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Mahmoud’s Idiocy

April 10, 2009

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Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmedinijad might well be, although this is a hard one, the dumbest statesman in the Muslim World.

He and Musharraf form quite the two sides of a coin. While Mushy is trying level best to appease the West, Mahmoud is trying to antagonize. While Mushy is going on tours to America, regaling John Stewart, Wolf Blitzer, and trying to sell copies of his James Bondesque autobiography (it climbed to number THREE on Amazon’s bestseller list) – Mahmoud is idiotically organizing conferences to deny the Holocaust.

Why on freakin’ earth would you organize this conference? Who in his right God-forsaken mind would actually deny the Holocaust?

Moreover, this was a conference well-attended by ACADEMICS.

WTH.

And embarassingly for those of us that take our craft seriously, HISTORIANS attended this ridiculous conference. (And people wonder why I claim to be a political scientist/anthropologist these days; THIS IS WHY).

See, revisionism is an extremely helpful and at the same time, a perverted desire that perhaps inhabits us all. It may make you believe messed up things. To give you the mother of random examples, it makes you blame your inadequacies on your parents. I know people with perfectly happy childhoods and perfectly unhappy personalities who blame their problems on their “childhood.” I disclaimed already this would be a random example.

But of course, counter intuition must have its place in the free-market of ideas. But counter intuitive thinking can also lead to perverted conclusions.

Victims of abuse demonstrate counter intuitive tendencies that help them justify their life. Idiots also demonstrate this. Idiocy, you may have heard me say earlier, if I am comfortable enough sharing my cliches with you, is seldom about knowledge, but a state of mind.

Since very few things about the Muslim world bring glad tidings these days, I was pleasantly surprised to read this well-argued article by one American Mussalman, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, entitled “Holocaust Denial Undermines Islam.” This was carried by Tikkun, which, as you may know, is a leading mouthpiece for reform jews.

Of course the title is meant to be polemical. HY must not intend to claim that morality and truth-telling are a monopoly of Muslims. His attack on Mahmoud would give the lie to such an arrogant position.

The epistemological tendency inherent in Holocaust denial that may undermine epistemological approaches to Muslim traditions:

Read the whole thing here. I don’t always like the populist stuff HY and his crew of Zaytuna fame, churn out. But this article I thought was reasonable and timely.

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83 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2007 7:28 am

    “Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmedinijad might well be, although this is a hard one, the dumbest statesman in the Muslim World.” – another classic Sajid! Given that you’ve already said that terrorists play to the media galleries, can’t the same thing be said about Mahmoud A?

  2. July 19, 2007 8:45 am

    Possibly, Asif bhai.

    What do you think he’s trying to achieve though?

  3. July 19, 2007 3:52 pm

    Sajid – about Mushy, and this is a point that a lot of Pakistani friends who have been anti-Mushy for a while have been raising: Is he only appeasing the West? Or have the militants gone too far this time? They were in the MIDDLE of Islamabad holed up with foreign militants and armed to the teeth.

  4. July 19, 2007 4:37 pm

    That is true, Saifullah.

    But in terms of how he handled it, his brute show of power, etc, after being quite mum about lots of the activities of the Lal Masjid crazies for so long – quite a few commentarors have said Mushy is responding to American and Chinese pressures.

    But you are right. Its not like he’s only trying to appease the West. That’s not just it. These militants might have gone too far.

  5. July 19, 2007 5:08 pm

    I guess Hamza Yusuf hasn’t come across Ibn Warraq’s book “WHY I AM NOT a Muslim”. The idea that there was only one version of the Koran is in itself a piece of revisionism, it’s preposterous hogwash.

  6. Hussain permalink
    July 19, 2007 8:27 pm

    Ibn Warraq’s book- “Why I am not a Muslim” is perhaps one of the most viscious anti- Muslim writings in recent times, riddled with glaring and extensive intellectual flaws.

    This is explained best by his unfair combination of valid criticism of contemporary Muslim practice and Muslim attitudes with what seems to be an unfortunate and very real ignorance of what is actually communicated by the Qur’an and sunnah.

    There is a failure to recognize that Islam emerges out of a past context that is then integrated into Islam. While the author connivingly paints this as a flaw, it simply is just the reality of the stage setup prior to divine revelation. Everything and everyone comes out of, is influenced by, and incorporates a cultural past. This would appear to be a simple fact of all reality, but seems to be a problem for Warraq and his cohorts. For example, even as the Prophet interacted with the Jews and Christians, words like Allah, Ka’ba, were in existence (the christians of Palestine for example, still refer to God as Allah, a dhati name). Warraq somehow tries to paint this as a negative against Islam, as if the only seal of authenticity would have been if everything including the philosophy of language were to be reinvented. As awkward as this logic is, it’s more of a predicament to imagine how then the existence of a Divine entity, and that of destiny were to be explained, if there was no past to begin with.

    Another gross error, that both the author, and often Muslims themselves (although not quite as viscious and mal-intentioned) are generally guilty of. They fail to recognize the Qur’an and the Sunnah as a whole. What we as individuals need to recognize, is that the Qur’an (the one lone version, with only differing versions of recitations) and the Sunnah are equal in authority, ie. if the Prophet were alive today, Islamic creed dictates that his word would be law. The only debate arises, that while the Qur’an was rigorously authenticated by an immutable number of diverse chains of transmitters (what we refer to as the category of “mutawatir”), some of the hadith reached that level of authenticity, “mutawatir”, others did not. In this science of categorizing hadith, there are 52 categories, which bears different results in the derivation of law. For instance, people will take verses from the Qur’an with no reference to other qualifying ideas in the Qur’an and with no reference to the context at the time of revelation, or for that matter the centuries of commentaries, and rigirously authenticated first hand accounts of the instance. Ironically, this manipulative technique is used by both who have hijacked the religion (read OBL and clan), anti muslims, sexists and of course the occassional progressive. These individuals will cite verses related to times of war, take them out of context, and disconnect them from the ethos presented by the Qur’an and sunnah as a whole- and Ibn Warraq is no different. The Qur’an and the Sunnah are a declaration as one entity. What this means in practical terms, is that any discussion on issues of of Islam related to society (ma’moolat), must be treated as an entire ecosystem, and only isolated when the case of a specific instance is being studied, and even then requires a comprehensive study of all evidences in this regards, past commentaries and opinions.

    The author then goes on to an even greater pitfall, which is to treat our generation of muslims and our Islam as normative and exemplary. The ummah as a whole knows this generation’s practice of our religion is, at best, poor. (although I do sincerely pray that we are the generation to establish an Islamic Renaissance.) I know of no Muslim who would argue that we today exemplify– by any stretch of the imagination– the principles and ideals of Islam. People like Daniel Pipes, Ibn Warraq, Ayan Harsi Ali, hold up our poor reflection of this unfortunate reality, and use this as an evidence against us. While we submit, nay, we will confess that we are the worst of the worst, the weakest of the weakest of our Lord’s creation, in no way will we sit and watch them malign the beauty of this religion by pointing fingers at us.

    Additionally, he uses certain unique cultural practices and integrates them as Islam. While there are customs that Islam has comfortably assimilated into itself (known as traditional law, or urf – local custom), this is not a hukm (principle) in itself, but rather an accomodation into law so that it is easy on those coming into Islam. Nevertheless, these customs are never contrary to sound principles in the religion. Furthermore, it’s noteworthy to add, that the author’s specific examples are not sanctioned in the religion. He uses specific examples of atrocities committed by muslims, in the name of Islam, without actually studying the majority legal opinions on these issues, and tries to use them as evidence. I trust any thinking individual will easily dismiss these examples.

    Next, the author fails to understand, or even acknowledge, that the Qur’an is not a history text. It is of a particular genre (and on a personal note, if you get a chance , you should look at the way the Qur’an is setup, how the stories are told, and what devices are actually used to remind the reader of a story stated in the past, and whether it is related the story being read at the time of. It is an absolutley amazing science, and the beauty of the poetry of the Qur’an shines through). The text uses parables, to teach legal and moral principles, as well as specific rulings. And herein, is the author’s greatest error.

    Of course there are reasons why people write such anti-Muslim books. Some are ignorant and just didn’t know any better, some do it to promote some other theology, and others, which seems to be his case and the case of many, are driven by unfortunate circumstances in early childhood.

    This is quite vaild. Ayan Hirsi Ali was married off against her will, to an abusive husband, and her only escape, was escape itself. Likewise, the author begins with a valid argument against religious fascism and dogma (which is another unbecoming reality of muslims today), but then slips into blanket statements that speak more to emotion than academic arguments. At this stage, it is noteworthy to mention, that it is we, us who have driven away Ayan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, and perhaps many others like them who never got a voice. People we failed to protect from our insensitivity, backwardness, lack of sophistication, and worst of all, our poor understanding and opportunistic implementation of religion, and forcing that version down their throats. Never actually patiently taking the time to explain rulings, behavior, wisdom, love and mercy to them.

    Moving on, it is essential to understand that Ibn Warraq never actually studied Islam. (he says he attended Qur’an school before he attended school, which is true, but he actually never even learnt arabic). This become more and more apparent. His only academic references, are all orientalists. Orientalists, who other academians (western ones) have painted as borderline racists. He never quotes any seerah book, commentary, or any major scholar and thinker in our history. Literally, not one. He seems to playing to the choir, as he quotes, and writes for people who already seem prejudiced and bigoted at best. The book has very little to do with Islam. He relies on his “being born in an Islamic country” as his crutch, and seriously, who’s that appealing to these days? I mean, everyone’s doing it… I encourage everyone that the book may seem horrifying, but understand that he is out with an agenda, as I have painted his logical fallacies above. For an anti-dogma advocate, he seems to be immersed in it.

    Warraq’s purpose in writing this book is “first and foremost an assertion of my right to criticize everything and anything in Islam– even to blaspheme.” To this end and to express his hostility he will present only those quotes, citations and views of history that fulfill this agenda. His lack of objectivity and sheer ignorance, he fails to recognize and define terms and concepts in general religious studies and thus displays a level of education that is inadequate to the task he sets for himself, that is, if that task had anything to do with saying true things about Islam. His entire book is just his knee jerk reaction puttin to words his hatred for muslims (I do not think he hates Islam, because it seems regrettably, he never got to know it)

    All that said, there are unfortunate realities stated in his book, which have also driven him to where he is. I do not wish to blame him, but rather sympathise with him. I think the book reminds us of what we’ve become, but fails to shine a light on what we should have been. Im afraid for that, we would have to turn elsewhere, after a short introspection of ourselves.

