Gingrich on Cultural Relativism

""I’m so worried about the fact the marjaiyah [top Shiite clergy] is given so much power," said Hatem Mukhlis, a secular Sunni Arab politician. "The Americans should be really aware of what’s happening. It’s giving a lot of power to Sistani that he shouldn’t have."

A cleric close to Sistani acknowledged that the statement did signal a new role for the Shiite clergy, that of "monitoring" the performance of the next government and weighing in, perhaps more frequently, on broad policy issues.

"The marjaiyah intends to interfere in some issues," Sheik Abu Mohammed Baghdadi, a Najaf cleric, said in an interview. "This monitoring and direct interference is an essential matter that has never before been proposed by the clergy. The marjaiyah, through this act, is expressing the voice of the people."

Sistani’s statement followed a meeting with Prime Minister-designate Nouri Maliki, a conservative Shiite leader. Maliki came to Najaf to solicit Sistani’s views in the midst of efforts to form a government, reinforcing a growing relationship between Shiite politicians in Baghdad and their religious counterparts in Najaf."  LA Times


Are we nuts, or what?  We invaded Iraq to free it from a fascistic but secular dictatorship and now we are sponsoring the creation of a medieval theocracy?  I thought we were supposed to stand for something in the world and that one of those things was freedom OF RELIGION but also FROM RELIGION.  What?  This is their way of doing things?  Genocide and the oppression of minorities and women are "their way of doing things" in many parts of the world.

"Cultural relativism?"  I will quote Newt Gingrich, the sage of the "contract with America."  "Cultural relativism is like saying that going to McDonald’s or boiling up your neighbor have equal merit as culturally driven ways of having lunch."  I heard him say it as part of his famous (not) speech about the "bloody footprints in the snow…"  In this, I agree with him.

It is one thing to respect other peoples’ ancestral ways and to be considerate in what you say and do when operating on their turf.  It is quite another to set out to empower the most anti-modern, anti-Western elements in a society and then "wink" at the coming subordination of the constitutional government to the theologically driven opinions of clergy who have been waiting all their days for the return of the occulted 12th Imam.  They have been waiting so that they can turn over power to him.

What happened to the part in which the Iraqi Shia higher Clergy were not interested in political power?  Did that "reality" depart with the children’s crusade that was the CPA?

Where are the neocons and their familiars and their famously Jacobin and secular "principles?"

Pat Lang,0,3209360.story?track=tothtml

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85 Responses to Gingrich on Cultural Relativism

  1. canuck says:

    I’m not knowledgeable enough about the role of Sustani, but it’s my understanding he seldom interferes in the political process.
    Whether he’s been politized I don’t know? If I were in their place, to get rid of the militias, I would have called on Peter Rabbit if he had any influence over the population . Why wouldn’t they turn to ‘anyone’ who can assist in controlling the size and number of the militias who now dominate?

  2. canuck says:

    BTW, Gingrich isn’t my idea of an authority on anything.

  3. DeWitt Grey says:

    Perhaps you’ve “forgotten” that this is exactly how we managed the post-war occupations of Germany and Japan — you know, the way we brought back the Hohenzollerns and the Prussian aristocracy in Germany and the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan . . .

  4. Patrick Henry says:

    Col..Good Post…
    I Agree with your Points…
    SECULAR..HOLY WAR Anticipated RESULTS>>also see a Strong Trend in that direction..
    Reality is…Its a Very Powerful event..Its a Complete RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT
    Based on a UNIVERSAL RELIGION..ISLAM..and itts Teachings..and NOW>>>based on its PROPHECYS..”SIGNIFICINT EVENT..”
    Its Militant Wing..and Political structure has been around a long time..
    I/E..BERUITE..and before..
    since the 40’s..
    They have almost now alot of GUNS..behind them…and are gaining in POWER..
    I think you and I see current events in IRAQ..the same with…. GROWING SHIA Influence and ARRANGEMENTS..and TRIBAL TRUCES>>so the United States will start a withdrawl from the Region..
    What Happens THEN..??
    Whats going to happen in Afghanistan..??
    Same Thing..??
    The MAIN MAN….
    We`Americans .and Free World Peoples…Need to Anticipate a Major Religious Confrontation…a Threat of RELIGIOUS WAR..and UNIVERSAL..Because of the CONSEQUENCES..
    As a CHRISTIAN..and Believer in JESUS….as a TEACHER..As a a the HOLY SPIRIT..(Gods GIFT to MAN)
    Who came to FUFILL GODS WILL..The ONE He called “>>
    And Taught and did wonderful things about GODS “LOVE”
    ..and Peace…and Forgiveness..
    and BROTHERLY LOVE..Which Binds Us as Believers..and Good Christians..
    I am Watching and Anticipating a Growing Undertsanding among the Universal Christian Body..
    That ISLAM FACTIONS…are Declaring War with the WEST..and CHRISTIANS and JEWS..
    with the INTENT of REGIONAL Domination ..of a THEOCRACY..VERY STRICT..and CONTROLLING ..
    and Domination of OIL..and Using it to PUNISH…other Nations at WILL..and Impose ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS..
    and Basicaly CONTROL the Industralized Nations and anyone else they Chose..
    So We Now have MANY..MANY Issues to CONSIDER…Foreign and Domestic..
    and OUR OWN Religious Values and Beliefs..
    As Individual Persons..and as FREE PEOPLE..
    and who Have been through the Seperation of Church and “STATE” our past History..
    and now Believe in the RIGHT to WORSHIP..
    But NOT Impose RELIGION..on SOCIETY..
    God wants us to come to HIM Willingly..
    Then he knows we are SINCERE..with OPEN Heart..

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    DeWitt Grey
    This is NOTHING like the way we managed either of those occupations. In Germany we fostered the re-instututionalization of constitutional and representative government based on principals that we belieived in. I had the advantage of living in Germany during the occupation and remember well the program my father and his colleagues carried out.
    As for Japan, MacArthur, whatever his other faults, oversaw the creation of a democratic and anti-militaristic government which has stood the test of time. pl

  6. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Hey! Irony, remember that? Irony! pl

  7. T-Bone says:

    Canuck, your understanding is incorrect. Sistani has made it a point to avoid directly intervening in politics, true. I think the saying goes something like, the best politicians seek to work with clerics, but only the worst clerics work with politicians. He has even retained his Iranian citizenship in order to distance himself from the various Iraqi factions. Still, on virtually every issue of substance, political leaders of all stripes have sought his guidance. So while he has not promoted an overt Iranian-style vilayat-i-faqih (guardianship of the jurisconsult), in practice the effect is similar. On the other hand, as the highest source of emulation, Sistani could be considered to be the most popular figure in Iraq, and thus the most democratically supported leader. Believers are free to follow their own marjas, and millions have chosen him.

