ROBERTS: Nir, I mean what are you talking about, we have Fatah thugs being sent into the country to wage war with Hamas?
ROSEN: Well, they were trained by the U.S. General Dayton (ph), our envoy to the peace process, was responsible for a program, along with Elliot Abrams (ph), the deputy national security adviser for the Middle East, and they actually trained Fatah in the West Banks. The Jordanian special forces created the Fatah Badr brigade. The Egyptians, as well, trained Fatah in Egypt. The United Arab Emirates actually sent money and arms. And then they were allowed to enter Gaza and then began to attack Hamas. I mean this was an existential threat to a democratically elected government. What we’ve done is overthrow a government that was elected. The U.S. . . ."
"we have Fatah thugs being sent into the country to wage war with Hamas?" John Roberts. This should be treated as a rhetorical question. Roberts is good at his job.
Nir Rosen is an exceedingly fine journalist who covers the hard stories with a flair and courage not seen in many. He expends a great deal of effort in getting the facts straight. US policy in the Middle East continues to be run by people who collectively can be described as ignorant of the region and/or partisans deeply invested in specific outcomes. At the beginning of this, just after the US intervention in Iraq began, I was solemnly assured by a young woman who was fresh from graduate school and working deep in the heart of the neocon labyrinth, that the Arabs and Muslims had no culture or ways worth saving and that they needed to be "re-made" into something worthwhile. Clearly, she thought of them as "untermenschen." Considering her own heritage I thought that a particularly shameful belief. Some at the table, made up of those similar to her, protested but not many. Surprised, I asked her if she thought it would be easy to do that. She said that the level of difficulty would vary, but the job must be done. I hope she has relatives in the war, and not just in the think tanks and political science departments. pl
Very very similar to what seems to have been happening in Lebanon, the insertion of local guerillas in the role of quislings. Yet again an astonishing result for the “black op” scene. And again, the big question is why.
Racism? Fascism? Im seriously concerned that we will see a strong push for “ethnic cleansing” of the Gaza-strip as a continuation of this, calls for a final solution etc.
I first read about this in January, here: http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=143
Col. Lang writes:
I was solemnly assured by a young woman who was fresh from graduate school and working deep in the heart of the neocon labyrinth, that the Arabs and Muslims had no culture or ways worth saving and that they needed to be “re-made” into something worthwhile.
I’ve seen this on right wing blogs for 4 years, and have exhausted myself challenging it, the last acceptable bigotry. Nominal supporters of “Iraqi Freedom” hardly bother to conceal their contempt for Arabo-Islamic culture. How many Iraqis got wind of how their supposed supporters really felt about them and their culture?
As the Spanish were to the Indians, we are to the Muslims.
the bushies seem have figured out their competence
they are good at creating conditions for civil war
gaza-west bank palestinians
they have not yet succeeded in iran, syria, venezuela or north korea
(have i missed any)
they seem hopeful
they are still working at it
We need to be re-made into something worthwile?
If only they could decide what that was we could get on to becoming it and stop suffering these “birth pangs” of our new Middle East.
Do they want us to be a democracy loving people? Oops no, tried that and Hamas got into power (and so would Hizballah). Can’t risk any more of their “leaders on a string” being kicked out of office?
We tried being the peace offerers. Twice the Israelis were offered the Beirut Peace Plan of full peace for the 67 borders. Twice they ignored it with no pressure from the US. Does Caesar want it offered thrice?
Colonel, if you could just get word to us from them (apparently they don’t like talking to us much) in regards to how they want our worthless cultures and ways to be reconfigured, I would appreciate it. That way we could get on with it and they could leave us the hell alone.
Col., just out of curiousity, in what subject did this young woman have her degree? (If you say Middle Eastern Studies, then she sounds particularly unhinged.)
When does anyone ever recall a culture being “re-made” that didn’t want remaking? The arrogance of the neocon tribe (and their ignorance of history) never fails to amaze……
Thanks for both rosen and your comments. if it were not your report I would find the young Phd’s comments unbelievable. Perhaps it is having a large portion of my major at Princeton in Islamic History and the then  modern ME, but I find the level of literacy concerning that area among my contemporaries,by and large,to be scarily low. More to the point without empathy or a sense of difference and the legitimacy of difference. Your stories of present day D.C. are genuinely frightening. tthank you and the others on this blog.
