Thursday, July 04, 2013

Egypt's Christians welcome military coup against Muslim Brotherhood

The burden of Egypt. Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.
And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.
And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.
And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts
(Isaiah 19:1-4).
There is nothing simple about the religio-political dynamics of Egypt, and it would be foolish to frame this most recent revolution - the second in a year - in transitory Manichæan terms, perched somewhere between evil and holiness. The fact is that President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were democratically elected but did not rule with any regard to the rights and liberties of minorities or those who opposed the new Islamic/ist constitution. You simply cannot foist democracy on a divided nation: parliament is an expression of pre-existing national unity. And so millions of liberal Egyptians welcome the suspension of democracy by military intervention. The democratic Brotherhood aren't going to go away, but neither are the undemocratic liberals.

Egypt seemed a safer place under President Mubarak. It was certainly more stable; the people had jobs and food and a sense of well-being. Under Morsi, unemployment soared, poverty increased, tourism depleted and infrastructure collapsed. There was no desire to return to an era of military trials and summary judgments, but Egypt's Christians were acutely aware that democracy did not enhance pluralistic liberty. Their grievances went unheard; their persecution increased; and journalists who dared to speak out were 'disappeared'.

Now there is a curious coalition of forces: millions of Christians, young Arab Muslims, the Army, the police and the aspirant liberal class. These are ranged against millions of impassioned supporters of Morsi and aggrieved adherents of the Brotherhood, whose democratic Islamic/ist project has been brought to an end.

We in the West can criticise the Army from the comfort of our armchairs.

We would do well to listen to our Christian brothers and sisters on the ground, for it is they who have endured violence and suffering under Morsi. This from Pope Tawadros II, leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who paid tribute to the 'three greats of Egypt – the people, the army and the youth':
"It is wonderful to see the Egyptian people taking back their stolen revolution in a peaceful way, through the idea of Rebel and its youth."
And this from the Most Rev Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, Anglican Bishop of Egypt (and Jerusalem, the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa):
At last, Egypt is now free from the oppressive rule of the Muslim Brotherhood! The Armed Forces took the side of the millions of Egyptians who demonstrated in the streets since the 30th of June against President Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Armed Forces responded to the invitation of the people to intervene and force the President to step down at the request of the people of Egypt. Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-SiSi invited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and The Grand Imam of Egypt Dr. Ahmed el-Tayyib, and other political leaders, to discuss the roadmap for the future of Egypt. After this meeting, it was announced that the head of the constitutional court will be an interim leader of the nation. The current controversial constitution is now suspended. The new government will involve capable people from different backgrounds.

As soon as Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced this, millions of Egyptians on the streets went around rejoicing, singing, dancing, and making a lot of fireworks. I have never seen Egyptians rejoicing in such a way! They deserve this joy as they insisted to write their own history!

Since the Muslim Brotherhood ruled the country a year ago, we Egyptians experienced divisions, exclusions, sectarian clashes, fanaticism, a decrease in tourism, and a bad economy.

This is an answer to the prayers of so many people from around the world who were praying for our beloved country Egypt. Please continue to pray for protection from violent reaction of the Islamists which already has started. Pray also for unity and reconciliation after more than 1 year of divisions.

May the Lord bless you!
+ Mouneer Egypt
These are important messages of Christian solidarity with Egypt's military and liberal and/or secular Muslims. We must pray for peace, tolerance and healing in Egypt. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about.

68 Comments:

Blogger bluedog said...

'You simply cannot foist democracy on a divided nation: parliament is an expression of pre-existing national unity.'

Really? Whenever this communicant has sat in on debate in the Mother of Parliaments he has come away with the impression that Parliament is a substitute for civil war. Or least, that was the case before the LibLabCon consensus. The only 'unity' was the understanding that Parliament offered a peaceful solution to disunity and discord.

Relating these thoughts to Egypt, in the first instance it is very disappointing that a democratically elected government has been overturned at the request of the mob, however poor that government. A dangerous precedent has been set.

The mob now know that if they shout loud enough the military will buckle and prorogue any parliament of which the fickle mob disproves. Politically ambitious Egyptians will conclude that nothing has changed and that the route to the top is via the officer corps, as it has been since Nasser overthrew the monarchy.

Thus the Arab Spring snap freezes into winter without passing through summer or autumn.

4 July 2013 at 09:59  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Democracy just provides some sort of legitimacy for government. It's the liberal bit of our liberal democracy that provides the bits we really value here. Just because there are free and fair elections in the Middle East does not mean that things like rights and freedom will follow.

4 July 2013 at 10:23  
Blogger spicksandspecks said...

I'm an Australia who has been resident in Egypt for 7 years. Most of my Christian friends are overjoyed to see the end of the Muslim Brotherhood, and official statements by the Bible Society of Egypt, Bishop Mouneer and Pope Tawadros have reflected those feelings.
It seems to me we are forgetting very quickly what happened the last time the military ruled Egypt - 29 Christians killed in Maspero, 73 killed in the Port Said soccer stadium, thousands of civilians tried in military courts and attacks on NGOs.
My other concerns are:
- Can you really build a democracy on the foundation of a military coup, even a coup with popular support?
- What is to stop the MB from turning to violence, given the political door has been slammed shut in their face?
- This is a very dangerous precedent to set, especially in a nascent democracy like Egypt. What will happen if a majority of people decide they don't like the next president? Do we get rid of him through another military intervention?

4 July 2013 at 10:31  
Blogger Albert said...

I'm glad that Christians on the ground are pleased - because I think the whole thing looks disturbing.

It seems the former President is guilty of dividing the country of imposing a particular religious world-view on Egypt, of failing to sort out the economy etc.

I guess David Cameron is glad he isn't in charge of Egypt - he would have been ousted long ago (and his electoral democratic deficit is greater than that of President Morsi).

4 July 2013 at 10:57  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I deplore the simplistic approach employed by that ridiculous broadcaster the BBC, with their democracy is good, everything else is bad mantra. The situation in Egypt is clearly most complex and we should be slow to comment, yet alone pass judgement, on such complex situations.
Thinking of our own situation, which is admittedly very different, it is all very well voting in, by majority, a government, but if that body has no respect for the reasonable rights of minorities, Traditional Christians and others of sincere faith, uninfluenced by the pervasive, mindless drift of our permissive society, it is not a liberal democracy. Until we achieve something closer to the spirit of true democracy we should hang back from passing political judgement. However we do need to pray for our brothers and sisters in faith.