  8. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I missed the first part. Try thinking what the Iraqi government will be like if they let the “clerics” determine policy. pl

  9. W. Patrick Lang says:

    T-Bone (why not Porterhouse?)
    All that is true but it comfiteth me not. pl

  10. McGee says:

    Hi Colonel – can’t speak for anyone else, but pretty sure DeWitt Grey’s comment about the Holenzollerns and Tokugawa merited an Irony Alert…..

  11. McGee says:

    Hohenzollerns, and sorry about the double-posting!

  12. Happy Jack says:

    canuck – Sistani might not be sitting in the driver’s seat, but it’s been clear for some time that he’s holding the map.

  13. Curious says:

    People. This discussion was supposed to be carried out a year ago. At this stage, there will be no progress in Iraq government side unless we remove ALL of our own civilian leadership so we can do ‘real’ damage control and repair instead of long series of CYA and blunders.
    Current crucial discussion. What to do with our war with Iran. (yes we are already in the opening phase conflict with Iran) Only skillfull diplomacy will get us out of the eventual open clash. And we know what Bush diplomatic skill consists of.
    Either we do something or it will become full blow regional conflict.
    a year or two from now, we will be discussing how to save our base in UAE and how many troops it takes to protect it. Nobody will care which Imam is more palatable than the other.

  14. linda says:

    Where are the neocons and their familiars and their famously Jacobin and secular “principles?”
    working up that cakewalk recipe for iran …

  15. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I read your comments.
    I respectfully disagree with your strong sentiments. The Muslim people love their religion; that simple faith has given hundreds of millions of people an inner dignity that the latest pronouncements of godless-but modern- Western intellectual cannot.
    What exactly this Western modernity is about? Is it about the neo-paganism of MTV? Or the death of God? Are not the 60 million dead of WWII sufficient witness to the moral bankruptcy of the West European modernity experiment that began after the Reformation?
    Yes, much of their heritage is mediaeval but all existing religions, in their current forms, are creatures of that time period. Mr. Sistani and the Najaf scholars were empowered by the events and not by US. A similar thing happened in Iran when the Shah of Iran was busy destroying all structured opposition to his rule. It left the Muslim Scholars of Islamic Jurisprudence and their network of lesser mullahs as the only political organization left capable of running Iran after the collapse of the Pahlavi regime.
    Islam is inherently political. Ibn Khaldun observed this several hundred years ago. Expecting scholars of Islamic Jurisprudence to have no say in the politics of an Islamic country is like expecting there to be no lawyers in US government structures.
    I would also like to point out that, in Argentina, by law, the President of the Republic has to be a Catholic.
    Lastly, the strong religious polity of Iraq was an opportunity that was not exploited by US. I suspect that had the President of the United States, his Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, Ambassador Bremer, and their immediate families had converted to Islam before or after the invasion of Iraq; the current situation would not have transpired.

  16. ckrantz says:

    Personally I don’t think the administration care what kind of state Iraq develop into or what kind of goverment there are as long as they welcome a long-term U.S. presence.
    Isn’t Iraq a testing ground also for Rumsfelds “lily pads” basing with ready equipment warehoused there for expeditionary forces to use when needed. With embedded special forces and airpower doing most of the fighting.

  17. W. Patrick Lang says:

    We agree to respect each other and our sometimes differing views.
    What would be your explanation of the holocaust of blood shed in the Iran-Iraq War or the bestialities of the Algerian civil war of the last fifteen years?
    Actually, the Christianity of the modern West was shaped and tranformed by the experiences of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the Renaissance in general. Islam has not passed through analogous experience or transformation.
    Your point about the unitary nature of the Islamic view of life is clear to me or anyone else who knows anything of value about the religion. My point was that this point of view is inimical to American values, and that the US should not be sponsoring the creation of such a state.
    Argentina is not the United States.
    I regret to say that your last point is absurd and I presume is meant as humor.

  18. T-Bone says:

    Absolutely; I’m not saying it’s a good thing, just recognizing that’s where it stands, that Sistani’s not and never would be some quietist who stays above politics. The clerics will likely not “determine” policy, merely “approve” it.
    Anybody who had studied the Iranian Tobacco Concession, the Constitutional Revolution, the 1920 Revolt, the rise of Dawa, Mohammed Baqir Sadr or Mohammed Sadiq Sadr would have planned for this eventuality. This is the ulama’s chance to reverse its defeat in 1920. Unfortunately, we don’t institutionally reward such historical perspective in our national security apparatus, we punish it.
    “T-Bone”‘s what the kangaroo court designated me. Good times.

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Sounds like I missed somethiing rhetorical here. Which Hohenzollerns? I remember people like Adenauer and Brandt. pl

  20. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Ah! Hoist my own petard? pl

  21. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You know your stuff. welcome aboard. pl

  22. Dewitt Grey says:

    I was, in fact, kidding — indeed, attempting to draw a sharp contrast from what one would hope was recent memory of our approach to being an Occupying Power to the mess we have on our hands today.
    At the risk of getting my head bit off again (given your General Marshall-like dim views of careless staff work), it seems to me that we have permitted our policy to be driven by our propaganda instead of the propaganda being tailored to suit the policy. We insisted on national elections even when the security situation was so bad that many of the candidates had to withhold their names out of fear of assassination or other reprisals. We didn’t insist that the governments which were formed adhere to the principles we thought important, such as national unity, even though we controlled then (as we still effectively control) the Iraqi exchequer. I recognize that the hand we’re playing in Baghdad is not nearly so strong as the hand we were holding in Germany and Japan in 1946, not least because the Germans and Japanese could generally see that the alternative (the Russians) were worse, but all the same I have a hard time believing that Lucius Clay and John J. McCloy and Douglas MacArthur would not be utterly dumbfounded by our complaisance in the face of an Iraqi government dominated by religious parties with close links to Iran.

  23. Gertrude Bell says:

    Ah yes, there were Sadrs galore in the old days, too.
    Hard to work at your map table with all the commotion.