When Francis Scott Key was confined for security purposes with the British fleet attacking Baltimore he expected to find himself to be a gentleman among gentlemen. Instead, he found the British officers to be, with few exceptions, “illiberal, ignorant and vulgar…filled with a spirit of malignity against everything American.” This is perhaps reflected in the seldom-sung third stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner:”
“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
In the fourth stanza there’s an interesting line: “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,” A pretty important qualifier, some would say.
“Racism? Yes, in that here is a certain desire to think of Islamdom as a failed experiment which should be abandoned.
“Fascism?” Not as I understand classic fascism. This has more to do with a failed utopian idealism which has no conscience with regard to individual suffering or to the suffering of groups of “sinners.”
One of the social pseudo “sciences.”
I never thought of NR as an academic. This is a man who sits and talks to the enemy. Real enemies. pl
“As the Spanish were to the Indians, we are to the Muslims” I do not think that is a valid comparison.
I do not think there is any historical precedent in what is happening now
Col: Thanks for the post. We cannot be too vigilent when it comes to policing the language used in polite company. I had the chance to have a long conversation with the German counsel for our region two weeks ago. He said the tone of American discourse is starting to sound a lot like Weimar Germany. Ugh.
“…I was solemnly assured by a young woman who was fresh from graduate school and working deep in the heart of the neocon labyrinth, that the Arabs and Muslims had no culture or ways worth saving and that they needed to be “re-made” into something worthwhile.”
Their positions are so absurd that their is no effective counter argument. It’s like arguing with the auditory hallucinations of a schizophrenic. Unfortunately, only failure *may* change these people’s minds. But even then they’ll probably just find some scapegoat to blame and hunker down in a think tank welfare job. Worse, they’ll end up teaching at the George Washington University School of International Hornet Nest Thrashing, Fireant Hill Kicking, and Sleeping Bear Poking.
This reminds me of a certain camposina lady friend of mine in Honduras. When her friends asked her why she wasn’t learning English from this Gringo, and why she didn’t want to try and come back to the States with me, her simple reply was “I’m Honduran. I speak Spanish.”
And that’s that.
My late father and I used to argue about American anti-Arab racism. He said in April 2003 that “they hate us and want to destroy our culture.” I would argue with him, tell him he was paranoid, exaggerating, etc.
He was a Lebanese immigrant educated in elite American missionary schools before arriving in this country; he fought (fruitlessly) in his own country for democracy and meritocracy and social justice. He was exactly the sort of Middle Easterner the neo-cons want to promote – Western-educated, pro-democracy, a feminist (yes!). He was a dedicated member of the Democratic party of North Carolina by the way.
I am so sorry to see that he was right and I was wrong. I am only glad that God took away his physical suffering last year, suddenly, so that he would not have to live to see the torment of his people. He considered all the Arabs to be his people.
No culture worth saving? Has your contact ever walked through the Islamic wing of the Metropolitan Museum?
I guess it’s thinking like that which allowed the sack of Baghdad’s museums and libraries in April 2003. My father and many other cultured Arabs like him believed the Americans did this on purpose, to destroy Arab culture and subjugate Arabs forever.
Rosen’s point was clear from news video of the action when Gaza fell to Hamas.
The Hamas guys all had AK-47’s and the Fatah guys where waving new-looking M-16s or related weapons with big banana clips.
(Not that their shiny new weapons seemed to have helped them much.)
The contrast was obvious from the video but no one commented on it at the time.
There’s a video story on the BBC website titled:
“Hamas hails Gaza ‘liberation'” dated 14 June.
Maybe someone can tell us what the Fatah men are waving around.
I would be careful of arguments from uniqueness. It is pretty hard to beat the Rape of Nanking or the fire bombing of Dresden. pl
Understood – but my point was mostly that the comparison was not apt.
US may be compared to Spain under Philip II or Olivares but Near East is not a counter part of the Americas – perhaps the Netherlands, but even that is not a good match – in my opinion.
