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July 12, 2005

Comments

Neel Krishnaswami

"The mujahidin believe that Kashmir is "occupied" by India even though the Muslim presence there is the legacy of Muslim armies invading Central and South Asia rather than the other way around."

What follows "even though" doesn't make any sense. Practically, anyone who was born in a place and lived there their whole life is a native. The history before that is basically irrelevant; history is only ever used to rationalize vengeance undertaken to strike against present grievances.

The Muslims and Hindus in the Kashmir aren't killing each other because of somebody killing somebody else's great-to-nth-grandparent's aristo overlords; they're killing each other because a) the Pakistani government can't win a war so they'll settle for sponsoring terrorism, and b) the Indian government can't win an election so they'll settle for a police state.

jeet

"What follows "even though" doesn't make any sense. Practically, anyone who was born in a place and lived there their whole life is a native. The history before that is basically irrelevant; history is only ever used to rationalize vengeance undertaken to strike against present grievances."

Is the only difference between a Palestinian and a Parsi the number of generations that have passed since they were kicked out of their ancestral lands?

dsquared

>>Is the only difference between a Palestinian and a Parsi the number of generations that have passed since they were kicked out of their ancestral lands?<<

Basically yes. The United States of America is founded on the principle might + time = right and so are most outher countries.

hercules

"Aside from that, while Tamil Hinduism may not be the cause of the LTTE's especially bloody and ruthless style, it certainly may enable it. Shaiva is the dominant religion, and that was the basis for the Thagi cult in the 19th cnetury."

Not completely true. I'm sure you're aware that the struggle in Sri Lanka is an ethnic one. Anyway, here's a list of Christians who belong to the top rung of the LTTE (off the top of my head) :

Anton Balasingham (LTTE's ideologue and chief negotiator)

Bishop Rayappu Joseph who promotes LTTE's agenda in the West, especially London.

Hell, I'm sure there are more.

From LTTE's site itself :

http://www.tamiltigers.net/faq/faq.html

"Is the LTTE a religious organization?

No. Most members of the LTTE are Hindus however there are many members who are Christian. The LTTE does not have religious motivation for fighting against the government of Sri Lanka. The theoretician for the LTTE and one of the founding members is Anton Balasingham, who is a Christian."

PS: A large chunk of Indians are Shaivites, especially in Southern India. I don't see them blowing up shit at all, nor see the LTTE justifying their suicide bombings through Hinduism. Hinduism here is only incidental, IMO.

hercules

"The Muslims and Hindus in the Kashmir aren't killing each other because .... "

Err, the Muslims from across the border don't kill only Hindus. They kill Muslims(typically those accused of being government of India informers) as well as Hindus.

And it's not Hindus who kill Muslims, it's typically the Indian army (10% Sikh) that kills Muslim infiltrators/terrorists, while rounding up suspected
terrorist supporters (those that provide accomodation, weapons, etc. to terrorists).

Abiola

"But then the 2003 attacks sort of support Pape's thesis: the attacks were on "Western" buildings, i.e. HSBC bank and the British consulate. That is, they didn't target "Turkey" in the same way that attacking the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacked the US or that bombing the Tube attacked Britain; the specific nature of the targets suggests the attacks were symbolically aimed at Britain."

Huh? This is a classic case of tacking on ad-hoc auxiliary hypotheses to save a favored thesis. Please spare me the pilpul; the fact remains that the attacks were carried out on Muslim soil by Muslims, and most of their victims were also Muslims.

Andrew

"This is a classic case of tacking on ad-hoc auxiliary hypotheses to save a favored thesis"

But it's actually a major part of Pape's argument, see eg http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/09/opinion/09pape.html (he uses a chart listing several attacks in Muslim countries to *support* his case by saying that al-Qaeda targets both Westerners and "collaborators"). However, you are right that these attacks in Muslim countries don't support his thesis very well, because an attack on British symbols in Istanbul can't be expected to generate a lot of public opinion pressure on the British government to withdraw troops from Iraq. [Unless Turkey is one of the countries that bin Laden accuses of supporting the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, i.e. one of the "allied" countries that he wants to peel of the American coalition.]

I should add that I'm not really convinced by Pape's thesis either; explanations of Islamist suicide terrorism have to be sought in Islamist ideology, which has much broader goals than the withdrawal of Western troops in the Middle East. Which is why I'm wondering if you are saying just that extremist Islamism is at the root of suicide terrorism by Muslims, or a broader argument that there's something inherently wrong with Islam per se and not the particular historical path that the Middle East has traveled that makes it particularly prone to spinning off the kind of political violence of Islamism; and if the latter, what it is about Islam that makes it so.