  24. c says:

    @Dewitt Grey
    “We insisted on national elections even when the security situation was so bad that many of the candidates had to withhold their names out of fear of assassination or other reprisals.”
    Sistani insisted on elections when Bremer tried to push some “selected representation”. Sistani did bring some 100,000 folks to the streets and Bremer had to pull back and indorse him.
    “policy to be driven by our propaganda” you say …

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    If I were a Catholic, I could argue that the Nazism and Communism were direct results of the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Even in the darkest days of Inquisition we did not have anything reaching the scales of death and destruction that were reached in the 30-Year War and later surpassed in WWI & WW2.
    The Iran-Iraq War was carnage that could have ended if certain well-known states had not decided to select the looser as a winner. My expectation was that Iraq would have been defeated by 1984.
    About Algerian Civil War, all I can say is that civil wars are always ugly. I think the reason is mostly that the combatants are irregular and have not gone through military training; they are not professional soldiers.
    As for the need for Reformation in Islam; I completely disagree because, in my opinion, there is not even a semblance of an analogy between the two historical moments. You can argue for a need for reform but that is something that Muslims have been grappling with for the past 180 years. As I said before, Reformation was not such a great thing.
    I disagree with the statement that the unitary nature of Islam is inimical to the values of US. There is much that is common heritage of the Semitic religions of West Asia. What isn’t common, in my opinion, stems from the strong tradition of personal liberty in US. That tradition does not exist outside of (Northern) Europe and North America, in my judgment.
    I disagree with your conclusion “the US should not be sponsoring the creation of such a state.”. The salient interest of US in ME is oil and only secondarily Israel’s security (a distant second). A stable and lawful Islamic Republic of Iraq that is peaceful, prosperous, and reliably pumps oil will have met major aims of US policy in ME. If US can be reasonably assured of the success of such an endeavor, why not?
    And yes, I know US is not Argentina; my point was that different countries are different and that some non-Muslim countries also have strong religious influences in their State-Israel being another one.
    My last point was not black humor. In WWI, the Muslim people were galvanized by the rumor, spread by the German Secret Service-no doubt, that the Kaiser has converted to Islam and has changed his name to Hajji Mohammad Wilhelm. It certainly would not have hurt the US cause in Iraq if the pro-Consul and/or the President had seen the light of Islam when they suddenly found themselves rulers of Muslim people.

  26. T-Bone says:

    Sir, thanks, I’ve been educated by some smart folks.
    Dewitt, I’ve talked to some of the Marines that were in Najaf in the summer of 03. Those guys believed our own propaganda (not that I blame them, they were good dudes doing their best with little guidance or support) and were organzing local elections, but were stopped by Bremer and the CPA, who could see where that would lead (exactly where it did, in fact, lead).
    We didn’t insist on national elections, Sistani did. The CPA wanted a bastardized caucus system that would empower Chalabi and Allawi. But we never “controlled” Iraq, could thus not “insist” on anything that Sistani opposed. The Sadr uprising was a shot across the bow that let us know who was really in control.
    Of course, we should have been smart enought to realize that by empowering the Shiite majority we were guarunteeing the rise of the religious establishment. Kanan Makiya may not have realized this, but guys like Faleh Jabar pointed it out beforehand, if we had paid attention.

  27. W. Patrick Lang says:

    If you had argued that Naziism and Communism were the children of the French Revolution you would have been closer to the case. Now if you are arguing that the French Revolution would not have occurred in a world that had not experienced the phenomena that I mentioned, then you would, I think, have a more interesting argument.
    The US and the French did little to help Iraq before 1986. I know.
    All civil wars are not more ugly than other kinds of wars. Nothing can justify the mass killings of civilians conducted by the FIS for the purpose of controlling the population.
    As to values, yes. America is in North America
    Now that I know that you are against reformation in Islam (presumably through Ijtihad) I better understand you.
    Before the Bush Administration, I would have agreed with your prioritization of American interests in the Middle East. Now we have different, self-assigned interests and those interests have to do with “reforming” you all from our point of view (some of us). We never set out before to re-make your governments and your ways of life. Since we are now doing that….
    I am opposed to any government being linked to a particular sect. It does not matter to me if the country is Iraq, Iran, Israel, Pakistan or Argentina. The rights of individuals are too deply ingrained in me for me to ever like that kind of arrangement.
    So, you think Napoleon’s declaration in Egypt of his Islam was a good idea? would you change your faith as a matter of political expediency?

  28. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Ah, yes, those were the days of REAL staff work. Sigh.
    I agree with everything you wrote here. pl

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    The French Revolution was also a reaction against the Catholic Church. It all goes back to the break-down of the medieval world based on religious brotherhood of Christians to the one based on the collective worship of Man as expressed in the national states.
    I am not against reformation in Islam. I am against facile attempts at applying different historical situations to one another without regard to any consideration if that actually make sense.
    As for the current US administrations policy priorities, you are in better position to judge it than I. If what you wrote is accurate, I must express my view that that is a road to ruination for the United States. If what you wrote, “reforming ME” is a true policy goal of the United States, then, in my opinion, its continuation will result in a new crusade
    If the United States and those who support that policy want to win they best be ready to stitch a cross to their chests and be ready to kill on massive scale. That policy requires the death of 5 to 7 % of the ME population, close to 15 million. Winning in Iraq require the death of 20% of the population. These are the wages of War and if one is not prepared to do it, one should not begin.
    I understand that you are opposed to any government that is linked to a particular sect. But that does not mean that one has to wreck every society because they do not conform to one’s desires of how the world ought to operate.
    I cannot comment on Napoleon in Egypt; I do not know much about it.
    I submit to you that a statesman should be ready to do anything to gain or enhance his political power. If not, then he is just an administrator.

  30. MarcLord says:

    Like the best humor, your last paragraph in your 3:23PM comment made me laugh out loud, and deserves reply, because it is both so strongly true and strongly absurd. Personally I’ve often thought of Bush as a mirror image of a political mullah, and imagining him with a beard and black turban makes me smile even now. But Bush speaks the same rhetorical language as Sadr, and Americans can only wish he were as skilled as Sistani. I can assure you that you don’t want Dubya in your religion–I’m a Christian, and he has done no favors to mine.
    You make many valid and interesting points and I’ll try to keep an open mind to them. This is difficult as an American, however; many who become US citizens were fleeing from theocratic regimes, so our skepticism of theocracy is deep and hard-earned. Skepticism of a unified Shiite theocracy, now, in the heart of the Mideast would seem quite warranted given recent history and the ostensible desire for payback. Can you assure us that revenge will not be taken on the Sunnis? Would you predict that, given the opportunity, the strong desire to punish Israel would not be manifest violence or war?
    As to your observation about oil, I suspect you’re more correct than we know at this time. I suspect that no less than James Baker is negotiating with Iran right now to keep the oil flowing and that he has summoned Rumsfeld and Rice to consummate a deal. I suspect that Israel, which regrettably sends the US no oil, is ripe for betrayal just as Saddam was after he had served our interests by fighting off Iran in the bloodiest ground war since World War Two. I also suspect that a form of ethnic cleansing will follow a stable Islamic Republic of Iraq which will make Yugoslavia look like a weekend picnic. And I suspect the killing won’t end for a long time.

