Obama Released Iran Nuke Smuggler, Iran Still Holding Ex-FBI Agent

Robert Levinson Iran FBI

This is typical and typically disgusting. It’s another reminder that Obama not only makes concessions while getting nothing in return, but that he doesn’t remotely care about American prisoners like Bowe Bergdahl or Robert Levinson.

Then, most critically, in April, when the back channel was reactivated in advance of the Geneva P5+1 meetings, the US released a fourth Iranian prisoner, high-ranking Iranian scientist Atarodi, who was arrested in California on charges that remain sealed but relate to his attempt to acquire what are known as dual-use technologies, or equipment that could be used for Iran’s military-nuclear programs. Iran has not reciprocated for that latest release.

The US began reciprocating in August 2012, Solomon said. It freed Shahrzad Mir Gholikhan, an Iranian convicted on three counts of weapons trafficking. Next Nosratollah Tajik, a former Iranian ambassador to Jordan — who, like Gholikhan, had been initially apprehended abroad trying to buy night-vision goggles from US agents — was freed after the US opted not to follow up an extradition request it had submitted to the British. Then, in January 2013, Amir Hossein Seirafi was released, also via Oman, having been arrested in Frankfurt and convicted in the US of trying to buy specialized vacuum pumps that could be used in the Iranian nuclear program.

Finally, in April, came the release of Mojtaba Atarodi.

Iran supposedly released some of the arrested lefty hikers as part of these exchanges. And you can see why they would be a priority for Obama. But meanwhile Robert Levinson is still rotting in Iranian custody.

The family of a former FBI agent who mysteriously disappeared almost seven years ago in Iran is preparing for a grim Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the table, as Robert Levinson has now become the longest-held American hostage in U.S. history.

Iranian officials have long denied any wrongdoing in Levinson’s disappearance, but the man’s family as well as the FBI believe he is alive and possibly imprisoned in southwest Asia.

The family issued a statement Monday, pleading with Levinson’s alleged captors to “show mercy” and allow him to reunite with his family.

“Our family will soon gather for our seventh Thanksgiving without Bob, and the pain will be almost impossible to bear,” Levinson’s wife, Christine, wrote on a website devoted to the search for him. “Yet, as we endure this terrible nightmare from which we cannot wake, we know that we must bear it for Bob, the most extraordinary man we have ever known.”

Iranian state-run television reported at the time that Levinson was in the hands of Iranian security forces — but no group has officially claimed responsibility for taking him. American-born David Belfield, who fled to Iran after killing an associate of the former shah in Maryland in 1980 and now goes by the name Dawud Salahuddin, reportedly met with Levinson during his visit and later claimed the former agent was being detained by the Iranians.

 

  • objectivefactsmatter

    It’s treasonous. That’s what we get for failure to vet properly.

    • tickletik

      No, this is what you get for not looking after your own interest and being a sucker. Here is the truth: 99% of the men you will run into are abject cowards who will happily shiv you in the back if they can get anything out of it. This accounts for both leftist hippies and the gutless conservatives that indulge them. Both types employ the police to bludgeon you and me into submission for “the sake of the children”. The hippy thinks no man is guilty unless they disagree on politics and the conservative thinks no man is innocent unless they agree on politics.

      In reality both of these miserable selfish cowards are impossible to tolerate, and only get away with their sick garbage because the common man does not fight for himself and his future.

      You must own a gun, know how to fight without one, know first aid, ride a horse, sew your clothes, understand how banks really work, where to store your money, have land and assets outside the country, own a second passport, be fluent in at least one other language, have a strong understanding of what your risks are in case of divorce, be capable of adapting to a new society and career if necessary.

      If you can do these things you have a fighting chance. If you have a few friends like this who also have common sense and loyalty then you are in a much better position than most.

      • nobody

        ???

        • hiernonymous

          He’s been reading too much Heinlein lately.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            Well there’s your xenophobe. We aren’t you trying to reason with him?

    • nobody

      It is indeed every moment an impeachable offense committed with impunity.

    • hiernonymous

      You are supposed to be an avid defender of the Constitution. The Constitution defines treason explicitly: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

      Iran is not at war with the United States. You may dislike this action; disapprove of it; consider it to be against the best interests of the United States; but how is it treasonous?

      • objectivefactsmatter

        “Iran is not at war with the United States. You may dislike this action; disapprove of it; consider it to be against the best interests of the United States; but how is it treasonous?”

        Fair question. I’m not the prosecutor. I’m allowed more leeway. I didn’t declare that he’s fit for prosecution based on that treasonous act. It’s not clearly criminal treason, not that I can declare confidently.

        One can certainly argue that we are indeed at war with Iran, but one can also argue that he’s merely pursuing our best interests by negotiating with and representing the interests of the USA in good faith. I don’t believe he’s operating in good faith, and that is the basis of my accusation.

        There are a wide number of good reasons why many people suspect that POTUS is not representing the office in good faith. He’s trying to transform it, and that transformation includes attacking the constitution in many ways.

        It’s not entirely without precedent for any POTUS to operate as he does, but he’s setting a precedent in the degree (volume, severity, etc.) of anti-American policies and actions.

        I could (as a professional in a partisan role) either defend him or prosecute him. It’s not clear where the case would go. At this point my analysis is that he’s a traitor, but he probably thinks he’s empowered to make such anti-American decisions. He actually believes that it is in America’s interest to shrink in power, stature and wealth in the name of global social justice. And that is treasonous given that his oath is to the constitution, not to “the world.”

        It’s treasonous, it’s just not criminally provable from here. He’s trying to rule the world rather than just the USA, and the USA as it existed was the biggest threat to his agenda. Hence the need for “transformation.” He thinks winning election gives him that authority perhaps. I can’t peer in to his soul. I can only analyse his actions.

        And my belief in the constitution means that I accept the processes necessary to prove my claims before holding him accountable. But I’m entitled to state my views at any point.

        • hiernonymous

          “One can certainly argue that we are indeed at war with Iran…”

          No, not really. If you’re going to define “war” so loosely as to declare that we are at ‘war’ with anyone with home we have tense relations, we’ve created that Orwellian state of permanent war. We’re not engaged in combat with Iran. That sort of hyperbole is simply the groundwork for justifying international or domestic abuses.

          “He’s trying to transform it, and that transformation includes attacking the constitution in many ways.”

          Pretty much every president since Washington has attacked somebody’s vision of the Constitution; that’s not treason, that’s politics.

          “…but he’s setting a precedent in the degree (volume, severity, etc.) of anti-American policies and actions.”

          Well, no, he’s engaged in a lot of activities that a particular constituency defines as “anti-American.” Not the same thing.

          “…as a professional in a partisan role…”

          Not sure what you mean by that. A professional what? In what sort of role?

          “At this point my analysis is that he’s a traitor…”

          Even though we agree that he hasn’t met the elements of the crime of treason?

          “He actually believes that it is in America’s interest to shrink in power, stature and wealth in the name of global social justice.”

          Without debating your interpretation of Obama’s actions or motives, your comment is a pretty good example of why hyperventilating uses of the term “treason” is inadvisable. Consider, for example, the British Empire as the costs of the wars in which its leading international position entangled it inexorably led toward its decline. By the early 20th Century, it was plain that no amount of jingoism or desperation on Britain’s part would enable it to continue to compete with the U.S. and the USSR. Trying to cling to its position of international ascendancy would have simply hastened its decline and resulted in a more complete collapse. Those who saw the inevitability of decline and cultivated the “special relationship” with the U.S. while advocating for relinquishing control of the colonies and Dominions were, in the end, the more patriotic Brits – they mapped out the course that best maintained the nation’s interests in a future they could not hope to dominate.

          Similarly, economics and demographics suggest that 300+ million Americans cannot hope to maintain hegemonic power over all 7+ billion people in the world forever. It is not prima facie “anti-American” for any politician to chart a course into the future that tries to map out the best possible position for the U.S. when it is one of many Great Powers rather than the surviving Unipolar vestige of the Cold War.

          It’s swell that you have a vision of the best path for America; it’s less swell that you feel free to smear those who disagree as “traitors.”

          “It’s treasonous, it’s just not criminally provable from here.”

          It’s more innuendo and smear, is what it is.

          “Hence the need for “transformation.” He thinks winning election gives him that authority perhaps.”

          It does, as a matter of fact. The United States is a democratic republic. It’s designed to allow the people to express their will, to change course, to adapt to new needs and new environments. It’s what elections are for. The Constitution is a framework for channeling the forces of change, not for stopping them.

          The history of the U.S. is a history of transformation. That big standing army, those interstate highways, NASA, the Food and Drug Administration, Social Security, the Internet – they all represent changes that some die-hard somewhere argued to his dying day represented the death of all that was good and true in the Constitution.

          “And my belief in the constitution means that I accept the processes necessary to prove my claims before holding him accountable. But I’m entitled to state my views at any point.”

          Sure – and I’m entitled to point out that, by the explicit terms of the Constitution you’re figuratively waving about, your charge of “treason” is patent nonsense. The Founders defined treason, and the actions you’ve described don’t meet that test.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “No, not really. If you’re going to define “war” so loosely as to declare that we are at ‘war’ with anyone with home we have tense relations, we’ve created that Orwellian state of permanent war.”

            I didn’t create these circumstances. I’m simply not in denial. It’s more than “tense” when someone attacks your embassy and maintains terror networks that attack your interests around the world.

            “We’re not engaged in combat with Iran.”

            True.

            “That sort of hyperbole is simply the groundwork for justifying international or domestic abuses.”

            That’s your fear. But it doesn’t address the underlying problem of holding leaders accountable to their oaths of office.

            “Pretty much every president since Washington has attacked somebody’s vision of the Constitution; that’s not treason, that’s politics.”

            It’s a question of facts, not the vaguest generalization you can come up with. Can a president commit treason? Some would say no. I disagree.

            “Well, no, he’s engaged in a lot of activities that a particular constituency defines as “anti-American.” Not the same thing.”

            If that particular constituency is correct or has valid concerns, it might be the same thing.

            “It does, as a matter of fact.”

            Within limits.

            “The United States is a democratic republic. It’s designed to allow the people to express their will, to change course, to adapt to new needs and new environments. It’s what elections are for.”

            It depends on what you mean by transformation. It’s not a precise term. It’s clear by 0′Bama’s actions that he’s trying to transform the nation beyond the limits of the contents of the US constitution.

            “The Constitution is a framework for channeling the forces of change, not for stopping them.”

            It is both. Yes, the US constitution provides a framework for regulating public officials among other things. In some cases that includes stopping them. It would be unprecedented but that doesn’t make it the wrong position or the wrong action.

            “Sure – and I’m entitled to point out that, by the explicit terms of the Constitution you’re figuratively waving about, your charge of “treason” is patent nonsense. The Founders defined treason, and the actions you’ve described don’t meet that test.”

            That’s because you share his worldview. You’re a like-minded progressive with the same or similar blind spots about America.

            “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

            We’re really all the same. It’s just that America is also exceptionally rich and powerful because of “imperialism” and we’ve got to deal with the need for global social justice.

            The oath of office for POTUS is to the nation, not “any patria” of “any constituency.”

            POTUS must be a “nationalist” whether or not his foolish supporters want it that way. Otherwise it might run afoul of my rights as a citizen, which in the USA are superior to the rights of non-citizens. I’m sure a lot of people hate those facts.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “…economics and demographics suggest that 300+ million Americans cannot hope to maintain hegemonic power over all 7+ billion people in the world forever. It is not prima facie “anti-American” for any politician to chart a course into the future that tries to map out the best possible position for the U.S. when it is one of many Great Powers rather than the surviving Unipolar vestige of the Cold War.”

            That’s a legitimate debate. I still think I could win that debate but I don’t consider it treasonous or anti-American to disagree. Some people simply don’t understand the economics of American hegemony. There are many ways to win and lose pursuing it, that’s for sure.

            But facilitating Iranian nukes can’t possibly be seen as something that is in our interests when all we’ve done is caved in without getting anything in return. Our worst enemy getting the ultimate weapon when it’s been nearly universally agreed that nuclear proliferation is a bad thing.

            It’s not hard to understand the logic of that position I hope, no matter what your feelings are about American hegemony in general. I thought nuclear proliferation was one of the rare things we all agreed on.

            I guess not. I guess there really are people that hate America. Even as citizens.

          • hiernonymous

            There are several points on which to disagree here. First is the idea that Iran is our “worst enemy.” There are many states out there that pose a greater threat to U.S. interests, there are states out there whose interests are more directly in conflict with ours, and there are states out there whose leadership dislikes the U.S. just as badly. I’d submit that the conservative elements in both countries cultivate and encourage the idea that the other country is an “enemy,” but that’s by no means a given.

            It’s also a perfectly rational position that people are being unduly alarmist about a nuclear Iran, for several reasons. The most obvious is that Iran is a state actor; its capital can’t move. There’s no compelling argument that deterrence would not work as well for Iran as for every other state that has obtained nuclear weapons. Indeed, the level of incendiary rhetoric and apparent irrationality exhibited by China as it achieved nuclear power status makes anything said by any member of the current or former Iranian regime pale in comparison – yet, for all Mao’s bluster, deterrence worked.

            It’s also arguable that a nuclear-armed Iran would feel more secure from the threat of U.S. invasion – a not-unreasonable fear, considering that the U.S. has invaded both its eastern and western neighbors – and thus would feel less pressure to try to keep the U.S. occupied elsewhere by means of asymmetric operations.

            Finally, it’s worth comparing the number of wars started over the past two centuries by Iran and by the U.S. You’ll note that, for all the finger-pointing and doomsday rhetoric, Iran hasn’t attacked any of its neighbors. It’s actually got one of the most responsible track records, militarily, in the region. But Iran supports terrorists, you say? Well, Iran supports Hizballah and Hamas, in much the same way we supported the Contras, Savimbi’s UNITA, and the mujahideen in Afghanistan. In short, the military track record doesn’t suggest that Iran would begin nuking its neighbors.

            You may disagree with that analysis, but it’s clearly sound enough and rooted solidly enough in fact that trying to discredit it by calling it “anti-American” is transparently fallacious.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “There are many states out there that pose a greater threat to U.S. interests, there are states out there whose interests are more directly in conflict with ours, and there are states out there whose leadership dislikes the U.S. just as badly.”

            Then I can characterize you as paranoid because I can show you how these threats are easily mitigated. If we limit the conversation to examples of tolerating nuclear parity (as defined by the ability to strike with a nuclear weapon, even if not in the same theoretical scale as the foe).

            “I’d submit that the conservative elements in both countries cultivate and encourage the idea that the other country is an “enemy,” but that’s by no means a given.”

            Which pair are you talking about? Iran and the USA? The problem is that the “conservative elements” are the ones in power, and the ones who operate with very little internal restraint. Obviously the peace-loving population has fewer options for restraining the aggressive “conservative elements.” By the way, what is your definition for “conservative?” It’s seems like a very simple model. Does Iran have a congress? What are Iran’s conservatives trying to conserve? The revolution? It seems like a case of using labels in order to conflate.

            “It’s also a perfectly rational position that people are being unduly alarmist about a nuclear Iran, for several reasons.”

            Perhaps in a theoretical discussion. But when it comes to analyzing our (POTUS and his administration’s) actions and putting the nation and the world at risk, it’s absolutely irrational because you don’t even acknowledge the risks if your unproved theories are wrong. It’s not the theory that I object to, even though I disagree with it as incomplete. What I object to is going forward based on the delusion that your theories are solid enough to ignore the risks.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “You may disagree with that analysis, but it’s clearly sound enough and rooted solidly enough in fact that trying to discredit it by calling it “anti-American” is transparently fallacious.”

            The theory itself is not anti-American. But it’s incomplete. What makes it anti-American in context is the way the theory is applied to our current international strategies and applied by this president. His actions are anti-American even though aspects of his theories can be defended academically. You and apparently many others ignore risk factors, discount things you can’t account for and want to proceed without dealing realistically with those risks.

            The deal with Iran is absolutely anti-American. The act of negotiating isn’t. The hope that it can lead to peace isn’t. Banking on delusion is.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “You may disagree with that analysis, but it’s clearly sound enough and rooted solidly enough in fact that trying to discredit it by calling it “anti-American” is transparently fallacious.”

            Look at it another way: If a jingoistic POTUS decided to nuke Iran because of these risks today based on what we it, that could be defended as pro-American, but would in reality be anti-American if he bypassed congress and the will of the people. He can’t just say, I won the election and therefore my executive powers are limited in precisely the way that I say they are.

            The path we were on before the deal was already a reasonable and rational compromise, and accounted for the risks, although just barely. It was already marginally reckless putting America, it’s allies and frankly most of the world at risk. There were more than two choices. 0′Bama took the radical anti-American path.