I think it is not very useful to search for parallels in History; the study of History does not bring actionable intelligence but perhaps only wisdom.
The real question is what type of enemy America is facing in the Middle East. Clearly they are religious fanatics pushing back against the American Empire’s occupation of their homeland. But are they the existential enemy, forever fighting to destroy America in the Long War?
The decline in Black enlistments reflects that the Long War is actually a radical White Christian conflict against Undermeschen, like Mayan Indians, who must be killed or converted. The fighting will continue as long as the occupation continues. When the occupations end, the conflict will end. Muslim warriors will not follow the troops home. But the loss of the Empire and crushing debt will make America appear to be a rerun Soviet Empire in 1991; or if America is really lucky under Democratic leadership, a sequel of Jimmy Carter’s Malaise in 1979 and England in 1957 without the Colonies.
It’s simple racism and all the neocon nonsenses are redneck, Archie Bunker prejudices tarted up for semipolite delivery at AEI “seminars”.
“Only wisdom” — well, that hasn’t yet been tried so it might be worth cultivating. Going to be lots for the grownups to clean up when/if they ever get back in charge of things.
Of course, “grownups” does not include the preposterous Blair of Baghdad whose proposed new appointment shows how deep the mad racist redneckery has got — it’s not only the Russians who might be usefully treated with more respect.
Col. My apologies. I understand Rosen as you present him. I’m awkward at this type of communication.
I have a series of old video tapes on the Crusades narrated by Terry Jones (of Monte Python fame) who tries to inject a little levity into the depressingly gruesome story. In one memorable segment of the presentation, Jones takes the viewer back to a time when the Pope’s program to grab temporal power in Europe required stirring up the ignorant masses against the Muslims in “the holy land,” a faraway place most Europeans of the day couldn’t even locate on the maps they couldn’t read.
Anyway, in a preview of our own post-literate, visually captivated, TV-gawking age, the church commissioned — as part of its propaganda — stained glass windows featuring lurid scenes of Christians ostensibly suffering horribly from Muslim persecution: what Jones correctly called “the medieval equivalent of tabloid journalism.” Apparetnly, the “university graduate” you mention had imbibed from her “studies” something of the same “education” that the ignorant peasants of the middle ages enjoyed from the colorful gothic misrepresentations made to them at mass by a Christian “leadership” only too intent upon “secularizing” their native racism and bigotry.
This woman would have shared your anti-Catholic bias. pl
I think ol Blood and Guts Mattis would agree with the young woman…
Judge, Jury and Executioner
“On February 1, 2005, Lieutenant General Mattis, speaking at a forum in San Diego, apparently said “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.””
And to keep our honor clean…
I hope this post is close enough to the theme of ‘what is wrong with them people anyway? … we have nothing to do with it, that’s for sure’ for the following comment.
It consists of a question and a thought about the idea that Islam needs to be completely reformed, or that there is something essentially wrong about Arab or Islamic culture that requires violent ‘chaos creation’ imposed from outside to fix: That is, the idea that the whole religion and society has be ground down into a paste and remade from the ground up. I remembered something about the history of Islam, but I can’t find the book where I read it, so thought I would offer it up to see if Col. Lang or anyone here has any information. I read a book on the history of Islam, and it said that the extreme doctrinal conservatism of Islam is not a product of some essential element of Mohammed’s original teaching or early Islamic society, or an essential characteristic of the Arab mind, but rather a product of political influences around 1000 CE. It was an era of absolute rule in the Arab world, and evolving interpretation of scripture in the spirit of progressive revelation, combined with the lack of a church hierarchy struck the rulers of the time as a threat to their power. Their solution was to eliminate interpretation by authoritarian political means. The trick worked and it created 800+ years of very conservative politics and theology. I don’t think such theological stasis is unique to Islam. Maybe Byzantine Empire and the Confucian state are similar examples. And maybe Rome up until Constantine is another. The last 200 years has been the experience of Western colonization, usually imposed by military force, which is not conducive to liberalizing development among the colonized.