  31. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I do not believe that you would convert to – say Christianity, for such a reason anymore than I would accept Islam.
    This does bring to mind an old joke once circulated among those who knew the Jordanian army and its men well. According the joke, the late King Hussein called together the senior officers and told them that he had thought over the conundrum of the Arab-Israeli situation and decided that the only solution was for them all to convert to Judaism. In the joke the generals and colonels rubbed their chins, muttered among themselves but in the end told him that they really did not want to do that but if HE said it was necessary…. This story was meant to illustrate their absolute loyalty to him which was very real.
    As a Catholic I would say that there was much to be said for the medieval mindset in the West, but the process of history led away from that. The path taken led to great power and wealth, and dominion over..
    We don’t sew crosses on our shirts any more. We don’t have that kind of self identity any more. Maybe that is too bad. The loss of that identity leads to the disgusting phenomenon of the MTV generation. You live here. You know that.

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I am not a statesman.

  33. rpe says:

    How is it possible that any one is surprised by this? Whenever a Muslim people have had a chance to vote fairly and freely they have elected the Islamists. The Muslims do not believe in separation of church and state. The Church is the State. They do not believe that our purpose here on earth is to amass wealth, amuse ourselves, and live a materialistic and hedonistic life. The purpose of life is to test the believer for the real life that is to come. As a teenager I spent some time in Ireland in the 1960s with people, many born before 1900, who believed absolutely in traditional Catholicism which, in it’s view of man’s mission in this world, was indistinguishable from Islamic beliefs. I know this mindset very well and it is a powerful thing that brings great comfort and solace to the believer allied with a clear moral vision of the world. This world view has all but died out in much of the West but it is at the core of Muslim civilization and is, I suspect, a large part of the reason why the population of the Muslim world is growing while the traditional populations of the West are rapidly disappearing. When a devout Muslim looks at us, what does he/she see? A popular culture that is toxic waste, a denial of God by the ruling elites and mass culture, and a Christianity that has degenerated into “ Who are we to judge?” relativism on one hand and the twisted lunatics of the rapture cults on the other. Meanwhile the population of the West is rapidly dying out through the simple refusal to breed. As for the wonders of our form of government, I’d like to point out that we did elect, or maybe not, George Bush and his cretinous gang of Neocon scoundrels. After 5 ½ years of this administration, there are very few people in the world seeking our advice on good governance.
    We should knock the beam out our eye before we knock the mote out of the eye of the Muslims.

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your kind feedback regarding my comments.
    I do not believe that revenge can be prevented specially in Iraq. It happened in France, in Belgium, in Holland and all such places after WWII. And then, again, in Islam revenge is part of the Law.
    It is not just US citizens that have a hard time with religious-based government. Western Europeans are also so inclined. As a consequence, we have, in recent Western Intellectual history, wide condemnation of Khomeini which proceeded adulations of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, and others by their thinkers.
    It almost seems that the Western people are pathologically anti-religious (no religion can be any good). And yet, there is this wide spiritual poverty that permeates the world and gets filled, from time to time, by various ideologies.
    Israel, as far as the open sources state, has enough conventional weaponry to fight a major war without re-supply for 2 years. In addition, it has, again based on open sources, thermonuclear weapons that are really weapons of terror against cities.
    Without Egypt, there can be no Arab war against Israel. Iraq, in my opinion, will never gain be in a situation to create a reasonable thread to Israel. That leaves only Turkey and Iran. I doubt seriously that Iran would start a war against Israel, but that is just my opinion.
    In Iraq, for 50 years, there was no way for people to politically peacefully settle their differences. It will be decades before we see a stable peaceful Iraqi polity, in my opinion. This is not the fault of US or US policy.
    And yes, the ethnic cleansing is on going with Kurdish areas being de-Arabized.
    A religious government based on Islam at least could bring all these various peoples of Iraq under the rubric of Islam because formally, within Islam, the ethnicities of these people would not matter. It could be a beginning.

  35. W. Patrick Lang says:

    And that is not a good answer. pl

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your kind feedback regarding my comments.

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    India is as (if not more) religious as ME.

  38. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I am surprised that you have nothing to say about the many, many people in this country who ARE religious and who do not fit your “MTC generation” paradigm.
    Hindus are not “ahl al-kitab.” pl

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I did not say anything about the religious people inside US because my point was not all fundamentalists outside of US are Muslim.
    The Hindus are considered by most religious authorities of Islam to be idol worshippers although I belive that there were later attempts to finess that.

  40. rpe says:

    I know some Hindu Americans and they are indeed quite religious.
    I think your estimate of how many Muslims would have to be killed to accomplish the Neocon agenda is way to low. Oliver Cromwell murdered between 1/3 and 1/2 of the Catholic population of Ireland in a somewhat similar endevour at “reform”. Alas, the Irish proved to be incorrigable. When I was last there the Irish government was in the process of gleefully rebuilding many of the castles that Cromwell burnt. History casts a very long shadow in most lands, though, not in America. I blame most of the foreign policy disasters of my lifetime on the historical illiteracy of the American elites.

  41. W. Patrick Lang says:

    We do not know yet what kind of shadow history will cast here, especially the kind that is not very popular anymore.
    Hindus are, of course, very spritual folk, but, they are, nevertheless pagans (watheniyiin in Arabic) from the point of view of Muslims and Christians and are not “People of the Book.”
    Babak says “A religious government based on Islam at least could bring all these various peoples of Iraq under the rubric of Islam because formally, within Islam, the ethnicities of these people would not matter. It could be a beginning.”
    This would be under the rubric of SHIA Islam. The remaining Christians are leaving the country rather than face the prospect. I agree that it would be a beginning, but of what?
    I am unaware of “accomodations” made by Islam for Hinduism. Perhaps this was in India where sheer numbers required compromise however unpalatable. In the earliest practise of the Islamic community (hadith in Arabic)conquered pagans were offered the choice of acceptance of God’s will (Islam) or the sword. pl

  42. JustPlainDave says:

    While the ethnicities of the various peoples under an Islamic government wouldn’t formally matter, everything that I see coming out of Iraq suggests that informally it matters a great deal. I don’t have much optimism that pan-Islamism could counter the current extreme antipathy between Sunni and Shi’a – terror is just too potent and simple a lever.

