Not outrage. Simply rage.

Demi has commented before about how amazed she is that we can be (relatively) calm about the situation in Iraq. I think I’ve hit my limit.

I’ve previously posted about how the abuses committed by insurgents are utterly un-Islamic. Nick Berg, Paul Johnson, Kim Sun-Il, God rest their souls, each one, and may God grant their families strength and peace. Regardless of the fact the Wahhabis think that beheadings are cool, they are not, and furthers my argument that the Wahhabis should not be a voice for Islam if they are not Muslim. I feel an unbelievable rage against these people that they would choose to say what they are doing is related to Islam.

Imam Husayn (PBUH) died for what he believed in, he didn’t capture and kill civilians to prove his point. The Prophet (PBUH) never caught and killed non-combatants to prove that he could. Islamic civilization, like other civilizations, has a history of conflict, but the idea of indiscriminate killing and the slaughter of un-related parties has been traditionally anathema to the Islamic world-view.

Aside from the fact that these insurgents have no regard for Islamic tradition, they also have no regard for Muslims and how their acts defame the faith they claim they belong to. They have kidnapped Muslims from Turkey – although they also released the Turks ostensibly because they were Muslim and they’ve got an Arab-Muslim Marine as a hostage.

I can’t even begin to describe the anger and hatred I feel towards these individuals. They are not freedom fighters – they are not putting forward a positive vision of Iraq – they fight from their hate. I’m not convinced that a majority of them are Iraqis. I don’t have much respect for Muqtada Sadr as a leader, but he at least appeared to be fighting for his vision of Iraq and was out in the open, so you knew who was responsible.

I’m glad “sovereignty” has been returned to the Iraqis. I think now we’ll see how much support these goons actually have.

15 thoughts on “Rage

  1. Sovereignty returned to Iraq? It’s going to be nothing but a slave Nation for US and Britain to plunder resources and riches from. Iraq was a British creation and ever since it was created the people living in that land have been opressed under tyrannical regimes (pretty much the same story for all Muslim “countries”).
    These insurgents are really the good guys, but because they are conflicting with Western interests they are portreyed like the bad guys. Nobody can justify what the US have done to Iraq and Afghanistan, it is wrong and bad, whether you take the Islamic perspective or not.
    I don’t agree with the killing of innocents – beheading, etc – but then again I dont think it’s Muslims doing it, it’s Americans doing it themselves to help prove a point and make the world believe they saved a nation of ‘animals’ and brought them in to the modern age. What a load of crap though.

  2. “Sovereignty returned to Iraq? It’s going to be nothing but a slave Nation for US and Britain to plunder resources and riches from.”
    Let’s wait and see. There’s no question that the US will benefit from the new situation. The question is, will Iraqis benefit? Iraq was a “slave nation” under Sadaam. He lived in luxury while his people lived in abject poverty. He brutally tortured and killed his enemies. Now there is potential for something like a democracy to develop. There is potential for things to be better. If the US and Britain are able to engage in peaceful trade with the new Iraq, if we’re able to buy oil from them, and if some of this income actually trickles down to the Iraqi people (which it never did under Sadaam), that won’t be a bad deal for them, I think.
    Anyway, here’s an interesting site, by a very pro-American Iraqi. He certainly presents a one-sided picture of the situation, but he is actually there, so I think it’s worth reading.

  3. That is the level of anger and rage that Jake and I felt when we read about the soldiers who used the name of Jesus during torture. We first began to cry, both of us, and got very silent.
    Then the rage began.
    Those people do not represent Christianity, either. So I appreciate your feelings at seeing your faith misused and perverted to suit the ends of people who are just…morally inept.
    This whole thing, the entire war, IMO, has been a disgrace. I have never seen how we had the right to go tromping over there when there was no clear connection between Iraq and 9/11. Bin Laden’s name stopped being mentioned, and then it was all about Sadaam–who, while hardly a choirboy, was not implicated on the attacks on our country. We’ve lost whatever international reputation we had that may have been left over from the WWII/Cold War era. I don’t know how long it will take for us to recoup even some of that.
    As far as the beheadings, etc go: I am afraid that when we engaged in torture and the breaking of international law, those who later did those thing felt that they’d been given an ethical blank check because of the torture and degradation at Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, and elsewhere. I am not saying that the beheadings were called for, not at all, but something like that was bound to happen after the reports of torture from the “liberators.” An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, it is true, but none but the Adept (“saint”) can manage to live by that dictum at all times.
    Everything we have suffered, we have brought on ourselves. That is a law of nature, whether you call it ‘karma’ or “God’s will” or the “natural law” or what have you. We are reaping what we have sown. May God have mercy on us all.

