36 Responses to Why the “I’ve Got Nothing To Hide” Argument Is Wrong

  1. Neil says:

    “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to be afraid of” has been an utterly discredited defense for a long time, and rightly so. Anyone still using it are either hopeless authoritarian followers, or they are personally gaining in some way from this surveillance.

    There is a modern equivalent that is perhaps even more dangerous. This is personified by Mark Zuckerberg, as he has made many statements in recent years about society having to ‘get over’ this obsession with privacy. The argument is basically that modern technology makes privacy almost impossible anyway, so we ought to just give in and let them collect the flood of data that each person generates. He says we can feel safe because our most intimate details will just be lost in the flood, and we can achieve a certain type of privacy because of the sheer quantity of data being collected.

    Zuckerberg in particular has tried to tie this up with hacker philosophy, the general ‘openness’ between systems that the open-source movement has been championing for years.

    But don’t be fooled. The openness advocated by hackers and the like is only about technology, and in fact hackers are usually the most fanatical about their personal privacy. Zuckerberg has stolen much of the hacker ‘cachet’ and tried to shoehorn all this stuff about giving up on privacy into the same box, because he stands to make a ton of money from it.

    In reality, there’s nothing about the new technology and communications systems that makes privacy for individuals any less important. In fact, your right to privacy is more important than ever before, because the government has, for the first time, the algorithms and CPU power to use the flood of new data to find just about anything they want. That flood of data doesn’t do *anything* to give you privacy.

    • Terry Adams says:

      I agree, privacy shouldn’t be less important simply because of the nature of technology. It seems naive to think you can expect the same level of it if you lead any kind of online existence, but still, this discussion ought to be how we manage that, and make it as fair as possible.

  2. N. Friedman says:

    “Our policies continue to create more, not less, terrorist threats, which in turn justify the existence of secret programs.”

    While I think you have made some very interesting and good points, the above is not one of them. In WWII, we made more, not fewer, enemies by bombing our enemies. Would we have been better off not doing any bombing? I rather doubt it.

    The issue here is that whatever we do, there will be a response. If we were to do whatever those who commit terrorists want, it would be, beyond any doubt, spun as victory for their approach, which would also create also create more terrorists threats, not fewer.

    Perhaps, we should simply ignore the terrorists and what they do. In that event, you can bet it would be spun as showing our impotence, which would also create more, not fewer, terrorist threats.

    My point is not to suggest that our approach to the terrorist threat is the correct one or to deny that what you write is literally true. My point is that you are wrong if you think that the dominant cause of terrorism can be found in what we do or do not do. It is not. It has only peripheral importance. The most apparent thing here is that the terrorists have developed an ideology, one that has seen itself vindicated, both since it predicts that we shall respond or that we shall give into what the terrorists want or that we are too impotent to respond effectively.

    While I do not want to take the analogy with the pre-WWII period too far, I do note that, like the Nazis, the Islamists have a worldview, one that can be promoted not only to true believers but to others. The Islamist ideology is not a mere reaction although, like Nazism, perceived humiliations play a major role in its formation. However, having transformed from a lunatic ideology into a full blown movement, our ability to impact what its followers, one way or the other, is rather limited. Anything we do will be spun.

    I might also note that your quoted statement has basically nothing to do with any spying the US government is or is not doing.

    One last point. We have a whistle blower who has come forward. We do not know whether he is really telling the truth. We also do not know if those who act in the program – if we assume the worst – are rogues or following the rules that have been set. I note that the issue here is not merely the existence of the ability to gather data and use it nefariously. That has existed for ages – and long pre-dates the computer era. Ask anyone who has lived in the USSR if you doubt it. So, the issue here is what, in fact, is going on, if anything – which is something we do not, at this point, know. At this point, we have accusers and deniers. Some of the deniers are credible people, so we should not be jumping to any conclusions at this point.

    • “While I think you have made some very interesting and good points, the above is not one of them. In WWII, we made more, not fewer, enemies by bombing our enemies. Would we have been better off not doing any bombing? I rather doubt it.”

      Inapposite. If for decades before WWII the U.S. had gone around the world bombing German countries — pretend there were more than a dozen — and staging coups against German leaders, propping up German tyrants, and invading and continuing to target German populations with little care to killing civilians, and killing half a million German children with a sanctions campaign, your analogy would work. But in that case, the U.S. would have been responsible for WWII.