            It’s treasonous unless he’s hiding something that the world would like to know about. His citizens would like to hear more good news if he’s got any.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “It’s also arguable that a nuclear-armed Iran would feel more secure from the threat of U.S. invasion – a not-unreasonable fear, considering that the U.S. has invaded both its eastern and western neighbors – and thus would feel less pressure to try to keep the U.S. occupied elsewhere by means of asymmetric operations.”

            Sure it’s arguable. By the time the argument is over we’ll see that your gambling without calculating all of the risks.

            It’s also arguable that all people are really all the same everywhere and when their economic and material situations are all more or less equal there will be no more war. It’s a delusional argument that treats humans as almost entirely fungible. It would be funny except that many people have died banking on those lame ideas.

          • hiernonymous

            “It’s a delusional argument that treats humans as almost entirely fungible.”

            Your argument there is with the likes of Mearsheimer and Waltz; the structural realists firmly argue that people are fungible, and make a pretty good case for it.

            I’m not a structural realist, but it would be interesting to see if you could counter their premises with something more convincing than indignation and scorn.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Your argument there is with the likes of Mearsheimer and Waltz; the structural realists firmly argue that people are fungible, and make a pretty good case for it.”

            Within a limited scope people are some times fungible. Outside of that scope the theory (or those theories I should say) does not scale in the real world. Obviously people are not entirely fungible. They are fungible only in limited ways.

            And obviously ideas are not entirely fungible either.

          • hiernonymous

            But nuclear deterrence is at the very heart of the situations in which the structural realists insist fungibility is applicable. It’s a black-box situation, in which ideology plays no role at all.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “But nuclear deterrence is at the very heart of the situations in which the structural realists insist fungibility is applicable. It’s a black-box situation, in which ideology plays no role at all.”

            That’s where I disagree. If you believe that destroying the enemy is more important than living, that makes a difference. Nuclear deterrence is a much bigger deal and certainly causes a lot more reflection than making a personal decision about say, kamikaze operations. And no doubt the scale of the situation does make people think more about life and the finality of the decision.

            If you have a firm believe that your god is on the side of protecting a mission objective, your own preservation will be less important to you. And if your beliefs also include the idea that sacrificing vast populations is also acceptable or desirable in emulation of the idealized role model, then that too will play a role.

            If OTOH you don’t believe in life after death at all, you will have different thoughts about the finality of death and that will effect your decision-making processes. If you believe that your god abhors unjust violence, you will think that much more carefully about justice. Your definitions of justice will also matter.

            It’s hard to argue that ideology never matters.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “I’m not a structural realist, but it would be interesting to see if you could counter their premises with something more convincing than indignation and scorn.”

            It depends on how you define fungible. It’s not worth pursuing to me at this point because what we disagree about is the role of ideology and ideas in driving behavior. When I talk about fungible here I’m talking about being able to exchange them one for another without caring about their beliefs. There was a film called “Trading Places” that took a goofy approach to the question. The 2 subjects were not fungible with respect to their ability to perform the job tasks although the film presented it as if they were. It was a comedy, but illustrates the fallacy.

            Humans are not fungible in the way that some of these “Conflict Resolution” ideas need them to be. It can work, but the paradigms are often too simple.

            You can’t use these theories to prove that Iranian messianic Shiites can be treated like you would treat Chinese communists or some random group of people with a past “colonial” era grievance.

            It’s a good starting point. But when situations become intractable you have to look at the larger scope of explanations. Maybe they’re not kidding when they say their god wants them to kill you. Some times.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “There’s no compelling argument that deterrence would not work as well for Iran as for every other state that has obtained nuclear weapons.”

            It’s not compelling to you. You’re willing to risk quite a bit on being right about ideology. Not only that, you’re in favor apparently of simply getting in the faces of people who disagree with you by just caving in to Iran without establishing Iranian bona fides in any way. The theory is that we (Americans) are the villain and if we agree with them that we are the villain, and empower them to do something more about it, then they won’t do anything harmful to us. That’s insane.

            What are their ideas about social justice vis-a-vis the world’s biggest bully? Are we no longer seen as the world’s biggest bully just because an idiot POTUS caved in with no actual assurances that we get anything in return?

            It’s a lot like negotiating with a bank robber holding hostages that wants his ammunition replenished with the pizza and whatnot in exchange for giving up peacefully. It’s pretty gullible to go along with that. A policeman that gave in to that would be accused of siding with the criminals I would think. Don’t you?

            You don’t establish your bona fides for example by asking for ammunition replenishment. Is that hard to understand using your game theory models?

          • hiernonymous

            “The theory is that we (Americans) are the villain and if we agree with them that we are the villain, and empower them to do something more about it, then they won’t do anything harmful to us. That’s insane.”

            It’s also a theory that has only been advanced in your feverish imagination. I’m not sure what sort of foreign policy approach relies on characterizing one of the parties as a ‘villain.’

            “It’s a lot like negotiating with a bank robber holding hostages that wants his ammunition replenished with the pizza and whatnot in exchange for giving up peacefully. It’s pretty gullible to go along with that. A policeman that gave in to that would be accused of siding with the criminals I would think. Don’t you?”

            The interim agreement is a 6-month preliminary step in which Iran agrees to dilute its 20%-enriched uranium (which is far from being weapons-grade in itself) in return for freeing up $7 billion of the sanctions imposed on Iran, with the goal of using the 6 months to try to produce a more permanent agreement. What part of that agreement strikes you as tantamount to providing Iran with weapons-grade fissile materials, absent which your analogy makes no sense?

            “You don’t establish your bona fides for example by asking for ammunition replenishment. Is that hard to understand using your game theory models?”

            It is, actually. The analogy you’re using is inappropriate, so the conclusions you’re drawing simply don’t make sense.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “It’s also a theory that has only been advanced in your feverish imagination. I’m not sure what sort of foreign policy approach relies on characterizing one of the parties as a ‘villain.’”

            Me personally? I invented this theory?

            Oh yes. PBS informs me that “Death to America” is more or less like saying gosh darn you guys, why can’t we have more political influence in the region? They’re just like us. Humans are more or less fungible and so are ideas. All conflict boils down to materialistic needs.

            But wait, aren’t we xenophobes villainizing them? Won’t their “conservatives” (xenophobes) be doing he same thing?

          • hiernonymous

            “Me personally? I invented this theory?”

            Who said anything about “inventing?” Be more careful in your reading. You offered a paragraph in which you offered your opinion of the risks I was willing to take, the policy you assert that I favored, and the theory on which my alleged positions were based. Of the two of us in this conversation, it was not I who advanced that “theory.”

            “But wait, aren’t we xenophobes villainizing them? Won’t their “conservatives” (xenophobes) be doing he same thing?”

            Very likely.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Of the two of us in this conversation, it was not I who advanced that “theory.””

            So my imagination is feverish as evidenced by the ideas that I accept and promote. Fair enough. Not much better but at least it’s more precise.

            “Very likely.”

            So they might have a policy approach that relies on characterizing us as the villains?

          • hiernonymous

            “So my imagination is feverish as evidenced by the ideas that I accept and promote.”

            No, it’s fevered in your attributing such stuff to my own thoughts and positions.

            “So they might have a policy approach that relies on characterizing us as the villains?”

            It depends on you you mean by “they.” You discussed the position of their conservatives, and, yes, it’s very likely that they’ll advance an approach that characterizes the U.S. as villains.

            It’s remarkable how similarly our hawks approach the problem, given that people are not fungible…

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “It’s remarkable how similarly our hawks approach the problem, given that people are not fungible…”

            I’m indicating that I understand your narratives, not that I agree. In addition, I already stated that humans are fungible to a limited extent, but not as much as your arguments need them to be.

          • hiernonymous

            So far, you haven’t shown anything about fungiblity; you’ve asserted that they are not as fungible as my arguments need them to be.

            Though, in this case, it’s not my arguments; as you’ll recall, the context of that comment was the deterrence approach of the structural realists.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “What part of that agreement strikes you as tantamount to providing Iran with weapons-grade fissile materials, absent which your analogy makes no sense?”

            The money will be used to accelerate their programs, and their consideration for us, or value we are supposed to gain, is not ensured by anything. And it also signals that we are doing the opposite of getting more serious. We gave them tacit permission to do all of this.

          • hiernonymous

            “The money will be used to accelerate their programs…”

            So the worst-case scenario is that they do what you are convinced they would do anyway?

            “And it also signals that we are doing the opposite of getting more serious.”

            And “getting more serious,” in your book, means getting more bellicose? Threatening war and following through?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “And “getting more serious,” in your book, means getting more bellicose? Threatening war and following through?”

            Anything from increasing the threats to implement tougher sanctions to a strike on their relevant facilities.

          • hiernonymous

            So those options are more desireable, and, further, become impossible within the next six months?

            And you’re pretty certain you understand our military capabilities, the nature of the target, and the probable course of events in the wake of a military strike?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “So those options are more desireable, and, further, become impossible within the next six months?”

            Impossible for POTUS, yes. Politically impossible, maybe. In the end, the barn door is already open. Isn’t it? Do the Iranians get the funds in 6 months?

          • hiernonymous

            Sounds pretty vague. The interim agreement is just that – explicitly interim, and provides a six-month window to make substantive progress. What, exactly, is going to remove the other options from the table if the P5 + 1 determine that Iran is not in compliance and is not engaging in good-faith negotiations?

            I’m not interested in some vague assertion that it will be politically difficult. I want to know what, exactly, will prevent your three options from being options if Iran, after having been given a chance to show its good faith, fails to do so?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            Do the Iranians get the funds in 6 months?

          • hiernonymous

            Which funds? The $7 billion cited in the interim agreement, or are you talking about the prospective further lifting of sanctions?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            The $7 billion.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “I want to know what, exactly, will prevent your three options from being options if Iran, after having been given a chance to show its good faith, fails to do so?”

            Our position will unquestionably be more difficult and theirs enhanced. It was a stupid deal. A “deal” implies quid pro quo. This was unilateral caving. Well 0′Bama got some things from the deal, but America and many other nations got screwed.

            If that is too vague for you, then sit and watch as history unfolds.

          • hiernonymous

            “Our position will unquestionably be more difficult and theirs enhanced.”

            Non-responsive. You listed three methods of dealing with a non-cooperative Iran. In what way, exactly, are any of those options removed from the table by giving Iran 6 months to come to a comprehensive agreement?

            “If that is too vague for you, then sit and watch as history unfolds.”

            That’s just empty posturing. Anybody can predict anything; it’s the specific reasoning that counts, and so far, you’re talking in hand waves and fog.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “That’s just empty posturing…”

            That’s exactly what the deal is, except that we’re giving consideration to the Iranians so that POTUS may strike a certain pose.

            The specific reasoning is that our position is clearly weakened. I don’t have to know the specific future to know that it’s bleaker if my stores of this or that are lower, or whatever. If someone takes something of value with nothing in return, that’s not a plus and it might be a sign of future antagonistic behavior.

            It’s horrible risk management strategy unless there’s a hidden aspect of it.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “And you’re pretty certain you understand our military capabilities, the nature of the target, and the probable course of events in the wake of a military strike?”

            Well enough. We don’t even need to be successful on the first strike. We need to show we’re willing to act. Assuming we have broad consensus to do so.

            That’s why there was broad consensus on economic sanctions. Fine tuning the sanctions would have been an uncontroversial way to increase the pressure. Incentives could have been added. We’re rich and powerful and the sanctions hurt everyone, though not in equal measures. Caving in was just stupid and treasonous under the circumstances. It was (roughly) planned in advance, being held for a rainy day. This is more about political cover for the ACA fiascoes than it is about security risk management.

          • hiernonymous

            “This is more about political cover for the ACA fiascoes than it is about security risk management.”

            Oh, my. Obama & Co knew in February that the web site was going to be debacle, so they plotted with the Iranians to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough at just the right moment. This really is the stuff of conspiracy theories.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Oh, my. Obama & Co knew in February that the web site was going to be debacle, so they plotted with the Iranians to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough at just the right moment. This really is the stuff of conspiracy theories.”

            No. The idea was that an Iranian deal would be used as an October surprise. It played out slightly differently in the real world, but that was the original intention. Plus there are those who actually believe that it’s helpful to make some kind of deal. But without the partisan politics there might have been a better chance to succeed.

            The particular timing and urgency for this deal are about the ACA. The original motives had nothing to do with it AFAIK.

            And the talks have been going on for longer than this year. We just don’t have the details yet.

          • hiernonymous

            “No. The idea was that an Iranian deal would be used as an October surprise.”

            It’s not an election year.

            “The particular timing and urgency for this deal are about the ACA.”

            That’s conspiracy speak.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “It’s not an election year.”

            This deal (or a deal) has been whispered about for a long time. And 2014 is another relevant election year.

            “That’s conspiracy speak.”

            It is. But that doesn’t make it invalid. I think that even 0′Bama would have liked a better deal at least for the sake of appearances if for no other reason, and the timing would not be ideal except for the need to distract from failures that threaten his popularity in a very significant way. Where did the desperation come from suddenly if we hold all of the important cards?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “So the worst-case scenario is that they do what you are convinced they would do anyway?”

            They’ve already signaled publicly that they gave away nothing. They’ve already said as much.

          • hiernonymous

            And?

            It was necessary for them to “give something away,” and publicly admit it, for diplomacy to be worth pursuing?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “It was necessary for them to “give something away,” andpublicly admit it, for diplomacy to be worth pursuing?”

            I’ve already agreed that it’s theoretically possible that in the end it was a good deal. In theory. I’m just not naive enough to believe that that’s very likely to be the case.

            I’ll add that even if there is some hidden aspect of the deal that is great for us, it is still unwise to project this deal to the world as it is. Very unwise.

            Right now I’m crying foul. It stinks.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “It is, actually. The analogy you’re using is inappropriate, so the conclusions you’re drawing simply don’t make sense.”

            OK. What does Iran get “in the pocket?” Tacit permission and funding. What do we get? Nothing but a promise from a perfidious regime.

          • hiernonymous

            “Tacit permission”

            To do what? Are you inventing new terms to the agreement?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Are you inventing new terms to the agreement?”

            No, but the Iranians are broadcasting their understanding and our administration is not denying it.

          • hiernonymous

            You didn’t answer the first question: tacit permission to do what? What are the Iranians broadcasting? And by what thought process does Administration silence equal confirmation?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “You didn’t answer the first question: tacit permission to do what?”

            Ignore the promises of the agreement.

            “And by what thought process does Administration silence equal confirmation?”

            They haven’t been silent about everything, only about Iran’s claims. Don’t be naive. Don’t count on your naive trust of your comrades to count for much to the skeptics.

          • hiernonymous

            “Ignore the promises of the agreement.”

            That returns us to the question – so what? It’s an interim agreement, very short-term – only 6 months. Assuming that Iran behaves in the worst way possible for them, what permanent damage is done? What’s your worst-case scenario?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “What’s your worst-case scenario?”

            Worst case is they complete a bomb and buy missile deliver systems for it. And then either use it or threaten to use it. Once the “nuclear umbrella” is in place, they become less concerned about plausible deniability in terror operations and expand them.

            It could get a lot worse in reality. That’s a modest guess about what could happen.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            Are you arguing over the definition of tacit, or your analysis of what is being projected?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Finally, it’s worth comparing the number of wars started over the past two centuries by Iran and by the U.S.”

            What was “Iran’s” relationship with the USA during WWI?

          • hiernonymous

            Persia’s involvement in WWI mostly involved being partitioned between Russia and Britain, then being invaded by the Ottoman Empire. The Shah of the time was kept pretty much in British control, and members of different tribes and regions could be found fighting for all three powers. The United States didn’t play much of a role there. Some Persians looked to the U.S. and to Germany as possible interlocutors to prevent their country being carved up by Britain and Russia, but the U.S. (particularly after the Russian Revolution) was not willing to go further than declining to endorse an expansion of British influence in post-WWI Persia.

            Persia certainly didn’t start a war during that timeframe.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Persia’s involvement in WWI mostly involved being partitioned between Russia and Britain…”

            Persia got involved when it was the victim? I suppose that’s true. But you’re conflating sovereignty with populations.

            Of course Iran as a sovereign has not done much in the past “200 years.” The first thing this regime did was attack our embassy. Evidence suggests that they’ll attempt whatever aggression they can get away with. And their end game may not necessarily include living to see it happen here on Earth.

          • hiernonymous

            “The first thing this regime did was attack our embassy. Evidence
            suggests that they’ll attempt whatever aggression they can get away
            with.”

            Ah, so you believe the story of Iran-U.S. relations began in 1979. That explains a great deal.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Ah, so you believe the story of Iran-U.S. relations began in 1979. That explains a great deal.”

            No, I believe the faction that we’re dealing with was not in power until 1979. That’s time frame of the relevant track record if you want to ask about their history of making war. If you want to explore motives that’s a different story.

          • hiernonymous

            Your narrative thus far is a victim narrative, if you will, the story of an unprovoked attack on the U.S. embassy. The story doesn’t start in 1979, and the resistance to the Shah’s dictatorship predates the finally successful revolution by decades.

