responses to issues I know something about. These days, issues surrounding militant Islam especially absorb my attention, as this movement is hugely threatening, highly complex, and quite alien to Americans.

Glazov:Mr. Pipes, thank you, we are out of time. It was a pleasure to have you as a guest on Frontpage Interview .

Pipes: Thank you for the opportunity to give my thoughts. And let me take this moment publicly to state my admiration for Frontpagemag.com, which fearlessly, carefully, and relentlessly deals with such problems as militant Islam, Palestinian radicalism, and our wayward universities.


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David - 12/22/2003


Barbara, Barbara, Barbara,

The day you stop equating every supporter of Israel with "Likudniks" is the day I stop referring to haters of Israel as Leftists. That day won't come, so get used to it.

The funny thing is, my generalization is more accurate than yours. Few supporters of Israel are "Likudniks", but most Israel haters are Leftists--certainly on this forum. Irony is such a bitch.

Speaking of irony, you sarcastically stumble upon the truth when you refer to Pipes as 'Right.' He's the quinticential "Rightwinger" according to you Leftists.

/Now I'll spellcheck my post so you don't have to go through the trouble of posting an entire response dedicated to a typo you latched onto (for lack of anything better to say).


Sinister Southpaw Slayer - 12/22/2003

Our leader, The David:

Glad to see you're back focusing on leftists where all the problems of the world come from. Took a while to figure out your recurring wisdom, but of course it's obvious now that I see it: if you swim upriver on the Jordan, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are on your...LEFT !! Turn around to really understand things like David, vanquisher of Goliath does, and, of course, Israel and its great fearless hero Sharon who has guided it since he took over from Moses, are on the RIGHT !

Got to go now, the Grinch is coming upon on my left but I've got him in my sights. Great to be slaying leftists with you, David.


David - 12/22/2003


when Pipes refers to criticism of the Patriot Act as "backsliding," he really means in the war on civil liberties waged by his friends in the Bush maladministration and his continuing sliming and smearing of anyone, especially college professors, daring to disagree with him.

Can you give us, beyond your slogans, examples of people (especially professors) who have been "slimed" and "smeared" by this "maladministration"? Can you give us one example of someone who has been silenced by the Patriot Act?

No, you can't.

And isn't the term "maladministration" a sliming and a smearing of someone? Aren't you a hypocrite?

It's ironic that the History News Network, committed as it is to open discussion, allows his hysterical hatred for free thought to appear on its site.

No, what is ironic is that you just delivered a screed on censorship by the Bush administration, and in less than a heartbeat called for the censoring of opinions you hate on the very forum where you delivered your screed. You have given us a crystal clear glimpse of what the Left means when they call for "diversity" and "freedom of speech". Thank you.





David - 12/22/2003


"I think what he means by "militant Islam" is any Moslem or Mosle, group he and his fellow promoters of the Likud agenda, in America, disagree with."

Translated: Pipes doesn't like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hisbollah. They are legitimate resistance groups fighting against the "zionist entity" and should not be equated with Al-Qaida.

Gotcha.


David - 12/22/2003


The new Islamic radicalism, a negligible current before the 1970s, consists most noticeably of the demographically-fueled activities of politically-disgruntled angry young men in the Mideast based on their indoctrination in a sort of messianic but ultimately nihilistic martyrdom.

You offer an adequate definition for what we call "militant islam" professor. Not that we're any more enlightened by it, but certainly adequate.

But given the extensive information on Daniel Pipe's website about militant islam, including differing theories about it's causes, I'm not sure why he has you in such a tizzy. Go visit his website; there's more info there on militant islam than you can shake a stick at.

So is it possible that you're on a high horse because Dr. Pipes, unlike you and many of the ivory tower set, actually takes a position on militant islam, and chooses a side? That must strike you and your fellow ivory tower eggheads as nothing short of sophomoric. Correct? After all, a legitimate member of the Academy would never stoop to such levels.

It seems to me that you would rather go the relativist route regarding militant islam and the war on terror because after all "militant islam" was a "negligible current before the 70s" and it is made of up "disgruntled young men," etc, etc, blah blah blah. Poor terrorists, it's not really their fault. After all, they're disgruntled. Let me guess, it's America's fault?

Is that why Daniel Pipes burns you up? Because he doesn't make such insinuations (as required if he wishes to be taken seriously)?

Tell the truth professor, it's not definitions that have you in a tizzy, but agendas. Correct? And that's exactly why you're so irrational about Daniel Pipes. Because he takes a side.

Yes, you're irrational. Why irrational? Because Dr. Pipes has bent over backwards to make a fair distinction between islam and our true enemy. So his "definitions" aren't the real issue.

Why don't you just come out and say it professor--"militant islam" was created by the injustice of the West upon the Arab world. Say it. Stop hiding behind your carefully worded definitions.









Linda - 12/22/2003


I think what he means by "militant Islam" is any Moslem or Mosle, group he and his fellow promoters of the Likud agenda, in America, disagree with. As in this remark of his:

"Yes to Islam" in effect means "Yes to Iranian-style militant Islam."

which was stated here a few months back:
http://hnn.us/articles/1421.html



Frank Lee - 12/22/2003


And thanks for including the "inappropriately broad pejorative" you misused above, "Hamasnik", in your list. Not every one who opposes the Likud supports Hamas. And not everyone who opposes Hamas supports Likud. Keep it in mind and have a nice New Year.

Frank


Michael Green - 12/21/2003

I hope that we can stick to the main point here: when Pipes refers to criticism of the Patriot Act as "backsliding," he really means in the war on civil liberties waged by his friends in the Bush maladministration and his continuing sliming and smearing of anyone, especially college professors, daring to disagree with him. It's ironic that the History News Network, committed as it is to open discussion, allows his hysterical hatred for free thought to appear on its site.


Catherine - 12/21/2003

Ditto. Ditto, ditto, ditto.

Pipes would have no difficulty whatsoever distinguishing between moderate and militant Islam. (Neither would I, and I haven't spent a lifetime studying the subject.) Twice in this interview he offers a simple means of distinguishing between "militant" and "moderate": he provides a list of litmus questions, and he cites older forms of Islam as moderate in comparison to the militant Islam of bin Laden.

That he doesn't offer an extended definition in this forum can be attributed to the fact that he is talking to frontpage magazine, and thus assumes, correctly, that his audience will already possess a working notion of what is "militant" and what is "moderate." (Hint: "militant Islam" means killing people who don't subscribe to militant Islam.)


C.R.W. - 12/21/2003


To everyone. Hamasniks, Likudniks, and every other inappropriately broad pejorative. Concerned Christians, Evangelical Christians, Jews, Islamicists, antiglobalists, Muslims, Imperialists, anarchists, nativists, isolationists, socialists, and LIBERTARIANS WHO HOLD DEAR THE RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE.

Just remember if you want peace, work for freedom and democracy. Nothing else works as well.


C.R.W. - 12/21/2003


Because everyone knows that Sharon wouldn't have been "forced" to end the conflict with a wall had Arafat done what he was supposed to do vis-a-vis terrorism. Indeed, had that been the case Sharon wouldn't have even been elected.

And since every analysis in your mind amounts to apologia for one side or another, you should know that Hamas and PIJ would be no less fanatical if they had an army behind them. Their stated goals make it clear what they would do if they had one (basically more of the same, only with drastically more violence and ultimately, a form of hegemony oppressively without parallel in Western societies).

I never denied the role of settlers in Sharon's political standing or even in the Israeli body politic as a whole. Their role doesn't refute any of what I said. As a matter of fact, and in case it helps your dream of an analysis, it could just as cogently be argued that the settlers/settlements and the prospect of their removal, can be viewed as a bargaining chip to put pressure on the P.A. to conclude a final settlement. However, Israel's experience is that peace treaties are more likely to stick if they are the result of mutually agreed bilateral accords, not unilateral maneouvres. This is why they state that the wall is not, in any way shape or form, an indication on final borders, which even Palestinian negotiators in Geneva have admitted will involve modifications to the 1948 ceasefire lines.

The sign of intelligence is to be able to hold more than one thought in one's head at the same time. Maybe for Christmas, and with the help of extraordinary advances in medical technology, such a gift could be bestowed upon you. I'd be happy to chip in with the cost. After that we could look forward to a joyful visit with the priests of the Church of the Nativity, and help them celebrate their second year in a row in freedom after having been taken hostage by al Fatah militants. But at least they weren't victims of fanatics! ;-)

Happy New Year, too.


Fred - 12/21/2003


No points were "lost", you failed to make them, including the 7 and the 18 whatever the heck they may mean (# of comments which you typed before studying the dictionary, maybe ? ). Even now your explanations, which are finally semi-coherent for the first time, amount to little more than apologia for Sharon. The rest of the civilized and intelligent world has different theories than do Likudniks re the timing of the wall.

Israel did not build a wall before now because doing so closes off options for annexing more territory. It is an indication of his failures, not his successes, that Sharon threatens to become the first Israeli prime minister forced to have to really face down the expansionist Israeli settlers, who are ever bit as fanatical, if less violent (mainly because they have an army behind them) than Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Peace on Earth (except for lunatics in the Mideast not yet removed from power) and good will to men, women, and children less brainwashed than their parents.

