What Difference Would It Make if We Said We’re in a Holy War with Islam?

The political Right, Left, and numerous News Media Outlets are all pre-occupied with how we talk about ISIS, and the dire threats emanating from the middle east. That’s because no one has a cure (right now) that isn’t worse than the disease.  So they talk about…….“how to talk about it.”  The linguists, however, are convinced that talking about ISIS one way, rather than another, is critical to a solution. Everyone from Left leaners Thomas Friedman and Andrea Mitchell, to Lindsey Graham  and Bill O’Reilly, on the Right, say the President’s reluctance to use the word “Islam” to identify the enemy, means he doesn’t understand the problem, and thus can’t mobilize the country and world effectively.  How preposterous!

Perhaps the most thoughtful piece written on this subject is by Fareed Zakaria.  It has not received much attention. You can find it here.  The key question, which is ignored by most of the commentators (Zakaria being an exception), is this:

“What difference would it make if the President and his team said everything they could to ‘remind us’ we are in an epic, Holy war with Islam?”  

What would U.S., France, Canada, or Germany do differently if we spoke that way?  Would it motivate the West to wage war against all of the two billion Muslims in the world?  Incite people to vandalize Mosques and harm peaceful Muslim citizens in Western societies? Carpet bomb countries that are more than 35% Muslim?  Create internment camps for Muslim citizens in Western countries (and maybe in Japan too)?

None of that is very funny and surely isn’t meant to be. But don’t the Friedmans and O’Reillys know such unthinkable solutions follow from the kind of ridicule heaped on the Administration for defending the concept that “we are not at war with Islam, but rather with those who are perverting it?”  (Maybe they do know, and want to push us toward some of those “solutions”?).

Nor does Graeme Wood’s elegant, and erudite, yet illogical, meandering, and deeply ambivalent piece in The Atlantic — the latest “must read” — add anything useful to the discussion.  Wood says ISIS is “very Islam” because it is motivated by an apocalyptic, end of times vision.  (Like Jim Jones/Jonestown and David Koresh/Waco).   Wood traces ISIS motivation to ancient Islamic doctrine. Hardly any Muslims today believe  that. So, what is Wood’s point?

These “insights” from a Harvard educated, liberal intellectual journalist really lit up the blogesphere and impressed commentators of all stripes. In the end, when pressed, Wood agreed with Zakaria, on his recent Sunday morning talk show, that the President is speaking appropriately about ISIS.

I guess Graeme Wood wants to be sure the President, and the rest of us with our heads in the sand, really understand that the ISIS vanguard wants to bring about an apocalypse and receive all the credit.  But don’t you think we all basically know that already – on some level — even if we’re not scholarly enough to find it’s philosophical roots in ancient Islam?  (And how many other theologies or religious movements have something similar in their distant pasts?)

 

 

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28 thoughts on “What Difference Would It Make if We Said We’re in a Holy War with Islam?

  1. micklively

    How should we react to “My imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend, ‘cos your imaginary friend asks you to do nasty things”? Oh, and “My imaginary friend would never approve of killing for greed, or mineral rights, or power, or anything like that.” No, wait a moment: that can’t be right, can it?

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  2. alex maclachlan

    Irv, what’s glaring is I keep seeing the same monumental jump by commentators on this subject. Your progression went from the President not calling a spade, a spade, all the way to the West waging war on all two billion Muslims, inciting violence against innocent Muslims, and burning Mosques. Why can’t the Left be honest on this subject? Why does the code language for racist xenophobe have to be dusted off and used because the criticisms are legitimate? These criticisms of the President don’t come out of left field, they come out of a pattern and in the context of a President who has given away the store on every negotiation when it comes to America’s security. Now he’s sitting at the table negotiating with Iran on nuclear weapons, while he continues to criticize Israel and its leader. With a pattern of labeling Islamic extremist violence killing innocent Jews or US Soldiers, ridiculous terms like workplace violence or random acts are used as he draws moral relativist comparisons with Christians during the crusades 900 years ago.
    Trust is something that is built over time and wasted in seconds. The criticism you are trying to understand is simply a lack of trust by the American people. It’s not a left or right distrust, it’s relatively general mistrust of this President when you read poll questions, answers or recent election results. When you don’t trust a man’s words, you study his actions and the ambiguity of his language to look for insight into what he really thinks and feels. When that person has the power to hurt the ones you love with his “fundamental transformations”, you tend to go into a defensive mode, which explains a lot of our bifurcated economy. With recent admissions by people close to the President that he never really believed the traditional religious definition of marriage, he only stated he believed it to win elections, his constant criticisms of Christianity and Judaism become much more of a glimpse of what the man truly believes and makes this distrust all the more logical.

