Savages Strike Mumbai

If there was any doubt left that militant Islam is a threat to civilization, the events of yesterday should wipe away those last shreds. Over the next few weeks, you'll hear how this is the US government's fault or how if not for action X taken by government Y in the past, there would have been no bombings yesterday. Remind yourself that it's self-flagellation and nothing more. Humans have agency.

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I have seen nothing that

I have seen nothing that definitively marks these people as Islamic terrorists. They may well be Islamic, and they may well be terrorizing Mumbai for Islamic reasons, but I haven't seen such a news story yet. Link?

Jews targeted, Mujahedeen claim responsibility

A previously unknown militant group, Deccan Mujahedeen, claimed responsibility for the carnage.

Blocks away, militants also began shooting at Nariman House, the headquarters of the Orthodox Jewish group, Chabad Lubavitch, which offers outreach program to the local Jewish community and a place for traveling Jews to attend prayer services and eat kosher food.

WP

"Definitive" depends on the person asking for it. A lot of people think that 9/11 was not committed by Muslims. Do you think there's definitive evidence that it was? I don't know if you do because I don't know you.

Evidence was spurious but conclusion survives

As evidence that the perpretrators were Islamic terrorists I quoted from the WP reporting that "Deccan Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for the carnage." But now we can read that "a senior leader of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba" stands accused (WSJ).

From the standpoint of retrospection spurious evidence is as good as no evidence at all - leaving only the attack on the Jewish center. In any case, the conclusion proves robust.

You really believe they might not be Muslims?

Before you knew what Constant wrote, did you really think the attackers might be anyone other than Muslims? Who did you conjecture might be behind the attacks? Buddhists? Hindus? Christians?

oops, ignore that

I just read your below message.

No, I believe that 9/11 was

No, I believe that 9/11 was carried out by Muslims, and after seeing that, I believe this attack was as well. I figured they probably were but just wasn't positive.

However, I would still like to make an objection to Jonathan's point. These people may just be so nuts about Allah that they killed a bunch of people, but to say that all terrorism committed in the name of Islam has no motivation outside of religion is incredibly misguided. I believe it amounts to saying that human actions produce no reactions from other humans and simply postulating the existence of some kind of exogenous evil.

I agree that human beings have agency, but we often use that agency to react against what other people do to us. Just because this attack seems to be motivated by nothing but irrational hatred, doesn't mean that other attacks aren't motivated by other external factors. We have to analyze these attacks on a case by case basis; just saying "Islam did it" isn't very helpful.

A lot of claims

You seem to be assigning a lot of claims to Jonathan's entry which aren't there.

True, they are not there

True, they are not there explicitly. But I read the post as saying that, in essence, terrorism happens in a vacuum. After all, if "action X taken by government Y in the past, there would have been no bombings" (and I definitely insinuated individuals in next to government in my reading; probably a big mistake) is not true, then terrorism must just come from some external madness. I grant that's possible, but then there is really not a damn thing you can do about it.

Ultimately, I find Jonathan's claims that humans have agency to be in conflict with the idea that government actions have no effect on the actions of terrorists and potential terrorists. Yes, humans have agency, and they usually use it to respond to the actions of other humans with agency, including the actions of governments.

Who doubts that militant

Who doubts that militant Islam can be a threat to civilization? Who denies that humans have agency? And how is any of this inconsistent with the claim that U.S. foreign policy often upsets people and therefore contributes to their motivations?

Here is the famous exchange between Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani. What exactly is your objection to Paul's argument here?

MR. GOLER: Congressman Paul, I believe you are the only man on the stage who opposes the war in Iraq, who would bring the troops home as quickly as -- almost immediately, sir. Are you out of step with your party? Is your party out of step with the rest of the world? If either of those is the case, why are you seeking its nomination?
REP. PAUL: Well, I think the party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Senator Robert Taft didn't even want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy -- no nation-building, no policing of the world. Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There's a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them.

Just think of the tremendous improvement -- relationships with Vietnam. We lost 60,000 men. We came home in defeat. Now we go over there and invest in Vietnam. So there's a lot of merit to the advice of the Founders and following the Constitution.

And my argument is that we shouldn't go to war so carelessly. (Bell rings.) When we do, the wars don't end.

MR. GOLER: Congressman, you don't think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?

REP. PAUL: What changed?

MR. GOLER: The non-interventionist policies.

REP. PAUL: No. Non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East -- I think Reagan was right.

We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?

REP. PAUL: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time -- (bell rings) -- have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.

MR. GIULIANI: Wendell, may I comment on that? That's really an extraordinary statement. That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. (Applause, cheers.)

And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Congressman?

REP. PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.

They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were -- if other foreign countries were doing that to us?

(forgive my English, it's

(forgive my English, it's not my first language)

"Who doubts that militant Islam can be a threat to civilization? Who denies that humans have agency? And how is any of this inconsistent with the claim that U.S. foreign policy often upsets people and therefore contributes to their motivations?"

Consider the KKK for example. Someone could claim(and this probably happened) that the Civil Rights Movement upsets the Klansmen. So, MLK and others caused a lot of unsdesired outcomes with their actions. But it's not the same to say that Civil Rights Movement was a mistake or that KKK actions are justified.

The problem is that the KKK could use this to justify their actions("you see, they started, we're only reacting"), or someone who dislikes Klan's actions could oppose the CRM using these undesired consequences as a rationalization.

Of course, it's reasonable to oppose certain actions even when we agree with the ends, but it's not so simple if you put some value on certain actions per se.

So, MLK and others caused a

So, MLK and others caused a lot of unsdesired outcomes with their actions. But it's not the same to say that Civil Rights Movement was a mistake or that KKK actions are justified.

