I’m a Just War Kinda Guy

I’m a Just War Kinda Guy November 14, 2015

I’m also a Smart War kinda guy. First rule of Smart War: Don’t go all “Hulk Smash” because the Hulk is stupid. Instead, know your enemy and tailor your response accordingly. Because if you just start smashing Muslims for being Muslim, you make more enemies when what you need are allies. ISIS kills more Muslims than Christians. It is in their interest to see these savages dead.

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  • Dagnabbit_42


    When you say, “Because if you just start smashing Muslims for being Muslim…,” aren’t you indulging in a straw-man?

    I mean, I suppose there are a few whackos here and there who take that view. Or any view, for that matter. It’s kind of like Rule 34 of the Internet, but about fringe political opinions. There is no political opinion so crazy, so fringe, that you can’t find someone somewhere advocating it.

    But I doubt there’s any sizable portion of the U.S. electorate who wants to bomb/strafe all Muslims, full stop.

    The closest you can come is the group which says that ISIS-style Islam really is, if you look at the history of Islam, the closest thing in modernity to originalist Islam…and who follow it up by saying that you should bomb/strafe all “real” Muslims (meaning, the kinds who most faithfully emulate Mohammed in their violent jihadism).

    But even those folks would not say they want to violently attack Muslims who’re peaceable, think of sharia as a moral code to be voluntarily adopted by the devout but never to be imposed on non-Muslims, who view jihad through the lens of overcoming moral challenges, et cetera. Like, you know, 90%+ of our Muslim neighbors.

    I think even the most pro-war crowd in U.S. politics would resist calls for violence directed against that relatively large, and entirely harmless-to-others, segment of Muslims.

    And given that, it seems implausible to raise, in conversation, the specter of some crowd of persons who “want to bomb Muslims for being Muslim” without qualification. It reminds me of the atheist crowd who worry about the incipient domination of American politics by chimerical “Dominionists.”

    • Mike Blackadder

      Agreed, and maybe Mark overstated the point, but it’s true that a very mainstream reaction has been to say that we should immediately halt any plans to accept Syrian refugees. There are millions of people fleeing ISIS and Assad and the knee jerk reaction is to incriminate them along with their assailants.

      • The key element that Mark is missing in his post is mentioning victory, to be followed now or later by the development of a theory of how to achieve it. The people who commit to seeking victory are very much an “us” as far as I’m concerned. This includes people who irritatingly disagree with me in a near constant fashion. The people who are just nit picking and have no stated plans or even directly stated desire for victory are less sure allies at the very best. Often they’re worse and will turn against the operation at the first opportunity.

        We should accept, via the decades long established camp processing system refugees from Syria who have their background checked. Working with local Syrian bishops should help speed that along for some people. People who leave the camps and who we cannot vet their bona fides should not be advantaged over their more patient countrymen.

        Update: It turns out that President Obama, in his recent press conference, explicitly disclaimed the idea of american victory and american leadership. This distinction is a real fault line in US politics and not just a line in the sand I’m using to pick on Mark.

  • Mike

    so isis killing muslims is a good thing?

    • Pronoun trouble: “ISIS kills more Muslims than Christians. It is in [Muslims’] interest to see these savages [ISIS] dead.” I think that is what Mark meant.

      • Mike

        ok thx.

      • chezami


    • Who defines who a muslim is? ISIS claims that those they kill are not muslims. That’s part of the weirdness that is ISIS

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        In particular, they do not regard those of the Shi’a as being muslim. (For a parallel, there are many Protestants who do not regard Catholics (or Orthodox, when they think of them) as “Christian.” In this, they differ from al Qaeda, which recommended being nice to Shi’ites until the Great and Little Satans were defeated.

        • Dave G.

          In fairness, I’ve run into Catholics who share the love toward Protestants, so it seems to be something that one can find around the world. There are always some who take differences to their ultimate ends.

          • Joseph

            Objectively speaking, a Catholic who says that a Protestant is not a Christian, is not following his/her own teachings. On the contrary, a Protestant who says that a Catholic is not a Christian, may or may not be following their teachings… harder to keep track because they are so myriad and divergent.

            • Dave G

              True, though the results are usually same.

        • Pete the Greek

          I am still trying to fully understand the division, but don’t Shia also consider Sunni to not be Muslims as well?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            That’s harder to pull off when you count noses.

            Muhammad had no surviving sons, so when he died his followers met and chose a “successor” (caliph) from his First Followers: Abu Bakr. But one faction claimed that Mo had specifically designated his cousin/son-in-law, Ali, as his successor. However, Ali deferred to Abu Bakr, and to the next two chosen: Omar and Uthman. Ali was finally elected following the assassination of Uthman, but Uthman’s son, Mu’awiyah, thought dynastic succession a keen idea and fought with Ali. It was in fact a struggle between ex-Persian Iraq (Ali) and ex-Byzantine Syria (Mu’awiyah). Ali agreed to negotiate, which led to the secession of the Kharijites, who felt only God could decide (via the outcome of battle) whereas negotiations were by men). Curiously, this battle in the “First Fitna” (civil war) was fought near al-Raqqah, which the French just bombed.