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      1. alex maclachlan

        Mick, all the victims of Ft Hood were unarmed, but I’m sure that little factoid does very little for your antipathy towards US servicemen or religious people. Seriously? You’re going to start a “No Blood for Oil” chant when every fact disproved your narrative. The US is surpassing Saudi Arabia in oil production and doing it with technology and private property and mineral rights. Good ol American self interest is improving the lives of so many around the World with affordable energy. Man, that must really anger you.

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      2. micklively

        Alex, I don’t like British or any other servicemen any better. I could (should) have left the “US” out of my reply – my apologies for that. I don’t approve of killing. That includes servicemen, whether they be armed or not. I think you must recognise that a serviceman without a gun is still part of the military machinery.
        I don’t have any problem (environmental issues aside) with folk mining oil. I earn my living making capital equipment, mostly for the oil industry; I drive a car; I heat my home with gas. None of this makes me angry.
        Neither the US nor the UK, to the best of my knowledge, has ever been at peace in my lifetime. We can keep telling ourselves that it’s the other guy’s fault but, really, do you believe that’s tenable?

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    1. Irv Lefberg Post author

      Alex, well, for better or worse (mostly better) this is one of the livliest exchanges Ive had on this blog. I can’t respond to everything — though I could maybe in 10 more blog posts. But let me respond to one imnportant point you made in your post and which has come up in other comments. You are absolutely right that a large portion of Americans distrust or lack confidence in the Prez. I think polls have shown that about 90%+ Republicans do, It’s not nearly that high among others. His overal approval ratings are in the 43-50% range. And a material portion of the disapprovals (non approvals) are from left of center folks who think he’s too militarist (drones, aerial strikes again in Syria and Irag, NSA spying etc) or not suffieciently populist (the Bernie Sanders Eliz Warren wing critics). On race, I don;t think I’m accusing the critics of the Prez’s “weak”, non direect language on Isam of being racist zenophobes. I just asked the question: What difference would it make if we kept talking about this awful problem as Islamo Terrorism/Facism/Jihadism, with emphasis on “Islamo”? It just seems like the logical progression of that is we’d be fighting a war against all Islams. I suppose I could have said, well, if we called it “what it is” maybe we’d be more assertive with the Saudis, for example, or other Arab nations, about their pratice of teaching their kids to hate US, Israel, Jews and Christians. I think we’re already doing at least some of that. But would we be wlling to so stop aiding the Saudis? Or breaking relations with them and other “moderate” Arab regimes? I don;t think so., I think we need (some of) them to fight the Total Crazies.

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  3. Russ Lehman

    Irv, as I clicked here to comment on your piece I see this comment above from Alex. Wow, now there is so much more to comment on. Your piece first: I must say that your piece again appears to be an attempt to merely pass along issues/sites of the day without the added value (and risk) of your own insight. While the service you provide is nice it is also available (and frankly more thorough) on major sites like Vox, BillMoyers.com, Salon, etc.
    When you start out using Friedman and Mitchell as voices from the left, while using Graham and O’Reilly as pontificators from the right, I must confess the rest piece held very little sway from there for me. Sure F and M are to the left of G and O but they are all more similar than different when compared with the population at large. After all, don’t forget Friedman was a strong advocate for Bush’s war in Iraq and mitchell, as I recall, was a tacit lemming, at best. Friedman is, well Friedman but O’Reilly is mostly just entertainer but to the extent he puts forth serious thoughts, I think yes, he does want an all out war on Muslims as his “solution”.