      Just as we are arguably responsible for generating ever-increasing Muslim terrorists, whose political grievances are often just. No people would put up with what the West, and especially the U.S., has done to them. We wouldn’t put up with it.

      • N. Friedman says:

        “If for decades before WWII the U.S. had gone around the world bombing German countries…”

        In fact, we have not for decades been bombing Arab countries or Islamic countries. It is always nice to say incendiary things. However, they ought be true things. On the other hand, we, in fact, were involved in killing millions and millions of Germans in WWI – far more than what we did to Arabs or Muslims more generally.

      • Terry Adams says:

        What Mona means is the following:

        Decades is a fair assessment if in fact you include the overthrowing of democratically elected leaders- see Iran 1953

        The propping up of brutal dictators that kill their own people- see Egypt, Libya (pre-2011), Iran (1953-1979), Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq (pre-Desert Storm)

        Brutal sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq from the early 90’s to the mid 2000’s.

        Brutal sanctions affecting the people- not the government- in Iran

        The unilateral support of Israel as they have continued to illegally occupy and oppress Palestine

        The arming and aiding of religious fanatics in Afghanistan in order to kill Russians in the 70’s and 80’s, which of course created the Taliban. We’ve now allowed some of the most brutal Warlords in that country to become major government entities in their parliament.

        The indiscriminate use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen

        The selling of arms to governments like Bahrain and the UAE to be used on Arab Spring protesters.

        These are just a few examples. They go back quite a ways. British and French colonialism extends even farther.

    • Terry Adams says:

      Neil, in my opinion, anytime someone attempts to use a WWII or Nazi Germany comparison to make a point about US foreign policy in the modern era, the point they are making is usually weak. Hence the need to invoke the evil of Nazism and what “could be”, if we didn’t intervene in such and such a way.

      I agree with Mona, the two situations are not analogous.

      Your argument seems to be that no matter what we do in the region, our policies would be spun in such a way that would make us look bad. A lose/lose if you will. Isn’t that what every enemy does? Look at what is happening in our own media right now, concerning the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Read some of the pointless drivel designed to discredit the messenger, instead of focusing on the message. What do you think that is? Propaganda meant to dissuade us from taking him seriously- aka- spinning the info in such a way as to favor one’s own agenda, which is precisely what you’re arguing the “terrorists” would do if we modulated our foreign policy one way or another.

      So what’s the answer? Inaction? Business as usual? I think you’re wrong about the level of influence- or “cause and effect”- our policies in the region (for quite a while now) have on the perpetuity of retaliatory terrorist attacks. But since you disagree, I’ll simply state that what we know in this situation, is only what has resulted from our current policies and actions. We don’t know what the result would be if in fact we left the region altogether, or at the very least began taking a less invasive approach. We don’t know what would happen if we promoted legitimate peace. We don’t know, because we’ve never tried it. You claim omniscience, positing that the threat to Western governments would continue to be a reality no matter what our approach is. Okay, you may be right. But what evidence do you have to support that? All the evidence supports my argument, because that’s all we’ve ever tried. It would be interesting to see what could evolve, if in fact we took a different approach. I’m not saying world peace would ensue, I’m simply stating that we don’t know. I’m also stating that the reason secret policies are justified under the blanket excuse of “National Security”, is because of the so-called ubiquitous threat of terrorism. I believe, and I think it’s fair to state, that as long as we continue to carry out the kinds of policies that we currently enact in the Middle East, the conflict has no chance of ceasing, and the “threat” will always exist. Thus the justification for instrusive government surveillance that I think threatens our liberty.

      So I disagree, the statement you quoted of mine has a lot to do with government spying. The one justifies the other. What have you heard every government official claim this week when defending these programs? “They keep us safe from the threat of terrorism.” If our policies cause blowback- otherwise known as terrorism- leading to the perceived necessity to have widespread access to vital information, how exactly does that statement have nothing to do with government spying?

      One thing is for sure though: this argument of ours is moot because nothing is going to change. Not as long as the Middle East is ripe with oil.

      Regarding the programs and the whistleblower. Here is what we know. The programs are real. The government claims they are legal. (Surely you don’t believe that everything that is deemed “legal” by the government is ALWAYS morally upright, and espouses liberty to the fullest?) This law was created, debated, and enacted in secret, and it allows massive personal information to by collected and stored. This whistleblower leaked it and now the necessary debate has been launched. So whether or not you agree with what these programs are doing, the point is they should not have been operating in the dark. Not when it involves the majority of the American citizenry. We should have been included in the original debate so that we can decide as a nation, whether his tradeoff of privacy for security is worth it or not. That’s the point. Again, don’t get bogged down in the spin. The intent is not what matters here. It is the substance of what was revealed. That’s what we should be talking about.

