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Author Topic: Paris on the front lines
Fenring
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JeSuisse, I think you're making sense. One thing to note is that the most effective way to achieve a brutal solution without sacrificing the civility of the general population is to effectively create a caste system where those who drop the veneer and do the dirty work are kept rather separate from everyone else, where their acts are little spoken of, and where the government does its best to shield the truth of what's happening to the people. This is, in fact, the general strategy of the U.S., although at times it breaks down. A good example of a breakdown of the illusion of national civility was after Vietnam. When the vets came home it became all too clear that their experiences and new sense of life were so far removed from the gentle suburbia they returned to that things went haywire. Many films and TV shows in the 70's centered around the repatriation of a generation of PTSD's people who were turned into killers and then had to somehow find a way back into society. I personally think Rambo is one of the very best showcases of this situation, where there are no winners and losers, only pain.

The quasi-caste system can only function, though, so long as comfort and ignorance allow people to vaguely know their country is defending them but not to know the details. In the internet age we may begin to see a change since people have the capability of being more informed. If they choose to begin informing themselves about unpleasant things then foreign policy will really be called into question for once. Ironically, in the case of ISIS, if what's necessary ultimately is to go in with force then this could actually hurt the psyche of the nation to an extent (as it should when people are being killed).

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JeSuisse
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Funny that you mention Rambo. I just read an article today which got me thinking, and it mentioned Rambo too, but as a kind of irregular hero figure (as opposed to regular troops) using guerilla tactics, not unlike what the US saw themselves up against in Vietnam, and not unlike the IS uses. So, Rambo kind of reenacting the vietnam war but resolving the national trauma by being on the winning side this time. The article (by Herfried Munkler, a known expert on new-style wars in the german sphere) constructs an image of heroic and postheroic societies, the west belonging to the latter and the IS to the former. heroic societies have a belief system which c produce the manpower needed to fight long wars, since it makes people willing to give their lives to the cause, while the postheroic societies lack this kind of determination, fight using air-strikes, drones etc to keep human casualties down on their side, and are easily discouraged from remaining in a conflict by resistance at home (that might tie in to the people in your caste system starting to get informed about the dirty work of the fighting few).

Which got me to think about how there are an awful lot of people seemingly willing to be suicide bombers in the IS (and among terrorists). That is a quality that sets them apart from us. Anyway, it's clear that *these* people are not in it for the spoils - they must be convinced that they're fighting for a worthy cause if they offer up their lives (at least the ones who aren't doing it so their relatives receive large sums of money once they're dead).

I've heard that new recruits in the IS are given a choice - either become a soldier or a suicide bomber. Sometimes their decision is forced upon them, but it seems there are quite a few who become suicide bombers willingly. So there's an alternative to "debauchery in this life and forgiveness in the next" that should be taken into account when thinking about motivation.

I'm not sure yet about this heroic and postheroic distinction in detail, but it seems to identify a real difference between our and their mindsets.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by JeSuisse:
The veneer of civilization that covers the barbarian is thin, that's also something I agree with. But then I don't get the following (by Seriati):
quote:
Ask yourself this, if the Roman Empire in the height of its glory was around today, could it handle the situation with terrorists? I think the answer is yes, and they would have done it with collective punishment and complete brutality. It's easy to believe that terrorism builds a natural recruiting benefit, when the choice a potential recruits has is between joining the terrorists and obtaining power and notoriety and staying home and possibly becoming a statistic but most likely not. If on the other hand, the state gave you no choice and didn't let you sit safely on the side lines ignoring the problem, would most people choose to fight terrorists with the backing of a state, or have the full resources of state after them with only terrorists as their allies?
I absolutely agree that the Romans would deal with terrorism with complete brutality. See how they handled slave revolts, the jews etc. If I understand what Seriati says right before that correctly, the solution to the terrorism problem might be not to ignore it, but to rethink our ethics - we might have to become more like the romans. Is that about right?
No, I should have been clearer. I'm not advocating the solution the Romans would have used, just pointing out that this is not a problem that can't be solved, only one that we have been unwilling to solve. It's a possibility, and we need to confront it, that there may not be a solution that is compatible with our values. If that's the case, we'd have to consider if sticking to our values and "losing" creates an acceptable set of results or not.

