November 21, 2003

An Idea Whose Time Has Come ... Again

You do a good work, keep it going

Posted by Vanderleun at November 21, 2003 12:40 PM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Victor Davis Hanson, Michael Ledeen.

And me.

Posted by: Bill Hobbs at November 21, 2003 1:33 PM

Also Daniel Pipes, Michael J. Totten, Andrew Sullivan, Daniel W. Drezner, Charles Johnson, Glenn Reynolds, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Whittle, Steven Den Beste and James Lileks.

Posted by: Salamantis at November 21, 2003 1:47 PM

I don't want to get into a name fest, although the names above are fine by me, as are the three gentlemen (John Podhoretz, Larry Miller and Daniel Pipes) I heard at a recent forum, not to mention present company and a host of others... but I would like to examine the name of the war (not the rose!). What exactly IS the War on Terror? Terror is a means, not an end. Sure it's indesputably horrible, but it was employed for such noble ends as getting rid of Nazism. So what do we call this? Daniel Pipes suggests the War on Militant Islam. Or would Wahhabism be better? The dangers of seeming racist (or religionist or something) are obvious. But still we need a name that is more than a means, I think.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at November 21, 2003 1:55 PM

I think it likely that part of the politically aware blogoshere is evolving, as we speak, into a real time Committee for a Free World. Whatever we call it, people like those mentioned in earlier posts are gaining more and more readers; there is also a multiplying effect of the internet (I send articles I particularly like to upwards of 50 friends and relatives on my e-mail list, many of whom are becoming aware of things that heretofore they had no inkling of; [sorry for the awkward construction there].) This will be a truly democratically "(s)elected" group of experts who will gain an audience because they seem to know what they are talking about and make sense.
In addition, I would add Mark Steyn, Andrew Sullivan, and David Horowitz, among many others, to the list.

Posted by: Perry R Branson at November 21, 2003 2:30 PM

Simon is right. The referent is not the problem. To such a list I would seek to add the name (or names) of an Imam or two who demonstrate an understanding, and perhaps a plan, of how to begin to guide Islam through the same changes made by Christianity (Torquemada, auto da fe, Calvin vs. Servetus, etc. etc. spring to mind).

As has been much noted elsewhere, it is the base of terrorism that needs to be removed.

Posted by: Stephen at November 21, 2003 2:47 PM

Naming things, as Roger says, is important. I made a stab at it in the long posting The First Terrorist War:

In that I write:
1. Calling the War By the Right Name.

In a war, "Know your enemy" is one of the first axioms in formulating a strategy for victory. It is an axiom the United States has studiously ignored for over two years. In its place we’ve seen a host of euphemistic notions and slogans thrown up in the belief that, having had many decades of a life where ugly things are given pretty or neutral names, Americans can no longer "bear very much reality."

In the two years that have unfolded between September. 2001 and today, the public has had little asked of it and has seen less happen on our own ground that alarms it. All seems well, all is quiet here on the home front.

Foggy thinking, however attractive in politics, has no place in war. War requires a habit of mind that is precise, cold, and unrelenting. War requires that we call things what they are and cease to skirt issues that make us, in the damp parlance of our times, "uncomfortable." Vague names let us slip into fluffy policies hamstrung strategies and wishful thinking. This is where we are drifting.

To say we are "involved" in a "war on terror" and to repeat this phrase ad infinitum extends our decades old infatuation with euphemism and obfuscation into dangerous territory. The vagaries of the phrase lull us into a state where all dangers seem unclear and distant. The "war on terror" joins an expanding list of "wars on..." such as drugs, poverty, or profuse paperwork in government. The "war on terror" implies a "process" rather than a campaign; an indeterminate series of unresolved encounters rather than decisive actions that lead to an end, to peace. ...

Our present reality, brought home to us in the cataclysm of September 11, is that we are now fighting The First Terrorist War. We had best know it by that name. When we persist in calling it the "war on terror" our implied goal is control and containment; a "management problem" This is a dangerous illusion.