  43. rpe says:

    Col Lang,
    You are quite correct that the Hindus are not people of the book and, in the 10th Christian century, people like Mahmud of Ghazna were wont to invade India and behave in a truly frightful manner. However by the 14th century Babur the Tiger was able to found the Mughal dynasty and rule over a majority Hindu empire without any qualms. No doubt some convenient theological argument had surfaced against that whole convert or die business.
    Your remark about what passes for History today is all too true. 30 years of gay history, woman’s herstory,transgendered history,and history about every thing else under the sun as long as it had nothing to do with dead males in general and dead white males specifically has taken its toll. As it is know possible to graduate from some of our finest private liberal arts colleges with a degree in English while never having read Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Melville, etc.,etc. so, I assume, it is possible to get a history degree and remain blissfully ignorant of the Classical world, the Medieval world, and, based upon our present policy in the Near East, of the Islamic world.

  44. Patrick Henry says:

    Very interesting debate..Strong Issues and points..from each perspective…
    My First Concern is that RADICAL Islam Factions have declared a WAR…a JIHAD..THATS ON`GOING..
    Radical Muslims and Ji`Hadists….
    Attacked the United States and European and Asian
    Countrys and even killed Africans…in thier Global Terrorism and Violence against many Muslim and NON MUSLIM Peoples…men…women and Children..everyone dies in a Car Bombing..Terrorist attack..
    The Rhetoric…the ACTIONS and the Means and Methods are the FREE World..and even many Peaceful Muslims..
    Furtherist thing from a Holy or Religious Act I can imagine..
    Everyone knows that IRAN is Currently Getting out of Control..with a TALIBAN
    lIKE Mind Set..AND Probably the biggest Sponsor of Terrorism and the Jihadist…bin Laden included..
    .They all certainly have alot in Common…ATTITUDE..
    My Concerns also go to the issue of the Dominate Faction…Imposing ITS Rules and Laws on ALL peoples throughout the Region…as they achieve Strategic Objectives…
    and that many other Factions..Sects and Minoritys..including Christians and Jews and other non Muslims…and even the SUNNIS.. will eventually suffer Great persecution and even death at the Hands of EXTREMISTS…as they gain Regional Power..
    The Book of Revelations says many Christians will be Beheaded the LAST DAYS..I believe that applys to those who are in a Minority Position in other Countrys..
    As has been expressed others..
    .especially RIGID Muslim Theocratic Dominated Regions…A` Threat that i believe both Pat and I and Others see Looming on the Horizion…Considering the Current Trend..
    Its reaching a Tipping point..
    I Respect many things about Islam ..and the Muslim Peoples..and thier beautiful Mosques…and thier dedication to Worship..and Prayer..
    But allowing Murders and to gain power and Control of Various States and Nations.. and Bring about WAR…and Armageddon..and Great Death and Destruction for many Peoples…
    .does not seem like good religious Teaching to Me..and I dont see how it would be good For Islam..Middle east nations or the World in general..
    there must be more peaceful aspects of the Mslim teachings and Koran ..with some respect toward other religions..and peoples of Faith..who also Pray and Worship the Same God ..
    Of Moses and Abraham..
    I Pray for Peace..and for WISE Men of all Faiths.. to Council Together to Achieve it..
    That would be the best example of Religious Influence I Could Imagine..

  45. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    The non-Muslim and “People of the Book” religious minorities of Iraq could be granted reserved seats in the legislature; similar to 1905 and 1980 constitutions of Iran.
    But, in my opinion, both in Iran and in Iraq, one has to accept the political ascendancy of Qum-Najaf for the foreseeable future.

  46. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I am aware of the limitations of this model, but take the ethno-linguistic model of the European States; the application of that model will leave people such as Kurds forever as alien people in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
    There is no feasible ideal dispensation that can satisfy all and be all.

  47. jonst says:

    You wrote: “Of course, we should have been smart enought to realize that by empowering the Shiite majority we were guarunteeing the rise of the religious establishment.”
    I agree with you. However, you could have awaken me from a deep sleep, on the morning of Jan 2, of any year I was above the age of 16, and I could have been smart enough to answer that in less than five seconds: “ah, empowered majority equals rise of whatever values majority embraces” As could most people who have read one history book, about any place in the world, at any time.
    So how can it be that people were so stupid? I say it can’t be. The answer has to be some place else and my guess it lies in corruption, in the broadest sense of that term. Tis method to their madness….though it be madness and it is leading to no good for anyone. Whatever their plan was, grasping for control of oil, grasping for absolute domestic power in the USA, bringing about the ‘end of days’ crap, it did not work. But they had a plan.

  48. ali says:

    In Japan and Germany a focused US with the USSR breathing down its neck restored pre-existing institutions that had been overwhelmed by totalitarianism. There are no such well laid democratic institutions in Iraqi history and that’s why regime change was folly.
    Any comparison with Iraq should bear this in mind, what we are attempting is more like what the British did in post-mutiny India: build an entire state. It took nearly a century and when the Brits left there was the bloody disaster of partition. Fukuyama only finds one other successful example of state building in recent history and that’s Japan in Korea.
    The old Iranian certainly expects the clergy to possess a distastefully high level of influence on government. The reality is they will have this in any democratic Iraq as the Shi’a vote is mobilized by them.
    As in much of the region the Mosque is the prime source of the legitimacy of government and were else have Iraqis to turn too? We’ve destroyed their other institutions and the shaky new ones are peppered with sharp suited looters some of whom are in the service of Tehran. No cleverly worded constitutional arrangement can suddenly change this.
    But Sistani is a traditional Twelver and does not like the modern innovations of his clerical juniors in Tehran. The Marjaiyah is not meant to be tainted by getting its hands dirty in government, just whip the government along the path of reactionary righteousness.
    He bullied us into early elections which was probably an error but he’s strongly supported a unified Iraq, dominated by the Shi’a majority but not without pluralism and not under Tehran’s thumb. Not Denmark, not Turkey but an improvement on the despotism of Saudi or Iran. Not looking very likely at the moment unfortunately.
    My impression is that while he remains the most powerful man in Iraq Sistani’s authority is seeping away rather than rising and that is probably a very bad thing for our interests. His calls for order after the Samarra Mosque bombings did not stop the escalation of ethnic warfare.
    In the La Times article he urges the disarmament of the militias and probably has not just the rapidly expanding neighborhood para-militaries but the Mahdi army in mind. It is lead by a rival cleric al Sadr, who likes the style of the Iranian Revolution if not being subordinate to its masters. I’m afraid in a post-civil war Iraq it’s the likes of al Sadr that will hold power not conservatives like Sistani and that mumbling fat boy is a revolutionary.