If "losing" is not acceptable, and there are no winning actions that are consistent with our ideals, then much with like with Real Politik, we need to decide where we can compromise and choose the lesser of many evils. It's not like we don't have experience with compromised values today, there are no absolute values in US society and we accept limits on speech, the right to bear arms, property rights, and personal liberties all the time, but we don't accept just any justification for such limitations and we still reject many restrictions. We are capable of nuance.
quote:
So if that's so, and the brutality of the Romans is actually easily accessible to us because our civilized behaviour is just skin deep, as Fenring stated, then is that really a wise course to follow?
I didn't take Fenring's position as implying that our civilization is a skin deep veneer universally, only that there are some individuals for whom that is the case. I don't think they could be the majority, or even a large minority, or civilization would never arise.

So while some American soldiers will participate in rape while at war despite our ideals, most American soldiers will never rape anyone even if the opportunity is presented.
quote:
If we strip away the veneer of civilization in order to be able to deal with the (to me, rather small, until they get their hands on nukes) threat the terrorists pose to us, aren't we giving up something really important that took us a long time to achieve?
Maybe, or maybe like with martial law, we're suspending it to deal with a threat. Not without hazard, but not necessarily a one way street.

Wouldn't it boil down to whether it is a small threat or not? What would your position be if I could predict with complete accuracy that a consequence of not acting would be the rise of a global terrorist state that kills millions, and represses billions of people? If the threat was large and not small, and if the culture value you are asserting we should preserve would fail as a result of being conquered?
quote:
That thin veneer may be thin, but isn't it really important to our way of life? If we strip away that veneer, aren't we becoming more like what the IS already is?
Only if you believer there is no moral difference between the two sides in a war. It's a common enough belief to pretend there is no right or wrong in a war, when in fact there may be. I grant to a civilian that is killed, they may not care whose bullet did it, but there is no doubt that for the civilians who live there's a big difference between the potential futures to which they are exposed.
quote:
How would collective punishment, e.g. punishing innocent people for what others have done, be any better than the killing of innocent people in Paris?
Better in what way? I mean that seriously, better against what absolute or relative measure? Trying to evaluate an action without reference to the motivations and end goals doesn't work.
quote:
Wouldn't that mean that the terrorists get exactly what they're after - a world where our societies regress, at least partly, to pre-humanism, e.g. to the middle or dark ages - exactly the state the IS wants to return to, with exactly the outdated sharia laws that we find so abhorent?
I don't think they are after that at all. They are only interested in the world moving into a single form of "dark age" culture. They don't win for instance if the world is plunged into a future of a new Christian tyranny. This is a misstatement of their goals, and it causes people not to be able to evaluate why different "bad" acts are not the same thing Nor to understand why completely different end results would occur and not have been sought. IS is not trying to make us just like them, they have no interest in promoting a future where the US is an active dictator that takes over the world.

For instance, I've maintained for years that if Al Queda had correctly predicted the results of 9/11, it never would have happened. Waking up the sleeping dog and being destroyed was in no way the end result they were seeking. IS on the other hand, if you assume they are religiously motivated, may really believe that creating an end of days war is a worthy goal. They may really believe that they will win, no matter how illogical, as a tenant of faith. If that's the case all they are doing is trying to create a situation where everyone is at war because they illogically believe they will win.

You only have to recast everything they say and do as some illogical recruitment campaign, if you reject the premises they claim to be following. If you insist they are acting as a secular force then you're left grasping for a possible logical end goal for their actions that may not even exist. While I don't doubt there are some cynics involved, there's no way that the widely dispersed motivational methods they are using are inspiring anything other than religious commitment.
quote:
So what would be the point in establishing a ruthless state, if it led to us becoming more tolerant of the methods we actually wanted to eradicate?
Well for one, you'd be able to preserve more of the good if you are making rationale choices about the changes that need to make, than if you just let yourself be conquered and be forced into the other guy's ideals.