  7. July 19, 2007 8:37 pm

    Thank you Hussain.

  8. Syed permalink
    July 19, 2007 10:09 pm

    Eloquent post Hussain. As much as we disagree about the right path to interpreting Islam….I could not have said it any better. You’re so right on this one!

  9. Sanaz permalink
    July 19, 2007 10:53 pm

    I’m no big fan of President Ahmadinejad, but you need to grasp a little more history of Iran, especially the last 30 years before you can make blanket statements. Ahmadinejad, like Chavez and the rest of these sorts are pandering to populist ideals. Contrary to what you think, I believe that Ahmadinejad doesn’t give one iota of a |$%* to what the Muslim or Islamic scholars think. He cares only for Iran– he is an Iranian nationalist who takes traditional Muslim causes or concerns and twists it to his advantage. Sajid, I think you need to read between the lines to understand the rhetoric that comes from Ahmadinejad. Of course, denying the Holocaust is a horrible thing to do, but look how much support Ahmadinejad has garnished from extremists groups both in the Muslim world and those sympathetic to the concerns of the Muslim world (i.e. The Hugo Chavezs of the world). To the mind of an extremist, Ahmadinejad says the things that no one dares to and is admired for it (thus gaining support and admiration from those sympathetic to his views & comments). On the other hand, Musharraf is a CIA/ Western bitch with no credibility in Pakistan much less in the rest of the Muslim world. If Mushy were to put on a conference and do exactly as Ahmadinejad, there would have been a riot, especially by those in the CIA. Ahmadinejad doesn’t fear the CIA as much as he fears internal situation in Iran. Conferences such as this one are a smoke screen to take away from the real issues and problems currently happening in Iran.

  10. Syed permalink
    July 19, 2007 11:38 pm

    I think Sanaz has come up with an accurate assessment. Agree with her whole-heartedly.

  11. July 20, 2007 3:03 am

    Sanaz has pretty much summarised my own reply to your initial question Sajid bhai. His own theory of confontration is driven by his need to “externalise” the problems that plague Iran. Remember, he came to power running on a mandate of “let’s re-distribute the oil wealth we’ve built up”. Needless to say, that has been easier said than done, given the highly decentralised Iranian system of government. Further, as soon as his election victory was confirmed, a bit more power was given to the expediency council headed by Rafsanjani and other “pragmatists” within Iran. So yes, his bluster so far has been mostly to distract from his own problems at home, a not untraditional move in Iran by any means.

  12. July 20, 2007 4:37 am

    First up, I am glad you could be provoked into commenting, Sanaz.

    Now, if only Nasser would do the same re: Musharraf, we’ll have a full nuclear/wannabe nuclear family.

    Second, I never suggested Mahmoud cares about what Islamic or Muslim scholars think. I talked about academics attending his conference which I lamented as a general lament about perverted academic revisionism. You are putting up straw men so you can take them down. :]

    Third, I don’t disagree Mahmoud is trying to distract from internal problems. I think this “context” is obvious. But it makes no difference to my argument.

    I whole-heartedly disagree that Mahmoud’s hawkishness creates legitimacy for him anywhere of significance in the “Muslim World.” Who cares what he says aside from Hizbollah and Shi’as in Iraq? To think his anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric will create any sort of pan-Islamic unity for his cause is ridiculous.

    Speaking of the Muslim world, if Iran were attacked, Saudi would do nothing, and the three most powerful armies in the Muslim World, those of Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt would sit in their barracks and drink Kashmiri chai. Maybe watch Bollywood too. Don’t know if the Turkish Army likes Bollywood though. Maybe they would watch it all on CNN. Maybe it’ll create some support for MB in Egypt and Jama’at in Pakistan (and Bangladesh). That’s about it really.

    As Mahmoud’s rhetoric gets works, so does Shi’a-Sunni conflicts in Pakistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. And what’s Hizbollah, Iran’s tentacle in the Arab ME, going to do? Help Shi’a militants blow up more Sunni outposts while Sunnis try to wreck them with car bombs? What the hell are they gonna do if America executed “surgical strikes” on nuclear facilities in Iran (even Obama is speaking hawkishly about Iran) and in the process, create enough collatoral damage to expose Mahmoud for the idoitic and impotent leader that he is.

    And meanwhile, Mahmoud imprisons Iranian scholars because everything that smacks of America or the West must be SPIES and has his own version of the muttawa assault Iranian citizens for wearing tshirts that are too tight.

    On the other hand, Musharraf has had had no option but to side with Bush’s War on Terror. Many believe that the then-Deputy Secretary of State delivered a personal message to Musharraf before attacking Afghanistan that if Pakistan didn’t cooperate, he should be “prepared to be bombed.”

    The situation in Pakistan is terrible, the tribal areas are under increasing Al-Qaeda influence. If this were the case in Iran, and there were well-known havens in Iran for Osama and Al-Qaeda, and Mahmoud didn’t do what Mushy has done both for reasons of internal security as well as for reasons of diplomacy, Iran would’ve been bombed. Rest assured.

    Fact is, neither Mahmoud nor Musharraf are popular in the “Muslim World.” This category only works as an aggregate not as a cohesive whole. Mahmoud might just edge Mushy in popularity among his local constituents. But this hardly says anything because Mahmoud is not about to win any popularity contests in Iran, let alone among some powerful quarters of the Iranian Diaspora in the West.

    Mushy decided to side with power. Mahmoud with stupidity.

  13. July 20, 2007 4:39 am

    Hussain, that’s very informative. Would have made for an awesome blog post. Maybe I can move it to the main page?

  14. Hussain permalink
    July 20, 2007 4:42 am

    sure thing

  15. July 21, 2007 8:51 am

    Sajid,

    Great post and discussion. Few thoughts.

    1. How closely is Hizballah linked with Mahmoud? Surely their connection is with the Iranian (and Syrian) intelligence agencies, and their actual aim is to create a Shia dominated state in Lebanon. If Iran is attacked, and the Iranian and Syrian intelligence networks want a reprisal against the west, and Hizballah carries it out, will it become more or less popular in Lebanon? Wouldn’t this determine whether Hizballah does anything?

    2. In case of Pakistan, any predictions after the latest developments? The blogs make for familiar reading for any Bangladeshi – give the regime more time vs we want the army out. Except of course the Bangladeshi regime is only a few months old, and Mushie has been there for nearly 7 years.

  16. July 21, 2007 9:23 am

    Anthony bhai,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I’ll add more thoughts to your point 1 soon. I do agree that there are other impediments tied to their local concerns in Lebanon that complicate what Hizbullah might do if Iran were attacked. And speaking in terms of military strategy, Hizb would only be effective if there was an occupying entity in Lebanon or even Tehran, like a ground force. Think 1983.

    But as you know, Western military coercions these days, if Iran were to be at the end of one, would hardly involve a ground force, in an age where air power reigns supreme. Iran’s allies might try to create trouble here and there, in Iraq for example, but how much this would affect US policy is questionable, since the pressure is on already for massive troop withdrawl.

    As for predictions after the latest developments in Pakistan, as you may know the Supreme Court stepped all over Musharraf’s efforts to oust the Chief Justice. Many senior advocates were out brandishing anti-Musharraf slogans. Musharraf’s popularity among Pakistani shushil shamaj/civil society is at its lowest.

    This is interesting because this is the first time that a military leader in Pakistan has both the Right and the Left calling for his blood.

    Mushy will go. How, when, its hard to tell. But the larger point really is that even if Musharraf’s ouster happens, the subsequent Pak Govt will have to continue Musharraf’s recently adopted heavy-handed tactics against militants. If the militants hate Musharraf so much, its unlikely that the next government will be any more popular. This will become more interesting, if an politcal entity more to the left, like Benazir’s PPP, came to power, if Mushy struck a deal with her, which the media has already listed as a possibility.

  17. July 21, 2007 1:24 pm

    Sajid, I’ll write in detail later, but surely this is NOT ‘the time that a military leader in Pakistan has both the Right and the Left calling for his blood’ – surely you haven’t forgotten good old Ayub.:)

  18. July 21, 2007 1:39 pm

    I did. Thanks for reminding. :]

    Maybe because I used to live close to Ayub Gate, now known as Asad Gate.

  19. July 21, 2007 1:57 pm

    Incorrectly, I sometimes think of Pakistan as a post-71, Cold war entity. Too much poli sci damages the historical memory.

  20. July 21, 2007 6:03 pm

    Sajid,

    My experience has been the exact opposite. It’s our indigenous history that makes me forget about Pakistan’s strange fortunes since ’47!:) Poli sci comes back to correct it.

    My two cents on Hizb.: from what I know Syria used to have a veto function over them vis a vis Israel. They were free to pursue other avenues of action as long as it didn’t conflict with Syrian interests. However, please note that this does not mean that Syria can “trigger” Hizb. into doing things that are contrary to its own interests.

    A lot depends on Nasrallah, whom even his worst critics are now calling something of a tactical genius following last years “war” with Israel. I don’t think he can afford to alienate the Lebanese Sunnis, Christians and Druzes too much. Nor will he want to since last years war sort of stretched those relationships to the limit.

    As for air power vs. ground forces, as we have seen air power is great for coercing other state entities, but not the best mechanism for “regime change”. So don’t rule out Hizb.’s style of assymmetric warfare just yet, something the US should seriously consider before embarking on their Persian adventure.

  21. Anonymous permalink
    July 22, 2007 2:45 am

    Ustad AsifY,

    Regarding poli sci., I see what you mean. People around me draw arbitrary lines between history and poli sci, disciplines that aside from having methodological differences, are often partitioned by chronology. Not that I like this. A good history dissertation doesnt delve into periods as recent as the Cold War, I am repeatedly told.

