Is George Bush “The Manchurian Candidate?”

News Abroad

Mr. Buzzanco, Professor of History, University of Houston, is the author of several books and articles on Vietnam War.

If enemies of the United States had gotten together a few years ago to devise a plan to damage America and undermine its global position–diminish its power and credibility, drag it into a stubborn war, harm its relations with allies, create international financial disarray, run up huge deficits, create political openings for the Europeans and China to exploit and become equals in global economic matters, motivate terrorists, bring the U.S. image in the Middle East to its nadir, restrict civil liberties at home, and so forth–they would have been hard-pressed to create a program that would be more effective than the Bush administration’s policies on these issues of war, terrorism, and global economics have.

Indeed, if one is an “enemy” of the U.S., then he/she would have to be heartened that Bush has pursued this agenda and would have to be elated that the war in Iraq continues today. Given enough rope, Bush may hang not only himself, but American influence and credibility, and the global economy. Like a “sleeper” agent, or Laurence Harvey’s famed character, Sgt. Raymond Shaw, in The Manchurian Candidate, George W. Bush, the ultimate insider, is doing more to damage America than Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Hassan Nasrallah, the Syrians, the Iranians, or any other enemy du jour, ever could.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 the United States had the sympathy and respect of much of the world. The outpouring of goodwill was unprecedented in the post-Vietnam period, and the United States stood alone as a military and economic power. When Bush responded to the September attacks a month later with the invasion of Afghanistan, where al Qaeda leaders were hiding out, the world community and U.S. populace supported him.

But, beginning in mid-2002, when he returned to his obsession with Iraq, the worm began to turn. Using politicized intelligence and outright lies, the Bush administration, congress and the media all went along with the invasion of Iraq, beginning in March 2003. Consequently, in what we can now see was a remarkably short time, the amity and power accrued after 9/11 melted away.

Although today much of the criticism of Bush and his policies comes from liberals, and Bush is quick to take shots at the “cut-and-run crowd” or “Defeatocrats,” what’s most striking is how much harm his military and economic policies have done to our national interests. Indeed, the number of conservatives now publicly repudiating Bush is testimony to how far he has strayed from the values he claimed to profess himself with regard to keeping America strong. If anything, George Bush has pursued a program inherently hostile to the conservative ideals he boasted about when running for office, and we have all suffered as a consequence.

Bush’s legacy is already particularly troubling with regard to America’s credibility and image in the world, our national security and the so-called war on terror, and the U.S. and global economy. In these areas, U.S. policies, in particular since September 11th, 2001, have left us precarious and vulnerable.

The U.S. standing in the world has probably never been lower than it is now in the wake of the dismal war in Iraq. Not only is anti-Americanism rampant in the Middle East, but U.S. enemies like Bin Laden and Nasrallah now dominate the political discourse of the region with great credibility on the so-called Arab Street. Even in Europe, the American image and influence is fading, and travelers may feel uncomfortable abroad, or, more seriously, American tourists and businesses fear boycotts or actual violence, as in Madrid or London in the past few years, and that seriously dampens the U.S. ability to influence other nations.

Ironically, Bush claimed to have launched the war in Iraq to protect American security, but it has had the opposite effect. American troops are stretched thin and lack adequate supplies, and the U.S. is facing its worst manpower crisis since the Vietnam era. Meanwhile, the number of military officials publicly speaking out against this administration’s war in Iraq is staggering, discomfiting and unprecedented.

Even more frightening, Bush has actually increased the global threat of terrorism. In October 2002, well before the invasion of Iraq, the Central Intelligence Agency warned that military action in the Middle East would foment serious resistance and actually recruit more terrorists. By going after Iraq, the Agency warned, the U.S. would be ignoring the “root causes” of terror–such as continued crisis in Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and internal dissent in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries–while getting tied down in a peripheral area.

By 2004, that prediction had come true, with even the CIA Director Porter Goss admitting that Iraq had become a “cause for extremists” as daily attacks in Iraq had already more than doubled over the previous year. Just this past Spring, the State Department was more bleak, identifying over 11,000 terrorist incidents in 2005 which killed almost 15,000 people, a four-fold rise over 2004 and were mostly the work not of al-Qaeda but new, smaller and “difficult to detect” groups, which were able to exploit the war to entice new members.

While Bush’s policies in Iraq daily bring reports of Iraqis and Americans killed and abducted, some of the worst consequences are yet to be fully felt, namely the potentially devastating economic effects of the war. Bush and Rumsfeld promised a war on the cheap, somewhere in the area of 100 but no more than 200 billion dollars. Already, those figures have been surpassed and economists are now estimating that the costs of operations in Iraq, along with costs for rehabilitating wounded American soldiers and reconstruction, could easily reach the one trillion, or more, mark.

Despite these huge appropriations, Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker charged this past September the army did not have enough money to fight the war in Iraq. More ominously, as the war in Iraq drags on, the U.S. position in the global economy has become more precarious. To pay for the war in a period of massive tax cuts for the rich, Bush has borrowed more than any president in history and run up record deficits, a strange approach for an alleged conservative. The U.S. debt ceiling has risen to a stunning $9 trillion, the current accounts deficits rose above $200 billion, and trade deficits jumped to record highs, as have gas prices at home.