Happy New Year,

Fred


C.R.W. - 12/21/2003


Fred, if you want to believe something, regardless of how little information it is based on, you're entitled to believe it.

At this point I feel honestly sorry for your confusion, since you seem obsessed with issues and terminology and their application which seem to peristently escape your capacity to understand them, and have lost relevance to what you discussed. You seem to be changing the argument as it suits you.

If you feel I abused the English language by referring to a numerical high point of 17 in a month by month time-capture analysis of terrorist attacks as a zenith, when every other point never surpasses 8, then take it. You win. It's not the highest point, apex, or summit of terrorist attacks. It's something else, apparently.

I am simply not going to address the route of the wall since I believe it is being decided based on political and military considerations to which I lack full access. I also believe that as long as it keeps Israeli populations separate from Palestinian population centers from which terrorist attacks emanate, then its stated purpose is served and the exact route itself if irrelevant to any purposes I see any point in discussing. If Arafat or you aren't enthusiastic about the route, then he could always have chosen to negotiate a settlement that satisfies the goals expected by a majority of Israelis as well as the world community as voiced by the Geneva plan. (Or he could have ended the terrorism altogether, not a minor point).

I never confused terrorist attacks with gun battles in zones of conflict. This is your point of confusion. If you want to assert that before pacification the IDF faced no military resistance when beginning its incursions, go for it. Sounds reasonable. Building projects would not have been targetted by militants. It's just as unreasonable to suggest that effort be exerted on security barriers at the expense of focusing manpower on securing the military objectives of the operation. Their hands weren't busy at the time. You win.

As far as feasible goes, we've already established the lack of likelihood with which the wall would have become official policy before 2002. I've described the incentives against building it, which you also didn't contest. I've described the time course, the scale of it, etc. I've described the fact that the government was extremely occupied with massive military incursions to subdue the terrorists and break up their infrastructure, as well as having to send diplomats to the U.N. every five minutes to explain their case for doing so. They were dealing with terror on an acute basis, not long-term, which was to be addressed by the wall. There were reasons for not spending the time, money, and diplomatic effort on the wall unless it was necessary, especially since the world was still hoping that efforts from the P.A. to stop terror would be forthcoming *all the way up until the point when Arafat forced the resignation of his appointed prime minister, precisely for attempting to do so.* Again, all these points seem to be lost on whether or not you understand it to be feasible to carry out a decision before it has actually been made (and planned for).

It's not that you're just splitting hairs, it's that you never had any salient points to make.

Happy holidays and may you remember at this time of year that the ability to make peace escapes those who split hairs at the expense of salient issues. A point not lost on Israel, Jordan and Egypt, but apparently lost on you, Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.


Caleb - 12/21/2003

Hello all.

If my understanding of this conversation is correct, it seems like we are debating WHY Israel has chosen to build its wall (if I am mistaken, please disregard the remainder of this post).

To me, the answer seems clear: to prevent terrorists from entering Israel. As for why now and not several years ago and not several years from now, I consider that to be irrelavant. When America was attacked by Al Quidea on 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan. If we were being attacked by Mexico on a daily/weekly/months/even yearly basis, I can assure you, we would find the way to build a barrior (or simply invade). Israel is fully justified in building this thing and as far as I am concerned, the statute of limitations runs out only after there has been peace.

As for the route of the wall, some people seem to think that it is crossing into Palestinian territory. How is that possible when the Palestinians do not have any territory, in any legal sense? Furthermore, not a single Palestinian is being transfered, moved, or killed for being in the way. The PA was offered their state in 2000 and turned it down. The offer is still on the table if terrorism stops and they have turned that down as well. For Israel to build the wall only on pre-1967 borders would be essentially offering the Palestinians a state without getting anything in return (such as peace). Walls can be torn down, or moved once negociations finally resume... children blown up on buses can't come back when peace is finally reached.

I am going off for the holidays now, so I will have to wait to hear anyone's responses. I hope everyone, whether they agree with me or not, has a wonderful holiday.


Fred - 12/21/2003


...on the problem of the Holy Land of no Holy Grail, little wonder that Israel and its neighbors still can't make peace after 55 years.

Here in the saner USA, if in a somewhat disturbed corner of thereof, we are back to the question of evidence. I frankly don't see the humor in this that you do, but if you are indeed "eagerly awaiting" my "enlightened explanation", even without "jokes", let's try to get some facts and figures here, okay. Who knows, we might both learn something in this holiday season of miracles.

I really do believe that the Israeli government or an Israeli university or think tank or news publication probably has reliable and relevant data, though I don't work for any Israeli entity and do not have familiarity with statistical sources there. I will, however, try your links, even if they work only some of the time. But you have to come up the right ones. At this point the discussion is stymied, among other reasons, due to:


1. Only the first of your two links (in the "Holy Grail" comment works. Furthermore, I found there no year by year or month by month chronology of terrorism incidents going back to the early 1990s (not your very recent date of 2000) as required to compare competing theories of why the wall is being built now and not later, and whether or not the incidence of terrorist attacks has any bearing on the timing and routing of the wall.

2. Unfortunately, another linguistic difficulty has arisen as well. You seem to be under the impression that "terrorist acts" are the equivalent of "raging battles" in a "war zone". My English dictionary does not support such an equivalence of definition. Rather than spend another dozen posts discussing how to use a dictionary, the meaning of terms and phrases such as "zenith", "feasible", "grasping at straws" etc., I suggest incorporating this problem into that of point 1 above by also seeking sources with tallies of how many incidents per year or month, have taken place within some reasonable distance of where the fence is being built. For example, how many of the cafes, discos etc that were blown up over the past 10 years were within, say, a kilometer of the wall or its planned route ? By comparing such data to the total number of terrorist attacks (by Palestinians against Israelis) over time, assuming some comparability of measurement of "attack" (number of casualties perhaps) one could then quantitatively substantiate, or reject, the notion that the wall is being situated "in the middle of", shall we say, a zone of raging terrorist incidents. To be 100% complete here you could also seek figures on the geographical location of IDF “incursions” , house demolitions, olive orchard bulldozings etc. to see whether they are “raging” in the vicinity of the wall, but I rather doubt that those sorts of data will be readily available on line, so I think we’d best do without them.


C.R.W. - 12/21/2003


Go to this link:

http://www.idf.il/english/news/jump_2_eng_300900.stm

Open up a page denoted by: Suicide Bomber Attacks Carried-Out vs. Attacks Prevented since September 2000 (4th heading down).

Have Fun.

To start your corroboration mission, I recommend the following link, located immediately beneath the gruesome photo section:

http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0i0f0

I don't think it includes all attacks and casualties since 9/2000, but I leave the burden to you to prove any false reporting. Since you're accessing the web as we speak, I'm assuming you have access to GOOGLE, if not LEXIS/NEXUS, should you desire to corroborate any of the events on the MFA site with the Zionist-controlled Associated Press, etc.


C.R.W. - 12/20/2003


I stand by my assertion that it is not feasible to embark upon a major construction project in the middle of a war zone.

I challenge you to find a military planner who would be willing to waste millions of dollars on building a permanent structure (whose final design was still uncomplete, no less) in an unpacified territory. You contest this, and I disagree. This was the spirit of the question posed to you in order to explore the brainless claims you seem to persist in making that it was. Apparently your gross lack of intelligence prevented you from even understanding to whom the question was posed. If you lack the mental capacity or the balls to find a way to support the intuitive fallacy that you proposed, then it's your problem, not mine. I stopped taking it seriously long ago.

If you want to provide historical evidence that the Chinese were actively building the Great Wall while in the midst of active Mongol attacks, instead of taking advantage of lulls in the conflict to do so, I challenge you to advance such a claim. I still don't consider it likely to be sufficiently applicable to modern conventional and guerrila warfare scenarios to make much of a difference in the cause of resucitating to your ventilator-bound argument. And perhaps I wasn't aware of the raging battles taking place between the warring nations of America and Mexico during the 1990s as a protective security barrier was being constructed along the Rio Grande. I eagerly await your enlightened explanation for why nobody else was aware of the Great Mexican-American War of the late 20th century, either. I guess the media hid it from them the same way they didn't report on murder/suicide attacks in Israel just a few years later.

I have long since given up on the presumption that you might actually have something serious to contribute to this thread. "Give it up," as Drag said to Cool Hand Luke. "You're beat."

I'm finished. You're a joke. Since you don't NEED me for the demanded dialogue that you're incapable of contributing to, there's no reason to respond to the intentionally diverted changes in topic either. I've got about a dozen instances where you changed the topic from an answered question without realizing it, and didn't even fathom that the same context no longer applied. I would seriously consider a memory exam or something to rule out adult ADHD. Help is available (seriously).



"What we have here, is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week - which is, the way he wants it. Well, he *gets* it."

"I don't like it any more than you men."


David - 12/20/2003


Frank is spot on with his intimation that Daniel Pipes’ non-definition of militant Islam...