    • ryan wilson says:

      Simple question. Where were the only truly successful anti-American terrorists from? The 9/11 plot, after all, is the only one that managed to kill more Americans than, say, the average American psychopath, like Gacy, Son of Sam or the guy who shot up the Sikh temple.

      Were the 9/11 people from random Muslim countries where the more violent children grow up wanting to kill infidels? No, they were from the two countries where American money has been most responsibility for keeping ruthless torturers in power for decades. If 9/11 had been a pan-Islamic project, I might think your argument was rooted in something more than your own insecurities.

      But then, so much was apparent when you began your rant with bombing “our enemies.” Random men, women and children in Afghan villages, reporters on Iraqi streets, farmboys handed over by corrupt warlords to meet a quota – such people may be your enemies. They aren’t mine.

  3. N. Friedman says:

    Terry writes:

    The propping up of brutal dictators that kill their own people- see Egypt, Libya (pre-2011), Iran (1953-1979), Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq (pre-Desert Storm)

    The Iranians are not Arabs. The government in Iran, in the early period of American support, was the government of choice of the Ayatollahs. While the US had involvement in the downfall of the earlier government, the main player opposed to Mohammad Mosaddegh was the religious elites. Mosaddegh threatened their estates and other societal privileges. Moreover, the Arabs and Iranians are not a bonded group. They have a long history of mutual animosity. So, lumping them together as effected the same way by an event is to be disingenuous.

    The Saudi government was not propped up by the US. It had widespread support from the religious elite, who hate the US. Moreover, the Saudis remain in power – and not due to the US but to the fact that there is sufficient support among the Saudis.

    The Libyan government had, for much of the relevant period, no real relations with the US. The US did bomb in Libya after the government was shown to have been involved in bombings, etc., in Europe. The US killed, if I recall correctly, the daughter of Qaddafi. The US bombing was directed to take out Qaddafi. The US had somewhat better relations with him after 2003. Then, the US sided with the rebels against him. We certainly did not prop up the Libyan government.

    There has been fighting in Yemen on and off for decades. We had little to do with it.

    In Egypt, the argument that the US propped up the government is, again, disingenuous. we did provide aid to the government. When the Egyptians protested, the US dropped, within two weeks, its support for the regime in power. The US provided considerable aid to the country but, clearly, the US did keep the regime in power as it also provides aid to the new government. Please note, however, that so far as protecting the rights of Egyptians is concerned, the new government is far more repressive than the government it replace.

    We did support Iraq. And Iraq was repressive. However, again, the notion that we prevented the formation of more representative government is belied by neighboring Syria, where the US did not prop up the government yet the same form of tyrannical government held sway.

    The repressiveness of the ME is not caused by the US. It is a complicated matter primarily involving issues of large scale illiteracy, oppressive political ideologies, religious institutions, etc. Perhaps the most important driving force in these countries is that religious institutions want a restoration and enhancement of their societal privileges – privileges to which Western ideas are a serious threat.

    So far as Israel is concerned, the US is not the “unilateral” supporter of Israel. And, even if it were, it is not the reason the US is targeted. The US is targeted because it is the biggest threat to the agenda of the Islamic restoration movement (aka Islamism), which, as noted, sees Western civilization as a central impediment to the societal privileges of the religious class and its supporters.

    Perhaps, you mean to hold that you support the restoration of religious institutions and superstitions and ideas in the Islamic regions because you see them as a rational response to Western aggression.

    • N. Friedman says:

      Correction:

      Strike: “The US provided considerable aid to the country but, clearly, the US did keep the regime in power as it also provides aid to the new government.”

      Substitute: “The US provided considerable aid to the country but, clearly, the US did not keep the regime in power and such is also shown by the fact that the US also provides aid to the new government.”

    • Neil says:

      Hi Neil

      I really didn’t want to reply to your first comment, or this one, because I’ve been out dancing, drinking, and lots more for the last several hours, and I really shouldn’t be trying to form cogent arguments in this state.

      But I can’t help myself.

      Neil, you seem completely credulous when it comes to the US Government’s stated goals, values, and history. You don’t seem at all interested in questioning whether the narrative the government has spun around the last 13 years, and the 50 before that, is actually a fair telling of reality, or if it’s been distorted exactly as much as necessary to conceal the true nature of the US attitude to international relations, and maintain this myth that ‘we are the good guys’.