    I agree with your thoughts on Syria and Nasrallah. I’ll add more to this in a post hopefully.

    Post Operation Desert Storm, air power has really become the staple of military coercion. Cruise Missiles do more damage than tanks you know. As you will also know, ground forces are only introduced used for “denial” after air power has knocked over the opponent’s army, and an invasion can ensue. I personally doubt the US would invade ala Iraq. Or depose Mahmoud and change the regime violently. Surgical strikes are more likely.

  22. July 24, 2007 9:12 pm

    Hussain
    Your portrayal of yourself as an authority on Islam is impressive, yet, you seem to have omitted page numbers of the parts of Ibn Warraq’s book you so authoritatively critiqued. I’ve been diagnosed ignoramus since childhood, but, perhaps, your intelligent readers have seen something of the ad hominem aspect of your post.
    If you want someone to doubt the credentials of Ibn Warraq, I guess, you would want that someone to doubt your credentials too? What is your credentials? Pray tell, but do so compassionately and eloquently. I’ll try my utmost best to give a lengthy response then.

    My gratitude remains.

  23. July 27, 2007 4:15 am

    Well, in practice two countries were born in December 1971, and it’s probably right to think of Pakistan post-1971 as a new country. And in that case, it’s correct that Musharraf faces opposition from both the beards and clean-shaved folks, wheras Zia only faced opposition from the latter type. But then again, Papa Bhutto also faced a grand alliance of opposition parties in 1977.

    Historical parrallels aside, you’re probably right in your assessment that whoever replaces Musharraf will have to deal with the beards. If it is another general, then we’re probably looking at a protracted insurgency. And this will be messy – many of the beards are hardened veterans from Kashmir and Afghanistan. This probably will be the case even if Benazir is brought in to give a semblance of ‘civilian control’ – I don’t think anyone believes she will have the real power.

    Ironic that no one considers a genuine free vote as a way to deligitimise the beards in Pakistan.

  24. July 27, 2007 5:42 am

    That’s because believe it or not, a free vote might bring in the “beards” in the 2nd or 3rd rounds, after NS and BB have exhausted themselves. Many people believe that Islamist parties were set to win against Bhutto had the Zia coup not taken place.

    And you know how Americans are about this sort of thing :)! Democracy at home, Pat Robertsons and Michelle Malkins running loose … but these “Moslem” countries, they’re not “developed” enough to know how to handle hate-preaching, intolerant bigots!

  25. Sajid permalink
    July 27, 2007 6:03 am

    It is a difficult one.

    Although AsifY, you really think the Islamist parties would win, even with a coalition with Sharif’s Muslim League?

    This is speculative of course, but I also hear that MQM wallahs are not nearly as popular as people think. I’ll look up something I read recently on a Pakistani blog.

    But you are right in pointing out America’s dilemma. How do you deal with Islamists and encourage democracy at the same time, if the latter brings the former to power.

    What do you think should be done in this case? Negotiate with moderate Islamists? Lots of policy papers these days argue for this. But what’s a moderate Islamist? Islamist parties that believe in democratic principles?

  26. July 27, 2007 6:11 am

    Bhutto rigged an election he would have won anyway. Beards were not about to win in 1977. And beards were only a part of the anti-Bhutto opposition (unless you count Muslim League as beards).

    Turkey seems to be doing fine with an Islam-pasand party in power. Elections delegitimised jihadi violence in Indonesia. On the other hand, we all know how things ended up in Algeria and Gaza.

  27. Syed permalink
    July 27, 2007 6:29 am

    Anthony,

    The reason why a free vote is not thought as a solution to the islamist issue is because Islamist donot believe in votes and the legitimacy or the lack of it it denotes. They love votes when it serves their agenda, if it doesn’t then they’re quite prepared to wage war against a democratically elected government. A nihilist cult [what OBL party in reality is] does not need popular acceptance to survive.

    If I am to speculate, I’d say Benazir’s return is a good probability. After that some general will go after the “beards” General Nasrullah Babar style [in his case the target was the MQM]. Honestly any such initiative will be futile at best and counter-productive at worst. What Pakistan really needs is to discuss with America, NATO and Iran..as well as the Shanghai Pact to devise a permanent strategy to drain the swamp. And by this I mean…the end of the artificial narco non-state of Afghanistan. All the powers mentioned agree that Afghanistan and the jahil fundamentalist nihilism funded by narcotics production has become a national security threat for them. Therefore I don’t see anyone objecting to it [except may be India because this will make a Greater Pakistan and Greater Iran with trouble free access to central asia’s energy riches and Saudi Arabia…because it’ll make Iran stronger and Pakistan less dependent on it…but then again their power on the ground in Afghanistan is negligible.] Short of such a “bold” move the afghanistan/Fata/waziristan generated Islamic insurgency will go on unabated. All else will amount to much ado about nothing. America will also get on with the program be it now or few years down the road because Afghanistan will soon start to look like Iraq II.

  28. July 27, 2007 7:54 am

    I’ll answer to the rest after I get some sleep. For the meantime,

    Anthony,

    I don’t count ML as beards, although technically….:)

    My information regarding the rigged election comes from Vali Reza Nasr’s article on Jamaat and the Zia regime. He contends that it did better than its alliance partners in the rigged elections, and would have been a powerful element in a coalition government which would have most likely won in fresh elections because of Bhutto’s idiocy.

    Other parts of the article are worth quoting, but unfortunately the PDF seems to be the old-fashioned none text ones!!! So no copy and paste. Needless to say that the similarities with 1/11 are there. Hope this does not derail the discussion in that direction. (Expectation: that’s where it’s probably headed!)

  29. July 27, 2007 12:57 pm

    1. So far Jihadi violence has not been sponsored by any state intelligence agency. But if attacked, Iran could actually sponsor such attacks. One doesn’t need an occupation army to use car bomb against. Couldn’t Iranian agents recruit and train those so incilned to unleash a series of spectacular violence on major western cities that would make 9/11 look like a minor scuffle?

    2. Syed, I agree with you in that OBL and his brethren have more in common with nihilism than any other ideology (http://amar-akbar-anthony.blogspot.com/2007/06/anarchy-in.html). But there are different shades of green. Not all Islam-pasands are like OBL though. Some, like Jamaat-e-Islami, are closer to fascists – one man, one vote, one time. Others, like many in the Iranian regime, are closer to socialists/populists in their economic agenda. But there is at least one Islam-pasand party – that of Turkey – which is committed to a market economy and representative democracy.

    Under a dictatorship, nihilists and fascists and socialists gain legitimacy as the resistance or freedom fighters. If the beards are routed in a free vote, it’s much harder for them to gain popular legitimacy. The nihilists will have to be fought out no matter who’s in charge. But the fascists and socialists will have to evolve. AsifY hopes that this doesn’t become a 1/11 discussion, and so do I. But I will make this Bangladesh parallel though – one reason why JMB had no popular support was because our beards could compete in free vote.

    3. Which type of beard is likely to win in Pakistan? I’m not so sure that the Islamofascists have it made for them as far as electoral success goes. AsifY, if a re-election had been held in 1977, Jamaat could well have emerged as a major party. But that would have been their biggest electoral success in either countries.

  30. Sajid permalink
    July 27, 2007 3:51 pm

    Some thoughts Jyoti bhai.

    You really think that Jihadi violence is not sponsored by state intelligence agencies? One could well argue that seeds of the global jihad were sown by three state intelligence agencies in the 1980s, one Western, one Middle Eastern, and one South Asian, all of which will remain unnamed. :]

    Also, I dont quite agree that Iranian agents could recruit and train jihadis and they could pull off spectacular violence in Western cities ala OBL?

    And why would we conflate OBL-like responses and terrorism with what Iran and its agents are capable of.

    Iran’s agents don’t NEARLY have the kind of transnational reach or even participation that OBL’s pan-national program does. OBL’s folks are really an aggregate of entities who are working with various individual motivations and loosely tied group motivation of half-baked anti-imperialism. British Muslims who live (and die) by OBL and Qaida and Arab immigrants in Spain have far different histories of interaction with and access to the West than so-called Iranian agents.

    Despite reports of different violent groups training with each other and learning from each other, my study of OBL and his campaigns don’t convince me that you would see this cohesive Shia-Sunni, OBL-Iran, response. I think that’s very far-fetched.

    I am writing a paper (you must know of this, yes, I am still working on it, there’s way too much data!) on OBL and co. As far as nihilism goes, I don’t know if nihilism is the best way to describe at least OBL’s tactics. I tend to take a middle position between those of two major scholars on OBL – Robert Pape and Faisal Devji. Devji essentially argues that OBL’s motives are apolitical and his organization has become a revenge machine of sorts. They are operating with value-driven rationalities as opposed to instrumental ones. There’s truth to this. If you read OBL’s collection of speeches edited by Bruce Lawrence you see that when OBL is pushed by reporters, he starts talking about what Americans did to Hiroshima. Hence, a value-driven rationality.

    On the other hand, Pape argues that OBL and folks are working solely with instrumental rationalities – his network is an aggregate of national liberation movements who have come together under an amorphous umbrella, to drive out military occupation of the West and its allies from Muslim lands. This might even appear convincing if you read a list of OBL sponsored campaigns, from Afghanistan to Tanzania to Sudan to Britain to Madrid. This however undermines more complex ethical and ideological motivations that OBL and co. have, which are more in common with anarchists and perhaps even violent anti-globalization activisits – something Devji brings out quite well in his book.

    Like I said, I tend to think OBL and folks have both an instrumental as well as a value-driven rationality. So I wouldnt reduce them to nihilists.

    The blogging world is often a tricky one for academics, and well-wishing faculty drill it into my head – the need to make a lot of redundant and patently silly disclaimers. And because a commentator or two at this blog have read into my or others’ posts – politics that AREN’T there – my search for motivations of OBL are compatible with my unequivocal condemnation for him.

  31. July 27, 2007 11:08 pm

    Guru Sajid,

    Second last comment: No I don’t think Islamists are about to come to power straight away, but then, who can guess about the climate of public opinion under a dictatorship such as Musharraf’s? What I asserted was that given the past mistakes of BB and NS, don’t be shocked if Islamist parties do come to power at some point given regular, cyclical elections.