In war the only acceptable outcome is complete victory. A negotiation does not end a war - - as Oslo shows. A partition does not end a war - - as we learned in Vietnam. A cease-fire does not end a war -- as we saw in the Gulf War. The Cold War taught us that a wall does not end a war. Only victory, clear and decisive, ends war and creates peace. To date, we have failed to learn this lesson and when a lesson is not learned, it is repeated.

In war, language is a strategic asset. Indeed, we see daily how language, here and abroad, is used to weaken the resolve of the United States. The central problem in calling The First Terrorist War the "war on terror’ is that f the phrase soothes us into accepting less than victory, and resolves the war to a new normality where terror is accepted as the status quo. This is the state in which Israel has existed for decades as terrorist violence becomes the scrimscreen screen against which life goes on. Although our present foreign policy may impose this on Israel, it may, over time, prove less popular at home. We are not yet the kind of country that easily accepts The Forever War.


Posted by: Van der Leun at November 21, 2003 2:52 PM

Yeah, I've been calling it The War on Terrorists for a while for the reasons already stated above.

Posted by: Stephen Meyer at November 21, 2003 2:58 PM

All these pundits and bloggers are OK, but some actual expertise would be nice.

Richard Pipes. He is an old Cold Warrior who is skeptical about spreading democratization in the Islamic world. He'll be a good check on any unreasonable enthusiasm.

Bernard Lewis. The smartest guy on the subject.

David Hackworth. A bit of a crank, but good on the boots-on-ground practicalities.

Bruce Hoffman. Major expert on terrorism.

Posted by: Lexington Green at November 21, 2003 3:04 PM

I think this is the first example of a holographic the sense that we battle a network which can only partially be destroyed (at one time)--at its nodes--but that the nodes remaining contain all the original information of the whole: its purpose, its technology, its fundamentalism, its propaganda. It does lose resolution and some resources (intensity), also as in a hologram, with each node we destroy; and thus, the terroist scene will become grainier and fuzzier with time.

A grim caveat is that other opponent states could 'pile on' if they see we are vulnerable, and a mixture of conventional and network wars occur.

The Iraqi involvment is brilliant as it serves to aggregate the terrorist nodes and makes the war more efficient, more state-like, to fight. The worse this Iraq war appears for us, the more iffy the outcome seems to the world, the longer we are there, the more collection and aggregation of the enemy will occur and the more we fight using our comparative advantage as in conventional warfare. Didn't Sun Tzu say, in The "Art of War", something like "if the enemy is diffuse, attack something precious to him." I'm not sure if the DOD planned this, but it is ingenious.

William Palmer

Posted by: William Palmer at November 21, 2003 3:05 PM

And Will Baude ( and Daniel Moore (

Posted by: Nathan Lance at November 21, 2003 3:22 PM

World War Four. What's the question.

Posted by: Hovig at November 21, 2003 3:26 PM

Perhaps not War on Terror as said before... our own weapons are surely terrifying to those we use them on (and we certainly wish Al-Qaeda and various dictators to be terrified of what we might/will do!) but what is more appropriate is War on Militant Radicalism. Many dangerous groups from all across the political and religious spectrum fit this label- even putatively non-religious Ba'athists who probably could care less about Islam if it didn't suit their needs. It seems that many of these seemingly disparate forces are linking up to oppose a common foe: democracy, and tolerance, all of which are backed by the U.S. around the globe, and consequently opposed by these forces around the globe. What we want, and the majority of the world wants, is stability for economies, human rights, and tolerance to grow in. Radicals want to upset this order and institute one of their own, whether it be Shar'ia or some socialist dictatorship. Additionally, to achieve this stability, disrupting elements that do not participate peacefully in this game of progress will have to be forcibly made to, before they exceed their bounds and create problems for the rest of the world, menacing their neighbors and disrupting the peace. (re: North Korea)

Posted by: Tony at November 21, 2003 3:27 PM

Dear Mr. Simon,

Are we fishing for abuse with the statement, "Sure it's indesputably horrible, but it was employed for such noble ends as getting rid of Nazism." Would you do me the favor of clarifing your statement?

Posted by: Stan Forrester at November 21, 2003 3:31 PM

It is disheartening to see ostensibly sensible people fish for antiseptic names for the continuation of the military conquest of Christendom--the world--by Islam.