  4. “I don’t agree with the killing of innocents – beheading, etc – but then again I dont think it’s Muslims doing it, it’s Americans doing it themselves to help prove a point and make the world believe they saved a nation of ‘animals’ and brought them in to the modern age.”
    Can you provide a single shred of evidence to support this absurd claim? DENIAL will not marginalize these depraved individuals nor will it eradicate them from our midst.

  5. “As far as the beheadings, etc go: I am afraid that when we engaged in torture and the breaking of international law, those who later did those thing felt that they’d been given an ethical blank check because of the torture and degradation at Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, and elsewhere.”
    Demi, radical Islamists were doing this sort of thing long before Abu Ghraib, and they hated Americans long before the invasion. The outrages on the American side have simply given them something to point a finger at while they commit murders that they would be committing anyway.
    We have every reason to be angry about torture and the breaking of international law. But let’s not get confused about the nature of Islamist terrorism.
    Voice of Reason: Thank you for being a voice of reason, as usual.

  6. I don’t see one religious group as being any more or less vicious than another. Going back in history, there was a thing called the Crusades. If the extremists hate us, I think we need to ask why. It’s too easy to continue to paint ourselves as the victims (not to mention a bit absurd).
    We are not responsible for the choices that others make, but we are responsible for what we have done and what we have left undone. I think we could do with a bit of humility and self-examination from time to time, instead of this ridiculous assumption that because we’re Americans, we’re somehow automatically “always right.” I remember Vietnam: were we “right” then as well? With great power comes great responsibility. I am not seeing that sense of responsibility and accountability, self-examination, or humility in our culture or administration.

  7. “I don’t see one religious group as being any more or less vicious than another.”
    What does that mean? I agree that no religion is any more or less vicious than another. But there are factions and ideologies that are violent and factions and ideologies that are not. Because of the current political situation, most of the violent religious groups around the world happen to be Muslim. This puts decent Muslims in a very difficult position, and I am sorry for them; they’ve done nothing to deserve it. When the most powerful countries in the world were Christian (not secular, but really Christian), terribe things were done in the name of Christianity. Jews haven’t been powerful enough to do that kind of damage in a very long time, but if they had, I’m sure they wouldn’t have behaved any better.
    “If the extremists hate us, I think we need to ask why.”
    Agreed. But we don’t have to assume that their hatred is our fault. The United States is a very powerful secular democracy, which I think is enough to provoke the hatred of someone who wants the world to be transformed into an Islamic empire.
    “I think we could do with a bit of humility and self-examination from time to time, instead of this ridiculous assumption that because we’re Americans, we’re somehow automatically ‘always right.'”
    God forbid that I should make such an assumption. The United States has made many mistakes. I may have more mixed feelings about the current war than you do, but it’s certainly not because I think that America can do no wrong. It is, however, equally rediculous to assume that Islamists can do no wrong, or that whenever they do it’s at least partly the fault of America.
    “I remember Vietnam: were we ‘right’ then as well?”
    No. But it does not logically follow that we are not “right” now. Each case has to be evaluated on its own terms.
    “With great power comes great responsibility.”
    Have you by any chance seen Spiderman 2 recently?
    “I am not seeing that sense of responsibility and accountability, self-examination, or humility in our culture or administration.”
    I think that depends where you look. The current administration has failed to convey any sense of humility or accountability, and that is a great failing, if you ask me. But any time you pick up a newspaper or read a political blog, you see that there is a lot of discussion going on over whether the U. S. is doing the right thing or not. Heck, look at the popularity of Farenheit 9/11. I think it’s a testament to the greatness of democracy that we can have this sort of conversation. And guess what? In a few months you’ll have the opportunity to vote this administration out of power.

