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marine's letter


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everyday i read the hooboy site and the andrew sullivan site. andrew sullivan's site often has interesting links and the one below is from a marine in iraq. these blogs can give one a direct impression of what is happening without the filter of the professional news networks, wire services and mass media. the blogs of the troops provide direct information that has helped form my views. it's a short but to the point letter:



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It's unquestionable that the tactics of the radical Islamic fundamentalists are barbaric. There is also no question that there are many of them, and they represent a major threat to everyone who doesn't agree with them (even non-extremist Muslims).


However, it isn't "liberal handwringing" to point out that actions and omissions by the U.S. and other "developed" and "enlightened" countries have contributed to the rise and spread of Islamic extremism in the world. They aren't the only reasons for this phenomenon, by a long shot. But ignoring or denying our contributions to the problem just helps perpetuate it. If we can acknowledge what we've done to help fan the flames of extremism, we can begin figuring out effective ways of dousing the fires and start winning hearts and minds in the Islamic world.


This doesn't mean we have to utterly compromise our own values in the West. It does mean thinking more carefully and critically about our actions in the world and their possible consequences. It also means learning to communicate better with the Islamic world. Western values are NOT inimical to Islam. But we've clearly failed to demonstrate that convicingly, and as long as we can't find a way to communicate effectively, the problem will continue to fester. Much of this has to do with ignorance, on both sides. The Islamic world is beset with issues of illiteracy and ignorance as it emerges suddenly from its own "dark ages" into the light of modern day. But the degree of ignorance about Islamic civilization in the West is also enormous, and part of what is currently happening can fairly be described as a "clash of ignoramuses" instead of a "clash of civilizations." Both sides have been self-centered and blind to each other, and the situation won't improve in the long term until that changes. Unfortunately, the way things are going that may take a very long time. . .

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Guest AlohaGuy

trilingual, can you be more specific about what exactly Western nations are doing to contribute to Islamic extremism? Exactly how are we fueling the fires of their terrorism?

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> the one

>below is from a marine in iraq.


Not just any Marine, of course, but one who enlisted as an officer after he graduated from law school in 1990. He remained on active duty until 1998, then continued as a reserve officer while building a law practice in Oceanside. In January 2003, he went to Iraq to serve in the infantry during the invasion. He returned home in September of last year and was sent back to Iraq in February 2004.


I'm looking forward to his blogs on evil trial lawyers driving doctors out of their profession with malpractice lawsuits, once he returns to civilian life.

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dear tringual,

you are correct that the "clash" has responsibilities on both sides; bin laden is still complaining about the crusades and the explusion from spain. when does the statute of limitations run on such events? in modern times, the muslim world has legitimate complaints about western colonialism (but ignores its own versions such as the arab genocide in darfur going on today against blacks).


everyone has greviences, pick any ethnic group and most likely sometime in their history they will find a grevience against another group. how do we overcome such attitdues? is it by terrorism and the murder of people on a train in spain, school children in russia, office workers in new york, grandmothers having a pizza lunch with their grandchildren in jerusalem, young people at a nightclub in bali, etc.? or is it recognizing the common humanity and setting aside the bitter past and working out compromises to live in peace for the future?


i do not have the answer except to know that terrorism is not an acceptable means of behavior.


i posted the letter because it gives an insight not only to what is happening on the ground but how great the US marines are. there are no better men anywhere than our young marines; they are the best of the best. they do a hard job well. i just wanted to share that letter with the people on this board.

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Military Campaigner, or a Political One?


Is this California lawyer running for Governor in 2014? If he has been following Kerry's career, he knows he needs to come back with at least a Purple Heart. If that doesn't work, the attention of right-wing websites will help. You be the judge. This is what Bellon wrote:


The Iraqi Special Forces soldiers were outraged by the attack and were also full of fight afterwards. They wanted to go into Fallujah that day and attack the muj. Their commander stood in front of them and told them to bide their time. It came soon enough. They participated in last night’s action and did well. In fact, we just took on 200 more recruits and continue to have high expectations for them.


Amd here is what this morning's Los Angeles Times reports:


RAMADI, Iraq — The Iraqi military force formed by the Marines in a last-ditch effort to pacify the restive city of Fallouja has been disbanded in the face of continuing violence, assaults on government security forces and evidence that some members have been working openly with insurgents.


The dissolution of the Fallouja Brigade, created during the spring to avoid an all-out assault on the insurgent hotbed, marked a significant setback for the U.S. military. The Americans had hoped that the brigade, composed of former members of the Iraqi army and Saddam Hussein's special security forces, would work alongside the new Iraqi government and help restore order.