Much of the U.S. debt is held by China, whose own economy has erupted and now presents a serious challenge to U.S. influence in markets all over the world. In fact, China has just reached $1 trillion in currency reserves, more than one-fifth of all global reserves. While the U.S. is spending about $8 million per hour in Iraq and its foreign reserves are being depleted by about $80 million per hour, the Chinese are hourly adding $30 million. China could now purchase all the gold sitting in the vaults of the world’s central banks, twice over, according to the Economist.

Obviously, the U.S. is in a much more delicate and dangerous position today–politically, militarily, and economically–than it was prior to the Iraq invasion. National prestige and national security have suffered, and the economic impact will be felt for years. At home, the emphasis on Homeland Security and the Orwellian-titled Patriot Act have restricted our freedoms and liberties. The United States, its soldiers, and its people have suffered because of this war, because of Bush’s entire program. Meanwhile, American enemies and rivals–in the Middle East, in China, and elsewhere–have more power, prestige, and wealth than any of us could have imagined just a few years ago.

Given these conditions, there is now great reason for all Americans, including, if not especially, Republicans and conservatives, to demand an end to these policies in Iraq and at home that are making life more dangerous and costly. Some years ago, during the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon said that “Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.” It seems like George Bush has accomplished precisely that all these years later.

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Both Professor Buzzanco and Mr Green are, partially, right in assuming that not all Arabs are Palestinians and, partially, wrong in assuming a radical diversion of interests and outlook between being Palestinian and being Arab...

The conflict is over Palestine (the geographical heart land of the Arab nation): whether it will retain and regain its intrinsic historical and public/human/cultural identity as an Arab (Moslem and Christian) country or whether it will succumb and submit to the colonialist invasion of Zionist aliens that aim to sever it, as it does at present, from its cultural and public/human/cultural Arab environment and turn it into a Jewish West oriented nation/state representing and in alliance with the imperialist West i.e. the West's colonialist/imperialist outpost in the region.
AS such Israel has been, is, will always be an extremely serious threat to the life and well being of Palestinian Arabs, the indigenous population of Palestine the majority of whom have been dislocated, dispossessed , disfranchised from and in their homeland through Israel’s implantation in their homeland.

Equally Israel is a grave threat to the national security of its all ARAB environment due to its aggressive mode of birth, imperialist West orientation and expansionist nature and to the Palestinians, wherever they reside in Arab countries, as Arabs.

Hence the question is rhetorical rather than political because the Palestinians are BOTH Palestinians AND Arabs.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Green
I am far from being an expert on the Koran though a Moslem by birth and conviction.
D'apres those who do know it , the very many, the return of the Jews to Palestine did not and COULD NOT possibly or theologically mean their "return" as an exclusively or predominantly Jewish state to the, practically, total exclusion of others particularly the Moslems .
Nor could it possibly mean the dislocation, dispossession and disfranchisement of its indigenous population:that is their "return" as a racist Zionist state , which what Israel NOW IS according to the perception of the overwhelming majority of the Arab and Moslem worlds.
And that is what, politically, counts :"How Israel is perceived by its environment."

However Jews, as Jews, were never ,under Moslem rule, denied the right to visit and /or dwell in Palestine.
It was only after their declared intention of establishing a JEWISH STATE in a predominatly Arab ,Moslem and Christian, populated Palestine became widely known ,and appreciate as the colonialist project that it truly was/is,that restrictions were imposed since all intending incomers were, rightly I believe, suspected of partaking in that colonialist, British imperialism assisted, project.

However I would rather you do not go by the Koran, which obviously you do Not, since what it has to say about Jews will most propably fail to gain any favour with you and yours.
Still if you insist to go by the Koran you have to accept it , or expect Moslems to accept it as they actually do accept it, in TOTO and not by a judicious selection of a quotation here and there that suits a cheap, obviously insincere and intelectually dishonest PR line.

The choice of Jerusalem as the FIRST Kibla of Islam has, will always have, an everlasting enormous religious and cultural significance for Moslems that has,historically, been reinforced by the patent fact that, geographically, it is the heart land of the Arab and Moslem worlds.

As to shift from Jerusalem To Mecca all that I can say, which is unwelcome by a great many Islamists, is that it was undertaken for political/economic reasons , related to the then epoch making fight with Qureish , by a master politician and a super statesman (empire builder).

Re Ibn Taymia ; this is the first time I hear or read of his , surpising, alleged negation of the sanctity of Jerusalem to Islam and Moslems( can you indicate a verifiable source for that ?) being the land , clearly indicated in the Koran, of Al Issra and the home of Al Aqsa Mosque.

Re Mr Friedman's post ; I am truly surprised that he, of all people, has this to say about my belifs:
"I might add that Omar basically says the issue with Israel is not political, it is religious."
His allegation is, obviously , made to ride and to milk the present anti Islam wave in the West and particularly in the USA.