    As regards comment above- this same-old same-old bashing of Obama as “giving away the store” in negotiations and the criticisms are “legitimate” without any factual points raised is so, well dare I say, “Fox-like”. The apparent anger he has with Obama’s reference to the blood on all religions hands in an effort to advocate for empathy (not acquiescence or surrender) and understanding is simply necessary, appropriate and reasonable…not to mention progressive in the truest sense of that word. I guess Alex didn’t hear or read the entire statement where he used 20th century violence and oppression as well as the Crusades to point out that if wants the war on Islam that some seem to want then be careful about that stone when you are in a glass house.

    Interesting that he is alleged to “criticise” Christianity and Judaism when he merely makes reference to, at a Prayer Breakfast no less, the historical record of violence in the name of al, Abrahamic religions.

    The best piece I read after the Charlie Hedbo attacks was from a Muslim who said that his God is secure and confident enough to handle ridicule and criticism. It sounds like Alex, who I’m sure reflects what very many people believe, is so sure in American (and Christian?) exceptionalism that he is incapable of seeing much of what is so clear to the rest of the world.

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  4. alex maclachlan

    Russ, I think you interpreted the opposite of my point. To make moral equivalence of the Islamic murderous behavior today with a religious crusade 900 years ago is to make an intellectual exercise of todays events as if they are history and set in stone, as if we are powerless to change the direction of present history. Inaction and focusing so much on your critics will certainly cement these atrocities into place. Stereotyping your critics as some monolithic Christian only hypocrite group and unworthy of judgement on an American President, just shows someone completely out of touch with reality and history and unfit to lead a serious effort in stopping the atrocities. Obama’s apparent ambivalence and downplaying of this movement as it spreads, only increases the likelihood that a country less, ideological faction of this religion one day has a nuclear weapon to carry out the stated goals of Iran in wiping Israel and or an American city off the map. Sorry, some of us look a little further past the next election for our cocktail party fodder, but ignoring the lessons of the past dooms one to repeating these mistakes in the future.

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  5. Irv Lefberg

    Wow. Both you (Alex) and Russ have added enormously to my little 500 word initial bloviation. Appreciated greatly. And very helpful. I will reply extensively tomorrow. (Will be on road almost all day today). Two or three quick prelim comments now:

    1) what if some powerful popes and leaders of Rome in the distant past had been more politically correct and not blamed ALL Jews or Judaism for the crucifixation? Maybe some suffering by many millions of innocents would have been avoided? Just a thought.

    2) Obama has fundamental differences with many of his predecessors and the foreign policy establishment about the effectiveness of using american military power especially in the Middle East. One can certainly disagree with that, but it’s not, in my view, because Obama is weak, naive, an appeaser, un patriotic , or lacking in love for USA , or not caring about Christians and Jews. When the argument is carried out on that level, it doesn’t get us anywhere. Well, maybe it gets us a neo con president in 2016? (I consider Hillary neo con lite :). Cheers!

    Thanks Russ for continuing to push me to be less of a collator or distiller of others views. I will respond more to that later.

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  6. Russ Lehman

    Thanks Irv for even these preliminary points. Well stated and on point.
    Interesting to view the “projection” that Obama opponents use. Sure we all do so in various ways and to varying degrees but the anti-Obama sentiment so prevalent today, and articulated here by Alex is both incredibly saddening and revelatory. Saddening because the venom and criticisms are as much (maybe more so) personal as political. There is so clearly an aspect present in this current cultural phenomenon which is race based. To deny that is either to be naive or wilfully ignorant. Revelatory because it shows exactly what Jon Stewart set forth in yesterdays show (http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/9up6u7/better-call-foul). Obama is not “tough enough” (that great American measuring stick) on ISIS? Really? He just, to the great concern of liberals, asked Congress for a war power that is retroactive because he is already bombing targets and allows, potentially, a highly escalated war.
    “Sterotyping critics”? Really? How so? If anything Obama has been far to “PC” and refrained from identifying the true nature and intent of some.
    Perhaps what is most mystifying is this notion that the great old U.S. of A. can merely bomb and muscle it’s will around the globe. BTW, how did it work when Bush tried to do this in Iraq?
    Hubris and humility is what we need. Unfortunately some are so afraid that to do so is to surrender. We are so likely to repeat history when so many are afraid of the future.

