Blogs > HNN > Islam, Barbarism, and Us

Mar 20, 2006 5:34 am

Islam, Barbarism, and Us

Mr. LeVine is professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture, and Islamic studies at the University of California, Irvine, and author of the forthcoming books: Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil; and Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine, 1880-1948. He is also a contributor, with Viggo Mortensen and Pilar Perez, to Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation. Click here to access his homepage.

It's hard not to sympathize with Wafa Sultan, the Syrian-American doctor who made international headlines after denouncing her former religion, Islam, on al-Jazeera last month. Sultan lost her faith after witnessing members of the Muslim Brotherhood burst into her medical school classroom and kill her professor in front of the class. Making matters worse, they did so while screaming "Allahu Akbar," a phrase of religious piety that has seemingly been hijacked by Islam's most violent adherents.

I too have seen the results of Islamist terrorism, in Israel and Iraq, and they have scarred me for life. Yet I have also seen the results of American/Christian and Israeli/Jewish terror. Unlike Dr. Sultan, however, these experiences did not lead me to abandon my identity (more accurately, identities), although I don't blame her for making that choice. Whether witnessing such acts of violence leads a person to abandon or fight to reclaim one's faith is an intensely personal decision, one that can only be made by the person experiencing such a crisis.

Which is probably why many Muslims have quietly lauded Sultan for her forthright critique of her (former) religion. More supportive have been conservative Christian and Jewish groups in the United States. Regardless of its reception, however, what is troubling about this phenomenon is that Sultan's comments in fact betray an incredible ignorance of contemporary Islam and Muslim cultures, one that feeds into the most negative stereotypes of Islam in American culture and the West more broadly.

At base, Dr. Sultan believes that "the clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century... between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality."

It is hard to overstate both how inaccurate yet entrenched this line of reasoning has been in our own cultures (which is precisely why for almost a week, stories about her have remained among the most emailed on the web). It continues a centuries-long discourse that justified European conquest and rule of the Muslim and larger non-Western world and the incredible violence that came with it. Whether it was James Mill discussing India, Lord Cromer writing about Egypt, or George Bush extolling the United States' mission in Iraq, Europeans and today Americans have seen themselves as possessing a uniquely civilized and rational culture that stands in stark contrast to the primitive and barbaric customs of the natives whom we seem always, against our will of course, to wind up ruling--always with the expressed intention of helping them achieve even greater liberty.

Such a claim is wrong on two very fundamental counts. First, it assumes that there are clearly definable civilizations (or at least “mentalities”) called the “West” or “Islam” that evolved separately and largely in isolation from each other, and do not interact except through the proverbial clashes between them. Only with such a view can one be understood to be advancing towards the highest forms of development while the other remains mired in a dim past.

The reality is that the West and Islam emerged together, if in conflict with each other. They remain historically, politically, economically and even sociologically inseparable, however much they define themselves against the other. It might make us feel good to believe that al-Qa'ed aor Muslime extremism more broadly is an atavistic phenomenon that cannot reflect negatively on our own self-image, but in fact they are quintessentially modern, and even globalized (as John Gray demonstrates in his 2005 book “Al-Qaeda and What it Means to Be Modern”). And they are such precisely because of the Muslim world's long and troubling experience of modernity, first through European colonialism and then through forms of secular nationalism—Nasserism, Baathism—that also failed on their promises for reform.

Perhaps more dangerous is her belief that the civilization and rationality on the one hand, and so-called barbarism and primitivism on the other, are necessarily opposed to each other, so that if only Muslims could become more civilized and less primitive and barbaric medical school professors and their co-religionists would no longer have to fear being slaughtered without reason. But the history of the last century—two world wars, a Holocaust, horrifically bloody repression sponsored by the guiding lights of the modern world—should have warned her as to the shakiness of such a proposition.

In fact, as the great German Holocaust scholar Zybmunt Bauman has so brilliantly argued in his “Modernity and the Holocaust,” science and rationality have often been put at the service of brutality and exploitation, and the most advanced civilizations can be the authors of the most advanced and efficient methods of mass murder imaginable. And such developments are in no way aberrations away from modern, rational civilization, but rather are a logical and even “normal” outcome of the drives and processes that are indispensable to its development.

For the United States, this particular dynamic allowed us to kill between two to three millions South Asians to make Vietnam safe for democracy, and now well over 100,000 Iraqis to do the same in that country; all in the name of the very civilization Sultan rightly cherishes. Yet if Americans were to judge ourselves by the same harsh logic that Dr. Sultan judges her heritage, then we'd all put away our stars and stripes and speaking Esperanto. Of course, we won't do that, nor should we.

But Americans are flocking to Dr. Sultan's comments because they allow us harshly to critique Islam in a manner guaranteed (like the Cartoon controversy of last month) to provoke the “medieval mentality” that she first witnessed in medical school. They also allow us to continue to believe that despite all our policy failures in Iraq and elsewhere and the incredible financial and human sacrifices they have entailed, our self- (or according to President Bush, divinely) appointed mission is morally correct and worthwhile. As important, the reason for their failures is ultimately because the Muslim world, as Sultan specifically argues, is irredeemable. In other words, it's not our fault, it's theirs, and her arguments just serve to prove the point in spades.

Yet whatever the failings of the West or Islam, ultimately the worth of a civilization, culture, or country is not to be judged by its failures, but rather by its potential to inspire and motivate its members to achieve peace, justice and at least some measure of prosperity. In that context, and just like Judaism and Christianity, at the same time Islam advocates violence and domination it also advocate peace, justice and brotherhood. It's up to us to determine which message we choose to hear. Jihadi Islam, Crusader Christianity, Settler Judaism--all are logical and rational expressions of the three Abrahamic traditions; but they don't have to be the only ones.

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

It is the indiscriminate use of such words as "modernity" that gives rise to much misunderstanding.
The Judeo/Christian West seems to have a single rigid interpretation of the term: that it is that that we have, the way we are, the way we behave!
As far as technology related matters are concerned the JC Western interpretation of the term is valid ;the progress leading to a more "modern" output being "measurable" with universally accepted measuring tools.

It is when we face the term in social, cultural, economic and political, being their combined out put , contexts that the relative interpretation and value of “progress” and hence "modernity" becomes a frequent point of divergence:
-Socially: co education, the veil and premarital sex are instances in which neither side’s claim for or against necessarily reflects absolute genuine progress towards “modernity”..
-Culturally: The central role of religion, heritage and tradition , or their absence, in the personal, private and the general, public/collective contexts.
-Economically: the welfare/socialistic versus free market/capitalistic order in which neither side’s claim can gauge the amount of real “progress” in the direction of a more equitable distribution of wealth and NOT only in the sense of GNP growth.
-Politically: the relative merits and shortcomings of the liberal “democratic” model of governance versus the “shura” model in their respective abilities to achieve “progress”.

This is neither to praise one system, or set of principles, nor to denigrate the other; it is simply to contend that apart from the material and hence measurable “progress’ and “modernity” are relative terms with different, often conflicting, contents and real life applications and implications in and for different human communities.
The Koran put it in a thought provoking and challenging form:” …and WE have created you in (sundry) nations and tribes to come to know (and appreciate) each other.”(My own unauthorized and plainly inadequate translation).

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Williams
I saw no frothing in your post and had there been any it must have been too subtle.
You have made an honest presentation of what you saw, lived with then have been shocked by.
On your long post, that I have read carefully, I would like to make two points:
1- The time when hatred and resentment of what official America stood with and for turned into a declared hate directed against you as an American citizen and not, I contend, as Mr. Williams.
I believe I have also noted that turning point as a general overriding trend.
As simply and briefly put as possible; that turning point coincided with the inevitable sudden realization, the culmination of a long festering growing suspicion , that the USA was not the "friend" of our arch enemy, Israel, but its strategic ally intent on total Arab/Moslem submission and defeat in their confrontation with world Zionism.
With the Bush administration whatever lingering doubts existed, in an avowedly rapidly diminishing circles, were unequivocally dispelled with its total, unconditional identication with Israeli policies, ambitions and designs.
I will not go into particulars that you, having lived where you did, would be familiar with; suffice it to name Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq where the Arab/Moslem world is confronted with blatant US enmity!
The declared policies of the neocon/Zionist Bush/Wolfowitz administration was the inevitable turning point in the Arab/Moslem world towards the USA and, unfortunately but understandably, everything American.
That is neither an apology for nor a justification of any thing; it is a simple statement of facts.
2- The real tragedy of this sad and ultimately extremely costly confrontation, to both parties, is that it is unnecessary, unwarranted and runs counter to the intrinsic interests of both parties.
I take this opportunity to draw your attention to the Harvard study, from which Harvard recently withdrew its seal, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" of Professors
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.(Parts of it are on the Web.)
I hope I will hear from you after you read it.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

As noted in an earlier post few factors inflame the religious divide between Islam and Christianity as the reciprocating mutual nurishment of the two parties fanaticism.
The relative importance and impact of the two should, however, be assessed objectively.
Whereas Moslem fanaticism is ,still, confined , mostly, in popular organizations and trends Christian fanaticism is firmly lodged in the administration and President of the USA ; the seats of power of the hyper power of the 21st century.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Unfortunately, and to the ultimate great loss of both our "camps", there is a growing and hardening of the "we" and "you" mentality and attitudes in both camps.
Re the Moslem “camp" a clear swing to the "hard" attitude , not long ago an isolated fringe movement, that is not only presently growing exponentially but is also coalescing into a definite popular majority .
This development was the inevitable outcome of the huge unlimited and unconditional support lent by the Neocon/Zionist administration of President Bush to the Israeli right of the Likud , Sharon and Olmert .and its flagrant anti Arab and anti Palestinian policies in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The paradox here is that both camps, though declared enemies and by fighting each other, are not only furthering their own causes and public appeal but are also contributing to the growth of their declared enemy!
And the old diversity in both camps is being gruadually replaced by the growth of "monolithic" attitudes and policies in both camps.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Williams
I truly appreciate your concern about the "great religion" that is Islam and your sincere effort to seek the "genuine scholarship" that is going on in many scholarly Moslem circles.
But this seems to miss the point in that the real bone of contention here (the "enjeu") is neither philosophical nor theological!
It is a hard, existential, survivalist, politically oriented matter in the sense of “make or break”!

Moslem masses and many of the fundamentalist theoreticians that are leading them can hardly be blamed when we recall that:

A-On the Political/Military Front:

-Islam was extensively used by others, but mainly the USA, to combat the enemies of those “others” as for the regimentation against first international communism in the early fifties then Soviet Russia in Afghanistan.
-Islam was not allowed, actually fiercely resisted, when it attempted to fight what it perceives to be “its own” enemy such as Israel or corrupt and despotic regimes.
-Islam was, still is, denied the opportunity to rule even when democratically elected, as first in Algeria and now in the Palestinian territories.
-Islam was, still is, denied the opportunity to achieve its true public representation in the decision making circles as in Egypt.
-The only two countries that have been invaded and occupied by a foreign power in the last quarter century or so are predominantly Moslem countries namely Afghanistan and Iraq.
-Two genuine national liberation movements have been practically ignored by most but effectively resisted by some being in predominantly Moslem countries; Palestine and the Chechen.

B-On the Cultural/Theological Front:

-The quasi universal campaign to “reform” Islam initiated by non Moslems, mainly the Judeo/Christian West, both of which are historically and culturally perceived as the main rivals to Islam ; not to say the erstwhile deadly enemies as perceived by many.
-The unabashed semi official calls to excise “suras” from the Koran.
-The declared official requests to redraw school curricula in Moslem countries.

Any of the above facts could easily, and not unreasonably, conjure in the Moslem mind that Moslems and Islam are targeted by the Judeo/Christian West fronted by the USA.

More than any other single factor the ascendancy of the Neocon/Zionist alliance in the USA and the unconcealed anti Islam and anti Arab policies of the Bush Administration confirmed that impression.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

That we are different is , I believe, beyond dispute; the question is ,then, can we be on good terms in the sense of mutual acceptance and respect or do we have to:
-disengage totally or
-go on fighting each other?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Williams
Is that the, though belated, "frothing" you warned me about?
1- I do not disagree that there is much more freedom of speech and thought in the USA than in Miram Shah.
So what?Your challenge is pointless.
Note worthy ,however, is that you are still, presumably, living there and not incarcerated contrary to US citizens of Japanes descent who were during WWII for being of Japanese descent!
Nations at war do odd not they?
2-Equally note worthy is that out of three declared battle fields you chose to ignore the two in which US enmity is most blatant and least warranted:Palestine and Iraq.
Not a single word here; is it that you have nothing to say or you concede the point?
I ended my post by drawing your attention to a 100% American study ...I hope you will read it and tell us what you think about its conclusions.
Notwithstanding your "froth" I wish you well and send you my
NB:More on the subject later.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

As an Arab and a Moslem I give very little weight to what an , undoubtedly traumatized, Dr Sultan had to say about Islam.I believe very few others do .
Her experience is in no way different from many who ,for other reasons of their own, disclaimed their religion; not an unusual occurrence any time and anywhere!
The think to note here is the very wide acclaim and warm reception with which her declarations were met and the ceaseless wide spread attempts to capitalize on them in the West and particularly in the USA.
I can very safely contend that no amount of hatred and demonization of Islam by the West will ever lead the Moslems to abandon or reject their faith.
Western, particularly US, public media, the eager purveyors of Dr Sultan's hate message, do know that; so why is it that they persist?

What do they expect to achieve, knowing fully well that their message will never reach and if it does will never affect Moslems, apart from pandering to the lowest instincts of their Western, mainly US, readers?

One obvious answer to that is to justify Western, but presently mainly US, aggression against Arabs,Islam and Moslems.

Another answer is to consolidate the Judeo/Christian- NeoCon/Zionist front that is battling Arabs, Islam and Moslems, most flagrantly, in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq and less so over the rest of the world, a front that is showing enough fissures to foretell its ultimate cracking and collapse.

The ultimate answer, I guess, is the Zionist design for total western/US identification with Zionist plans.
I fail to see any intrinsic interest for the West or the USA there! .

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Willis
I do not recall making "charges";what I did was stating facts should you deny the accuracy of any please point it out!
So you "..will correct or confirm the "perception" of Muslims as regards America."
With the neocon/Zionist Bush/Wolfowitz adminisration in power I do not believe any further "confirmation" is needed, as to "correcting" it I hope you succeed.
We have been thinking long and hard about the whole think; by the way is that an advise or a warning?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Willis
I do not recall making "charges";what I did was stating facts should you deny the accuracy of any please point it out!
So you "..will correct or confirm the "perception" of Muslims as regards America."
With the neocon/Zionist Bush/Wolfowitz adminisration in power I do not believe any further "confirmation" is needed, as to "correcting" it I hope you succeed.
We have been thinking long and hard about the whole think; by the way is that an advise or a warning?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Willis
I do not recall making "charges";what I did was stating facts should you deny the accuracy of any please point it out!
So you "..will correct or confirm the "perception" of Muslims as regards America."
With the neocon/Zionist Bush/Wolfowitz adminisration in power I do not believe any further "confirmation" is needed, as to "correcting" it I hope you succeed.
We have been thinking long and hard about the whole think; by the way is that an advise or a warning?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Heuisler
I repost the open letter that I have earlier posted as a blog.
One more, new ,point you state:
"al-Qaeda training camps like Ansar al Islam in Northern Iraq and Salman Pak just 35 miles from Baghdad. "
Are you sure that Northern Iraq and Salman Pak are only 35 miles from Baghdad? Or did you forget a zero here?
Any way what difference would a ZERO make?

omar ibrahim baker

An Open Letter to Mr Heuisler
You might recall that we tangled, on this scren, over the question of whether Iraq had any thing to do with 9/11 and other counter American activities.
I refer you here to :

being the:

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Order Code RL33038
Al Qaeda: Profile and Threat Assessment
August 17, 2005
Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division .

Hoping that I have not misspelled your name once more; howver had I it would be totally unintentional.
Omar Ibrahim Baker

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Williams
I am afraid you have missed my point and added a few, dare I say, irrelevant points of your own.

A-Missing the point:

My point was, and still is ,HOW things are perceived by MOSLEMS in increasing numbers, not by you not by other people of good or bad will ,that led them to believe in WHAT they BELIEVE in!
Not that I want to distance myself from them but even though we might agree or disagree on the interpretation of a certain fact the important thing is HOW that fact is perceived by the majority; not by you and not by me !
Incidentally I substantially partake in the general perception of the situation.

B: The Irrelevant Points:

You have, like some people of good will before you and many more of bad will, reiterated the often used false argument:

I guess hating, finger-pointing, blaming others for your problems, whether personal or national, is easier to do than looking at yourself, analysing the problem and coming up with real solutions."