  49. canuck says:

    Sorry Colonel, I did miss the irony in your presentation of this topic yesterday. 🙂

  50. W. Patrick Lang says:

    No. It’s stupidity. Never underestimate the power of stupidity. pl

  51. jonst says:

    If the entire govt is this stupid, and/or corrupted into silence and acceptance of this level of stupidity….then there is little hope for the Republic. You may be right PL, you may be right, but I still opt for stupidity in implementation….but purposeful evil behind design. Somebody knew Col Lang, LOTS of somebody’s knew but did it anyway. We may not be able to discern the motives behind the deed…but that is not to say they are not there. We are looking, rightly so, at the tree. But how closely are we examining the roots? All this puts me in mind of quote from a book published recently. “An ant climbs a blade of grass, over and over, seemingly without purpose, seeking neither nourishment nor home. It persists in its futile climb, explains Daniel C. Dennett at the opening of his new book, “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon” (Viking), because its brain has been taken over by a parasite, a lancet fluke, which, over the course of evolution, has found this to be a particularly efficient way to get into the stomach of a grazing sheep or cow where it can flourish and reproduce. The ant is controlled by the worm, which, equally unconscious of purpose, maneuvers the ant into place” I want to grasp who is the “lancect flake” at work here. I know who the “worms” and “ants” are.

  52. JustPlainDave says:

    Sadly I think these various groups are going to be left as alien peoples to one another. The parties driving the ethnic cleansing are certainly trying to see to that. I rather suspect that there’s sufficient energy and resources for a sustained enough fight that there won’t be any way of generating effective cross-cutting institutions by the time people are fought out.

  53. rpe says:

    A wise old history teacher once told me ” Never ascribe any event to a conspiracy that can also be explained by human stupidity.” The Neocons are, collectively, morons. Their view of the world is about that of a 12 year old boy. A not very bright 12 year old boy. They are victims of their innate racism, and they are profoundly racist, religious bigotry, and breathtaking arrogance. Fundamentaly, they consider the Muslims to be Untermenschen who can easily be manipulated by their betters.They consider the American people to be only somewhat brighter but essentialy a nation on sheep. Their political tactics are Stalinist and their propaganda is a massive replication of Goebbels ” The Big Lie”. Like most totalitarians, with a little luck, they’ll come to the bad end they so richly deserve.

  54. canuck says:

    I have a big problem comparing myself to a worm.
    Scientists use the empirical method as a study tool–they never postulated that the tool solves all ambiguities.
    Science and religion are complimentary to each other.
    If the Muslims want to use religion as a foundation for the great goodness that is in the world, let’s not stop them from doing that. What they need to do is reject the barbarism from a literal interpretation of the Koran and the Sharia Laws.
    The founding fathers were Diests – they didn’t reject religion. Morality is often born from religion. It doesn’t come from Science.
    It’s ‘irrational’ and extremist believes that have to be rejected for good governance of themselves.

  55. jonst says:

    I agree with all you said about the neocons. And therefore I am condemned to reject the view that they run the show. They are the ‘beard’. They are the ants. They do what they do absent understanding of how they are being played. In Dylan’s words…”their only pawns in the game”. High profile pawns…with lots of letters after their names. But pawns just the same. There is more here than meets the eye. There is almost a desperate, deliberate, effort to sow chaos. You want to believe it is random. Or you want to believe it is the stupid, little, evil men you call neocons. I understand and respect those ‘bets’. But I do not back them myself.

  56. jonst says:

    I’m not sure who compared you to a worm but I doubt that I did.
    Further you wrote, “Science and religion are complimentary to each other”
    Dream on McDuff, dream on.
    And I don’t know what you mean by the sentence “If the Muslims want to use religion as a foundation for the great goodness that is in the world, let’s not stop them from doing that” However when I read it I was put in mind of Nietsche’s saying; “its nonsense of course, but were I to believe in nonsense this is the kind of nonsense i would believe in”, I don’t know what you mean “great goodness” but it sound nice.

  57. ali says:

    Sistani and Maliki (the new Iraqi President he just anointed) seem to be speaking with one voice.
    Sami Moubayed in points out the dilemma Maliki faces:
    “He is traditionally not on good terms with the SCIRI, although Da’wa and the SCIRI have cooperated in the past for common Shi’ite interests. They remain competitors for leadership in the Shi’ite community. They also have different agendas for the Shi’ites, with Da’wa wanting to establish an Iran-style theocracy that is independent of Iran, while the SCIRI wants to steer Iraq completely in the direction of Tehran.
    And if he manages to abandon Muqtada and ally himself instead with the SCIRI (whose leaders had wanted the post of premier for themselves), would this drag the “independent” prime minister in the direction of Iran?”

  58. canuck says:

    I wasn’t referring to you specifically. The worm analogy was in your post about Dennett. I find him to be overly simplistic. He would have me believe I have to abandon all ambiguity in the world. All answers are not to be found in science. There is room for wonder and art in the world. Mysteries will remain that philosophers can debate.
    Perhaps you don’t think science and religion are compatible with each other, but I’m comfortable they are. Science didn’t prove there was no creator. On the other hand, religion shouldn’t have an issue with Darwin’s theory of evolution. I would be totally against intelligent design being taught in a science class just as I am with science applying the empirical method to religion, which is what Dennett attempted to do in his book.
    Muslims do need to become secular, on that I believe we are in agreement.

