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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

How not to realise what you are arguing

Joe Cathey has responded to the previous post...well sort of. Not to what I said but to what I might have said and what I might be thinking. Some of it is aimed at Jim West and (presumably) US 'liberals' so I'll stick to stuff aimed at me.

James Crossley has taken the time to post such a long entry on my thoughts on the current war.

Well, sort of. Actually more Joe's favourable reference to someone else's post advocating nuclear attacks in the Middle East, telling us 'it's time to burn their fucking village down', and stressing absolutely zero tolerance for the deaths of innocent Lebanese (just after the killing of a load of children).

Now it should not strike any of my faithful readers queer that James is Jim West’s twin (ask Jim about this). I have never met James but follow his blog from time to time. I would not be in a position to judge whether James is of the same political persuasion as Jim or not.

Not sure about the relevance of this. Jim jokes about being my brother because once someone said he looked like me, poor man. I don't know the range of Jim's views. Maybe we agree on lots of things, maybe we don't. I certainly don't go for the the US Democratic/Republican division which seems to happen in the debates between Jim and Joe. It's a bit alien to many in the UK anyway but in the issues that have come up on this blog I've been as critical of both sides on foreign policy. So I've got to hold my hands say I remain confused as to the relevance of this point.

James thinks my quote from Aliens is a bit over the top – I will grant him that. However, I utter that quote out of the extreme frustration of liberals crying and hand holding over the war that is going on in Israel.

Frustration??? If I recall (and please check the post below) the reference talked about 'absolutely zero sympathy for the Lebanese', using nuclear attacks in the Middle East, including wiping out a capital city, and burning their fucking villages down. To be honest that's more than a bit over the top and it is an unfortunate way for someone who studies the history of that part of the world to be venting frustration at 'liberals'.

If I remember correctly James resides in England – (correct me if I am wrong here James). Being as the anniversary of the London bombings is just over, I would like to hear James or Jim give some type of coherent policy for dealing with Islamo-Fascists (read here Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Palestinian Brotherhood). We do remember that the London bombings were carried out not by the U.S. but by Islamo-Fascists correct?

Well that is a massive problem, even if it has nothing to do with my criticisms of Joe's referencing so I'm not sure why Joe wants to hear my views on it. And where do you begin? Well perhaps it would be helpful if the west stopped placing in, propping up, supporting, and selling arms to a variety of its favourite dictators (example might be, I don't know, Saddam perhaps) before deciding they are enemies and then illegally bombing people, military or civilians. Or perhaps placing economic sanctions which killed hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq (UNICEF's figures, accepted by the US). God knows how many times I have to write this, but maybe, just maybe, that caused some grief and some hostility (it's certainly used by opponents of the west and few better recruiting methods that perceived oppression). And in case anyone says so, NO, this does not in any way justify acts of cruelty like London bombings, Madrid, or Sept. 11 as virtually everyone agrees. But if western actions in the Middle East were not as they were and are I suspect this might be one significant contribution to draining the pool of hostility. Also, why would Palestinians vote in Hamas? Are the Palestinians just a bit odd compared to other human beings? Or might it be a reaction to some problem in that part of the world?

And I know the London bombings weren't carried out by the US, so I'm not sure about Joe's point here. Who said they were? Who are you arguing with? Interestingly the majority of both Brits in general and British Muslims in particular thought the Iraq war was the primary motivation behind the attacks in London and my guess is that they were not asked whether the US were really behind the bombings for the simple reason that the question is an absurdity.

While James may have indeed lived amongst a gentle Muslim society (and for the record I am not saying that such places do not exist) I dare say that he would not last long in Iraq right now. I daresay that James nor Jim would last long in Syria or Iran presently. How long my friends do you think your liberalism would last in a place where they saw off the heads of westerners (here, here, here, and here)? Do the names Nick Berg, Daniel Pearl, Paul Johnson, and Eugene Armstrong ring a bell to anyone but me?

Why would I want to live in Iraq? Joe talks about history a lot and maybe mine's wrong but if I remember rightly the present situation in Iraq - and I don't think I'm being controversial here - was due in no small part by a recent war there and the handling of the country by certain western countries. Or maybe I am just wrong, Iraq is as it is simply because many Muslims are weird. But if that is so then I just can't get this question out of my head: why are Muslims ok in places I've lived but not in (say) Iraq? Is it the heat?

It's an interesting question from another perspective. Why would the US and UK have supported such regimes in the past? Why on earth would they have supported the rise of Saddam in Iraq and contributed to the change in that society? Interesting one.

And where did I mention I was a 'liberal' or that I was trying to live out a life of 'liberalism'? This may or may not reflect Jim's views but I said nothing on the matter. I wonder if this 'liberalism' would work as well in Iraq as the present attempt at importing a certain ideology?

If James is right and my reactions were over the top then I submit a challenge to Dr. Crossley – Formulate for us if you will the following items.

1. How does Israel fight this war without harming innocents while Hezbollah fires rockets from the homes of civilians?

2. What should be done when a cease fire is in order and both Syria and Iran are seen rearming Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon?