    My guess/fear (and please correct me if I’m wrong here) is that military rule in Pakistan has led to unequal development. It has also enabled charitable Islamist organizations greater freedom than “civil society”/secular ones. This may have resulted in the electorate moving a bit more to the Islamist side of things.

    Do I have any recommendations for America’s dilemma? If I did, I’d be a genius. Engaging the “moderates” is tricky. Even moderates might embrace pluralism, women’s rights (limitedly) and full rights for minorities and still be anti-American. Case in point: Ikhwan in Egypt.

    My only recommendation to the American policy makers is to stop reading Bernard Lewis/Huntington and pick up a few copies of Pape, Edward Said and maybe some Karen Armstrong and Hourani. My recommedation to the Western media outlets (not Fox, which is beyond salvation) is to start reading some of Spivak (although as you rightly point out, she’s incomprehensible), Mernissi, Ebadi, Salwa Ismail and Barbara Metcalf’s works on subaltern/Muslim women so as not to paint the Chivalrous Crusaders vs. Harem-izing Saracens picture that they’re so fond of. If that latter sounds a tad off topic, I apologise, but the gut feeling from this corner is that that is one of those big “touchstones” in the West vs. the Rest rhetoric.

    Syed,

    Six months ago I would have agreed wholeheartedly with your prescription for Afghanistan. Since then I’ve been to a few lectures on the region. And one thing that has been made clear is the immense about of clan/ethnic loyalties that run strong in that region. Afghanistan is not a nation, but an amalgalm of quite a few, much like Iran and Pakistan themselves. Advocating for Iran and Pakistan to take over is simply to postpone the inevitable, or to put it in financial terms, to put-off paying now while the interest mounts an future generations pay even more. And trust me I say this with much consideration. Pakistan and Iran haven’t shown themselves to be the best when it comes to managing ethno-linguistic rivalries within their borders. To say that they can forge some sort of “Pakistani” or “Iranian” identity among Balochis, Pashthuns and Tajiks is expecting a bit too much from them.

  32. Syed permalink
    July 28, 2007 3:12 am

    Anthony,

    The Iranian model of ‘social emacipation’-centric left leaning Islamic revolution is not congruent with the Jamatis whom you rightly point out as more fascistic [being right wing and all]. Ikhwan/Hamas is more susceptible to the Iranian model. Iranian islamist narrative is largely about post-colonial emancipation and national development/greatness focused. That is the ultimate purpose of the revolution. Even though it is a ‘revolution’ it is largely real-politic driven, Ahmedinejad notwithstanding. The Jamati model is not really post colonial….it uses anti-colonial, anti-west rhetoric to justify its own narrative of eventual conquest/colonialism. It’s about ‘an empire to end all empires’ kindda deal. This is why fundamentally there can be no political detente between the Iranian supported islamists and the wahabi/saudi supported islamists. The objectives are quite different.

    Sajid,

    I have been watching your commentary on a potential military response of the Iranian state to an attack on it with a certain amusement. You’re clearly unaware of their capabilities as well as basics of assymetric fourth generation warfare. Perhaps I’d like to remind you of a certain Imad Mughniyah…widely recognized as the most skilled terrorist encountered from the Middle East ever. While Iran simply donot have anyway of stopping an aerial attack from the west…they can quickly and rather effectively turn the aerial war into full spectrum war involving land and sea forces. They have enough cruise missles to be able to sink a warship or two in the crowded gulf [ huge loss of life…domestic opposition being the aim], hit regional oil terminals [concentrated close to dahran and dammam in Saudi] as well as pretty much sweep the Americans inside iraq with large scale violence in such close quarters as to make airpower ineffective [ Think tet offensive…they don’t need to ‘win’ to achieve their objective]. Americans will not be able to tell an iraqi from an iranian to save their lives…so if the Iranians have even a 100000 irregulars spread all over iraq disguised in plain cloths…americans would hardly have a clue [think they’re shia militia at worst]. Also…Israel could not destroy the hezbollah’s rocket throwing capability after a month of unopposed intense bombardment and ground operation. Is there any reason to believe a many times larger Iranian rocket force [second largest in the world after china’s..remember rockets..not missiles]? If not…the body count can pile up pretty fast. Iran also produces anti tank and anti aircraft missiles like candy. So far IED and RPG has done significant damage to American armor…imagine a war where the insurgency facing you is armed with TOW2, SA-18, Kornet so on and so forth. They really need the OBL clowns to co-operate with them if they want to fight the americans. All the OBL scum is good for is hurting innocent civilians and wanton destruction. To this day they haven’t carried out a single successful military operation, be it offensive or defensive anywhere on earth. As for your theorists Pape [better] and Devji, they’re missing the forest for the trees. The nihilist OBL people have to give the impression of a grand political agenda and a specific program to hurt the enemy to achieve this agenda…as well as peddle themselves as an anti-colonial force. These are all playing to the gallery. In reality they know they don’t stand a chance[ atleast the veteran leader do] be it against the national armies or the western forces. They know they’re outgunned, outmonied and delegitimized. So they’re going out in a blaze…making everyone of their sickened souls count in blood and tears. To give them any other grander purpose is like calling the moon a star just cause ir shines bright.

    AsifY,

    Janab…I am glad you found out over the last three months about the ethnic diversity of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. I am glad you did..otherwise what I am about to say would have missed you. As an aside this multi-ethnicity is one of the major reasons why BD and Pakistani Islamism’s violent expression are very different in scale and scope among other things. In Pakistan the problem since 1947 onwards was the imbalance of power among ethnic groups. We Bengalis finally emancipated us from the yoke of Punjabi hegemony…using the call for secular democracy [I say using because we quickly proved we believed in niether secularism nor democracy]. Now the victims of Punjabi hegemony are Pathan/pashtun and Baloch. Their national struggle for emancipation has taken a different color…of that of Islamism. It is essentially a local movement to restore balance of power that has been hijacked by the OBL people for their own nihilist agenda. I proposed the Afghanistan annexation idea because it’ll restore the demographic balance between pashtuns and punjabis in this greater pakistan. The western Herat province of afghanistan is almost exclusively dar/farsi speaking…they will restore the balance demographically between the persian iranis and ethnically non persian [tajik, baloch, hajara, azeri etc.] ones clearly. More importantly it’ll free the peaceful Herat province from the albatross of Pashtun drugland. While Pakistan and Iran has not been models of good governance…compared to Afghanistan they have been heaven. More importantly they both have huge very well trained and very powerful armies WHO’RE WILLING TO DIE FOR THEIR NATIONAL INTEREST [ Unlike neo-colonialist forces that want the benefits of conquest but not the costs]. Furthermore while there is different ethnicities in these nations and the centra asian ‘stans,’ all fall within the general borders of the many thousand year old ancient Persian empire. Just as Europe’s many nations found a common language in the heritage of Greece and Rome…so do these in the heritage of Persians. There is a shared history, there is a shared culture of sort…albiet with different ethnic flavors. That is why Chaudhuri Rahmat Ali and Iqbal dreamt of it….it was not a Johnny Walker induced hallucination:-) as some would like to believe.

  33. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 4:24 am

    Ustad Syed, a less personal response, although a tad ad homenum in the beginning. Although it’s getting better, maybe soon, you’ll be better able to reign in your wonderful passion.

    See, I was always loathe to get into discussions with you, given your record of exhausting time and space from other bloggers and commentators here. I thought about responding to you this time, decided not to, but am eventually giving in. Maybe just this once, I will. Afterall, you do generate debate for this blog which does our traffic a lot of good. 🙂

    I think the situation you have outlined is so fanciful and farcical – and you throw around the term asymmetrical warfare with this faddishness that would make political theorists’s stomachs turn. What you have outlined, rather incoherently, and completely unrealistically, is a situation of full blown, no-holds barred, war, the costs of which could be a few thousand lives for America, but the entire annhiliation of the state of Iran. Hence, “fanciful.”

    You have greatly exaggerated, dangers of unbridled passion, my friend, the following:

    1) Iran’s anti-tank and -air craft capabilities (educate me Ustad. From my knowledge of Iran’s military capabilities, you are woefully out of synch on what constitutes anti-air craft capabilities)

    2) America’s stake in keeping peace in Iraq if Iran retaliated by trying to undermine it (if you havent read American press or even this blog, you will know that this stake is fast dwindling – the game of geopolitics changes substantially as more and more troops withdraw from Iraq. What Iran could achieve by hurting Iraq and America’s puppet government you greatly exaggerate. Afterall, thats what puppet governments are for. You ditch them when the costs of supporting them outweigh the benefits.)

    3) The effectivity of Iran’s effete rockets. The summer war in Lebanon, was a sneak peak at what Israel, at 12% of its Hawkish best, could achieve. If either Hizb or Iran considered using their reasonable arsenal of effete rockets, how the Israeli army at 100% Hawkishness would respond, would be Iran’s worst nightmare.

    Which brings me to my most important beef with your comment. Why on earth would you envision a situation of nightmarish all-out war, when the worst that will happen to Iran, are surgical strikes on its nuclear facilities? 🙂

    I mentioned this earlier in a response to AsifY bhai.

    All these details you have outlined so far are really unimportant and a distraction. I do give you full kudos for an ability to distract conversations and put up straw men so they can take them down. 🙂

    Look at how, in other ways, you have distracted this conversation. My discussion with Jyoti bhai was about executing suicide campaigns in Western cities. Iran’s agents arent capable of this the way Al Qaeda’s are.

    That was the point of my response.

    My other point was to attack the notion that all OBL stands for is nihilism. See, attributing motives to OBL is speculative. What you or I have to go by, are his declarations and a study of his tactics. The following campaings, most commentators agree, have much to do with retaliation for occupation or Western misadventures in Muslim lands.

    “This might even appear convincing if you read a list of OBL sponsored campaigns, from Afghanistan to Tanzania to Sudan to Britain to Madrid.”

    Increasingly, the British government is fessing up to links between their foreign policies and their home-grown terror threat. I can dig up a link, but I am lazy. And Pape’s work, which has become the academic bible for understanding suicide terrorism, makes this exact point, a connection between Western foreign policies and adventures, and OBL’s campaign. He need not have made it – I personally think its quite patent.