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    1. alex maclachlan

      Wow, Russ, you used a lot of words to say the same old cliche “Anyone who disagrees with Obama’s policies must be a racist”.

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      1. Russ Lehman

        Well, Alex you have unfortunately done here what is often so effectively used to stifle debate in America. Sure the “racist” label is sometimes used by lefties to end a discussion rather than continue one. At the same time those typically on the right also use it as a shield to then reduce whatever was said to a perceived labelling and therefore illegitimate. What I said above, exactly, was “There is so clearly an aspect present in this current cultural phenomenon which is race based.” For you to cry “cliche” as you then allege “Anyone who calls…” – your words, certainly not mine – you are doing exactly what I stated at the beginning of my response. You are projecting, and worse you are acting as though you are some sort of victim here. Not buying it. The claims you make about some sort of “weakness” that Obama has because he doesn’t engage in a Fox-like diatribe against 1.5 billion Muslims, the vast majority of whom are peaceful, especially in light of the last R President who launched a pre-emptive war built on lies and used the term “crusade” to describe his (our) mission, is so patently selective and wrong as to raise the inevitable question: Just why do Obama haters feel the way they do? Irv made good points about some of the reasons but frankly I believe does a disservice to the full discussion when he simply rejects the notion that the uncomfortableness many majority whites have with a black President must be considered as part of the answer.

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    2. Irv Lefberg Post author

      As I mentioned earlier Russ, I think a great deal of the animosity, hostility and hate of Obama goes back to the very beginnigs of his presidential bid; and to who he was/is personally. A lot of folks freaked out that a young black, ivy league college “intellectual,” who had hung out with some far lefties in Chicago,and who had no military experience, is dangerous. (Im falling short of calling that racism). Once that defines Obama for you, there is nothing that can change how you view his policies and actions. It becomes the filter thru which what he says and does are viewed. (Actually, if you recall, Bill Clinton was reallty the first prominent politician to play the race card against Obama. But I guess he’s been forgiven) . The exceptional opposition to Obama is based much more on what people think he REALLY believes than on what he has actually done and said (which is altered by the filter). This way of approaching Obama has actually inhibited many from criticizing him where he deserves to be criticized. I know I find myself going into defense mode when I hear an attack on Obama, because I just assume its another part of the syndrome, rather than examining it substantively. For example, I do (now) believe that exec branch handling of immigration goes beyond exec prosecutorial discretion. But its taken me a long time to get there. Even so, Im still prone to defend Obama because of the zillion other times that attacks on him have had no substance. And around and around we go.

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  7. alex maclachlan

    This is why I like Irv. He is so smart that he knows that none of us are smart enough to have all the answers and is humble enough to question his past, present, and future positions as new information comes in. He is proudly liberal and honest in what that means to him and recognizes others were born in different times with different influences and come to their own conclusions on what is best for this country based on that personal history. Unfortunately, Russ is still stuck in the same old right left mentality and unable to see the contradictions of his own arguments, especially as he assesses the intent of others and projects bias and even hatred in their hearts instead of simply looking at the examples and explanations put forth. Blind allegiance is hardly intellectual and definitely myopic.

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  8. Russ Lehman

    Interesting that asking “why” and suggesting a factor is to somehow be rigid and stuck in left-right dynamics. Curious then, when one merely recites same old –
    same old “Obama is weak” pablum, without out any facts and refuses to acknowledge that the most recent apparently “strong” President attempted to “be tough” on Iraq to great detriment of, well, the world, that is somehow enlightened, forward looking and independent? Really? No one but those stuck in some by-gone era buy that.
    Finally, dare I say that Irv is your kind of liberal because he is more likely to write as an impartial referee perpetuating a false equivalence thereby continuing the status quo, which conveniently rewards power, money and convention. It is similar to when on TV climate change deniers, who are a small percent of scientists, are paired evenly and “debate” the science with any of the 97% of scientists who believe in its reality. Of course you like Irv. He is much more likely to be polite and acquiesce. Don’t mistake this for actual agreement, or in any way for the truth or validity of your claims.