4 July 2013 at 11:01  
Blogger John Thomas said...

The Establishment West, remember (that includes the MSM, and thus the BBC) tried establish the idea that the "Arab Spring" really was Spring, and the US, in particular is very ... what shall one say? ... supportive? of the Muslim Brotherhood (at least, Obama is). Thus, the new revolution is bad news for them, but (as we see) good for Christians. But, yes, it may not stay good. Remember "democracy" as we know and understamd it can never, will never, be established in a non-Western or Muslim country, so all the references to it, and to the "Mother of Parliaments" are totally misguided. I'd believe Mouneer Anis over almost everybody, any time.

4 July 2013 at 13:37  
Blogger Albert said...

John Thomas,

I think that what we've seen at least since the Iraq war, is that the secular mindset of our politicians leads to profoundly naive and harmful foreign policy.

4 July 2013 at 14:06  
Blogger John Thomas said...

- Quite right, Albert. Apparently it's the "Neocons" who supported the idea of exporting democracy - Bush, I understand, was one (actually, I'm not sure I really understand who or what "Neocons" are ...)

4 July 2013 at 14:29  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

George Bush is famously a Christian and you'll find quotes like this on the Net:

"Freedom is on the march in this world. I believe everybody in the Middle East desires to live in freedom. I believe women in the Middle East want to live in a free society. I believe mothers and fathers want to raise their children in a free and peaceful world. I believe all these things, because freedom is not America's gift to the world, freedom is the almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world."

4 July 2013 at 15:24  
Blogger Albert said...

George Bush's religious beliefs are irrelevant, Dan. He operates in a secular political structure: his political world-view sees freedom as an end in itself in a way that many Middle Eastern Muslims would most certainly reject as anti-Allah.

4 July 2013 at 15:34  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

I think that what we've seen at least since the Iraq war, is that the secular mindset of our politicians leads to profoundly naive and harmful foreign policy.

Leaving Hussein as a nuclear-armed hegemon was not an option. So what was your alternative? Should we have:

1. Inserted our own loyal version of Saddam into power? You would have blasted us for that.

2. Ripped Iraq into its constituent regions? You would have blasted us for that.

3. Attempted to de-Islamicize Iraq? That would have failed, and you would have blasted us for that.

4. Ruled Iraq like a colony but that would have required a ruthlessness we don't possess, and you would have blasted us for that.

The problem is that Islam is a religion that is incompatible with the West, but protected in the West. We are trying to fight a religious war without a religious alternative. That's why we try to export democracy. Freedom is our de facto religion. But our concepts of freedom disarm us against the enemy.

So other that carping about naivety, do you have any credible alternatives?

carl

4 July 2013 at 15:56  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Uh-oh.

4 July 2013 at 16:11  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


Capital news, Archbishop, what !

Democracy, Arabs and Islam just don’t go together. It’s a racial thing, you know. An Arab when aroused, and it’s so damn easy for him to get like that, becomes in an instant, barking mad. Reason goes out of the window, and his innate Islamic condition takes over. No dealing with him then, not at all. He’s in killing mood, you quickly find.

So, three cheers for the Egyptian army. You know where you are with those fellows in control…

And forget about democracy in the Middle East. It’s an oxymoron. You keep those types in line with a whip, not a vote…





4 July 2013 at 16:34  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

Leaving Hussein as a nuclear-armed hegemon was not an option. So what was your alternative?

Finding out whether he was a nuclear-armed hegemon might have been a start. In any case, I like the use of your rhetorical "was not an option". It saved you arguing the point.

The problem is that Islam is a religion that is incompatible with the West

Now that's the real problem: they assumed that you could fire the police and the army, and that Muslims in Iraq would just embrace Western liberal democracy. That was the naivety I was getting at.

4 July 2013 at 17:01  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

The problem is that Islam is a religion that is incompatible with the West, but protected in the is West.
Freedom is our de facto religion.
No bad thing I say; Your freedom is to follow your religion; My freedom is to reject religion.
That Islam is incompatible with the West is undoubtedly true, but even truer is that Islam is incompatible with anywhere it settles until it comes to dominate; bit like early Christianity one could say, but happening in our own lifetime.
The West has tolerated the presence of ‘Islam’ in our midst and only recently, because of our carbon fuel addiction and the only people who encourage ‘respect’ of Muslim beliefs and customs are the Western Churches.
It is the individual Muslim living in the West who is rightly protected, not the religion they follow or submit to. For what it’s worth, the word ‘Islam’ may well serve as useful religious shorthand but is no more meaningful than it is to say Quaker belief is the same as Coptic Christian.
Scientific Logic is anathema to religion. Religion demands belief before evidence. What they all do is weave words of confusion and contradiction around their particular self-serving doctrines that can only be interpreted by its particular priestly male-only hierarchy – how telling is that, that it is a temporal man-made construct? They (religions) invariably and criminally draw all and sundry in to the turmoil and violence to which its adherents, at the behest of its various holy-men, at some time or other indulge.
One would have thought that ‘Freedom of belief’ in a democratic society’ would be the pinnacle of cultural attainment but this is not enough for today’s religionists. The vehemence with which our Calvinist contributor defends the truth of literal Christian creation is on a reasonable par with the Koranic ‘truth’ and exhortation that demands the beheading of those who insult the Koran, Allah or his prophet.
We know for certain the world was not made in seven days or is only 6000 years old. We also know for certain that all religions don’t worship the same god, so why should we give religion any credibility at all, other than as an act of human empathy for the terminally convinced. Islam just happens to be the hot ticket in town at the moment and as much as I would like to sit back and watch just the religions scrap it out, to suggest that only another exclusive religion can stop its roll is symptomatic of the same delusion of creationism and flat-Earth science.

4 July 2013 at 18:30  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

Finding out whether he was a nuclear-armed hegemon might have been a start.

You have to prevent the occurrence before the fact. Once he gets the weapon, it's too late. You have to preempt the hegemon before it comes into existence. That means you have to make a judgment on the basis of imperfect data. Better to be too conservative than too optimistic.

they assumed that you could fire the police and the army, and that Muslims in Iraq would just embrace Western liberal democracy.

That's a fair criticism. No one had the 'nation building' mission. The military didn't want it. The State Dept didn't have the tools for it. The US isn't much of an Imperial power. But that doesn't address the fundamental question. What would you do otherwise? "Nation building" done well still depends upon a coherent end game. What is your alternate end game? Pretending Saddam wasn't going to eventually succeed isn't a coherent alternative.

The West had to try to create a Western-friendly version of Islamic culture in Iraq. Even if we expected it to fail, we had to try. At least now we will have the political standing to try other alternatives.

carl

4 July 2013 at 18:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

No one had the 'nation building' mission. The military didn't want it. The State Dept didn't have the tools for it. The US isn't much of an Imperial power.