This argument is false and misleading in two ways:
1-When we "finger point" to these facts ,as in my post, we never claim nor assume that they are the ONLY facts .WE simply outline and stress them as the EXTERNAL facts which makes sense discussing them with NON Arabs and NON Moslems who could, should they be willing, do something about them in their own environment.
2-It assumes that we are not aware of our own internal problems.
We are fully aware of our own internal problems but see no point in discussing them with foreigners who have nothing, and should NOT have anything, to do with them.
That is not only because it is a purely INTERNAL affair but equally because we believe it is counter productive to allow the perceived" enemy", with his own agenda, to have any thing to say in such matters.
The fact that we are NOT:”. looking at (ourselves) yourself, analysing the problem and coming up with real solutions." in PUBLIC does not mean that we are not doing what should be done.

I hope, sensing that you are among the people of good will ,that you will not be subject to the same maniacal illusion as Thomas Friedman who, unless he is part of a certain effort, does not believe that that effort exists at all.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Although I loathe to cut and paste... especially, against you as you're being the undisputed HNN c&p champion, this article had your name written all over it.


Toronto Star-- March 19, 2006


Whiny children, claims a new study, tend to grow up rigid and traditional. Future liberals, on the other hand ...

REMEMBER the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.
At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.
The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.
But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.
A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.
The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.
Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.
In a society that values self-confidence and out-goingness, it's a mostly flattering picture for liberals. It also runs contrary to the American stereotype of wimpy liberals and strong conservatives.
Of course, if you're studying the psychology of politics, you shouldn't be surprised to get a political reaction. Similar work by John T. Jost of Stanford and colleagues in 2003 drew a political backlash. The researchers reviewed 44 years worth of studies into the psychology of conservatism, and concluded that people who are dogmatic, fearful, intolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty, and who crave order and structure are more likely to gravitate to conservatism. Critics branded it the "conservatives are crazy" study and accused the authors of a political bias.
Jost welcomed the new study, saying it lends support to his conclusions. But Jeff Greenberg, a social psychologist at the University of Arizona who was critical of Jost's study, was less impressed.
`I found (the Jack Block study) to be biased, shoddy work, poor science at best'
Jeff Greenberg
University of Arizona
"I found it to be biased, shoddy work, poor science at best," he said of the Block study. He thinks insecure, defensive, rigid people can as easily gravitate to left-wing ideologies as right-wing ones. He suspects that in Communist China, those kinds of people would likely become fervid party members.
The results do raise some obvious questions. Are nursery school teachers in the conservative heartland cursed with classes filled with little proto-conservative whiners?
Or does an insecure little boy raised in Idaho or Alberta surrounded by conservatives turn instead to liberalism?
Or do the whiny kids grow up conservative along with the majority of their more confident peers, while only the kids with poor impulse control turn liberal?
Part of the answer is that personality is not the only factor that determines political leanings. For instance, there was a .27 correlation between being self-reliant in nursery school and being a liberal as an adult. Another way of saying it is that self-reliance predicts statistically about 7 per cent of the variance between kids who became liberal and those who became conservative. (If every self-reliant kid became a liberal and none became conservatives, it would predict 100 per cent of the variance). Seven per cent is fairly strong for social science, but it still leaves an awful lot of room for other influences, such as friends, family, education, personal experience and plain old intellect.
For conservatives whose feelings are still hurt, there is a more flattering way for them to look at the results. Even if they really did tend to be insecure complainers as kids, they might simply have recognized that the world is a scary, unfair place.
Their grown-up conclusion that the safest thing is to stick to tradition could well be the right one. As for their "rigidity," maybe that's just moral certainty.
The grown-up liberal men, on the other hand, with their introspection and recognition of complexity in the world, could be seen as self-indulgent and ineffectual.
Whether anyone's feelings are hurt or not, the work suggests that personality and emotions play a bigger role in our political leanings than we think. All of us, liberal or conservative, feel as though we've reached our political opinions by carefully weighing the evidence and exercising our best judgment. But it could be that all of that careful reasoning is just after-the-fact self-justification. What if personality forms our political outlook, with reason coming along behind, rationalizing after the fact?
It could be that whom we vote for has less to do with our judgments about tax policy or free trade or health care, and more with the personalities we've been stuck with since we were kids.

Kurt Kleiner is a Toronto-based freelance science writer.


When you're done crying about the Lancet Report and how wrong you are regarding Roberts' findings you can cry a river over this study. You'll have shed enough tears to water a fair size garden.

I can't wait until HNN essays the DUELFER REPORT.

Peace Out Brother Bill...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


I explained my thoughts but you twisted them to high heaven without providing any evidence of your own to the contrary. Now you're pouting just as the Block's study predicted you would.

OK... in 10 simple bullet points...

1.) A war is raging in full fury. The most powerful nation in the history of the planet is beating the living Saddam out of the worlds weakest.

2.) A humanitarian crisis of epic proportions is unfolding. Iraqi civilian women and children are being slaughtered en masse.

3.) The Pentagon maybe, suffering from anxiety attacks over the body count fiasco of a generation earlier, refuse to provide any details of Iraqi casualties.

4.) A highly respected medical journal, world renowned medical college and their top credential/ certified epidemiologist perform a survey in a 'hot' war zone to try to determine with some reasonableness the extent of human loss of life to the overall Iraq populace.

5.) Using acceptable standard statistical assay methodology, used historically in countless other similar studies, determined that X number of events occurred.

6.) Taking into account certain variables within the study set that may skew the outcome of the X number of events the samples were adjusted in a fully acceptable scientific manner.

7.) No study by any other recognized/certified organization was sponsored at the time. This was the only game in town.

8.) The results reported X, the timing of the reports release coincided with an election cycle, the war effort was beginning to worsen & spin out of control and the public was starting to become aware of the Administrations continual flow of bullshit & ineptitude.

9.) The X number was not zero. Wingnuts then had their typical bird chastising everything from the sample methods to survey size to populations observed to screening techniques to demographics to credentials of the scientists to political affiliations to Barry Bonds use of steroids.

10.) As with any scientific study/ survey a certain amount of conjecture/ guesstimate work is evident. The numbers derived are not 100% accurate but, are the best available. If not, tell us your number for Iraqi casualties, how derived and give your proof?

If you are still unable to understand this explanation my advise to you is go invest in one of Neil "S&L" Bush's 'IGNITE' remedial learning kits... give Babs a call... she'll hook you up...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Bill.. see my answer below... it's late... long day at the office... I mis-posted the placement... it is titled IGNITE.. have a good evening... take care... God Bless...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Bill and Frederick,

When you two are done with your elephant walk together maybe you will both will take notice of the Presidents press conference today and his continued wrongheaded approach to stay the course in Iraq. Irrespective of Bill's mountain of disinformation about the Lancet Report and the other typical crap he presents above, gleaned from only the finest of rightwing looney tune lie factories, the President is determined to make the Lancets Reports stated claim of 100,000 dead an undisputed fact. When he's done 100,000 deaths will seem miniscule and whether it is one or 1000... dead is dead... FINE.

Rivers of blood of innocent Iraqi's spilled by our once proud nation like some cheap bottle of Chianti for what? To fulfill the nightmare visions of a deranged, disconnected and dangerous Administration. Ask yourself... What was Dick Cheney's net worth when he entered the office of Vice President in 2000? What is his net worth today? You two knuckleheads have willingly sacrificed your soul and this once great nation to make a lying hack millionaire even wealthier. Good job boys!

As for you Bill you should have realized by now that embarrassment is not a feeling that I am familiar with especially, since I am not an academic and have no reputation to defend or tenure to secure. Just to show you that you are full of beans... as always... READ AND LEARN...

From our very own HNN home at George Mason University is STATS;ID=482

Coupled with interviews of Les Roberts

As for you Frederick your brown nosing is not only disturbing but, to tie yourself to the likes of little Billy is beneath contempt...

And to the both of you November 7, 2006 is just around the corner... 29% and falling... Throw the bums out will be a reality we can all agree on...

Have a nice life.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Hello Gene,

Not much time at present for comment... just wanted to give you a thumbs up and say that you are right about Waziristan... it is getting very hot... keep an extra eye open... Your postings here on this thread are excellent as always...,,1735772,00.html

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


You are absolutely correct. My ill use of the word 'slaughter' is not factual, unacceptable and totally out of line. Allowing emotion to overcome reason and cloud reality has no place within this forum. To attempt tarnish to the name of this great nation is contemptuous.

If I could retract that word, those eleven letters, I would do so immediately. I appreciate the wake up call and apologize for this gross transgression.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Let's just say you're right (spelled it correctly this time) without any argument.

Please provide the number of Iraqi civilians killed by Coalition Forces from March 2003 to November 2004? Explain how this corrected total was derived with proof?

Take your time...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Stop passing this tired canard that the Lancet Report is discredited because it is absolutely false. Quit spouting off and show us your proof and WAPO or WSJ do not count...

Go read the report validations at the highly esteemed 'The Chronicle Of Higher Education'. It is a subscription site but, I know you good for it

If you are too cheap to fork over the $200 here's what it says...

The article recounts in detail the methodology used for the study's 8000 interviews, in which 30 homes in each of 33 neighborhoods all over Iraq were visited. Statisticians confirm the validity of the Lancet study's methodology: Scientists say the size of the survey was adequate for extrapolation to the entire country. Researchers typically conduct surveys in 30 neighborhoods, so the Iraq study's total of 33 strengthens its conclusions.

The researchers, including Johns Hopkins' Les Roberts (whose previous mortality statistics of conflicts had been used as fact by both the State Department and the U.N.) were particularly shocked by their findings in Fallujah:

The Fallujah data is chilling: 53 deaths had taken place in the study's 30 households there since the invasion commenced, on March 19, 2003. In the other 32 neighborhoods combined, the researchers had counted 89 deaths. While 21 of the deaths elsewhere were attributable to violence, in Fallujah 52 of the 53 deaths were due to violence. The number of deaths in Fallujah was so much higher than in other locations that the researchers excluded the data from their overall estimate as a statistical outlier. Because of that chances are good that the actual number of deaths caused by the invasion and occupation is higher than 100,000.

Roberts took a few days in Baghdad in late September to compile and analyze the data. He discovered that the risk of death was 2.5 times as high in the 18 months after the invasion as it was in the 15 months before it; the risk was still 1.5 times as high if he ignored the Fallujah data. Because he had found in many other wars that malnutrition and disease were the most frequent causes of civilian deaths he was "shocked" that violence had been the primary cause of death since the invasion.

Also, David R. Meddings, Medical Officer, WHO Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention points out why the study was so important, "If you can put accurate information out on civilian casualties it shifts the burden of proof onto militaries to substantiate why what they're doing is worth this humanitarian cost."

No one in their right state of mind believes that only +/- 30,000 have perished in Iraq other than you. The Lancet Report estimates, if anything, are too low but, what the hell this war is being fought in your name... M-U-D.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Take a pill. The only smoke here is coming from between your ears as you grind gears trying to discredit the only reasonable study attempted to document the human tragedy as it actually unfolded in Iraq. The greatest military blunder since Caesar Augustus invaded present day Germany in 9BC.

Is the Lancet Report correct? Who knows. Never claimed it was however, it is not as wildly off the mark as you allege. I believe the Lancet Report figures for civilian casualties is too low. The sampling is proven to be scientifically sound but, as the report did not derive the data that you seek then it is not valid. Give me a break. Knowing you, as I do, it is surprising that you're not crying that the report doesn't give us the credit we deserve for killing more of those bastards.

My comment regarding the upcoming elections referred to mid-terms doofus and from the looks of it you better get out and start campaigning door-to-door or the Democrats will be poised to move up against an already lame duck President. Just what we need a stalemate in the House while our nation battles for it's very survival. Republicanism... the gift that just keeps on giving!

And I am no intelligencia as anyone with a spits worth of sense can figure out but, I'll give you a run for your money or you wouldn't keep coming back for the debate.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Why would you need any ammo from the likes of me? Maybe, it's your feelings of intellectual inadequacy against the real HNN heavyweights who post here?

No that can't be it as you're too conceded and way too oblivious.

I'll tell you why it's because you're desperate. Chomsky and Fisk. You're so hard pressed to discredit the Lancet Report, the closest and best effort available to date, to try to put a human face on this most regrettable of human errors, that you'll reach for any strawman that can't bite back.

Your spinning and twisting of Les Roberts interview is pathetic... the Limbaugh treatment...

This thread has a few more days to go and we'll see how it plays out and if anyone other than Fred backs up your assertions against my post or answers your call to arms.

While we wait here's some reading material tailor made for you...;call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1142722231554

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006;c=Article&cid=1142722231554&call_pageid=970599119419

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


Pakistan is spinning out of control and fighting season is about to begin. It should be quite the contest and this year America has a great stake in the outcomes. It a shame peoples of faith other than Islam like the Zoroastrians are being persecuted. Their religion is as old as Judaism.

Be careful.

Thanks for the great posts. Look forward to many more if you get a chance and certainly when you return stateside.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 3/29/2006


Just cause you express your opinion in a democratic context,that hardly makes you one. Is like saying the members of the various communists parties that want the dictatorship of the proletariat in the US are democrats, just cause they express their opinions in a democratic medium. In that sense one could imagine Hitler being a democrat during the period of the Weimar Republic, just cause the nazis participated in elections and "expressed their opinions" in a democratic medium. Pure nonsense.

Concerning your last question, I suspect I will not like being an homosexual in any of those regimens, even if some are WORSE than others.

Kurt Reiger - 3/27/2006

Thanks for your comments, but Robertson and Moore are not "pretending" to be democrats, they are democrats expressing their opinions. You do not agree with their opinions. Fidel, Osama, Sarkowi, Stalin and all the other totalitarians are not democrats. You should take this difference seriously. On the issue of gay rights, for example, you get to disagree with a fellow democrat, vote, discuss, and vote again. With the totalitarians, jail, re-education and death. Your real enemy is not Pat Robertson. Would you rather be a homosexual in Taliban Afghanistan, Fidel's Cuba, or Bush's USA, where you get to listen to the 700 club and read HNN?

Rimba Lee - 3/27/2006

Tulley: "What I think is interesting is that we have allowed ourselves to nit-pick at bits and pieces of Mr. LeVine's writing, without touching upon his main conclusion, that "Jihadi Islam, Crusader Christianity, Settler Judaism--all are logical and rational expressions of the three Abrahamic traditions; but they don't have to be the only ones. "

This has been pretty much the thrust of his work, that by defining the "others" in the worst possible light, and trying to claim that the extremist groups are, in fact, the mainstream groups, we can safely demonize each other and continue to war, as opposed to learning about each other and reaching consensus."


LeVine is just an out of touch academic writing fluff from an ivory tower. Here is the reality from someone who lives is a Muslim majority country (and a country considered a moderate Muslim country at that!):

Muslims follow the words and deeds of the so called Prophet Muhammad. Those that do not, are ignorant Muslims or Muslims in name only and true Muslims will use these ignorant Muslims as a trojan horse to fool people like yourself into believing peace can be made with the inherently evil ideology that he created. In fact, they consider people like LeVine a useful idiot, as he uses freedom of speech to defend them while they use it to call for the downfall of the West and the end to freedom of speech.

Here is this so called Prophet's behaviour:
1. He had sex with a 9 year old girl. 2. He ordered his critics killed. Why do you think Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonists are hiding for their lives?
3. He ordered apostates killed. Now do you understand why the Christian convert in Afghanistan is/was in danger of being executed simply for believig in Christianity? Even though he has been released the Afghan population have vowed to tear him limb from limb.

Don't think Islam is this lovey dovey new agey eastern philosophy like zen bhuddism or yoga or that it teaches love thy neighbor as thyself like Jesus did. The founder of Islam and the source of inspiration for true Muslims was depraved and perverted. Islam itself comes from a tainted source. Like Wafa Sultan, an ex-Muslim said: "Islam cannot be reformed. It you try it will break."


Bukhari:V4B52N270 “Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Who is ready to kill Ashraf? He has said injurious things about Allah and His Apostle.’ Maslama got up saying, ‘Would you like me to kill him?’ The Prophet proclaimed, ‘Yes.’ Maslama said, ‘Then allow me to lie so that I will be able to deceive him.’ Muhammad said, ‘You may do so.’”

Tabari VII:97/Ishaq:368 “We carried Ka’b’s head and brought it to Muhammad during the night. We saluted him as he stood praying and told him that we had slain Allah’s enemy. When he came out to us we cast Ashraf’s head before his feet. The Prophet praised Allah that the poet had been assassinated and complimented us on the good work we had done in Allah’s Cause. Our attack upon Allah’s enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life.’”

Tabari VII:97 “The morning after the murder of Ashraf, the Prophet declared, ‘Kill any Jew who falls under your power.’”

Tabari IX:131 “My mother came to me while I was being swung on a swing between two branches and got me down. My nurse wiped my face with some water and started leading me. When I was at the door she stopped so I could catch my breath. I was then brought in while the Messenger was sitting on a bed in our house. My mother made me sit on his lap. Then the men and women got up and left. The Prophet consummated his marriage with me in my house when I was nine years old.”