You criticize Daniel Pipe's alleged failure to define "militant islam", as some kind of intentional gimmick so he can "demagogue" muslims. Have you been asleep since 9/11 ? or are you just a moron.

The only people with a seeming inability to recognize what Daniel Pipes means by "militant islam" are those people most willing to apologize for it; those people who seem to approve of it's goals (if not it's methods); those people who believe Bush is a greater "terrorist" than Osama Bin Laden.

As for the rest of us, "militant islam" is self-evident (that's why it's called MILITANT islam you idiot), as is also evident who the enemies of this country and civilization are (internal and external).


Fred - 12/20/2003


Your ability to tie yourself into knots is remarkable, as shown in this remark in your post immediately above:

"Now Fred, feasible, you ask?"

No YOU asked about "infeasibility" of the wall. Back umpteen posts ago.

It was a very silly question. America has built a longer wall on the Mexican border with no terrorist attack threats to prompt it. Even the Chinese, who had no F-16s, Caterpillar bulldozers, or nuclear weapons, managed in their low tech society many thousands of years to build a much longer wall.

Now, a dozen convoluted posts later, you finally manage to arrive at a non trivial comment to substitute for your lingustically ambitious "infeasible" "zenith":

Apparently you think that Sharon's wall was only built as a last resort after the failure of all other efforts to prevent the steadily climbing (up to some recent "zenith") and utterly unprovoked terrorist attacks supported by 70% of Palestinians.

Fine, at last we have an intelligible theory.

So, part 2 is then the evidence, which we tried but failed to access a few posts back.

What evidence can YOU provide to support YOUR theory ?

How about a historical comparison (here on HISTORY news network) ?

How does the reduction in terrorist attacks achieved by the current Likud government in recent months compare to the reduction achieved by the Labor government during the months and years following the Olso agreements in the early to mid 1990s ?

How about looking at WHERE Mitzna wanted to place the barrier versus where Sharon is placing it ?




C.R.W. - 12/20/2003


For your sake, I hope your response to nothing other than my title wasn't intended to reveal the actual sincerity of your plea for addressing a complex historical analysis.


C.R.W. - 12/20/2003


My, this is really picking at straws. But on the bright side, at least I learned that infeasible is a word. Sounds awkward, but I looked it up, and sure enough...

Fred, I'm really getting quite tired of this. First off, whether feasible or not, the wall was probably never considered seriously before 2000, let alone 1990. If you're unaware, the economic exchange between Israel and the Palestinians benefits both sides, and has been a longstanding fact of life (since 1967) which neither side seems overly willing to hinder. Israel was probably willing to give the P.A. the benefit of the doubt with regard to advancing a peaceful settlement and stopping terror forever (a prerequisite for Oslo, nonetheless) so that labor and trade could proceed in a much more productive manner. However, the intransigent, recidivistic return on the part of the P.A. and its proxies to using terrorism as a tactic convinced the Israelis to do what they could to protect their citizens first and foremost, economic exchanges be damned. In case you didn't notice, 2 countries that are at war or conflict with each other generally put trade concerns on the back burner.

Second of all, as I mentioned, the wall costs a lot of MONEY. Had the Israelis not been convinced that the Palestinians would be absolutely deficient in stopping the terrorist infrastructure, stopping its incitement, etc, they probably wouldn't have felt obliged to pursue this route. They would have trusted the goodwill of the Palestinians to help develop a peaceful society, or at the very least, live up to their obligations under Oslo and international law and arrest terrorists. However, the Palestinian Authority apparently had different plans. Whether or not the Israelis should have ever trusted them on this in general, or Yasir Arafat specifically, is a matter of speculation (in everyone's mind except Sharon's).

Third, the wall takes PLANNING and TIME TO CONSTRUCT. You can't just design and erect it overnight. So if the decision was not seriously considered until 2002, and not finalized until early 2003, you still can't expect it to be finished for some time. Once again, Fred, they were kind of involved in a conflict, in case you hadn't noticed. Did you think the reason you don't hear 2 successful terrorist attacks per day anymore is because the Palestinians decided to give it up? NO! A poll as recent as fall 2003 showed that somewhere around 70% of them think murder/suicide attacks should be continued regardless of whether Israel withdraws or not. The only reason there is now less than one attack per month (or even less) is because the army is over there sitting on them. Unfortunate, but that's what it took. It is working in the meantime, but in the long run, represents a costly expenditure in terms of manpower, morale, and political standing. But given the lack of willpower on the part of the Palestinians to live up to their responsibilities in fighting terrorism, an end to the occupation can only take place once a secure wall is set up to prevent that deficiency of leadership from resulting in another series of invading suicide martyrs.

Now Fred, feasible, you ask? Answer me this:

1. Do you honestly want to propose that Palestinian militias would have not attacked those constructing the wall?

2. If not, do you think it is easier or more difficult to engage in massive construction projects while under fire?

Again, being successful in a military conflict requires skillfully planning operations, as well as prioritizing them. Military incursions and subduing terrorists are something the IDF knew and didn't take long to mobilize toward. Military operations are flexible and can also be reorganized or modified more quickly to suit the scenario (unlike some of us). As a short term first response, it was an obvious decision, whereas, as I stated before, the wall wasn't. Also, the wall can't be mobilized. It takes longer to plan, represents a longer term solution, and once it's up, it's up. Despite its up-front costs, it's much more feasible as a longer term solution that the Government of Israel was reluctantly persuaded to take.

That's all I'm going to say. You make the contrary argument if you want but I make no promises that I will respond. It defies explanation why it took me so long to spell out so many details to get you to realize something so intuitively simple, to be reciprocated with nothing more than tiny little answers that were not researched OR thought out - as if that would have taken much effort. I will no longer waste my time being made to look like an ass for the benefit of such an obvious lazy ass. (Perhaps a smart ass, too).




Fred Ferrel - 12/20/2003


Make that cause and EFFECT, not cause and "event"


Fred Ferrel - 12/20/2003

Now you are finally making some sense, CRW. Vague terms made clear, cause and event identified and in chronological sequence, albeit of course with a non-objective starting point: Palestinian terror, followed by Israeli military incursions which failed to prevent further Palestinian terror, followed eventually by an Israeli government decision to build a wall to protect Israel (and a slice of the "settler"-occupied West Bank) from future Palestinian terrorist attacks.

But how does this prove that it was "infeasible" for Israel to have built a wall in 2001 (or 2000 or even 1990 for that matter) ? Are you confused as to the meaning of the word "infeasible" ? Please explain your original weird statement, that set off this whole round of discussion:


http://hnn.us/comments/26617.html

I never got your clarification on whether or not you actually thought it was feasible for Israel to build a protective wall before subduing the militias.


C.R.W. - 12/20/2003


1. I apologize if you were expecting an actual teaching session, since it can get a bit tedious to go over events that were well documented over the last three years. I'm generally respectful of students who understand that the burden of learning something (especially if they want to contest it) is on them.

2. Incursions refers to actions of a military (i.e. IDF), not lone terrorists.

3. By Jove, you are very, very, horribly, incredibly confused (there is NO other way I can say this). You are confusing terrorist attacks with military incursions. Once again, incursions refers to military incursions by the IDF and they indeed started in full in spring of 2002 after a murder/suicide attack was perpetrated by some guy wearing a clown suit as he walked into a Passover gathering being held in a hotel lobby in Netanya and blew up about 20 people. If it helps, just remember: cause (terrorism), effect (military response). The cause (terrorist attacks) became more frequent in fall of 2000, and continued to become even MORE frequent or didn't abate until the spring of 2002 event gave the Israeli government the impression that a re-occupation of the West Bank was no longer something that could be put off. Re-occupation not possible without military incursions.

A unilaterally-decided wall around the West Bank was not being pushed as a policy consideration until after this time, when in late 2002 (or thereabouts), the mayor of Haifa, Amram Mitzna ran on the labor party ticket with just such a plan, (with the caveat that it would not be implemented unless negotiations with the P.A. failed - which lo and behold, they always seem to do). The continued burden of maintaining the military in the West Bank indefinitely is probably what brought Sharon to the decision, after the election, that it would have to be implemented and began airing some plans for its construction and initial sections were begun soon afterward.

3. I am not saying what you state. I am saying, (and I really don't run into a lot of people who don't understand this), that no terrorist attacks, no need for a wall. But to be even clearer, it has to be no *attempted* terrorist attacks, no need for IDF presence in the West Bank. Since the P.A. has proved unwilling to disarm Hamas, PIJ, al Aqsa martyrs' brigade (or at least consolidate it into a single, genuine security force accountable to the government), then Israel's only options are to continue the occupation indefinitely (with high cost to operative capacity and morale), or leave the IDF in place long enough to maintain preventive security until the wall is complete.

You are confusing the chicken and the egg. A wall around the West Bank is long and costly to construct, and was not seriously considered until the terrorist attacks forced them to go with it. However, it can't be built overnight, and since Israel's obligation to its citizens is to protect as many lives as quickly as possible, subduing the terrorist infrastructure through military means was not avoidable. The wall is a more long-term security measure.