            In fact, one could argue that we reaped the whirlwind; had we not been so paranoid about Mossadegh, we’d have likely never seen a theocracy in Iran.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Your narrative thus far is a victim narrative, if you will, the story of an unprovoked attack on the U.S. embassy.”

            Victim narratives aren’t always inappropriate, I told you that. Victim narratives are inappropriate when they’re used as an appeal to the emotions in order to distract from the salient aspects of the case.

            Attacking an embassy is a big deal. Victim or not. It’s hyper-aggressive. And it wasn’t just a Benghazi like embassy attack as you know. This was far more serious.

          • hiernonymous

            Attacking an embassy is a big deal. Using an embassy as a staging area for a coup is also a big deal. It’s hard to understand the first big deal if you don’t acknowledge the second.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Attacking an embassy is a big deal. Using an embassy as a staging area for a coup is also a big deal. It’s hard to understand the first big deal if you don’t acknowledge the second.”

            So it was self-defense. I see.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “In fact, one could argue that we reaped the whirlwind; had we not been so paranoid about Mossadegh, we’d have likely never seen a theocracy in Iran.”

            How far back should we go? It’s not “progressive” to keep reaching and straining for excuses for belligerence.

            Without the Soviet-NATO Cold War and Islam, I’m sure we’d be strong allies. But how do we go forward given the actual history of the world?

          • hiernonymous

            The overthrow of Mossadegh is directly germane in a couple of ways. First, it’s worth remembering that the Iranian revolution was a popular revolution against a despot, and we were directly responsible for the last quarter century of that despot’s rule. 26 years is not ancient history.

            Second, given that the United States had directly intervened in the previous attempt to overthrow the Shah, and had used the U.S. embassy as the basis for coordinating Mossadegh’s downfall, it wasn’t terribly unreasonable for the Iranians to conclude that the U.S., having allowed the Shah to travel to the United States, migt intend to attempt to re-install him or his regime a second time.

            Again, this is not an argument that the theocracy was a good thing, or that the Iranian’s were ‘right’ – it’s an argument that our actions in 1953, far from being some unrelated historical curiosity in the mists of the past, were still vivid in Iranian memory and directly germane to the situation in Tehran in 1979.

            Consider this: the attack on the embassy quite obviously looms very large in your vision of our relations – yet the time that has elapsed since that event is considerably longer than the time that had elapsed between the U.S.-engineered Mossadegh coup and the Revolution.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “The overthrow of Mossadegh is directly germane in a couple of ways. First, it’s worth remembering that the Iranian revolution was a popular revolution against a despot, and we were directly responsible for the last quarter century of that despot’s rule. 26 years is not ancient history.”

            The Iranians are fully human and capable of understanding complex political scenarios. Caving in and painting them as some targeted victim rather than as a player caught up in the crossfire us just feeding their fringe elements. We were never out to get the Persians or Iranians. There are some things we can’t tolerate.

            And our track record around the world proves we usually keep our word. Iran is not equal to the USA in stature in any sense. They are important for a number of reasons but expecting to be treated as a victim of USA villainy is just stupid. Really it’s hard to think of any nation that has a strong rational reason for wanting to attack our sovereignty unless they disagree with our ideology vis-a-vis capitalism or some other ideology that the nation has a conflict with. Like religion.

            So all of these grievance narratives are about trying to distract from these facts. You don’t make war just because of history, you reference history if you think it’s relevant to predicting the future. The only objection any nation can have about being a peaceful ally of the USA is if they object to our past behavior, using it to predict that we will harm them.

            We are a non-Muslim capitalist nation. Some Muslim nations can accept this and have productive relations on many levels and others can’t. Iran is at the far and of the “can’t” scale, no matter if you can blame us. We are interfering with Iran’s plans for the future, and those plans aren’t benign.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Okay, but here’s where that explanation fails: If it’s not about Islam, if it’s about post-colonialism, then why aren’t African Christian nations producing jihadist attackers? Why aren’t Tibetans crashing cars in Tienanmen Square? If it’s about foreign meddling then how come India hasn’t declared eternal revenge on Britain? Why are African Muslims killing Christian Africans who were also victims of colonization?

            Like it or not, the one factor that distinguishes the Middle East from the rest of the world is Islam. You cannot ignore it or will it away.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Persia certainly didn’t start a war during that timeframe.”

            You and I both know we’re not talking about “Persia.”

          • hiernonymous

            Please don’t presume to speak for me. We were discussing Iran’s military history. If by “Iran” you didn’t mean “Persia,” I really have no idea what you were going on about.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “If by “Iran” you didn’t mean “Persia,” I really have no idea what you were going on about.”

            I’m pointing out that it was deceptive to make a statement about Iranian history as if it had any opportunity to wage war over the 200 year scope that you mentioned.

            I haven’t started too many arguments in the last 500 years. For the most part my record is pristine.

            Our fight is not with “Persia” or “the Persian people,” it is with the Iranian regime.

          • hiernonymous

            Persia existed as an independent state perfectly capable of waging war for the vast majority of that period. The partition in question was actually quite recent at the time, occurring in 1907. It’s interesting that you see that as ‘deceptive.’

            That said, let’s confine ourselves to the Pahlavi period. Or, no, let’s do one better – let’s stick strictly to the post-Revolutionary period. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that Iran has been an independent actor since 1979. Since that period, the U.S. has invaded Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Of those, Somalia and Haiti can be properly characterized as humanitarian; Afghanistan was justified and arguably self-defense. How many wars did Iran start in that time frame? None. This isn’t a moral equivalency argument, one way or the other – it’s simply pointing out that it’s ‘deceptive’ of you to argue that Iran hasn’t had an opportunity to start any wars, when, clearly, they have.

            “Our fight is not with “Persia” or “the Persian people,” it is with the Iranian regime.”

            No, our disagreement is with the regime.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that Iran has been an independent actor since 1979. Since that period, the U.S. has invaded Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Iraq.”

            Yes.

            “This isn’t a moral equivalency argument, one way or the other – it’s simply pointing out that it’s ‘deceptive’ of you to argue that Iran hasn’t had an opportunity to start any wars, when, clearly, they have.”

            I’m saying that trying to make it sound like we have a problem with the people or culture is deceptive. We have a problem with the regime. We’re a lot more powerful. We wear both the black and the white hat of Western civilization. It’s not a useful comparison unless you want to confuse people. Iran or Persia over that time has not often worn the black hat but neither have they worn the white one.

            I’m honestly sympathetic to both sides. The jingoistic side didn’t win against this regime even once. It rarely does in the USA. Our role in the world is much bigger so its much easier to use history selectively to paint us as the villain. Which is what the regime does. POTUS should not do that, but he does.

          • hiernonymous

            That sounds nice, but your argument for more militant action rests on the flawed premise that Iran is uniquely warlike and not to be trusted with nuclear weapons.

            My position has never been that Iran is uniquely virtuous; I’m arguing that they’re a state, and like all states, subject to nuclear deterrence. You’ve yet to demonstrate that Iran is somehow more irrational, more unpredictable, more threatening than the Red China of the 1960s, or Pakistan, or North Korea.

            The military problem of attacking Iran’s nuclear program is not as clean as many civilians seem to assume. This isn’t an Osirak operation. There is no clean, in-and-out airstrike solution to this; if we commit to military operations against Iran, you’re talking about long term military operations in forbidding terrain against a sophisticated enemy. It won’t be short and it won’t be bloodless. So before being too enthusiastic to pursue a military solution, it makes perfect sense to pursue diplomatic solutions.

            Nothing you’ve said has demonstrated that this intermim agreement in any way prevents us from taking more decisive action should it be warranted. I don’t think that a nuclear-armed Iran is actually the disaster that it’s made out to be, but whether you agree with that or no, there’s nothing about this agreement that is fatal to our options.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “That sounds nice, but your argument for more militant action rests on the flawed premise that Iran is uniquely warlike and not to be trusted with nuclear weapons.”

            They are unique in many relevant ways and not to be trusted with nuclear weapons. Maybe never, maybe only after some assurances of trustworthiness. Probably never, ever, ever, ever.

            So you’re not a believer in nonproliferation? I sure am. I sure don’t want the most vocally belligerent state sponsor of international jihad to acquire nukes. Call me crazy if you want. Call me xenophobic. If you don’t agree by now, you probably will not ever agree. Even after events prove me right. You’ll find more reasons to believe that I’m wrong.

            Maybe you believe that all sovereigns should be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. That sounds like a solid pro-peace position. Gamble everything on MAD.

            When the region erupts in nuclear war, you try to remember this conversation.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “In short, the military track record doesn’t suggest that Iran would begin nuking its neighbors.”

            Their military track record suggests they like to retain plausible deniability.

            Look, even if you say “:hey, they’re just like us and we can’t judge them. In the end, they’re interests are still incompatible. So from a theoretical moral standpoint you might be able to argue that they are “equal” morally (using theories I am familiar with, but they’re just theories, like all questions of morality) but they are not going to just wake up one day and laugh it off the way that you think they will. The fact that it can’t be proved to your satisfaction that we are morally superior is separate from calculating if we have shared interests that we can count on. That’s an entirely different question. I accept that we have good reasons for our wars, and that is not a good reason to empower your worst enemy. Neither is the fact that on paper they don’t have the strongest military. They have the strongest desire to kill us on ideological grounds.

            MAD probably doesn’t apply. You’re banking our lives on it. Based on hope. Just hope.

          • hiernonymous

            “Their military track record suggests they like to retain plausible deniability.”

            That’s not military operations – and, by the way, there’s no such thing as ‘plausible deniability’ when it comes to nuclear weapons. That’s the difference between a state actor and a non-state actor. If Iran were to construct its own devices, they’d have unique signatures, and, as I noted, Tehran isn’t something that can be moved or hidden.

            “They have the strongest desire to kill us on ideological grounds.”

            Nonsense. China’s ideology was even more implacable in the 1960s. Pakistan shares the same religion, and thus, according to you, the same ideological base. Iran is a regional, not a world, power.

            “MAD probably doesn’t apply.”

            Deterrence has applied to every nuclear state so far – and Iran wouldn’t be the first Muslim state to acquire the bomb.

            “You’re banking our lives on it. Based on hope. Just hope.”

            Well, no. Based on an unbroken track record. And, of course, you’re glossing over the fact that the alternative approach involves the willingness to sink ourselves into yet another Middle Eastern military quagmire.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “That’s not military operations…”

            It’s the moral equivalent. The result is the same.

            ” – and, by the way, there’s no such thing as ‘plausible deniability’ when it comes to nuclear weapons.”

            That’s a naive statement for 2 reasons. One is that what is plausible to Westerners is not the same as what is plausible to OIC members and those under UN GA influence. Two is that the need for plausible deniability comes from the lack of a strong deterrent to hold them accountable. The nukes actually decrease their need for plausible deniability. We’re analyzing the past in order to understand what it can help us predict about the future. They are not ideologically bound to plausible deniability. It’s a posture or strategy based on circumstances. Nukes change many things.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Nonsense. China’s ideology was even more implacable in the 1960s.”

            The difference is that the Chinese fear retaliation more than messianic Muslims.

            “Pakistan shares the same religion, and thus, according to you, the same ideological base. Iran is a regional, not a world, power.”

            The same risks are relevant, that’s true. Containing Pakistan to this point is not proof that Iran can be contained or even that it’s a good idea to try. It’s worth studying but it’s hardly a case for throwing out messianic Islam as a concern. Not all Islamic sovereigns are fungible either. But at the same time I could say that it would have been treasonous to simply cave in to Pakistan in the same way. Iran is simply worse. A lot worse. I’d rather Saudi Arabia have nukes, which is a horrible idea as well.

            And how much easier would it have been to tame the region after 9/11 if not for nukes in Pakistan? You can’t be confident that any aggressive stance to preserve the status quo is wrong based on the fact that the world has not descended in to nuclear holocaust yet. You take the simple view when it’s convenient to your argument. That’s fine if you want, but don’t gamble actual lives with policies that depend on your simple views being correct.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Deterrence has applied to every nuclear state so far – and Iran wouldn’t be the first Muslim state to acquire the bomb.”

            OK. Your model of MAD does not apply. They have less interest in living than you do. You simply don’t accept that.

            “Well, no. Based on an unbroken track record.”

            An unbroken track record of being on the losing end of a cold war?

            “And, of course, you’re glossing over the fact that the alternative approach involves the willingness to sink ourselves into yet another Middle Eastern military quagmire.”

            I didn’t gloss over it at all. I pointed out that the status quo was hardly based on anyone’s extreme views. The extreme view would have been pushing for military action years ago. But we didn’t have broad consensus for that. I stated that it would have been viewed as treasonous to do so, and POTUS would need to justify the need with strong evidence, especially after the reactions to Iraq. And that’s the only reason we depend on the UN for negotiations, Because of the lack of broad consensus for the direct military options.

            But it’s even more treasonous to ditch the peaceful status quo and end up with nothing in return, or worse than nothing. What have we gained in exchange for tacit agreement that Iran can do what it wants with nukes? You’ve gained hope for a minority of the population that actually shares your views on Iran. I’m not critical of your hope. I’m saying you can’t risk our lives like that without broad consensus. POTUS has no right to gamble like that. And there is strong evidence that he’s also driven by a personal desire to distract from his own failures domestically now that his popularity is tanking.

            You have a right to show up as witness for the defense. Just don’t expect to win the argument in the end.

            Remember I didn’t say it was treasonous to explore the possibilities. I said the “deal” as it is, is treasonous.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Indeed, the level of incendiary rhetoric and apparent irrationality exhibited by China as it achieved nuclear power status makes anything said by any member of the current or former Iranian regime pale in comparison – yet, for all Mao’s bluster, deterrence worked.”

            It’s funny that you think the incendiary rhetoric was not a factor in containing China. It’s also funny that you think China is populated by people raised on the assertion and belief that they will meet virgins in heaven immediately after death if they die for the state.

            Well, not that funny.

          • hiernonymous

            “It’s also funny that you think China is populated by people raised on the assertion and belief that they will meet virgins in heaven immediately after death if they die for the state.”

            What a funny thing to think.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Iran and America are not morally equivalent. They’re really not, no matter how much you cooly try to “remain objective” and point out “but what about this” and “but what about that.” They’re not.

            Ayatollah Khomeini used teenagers to clear minefields in the war with Iraq, by telling them they would achieve martyrdom if they went out and rolled in the fields. Many were eager.

            In no way equivalent.

  • Zagat Tragonach

    There are numerous hostages held by various Islamist regimes around the world, along with those in North Korea. The Obama/Clinton/Kerry PIC (political inaction committee) has not lifted a finger to assist any of these Americans. Neither did they respond to our ambassador being under attack in Benghazi. A large number of Americans, (as well as a large number of dead Americans in key districts), voted for B. Hussein Obama…twice. So this is what they get.

  • A Z

    The headline of this story alone shows how utterly useless Obama and the Democrats are to the safety and prosperity of the American people.

  • http://fdnyretiree.com/ Ed FDNYRetiree

    The quintessential “Enemy of the State!”

  • Lanna

    The Obama regime is one big mass of deception and corruption. When we actually find out everything that happened in Benghazi, that will give people a clear idea of how involved this government is with terrorists!

  • http://www.twitter.com/changeirannow Change Iran Now

    Let’s also not forget the other 2 Americans :Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “In fact, one could argue that we reaped the whirlwind; had we not been so paranoid about Mossadegh, we’d have likely never seen a theocracy in Iran.”

    How far back should we go? It’s not “progressive” to keep reaching and straining for excuses for belligerence.

    Without the Soviet-NATO Cold War and Islam, I’m sure we’d be strong allies. But how do we go forward given the actual history of the world?

  • hiernonymous

    Attacking an embassy is a big deal. Using an embassy as a staging area for a coup is also a big deal. It’s hard to understand the first big deal if you don’t acknowledge the second.

  • hiernonymous

    The overthrow of Mossadegh is directly germane in a couple of ways. First, it’s worth remembering that the Iranian revolution was a popular revolution against a despot, and we were directly responsible for the last quarter century of that despot’s rule. 26 years is not ancient history.

    Second, given that the United States had directly intervened in the previous attempt to overthrow the Shah, and had used the U.S. embassy as the basis for coordinating Mossadegh’s downfall, it wasn’t terribly unreasonable for the Iranians to conclude that the U.S., having allowed the Shah to travel to the United States, migt intend to attempt to re-install him or his regime a second time.

    Again, this is not an argument that the theocracy was a good thing, or that the Iranian’s were ‘right’ – it’s an argument that our actions in 1953, far from being some unrelated historical curiosity in the mists of the past, were still vivid in Iranian memory and directly germane to the situation in Tehran in 1979.

    Consider this: the attack on the embassy quite obviously looms very large in your vision of our relations – yet the time that has elapsed since that event is considerably longer than the time that had elapsed between the U.S.-engineered Mossadegh coup and the Revolution.