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RE: Are we a threat to Islam


AlohaGuy, although you asked Tri this question, I hope you (and Tri) won't mind if I put my shiny two pennies in.

Since it's inception (somewhere around 600 AD, I think?), Islam has been a "conversion" religion. Mohammed, the religion's creator, also conveniently created an army (literally) of the faithful, which crushed all opposition in the Arab world, and pretty much made "Arab" synonymous with "Islam". This coincided with and fueled arab expansion, and as the arabs swept through northern Africa, Spain, Persia, & central Asia, they found the conversion of the unfaithful to be a useful tool in imposing their will on newly conquered infidels, who had little choice other than to accept.

Within two hundred years, Islam was THE religion, from Morocco to Afghanistan. But at that point they started running into cultures that were not so easily conquered and converted: The Christian Kingdoms of Europe, The Chinese Empire, and the Hindus of India. Plus, the Arab dynasty was beginning to fall apart from within. Philosophical issues created schisms in belief, which resulted in the emergence of the two main islamic sects, Sunni & Shi'a. Although the Arab Empire didn't last, the religion did, and was adopted by peoples who were migrating through, such as the Turks, who went on to form the Seljuk & Ottoman Empires. Thus the Moslem World became a wide swath of peoples who separated East from West, and North from South. They controlled ALL trade between Europe and Asia, and between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, and grew quite prosperous as a merchant culture. One could say that they economically dominated Europe and much of eastern Asia until the Europeans began seeking out maritime trade routes to the east. It was then, of course, that the "New World" was discovered. With this new land of riches to be exploited, and sea-trade routes firmly in place, the economic dominance quickly shifted to western Europe, and the Moslem mid-east began a slow decline, which culminated in the European colonialization of northern Africa, and the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire. The moslem peoples became the poor, the dominated... second class. A situation very hard to take, especially for the Arabs, who consider their race and culture to be the very Light of the world.

In the 20th century, the arabian lands were divided up, fairly arbitrarily, into political units controlled by Britain and/or France, and Israel was (re) established in their midst. And although the Saud Family unified most of the Arabian peninsula after WWI, and managed to stay politically independent, they were still economically dependent on Europe. It was, by the way, Wahhabism, the extreme, fundamentalist view of Islam, that the Saud family used to maneuver themselves into political dominance in Arabia, creating what is now Saudi Arabia.


Then, oil was discovered. Suddenly, large parts of the moslem world had a bargaining chip again. The West (especially the US, now the dominant and most oil-dependent western nation) was lining up to gain favor with what they once considered to be savage, backwards people. With western courtship came western technology and western ways...both good and bad. The arabs grew rich, and worldly, sending their children abroad to study, buying up land in the US... and opening up the Pandora's Box of american commercial culture. The influences they found here, and brought back to SA were horrifying to the conservative Wahhabi, especially the western position of womankind as sex-object and also with an independent, free will. In fact, it is the Western World's open and almost insatiable obsession with sex that most offends conservative moslems. It is unavoidable here, a person cannot watch tv, read a magazine, go to the store without witnessing a barrage of flesh and temptation. Sex is the main tool of advertising, and since consumer advertising is the Hallmark of US culture, it is US culture that conservative moslems perceive as being decadent and godless, and a threat to their beliefs, because it is so pervasive.

Thus, the schism between the conservative moslem world and the West is one of cultural and economic domination. The conservative moslem element would like to break the West's cultural grip on the world and banish it to hell. They also wouldn't mind seeing Arab culture and economic influence again dominate the civilized World.


And they hate us because we're beautiful.



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>trilingual, can you be more specific about what exactly

>Western nations are doing to contribute to Islamic extremism?

>Exactly how are we fueling the fires of their terrorism?


Here's an argument from today from a smart liberal (not yet an oxymoron), Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly, which gives a clear answer to the question you asked. He quotes at length Juan Cole, Middle Eastern Studies Professor at the U. of Michigan. I don't agree with a lot of this argument, but it's a concise and substantive argument that we have exacerbated, rather than mitigated, the terrorism problem over the last 4 years:



September 11, 2004


9/11....I'm not much for memorials, but even I don't think that an amateur discussion of typewriter fonts of the early 70s is a great choice of blogging topics today. Instead, here is Juan Cole's reminder of what Osama bin Laden was trying to accomplish with his attacks three years ago:


"Bin Laden hoped the US would timidly withdraw from the Middle East. But he appears to have been aware that an aggressive US response to 9/11 was entirely possible. In that case, he had a Plan B: al-Qaeda hoped to draw the US into a debilitating guerrilla war in Afghanistan and do to the US military what they had earlier done to the Soviets. Al-Zawahiri's recent message shows that he still has faith in that strategy.