Bukhari:V4B52N260: Ali burnt some [former Muslims alive] and this news reached Ibn Abbas, who said, ‘Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, “Don’t punish with Allah’s Punishment.” No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, “If a Muslim discards his Islamic religion, kill him.”’”

J. Feuerbach - 3/26/2006

Mr. Heuilsler,

You state, "The CS monitor noted that Bush's reference to the Crusades went "largely unnoticed" in the US." Yes, I noted that too. Do you think we should send a copy of the Cliffs Notes on the Crusades to all Americans?

You also state, "The Crusades were a reaction to massive aggression and tip-toeing around reality only makes us look foolish and ignorant in the eyes of the world." Are you sure you had nothing to do with intellectually influencing Mr. Bush the days after 9/11? Because I think that this is how Bush made sense of these events. Bush reacted (emphasis on the emotional) and didn't respond (emphasis on the cognitive) to the events using the good-evil categories.

Juan Stam, a theologian himself, accurately describes Bush's approach to this matter as Manichean. "This ancient heresy divides all of reality in two: Absolute Good and Absolute Evil. The Christian church rejected Manicheism as heretical many centuries ago. But on the day after 9/11, the President first stated the position he would continue to maintain: 'This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil, but good will prevail.' Later Bush defined his enemies as the 'axis of evil, a term that is theologically and morally loaded."

Third, you state, "Do you have a reference for the term Carpet bombing? Or was it merely an expression of your subconscious?" The latter, Mr. Heuilsler. Just be merciful and don't rub it in.

Ah, I forgot one of the most memorable biblical quotes he applied to this war on terrorism. "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Bush hates shades of gray and subtlties. He even said once that "we don't do nuances in Texas." The influence of Jesus (as we all know, his favorite favorite political philosopher) on his political values and views has proven to be enormous. For those agnostics and atheists who don't read the Bible, it was Jesus who said in Luke 11:23 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters."

Bill Heuisler - 3/26/2006

Ms. Feuerbach,
Two points about history.
The CS monitor noted that Bush's reference to the Crusades went "largely unnoticed" in the US.

Why is that, do you think?
Could it be that Christian Crusades were a long-time-coming response to an Islamic "Crusade" that began in a corner of Arabia in 633, overwhelmed the Byzantines, Greeks, Syrians, Persians and Egyptians, eventually reaching through North Africa to Aquitane in 732 and across the hellespont all the way to Georgia in 733. All this in the name of Islam and the Caliphate.

Let's not pretend the Christian Crusades three hundred years later were some awful Western invasion of a peacable kingdom. History says otherwise. The Crusades were a reaction to massive aggression and tip-toeing around reality only makes us look foolish and ignorant in the eyes of the world.

Second, your use of the term "carpet bombing" in reference to Iraq made me wonder where you get information.
There has been no carpet bombing in Iraq. First, it would be useless in a largely desert terrain. Second the US has gone out of its way to keep civilian casualties to a minimum as can readily be seen in our initial treatement of Fallugia. Had we simply bombed the city into submission we could've saved many of our Marines' lives. We didn't. We took the city the hard way and avoided civilian casualties.

Do you have a reference for the term Carpet bombing? Or was it merely an expression of your subconscious?
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 3/26/2006

Mr. Tuley,
First, let's not get all froggy with your boots on the ground crap. You try to delegitimize the war in Iraq and render 2,300 deaths as in vain, but you snivel when someone objects?
Question is: Have you served? What have you offered other than opinion?

So much of your posting isn't true that I will address only your first two obvious misrepresentations and ignore the rest as fruits of a very poisonous tree.

1) President Bush only said he had "no evidence" Saddam Hussein was connected to the 9/11 attacks, but he also said Iraq was helping al-Qaeda and giving refuge to "poison maker" Zarqawi at the same time. He never denied that Iraq was involved.

Please be correct and complete when refering to, or interpreting what, someone says, otherwise people might think you were trying to deceive.

2)The 1993 World Trade Center bombings have been thoroughly investigated by the FBI. There was a conviction and the facts are public record and available on the internet.
Chief conspirator Ramzi Yousef entered America on an Iraqi passport. You didn't know? Why not?

And Abdul Rahman Yasin who mixed the chemicals, was born here but raised in Iraq where he returned after the bombing (stopping first at the Iraqi embassy in Amman Jordan where there are also records). After fleeing to Saddam's Iraq, he lived freely in Baghdad until we arrived a decade later. This information is public record. Didn't you know? Why not?

Or are you trying to deceive readers that Iraq is innocent and helpless?
The question then becomes, why? Are you so invested in your Left Wing ideology that the truth becomes subordinate to your hatred? Pitiful.
Bill Heuisler

J. Feuerbach - 3/26/2006

Ms. Heuisler,

Let’s put things in perspective. The following article was published on September 19, 2001, 8 days after 9/11.

My point: Bush, the most famous Methodist in the world, was clearly thinking --or rather feeling-- in theological/religious terms immediately after 9/11. The article mentions two expressions that he used. First, Bush talked about a "crusade" against terrorism. Until then, the only other person in the US who had used that word was Billy Graham in reference to his massive evangelistic campaigns. Maybe the next day Bush's aides instructed him to refrain from using that word and gave him a copy of the Cliff Notes on the Crusades. After reading it, Bush might have said, “Oooops!” Second, in even earlier comments Bush had declared a war between good and evil. Of course we all know who the bad and good guys were in this movie. It’s interesting what the article says, “While almost every world leader agrees with Washington that the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center were evil, not all of those leaders - especially in the Middle East - identify the United States with good.” Again Bush uses theological/religious categories to interpret what’s going on. Then, he blatantly hijacked the Bible in his pep talk to the boys before sending them to carpet bomb Iraq.

If you want to minimize or overlook our president's theological/religious take on what was going on in the world a week after 9/11, well, there’s very little I can do about it. After all, there’s at least a 20% chance that I could be wrong.

Philip Tuley - 3/26/2006

You're right, and I apologize for my intemperate remarks aimed at Bill.

Bill Heuisler - 3/26/2006

Mr. Feuerbach,
One of the few things I've disliked about President Bush's responses to 9/11 has been his constant refrain that not all Muslims are terrorists.
Most sentient humans already know that. A half dozen of our allies are Muslim countries. The caution is vaguely insulting but he apparently feels it's the Christian way to mouth unnecessary sentiment.

Personally, since all the Imams and Muslim Elders in this country don't stand up and denounce Sami al Arian, soldiers like Sergeant Akhbar and preachers like Farrakhan, I tend to be suspicious. I'll trust each Muslim one at a time.

Thanks for the Nation article. It inadvertantly bolstered my argument by not mentioning Bush's constant reminders, and the fact Bush invited the most prominent Muslims to speak and pray at the national 9/11 church ceremony right after the attack. The article came across as a Bush hit piece - damned if you do etc.

The Nation did highlight my point of the indiscriminate hatred by many Muslims of the West.
The Nation:
"Bush can muster only one explanation for the terrorists' hatred of his nation: "There are people who hate freedom." In other words, they are so evil that they abhor the good because it is good. (But if the terrorists hate freedom, why have they not attacked Canada, which in some respects is more democratic than the United States? Why is there not the same hatred for Switzerland, Holland or Costa Rica?)

Perhaps the Nation did not know of the killing of Van Gogh on a Holland street, or the cry, "Allah Akhbar" as the Muslim immigrant plunged the knife into the dying Christian.

Hatred feeds its own balefire.

Thanks for the humor also.
Bill Heuisler

J. Feuerbach - 3/26/2006

Mr. Tuley,

You are acting exactly as the people and behaviors you condemn. Neurotic projection is perceiving others as operating in ways one unconsciously finds objectionable in oneself.

But don't worry and welcome to the club: I do it all the time!

J. Feuerbach - 3/26/2006


You state, "Third, name a muslim killed by an American for religious reasons in the last thirty years."

Well, the US doesn't want to release figures of Iraqi civilian war casualties so it will be even harder to get to know their names. So my answer to your question would be the thousands of Muslim civilians who died during and following the invasion of Iraq by the US and our allies.

You might counterargue saying that it was mostly done by the American military and not for religious reasons. If you look back and check the kind of language that Bush, the Commander in Chief of the US military, used at the beginning of this conflict, you might conclude --like I already did-- that strong religious motivators informed this nonsensical and bloody invasion.

"Bush does not seem to have much hesitation in identifying God with his own project. In a speech in September 2002, Bush cited a Christological text in reference to his war project: "And the light [America] has shone in the darkness [the enemies of America], and the darkness will not overcome it [America shall conquer its enemies]." When he appeared in a flight suit aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, he said to the troops: "And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope--a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'To the captives, come out! to those who are in darkness, be free!'"

Let me edit his last remark: "In the words of the prophet Isaiah, a)'To the captives, come out! b) to those who are in darkness, be free! and c)to all Iraqis, better take cover because in order to achieve a) and b), we're going to bomb the living hell out of your pathetic country, haven of terrorists!

J. Feuerbach - 3/26/2006

Unlike Mr. Reeves and Ms. Chew, Mr. LeVine isn't a propagandist. I hope HNN realizes that they don't need to publish propagandist rubbish from the left or the right (it's up to the reader to define the point of reference on the continuum) to generate a lively discussion.

"Nothing is more than 80% true." Mr. LeVine takes a definite stand on what he believes is the truth. However, he is intellectually aware of the ellusive 20% that should keeps all of us from claiming to be the ultimate and indisputable lips of the Almighty on this world of ideas.

adam richard schrepfer - 3/26/2006

Are there any transcripts available from the lecture (Dr. LeVine's lecture) you sat in on?

Also does Ken Wilbur argue that it is sometimes a good idea to draw boundries? Does he also argue that not drawing boundries can create conflict?

adam richard schrepfer - 3/26/2006

Maybe in your old age you are forgetting some of your posts.

1. Did you not use the word 'Canard' against someone who disagreed with the Lancet study? (Canard as you know means unfounded, false, deliberately misleading)

2.alright my statistics profs in school were liars. I guess that wasn't the only time that they told me half truths (I'm being honest here)

3. Thankyou. I'd be happy to slam Al Jeezera any day of the week. It's easy to be hated by the Islamists. All you have to do is diagree or say something that they don't like and you're done.

4. You are doing a nice little dance here. Could you infact point to the day(s?) in which 1000's were killed by bombs. An American bomb hits a wedding party killing more than 40 people and its all over the news; Are you willing to say that stuff like that happens everyday or happened in the invasion? Maybe you forgot but the invasion was really quick and effortless compared to the insurgency. Also suicide bombers(who only receive left-over outrage from the anti-war crowd) specifically target civillians and on their best days they can only kill upwards of a couple hundred. Come on man. Just acknowledge that Lancet study is not used by CNN because it's number are off. Off because maybe, just maybe, the 33 clusters don't apply evenly across Iraq. Hmm but then again maybe the US, which doesn't try to avoid civillian casualties, dropped bombs for fun all over Al Anbar, Dahuk, Ninawa, and Arbil.

Philip Tuley - 3/26/2006

Oh my god, you are such an idiot! Almost to the point of having me wonder how you can even type.

Reread my post. Then tell me what in the hell you were thinking, for you didn't address a single point I made. You had a lovely rant going, but totally meaningless in the light of what I had said.

What you have shown is your bigotry, your ignorance, and your unerring and uncanny sense of distraction.

You are no longer worth responding to, if this is the best you can do. Examples of hate crimes and killings abound, within the US, over religious leanings, so get over yourself.

Philip Tuley - 3/26/2006

1 - You said "Remember 9/11? You don't mention it.
Was 9/11 our fault? Who did it? Why?"

So nice that you have any proof that Iraq was involved with September 11th. They weren't. Bush has acknowledged this, Blair has, the congressional committee has, but you, in your all-knowing, all seeing ability, say they were.
We know who did it, we know why. We even know who supported Al Qaeda, and it wasn't Saddam.

2 - The 1993 attack - You said "We were attacked by terrorists who, at the very least, had connections to al Qaeda and were possibly urged, trained, financed and aided by the same Iraqi regime that provided the bomb-maker and the planner for the first attack in '93 on the towers." The actual funder was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, funding his nephew Ramzi Yousef, who was, by the way, Kuwaiti. The other main participant in that act of terror was Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, of Egyptian origin, belonging to an extremist group in Egypt. Not Iraq. READ THIS CLOSELY - NEITHER ATTACK ON THE WTC WAS FUNDED BY IRAQ, NOR WAS THERE ANY SUPPORT GIVEN PRIOR TO EITHER. Abdul Rahman Yasin was allowed to hide in Iraq after the bombing, but nothing ties him to the Iraq government before the explosions.

3 - You ask "Do you really think the deaths of Iraq innocents is US policy or fault?
If so, your bad opinion of our US servicemen needs some explaining." And once more we see the posturing of idiocy pretending to be patriotic. You are equating the policymakers with the soldiers acting upon that policy. They aren't the same. And, yes, we have apparently done some fairly heinous things, some of which are currently being investigated.

Let me go another step further. My family has blood and boots on the ground in this action. Don't you dare try to "out reverence" me based on your idiocy. Our soldiers are, for the most part, doing a hell of a job trying to get through a mess that was not of their creation.

4 - The gassing of the Kurds in Halabja has been traced by the CIA to the Iranians. Furthermore, the US had a bit to do with Saddam's chemical stores. In a report in 2004 put out on the Inter Press Service, it was reported that "A report prepared by the top CIA official handling the matter says Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the massacre, and indicates that it was the work of Iranians. Further, the Scott inquiry on the role of the British government has gathered evidence that following the massacre the United States in fact armed Saddam Hussein to counter the Iranians chemicals for chemicals. "
This, of course, was during the Reagan/Bush years.

I've already dealt with the issue of Kuwait earlier, unless you wish to go into the whole issue of colonial states and made-up borders, in which case we'd be at this for more years than I think I care to spend. Oh, and isn't it odd that you'd complain about Saddam attacking the only country in the area that held American's hostage? Hmmm... tell me again about your convenient patriotism.

5 - you say "Far from dropping the ball, the US has liberated nearly 50 million people from despotism and savagery, both political and religious, has rid the world of a truly evil trio and is in the process of setting up two democratic republics where the freedoms we take for granted are the new freedoms for men and women alike." !!???!!

HAVE YOU FRIGGIN' READ THE IRAQI CONSTITUTION? HAVE YOU NOT PAID ATTENTION TO WHAT IS HAPPENING IN AFGHANISTAN? Let's see - women are no longer working outside the home, are virtually shut out of the governing process, and we've just seen a group elected in Iraq that are pretty much gauranteed to echo the social reforms of Iran. AND OUR GOVERNMENT DIDN'T DROP THE BALL???

6 - you said "Al-Qaeda is only growing stronger in your jaundiced mind. Their leaders are dead and hiding, we're killing hundreds every month and doing it masny thousands of miles from the US."
The Institute of Strategic Studies paints a much less rosy view. According to them the number of Al Qaeda members grows, and, while we've killed or captured half of the top 30, Al Qaeda is decentralizing in response, and succeeding in doing so. As to the possibility that Al Qaeda exists within the US, we have only to look at our past AG. A quote from the Sydney Morning Herald, 21 June, 2003 - "The United States Attorney-General, John Ashcroft, has warned that September 11 was only the beginning and that al-Qaeda is still operating inside the US, recruiting American citizens."
So don't sit too comfortable. The "hundreds" we're killing so far from our shores have turned out to be, for the largest part, civilians, caught in the firestorm.

Finally, you said "Answer this: Had there been another 9/11 in the past five years, would you have blamed President Bush?
Of course you would. Think about that paradox and what it implies."

You have no idea who I am, or how I think, beyond your little view of the world. You expose your sources of information readily enough by using meaningless soundbite terms thrown around by ignorant, arrogant, pompous idiots, such as Islamofascist.

The blame would be simple - whoever pulled the trigger, threw the switch, dumped the vial would be to blame. After that, those who financed the person. After that, those who failed to follow through with tracking down the threat in the first place.

If another 9/11 had happened, the blame would first fall on the terrorists. Then on their supporters, which, in the case of 9/11 were the very ones we are now claiming as partners in the region. Then, assuming the continued failure to devote the resources needed to something worthwhile, the President.

By the end of this action in Iraq we will have spent over 1 trillion dollars to destroy someone who had virtually no power to damage us, and who had started out as a quiet ally. In exchange, we will have given Bin Laden a truce in the sense that he will have had more time to recruit, and better emotional spurs to use, given the way things are going in Iraq.

Bill, you need to stop thinking that Fox News and Michael Savage hold the key to the truth. You need to actually learn to do your own thinking. So far you've managed to show little more thought than being able to parrot the extreme right's pundits, who all seem to have missed the fact that Saddam was never part of the Bin Laden circle.