    If, however, you are so inclined to not see a political-military ideology to OBL’s motivations but only a crazy ethical one of anarchism (which I think exists TOO) – I recommend you read some of this literature on him that marshalls evidence better than you or I will be able to, in the space and time constraints of this blog. Check out Mia Bloom, Robert Pape, and Bruce Hoffman (new version). I’d be loathe to copy paste or paraphrase the evidence they cite to make the above point.

  34. July 28, 2007 4:59 am

    Sajid-

    Where’s the 12% figure coming from? Just curious… I personally think it’s 14.554%. No, actually 15.321%. But seriously though: Why a figure in that region, as opposed to north or south of it?

    Also I have questions about this:
    “Why on earth would you envision a situation of nightmarish all-out war, when the worst that will happen to Iran, are surgical strikes on its nuclear facilities?”

    How do we think Iran’s going to react to “surgical strikes on its nuclear facilities”? And it seems that Iran’s nuclear facilities, unlike Osirik, are spread out all over the country, and pretty deep into Iranian territory too… Are “surgical strikes” even possible? Is a “nightmarish” scenario of “all out war” really impossible to imagine – given that the likely reaction of the parties involved will be different rounds of retaliations and escalations, and saner heads may not prevail? Every strike on Iran – it would seem – would strengthen hardliners in Ahmedinejad’s camp, especially if the attacks can be sold internally as unprovoked. Khomeini, after all, was strenghtened rather than weakened politically by the Iraqi attack.

    For the record, I agree with comments here that the primary audience of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s belligerent comments is an internal one. But I do not think that the external audience does not exist, or is a trivial one. Chavez’s grandstanding – for all of its silliness – does command non-trivial support that Chavez does find very useful in positioning his government for regional leadership. And Ahmedinejad very much is operating within a framework and within a background that has some aspirations of regional (revolutionary) leadership. The truth of the matter is that for whatever reason, anti-American rhetoric can generate support and popularity that can paper over what would otherwise be unforgiveable faults and faultlines. “Baaper beta Saddam” Hussein in 1990 is a case in point.

  35. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 5:24 am

    Saif Da, to respond quickly to your last para – like I said, I don’t see anti-American rhetoric is generating any support or popularity for Mahmoud anywhere of significance. I don’t think it changes any status-quo for Iran’s agents or America’s foes. Something I stated earlier. And comparing Khomenei’s popularity in the 80s with Ahmedinijad’s now, doesnt quite work. As does not, the analogy with Chavez. What “regional leadership” is Mahmoud claiming? Are we looking at the same Middle East? Are we forgetting that Iran’s agents are being massacred by Al Qaeda sponsored Iraqis. And Iran has zero diplomatic relations with other powerful states in the region. Explain to me, how this analogy with Chavez works. Or will work. I’d be curious to know.

    Mahmoud is losing credibility rapidly. If anything, his popularity has reached its trough, and most powerful sectors of Iranian civil society (please dont force me to define this term, WIKI has one that’s quite useful really) are fed up with him. America wouldn’t just attack Iran without isolating it diplomatically.

    Secondly, how many nuclear facilities do you think Iran has that America needs to take out if it wanted to? How many does Iran have anyway? Any idea? I do, but I’d like to know more about why taking out Iran’s plants would be so difficult.

    Some of the best folks I have found to talk about all this are Iranian friends at SIPA. What western press doesnt often pick up, aside from the occasional anti-Mahmoud student demonstrations, which have been increasingly voilent in themselves – are the numbers of newspapers that are being closed down, the internal protest in Iran after the imprisonment of Iranian American intellectuals, the increasingly maligned Iranian religious police, and the list is really endless.

    Iranians in the diaspora, hope for an implosion of Mahmoud’s government. The Iranian youth of the Saddam war-generation are not the same Iranian youth today. Check out the “Hoder,” an Iranian blogger, hugely popular in urban Iran, who’s become quite famous for “blogging his way to a revolution.” Both Sanaz and I met him, but under different capacities. Its not for nothing that the US government keeps talking about the disenchanted, increasingly jobless, denim-wearing Iranian youth, as their best ally against Mahmoud.

    Afterall, lets not forget that the Iranian leadership is itself not united in Mahmoud’s brand of diplomacy or the lack of it. Which makes me wonder why we at Addafication, give him so much credit? :] The Ayatollah himself is reportedly worried by Mahmoud’s silly hawkishness. And we know he’s wrapped Mahmoud on the shoulder more than once.

  36. July 28, 2007 5:31 am

    Syed,

    Sajid has been a bit harsh on you, so I’ll go easy. I was completely aware of Iran and Pakistan’s multi-ethnicity before these last 3 months, but Afghanistan’s make-up did come as a shock to me. May we all be blessed with the fountain of all knowledge from birth as you clearly are, Ustad!:)

    I had a feeling that you might drag an EU example into it. I leave it to you to dissect the many ways in which that is wrong. Hint: you are asking Iran and Pakistan to do what Napoleon and Hitler did, not what Monnet and other statesman did. The means matter.

    What’s at stake is not Iran or Pakistan’s RELATIVE capability to establish some sort of order in the “region” (by which I mean Afghanistan ONLY, not Iran and Pakistan too!), but their absolute capabilities to do so. I don’t think they have it, you may disagree.

    Sajid Guru,

    Just to get back to Iran/Hizbullah’s terrorist activities, what about the Buenos Aires bombing of the Jewish community centre and the Khaibar Towers bombing, albeit the latter in the Gulf?

    My sympathies for having people talk about your “uddeshsho” when you’re trying to analyse OBL, btw.:)

  37. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 5:49 am

    The first one strikes me as a more useful example, Ustad AsifY.

    But dealing with Argentinian intelligence when entering through Paraguay is a little easier isnt it, than what Iran’s agents would have to pull off to respond meaningfully to Amrika?

  38. July 28, 2007 5:52 am

    And by “Khaibar” I obviously mean “Khobar”!:) Afghanistan/Pakistan really is distracting me!

  39. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 5:52 am

    Btw, lest my comment on Iranian diasporas is miscontrued, I am not suggesting their opinions are historically reflective of Iranian opinions on the ground, quite the contrary often – yet, increasingly the twain seem closer to a convenient confluence.

  40. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 5:54 am

    The way I see it, war is an unforeseeable response to surgical strikes. The risks to the Iranian state, c’mon, are far too high. Just as they are to Amrika, which is why they wouldn’t risk escalating a conflict.

    Saif Da,

    Add to my list of questions for you, another one:

    “Given that the likely reaction of the parties involved will be different rounds of retaliations and escalations, and saner heads may not prevail?”

    What does this mean? Ektu elaborate koro. :}

  41. July 28, 2007 6:09 am

    Second last comment was something I was waiting till tomorrow to pick up 🙂 …. what makes you think that there is this great confluence Guru?

    Yes, a bit harder to get past Argentinian intelligence than American ones. Do you see an internment of Iranian-Americans on the horizon, with one Mrs. Malkin as its prime defender?:):) Or maybe they’ll just lock up all Muslims just to be safe…..

    Last question, Guru, exactly how successful do you think surgical strikes will be? Haven’t the Iranians learnt from the Osirik experience and diversified their locations/investments? I haven’t looked deeply into the matter, just what I read on BBC.

    Last thought to chime in with Saif: given that Neo-cons are on the wane and not completely powerless, why rule out a possible invasion to prove that “real men go to Tehran”?

  42. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 6:27 am

    Haha, “real men go to tehran” sounds funny. I suppose Alpha males like their share of rugs, Rumi and pista. :]

    I just think the casualties will be too high for America and its allies to risk a full-scale war. Iran’s army is not a paper army like Iraq’s. And something a Prof and I discussed once, Syed too brought up (I ignored just for the sake of it – can you blame me? he’s harassed you lot repeatedly) Iran can also hit Saudi oil terminals.

    It would be quite fatal of course for Shi’a-Sunni diplomacy in the region and would alienate Iran’s Shi’a allies in the Arab middle east substantially. Contrary to Saif, I think saner heads will prevail.

    Iran’s not run by OBL, to risk a suicide of such proportions.

    And Iranian society will not support Mahmoud the way they did when Saddam invaded Iran.

    If only America tried to invade Iran, ala Iraq, or the way Saddam tried, do I see the necessary measure of support for Mahmoud needed to carry out all the retaliatory moves that have been outlined in this thread.

  43. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 6:42 am

    AsifY Da, i don’t see an internment of Iranian Americans. On the contrary, I see their empowerment by the US government. If there’s any internment of Iranian Americans, it’s happening in the hands of Mahmoud.

    Have you heard of the Iran Fund?

    You might have read this already:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/24/magazine/24ngo-t.html?ex=1340337600&en=a0b2dbc3ab487c5e&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

  44. Syed permalink
    July 28, 2007 7:10 am

    Sajid

    Saying I can paste Pape or some other fellow is not an explanation. I am aware of these western pontifications about OBL and his credo. These are based on given statements. Any real practitioner of politics, outside the academic morass, will tell you how unreliable written or spoken words of a “leader” are in most cases to devine his strategy. Analyse not what they say but what they do. My opinion is based on their actions and personal conversations with hardcore OBList losers. Pape or some other western academic can a write an encyclopaedia on this but it’ll be just as superficial as “area studies’ is, in most cases, to understand a particular culture. For example if you tried reading collected works of Lenin, Stalin and Mao and tried to explain the actions and motives of the soviet or chinese state you will quickly realize your folly.

    Now on the second point…there is theoretical total military strength and there is effective usuable military strength. What I mean by that is in theory America and Russia have enough nuclear weapons to destoy the world as well as each other several times. In theory India and Pakistan have enough nuclear weapons to destroy each other’s cities easily. In theory Israel has a “samson Option”. But in reality these total military power metrics is not what is important.What matters is what can be realistically used. Of course America can nuke out Iraq as they perhaps could vietnam as well [ I say ‘perhaps’ because of the soviet counter-power, though I doubt either the Soviets or the chinese would have gone to world war over this]. None of this of course happened or will happen. Same goes for Israel’s”invincible” military force. It used every weapons it had in its arsenal that it could use, except the nuclear/chemical/biological ones [ it could not use them unless the very existence of their state was threatened]. But it failed.