  8. Vote them out? Hmm. I certainly hope so.
    I haven’t seen Spiderman I or II, so I’m not sure what the reference means. I agree that democracy is a good system, but as surprising as it may seem to those who’ve grown up with it, not everyone in the world would choose it – a shocking idea, I realize, but it’s true.
    My fear is similar to yours: I fear that we are on the verge of a theocratic coup, if it hasn’t happened already. It’s one form of fundamentalism fighting another: Christian fundamentalism vs. Islamic. I’ve not much love for the Islamic extremists, believe me. At one time I worked right in the WTC. I was ready to spill blood at the time, ready to tear those responsible apart with my bare hands.
    Which response made me see that they and I were not that far apart spiritually.
    But as I said, I cannot take responsibility for what others do, only for what I do. By extension, I have to take responsibility for what my democratically-elected national leaders do. There’s only one problem with that statement: the current administration was *not* democratically elected, if you recall the last election, when the proceedings were a bit … unusual.
    I think we in the US need to tend our own garden quite a bit more instead of tromping around where we have not been invited and are not wanted. If that means I’m advocating another of our isolationist phases, then so be it.
    The next presidential election could be the most pivotal one in our entire history. If there are again any “irregularities” in the proceedings, we will be in a better position to know whether or not we are still operating under the Constitution, or whether a coup has been in effect for four years.

  9. I haven’t seen the second Spiderman movie, either, and I can’t recommend the first. The line “with great power comes great responsibility” is from Spiderman, though — both the movies and the comic strip, apparently. The sentiment is certainly on target, but I suspect that you picked up the particular phrasing from someone who saw Spiderman 2, which I hear put a great deal of emphasis on it.
    Now, on to more important matters. I understand that you are trying to be respectful of other cultures and that you want to make sure that you aren’t being unduly influenced by your own American upbringing. That is admirable. But look at the language you’re using. People don’t “choose” tyrants or tyranny, and I highly doubt that the Iraqi people would have “chosen” Saddam. (There’s a powerful, if somewhat amateurish, documentary about life in Saddam’s Iraq called “Uncle Saddam.” I highly recommend it.) This may, finally, bring us back to the subject of Islamoyankee’s post, although the relationship between the Islamist insurgents and the Baath party is not clear to me.
    I also don’t think that a nation necessarily sacrifices its distinctive character when its citizens obtain the right to choose their rulers. Democracy is a relatively new institution in the general scheme of human history. No culture has an indigenously democratic character. To suggest that rule by the people is somehow not right for Arabs and Kurds is seriously belittling. I know you don’t mean it that way, but it is.
    You are probably uncomfortable with the idea of democracy in Iraq mainly because the U.S. is trying to impose it, and somehow that seems belittling, too. Well, I am also uncomfortable with that, although I think it’s worth recognizing that the Allies essentially imposed democracy on Japan and it basically worked. It’s certainly no wonder that many Iraqis are uncomfortable with the situation. While I am convinced that democracy is better than tyranny — for all people, not just so-called “Westerners” — that doesn’t necessarily mean that that the U.S. made the right decision in this instance. And of course, the U.S. didn’t invade Iraq for the purpose of delivering freedom to its citizens, as our current government would like us to believe.
    About our current government: I was also upset by the previous election’s proceedings, but I think the subject is over-emphasized. Certain Republicans could have behaved more admirably, but the whole business did start with technical problems that weren’t the fault of either party, not some organized effort by the GOP to steal the election. More importantly, the election was genuinely very close. It isn’t entirely fair to say that the American people aren’t responsible for putting Bush into power, because a very large proportion of the American people did vote for him.
    One last thing. It was a very complicated foreign policy situation that led the U.S. into Iraq. Saddam Hussein may not have posed the imminent threat to the U.S. that the president claimed he posed (although there seem to be some complications with regard to that issue as well), but he clearly posed a threat to his neighbors, and he at least talked about causing trouble for us. So we didn’t just go traipsing in there on no provocation at all. The only question in my mind is whether we dealt with the threat appropriately, given the particular circumstances.