Bill Heuisler - 3/25/2006

Mr. Tuley,
Learning and consensus? Nonsense. Would it kill you to try reality?

First, name the muslims the US has recently tried to protect in the Balkans, Somalia, Kuwait etc.?

Second try to remember how many Americans have been killed by religious muslims since 1982.

Third, name a muslim killed by an American for religious reasons in the last thirty years.

Last, name a Muslim country we attacked prior to the Gulf War?

Odd that your judgemental button only works against the West. You parrot Zinn and Chomsky without the sense to realize how injudicious it sounds on a site where most people actually are familiar with history.
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 3/25/2006

Hey, Mr. Tuley,
The real problem, since you've forgotten, is that we were attacked, and have been attacked for twenty years by Islamofascists.

Remember 9/11? You don't mention it.
Was 9/11 our fault? Who did it? Why?

We were attacked by terrorists who, at the very least, had connections to al Qaeda and were possibly urged, trained, financed and aided by the same Iraqi regime that provided the bomb-maker and the planner for the first attack in '93 on the towers.

"Helpless" Iraq invaded two of its neighbors, was the only country in the Middle East manufacturing VX gas and using it on Iranians and Kurds, and was trying to develop nuclear weapon capability. Iraq repeatedly broke the '91 cease fire, fired on coalition planes, harbored al-Qaeda fugitives, tried to assasinate a US President and threatened to kill Americans everywhere. Your sympathy for such a rogue country reveals either a perverted empathy for criminals or a loathing for the US.
Which is it?

Do you really think the deaths of Iraq innocents is US policy or fault?
If so, your bad opinion of our US servicemen needs some explaining.

Far from dropping the ball, the US has liberated nearly 50 million people from despotism and savagery, both political and religious, has rid the world of a truly evil trio and is in the process of setting up two democratic republics where the freedoms we take for granted are the new freedoms for men and women alike.

Al-Qaeda is only growing stronger in your jaundiced mind. Their leaders are dead and hiding, we're killing hundreds every month and doing it masny thousands of miles from the US.

Answer this: Had there been another 9/11 in the past five years, would you have blamed President Bush?
Of course you would. Think about that paradox and what it implies.
Bill Heuisler

Philip Tuley - 3/25/2006

Well, that's a good question - how do we live with the intended results to our country?

How do we live with the fact that we have now attacked, and destroyed, a country that had, prior to the invasion of Kuwait (which, by the way, our own US ambassador did nothing to dissuade, in effect telling Saddam that it was OK by us) never done anything to the US or its interests? How do we live with the fact that we provided, in a corrupt deal, arms to one of the few countries in the region that had done us harm (Iran), and financially supported the only country since WWII in the region to kill US servicemen directly (Israel)?

How do you live with the results of tens of thousands of wounded US soldiers who have returned to find that our government's idea of "supporting the troops" is to cut their benefits?

How do you live with the knowledge that, in Iraq, since the start of the first "Gulf War", thousands upon thousands of innocents died?

Yeah, wave the flag again. Then look in the mirror. We are where we NEVER should have been. We ignored finishing the job with Al Qaeda, we ignored the countries that have truly supported terror in the region (Yemen, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan) in order to take on the one, truly helpless, country and thump our chests over how well we defeated them.

Bush, and his team, dropped the ball. Afghanistan is now a mess and getting worse, Iraq is devastated and has now been told by the administrator in charge of US efforts to help rebuild that it's too bad, but they're on their own, and Al Qaeda and its supporters grow ever stronger, knowing that we lack the will to actually deal with those who support them.

Yep, tell me again how ignoring the real problem and attacking Iraq was a good thing.

Bill Heuisler - 3/25/2006

Mr. Ebbitt,
You wrote, "A highly respected medical journal, world renowned medical college and their top credential/ certified epidemiologist perform a survey..." Not quite.

Released right before a US election.
And they said coalition forces had killed over 100,000 Iraq CIVILIANS.

Civilians, Ebbitt. The Lancet was guilty of trying to effect a US election with lies and manipulated numbers. They admitted their number included insurgents, natural deaths, war-wounded dead soldiers and even Iraqis killed by other Iraqis.

Roberts admitted manipulating and projecting numbers to extrapolate a result from a small limited sample.
The survey results included a lie and a made-up number. I wonder why?

The Lancet Survey is pure propaganda designed to harm the US, prolong the resistance to Iraqi Democracy and get more Americans killed. Defend the propaganda? How do you live with the intended results to your country?
Bill Heuisler

Philip Tuley - 3/25/2006

What I think is interesting is that we have allowed ourselves to nit-pick at bits and pieces of Mr. LeVine's writing, without touching upon his main conclusion, that "Jihadi Islam, Crusader Christianity, Settler Judaism--all are logical and rational expressions of the three Abrahamic traditions; but they don't have to be the only ones. "

This has been pretty much the thrust of his work, that by defining the "others" in the worst possible light, and trying to claim that the extremist groups are, in fact, the mainstream groups, we can safely demonize each other and continue to war, as opposed to learning about each other and reaching consensus.

Philip Tuley - 3/25/2006

1 - never said the Lancet study was above questioning, I said that the methodology is sound. Random sample clusters is a statistical methodology that has been used for a very long time, and is an accepted practice.

2 - Gaussian, ie Bell Curve, distribution is not "normal", in spite of what they may tell you in beginning statistics. Gaussian distributions do not occur as a natural phenomenon, at least no one yet has been able to demonstrate it.

3 - Nice slam on Al Jazeera. Funny thing, they're equally hated by the extremists as much as by the Bush administration. Wonder why? Maybe it's because, in general, they report fairly accurately.

4 - As to your question about the numbers per day - tell you what, there are doubtedly days that the numbers were much lower than 100, which were probably offset by the number of days where they were in the thousands. You want to tell me that in the run-up bombings of Baghdad no civilians were killed?

adam richard schrepfer - 3/25/2006

Wow that was soo clear. Why not use the word 'normal' instead of 'Gaussian'? Looks like you are throwing numbers up as a smoke screen. You mentioned that Iraqi Body Count represents the low end. This appears not to be true as I said that the Lancet Study says numbers could have been under 10,000 (albeit unlikely). Also you did not respond to my question of whether or not you believe that for 4 years, around 191 people have died every of violence.

When you mean that reporters are stretched too thin to give reliable body counts do you mean only Western reporters or are you including Arabs as well? Al-Jeezera appears to be quite fond of mentioning casualties especially if they are related to American forces. I would be willing to doubt that they have not been particularly inept at gathering reports of deaths.

Please stop acting like the Lancet study is above questioning.

Jason KEuter - 3/25/2006

Actually, slaughtered en masse is what was taking place before the war. If you want to find people being slaughtered en masse, you might want to look at the Glorious Islamic Paradise of Sudan. If you are going to talk about the dead in Iraq, you might want to acknowledge that most of those being killed are being killed by intolerant Islamist radicals or Sunni militias desirous of reinstituting a Sunni dictatorship...which, if history is any guide, would slaughter en masse.

Salughter is not American foreign or military policy. It is the objective of militant Islam. Wake up.

Jason KEuter - 3/25/2006

There certainly is a lot of religion in the thinking of neo-cons, and they are also profound critiques of modernity. But there is no clarion call to eliminate intellectual liberites, no psychotic expressions of a psychotic mission to bleed infidels, etc, etc. In other words, little to buttress your argument of some kind of equivalence.

Moreover, there are all sorts of extremists in the United States on the right, left and lunatic fringe. What you misunderstand is the pluralistic nature of America's political system, which accomodates all sorts of views without allowing any of them to gain any type of pre-eminence.

The history of the cold war is very relevant, especially regarding the attitudes of left-wing intellectuals to communist tyranny. The attitude towards Militant Islam is a virtual continuation, and the underlying premise of both attitudes is that America represents an embryonic evil that has yet to reveal itself but most certainly will; which in turn, leads to gross misrepresentation of America's enemies who are given all sorts of leeway in the moral judgments of the left because the left fears that in standing up against what those enemies represent, they maybe standing up for America, and that means going along with the unknowing on the path to an imaginary perdition.

Hence the left cannot (and never has been able to address) the challenging questions of: do you support keeping Sadaam Hussein in power? Are you for regime maintenance in North Korea? What do you think of the slaughter in Sudan? What is your thinking on the Gulag Archipelago?

The attitude of the left has and is: yes, there are problems here, but we need to keep our eyes on the real porblem : the US! Thus, the left proclaimed that US government warnings that Militant Islam represented the next security threat to the US after the Cold War (a white paper from the first Bush adminsitration) were dismissed as a desperate attempt by arms manufacturers to maintain their ill gotten wealth in the face of the end of the Soviet Regime, which itself was not really a threat but was portrayed as such so arms manufacturers could make money.

Justifiying this position required great ignorance, willing suppression of the truth and it further facilitated the expansion of first Soviet Imperialism and then radical Islam by saying its opponents were money grubbing capitalists. Now, of course, the left loves to point to things like "intelligence failures", as if the left played no part in severely weakening American Intelligence (remember Frank Church anyone?); and the left now rejects political interference with intelligence, in essence arguing for a CIA that is independent of elected governnment, when just a short while ago it was decrying the very same thing. And last, it points to past US collusion with Sadaam Hussein (against Iran, mind you) to argue...that it was wrong to get rid of Saddaam Hussein?!?!?!? It's bad to befriend him and it's bad to be his enemy?

The left is against covert military action against radicals elected under democratic auspices. It is also against overt military action once those radicals become despots. It is against US support for non-democratic regimes and it points to the election of radical Islamists to show the failure of supporting democracy in the middle east. So it is for democracy and against democracy. One is left to there any consistency in any of this? The most glaringly obvious consistency returns to the left being against American actions, regardless of what those actions are. This returns then to the basic view the left contorts and manipulates history to prove: that America is really awful, if not now, then in the past and in the future too!

Bill Heuisler - 3/24/2006

As usual when it's time for factual argument the Lefties devolve into name-calling and nonsense.

Defend the Lancet clusters; stand up for lies about "civilian" dead. On second thought both are indefensible.
Bill Heuisler

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 3/24/2006


Well, you can disagree all you want, but Mr Robertson (and not only him, think of Alabama Judge Roy Moore has proclaimed that gays should be persecuted by the state) have clearly manifested their intention to stablish a theocratic or similar form of goverment in the United States.

And unlike Osama, Sarkowi and Al Qaeda, they represent a large part of the republican electoral base, the party that rules today the United States. At least fundamentalist islamists don´t pretend to be democrats or care about freedom, nor are in control of US goverment. So guess who scares me more...

Rob Willis - 3/24/2006

Your internal problems have become our problem. We will talk about it, we will interfere, and we will correct or confirm the "perception" of Muslims as regards America.

You think long and hard about that, OK?

R. Willis

Gene Williams - 3/24/2006


Thanks for coming out in the open with your true position.

Look...Afghanistan attacked America..get it? People were jumping from 100 stories up. We are going to finish them. Period.

And your justifying this heinous act with a "its-all-a-world-wide-Jewish-conspiracy" is just an excuse to cover up a bloodthirsty totalitarian drive for total power by ignorant, malefide, evil.

I will challenge you to do something. You presumably are living well in America...saying what you want, reading what you want, worshiping how you want.... You voiced your true sentiments fear of retribution for saying something which might be unpopular right?

Ok, come on out to Miram Shah and stand up in public and disagree theologically with the Taliban. Put your actions where your mouth is. See how long you will last. In your last moment you will understand, perhaps, what terrorism is all about, what gestapo/storm troopers are and how they operate, and how terrorism rips the heart out of a society from the gound up.

And even if you survive by spouting the right madness, you ultimately will find you cannot be orthodox enough for this crowd; you cannot hate enough. They will find some point, your beard isn't long enough, you've read books, your Shalwar Khameez is too long, maybe you have secret Shia leanings, something...they will find that point and they will devour you, and if you let them, ultimately these same people will devour the Islamic world too just as Timur and Chengirz Khan did.

I would hope the other readers of this database will abandon for the moment their anti-intellectual trading of insults and name-calling, read your post, understand what's at stake and have the courage to respond.


Kurt Reiger - 3/24/2006

Thanks for your comments, but I am afraid we will have to disagree on this topic. It is comforting and easy to imagine people who you disagree with politically as pretending to be something else. But Hillary is not a closet Elena Ceausescu and Pat Robertson is not a closet Ayatollah. Hitler, on the other hand, wrote Mein Komph so everyone would know his ideas. You may not agree with the Christian right wing, but to think they are just waiting for a chance to establish a theocracy is very, very, very far fetched (ridiculous is actually a better word).
On the other hand, Osama, Zarkowi, Al-Qaida and the real Ayatollahs clearly desire a theocracy and clearly say so. It is a big difference and you should take it seriously. This does not mean you (or I) will vote for the next person Pat Robertson endorses, but Robertson is a democrat, Osama is not.

Rimba Lee - 3/24/2006

The reason Muslims are the way they are today is because the Muhammad told them to be so via the Koran and the Hadiths. Read them and you will see where the intolerance for people of other faiths come from (basically a non-Muslim is given a choice to accept Islam become a dhimmi, a person who is inferior to Muslims). He ordered people who leave Islam to be killed. That's why they are executing a man in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity. Learn more about Muhammad, the Koran and the Hadiths and you will understand why Muslims behave this way.

Rimba Lee - 3/24/2006

As a Malaysian, living in a majority Muslim country that suffers from what we call creeping Islamization I agree with Wafa Sultan. Mark is a dhimmwit and a useful idiot for Islam.

Rimba Lee - 3/24/2006

Excellent! I'm from Malaysia and we are suffering from creeping Islamization. Recently the government demolished a church and a government official recently said anybody who insults Islam can be detained without trial. Malaysia is slowly turning into Iran.

Rimba Lee - 3/24/2006

OMG! What another useful idiot! The Islamic agenda is to have the whole world submit to Islam. You are in Darul Harb - which Islam intends to conquer. Why don't you spend some time in Afghanistan where they are intending to execute a convert to Christianity and maybe that will give you a taste of what Islam is all about. BTW Muslims follow Muhammad who had sex with a 9 year old child, ordered a poet killed for insulting him. Some Muslims are Muslims in name only that's why they are not violent. But the moment the get serious about Islam they will emulate Muhammad's behaviour.

Rimba Lee - 3/24/2006

Mark A. LeVine is really a useful idiot. He should move to Afghanistan where they are about to execute a man for converting to Christianity. Or come to Malaysia where he will be jailed if he dares to insult Islam. What a dhimmwit.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 3/24/2006

Mr Keuter:

It will be interesting to have a discusion about capitalism, marx and bourgeois democracy, but I think that is completly out of context in this discusion. Don´t you think?(By the way, I assure you, I am not a communist, nor a statist leftist of any sort, but more of a left wing libertarian) We are discusing disctintions between "civilzation" and "barbarism" and how their use in political language must be assumed. So why don´t you specifically adress my claims on this issues, the ones I made in my last post?

Concerning my knowledge of American society, I will never claim to have full knowledge about it. Althought I DO know about the religious right and neoconsrvatives, and sincerely you haven´t show any argument that changes my perception about them. But instead of believing me, why don´t you read what Irving Kristol - the godfather of neoconservative movement- had to say about "democracy", "liberalism", "modernity" and even "secularism"? You can also read what neocons write in magazines like Comentary or Firstthings, just to name two. You can also investigate how neocons were influenced by neortodoxy and specially by Reinhold Neibhur....There is a lot of religious in their thinking, appart from of the inverse trotskism of most of the founders of this political ideology.

And I do not think neocons pretend to create a theocratic goverment, but certainly they don´t want a secular one. Althought I am not sure if that will be enought for their fundamentalists friends. And concerning islamic societies, you even didn´t bother to offer any argument about my supposed ignorance on their development (funny, cause I only made one claim about them, and is that they are not all fundamentalists, which you agreeded).

So, when you are decided to continue this discusion, I will be glad to know...

Gene Williams - 3/24/2006


Forgive me in advance because I'm going to froth and this may not be the most rational intellectual arguement you've ever heard.

I have lived a number of years in Muslim countries over the last 40 years. I have never been an enemy of Islam and my many Muslim friends have never (until recently) regarded my or my country as an "enemy."

In the 70's and 80's theology could be freely discussed with my friends, whether it was the Presbyterian ideas of Predestination in Christianity or the Qadarite view of the same... At that time the talk was more philosophical than theololgical...I had Ismaili friends discuss the Agha Khan and the Ismaili history and philosophy, Sufi Naqshabandi's do the same, I went with Shia friends to the Muhorram procession in Karachi, my Sunni friends in malaysia had me regularly into their homes where never was a veil in sight; Sindi fishermen invited me to their houses, the only Westerner invited into the village at the time; I traveled to Pir's tombs in Baluchistan and FATA.