You can already see this playing out in the changes that are being looked at in connection with how we are conducting air strikes and the rules of engagement. Our "perfect" ideological restrictions, are being challenged as ineffective by our own command structure and by exposure to more effective French and Russian strikes. Much the same as the lessons we "learned" in Vietnam (but that apparently a Democratic President chose to ignore) about fighting with your hands tied behind your back.

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Pete at Home
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Romans ruled through terrorism, from the crucifixion the to the Games. You never went a week in Rome without witnessing the state power to humiliate and kill. Naked moaning bodies nailed to crosses in the public road, to ask how they would have handled ISIS is the wrong question. Rome *was* ISIS, as far as terrorism goes.
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Pete at Home
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Think about it. The Taliban executed people DURING THE BREAK AT SOCCER GAMES. C'mon folks, doesn't that ring any bells?
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kmbboots
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Pete, for heaven's sake. Ancient Roman civilization lasted for some 1200 years and, at its height, claimed 20% of the world's population. Could you narrow it down? And who the heck wasn't brutal?
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Fenring
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Pete, the analogy was as America is to ISIS, Rome was to various barbarians. The methodology of each group wasn't relevant to the analogy, just that of a powerful expansive civilization being threatened by marauding hoards.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Pete, for heaven's sake. Ancient Roman civilization lasted for some 1200 years and, at its height, claimed 20% of the world's population. Could you narrow it down? And who the heck wasn't brutal?

I did narrow it down to the period of public crucifixion and circuses, Kate. That's a much narrower period than your 1200 year period. More specifically I mean the time beginning when Rome subjugated the Etruscans, and ending when the Christians ended Rome's principal terroristic apparatus (the circus, crucifixion, and the sexual terrorism within the legions).

Yes other nations including Christians were brutal, but Rome's systematized and continual SPECTACLE of terror was what made it singularly able to endure. Christian Rome quickly dropped from one million pop to 40 thousand, without the classic terror is tick tools. Once Tenochtitlan had a pop over 100k during the time of the Christianized Rome, and the Aztecs had their own systems of statements state terrorism.

Classic Rome (post Etruscan pre-Christian) and the Aztecs and ISIS all share this trait: a cultural focus on ritualized ceremonial killing in a manner that maximized the number of observers and combines aspects of sport, human sacrifice, and dramatic ritual.

See where I am going now, Fenring? ISIS has succeeded where Christendom and the Nazis failed i.e. at using new technologies and political systems to recreate what Hitler enviously called the thousand year Reich. Utube executions leave the old Colluseum in the dust. Unless the world comes together even more solidly than they did against Nazism, Europe central Asia and Africa are doomed.

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Pete at Home
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My point is that when you buy into the terrorism v state false dichotomy, and accept Tom's wishful thinking that ISIS is not a state, you set up ISIS for victory. Know your enemy. Yes these are dumb thugs but they follow a tried and true formula, have added some innovations that make the old formula even more virulent, and finally have stumbled on a perfect safe haven where their disease can take root.
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TomDavidson
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I'm curious: by what standard can ISIS be considered a state?
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JeSuisse
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@seriati,

Thanks for clarifying for me. Stated this way, it makes much more sense to me.

It's funny, though, that you insist on there being more than black and white (which I like about your post - the idea that there are degrees in between, that we don't necessarily have to go all the way in one direction and lose ourselves), but then ask me how I would react if I knew that ISIS turned out to be the greatest threat ever imagined, instead of the fairly small one I believe it is (to us). My answer is that I simply don't know. But I don't need to assume the worst and preemtively lose all decency just to counter a perceived threat that's clearly unlikely in the dimension you stated. I can still deal with that a little further down the road when it becomes clear that ISIS actually is far more dangerous than I thought, can't I? It's a matter of degrees again. I don't have to fight ISIS with their own brutality right now. That's still an option later on, when nothing else works.