  10. The examples of Japan and Germany are often used by way of promoting what I call “democracy at the end of a sword.” They are said to be successful, thanks to the USA’s efforts. Perhaps they are.
    I’ve lived in both of those countries for about five years apiece. I can tell you that even today, you do hear people murmur about how they obtained democracy, and, when they really relax with you, you sometimes hear also that it wouldn’t have been their preferred mode of government. That was the basis for my earlier remarks. It is difficult for me to imagine life under a non-democratic system, but I attribute that to my having grown up in a democratic system.
    To me, it is belittling to assume that we Americans or any other powerful nation know better about what’s good for another nation and culture. That is what strikes me as belittling.

  11. Hi again Demi. It’s interesting to hear about your experiences in Germany and Japan. There are certainly many drawbacks to democracy. I think Plato articulated them as well as anyone. His ideal republic was governed by a philosopher king, and I think that’s reasonable, in a sense. Clearly the best form of government is rule by a single individual who makes all, or even mostly, the right decisions. With democracy you get all sorts of people involved, many of them ignorant, and you can’t make any progress without a protracted political battle. I can see being nostalgic for a time when things were less messy and aggravating.
    The trouble, of course, is that many dictators don’t make the right decisions, and with no checks on a dictator’s power, atrocities are much more likely to occur. That, and dictators tend to secure their people’s loyalty by focusing attention on an external enemy. (Yes, democratically elected leaders do that too, but they tend to be less successful because they don’t have the same kind of control over information and rhetoric.)
    So I guess I disagree with your German and Japanese friends. I also disagree with some of my Orthodox Jewish female friends who think that it’s best for women not to be involved in public religious practice. Is it belittling that I think I know what good for them better than they do? Maybe. But it’s an opinion. I respect their right to hold a different opinion and to make their own decisions about how to live their lives. So maybe the real problem, if there is one, isn’t Americans thinking they know what’s best for other nations, but forcing those nations to do what we think is best.
    There’s still a practical problem, though. Retrospectively, it’s difficult to argue that the U.S. shouldn’t have gotten involved in WWII. Once we had gotten involved, and won, there was no alternative to a prolonged occupation of Germany and Japan. The U.S. had two options: to install puppet dictators (which we’ve done in other places), or to try to develop a system that would ultimately allow the Germans and Japanese to choose their own leaders. What we did may have been kind of infantilizing, but it’s certainly the more noble of the two options. I think that decision was made because it was recognized that the atrocities of WWII were largely the result of dictatorship.
    The moral case for the war in Iraq is much more ambiguous than the case for entering WWII. Nonetheless, the invasion has taken place, and the former leader of Iraq has been deposed. At this point, I don’t think the situation is very different.

  12. Quick thanks to all of you for keeping this discussion going while I was away.
    I don’t want to step too much into a really interesting conversation here, but I want to pick up on your idea elf that there was moral ambiguity in invading Iraq.
    I disagree strongly with both the timing and rational (9/11 related or WMD) for the invasion of Iraq. However, if you had made the moral argument, that Saddam Hussein was killing Shia, gassing Kurds and starving his population, you actually would have found me much more receptive. I would have still thought the timing was odd, the actors hypocrites (1986 photo of Rumsfeld and Hussein after a sale of arms anyone?), but the rational much more convincing.
    Á la Spider-Man, I believe one of our obligations of being a hyper-power is to help others. I believe in active intervention, but the cause and nature of the intervention should be limited. We should have put in more aid to Afghanistan instead of invading it and writing it off as a success. We should be showing more muscle in trying to settle the Darfur conflict in Sudan. We should go back to playing an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just as much as we should work on settling the Cyprus division.
    I believe the US can be an international moral exemplar, but we have squandered those opportunities and rights, and by not using a moral argument in Iraq, instead using a fabricated causus belli, we can’t be taken seriously in that role.