    You’re hanging out too much with these “run away” Iranian baccha shah supporting parlour revolutionaries. I can understand…the girls are really pretty [would have put a smiley…but scared away by Saif]. No one creates revolutions with blogs or email lists or sms…no matter how much we want to believe these. It takes an on the ground organizational machinery of dedicated workers. These bacha shah supporters are funnier than Ahmed Chalabi ever was. What you need to understand is the nature of the Iranian people. They’re FANATICALLY patriotic. They may hate the mullah’s and their economic mis-management, but the moment one bomb is dropped on Iran, they will be united and rally behind the flag. If that was ever in doubt the aftermath of the American invasion of Iraq made it a certainty. Please don’t think just because there is discontent with a government in a country they’re all waiting for a foreign attack on their country to “decapitate” its leadership so that a “revolucion” of jeans wearing wannabes can take place.

    If Iran is attacked surgically or otherwise they will respond regionwide…their military chief have said so many many times…and no I am not contradicting myself. They do have ability to respond regionally, these are not just empty rhetoric. Please donot think Iran’s ability to respond is limited to the fall of the “puppet” government [ one wonders who’s puppet their’s or US’s]….they can force the American army to stay stuck in fighting them in Iraq than having to fight them in the streets of Tehran or Bandar Abbas [an amphibious assault on this is near certain] ( Bush is not the only one who can think…We will fight them there so that we don’t have to fight’em here.) . I did not mean their anti aircraft capability is able to stop an American air attack I said that is not possible in my earlier post. That is why I used the term assymetric warfare. They will use these as weapons to multiply attrition not to stop an air attack. Think the afghan resistance model, korean war peaple’s war model and vietnam model…all modified for the 21st century. Already America has lost quite a few helos in both afghanistan and Iraq. If the american claim on Iranian weapons is at all true…one wonders if they’re not being live tested for a later date application. They don’t teach warfare in your ivy towers my friend. Please make the effort to meet an assymetric/4th generation warfare expert from Westpoint or Virginia Military Academy. Will do your understanding of these matters a world of good. At the moment you’re sounding like Newt Gingrich and the neo-con arm chair warriors, laptop bombardiers and such.

    Also you wanted figures on how many sites to bomb. To put a definitive end to the nuclear program for say 10 years US will need to bomb at least 3 large sprawling facilities portions of which are protected by the mountain underground in a manner that will require tactical nukes to be sure they are gone or a commando raid to mop up. Of course to do this will also need neutralizing a few air defence facilities. All in all, assume may be a 2-3 days of air raids and cruise attacks in the hundreds. As I said before Iran can do NOTHING to stop such an attack…but they CAN RESPOND vigorously and quite effectively. Were it not so, they would have been taken out already. Also…if this regime fails to retaliate effectively then they will be internaly weakened to the point that they will probably fall anyway. So once hit they know they have no good options. Either bite back hard and ride on the popularity of national defense or lose and be taken out by the angry masses. Take a pick.

  45. Syed permalink
    July 28, 2007 7:21 am

    Asif Shaheb,

    Will not repond to your taunt…for once. Yes I agree that they may not succeed in establishing absolute order and control right away. But they have a chance of establishing some form of control better than anyone. Remember the one and only success of the taliban and if you may call it that was that they did make large parts of pashtun afghanistan peaceful [ the rest is peaceful under different warlords anyway] Of course, it was through a bit of a reign of terror and not by living up to human rights but it was done. I don’t see why their trainers [ the Pak army, under Benazir BTW] cannot do the same with more manpower, superior weaponry and funds. I am sure you’ll agree the reason why OBLists are not completely wiped out from FATA and NWFP as of yet, is not due to any paucity of intelligence but because they’re a golden goose for them. Their ‘fleeting existence” brings a billion dollars a year and keeps the khakis in power. Agree?

  46. July 28, 2007 8:26 am

    Wiping out OBL, AQ and the Taleban is hardly of the same magnitude as creating a viable state in a land where clan loyalties outdo loyalties to the state. If coercion is to be used, intelligence will not do that but serious military might.

    Coercion backfires eventually was my first point. I’m glad you brought up the Roman Empire example. Why not trace out the path from that to the current EU over 2000 years to see if I’m right or wrong about coercion?

    Taunt? What taunt? A full fledged compliment if ever there was one. Imagine, you knew about Pakistan and Iran’s multi-ethnicity before I did! An achievement worthy of a gold medal no less.

  47. July 28, 2007 8:34 am

    Sajid,

    That quote is apparently what neo-cons were saying to each other before the Iraq war: “Men go to Baghdad. Real men go to Tehran”. According to an Iran specialist at least!

    No Iran certainly has many assymmetric options for sure. The Hormuz choke point being the most effective one. Pipelines might change that one day, but not for now. Question is, upto what point will it tolerate being pushed before using those options?

    Do you not feel that a media campaign has already started to make the case for war? What did you make of Lieberman’s amendment to the defense authorization bill, which passed 97-0 in the senate? http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2007/07/13/iran_binladen/index.html?source=rss

  48. Syed permalink
    July 28, 2007 8:44 am

    Asif,

    Have you been to these countries? Do you have blood relations there? Do you know people on the common and elite level there? I am not talking about “I know…hehehe …you don’t” kindda thing…this is not middle school. I hope you understand. Given that you run a blog and seem like a well read, well informed person…I was a bit surprised that you found out about the tribal/clan nature of afghanistan/pakistan/iran [ and for your info all the other ‘stans’] so recently…that’s all. But better late than never.

    I agree co-ercion won’t work in the long run. But first order must be established by force…then services have to be provided to create a ‘social contract’ with the state. I don’t expect a practically illiterate country like afghanistan to over night become a consensual democracy ala switzerland. It will be a long evolving process. If the clans have a stake in the state they have reason to oppose it. However if a certain clan or tribe gets preferential treatment then others will revolt. Yes clan loyalty is stronger now…and hence the need for force…but with rapid spread of education[ that has to be the number one priority] , urbanization and movement of people back and forth..clan loyalties will dissipate over time. Remember England and scotland was once upon a time ruled by little clans and roman empire itself had “barbarian” tribes in it.

  49. Syed permalink
    July 28, 2007 8:47 am

    I meant if they have stake in the state they have NO reason to oppose it.

  50. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 10:20 am

    Syed, your analysis is damn comprehensive – credit where credit’s due. There are lots I agree with. But I think you make a number of speculative leaps that I’ll address in a future post.

    And I LOVE the fact that you were able to do all this without making personal swipes. LOVE it, dude. Hope it stays this way. We may even become buddies.

    Btw, I didnt intend to say “I can paste Pape or some other fellow” as some easy route in lieu of an explanation. You will know this if you re-read what I wrote.

    “I recommend you read some of this literature on him that marshalls evidence better than you or I will be able to, in the space and time constraints of this blog”

    Debate on topics such as these – in which scholars such as Pape have invested much time, energy, and erudition; have marshalled an impressive array of evidence to create arguments – is GREATLY facilitated when people like we, his interlocuters afterall, have comparable access to his research. Terms of discourse are then similar. A lot of ideological differences turn out to be mere semantic differences. And polemics are easier to avoid.

  51. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 10:39 am

    Asif bhaijan, I heard the quote. I didn’t think you made it up. I found it funny the first time.

  52. Syed permalink
    July 28, 2007 11:48 am

    Sajid,

    Thanks for the note of appreciation. I am glad we could find common ground at last:-). I’ll look forward to your critique of the “speculative leaps”.

    I respect Pape’s scholarship and if i were writing a paper or a thesis, I’d use his book and writings extensively as well. But I, for one find their efforts sorta like sincere efforts by the blind to discover an elephant. I’d put this at the level of “kremlinology” of yesteryears. I am not sure any policy maker or a practitioner of diplomacy actually took them seriously. I am sure you get the drift.

  53. Syed permalink
    July 28, 2007 11:53 am

    And now to facilitate ‘comparable access’ I am giving you a link on 4th Generation Warfare:

    http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/4th_gen_war_gazette.htm

    Also Read William Lind’s book on 4th Genration warfare if you can.

    Enjoy!

  54. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 12:19 pm

    Syed. Akta proshno kori? Don’t mean to be tongue-in-cheek. But you comment almost as frequently as I. Are you as bored as I? I have ZERO social life in Dhaka, well almost. So I have an excuse. What’s yours?

    But appreciate your close monitoring of this blog. As for the blind comment, I don’t quite agree. I think some of the recent work has come a long way from kreminology of yesteryears.

    Listen, have you thought about this? Maybe you should become a blogger for AF. Once semester starts in Sept, some of us I am afraid, will become rather irregular.

  55. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 12:23 pm

    And on a general note, in debates – not to play down your analysis, I am suitably impressed – but you have what it takes to win on sure endurance.

  56. July 28, 2007 12:41 pm

    Man, you come back in a day and so much has been said. Folks, great discussion. My thoughts.

    1. Blogging by an academic

    Sajid, can you elaborate on how your professors view blogs by academics? I’d have thought that in the marketplace of ideas, blogs compete against newspaper op-eds and magazine columns, not serious academic work. And in your discipline, what is the preferred way to publish – journal articles or books?

    I know that in economics, blogs – even the very successful ones like De Long or Tyler Cohen – are no substitute for journal articles with dense algebra or clever empirical work. But this doesn’t stop people from blogging, and in fact, at least in applied macroeconomics, it is widely encouraged.

    2. Jihadis = socialist or nihilist

    To the extent that OBL and his followers don’t have a well thought out programme of governance should they acquire power, I think it’s reasonable to think of them as being closer to anarchists/nihilists than socialists/fascists. This doesn’t mean all Jihadis are anarchists/nihilists. Obviously there are Jihadis in Iraq/Palestine/Kashmir/Chechnya who are motivated by some form of national liberation idea.