      You seem to take the ‘good guys’ story and accept that as truth, despite their being very little evidence in favour, and a lot more against.

      My opinion is the opposite. When it comes to the amount of trouble caused around the world, over a long period of time, the US government, using the CIA and other agencies, have caused more misery, more death, more injustice, more destruction of natural habitat, and more damage to the earth’s global ecology than any other single organisation in history. Anyone’s history.

      I’ll just discuss one example.

      A couple of hundred years ago, England was worried about the trade deficit with China, with all the tea the English were buying, it seemed the Chinese didn’t want any English goods at all. This was terrible for the King’s wallet, so they hatched a plan.

      They would first go to india and grow thousands of bushels of opium poppies. They had been grown there for centuries but the British turned a small farming industry into a proper mass-scale operation that could make huge quantities of opium all the time.

      They would load up their ships with opium and sail to China.Once the Chinese were sufficiently in opium’s thrall they would happily give any amount of tea for the opium they so desperately needed.

      China refused to allow the opium to be imported, because they had dealt with opium before and they knew very well how destructive it would be to their society to have half the population as addicts.

      But the British wouldn’t take no for an answer, so they sailed their superior navy right into the Chinese harbour and just blew everything to bits; the Chinese fleet and many sailors and soldiers were killed, and in the end, the English were able to force the Chinese government to agree to purchase this opium in return for tea, and IIRC they even made the Chinese pay for the damage that the English warships incurred during the brief, very lopsided ‘battle’.

      It is hardly believable that a national government would openly traffic drugs into another country as an economic lever. But they did, because they were monumental bastards, and they were operating in a time with very different standards for moral behaviour.

      Today, we are much less accepting of that type of thing, certainly no country could even try doing that openly today, they would be thrown out of the UN.

      But the US has done much worse, at least twice, in separate but prolonged airlifts of tons and tons of drugs directly onto US streets for sale.

      First, during the Vietnam war, the CIA flew planeloads of the finest heroin from laboratories they set up in Laos, directly to the US for sale on the street in NY and other cities. Why would they do this? Well, the mostly needed the money. The CIA has always had operations that were so secret, they couldn’t even request funding for fear of discovery. You would be surprised to learn that the dozen or so mega-wealthy dynastic families that owned most of the US around 1900 were very happy to pour vast sums into the CIA’s operations; after all, the CIA was making sure it was safe to rape other countries of oil and whatever else. The price was pretty cheap.

      This continued for many years, and I suspect it still does. The Iran/Conta deal was not a one-off,it was a specific instance of a reliable trading strategy that the CIA and others have used over and over as and when they needed funds for the operations they know are too illegal to even admit to the president. Considering what he does know about, can you imagine what sort of crimes they must be doing if they are too scared to tell the president?

      Anyway, the heroin from Laos dried up once the US was kicked out of the whole south-east Asia, and it took them a while to set up a similar operation. This time they were using US Military transports to bring hundreds of tons of cocaine from their friends in the wealthy criminal syndicates of South America. To fund more secret criminal operations.

      Do you really still think you ought to take what the government tells you at face value, when they have this kind of history that is well known? There have only been two presidents since FDR that have tried to curtail the CIA’s activities and power, and one was shot in Dallas, and the other had to resign in disgrace. No president has tried to touch them since then.

      I don’t think the word ‘evil’ is even sufficient for this group of monsters. But I haven’t got anything that seems bad enough.

      I hope you actually check out my assertions, and respond with criticism of my point, rather than picking some minor issue and writing your whole reply about only that.

      The only question that really matters here is : why are you so eager to trust these people?

      I don’t know how anyone can claim to have some knowledge of US history and not see how we are the worst terrorists of all, and we have been for a long time.

    • Terry Adams says:

      Strike “prop up”, and insert “support” or “aid” or “arm” or “influence”. Anyway you want to spin it, we’ve been supporting- in one way or another- some of the most brutal regimes in that region, and the people know this and hate us for it.

      No one said that what the US does in that region, is the SOLE reason for terrorist blowback, etc. But it’s foolish not to think that it’s a major part…you have to factor in the whole, which includes the illiteracy, repressive ideologies, etc. that you mentioned. But remember, if we are helping oppressive regimes remain in power, as we have done and continue to do, and these regimes actively stifle democratic movements, economic and educational reforms, etc., then we are playing a role in that part of the process as well.

