Saturday, September 02, 2006

Joshua Holland: The Clash of Civilizations Doesn't Exist... Yet

The Clash of Civilizations Doesn't Exist... Yet
By Joshua Holland
AlterNet (September 1, 2006)

The neocons who are pushing a Clash of Civilizations are mirror-images of the terrorists that inspire their hyperbolic fear -- they are just as irrational and just as great a threat to our security.

"Seriousness" has become the word of the day for the Islamophobic set.

According to some of our more serious hawks, anyone who doesn't buy that the liberal democracies of the West are engaged in a death-match with hordes of dusky Muslim fanatics is "unserious" about America's security and can't be trusted.

It's the latest in a series of attempts to forestall any meaningful discussion of the causes of violent Islamist ideologies, much less how the United States should respond to them. It locks us into the global "war on terror."

Unfortunately, all too many otherwise sane people seem to accept the terms.

But it's hard to imagine anything more profoundly unserious than taking a dozen complex conflicts that originated in a dozen countries, stripping them of all historical and political context and lumping them together in an amorphous blob called the "Clash of Civilizations." But that's exactly what we're talking about.

So let's take them at their word for a moment and think seriously about the framework they use to understand a dangerous and confusing world.

Consider this: in the epic struggle between East and West, some of our staunchest allies are the undisputed champs in spreading violent Islamic extremism. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan established fundamentalist, anti-Western madrassas all across the world, funneled gobs of cash to extremist groups, and nurtured and supported them in their infancy. It wasn't just random individuals within those countries; Saudi Arabia made it a foreign policy priority to spread its brand of Wahhabism, mostly to counter the perceived threat of Pan-Arabism and other anti-colonial ideologies. Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI -- sometimes called a "state within a state" -- not only supported the Taliban in Afghanistan but funded, equipped and helped train some of the most notorious terror groups that grew out of that country in the 1990s. Talk all you want about Syria and Iran supporting Hezbollah, these are the great terror-sponsoring states, and they're on the side of the Western democracies.

What's more, the West isn't all that unified in this great existential struggle to save itself from destruction. A recent poll of citizens in the United Kingdom, our most loyal ally and a country that largely believes the Clash of Civilizations meme, found that -- "by a margin of more than five to one -- the public wants Tony Blair to split from President George W. Bush and either go it alone in the 'war on terror', or work more closely with Europe." Just 14 per cent believed "Britain should continue to align itself with America." A Pew Global Attitudes survey in June found that in Spain, supposedly a target of "Islamic Imperialism" and the victim of one of the most spectacular terror attacks ever, "four times as many people oppose the war on terror as support it (76 percent to 19 percent)."

Of course, the hawks' response is that there must be something wrong with the rest of the world. Outside of the United States, they argue, the West is "feminized," spineless and too "politically correct" to take on the Muslim hordes. That's like an ugly, unhygienic man's sincere belief that every woman who rejects his advances must be a lesbian. If there's a consensus among your closest friends that you're wrong about something, you probably are.

To Read the Rest of the Hyperlinked Article


Scott Starr said...

Great blog Abhor!

Winning Earthquakes> Quotes We All Should (have) Know(n)

It does not require many words to speak the truth.
~Chief Jospeph

These simple but eloquent quotes should be on the tips of our tongues.

You can no more win wars like this than you can win an earthquake.
~Scott E. Starr

History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.
~Ronald Reagan

It is useless to attack men who could not be controlled even if conquered, while failure would leave us in an even worse position...
- About the quote: Thucydides was a Athenian historian, born in the 5th century, BC. Here, he is quoting the Athenian general Nikias on the proposed invasion of Sicily during the Peloponnesian War.

The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.
~Robert Lynd

It would be easier to subjugate the entire universe through force than the minds of a single village.

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.
~Albert Camus

Suspicion must always fall on those who attempt to silence their opponents.
~Ian Buckley

In any war, the first casualty is common sense, and the second is free and open discussion.
~James Reston
About the quote: American Journalist (1909-1995), best known for his work with the NY Times.

What an immense mass of evil must result...from allowing men to assume the right of anticipating what may happen.
~Leo Tolstoy

May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
~Albert Einstein

The voice of never more needed than when the clamor of fife and bidding all men...obey in silence the tyrannous word of command.
~Charles Eliot Norton

The cry has been that when war is declared, all opposition should be hushed. A sentiment more unworthy of a free country could hardly be propagated.
~William Ellery Channing

The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure.
~Lyndon B. Johnson

War is fear cloaked in courage.
~General William Westmoreland

Let not your zeal to share your principles entice you beyond your borders.
~Marquis de Sade

Never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.
~Sir Winston Churchill

War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.
~Senator John McCain

The dangerous a defender of militarism and its ideals of war and glory.
~Colonel James A. Donovan, Marine Corps

Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
~Benjamin Franklin

Today the real test of power is not capacity to make war but capacity to prevent it.
~Anne O'Hare McCormick

Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood.
~Mahatma Gandhi

The chain reaction of evil--wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so...
~Robert A. Heinlein

An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.
~Thomas Paine

Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.
~George Washington

I am not blaming those who are resolved to rule, only those who show an even greater readiness to submit.

After every ''victory'' you have more enemies.
~Jeanette Winterson

Violence as a way of gaining being camouflaged under the guise of tradition, national honor [and] national security...
~Alfred Adler

Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak... Non-violence is hard work.
~Cesar Chavez

The dangerous patriot...drifts into chauvinism and exhibits blind enthusiasm for military actions.
~Colonel James A. Donovan, Marine Corps

Before the war is ended, the war party assumes the divine right to denounce and silence all opposition to war as unpatriotic and cowardly.
~Senator Robert M. La Follette

Peace is constructed, not fought for.
~Brent Davis

Democracy is not an incident that happens overnight, nor a gift that America can give to the world. It is a culture which needs peace to evolve.
~Shirin Ebadi
About the quote: Ebadi is Nobel Peace Laureate of Iran. This quote is excerpted from the 5/5/06 Washington Post's "Diplomatic Dispatches," by Nora Boustany.