The people to ask were the British - we have loads of experience of this sort of thing! The comparison I would make is with Lord Louis Mountbatten at the end of the war. He had a massive amount of land in his control - so he employed the Japanese army as police. Not ideal, but better than Iraq.

You have to prevent the occurrence before the fact. Once he gets the weapon, it's too late. You have to preempt the hegemon before it comes into existence. That means you have to make a judgment on the basis of imperfect data.

Imperfect data? What was the data? The truth is, that without 9/11 we would never have gone into Iraq, but as anyone with an ounce of understanding of the situation would appreciate, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

Moreover, I think you are arguing yourself into the point of invading any and every non-friendly state in danger of getting a nuclear weapon. If all large powers took that view, the result would be catastrophe. So I don't think your case works even on utilitarian grounds (and as ever, I don't accept such grounds).

At least now we will have the political standing to try other alternatives.

No, we have emboldened rogue states because they can gamble that we won't intervene having had our fingers burnt.

4 July 2013 at 18:51  
Blogger Albert said...

Dreadnaught,

Scientific Logic is anathema to religion. Religion demands belief before evidence.

Rubbish. Christianity provides evidence, it may not be the evidence you demand, but that may tell us more about you. If it is evidence you demand before belief, your statement is self-refuting. Who can provide evidence for scientific logic (whatever that is)? Science assumes certain axioms, it cannot therefore demonstrate them.

What they all do is weave words of confusion and contradiction around their particular self-serving doctrines

Somewhat ironic in the light of my previous comment.

They (religions) invariably and criminally draw all and sundry in to the turmoil and violence to which its adherents

Again, has the whole history of the period following the French Revolution passed you by? In any case, what is your evidence for this?

We also know for certain that all religions don’t worship the same god, so why should we give religion any credibility at all

What a wonderful non-sequitur!

One would have thought that ‘Freedom of belief’ in a democratic society’ would be the pinnacle of cultural attainment but this is not enough for today’s religionists.

Well let us remember who it is that defending freedom of belief on this thread, and whose freedom it was that was denied. Let us remember also that in the lamentable catalogue of human crimes against freedom, the atheist takes all the top slots.

In short, your post was just a rant. It was without evidence and logic. In refuted itself. In short it was an exercise in prejudice and not much more.

4 July 2013 at 19:12  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Albert

Again, has the whole history of the period following the French Revolution passed you by?

Not in the least.

Where is the evidence that the 6000 year old Earth was made in a week?

4 July 2013 at 19:55  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

Iraq was not 'any nation.' It was lead by a megalomaniac who had already started two regional wars in his quest to recreate the Babylonian empire. He was seeking to exert dominance over one of the most important economic regions in the world. The great lesson he learned from the invasion of Kuwait was that he should have waited until had acquired nuclear weapons. He would have neutralized the Israel nuclear advantage and allowed much greater freedom of action against Israel by its enemies. Saddam might have actually used a nuclear weapon or prompted a pre-emptive Israel strike. And all of this would have been left for the US to handle. This is what the Second Iraq War was about. It had nothing to do with 9/11.

Now there was uniform consensus among Western Intelligence that Saddam was close. That's the information that Bush acted upon. If you think he was wrong then offer a coherent alternative. What should have been done about the problem of a nuclear armed Iraq? Doing nothing was was not an option. Setting the American Army in Saudi Arabia in perpetuity was not an option. Dropping yet one more expectation of deterrence on the US was not an option. So what would you have done?

If Iraq was to be occupied, how should it have been reconstituted? You say would shouldn't have been done. You never say what should have been done. Here is your opportunity.

carl

4 July 2013 at 20:04  
Blogger Albert said...

Dreadnaught,

Where is the evidence that the 6000 year old Earth was made in a week?

I don't think it was.

4 July 2013 at 20:05  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

The consensus seems to be that Iran is developing nuclear weapons too.

4 July 2013 at 20:07  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Albert

I don't think it was.

So why do so many?

4 July 2013 at 20:11  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

Now there was uniform consensus among Western Intelligence that Saddam was close.

Not true, I think. British intelligence knew that the facts were being fixed around the policy of invasion. French intelligence which seems to have provided some of the nuclear allegation also admitted it lacked hard evidence.

You never say what should have been done. Here is your opportunity.

I am not going to concede that action was required. You keep sexing up the evidence beyond the facts.

4 July 2013 at 20:16  
Blogger Albert said...

The consensus seems to be that Iran is developing nuclear weapons too.

Well said Danjo. Over to you Carl. Are you going to invade Iran?

4 July 2013 at 20:17  
Blogger Albert said...

Dreadnaught,

So why do so many?

I have my theories on that, but none that I would say would catch all. Why don't you ask them! It's a minority position - at least in the UK.

4 July 2013 at 20:18  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Albert

I have my theories on that...

No wish here to skew the thread Al - another time perhaps.

4 July 2013 at 20:27  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

I see. So you advocate the 'Pretend Saddam won't succeed' approach. Your fallback is 'Dump the whole bucket of s**t on the US because it's too late to act.' Those were the outcomes we were trying to avoid.

On the other hand, the French would have made boatloads of money trading French arms for Iraqi oil.

carl

4 July 2013 at 20:35  
Blogger bluedog said...

Carl, the invasion of Iraq was at best, highly speculative and at worst, based on a lie. Tony Blair is on record as saying that British territory (Cyprus bases) were within 45 minutes of nuclear attack. This claim presupposes a nuclear weapon and the means of delivery, neither of which were possessed by Iraq. This communicant remains totally unconvinced by any claims that Iraq's Scuds had a range beyond that of the German V2 on which the Scud is based. It defies belief that Western intelligence could be totally ignorant of Iraq's capabilities. For a decade after the First Gulf War we had enforced a no-fly zone over much of the country. How could we not know?

When democratically elected governments send young men to die on the basis of blatant falsehood our democracy is greatly diminished.

As Rudyard Kipling wrote in Epitaphs of War after the death of his son John at age 18 in World War 1, 'If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.'

Nothing new under the sun.

4 July 2013 at 21:57  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

So you advocate the 'Pretend Saddam won't succeed' approach.

I cannot for the life of me why you have characterised me as saying that. I am saying that, there was insufficient evidence for war. I am saying that if we applied that level of evidence we would be invading other countries - as Danjo points out, Iran looks a reasonable target. I am saying that by going into Iraq (especially in the naive way we managed things) we made the world a more dangerous place.