Why we refuse to take our attackers at their word boggles the mind. To go on about "non-religious Ba'athists" is well and good, but a gangster hired by political thugs for $10,000 a pop to lob rockets at hotels full of reporters in Baghdad is definitely NOT our problem.

Nor, in truth, is the blowing up of neighborhoods in Saudi Arabia or hotel bars in Indonesia. Muslims will either prevent Muslims from killing Muslims or they won't. They will most assuredly not prevent Muslims from killing us.

Consider the mythical "moderate Islam" we all seem to be counting on. How will we know it when we find it? Will it be stomping around Dar al-Islam catching and executing Muslims for killing Americans? Will it be standing up for the rights of Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians to peaceably assemble in church on Sabbath days? I don't think so. Will it be publishing textbooks about the brotherhood of man and the essential rightness of all religion and culture? I don't think so.

The first war we must win is with ourselves; until we have the cojones to identify our enemy we are--by pathetic choice--sitting ducks.

Posted by: John Mendenhall at November 21, 2003 4:30 PM

Where's the funding. It has to be more than a mailing list.

Posted by: AST at November 21, 2003 4:31 PM

Add Fouad Ajami to the list.

and not some scientists are intellectuals too, and not all of them are amoral or only adolescently moral.

Posted by: foo at November 21, 2003 4:59 PM

Maybe we should call this the War Against Islamofascism.

Posted by: Totoro, Chicago, U.S. at November 21, 2003 5:29 PM

I'm afraid that, from my point of view, Mendenhall has it. This is and has been from the start a war of two religions.

We don't call it that, but our enemy knows that that is what it is.

And sooner or later, this will become clear to us. The only question is how many of us will have to die for that to become clear to the majority of us.

Posted by: Van der Leun at November 21, 2003 7:13 PM

" This is and has been from the start a war of two religions."

What's the other one? Hindus, Jews, Christians, and various African religions are all targeted by Islam. And I don't like the "end time" implications of your sentence. I'm not in this for a final global battle in which certain people go to heaven. I'm in this for a better life for a greater number of people in this world.

Posted by: Yehudit at November 21, 2003 7:45 PM

The other religion is the Religion of Freedom.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at November 21, 2003 9:17 PM

In another entry, I wrote:
The War of Two Religions

Through the violent attacks of a Radical Islam, two religions have been brought into conflict. The first is that of Islam, a faith that at its core requires absolute submission from its adherents, and looks towards the subjugation of the world as its ultimate apotheosis. As the youngest of the monotheistic religions, Islam is at a point in its development that Christianity passed through centuries ago. And it is not with Christianity that Islam is currently at war. Islam is saving that for the mopping up phase of its current campaign. The religion that Islam has engaged is a much younger one, the religion of Freedom.

As a religion Freedom has been gaining converts since the success of the American Revolution enabled it to go forth and be preached to the world. Freedom is easily the most popular of the new religions and historically converts nearly 100% of all populations in which it is allowed to take firm root. This is the religion which we have lately brought to Iraq.

The genius of the religion of Freedom is that it allows all other religions, from the venerable to the trivial, to exist without fear of censure or destruction. Indeed, the only thing that the religion of Freedom firmly forbids is the destruction of Freedom itself. "Thou shalt not destroy Freedom" seems to be the only commandment. And Freedom has been shown to resist efforts to destroy it in the most ferocious way. It’s enemies would do well to ponder the fate of previous attempts to do so.
Full entry is at:

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at November 21, 2003 9:21 PM

This war is mostly visibly between the forces of radical Islam, and that of freedom at our current juncture. However, it goes far beyond beyond radical Islam.

Freedom has many enemies across the world. It's infectious nature scares them and is spurring them to action against its standard bearers, to quash it before it spreads and to intimidate those who have it already. Our policy of active engagement in the world in support of it is a deadly threat to those who would rather the masses lay in the grip of their power either through Sharia style courts, or totalitarian regimes.