I seriously have a problem seeing what's so difficult to understand about all this.

I'm having trouble accessing the link too so it probably is the site. In the meantime, I wouldn't assume anything since assumptions seem to be contributing greatly to the errors in your analysis.

Later


Peter K. Clarke - 12/19/2003

Ralph Luker,

I respect your views, intellectual integrity, and historical knowledge, and appreciate the usually even temperament reflected in your comment posts, articles and "blog" featured here. I am frankly skeptical as to whether your association with HNN enhances your otherwise solid reputation as an historian, but that is, of course, none of my business. I certainly would not want my real name, however, to appear on a website which considers Daniel Pipes an historian and reprints 40 opinion pieces by him, more than almost any other author. Hopefully you can therefore respect my personal choices of where and when to sign my name to writings and when to use a pseudonym, as I respect your decisions about how and where to submit and display your research, commentaries, and other writings.

If I felt that one or two articles on "insufficiently represented" topics could significantly rectify the fundamental inconsistencies of HNN and its misleading self-representations, I might be inclined to try to submit an article (as you suggest) under a pseudonym, probably, if there were a feasible way of doing so without mentioning my real name to anyone. I am not, however, of the opinion that even a sizable number of individual articles could, by themselves, lead to any tangible improvement in the basic deficiencies (e.g. those mentioned above and others) which are clearly reflected in the underlying priorities of the editorial staff, as shown by their editorial decisions, and which have altered little, if at all, over the past two years. I trust that I make myself clear.

Peter Clarke

P.S. Thanks for the flattering professional upgrade


Fred - 12/19/2003


If you would like to actually have a meaningful dialogue, here are a few suggestions:

1. Cut the irrelevant insults

2. Explain your terms, whose "incursions" for example, those of the IDF or those of Al Aqsa and other suicide terrorists ?

3. Provide a followable sequence of events. You first say these "incursions started in Spring of 2002", then in the next sentence that they started "becoming more frequent in fall of 2000". Which is it, 2000 or 2002 ? By the way, "zenith" means high point. Usually something that reaches a zenith at a point in time starts before the zenith, at an earlier point in time and at some lower level.

3. Explain how your various statements connect. For example, if there were fewer terrorist attacks when the building of the "protective fence" commenced as compared to a year or two earlier, what is the causal or logical linkage between terrorist attacks and barrier building ? You seem to be saying the more terrorist attacks on Israel, the less need for Israel to build a wall.

P.S. I tried again but can't get to your link. My modem has been a little slow lately, but I just tried LA Times, NY Times, and Haaretz and had no problems, so I think its not just my computer.
Maybe they shut down for the holidays ? I would like to see what "mfa" has to say, but unless you can finally answer my point 3, I'm going to assume that the mfa timeline, or whatever it is, is irrelevant anyway to the question of why Sharon is building the wall now, and not sooner, which, in case you forgot, was the subject of the last nine posts on this thread.




C.R.W. - 12/19/2003


Try the link later. I stand by its reporting on the frequency and severity of attacks since I remember just about every one of them being reported in the mainstream news media at the time. If once you're able to access the link and disagree then you can provide me the evidence of it not being corroborated since I've never witnessed an instance when the Israeli government fabricated a terrorist attack. They certainly have incentive to be as forthcoming about as many of the details as they can, and all were reported in either AP, Reuters, and/or NYT. If you disagree, then I think the burden is on Western civilization's hermit to show otherwise.

Everyone remembers that the attacks began an upswing in fall of 2000. But since I'm arguing with someone who forgets his own arguments, I'll have to remind you that the *incursions* started in Spring of 2002, following a zenith. For the linguistically impaired, this means that they started becoming more frequent in fall of 2000, and continued to rise, more or less, in frequency until spring of 2002. Shortly thereafter, they started to drop, an occurence that can be attributed to the presence of the military in the areas from which the attacks emanated (i.e. more attacks were thwarted, which is what the P.A. was obliged to do under treaties, but failed to prevent or expend effort in preventing).

Murder/suicide attacks most popularly employed the fashionable bomb-vest, but your memory will be refreshed by numerous reports of sniper attacks, and obviously once the incursions began, full-scale gun battles. Although engineers in the army may possess a degree of skill when it comes to constructing temporary bridges while under fire, a more long-term barrier on the scale of the one which Israel is currently constructing and investing millions of dollars into requires an attention to detail that is not easily afforded while being shot at.

If you could make actual assertions that I could take seriously (or that you could even remember having made - seriously do you have Alzheimer's?), then the biting comments would lack context. I certainly ignore yours. But that's because they're so boring and laden with hyperbolic propaganda too ridiculous to pay attention to. There's almost no factually objective statements in any of them, or your posts as a whole. I'm not sure if the analysis is even shoddier or just suffers miserably as a result.


Ralph E. Luker - 12/19/2003

Professor Clarke, You comment here regularly and nearly always disparage HNN. May I suggest that you draft an article on an issue of historical interest to you, that it clearly represent a point of view insufficiently represented on HNN, and that you submit it for publication on HNN and submission to the sort of critical engagement to which you subject the work of other writers here. Seriously.


Peter K. Clarke - 12/19/2003


Even if I were, as you deceptively and falsely imply, a supporter of Hamas, there would be no use in my starting a Hamas website.
Hamas is loaded with hypocrites too. They could become an adjunct, perhaps, to a less narrowly focused HNN, but not a real competitor to it.


Fred - 12/19/2003


Was unable to access your suggested link, Mr. Three Initials of the gratuitous insults. Does one need a special security clearance from Ariel Sharon in order to get to this Israeli government site ? Surely some reputable independent analyst has looked at terrorist incidents against Israel over a decades-long period and published the findings in print form. God forbid that you should have to inform yourself before you spout, however.

I strongly suspect that a time series regression would show a huge surge correlating with Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in 2000 and the subsequent Likud takeover, but that is probably not a connection amenable to your mythology. None of this, moreover, relates in any meaningfully direct way to the building of the wall. Even people as deranged as extreme Likud members are not so foolish as to think that they have to first reduce the reasons for building a wall as some sort of prerequisite for actually building it. One can be a myth-maker without being illogical. Spouting is something different.


C.R.W. - 12/19/2003


The only point I would agree with you on outright is that Pipes doesn't give a lot of thought into what he would propose to reduce terrorist threats emanating from Islamic fundamentalist organizations, particularly the Wahhabi nexus.

However, distinguishing the differences in the origins of politically-directed Islamic fundamentalism from 20th century totalitarian movements does not mean that there are no common lessons to be drawn, and perhaps applied.

First of all, there is the fundamental theological reality that Islam, as a religion, envisions a world divided into 2 spheres, Dar al Harb (for infidels, the Abode of "War,") and Dar al Islam, (the Abode of Submission). It is nothing less than a part of mainstream Islamic theology to accept that in Dar al Islam the laws of the state are to be tilted to maintain a political hegemony of and by Muslims, ideally through Sharia, or religious law. The sanctioning of religious practice by specifically mentioned minorities does NOT preclude incredibly discriminatory efforts aimed at encouraging conversion.

The acceptance of rule over Muslims living under non-Islamic governments is only acceptable insofar as their status as a minority makes an Islamic government unfeasible.

Whether or not the more fundamentalist sects (made somewhat mainstream by our friends the Saudis and their ruling partners, the Wahhabis) are more likely to sanction jihad is secondary to the fact that the deck is already stacked by religious norms in favor of a system that is fundamentally antithetical to the kinds of freedoms that have allowed Western governments to advance their own civilization. (Some of the same freedoms which were also discarded by fascist and communist regimes, incidentally - hence the analogy). Western civilization and thought has helped promote democratic governments and civil freedoms, the proliferation of which have greatly contributed to a lessening of the likelihood of military conflict. Given the widely understood fact that religious reformation in Christian Europe likely paved the way for the political reforms that followed, it is not prejudicial at all to note such parallels in the Islamic world.

My view is that the historical and cultural strength of these religious institutions has contributed greatly to hindering political progress and the development of civilization in the Middle East, in a fashion similar to what was the case in Midieval Europe. Reforming the stark and conflict-driven worldview that persists in the Middle East is a much more feasible way to address this clash in an age of global interdependence than to pretend that we can isolate ourselves in a way that the fundamentalists accept as an appropriate form of "withdrawal." Therefore, demanding that regimes who are engaged with us diplomatically, economically, and militarily, reform their laws in ways that allow for greater civil freedoms is paramount. Religious fundamentalism and the outmoded cultural norms associated with it cannot be addressed and reformed absent an environment that allows for freedom of speech and every other freedom which permits the development of a civil society.

In short, erasing the perceived "need" to commit militant jihad against the West is what's needed, and it needs to come from within the societies in which it originates. We in the West do not need to lay out the terms for how the theological and cultural debates will ensue; indeed this is not our role. We simply need to demand that governments with whom we are engaged allow for such a process to occur by facilitating the appropriate legal/political environment.