4 July 2013 at 22:11  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Bluedog said, Relating these thoughts to Egypt, in the first instance it is very disappointing that a democratically elected government has been overturned at the request of the mob, however poor that government. A dangerous precedent has been set.

I wouldn't worry too much about that loss of a pedagogical opportunity to experience the joys of parliamentary democracy, bluedog. Democracy never really happened in Egypt in the way we think of it and besides, democracy is not a panacea or necessarily the best form of government. It's not that people were bad or stupid before "inventing" liberal democracies, it's that the system didn't ...and in fact, couldn't... work whenever it was tried in most post-band level social systems. Democracy seems to work only in a very narrow and perhaps even a closing gap in the cultural spectrum. It requires a "critical mass" of intelligent, cultured, tolerant, hard working, honest and fairly wealthy citizens, which is why democracies begin with numerically tiny elites and only expand with a broader suffrage with the betterment of the other classes. When we give a dumb, superstitious, violent and illogical majority the power to vote, we might as well put up a sign saying, "come vote in the last election ever."

Turkey and Egypt did relatively well when the elites--the landed gentry, the entrepreneurial class, professionals, the army officers, academia and intelligentsia-- called the shots. This is what people in Turkey and Egypt are starting to clue into; that if you empower the turnips in the provinces and among the have-nots and the uneducated, they will vote Free Stuff for themselves or empower the charismatic religious or ideological lunatics. Or both.

The Egyptian productive classes took power in their own hands to save themselves and their country. Their support comes from the millions of the poor who recognize that an efficient, working dictatorship which provides at least some form of financial and social stability can be preferable to theoretical democratic principles of all they can bring in is poverty, disorganization and injustice. Mubarak's government wasn't up to our Western standards, so it was easy to belittle...until someone showed just how low it is possible to sink under the "democratically elected" Islamists.

4 July 2013 at 23:25  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Dreadnaught said, Scientific Logic is anathema to religion. Religion demands belief before evidence. What they all do is weave words of confusion and contradiction around their particular self-serving doctrines that can only be interpreted by its particular priestly male-only hierarchy...

O, go on, Dreadnought. Surely you recognize the hilarity of giving us received wisdom in the form of a priori assumptions and a rather familiar secular catechism?

"Scientific Logic" has not penetrated most of humanity, be they religious fanatics or staunch atheist ideologue. Take a gander of some of the inanities brilliant, logical people can come up with. Science is not what everyone wants to imagine it as. It's not a universal solvent, an answer to everything, a code for the future of humankind. It's only a systematic way of knowing, a research strategy and a methodology that happened to be the most successful way of obtaining knowledge in certain areas and which produces answers for certain questions. And however much you want to hem and haw, its intellectual underpinnings were created by deeply religious people and emerged squarely out of the rationalist streams of Classical (Pagan), Judaic and Christian thought.

Also, your bugaboo horror-tale above applies equally well to atheistic autocratic systems such Fascism, Nazism and Communism. And the current goulash of leftist, internationalist, spiritualist, pseudo-scientific and environmentalist bullshit that's emerging right now has the potential of being equally as nasty. But perhaps you have a Another Way, Dreadnaught? Let us know what it is so we superstitious primitives can pray to it, build customs around it even turn a buck or two from it.

5 July 2013 at 00:48  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

I characterized your position that way because Saddam failing to succeed at getting nukes is the only way the policy works. By the time you acquired evidence sufficient in your mind to justify war, it would have been too late to take any effective action. Of course, that would have been a geostrategic disaster, to which enlightened opinion would have responded 'Hey America. Deal with that, please.'

As for the world being more dangerous, the obvious rejoinder is 'Compared to what?' You aren't dealing with a nuclear hegemon. You are tacitly comparing the present reality with stasis and not the new reality that was preempted. Defeating Germany lead to the rise of the Soviet Union and arguably made the world more dangerous. That doesn't mean you find some way to live with Nazi Germany. You have to deal with the enemy in front of you.

As for invading Iran, I can certainly see justification for doing so if Iran were to become as dangerous as Iraq under Hussein. But decisions for War are not formulaic. You don't just line up the causes and choose 'Fight.' There were other considerations that made a war in Iraq possible. I am not sure those conditions exist in Iran. If however the US government chose to fight, I would support it. The question is academic however. The US has neither the capability nor the will to do it. There will come a time when the West will plead for the US to do something. Those pleas will fall on deaf ears.

Fear that. If the US can't, the Israelis will.

carl

5 July 2013 at 01:08  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

If you all hadn't been such naughty little rebels, Carl, you'd be good little Canadians with fewer headaches.

Happy 4th of July to you and yours!

5 July 2013 at 02:43  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Avi

Just you watch it. Otherwise we might have to dispatch the American Hockey team north of the border. A quick short campaign from Montreal to Ottawa to Toronto to Winnipeg to Calgary. After five straight shutouts you will be obliged to surrender.

Then we move the Hockey Hall of Fame to Denver.

carl

5 July 2013 at 03:29  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Pffft!

5 July 2013 at 03:32  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Avi

Wait. Canadians do play hockey, correct? Will your citizens require instruction so they can form a team? We Americans will helpfully explain the rules if needed.

carl

5 July 2013 at 03:56  
Blogger bluedog said...

Avi @ 23.25, I'll do my best to adapt to the new orthodoxy but it won't be easy. Now let me see: Democracy - Bad, Military Dictatorship - Good. Impressed? Or must try harder?

This blog continually rails against relativism and promotes a form of Judeo-Christian absolutism. It therefore surprises that the onset of an Islamic democracy is grounds for a re-ordering of priorities to the extent that a core Western position, democracy allied with the concurrent rule of law and due process can be dumped so unceremoniously in the name of expediency.

In the specific case of Egypt, should we now welcome a return of Mubarak and family? Or are we going to applaud as al-Sissy quietly diverts the wealth of the Egyptian people into his Swiss bank account? His Grace's post starts with talk of 'foisting' democracy on the Egyptians. Wrong! It was their own choice and as a free people they have a democratic right to make bad choices. They did. But a democratic fix is better than the army.

Those in the West who are now qualifying their support for democracy are providing ammunition to others like Peter Mandelson who advocate a post-democratic society in Europe. Mandelson and his like need no encouragement; don't give it to them.

5 July 2013 at 09:44  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"This blog continually rails against relativism and promotes a form of Judeo-Christian absolutism"

This blog does no such thing, Bluedog.

5 July 2013 at 09:52  
Blogger bluedog said...

Oh dear, Your Grace 09.52. Do you mean there is nothing absolute in Anglicanism or are you making a wider point?

5 July 2013 at 10:10  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

By the time you acquired evidence sufficient in your mind to justify war, it would have been too late to take any effective action.