  • hiernonymous

    Which funds? The $7 billion cited in the interim agreement, or are you talking about the prospective further lifting of sanctions?

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that Iran has been an independent actor since 1979. Since that period, the U.S. has invaded Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Iraq.”

    Yes.

    “This isn’t a moral equivalency argument, one way or the other – it’s simply pointing out that it’s ‘deceptive’ of you to argue that Iran hasn’t had an opportunity to start any wars, when, clearly, they have.”

    I’m saying that trying to make it sound like we have a problem with the people or culture is deceptive. We have a problem with the regime. We’re a lot more powerful. We wear both the black and the white hat of Western civilization. It’s not a useful comparison unless you want to confuse people. Iran or Persia over that time has not often worn the black hat but neither have they worn the white one.

    I’m honestly sympathetic to both sides. The jingoistic side didn’t win against this regime even once. It rarely does in the USA. Our role in the world is much bigger so its much easier to use history selectively to paint us as the villain. Which is what the regime does. POTUS should not do that, but he does.

  • hiernonymous

    So far, you haven’t shown anything about fungiblity; you’ve asserted that they are not as fungible as my arguments need them to be.

    Though, in this case, it’s not my arguments; as you’ll recall, the context of that comment was the deterrence approach of the structural realists.

  • hiernonymous

    That sounds nice, but your argument for more militant action rests on the flawed premise that Iran is uniquely warlike and not to be trusted with nuclear weapons.

    My position has never been that Iran is uniquely virtuous; I’m arguing that they’re a state, and like all states, subject to nuclear deterrence. You’ve yet to demonstrate that Iran is somehow more irrational, more unpredictable, more threatening than the Red China of the 1960s, or Pakistan, or North Korea.

    The military problem of attacking Iran’s nuclear program is not as clean as many civilians seem to assume. This isn’t an Osirak operation. There is no clean, in-and-out airstrike solution to this; if we commit to military operations against Iran, you’re talking about long term military operations in forbidding terrain against a sophisticated enemy. It won’t be short and it won’t be bloodless. So before being too enthusiastic to pursue a military solution, it makes perfect sense to pursue diplomatic solutions.

    Nothing you’ve said has demonstrated that this intermim agreement in any way prevents us from taking more decisive action should it be warranted. I don’t think that a nuclear-armed Iran is actually the disaster that it’s made out to be, but whether you agree with that or no, there’s nothing about this agreement that is fatal to our options.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “The overthrow of Mossadegh is directly germane in a couple of ways. First, it’s worth remembering that the Iranian revolution was a popular revolution against a despot, and we were directly responsible for the last quarter century of that despot’s rule. 26 years is not ancient history.”

    The Iranians are fully human and capable of understanding complex political scenarios. Caving in and painting them as some targeted victim rather than as a player caught up in the crossfire us just feeding their fringe elements. We were never out to get the Persians or Iranians. There are some things we can’t tolerate.

    And our track record around the world proves we usually keep our word. Iran is not equal to the USA in stature in any sense. They are important for a number of reasons but expecting to be treated as a victim of USA villainy is just stupid. Really it’s hard to think of any nation that has a strong rational reason for wanting to attack our sovereignty unless they disagree with our ideology vis-a-vis capitalism or some other ideology that the nation has a conflict with. Like religion.

    So all of these grievance narratives are about trying to distract from these facts. You don’t make war just because of history, you reference history if you think it’s relevant to predicting the future. The only objection any nation can have about being a peaceful ally of the USA is if they object to our past behavior, using it to predict that we will harm them.

    We are a non-Muslim capitalist nation. Some Muslim nations can accept this and have productive relations on many levels and others can’t. Iran is at the far and of the “can’t” scale, no matter if you can blame us. We are interfering with Iran’s plans for the future, and those plans aren’t benign.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “Attacking an embassy is a big deal. Using an embassy as a staging area for a coup is also a big deal. It’s hard to understand the first big deal if you don’t acknowledge the second.”

    So it was self-defense. I see.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “What’s your worst-case scenario?”

    Worst case is they complete a bomb and buy missile deliver systems for it. And then either use it or threaten to use it. Once the “nuclear umbrella” is in place, they become less concerned about plausible deniability in terror operations and expand them.

    It could get a lot worse in reality. That’s a modest guess about what could happen.

  • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

    Okay, but here’s where that explanation fails: If it’s not about Islam, if it’s about post-colonialism, then why aren’t African Christian nations producing jihadist attackers? Why aren’t Tibetans crashing cars in Tienanmen Square? If it’s about foreign meddling then how come India hasn’t declared eternal revenge on Britain? Why are African Muslims killing Christian Africans who were also victims of colonization?

    Like it or not, the one factor that distinguishes the Middle East from the rest of the world is Islam. You cannot ignore it or will it away.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “It’s not an election year.”

    This deal (or a deal) has been whispered about for a long time. And 2014 is another relevant election year.

    “That’s conspiracy speak.”

    It is. But that doesn’t make it invalid. I think that even 0′Bama would have liked a better deal at least for the sake of appearances if for no other reason, and the timing would not be ideal except for the need to distract from failures that threaten his popularity in a very significant way. Where did the desperation come from suddenly if we hold all of the important cards?

  • objectivefactsmatter

    The $7 billion.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “I’m not a structural realist, but it would be interesting to see if you could counter their premises with something more convincing than indignation and scorn.”

    It depends on how you define fungible. It’s not worth pursuing to me at this point because what we disagree about is the role of ideology and ideas in driving behavior. When I talk about fungible here I’m talking about being able to exchange them one for another without caring about their beliefs. There was a film called “Trading Places” that took a goofy approach to the question. The 2 subjects were not fungible with respect to their ability to perform the job tasks although the film presented it as if they were. It was a comedy, but illustrates the fallacy.

    Humans are not fungible in the way that some of these “Conflict Resolution” ideas need them to be. It can work, but the paradigms are often too simple.

    You can’t use these theories to prove that Iranian messianic Shiites can be treated like you would treat Chinese communists or some random group of people with a past “colonial” era grievance.

    It’s a good starting point. But when situations become intractable you have to look at the larger scope of explanations. Maybe they’re not kidding when they say their god wants them to kill you. Some times.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “But nuclear deterrence is at the very heart of the situations in which the structural realists insist fungibility is applicable. It’s a black-box situation, in which ideology plays no role at all.”

    That’s where I disagree. If you believe that destroying the enemy is more important than living, that makes a difference. Nuclear deterrence is a much bigger deal and certainly causes a lot more reflection than making a personal decision about say, kamikaze operations. And no doubt the scale of the situation does make people think more about life and the finality of the decision.

    If you have a firm believe that your god is on the side of protecting a mission objective, your own preservation will be less important to you. And if your beliefs also include the idea that sacrificing vast populations is also acceptable or desirable in emulation of the idealized role model, then that too will play a role.

    If OTOH you don’t believe in life after death at all, you will have different thoughts about the finality of death and that will effect your decision-making processes. If you believe that your god abhors unjust violence, you will think that much more carefully about justice. Your definitions of justice will also matter.

    It’s hard to argue that ideology never matters.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “It was necessary for them to “give something away,” andpublicly admit it, for diplomacy to be worth pursuing?”

    I’ve already agreed that it’s theoretically possible that in the end it was a good deal. In theory. I’m just not naive enough to believe that that’s very likely to be the case.

    I’ll add that even if there is some hidden aspect of the deal that is great for us, it is still unwise to project this deal to the world as it is. Very unwise.

    Right now I’m crying foul. It stinks.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    Are you arguing over the definition of tacit, or your analysis of what is being projected?

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “That’s just empty posturing…”

    That’s exactly what the deal is, except that we’re giving consideration to the Iranians so that POTUS may strike a certain pose.

    The specific reasoning is that our position is clearly weakened. I don’t have to know the specific future to know that it’s bleaker if my stores of this or that are lower, or whatever. If someone takes something of value with nothing in return, that’s not a plus and it might be a sign of future antagonistic behavior.

    It’s horrible risk management strategy unless there’s a hidden aspect of it.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “That sounds nice, but your argument for more militant action rests on the flawed premise that Iran is uniquely warlike and not to be trusted with nuclear weapons.”

    They are unique in many relevant ways and not to be trusted with nuclear weapons. Maybe never, maybe only after some assurances of trustworthiness. Probably never, ever, ever, ever.

    So you’re not a believer in nonproliferation? I sure am. I sure don’t want the most vocally belligerent state sponsor of international jihad to acquire nukes. Call me crazy if you want. Call me xenophobic. If you don’t agree by now, you probably will not ever agree. Even after events prove me right. You’ll find more reasons to believe that I’m wrong.

    Maybe you believe that all sovereigns should be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. That sounds like a solid pro-peace position. Gamble everything on MAD.

    When the region erupts in nuclear war, you try to remember this conversation.

  • hiernonymous

    You mean like the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Buddhist terrorists in Myanmar, the Tamil suicide bombers, the FARC, Shining Path? Had a good look at Zimbabwe recently? The DRC?

    There’s plenty of nationalist violence in India, but Britain doesn’t still try to interfere in India’s internal affairs, so there’s not much impetuts to violence. The Irish situation was different for years, though. Want to argue that “Christian nations” don’t engage in terrorism? Already forgotten the IRA?

    • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

      So, are you arguing that Britain still does try to interfere in Pakistan’s internal affairs, but not India’s? Why the dramatic difference in blowback between Pakistan and India, then?

      I would not argue that violence motivated by both anti-colonial feeling, and violence motivated by religion exist. Indeed, both do. The problem is, we are trying to distinguish the motivations in the case specifically of Iran but more generally of Muslim states. I do not believe Iran is genuinely threatened by Israel nor colonized by Israel, for instance, but decides to pursue funding terrorist campaigns against Israel out of genuine religious belief.

      Out of curiosity, are you religious or have you ever been religious?

      • hiernonymous

        Actually, NATO – of which Britain is a member – is far more active in interfering with Pakistan’s vital interests than with India’s. Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the U.S. inextricably links it to American activities related to but beyond NATO’s role, such as the drone strikes. So, yea, I’d say that Britain’s role vis-a-vis Pakistan is more interventionist than it is with India.

        Regarding your comments on Iran and Israel, you’ve hardly exhausted the possibilities. Iran could have any number of reasons for supporting groups that resist or oppose Israel that are linked to neither a perception of a direct threat to Tehran from Israel, nor a primarily religious motivation.

        Do you have a compelling reason that I should satisfy your curiosity about my personal life?

        • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

          I think it’s hard to understand the depth of another’s religious belief if you have not been religious yourself. I say this because I have been both deeply religious and deeply atheistic at different times in my life. There is definitely a very large difference in how rational you act and how much you love or do not love death, in my personal experience.

          Occam’s Razor suggests that Iran hates Israel at least partially for religious reasons. I truly will never understand the knots and loopholes the left (mostly the non-American left) will jump through to make this less obvious, but oh well, suit yourself. I suppose perhaps it is all our terrible Western meddling. You’d think at some point we could stop meddling, only every time that happens, people seem to die and the whole process starts again.

          • hiernonymous

            “…only every time that happens…”

            When was that?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Is Iraq better or worse without American troops there? Is that our fault forever? At what point does it become their fault? Is Muslims killing each other also our fault?

          • hiernonymous

            Hard to tell the difference. There’s a wave of violence that is currently cited as causing casualties that are the highest “since 2008.” Since 2008 was 5 years into the American occupation, it’s hard to say that the current situation is “worse” than it was under U.S. control, isn’t it?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Okay, so Iraq isn’t better off under U.S. control. Fine. So is it better off than it was under Saddam? Are the Kurds, for instance, better off? Would you attribute most of that violence directly to U.S. involvement, or to regional and individual problems that are the fault of the actors involved? How far back do you want to go in assigning blame to the West? Is the West responsible for the life of Muhammad? Should the West have forseen the fall of Persia and stepped in to conquer it first? I mean, at some point, you really have to realize this “it was all better until we got involved” is pretty ridiculous and denies other peoples and cultures their autonomy.

          • hiernonymous

            “How far back do you want to go in assigning blame to the West? Is the West responsible for the life of Muhammad? Should the West have forseen the fall of Persia and stepped in to conquer it first? I mean, at some point, you really have to realize this “it was all better until we got involved” is pretty ridiculous and denies other peoples and cultures their autonomy.”

            You’re arguing vigorously against a straw man. You made a positive argument that our interventions are necessary because when we don’t ‘meddle,’ things get worse. I asked when we’d not meddled, so we could test your argument. Based on your example, your assertion seems weak. The appropriate response is to either refine your argument or select better examples, not make an impassioned attack on an argument I didn’t make.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Um, no. What actually happened was that I asked this, remember?

            “Is Iraq better or worse without American troops there? Is that our fault forever? At what point does it become their fault? Is Muslims killing each other also our fault?”

            And you only answered the first part. Then I brought the conversation back to my original question which you purposefully ignored. I think you’re probably imagining the “impassioned” bit. You’re the one who could have followed more closely, not I.

          • hiernonymous

            Yes, I remember. You seem to be having trouble remembering and following your own posts. In your post previous to that one, you made the following comment:

            I suppose perhaps it is all our terrible Western meddling. You’d think at some point we could stop meddling, only every time that happens, people seem to die and the whole process starts again.

            I then asked “when was that?” You then responded with the lines you just quoted, presumably intended as an implied argument that when the U.S. exited Iraq and was not “meddling,” things got worse. At least, that is the interpretation of your post necessary for it to make sense in the context it was offered. As I then pointed out, your example doesn’t work – at least, not to date.

            “Then I brought the conversation back to my original question…”

            Except that it wasn’t your ‘original’ question.

            “You’re the one who could have followed more closely, not I.”

            Still think so?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Yes, I do still think so.

            Why didn’t you answer my question? An essential part of discussing this rests on whether or not the violence in the middle east can be attributed to our involvement or not. I need to know if you believe that before we can discuss this. Stop dodging.

          • hiernonymous

            “Why didn’t you answer my question?”

            Primarily because it appears to be a sophomoric attempt at establishing a false dilemma. Are you under the impression that there is just one case of violence in the Middle East, and that it has a single cause?

            A better approach might be to narrow down the type of violence you want to examine, and try to identify the contributory causes.

            Or, if you prefer to focus on the efficacy of interventionist foreign policy, we could take a look at a representative sample of our interventions and evaluate the consequences: what sorts of violence obtained prior, during, and after the intervention? What effects do we think the intervention had on the attitudes and actions of other actors toward the U.S.?

            “That means “is the violence due to us or not.””

            As I noted, it’s a simpleminded question. Refine it a bit and I’ll be happy to work with you.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Is Islam inherently violent?