Pete assumes (?) that ISIS might turn into a very stable long-term horror. Okay, that's one possible future, but I think that's a viewpoint mostly based on fear, not fact, much of the fear probably being driven by the idea that the old artificial borders will turn out to be less stable than new ones that unite a large number of Sunnis. But I think that's too simple. I don't think it's just a question of uniting Sunnis. For example, they won't have unlimited access to money forever; once they've exhausted the valuables they find in the territory they control (easy money in banks, valuables in confiscated homes etc) and once they lose (either by western air-strikes or over-use) the oil fields, they'll be hard-pressed for outside financing (which can then be halted), since I'm betting they won't manage to build a flourishing economy themselves the way they're going. Every intelligent person who has enough money to flee is leaving. The people who are joining the fighting arm of ISIS mostly don't have anything to contribute economically, they just want to rule and destroy, but they don't know how to build. So future economic success is highly doubtful. ISIS would have to attract the non-fundamentalist muslims to their cause in order to achieve that, and currently that doesn't seem to be happening. In fact, large numbers of Sunnis joined ISIS because they saw them as protection against the (deadly) persecution by Shia in Iraq, not because they believed in ISIS goals of reestablishing a barbarian ultra-conservative religous tyranny. I think that makes a big difference, because it means that support for ISIS can drain away, either by stopping the persecution of the Sunnis in Iraq (okay, difficult), by time showing that economically, ISIS doesn't stand up, or by the Sunnis who joined them out of fear realizing that they don't intend to be ruled by barbarians forever. So my guess is that ISIS will either fall apart, or it will have to radically change and become much more moderate if it is to survive in the longer term on its current territory. What I think extremely unlikely is them turning into a stable fundamentalist "empire" that expands to even close the historical borders of the original arab conquest.

That's not to say I would't welcome military action against ISIS (both because it will probably shorten the time to their demise and because it will free lots of people from rule by insane barbarians). But I wouldn't do it primarily because I was afraid of terrorists in my country. I'll start fearing terrorists once they have weapons of mass destruction, or once they actually manage to make us lose our values. Until then, the threat the IS poses to Europe and to the US is, in my opinion, mostly imagined. As I said (I think) before, we're losing many more people to traffic accidents than to terrorist attacks. Look at it this way: Sometimes we lose an airplane. It's a tragedy, but it doesn't really hurt our societies.

Oh, and to Rome being ISIS in respect to terrorism: Okay, but Rome also codified law we still use as the basis of our laws, they were incredible architects, and for hundreds of years they moved war to their borders, creating stability and peace in the territory they controlled, thus enabling a fair percentage of the world's population - roman citizens (who weren't terrorized) and, up to a degree, a fair number of their slaves - to be lifted out of abject poverty and constant violation by the strongest thug in the neighborhood. Their empire collapsed in part because too many people living on the outside wanted to have what they had. That's not that bad a track record, if you think about it, and not at all what I think of when I see how ISIS is doing. Right now, I can't think of a single positive thing to say about ISIS.

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JeSuisse
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quote:
If you insist they are acting as a secular force then you're left grasping for a possible logical end goal for their actions that may not even exist.
Oh. I never meant to say they are a secular force. I don't dispute that they have in mind a world that is shaped by their religious beliefs.
But I suspect that for many of them, these religious beliefs serve mostly as a justification of what they want to do, and if they didn't have that justification conveniently available, they might just pick another one. The strongest argument *against* this view is probably that there are many suicide bombers willing to die for their beliefs, so clearly the "justification theory" can't fit every member of ISIS. But I think it fits a large percentage of them, and they don't mind the others who truly want nothing else but realize their mythical religious paradise on earth, since they get what they want out of it. So they willingly go along.

As to the "recruitment theory": Look at what I've written in the previous post. If they can get us to react in a way that makes them seem the good guys that protect fellow muslims against the evil west, then they might stand a chance of gaining enough support to create a viable state. If they don't get enough support, especially by normal people who actually know how to do an honest days work and create value, it will crumble. Of course, if they overdo it and they are destroyed by the evil west, they fail. But they're basically insane, so hedging their bets might not be their strong point.

