« The Musical Party | Main | Come one, come all »

August 01, 2004



As one of those Bush supporters, if not quite a Republican, who just dropped by this site, I think you've got it more or less right, although I don't like the spin you put on it :-), and I think you may be conflating quite a few different viewpoints.

The first, which might be called the 'realist' view, believes that there's a certain hard edge to foreign relations, because while people will usually behave rationally in their contexts, they may not behave rationally in yours, and they may certainly not be acting for the common good. They're out for themselves (either their country, or their clan, or whatever group they identify with). No moral odium attaches to that. And the way you deal with people with their own agendas, is to use reason, emotion, fear, or force -- whatever works, to achieve your own agenda. The interaction of power against power creates its own dynamic, with its own rules, which have to be followed.

The second, which is a more moralistic standpoint, probably comes into play more with terrorists than with nation-states (at least, since the Soviet Union fell). Terrorists like Al Qaeda, I would say, are so attached to their goal, which is to explicitly wage unrelenting war against our civilization, that it is not possible to achieve any sort of lasting compromise with them. Their methods and purposes are so abhorrent to the ways of our civilization, that I have no problem labelling their cause as evil. At a certain point, you have to ask: if this is not evil, what is?

And against what you recognize as evil and relentless, there is no recourse but to measure its capabilities, and prepare yourself for conflict.

There's no necessary contradiction between being evil and being logical, nor in being evil and destructive while having a somewhat justified grievance.

Spiffy blog you have here. Keep it up :-)


Interesting how the Republican approach to terrorism parallels the Republican approach to crime - declare them "evil" and destroy them/lock them all up forever.

While this has a reptilian simplicity, vengeful catharthis and lack of self-examination or blame that transmits appealingly well in the sloganeering vernacular of politics, it's not very effective.

The world will always have a cadre of hard-core alienated terrorists regardless of what counterstrategy the authorities take, just as there will always be some hard-core alienated criminals in any society beyond village-scale. You may blunt their potential for destruction with heightened security, but they will always be there in some number.

Think of Al-Qaeda recruits as the equivalent of young men drawn into crime in US cities. Lacking direction or achievement and restricted by their ultra-controlled societies, their outlet is not crime in their neighborhoods, but running off to terror camps, deriving a sense of worth and power from killing for a cause.

Any effective strategy is going to examine how these guys go from a somewhat-privileged position in middle-class, educated Arab society (the 9/11 hijacker-pilots were not illiterate Taliban tribesmen) to people dedicated to destruction. This doesn't mean getting them into psychotherapy, but any honest examination of terrorism is going to ask, "What is pissing these people off enough to want to kill and die?"

I wouldn't say terrorists are susceptible to rational discussion, any more than long-term criminals are easily turned from their way of life.

Terrorist actions are horrendous, but Old Testament-style thundering about "evil" and smiting them does nothing to reduce the supply of alienated young Arab men with options in life who end up trying to kill westerners. It's not a strategy; it's not even a start on handling the problem, it's just feel-good cheap moralism from simplistic minds.

There may be little Western governments can do to blunt their anger, other than security strategies to disrupt their funding and operations. But supporting repressive regimes because they promise stability doesn't help. Neither does invading Iraq, which mightily pisses off the Arab world for marginal gain to anyone outside the Bush crony circle.

But crime-fighting strategies are two-pronged, with focus on improving life in problem areas as well as the stick of security enforcement; we should at least acknowledge the existence of this as a concept.

Because we're never going to kill off all terrorists, just as we're never going to jail enough people in the US to eliminate all crime.

Kevin Thurman

I think that your defining Hobbesian far too braodly for my tastes. This may not cheer you up but hear me out.

In my opinion, the tradtitional Hobbesian view (versus say the modern Rawls view) is that people are not only self-intrested, but instead views people as more like "beasts" as you put it. Therefore he justifies his philospher king and his court as people who have risen above this beasthood to govern.

Overall the United States political philosophy is very different from that. We have fought against and moved against this attitude from the beginning. It is part of the pysche of our nation and many people in nations throughout the world. The Hobbesian attitude is what caused some our nation's largest disgraces (slavery, sufferage, and civil rights). However, it is also the moments in which the liberals in the country achieve their greatest triumphs. The ability to consider another "evil" a "beast" or "sub-human" for who they are or even what they do is part of that same inffluence (simply look at modern attitudes towards prison systems).

However, to cheer you up ... the followers of Rawls, Locke and their heart are the ones that have won throughout our history.

Someone once asked me why i am a Democrat at a college party, my typical response being Clintonian "We are the party of Hope" However, this one time I said "Because the liberal party is the one that wins the war." It's true ... we always move more rational and more sane as this country grows older.