C.R.W. - 12/19/2003


What you can see is the number of suicide bomb attacks inside Israel itself dropping dramatically from its zenith in March 2002. This was immediately before operation Defensive Shield was begun, complete with full-scale incursions. You can even check out the mfa (http://www.mfa.gov.il) site (which has a month-by-month casualty histogram) if you'll stoop to regarding it as "mainstream" enough. But in case you don't, you can always corroborate every documented murder/suicide bombing/terror attack inside Israel that they report with the AP/Reuters news reports of the day.

And thanks, Caleb, for trying with this guy. As I noted on a previous board, trying to correct this staggering kind of ignorance is like stopping a fire burning at the bottom of a rope. It is the height of arrogance to absolve oneself from any of the intellectual responsibilities that accompany having read a newspaper over the last 3 years when debating recent events. There is nobody to blame but oneself for a refusal to be informed.


Fred - 12/19/2003


Neither source is mainstream in any normal definition of that word.
I'm not saying they should be rejected out of hand, but they have not stood the test of time yet. In any case, if your summary conclusion is correct, that would discredit any substantive trend CRW was trying to assume.


Peter K. Clarke - 12/19/2003


Beyond the superficial mutual Likudnik fawning, this interview is actually quite revealing.

The stated objectives of HNN (under the "About us" tab) are:

"To point out bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history."

This interview shows the disdain which HNN actually has for these objectives.

After gently educating the interviewer regarding the unsuitability of the vague phrase "War on Terror" to the capture of Saddam Hussein, Mr. Pipes proceeds to trumpet his own preferred, and somewhat less vague, oversimplification: "War on Militant Islam".

In defiance of any "context" of "events" or historical "complexity", Pipes then endorses a patently mythical and "bogus analogy" between communism, fascism, and "militant Islam".

A careful historical comparison of these three sweeping phenomena would have to acknowledge the many significant differences between them:

Communism was an ideologically-based exploitation of the social and economic dislocations caused by 19th century industrialization.

Fascism tapped psychologically-based resentments in the wake of World War I and the economic crises of the 1920 and 30s in Europe.

The new Islamic radicalism, a negligible current before the 1970s, consists most noticeably of the demographically-fueled activities of politically-disgruntled angry young men in the Mideast based on their indoctrination in a sort of messianic but ultimately nihilistic martyrdom.

Pipes, one of the most prominent figures of HNN, offers no such historically-based foundation for his self-proclaimed mission against militant Islam. Nor does he offer even the semblance of a practical program for combating Islamic fanaticism or reducing associated terrorist threats. Instead, like Joseph McCarthy before him, he wants to subject "wayward" university professors, "masquerading liberals" and any other groups his broad-brush of suspicion might sweep across, to his litmus test of "questions".

These are the age old conceits that men should be condemned for their ideas not their deeds, and that ill-defined emotional prejudice can substitute for reasoned and factually based judgement. They are central to the hoax that is HNN.


Caleb - 12/19/2003

If I may respond to your question of C.R.W., I believe the following should answer your question:

http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Terrorism-against-Israel
http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_against_Israel_in_2000


You can go through month by month, and year by year, and see how many happened inside pre-1967 borders, or not, but as I think you can see, there does not appear to be a patten in either direction. Anything that murders Israelis is pretty much within the bounds.


Fred Ferrel - 12/19/2003


CRW:

Okay, I've been trying to answer your questions and to ignore your irrelevant insults (see your "RE: Who ? post" above for a particulary convoluted example) for the last half dozen back and forths. Now how about you doing something constructive for a change ?

Let's see the hard evidence, with full citations, on the daily incidence of terrorist attacks against targets within the internationally-recognized (1967 borders) of Israel for the last 10 years. And let's confine this to mainstream U.S. or international media sources or writings by recognized academic historians.

Then maybe we can discuss your ideas, in the comment above, about "subdued activity" and wall building.


C.R.W. - 12/18/2003


I wasn't the one who speculated on the time-frame concerning the construction of the wall. (Again, read your *own* thread. I could copy and paste it if two posts back is too far for you to search). Also, nice try with the appeasing the settler argument, although it's too convoluted to convey anything clear. I'll consider taking it seriously once you tell me how unequivocal you are about the assertion that preventing over 100 potential murder/suicide attacks per day, with less than one successful attack per month, doesn't represent a subdued level of activity when compared to the two successful attacks per day that were occuring just over two years ago. (Oh wait, that's when they should have been busy building a wall, right?)


C.R.W. - 12/18/2003


Well, when you wake up, perhaps you could register for a class - Introduction to Thread Reading 101.

If you lack the ability to perceive the moral advantage of a government which maintains its responsibility to its own people (through, oh, I don't know, perhaps holding an election more frequently than once in 8 years, granting them civil freedoms and limitations on their government), then perhaps your judgment itself lacks moral standing.

However, it is nice to see that you think acceptance among the Palestinian people of any of Arafat's policies has any consequence upon the actions taken by his government. I certainly wouldn't want to condescend to imply that your analyses could stand to benefit from an understanding of what democracy is and what it isn't, not to mention how it affects the decisions governments make. I'm sure a blindness to the fact that one side lacks the ability to choose its own government makes it much easier to equivocate between the moral standing, (or as I see it, commitment to responsibilities), of each side.

Who "forced" Sharon to do anything? Certainly not the murder/suicide attackers, their sponsors, or apologists.


Caleb - 12/18/2003

1) “No, indeed. Why should you ? What does Edgar think this is a history website ? No, actually he called it something else. Stupid of you, I guess, to think history might be connected to this website in some way.”

If you are being sarcastic…
So you believe that every article on Islam MUST (if it is history) mention Clinton, and Rabin… anyone else? I would hate to write something without mentioned what you believe somehow should be said.

2) “Well, maybe Edgar was stupid enough to think you were not so stupid as to forget that in your final comment to Frank you said:
“Pipes has gone out of his way in almost every discussion to remind people that he is far from "anti-Muslim."
Sounds like a quote in evidence of your having claimed that Daniel Pipes is not anti-Moslem because he says he isn’t.”

My quote, as well as all of my posts, assume innocence until proven guilty. I am not about to repeat everything Pipes has ever written in order to show you where he does NOT say things anti-Muslim. I invite him, and you, and anyone else, do demonstrate the racism you claim Pipes has.

3) “Maybe history is just what you feel like making it up to be. Didn’t realize I was so stupid as to think otherwise.”

Your rants leave me little to respond with, my friend, so I will just agree with you, you were so stupid to think otherwise.

4) “By the way what was THE “conflict" with "militant Islam", you wanted to make up?”

Come again?

5) “Saddam the militant Islamist attacking Khomeini the atheist? Troops of Sharon, the great non-militant, bulldozing American protesters to death, murdering European Red Cross workers, and desecrating sites in the Islamic holy city of Bethlehem ? Or maybe you were thinking of 9-11. All those brave NYC firemen in a conflict against militant flames, rescuing lives threatened by inhaling militant smoke caused by Arafat’s Iraqis crashing those planes in the WTC while our fearless President battled militant pretzels in an undisclosed location. Hard to follow your fictions, I mean history, if you don't tell us what they are, especially when we are all so stupid.”

Fred, a wise man once said you should never argue angry, as you have… it makes you sound… well… stupid. You see, if you have read my posts on this site, you will find that I am actually quite open and patient with those who disagree with me and respect everyone with differing opinions. However, when I read the following attack on me from our friend Edgar:

“Caleb’s long, formulaic, point by point evasions prove little except the depth of his Likud-warped mindset… I wonder who Caleb thinks he is fooling... No informed and unbiased reader familiar with Pipes’ many prior columns -a prime purpose of this website- will be taken in by Caleb’s whitewash.”

Then, I immediately loose all respect for that person, as I have you. In response I tend to simply dismiss what you say as stupid unless you actually have some kind of intelligent point you would like to make. So far, I have seen no evidence of any kind of knowledge, to say nothing of actual wisdom. One who lacks knowledge is ignorant. However, one who lacks both knowledge and wisdom is stupid. Know who said that? Me. Thank’s for playing, see you next time.


Fred - 12/18/2003


I really don't know if it's feasible. No one does. Sorry, but you're asking for more speculation. The important thing is, Sharon IS building a potentially protective wall, without waiting for militants (I think you meant, not "militias") to be "subdued" first. Indeed, the main legitimate argument for a wall is to subdue terrorism or at least inhibit terrorist attacks.

The reason Sharon waited so long to do this is not that he needed to "subdue" terrorists as some kind of precondition for taking real measures to defend Israel's security, but that (if this scheme goes ahead) there are going to be a quite a number of fanatical Jewish "settlers" left outside the wall, which means they'll have to abandon their settlements, like they did in Sinai, which means they will first squawk like hell and threaten Sharon's parliamentary coalition. It's the radical madmen on both sides that have torpedoed the (rare and fumbled) efforts of Sharon and Arafat to move towards a deal in the past.


Fred - 12/18/2003

"I think I have a stronger basis upon which to believe that two separate independent states are not his "terms." "


Who is "he", with the "terms" C. ?