          • hiernonymous

            Islam is a religion; it’s neither violent nor non-violent. If you mean “do I believe that Islam is more likely than other religions to make followers more violent than they would have been in otherwise identical circumstances,” I don’t believe so.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Allah is an enemy to unbelievers. – Sura 2:98
            On unbelievers is the curse of Allah. – Sura 2:161
            Slay them wherever ye find them and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. – 2:191
            Fight against them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme. (different translation: ) Fight them until there is no persecution and the religion is God’s entirely. –

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. – 2:216
            (different translation: ) Prescribed for you is fighting, though it is hateful to you.
            ….. martyrs…. Enter heaven – Surah 3:140-43
            If you should die or be killed in the cause of Allah, His mercy and forgiveness would surely be better than all they riches they amass. If you should die or be killed, before Him you shall all be gathered. – 3:157-8
            You must not think that those who were slain in the cause of Allah are dead. They are alive, and well-provided for by their Lord. – Surah 3:169-71
            Let those fight in the cause of God who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of God, whether he is slain or victorious, soon we shall give him a great reward. – Surah 4:74
            Those who believe fight in the cause of God, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil. – 4:76
            But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever you find them. – 4:89

          • Guest

            Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. – 2:216
            (different translation: ) Prescribed for you is fighting, though it is hateful to you.
            ….. martyrs…. Enter heaven – Surah 3:140-43
            If you should die or be killed in the cause of Allah, His mercy and forgiveness would surely be better than all they riches they amass. If you should die or be killed, before Him you shall all be gathered. – 3:157-8
            You must not think that those who were slain in the cause of Allah are dead. They are alive, and well-provided for by their Lord. – Surah 3:169-71
            Let those fight in the cause of God who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of God, whether he is slain or victorious, soon we shall give him a great reward. – Surah 4:74

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Therefore, we stirred among them enmity and hatred, which shall endure till the Day of Resurrection, when Allah will declare to them all that they have done. – 5:14
            O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Those of you who make them his friends is one of them. God does not guide an unjust people. – 5:54
            Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme – 8:39
            O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there are 20 steadfast men among you, they shall vanquish 200; and if there are a hundred, they shall rout a thousand unbelievers, for they are devoid of understanding. – 8:65
            It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he has made slaughter in the land. – 8:67
            Allah will humble the unbelievers. Allah and His apostle are free from obligations to idol-worshipers. Proclaim a woeful punishment to the unbelievers. – 9:2-3

          • hiernonymous

            You asked if Islam was inherently violent, not if there were violent passages in the Qur’an. Here’s a little food for thought concerning your methodology:

            If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, “You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord.” When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through. (Zechariah 13:3 NAB)

            “Go up, my warriors, against the land of Merathaim and against the people of Pekod. Yes, march against Babylon, the land of rebels, a land that I will judge! Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them, as I have commanded you,” says the LORD. “Let the battle cry be heard in the land, a shout of great destruction”. (Jeremiah 50:21-22 NLT)

            You must destroy all the nations the LORD your God hands over to you. Show them no mercy and do not worship their gods. If you do, they will trap you. Perhaps you will think to yourselves, ‘How can we ever conquer these nations that are so much more powerful than we are?’ But don’t be afraid of them! Just remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all the land of Egypt. Remember the great terrors the LORD your God sent against them. You saw it all with your own eyes! And remember the miraculous signs and wonders, and the amazing power he used when he brought you out of Egypt. The LORD your God will use this same power against the people you fear. And then the LORD your God will send hornets to drive out the few survivors still hiding from you! “No, do not be afraid of those nations, for the LORD your God is among you, and he is a great and awesome God. The LORD your God will drive those nations out ahead of you little by little. You will not clear them away all at once, for if you did, the wild animals would multiply too quickly for you. But the LORD your God will hand them over to you. He will throw them into complete confusion until they are destroyed. He will put their kings in your power, and you will erase their names from the face of the earth. No one will be able to stand against you, and you will destroy them all. (Deuteronomy 7:16-24 NLT)

            How can any man be just in God’s sight, or how can any women’s child be innocent? (Job 25:4 NAB)

            You should not let a sorceress live. (Exodus 22:17 NAB)

            Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be cut off from God’s people and utterly destroyed.’ (Acts 3:23 NLT)

            They did not destroy the peoples as the LORD had commanded them, but mingled with the nations and imitated their ways. (Psalms 106:34-35 NAB)

            If anyone rebels against your orders and does not obey every command you give him, he shall be put to death. But be firm and steadfast. (Joshua 1:18 NAB)

            So let their children starve! Let the sword pour out their blood! Let their wives become widows without any children! Let their old men die in a plague, and let their young men be killed in battle! Let screaming be heard from their homes as warriors come suddenly upon them. For they have dug a pit for me, and they have hidden traps along my path. (Jeremiah 18:21-22 NLT)

            “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” (Luke 19:26-27, NIV)

            But God will smash the heads of his enemies, crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways. The Lord says, “I will bring my enemies down from Bashan; I will bring them up from the depths of the sea. You, my people, will wash your feet in their blood, and even your dogs will get their share!” (Psalms 68:21-23 NLT)

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Almost no quotes from the New Testament I see.

            Leaving out Judaism, would you say that Christianity is inherently violent? That the teachings of Jesus Christ are inherently violent?

          • hiernonymous

            “Almost no quotes from the New Testament I see.”

            Had to caveat that with “almost,” I see. That should answer your questions, if you accept your quotational methodology as sound.

            I’m not sure where you want to go with this, unless it’s an Ibrahimesque “my holy war’s not as violent as your holy war” quibble. Is there a point to this?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Who lived a more peaceful life, Jesus or Mohammed?

          • hiernonymous

            Who lived a more peaceful life, Jesus or the Buddha?

            Who lived a more peaceful life, Moses or Muhammad?

            We could play this game all day. Do you have an argument to make?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            You are a moral and intellectual coward and I pity you.

          • hiernonymous

            Nixys hiernonymous • an hour ago

            You are a moral and intellectual coward and I pity you.

            That’s my boy! Or girl! Whichever!

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys
          • hiernonymous
          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys
          • hiernonymous
          • hiernonymous

            Did you have anything further to contribute to the conversation, or will you be spamming links now?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Nothing more to say, just one more link. In case you aren’t very aware of the details of the Armenian Genocide.

            “In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (which agrees with Islam’s rules of war). Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.” Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 documentary film Auction of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganian’s memoirs.”

            http://www.raymondibrahim.com/islam/the-forgotten-genocide-why-it-matters-today/

          • hiernonymous

            “Nothing more to say…”

            The appropriate thing to do when you have no more to say is to not say it.

            While you’re delving into a litany of fin de siècle outrages against humanity in general and women in particular, consider this note from Preston’s The Boxer Rebellion, describing the widespread murder and rape of Chinese civilians by Western and Japanese troops:

            “According to the journalist George Lynch, the French commander, General Frey, was challenged about ‘the frequent occurence of disgraceful outrages upon women’ by his men. His dismissive response was: ‘It is impossible to restrain the gallantry of the French soldier.’

            Your outrage at atrocity is commendable. Your conviction that atrocity is unique to a particular religion, region, or nationality, is less so. If you are suggesting that the Armenian genocide was impelled by religious motivations, you’re going to have to do more than link to Raymond Ibrahim’s site to make your case. If you just want to swap links and quotes about atrocities, we can do that, too.

            I’m quite familiar with Ibrahim. Not sure that his stuff improves by being parroted.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            If the people of this religion [Islam] are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed.

            -Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī (865 – 925 AD) Persian chemist

            “You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion [Islam] too would have been more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?”
            -Adolph Hitler

            “I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. As far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.”
            -Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 1859), French political thinker

            “Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam… Those who accept Bolshevism become impervious to scientific evidence, and commit intellectual suicide. Even if all the doctrines of Bolshevism were true, this would still be the case, since no unbiased examination of them is tolerated…Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of the world”
            -Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) British philosopher

          • hiernonymous

            Tocqueville attributed the decadence of the Ottoman Empire to its religion, did he? I don’t suppose that when you were reading the source of that quote, you ran across his account of the role Islam played in the height of the Umayyad or Abbasid caliphates?

            Hitler thought Islam would’ve suited his purposes better? I’ve read a few biographies of Hitler, and many, many histories of Germany, and I don’t recall reading about Hitler’s sojourns in the MIddle East, or of his deep study of Islam. When you were reading his comments, did he mention what it was he had learned about Islam that informed his opinion?

            But wait. I shouldn’t be asking you about the sources of these quotations, because you haven’t read them. You’ve paid a visit to http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Quotations_on_Islam_from_Notable_Non-Muslims.

            Again, you are playing the role of the parrot.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Wow, you’re right. There’s no difference between Christianity and Islam. They’re exactly the same. Religions are all equally likely to inspire violence. Human nature is human nature. Silly me, I’ve just realized I’m a terrible stupid, bigot.

            Thank you, you’ve really made me see the light.

          • hiernonymous

            “There’s no difference between Christianity and Islam.”

            Nobody in this conversation has suggested that there is no difference between Christianity and Islam. It’s the sullen resentment of the thwarted idealogue, not careful reason, that demands that our only choices are 1) Islam is uniquely violent or 2) Islam and Christianity are identical.

            “Human nature is human nature.”

            I’d agree with that.

            “Silly me, I’ve just realized I’m a terrible, stupid bigot.”

            I don’t think you’re stupid so much as a bit fanatical and overly impressed with your ‘exceptionalism.’ If you insist on making Islam a central interest of yours, I heartily recommend living in some Muslim countries, making friends and connections there, and drawing some of your own conclusions instead of borrowing them from the Islam wiki.

            “Thank you, you’ve really made me see the light.”

            You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Well, when I visited Morocco, men catcalled me and stared at me and offered to exchange camels for me to my dad. It wasn’t a great experience. It was probably because I’m too culturally insensitive, right? Please tell me, what I could do and enjoy, as a young, single blonde, obviously Western and foreign woman, in a Muslim country, safely?

          • hiernonymous

            “It was probably because I’m too culturally insensitive, right?”

            I don’t know. You’ve never had any unpleasant experiences with men of any other culture or religion? Interesting.

            “Please tell me, what I could do and enjoy, as a young, single blonde, obviously Western and foreign woman, in a Muslim country, safely?”

            I’d give you the same advice I’d give you for going anywhere in the world: live and travel with a companion or companions that you trust. I spent a few months attending a school in Sohafiyeen, which is not the best and not the worst part of Cairo, and among my fellow students were many young single foreign women. There was a group of three Italian college students, a blonde Norwegian, a young girl from Korea and another from Japan. There was also an older blonde woman from Arizona. All of them were enjoying themselves thoroughly. I wouldn’t discount entirely the role that your attitude plays.

            You don’t mention where in Morocco you were. My wife has lived and traveled in the Middle East with me; she had taken a trip to Spain with several friends of hers, and on a lark, they crossed over for a day trip to Morocco. She told me that it was a mistake – that Tangier had something of the feel of a Mexican border town, and was pretty seedy. I don’t know where you were, but I suppose that the other advice I’d give you is – also like anywhere else – know where you’re going, and don’t go to seedy areas if that’s not what you’re looking for.

            In all our time there, my wife had about four unpleasant cultural experiences, but only one was the kind you’re thinking of. She was traveling alone and a man made a rude comment to her, and when she lashed out at him in English, he apologized and left. The other three times had to do with the fact that, as a Hispanic, she looks Egyptian, and twice, Egyptians assumed that she was one of them putting on Western airs. The other time was when she went to a restaurant with a blonde friend of hers, and the waiter only served the blonde at first, because he assumed my wife was her Egyptian servant rather than another customer. All of those incidents were functions of how class, gender, and ethnicity were viewed in Egypt, not religion.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            See, you keep doing this. You keep pulling this bit where you’re like “If one Christian Western man does something awful” or “If one Muslim Middle Eastern man is a perfect angel” then it invalidates everything I’m saying. I’m not talking about individuals here, okay? I’m talking about STATISTICALLY who is more likely to do what and why. Stop pretending that doesn’t matter, because it does.
            So, you’re saying there’s really no place on earth you’d say I could travel safely alone as a woman? Or is there a difference? Could I travel more safely alone to Japan or Korea, for instance? Or even most of South America? Come on now. How native women are treated in the country you’re visiting clearly matters. In Islamic countries, much of that is due directly to Islamic ideas about the role of women. Sure, if you want to explain it away as “attitude” or “foreignness” or “poverty” or whatever, you can. But Islam is definitely not a non-factor and it’s really disingenuous to pretend that it is.

          • hiernonymous

            “I’m not talking about individuals here, okay? I’m talking about STATISTICALLY who is more likely to do what and why.”

            Really? Because, so far, I haven’t noticed you offering statistics, nor establishing causal links.

            “In Islamic countries, much of that is due directly to Islamic ideas about the role of women.”

            You haven’t remotely established any such thing. Women tend to be treated more poorly in conservative, rural, and tribal areas. Fundamentalist Christians, ultra-orthodox Jews, rural Muslims tend to behave in remarkably similar fashion toward women.

            But you just know that it’s because of Islam, because, well, between getting catcalled, and reading Raymond Ibrahim, and cutting and pasting from Islam Wiki, you just know, to the extent that you’re willing to behave in indefensible ways yourself. You might want to glance over your own posts and cringe a bit.

            “But Islam is definitely not a non-factor and it’s really disingenuous to pretend that it is.”

            You’re trying to change the terms of the discussion. Nobody suggested that it was a ‘non-factor.’ I’m suggesting that it’s not uniquely important, that the other factors you mention are far more important, and that rural conservative religious people of whatever religion tend to behave in remarkably similar ways. The behavior you complain about can be found in certain neighborhoods of Jerusalem or, for that matter, in Utah and Florida. It happens more in “Muslim countries?” Have you happened to notice that there are more poor rural areas in those countries?

            Sorry, but you don’t get to assert your way through an argument, and it’s really disingenuous to try.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            I disagree. Has the Christian church been oppressive to women? Yes. Is it as oppressive to women as Islam is, and it is quite as inherent? No. Did Jesus, for instance, say anything misogynistic? Or did he display compassion towards women? What about Mohammed? Once again, you can’t just sweep everything into the category of “religion” and “extremist religion.”

            Look at Lebanon, for instance. It used to be majority Christian. Tourists were welcome. It was the Paris of the Middle East. Now?

            Has there ever been a time throughout early Christianity in which taking multiple wives was condoned? What about honor killings?

            Is there some reason you’re so invested in this narrative of never blaming Islam for anything? Why do you believe everything can be classified as a “religion” as if it’s some coherent category? What is the definition of “religion” to you? Does it not make sense that it’s more likely that there is a distinct scale of how oppressive each religion is to women, or would it be likely they were all exactly the same in their “inherent” oppressiveness?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            I guess what I really want to know is this:
            Has Christianity, in your opinion, been a positive force in any way? (I know you believe already it has been or is a negative force in at least some ways. So do I. But I am curious if you believe it has done any positive things, and if so, what.)
            Can the entire world be made truly atheistic for all time in the future? If so, how? If not, why not?
            If the entire world were to become truly atheistic for all time in the future, would there be peace on earth? Why or why not?
            If you were forced to eliminate one religion from the Earth, which one would you pick and why?
            Is ANY violence in your opinion motivated purely by Islam? Would you admit say, that a very wealthy, happy Muslim who was not discriminated against and his country has never been bombed (let’s say he’s white just for added kicks) and had a good life would ever turn to violence inspired by the Qur’an? Could that ever happen in your universe?

          • hiernonymous

            “I’m genuinely asking. I suggest you answer genuinely and don’t try to be a smartass.”

            If you’re genuinely trying to elicit opinions, that’s a rather odd tone to take.

            “If the thought of agreeing with me on anything is terribly abhorrent to you…”

            I think you invest this exchange with far more emotional significance than I do. I think it would be remarkable if we didn’t have some points of agreement somewhere.

            “…feel free to keep insulting me and not actually answering my questions or my arguments.”

            This is one of the bits you probably should read closely. I’m always free not to answer your questions. No doubt you consider yourself to be quite clever, but so far in our exchange, you’ve several times presented questions that were so transparently attempts to establish a false dilemma, and to force your conversational partner into providing a response that fit into your anticipated narrative, that they could not be properly answered as you posted them. Perhaps that passes for subtlety in your mind, but it’s quite transparent.

            Now, you’ve listed seven extensive questions and want answers. I’ll tackle a couple of them, in the spirit of friendly exchange:
            1. Sure, Christianity has been a positive force in many ways. Not sure what you’ve read in my posts that would suggest otherwise.
            2. Can the entire world be ‘made truly atheistic?’ I’m not sure I understand your question. I think that people in general are quite resistant to having their world views challenged and changed. Attempts to crush religions generally have the opposite effect – they invigorate the religion and give it new life. Soviet attempts to eliminate Christianity come to mind. So if your question is – could a determined group of people force all the other people to abandon their beliefs in a lifetime, I doubt it. If your question is – is it possible that people would eventually abandon their religions, I suppose that’s conceivable.
            3. Unless worldwide atheism were a symptom of some other deep change in human nature, I’d have to say not. Your own posts are evidence that atheists still get angry, no? Nor do I see any evidence that enough of our violence, personal or collective, is religiously inspired to suggest that the absence of religion would result in the absence of violence.

            4. I think that’s a nonsensical question. I don’t think you can ‘eliminate’ a religion from the earth; religions die when they are no longer relevant, but I see no evidence that one can be killed – short of killing all of its adherents.

            5. This strikes me as a bizarre question. I don’t think that happy people in any religion are suddenly inspired to violence by their doctrine. One can find cases of mothers who kill their children because they are convinced that those children have been infested by demons, or that (as the Dead Kennedies put it once) “God told me to skin you alive.”

            6. The only person whose thought processes I can describe with any confidence is myself. I infer from the behavior and conversation of others something about their thought processes. From what I can infer from behavior and conversation, I do think that Christians and Muslims think in similar ways. They value their families, they value taking care of the sick and poor, their codes of personal conduct place a great deal of emphasis on appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior. Most people of all faiths that I’ve known seem to value social stability and approval, and – if one wants to examine the darker side – also tend to seek out interpretations of their religion that allow them to do what they wanted to do, anyway. Are their Gods similar entities? I’d say so; Christian and Muslim theology are very closely related, and much more similar to one another than either is, say, to the Hindu concept. As for feeling the same emotions and experiencing the same anxieties, well, heck – I’ve glanced around at a congregation in churches of various Christian denominations and asked myself to what extent there are common emotions, beliefs, and anxieties even within that small group. Not sure how you’d go about ascertaining that; it’s not the sort of thing that strangers and acquaintances are likely to expose simply because you ask.
            7. Again, your question is worded in a way that seems designed more to elicit a desired response rather than to highlight a meaningful argument. I’ not sure that two extremist Christians would be “exactly equivalent” in terms of their beliefs and actions. We do know that extremists of all three religions have turned to violence and murder, so that suggests a point of convergence. They probably shout or say different things as they commit their actions, so that might be a point of divergence.