I’m not sure how we can ever know much about how politics and power structures affected the original revelations of the great religions. But I think we can know when and how politics affected the evolving institutions of existing religions. I think the three main branches of Christianity show several examples. Certainly political issues greatly affected the course of the Protestant Reformation.
The question: where did the idea that the current reactionary and intolerant Islamic fundamentalism is an essential part of the religion came from, and is it correct? I admit that I have had a hard time doing my homework here. I supposed that Bernard Lewis would be a good place to find out, since I’ve read that he is an influence on the neocons. But to be honest I have not finished any of his recent books, since they seem to be the same one rewritten over and over again. To be rude about it, he seems to be a mentally and conceptually very old guy who made up his mind a long time ago, and his long standing beliefs stand in the way of making clear arguments.
The thought: threatening a community, or making the appearance of a threat, is not a good way to spur open mindedness or liberalization. Violent and chaotic change is also not a good way for that whenever the liberalizing forces are not the most ruthless or violent, and I think that usually they are not (I got that idea from Hamilton). If one is willing and able to take the perspective of ordinary people for a moment (and they are the ones who will make the difference in the struggle against international stateless terrorist organizations in the long run), it is hard to imagine a powerful outside force intent on fostering chaos and remaking one’s society completely as not being a threat and preceived as such -no matter how well intentioned. Add in brutal minded dopes like Cheney and Likud neocons who might have less benign agendas (control of oil revenue for particular countries or companies, or complete military domination) and I do not see how it could be seen as anything other than a dire threat. In such an environment, an Islamic liberalizer is likely to be seen as at least a fool or more likely a traitor to one’s society. And intentionally provoking chaos in the hope that things will be better after the dust clears, (and we use our greater wealth and supposedly vastly cleverer smarts to give our guys a sure win) produces the same effect.
People are not perfect, and any earthly institution, including religion, is corrupt with self -interest, so it is not cynical to say that people will guide development of their institutions in a direction consistent with their perceived self-interest. Threatening people with chaos and destruction (even with the promise of a brave new world to come afterward), and advertising one’s good intentions with strong evidence of very bad faith is not a recipe for channeling peoples’ self interest towards liberal change. On the other hand, small changes that push people’s self-interest gradually in another direction can produce very great changes over time. From what I remember reading, the clamp down on interpretation in Islamic culture was not a sudden violent revolution, but a gradual process. And to make a goofy analogy, tiny gradual changes now leading to very big ones later, is certainly chaos of another sort (and more precisely defined and contemporary, and generally more ‘with it’ and cool than chaos as simply stuff completely messed up and confused)
So, the necon beliefs and actions described here and and in recent posts are counterproductive as well as stupid and wicked, even if all the necon factions are acting earnestly and in good faith. But then, folks like Cheney probably disagree with my assumptions. They still cannot believe that 911 could have happen without state sponsorship, or that if direct or indirect state support was involved, that it could ever come from one that they needed to be allied with to retain power (Saudi Arabia, for example). Or that every state is like a Cheney-dream state -a completely unifed entity with one truly great mind manipulating a frightened, obediant and docile populace.
And then finally there is the fact that some people never learn. Didn’t Bush try chaos strategy at the beginning of his term wrt to Israel and Palestine under Arafat’s Fatah? Weren’t his very words something like ‘Let’s let them fight it out and we’ll deal with who is left standing’? That didn’t work out so well, did it? Bush may have thought this was smart and wise realpolitik. The report from Nir Rosen makes me believe some folks used it as a ruse and cover from the beginning of the Bush administration.
My line of thought got a bit confused at the end of the last comment. Maybe I can straighten it out with some questions that recent posts have brought to mind.
Who really believes this phoenix from the ashes stuff and who is using as a cover for a cynical divide and conquer strategy? For how many of the neocons is the new world precisely the ashes and ruin that chaos brings? For how many of them is the proposition that Islam is essentially rotten also a cover story?
Do any of these peopple really believe that words speak louder than actions? To me the actions say ‘Our chaos will make you free to do what we want you to do’ Can anyone be that simple?
I read that Rove responded to early grim reports about post-invasion Iraq by saying that they would like and respect us better after we had shown we would really shove our weight around. Is Rove that twisted and stupid, or was he making a cynical joke?