He should know better than to make such an allegation ("basicallY") for again an again I have reiterated, in our too frequent "encounters" here at HNN, that the actual Palestinian/Arab/Moslem-Zionist conflict is a question of an imperialtically assisted colonialist conquest by aliens undertalen by an aggressive RACIST movement (Zionism )RESISTED by a nationalist resistance movement , which makes it "basically" a nationalist liberation movement, supported universally by all anti racist, anti colonialist and anti imperialist forces( and some unwelcome "anti Jew" and "anti semite" elements).

That the conflict had, has ,religious tones and under tones and ramifications is, essentially, the inevitable outcome of and the concomittant reaction to the religious corner stone of Zionism, Judaism (A JEWISH state) despite the nationalist, Arab multiconfessional i.e. Moslem and Christian, basic character of the resistance movement to it.
Still the undeniable fact is that the issue is being increasingly polarised , fought and presented as a religious confrontation issue with the "natural" allies aligning themselves with their "theological/ideological " brethern": hence the evangelists/neocons siding with Zionism and Israel and the Moslems and Islamists siding with their predominantly Moslem Palestinian Arab coreligionists and their liberation movement.

However, sadly, Mr Friedman seems to have succumbed to the Eckstein virus of putting words, that naturally suit him and the particular point under discussion, in other people's mouths.
(To uncover the fallacy of Mr Friedman's hypothesis I propose that a simple count of how often I use, in my many posts, the terms "Zionist" ( and my definition of Zionism) and "Jewish" will clearly show where I stand !)

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Green
That is a curious, perverted and selfserving interpretation of the Koran that has few, if any, adherents at all in Islam!

By any interpretation it is NOT conceivable that the Koran should endorse an aggressive, racist and expansionist creed that Zionism IS.
Nor is it conceivable that Islam would support a dogma that would attempt to efface Islam from the land of Al Issra and supplant it with Judaism , nor a creed that calls for the destruction of Al Aqsa Mosque(ula al kiblatin wa thalet al Haramin)and build its Temple on its ruins ; all being declared objectives of Zionism .

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Freidman
Your reposte recalls an Arab proverb:"It is a goat even if it flies!".
I understand why you stick to your erronous hypothesis:as an anti Islam stand it is widely marketable these days particularly in the USA and you will NOT miss such an opportunity; and the truth be damned!Understandable!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"As to the Qur'an, I only ask Muslims to follow their own holy book ";
they do according to their OWN understanding of the Book and NOT, naturally enough, the transient interpretation or , more accurately, the conscious misinterpretation of an intersted, adversary !

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

For many reasons it is a distinct” regime” worthy of the name in that it is NOT one of the standard USA Presidential "administrations" that have ruled over the USA and great parts of this world for a good deal of recent history.
The importance of the Bush regime lies in its all too obvious departure, in speech and deed, from standard American policies and for proclaiming it openly.

By proclaiming itself to be and truly being a "doctrinaire " regime that upholds and strives to implement, in the USA and all over the world, the goals of its distinctive doctrine of rabid capitalism in the USA and domineering imperialism world wide, anti environmental conservation, pro war mongering ,anti social action , anti people's liberation movements and anti human rights it truly distinguishes itself from other "administrations" which ,though more often than not strived for the same goals, never admitted their guiding "doctrine" nor unreservedly implemented its collateral, and concomitant policies.

As such the "openness, of word and deed, of the Bush “regime”,, despite the miseries it resulted in and the retrogression it has entailed, in the USA and world wide, is a real boon in that it is no longer possible for it ,or for its advocates, to pretend otherwise than what "Evangelical/Zionist/Neo-conservatism" truly IS.
The Bush “regime” will, hopefully, stand out in American history as America at its possible worst; an unfortunate episode never to be repeated!

N. Friedman - 12/24/2006


I think that the above sounds reasonable. I do note that the UK pretends to be Israel's friend and, by comparison with France, that might not be an unfair characterization. By American standards, of course, the UK is no friend to Israel and is doing the UK's best to bring the US over to the European appeasement position.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/24/2006

I have read several books by Lewis. He makes the argument that you cite in Semites and Anti-Semites. I agree that within the dhimmi status, there were diffences and that at certain times and places, Jews may have been better treated than Christians. This was so especially at times when Muslims were in conflict with Christians, whether local Christians or outside Christian powers. However, I argue that in Israel, at least starting with the Mamluk period, Christians were better treated. Let's not forget that even after the Crusades, the Mamluks were interested in trade with Christian powers and feared Christian sea/naval power. And they tried to play certain Christian powers off one against another, as Christian powers did too [consider Louis XIV]. It seems that the kingdoms of Aragon and Naples had special relations with the Mamluks and were able to get the Franciscan Order admitted into Israel to care for Roman Catholic interests ca. 1333, ca. forty years after the Catholic Crusaders were driven out. Hence, one should also bear in mind the protection that Christian powers could offer to Christian dhimmis when a Muslim ruler felt a common interest with that Christian power. In the second 1/2 of the 19th cent., the UK offered protection to the Jews in Israel while Russia protected Greek Orthodox, France protected Catholics and Uniates, etc. Imperial Germany even tried to pose as the Defender of Islam against its European rivals. The UK's policy is now very anti-Israel, of course.