So, to be clear, you think we should go to war on insufficient evidence, just in case?

Seriously?

As for the world being more dangerous, the obvious rejoinder is 'Compared to what?'

Compared the evidence which (correctly) did not show Saddam had WMD. Do you know how many suicide bombings there were in Iraq before the war? 0. Do you know how many civilian deaths from suicide bombings there were after the war? Over 12 000. Then throw in all the other damage, all the other deaths, and generations of you Muslim men who are angry with the West because they lost brothers and fathers. Then you will begin to see why you don't go to war unless the evidence is properly convincing - nay, the evidence was so poor that our intelligence services were saying the facts were being made to fit the policy, and other nations' intelligence services were saying there was a lack of evidence.

I think the idea that we will just leave it to the US to "deal with" is arrogant in the extreme. You may not have noticed, but a small group of islands off the Northern coast of Europe also sent troops (together with other nations). Sure, we don't have the resources to deal with the problem by ourselves, but to imagine we weren't there is appalling. Remember: when the world really needed the US from 1939-1941, you chaps looked the other way. All Europe was under the Nazi jack-boat, Britain was blitzed, and you did next to nothing.

5 July 2013 at 10:42  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Carl,

I trust you have a good 4th July holiday, sipping the occasional glass of Chianti? Last year I did a BBQ for some American friends and I felt liked I'd minced an entire cow, by the time they were finished (they were 'growing lads' as my sister would say!).

Anyway, you might be interested to know that the British also play hockey, but it tends to be a game played by ladies (at least it was at my school); the boys play Rugby, which is like your 'football', but without the padding and protective helmets...

5 July 2013 at 10:53  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Bluedog,

You are usually astute in some of your observations, but this isn't one of them. What is the point of having a 'free' election, only to see that election lead to a theocratic state, which is clearly at odds with western style democracy (a bit like Germany in 1933).

However, it seems to me, that as Inspector said in his own way, that western style democracy can't cohabit with theocratic Islam.

Iran, which has 'elections', it is essentially a contest between (already vetted, a council of Mullahs, or 'the guardian council') one form of religious candidates and another ('reformers' as they are called).

The same goes for the communist regimes of the past, which claimed to be 'people's democratic republics of...' or get a 99% voter turnout and 100% for the single party permitted to partake in said elections...

5 July 2013 at 10:57  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

In respect of the mini-debate on Iraq, it seems to me much of the criticism of the US and Britain is relying on hindsight.

At the time of the invasion, though, it was known that Saddam was brutal dictator that had invaded 2 countries in the reason, without provocation, using chemical weapons in one and also in crushing internal revolt.

At least those who opposed the invasion at the time did so because of conviction, not because of events after the invasion. And that is the rub, I don't think there was enough thought as to what would happen after Saddam was toppled.

As for Iran, I think sooner or later Israel will strike it, in part because her survival depends on it and secondly one only has to look at North Korea, which is nuclear armed, unstable, but which also uses its nuclear potential to 'blackmail' other states for concessions.

Well know, though, the concessions Iran would demand would be nothing other than the dismantling (bit by bit ) of Israel. Alas the whole "point" of Israel is that the Jewish people will never again be subject to genocide. So, with that in mind, I think Israel would be right to bomb the nuclear sites.

There is a lot of talk about how Israel could/could not do that. But that is what they said prior to the 1967 war, so it might take the whole mobilisation of the IDF...

Where American support is really required is diplomatically and (for the wider west) to keep the straits open and the oil flowing from the gulf states and saudi. That should not a difficulty, given that America has a whole battle group in the Persian Gulf.

5 July 2013 at 11:07  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Avi,

Glad to see that you are still around. A couple of interesting posts there.

5 July 2013 at 11:09  
Blogger bluedog said...

Hannah @ 10.57, thanks for the faint praise. I don't think I'm being un-astute, it's just that my view needs further explanation; here goes.

Let's start from the position that democracy derives from Greek thought and if properly implemented gives an individual a say in the selection of her government. As you know, the quid quo pro in return for this right sees the citizen given a high degree of individual responsibility and freedom of choice, including the privilege of failure. Now as the Inspector rightly points out, western style democracy cannot cohabit with Islam. Islam is all about the will of Allah and not freedom of choice. Something has to give and the outcome will be binary, a bit risky. In fact, by choosing western-style democracy in the first instance, the Egyptians were implicitly challenging Islam. So the Islamists were resisting. Regrettably the army changed the rules and ended a most interesting contest that was being played out within a democratic frame of reference.

Clearly there is dilemma here for the West. If democracy produces outcomes we don't like, what do we do? Dump democracy and abandon our principles, doing whatever seems expedient at the time? Or stick with the program? If we follow your proscription it's the former. Not exactly what one would call staying the course and playing the long game.

You can see a similar events unfolding in Turkey where Erdogan's Islamist AKP has been challenged on the streets by supporters of the Kemalist model. Again a very interesting contest and being conducted on impeccable democratic terms. Fortunately the Turkish military is lying low. But then with 330 general officers under house arrest there is a clear lack of political intrigue in those circles. However it does seem that the protesters have successfully put Erdogan on notice about his plans for further Islamification and will continue to resist.

Why shouldn't the same happen at the other end of the former Ottoman empire in Egypt?

5 July 2013 at 12:46  
Blogger Albert said...

Hannah,

At the time of the invasion, though, it was known that Saddam was brutal dictator that had invaded 2 countries in the reason, without provocation

And we supported him in the first conflict. Iraq was a buttress against Iran. Now that buttress is gone. I would have thought Israel is more vulnerable.

The reason for objecting to the war, is that there wasn't reason and evidence enough for it. This was clear at the time (though not necessarily clear to the public).

5 July 2013 at 12:46  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

So, to be clear, you think we should go to war on insufficient evidence, just in case?

Notice that clause I inserted into the sentence - in your mind. I suppose we could have waited until the Iraqis detonated a nuclear device. Then there would have been sufficient evidence in your mind to justify war. It would have been too late to fight, but the legal niceties would have been satisfied. Unfortunately the world of international relations isn't a court of law. There aren't rules of evidence. There aren't judges and courts and laws. The US doesn't have to meet your expectation of a burden of proof. This is about national interest and acting in the national interest. The US determines that standard for itself and acts when its interests are threatened. The risk of a nuclear-armed Iraq was extraordinary. In the absence of action, the responsibility for mitigation would have fallen exclusively on the US. That's why the US acted. It had the information it had and it acted on that information because the risk of not acting was so great.

I think the idea that we will just leave it to the US to "deal with" is arrogant in the extreme.

