Recently in Iraq Category

My mother is right. It's time to post something new. I haven't put togetha an approach for the next anti-terrorism step, though, because I've been too busy (turn your eyes away, Mum) pursuing debauchery (it's okay to read now).

So, instead, I'm posting a side bit that's caught my eye.

Alternative competing hypotheses and methodological cultural relativism. The phrase just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?

A comment by FS in Thinkin' like a terrorist, part 3 gave me pause. It was:

"I think you're falling in to the trap of cultural relativism. Many countries repress their citizens, and may well have cultural reasons for it, but I think it's clear they are prima facie wrong to do so." -FS

I responded to this with a bit of fluff later down about how we don't use enough cultural relativism in our analysis. I'd like to take a pause and talk about alternative competing hypotheses and methodological cultural relativism rather than moral cultural relativism. Feel free to skip if you're already bored, 'cause, well, it ain't gonna get any easier.

There were only two public responses to the September 11th plane crashes in the Western world: righteous fury and liberal angst.

The righteous fury crowd feels that there is no better use for a terrorist than to shoot one. The images that came out of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Grhaib bother them only because no one had the good sense to keep the activities concealed.

The liberal angst crowd feels that we were attacked because we have such terrible, oppressive policies towards the rest of the world.

In the days shortly following the crashes, after loved ones' safety was assured, an outpouring of sentiment occurred. The most prevalent was righteous anger, with the notable exception of the late Mary McGrory, who was on some other planet than the rest of us that fateful day, telling the world she thought the President had "flunked" the test of leadership presented by the attacks, as early as September 13.

After the attacks, a sense of liberal angst did seep into the public conscious, the worst of which is the meretricious portrayal by Michael Moore of Iraq as an idyll, where laughing children play with kites while simple shopkeepers proudly display their hammered copper pots.

In this piece, I'm going to present a different stance based on an economic and a cultural observation.

For those of you looking around for assumptions to challenge, I am assuming that Dr. Huntington's Clash of Civilizations accurately describes the environment in which these conflicting viewpoints rest. Feel free to read the book and critique it.

I was going to delete yesterday's post and put up a "We now return to our regularly scheduled silence" post, but it felt more motivated by trepidation than laziness.

Instead, I'm going to try and go through what I really wanted to say one point at a time rather than hit them all in a single, rambling, unfocussed post.

Here goes.

Thinkin' like a terrorist

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I spent most of the last couple of days trying to think like a terrorist. This is not a good idea if you succeed just before walking into work.

The endeavour came to me while I was reading the most recent issue of The Atlantic Monthly, one of my favorite magazines.

Because of the Iraqi elections, The Atlantic Monthly has run a special edition dedicated to Iraq, terrorism and Islam. I was ecstatic when I thumbed through it, and overjoyed when I had finished it. Finally, someone was saying some of the things I've been saying for years and it was respected professionals.

It took me back to an argument that I had with some friends about the Oklahoma bombing.

Iraq and the United States


Policymakers and pundits in the US are struggling to understand Iraq. So are those members of the common citizenry who follow the news reports. Theories abound, many of them ill-informed. Over the next several weeks, I will try my hand at illuminating two important issues: how and why we should engage Iraq.

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