            Later, Ali was assassinated by a disgruntled Kharojite and Mu’awiyah became caliph, founding the Umayyad dynasty in Damascus. Ali’s partisans were headquartered in Basra. Ali’s son Huseein was also killed in battle against the Umayyads and is the subject of a major Shi’ite festival in Iraq. They were referred to as “the Party [of Ali]” or Shi’a. Most Shi’a were Kharijites at this time, and they turned to assassination and terror attacks on the majority Sunni but also on other Shi’ites. Eventually they were suppressed and the Safvids imposed a form of Shi’ism on Persia and organized muslim clergy in a hierarchy. A moderated Kharijite community still exists in pockets.

            The curious thing is the way the old struggle between Syria/Anatolia, Persia/Iraq, and Egypt has played out in muslim dress. The Sunni Ottoman Turks bore the same relationship to the Shi’ite Safavid Persians as the Byzantines had once had with the Sassanids.

            • Andy

              Thank you – I as Pete above wondered about the division.

      • Alma Peregrina

        “Who defines who a muslim is?”

        That’s the problem of every “religion of the book” with no central authority.

      • Mike

        either way the savages need to be exterminated.

        • Converts are better than corpses. Their corpses are better than our corpses. Converts is plan A.

          • Mike

            convert or die sums up the rise of islam.

            • This isn’t the story that a lot of them like to tell themselves. A valid, and I think winning christian response is that we hope to change your hearts and will consistently reach out so you accept the loving Christ but if you come after us to kill us, it will be your funeral, not ours.

              • Mike

                couldn’t have said it better myself.

                but you know the real problem here?

                birth rates. germans are dying out and so are the french and italians and all europeans. muslim women have probably 4 children whereas europeans maybe 2. so in 50 years muslims will basically control european policy via democracy.

                demography is destiny.

                rich white bored europeans couldn’t be bothered to do the hard work of raising children and getting married! i mean geez france just redefined marriage! so you see how their priorities are alittle bit different than their muslim neighbors.

                • Demography in this case is total female reproduction minus child mortality. So long as you are looking at curves over time, TFR is useful. Most people who are very alarmed about Muslim fertility do not do it this way. On threads like this I am just as guilty of the as the next guy because it simply is easier to use the static numbers than to insert image files which give a more accurate picture.

  • Elmwood

    i listened to that Anjem Choudary guy on some lebanese discussion on the islamic state. he’s scary because he’s very well versed in how to answer most questions making ISIS sound somewhat reasonable.

    i guess this is why being kind and compassionate is more important than knowing a bunch of facts about your faith. the devil knows more about catholicism than anyone, but he doesn’t know how to love his neighbor.

  • Michaelus

    I think we have pretty much demonstrated that the powers that be are not capable of “fighting” the jihad boys considering that they have been fighting them for 20+ years and it has only resulted in more jihadists. A cynic might even conclude that the powers that be are not really interested in eliminating jihadists at all.

    • Mike Blackadder

      To be fair, it was really only after quitting the scene that it resulted in more jihadis. But you are right that there is no real will to stop jihadis, not from political leaders and not from religious leaders. On those grounds alone it is immoral to send in young men and women to fight.

      • Andy

        Nor from Economic interests as well.

      • foulweatherfan

        Absent exceptional leadership, the American people have little stomach for anything other than speedy victories. Our current leadership — political, religious, commercial and academic — is astonishingly mediocre and behaves accordingly.

        • Joseph

          America has leadership, it’s just not the leadership that they think they have. ISIS was no accident, no more than Al Qaeda is/was. It wasn’t some foreign policy flub. If it were, the US wouldn’t have continued arming, training, funding them when the game was exposed… and vehemently defending their position against those who exposed them despite the overwhelming evidence. Wake up, sheeple. The US is leading… in the wrong direction.

          • foulweatherfan

            Yeah, keep believing your cartoons.

            • Joseph

              Wow. Can you really be that stupid? Is it possible?

        • Mike Blackadder


        • Dave G.

          I would suggest that the mediocrity of our leadership reflects the less than mediocre level of us Americans.

    • If the war in Iraq shows anything, it’s that the leadership of both parties in the U.S. care far more about their own narrow interests in keeping the money and influence gravy train rolling rather than actually fighting wars… or actually caring justly for our veterans…

    • Joseph

      Ummm… one really isn’t *fighting* the jihadists while simultaneously funding, arming, and training them. Sheesh. It’s public information now. Do people really have their heads buried in the sand that deeply in the US?
      The US is NOT fighting the jihadists, the US is MAKING jihadists and helping them thrive.