Erm, what? What's that got to do with my challenging Joe on his referencing of a post which advocated serious nuclear attacks in the Middle East, talked of blowing up their fucking villages, and felt absolutely zero sympathy for the Lebanese, just after a load of Lebanese children died. So what's the relevance of the above to my argument? There is a counter argument to this and that is that significant nuclear attacks are warranted in the Middle East, that their fucking villages should be blown up, and that we should have absolutely zero sympathy for the Lebanese (just days after the killing of innocent children). If that is the argument being made then it is only fair that I respond and say why it is wrong. If so (I don't really believe this is what Joe thinks ultimately but this is where his logic is taking him) I'll stick my neck out, I think I'm being fair in saying that is an over-the-top point of view. In fact Joe admitted it was a 'bit' over-the-top (how much? the extreme nuking perhaps?).

Ok, I'm going to give one negative: how about NOT using nuclear attacks and not blowing up their fucking villages. I just don't know what to say about bizarre naivety of extremists in thinking nukes and village burning will lead to peace and the end of terrorism.

Interesting questions, not relevant to the specifics of my post, but interesting. This is of course another massive issue and deep rooted. I suspect issues like the Palestinian situation, occupied lands, crossing borders, keeping prisoners and exchanging prisoners, western Middle East interests, US ability to bring about a ceasefire if required, asking the questions from the opposite perspective etc. etc. may have something to do with it. But that's for another post perhaps not this one.
It seems a bit strange to twist this one in order to establish my opinions on the conflict. The point of the post was based on a worry that opinions of nuking, burning their fucking villages, and zero sympathy for innocent lives were being endorsed in biblical studies. Many people (Joe included) in biblical studies are actually studying that part of the world and so I think it is worth making some noise about it.

Jim and others have seemed to suggest that I am not sympathetic to the innocents in Lebanon. This simply isn’t true. As a follower of Christ I never want any persons to suffer. Yet, at the same time I must fight evil where it see it. I categorically state that in my opinion Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorists groups are evil. This war is not a one sided war. Jim and James are decrying the loss of innocent life and they should be applauded for their outspokenness. I decry the acts of terrorists that lead to such loss of life and people want to castigate me.

I'll stick to the points relevant to me. Might using nuclear attacks, burning their fucking villages and having absolutely zero sympathy for innocent deaths be classed as a touch evil? I know Joe didn't actually say it and I don't think Joe actually believes any of that (or at least I seriously hope not) so what's it better to do: generally endorse it or fight it?


Blogger Dr. Joseph Ray Cathey said...


You are right in your last paragraph. No, I do not believe that we should nuke Lebanon or Iran. I read Russa's post and it struck a cord of frustration. Maybe you are right in that I have not been exactly clear on the matters at hand.

For the record I deplore the deaths of the innocent civilians in Lebanon. Yet I also deplore the terrorist that shoot from among them and sometimes hold them hostage. How do we make this stop currently? Yes, you give some good suggestions above and I would be hopeful for some of our leaders to try to implement some of the suggestions. However, I don’t think that any of your solutions could be currently applied presently during this war. It may be that they have to wait until the fighting stops and then see what can be done. I do disagree with you on a few points – especially that if we disengage in the ME then the pool of applicants for terrorists will dry up. But I think we can agree to disagree here. While I was in the ME this summer the rhetoric that I heard from the Islamic clerics called for the destruction of both Israel and the U.S. I even spoke with more than a few Muslims in Jerusalem and the word that I got was that this war and future wars were not about geography but about competing ideologies. They simply want worldwide domination for an Islamic caliph. I do thank you for dialoging with me on this matter.

August 01, 2006

Blogger James Crossley said...


To be honest the polemic was aimed more at the post you referenced and I never once believed you held such views.

Also, for what it is worth, I don't think that withdrawal would lead to peace and harmony: human history alone shows that (cf. your Braudel quote). I don't necessarily think that non-engagement with the Middle East is the way forward either rather that some of the thins that have been done have been completely counter productive. Although a range of factors have been involved, radicalised Islam to the extend we see is partly a reaction to all the problems. It doesn't have to be this way. These things tend to be all mashed up if you see what I mean.

I hate to predict the future because people can come back and laugh at how wrong I was but the chances of Islamic world domination are pretty minimal unless adopted by a superpower or something like that. This form of Islam isn't like Nazi Germany where the threat was deadly serious as shown in Europe. Presently, China seems to have a greater claim to the dominance of the particular form of western capitalism.

No problem discussing such issues!

August 01, 2006

Blogger steph said...

"I am very excited..." (sigh) It's a shame it can't be ignored - and would be, no doubt, if not for the fact that it comes from under the umbrella of biblical studies.

August 02, 2006

Blogger Danny Zacharias said...

Good thoughts. Thanks for jumping in on the conversation, I appreciate your balanced political views.

p.s. it seemed like you were having a lot of fun dropping the F-bomb during this post. :)

August 02, 2006

Blogger James Crossley said...

Danny: as anyone who knows me will tell you, it breaks my heart to swear.

August 02, 2006

Blogger steph said...

I had a bit of a laugh today: somebody has been jumping up and down having a temper tantrum in Texas because nobody was taking any notice of him - although I'm not quite sure why they should, as bad journalism is hardly relevant to this discussion and hardly something new.

Did you know that Robert Fisk's birthday is July 12th?

August 09, 2006


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