N. Friedman - 12/22/2006


I think your research will show that Jews were poorly treated, at many times, in the boundaries of today's Israel. They were subject to special taxes - and not just the jizya - to pray in Jerusalem. Access was often denied.

However, one needs to be careful not to generalize too much from the doings in your small neck of the world to all Muslim lands and at all times. In the Ottoman Empire, Jews tended to have things somewhat better, at least at times. Christians were perceived more and more as the great rival of Islam and, as a result, those within the empire were readily and often suspect of being a fifth column. That concern was not there for Jews, as they were few in number, totally at the mercy of the government and hated by the surrounding Christian domains. Hence, Jews tended, as Lewis and Daniel Pipes note, to migrate to the Ottoman Empire, not from it, from Christian lands. And, large numbers of Jews migrated after the Inquisition began, most especially from Iberia.

Bat Ye'or does report bad treatment of Jews. And, her reports are careful and accurate. But, they tend to be mixed with reports about Christians, which are more persistent.

Now, Jews were treated as dhimmis and from early on. And, as they were no longer needed, their treatment deteriorated. That is reported by Lewis in his fabulous book
The Jews of Islam. I do not think his perception on this is wrong on this point. But, I do think that his analysis leads to some misunderstandings, most particularly the fact that, in Muslim lands, we are not always speaking about minorities when we speak of the non-Muslim population, which tends to make people confuse the occasional better treatment of Jews, by Christian standards, with the fact that Jews were not the most important non-Muslim population under Islamic rule. Bat Ye'or treats Jews and Christians as a group of dhimmi, which is correct by Islamic designation but it tends to obscure the differences in treatment of discrete dhimmi groups.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/22/2006

N, it is interesting to know that you have corresponded with Bat Ye'or. I once met her here in Jerusalem. Anyhow, I hope to write an article on this issue sometime soon. I have material on this issue, one item going back to the Mamluk period in Jerusalem [this item is not from one of her works]. I also have a Turkish quote from one of Lewis' books which I believe supports my contention here. Most or all of the material that I have is from non-Jewish sources. I would hope to get a clarification on the matter from Bat Ye'or before finishing the article, if possible.

N. Friedman - 12/21/2006


I actually have had engaged in a substantial amount of correspondence, back and forth, over the course of a number of years, with Bat Ye'or and hold her in the very highest regard.

In my correspondence with her about Lewis, she notes, among many other things, that Lewis focuses "only" on Jewish dhimmis. Which is to say, she too acknowledges that Jews were better treated, overall, by Muslims than Christians. She, of course, does not think that Jews were well treated.

I realize that it is not fair to paraphrase from private correspondence but I am quite sure that I am representing her actual position.

In any event, I do not think there is any serious doubt that Christians - the only group in a position to oppose Islam militarily from the West and the one religion which, also armed, rivaled Islam, in language Muslims could well understand, and which claimed to be universal, the property of all mankind - had it worse, overall, under Islam than Jews.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/21/2006

N, my reply to your comment of 12-19-06 at 2:16 is somehow above.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/21/2006

I don't agree here with Lewis. I have not read the works of his that you mention, although of course I've read others. My view is based on a number of contemporary accounts, mainly by Christian sources. Some of these are in Bat Ye'or's books, Dhimmi & The Decline of Oriental Christianity [a reworking of Dhimmi]. Some sources I have come upon on my own, one going back to Jerusalem in the Mamluk period. I intend to publish an article on the subject. By the way, I recommend Norman Stillman's anthologies on Jews in Arab lands published by JPS.

You make a good point that Omar's use of terms like racism, colonialism, imperialism, is really based on Islamic prejudices. He does not see that these terms can be and have been applied to Islamic conquest and Islamic society [see Joseph Schumpeter's Imperialism for his treatment of Arab imperialism].

N. Friedman - 12/19/2006


The treatment of Jews in Islamic society was more often than not somewhat better than the treatment of Christians. That is because, according to Bernard Lewis, Christians were seen typically as a potential fifth column while Jews were seen as completely conquered, hapless but useful. See, in this regard, Lewis' brilliant book The Muslim Discovery of Europe.

Bat Ye'or notes pretty much the same thing but she vehemently objects to Lewis' focus on the comparatively good treatment of Jews in Islamic society - most especially during most of the years of the Ottoman era - as highly misleading because Jews were few in number and because, in Islamic theology, Jews and Christians were both dhimmis and, hence, quite often treated more or less the same - meaning, not so great -.

Lewis notes the point that Jews and Christians were not always denoted the same. Christians were often classified as enemy infidel while Jews were more often denoted merely as dhimmis. And, that had advantages for Jews doing business between Islamic and Christian lands because there were three tax rates: the Muslim rate, the dhimmi rate and the infidel rate. Jews paid the dhimmi rate while Christians quite often paid the infidel rate.

In Lewis' book, The Jews of Islam, Lewis notes that the somewhat better treatment of Jews came to an end during the late period of the empire. In that period, the point you make about the demands of the various Christian European states became very important. Jews, in that period, became less important and, further, their position in society deteriorated substantially, most especially in Ottoman Turkey.