Answers to those questions would provide a handy whose-who as far as I am concerned.
The “Education” you talk about, also produced the likes of Francis of Assisi just to name one. As Chesterton said… “There is a case for telling the truth; there is a case for avoiding the scandal; but there is no possible defense for the man who tells the scandal, but does not tell the truth.”
Nir Rosen came to my attention last year after the Israel-HA dust-up. This article by Nir on Hizballah showed that he was not willing to just amplify the corporate media spin.
His blog provides links to his various articles.
“At the beginning of this, just after the US intervention in Iraq began, I was solemnly assured by a young woman who was fresh from graduate school and working deep in the heart of the neocon labyrinth, that the Arabs and Muslims had no culture or ways worth saving and that they needed to be “re-made” into something worthwhile. Clearly, she thought of them as “untermenschen.” Considering her own heritage I thought that a particularly shameful belief. Some at the table, made up of those similar to her, protested but not many. Surprised, I asked her if she thought it would be easy to do that. She said that the level of difficulty would vary, but the job must be done. I hope she has relatives in the war, and not just in the think tanks and political science departments.”
One of the unfortunate lessons I’ve learned over the years is that neither the Israelis nor their most fervid American supporters seem to have learned anything meaningful from history. They’ve clearly learned all about the iron heel philosophy, but the rest is lacking. That the Israelis and their supporters view others as untermenschen is truly disappointing. One wonders if all of the support over the years has been worthwhile.
It seems these people are no better in power positions than are their adversaries. Of course, we in the U.S. have a problem with that as well.
I did not see the Rosen report, but assuming it is true, could this be the truth telling moment in this war’s reporting?
In Leonard Wibberly’s comic novel, “The Mouse That Roared,” he discusses the founding of the independent Duchy of Grand Fenwick by Sir Roger Fenwick–an English freebooter during the Hundred Years War. His description of Sir Roger’s philosophy pretty much fits the anti-intellectualism of the Neocons as well:
“In the few fragments that remain of his own story, he records that he learned but three things in two years at Oxford. The first, on which he placed the greatest value, was that ‘Yea’ might be turned into ‘Nay’ and vice versa if a sufficient quantity of wordage was applied to the matter. The second was that in any argument, the victor is always right, and the third that though the pen is mightier than the sword, the sword speaks louder and stronger at any given moment.”
Nir Rosen is someone “who talks to . . . real enemies.
Thank goodness somebody does, there’s a better chance of what they actually say being reported.
Nir wrote “In the Belly of the Green Bird” I believe, don’t have my files handy, I may be mistaken, but if that’s correct I remember it because it was worth remembering, my second highest book club recommendation.
The reason it is hard to find precedent is that said action is merrily the latest exploit in the thousand year war, and history gets a bit sketchy before that, a severe case of the victor writing the story.
The reason it has flared up is that the ‘buggers’ are sitting on our oil and one cannot get too righteous about oil, not nearly as much as Hun.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Not perfect, but the analogy is apt enough. It was inspired in part by Col. Lang’s report of the young woman’s conquistadora spirit and its convergence with the missionary zeal of the concluding sentence of the 2002 NSS: These values of freedom are right and true for every person, in every society—and the duty of protecting these values against their enemies is the common calling of freedom-loving people across the globe and across the ages.
The ultimate triumph of Materialism depends on the complete eradication of Idealism, now reduced to a few bastions of religious, traditionalist societies, well-intentioned reactionary movements (Muslim mainly, although history is littered with the remains of others – the Fugitives, for example) and anachronistic individuals. You have to knock down the old gods in order to raise new ones. For a literary example, in terms of the Spanish, consider D.H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent, a plea to resuscitate the Old Gods as a means of resisting colonialism.