I sat up late at night in both India and Pakistan with Parsee families talking about Zoroaster. Ahmadi army officers drank scotch with me. Christian churches..whether Goan catholic or protestant invited me as well. It was intensely interesting and fullfilling... There was no hatred,, at least directed at me simply because I was an American.. .

At that time the arguments we had mostly were about political many of my friends on the sub-continent and Near East were communist or at least socialist and blamed the US for not letting them create a new and perfect society based Lenin. The stumbling block at that time was politics not religion.

Then, beginning about 1990 with the fall of the Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union that changed. Suddenly, I as Kafir couldn't discuss anything related to religion with my friends. Battle lines were drawn to my astonishment. Suddenly, I and my country were "the enemy" becoming so almost overnight without even realizing it. Wild-conspiracy theories about US manipulation of the political process in the area to prevent a communiist paradise from being created suddenly became wild-conspiracy theories about US prevention of the triumph of political Islam.

And we Americans, winding down from fighting and winning a 45 year world-war we never wanted to fight, (there was even discussion in the US about the "end of history") didn't even know what was coming until these guys began blowing things up. Even then at home, even the killing of Americans by Arabs (this time for religious reasons) when it started out seem sort of normal...after all Arab terrorists (mostly of the left wing variety and/or sponsored by various states) had been hijacking US planes and murdering Americans for some reason or another since 1967 to the tune of some 300-600 a year...

Oh, there was the occasional glorious massacre abroad which attracted brief attention, such as the slaughter by brave religious martyrs of 72 old infirm unarmed Swiss tourists at the temple of Kkarnac in Egypt.. but, heck, those were Europeans..and the Swiss Government, showing its humanity, still let Zawahiri go to protect his "human rights" (and to deny millions theirs in the process).

And of course there was the GIA running around Algeria cutting the heads off whole villages in the name of religion..ah but that was the Francophone world..

No, We didn't even know what was coming down the street, even as Al-Jazeera was busily poisoning the well throughout the Gulf...(I still can't figure out what that network was talking about except that it sort of opposed US supported UN sanctions against Saddam and US troops in Saudi - which were there to protect Saudi from Saddam).

No Americans didn't know or even much care about this outside was the live-and-let live 1990's...except to occasionaly try to help Muslims as in Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, etc. ....until 9/11 when we woke up to the fact that suddenly we were "the enemy"!!! Whaaat? How? Huh? Not me? Ah...but light slowly dawned...if somebody decides you're the enemy, then you darned well are whether you like it or not.

I want to thank you for putting these people's thoughts on this site and hope they'll give others pause as they did me. I have run across them out here...and will counter them here in Pakistan, in Amman, and wherever I come accross them because their view of historical events is distructive, distorted by the need to blame somebody and to lash out against something.. anything...and America just seems the perfect target and killing Americans the perfect solution... and because I am convinced the course they are choosing for themselves, their countries and for the world is a falescious one.

I may get my head cut off for daring to speak out... we'll see about that..I can take care of myself in may ways; but one thing is for sure.. I will not be silent and will oppose these people and their twisted view of the world whereever I can in both word and deed.

I choose to stand for a liberal, secular, flexible, provocative, innovative society of free individuals, exercising free choice with the least possible government/bureaucratic interference in the US; We have allies abroad who believe in the same thing; and the only thing the fanatics want is for us to wilt back into our houses while they run rampant in the streets with murder, car bombs, and blood spattered across cafe tables, until they can ban kite flying, turn off the Television and turn the world into a mini-Taliban hell.

I choose to take a stand and I hope the rest of you do too. And if I'm an enemy and there's nothing I can do about it, then lets get it on!

Thanks for the input; I hear much the same all the time out here and try to do the best I can one day at a time, one person at a time.


Jason KEuter - 3/24/2006

Paul Berman beleives that the war on terror is a continuation of the war against liberalism. By liberalism, he generally means, the secular, democratic and capitalist order. Prior to Islam, the primary enemy of liberalism was communism. Orignially, communists argued that capitalism would lead to the erasure of most class distinctions, leaving a masss of proletariat "immiserated" as the process of monopoly led to a ruling elite of surviving capitalists lording over some kind of wasteland of misery. What Marx and his lemmings called "borugeois" democracy was the wool pulled over the eyesof those who found the present better than the past and thus were hopeful for the future. Thus, people were urged to destroy bourgeois democracy in order to destroy capitalism and thus avoid inevitable immisseration.

This they did in some places and in many parts of the west, the discontented intelligentsia urged them on and wished the same for their own societies. The problem was that the promised immisseration and simplistic class structure did not emerge. Instead, much more complex forms of political and social and economic organization yielded an infintiely more fluid and mobile (social studies speak for : free) and prosperous society. The Marxists then had to argue that all of that was a ruse to buy time before instituting the nightmare.

The end result of this "line of thinking"? Bourgeois democracy is a lie, so its absence is not indicative of backwardness but progress. The misery of non-democratic and non capitalist societies can be explained by the continued existence of capitalism. Thus those societies need to redouble their efforts against the false promises of freedom and affluence of mature capitlaist societies and stick to their guns (no butter , but American wheat farmers can help out with that).

In the end, despite the obviously regressive impact of communism, despite the misery it creates, and despite its overt imperialism (no pretenses to nation building, constitutions, democracy, securing religious and ethnic liberty and all the other lies of oil grubbers), it is the way out of the not yet realized immisseration that must come in the capitalist order.

I believe your post reflects the same "line of thinking", and that your visions of rule by right-wing religious fundamentalists is as much a bogeyman as immisseration and that you grossly misunderstand American society and even more grossly misunderstand the lack of development and maldevelopment of Islamic societies. You also misunderstand the neo-cons, whose origins rest primarily in anti-communism, which and pro-liberalism (no where do you see any urging of the creation of a coercive theocracy to usher in the ultimate victory of a Judeo-Christian God)

Levine's urging to not judge religious traditions for their failures but instead judge them for their potentialities, turns the argument into one over what the future will yield and turns a blind eye to the miseries of the present. Thus, Levine is the fellow traveller, passing the Gulag and coming home to write of Potempkin villages as if they're real.

Philip Tuley - 3/23/2006

Well, put, with regards to the issue of modernism. Labels are problematic when expanded too far. One of our favorite canards here in the US is that Al Qaeda is a medieval response to modernism. Nothing could be further from the truth - Al Qaeda uses a very modern mindset and attitude in order to carry out its objectives. An excellent book on this subject is John Gray's "Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern."

Philip Tuley - 3/23/2006

First off, let's be clear - the 95% confidence level assumes a Gaussian distribution, and this data does not fit into a nice, neat Bell curve. Using distribution-free (basically, we're talking about raw data not processed through an algorithm) methods, the 95% confidence level changes to 53,000 to 279,000, and the 80% confidence level is 78,000 to 229,000.
But, let's assume a Gaussian distribution of probability. The mid-point of the Bell Curve is maintained at 98,000 with a very wide spread at 95% confidence level. At 80% confidence level the number would range between 44,000 and 152,000. But, again, the distribution does not follow a Bell curve.
Finally, as to your question - "Also what do you mean by 'stretched way to thin to give an accurate report'? Ever heard of the internet?" You either misunderstood, misread, or are deliberately ignoring the gist of my post, which was that the reporters who generate the stories that the figures are based on are stretched way too thin on the ground in order to actually cover the entire action in Iraq. Between their limited numbers, limited access to sites, and their own natural, and understandable, desire to keep breathing, many stories go unreported.
That is what I meant by "way too thin".

Bill Heuisler - 3/23/2006

Mr. Ebbitt,
Each of your links reads "No content ID found".

Random sample. 32 villages. Civilian
deaths that included military...
Don't like my quotes from Roberts? Counter them with facts. But there's probably no content ID there.

Leftists like you throw around words and call people names, but when it gets to facts you just bluster.
Bill Heuisler

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 3/23/2006

Mr Keuter:

Is good we agree in not overgenaralizing about fundamentalism in the muslim world. I hate the idea of this people being in power, but certainly trying to impose democracy on them in misguised interests isn´t going to help the cause. Nor allying with already existing fundamentalist goverments like the ones I mentionated in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

On the issue of neocons, how do I know they are anti modern? Simple, cause I made my thesis about them and I read what they write with regularity. Just take a look what Irving Kristol had to say about modernity, equilavent to him to some gnosticism, heretic and misguised in comparison of what should be the true basis of American society (judeo christian orthodox tradition, supposedly). Inspite of that you will see neocons speak about exporting democracy (not very apreciated for Straussians like neocons), secularity (hated by neocons who insist that the US is not a secular country but a christian one and that separation between church and state is a lie inveted by liberal judges), not because they believe on all those, but because it suits them.

On the issue of fundamentalism...sure, there is no risk -at least inmediate or in the short place- of a christian theocrcy in the US. But that doesn´t mean the risk doesn´t exist for the next decades. Right now the current administration is pushing hard to erode the separation between church and state, with its faith based intiatives or naming ultra conservative judges in the SC close to fundamentalist interests. And right now christian fundamentalists have a lot of influence in the current administration and US goverment in general (the most powerfull goverment in the world, with the most powerfull army in the world), which makes me wonder who is more dangerous right now...christian fundamentalists close to the spheres of power to the most powerfull nation on earth or muslim fundamentalists with not even a tenth of the resources American goverment has.

Concerning my position on the Iraq war, it is a question of principle, not of realpolitik: War that are started on false and deceitfull premises, are not worth of fighting. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but that doesn´t give the right to the US to start a war against Iraq based on lies for their own obscure interests.

About World War: note I wasnñt talking about WW II, but about TWO world wars, started and fought mainly by western nations in which millions of innocent personns perished, most of them innocent civilians...which makes one wonder about the supposed civilized quality of the modern west...

Finally I think you haven´t gasped the real point Levine is making. It is not that democracy or freedom aren´t worthwhile causes for the ME or that the islamic culture is above criticism. The point is that when you hear people speaking of distinctions between "civilization" and "barbarism" and this people use it as an excuse to subjugate other countries in order to bring their civilization in a place where "barbarism" reigned, one must be very carefull. Not only cause it was the way to hide misguised interests (colonialism, imperialism, old and new), but cause such "linear path of progress" is not without its own catastrophic failures and setbacks...

Jason KEuter - 3/23/2006

A point on which we absolutely agree: not all Muslims are Islamists, fundamentalists or fanatics. The question in the Islamic world is whether such people should be allowed to come to power, which raises the issue of the degree to which the culture supports the rise of such fanaticism, and the moral and strategic obligations of the international community to fight and stop those fanatics.

Your argument about those presently in power being anti-modern is conventional wisdom but in terms of describing American society and culture, it is absurd. A taliban like regime in Iraq is conceivable; a Christian right Taliban like regime in America is self-serving fantasy.

Neo-cons are not anti-modern. I don't know how you're concluding that. The fundamental characteristic of neo-cons is their belief in a foreign policy that does not make the same mistakes that you described regarding support for tyrannies posing as bulwarks against communism. The neo-cons beleive that such "convenient" relationships pose as "realpolitik" but are in the long run destabilizing and play into the hands of propagandists who paint America as Imperialistic.

Thinking of Saddam Hussein, the critics of the war are now, in light of the sectarian violence in the country, embracing the Kissinger realpolitik view: Sadaam was a bastard but he's better than what we have now because at least he kept order. But Sadaam Hussein was far from stabilizing, and the critics are just fooling themselves.

You come back to World War II again and again but don't discuss the creation of a largely peaceful, democratic and affluent Europe. In other words, the post-war history of Europe is not so much an argument of going to war against tyrannny as it is an argument that demonstrates the necessity of a conclusive war against tyranny - something it is more than reasonable to doubt that America is unwilling to wage except when it might be too late.

I do not contend that Western society lacks anti-modernist impulses at all. In fact the question of modernity is central to the history of the west, and that the west resolved the question mostly in favor of secularism and individual liberty. What we see in the middle east, then, is the same conflict. Multiculturalists can't accept this because it is a "progressive" view of history, meaning that the middle east is now struggling with issues the west has already largely resolved, which in turn means that those societies are behind the west historically.

Recent history demonstrates that the west is capable of change and thus renewal, which means it is not trapped by its history. The Muslim World (and the Middle East in particular) has not.

When the Spanish left Iraq, Bush did not scream "Remember the Maine"..or more importantly..Bush did not sit shivering with fear in his office as Protestant Ministers shouted "Remember the Maine" and drudged up images of perfidious Spaniards insidiously doing the pope's will. There was a time in American History that was that paranoid and irrational and destructive. As there certainly have been many like episodes throughout European History. The point is now that the west is largely over such irrationality and not governed by it.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 3/23/2006

Mr Keuter:

Another thing I forgot to mention, is that you fall exactly in the same error Levine criticizes of Mrs Sultan: overgeneralization. Not all muslims are fundamentalists nor all see the idea of democracy or human rights with contempt. Granted that muslim countries are far more conservative in this issues than the west, but there is an historical explanation for this ,which Levine argued in his article: the bad experiences with colonialism, the failure of nasarite inspired secular goverments and well, the tremendous failure of the actual US and British attempts to "bring democracy and liberty to the Islamic world".

And this last point is one that should make us think. Aren´t the western goverments (and I will say more specifically, the US and the UK) using humans right and democracy only as a rethoric to cover their real intentions (oil, power, control)? How can the US be trusted to bring "civilization" to the ME, when it tortures prisoners in Abu Grahib, when it invades a country based on lies, and when many of its main allies in the region are goverments like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, theocratic represive ones? How can they believe US intentions to bring secularism, modernity, liberty and democracy, when the people running US goverment today actually don´t believe in any of this (no, neither neocons nor christian fundamentalists like modernity, democracy and specially secularism, even if they use the terms conviniently for their own purposes)?

Finally you say that "western science and technology have led to things that might arguably be considered "barbaric", but those are more the exception". I may agree they are not the rule, but I would not say either they are the exception, considering things like 2 World Wars, the atomic bomb, European colonialism and imperialism in the XIX century, the atomic bomb, the support of all sorts of tyrannies in the third world in the name of the fight against communism, among others.

adam richard schrepfer - 3/23/2006

Mr. Tuley,

IBC (Iraqi Body Count) does not quite give us the bottom range. The Lancet results said that the numbers could have been be as low as 8,000 ("We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period.")

Also limiting yourself to verifiable information seems to be a good rule of thumb, not something to be scorned. Also what do you mean by 'stretched way to thin to give an accurate report'? Ever heard of the internet? Again IBC is an ongoing study committed to accuracy. The Lancet study assumes that interviews conducted were representative of the entire country and it stands or falls on the inherent veracity of the interviewee.
Lastly if indeed 175,000 people have died, of violence, in the last 4 years, that comes about 119 people a day. Do you really believe that 119 people,for four years, have died everyday of violence in Iraq?

Jason KEuter - 3/23/2006

Levine changes the subject because he fails to address the overwhelming factual basis of Sultan's criticism. Further, the line of continuity drawn between 19th century European Imperialism and American "imperialism" is blurry; even more to the point, the notion of Imperialist powers as simply ruling oppressed victims in opulent grandeur is more caricature than reality. Last, "lines of thinking justifying Imperialism" are far less relevant than you or Mr. Levine suppose. Islamist "lines of thought" are that they will rule the world and the west is destined to perish in the fires of a justly wrathful God. But this won't happen, which raises the issue of why it is the west can realize its line of thinking and Islamist cannot - and that is a question one could just as easily ask about the 19th century as the present. The answer points back to Dr. Sultan's arguments.

And yes, western science and technology have led to things that might arguably be considered "barbaric", but those are more the exception than the rule - especially as more and more of the west has become democratic and secular.

The characterization of fundamentalism as "modern" is off; it would be better to call it "contemporary" as the logical outcome of religious fundamentalism is a reverse of modernity and a decline in science and the material prospertiy it brings that makes civilization possible. In other words, it is a regressive doctrine. Of course, it won't go back in time, it will simply usher in a future that continues to be bereft of civilization.

Last, Levine is not respectful of Islam and the peoples of the middle east and people such as myself simply ethnocentric chauvinists who desire a return to the world of rickshaws and coolies. As long as Muslims see modernity, secularism, democracy, human rights, gender equality, science, and all other aspects of modernity as contrary to the will of God and germs of Imperialism, then Muslims will be continually consigned to the poverty, persecution and oppression that western leftists proclaim they are against.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 3/22/2006


I am not sure Pat Robertson defends democracy from pure conviction. He has manifested in many ocasions his preference for theocracy, included the time when he said only jews and christians should be admited in the goverment. Actually Hitler (which you mention) used the democratic system to get into power, participated in elections and got elected chancelor thanks to a coalition between the forces of the German parlament, so Robertson will not be the first one to pretend defending democracy while destroying it from inside...