  13. Welcome back, Islamoyankee. It’s good to hear your thoughts on this subject.
    This administration has made two separate cases for going to war, one moral and one practical. The moral case is that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator and that Iraqis — particularly Shiites and Kurds — suffered and often died unjust deaths under his rule. The practical case was that he had WMD’s and ties to Al Qaeda, posing an imminent threat to the United States. The practical case has pretty much fallen through; although it is possible that Iraq posed a threat to the U.S., it wasn’t the sort of imminent threat that the president depicted. I believe that the moral case stands, although it has been considerably weakened by incidents like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
    Proponents of this war tend to compare it to WWII, while opponents compare it to Vietnam. I don’t think that the present situation is quite like either of those past wars, but limited comparisons can be fruitful. The U.S. didn’t enter WWII because the Nazis were massacring Jews and others, but because the bombing of Pearl Harbor showed that the Axis powers posed an imminent threat to us. I don’t know that we would have ever entered the war if it weren’t for the practical threat, but it is because of the moral aspect of our role that we can look back on all that carnage and say that, in the last analysis, we did the right thing. That may be true in this case as well.
    But then there’s the Vietnam quagmire analogy. Did the situation in Iraq justify this sort of intervention? It’s true that many suffered under Saddam, but now Iraqis are suffering at the hands of U.S. soldiers, which is quite a different thing; as Demi has pointed out, we can only be responsible for our own actions. The war also diverts resources from domestic programs and from Afghanistan, where (as you note) much remains to be done. Are we doing more harm than good?
    I’m not sure where I stand on the broader interventionism vs. isolationism debate, either. Sometimes (as in the case of present situation in Sudan) the moral case for intervention is so strong that isolationism becomes very difficult to justify. But I’m not sure that intervention is the best route in every case. By “parenting” other nations we deprive the people of the opportunity to act on their own behalf, and they’re bound to resent us for that, whether or not the opportunity ever really existed. (Cf. Demi’s observations on Germany and Japan.) How do we decide when the benefits of intervention are worth the costs?

  14. Elf, I’m comfortable with the hindsight analysis after a successful military campaign, that a moral good was achieved. For example, we entered Afghanistan as a military matter. If we had remained and re-built the country, and then claimed moral victories in the case of treatment of women, religious minorities, etc., I would have been happy with that. What happened there was that we claimed military and moral victory without achieving anything.
    In Iraq, the moral claim was made after military arguments were deemed dubious, and the moral claim continues to be made as the military situation degrades.
    I don’t believe any war is like any other. To me that’s a depressing view of human nature. I agree, there are lessons to be learned, but that’s true of any historical situation. I think what we should have learned from WWII was that rebuilding a vanquished country is far better than letting it slip back into chaos – arguably the same lesson we should have learned from WWI. With Vietnam, we should have learned about the importance of local cooperation and sympathies.
    As for interventionism, perhaps I did make it sound too paternalistic. However, let me try an analogy and see if it makes my idea clearer, or muddies the waters more. As a Muslim, the Dalai Lama has no religious significance to me. I do recognize his intellect, passion and spirituality. Were I too meet him, and were he to give me advice, I would not ignore because I consider him a moral exemplar. Were he to give me something, I wouldn’t refuse it. In the same way I see the US as having the potential the be a moral exemplar. I think this is different than enforcing individual morality, a conflation I see this administration making, which has actually weakened the country rather than strengthen it.

  15. There are extremists in every religion. Unfortunate for the world. No it was not Americans who beheaded their captive. However, Osama and his jihad of hate knows no end as he is not healthy and in his own mind vows to take the world to its grave with him. Something happened in his life to make him a serial killer and his use of the uneducated followers to do his missions is amazing to me. In America, we also have the sheep and uneducated populace who do not read and are easily led. More than half of this country know the true hearts of the Bush family. And more than half of the country including the academics will vote against him. The Muslim world must understand that there are a great many Americans who do not hate the Muslims. Although Saddam was evil, and the world is a better place without him, I am afraid tht America should not have acted alone. But, God willing, whatever God perhaps in the long run despite the motives for why Bush went into Iraq….perhaps the people of Iraq will be in a better place for the future. Certainly, we lost and had wounded thousands and perhaps at this expense right or wrong….the sun will shine on Iraq eventually. Don’t let a killer lead Muslims. Recognize Osama for what he is as we Americans will judge our bad Presidents for what they are.

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