The quest for freedom will be a long, hard, bloody struggle that will not end soon, and will not end with the conclusion of this campaign. This is but one war in a sucession of them, starting most notably with WWII, continuing on to the Cold War, and now engaging the intolerance and oppression of radical Islam. I would not be surprised to see other totalitarian systems aid and abet the Islamists in their cause, as you have seen the representatives of both aid each other in protests in the U.S. and elsewhere. Similar to the alliance of the Axis powers, their common enemy of freedom makes them strange bedfellows. We should recognize these allies for who they are, our enemy. Our enemy is not just the Islamists, but it is any opponent of freedom!

Posted by: Tony at November 22, 2003 12:02 AM

I could think of many individuals who should be added to list. For some suggestions, check out my blogroll and the different categories. The important thing to understand is that we are fighting a war of ideas. For more on this issue, please read my post, THE BATTLE OF IDEAS: CHICKENHAWKS VERSUS PACIFICISTS.

All the Best,
Martin Lindeskog.
Gothenburg, Sweden.

Posted by: Martin Lindeskog at November 22, 2003 1:20 AM

You should call your group "The Committee to Bring Back the Cold War."

You should make Ann Coulter chairman.

Don't forget to invite...

Walter Winchell

Joe McCarthy

and the collected members of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Posted by: M. Drudge at November 22, 2003 5:23 AM

You could certainly count me in for such a project.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at November 22, 2003 7:39 AM

There are interesting posts here. The M Drudge post comes, for example, from a "Hispanic" porn site. It is always ennobling to be lectured by pornographers.

For whoever asked the question, "What's the other [religion targeted]? Hindus, Jews, Christians, and various African religions are all targeted by Islam."

No, that's untrue. Mohammed knew nothing of Hindus and African religions. The Koran and the hadith only instruct the believer to kill Jews, Zoroastrians, and Christians. The job got done for the Zoroastrians, and the Jews are, of course, running low in numbers, and, as is universally believed in Dar al'Islam, running Christendom by proxy. Mullahs, sheikhs, imams and thugs do not call India, Nepal, or the animist hotbeds of the Congo Republic names like the "Great Satan."

By the same token, don't confuse Islamic terrorism and attacks on Great Satans with mundane Islamic--evangelism--I suppose, is the best word. Islam, not terrorism, expresses itself violently at its peripheries. In countries with a Muslim minority population, there is a critical mass of believers which, once achieved, leads to murderous attempts to impose Sharia, avenge "humiliations" somehow given by Christians attending Sunday School, and other intolerable provocations.

Thus, it is true, in Jammu and Kashmir, that Muslims murder Hindus. But this is not jihad. This is more or less Islamic precinct work, laying the groundwork for an Islamic political entity. Study a map of of the Eastern hemisphere, roughly between the equator and the tropic of cancer, for roughly the past forty years, and you'll see a million of these conflicts, with millions of casualties. They're not run by AlQ. They're run by the Most Reverend Imam Joe Six-Pack. And they're the duty of the believer.

Posted by: John Mendenhall at November 22, 2003 8:17 AM

John Mendenhall, you end your post by saying, probably correctly, that the local wars (which kill millions) are "run by the Most Revered Imam Joe Six-Pack. And they're the duty of the believer." What scares me is that I am not so sure where AlQ begins and where Joe Six-Pack and his true believers end. It's getting mighty blurred. I'm not even sure *they* know.

Also, I'd like to say I'm with Yehudit on this. And VDL. This is the battle for freedom.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at November 22, 2003 11:45 AM

Two observations:

1. There is a problem that Stratfor has pointed out repeatedly. It is the strategy of Al Queda to parallelize the war while it is the strategy of the United States to serialize it. It is likely that the US has embarked on a grand project to secure the nation that will, by happy byproduct, secure the world. The problem is that the US has far too small a military to undertake the entire thing at once. This weakness gives Al Queda its only strategic opening for victory. Until we have progressed far enough along the track there is a necessity for the US to lie, and lie often about how serious it is about worldwide freedom.

President Bush has actually let the cat out of the bag more than I thought he safely could. Well, he's got a lot more information than I do so I defer to that.

I suggest that the proper name for this war is the war on nihilism. Communism eventually turns nihilistic even when it's not that from the start (see North Korea). Islamism, with its ever more elaborate suicide cults is demonstrating the same trait. The worldwide trend of empowered individuals will lead to the eventual prospect of a world where everyone can be an armorer, any county can gather enough talent to build WMD, and the prospect of disconnected populations that have no or little stake in the world system is a virtual recipe for mass casualty events. The real question is whether it's prudent to name it openly yet.