            One trusts that, having asked the questions, you summon sufficient maturity and discipline to actually read the responses. Regards.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            “If you’re genuinely trying to elicit opinions, that’s a rather odd tone to take.”
            ___I don’t owe you any kind of tone. If you want to be genuine, find, if not, it’s really not that much skin off my nose. I doubt you will be considering you have done everything you can to avoid answering any of my earlier questions “straight” on purpose.
            “I think you invest this exchange with far more emotional significance than I do. I think it would be remarkable if we didn’t have some points of agreement somewhere.”
            _____Why not admit that then? Too proud?
            “This is one of the bits you probably should read closely. I’m always free not to answer your questions.”
            ____Yes, did I not just say that? Why are you restating what I just said?
            “No doubt you consider yourself to be quite clever”
            ____Not really, no, that hasn’t really crossed my mind during this exchange. I’ve thought YOU’VE considered yourself to be “quite clever” once or twice. Mostly I am just baffled by your refusal to grant me even one inch in this argument of common agreement, as establishing that seems like it would make sense for an intellectually honest debater.
            “ several times presented questions that were so transparently attempts to establish a false dilemma, and to force your conversational partner into providing a response that fit into your anticipated narrative, that they could not be properly answered as you posted them. Perhaps that passes for subtlety in your mind, but it’s quite transparent.”
            _____Yes, my intention there being to get you to at least admit there are some points of agreement and common ground. In other arguments, when people do that to me, as you may or may not have noticed, I generally answer the damn question honestly and then explain myself if I truly disagree with my opponent. You seem very reluctant to do this, I personally feel that’s quite a waste of time and a matter of stupid pride, but that’s just my opinion.
            “in the spirit of friendly exchange”
            _____Lol. Okay.
            “I think that people in general are quite resistant to having their world views challenged and changed.”
            Granted.
            “Attempts to crush religions generally have the opposite effect – they invigorate the religion and give it new life. Soviet attempts to eliminate Christianity come to mind.”
            Indeed.
            “So if your question is – could a determined group of people force all the other people to abandon their beliefs in a lifetime, I doubt it. If your question is – is it possible that people would eventually abandon their religions, I suppose that’s conceivable.”
            Agreed. Except I would add that there is probably an innate tendency to superstition that will be impossible to eradicate. Probably.
            “Unless worldwide atheism were a symptom of some other deep change in human nature, I’d have to say not. Your own posts are evidence that atheists still get angry, no? Nor do I see any evidence that enough of our violence, personal or collective, is religiously inspired to suggest that the absence of religion would result in the absence of violence.”
            Agreed…

            “I think that’s a nonsensical question. I don’t think you can ‘eliminate’ a religion from the earth; religions die when they are no longer relevant, but I see no evidence that one can be killed – short of killing all of its adherents.”
            That’s what I mean by eliminate. For the purposes of the question, wave a magic wand, convert all believers to atheism, agnosticism, or a different religion.
            “This strikes me as a bizarre question. I don’t think that happy people in any religion are suddenly inspired to violence by their doctrine.”
            Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh okay. See, here, this is where we disagree.
            “One can find cases of mothers who kill their children because they are convinced that those children have been infested by demons, or that (as the Dead Kennedies put it once) “God told me to skin you alive.””
            Your suggestion here being what? That schizophrenic people often have religions delusions? That only unhappy people see demons? That Christianity, once again, is not perfect? I’m not sure what you’re getting at here or how that relates.

            “I’d say so; Christian and Muslim theology are very closely related, and much more similar to one another than either is, say, to the Hindu concept.”
            Have you read the Qu’ran? What about the Bible? Would you say that the Old Testament God and the New Testament God are exactly alike?
            “ We do know that extremists of all three religions have turned to violence and murder, so that suggests a point of convergence.”
            Does it? What words from Jesus might an extremist violent Christian use to justify their actions? Have you got a good real life example of this?

          • hiernonymous

            “_I don’t owe you any kind of tone.”

            You’re not reading carefully – again. I never suggested you owed me a particular kind of tone; I suggested that the tone you selected was odd for the ostensible goal.

            “____Why not admit that then? Too proud?”

            “Admit” what – that we’re likely to have some points of agreement? It would be remarkable if we didn’t. I don’t recall claiming otherwise. As for why haven’t I previously posted concerning the possibility? Primarily because this isn’t a therapy session, and my posts were not about exploring our relationship and your desire for validation and approval. Since that seems important to you and you bring it up, here you go: I’ll bet we could find some things to agree about.

            “___Yes, did I not just say that? Why are you restating what I just said?”

            If you don’t understand, I’m glad you asked. When you offer someone permission to do something, implicit in that offer is the intimation that one could have chosen or could choose not to grant such permission. This is a case where you failed to read closely, and it affected your understanding of the communication. I did not simply restate your comment. I added a word – I’m always free not to answer your questions. The additional word indicates that the implication of your earlier comment has been considered and rejected. With time – and careful reading – you’ll learn to detect that sort of thing.

            “In other arguments, when people do that to me, as you may or may not have noticed, I generally answer the damn question honestly and then explain myself if I truly disagree with my opponent. You seem very reluctant to do this, I personally feel that’s quite a waste of time and a matter of stupid pride, but that’s just my opinion.”

            Yes, you’ll forgive me if I don’t model my conversational style after yours. It’s not so much a matter of stupid pride as avoiding side-excursions into non-sequiturs. If you like, there is stupidity involved, but not in the way you mean.

            “____That’s what I mean by eliminate. For the purposes of the question, wave a magic wand, convert all believers to atheism, agnosticism, or a different religion.”

            As there are no magic wands, I’m not sure I understand the point.

            “____Your suggestion here being what? That schizophrenic people often have religions delusions? That only unhappy people see demons? That Christianity, once again, is not perfect? I’m not sure what you’re getting at here or how that relates.”

            The point being that all cases that I know of in which religion was cited as the impetus for personal violence involved some degree of mental illness, unhappiness, or other contributory circumstances. The point is to contrast this with your hypothetical happy, balanced citizen, otherwise at peace with his world, who is inspired by the words of his scripture to kill people.

            “___Have you read the Qu’ran?”

            I’ve read translations of the Qur’an, and I’ve read parts of the Qur’an itself, though my Arabic is such that it’s pretty slow going.

            “What about the Bible?”

            Yes.

            “Would you say that the Old Testament God and the New Testament God are exactly alike?”

            I suppose that depends on what you mean by that. A central tenet of Christian doctrine is that the Old Testament God and the New Testament God are not only “alike,” but they are identical. Regarding differences in approach, tone, and doctrine, I’ve found that the degree of difference depends very much on what sorts of behavior a Christian is trying to justify or rationalize. To some Christians, Jesus represents a radical departure from the Old Testament, preaching what is, in effect, pacificsm or something very near it Other Christians cite Jesus’s insistence that he represents continuity and fulflillment of the old order.

            The presence of large numbers of Christians of every mainstream denomination in the Army throughout my entire career, as well as the large number of military chaplains, again from every mainstream denomination, suggests to me that the pacifistic interpretation is not the general view of Christianity.

            “What words from Jesus might an extremist violent Christian use to justify their actions?”

            The most common quote I see used in this context is Luke 22:36.

            “Have you got a good real life example of this?”

            Of extremist Christians who turn to violence and murder? Or of the same providing a specific bible quotation?
            Of the former, there’s no shortage. Eric Rudolph went on his murder rampage in his fight against abortion, and in his manifesto specifically calls on “Christian law-abiding Pro-Life citizens” to do the same. The KKK was an avowedly Christian terrorist group. “Concerned Christians” planned an attack on the al Aqsa mosque, “Operation Walk on Water,” as part of their plan to usher in the apocalypse. Perhaps the best example of what you are looking for is Paul Hill’s book-length justification of his murder of an abortion provider: http://www.armyofgod.com/PHillBookForward.html

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            “You’re not reading carefully – again. I never suggested you owed me a particular kind of tone; I suggested that the tone you selected was odd for the ostensible goal.”
            ____Fine. Could I ask you to try not make irrelevant points that don’t really pertain to our discussion of Islam and Christianity? It’s rather superfluous, long, and tiring that you’re running a constant dialogue of meta-criticism about everything else I type and why.

            “ Primarily because this isn’t a therapy session, and my posts were not about exploring our relationship and your desire for validation and approval. Since that seems important to you and you bring it up, here you go: I’ll bet we could find some things to agree about.”
            ____It’s not about validation or approval to me, it’s about TRUTH. Logic, yes? Points of agreement? This what you establish when you have a logical argument, no? Whatever. I promise you I’m not really motivated by narcissism as much as genuine belief in the truth of the logical of what I’m saying, okay?

            “ When you offer someone permission to do something, implicit in that offer is the intimation that one could have chosen or could choose not to grant such permission.”
            ____That’s not what I meant to imply. What I meant to imply is that I am AWARE that you may choose not to answer, and I genuinely don’t care. I was trying to give you an out. I was saying, “I understand you are going to do whatever you want and that’s just the truth of the situation. I’m just letting you know that I understand that.”
            “I’m always free not to answer your questions.”
            _____Okay, you added a word. I actually pretty much meant “always” implicitly in what I originally said. Sorry I didn’t clarify that absolutely. Glad we cleared it up.
            “Yes, you’ll forgive me if I don’t model my conversational style after yours. It’s not so much a matter of stupid pride as avoiding side-excursions into non-sequiturs. If you like, there is stupidity involved, but not in the way you mean.”
            _____Okay, well, it’s amazing to me that you think you’re avoiding non-sequitors. I don’t have time to write a novel; I have a life. Forgive me for trying to simplify and streamline the damn arguments and not nitpick over ever last word!

            “As there are no magic wands, I’m not sure I understand the point.”
            _____It’s a thought experiment. Let me rephrase then: Which religion do you feel is the most harmful or is your least favorite? Do you want each religion to last exactly as it now forever? Do you feel some need reform? Do you feel the world would be a better place without any? Which in particular? And if not, why? It’s an appeal to conservativism to simply state “yes, all should be as it is now unchanging forever.” At least, I feel it is. So please try to avoid using that argument if you choose to answer.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Typed up a really long reply and it disappeared. So I’m just going to say, let’s call it quits.

          • hiernonymous

            I’ve had that happen. As a rule, if I know I’m going to type up a longer response, I now do it in wordpad and paste into disqus so I don’t lose my response.

            Regards.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            I mean, listen, am I saying “bring back the crusades, kill all the non-Christians indiscriminately, bring back theocracy”? Goodness no. I am not saying that. I am saying, “Convert people to Christianity peacefully. Defend it. Defend the West in words. Realize what you owe to it. Wake up a little more. Be a little more enthusiastic about your own values, your own civilization and where it comes from and what it has given you. Say it openly.” In Britain, people are starting to do this, because they have true democracy to lose – Europe has not! Europe will revert to tribalism and barbarism because they don’t really care about democracy, they’ve only had it half a century.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Actually, one last point- before I go- I’ve read a bit of your posting history, and it seems to me that you’re a dedicated leftist. Please don’t take this the wrong way- I don’t want to make assumptions about you- and I realize this will probably sound condescending. But do consider, and I mean this sincerely, since I’m not really a “rightist” or a “conservative” myself, more like an “apostate from the left”- do consider that a lot of leftists have also agreed with me about Islam. If you won’t hear it from me, perhaps you would hear it from them.

            If I’m wrong, disregard this. But I just want to state that there is a very vocal criticism from Islam from the left, not just the right, and you might want to consider that.

          • hiernonymous

            “… and it seems to me that you’re a dedicated leftist.”

            Why does it seem that way to you? I’m actually curious. I don’t recall expressing many strong opinions on matters that are traditionally “left-right” issues.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Forgive my smartarsery, but it was mostly your “appeal to authority” in this post:

            “Really? How do you define Fascism? What distinguishes “right” from “left” in your mind? What characteristics of Fascism lead you to conclude that generations of economists, social scientists, politicians, and historians have been getting it wrong?

            It’s possible that you have some sound reasons for bucking the traditional definitions, but they’d need to run deeper than a stubborn conviction that “fascism is bad, and all things bad are ‘left wing.’”

            And just to anticipate your reply, because you do seem the the type: There are notable economists and historians who disagree with what you see as “generations of consensus.” Left-wing and right-wing are already arbitrary classifications to an extent, which to me makes them somewhat useless and over-politicized by their very nature, and there are other ways to classify political philosophies. I think it’s true that “left-wing” and “right-wing” means different things in Europe and Britain, or Europe and America, for instance. It begins to become somewhat blurred and useless when you include both republicanism and monarchy on the side of “right-wing.”

          • hiernonymous

            So, to you, “left-wing” is not so much a position on economic organization or individual liberties as much as it is a style, an approach to conversation? You associate pedantry and argumentativeness with the left, so when someone displays those characteristics, you associate them with this left. Is that a pretty fair summary of your post?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            No, that’s not a pretty fair summary of my post.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            No, that’s not a pretty fair summary of my post. You asked me “what made me think you were a dedicated leftist” so I answered you. That post was reminiscent of posts I have seen many on the left make, and not many on the right.

            What “left-wing” is to me has nothing to do with that.

          • hiernonymous

            “But you asked what made me think that, not if I was right in thinking that.”

            No, I think you read my last post as being argumentative when it was not intended so. I was just trying to understand, and you’ve clarified nicely.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Okay, one last try to post this gigantic text:

            Here, let’s switch this around for a moment. One of my main beliefs and moral arguments is this: I believe Muslims would live better lives as Christians. Please argue against this and tell me why you don’t believe this is so. Unless you do believe this is so?
            I believe they would live better lives if they had more money and less poverty.
            I asked myself, “Why do they have poverty?”
            I answered, “Most people everywhere started out with poverty. Poverty is relative.”
            I asked myself, “Why do we not have poverty?”
            My conclusion was that we had the enlightenment and the scientific revolution.
            They need one, I thought.
            Then I asked myself, “Why did we have the enlightenment and the scientific revolution?”
            My conclusion was that we had separation of church and state.
            Then I asked myself, “Why did we have separation of church and state?”
            My conclusion was that Christianity was a small sect during the days of the Roman Empire, and Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar’s that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.”
            Mohammed never said anything like this. He talked about sharia law.
            Jesus did say this. He was accused many times of subverting the state, but in the end he really didn’t seem that keen on it at all.
            I do not discount the huge, gigantic impact this had on the restoration of secular civilization to Christian cultures.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Another huge thing is Jesus was big on accepting criticism, or at least not rebutting it with violence. Mohammad was pretty big on not accepting any criticism, ever.
            So, I come back to “Muslims would live better lives as Christians” – both materially and emotionally. Or even “Muslims would live better lives as Roman pagans!”
            A lot of people think they can have their own Islamic enlightenment and scientific revolution. I used to be one of them. Now I think Islam can’t be reformed. If you disagree, prove to me that it can.
            Almost no one would argue that Islam is fine as is unchangingly for all time, and even the most extreme sects are just fine and dandy. Almost everyone will at least admit that some strains of what they call “extreme or fundamental” Islam should be stamped out. I just go further and say the whole religion should. I just don’t think Islam itself can really be reformed. Not without backtracking and resurgence to extremist interpretations of the Qur’an every now and again.
            Another thing is, when I say Islam is violent I don’t just mean suicide bombers. You say people must be unhappy or mentally ill to do terribly things like kill their children or blow up other people’s children. Okay, maybe you’re right. I don’t really think you are, but let’s put that aside for the moment. Do people have to be deeply unhappy or mentally ill to be angry at a cartoon of Muhammad? Those can be pretty ordinary people. It’s natural to be defensive if you’re criticized. The difference is a Christian thinks to him/herself, “I must turn the other cheek, I must let this go.” (Or sometimes they write an angry letter to the editor and try to sue, sure. In extreme cases, they might attack or threaten, but I don’t know of many.) A Muslim might think that…or they might think, “Those who mock the prophet are blasphemers and the prophet said we must put a stop to it and defend his honor with intimidation.”

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            That’s not a case of mental illness, just annoyance. Already there’s a difference there. Statistically, over time, that will add up to a big difference.
            The difference is that the Christian is being un-Christian when he lashes out. The Muslim is not being un-Islamic. Prove to me that they would be being un-Islamic in that instance.
            The word “Christian” is LITERALLY SYNONYMOUS in some old-timey literary works with “kind.”

