The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Guess what is “terrorism’s indispensable ally?”

with 8 comments

I’m not attracted by most libertarian views. But foreign policy comments of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul are more hopeful than almost everything I’ve heard from candidates of either party.

Most offer: A) a lot more of the same, B) more of the same, C) less of the same, D) a lot less of the same.

I want E) none of the above.

He appeared with former CIA operative and author of Imperial Hubris, Michael Scheuer. Reason is, I believe, the web’s biggest libertarian voice. Here’s Scheuer:

clipped from www.reason.com
Scheuer didn’t endorse Paul, but he came pretty close: “There are now 10 Republican candidates in the field and there are eight Democrats. Seventeen of them are not at all worried about Osama bin Laden and what he represents. Dr. Paul, on the other hand, has hit on the only indispensable ally that bin Laden and their allies have, and that’s U.S. foreign policy.”
Paul repeated (with more detail, obviously) some of his debate lines, while Scheuer tried to knock down the “they hate us for our freedom” dogma. “Ayatollah Khomenai tried for a decade to instigate a jihad against the United States on the basis of our degeneracy and our debauchery, our movies, our women in the workplace. It didn’t work. No one blew themselves up because of R-rated movies. Al Qaeda and its like have gone to school on the abject failure of the Ayatollah. They have focused on U.S. foreign policy and they’ve found it to be a glue of unity, a glue of cohesion across the Islamic world.”

  blog it

Here’s another quote from Scheuer’s book:

“The fundamental flaw in our thinking about Bin Laden is that “Muslims hate and attack us for what we are and think, rather than what we do.” Muslims are bothered by our modernity, democracy, and sexuality, but they are rarely spurred to action unless American forces encroach on their lands. It’s American foreign policy that enrages Osama and al-Qaeda, not American culture and society.

Ya think? Might it be that billions of dollars and thousands of lives could be saved—and terrorism threats actually reduced—if we would just get the hell out of other peoples’ back yards?


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Written by Monte

May 24, 2007 at 1:33 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Naj – your comment is valuable, as you’ve seen it close-up. I wonder how you would evaluate my view: It seems to me that everything we do directly against Islamism only plays into the hands of its propaganda-meisters. I noticed a poll, though, that showed that when the USA was involved in bringing aid to earthquake-riven Pakistan, favorable attitudes toward Al Qaeda there dropped dramatically. So it seems to me that the real issue is not to go head-to-head with extremists, but to become such a welcome force for good in the world that extremists’ pitch no longer resonates with their prospective recruits. I suspect a libertarian like Ron Paul would favor stopping a lot of negative things the US does – which would be good – but I also suspect that libertarians are so anti-government that devoting a significant share of US effort to doing good would not happen, thus a lost opportunity.

    Monte

    May 26, 2007 at 11:24 am

  2. hp: Good thoughts, as always. I agree that massive educational effort is needed for people to have the tools to understand how profoundly we affect each other. Indeed, that’s what we’re doing on the web, eh?

    “to make sure everyone has enough” – I love your heart – isn’t that a great dream? Don’t you long for it?

    I do think also, though, that there will be some whose values are so tied to short-term gain that they’ll need to be required to think long term. In Iowa, for instance, there are some farmers who rent cropland and abuse it terribly – they have no long-term interest (that they can see) in not doing so. Right now, we’re planted road-to-road in corn, because of the spike in price brought by ethanol. But for every gallon of ethanol produced, 12 pounds of topsoil is lost!
    So, while I cheer libertarians in their protection of many rights – privacy, habeas corpus, church-state separation, to name a few – it seems like a too-doctrinaire approach could be destructive (as with most political philosophies, I guess).

    Monte

    May 26, 2007 at 11:16 am

  3. You know Monte; I am personally VERY afraid of Islamic fundamentalism. I just don’t think that America should be fighting it outside American borders; because that will strengthen the fundamentalists; and I hate them becoming strong!

    What America needs to know is that these people do not fight with the LOGIC of a western mind.

    America’s temporary alliance with this or that fundamentalist group is a DANGEROUS one! They should just stay away from them, irrespective of how they may aid American policy and politics.

    naj

    May 25, 2007 at 8:16 pm

  4. I’m not sure about that. There’s a bumper sticker that says (and I’m sure you’ve seen it), “If you want peace, work for justice.” I think that most libertarians (like Paul) can be persuaded that economic (and other) injustice creates direct threats to our own self interests.

    For example, just looking at our domestic situation, one can see how the widening gap between the haves and have-nots creates crime that is a threat to those with any material wealth. It’s in our self-interest, if we see far enough, to make sure that every one has enough (enough food, clean water, medicine, education) to at least have a chance of becoming a good person.

    What we need to do is figure out how to make a lens that allows the short-sighted to see the big picture.

    honestpoet

    May 25, 2007 at 1:52 pm

  5. True, indio. But focusing on protecting my own rights will scarcely address some pretty heavy world conditions. Consider the thousands who die of malnutrition every day in Africa, for one. They perish largely as a result of centuries of predatory economic policies of western governments and businesses. How might focus on rights keep from ignoring that vast quantity of world suffering brought on by past and present abuse of power? Doesn’t remediation of injustice have to be compelled?

    Monte

    May 25, 2007 at 12:52 pm

  6. Wanting to defend our and (yours) individual liberty is hardly selfish.

    indio

    May 24, 2007 at 11:34 pm

  7. Thanks! And I’m not at all enamored with him, either. In fact, libertarianism seems to me to be the most unapologetically selfish of political outlooks. Which makes it even more amazing to me that he sees through the foreign policy fog.

    Your comments are encouraging to me – thanks very much!

    Monte

    May 24, 2007 at 8:20 pm

  8. Thank you for the report Monte.

    May I be forgiven for not being enamored with Ron Paul either. Bush has made me suspicious of politicians from Texas. Accurate perception is one thing, and policy is another. He definitely gets a 10 in the perception department.

    I share the most values with Dennis Kucinich.

    Servant

    May 24, 2007 at 7:39 pm


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