  59. W. Patrick Lang says:

    What do you mean by “secular?” pl

  60. rpe says:

    Then who is the evil genius behind all of this and what are his goals?
    America is sleep walking towards a yawning chasm while most of the world has turned or is turning against us. Is it some Russian mole taking revenge for the cold war perhaps? The Bavarian Illuminati? The Masons?Or, my favorite, the Jesuits?
    If America crashes and burns as the last super power, Cui Bono? The Chinese and the Indians certainly, but they were going to end up dominating the 21st century in spite of anything we could do to stop them anyway. A revived, angry,and nuclear armed alliance of the major Islamic powers working to throw us and the Israelis out of the Near East is becoming a distinct possibility. Add up the populations, the real GNPS, and the armed forces of Turkey, Pakistan and Iran -all of whom our present foreign policy is gravely threatening- and you’re looking at a formidable foe. Throw in Saudi money and the considerable weight Egypt brings to the equation and things keep looking nastier.Europe gains nothing from this nor do the Japanese. Russia does well, as countries look to the Russian nuclear deterant as the biggest thing keeping America in some king of check. After thinking this through I’ve come to the conclusion that you are correct. There is an evil genius manipulating America towards disgrace and disaster.
    His name is Osama bin Laden.

  61. canuck says:

    Secular, “Not bound by monastic restrictions; Distance between how they govern themselves; One not tied to the other.”

  62. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Not an adequate definition of “secular” in the Islamic context since they have neither clergy nor monks.
    for someone to have become “secular” in the traditional Islamic context is to have become outside Islam.
    What do you say, Babak? pl

  63. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I am not sure what secular means in the context of Islam. If by that it is meant a State like Turkey then “secular” means anti-Islam (with Western trappings.)
    I suspect a large number of Muslims would view a secular order one in which their personal life is not dominated by the strictures of the Islamic Law.
    The closest analogy would be the non-religious Jews of Israel.

  64. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I would agree but am not sure that our interlocutors understand this the same way. pl

  65. tequila says:

    Been following this guy’s career for some time, but now the NYTIMES Sunday Mag profiles him. Amr Khaled, an Egyptian televangelist. I like what this guy is about and that he is directly addressing the integration of religious Muslims and the West.

  66. Mac Nayeri says:

    In the context of post-Revolutionary Iran, a good starting point in understanding what is meant by the term ‘secular’ are the writings of a man named Abdolkarim Soroush.

  67. avedis says:

    I think that to appreciate the perspective of our host (and others) regarding the neocons lack of intelligence versus your evil first mover theory, one need only to consider the example of Nazi Germany.
    An entire nation was mobilized to set Europe on fire and to exterminate races of people. Was there any alterior motive? Any hidden “real” plan?
    At bottom, the whole of Nazi activity was angry mob behavior on a mass scale.
    Sometimes a populace and its government simply take leave of their senses and opt to navigate by emotion as opposed to reason; in this case very ugly twisted emotion.
    And that is the case with the neocons and our current administration.

  68. jonst says:

    First off, thanks for comments on this point. Insightful. But in the end I still reject what I take to be your premise. For at least two reasons:
    1. you seem to blame whatever you percieve is going on on the “ugly twisted emotion” of this admin and the neocons. But what role do the American people play in this? Do we have “angry mob behavior on a mass scale”? Are we voting to let our people off the hook? Or are we the mob going along with the criminals?
    2. I would argue that the Nazi regime was ALLOWED, and encouraged, to come to power because those behind the ‘throne’ had a secret, or not so secret, agenda that they thought could be advanced by the Nazis. This agenda included, among other things, the revamping of the military. As well as the reindustrialization of Germany. There was very little about the foreign policy/industrial policy goals of the Prussian elite, and, or the Ruhr basin buch, or the Baverian ruling class, that was different from the Nazi’s agenda in those specific areas. They thought they could control the little corporal for their own ends. They were wrong, for the most part.
    So I ask, who is controlling the neocons? And for what end? Oil? Banking? The Iron Triangle in DC?
    I am not buying the fact, no matter how many people, people whom I truly respect, try to sell it to me, that sane people thought we would be welcomed with open arms in the wake of Saddam’s collapse. Or that sane people thought 130K+ could pacify Iraq. Could Rumsfeld or Cheney or Bush or the neocons believe that shit? Sure…arrogant fools all. But too many people went along with this. They knew what the outcome was going to be. Exactly what we got. They went along with it anyway and, in fact, did all they could to bring it about. I repeat, it looks like a desperate, WILLFUL, attempt to sow chaos through out the region. For what end? For who’s end?

  69. avedis says:

    As for the American people, after 9/11/2001 I think there was a large % of the population that was ripe to participate in angry mob mentality. Not that I am saying they were an angry mob in the purest – and ugliest – expression of that mindset. Just that there was an enough of an element of it that Iraq could happen – and happen the way it did – without a normal degree of societal or institutional introspection.
    Personally, I have entertained the same theory that you espouse. It is tantalizing for the rational that you have explained.
    There is no question that war is big business. The connections and apparent conflicts of interest of people like Cheney to war profiteers certainly do, in my mind, necessitate a careful examination of causes and effects.
    Yet I ultimately reject the notion that war profiteers alone are the architects of the Iraq adventure (or any other regional adventures that may yet become operational).
    I still this whole thing as an ideologically based drive, fueled by emotions ranging from a desire for payback for 9/11 to feelings of American superiority to a “will to power”.
    The profiteers are not, of course, shedding any tears. In fact I’m fairly certain they’re right in there cheerleading. Not, however, plotting invasions or paying bribes to others to plot invasions.
    Yet I could be wrong. I understand that two axioms of police dective work are 1. follow the money and 2. follow the money.
    Still, If you read the writings of these neocons you come to understand that they are true believers. A room full of true believers is all it takes for all sorts of history altering events to be put in motion.
    It’s the simpler answer. My personal axiom is that the simpler answer is usually the right one.

  70. avedis says:

    You made a good response to my example of Nazi Germany and I feel it requires a reasonable response. This is a topic that interests me greatly because I am concerned deeply about the direction our country is heading.
    ….I’ve been working with young thoroughbreds since 7:00am, but I’m taking a break getting reoriented…..
    The difference between your perspective and mine is a matter of emphasis. I place more emphasis on the influence of true believers than on profiteering (or other secret motives). You are the opposite.
    You mention that sanity would have to have come down in opposition to the true believers’ machinations.
    I don’t put much stock in the role of sanity in decision making by large bureaucracies, be they governmental or privately owned. Group think, inflexible ideologies, outdated perspectives, shortsightedness, cowardice/meakness/lack of conviction, personal – petty or grand – gain over what is good for the larger organization, incuriousness, miscalculated/misrepresented data, etc, etc all lead to less than sane decision making. I’ve worked for Uncle Sam and I’ve worked for corporate America and I’ve seen the above create some minor and even some major disasters.
    This is an interesting discussion. Thanks for talking with me.