Also, it's not either or: They also gain if they weaken us by making us more afraid of minorities living among us, if they make our governments seem weak and powerless; they also gain if they get us to pull back from Syria.

quote:
For instance, I've maintained for years that if Al Queda had correctly predicted the results of 9/11, it never would have happened. Waking up the sleeping dog and being destroyed was in no way the end result they were seeking.
I'm not so sure. I mean, of course they didn't want to be destroyed, but then again, they really aren't, are they? At the very least, much of the goals Al Quaida groups had are shared by ex-junior partner ISIS. Look at the region before 9/11: Fairly stable in Syria under Assad, who cares more about personal power than a fundamentalist caliphate. Fairly stable in Iraq under Hussein, who cares more about personal power than a fundamentalist caliphate. I'm not saying a good stable, just stable and predictable. Assad is killing lots of people, he's letting terrorists be trained in the hinterland, and Hussein is killing lots of people now and then, but the west is used to that and frankly it doesn't much concern itself with ending it because nobody sees it as a big enough problem for themselves.

Then comes 9/11, and Bush starts thinking (I hope he thought that, anyway - otherwise he'd just have flat-out lied) that Hussein has WMDs and so suddenly it is a big enough problem. So, off the troops go and the next few years they try to pacify Iraq.

I'm NOT saying it's all Bush's fault. In fact for a while it looked to me like the surge in troops might work. And it was the pulling out of the troops, the power vaccuum and the non-governing, or rather the not caring about the sunnis by the Iraqi government in the aftermath of the troop withdrawal that created opportunities for ISIS. (And we couldn't have predicted the syrian civil war, and that the west would deliver weapons to the syrian rebels that would end up in the hands of ISIS, could we?)

But look at the region now: Chaos in Iraq, chaos in Syria, an emerging islamic state that wants to reestablish the caliphate (well, did, I guess), and the western world very concerned and feeling threatened. I'm not so sure that Al Quaida wouldn't like what they saw.

[ November 21, 2015, 03:10 PM: Message edited by: JeSuisse ]

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Pete at Home
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"
Oh, and to Rome being ISIS in respect to terrorism: Okay, but Rome also codified law we still use as the basis of our laws"

True but irrelevant to the issue of terrorism. Rome was usually quick to set aside its most basic civil rights in a crisis. Even Cicero (one of my heroes) ended up voting for a measure for summary execution of criminals in one crisis where judiciary had been found corrupt. Later that very same law was used as precedent by Anthony and Augustus to have Cicero murdered.

I certainly did not mean to say that ISIS brings as much to the table culturally as Rome. I am saying that our fundamental failure to grasp what terrorism is and how it works is going to turn ISIS into a thousand year Reich unless the west pulls it's collective head out of its ads re terrorism.

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Pete at Home
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Going into Iraq was a bad idea in the first place w senior. Americans were stupid to harp on senior that he should have "finished the job". In fact he did finish the job he set out to accomplish. Going into Iraq again was stupid EVEN IF SADDAM had had wmds.

The dumbest thing anyone did in the whole affair was stopping Saddam from taking Arabia.

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Pete at Home
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I agree that a different theory is necessary to fit most suicide bombers. I think whatever genetic and other dysfunctions made the columbine killers get a religious overlay. Hell, even the columbine killers made up their own quasi religion based on the Matrix to justify their crap. I think militant Islamism awakens dormant Klebolds that might have otherwise suppressed their dark fantasy of going out with a blaze of glory.

My guess is that we will also find a disproportionate number of closet and latent homosexuals among suicide bombers. At least these are clearly targeted by the Hamas and other propaganda that pleasures that are forbidden on earth will be available in paradise. Some even promise boys along with the houri virgins ...

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JeSuisse
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Pete, regarding Rome: Ok, now I get it. What I meant to say was that to form a thousand-year-reich, you need to bring more to the table than terror, and currently I don't see it happening with ISIS. Look at how quickly Stalin's regime of terror fell apart once he was dead. The analogy is far from perfect; Stalin certainly wasn't motivated by religion, but still, I think is a good example of how reign by terror has it's dangers, too, and if you want to stay in power, you need to deal it out carefully and not overdo it and also have a pretty huge carrot at hand, not just the stick.