    To go back to the original point – beards and democracy – whether you think most Jihadis are near-nihilists or semi-socialist will affect how you’ll want to react to them, right? If we’re dealing with nihilists, then clearly giving them the vote isn’t going to matter. But if we are dealing with socialists, or even fascists, then surely free votes can, at least in theory, make a difference.

    3. Democracy in Pakistan

    If there is a free vote next year, do we really think that the fascist beards (JI) will come to power?

    4. What might Iran do if attacked?

    I wasn’t suggesting an Iran-OBL alliance. I have to confess that I don’t know enough about Iran’s military capacities to hit back if attacked. And I don’t know enough about the internal dynamics of the Iranian regime to say whether the nightmarish scenario that Syed outlines is really fanciful. But if this scenario has a non-trivial probability of unfolding, then wouldn’t that be enough for the Americans to not bomb Iran?

    Okay, I’m going to watch ‘For a few dollars more’, and then sleep. I’m sure there will be lots of great points in 12 hours so.

  57. Syed permalink
    July 28, 2007 12:46 pm

    Sajid,

    Thanks for the appreciation again. Will consider your offer. I am in Texas and someone I talk to is in Dhaka…so I have to stay up at night anyway;) So I frequent your blog and fb to keep myself busy. Plus as you saw on my fb profile politics, history and philosophy has been a passion for me since my childhood. So it gets me going. Even though I am basically a finance quant. Well, for what its worth that’s my excuse.

  58. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 1:20 pm

    Ustad Syed.

    Actually, I am gonna point out your “leaps” now. I do so respectfully. Not to arouse your ire. I am awaiting the arrival of my car, so I have some time to kill. C’est la vie in Dhaka. I am going to critique parts of your post here. But my offer to you to blog for us stands. I adore your sprightly rejoinders. Sans personal or diatribical remarks.

    Here are some thoughts, nonetheless.

    I. The elitist bias you accuse social scientists of is too hasty. You may or may not you realize that Osama’s speeches are not the only thing scholars on terrorism read or use for their research. Maybe literary scholars would do such a thing. But historians and sometimes, just sometimes, political scientists like Mia Bloom and Farhad Khosrokhavar think quite creatively about the “archive.” Seriously, its very easy to use lablels like “ivory tower” and assume some sort of higher ground of common sense. When all you yourself have to go by are conversations and reading material. Not dissimilar from what ivory tower folks are using. People like Hoffman have culled thousands of oral and written testimonials, interviews, personal papers, and so on before theorizing. Just the way you have talked to your “insiders” and read the online link you so graciously shared. The way you seem to think so creatively about your “archive” based on which you theorize is more common than you may think, Ustad.

    II. Your dichotomy between theoretical and usable military strength, Syed bhai, I am afraid gives the lie to your original position of how Iran would react. I could throw in some jargon about coercion, deterrence and denial, flex my jargony muscles thus, but frankly I am tired. I didn’t want to respond in the first place, soon the opportunity cost of responding will surpass the benefit of erudition. My point, briefly put, is that Israel and America are likely to up the ante on their usably military strength if Iran is to escalate a limited conflict into a full-scale war. And in such a situation, I think Iran will have more to lose.

    III. I love your epithet of “bachha shahs.” Surely, you have a way with epithets. But surely you must give your interlocuters, I, in this case the benefit of the doubt that their impressions aren’t based on what one blogger says. A cursory glance at articles carried by Iranian newspapers such as “Salam” will speak of the escalating dissatisfaction Iranians feel towards Mahmoud. A side point: when you verge on polemical language, it undermines your analysis.

    Lets review this comment of yours for example:

    “Please don’t think just because there is discontent with a government in a country they’re all waiting for a foreign attack on their country to “decapitate” its leadership so that a “revolucion” of jeans wearing wannabes can take place”

    To me, this detracts from your overall erudition and analysis. Which is why I often hesitate to respond to you, despite the obvious fact you have plenty to say and contribute, and for our readers to learn from you. I think the standards of debate suffer when you package your analysis in such impassioned rhetoric, which obfuscates more than it impresses.

    Why on earth would I assume Iranians are waiting for a foreign attack to decapitate its leadership so they can have a jeans-wearing revolution?

    “Blue jeans” have become a motif for Americanization since the fall of the Soviet Empire. This is as pervasive in the social sciences as it is in literature. Since you appear so explosively erudite, you may have read Slavenka Drakulic’s novels. She is a part of an entire genre as you might also know. Therefore, I mention “blue jeans” not to highlight a superficial Americanization of sartorial tastes but to point out that Iranian youth are increasingly unhappy not just with the facts of economic mismanagement, Mahmoud’s suicidal hawkishness, but the Islamic Revolution itself. About fanatically patriotic, are you sure of your choice of words?What’s your metric for comparison? Impressions based on conversations and readings? Isn’t that the archive we all work with?

    Now here are some impressions fro me and I’ll reveal my “archive” too. The “glory and sacrifice” of the Revolution is fast disappearing in the collective memory of younger generations and this is something like I said, is obvious to the point of being moot. Why’s it so obvious? If I could tell you of the countless conversations, news reports, and such I base this on. I could give you more examples of my exposure to this topic, but this would be tricky. I would sound like I am bragging. But our methodologies for arriving at our conclusions are similar, aren’t they? Since I promised I’d reveal my archive, so here it is. I haven’t been to Iran, but it’s a region I study closely, and Iranian communities are ones I have had more than a reasonable access to, both out of intellectual, linguistic and personal interest in almost all things Iranian (pretty women? never thought of this!). Farsi is also one of my research languages, although my knowledge of it is modest.

    Brandishing my Iranian connections leave a bad taste in my mouth, which is why, again, I hesitate to respond to discussion threads that become so personal. I’ll try to avoid this the next time.

    Also, this following paragraph is a tad muddy.

    “If Iran is attacked surgically or otherwise they will respond regionwide…their military chief have said so many many times…and no I am not contradicting myself. They do have ability to respond regionally, these are not just empty rhetoric. Please donot think Iran’s ability to respond is limited to the fall of the “puppet” government [ one wonders who’s puppet their’s or US’s]….they can force the American army to stay stuck in fighting them in Iraq than having to fight them in the streets of Tehran or Bandar Abbas [an amphibious assault on this is near certain] ( Bush is not the only one who can think…We will fight them there so that we don’t have to fight’em here.)”

    Maybe you were typing furiously, but I never disagreed Iran could muster some regional responses, including affecting oil resources, launching attacks at America’s satellites, but my point was America or Israel would respond so that the twain between their theoretical and usable military strength would narrow.

    “. I did not mean their anti aircraft capability is able to stop an American air attack I said that is not possible in my earlier post. That is why I used the term assymetric warfare. They will use these as weapons to multiply attrition not to stop an air attack. Think the afghan resistance model, korean war peaple’s war model and vietnam model…all modified for the 21st century”

    I am not sure what this “afghan resistance model” is. The trouble with using all this jargon is that it muddles more than it elucidates. It’s not just you – I say this to my ivory tower advisors all the time. How do you this easy portability of this afghan resistance model to an attack on Iran when the nature/contours of military operations are likely to be quite different. At this point, you sound increasingly like the ivory tower academic you so deride.

    Here’s how you deride:

    “They don’t teach warfare in your ivy towers my friend. Please make the effort to meet an assymetric/4th generation warfare expert from Westpoint or Virginia Military Academy. Will do your understanding of these matters a world of good”

    They actually do. :]

    Not that it matters. Knowledge production on military strategy has hardly been a monopoly of practitioners. They are not the ones who come up with “afghanistan resistance models” my friend.

  59. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 1:25 pm

    Whoever you talk to in Dhaka, is lucky he/she has someone as erudite as you to adda with. I wish I had more of this here.

  60. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 1:27 pm

    Btw, 60 comments is a record for our modest blog. I hope our readers are enjoying this as much as I.

  61. Syed permalink
    July 28, 2007 2:41 pm

    Sajid,

    Great reposte! There isn’t too much we disagree on at this point. It is mostly an issue of semantics for the most.

    While I find your patient explanation of blog ettiquette is quite helpful, please do understand this is not a seminar. If it were, I’ll ‘talk the talk’ so to speak. Sometimes a few things are intentionally said not so much for erudition, but for effects. They’re not justified on logical grounds per se, but desrirable on the rhetorical plane.

    My critique of academia is not really categorical although the imprecision of my language left that impression. There are academics and there are academics. The person who gave birth to the Afghan Resistance model Dr. Zbigniew Brezezinski and the ever present Dr. Kissinger are also academics. But they’re a class apart from other assorted hacks making a living by doing ‘event studies’ as we call in finance. In short all academics are not created equal. Talent is universal, irrespective of professional barriers [academic or practitioner]. But absent that talent you’re left with people who’s education has far surpassed their intellect. Case in point “Dr.” Condi Rice.

    Some asides: I used “baccha shah” because that is what my Iranian friends call this son of Reza Shah Pehlavi that comes on TV on any occassion he can to yap against the mullahs. I am sure your Iranian “archives” will confirm this. I used ‘jeans wearing’ revolutionaries cause these North Tehran Iranian “yuppies” that BBC and CNN so like to interview and who flood the blogosphere do love all things american and have a bizzare fascination for blue jeans. There is actually a cottage industry of Iranian dissidents that have grown up at LA and Paris. They have crawled into New York and DC intellectual/think tank/wonk shop/talkshop scene lately in between their lavish parties. These are like the Cubans in Miami. If you listen to the Cuban papers and radio stations from Miami you’ll think Castro regime is about to fall anyday. But if you land in Cuba you’ll know right away , despite obvious shortcomings of this regime, how well entrenched they are. I know this goes back to your point about the portability across context/place/time for any political analysis. Iranian situation has its unique determinant factors to be sure…but the net outcome…for the sake of simplification…will be similar.

    The gloss of the Islamic revolution is by and large gone. A new generation has grown up without facing a major external enemy and therefore focused all energy on introspection. There is a lot they don’t like. Now give them a clear identifiable external enemy and the dynamic will totally change. And when I say fanatically patriotic I mean ” My country the best, My people the best..good or bad. We’re Aryans and we represent the 6000 old Iranian civilization” kindda patriotic.