2. The entire idea of a committee is based on the problem of large groups getting anything done. When the scale of membership in a group grows too large, effectiveness breaks down and it starts to make sense to elect a committee, legislature, or other subgroup to reduce the scale so effectiveness once again becomes possible. The great mass of the group endorses and supports the committee to provide it heft but it is the committee that does the day to day work.

I suggest that the information age has largely changed the size at which point you start to break down and need a committee. There's a lot more that can be done by the general membership of freedom lovers than in generations past. It's not that the committee is a bad idea, even in the Internet age the problem still exists. It is that the committee should not be viewed too conventionally with too restrictive a membership.

Posted by: TM Lutas at November 22, 2003 2:10 PM

As Roger notes, this is the war for freedom, for world freedom. That, if we can at last put paid to Totalitarianism, is what we can hope to achieve.

That said, perhaps we can look towards a something that is not a "Committee for a Free World" That was something that made sense in the 20th Century when confronted with the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China and client states such as Cuba. The first is history, the second is in the midst of a transformation to another state entirely, and the third is a museum exhibit.

Perhaps what we need to look for is a Committee for World Freedom. A small change in terms of semantics, but a larger one in terms of potential.

Freedom, after all, is a concept that encompasses many things -- a spiritual outlook, an economic system, an evolving set of social and individual values under the rule of law, a representative republic, an enhancement of the individual, and a method and series of policies designed to insure and advance freedom on all fronts.

It is well to remember that freedom is the most revolutionary force on the planet. In a very real sense, the American Revolution never stopped and today confronts, not for the first time, forces that would put an end to it if it is not pressed forward on all fronts.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at November 22, 2003 4:38 PM

The name is important, yes, but understanding what we are fighint is just as important. Daniel Pipes is correct to say that terror is just a tactic. Others have covered this as well. This is esentially a war on Islamic Supremicism, or a war to force Islam to accept, once and for all, that it can't force itself upon the world. Either in our countries or in its own. Once mainstream Islam accepts other religions TO PERPETUITY, then there can be peace. That is not the case right now. Most muslims honestly believe Islam will win out in the end. That train of thought has to be broken. Muslims, and especially, Muslim leaders, need to accept Western concepts of religious freedom. Until they have done so, this war will never end.

As for a name, I am found of WWIV myself. Kind of emphasizes the gravity and scale of it all.

Oh, and for this Committe for World Freedom, someone needs to think of something that makes a cool acronym, because we all know cool acronyms make all the difference.

Posted by: FH at November 23, 2003 12:47 AM

Don't forget the rest of the world. We also have people that think Freedom is a good thing in this world.

From my country, I would suggest Og Leme and Eduardo Gianneti. The first one is less known and the second one is more famous abroad (from Brazil's perspective).

Remember: these terrorists love to go to poor countries. So you have to convince people in these countries (like mine, despite of not having terrorism, I think, here, nowadays) first than people in Europe or US.

Best Wishes

Claudio (for emails, just take off one of the "r" after @ symbol. Running away from bots)

Posted by: claudio at November 23, 2003 3:11 AM

I propose a NATO Human Rights Enforcement Group. Especially art. 19, free press. Any gov't that does not allow free press, should be subject to regime change. Free press even more important than democracy; and more testable.
See my blog NATO HReg

Posted by: Tom Grey at November 24, 2003 10:22 AM

Adhere to Window Models. Document windows, Utility windows, Click-through, Layering, Drawers, Controls. How do users open windows, how do you properly title windows?

Posted by: Jerome at January 12, 2004 3:19 PM

If an application is designed well, the reward for users is that they will learn it faster, accomplish their daily tasks more easily, and have fewer questions for the help desk. As a developer of a well-designed application, your returns on that investment are more upgrade revenue, reduced tech support, better reviews, less documentation, and higher customer satisfaction. The rewards of building a good-looking Aqua application are worth taking the extra time.

Posted by: Faith at January 12, 2004 3:21 PM