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  9. alex maclachlan

    Russ, I bet you’ve been asking “why” for six years and coming to the same conclusion any rigid ideologue would, that their pre conceived stereotypes are affirmed. How enlightened. That you arrive back at the same old conclusion every time even though so much has changed between Obama’s stated beliefs and his actual actions. Six to eight years later all you really do is dust off the same old conclusions of racists, climate deniers (even though its never been mentioned), “apparent ambivalence” equals “weak President” critics (even though its never been mentioned), Fox news’ fault, Christians equal to ISIS (notice the whole history of Christianity insulted but “Muslim” can’t be mentioned?), the USA bombs its way around the World, criticizing black President equals racism, open mindedness equals acquiescence, Bush wrong about Iraq but Obama pulling out leaving a power vacuum and now having to go back in is “strong” (double huh?), projecting the use of non PC language towards Islamic Militants is a “war on 1.5 billion Muslims”. The contradictions and logical fallacies are almost endless.

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  10. Russ Lehman

    No actually I have not been asking why for 6 years. I think it was 2012 that the majority of voters re-elected the President. There you go again…”rigid preconceived stereotypes”? I don’t know you at all, and you don’t know me. All we have are the words written here. When I read your comments (to me, Nick, or Irv) you each time ascribe motivations to the writer and ascribe words and phrases not actually used by the writers. You seemingly reflexively get very defensive and respond to bogeyman which aren’t there. By doing this, each time you write here, you validate the sense that you hear your liberal code words whether they are said or not. Can’t speak for Irv or Nick but I have critiqued this President often. The original note here about speaking about Islam is what seemed to start you off apparently because you perceived Irv was defending the Pesident’s comments at the Prayer Breakfast. Again, like you have done each time here, your comments are heavily weighed down with your antipathy, so much so that you seem to respond only to the parts you feel validate your already held position. The President did not morally equate current ISIS activities to Christian atrocities from 900 years ago alone. As he, and I quoted, also made reference to 20th century atrocities made in the name of the Church. It is only a very insecure and defensive Christian who would interpret his comments as somehow incognizant of ISIS’ evil.
    It is impossible to respond to your reference to Obama pulling out of Iraq as some sort of weak ass American retreat. Perhaps of all your comments it is this one which is so inaccurate but also very sad, and frankly knee-jerk conservative rewriting of history which does indeed explain much.
    Nobody here called you, or anybody, racist. I have no idea whether you are or not. But to defend yourself against that invisible claim and to even refuse to acknowledge that indeed it might be a factor in some people’s antipathy toward the President only serves to validate many peoples worst fear about power and privilege in America.

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    1. Irv Lefberg

      First thanks for huff post (HP) article. I think it’s a very good effort to deal with ISiS threat etc. reasonably, logically without bringing in words and memes that automatically set off left and right. I just heard an interview with the king of Jordan where he said very much the same thing. See if you can find it on the CNN , Zakaria web page. On the “racist” aspect of anti Obamaism. First, I will own up to not using that term very often because I usually don’t know what’s really in someone’s heart. And because it does shut down the debate. The right’s tendency to complain about using the race card also often avoids the substantive issues. Shifts the discussion. I do think “race” (fear by some whites of a black president and belief he can’t be up to the job) is an “aspect” of the virulent anti Obama sentiment. I think I said as much earlier. But I don’t think it’s the whole thing , maybe not even the main thing. But I do think it’s material. Can’t give you a percentage. I don’t think I’m being naive or soft about that. If you look at a lot of the rhetoric against FDR, Kennedy, and Clinton, it was quite virulent and extreme, but we didn’t hear as much of it as we do today…..and we didn’t have nearly as many elected officials, in public office, who said those things. That’s a big difference from decades ago. But Kennedy and Clinton too were accused of a lot of really wild and off the wall stuff. A lot of their critics thought and said they were taking the country to hell, didn’t know what they were doing, and being duped by communist infiltrators in the White House, and so on. I do agree that all of that came in 1 mg pills in the past and now the dosage is a lot higher. It’s very complicated and we’re doing as well as can be expected in this email format. Hey, we’ve also avoided F bombs and personal insults, which is a lot better than on 90% of the blogs I read.