Arafat or Sharon ?

Change "his terms " to "their terms " and I would agree with your speculation.

The debacle over there really is easier to understand once you accept that neither side has much moral standing, and that both are in a mess of their own joint making.

Thanks to Geneva, however, which gave the Israeli public a glimpse of a better future, Sharon is being forced towards a solution that is not on his preferred terms and is anathema to Likud right wing. If and when they all get in line ( & crackdown on their extremists & standardize their sound bites, so that HNN can talk about the new direction in the Mideast instead dodging it with weird interviews), they (the Israeli gov't) will ram their take it or leave it two-state solution down Arafat's throat. Since most Palestinians are fed up with Arafat's failures, enough of them will accept this to keep the "road map" alive, and will show some real opposition to the fanatics amongst them. Or, at least, so hopes Bush, who badly needs to show some progress there and will, at the first real sign of an opportunity try to get the "Quartet" to throw their full weight behind a new push for a final deal.

Some "land for some peace" and a reduction of terrorism might just happen after all.

Now I think that will do for my speculations for today.



C.R.W. - 12/18/2003


I never got your clarification on whether or not you actually thought it was feasible for Israel to build a protective wall before subduing the militias. Surely you can back up this up with well-evidenced documentation. I know I can trust that your genuine, sincere, and non agenda-driven powers of observation wouldn't allow you to sloppily misrepresent what could have been a well thought-out analysis.

Whenever you're ready.


Fred Ferrel - 12/18/2003


My, my, Caleb. 18 paragraphs just to prove that Edgar is stupid. Let's try your highly original point by point refutation game for a minute and see if we can shed some broader light on this great question of stupidity.

I. How about your declaration:

"if I decide to write an article on Militant Islam, I don't see where or why I would include a history of the conflict".

No, indeed. Why should you ? What does Edgar think this is a history website ? No, actually he called it something else. Stupid of you, I guess, to think history might be connected to this website in some way.


II. Or we could go to your quote of Edgar:

"No self-respecting student of history who accidentally stumbles on this page will believe that...Daniel Pipes is not on an anti-Islam rampage because Daniel Pipes claims that Daniel Pipes is not anti-Moslem.."

Followed by your reply:

"Yeah, good one, and... uh... well, your [sic] stupid so there. Actually, I wish I had more to say on this point but since you don't provide any evidence, quotes, articles, or anything like that, I guess I will leave it at that."

Well, maybe Edgar was stupid enough to think you were not so stupid as to forget that in your final comment to Frank you said:

“Pipes has gone out of his way in almost every discussion to remind people that he is far from "anti-Muslim."

Sounds like a quote in evidence of your having claimed that Daniel Pipes is not anti-Moslem because he says he isn’t. But maybe I’m just stupid. Maybe Nixon never said he was a crook before Ford pardoned him. Maybe Clinton never said he never had relations with “that woman” before youthfully indiscrete Henry Hyde said otherwise. Maybe Bush never said “we don't do nation-building” before sending 100,000 troops to Iraq to not try to not do nation-building. Maybe Sharon’s government never said Arafat was irrelevant, before today's “ultimatum” to Arafat. Maybe history is just what you feel like making it up to be. Didn’t realize I was so stupid as to think otherwise.

By the way what was THE “conflict" with "militant Islam", you wanted to make up ? Saddam the militant Islamist attacking Khomeini the atheist? Troops of Sharon, the great non-militant, bulldozing American protesters to death, murdering European Red Cross workers, and desecrating sites in the Islamic holy city of Bethlehem ? Or maybe you were thinking of 9-11. All those brave NYC firemen in a conflict against militant flames, rescuing lives threatened by inhaling militant smoke caused by Arafat’s Iraqis crashing those planes in the WTC while our fearless President battled militant pretzels in an undisclosed location. Hard to follow your fictions, I mean history, if you don't tell us what they are, especially when we are all so stupid.





C.R.W. - 12/18/2003


Well as long as we're going to be merely speculative, I think I have a stronger basis upon which to believe that two separate independent states are not his "terms."


Fred Ferrel - 12/18/2003


That is a more advanced question, C..

Since Arafat is hardly ever discussed in an intelligent and objective manner on this website, answering your latest query requires thinking "outside the box". I would speculate that Arafat, like Sharon, prefers no resolution to a resolution on the other man's terms. Do you have a different speculation ?

Incidentally, neither I nor Yossi Beilin, nor Lech Walesa, nor Colin Powell are "Israel-bashers". If you want to play Q&A, let's hold off on unsubstantiated allegations towards each other, please.


Caleb - 12/18/2003

Mr. Edgar,

1) "Frank is spot on with his intimation that Daniel Pipes’ non-definition of militant Islam is a conscious attempt at maintaining wiggle room for demagoguery."

An example of what you are accusing Mr. Pipes of doing would sure help your case.

2) "Caleb’s long, formulaic, point by point evasions prove little except the depth of his Likud-warped mindset."

Actually, they prove that you are wrong. Bt taking each point by point, I allow you to see exactly where and why you are mistaken. You see, general childish accusations like "Caleb’s long, formulaic, point by point evasions prove little except the depth of his Likud-warped mindset" doesn't really mean anything. It is like me listening to an argument and saying, well, your stupid so there.

3) "I wonder who Caleb thinks he is fooling."

I obviously fooled you well enough that you have no real defense of your positions.

4) "No self-respecting student of history who accidentally stumbles on this page will believe that the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin or Ariel Sharon’s deliberate provocation on the Temple Mount are irrelevant to recent MidEast history, because Daniel Pipes pretends so."

Actually, if you read my post, you will find that I asked if it was relevant that Pipes does not mention them, never did I suggest that it is not relevant to the MidEast conflict. However, if I decide to write an article on Militant Islam, I don't see where or why I would include a history of the conflict.

5) "Or that Daniel Pipes is not on an anti-Islam rampage because Daniels Pipes claims that Daniel Pipes is not anti-Moslem. No informed and unbiased reader familiar with Pipes’ many prior columns -a prime purpose of this website- will be taken in by Caleb’s whitewash."

Yeah, good one, and... uh... well, your stupid so there. Actually, I wish I had more to say on this point but since you don't provide any evidence, quotes, articles, or anything like that, I guess I will leave it at that.

6) "It is interesting to see this facile interview instead of an op-ed by Pipes himself."

As you readily acknowledge, he has done plenty of them to read.

7) "With the current Israeli prime minister now forced, by the recent publicity in Geneva, to grudgingly inch towards the outcome he could have had two years ago, it is presumably taking some time to rewrite the pro-Likud mythology script."

It must be nice to have such a dogmatic view of the world that when people you hate do things you like, you can simply say they were forced to do so by someone you like.

8) "Even for an outlet as undiscriminating and one-sided as this Likud Nonsense Network, the propaganda sound bites are going to need more than a bit of retooling."

The fact that you are even here reading this article and responding to this post tells me that, like others, you chose to complain about how bad this website is... by constantly going back to this website!

You will forgive me, Edgar, if I sound a little sarcastic, it is just that you are an idiot. I took your post point by point just to demonstrate how little you actually said. Your not offended are you? Good, because there is really no need. I, and all who think like me are just cogs in the great Likud machine that steals babies from America, brainwashes them, and then returns them to this country to spread more of their propaganda.

If you have anything with any kind of substance to say, please feel free to respond to anything I have said here.


C.R.W. - 12/18/2003


So your contention is that the wall could have been built, before the terrorist infrastructure had been maximally subdued, in the presence of al Fatah militia shooting at those constructing it?

Israel-bashers are generally not in favor of the wall.

I'm also not aware that Arafat requires Israel's (or anyone else's) approval to declare a state. Have you ever given thought to why he's continued for so long to put this off?


Fred Ferrel - 12/18/2003


Two years ago, or even one year ago, Sharon could have built a protective wall, pulled his settlements back behind it, and given the Palestinians their semi-sovereign statelet. And risked losing the political support of his terrorist-settler allies, but gained the respect of future generations of Israelis and citizens of the world. The respect Rabin still has despite the attempts of Pipes and Klinghoffer to wish him out of existence. Even now Sharon may pull it off. In that case stay tuned for the revised party line on "LNN".

2+2=4

Further questions ?


C.R.W. - 12/18/2003


...I mean, not that you guys aren't funny and all, but exactly what outcome would the self-styled non-propagandists suggest was open to the current Prime Minister of Israel two years ago?

In case you forget, two years ago puts us at December 2001. I remember the time well. I'll even give you enough wiggle room to allow for an answer based on scenarios up to six months in advance of that date or afterward.


Fred Ferrel - 12/18/2003


Indeed, Edgar.

And they have the chutzpah to put this ahistorical interview by a nonhistorian extremist of a nonhistorian extremist in the section "History and Historians".


Edgar Webern - 12/18/2003


Frank is spot on with his intimation that Daniel Pipes’ non-definition of militant Islam is a conscious attempt at maintaining wiggle room for demagoguery. Caleb’s long, formulaic, point by point evasions prove little except the depth of his Likud-warped mindset.