The US cleverly outfoxed al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, using air power and local Afghan allies (the Northern Alliance) to destroy the Taliban without many American boots on the ground.


Ironically, however, the Bush administration then went on to invade Iraq for no good reason, where Americans faced the kind of wearing guerrilla war they had avoided in Afghanistan.


....It remains to be seen whether the US will be forced out of Iraq the way it was forced out of Iran in 1979. If so, as al-Zawahiri says, that will be a huge victory. A recent opinion poll did find that over 80 percent of Iraqis want an Islamic state. If Iraq goes Islamist, that will be the biggest victory the movement has had since the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. An Islamist Iraq might well be able ultimately to form a joint state with Syria, starting the process of the formation of the Islamic superstate of which Bin Laden dreams."


You should read the whole thing, but the bottom line is pretty simple: if we stay in Iraq and fight a long, grinding, unwinnable guerrilla war against Islamic militants, bin Laden is delighted. If we give up and leave Iraq, bin Laden is delighted.


It didn't have to be this way, of course. We could have spent our military energies on smashing al-Qaeda and our diplomatic energies on gaining allies in the Middle East — demonstrating that Osama bin Laden's murderous vision was neither the best nor the only path for the Muslim world. Instead, thanks to George Bush's obsession with Iraq, America is the Great Satan, bin Laden is the most popular public figure in every Arab country in the world, al-Qaeda is bigger and more broad-based than ever, a thousand American soldiers are dead, and Iran and North Korea pursue their nuclear plans with impunity.


We are where we are because of George Bush. Never forget that.

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>It didn't have to be this way, of course. We could have spent

>our military energies on smashing al-Qaeda


Could you please be more specific? Exactly where and when? I'm sure the Defense Department would appreciate the tip.



>and our diplomatic

>energies on gaining allies in the Middle East


You mean all those non-democratic countries run by towel-heads who hate our guts?



>— demonstrating

>that Osama bin Laden's murderous vision was neither the best

>nor the only path for the Muslim world.


By doing what? Love-in?



>Instead, thanks to

>George Bush's obsession with Iraq, America is the Great Satan


If I remember correctly, that golden oldie Great Satan sing-a-long predates BOTH Bush administrations.



>bin Laden is the most popular public figure in every Arab

>country in the world,


Could you supply a link for that polling data?



>al-Qaeda is bigger and more broad-based

>than ever,


Except, apparently here in the United States - which, I think is the most urgent goal. Oh yeah, then there's Afghanistan where they seem to have had a wardrobe malfunction.



>a thousand American soldiers are dead, and Iran....

>...... pursue .........nuclear plans with impunity.


Don't worry, Israel will take care of that little problem.



One more thing...........


Once Bush has won re-election, I believe we're going to see a few things go BOOM in Syria.


Stay tuned.


Predictably yours,



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RE: Military Campaigner, or a Political One?


There's no one answer, of course, about what the West has done to aggravate the situation. Going back to the Crusades is a bit much, but there are plenty of more recent matters to consider.


To start, there was the artificial carving up of the Arab world (and the Levant, in particular) after World War I. That might not have been so bad, if the European powers hadn't tried to keep spheres of influence in the region and meddled constantly in local politics. That resulted in supporting autocratic and repressive governments that contributed to keeping the Arab world in the Dark Ages. To this day, we've continued to support repressive regimes in the Middle East. Because they've closed off the prospect of any kind of democratic opposition or expression, opponents of the regimes have been pushed into religious brotherhoods which fill that niche. Of course, they also are fertile breeding grounds for fundamentalism and extremism.


The Western nations also have tolerated and contributed to maintaining the endless status quo in the Israeli-Palestinian stand-off. Instead of genuinely using the leverage at their command to really push the parties to the bargaining table, for the most part only half-hearted efforts were made. The outcome has been a nightmare for everyone concerned. Israel isn't secure, and the seemingly never-ending occupation has given birth to all kinds of new terrorist organizations, filled with people who feel they have nothing to lose by blowing themselves up in shopping malls and buses because they see no future for themselves whatsoever. As we have seen, the tactics and techniques of the Palestinian suicide bombers have been successfully exported to Iraq, to Russia, to the United States. . . Also, like it or not, the perpetuation of the status quo helps the repressive Arab regimes divert the attention of their people away from their own failings. Instead, they channel the resentment of their peoples on Israel and it's Western patrons. It's a mess, and the Western nations have certainly contributed to it.


There are undoubtedly many other things that the West has done in the Middle East that it could have done differently (or more "sensitively", to use a word currently in vogue). However, the above examples of Western bungling certainly leap to mind.

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