Albert, in the late 90's the combined nations of Europe couldn't project power into Bosnia. Into Bosnia! That is a nation a couple hundred miles down the road and connected by highways! A nation that Hitler conquered in 1941 almost as an afterthought. Europe had to beg Clinton to send American forces, and Clinton did so to maintain the credibility of NATO. In 2011, the combined nations of Europe couldn't fly fighter planes across the Gulf of Sidra unless the Americans first suppressed Libyan air defenses, provided intelligence for targeting, and provided AAR capability. Do you honestly think any friendly nation in the Middle East would credit anything to a European military guarantee?

But this wouldn't be just any military guarantee. It would have to be a nuclear guarantee. What expectation should they have that Europe would provide a credible nuclear guarantee against Iraq? The idea of a European nation actually committing a nuclear weapon in war is too ridiculous to contemplate. You haven't the will to do it. Will there even still be a European nuclear capability in 10 years? Europe could help in some ways. But it couldn't do any of the heavy lifting. The threatened nations of the Middle East wouldn't much care if Europe participated or not.

All the things I mentioned earlier - the neutralization of Israeli nuclear dominance and the concomitant increased possibility of war between Arab and Israeli, the intimidation of the Gulf oil states, the control over so much of the world's known oil reserves and the economic power thereby derived, the aggressive expansionist tendencies of the Saddam Hussein, the possibility that he might actually use one of those weapons, or trigger the Israelis to do so - those realities can only be met with hard power. And Europe doesn't possess hard power anymore. Iraq wasn't going to be a bulwark against Iran. Iraq would have dominated the entire Middle East landscape in perpetuity. That's what the world isn't dealing with right now. Suicide bombers in Iraq are trivial by comparison.

carl

5 July 2013 at 15:08  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Bluedog,

Oh I'm never faint about anything, so praise all round!

I'll certainly mull over what you've said in reply, but I do think there is a secondary problem- the extent to which democracy is dependent upon relative wealth.

As Avi notes above it is more a question of 'mob rule' if you are in country of poor peasants, with a tiny wealthy elite of a couple of hundred people control 99.999999% of the scraps of said country.

This is made worse by the inability of anyone to progress up the social ladder and that is the difference with those types of countries and the UK.

Britain, an old parliamentary democracy, didn't give every adult the vote until 1928, but it has, from the post feudal black death era, allowed for a mechanisms for which people can and 'better' themselves.

5 July 2013 at 18:07  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Albert,

I think Israel was quite happy for both countries to engage in war, as that meant they weren't focusing on them.. but if the Israelis wanted to intervene they did (& will do so). I think they bombed the nuclear sites of Iraq in the 1980s?

I see that there were arguments against the Iraq war at the time, but wasn't the bulk of opposition from those who opposed the idea of a 'imperialist' regime change war in principal?

5 July 2013 at 18:12  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Hi bluedog, busy day today, hence my tardiness.

Here's you: I'll do my best to adapt to the new orthodoxy but it won't be easy. Now let me see: Democracy - Bad, Military Dictatorship - Good. Impressed? Or must try harder?

Impressed? Usually by what you say, yes. This time, bluedog, you really must try harder. Much harder. We can debate democracy, parliamentarianism, elections, liberal values, etc., 'til the cows come home, but those things have nothing to do with the situation in Egypt now.

To wit: A terrorist Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, fronted by this Morsi character, fraudulently "won" a sham "election" and after making an utter and horrible mess of things, faced a popular uprising by a populace which appears to be fueled by savagery and hate regardless of where it stands and was then removed by a fascistic army. Any disagreements with any of that? Can you find anything resembling any values you hold in this banal tale? Can you point to any party, any individual on any side for whom you can find admiration?

You missed the point I was trying to make, you bad dog, you. I wasn't arguing against democracy. I was saying that it simply does not and cannot work everywhere and in all times. Democracy is not a game plan, a contract or small print in a rule book; democracy is people, people with a strong and deep set of some very, very rare values. So, you can put a suit, a monocle and a top hat on this monkey, plop it in front a microphone and call it "democracy," but as hard as you may want to pretend, it's not. In the end, just as you start believing in the thing, it'll start screeching, throw fruit peels at you and munch on its its own feces. Come back in a couple of centuries and then, maybe.

5 July 2013 at 21:14  
Blogger Albert said...

Hannah,

wasn't the bulk of opposition from those who opposed the idea of a 'imperialist' regime change war in principal?

I'm arguing from the position of Christian just war tradition.

5 July 2013 at 22:18  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

Notice that clause I inserted into the sentence - in your mind.

Carl, the evidence wasn't there, except for those who wanted it to be there - at least that's what British and probably French intelligence were saying. What is your evidence?

The US doesn't have to meet your expectation of a burden of proof. This is about national interest and acting in the national interest. The US determines that standard for itself and acts when its interests are threatened.

I think it's about right and wrong, fundamentally.

Albert, in the late 90's the combined nations of Europe couldn't project power into Bosnia. Into Bosnia!

It's irrelevant - I was simply objecting to your presumed case that America alone deals with these things. That's what Americans were like during WWII. "We'll sort this little war out for you" they said to my Grandmother, as if we had been doing nothing. Then the Americans got a bloody nose in North Africa.

5 July 2013 at 22:25  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Avi @ 21.14 says, 'I was saying that it simply does not and cannot work everywhere and in all times.'

We can agree on that, sort of. An emerging democracy in an Islamic nation is never going to conform to Jeffersonian standards for deep cultural reasons that we both understand. However, the mere fact that the Muslim Brotherhood came to power and using some semblance of democracy is a step forward. Just as Soviet-proxies such as the DDR used Democracy in their names to confer legitimacy, so the Muslim Brotherhood had validated their own power grab through the legitimacy conferred by democracy. In my view this is a hugely important development. Implicitly Democracy has become a 'good' in the Islamic context and a source of executive legitimacy. We have moved on from the glories of an Islamic Republic to a Democratic Islamic Republic, truly epochal stuff.

amirite?

5 July 2013 at 22:58  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

What is your evidence?

I could quote the American leaders who made the decisions but I suspect you would just say they were lying.

I think it's about right and wrong, fundamentally.

You are boot-strapping an artificial standard. Your "just war" philosophies have no authority.

It's irrelevant

No, it's not irrelevant. It's the entire point. This isn't 1940. The only way you could have tolerated the creation of a nuclear-armed Iraq was if the US assumed the responsibility of managing/deterring/containing it. How would European states have facilitated this mission? You didn't answer before so I will ask again. Would European states provide a nuclear guarantee? Would they actually fulfill it if necessary? Would anyone believe it in the meantime?

