Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Afghan Commandos

This Washington Post article on the emergence of Afghan Commandos is good. While the details are very interesting, here is the crux: "The creation of a 4,000-strong Afghan commando force marks a major evolution for U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan. After small teams of Green Berets spearheaded the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001, they took the lead in combat, with the disparate Afghan militia forces they trained and paid playing a supporting role. Today, by contrast, the Special Forces advisers are putting the Afghan commandos in the lead -- coaching a self-reliant force that U.S. commanders say has emerged as a key tool against insurgents."

Discussions - 8 Comments

There is no question that US commanders are doing the best they can in Afghanistan...but I still think the best recent article on Afghanistan was "Afghan Opium brides" that ran in the April 7, 2008 edition of Newsweek.

The Newsweek article is not the same thing at all. Creating commando teams of Afghanis is probably easier than restructuring an economy or tribal culture.

of course it isn't the same thing Kate...but creating commando teams of Afghanis gave us Osama Bin Laden. What can we reasonably expect in a land of rocky soil, land mines, misery, opium brides, and Islam? A land where the USSR made posters to instruct how to hide explosives in toys, to be left in villages and carried home by unsuspecting children?

If I was trying to make an argument to conservatives I would start with Aristotle, if I was trying to make the argument to liberals I would start with FDR or Kennedy, I might even start with Hobbes to drive home the Nasty the Bruttish and the Short aspects of life. I might even point out that Obama, George Bush and the Pope are together on the premise that human beings have a universal desire to be free.

I don't know where I want to go with this...except perhaps to deny that elections alone or troop trainning alone will somehow drain the swamp where the larva of radical islam breeds, especially since radical islam seems to require very little water(but this is just me falling in love with my analogy).

At the end of the day I am rather certain that the blighted conditions of Afghanistan produce terrorism and drugs. I am also rather self confident that before human beings can flourish they must have freedom from want, and freedom from fear as FDR would have it. And yet I also discern the assumption in some foreign policy that Islam is simply a pathology, a "clinging to" or an opiate. With McCain declaring radical Islam the "transcendent" issue of the day and Obama as a spiritual FDR, things could get interesting especially if the "Jacksonians" are the swing voters.

Close John, but no cigar.

What gave us bin laden, and a host of other mohammadan crazies was and is islam itself. You don't need to add in any other variable or factor. It's islam; it's all about islam and it's nothing but islam. Islam has an inner dynamic that results in things like Constantinople being sacked, that results in things like dhimmitude, that results in endless and eternal jihad.

As for the Pope, it's not so much the Pope as it is the Catholic Church that continually stresses that man was made in the image and the likeness, and thus islam is a warping and distorting of God's creation, and everything that God intended. Whereas Christ said "I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly," creepy islam extols endless blood and conquest, and what's more, OBLIGATES the quest for blood.

I noted before that islam was nothing but a huge and howling heresy. And it is.

I disagree completly Dan. I think you priveledge religion with a purity that makes it easier to conceptualize. In truth religious adherence is a constant and perpetual choice. Now perhaps Islam loads the die in favor of terrorism. Perhaps christianity loads the die in favor of voting Republican. Both seem deceptively probable. Of course both Obama and Hillary Clinton would disagree that the pips should rightfully land that way, likewise the man who discovers islam and employs it as a pillar to ground the good in his life.

The thing is once you completly answer the question of what Islam or Christianity is, then obviously many things follow necessarily...but they follow necessarily contingent upon how the subject was understood. Good luck finding human subjects that correspond to your abstract doctrine.

Of course christians of various stripes leave room for sin...such that human beings need not correspond to christian doctrine and yet remain christian(a convenient built in escape hatch that veils how ridiculous such a project is)

But suppose we could work out Islamic doctrine such that its highest virtue(Jihad/spiritual striving) was terrorism, how would we explain those who made something decent out of the lives they lead and yet persist in calling themselves muslim...would we call this Sin(if they are good people they must be bad muslims?)

In point of fact it is Wahhabi clerics who play this game...anything that is "western" is sin and punishable by fatwa(flowers in hospitals, allowing women to leave burning buildings uncovered, anti-mamograms) And certainly if Islam is what some of these clerics say it is then you are right, certainly also in the middle east your argument about the evils of islam has more weight...but this is only because you are wrong in endowing it with a evil inner dynamic that no religion can have because of Sin.

That is at the end of the day individual human beings must submit to this evil interpretation on the grounds that it is virtue, and I find it hard to believe that muslims are capable of greater consistency on behalf of evil than christians are on behalf of good.

I apologize if this makes no sense.

It makes some sense. There have always been Muslims that Christians could live with. There have been Christians that even other Christians could not abide. Yet I can't imagine a Christian who could sell his daughter, yet a good Muslim could. I can't imagine a good Christian blowing himself and 200 other people to Kingdom Come. Yet, a good Muslim can do that and his family is applauded and rewarded for it. But I confess to knowing Christians who would promote martyrdom for the Christian cause as a great good.