In any event, no one other than a phony or liar would confuse the life of non-Muslims - Jewish, Christian or otherwise - under Islamic rule with modern tolerance or multiculturalism. That was true in the alleged Andalusia multicultural paradise as much as under the famously tolerant Fatimids of Egypt or under the great Harun al-Rashid. At best, they were societies that looked, to some extent, like apartheid South Africa. But, in a world where tolerance, as we understand it, did not exist, the reservation of even a lessor place for certain conquered groups had something - in its own context - to say for it.

Your other comment about the appearance of contradiction in the Koran is misplaced. Contradiction has been an issue from the very early days of Islam. The formula derived to untangle the problem - which itself has supportive language in the Koran - is the doctrine of abrogation. Later in time can abrogate earlier revelations, in whole or in part depending on the exact words in the Koran. Hence, the more peaceful passages are, according to the abrogation theory, traversed by those passages advocating war.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/19/2006

`Umar, habibna:
I think that the meaning of the Quran's words [in 5:12, 20-22; 17:104, etc] is rather clear. It seems that the interpretation you [and whoever agrees with you or whomever you derived your interpretation from] is twisting the meaning of the words, interpreting them out of their plain meaning.

Yes, I know that we all do that. Your interpretation may be found in the Hadith but I don't see it in the Qur'an. If it is in the Qur'an, then I'd like to know how a verse got in there that contradicted another verse.

Now on to the issue of "racism." I think that applying the label "racism" to Israel is in itself racist. Are we perfect here? No. But if one would like to discuss the social and juridical inequality of human beings, one ought to devote much time to the dhimma status of non-Muslims in Islam, to Arab and Muslim history, to slavery in Muslim society, to the permissibility of raiding the Dar al-Harb for slaves [to be sure, Muslims have been equal opportunity enslavers, just as ready to enslave a Ukrainian peasant, a Georgian mountaineer or a Black African cowherder], the status of women, the status of non-Muslims historically and theoretically in Islamic society, particularly the status of Jews who were --in practice-- generally treated worse than Christians in Muslim society, maybe because there were powerful Christian states to intervene in favor of the Christians. Now, much of Muslim social oppression, exploitation and humiliation of dhimmis can rightly be compared to apartheid, although based on religion rather than on skin color or genetic race. Apparently Carter --coming from a KuKluxer family-- is too ignorant to know anything about that, or maybe he doesn't care. On Race and Slavery in Islam, Jimmy & `Umar should see Bernard Lewis' book.
Let's talk again sometime.

N. Friedman - 12/19/2006


I am not anti-Islam. Islam, to me, is just another mythology, no different from Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek mythology or Judaism. As I have said repeatedly, I think Islam is rather interesting because it is an heroic religion.

I am rather enamored of heroic thinking but, to note, we do not live in an age where Medieval style heroism is any longer noble. A different Islamic heroism is needed but, as of yet, that is unrecognized by most Muslims.

Today's Muslims are often unfortunately also steeped in resentment that, to anyone not blind, is leading - as all resentment driven movements normally lead - toward exactly the opposite direction from where the religion's proponents think they are going. And that resentment is not noble. Resentment is not noble in any age.

Honorable compromise is a noble value in which a noble people would believe. I, like most Westerners, am for settling disputes and believe our way - that of reaching honorable compromises - is the noble way. Those Muslims who recognize the nobility of compromise have my respect. Those who do not, are, to me, people living in a dark, dark, age.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/19/2006

Thank you, N Friedman.
Omar, your lengthy response deserves a lengthy response from me. I am too busy for that now, however, I will make a few points now.

It is good that you recognize that Muhammad was a master empire builder. There is something to be said for that view of him. I also agree that the Muslims allowed Jews to live in Israel, which as you know, is called Holy Land in the Quran but not palestine or Filastin [which in Muslim usage referred only to the southern part of the country, what the Romans/Byzantines had called Palaestina Prima; on this see "Filastin" in Encyc of Islam]. The Roman empire itself called the whole of Israel [roughly speaking] Judea [IVDAEA]. Rome did not use the name "Palaestina" until the crushing of the Bar Kokhba revolt, 135 CE.
N Friedman points out the desolate, depopulated state of the country under Muslim rule. This state of being mainly wasteland lasted into the second half of the 19th century. Does that demonstrate love of the Land?
As to the Qur'an, I only ask Muslims to follow their own holy book on this issue. If they recognized the divine assignment of the Holy Land to the Jews, as does the Qur'an, then peace could break out. Instead, we get appropriation and misuse of terms such as colonialist, racist, etc.
So much for now, more later.

N. Friedman - 12/18/2006


Reading your comment does not change my assessment of your view. A non-religious analysis (e.g. a political analysis) examining the circumstances would hold out a compromise - not divide the world into good and evil, as you do. Your way of thinking is Manichean and essentially employs traditional Islamic categories - the evil enemy versus the righteous Muslims and without the slightest recognition that there are two groups with rights. The facts, whether or not you want to accept them, is not as you perceive it. The facts - as anyone who analyzes the problem historically or politically must do - are rather gray toned, not black and white.

The Israelis are not the great evil of history. The fact that you adopt the tone you take shows your analysis basically to be religious, not political.