Maybe we need a whole lot of different theories when it comes to motives. I've read various interviews with ISIS-members who fled, and none give the same explanation of why they joined. The one constant seems to be the reason they fled. They all say they've become disillusioned. They all seem to think the ISIS can't hold up to what it promises on the outside; many of them say they get fed up with the brutality (ok, that might just be self-protection) and the how the leadership is not acting according to the religious beliefs it professes to have. Unfortunately most of my sources are german; if I come across anything in English I'll post a link.

Not so sure about the closet homosexuals. I've read about a connection between the abuse of boys and how strongly the sexes are segregated in a society. E.g., the more difficult it is to have contact with females outside of marriage, the more men turn to boys, who are available. This might be one reason why ISIS allows men to keep slaves for sex, because from all I've read, it seems both the muslim world in general and ISIS in particular is really homophobic in public (has to, as far as I understand, because it isn't compatible with what most islamic scholars teach, for the same reason it's frowned upon in christian circles). Is Hamas propaganda really actively promising homosexual wish fulfillment in heaven?

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JeSuisse
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Oh. Just found out same-sex relations are legal in the West Bank. So that would explain Hamas' stance on it, I guess. Didn't know that.
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Pete at Home
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Hamas controls Gaza. The PLO controls the West Bank.
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Pete at Home
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Yes, they have weaponized their homophobia. Remember that young mother they charged with adultery and let her do a suicide mall bomb rather than face humiliation and public execution? The rhetoric about forbidden pleasures in paradise suggests they are targeting folks that would otherwise be under sentence of death. A la dirty dozen
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JeSuisse
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That's interesting. I haven't looked at it from that perspective, and I can see how that might work for some of those who can't or won't move. Then again, if *I* was homosexual in ISIS territory, I'd join all the others who flee to Europe, where it's okay, instead of volunteering to blow myself up...

Also, how does that work for those who "weaponzie" forbidden pleasures? I mean, if they are the religious zealots they appear to be, then how can they say it's gonna be okay in paradise, when they believe it clearly isn't? How do they legitimize their own behaviour to themselves? Isn't such behaviour further proof that these people really aren't motivated mainly by heart-felt religious beliefs? What you're basically saying is that they're cold-heartedly manipulating people's religious beliefs to further their own agendas while exempting themselves from having to follow the rules laid down by their religion.

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AI Wessex
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In war people always act against their principles, else why would "good" people (aka soldiers) on either side kill their counterparts on the other side? ISIS is waging a war against the entire world to establish an Islamic caliphate. Sacrificing the lives and ultimate salvation of some of their members is a form of collateral damage that advances the larger cause. Creating chaos and fear among the infidel is both a recruiting tool and an aspect of the slow dismantling of the civilizations they have to destroy to achieve their final goal.

There's no question but that this will be a very slow process for them, but they are willing to move at a seemingly glacial speed with the belief that they are making progress. In a sense they've been at it for 1500 years already, so a couple of centuries more is acceptable.

I see only two prospects to defeat this kind of extremism. The first is to deny them their "soldiers" by reinforcing a steadying hand of moderation, acceptance and tolerance within Muslim societies. The other is to chop off the heads of those who lead, recruit or fight for their cause. Either of those would be a long term solution, and neither can succeed without the other.

As to how to "chop off their heads", the countries that house and protect ISIS have to take on that responsibility themselves. We can only support and advise them.

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Fenring
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Al, why should it be assumed that "good" people have it as their principle never to kill? Maybe you're thinking of wars of aggression? In a defensive or protective war against a foreign aggressor I think very few "good" people will be abridging their principles in such a conflict, which isn't the same thing as saying that they may become scarred as a result of killing others.
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AI Wessex
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Can you name a side in any war during your lifetime where the people who fought and killed for them did not consider themselves "good"?
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Fenring
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Propaganda is one thing, and an objective sense of good is another. Of course one side will always try to make themselves feel good about what they're doing, but only an absolute relativist would argue that in each case this is equally valid.
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Pete at Home
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LS, not cold-heartedly, because the religion has been constructed to require such conduct. And because they really would gladly die for what they call Islam.