Kurt Reiger - 3/22/2006

I do not understand why Pat Robertson and the Christian right always get compared to Islamic fundamentalists. Pat Robertson and the whole Christian right are democrats (small d) who favor democratic elections every two years. Candidates they like even win some of these elections. They voice no plans to change this system of elections. And we all vote again this year. Hitler, Osama and Fidel don't have and don't need elections. Bush, Clinton, Kerry and Pat Robinson all agree, let's have another election this year. It is a big difference.

Joan E Crow-Epps - 3/22/2006

I would say the defining point of fundamentalism in ANY religion, not just Christianity or Muslim traditions, is the belief that other people are not allowed to have different beliefs. My perception is that this is based in very black and white thinking: "I believe this for religious reasons, my religion is the only true religion, if other people have different beliefs they are evil and must be forced by law to follow my beliefs." These beliefs are NOT based in the religion itself because many other believers in the same religion do not hold them to be true. I don't think it's hate speech to say that this is unacceptable to most people in any diverse society, and personally I don't think these beliefs are mentally healthy.

Bill Heuisler - 3/22/2006

Mr. Ebbitt,
One of your links declares itself:
"A community of people committed to social change", and quotes people like Fisk and Chomsky as though they were elder statesmen and experts. This site also featured an author of the Lancet study, Les Roberts.

Some quotes from Roberts:
"...we did not extrapolate. We did sample. We drew conclusions from within the confines of that universe from which we sampled."

"...every existing household in Iraq had an equal chance that we would visit them through our randomization process."

"There is no statistical doubt mortality is up, no doubt that violence is the main cause, and no doubt that the coalition forces have caused far more of these violent deaths than the insurgents."

"In essence this is an outbreak investigation. If your readers hear about a sample with 10 cases of mad cow disease in 1000 British citizens randomly tested, I am sure they would have no doubt there was an outbreak."

"...she seems to have not understood that this was a random sample."

"By picking random neighborhoods proportional to population, we are likely to account for the natural variability of ethnicity, income, and violence...32 neighborhoods."

"Please understand how extremely conservative we were: we did a survey estimating that ~285,000 people have died due to the first 18 months of invasion and occupation and we reported it as at least ~100,000."

"The key issues are supported by all the estimates that attribute deaths...Coalition is responsible for many times more deaths than are the insurgents. The exact number is less important than these two indisputable facts which helps us to understand why things are going badly...Les Roberts"

I encourage HNN readers to read all of Mr. Ebbitt's links. They are as damning to the study as the above.
Les Roberts did the Lancet Study. Read his words. Nowhere else will they see better the extreme bias and careless methods. The Lancet study was the hate-driven propaganda from a random sample of 32 neighborhoods (out of 20 million people).

Note the anti-coalition premise of causality in two quotes. Do the math on his second to last quote. Realize that these so-called professionals are alleging there were 528 Iraqi civilians killed every day, most by our own troops.

And all this from a clustered random sample from 32 urban neighborhoods in the Sunni Triangle in the middle of a country as big as France.

Thanks Ebbitt. Your ineptitude is a wonderful phenomenon. You source a web site to show accuracy and don't even realize how a web site that lionizes Chomsky is a website that doesn't mind he denied the deaths of over three million innocents in the killing fields of Cambodia. He said Pol Pot was just trying to govern.

What's a few million? Hell, we all know the United States did worse, don't we? Let's do a study...

Bill Heuisler

Frederick Thomas - 3/22/2006

Mr. Ebbitt:

Its OK to have opinions, but to have them after you have been proven to be blowing smoke is pretentiousness. Admit when you are wrong. It's the manly thing to do.

And you might well reconsider your prediction about Bush losing. He has a better record in elections than LBJ, and has done that despite sneering by the lefties in each case. He loves proving the self-styled leftist "intelligencia" stupider than they ever claimed him to be. Ask Gore and Kerry.

Of course, it escaped you completely that he cannot run again for president, right?

Philip Tuley - 3/22/2006

OK, although this takes us wayyy off topic, let's see if we can reach some sort of consensus.

First, the term "fundamentalist" must be recognized as an arbitrary, and artificial, label that we'll use to discuss a certain mindset within the Christian community.

The main tenets, as I see them, that compromise the basic "fundamentalist" Christian beliefs are:

1) The Bible is an unerring, unalterable, and perfect transcription of the Word of God.

2) The belief in Christ requires the domination of all other beliefs, since they are false.

3) Anyone who does not accept tenet #1 is a false Christian and doomed to hell.

4) All secular laws must be subservient to Biblical laws as expounded on by Paul.

Let's examine each of the tenets, which by the way, are not the sum total of all fundamentalist belief, but are a good start.

#1 - Since the beginning of Protestantism, the debate has been, within the Christian community, one of whether or not the Bible trumps all traditional practices. Given the problematic nature of the New Testament's various forms (there are an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 different manuscriptural changes in the existing earliest Christian scriptures, none of which date anywhere near the 1st or 2nd Century, AD) this discussion has become more entrenched. Many of the established evangelical preachers will tell you that there is no error in the Bible, and hold it as heresy that such error might be suggested. Hence my question as to which of the myriad of translations into English they hold as the authoritative, "true" Word of God.

2 - One has only to listen to Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, or indeed most Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, or any other self-described fundamentalist Christian group, to hear that they are the only true way to God, and that all other religions are false and evil in God's eyes. Outgrowths of these beliefs has led to some very extreme and violent acts in the name of bringing about Christian dominance.

#3 The fundamentalists believe that anyone who does not accept the premise of tenet #1 will be damned. This includes all Catholics, most Episcopalians, Quakers, virtually anyone who does not accept the literality of the Bible.

#4 This particular tenet has been expounded on a lot lately, especially within the US. The demand that the government's laws fall into compliance with Biblical law has gotten wide play from the TV evangelists, among others. Given the sheer number of followers and viewers of Robertson's broadcasts, this is not a small thing. The emphasis on Paul's preachings is specific, as it allows the condemnation of homosexuality based on a set of laws in the Old Testament, while deftly removing the requirement for the following of the dietary laws that are mentioned in the same section of laws in the OT.

You say that you have never understood this slippery term. I question that, but would point you to a variety of sites, all by Christians who self-identify as fundamentalist. I suspect that you may think I am using the term as a perjorative, when in fact I am using the term as defined by those who hold the tenets I mention.

Please see :
for a forum that is, by their own words, "The forum for fundamentalist & conservative churches of all denominations."

you can also go to!churches.htm
for a site that "is our list of Independent Baptist and Fundamentalist churches" designed by the author to help find "like-minded" congregations.

or you can go to
for a further discussion of what biblical fundamentalism is, according to its practitioners.

I hope this clarifies matters.

Gene Williams - 3/22/2006

Fascinating scene out here.. everything one would want from a good action move but including intense.. intense intellectual debate (among certain circles) and a feeling that there is an incredible amount at stake, not just for America put for Pakistan (which had hoped to follow Ataturk into modernity).

But also I must admit a feeling of sadness too at what has been lost in some respects in the last 30 it a effort by some playing on ignorance and using phylosopical intimidation intent on power but unable to compete on a level playing field in the modern world, to erase a large part of islamic and sub-continent history. For instgance, I can't just go talk to a Parsie (Zoroastrian) or even an Ahmadi (they've been declared non-Islamic and driven underground). Heck, I can hardly even walk around at all period.

Its funny to see the tables turned; Afghanistan trying, trying to move forward, schools open, girls getting an education, head scarfs replacing burkhas...Pakistan gradually drifting towards the possibility of being ruled by an 10 century ignoramus Mullah Omar-like figure.

Gene Williams - 3/22/2006


I guess hating, finger-pointing, blaming others for your problems, whether personal or national, is easier to do than looking at yourself, analysing the problem and coming up with real solutions. If you look further back than 1945 when America became the unwiilling bastion of the free world (and don't blame America for the Balfour Declaration), then how about these guys who ruled the hearland of the Semetic Arab world long before America was discovered:
-- Circa 1000: Mahmud of Ghazni (A Turk or Afghan Iranian)
-- Circa 1050-C1200 - Seljuk Turks in various forms.
-- Circa 1200-1248 - Khwarizm Shah (Turks)
-- 1230-1400 - Mongol Ilkhanate in one form or another
-- C1400-1430 - Timurlame (Turk-Mongol)
-- C1430-1489 - Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt (Turk) or the White Sheep Turks or the Ottoman Turks.
-- C1490-1918 - Ottoman Turks.

Now your hate list:
-- Cold War: That was an archanique 45 year , winner take all, bi-polar, world-wide conflict fougt in every sphere and on every level from space to the olympics by two world-views of how man organizes his society which were impossible to coexist. Many Arab countries chose the Stalin method..either Baathist-Socialist (Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Algerian) or the cult of the personality (Libya, Iraq, Syria, To blame the US for the choices you freely made per above is silly.
-- You had to ask our permission to fight at home the above listed regimes? Do you believe that? Do you believe that a state of war hasn't existed between the Arab world and Israel since 1948 because the US didn't give its permission?
-- Do you believe America told a socialist Algerian dictorship-military regime in 1994 to annul the elections? (I've heard this before and am utterly stunned by the allegation)
-- Do you believe that Mubarek is kept in power by America? Do you believe in toothfaries?
-- "the only two countries invaded and occupied by a foreign power"...Lemme see: Iraq invade iran; Iraq invaded Kuwait; Libya invade Chad; Syria invaded Lebanon; Afghanistan attack America. Need I go on?
-- Palestinians I have sympathy for and I know and have talked to many many Palestinian leaders including former military and terrorist leaders...but they have had the most corrupt and incompetant leadership possible, such that I advise my palestinian friends to go make their fortunes and come back once peace is signed between the Palestiniians and Israel.
--Chechan based fundametalists caused the present situation when they had defacto won their independence in starting to attack their neighbors. Russians are brutal in war. Noone likes it. Chechania is not without fault though and none of this has anything to do with America.

Finally, your analysis that the West is preventing the flowering of Islam by trying to ban the suras is not credible. Rather than looking to the dead hand of orthodox wahhabism, try looking further afield...I suggested previously to take a look at the success of Bahrain, Qatar and UAE and ponder why this is (you haven't responded).

So I'll suggest still another avenue; Take a look again at the Fatimid movement. It seems a historical fact that the Prophet and his family favored progress and enlightenment and science. It seems to me from history that the Fatimids certainly were this...and they appealed to the educated and enlightened (am I wrong);

and in particular it might be worthwhile again looking at the Qadarites and in particul Al Hassan al-Basri and Wasil ibn i-Ata and his disciple Abu-Husail muhammad al-Alaf. whether their philosophy was influenced by Greeks is unknown...but it was certainly broad-minded and sparked toleration, progress and science.

And how did that philosophy go down? by
Ahmad ibn Hanbal...the defender of naq - tradition which forced islamic thought into scholasticism and finally into encyclopeadism.

You know this better than I...there are plenty of fascinating courses to take to the future. But you appear to be taking one which leads back into darkness. I just hope you do a bit more exploring and/or you never rise to a position of leadership where you can force the orthodoxy (which needs an enemy) onto your own people.

I write this to create a dialog and if the dialog is arguement, good...but to let what you are claiming in your posts go unchallenged is to accept what so many of my Pak friends are having to do now...shut up and knuckle under to a totalitarian philolsophical orthodoxy enforced by the point of a gun and this I will never do.

your colleage, Gene

Bill Heuisler - 3/22/2006

Mr. Matthewson,
Sloppy? You wrote, "...started the war with several visits..." Wrong.

The President visited mosques after 9/11 - not after the war began - to show he did not believe all Muslims should be held responsible. He also asked many of the prominent Muslims in the US to condemn the attacks and to aid in finding other terrorists.
He was dissappointed by a decidedly luke-warm response.

While many US Muslims are loyal and a few serve in our military, Bush was probably amazed when a Muslim US soldier fragged his officers because he was Muslim. Or was he angered at a US Muslim professor raising money for terrorists? To name only a few instances of US Muslims putting their religion over the interests of their adopted country will suffice, but condemnation of terrorism was seldom heard by American Muslims.

And it's the lack of condemnation that angers us all. Arab-Americans like Zogby have said we can't expect Muslim Americans to confront terror more directly because there might be retaliation. Other American Muslims preach outright hatred of the US. Muslim apologists say our problems are caused by our ties with Israel and advise us to abandon an ally rather than condemn murders, bomb-plots, incitement to terror and attacks on the United States.

Those in law enforcement have been disappointed by indifference and lack of cooperation by US Muslims in investigations of coreligionists.

The sloppy thinking is for Americans to ignore their declared enemies and to ignore those who remain silent.
Bill Heuisler

Rob Willis - 3/22/2006

No, I am not kidding. Precisely what, in your eyes, constititutes Christian fundamentalism, and where is that "dangerous" line? I am quite interested, I have never understood this slippery term.


Rob Willis - 3/22/2006


Whether you are a reporter or historian or a grocer, you have just ignored the value and truth of observable facts in favor of a made-up number.

This is truly an amazing admission. A rational and objective confirmation of what is real is utterly secondary to your politcal agenda.

You scare me.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 3/22/2006

Mr Keuter:

Reading your post I wonder if you really got Levine text right.

What Levine is saying - and you are correct there- is that Sultan line of reasoning indeed reproduced the same line of reasoning in which western XIX century colianism was based. And while you accuse Levine of "changing the subject", it is you who is guilty of the same attitude. Is or not true that the distinction between barbarism and civilization was not one of the main basis of European justification for imperialism (and not only on islamic countries)? Why you avoid this simple issue to go on an endless tirade on how the west is superior (technologically, culturaly etc...)?

The discusion of western superiority (conviently you forget about wetsern sins, from imperialism, to world wars and the use of nuclear artifacts against civilians) over islamic civilization is an interesting one, but it is irrelevant to this post. Aside from the main topic, western justification from imperialism, there is also the issue about the nature of fundamentalism and modernity (in which levine makes a very good point about the modern nature of islamic fundamentalism - and I will add, of ALL fundamentalisms-), which you conviniently ignore.

Philip Tuley - 3/22/2006

I point you to
for a clearer discussion of the methodology of the Lancet study. And yes, I question the site at

At best, iraqibodycount gives us the bottom end of the range of deaths, since it limits itself to verifiable reports, and relies on a network of reporters who are stretched way too thin to give an accurate representation, and way too corraled by a variety of concerns.

This is not to denigrate the reporters themselves. They have a tough job, made tougher by being targets in the very country they are working in, but it is to acknowledge the restrictions and limitations on relying on their observations as a basis for saying anything about an accurate death count.

Philip Tuley - 3/22/2006

You're joking, right? I mean about the fundamentalist aspect of Christianity being a universal thing. Christianity is made up of everything from extremely liberal, non-judgemental groups to extremely conservative, "Bible-driven" groups. (An aside on the whole infallibility of the Bible issue, I've always wondered which, of the myriad of translations, is the one that is infallible. But I digress.)

I dare say that, aside from the declaration the Jesus was the Son of God, there is very little in common between a member of the Metropolitan church and a member of the Free-Wheeling Baptists. The latter, of course, being one of the more "fundamentalist" churches, and not at the extreme edge of fundamentalism.

So, if you are serious about the question, fundamentalism is not a universal and defining point of what is and isn't Christianity.

Philip Tuley - 3/22/2006

No, you're right, the 700 club members are not developing a nuclear bomb, they are trying to influence the actions of the nation that already has nuclear bombs. And they've succeeded in getting their agenda accepted as part of the PNAC plan, which our current administration and its advisors are members of. A little bit more dangerous than you let on.

As to the fear, tell you what, go live in Oakland or Washington Heights for a while, then tell me how brave you are.

Tim Matthewson - 3/22/2006

George Bush started the war with several visits to a mosque in Washington DC to stress the difference between radical jihadist Islam and Islams character as a religion of love, peace and brotherhood. As time passed however, he discontinued such visits and avoided the positive comments about Islam and tended to equate Islam with hate, violence, and terrorism.
Such sloppy thinking finally came home to roost in the DuBai ports deal, when he found to his surprise that the public had indeed gotten the message that Islam is evil and found that public opinion was uninted against his position of attempting to differentiate moderate Arab regimes from those influenced by bin Lauden and his jihadist sentiments.
Sloppy thinking always comes home to roost and Bush has not yet learned the lesson. Unfortunately it is the American people, or better, American soldiers in the field who will pay the price for his deliberately sloppy thinking. As Thomas Jefferson commented, I fear for my country when I think that God is just.

Rob Willis - 3/22/2006

Mr. Tuley, the veiwers of the 700 Club are not developing a friggin' nuclear bomb, OK?

And if the Muslims are "too scared" to rat on the terrorist element, then we are faced with no choice but to stay in the Middle East.

Your arguments are paper thin and a mile wide.