You write in the manner of a person drunk on religion. Your analysis is religious and creates categories such as imperialism, colonialism that sound political but hide a deeply religious understanding the dispute. The truth here is that you want an Islamic society because that is what you believe in - which is why, as you have said, you support the HAMAS and Hezb' Allah. A non-religious person has to see such parties are drunk on religion, not political parties, and would never support them.

N. Friedman - 12/17/2006

Mr. Green,

Very well said.

I might add that Omar basically says the issue with Israel is not political, it is religious. He rejects any diminishment of the dar al-Islam. And, he makes historic Palestine, left by Arabs and Turks alike as a large wasteland, into the center of Arab Islam. The former point is justified by Islamic theology. The latter point is bidda - a recent one at that. But, then again, the latter point has become rather central to Jihadists.

So, as always, Omar is a font of useful information about Islamic thinking.

N. Friedman - 12/17/2006


I do not see how we can affect the Islamic regions by persuasion. Religious people listen to their own, not to infidel. However, people eventually tire of their loved ones dying.

Douglas M. Charles - 12/17/2006

Yes, indeed, there has been conflict among Muslims dating, I suppose, to the murder of the 4th Caliph, Ali, in 661. Moreover, I think it's clear that differences in Iraq (and beyond) go much beyond the disagreement between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. There are tribal, ethnic, regional, political, and all manner of differences as well.

In another sense, beyond civil war in Iraq, some have argued that Islam itself essentially is going through its reformation. That we, the West no less, can "win" that or a civil war is simply absurd.

N. Friedman - 12/17/2006


I might offer an historical point here. In the period prior to the time the Ottoman Turks arose, there was, in addition to warfare on Muslims from all sides - and not mostly from the Crusaders, by the way -, substantial internal fighting among Muslims. This fighting did much to abate interest in Jihad by Muslims, such that Muslims largely thought it best to leave world conquest as a millennial dream.

With that in mind, might it not be better for the US and the West if we encourage fighting between Sunni and Shi'a rather than considering such fighting to be a disaster? Perhaps, if the US withdrew and left the fight going - akin to the Iraq Iran war of the 1980's - and, moreover, even clandestinely fueled the fight, such might suck up the interest of the Jihadis to our benefit and, in time, might sap the morale of the Jihad.

I am not saying that I think it appropriate. I merely note it as a possibility that is not much, so far as I know, considered. I wonder if anyone else has thought of the matter in such vein.

Douglas M. Charles - 12/17/2006

Anyone who claims that this war must be won shows a clear and fundamental ignorance about what the war is.

The conflict in Iraq is civil war-plus, and the "terrorist" component is but a minuscule percentage of the opposition. Civil wars are not won by outsiders and to believe an outside power, such as the US, can "win" in a situation that is more complex than particle physics is irrational.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/17/2006

Douglas, I think my feet are firmly planted on terra firma. Look over this paper by Prof Raphaeli Israeli of the Truman Institute at the Hebrew Institute in Jerusalem. Bear in mind the reports by Syrian exiles given on proche-orient.info


Elliott Aron Green - 12/16/2006

Omar, it seems to me that you are rejecting the Qur'an. Sura 5:20-22 says that Allah assigned the Holy Land to the Jews, does it now? The meaning seems to be pretty plain, n'est-ce pas? Further, the Qur'an foresees that the Jews will return to their land. That's how we define Zionism, not how you define it. But whether should call those verses Zionist or not, the meaning is plain that the Land belongs to the Jews and that the Jews will return. Don't call it Zionism, if you don't want to. Just admit the meaning of the verses.
Anyway, you point that Jerusalem was the first qibla. But Muhammad himself decided to stop considering Jerusalem to be a qibla [prayer direction], and make Mecca the qibla instead. So Muhammad rejected Jerusalem as the qibla. By what right do you now claim what your faith rejected in the past? Now, as to Jerusalem being the third haramin [holy place] after Mecca & Medina, well, that was decided after Muhammad was long dead and this was done for political reasons so that the `Umayyad dynasty could have an Islamic holy place of its own against its rivals who ruled Mecca & Medina. Furthermore, Ibn Taymiyya, the famous Muslim jurist, ruled that Jerusalem was not a holy place for Islam.

Then, you call Zionism "racist." I think that the traditional Muslim system for governing non-Muslims, the dhimma, is very much like racism, although not based skin color or biological race, but rather on religion and ethnic group.

Howard C Berkowitz - 12/15/2006

Lincoln said good things, but so did Theodore Roosevelt: "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

One of the problems with the Administration's "national security justifies everything" is that there is no oversight. Forget civil liberties for a moment; some intelligence collection programs are extremely expensive and have no review to see if spending monies on this approach is wise. Speaking as a networking professional with security experience, this is not a topic that only NSA can evaluate, as demonstrated by one major current government encryption system, AES, being created by Dutch researchers rather than NSA.

You are making assumptions that both NSA collection programs and the campaign in Iraq are essential to the overall strategy against terrorism. Reasonable people can question both of these assumptions, reasonable people willing to use the full intelligence and military might of the US -- on the correct targets.