What they cannot abide is mockery, because it strikes at the weakness of their "faith". Laughter shamed their ludicrous world view to their foundations.

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AI Wessex
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quote:
...why should it be assumed that "good" people have it as their principle never to kill?
If everyone really was good, we wouldn't be asking that question. That's why I put the word in quotes. Humans fight wars with each other to expand or protect territory, resources or survival. We like to think that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were dwellers in their own Edens, but they were just as bellicose as our civilized societies are.

McNamara said:
quote:
I don't fault Truman for dropping the nuclear bomb. The U.S.—Japanese War was one of the most brutal wars in all of human history ? kamikaze pilots, suicide, unbelievable. What one can criticize is that the human race prior to that time ? and today ? has not really grappled with what are, I'll call it, "the rules of war." Was there a rule then that said you shouldn't bomb, shouldn't kill, shouldn't burn to death 100,000 civilians in one night?

LeMay said, "If we'd lost the war, we'd all have been prosecuted as war criminals." And I think he's right. He, and I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?

But, hey, we're the good guys!

A war of aggression can be seen as a defensive strategy if it heads off an existential threat as much as a war fought against aggressors. All sides in any conflict engage in propaganda to define the conflict to justify their actions. None of this seems controversial to me; not sure why it does to you.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
In war people always act against their principles, else why would "good" people (aka soldiers) on either side kill their counterparts on the other side? ISIS is waging a war against the entire world to establish an Islamic caliphate. Sacrificing the lives and ultimate salvation of some of their members is a form of collateral damage that advances the larger cause. Creating chaos and fear among the infidel is both a recruiting tool and an aspect of the slow dismantling of the civilizations they have to destroy to achieve their final goal.

There's no question but that this will be a very slow process for them, but they are willing to move at a seemingly glacial speed with the belief that they are making progress. In a sense they've been at it for 1500 years already, so a couple of centuries more is acceptable.

I see only two prospects to defeat this kind of extremism. The first is to deny them their "soldiers" by reinforcing a steadying hand of moderation, acceptance and tolerance within Muslim societies. The other is to chop off the heads of those who lead, recruit or fight for their cause. Either of those would be a long term solution, and neither can succeed without the other.

As to how to "chop off their heads", the countries that house and protect ISIS have to take on that responsibility themselves. We can only support and advise them.

Iceland, Granada, Ireland ... Maybe Swizerland and possiblyEngland won't be a part of a Caliphate 100 years from now. Orwell fans can call it Eurasia, although it will extend into much of Africa.

With the Americas subjugated by a loose inter fighting confederacy of cartel families, the PRC will take up EastAsia, and ironically may become one of the better places to live.

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Fenring
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Al, you either believe in the concept of a "just war" or you don't. I don't know that such a doctrine is entirely internally consistent, but I'm not sure why you write off the possibility of this view among 'good' people. Maybe you think they're fooling themselves and that in the real world there's no law except kill before you're killed. But if you believe this then you eliminate any concept of morality and the story becomes about playing to win and making yourself feel maximally good about it. Is this your position?
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Pete at Home
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I prefer the term justifiable was, as opposed to a war of aggression, as identified by Chief Justice Jackson in the Nuremberg Tribunal.
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Pete at Home
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The Catholic concept of a Just War is uncomfortably close to what Mohammed describes as a "Holy War" which is not only allowed but morally required.

I think that one should try to distinguish morality from practicality. At least in a defense maneuver. I think we should not morally condemn the Poles' cavalry charge against Nazi tanks. Otoh, I find Picket's charge morally reprehensible as well as foolish.