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  11. alex maclachlan

    Russ, you’re awfully defensive. “Inaccurate”? It was a campaign promise that he fulfilled regardless of the consequences of which his Generals warned. Talk about rewriting history. “There is so clearly an aspect present in this current cultural phenomenon which is race based”. I don’t care if race is your crutch to always fall back on, it’s typical, but at least own it like a man. You think I’m a Christian because I attack the moral relevance argument that equates ISIS violence with the Crusades? Why? If Obama says ISIS is not Islamic because of their actions, why do they rise to the level of the Christian Church when he wants to insult Christianity with comparisons? See, it’s about logical fallacies and inconsistency of arguments. Politicians can’t stay consistent because they can’t remember all the lies and don’t care as long as they score political points with their followers. You are defending vehemently, yet pretend to be a objective observer.

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    1. Irv Lefberg Post author

      On the religion aspect: I think In liberal circles, liberals have been saying for as long as I can remember that “religion” (generally) has been a force/spark for war, and used for justifying violence through out history. Hence the tendency for many liberals to avoid organized/traditional religions, and rather to embrace “spiritual” activities/groups of different sorts, that are ” ecumenical”. E.g., Yogananda self realization fellowship, which my late wife practiced. Getting back to Obama: his crusade argument was totally in that vein, just as spoken by many liberals in a million living rooms , for decades. Only thing is: He’s the Prez, and he was talking at a Christian Prayer breakfast!!!, where he’s facing a crowd that doesn’t trust him anyway. That’s why Andrea Mitchell said it was not the right time or place to talk about that, especially if you’re Prez. . Obama definitely has a tendency to often talk like he’s in a living room with all of us. I personally like that most of the time. Others are freaked out by it, like when Jimmy Carter carried his suitcase down the ramp of Air Force one.

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    2. Russ Lehman

      When taking points made out of the context they are used in order to validate preconceived biases and animosities all the while alleging “defensiveness” and “rewriting history” would be humorous if not so, well, sad. Are you really claiming Obama is somehow weak because he didn’t “finish the job”? This is neither the forum nor the time to argue the efficacy of the Iraq war. Suffice it to say that is is clearly now only the most bellicose American exceptionalists (i.e., Cheney) who argue that the Iraq war was in any way justifiable and was, in balance, worthy of American and Iraq blood and treasure. Sure he ran on getting us out – and won.
      With regard to racial issues in American politics: How you take “aspect” and make it a “crutch” truly does say much more about your predilections than anything else. Thank you Irv for also pointing that out.
      Your point about moral equivalence is a good one. Interesting question if he believes that the Crusades were Christian but ISIS is not Islamist. I certainly can’t speak for him but I would say two things: 1) the Crusades were in fact absolutely church sponsored and endorsed. ISIS isn’t either. Further the institution of the church played an integral role in aqcuiesening to the elimination of the Jews in the 20th century. BTW, the highly commendable acts of some to protect Jews doesn’t mitigate what the institution did., and 2) My view, and clearly not his, is that in fact traditional religion has in fact often been used since their inception as a tool to exert power through violence over millions of people. Christianity AND Islam.
      I do not pretend to be an objective observer. I do however value, indeed insist, on truthful, fact based arguments by anyone who asserts mere cliches and standard trope.

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  12. alex maclachlan

    No, I’m saying Obama gave away, without a fight, the hard fought gains in the Middle East in order to satisfy his most extreme supporters. What has been the cost of his political promise to his far left? ISIS spreading unopposed across the desert from Syria deep into Iraq. What is now Obama’s reality? To send American forces and bombs back into Iraq and soliciting the arms supplier to our enemies, Iran, to help us stop ISIS at the same time Obama is negotiating with Iran to give them the bomb well after he is gone. I can see it now, Israel incinerated and Obama holding court in his Presidential library showing big photos of him bowing to mulahs at the negotiating table.