R. Willis

adam richard schrepfer - 3/22/2006

'In other words, when it comes to body counts, we are notoriously bad at being exact'

Yet Mr. Tuley you speak with such confidence and such harsness (canard?) against those who question the Lancet study? People at can't quite get the numbers straight(even though reported triple checking, itemizing their database, and sorting out of civillian deaths from military deaths) but an estimate based on interviews and that assumes that 33clusters are representative of all Iraq is more reliable? Please.

Rob Willis - 3/22/2006

First, do not assume what my faith is, if any, please.

Second, would anyone care to define exactly what a "fundametalist" Christian is, as opposed to a non-fundametalist Christian? is their sucha thing as the latter, or are all Christians fundametalist by default?

And the attitude you describe is rampant in every interest group, religous or not. Marxists, Libertarians, Satanists, all are willing to find ways to maintain control over their culture, and if it is often at the cost of an opposing view, so what? This is called freedom, and it is often self-correcting.

Your comments border on hate-speech.

R. Willis

Joan E Crow-Epps - 3/21/2006

Good heavens, I'm not saying that attitude is specific to Christians as if there is something in Christianity that causes you to be self-rightenous.

What I was trying to say was that the impulse to use your religion as a way to stop any debate and get your own way is not exclusive to the Muslim religion, but is present among fundamentalists of ALL religions.

Bill Heuisler - 3/21/2006

Mr. Tuley,
Still having quote problems I see.
The President said "no evidence". He specifically said there were ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda and that Iraq was a danger to the US. Did you expect there would be Saddam photos or fingerprints? Maybe some DNA on a pilot license? Read more carefully.

Which reminds me, show readers where the Bush Administration denied the Prague meeting of Iraqi officer, Ani with highjacker, Atta five months before 9/11.
Bill Heuisler

Rob Willis - 3/21/2006

Second, very well done, superb.

The key is not what is said, but what is done, in all things.

R. Willis

Frederick Thomas - 3/21/2006

Mr. Keuter:

You have written a very finely nuanced post which gets to the heart of what it is for an HNN author to propagandize. You unravel his unseemly fabric beautifully.

Philip Tuley - 3/21/2006

Ow, I'm hurt...

Philip Tuley - 3/21/2006

Gee, I thought we were talking about 9/11, which is the only reason Atta's name came up. Bush has said that no ties exist between Hussein and 9/11, that was my point.


Bill Heuisler - 3/21/2006

That's hypocrisy. Sorry.

Bill Heuisler - 3/21/2006

Your claims are ridiculous.
1)The US defended Muslims for thirty years - Afganistan, Balkans and Kuwait - Muslims retained self rule due to US aid and intervention.
2)Not allowed to fight Israel? After four or five fights? Billions in aid.
3)Algeria and the Palestinians are ruling themselves - and receiving massive amounts of American dollars.
4) By "true public representation" may we assume you mean the Caliphate?
5) Conveniently forgets Kuwait and the fact we've been often attacked by terrorists based, funded and trained in both Afganistan and Iraq.
6)How can we forget the Kurds, the Marsh Arabs and the Shiites? They're not "genuine" liberation movements?

The Middle East and North Africa are seething with millions of people who've been oppressed for centuries by despots and dictators who make use of medieval interpretations of Sharia and Islam in order to rule through sectarianism and ignorance. Now the Wahabbis slaughter innocents while proclaiming the New Caliphate.

And Wahhabis insist they don't want our retreat or our submission. They want our death. Do you defend them? Madness and despotism cannot always be blamed on the West. Could there be a more fundamental disfunction at play in the Middle East and North Africa? What do they have in common?
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 3/21/2006

Mr. Tuley,
Historians and those interested in the truth usually depend on sources.

Your opinion is of little interest to anyone. (See below about reality)
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 3/21/2006

Mr. Tuley,
The odd part of this discussion is Mr. Tuley's inability to quote any reality accurately.

He "quoted" the President from a September 2003 press conference, but attempted to deceive HNN readers by editing out the reality.

Here's reality Mr. Tuley:

"Mr. President, Dr. Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld both said yesterday that they have seen no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with September 11th. Yet, on Meet the Press, Sunday, the Vice President said Iraq was a geographic base for the terrorists and he also said, I don't know, or we don't know, when asked if there was any involvement. Your critics say that this is some effort -- deliberate effort to blur the line and confuse people. How would you answer that?

THE PRESIDENT: "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th. What the Vice President said was, is that he has been involved with al Qaeda. And al Zarqawi, al Qaeda operative, was in Baghdad. He's the guy that ordered the killing of a U.S. diplomat. He's a man who is still running loose, involved with the poisons network, involved with Ansar al-Islam. There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties."

Look it up. I ask anyone interested to look up the often misquoted 2003 press conference. The real message is that Iraq was a clear and present danger - the opposite the Tuleys of the world would like you to believe.
So, in an attempt to deceive, they try to separate Saddam from Iraq and Iraq from the al-Qaeda terrorist attack on the US on 9/11.

Reality makes Mr. Tuley look either ignorant or deceptive. Next time he backs up a lie with a quote, he might try to get the quote right.

And Mr. Tuley, should reread his Chronicle. They never claim to have made a survey, "all over Iraq". Their survey of a country nearly the size of France included only urban areas and ignored nearly everything out of the Sunni Triangle. Another thing, he should identify any other reputable survey that has clustered samples in order to make it easier and safer for interviewers. The purpose of surveys is to find truth not manipulate samples.

Misquotes and sloppy surveys make bad arguments and embarrassing lies.
Bill Heuisler

Philip Tuley - 3/21/2006

I just happen to be a reporter. I can tell you now that, even with the best interviewing techniques that we use on the ground, we can only, at best, give anectdotal information.

In other words, when it comes to body counts, we are notoriously bad at being exact. We can get you into the rough region, but numbers inflate and deflate based on the veracity and knowledge of our sources.

Maybe you're too young to remember, but when we were in Vietnam, we had the news organizations give out a daily body count. I can recall sitting around the TV before dinner and watching as Cronkite would intone the number of dead "enemies". Those numbers were wildly off at most times.

As to the Lancet study, as an overall source of mortality information in general in Iraq, it's a better gauge than anything else we've been allowed to see. Recently the US government has let slip that it has been keeping some sort of account, but then it refused to discuss the matter any further. Even then the numbers are suspect, as is almost everything about this invasion.

Philip Tuley - 3/21/2006

Mr Baker,
Yes, you have put it well. What I am amazed at is the attitude that has prevailed on both sides of this tension that sees the "other" as a monolithic block of action and opinion. I doubt more than a handful of people reading this will be aware of the strong stances taken at the Islamic conference in July in Jordan, where about 150 religious authorities from virtually all of the schools of thought got together and defined who is allowed to derive a fatwa, among other things.

Last night I was listening to one of the local pundits, Gene Burns, who well-known for opposing both Republican and Democrat idealogues. This broadcaster, who was touting his knowledge of the area, made some fairly sweeping remarks about Islam, so I called in and asked him a few pointed questions. He believed that the Shari'a was universal, and had no idea that there were several different groups of scholars on the subject. He believed that the Shia and Bin Laden were in the same group of believers. It went on and on. I finally got him to realize that Islam is not monolithic, and that many of his excoriated "fundamentalists" were not, in fact, Shia, but Sunni.

If someone who others look up to as a source of information is so woefully ignorant of the various divisions within Islam, how can we expect the average citizen to be better informed, especially when the news services and pulpits are filled with misinformation?

And how can we expect that, given our apparent strength and determination, the average Muslim living outside the US would be any more aware that the US is not unified in thought, religion, and deed?

Tearing down the "we" and "them", removing the apprehension of monolithic stature, these are the ways to deal with these issues.

Philip Tuley - 3/21/2006

Mr. Willis,
The handful of weirdos that I named have a very large, very powerful following here in the US through their televised churches. Pat Robertson is currently the head of of the "700 Club" and CBN (Christian Broadcast Network)and as such has an estimated regular viewership in excess of 27 Million. That means that he is reqularly speaking to 10% of the US. I'd say that's more than a handful.

As to rooting out such "moonbats" as you term them, you have only to look in our own urban zones to realize the folly of that statement. People who have lost family members to gang warfare, who have denounced the violence in our own streets, do nothing, either out of fear of the gangs, or fear of the police, or both.

In short, while they may hate Bin Laden, they have no desire to join in with us. They did, at one point, and the overwhelming reaction to our invasion in Afghanistan was positive. They understood the reasons we went in, and gave us permission to use airspaces, set up bases, and so forth. We lost that goodwill when we decided to go after Iraq, which was pretty well universally condemned within the Islamic world, as well as most of the rest of the international community.

In other words, our loss of focus ended up costing us the support of the common Muslim.

Jason KEuter - 3/21/2006

Mr. Levine's post reminds of commmunists who used to change the subject whenever the actions of communists were mentioned.

Levine really avoids the central challenge of Dr. Sultan, whose depiction of the Islamic world is basically accurate. He skirts the basis of her conclusions (modern history), and instead, calls her "line of thinking" the same as that which justified European Imperialism. This, in turn, makes Dr. Sultan an unknowing dupe of the restoration of the old Imperial order (a process that is not underway), instead of an insightful truth teller about the society from which little other than violence and oppression come. This, in turn, is a "line of thinking" that discourages honest criticism of a cultural mindset that so obviously deserves to be put on the path to extinction.

Having skirted the reality of Islamic barbarism by saying its a "line of thought" rather than a reasonable conclusion, Levine goes right to the usual litany about western Imperialism and its deleterious effects. He clearly believes that Imperialism is responsible for those historically retrograde aspects of the Islamic world that cannot be denied without straining credibility. In other words, western, secular culture and Islamic culture somehow existed on an "equal" plane and their trajectory subsequent to Imperialism has been to the detriment of Islamic culture. We are then left to ask, how did western culture achieve its greater power (found, as Dr. Sultan points out, in all of the scientific and technological progress of the west which is close to totally absent from the Muslim world)? Since they are essentially of equal value, we are then left to assume western pre-eminence is due to a unique kind of moral perfidity. There is even the strong suggestion that it is, in fact, western technological and scientific superiority which unleashes an "equivalent" western barbarism. Among the figures he cites, are the 100,000 supposedly killed by Americans in Iraq - a figure perhaps of total dead, most of whom are actually killed by Islamists in Iraq. Thus Levine, like Islamists everywhere, believes that the scientific and technological advances of western society have yielded more evil than good. He must ignore the infinitely superior standard of livings, political stability and lack of lethal tribal strife that so contrasts the western world with the Islamic world.

Levine is also ignoring most intellectuals from the Islamic world, whose judgements of the cultural and intellectual failures of their own society are infinitely more blunt than anything from western intellectuals, who couch their criticism in qualifying phrases that almost render what they say praise. Recall the short lived hullaballoo of the recent statistical compilation by Arab intellectuals showing an utter dearth of intellectual life (few books published, few read, no meaningful intellectual research, etc).

Like Islamists, Levine recalls the glory days of Medieval Islam as evidence of the infinite latent potentialities of Islam as a force of regeneration. This view differs not one whit from Islamists, who do not hold the same enlightened sentiments as Levine on questions of imperialism and respect for cultures.

So Levine's post is long on assertions that the Islamic world can succeed on its own merits and long on recitations of history and "mentalities" and nonsense about neo-imperialism. And in the end, he's simply lending intellectual justification to the most retorgrade elements of Islamic society and their "well-intentioned" and grossly misinformed liberal intellectuals in the west.

adam richard schrepfer - 3/21/2006

"they don't do any REAL research"

hmm so relying on Journalists, who do infact interview hospitals and count bodys for stories, is unreliable whereas trusting a 'clustered' study which, evidently counted natural deaths, is reliable??

Rob Willis - 3/21/2006

Mr. Tuley-

My questions and concerns are real ones, not idle wool-gathering. I must say, you are not helping the problem by equating a handful of weirdos in the U.S. (who I have never heard suggest using WMD on any group) with a state leader who has stated in no uncertain terms that he wants to nuke Israel- they are not even close to being the same problem, given the historical evidence we are dealing with.

And your point about rooting "them" out- in another response on this thread, you made the argument that the fanatics are a tiny percentage of the muslim population- surely, with the help of true muslims, getting these moonbats locked down shouldn't be that big a problem, should it? Or am I correct in assuming that most of Islam supports entities like OBL, and Hammas?

I don't think anyone in the U.S, wants to go out of their way to inflame anger and response directed toward us. We just don't want to leave the potential for another attck on us in place. Just leave us alone.

Seriously, you can understand my confusion.

R. Willis

Philip Tuley - 3/21/2006

Since you wonder at my words about the number of followers of Bin Laden versus the number of Muslims, worldwide it is apparent that there are some 1.4 Billion, give or take a few, Muslims. One tenth would be about 140 Million. According to the Council on Foreign Relations,with regards to the membership numbers of Al Qaeda, "It’s impossible to say precisely, because al-Qaeda is decentralized. Estimates range from several hundred to several thousand members."

So, let's go wildly enthusiastic, and go with 10 thousand members. In a group the size of Islam, that would equate to 1 in 140,000. Or .0007% of the total.

And, based on less than 1/1000th of a single percent, you are willing to condemn the entirety of Islam?

Yep, I was right in using the term assinine when referring to you.

Philip Tuley - 3/21/2006

You said "The Iranian madman who wants to nuke Israel off the map? Where do negotiations start with that?" and I have to turn the question around and ask how we negotiate with people who wish to do the same to Iran, Iraq, all Muslims, and so forth. We have our own nutcases in the US, such as Pat Robertson, who would love for us to get into a nuclear war to fulfill their idea of Armageddon, thereby bringing to a close the "Latter Days".

The point is, pressure has already been brought to bear on Iran's leader by other Muslim leaders, and will continue.

Finally, as to "rooting them out", that's a tall task, given the more than a Billion worlwide Muslims that exist. You're not looking at "rooting out" someone that is easily identifiable. There's no group of trenches with them hunkering down, no centralized location where they work and live. If your goal is to remove terrorists, you are doomed from the start by the very nature of terrorism itself. In most cases, you will never know that the fellow next door is plotting to do harm until he does it. And attacking countries, cities, and villages only increases the number that are angry enough to put self-survival second to revenge and destruction.

So you talk, and you marginalize extremists, and you delay, and you do everything you can, but be assured that it is no longer if any "rogue" state (yet another meaningless word) gets a nuclear weapon, but when.

Philip Tuley - 3/21/2006

Oddly enough, you're right about the clustered nature of the studies. Also, oddly enough, most statisticians accept the nature of the clustering as valid, given the problematic issues faced. But you'd miss that if all you listen to are the right-wing bloggers that love to dominate these discussions.
To provide you with one quote, among many -
"The Chronicle of Higher Education today has a top-drawer article about the researchers from Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities who published the study in the British medical journal The Lancet suggesting there were 100,000 Iraqi civilian dead from the war and the occupation. Lila Guterman, the article's author, notes that, "On the eve of a contentious presidential election -- fought in part over U.S. policy on Iraq -- many American newspapers and television news programs ignored the study or buried reports about it far from the top headlines."

The Chronicle article recounts in detail the methdology used for the study's 8000 interviews, in which 30 homes in each of 33 neighborhoods all over Iraq were visited. And other statisticins confirm the validity of the Lancet study's methdology: "Scientists say the size of the survey was adequate for extrapolation to the entire country. 'That's a classical sample size,' says Michael J. Toole, head of the Center for International Health at the Burnet Institute, an Australian research organization. Researchers typically conduct surveys in 30 neighborhoods, so the Iraq study's total of 33 strengthens its conclusions. 'I just don't see any evidence of significant exaggeration,' he says. " - this from the site at

As to the Bush administration, President Bush, in September of 2003, said “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th.”

I am constantly amazed at the willingness of the supporters of the current administration to look the other way when their leaders contradict themselves, and then say things like "I never said there was a link between Hussein and Al Qaeda," a linke that Bush and Cheney both touted for as long as they could. A link that, even after Bush had said it didn't exist, Cheney went on to repeat the next Monday at a meeting with the faithful.

Oh, and current guestimates, based on the original Lancet study, put the dead at closer to 175,000

But you won't want to believe that, either.

Frederick Thomas - 3/20/2006

Mr. Ebbitt:

The following URLs include a range of reports of Iraqi civilian casualties, from less than 10,000 to over 100,000. Most are in the 10,000 to 35,000 range. Many others are out there.

One must also consider how many Iraqis have been murdered by terrorists, sectrarians etc. and whether to blame the US for those deaths, an issue which gets little discussion.

In assessing reliability of the Lancet figures, one must also take into account that no physicians were involved in taking the polls, despite the magazine's name.

Instead, staffers and contractors who were reacting to their own stress and sense of danger were doing so. None of the claims could be physically verified, and the psychological condition of the respondents must be taken into account.