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NobleHunter
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quote:
the Poles' cavalry charge against Nazi tanks.
I expect you'll be pleased to know that's a myth. I don't feel like looking it up right now but I think the Poles actually used mounted infantry which was effective in harrassing the armour. The "charging tanks" line was just petty revenge.
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AI Wessex
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I'm not disagreeing entirely with anybody here. I especially like Pete's formulation of the justifiable war as a pragmatic solution rather than a just war as a moral one. Let the McNamara quote sink in before coming back at me, this part especially:
quote:
LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?
Winners always justify their cause as both necessary and moral. Losers don't usually get the chance to offer the same defense. Clemenceau said that war is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory. Except when the result is a defeat.
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NobleHunter
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From a utilitarian point of view, an atrocity that leads to victory may be redeemed by the consequences of victory.
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AI Wessex
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Can you think of a way to look at ISIS' atrocities in that light?
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D.W.
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If you start from either a Caliphate being the ideal (or at least significantly improved over your current situation) I think it's pretty easy to see it in that light.

That doesn't even get into the rewards in the afterlife for death in the pursuit of creating it. Writing off mortal existence as a crap roll of the dice and placing all your chips on what comes next is very seductive for rationalizing things.

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Pete at Home
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I do think that ISIS exemplifies some core problems in the Koran itself in ways that have no analogy in the worst Crusaders relationship to the Bible. However, these textual core differences do not I'm account for most of ISIS' atrocities, which are simply part of the totalitarian mindset. (See again Vonnegut, mother Night, search for "totalitarian mind" and "cuckoo clock in hell" on Google and the key passage should pop up)

Imo out human tendency to gather and form communities is largely affected by primate pack genes. This explains the phenomenon we call Stockholm Syndrome, and also the tendency of abuse victims to defend our abusers. Jesus might be alluding to the Bette side of this year when he asks how we could love a master we have not served. ... Does my line of theory interest anyone? Don't want to spend time developing this otherwise.

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Pete at Home
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To sum up, LeSuisse, I think that hypocrisy and systematic betraying of charter ideals is not particularly Muslim, nor limited to ISIS nor even to religious organizations. Even political correct atheistic flower children, when organized, can engage in the same sort of blood curdling hypocrisy. Have you heard of the Symbionese Liberation Army? Bunch of white liberals and a token black dude they literally recruited for purposes of diversity ... actually quoted and reinterpreted THE GENEVA CONVENTION on treatment of prisoners of war to Patty Hearst when they explained that her POW work under Geneva terms was to sexually service the servicemen. And they were sensitive enough to have a female explain this to her before the serial rapes began.

Anyway, I think this sort of crap is encoded into our genes and that there is no cure. The only way we stay safe and sane is separation of powers, pluralism, transparency, and avoidance of structures where individuals within a group cannot go outside a group for remedy of injustices. This is why I oppose having marriages with religious arbitration clauses, and allowing communities to bind residents to internal arbitration, etc. The whole point of living in a country is to secure individual rights.

So 'au fond" (je said pas comment on dit ca en anglais) the hypocrisy and hellish clockwork of the totalitarian mind is a human problem, but it seems to run in plagues through different communities during different times in history.

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Fenring
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Pete, if it's built into our DNA to do this crap, doesn't that make it all the more relevant to construct prescriptive documents that go against this tendency? If so, it is entirely relevant to point out literature that actively enforces the human bias towards atrocity rather than curbs it.
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D.W.
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So you would rewrite our DNA by creating clear rules that people will only follow when secure and content with their lot in life?

Security, resources, comforts all sooth the beast lying just under our skins. We spend an awful lot of time trying to find ways to trick the beast into staying dormant when deprived of security, resources and comfort. We lie to ourselves constantly that WE are not like these others even if we found ourselves in their situation.

You can pay attention to what our DNA is telling us instead of trying to "fix the impulses". Instead we focus on the outsiders as different from us and incompatible with our lifestyle.

The more desparate your situation the more (I think but haven't researched...) people cling to religion; and the more they are willing to take actions others with security, resources and comfort would never consider.

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NobleHunter
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quote:
So you would rewrite our DNA
Go-go gadget trans-humanism.
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