I wonder who Caleb thinks he is fooling. No self-respecting student of history who accidentally stumbles on this page will believe that the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin or Ariel Sharon’s deliberate provocation on the Temple Mount are irrelevant to recent Mideast history, because Daniel Pipes pretends so. Or that Daniel Pipes is not on an anti-Islam rampage because Daniels Pipes claims that Daniel Pipes is not anti-Moslem. No informed and unbiased reader familiar with Pipes’ many prior columns -a prime purpose of this website- will be taken in by Caleb’s whitewash.

It is interesting to see this facile interview instead of an op-ed by Pipes himself. With the current Israeli prime minister now forced, by the recent publicity in Geneva, to grudgingly inch towards the outcome he could have had two years ago, it is presumably taking some time to rewrite the pro-Likud mythology script. Even for an outlet as undiscriminating and one-sided as this Likud Nonsense Network, the propaganda soundbites are going to need more than a bit of retooling.


C.R.W. - 12/18/2003


If the following wouldn't qualify as one, I don't know what would:

"The *reality* of that threat makes Pipes's *cries of wolf* all the more dangerously counterproductive."

(emphasis added)


As far as denouncing Oslo goes, being a self-proclaimed non-expert who respects Bernard Lewis' historical analysis, I would check out what he had to say about the debacle caused by allowing Arafat to serve as a Palestinian interlocutor in it. As far as the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Arafat's legitimacy goes, even if only political, insofar as being a mainstream part of a process of peaceful reconciliation, if you need his (or fellow P.A. representative Faisal Husseini's) comments on how Oslo was nothing more than a "Trojan horse," I'd be happy to provide you the links and sources.


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Frank,
1) "By "inflammatory accusations" I referred to this litany: "misanthropic, misogynist, triumphalist, millennarian, anti-modern, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, terroristic, jihadistic and suicidal"

I have no sympathy for militant extremists, so forgive me if I am hesitant to scold Pipes' insensitivity towards them. However, I find all of those words do in fact describe militant fundamentalists such as Bin Laden. Which word do you dispute?

2) "My point is: is this useful history that helps explain the origins of current problems?"

We will simply have to agree to disagree on this one because I find Mr. Pipes commentary to be extremely useful, even if I disagree with some of it. The implications of Pipes commentary are certainly important to contemporary conflicts in the war on terror.

3) "Pipes may give scholarly gloss to his rants, but they are still anti-Moslem rants, not historical explanations or fairminded scholarly examinations."

Again, we will simply have to agree to disagree on this one. Pipes has gone out of his way in almost every discussion to remind people that he is far from "anti-Muslim."

4) "And you're still ducking the issue of his blatant warpings of Mideast history. Where in his 40 articles has he ever mentioned the name Rabin?"

Is he obligated to name Israeli PM's? I don't know if he ever said "Clinton" either, is that relevant?

5) "Pipes is not someone constructing an academic argument, he is a propagandist that at least half the Israeli population would disagree with. But we hardly ever hear from them here."

You are right, many Israelis, as well as many Americans may disagree with Pipes, and that is their right. As for why we do not see them here, I honestly can't answer that, as I do not work for HNN.

6) "Oslo was not some terrorist plot, or mass delusion. It was popular on both sides. Arafat even got the Nobel prize himself, and not because all Norwegians are anti-Semitic Quislings."

I don't recall Pipes or myself EVER suggesting what you are saying. Pipes is simply saying that Oslo was a failure (do you disagree?) and that the reason it was a failure is that rested on certain assumptions that were erronous.

As for Arafat, Kissenger also go the peace prize, but I am not about to call Vietnam a grand idea. He is a known liar and funder of terrorism. He is responsible for the shipment of arms from Iran and funding numerous terrorist activities. He is also a corrupt and inefficient leader who is worth millions in money that belongs to the Palestinian people.

And by the way, Arafat did not, in point of fact, get "the Nobel prize himself." It was given jointly with Israel.

7) "He torpedoed the peace process later on, quite evidently, but so did Sharon, the historical record is pretty clear on that."

I don't think the historical record is as clear on that as you seem to think. The Mitchel report confirms that the intefadah had nothing to do with Sharon's (legal) visit to the Temple Mount, other than as the starting point. Sharon has left the door for peace open since he took office, asking only one thing in return: stop blowing up our children! Seems like a fair request to me.

8) "It's not my area of expertise (nor yours, quite obviously) though, and I have to go and fry other fish now."

If it is not your area of expertise, how can you know enough to say that it is not mine? A rather contradictory statement, I should think.

Enjoy your fish.


Frank Lee - 12/17/2003


By "inflammatory accusations" I referred to this litany: "misanthropic, misogynist, triumphalist, millennarian, anti-modern, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, terroristic, jihadistic and suicidal"

Again, to reiterate what you have said now many times, we can agree or disagree as to whether all these traits are found in all "militant Moslems", whatever that phrase may exactly be. My point is: is this useful history that helps explain the origins of current problems ?

No thank you, for real history I'll go to Bernard Lewis. Pipes may give scholarly gloss to his rants, but they are still anti-Moslem rants, not historical explanations or fairminded scholarly examinations.

And you're still ducking the issue of his blatant warpings of Mideast history. Where in his 40 articles has he ever mentioned the name Rabin ? Pipes is not someone constructing an academic argument, he is a propagandist that at least half the Israeli population would disagree with. But we hardly ever hear from them here.

Oslo was not some terrorist plot, or mass delusion. It was popular on both sides. Arafat even got the Nobel prize himself, and not because all Norwegians are anti-Semitic Quislings. He torpedoed the peace process later on, quite evidently, but so did Sharon, the historical record is pretty clear on that, and if HNN ever has the honesty to get some real historians of Israel and the Mideast on here, I think Pipes's extremism and pervasive Likudnik mythmaking will be exposed more clearly. It's not my area of expertise (nor yours, quite obviously) though, and I have to go and fry other fish now.


Caleb - 12/17/2003

John,
I don't know if I would agree 100% that his opinions are quite the same as "a historian of the Popes of Avignon is of Jacques Chirac." I would agree however that his opinions are the same as a historian of the Popes of Avignon is of contemporary popes. In any event, I agree with your overall idea that Pipes is a political comentator, whose ideas should be debated on their face, not rejected outright (or accepted outright) simply because of the position he holds.

PS. I must add that I often feel the same way about Chompsky's training as a linguist making him somehow qualified as a foreign affairs expert.


John Brown - 12/17/2003

As an academic, Pipes is an expert on slave soldiers in Muslim armies of the medieval period. His books on the modern Middle East are not scholarly works, they are opinion pieces aimed at a popular audience. Obviously he has a right to those opinions, but he is no more a qualified expert on contemporary Islam than a historian of the Popes of Avignon is of Jacques Chirac.


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Frank,
I do not stand by the part of my post ascribing something to you that was incorrect and I again apologize for it. I always loath when people misrepresent my posts, I certainly had no intention of doing the same.

1) "I am not a scholar of Islam, but if I were I would not pretend that the many different strains of it can be shoe-horned into one catch-all category."

I don't think he was trying to shoe-horn anyone any more than when people say "some Jews think X," and, "many Christians think Y." I can recall books that try to figue out "boys," or "girls," or even "humans" are like without implying that they are all like that. Of course it is an oversimplification, but I did not get the impression that Pipes was trying to steriotype all Muslims. He was trying to explain the pattern of Militant Islam, which we all agree exists. I found his approximation of 10-15% as a way of saying that, contrary to what some believe, most Muslims are peaceful and moderate. I don't see how this can be interpreted as "inflammatory accusations" unless one is simply trying to find something.

2) "This is an ahistorical oversimplification for non-objective purposes and not useful for practical considerations of America's policies towards terrorism, democracy in the Mideast or anything else."

Considering what we are fighting, I find the discussion of militant Islam extremely useful towards fighting terrorism.

3) "I do not consider it pro-American for Hamas, or the West Bank settler movement, or Daniel Pipes to go to great propagandistic lengths, as they all do, to rail against the long-standing American goal of a peaceful compromise in the Mideast, along the lines of what was almost agreed to in late 2000 early 2001 and what was agreed on in Geneva very recently."

From what I have read of Mr. Pipes, his end goal is peace between the two sides. Now you might disagree with what Pipes, and many other say about the willingness of the one side to make peace, or about the longlasting benefits of Oslo, and that is fine. But again, I can't see how it is anti-American any more than it is anti-American to be for or against Sharon as PM.

4) "Pretending that Carter, Rabin, Mitchell, et. al. never played a role in the Mideast, as if Nobel Peace Prize winners could be ignored out of existence, is not an indication of a fair-minded scholar."

I don't recall him ever saying that it didn't play a role in the Mid. East at all. How could anyone believe that the peace between Israel and Egypt had no relavance or significance? I don't believe he ever said as much.

5) "I am sure there are plenty of members of Al Fatah, and probably even some in Hamas, who have at least the "credentials" in Arabic and living and studying in the Mideast as Pipes does. Even Joe McCarthy was a college graduate if I recall rightly."