It appears that the Administration has conducted a systematic program of avoiding oversight, even when there are simple and classified ways to authorize such things as the NSA call detail record database. The Constitution is not a suicide pact, but ignoring it, as well as relevant US Code, is also questionable.

Rob Willis - 12/15/2006

“Under the administration of President Lincoln we behold our beloved country distracted at home and disgraced abroad; commerce paralyzed; trade annihilated; coasts blockaded; rivers shut up; the constitution trampled under foot; citizens imprisoned; laws suspended; legislatures overawed by bayonets;…” etc.

The above represents part of a series of resolutions crafted by the residents of Marion County, Iowa, in late 1861. I have been waiting for an opportunity to use this jewel, and this flacid article is a fine place to do so.

Why can't those who so treasure dissent as a divine right understand that dissent isn't always appropriate? What genetic fault resides in those who cannot understand that conflict always has negative consequences, but that very often the fight must be made anyway?

I do not care a plugged nickel about those who are so dull and selfish in their vision that they are incapable of seeing the bigger picture.

Iraq is a battle that must be won, or my grandson will suffer. Somehow, I think his life is more important than France's opinion of America, or whether the NSA listens to my pizza delivery orders.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/14/2006

Omar, how come you Muslims forget what is written in your own Qur'an???
Sura 5:12 says that Allah made a covenant with the Sons of Israel.
Sura 5:20-22 says that Allah assigned the Holy Land to the Jews
Sura 17:104 foresees that the Jews will return to their Land.
It seems to me that your Qur'an endorses Zionism. Why do you refute your own holy book?

Elliott Aron Green - 12/14/2006

Douglas, a recent article by Prof. Raphael Israeli, in the Israeli bi-monthly Nativ recounts the many reports of findings of WMD material and R & D equipment in Iraq. I believe that a summary of this article is available on the www.nativ.org.il website or the www.acpr.org.il website. Also, the French-language site www.proche-orient.info reported on claims by Syrian exiles to know where this WMD material and equipment was hidden in Syria. I do think I'm realistic. Why don't you check my sources before being so snide?

Douglas M. Charles - 12/13/2006

"Then you claim bogus reasons were given by Bush to get into the war. Actually, evidence was found of WMD development. Curiously, Bush did not want to give a lot of publicity to the findings...."

Ooooooo k. Is there anyone on this board who has their feet firmly planted in reality?

Arnold Shcherban - 12/13/2006

Mr Green,

Do you have a speck of decency left in you?
Now - "Iraq was never a nation" - a lofty argument?

And the US was never a nation, but a British colony, plus the nation that forcefully forced the land's real hosts out and brought slaves.
And Hungary was never a nation, but a part of Austrian empire, and therefore
should be what...?
Your loyal friends imperialist British
created a mess all over the world, so
now a noble, but again White, Knight
mounting Texas bronco is correcting their "mistakes"... through violence
and corruption?

Whom do you think you're communicating here to - complete idiots?

Elliott Aron Green - 12/13/2006

CORRECTION: King Faysal I of Iraq died a few weeks after the Assyrian massacres. He had been in London when the affair began, being showered with honors by the British king, George V. He returned ill to Baghdad and died shortly after. So it is hard to establish his direct responsibility in the massacres. At the time, the Baghdad mob was screaming for Assyrian blood. "Demonstrations, spontaneous or inspired, were taking place almost daily demanding the elimination of the entire Assyrian community." [Majid Khadduri, Independent Iraq, 1st ed., p 44]. So the Iraqi Muslims were fairly bloodthirsty even way back then. Maybe George Bush Junior had gone back in time to stir up that deep hatred of non-Muslims.

Faysal sent a memorandum to his ministers in 1932, stating that "Iraq as she stood in 1932 had not yet attained that cohesion among her various racial and religious communities necessary to create a modern nation." [Khadduri, p 36]. What was true in 1932 is all the more true now. The words are not those of a Zionist neo-con but of an Arab historian paraphrasing an Arab king.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/13/2006

Douglas, you're right about Mossadegh being overthrown during Eisenhower's administration. But I did say CIA was involved.

Getting back to Iraq, you know that it was never a nation. Under the Ottoman empire, it was ruled as three separate vilayets [regions or provinces]. The British made it one state by bringing those three vilayets together, each one with a predominance of a different majority group, in the Basra vilayet -Shi`ite Arabs, in the Baghdad vilayet -Sunni Arabs, in the Mosul vilayet -Sunni Kurds. Mosul was added on later, disregarding promises of independence or autonomy made to the Kurds [see the treaty of Lausanne]. The first king [British-appointed] Faisal bin Husayn [Hussein], wrote in his diary or memoirs that he had not succeeded in making a nation out of Iraq. After Faisal's death Iraq went through several convulsions, with massacres of Assyrians and Jews. After Faisal II was overthrown in 1958, the CIA supposedly helped to overthrow Kassem, his Shi`ite successor, in favor of the Ba`ath party [Arab national socialists]. I don't remember all the details, but the various upheavals were bloody. Out of all this Saddam emerged, purging his own Ba`ath mentors and comrades.