  71. jonst says:

    I would not want to leave you with the impression that I think this is simply, or exclusively, an issue of money. Certainly that variable is omnipresent. But I’m hinting, or guessing, because that is all I can do for now, at other forces, acting in concert with money, or oil, if you will. Was this superficially purposeful, and potentially, expansive, chaos created to insure a permanent state of war, and therefore, domination by one party here at home? Was it launched by ‘end of days’ forces? Feeling that perhaps they could give ‘God’ a hand with Armageddon like Biblical prophecies? Or was it launched by a foreign power/s acting in concert with the neocons? I would not underestimate any of these forces. Or of the all present albeit acting on their own at various times.
    But whatever it is, to me, it is purposeful even though the end seems to a self-defeating one for our nation. There are lot of PL like parties out there. And they told these guys what was going to happen. And their suggestions were dismissed. Contemptuously. With extreme prejudice in some cases. People knew…people knew. And yet they went forward. And, as far as I can tell, continue to go forward. Planing the next step even as we speak. Even as that next step looks as illogical, and self-defeating, as the last step. And the step before that. And the step before that.

  72. mike says:

    My question, Colonel, or perhaps for any of your commenters is: Why are the Kurds hated so by the Arabs, given that a major hero of the Recconquista of Jerusalem and Palestine was Saladin who was himself a Kurd?? Why is he looked upon as a great warrior in the west and not in the Middle East?

  73. canuck says:

    Definition of Theocracy:
    The term theocracy is commonly used to describe a form of government in which a religion or faith plays the dominant role. Properly speaking, it refers to a form of government in which the organs of the religious sphere replace or dominate the organs of the political sphere. The word theocracy originates from the Greek words θεος (theos), “god” and κρατειν (kratein), “to rule”. The term means “rule by god”.
    I attempted to discover a definition by examining what Iraqi Sunni Muslims believe—they are often regarded as secular. But try as I may, I couldn’t find a clear definition of what it is they believe. I also rejected definitions of it that appeal to Muslim nationalism in Iraq, because the Shiites have claimed that position.
    So I just inserted ‘not’ wherever religion appeared in the definition of theocracy. Here’s my definition of muslim secularism:
    ‘A secular muslim government is one in which religion or faith does not play the dominant role. It’s a form of government in which the organs of the religious sphere do not replace or dominate the organs of the political sphere. “It’s, Rule by Law.”’
    I encourage others here to refine, add or reject this definition.

  74. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Saladin is geberally looked upon as a great Islamic hero rathe than a Kurdish hero. It is true that his family had Kurdish roots but in his tine and indeed up until the rise of Western style ethnic nationalism people defined themselves by other criteria in the Middle East. Often it was by religion or by adherence to the cause of a particular leader.
    This situation persisted until the peoples got to thinking of themselves as equivalent to Germans, the french, etc. Western institutopns of education both in the ME and in Europe played a big role in that change of thinking.
    The rise of Arab nationalism in the 19th Century caused the Arabs to begin to think of themselves as a “nation” based on language. This definition excluded the Kurds. Once that happened the Kurds became a “threat” especially in Iraq. pl

  75. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Your statements make clear that “theocracy” is a meaningless term when applied to the governments of Iran (and later Iraq).
    None of the institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as embodied and defined in its constitution, have any roots in the religious sphere.

  76. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The constitutional government of Iran is supervised by the Supreme Guide. The equivalent situation here would be for the US Government to be supervised by a committee of Catholic Bishops, evengelical ministers and Rabbis. pl

  77. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    The role of the “Supreme Guide” has had no equivalent in the religious sphere. It is an idea that has come out of the Republic of Plato and was later adapted and expounded upon by Al- Farabi.
    The closest historical equivalents in Islam were the early Khalifates, in my opinion.

  78. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I understand your point but it is, nevertheless, the way the system is operating today in Iran. pl

  79. James Pratt says:

    The United States does not have either the moral authority or the passive consent of the people to change the culture of Iraq (or previously Vietnam)similar to the occupations of the aggressors militarist Japan and Nazi Germany. Despite the succesful confusing of most Americans to the point they actually believe that the Iraqi Hussein ordered 9/11 instead of the Saudi Bin Laden, the Iraqi people
    know. They know the oil wells, palaces and airport were guarded by US troops in May, 2003 while they were left defenseless without police or soldiers to protect them. They are very aware of American values as personified in Big Oil’s and AIPAC’s favorite politicians.

  80. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I agree with your general point but am ignorant of a US effort to change the culture of the Vietnamese.
    Perhaps you could enlighten me. pl

  81. James Pratt says:

    The US (Dulles brothers) advised Diem to avoid the all of Vietnam election
    mandated in the 1954 Geneva Indochina accords,then gave his generals a green light to overthrow Diem, and later sponsored southern-Vietnam-only elections.

  82. W. Patrick Lang says:

    This was not a change of culture.
    The Vietnamese lived within a mandarin culture which abetted political corruption and the Graft that goes with it. The expectation within their traditional culture was that government office would lead to family wealth and privilage and that posession of such office and its retention came before all else, certainly before nationalism.
    It was the other side who wished to, and who have indeed radically changed Vietnamese culture. pl

  83. canuck says:

    Supreme Guide

    Custodian-Theologian”, more commonly known as the “Supreme Guide”, who has virtually unlimited powers under the Khomeinist constitution.

    The election, to be completed in April, will not be open to all citizens. As always in the case of elections in the Islamic Republic all candidates must be approved by the authorities. And once the results are in, the Council of the Guardians of the Constitution, a body of 12 mullahs, can cancel part or all of them

    The proposal to abolish the Supreme Guide has this added provision: ‘The religious aspects of the post would then become the responsibility of a five-man council of theologians.
    Theologians don’t belong in secular governments albeit Supreme Guides or their replacement, 5-man Councils.

  84. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Supreme Guide is not a theologian. None of the mullahs, sheiks, etc, are theologians in the Western sense.
    They are doctors of theoretical jurisprudence.

  85. Curious says:

    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 02 May 2006 at 12:01 PM
    We have this person titled President. But it’s not a President in western sense.
    It’s the idiot in charge who effs stuff up. His job is doing PR photo-op stuff. And read the teleprompter if his brain is up to it.

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