The Fallujah fugures are particularly suspect, because of the fear factor, the kidnappings of westerners which were taking place continually, and terrorist actions everywhere.

If a family were told that all of its elders would be killed unless large death toll numbers were given, for example, then those figures were suspect. As you can see from the Seattle Times article, this leads to an unscientific muddle.

Mr. Heuisler's figure of 30,000 is on the conservative high side of the median of this group. Perhaps you should reconsider calling him a "liar."

I know that you know that to be a liar, one must deliberately mischaracterize what he knows for certain. Perhaps your harshness was inappropriate, and an apology due, given that no one knows anything for certain, despite questions about the accuracy of the Lancet figures.

Have a nice day.

Bill Heuisler - 3/20/2006

Mr. Ebbitt,
Will you ever cease embarrassing yourself?

The Lancet Study found 100,000 or more civilians killed after the US resumption of the war in 2003. They have since admitted they included all deaths inflicted by all causes including fighting. They have also admitted not straying too far from certain cities and towns and to combining certain statistics in an attempt to cover ground not covered.

Civilians, Ebbitt. Your Chronicle link admits the numbers were not just civilians, and also admits the lack of discrimination and further that clustering was done for the safety of the interviewers.

When you provide a link, read it.
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 3/20/2006

Mr Tuley,
"Heavily discredited"? Where?

Again your sources astound. The Lancet study has been repudiated by all who are familiar with the fact that they "clustered" responses, did not question anyone out of certain cities that were considered "safe" and included all Iraqi deaths since the invasion, including natural, sickness-related and insurgents. They didn't even bother to exclude Iraqis killed by fellow Iraqis.

Google Lancet Study and learn.

Please show readers where the Bush Administration denied the Prague meeting of Iraqi officer, Ani with highjacker, Atta five months before 9/11. Czech President, Havlec, Prime Minister Kavan, UN Envoy, Kmonicek insist the meeting occured. The 9/11 Commission said they " not believe such a meeting occurred..." but read on and find this was based on Atta's cell phone being used in Florida during the time in question. Now that's nonsense. Think about it. No investigator I know believes such crap. The NY Times even retracted a denial they made after the Czech Government contradicted them.

You seem marginally intelligent. Look up the data yourself. Don't rely on the Bush Administration. Look up people like Ahmed Hikmat Shakir meeting in Kuala Lumpur with 9/11 highjacker Khalid Mihdhar.

Do some homework before you post.
Look up names, dates and sources.
But, as usual, you expect readers to take your talking-point opinions as fact even though you never bother with names, dates or data to support your Assyrian comments.
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 3/20/2006

Mr. Tuley,
Thanks for your compliments; I particularly enjoy my arguments being "assinine" - referring of course to the annals of Adadnirari I or Shalmaneser I, Assyrian kings. The reference is one of the nicest compliments I've ever received, even though the appellation is far above my level of scholarship.

And your point by point discourse with all those supporting numbers was positively brilliant. Really, the position you occupy and the reverence you command means you don't have to answer me at all. We will all accept your thoughts and opinions as though written on the very notebook of the Prophet.

The inclusion of the amazing fact that, "not even a tenth of Islam is represented by those who follow Bin Laden" is dumbfounding. I had no idea such knowledge was available. And I feel much more charitable towards those who blow up school children, slaughter civililans, behead helpless journalists and thrust men in wheelchairs into the ocean. Those misunderstood souls need learned apologists like you.
Thank you for your wisdom.
Bill Heuisler

Rob Willis - 3/20/2006

If I may interject, every Muslim who has not choked off funds, dropped a dime on, arrested, denounced, excommunicated, or otherwise condemed and stopped the fanatics who are doing this, is the part of Islam that is our enemy.

It isn't Swedes who have spent the past several years trying to find a dramatic way to kill my family. I have no choice but to support rooting them out and killing them unless they stop. With whom may i negotiate another solution? The Iranian madman who wants to nuke Israel off the map? Where do negotiations start with that?

R. Willis

Philip Tuley - 3/20/2006

The body count website also acknowledges that it only uses news organizations for its information. To quote : "The project relies on the professional rigour of the approved reporting agencies."

In other words, they grab the reports from the wires, tally what they can, and go with that. They do not interview the hospitals, do not investigate on the ground, and do not do any "real" research into the deaths.

In short, their methodology is beyond suspect, given the very nature of the news services used.

Philip Tuley - 3/20/2006

The Lancet study has not been repudiated by any reputable source. Beyond that, your touting of the already heavily discredited story of Atta in Prague, which is now completely denied by the Bush administration itself as ever happening, shows that you are mired in old, irrelevent data in order to prop up decisions made in bad faith.

Philip Tuley - 3/20/2006

Hm, while I agree that Dr. Sultan's remarks are being used for exactly the purposes you've mentioned - demonization of Islam in the eyes of Western non-Muslims, you are trending towards a problem that I see with media as well, a kind of "them" and "us" mentalitiy.

Basically put, there is no monolithic "West" any more than there is a monolithic "East". The spectrum of beliefs and attitudes in the US and western Europe is matched by the wide and varying beliefs within Islam about its own identity, beliefs, and culture. It is not until we break down the idea that either group is a totally unified and homogenous group of people that we have a chance to truly address the issues that have us, once more, failing to recognize the human in each other.

Philip Tuley - 3/20/2006

What a load of nonsense. First, please carefully define which part of Islam you see as the problem, Then, define the numbers behind that group. Then, define how you propose to deal with those in the group.

Your blanket condemnation is, to put it mildly, assinine. All of Islam is not demanding a submission of the US to their will, not even a tenth of Islam is represented by those who follow Bin Laden and that particular mindset, so perhaps you need to reconsider your cherished delusions a bit.

Rob Willis - 3/20/2006

Would you try that again (the last part)? I don't understand how that attitude is specific to Christians.

R. Willis

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 3/20/2006

Very good article of Profesor Levine. The only thing I will add, is that is weird to think the "modern west" is in a battle against islamic fundamentalist, religious and barbaric, while, ehem, christian fundamentalism is running wild in the United States, the supposted bearer of western values to the islamic world...ain´t that fun?

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 3/20/2006

Very good article of Profesor Levine. The only thing I will add, is that is weird to think the "modern west" is in a battle against islamic fundamentalist, religious and barbaric, while, ehem, christian fundamentalism is running wild in the United States, the supposted bearer of western values to the islamic world...ain´t that fun?

Joan E Crow-Epps - 3/20/2006

I agree with the author that the assumption is false that this conflict is somehow inerrant in the specific religion itself instead of a clash of two world views, religiosity and tolerance.

In America at the present time we see this same conflict between extreme right-wing Christianity and modernity. The press coverage does not identify Christianity itself as a religion requiring a return to Middle Ages barbarism, and yet the stated aims of the extreme fundamentalist movement certainly detail a world view where most of the findings of modern science are discarded, and America returns to the social practices of the Middle Ages.

It's interesting that these views in the Middle East are considered a return to backwardness, and yet in the America they are considered a return to values and religious purity. The difference may be that right-wing Christians are working through advertising, social pressure on individuals, and legislation instead of terrorism, but isn't the root of the impulse the same: our religion says we're right and so in order to 'respect' our beliefs, you must follow our rules because to allow diversity is to attack our religion by forcing us to tolerate your beliefs?

adam richard schrepfer - 3/20/2006

Professor LeVine,

Do you believe that is less reliable than the Lancet study? They are overtly anti-war and therefore don't seem to have a conservative bias. They have also had more time to put together more reliable numbers.
I have read in other posts where you mention that the you have spoken to people on the ground in Iraq and that the Lancet study was peer reviewed. This being the case however, the peer review was rushed and many people dispute the Lancet study.

Gene Williams - 3/19/2006


Rather than reading your theory in this article of violent behavior, which seems to develop something along the lines of "we're all guilty of sin" and/or "we'll hang together or separately," it would be much more interesting to discuss currents within Islam today. For surely Islam is at war with itself.

For instance, my friends in Pakistan are fighting what they regard as a difficult and constantly encroachingly suffocating sect of Neobandism/Wahhabism, fundamentally alien to the subcontinent's predominently Sufi tolerant traditions. In view of their struggles (which are increasingly underground) your trying to imply that we're guilty of this sect's intolerant violence and rule-by-the-gun local terrorism (worship my way or else) is like saying, "Well you have to understand that the Mongol prince Hulagu just had to trample the Caliph under the hooves of his horses because...well they were just doing their thing as Mongols."

In the end I found this article disappointingly lacking in substance. IMHO It rather seems to me to be laden with pop psychology and tinged by personal guilt, and it seems to concentrates on a perceived Muslim- against-the-world ... Islam-is-in- danger ... mentality and how this can be assuaged, rather than on the true heart of the matter in Arablandia..i.e. where is the religion going? I myself would much prefer to read some genuine scholarship on Islam including something about the philosophical internal struggle which that great religion is going through.

By the way, how does your "we-are-all-guilty" thesis relate to this?

Khaleej Times Online >> News >> SUBCONTINENT
Afghan who converted to Christianity faces death penalty

19 March 2006

KABUL - An Afghan detained for converting from Islam to Christianity may face the death penalty if he refuses to return to the Muslim faith, a judge said on Sunday.

Abdul Rahman was detained two weeks ago after his relatives told police of his conversion, which is strongly forbidden under Islamic Shariah law.

“Yes that’s true, a man has converted to Christianity. He’s being tried in one of our courts,” said a Supreme Court judge, Ansarullah Mawlavizada, adding that his trial began early last week.

He said if the man refuses to return to Islam he could face the death penalty. Shariah law allows for the death penalty for any Muslim who converts to another religion.

The Afghan constitution bars enactment of any law, which is repugnant to Islam. “No law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam,” it says.

If sentenced, the man would be the first to be punished for conversion since the ousting of the fundamentalist Islamic Taleban.

The Taleban regime was toppled by a US-led invasion in late 2001 for failing to hand over Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks.

Bill Heuisler - 3/19/2006

Please read my post again. Ansar was identified as in Northern Iraq and Salman Pak is quite obviously very near Baghdad (60 klicks or so). Look on a map. But what's your point?

The fact you must quibble betrays a fatal weakness in your position. The link to the "Assessment" of al-Qaeda is further confirmation. The first two paragraphs of the multi-page report confess they really don't know and that their assessment does not cover the period prior to 9/11.

Disagreement? There's ample evidence of al Qaeda in pre-9/11 Iraq. And evidence of Mukhabarat and Saddam Fedayeen training terrorists in the use of chemicals and in highjacking (without firearms) civilian planes.
The war in Iraq is a well-deserved response to Muslim terrorism and to the 9/11 attack on the US.

Bill Heuisler - 3/19/2006

Go on fighting? Don't you really mean, why doesn't the US continue turning the other cheek to Islam?

Islamic fanatics have been attacking the US for years. The US responded through judicial prosecutions of individuals and with futile appeals for State cooperation. We responded by intervening in the Balkans to protect Muslims and to prevent the religious-based genocide of Muslms.

Our thanks was 9/11.

A fight can be stopped if both sides refrain. And don't pretend there's a sincere desire for peace on the part of Muslims. History disagrees. We earn our destiny and, unfortunately, the United States has been given no choice: Fight or submit to Islam.
We will not submit.

Bill Heuisler - 3/19/2006

Mr. LeVine,
Mr. Williams is absolutely correct. Your use of the Vietnam war was not on subject and an obvious cheap shot.

But there's another cheap shot also.
Why did you use the 100,000 Iraqi dead number? The Lancet study that originated that particular anti-US falsehood has been exposed. Didn't you notice, or didn't you care?

This common assumption that Iraq is somehow innocent - of terrorism, al-Qaeda and of attacks on the US - is deeply dishonest and political.

The false thesis that there was no collaboration between al-Qaida and Saddam is necessary to Democrats who fear more Americans would support Bush and our war effort in Iraq if they made the obvious connection.

So anti-Bush opportunists cite the 9-11 commission report - no evidence of "operational" cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iraq - and don't bother mentioning evidence mentioned in the 9/11 report of many Iraq al-qaeda contacts and the actual listing of al-Qaeda training camps like Ansar al Islam in Northern Iraq and Salman Pak just 35 miles from Baghdad.

Even the most naive knows that any collaboration between al-Qaida and Saddam on 9-11 would have been kept very secret. There are indications (Prague/Atta and Kuala Lumpur) but the Left wants all to believe that any connections had to either be open and obvious or not exist at all.

It would've been irresponsible for a president to assume there was no relationship between al-Qaida and Iraq, given previous contacts between them, known connections to Afganistan and Sudan and the proven hostility to the US.

President Clinton assumed Iraq was our implacable enemy in many speeches as did HW Bush. And there was no intelligence acquired after 9/11 that could have assured us, with 100 percent certainty, that there was no connection. So why do you - and the other nay-sayers - so eagerly accept the eagerly accept Saddam's innocence?

Saddam's collaboration will almost certainly be shown by analysis of some 2 million documents captured in Iraq and now being released through the Hoekstra Committee.

So, why do so many people like you cling with such religious intensity to the counter intuitive notion that somehow Saddam had no terrorist ties?

The obvious answer? So you can use articles like this to delegitimize specifically our war effort against Iraq and generally our worldwide defense against Islamofascism.
Bill Heuisler

Gene Williams - 3/19/2006


An interesting article; I am watching the struggle within Islam from a ring side seat and hope the progressive side wins out.

But my question is, why the slap at the Vietnam War and at American involvement in it? "3 million Asians killed by Americans... It has nothing at all to do with your article does it? Are you just searching for some way to critize America to give substance to your thesis or do you really believe what you are preaching about the Vietnam War?

In talking about Vietnam, why not say instead something like, "America fought a 10 year war against a merciless dictatorship ruled by Western originated Marxist-Leninist principles, which ruthlessly sent its politically indoctrinated storm troopers south in the face all resistance, heedless of casualties and without any check on its policies or on its startegies by its own people, in order to obliterate a free people."

Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 3/17/2006

one could read/hear her comments not as making blanket condemnations of Islam as a whole. but i think honestly that would be a stretch. and in fact, if you look at the annaked website for which she writes, it is almost viruntly anti-muslim, as the latest article, calling on intellectuals of the world to unite, describes islam as a "dangerous ideology". on the other hand, the point the author is making--that the increasing (supposedly, i'm not sure in fact this is true) threats against intellectuals around the world who dare to criticise islam--is a very important one that deserves wide public debate. yet it is being debated by muslims, most of whom don't agree with this practice. i think sultan's biggest problem is that she seems either unaware or utterly dismissive of the major attemtps at progressive reforms of islam from within the tradition, and, if her interview comments are any indication, is overly impressed with her own ability to transform muslim culture by her remarks..

Philip Tuley - 3/17/2006

I think if you reread Dr. LeVine's words you'll find that he did not say anything about it being impossible for societies that interact to have major differences when developing, but that the idea that Islam and the West are monolithic and discrete societies that "evolved separately and largely in isolation from each other, and do not interact except through the proverbial clashes between them" is fallacious.

As to the issue of his use of the term "rationality" and the freedom to criticize excesses, you are equating apples and oranges. Many, if not most, "advanced" or "westernized" societies marginalize, persecute, and even incarcerate critics on a regular basis. This becomes insidious when combined with large-scale control of news by a handful of sources, be they private or governmental. History has plenty of examples where such a combination played out in countries where "freedom" was touted - Germany in the 1930s was supposedly a "free" nation, where speech that criticized the government's actions was allowed. In the US, criticizing the "war effort" immediately brings up accusations of unpatriotism, even of treason, as witnessed by the rantings of some within the mass media. Recently Justice Ginsburg related that her assassination has been called for by some on the "Right". Even academia is under attack. If not so, Horowitz would be laughable and his list of 101 most dangerous professors would be irrelevant. Instead we see a chilling in the free speech on campus.

Ah, this is getting far too long. Suffice it to say that, as a member of the press, and a writer, I see on a regular basis the restriction of our freedoms and control of our information. We are far less free than you realize.

Philip Tuley - 3/17/2006

In much the same way that you cannot expect a lack of bias from a victim of any crime when it comes to societal condemnation, Dr. Sultan cannot be expected to be unbiased with regards to Islam.

I had the good fortune to sit in on your lecture at UCDavis. An important theme of your presentation was the interconnectedness of all of the different societies and societal forces during the development of the modern era. I see echoes of this in your post here, and agree.

Ken Wilber argues, forcefully, in his book "No Boundaries" that any boundary creates conflict. The constructs that are now in place, the "we" and "them" ignore the interrelationship of the whole, and overlooks the benefits that accrue to those who propose the dividing line.

I may be a bit naive in this, but the Islamic conference held in Amman last July seemed to address a similar issue within Islam, and the conference's final document directly addressed the phenomenon of declaring a believer excommunicated, and therefor a "them", and therefor a fair target.

Not that words on a paper will have impact without deeds in the field.