Abiola

Seeing as Islamist violence is something I knew about at close quarters in Nigeria long before it ever touched the continental United States, and seeing as it isn't confined to the Middle East, but affects Africa and all of Asia right up to Thailand, I fail to see how one can subscribe to the notion that the problem is confined to a new, radical interpretation springing from a particular region of the world. Nigerian Sufist Islamic leaders were talking about "dipping the Koran in the sea"* before Osama bin Laden was born, and the Sokoto Jihad of the late 19th and early 20th century didn't need American provocation or Saudi funding to set it off. Islamic extremism is nothing new, and it has a long tradition going back right to the Mahdist uprising in 19th century Sudan and beyond,
http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/islam/blfaq_islam_mahdi.htm

so all that b.s. about "peaceful" Islam simply isn't worth taking seriously: people forget that Christianity itself only became "peaceful" once it was defanged by the secular enlightenment, an enlightenment the entire Muslim world has yet to experience.

*Extending their program of forcible Islamization which was interrupted by Frederick Lugard to all of the southern part of the country.

gene berman

dsquared:

"might + time = right" is a bit cynical, though not entirely poff the mark.

The wide recognition of the formula is on account of practical consideration on the part of all (or at least most) that any other path leads to incessant warfare, instability, and waste of resources. In a certain sense, an analogous situation exists with respect to forms of government and political leadership. The superiority (or at least widespread appeal) of democracy consists not in any intellectual or moral superiority characteristic of majorities, but rather in the elimination of incentive to seize power by violent means with its attendant negative effects on the safety of persons and property.

Peace, stability, the rule of law, and steadily-increasing economic prosperity are not elements of some cosmic social justice but the accompaniments of what those of the left used to deride as "bourgoise" morality (and probably still do when there's a chance they won't be laughed at).

Frank McGahon

Another way of looking at "might + time = right" is to consider Keyne's dictum. In the long run we are all dead. Once that "time" exceeds a few generations the "wrong" becomes of historic/ideological interest only. There is a huge difference, morally, between being a person who conquered another territory and merely being descended from that person. Any immorality associated with perpetuating the subjugation of "natives" relates to the subjugation itself and not the indigenous status of the "natives" per se.

Abiola

"Once that "time" exceeds a few generations the "wrong" becomes of historic/ideological interest only."

... unless you're a religious fanatic still hung up on "The tragedy of al-Andalus."

Andrew

"Once that "time" exceeds a few generations the "wrong" becomes of historic/ideological interest only. There is a huge difference, morally, between being a person who conquered another territory and merely being descended from that person."

Yes, I think that's right. Another example: both Arabs and Jews could be seen as "invading conquerors" of Palestine: the Hebrews in Biblical times, the Arabs in 700 AD, and the Jews returning in the Zionist movement. All this debate about whose homeland it "really" is just seems unhelpful to me.

jeet

"The United States of America is founded on the principle might + time = right and so are most outher countries."

So why single out the United States?

Given the ambitions of the mujahidin, it's high time someone wrote a "People's History of Islam"?

eoin

Al Queda has 2 distinct aims:

Firstly the removal of crusaders from Islamic lands ( pre-eminently the Arabian peninsula). That means what it says - not just the American army but Christians. I am unclear on the position of crusaders in North Africa ( where they are indigenous). The second is the reconstruction of the Caliphate which will include Spain and Israel. It is unclear whether Jews and Christians will be treated well - or even allowed to exist - in this Caliphate, or not. Dhimmitude would be the best they could hope for.

A long term aim of all Islamic believers is the transformation of all countries to Islamic societies. That is a genuine political aim - though I would strongly oppose it - but is not necessarily Al Queda's short term objective. We are not getting bombed for that.

Even the most stringent Al Queda apologist must admit that even these reduced aims are not negotiable, even if we oppose the war in Iraq, let's keep Spain.

gene berman

Frank:

"In the long run we are all dead" is certainly a "dictum" of Keynes (that is--something he said) but it falls completely flat as an example of wisdom and even as a witticism (which, in a charitable view of the man, is how i believe he intended it); it is the last resort of the (lame) excuse-maker.

All of us must adjust our behavior, must choose between mutually exclusive satisfactions, i.e. seek "the greater good." Those serving as "intellectual leaders" are expected to do an even better job of analyzing and recommending from among alternatives than might ordinary (or ordinary, politically-motivated) individuals. Keyenes did nothing of the sort; rather, he simply provided demagogues with educated arguments for doing what they already wanted to do. Insofar as is concerned any knowledge of economics, it might be said that "in the long run, we're all dead" pretty much summed up the extent of his understanding.