  • Ye Olde Statistician
    • Artevelde


  • It’s pretty frustrating to see the responses from the hardcore right-wing types that talk for ‘total war against Islam’ in which hospitals, children’s playgrounds, and the like should be violently attacked. Their argument is that only savagery can defeat savagery. I’m not a religious person, but if I was… I would pray that the hardcore right-wing types fail terribly in what they’re trying to have happen.

    And it almost goes without saying that the hardcore left-wing types, on the other hand, who refuse to even acknowledge the threat from Islamic terrorists… who think that somehow abandoning intellectual inquiry totally… they’re totally useless in such discussions as well. Islam is a mosaic of different traditions and various elements, many of those indeed posing strong problems in the 21st century. There needs to be intellectual engagement.

    • Joseph

      It’s hard to fathom, especially since the rise and direct support both financially and militarily came from the current administration, which isn’t Right Wing. Not to mention how many drone strikes have slaughtered innocent people under the current administration.
      I’m glad my vision isn’t darkened because of being a member of a particular political team. Yep. Left-wing and right-wing supported the ‘Arab Spring’, supported and nursed ISIS into being, and, up until recently (because Russia exposed them) defended and protected ISIS… anything to get rid of Assad!
      I see memes across FB where the only link to ISIS is Bush/Cheney… as if they are the only guilty ones here. Gimme a break. One of these days, I hope you actually swallow the entire red pill and realise that even your beloved “left-wing” has the same blood on their hands.

      • My God, you are horrifically stupid…

        Please, educate yourself. Read information about the history of the Middle East. Don’t be another brain-dead political partisan who just thinks that you’re a part of a special clique that’s of the angels while everybody else is inferior. Yeesh.

        • Joseph

          Um… so, by saying I’m neither right-wing or left-wing I’ve become a partisan? Derp. The love for Obama has blinded this one.

          • I’m a libertarian who voted against Obama twice. God, you brain-dead extreme right-wingers are sad. Don’t live in your little bubble world. Try looking at reality outside of what you get spoonfed by other far right nuts.

            • Joseph

              Ok. So, you aren’t an Obamabot. My apologies, i pegged you wrong. Now, will you extend the same courtesy to me and retract your *right-winger* accusation? I firmly am not.

              • Quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, etc. Duck test. You passed it hook, line, and sinker for being a right-wing extremist.

  • Re_Actor

    Meanwhile, in Germany.

    Hard to see how this is sustainable.

  • Re_Actor

    Poles take a nuanced view of the situation …


    • Mike

      has obama seen this?

  • Dodger Dickens

    Because if you just start smashing Muslims for being Muslim, you make more enemies when what you need are allies.

    We don’t need allies. We need leaders. Leaders have no shortage of allies.

    • chezami

      Good leaders don’t smash innocents, though evil leaders often do.

      • Dodger Dickens

        True dat. I merely recommend avoiding a foreign policy built on diplomatic Facebook “Likes”. Someone has to take the lead. We’re all standing “shoulder to shoulder”, marching like a battle line in the Civil War so we can all get cut down together. I don’t know the direct answer to exterminating ISIS with the least amount of innocent casualties. Meanwhile, innocent casualties pile up anyway. A very unhappy conundrum…

        • Andy

          I am not sure on can exterminate ISIS or any group. However in this case there are ways to limit their power. First lest demystify them – they, ISIS have embraced a medieval martyr philosophy, an apocalyptic view so bombing the hell out them may actually play into their plans. ISIS it seems relies on the ability to use social media to “influence” brainwash is a better word I think folks to their side. If Anonymous can shut down various folks on line – why can’t our government(s( do the same thing. Remove their ability to communicate. Second, I would guess, and I am not an engineer, to interdict the use of the internet or at least make it so difficult that allows for tracing of where they are broadcasting from. Second ISIS reminds of a gang – they provide the image of support, they provide money to their “soldiers”. Money has to come from somewhere – find the sources and stop the flow of money. Third they it seems to me use oil as a means of making money – oil rigs, pipe lines and the like are “easy to find and destroy” – do that.
          My suggestions will not eliminate ISIS but it will I think hamper their activities so we can then concentrate on a physical response.

        • Joseph

          Leadership starts in the US. The US doesn’t *want* to take down ISIS… yet. Not until Assad is removed. They’ve invested too much in ISIS (all of the killing, all of the terrorism) to back out now. All of those deaths of innocent people will mean nothing if the US doesn’t use their little Muslim warriors to finish the job. THAT’S why the US has been feigning their *assaults* on ISIS targets for several months now… getting nowhere.
          So when leadership is part of the problem, where do you go?

      • foulweatherfan

        Deliberately targeting innocents is wrong. Always.
        Instead, good leaders do their best to avoid risk to innocents to the extent possible.

    • >’We don’t need allies. We need leaders.’

      Hard to see someone truly having one without having the other. Looks like a package deal. Anyone that fails miserably in showing personal character won’t have any allies (at least in any reasonable sense) for long. Anyone that consistently displays positive character is a sort of beacon that attracts others.