The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.
~Marie Beyle

It is always easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.
~Alfred Adle

The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault.
~Major Ralph Peters, US Military

All nations want peace, but they want a peace that suits them.
~Admiral Sir John Fisher

Imperialism is an institution under which one nation asserts the right to seize the land or at least to control the government or resources of another people.
~John T. Flynn

Because I do it with one small ship, I am called a terrorist. You do it with a whole fleet and are called an emperor.
~A pirate, from St. Augustine's "City of God"

Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it.
~Noam Chomsky

The terrorist is the one with the small bomb.
~Brendan Behan

The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
~Frederick Douglass

What is morally wrong and can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage.
~Marcus Tullius Cicero

Historically, the most terrible things--war, genocide and slavery--have resulted from obedience, not disobedience.
~Howard Zinn

We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom.
~Stephen Vincent Benét

If, finally, violence meets with violence, we have confirmation of the age old adage that war though it kills many men, makes many more men evil.
~Fritz Medicus

The great error of nearly all studies of war... has been to consider war as an episode in foreign policies, when it is an act of interior politics...
~Simone Weil

Our children are not born to hate, they are raised to hate.
~Thomas della Peruta

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.
~Edward R. Murrow

Military glory--that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood--that serpent's eye, that charms to destroy...
~Abraham Lincoln

It is far easier to make war than peace.
~Georges Clemenceau

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war.
~Thomas Merton

I guess every generation is doomed to fight its war...suffer the loss of the same old illusions, and learn the same old lessons on its own.
~Phillip Caputo

The worst crimes were dared by a few, willed by more and tolerated by all.

War's a game, which, were their subjects wise, Kings would not play at.
~William Cowper

The greatest protection against war is a well educated populace.
~L.L. Castetter
About the quote: Castetter was a WWI veteran; this quote is from the 1930s (from p. 178 of the book "A Page A Day," ed. by Kenneth Adams, published by

War is a failure of human intelligence.
~Patricia Sun
About the quote: Patricia Sun is an internationally renowned philosophical psychologist.

In modern war there is no such thing as victor and vanquished...There is only a loser, and the loser is mankind.
~U Thant , Burmese UN Secretary General

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.
~John Lennon

[War] might be avoidable were more emphasis placed on the training to social interest, less on the attainment of egotistical grandeur.
~Lydia Sicher

Every nation has its war party. It is not the party of democracy. It is the party of autocracy. It seeks to dominate absolutely.
~Senator Robert M. La Follette

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.
~George Orwell

I hope....that mankind will at length, as they call themselves responsible creatures, have the reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats...
~Benjamin Franklin

If we don't stop behaving like the British Empire, we will end up like the British Empire.
~Pat Buchanan
About the quote: From Buchanan's 5/9/06 article "Why Are We Baiting Putin?"

We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.
~Jimmy Carter

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
~Margaret Mead

Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.
~William Penn

We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Department of Defense is the behemoth...With an annual budget larger than the gross domestic product of Russia, it is an empire.
~The 9/11 Commission Report

Where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control.
~Lord Acton

I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.
~Thomas Jefferson

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.
~Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice

Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people...
~Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice

The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.
~William Colby, former CIA director
About the quote: as quoted by Dave McGowan in his book "Derailing Democracy"
(remember this next time you are listening to Limbaugh, Bennet, Boortz, Ingraham, Hannity or O'Reilly or anyone else of any "significance in the major media".

A tyrant has succeeded in his search for absolute power when his own people fear to question his actions.
~Ramman Kenoun

Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice.
~Lord Acton

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.
~James Madison

Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies.
~W. L. George

I hate war for its consequences, for the lies it lives on and propagates, for the undying hatreds it arouses...
~Harry Emerson Fosdick

Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
~George Orwell

Freedom is whatever the president says it is, pending revision.
~James Bovard

Our country is now geared to an arms economy bred in an artificually induced psychosis of war hysteria and an incessant propaganda of fear.
~General Douglas MacArthur

The statesman who yields to war no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.
~Sir Winston Churchill

It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood...War is hell.
~General William Tecumseh Sherman

One day the end of the world will come as a result of a 'justified' war.
~Mikhail Gofman

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
~Issac Asimov

Our enemies...never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people...and neither do we.
~George W. Bush
About the quote: From remarks by the president at the signing of The Defense Appropriations Act for 2005 (8/5/04)

Dulce bellum inexpertis (War is delightful to the inexperienced).
~Erasmus, the 16th-century scholar

The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.
~Marcus Aurelius

Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths...I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?
~Barbara Bush
About the quote: Mrs. Bush spoke these words on ABC's "Good Morning America," March 18, 2003.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

How is it possible for people to consider themselves supporters of the troops when they approve of an event that throws those troops into...peril?
~Ramman Kenoun

In this war – as in others – I am less interested in honoring the dead than in preventing the dead.
~Butler Shaffer

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
~Jesus Christ

Michael Benton said...

Now, you are being an idiot--I can understand paraphrasing and summarizing, but simply pulling a lit of your quotes and randomly putting them on my site is ridiculous--I believe your mind (or your soul) is capable of much more.

Scott Starr said...

Why thanks for the confidence in my capabilities...seriously. I have been away on my job for a couple of weeks.
I will be sure and try to catch up. I have a lot on the Native question you asked...but what I have written already is incredibly long. I will put together an answer for you when I can.