Frank McGahon

Gene, I didn't mean to endorse the implicit rejection of long-term thinking in Keyne's statement, I merely borrowed a well known statement to illustrate a truism. The best way of cutting off a quasi-infinite regress about who are the "real" natives -and this is an issue I'm intimately familiar with in Ireland where it is widely and casually assumed that people whose forebears have been on this island since before the establishment of the US are in some way "planters" - is to rule out, a priori, any historical claim greater than a couple of generations. That way, you (sensibly) restrict consideration to the interests of those who are alive and forget all about the "interests" of people long dead.

Jim

"PS: A large chunk of Indians are Shaivites, especially in Southern India. I don't see them blowing up shit at all,"

Rajiv Gandhi got scattered pretty thoroghly. That was an LTTE operation.

Of course LTTE is an ethnic organization, but that doesn't take religion out of the equation; after all, religion is one of the main markers of ethnicity in the owrld, the same as other cultural charcteristics. And cetain religions give more license to violence and to Manichean worldviews than others do.

Jim

"So why single out the United States?"

He didn't single us out, he said this was true of most countries. It is true of most countries. It is true of most "Native American" nations and their claims to their lands. It is certainly true of the German occupation of Britian, now in its, what, 16th century. His point may really have been that possession is nine tenths of the law and "I had it first" dosn't apply anywhere outside of kindergarten

Andrew

"It is certainly true of the German occupation of Britian, now in its, what, 16th century"

Don't forget the Celtic occupation of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, now in its 33rd century!

Jim

"Don't forget the Celtic occupation of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, now in its 33rd century!"

Right, but now the fashionable contrarina position is 1) those languages all eveloved in situ and2) it doesn't matter anyway; it's all the same populations anyway, just language shift. BS. We have a brain dead bitchfight going on here about who gets ot deicide what happens to the bones of Kennewick Man, dead for 9,000 years. BS.

This bickering over who was where first - maybe it's just as well that Americans have no interest in history (as anyone who knows nothing about Americans is eager to tell you.)

Delmore Macnamara

"The best way of cutting off a quasi-infinite regress about who are the "real" natives -and this is an issue I'm intimately familiar with in Ireland where it is widely and casually assumed that people whose forebears have been on this island since before the establishment of the US are in some way "planters" - is to rule out, a priori, any historical claim greater than a couple of generations. That way, you (sensibly) restrict consideration to the interests of those who are alive and forget all about the "interests" of people long dead.".

This is certainly my default view too.

However if a truly psycopathic racialist expansionist knows that this is the received view, doesn't that give him a strong motivation to commit total genocide, on the grounds that after two or three generations the claim of those displaced and eliminated "expires".

Abiola Lapite

Yes, I seem to recall a certain Austrian fellow explicitly saying as much ...

Delmore Macnamara

Abiola, precisely altho' I am reluctant to mention his name in comments for fear of the Godwin police ...

dsquared

[people forget that Christianity itself only became "peaceful" once it was defanged by the secular enlightenment]

Christianity became peaceful a long time after the Enlightenment, after it had got hold of enough of other people's stuff to reach the point where peace was, on balance, in its interests. Christians were happily slaughtering heathens throughout the 19th century.

I singled out the USA because it's got the second smallest gap in time between the genocide that established it and today, and more people have heard of it than Australia.

At present, the Muslims are the bunch who have most to gain by fighting a global war, so they're an ideology of violence. If they win, then they will discover all the peace-loving bits in the Koran again. There's nothing intrinsic to it.

The most sensible religion are the Buddhists who had the good sense to carry out their genocide of a pre-literate culture (the "hill tribes of Southeast Asia", formerly known as the "fertile farmland tribes of China") and to do it a long time ago.

Abiola Lapite

"At present, the Muslims are the bunch who have most to gain by fighting a global war, so they're an ideology of violence. If they win, then they will discover all the peace-loving bits in the Koran again."

And yet hardly anybody is slaughtering others in the name of Christianity in Africa or South Asia: in the name of ethnicity, sure, even political ideology, but not in the name of Jesus Christ, and this despite African and South Asian Christians hardly being in the "winners" category in any regard. You can say Jesus was a homosexual in Lagos or Jos without being lynched - you'll get lots of dirty stares, but no one will touch you - yet just you try saying in Kano that Mohammed *might* have wanted to take a beauty contestant as an additional wife, and watch what happens ...

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