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    1. Irv Lefberg Post author

      Hello Russ and Alex

      Interesting that this discussion is continuing, but we haven’t exactly come to a meeting of the minds. What a surprise! :).

      I do agree with many others on Left (and some on Right) who think the invasion of Iraq in early 2000s was a huge blunder, one of the biggest ever in our military history; followed by installation of a government which had no chance of achieving any form of peace among Shiites, Sunni’s and Kurds. We really made a mess of things there. Also, our invasion and dismantling of the Bathest Party and the Iraqi army was a BOON to Iran. We did all of the work for Iran and the Ayhatollahs. We did all that Iran wanted to accomplish in its own war with Iraq, but couldnt. . We handed Iraq to Iran on a silver platter.

      Yes, its possible we pulled out of Iraq too soon and that we erred in not supporting the so called “moderate” anti Assad rebels. Obama’s view was that 10-12 years of war with U.S. troops on the ground and with soldiers on their 3rd or 4th tour of duty was enough. And that invading a third Muslim country (Syria) was not going to make things better. Obama ran and won on that platform, and a large majority of the country supported him at the time. (and still do) We don’t know if any of these alternatives would have worked. I doubt it. We’ll never know.

      Now we have to deal with the situation at hand. I think repeated blaming of Bush or Obama (R’s or D’s, LEFT OR RIGHT) doesn’t get us anywhere at aLL, and makes it much harder to find the best of an array of options that are all bad in some way.

      If we could put aside who to blame, and shouldavs and couldavs, what we do now?

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  13. Russ Lehman

    Irv, not directly related to your original post but relevant to a thread in the comments are two stories from just today: the U.S. Justice Department released numerous emails from the City of Ferguson (police and court) which indicate vile and once-thought anachrostic racial slurs which include direct references to the President and his family. Also today a Maine legislator apologized for a pattern of racist emails and FB posts which also used the President as his foil. This was just today. Everyday we are witness to disclosures of racist jokes, taunts and references often directly using the President.
    To say that racism isn’t a factor in the degradation of our civil institutions and specifically with regard to our first African American President is a dangerous denial which merely perpetuates the reality.
    And that’s just the de jure examples. The de facto examples might be harder to identify but are nonetheless ever present. The letter to Iran by Sen Cotton et al, was unprecedented and was a direct attempt to humiliate our President. Never happened before. Coincidence?
    Can you just imagine if a Democratic group did that to a Republican President while attempting to reach an accord – between Iran AND the Security Council countries?

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    1. Irv Lefberg Post author

      Thanks, Russ.

      You make some awfully good points about some awful behavior!!

      I hope you recall that I never said I didn’t think any of the really bad anti Obama behavior was racially motivated. I was mostly being nerdy, trying to decide whether it was 51% of the vile opposition or just 20%.

      As I recall, my main argument was that there were a lot of vile words and images painted about Clinton, Kennedy, FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc.,that weren’t based on their race (though they could have been based on their racial/civil rights policies.

      I can also recall listening occasionally to Air America during Bush’s tenure, and hearing guys like Mike (?) Malloy, who daily said some pretty bad things about Bush, which I had never heard said about any other presidents in my lifetime (even Nixon). Liberals, liberally called Bush a “moron,” “idiot,” “jackass”, “dunce” and worse during those years. Accompanied by cartoons. And a host of jokes passed around e-mail.

      I do agree 100% that Obama’s opponents have said things about him and done things to Obama – you list some of them — which are unprecedented (or practically so). When you ask, Why?, one is often left with “race”, after eliminating other possibilities. Is there ANY truth or evidence whatsoever that Obama is a “lazy” president (as Gingrich and others have said). NO! (IMHO) So, how would one explain that kind of statement? One can give many other examples. We even had a Sony executive using a racist joke in email about Obama.

      I may try to do an article on this.

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