An old story; an earlier example of which can be found buried in William Vaughan Moody’s anti-imperialist poem The Quarry (1900). The title of the poem puns on the double meaning of quarry as both something hunted and a place to extract something from, both of which are included in Moody’s theme: the helplessness of the aging, quietist cultures of the East in standing up to the predatory advances of imperialism. These are represented in the poem by various brutes of prey and one giant bird that comes swooping down upon a hapless, hunted elephant. The poem compounds images of the East through the principle figure of this “sacred elephant, snow-white” that burdened with physical and historical baggage, runs for its life through an ancient and decrepit Eastern landscape. At one point:
Blind as the eyes of pearl in Buddha’s brow
his beaded eyes stared thwart upon the road;
and feebler than the doting knees of eid,
his joints, of size to swing the builder’s crane
across the war-walls of the Anakim,
made vain and shaken haste.
An obscure and subtle metaphor, but back then the critique was that religious quietism prevented Muslims and Hindus from resisting Imperialism. Today, it’s all that remains.
It’s hard to destroy a civilization, but devaluing it makes things easier. The Spanish knew that better than anyone. Nothing has changed.
Yes, “God is dead” and she has just been able to discover a new god called “Freedom” to justify her actions and existence.
The Spaniards destroyed a “Civilization” as you say but they also created a new one in its place. Moreover, the Spaniards were willing to extend their institutions and laws to their colonies; they wanted new Hispanified peasants since they wanted to replicate the Iberian social organization in the new colonies. So they settled there – the equivalent would have been for US to make Iraq a US Dominion and extend the Laws of the United States there.
The Arabs also created a new “Civilization” when they destroyed the existing political and social structures of the Near East. Likewise for the Ottomans. None of these people were quietist in their Time of power; look at repeated wars of Muslims against Hindus in the territory of present day Pakistan and India.
And Chinese were not quietist when they kept on invading Vietnam over the centuries.
In my opinion, the quietism came centuries later when these non-Western people had become too dumb, too fat, and too happy to care about anything. The Western people kicked them out of their complacency and caused them to examine themselves, their traditions, and their institutions. And I think this process is irreversible. Look at how Arabs are being taught by US and Israel how to fight; for example.
Napoleon had warned exactly against such a thing; “There is a Dragon sleeping in the Orient, do not wake it up!” Quietism is a policy prescription more fitting to an Imperial power in its hour of triumph and dominance – it blunts the engenderment of opposing forces!
It is not “materialism” that will be the undoing of the current order – it is its inherent barbarism; i.e. belief in the Collective Powers of Man. It was for reasons such as that the Rabbis rejected Rome as being God-less; no tears shed for Rome’s decline by them!
>Nir wrote “In the Belly of the Green Bird” I believe, don’t have my files handy, I may be mistaken, but if that’s correct I remember it because it was worth remembering, my second highest book club recommendation.
Yes, he did write it.
I would say your father was right about some Americans and wrong about others. Unfortunately, the Americans-in-power are the ones he was right about.
A country this huge has many different point-of-view
groups in it. To be extremely over-simplistic, my feeling is that we have the Bush Americans and the UnBush Americans. Very few Bush Americans post here. But the Bush Americans have the power right now.
To give an example of an UnBush American in action, during Desert Storm One, I remember Representative Henry Gonzales speaking in Congress condemning in harshest terms possible the ongoing destruction of archeological sites all over
Iraq. And in runup to the current war, I remember either hearing or reading that a unified mass of Museum Directors, Art Historians, etc., from all over America, presented petitions, letters, etc., to
the Bush Administration authorities pleading for American Occupation Planning
to secure the Iraqi Museums,
Libraries, etc., against the
inevitable looting attempts.
Gonzales and those Museum Directors represent UnBush America. The Buscist authorities of course rejected those pleas. Rumsfeld’s gleeful gloating about the looting represented Bush America.
If it makes you feel any better, bear in mind that Bush America hates UnBush American culture just as deeply as Bush America hates
Arab culture, and is trying to destroy our culture just as hard as it is trying to destroy Arab culture. Our constitutional republican form of governance is a part
of UnBush American culture, for example, and you see how
hard the Bush Americans are working to destroy that.
Glad to see Nir Rosen’s work on this blog. He’s a great journalist (and very brave for staying in the Red Zone in Iraq). He also did a great piece on the plight of Iraq’s enormous refugee population in Syria/Jordan that appeared in NY Times Magazine(?) a couple months ago.