Don't let the Europeans forget what their countries we're like only 200 years after their birth (for the italians ... make it the Holy Roman Empire).

nova silverpill

i don't know if i'll win a prize but maybe it will make you happy to know that those in the former group think people like you (and those in the latter) are evil and they hate you just as much, if not more, than the "evils"


Stephen Anderson

Shorter Mycroft: If you're a "realist," you can do any damn thing you want to further your agenda; if you're a "moralist," anyone who disagres with you is evil and must be destroyed.

California gets it right, esp. when considered with the recent post from Orcinus {http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/) re: recent resurgence of white-supremacist ideology, esp. among the youth, and the attending reasons for it.

As a liberal, and rational person, I do believe that some, but not all 'conservative' can be reconstructed with a little effort, that there is a basic human sensibility that lurks in everyone, even the most hard core crusty "I've got mine so screw you" Rebublican. Just as understanding what drives the radical Islamist may help ward off some terrorism, understanding what creates a radical Republican can be of help in trying to deal with them.

But hey, I could be wrong...


Your Italian journalist friend also forgets that what is Hobbesian today is merely opportunistic Hobbesianism -- and that what is powerful about the Republican position on the world is the emotionalism it can draw upon in terms of patriotism and war-mongering. Short hand for rallying the troops. Hobbes believed that we had to submit for our own good to a tyrant because being ruled by a tyrant was better than living in a country torn apart by civil wars (most of these religious in Hobbes's century). Republicans want us to believe that it is better to live with more tyrannical forms of rule because it is hugely more profitable for them to be in power -- see Halliburton, S&L bailouts, recent tax cuts for the rich. For fear of appearing a vulgar Marxist here, we should also follow the money.

So not only do the Dems have to defend the more rational position, we must also keep in mind the questions of social and economic justice that are being consistently undermined by a party that wants us not to believe in politics at all.

If rationalism seems to be less "tough" on foreign policy, then you should consider this -- Chalmers Johnson argues that the Dems were much better at globalization and imperialism under the Clinton regime because they argued for the inevitability of free markets and most of the world accepted this -- with a few hold outs that were promptly vilified.

So it is possible to have an anti-Imperial position within the Democratic Party that is not about world domination by other means?

Matt Singer

Found you via Pandagon, where talented non-geniuses go to excel. Anyways, I think the real problem with this distinction (as with so many) is its utter simplicity. Can anyone say Clash of Civilizations? Radical Fundamental Muslims who seek to destroy America do exist. And Americans who would like to "nuke Baghdad" do exist. Most of us fall somewhere...well, not really in between...outside of those territories.

Likewise, one would be foolish to deny the realist perspective. There are some wicked crazy, fanatical, unreasonable, and, yes, evil people out there. But there are also those who have turned against us because of our actions. Likewise, every hegemon in history has had its opponents. Power aggregates and dissipates. Irrational and rational hatred will be directed toward it. And even the most benevolent of operations will hurt some people in the process.

My father is a Republican but probably less hawkish than me. Ezra and I are hawkish for different reasons. He believes that real good can come from armed struggle (an argument inherited as much from modern conservatives as it could be from old radicals). I believe that stabalizing forces are needed in the world.

And still, underneath all of it, people meet and enjoy eachother's company. Love and friendship exist, even between Democrats and Republicans. Music and poetry are written. Great art is created.

Dichotomous analyses do as much to create two worlds as they do to explain our one. And, at the end of the day, most conservatives do not only think that there are irrational foreigners who want to hurt us -- many of them honestly and valiantly champion the case for democracy in the Middle East (at times, to a point I think is dangerous). And liberals do not only think that the world is a safe, magical place, but a place worth protecting.

Indeed, the greatest proof that there is some underlying current of agreement - that the shared myth of structuralist fantasy is out there - lies in conservative and liberal responses to Obama's speech.

When he is President, I doubt he'll maintain 100% approval ratings, but there are some people, ideas, and values that manage to unite even those who seem transcendentally opposed.

Sorry for the rant in your comments.


bollente piacente vergine
bollente piacevole roulotte
bollente pompino
bollente pulcino
bollente ragazze amore
bollente ragazze fotti
bollente ragazze pompino
bollente ragazze strip
bollente ragazzi
bollente raro sedere
bollente ridicolo negozio
bollente riservato madre
bollente risibile castra
bollente risibile vip
bollente ritirarsi madre
bollente sborrate in faccia
bollente schioccare figlia
bollente sconfinato dolore
bollente sconfinato vergine
bollente sega
bollente segretaria dildo
bollente segretaria fottilo
bollente segretaria pompino
bollente segretaria spogliarello
bollente selvaggio doppio
bollente selvaggio vergine
bollente sentimentale adorabile
bollente sentimentale sexy
bollente sentimento madre
bollente snelle
bollente soldato scopata
bollente soprannaturale vergine
bollente spavaldo lesbiche
bollente spaventoso tetti grandi
bollente storia
bollente strano nubile
bollente strappare castra
bollente stravagante nubile
bollente stravagantemente vergine
bollente studentessa ma
bollente stupefacente mamma
bollente stupefacente tettine

The comments to this entry are closed.