I sincerely doubt that. Simply being a college graduate is not the same as teaching at Harvard. If there were such a Hamas Ivy League scholar however, he has earned the right to speak and publish, just as Pipes has, and I will decide to agree or disagree based on their arguments merits.

6) "I don't understand where you are coming from on this, Caleb. You seem reasonable and generally well informed. If HNN ran 40 articles by say, Yasir Arafat, would you go to such lengths to praise his experience and knowledge ?"

No, because his history, policies, and leadership are all geared towards hindering peace and holding on to his corrupt regime. Mr. Pipes has no such record of sponsering terror and if I believed that he said something truely defamatory against Muslims, or Arabs, I would certainly loose any respect for his beliefs as I now have.

Remember, we are not arguing the merits of Pipes' argument here; I am merely defending his right to post based on his academic stature, and defending his articles against charges that I believe are not true.


Frank Lee - 12/17/2003


I hope you are not "standing by" the part of your post which falsely implied I was in denial about the existent of Moslem fanatics. The reality of that threat makes Pipes's cries of wolf all the more dangerously counterproductive.

Thanks for supplying the quote by him on the "extremist variant" of Islam. I think it makes my point. I am not a scholar of Islam, but if I were I would not pretend that the many different strains of it can be shoe-horned into one catch-all category, described by a series of inflammatory accusations, and quantified as a range of 10-15%, which makes millions of people evil demons to be warred against or moderate potential allies depending on the percentages. This is an ahistorical oversimplification for non-objective purposes and not useful for practical considerations of America's policies towards terrorism, democracy in the Mideast or anything else.

I do not consider it pro-American for Hamas, or the West Bank settler movement, or Daniel Pipes to go to great propagandistic lengths, as they all do, to rail against the long-standing American goal of a peaceful compromise in the Mideast, along the lines of what was almost agreed to in late 2000 early 2001 and what was agreed on in Geneva very recently. Pretending that Carter, Rabin, Mitchell, et. al. never played a role in the Mideast, as if Nobel Peace Prize winners could be ignored out of existence, is not an indication of a fair-minded scholar. (If you can, find me the quotes where he talks in any reasonably accurate and complete way about their pivotal impacts on recent Mideast history).

I am sure there are plenty of members of Al Fatah, and probably even some in Hamas, who have at least the "credentials" in Arabic and living and studying in the Mideast as Pipes does. Even Joe McCarthy was a college graduate if I recall rightly.

I don't understand where you are coming from on this, Caleb. You seem reasonable and generally well informed. If HNN ran 40 articles by say, Yasir Arafat, would you go to such lengths to praise his experience and knowledge ?


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Frank,
1) "Neither I nor any commenter I've ever recall reading on HNN is "denying the existence of militant Islam" (nor for that matter, militant Christianity, militant Judaism, or militant Hinduism). Kindly cease such fabrications of my views."

I was not fabricating your views, I was simply drawing a conclusion from your lamentation that Pipes does not define the term, and assumed (perhaps falsely) that in your charge, you were denying that the concept existed. I didn't mean any offense.

2) "My point was where do you draw the line, between the militant fringe and the mainstream ?"

I would be happy to draw the line when life is lost in the name of religion. Christian fundimentalists, for example, would not be considered "Militant Christianity," while Christians who blow up abortion doctors could rightly be labeled as such.

3) "Pipes has a tendency to fudge the boundaries of his Islamic bogeymen in order to suit his polemical purposes. It is time to wake up to this non-scholar's non-objective agendas."

Two of the articles you sent came from poster like you or I and have no credibility to speak about someone who can speak for himself. In the two articles you posted, Pipes says this:

"In brief, there is nothing inherently antagonistic between the faith of Islam and good American citizenship."

"Islam itself--the centuries-old faith--is not the issue but one extremist variant of it is. Militant Islam derives from Islam but is a misanthropic, misogynist, triumphalist, millennarian, anti-modern, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, terroristic, jihadistic and suicidal version of it.
Fortunately, it appeals to only about 10% to 15% of Muslims, meaning that a substantial majority would prefer a more moderate version." and

"Islam, then, is not an enemy or a source of terrorism."

Pipes ideas may be conservative in nature, and might even be hostile to terrorism in a way that upsets people, but I find nothing predjudiced against Islam in them and certainly nothing that could be anti-American.

4) "For your information, a sample of Pipes's biased and fear-laden writings about Moslems follows in the latter part of this comment. Check out the actual track record, Caleb, before you jump to conclusions."

Mr. Pipes has "spent two-thirds of [his] life studying the Middle East, learned the Arabic language, traveled the Muslim world, lived three years in Cairo, taught courses on the region at Harvard and specialized on it at the State and Defense departments."

You may disagree with his analysis, but he certainly has the credencials to be on this web-site.

I stand by my former post.


Frank Lee - 12/17/2003

Caleb,

Your comment ducks the issue I raised about definitions.

Neither I nor any commenter I've ever recall reading on HNN is "denying the existence of militant Islam" (nor for that matter, militant Christianity, militant Judaism, or militant Hinduism). Kindly cease such fabrications of my views.

My point was where do you draw the line, between the militant fringe and the mainstream ? (Of any religion but particularly of Islam, which as a matter of pure statistics is one of the largest and fastest growing in the world).

Pipes has a tendency to fudge the boundaries of his Islamic bogeymen in order to suit his polemical purposes. It is time to wake up to this non-scholar's non-objective agendas. He is not a friend of Americans or Israelis, or a promoter of Mideast stability, or the pursuit of historical knowledge. It is to HNN's lasting shame that it features him so prominently and frequently.

For your information, a sample of Pipes's biased and fear-laden writings about Moslems follows in the latter part of this comment. Check out the actual track record, Caleb, before you jump to conclusions.

In addition,

For an outline of Pipes’s extreme and anti-American views on the Mideast, you could see:

http://hnn.us/comments/17475.html


And, for more on his prominence at HNN see:

http://hnn.us/comments/17235.html




HNN examples of Pipes re Muslims, etc.:


Dec 2 2002 http://hnn.us/articles/1136.html

the nearly universal falsification of jihad on the part of American academic scholars is an issue of far-reaching consequence.

the ultimate intent [of “jihad’] is nothing less than to achieve Muslim dominion over the entire world.



Nov 18 2002 http://hnn.us/articles/1013.html

American academics so often despise their own country while finding excuses for repressive and dangerous regimes...

What is the long-term effect of an extremist, intolerant and anti-American environment on university students?

The time has come for adult supervision of the faculty and administrators at many American campuses. This can be achieved if outsiders (alumni, state legislators, non-university specialists, parents of students and others) take steps to create a politically balanced atmosphere, critique failed scholarship, establish standards for media statements by faculty and broaden the range of campus discourse.


10-28-02: News at Home

Is the Alleged Sniper's Muslim Religion Worth Noting?
http://hnn.us/articles/1067.html

...well-established tradition of American blacks who convert to Islam turning against their country.



8-26-02: Culture Watch http://hnn.us/articles/927.html
America's Three Million Muslims: Who Are They?

a vast number of Muslims, those living in Europe and the Americas no less than those elsewhere, harbor an intense hostility to the West.

Islamists arrive in the United States despising the country and all it represents, intending to make converts, exploit the freedoms and rights granted them, and build a movement that will effect basic changes in the country's way of life and its government.

Whereas the Jewish institutions are conventional ethnic organizations anchored to the mainstream of American political life, the Muslim ones overwhelmingly pursue an Islamist agenda far outside that mainstream.


1-21-02:
http://hnn.us/articles/521.html

If the enemy consists of terrorists "motivated by hate," as President Bush put it, what can one do other than kill them?


12-17-01: http://hnn.us/articles/469.html

[ re Bush “pandering” to Muslims ]

Federal officials may not realize the implications of their scolding of Americans who are apprehensive about Islam, and their noisy espousal of that religion's virtues. Here, then, it is spelled out for them: In adopting a determinedly apologetic stance, they have made themselves an adjunct of the country's Islamic organizations. By dismissing any connection between Islam and terrorism, complaining about media distortions, and claiming that America needs Islam, they have turned the U.S. government into a discreet missionary for the faith.





Caleb - 12/16/2003

I find no prejudice in Mr. Pipes comments, nor have I found them in other comments he has written, even those I disagreed with. He has repeatedly denied any negative feelings towards Muslims and towards Islam. On the contrary, I find it far more prejudiced to deny the existence of militant Islam and thus to assume that adherents of the radical belief system are simply practicing an acceptable interpretation of their scripture.


Frank Lee - 12/16/2003



In the absence of any definition of "militant Islam", I suspect -based on recent history, and on a fair sampling of Mr. Pipes’s 39 articles on HNN- that the "war against militant Islam" which he says he would like to declare (in this interview) means, in practice, something like “a war against any Moslem who is 'against us' rather than 'with us'”. Fortunately, few Americans today, despite Mr. Pipes’s unceasing fearmongering, possess this extreme degree of closed-minded prejudice - which must be near the top of Al Qaeda’s nihilistic dream list for helping to incite an endless global jihad.