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            I mean, I used to be Christian. Really, really new age love everyone Protestant Christian. And I was a better person than I am now. I was a huge pushover. I was way too nice. As an atheist, I’m much more of an asshole. It’s honestly almost unfair. So when I see people being assholes to Christians, it makes me cringe. It makes me want to protect them. Because I was instilled with that instinct to guilt, to protect the weak. It hasn’t gone away. It will never go away. It was too engrained. “The meek shall inherit the earth.” And when I see Christians sticking up for Muslims, I know they’re feeling it too- the Christian guilt. “Love your enemy.” “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

          • Guest

            Always for the “weak” – but I think Muslims are maybe not the “weak” in the way we think they are. Morally, spiritually- sure. But they can actually do a hell of a lot of damage- it only takes one jihadist to hurt a lot of people. This is why it is urgent that Christians start being a little tougher. And people in the West who have forgotten that they owe anything to Christianity, but still feel the cultural sense of guilt and justice for the weak, that I think, does in fact come from Christianity. I do think Islam, plus science, could pose an existential threat to the West.
            I also think Islam and democracy are incompatible.
            I mean, listen, am I saying “bring back the crusades, kill all the non-Christians indiscriminately, bring back theocracy”? Goodness no. I am not saying that. I am saying, “Convert people to Christianity peacefully. Defend it. Defend the West in words. Realize what you owe to it. Wake up a little more. Be a little more enthusiastic about your own values, your own civilization and where it comes from and what it has given you. Say it openly.” In Britain, people are starting to do this, because they have true democracy to lose – Europe has not! Europe will revert to tribalism and barbarism because they don’t really care about democracy, they’ve only had it half a century.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            I also think Islam and democracy are incompatible.
            The other options is that the Christian West ceases to be Christian at all. This is likely in Europe. I do not know how I feel about it. Usually, racism springs up in its place. “Scientific utopianism” or “Darwinism” or “Communism” or “Fascism” or even a revival of brutal Germanic/Norse/Roman paganism. Will the world be better off if that’s what comes out of Europe instead of Christianity? No. I think likely not. I think it very likely Christianity was the only thing holding Europe together in the first place. (Yes, even with the squabbles and the fighting) – an identity crisis without a shared past is to me, even worse. There is Christendom, and there is the secular pagan Roman Empire (which fell) and that’s it. All the other models of empire sucked and killed lots of people, too.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            “If you are engaging in a conversation and are too lazy, self-absorbed, or ‘busy’ to take the time to read a short post with an honest effort at full comprehension, why would anyone believe that, as you offer your sweeping opinions of an old and complex religion and society, you’ve taken a greater level of care to understand what you are commenting on and responding to?”

            False analogy. How are they equivalent? Is it a direct correlation? If someone is an expert at nuclear physics, must they also be one at, I don’t know, Latin? And if they get impatient with someone else who they believe is disingenuous in an argument, why would that imply they don’t know what they’re talking about? Their specific POINTS should or should not. This is really yet more personal irrelevance.

            “And you wonder that someone might see you as an entitled brat?”

            When have I ever wondered this? Have I ever suggested that it shocks me that someone might see me that way? It does not whatsoever, I merely don’t care.

            “You really need to ask why you owe a conversational partner the courtesy of reading and trying to understand his responses?”

            Yes. It’s the internet. No one owes you anything. Hell, in life, no one owes you anything. You’ll probably feel a lot better once you realize that, but again, it’s no skin off my nose.
            “I do. I have. You then complain that I’m not ‘admitting’ that there might be points of agreement. Are you starting to see the disconnect?”
            You have not to my satisfaction, and you’ve spent far more time criticizing me personally or my “style” which I think is a boring waste of time. You can hate me and my style, that’s fine with me. I am an entitled brat. Yay! Wow, my feelings are so safe. It’s okay. I just want a genuine discussion about the points we’re going to be bringing up here, okay?
            “That was one of your ‘actual points.’ It was the explicit lead sentence of your post.”
            Okay, actual points about Islam and Christianity, from now on, deal?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Several points:

            1. You accuse me of being “unfairly” focused on Islam.

            I’m not. I hate all superstitions and love what I see as truth. As an atheist, that to me means all religions are equally untrue. I have bad things to say about every one of them. It might interest you to know that I’m not that thrilled about Hinduism, either, or Judaism for that matter. They’re sort of in the middle to me, though. Buddhism and Christianity are generally my two favorites, and Islam is my least favorite. See, that’s the nice thing about being an atheist, you’re not actually required to favor or disfavor any religions. Nor are you required to hate and criticize them all equally. It gives you an outside perspective and room to pick, choose, and discard.

            However, as we’ve hopefully just established, we’re both in agreement that it’s probably impossible to eliminate all religions. To the extent that different religions are fulfilling the same impulse (which you seem to agree that they are) this means it is more likely that one religion can replace another, rather than that atheism can replace any religion or all religions. Would you agree? That is why I defend Christianity (and Buddhism, but mostly Christianity): Because I admit that global atheism is not realistic and possibly not desirable. Ergo, I attack Islam the most and Christianity the last. Fair enough? You follow?

            2. “This strikes me as a bizarre question. I don’t think that happy people in any religion are suddenly inspired to violence by their doctrine.”

            Well, that depends on your definition of “happy” but let’s say “neutral” people. I don’t think this picture of “poor brown uneducated desperate” Muslim extremists really holds up under scrutiny, for many reasons. I think we can fairly easily establish that “rich” does not guarantee no suicide bombings; many studies suggest that the upper middle class Muslims are the ones who join extremist organizations more than the destitute. Osama Bin Laden, for example, was incredibly wealthy. Many jihadists from the West are also comfortable enough or well off enough, yet choose to fund or participate in extremism. So that is why I see all this pointing to “poverty” as fairly fatuous. I think “living in the West” also can be ruled out, since many Western Muslims participated in the violence in Syria, for instance. What about white Christian converts to Islam from Britain like Samantha Lewthwaite? Presumably something appealed to her about Islam and the Middle East over Judeo-Christian secularism. What do you think that might be? What about children in Lebanon who grow up being trained to fight the jihad, and told that Christians and Jews are like apes and pigs by their mothers, from the time they are very young boys? Such as Zachariah Anani? If you haven’t heard of him or other ex-Muslims, it’s worth glancing through the Wikipedia page:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_critics_of_Islam

          • hiernonymous

            “It might interest you to know that I’m not that thrilled about Hinduism, either, or Judaism for that matter.”

            Not at all. One of the more tedious aspects of dealing with personal voyages of discovery, whether the individual is “born again,” has just “submitted to the will of Allah,” or has embraced atheism, is enduring the enthusiastic explanations of a particular individual’s path to discovering how the world really works.

            (Unlike Hitler, who, it really needs to be stressed ADMIRED Islam and hated Christianity for the exact opposite reasons I do. If that doesn’t speak volumes, whether or not he was “educated” about it, I don’t flipping know what does.)

            I suspect you don’t “flipping know” very much about Hitler or what he admired. Perhaps its ungracious of me, but having endured your three-post copy-and-paste from the anti-Islam Wiki, which contained several quotes from Hitler, I have to wonder if your ‘knowledge’ of his views of Islam extends any further than that list of quotations. If not, you’re babbling about something you don’t have any knowledge of. Am I wrong about this?

            “Nor are you required to hate and criticize them all equally.”

            My criticism is that your focus on Islam is “unbalanced.” Nothing you’ve said suggests that this was an unfair criticism.

            “I also think by far the best religion to replace Islam is Christianity…”

            You’ve found a magic wand, after all? “Shared history” and “geographical overlap” are the key factors to accepting a different religion, are they?

            “I don’t think this picture of “poor brown uneducated desperate” Muslim extremists really holds up under scrutiny, for many reasons.”

            What picture? Whose picture?

            The ideological groundwork for the Muslim terrorist organizations was laid by middle class individuals, generally of technical professions. Sayyid Qutb was not poor, uneducated, or desperate (he was brown, leading to some unpleasant experiences for him in Jim Crow Colorado). In fact, the identity and motivations of these individuals is one of the more compelling reasons to question the degree to which orthodox religious doctrine is a primary impetus toward violence and terrorism. It’s not the scholars of al Azhar who promulgate violence.

            That said, there’s a world of difference between the sort of person who founds, organizes, and leads extremist organizations, and the kind of person who straps a bomb to his or her waist and walks into a checkpoint, and those guys do tend to be poor or desperate. As for “uneducated,” that’s a bit misleading. One of the most fertile recruiting grounds for terrorist organizations is the mass of young men in Saudi Arabia and Egypt who graduate from school with no prospects for useful employment.

            People seek for purpose in their lives. The FMLN realized very quickly in El Salvador that 15-16 year olds were perfect recruits. They’re at an age when they’re desperate to be taken seriously, to prove that they are no longer children. Take a schoolboy tired of being condescended to all day, hand him an assault rifle and tell him he’s a man and a soldier, and he’ll eat out of your hand. For a while, anyway. Similarly, if you deny enough young men any real prospect of living a meaningful life, they’ll get resentful and restless. Pick your recruit carefully, make him feel like he belongs, and that he’ll have the respect of his peers and posterity, and it’s amazing what you can motivate him to do.

            The Tamils worked that out – and there were no 72 virgins promised to their suicide bombers.

          • Guest

            Okay, I typed a very long reply, somehow it disappeared, so let’s just call it quits eh?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            To be honest, I barely read most of your earlier comments. I found them quite boring and skimmed over the obfuscations and the nitpicking, the sophistry and the insults, because I truly didn’t care and didn’t have time for you.
            Now I’m actually starting to pity you because I suspect you might really believe you’re an older, wiser and more compassionate guy “guiding a hotheaded youth” in the ways of true tolerance, or something like that. You weirdly take offense at my “exceptionalism” which you completely made up and which I never meant to suggest in the first place, and you’ve constructed this fantasy of me as some sort of enraged uninformed crusader. Leftists do that a lot, so it shouldn’t really surprise me, but like I say, now I do feel sorry for you because you haven’t stopped resorting to insults and I think maybe you really just don’t understand what I’m saying. Maybe I should have taken the time to explain it to you, but I assumed you were just being a jerk on purpose, not that you actually believed Islam was a religion of peace. If you actually believe that, then this is going to take a lot longer than I thought.
            I don’t hate Islam because I don’t know any Muslims. I grew up next door to a nice Muslim family. I don’t hate Islam because I’ve never been to the Middle East. I have. Or because I hate men, or brown people, or all other cultures, or because I’m a spoiled entitled brat, or whatever story you have constructed in your mind. Let me explain to you my motivations- I used to be kind of like you “tolerate everything, there are extremists in every religion, I know nice Muslims” – blah blah blah. So I get it. Then I actually learned about Islam and real history. (The “Islamic golden age” is a pretty big fabrication and a stretch FYI- I think you brought that up earlier. If Islam was progressive at all, it was in very marginal ways starting from absolute zero- like limiting wives to 4 instead of 12 or an unlimited number.)
            I hate Islam because it oppresses Muslims. I wouldn’t want to live under Sharia, and I don’t think I should apply a double standard to myself and other peoples. Get it? The women who have suffered under Islam should not have to, but also the men who are stuck without any scientific ideas, any real progress. Islam is dangerous and insulting not only to non-Muslims, but to Muslims themselves. It is a double standard to viciously attack and criticize Western civilization and Christianity, yet not criticize Islam out of fear of offending them. We should care about “them.” Islam is not a race or a culture. It’s a creed that deserves to be ruthlessly trashed and exposed and criticized.
            Islam is a terrible ideology that has not helped anyone. I do not hate it because I am a bigot. I hate it because, ironically enough, I am a true “progressive” in that sense.
            So now maybe you’ll stop insulting me so much, huh old man?

          • hiernonymous

            “To be honest, I barely read most of your earlier comments.”

            So by your own admission, you’ve been posting without reading the other side of the conversation carefully and trying to understand it.

            “Now I’m actually starting to pity you…”

            Well, not “starting,” unless you didn’t really mean it the last time you used that line.

            “….I suspect you might really believe you’re an older, wiser and more compassionate guy “guiding a hotheaded youth” in the ways of true tolerance…”

            Older and wiser? Yeah, I think so. Do I think you’re a “hotheaded youth,” or a spoiled entitled brat? Well, consider what the first line of your post tells me about you, and ask what other reasonable conclusion I could reach.

            “You weirdly take offense at my “exceptionalism”…”

            Offense? No. I object to your attempts to argue from authority based thereon. “Exceptional” was the term you chose; if you don’t like it, find another.

            “Let me explain to you my motivations- I used to be kind of like you…”

            You haven’t bothered reading my posts closely – so without even that tenuous basis for forming an opinion, on what basis do you presume to know enough about what I’m like to know that you ‘used to be just like me?’

            “I wouldn’t want to live under Sharia, and I don’t think I should apply a double standard to myself and other peoples. Get it?”

            I’m not sure. If I’m following your logic, then you hate religions and cultures in which women are treated badly. So far, so good. In that case, your focus on Islam still seems more than a bit unbalanced. You’ve been arguing about how uniquely bad Islam is, but the most consistently terrible news about the treatment of women seems to have been coming out of India. One would think that, if your motives are as you describe them, you’d have made at list a passing mention of Hinduism. Or perhaps you read the news with the same attentiveness you say you’ve given my posts?

            “It’s a creed that deserves to be ruthlessly trashed…”

            Interesting. I’d agree that criticism of any sort of oppression is appropriate. Fanatical dedication to ‘trashing’ seems a bit unbalanced.

            “So now maybe you’ll stop insulting me so much, huh old man?”

            Insulting you? Have I? Did I call you a moral and intellectual coward, or some sort of shrill nonsense like that?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            “So by your own admission, you’ve been posting without reading the other side of the conversation carefully and trying to understand it.”
            Yes, I have. Is this supposed to make me feel bad? Why do I owe you that? It’s my time and my life. If you want to invalidate my points, invalidate my points.
            “Well, not “starting,” unless you didn’t really mean it the last time you used that line.”
            Oh, I did, but when I said “starting” I meant, “starting from that last time I said it, increasingly more and more now.”
            “Older and wiser? Yeah, I think so. Do I think you’re a “hotheaded youth,” or a spoiled entitled brat? Well, consider what the first line of your post tells me about you, and ask what other reasonable conclusion I could reach.”
            I think you could reserve judgment and just respond to my actual points.

            “Offense? No. I object to your attempts to argue from authority based thereon. “Exceptional” was the term you chose; if you don’t like it, find another.”
            I did? No sir, I did not. You did first, and then I said, “if you mean exceptional in the statistical sense” (this does exist, you know?) then yes. If you mean “exceptional” in the “better” sense, then no. It was not an attempt to argue from authority, but from personal experience in any case.

            “You haven’t bothered reading my posts closely – so without even that tenuous basis for forming an opinion, on what basis do you presume to know enough about what I’m like to know that you ‘used to be just like me?’”
            Fair enough.
            “I’m not sure. If I’m following your logic, then you hate religions and cultures in which women are treated badly. So far, so good.”
            Mostly that, yes, but I more hate irrational superstitions. But yes, also treating women badly.
            “In that case, your focus on Islam still seems more than a bit unbalanced. You’ve been arguing about how uniquely bad Islam is, but the most consistently terrible news about the treatment of women seems to have been coming out of India. One would think that, if your motives are as you describe them, you’d have made at list a passing mention of Hinduism. Or perhaps you read the news with the same attentiveness you say you’ve given my posts?”
            I am an atheist and hate all religions to some extent. It is my opinion that Islam is the worst. I thought I made that clear, perhaps you didn’t read my actual arguments carefully enough?

            “Interesting. I’d agree that criticism of any sort of oppression is appropriate. Fanatical dedication to ‘trashing’ seems a bit unbalanced.”
            Where did I say anything about fanatical dedication to trashing? By ruthlessly, I mean thoroughly and without mercy intellectually. If you’re going to trash something, why do it halfheartedly? That’s lazy criticism.

            “Insulting you? Have I? Did I call you a moral and intellectual coward, or some sort of shrill nonsense like that?”
            Well, you’ve called me immature and entitled in so many words, and have indeed resulted to some form of character slander in almost every post, including this one. Regardless of whether or not I insulted you or who did first, you think you’d be gracious enough to admit that, hm?

          • hiernonymous

            “So by your own admission, you’ve been posting without reading the other side of the conversation carefully and trying to understand it.”

            ____Yes, I have. Is this supposed to make me feel bad?

            Why, no. What you ‘feel’ is your business. What your words reveal is my concern. If you are engaging in a conversation and are too lazy, self-absorbed, or ‘busy’ to take the time to read a short post with an honest effort at full comprehension, why would anyone believe that, as you offer your sweeping opinions of an old and complex religion and society, you’ve taken a greater level of care to understand what you are commenting on and responding to?

            “Why do I owe you that? It’s my time and my life.”

            And you wonder that someone might see you as an entitled brat? You really need to ask why you owe a conversational partner the courtesy of reading and trying to understand his responses?

            “If you want to invalidate my points, invalidate my points.”

            I do. I have. You then complain that I’m not ‘admitting’ that there might be points of agreement. Are you starting to see the disconnect?

            “____I think you could reserve judgment and just respond to my actual points.”

            That was one of your ‘actual points.’ It was the explicit lead sentence of your post.

            “It was not an attempt to argue from authority, but from personal experience in any case.”