    I agree that the scenario of full scale war will be one of sequential escalation. But remember America cannot afford to dissipate too much of its soft power if it intends to be the global hegemon and wear the crown of freedom and liberalism. A nuclear attack on Iran will forever alienate the Iranian masses against America or any American imposed puppets. They’ll forget the mullahs’ failure in a heartbeat. World over, all aspiring nuclear powers will have a very good reason to have the “bomb”. Russia, China and EU…yes EU, will go all out in either decrying the American action to delegitimize it or claim equal right to use similar weapons in their own conflict of choice. I am not sure the Americans are willing to invest that much political capital and soft power to create a dangerous post conflict world where the threats to instability are larger than they were before. You can open a pandora’s box but you can’t close it back. Also unlike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this time 24/7 media will cover the casualties live. Seeing the gruesome pictures, the regional, if not the worldwide public opinion of US will hit an all time low. A comparison with Nazi Germany etc. will be commonplace.

    There is of course the curious situation where Israel makes the strike on Iran with non-cenventional weapons. This will justify all sorts of anti-semites of all colors to come out of the wood work [ unless the very existence of Israel is truely threatened] and make Mahmoud’s idiotic dream of a world without zionism rise like a Pheonix from the radioactive ashes of some Iranian city.

  62. July 28, 2007 6:49 pm

    Wow, yes a lot does get said overnight.

    Sajid, Saif and other bloggers, congrats!

    Sajid, glad you knew the quote! It’s true there lies an undercurrent of a cult of fauz masculinity in the neo-con movement.

    Ustad Syed, I have already given you a gold medal for knowing more than I do. Perhaps another gold medal for having family ties with the ‘stans are due. Do confirm either way. It’s yours as soon as you claim it.

    I’m glad you think me a well-read well-informed person. I never claimed to be any such thing. Not nearly as well-read or well-informed as someone who still thinks that I didn’t know about the ethnic make-up of ALL of Central Asia when I clearly have said that only Afghanistan came as a surprise. May we all be blessed with such eyes and patience to read over our fellow bloggers’ comments!

    Please take the last word in this conversation. It is yours and deservedly so. A trifecta of gold medals to you sir!

  63. July 28, 2007 6:50 pm

    Sajid bhai,

    You might want to check out Glenn Greenwald’s take on the “cult of masculinity” on his blog.

  64. July 28, 2007 6:57 pm

    Sajid bhai and Anthony,

    I keep forgetting: I’m pretty sure you know about Professor Marc Lynch’s blog on the Arab media at abuaardvark.typepad.com . He has a few links to profs who blog as well.

    Sajid bhai,

    Have you thought of doing a blog piece on Iranians in exile and Iranians on the ground? Seems like you seem to know a bit about that.

    Last word. I won’t be tempted again by Anthony’s questions, Sajid’s answers or the Ustad’s aurum-plated statements/”rhetoric for effect not etiquette”.

  65. Sajid permalink
    July 28, 2007 8:28 pm

    Asif da, will think about it, probably don’t know as much as I’d like.

    Thanks for the blog reference – will check it out.

  66. July 28, 2007 8:41 pm

    Good pointer – AsifY – to Marc Lynch’s blog. He has had some thoughts on academics blogging.

    Another blog to check out is Daniel Drezner’s (www.danieldrezner.com). He’s a political scientist who’s now at Tufts – and used to be an Assistant Professor at UChicago before that (which was when he had started blogging) He too has commented extensively on academic bloggers, on the blog and elsewhere. Check out this article, for example/. (http://chronicle.com/cgi2-bin/printable.cgi?article=http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i47/47b00701.htm)

    There actually is a small cottage industry of academics talking about blogging and academia. There was a lot of talk in the blogosphere around 2004/2005 on this topic.

    Btw, it’s increasingly common for legal academics to blog. A prominent early legal academic blog was http://www.volokh.com . UChicago Law School and Georgetown both have official blogs where their professors and asst. profs write. Individual professors at Yale (see for example Jack Balkin’s blog) and Columbia (see for example Michael Dorf’s) also keep blogs that are updated daily with their and their friends’ writings.

  67. July 28, 2007 10:41 pm

    Yes Saif, I was going to put in Balkinization as well, but thought that was too obvious and did not want to insult the Guru’s intelligence.

    Here’s something I thought was relevant to that faint sound of war drums over the horizon:). Needless to say I’m a lot less optimistic than Sajid when it comes to American foreign policy’s rationality nowadays:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/07/28/centrism/index.html

  68. July 29, 2007 12:59 am

    Sajid bhai,

    Just wanted to thank you for that NYT link to the Iran fund. Counterproductive is the right word! Also, in light of this story, I hope our small exchange the other day about “comprador civil society” starts to make a bit more sense.

    Expect an article on perceptions of civil society soon on DP.

  69. Sajid permalink
    July 29, 2007 3:36 am

    Asif bhai, thanks for the link.

    I enjoy Salon. But these guys do like crying wolf, once in a while. Opinions quoted here I hope won’t prevail and stay where they should, in the fringe.

  70. Sajid permalink
    July 29, 2007 3:39 am

    I’d also like one of these gold medals

  71. July 29, 2007 5:33 am

    I agree with you about Salon in general, but Greenwald’s another kettle of fish if you ask me. Just MHO.

    I’ll see what I can do about that medal….

  72. Syed permalink
    July 29, 2007 10:09 am

    Sajid,
    you can have my medals that I have quite undeservedly acquired without contest or aptitude:-)

  73. Sajid permalink
    July 30, 2007 7:21 am

    Nope. I want my own.

  74. August 5, 2007 11:39 am

    Here’s a chance to win a medal. I was thinking about this Pakistan as a post-1971 entity thing. What was the legal settlement between the two countries? Did Bangladesh and Pakistan recognise each other as successor states to the pre-1971 country? Or was the settlement that Bangladesh had seceded from Pakistan?

  75. August 5, 2007 4:20 pm

    What a fascinating question, Anthony! I am going to get cracking on this as soon as I get back to the city…

  76. August 5, 2007 5:56 pm

    Whatever the legal ramifications, I do believe that the popular perception is that the state that got to keep the title of “Pakistan” is the successor state while Bangladesh is a new-born state. Thus we count Bangladesh’s existence from 1971 and they calculate it from 1947, not 1971.

    I await the results of Said’s research with much interest. How goes the moving my man? I’m about to do the same in a few days myself and I hate it!

  77. August 6, 2007 1:37 am

    I just realised how ambiguous I sounded: “they calculate the birth of their nation” is what I meant.

  78. August 6, 2007 4:59 am

    That is the popular perception. But I think the legal distinction matters. For example, if the legal settlement was Bangladesh seceded, then all Bangladeshis – or atleast Bangladeshis alive in 1971 – would have legal rights in Pakistan.

  79. fugstar permalink
    August 6, 2007 8:56 pm

    We may call him (Iranian leader) dumb, but we are only shown one event of many that may or may not have been blueprinted by him. These carefully selected events are then propelled out of their due significance. So Iran likes to poke the ‘Reason for Israel’ issue… whats the suprise? Im sure that the other side acts similarly, if with better appreciation.

    There are plenty of people who would share some views expressed in that conference in others parts of the world, christian, hindu and muslim, rich and poor. They just dont have the power or confidence or passion that those participants had or the historical disciplining of the event’s many detractors.

    Bangladesh has far dumber statesmen and women than Iran. I feel that for the first time in ages, we have a few people worthy of being statesmen. People who are capable of attending engagements intelligently and crafting their own communications, let alone make decisions. Maybe im reading you wrong wrt what constitutes a statesman in the Muslim World.

    Iran
    Some of the Children of the Revolution have become less religiously inclined by the ideological overkill. There are iranians studying how and why. Also former favourites of the establishment turned rereformers like Dr Soroush exist and have a following. Tehran University is a significant institution in the Muslim World, deshis should send more of their kids there as it is superior to the best we have at present. Therefore I have hope for iran.

    From my perspective as a Sunni, it would be less embarrasing if allegedly fraternal countries would stop voting against iran in international fora. Iran’s PM has to make decisions for Irans interest, he knows that allegedly fraternal countries lack the spine, unity and competance to do many things.

    Who is the successor state?
    We both are, but bd has moved onto a different track (partially on its own steam and partialy through being kicked and pushed) narrowed its population/territorial relevance and temporarily, officially given up on Ummahtic Oomf.

    Anthony, on legal rights, if those alive in 71 have rights in west bangladesh, could they also have anything resemblig responsibilities? What imaginary international rules are you reading into the imaginary legal settlement?

  80. August 7, 2007 4:03 am

    What I never understand about fugstar and others much less intelligent than him but who speak like him is that they think that Pakistan did not give up the “Ummahtic Oomf” (whatever that is) by killing their Muslim compatriots INDISCRIMINATELY in 1971.

    That is something I’ll never get.

    Btw, one last time fugstar, said it on my blog and on DP: just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they don’t have access to enough information, or to a different “information tree”. How do you know that the author’s information on Mahmoud is limited?

  81. August 7, 2007 4:11 am

    Sajid and/or Anthony and/or Hussain,

    Your thoughts on this would be very welcome:

    Pakistan – kills Muslims indiscriminately in Balochistan, in Bengal and now and then in NWFP. Still is seen as “Islamic”/ good for the Ummah.

    Bangladesh – safeguards the rights of Muslims at the expense of all other communities living within its borders. Seen as un-Islamic and out of touch with the Ummah.

    How exactly does this attitude align with religion itself? And how far does it explain “the story of a fall” to use the jajaboresque term?

  82. August 7, 2007 6:55 am

    Fugstar, I like the name ‘West Bangladesh’. This is the second time I’ve read it recently – the other one was in a publication discussing Pakistan learning from the Bangladeshi experience when it comes to ending military rules.

    As for your question about responsibility, sure why not? But wouldn’t that depend on the legal settlement itself?

    And I’m not sure what you mean in terms of imaginary rules and legal settlements. I’m not reading anything into anything. Presumably when the relationship between the two countries were normalised there was a legal documenting governing the break up process.

  83. aries permalink
    June 5, 2008 12:24 pm

    oh wow, what a discussion-this is better than a lecture!

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