Right, so the observation that the Civil Rights Movement upsets the KKK and motivates their actions is one piece of evidence to take into account, but not necessarily enough to be decisive either way. There might be other reasons that justify the Civil Rights Movement, reasons that outweigh whatever potential cost there might be in offending the Klan.

Acknowledging that the Civil Rights Movement does in fact upset the KKK does not in any way imply that the Civil Rights Movement, in total, is a bad idea; for there may be offsetting benefits. But it is nevertheless important to keep in mind when deciding whether the Civil Rights Movement will in fact lead to desirable results. Ignoring any potential downside is not helpful when thinking about reality. It's wishful thinking, and denies human agency to the KKK/militant Islamists, by assuming that their behavior will remain the same regardless what we do, so we have no reason to look at what we do to see what kind of influence our actions have on other people's behavior.

Ron Paul is clueless on this issue

And lots of people deny that militant Islam is a threat to civilization. The usual response of "Muslim bashing" (which I believe you yourself have given) is trotted out.

Who denies that humans have agency?

The standard libertarian foreign policy stance denies that terrorists have agency, or at least, full agency. If terrorists strike New Caprica, libertarians look for who Initiated Force, because after all, most people only use force in response to others who Initiate Force. They simply cannot conceive of the idea that these terrorists can have neuroses of their own or that they use their ideology to justify hatred and murder just as many ideologies like communism and fascism have in the past. They are only seen as noble savage marionettes responding to the machinations of the New Caprican govt.

And how is any of this inconsistent with the claim that U.S. foreign policy often upsets people and therefore contributes to their motivations?

"Contributes" is a meaningless word. The flapping of a butterfly's wings contributes to hurricanes in the Carribean. How much does it contribute? What are the contributions of other factors, like say, an ideology that insists upon no difference between the personal and the political? If the contribution is small, should there be any policy prescriptions? I don't think libertarians are simply saying that the US govt is a mere small contributor. They're saying that the US govt is the primary problem. This has been the theme on every major libertarian website including antiwar.com, LRC, and every left-libertarian website.

Further, "contributes" ignores the moral dimension. A battered woman's insistence for independence contributes to her getting beaten. Does that mean that an outside observer ought to conclude that the blame is with her? Only a dense observer would conclude such a thing.

My problem with Ron Paul, other than the fact that some of his statements are simply false, is that--

After Islamists have now bombed the US, Israel, Spain, England, and India, and are embroiled in pretty much ALL conflicts around the globe, and keep their societies backwards and oppressed, only a dense observer would first ask, "How did the US govt cause this?"

I'd bet that 90% of libertarians believe that had the US remained isolationist wrt military affairs, 9/11 would not have happened. It's long past time to re-examine that conclusion.

And lots of people deny that

And lots of people deny that militant Islam is a threat to civilization.

Name them.

The usual response of "Muslim bashing" (which I believe you yourself have given) is trotted out.

But this is a relative claim, not an absolute one. The claim is that the threat of militant Islam is being overblown, not that it is nonexistent.

The standard libertarian foreign policy stance denies that terrorists have agency, or at least, full agency.

Can you give a specific example of this? The "standard libertarian foreign policy stance", at least with regard to the Iraq war, points to the idea of blowback as a primary motivation; the idea that militant Islam is pissed off that we are over there and pissed off about U.S. interventions in the past. Whereas the opposite side seems to deny these motivations, and offer... what, exactly in their place?

I'd bet that 90% of libertarians believe that had the US remained isolationist wrt military affairs, 9/11 would not have happened. It's long past time to re-examine that conclusion.

Okay, let's re-examine it. What is the evidence that 9/11 still would have happened had the US remained isolationist?

The U.S. should not be

The U.S. should not be giving nuclear weapons to India.

I don't disagree with the

I don't disagree with the analogy in the least. What I object to is denying that this is a cost of the policy. It is quite possible that an organization should be destroyed even considering those costs. But that won't always be the case.

It is not the job of the U.S. government to destroy all evil in the world. As long as we have this entity known as the government acting in our name, we should at least hold them to a cost-benefit analysis, and we need to admit that blowback is one of those costs.

What makes you strongly believe this is a cost of policy?

When factor X is involved in engagement XY, XZ, XX, XA, XB, and XC, why not simply conclude the obvious: that X is the problem. Not A.

We have our own mobs

Before we start referring to people of weird religions in faraway countries as "savages," we have to realize that we have savages in our own country. Perhaps they don't put out statements and carry guns, but these savages just killed someone in Long Island on Friday morning. Perhaps it's safer to shop in suburban Detroit.

Not the same

I assume you are talking about what happened in Valley Stream. I don't think it compares. In India the murders were deliberate. In Valley Stream the death was unintentional.

PS. I don't think that people in that black neighborhood are going to appreciate you calling them savages over what a bunch of jerks did in a shopping mall. That happens from time to time just about everywhere. It has more to do with proper crowd control and ignorance of the dangers of being a member of a crowd than it has to do with intentional savagery.

savages are savages are . . . .

I would rather take my chances with Islamic radicals than Christian radicals. Jewish Historians claim they did better under Islam than under Christianity. (Christians didn't have a theological need for the existence of practicing Jews until J. N. Darby in the middle 1800's). Search "Christian Reconstructionists" to get info on the new "master race."

Anachronism

Christianity of the past is not Christianity of today. Religions can and do change. The faith of the Jews used to be dangerous to non-Jews. Read the Old Testament for the bloody evidence. But Judaism became harmless about two thousand years ago. The same thing happened to Christianity later. The same thing could happen, but has not happened yet, to Islam.