But Osama bin Laden did not grow up in want or fear. Wahabism flourishes among the prosperous of Saudi Arabia. There is some other kind of poverty that impels some young men into radical Islam. The father selling his daughter in Afghanistan did not sound like he was inclined to that.

Good points Kate. I can imagine a Christian who could sell his daughter, I might even be able to find an example in Africa or other places of extreme hardship, and just like the muslim man in afghanistan I doubt he would be happy about doing so. I can also immagine Hindu's and Buddists selling daughters into sexual slavery in Thailand, Vietnam and Korea(but this doesn't require immagination) and indeed it is probably likely that some of those doing the selling in Asia are christians.

Osama and a lot of the radical islamic sects do belong to an upper class, in fact the clerics themselves are the rulling point is that the full understanding and grasp of radical islam is not homogenious, as we assume that it is when look at the thing through the lens of doctrine. One of the reasons for coinning the term Islamo-fascist came from the fact that these people were western educated. For Osama bin Laden his religious views are a response to some sort of existential crisis, for the man on the Arab street Islam is self-evidently true, but his primary concerns are more basic, how will I find my next meal? Will it rain so that my crops will grow? Allah's will be done...I will do my best and hope God favors those areas of life beyond my control. In other words Islam serves a different function and intent among different classes of people, and is understood on different grounds and on different levels and in different terms from individual to individual, from group to group, from region to region.

I never meant to suggest that the people actually writting the doctrine of radical islam belonged to an empoverished class(quite the opposite)...I meant simply to say that it gets popular grounding from people who don't fully understand it because they are focused upon more material/survival concerns(How do I harvest my opium without the US trained Afghan commandos burning it so I don't have to give up my daughter?) and let others craft theology. The radical clerics and purveyors of the worst aspects of Islam gain political power the Classically Machiavellian way. They find a lion that is terrorizing a community, they dispose of the lion in a brutal and public fashion and then commence to give orders, the people still distraught and yet thankful for the service hurry to oblige(not pausing to reflect upon abstract questions of social compact) and as the tyrant continues to issue orders they will continue to obey until it becomes habitual. Along the way these radical clerics will open schools, provide hospitals and to a certain degree some freedom from want. In this case the lion is the US trainned Afghan commandos who burn opium crops and force fathers to sell daughters into slavery/or perhaps they will become lion slayers themselves...who knows? With Osama bin Laden the lion was the communists(the folks who left explosives in toys for kids to pick up.) Once he got rid of the immediate and concrete lion...with the fall of communism he set his sights on a more abstract lion(the United States and Israel, globalization, modernity, the west)

Indeed if we are more focused upon the dynamics of poverty and drug production then we will be more likely to see similarities between the middle east and south central america. It is the same theory of government: find lion, kill lion, issue orders, provide schools, issue orders and indoctrinate, provide hospitals, issue orders, finance via drugs and oil.

Indeed the very fact that FDR is partially right about freedom, forms the basis for the rule of all modern tyrants, which is at least partially why libertarians and most conservatives are uncomfortable with a government that provides too much welfare and therefore creates dependency. Of course liberals counter that only a safety net will allow people to reflect upon social compact...otherwise they are too busy persuing more basic needs or otherwise caught up in materialism to fully develop into free agents(embracing a more morally compatible/perfected version of freedom as opposed to the more libertarian view.)

This is just a rugged outline.

John, you seem to be assuming something very much not in evidence.

You seem to take as a given the fact that if a Muslim acts in what we would describe as a normal manner, it's because of the peaceful nature of his religious views.

What if his peaceful disposition is AGAINST the strictures of his faith, what if he's acting in defiance of the long standing history, teaching and tenets of islam?

Upon whom does the duty of jihad rest? Answer: Upon every able- bodied muslim male.

Recall that the Pentagon conducted a study to finally lay to rest whether or not the terrorists are radical or mainstream. They sadly concluded that men like bin laden are thoroughly mainstream.

Which is why I said it's not about economics, and never has been, nor ever shall be. We have to do something that as Westerners we're not well-practiced doing, and that is credit that the actions of another "civilization" may NOT be in response to actions of the West, but rather flow from its own inner dynamic. Mohammad laid down directives for his followers, and the more those followers seek to fully live out his vision, the more fully they will embrace jihad. Thus the more observant a muslim, the more seriously he must take jihad.

What of those that are "peaceful" and are described as "moderate?" Every single mainstream school of muslim jurisprudence deems them heretical. Every single one of them. There is not a single school within islam that has ruled jihad dated, a thing that belongs to yesteryear.

Now that is a brutal and grim read of the situation. But that's the traditional take on islam, which has proven to be the far more accurate one.

And John, the simplicity in conceptualization flows not from my desire for a simplistic read, rather it flows from the stark, indeed, the austere simplicity of islam itself. Again, examine the thing in itself, and forget about me. Chesterton noted how islam was a theological wasteland, and observed how that was appropriate in a way, for it originated in a wasteland. A desert, from a desert, a howling heresy from the howling hinterland.

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