            “Argument from authority” is a specific informal fallacy in logic, not an emotional complaint about you being bossy. It involves trying to carry a point in a debate, not through sound logic, but through asserting a special understanding. In short, I do not object to your claim to being exceptional because I misunderstood your comments and am having an emotional response to how ‘special’ you think you are; I am pointing out that you are not, in fact, particularly exceptional, in precisely that statistical sense. Would this be a good time to point out that careful reading the first time through might have left you feeling less bruised about this matter right now?

            “____I am an atheist and hate all religions to some extent. It is my opinion that Islam is the worst. I thought I made that clear, perhaps you didn’t read my actual arguments carefully enough?”

            Actually, you just confirmed my comment. I noted that your approach seemed “unbalanced,” and you just confirmed that Islam is your particular target. Unless you don’t understand what “imbalanced” means, it’s not clear how my comment suggests a misreading of your position.

            “If you’re going to trash something, why do it halfheartedly?”

            Hence my characterization as “fanatical,” which seems a reasonable characterization of the combination of “ruthless” and “whole-hearted” that you still insist marks your intended approach. “Fanatical” carries an additional connotation of closed to dispute or reason; I don’t think that’s uncalled-for, either, when one chooses “to trash” as the verb employed in one’s approach.

            “Regardless of whether or not I insulted you or who did first, you think you’d be gracious enough to admit that, hm?”

            Wait a moment – you now want to abandon the approach that we need to determine which is worst and try to eliminate that? When it comes to large numbers of people, you want to identify what you consider the worst offender and deal with that ‘ruthlessly,’ but when you personally are involved, well, hey, it doesn’t matter who started it and who’s worse, we’re all just people, right?

            Wonderful.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            “Argument from authority” is a specific informal fallacy in logic, not an emotional complaint about you being bossy.”
            I’m well aware of that. I’m know the whole list.
            “I am pointing out that you are not, in fact, particularly exceptional, in precisely that statistical sense. Would this be a good time to point out that careful reading the first time through might have left you feeling less bruised about this matter right now?”
            I’m not feeling bruised. I will, in a moment, point out to you, using real statistics, how exceptional or not I am for abandoning my religion. It’s a complicated question, I’ve participated in research on it. There is a trend towards greater irreligiousity these days amongst American youth in my cohort yes. But why is that relevant? Must we labor this point at all? I mean, if you want to argue that MORE young people of my cohort than not abandon their religion, that is factually and statistically wrong, but I’ll pretend it’s true if you want, because it’s totally irrelevant to the broader point I was making.

            “Actually, you just confirmed my comment. I noted that your approach seemed “unbalanced,” and you just confirmed that Islam is your particular target. Unless you don’t understand what “imbalanced” means, it’s not clear how my comment suggests a misreading of your position.”
            Okay, yes, Islam is my particular target. Granted, yes.

            “Fanatical” carries an additional connotation of closed to dispute or reason.”
            If that were true, why would I be here still arguing with you? I’m interested in the truth. You have not convinced me you have the monopoly on the truth in this argument so far.
            “Wait a moment – you now want to abandon the approach that we need to determine which is worst and try to eliminate that? When it comes to large numbers of people, you want to identify what you consider the worst offender and deal with that ‘ruthlessly,’ but when you personally are involved, well, hey, it doesn’t matter who started it and who’s worse, we’re all just people, right?”
            When did I suggest we needed to abandon that argument? I actually do think you’ve been by far the worst in that regard.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            “We do not know whether Hitler is going to found a new Islam. He is already on the way; he is like Muhammad. The emotion in Germany is Islamic; warlike and Islamic. They are all drunk with a wild god.”
            -Carl Jung

            “It is a misfortune to human nature, when religion is given by a conqueror. The Mahometan religion, which speaks only by the sword, acts still upon men with that destructive spirit with which it was founded”
            -Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689 – 1755), French political thinker

            “”Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s,” Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told the New York Times. Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like. What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness.”
            -Christopher Hitchens

            “Having thus given a cursory view of the Quran, I lay it before the sensible persons with the purpose that they should know what kind of book the Quran is. If they ask me, I have no hesitation to say that it can not be the work either of God or of a learned man, nor can it be a book of knowledge. Here its very vital defect has been exposed with the object that the people may not waste their life falling into its imposition… The Quran is the result of ignorance, the source of animalization of human being, a fruitful cause of destroying peace, an incentive to war, a propagator of hostility among men and a promoter of suffering in society. As to defect of repetition, the Quran is its store.”
            -Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883), Indian Sage

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            “When the candidatus was killed by the Saracens, I was at Caesarea and I set off by boat to Sykamina. People were saying “the candidatus has been killed,” and we Jews were overjoyed. And they were saying that the prophet had appeared, coming with the Saracens, and that he was proclaiming the advent of the anointed one, the Christ who was to come. I, having arrived at Sykamina, stopped by a certain old man well-versed in scriptures, and I said to him: “What can you tell me about the prophet who has appeared with the Saracens?” He replied, groaning deeply: “He is false, for the prophets do not come armed with a sword. Truly they are works of anarchy being committed today and I fear that the first Christ to come, whom the Christians worship, was the one sent by God and we instead are preparing to receive the Antichrist. Indeed, Isaiah said that the Jews would retain a perverted and hardened heart until all the earth should be devastated. But you go, master Abraham, and find out about the prophet who has appeared.” So I, Abraham, inquired and heard from those who had met him that there was no truth to be found in the so-called prophet, only the shedding of men’s blood. He says also that he has the keys of paradise, which is incredible”
            -The Doctrina Jacobi (or ‘Teaching of Jacob’), is a 7th century Greek Christian polemical tract written sometime between 634-640 AD. The text provides one of the earliest external accounts of Islam.

            “In a major encyclopedia, one reads phrases such as: “Islam expanded in the eighth or ninth centuries …”; “This or that country passed into Muslim hands…” But care is taken not to say how Islam expanded, how countries “passed into [Muslim] hands.” .. Indeed, it would seem as if events happened by themselves, through a miraculous or amicable operation… Regarding this expansion, little is said about jihad. And yet it all happened through war!
            …the jihad is an institution. and not an event, that is to say it is a part of the normal functioning of the Muslim world… The conquered populations change status (tney become dhimmis), and the shari’a tends to be put into effect integrally, overthrowing the former law of the country. The conquered territories do not simply change “owners.”
            -Jacques Ellul (1912 – 1994) French philosopher
            “…he [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God”
            -John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848) Sixth President of the United States
            “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
            -Manuel II Palaiologos or Palaeologus (1350 – 1425) Byzantine emperor from 1391 to 1425

          • hiernonymous

            So you’re saying the only way to comprehend an unreasoning fanatic is to be an unreasoning fanatic?

            Presumably, you would argue that as you grew older, you stopped being an unreasoning fanatic, and are thus worth listening to now. You apparently believe, however, that you are exceptional in this regard, and we should not assume that the Iranian statesmen have similarly matured as they aged.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Rather, I am saying that the only way to understand the actions of a serial killer or a crazed fanatic is to think like one, and trace the path of their own thoughts. This is unpleasant to a lot of people. Too bad. If you want to understand, really understand, it’s necessary. It’s the same instinct that allows us to feel compassion: the ability to use your imagination, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. So yes, to temporarily think like an unreasoning fanatic, and then snap out of it, in order to grasp where they’re coming from.

            I know perfectly well that I am in fact somewhat exceptional in this regard. That depends on your statistical definition of exceptional. I am the only atheist in my entire family, for instance. Ergo, yes, I am exceptional. Many of my Christian friends grew up and did NOT abandon their belief. Ergo, again, exceptional.

          • hiernonymous

            “Rather, I am saying that the only way to understand the actions of a
            serial killer or a crazed fanatic is to think like one, and trace the
            path of their own thoughts.”

            Seems an awful lot like begging the question. You can only know what he’s thinking because you’ve thought that way – but how do you know that the way you thought is the way he’s thinking? On what are you basing your assumption?

            Are our successful psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, profilers, and intelligence analysts all drawn from the ranks of the currently or formerly criminally insane?

            “I know perfectly well that I am in fact somewhat exceptional in this regard. That depends on your statistical definition of exceptional. I am the only atheist in my entire family, for instance. Ergo, yes, I am
            exceptional. Many of my Christian friends grew up and did NOT abandon their belief. Ergo, again, exceptional.”

            It’s not a terribly exclusive club; depending on the poll, about 6-10% of the population is outright atheist. You’d probably be better off sticking to argument and supporting fact, rather than asserting a special understanding of the mullahs based on your youthful existential crisis.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            It’s hilarious that you bring that up, because I was told this by a psychiatrist who was an expert on Islamic extremism, and yes, they do in fact make very good use of serial killers and the criminally insane in order to further their studies. Dear God man, come on. You’re just beginning to sound pathetic. Use your brain here. Of COURSE serial killers are interviewed, studied, consulted, and sometimes even “turn white hat” (from jail, of course) to further psychology! So do jihadis! One of the heads of the Muslim Council of Britain is a former jihadi. There have been ENDLESS studies done on Islamic extremism, which you have almost certainly not read and seem hopelessly unaware of.

            Really, this is pathetic. I assure you darling, reality and facts are on this “youthful atheists” side. If you don’t believe me, how about reading the words of former jihadis?

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/meet-the-ex-jihadis_b_358545.html

          • hiernonymous

            “Of COURSE serial killers are interviewed, studied, consulted, and sometimes even “turn white hat” (from jail, of course) to further psychology!”

            That was rather my point. One can interview, study, consult – one need not be a criminal to understand a criminal, or be a fanatic to understand one.

            “If you don’t believe me, how about reading the words of former jihadis?”

            I’d be happy to. You will note, of course, that the piece is not written by a former jihadi, and he in turn notes that he had failed to “get inside the heads” of the jihadis until he had a chance to talk to these former jihadis. Read that carefully. He said nothing about needing to become a jihadi in order to understand them.

            “I assure you darling, reality and facts are on this “youthful atheists” side.”

            Then show that it is by dint of research and logic; don’t kid yourself that your pedestrian excursion into atheism has granted you some sort of exceptional insight into the minds of Iran’s leaders.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Are you religious and take offense to me being an atheist? Did you somehow miss my point? My point was that someone who has never been religious cannot really grasp the true depth of religious belief a person can feel, in many cases. They don’t try, so they lazily assume other people think the way they do. I’m arguing the exact opposite of what you think I’m arguing- that the religious better understand the religious. How did you miss that point entirely?

          • hiernonymous

            “Are you religious and take offense to me being an atheist?”

            Again, my personal beliefs are irrelevant, and I couldn’t care less about yours, except to the extent that you try to insert them into an argument as a claim to authority.

            “I’m arguing the exact opposite of what you think I’m arguing…”

            No, you’re not. Your point was perfectly clear.

            “My point was that someone who has never been religious cannot really grasp the true depth of religious belief a person can feel…”

            And that’s not only facile assertion, but it leads to even more facile conclusions. I’d hoped to nip those in the bud by pointing out the elements in your own evidence that suggest that those who have not shared that ‘common passion’ have, nonetheless, been able to understand it.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            You accused me of thinking that because I am an atheist I understand Iranian leaders. That’s utterly moronic and is either a gross misunderstanding or a purposeful one. What I am actually arguing is that because IN THE PAST I have been DEEPLY RELIGIOUS and NOTICED A DIFFERENCE that it makes in my state of mind, that yes, religion does affect people, and people’s thoughts and beliefs, including religious ones, CHANGE THEIR ACTIONS.

          • hiernonymous

            “You accused me of thinking that because I am an atheist I understand Iranian leaders. That’s utterly moronic…”

            I agree, yet that was the clear implication of your comment, which was offered in the context of a discussion of Iran’s intent toward Israel.

            If you weren’t suggesting that your personal religious experience provided you with special insight into the Iranian leadership, then it’s hard to understand why you injected the whole issue into the conversation.

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Forget that. I am telling you now, what I mean is this:

            People’s beliefs change their actions. People who believe one thing will act in accordance with their beliefs. Yes or no honey? Do you agree or not? Come on, this is not rocket science.

          • hiernonymous

            “People who believe one thing will act in accordance with their beliefs. Yes or no honey?”

            Again, you’re offering a sophomoric question. How one ascertains the true beliefs of an individual, as opposed to his expressed beliefs, is a pretty dicey proposition, and usually involves circular logic.

            Do people normally act in accordance with their beliefs? Sometimes. Their most deeply held beliefs may influence their decisions – they are contributing factors that are in the mix, duking it out with their other motivations, ambitions, desires, etc. Beliefs also provide social constraints, eliminating some possible courses of action that would be found unacceptable by others who profess the same beliefs.

            Of course, figuring out whether someone’s professed religious beliefs even form part of the core of that individual’s most deeply held beliefs is very difficult.

            In the broadest sense, you could look at people en masse and ask – have the large populations professing to be Muslim been more collectively violent than those professing other religions? That’s as close to an objective approach to the question as you could probably get. To what conclusion do you think an unfiltered body count would lead?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            So, yes, you do admit that people act in accordance with their beliefs? That people’s thoughts affect their actions? That if you truly believe that lead in poisonous, for instance, you will not ingest it? If you truly believe that Jesus is the son of God and will grant you eternal life, you will not fear death assuming you accept his word? And if you truly believe that you will be granted 72 virgins in heaven, you will, for instance, pack a wedding suit and a letter to those wives in your suitcase very carefully before boarding an airplane to fly into the world trade center, as one of the hijackers did?

            One day, it will be necessary for you to stop being a moral and intellectual coward.

          • hiernonymous

            “So, yes, you do admit that people act in accordance with their beliefs?”

            You seem to have an oddly limited and inaccurate vocabulary. I said that those beliefs that are truly deeply held influence people’s decisions; that does not imply that the decisions they make are in accord with those beliefs. Many a man who honestly believes adultery is wrong commits adultery; many a man who accepts “thou shalt not kill” nonetheless kills.

            “And if you truly believe that you will be granted 72 virgins in heaven, you will, for instance, pack a wedding suit and a letter to those wives in your suitcase very carefully before boarding an airplane to fly into the world trade center, as one of the hijackers did?”

            Are you implying that only 19 of the billion-odd Muslims in the world then truly believed in the 72 virgins? Perhaps you haven’t thought your argument all the way through?

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            No, I have. I have heard your arguments so many times before that it makes me tired and sad. The moderate Muslims. The violent passages in the old testament. The moral equivalence. Please go away, you bore and sadden me. You’re wrong, and too proud to admit it. I promise you this, it will come back to haunt you eventually, if better people than you don’t prevent it.

          • hiernonymous

            Careful! I was eating!

          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys
          • http://www.teaparty.org/about-us/ Nixys

            Fight unbelievers who are near to you. 9:123 (different translation:
            Believers! Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find harshness in you. (another source: ) Ye who believe! Murder those of the disbelievers….
            As for those who are slain in the cause of Allah, He will not allow their works to perish. He will vouchsafe them guidance and ennoble their state; He will admit them to the Paradise He has made known to them. – 10:4-15
            Allah has cursed the unbelievers and proposed for them a blazing hell. – 33:60
            Unbelievers are enemies of Allah and they will roast in hell. – 41:14
            When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds, then set them free, either by grace or ransom, until the war lays down its burdens. – 47:4

  • hiernonymous

    Okay, let’s look at that. Under the deal, they get a bomb. Without the deal, they get a bomb. Let’s say the deal advances the bomb timetable by a month or six. How is our position worse or our response different?

    • objectivefactsmatter

      “Okay, let’s look at that. Under the deal, they get a bomb. Without the deal, they get a bomb.”

      We lose influence already. We eased the sanctions, which was our big threat. We backed off for no reason and no gain.

      “Let’s say the deal advances the bomb timetable by a month or six. How is our position worse or our response different?”

      It’s interesting the way you put it. 0′Bama wasn’t just recently inaugurated. It’s another “red line” kind of failure only a lot worse. As soon as we give up or we discover they have the bomb, it’s time to evaluate how such a disaster could happen. Your question concerns mere degrees of failure. The timing I suppose is only a matter of revealing the details of that failure. Then it’s time to evaluate.

      Is it all about the 6 month period if we accept your fatalistic question? No. It’s about proceeding with the information that we have as we get it.

      In the end I could be wrong and it will be the foreign policy coup of the century to defang the regime. If they get the bomb, I’ll be very critical of Bush for failing to recognize the danger of a radical like 0′Bama following him (actually I already have been). 0′Bama should be held accountable for his failures as well.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      And the greatest hope I had for 0′Bama was that he would at least keep the pressure on so that a serious POTUS could deal with it in 2012 or 2016 before it got too late. I’ve obviously been disappointed more than once.

  • hiernonymous

    Does that really represent the full range of your comprehension? 1953 either didn’t matter at all, or it was a full justification for everything that happened in 1979? Do you really think that way, or just argue that way?

    • objectivefactsmatter

      Obviously I was being sarcastic. I think there are better and more credible ways to deal with such grievances. I’m not saying that it was not or is not a legitimate grievance. But the way it’s handled even today should make us worry about their standards of justice and their expectations. I thought I made those points already elsewhere.