The European argument comes of as "It would have been much better for us if you hadn't done this, but had instead assumed the responsibility to permanently garrison the Middle East." You get irritated at the idea "that America alone deals with these things." Well, we get irritated by the suggestion that the US should provide an "Rent-an-Army" for the service of its European betters - a Europe that long ago cashed in its willingness to actually defend its own interests for the sake of a welfare state and a national health care system.

carl

6 July 2013 at 06:33  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

I could quote the American leaders who made the decisions but I suspect you would just say they were lying.

No I wouldn't say that. I am saying they made up their minds and saw what they wanted to see. I would say that the intelligence services disagreed with them - and even then their methods were astonishingly skewed in favour of war. In the end, war must be a last resort. No one can argue it was in this case. What had the weapons inspectors turned up? Were they saying their job was done? No they weren't, because it wasn't.

You are boot-strapping an artificial standard. Your "just war" philosophies have no authority.

And thereby the Protestants led us into an unjust and unnecessary war. This is the problem, because you ditch tradition, you do not have the accumulated wisdom of the centuries (the mistakes as well as the good choices) to guide you, and so you lurch into an anti-Christian, anit-life and anti-justice utilitarianism.

No, it's not irrelevant. It's the entire point. This isn't 1940.

It is irrelevant. Why don't you calm down and read what I am actually saying, rather than, like your leaders in Iraq, seeing what you want to see? I am not saying that European armies could have contained Saddam without America, I am saying that America does not act alone - indeed, politically she needs countries like the UK. There was a recent programme on here in which your top people from the time were saying as much. That's why Bush went for new resolutions in the UN rather than just going on.

6 July 2013 at 08:58  
Blogger Manfarang said...

"The alternative doesn't bear thinking about."
I think you had better start thinking about it.
This will have no happy ending.

6 July 2013 at 13:34  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

... into an unjust and unnecessary war.

According to what? Your reading of "Just war" philosophy? Who made that authoritative? The whole artifice is constructed upon a foundation of ambiguity - words like 'proportionate.' You are arguing as if these words have settled meaning. They don't. You are arguing as if these ambiguous concepts can be applied independent of national interest. They can't. You are arguing as if any agent would considered "Just war" criteria and reach the same conclusion as you. They won't. It is much easier for country A to come to the conclusion that a war is unnecessary when the consequences of not fighting accrue to country B. (Cough) Czechoslovakia (Cough).

And, no, war should not always be the 'last resort.' It should have been the 'first resort' in March 1936. And again in March 1938. By the time people got around to 'giving peace a chance' they had waited so long it was too late. 50 million dead later we see the consequences. This is why I have such contempt for this philosophy. I could easily make a "Just war" case against a military reaction to Hitler's re-occupation of the Rhineland. But that would be the wrong answer. When the method produces the wrong answer, that means there is something wrong with the methodology.

One atomic weapon detonated on Berlin in September 1939 would I am sure have violated all sorts of "Just War" principles in your understanding. It also would have ended the war. But the response comes back "That's an immoral utilitarian calculus. You can't do evil to achieve good ... blah blah blah blah blah." Yes, far better to win the 'right' way with all the attendant death and destruction. Far better to let the world be consumed by war for the sake of "Just war" principles. I do not understand this reasoning. I never will.

carl

6 July 2013 at 15:40  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

My laptop is dying and my daughter stole my power cord.

Uh oh.

carl

6 July 2013 at 15:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

a foundation of ambiguity - words like 'proportionate.'

The Iraq war fails long before we get to that level.

By the time people got around to 'giving peace a chance' they had waited so long it was too late.

If the alternative to fighting is leaving it too late, you have already reached the point of last resort.

One atomic weapon detonated on Berlin in September 1939 would I am sure have violated all sorts of "Just War" principles in your understanding. It also would have ended the war. But the response comes back "That's an immoral utilitarian calculus. You can't do evil to achieve good ... blah blah blah blah blah."

You advocate directly and deliberately murdering millions of innocent people - women and children among them - and you characterise the opposition as blah blah blah blah blah.

And yes, you cannot do evil to achieve good. When Paul is accused of teaching such, he is angry.

6 July 2013 at 16:13  
Blogger Albert said...

My laptop is dying and my daughter stole my power cord.

Perhaps it you had beaten her with a rod first, that wouldn't have happened.

6 July 2013 at 16:13  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

You advocate directly and deliberately murdering millions of innocent people - women and children among them - and you characterise the opposition as blah blah blah blah blah.

I am sure the Poles would have been touched by your concern for German civilians in Berlin. And the Hungarian Jews. And the Ukrainians. And the Latvians. And the Lithuanians. And the Estonians. And the Belorussians. And everyone else who encountered the Sondercommandos. And the Dutch. And the Danes. And the Norwegians. And the Greeks and the Yugoslavs and the Belgians. Not to mention those caught in the fallout of Japanese expansionism triggered by the power vacuum in SE Asia. I am sure they would have all understood why it would be more important to leave them to the mercy of Hitler's Army for the sake of "Just War."

You would consign 50 million to death simply so you could say "But I have no blood on my hands." And you think this a noble position?

carl

6 July 2013 at 16:37  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

A post back you asked me for the authority for the just war tradition. Here you are defending directly and deliberately murdering innocent people for a good cause. The act itself plainly violates the 10 Commandments, while the motivation violates Paul's understanding of good and evil. Instead, you've plumbed for that most secular form of morality (so secular it hardly counts as morality) which sees right and wrong in terms of numbers. On that basis you must support compulsory euthanasia if the figures stand up. Indeed, even if you don't it is hard to see why you would oppose voluntary euthanasia - or is it only if the person isn't already dying and doesn't want to die, that you think you have just cause to kill them. Frankly, if you can kill the innocent, you can find just cause to do practically anything. You denied my authority. Where's yours?

In fact, what is wrong with what Hitler did was not his acts of mass murder but his motivation and his calculations. And that of course, is the great paradox of your position. For if we had nuked Berlin in 1939, he would never have murdered all those people, so we would now be faced with seeing liberal democracy as a murderous ideology. And if that had been the case, would people not have rejected it as much as they now reject Hitlerism? But to what would they turn? Communism and Fascism. Even on a utilitarian calculus, that must be wrong mustn't?

This of course, shows one of the reasons why utilitarianism cannot be accepted: we cannot know all the consequences of our actions. The consequences of Iraq are that the world is a less safe place. The consequences of killing innocent Berliners before even their leaders had become guilty are incalculable.