Now, hundreds of thousands of Kurds were massacred, expelled, driven out of their homes by Saddam. Do you know, for instance, how many Kurds were killed and/or driven from their homes in the Anfal operation of 1988, in which poison gas was used? So for the Kurds, how can you say that the situation is now worse? Hundreds of civilians are killed every week in Baghdad itself. Maybe that is worse, for people in that city. But not for the Kurds. Then are you saying that Iraq needs a tyrant like Saddam in order to maintain public order? Do you deny the massacres presented as evidence at his trial? Maybe Iraq should break up into three states.

Then you claim bogus reasons were given by Bush to get into the war. Actually, evidence was found of WMD development. Curiously, Bush did not want to give a lot of publicity to the findings, and that CIA turkey who headed an investigating team maybe had instructions to minimize the findings.
Then what about the various reports of transfer of WMD research equipment and material to Syria? Israeli pm Sharon reported these transfers in the fall of 2002. I don't especially like Sharon, but was he making it all up? I think he was right. Syrian exiles subsequently confirmed Sharon's report.

So the US has been intervening in Iraq off and on over the years, whereas the British had set up an untenable situation. And you want to blame Bush for everything.

Douglas M. Charles - 12/12/2006

"Why single out Bush and his crowd?"

Because Bush invaded Iraq using a bogus rationale and made a bad situation monumentally worse.

It was Eisenhower and the CIA who overthrew Mosaddeq, etc., not Truman.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/12/2006

Prof Buzzanco states that there is a conflict going on called the "Israel-Palestine conflict." He ought to recall that in 1948, Israel fought the armies of several Arab states, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan. Likewise, in 1956, 1967, 1973, Israel fought Arab states. In 1982 in Lebanon, Israel fought Syria as well as the PLO. Now, Israel is fighting the Iranian-Syrian funded-armed-supported Hizbullah in the North, and in Gaza-Judea-Samaria, Israel is fighting Fatah which is funded to a great extent by Saudi and Kuwaiti money, if I am not mistaken, as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad which are funded by Iran, and headquartered in Syria. Meanwhile, the EU and, to a lesser extent, the USA and Japan fund the palestinian authority for "civilian purposes," although it is likely that much of that money may be siphoned off for terrorist purposes. So it would be more correct, would it not, to say that Israel is in conflict with Arabs, including Palestinian Arabs, as well as with the EU, etc???

Elliott Aron Green - 12/12/2006

I don't see why the Bush administration should be singled out, unlikable as it may be. After all, the Carter admin. and others, before and after Carter, have intervened in the Middle East. Carter and his man Friday, Zbig, acted as midwives to bring the Khomeini regime into the world in Iran in 1979. And the world has been suffering ever since. As far back as the Truman admin., the US was intervening in the Middle East. The CIA under Truman helped overthrow pm Mossadegh in Iran, then brought back the Shah, and in 1979, Zbig threw the Shah out. The CIA under Truman also helped Nasser take over Egypt in 1952 [see books by Andrew Tully, Miles Copeland, and Michael Bar-Zohar]. By the way, I can't be sure that Truman knew what Kim Roosevelt and Copeland were doing at the time. It was also under Truman that the US Treasury began to allow ARAMCO to deduct dollar for dollar the per barrel "oil income tax" that the company paid to the Saudi royals, under the pretext that this fictitious tax, actually a royalty, qualified as a deduction under the Foreign Tax Credit. In short, the seeds of many current Middle Eastern problems were planted by US administrations going back to Roosevelt and Truman and coming through Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Bush Senior, and Clinton. Why single out Bush and his crowd? On the other hand, maybe Buzzanco is pleased that Bush Junior is bringing back jim baker, his father's favorite Middle Eastern troublemaker, while jimmy carter, the mother of all Middle Eastern ignoramuses, is making a comeback too.

Peter F. Hollings - 12/12/2006

It would be one thing if Bush had accomplished all these things thru forgivable accident or error. Even though these results have may not been intentional*, the fact that they were accomplished thru conspiracy, fraud and deceit and that, all too often, favored industries and firms profited, makes it criminal. Our democratic processes, checks and balances, were deliberately subverted to advance their agenda. So, we have both a national tragedy and a great crime. The issue, over the coming months, is how we deal with it. Who pays and who benefits if we "stay the course"? How do we de-legitimize this conduct to forestall it happening again? How do we undo the damage, both abroad and at home?

Peter Hollings

* I am not sure that chaos in the Middle East was not part of the original plan. Certainly creating chaos has been advocated by prominent neo-conservatives such as Bernard Lewis as a way to redraw the map for Israel's neighbors. See, for example, "Practice to Deceive
Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks' nightmare scenario--it's their plan," http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0304.marshall.html .

Lee Peter Ruddin - 12/11/2006

This essay is most credible. However, Buzzanco arrives at his thesis from a different angle to that of his contemporaries. The tuition that Bush received from an assortment of conservatives; be they conservative nationalist and/or neo–conservative is not disputed, though commentators suffer from 'knowledgeable ignorance' in trusting that, akin to the Manchurian Candidate the president is manufactured and privately owned and operated. The common tale purports that the neo–cons leaped into Bush’s head with 'big steel toe–boots, table cutters and a chainsaw going to work on his head, exposing neurons, rewiring circuits and obliterating brain cells'.