When in the Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky sets up his question about torturing one child for the sake of the happiness of humanity, it is a rhetorical question because we are supposed to just know it would be wrong.

This is what comes of throwing out the Church's teaching - you are left to wolves.

6 July 2013 at 19:36  
Blogger Albert said...

For clarity, the first sentence of the second paragraph is my characterisation of Carl's position - I think the idea in that sentence is morally abhorrent.

6 July 2013 at 19:59  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Disconnect
The Muslim brotherhood want a theocratic state.
They have temporarily used democracy in order to (try to) kill it.
We've seen that before, haven't we?

7 July 2013 at 09:05  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

Well, this explains why you have steadfastly avoided answering my question about a European nuclear guarantee.

Here you are defending directly and deliberately murdering innocent people for a good cause.

Enough of this strawman. I have done no such thing. There were more than enough targets in Berlin capable of justifying such a strike. National leadership. Military. Transportation. Economic. The Allies sent fleets of bombers to destroy such targets during the war. They would devastate an area two miles in radius around the target. It was a necessary part of the war. (Or would you reject that as well?) Have I changed the moral nature of the action by changing the number of weapons used to achieve it?

And what do you suppose happened to people caught in that two-mile target zone? Do you think the weapons cared where they exploded? They were dispatched to achieve an objective towards ending the war. That objective was ultimately more important than the lives of those who found themselves at mortal risk or killed from their deployment. In fact, some of those people were themselves legitimate targets. Don't you understand? I want to kill the skilled workers who work in their industry. It is easier to replace machines than people. So the most you could accuse me of advocating is a disproportionate response. And the immediate question will come back "Disproportionate relative to what?" I have never quite grasped the logic that allows me to systematically destroy a nation's economic and transportation infrastructure - causing widespread homelessness, hardship, suffering, injury, disease, famine, and death among the population - but only by certain means.

Here is the brutal fact of life. Since nations industrialized, war has become an exercise in destroying the enemy's ability to sustain the fight. We don't live in the Middle Ages where once upon a time armies fought armies on open fields to determine the fate of kings. Today you must destroy your opponent's economy in order to win. You can't do that without inflicting massive amounts of suffering and death on his civilian population. If you can't accept that, then become a pacifist and simply surrender to conquest.

The difference between us is not the difference between innocent and guilty. It is the difference between active acceptance of responsibility and passive avoidance of responsibility. People die either way. You simply don't want to be responsible for it. The consequences to Poland were clear enough. But you would be quite willing to allow Poland to carry the burden of those consequences lest you have to take responsibility and act.

carl

7 July 2013 at 15:49  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Hey, Bluedog, "Avi" is good enough. You and I don't need the "Mr" bit.

Under the "no-shit-Sherlock" category you say that, an emerging democracy in an Islamic nation is never going to conform to Jeffersonian standards for deep cultural reasons that we both understand. Well, yes, "Jeffersonian standards" and "Egypt" go well together as much as lemonade with garlic. And where did you get the emerging democracy bit? From the hopes and wishes shelf? A majority--two thirds, I think--voted for Islamists and theocracy under the Muslim Brotherhood. And when it bungled badly, in spite of massive assistance from the Obamamessiah and the Muslim Brotherhood enthusiasts at State, the starving masses turned to the fascist army ...the same one they were grimbling against a year ago. Good luck with that lot and its promises we're ready to lap up again. If Egypt doesn’t, by some miracle, plunge into a civil war, then poverty, violence, corruption and fanaticism will be the daily fare. As always.

...the mere fact that the Muslim Brotherhood came to power and using some semblance of democracy is a step forward. Sorry: “Semblances” of democracy are useless, if not deadly. They fool well-meaning people with cheap optics. Elections, especially fraudulent elections, can’t promote democracy. Elections should be the last phase in a genuine democratic transformation, after courts and governments have been cleaned up and staffed by honest and competent individuals, after a majority has accepted, as part of its psychology and culture, human rights and freedoms and the rule of law. It's not enough for us to look at a handful of young secular people in the news photos and croon, “oh, look, cool; they’re just like us! They want the same things after all.” Perhaps they do, but but how many of the trendy young dudes got beaten up and had their long hair ripped out, and how many jean-clad, bare-headed young women got mass raped during the demonstrations is anyone’s guess at this point.

S-o-o-o-o sorry, Bluedog, but this is all old shite. Not much different from when Egypt and other Muslim nations curried favours from the USSR and pretended to be socialists by letting their women wear short skirts in the capitals and dressing up a few school kids in the white shirt and red scarf Pioneer uniforms. This is not a "hugely important development" and certainly not "epochal." The elections and now the interim government optics are a yet another cheesy bazaar scam on an international scale by a crashing, dysfunctional nation. And the only "good" it signifies is that it's a good lure to draw American and EU aid, without which Egypt would sink in a fortnight. We can and should provide refuge for the handful of genuine Egyptian liberal democrats and moderates who will now again be targeted. But that won’t happen; as Egypt comes apart, we will instead ship in, feed and house for perpetuity thousands of impoverished, diseased, uneducated and dangerous Islamists instead. Some things don't change.

7 July 2013 at 17:10  
Blogger Albert said...

Hang on a minute, Carl, you're jumping well ahead. As you expressed it before, it sounded like you were targeting civilians with a view to preventing further German atrocities. I say that is an atrocity. But now you are targeting military targets the argument is different. But it is also not analogous to the attack on Iraq. We (we British, I mean, you lot were looking the other way) were already at war with Germany in Sept 1939. Germany was already over-running Poland. Attacking military targets in Berlin - even if it caused unwanted innocent casualties is totally different from actually starting a war, just in case your opponent is going to do something as wicked, but on a larger scale as what you do.

That's why I misunderstood you - there is a fundamental distinction between using force to stop an evil, and doing evil that good may come of it. In making your attack on Berlin fit into the former, it ceases to be relevant to your defence of the latter.

I've set up my authorities against you. I've asked for yours. You give nothing in reply (except either what I would concede or what could have come from the pen of Bentham or Mill).

So the most you could accuse me of advocating is a disproportionate response. And the immediate question will come back "Disproportionate relative to what?"

You keep banging on about this word "disproportionate", but I haven't used the word! Frankly, I don't think you really get just war theory - there are many more considerations before we worry about that word (and when we do the answer becomes a prudential judgement, and therefore not one I would be overly interested in arguing, especially not where Nazis are concerned). You don't seem to grasped the force of the idea in Christian teaching that it is wrong to do evil that good may come of it.

In the end, on your grounds I cannot see why Jesus would not give into to the devil's temptations - after all, the cause was good enough!

7 July 2013 at 22:04  

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