      It’s in our interest to keep these governments undemoctratic. That’s why we have such great access to oil. So when we intervene while telling everyone we’re promoting peace and democracy, while we continue to support some of the worst regimes in the world, it’s not hard to imagine why people don’t take us seriously.

      And after everything I’ve written that you’ve commented on, do you honestly think I support the “restoration of religious institutions and superstitions and ideas” because I see them as a “rational response to Western Agression”? Of course not. I’m merely pointing out the incommodious truth that what we do in the Middle East, doesn’t help any effort to thwart terrorism; and can in many cases be itself labeled terrorism. While I don’t condone violence in the name of any religion or ideology, I ‘m not blind to how it is used to motivate and justify aggressive responses to Western intervention. But I would also suggest that the responses aren’t just religious in nature. They are political too. This was what I was attempting to analyze in my post the other day.

      • N. Friedman says:

        The blowback theory has, so far as I recall, its origins in the US support for jihadists who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan. The theory held that we brought divergent revolutionaries together and that, having met during their war against the Soviets, they built an international organization which, since it saw us merely as friends of convenience during that war, next turned their attention to fighting the US.

        The theory has morphed into the notion that there is a reaction to what we have supported in the ME that results in terrorism in the US. I think it is a nonsense theory, one that flies in the face of common sense. If it were true that the US behavior is the source of problems, you would think that in parts of the world where the US has been truly atrocious – as in Central and South America -, the same blowback would occur from those regions as well. They do not.

        People from Vietnam, where the US was not exactly an angel, have not commenced any terrorism against the US. The Philippians, a country the US also mistreated, does not have a population that tries to terrorize the US.

        In the ME, the same behavior by the US results in no terrorism against the US by non-Muslims. That, notwithstanding a very large Christian population.

        Again, the driving force – the thing that distinguishes the reactions involved here from those of other groups – here is societal and, most particularly, the effort by the religious classes to restore their societal privileges. It is those who support that cause (which is why the fighters always reference religion) who are involved in the terrorism here. It is not Christians from the Arab regions who, were your theory correct, are involved.

        I understand your consternation that I assert that you seem to find rational the struggle of the clerical class in the Islamic regions. However, the theory your assert more or less matches the propaganda employed by the clerical class. So, in my way of thinking, you are acting in service of their fight when you repeat, in effect, their rhetoric.

        Please note, I do not claim that there are no just claims coming from the Arab regions. However, the notion that it is the US that keeps the Arabs “down,” so to speak, or that our behavior towards Arabs is the central driving force here has, in my view, exactly no truth to it.

        I suggest you ponder the distinction between India and Pakistan. These two Indian states both have reason to hate the West. While I can imagine someone from India attacking the US, I rather doubt that it will be either a Sikh or Hindu. Why? Because the clerical class of those groups does not see the West as a threat to its societal position. Muslim clerics in very large numbers do see the matter that way. And, needless to say, Pakistanis have been involved in terrorism in the US – and, to note, played a major role in funding the Sept. 11, 2001 attack.

      • Terry Adams says:

        The major difference, insofar as the comparisons you’ve made is the following:

        1.) While we have supported corrupt dictators and brutal regimes elsehwere (particularly Latin America), we haven’t OCCUPIED various countries there for extended periods of time. Did we use proxy armies to act as death squads to murder thousands of people that opposed the leaders we were installing and supporting? Yes. But the kind of sanctions and policies we’ve enacted throughout the Middle East, have been far more invasive over the long term.

        And don’t think that Vietnam laid down…they fought us tooth and nail, fanatically, until we left that country. I think the comparison to Vietnam and what’s been happening in somewhere like Afghanistan, are fairly analogous. The only difference is, we haven’t been fighting an “organized army”. And because the nature of the enemy being so different, we haven’t lost nearly the same amount of US soldiers.

        2.) Please recall that I’m not trying to argue that there isn’t a religious extremist element to this. I argued that in the very first piece you commented on. I’m aware that this extremist element is real, dangerous, and explosive and that this plays a role in the “blowback” or terrorist threat. I’ve simply been arguing that if you expect to destroy an ideology, or at best, the existence of a threat, by using extreme violence and oppression, then if the ideology in question is equally brutal and violent, it’s safe to assume- as the last decade plus has proven- that you aren’t quelling terrorism, you’re giving it reason to spread.

  4. N. Friedman says:

    Terry writes:

    we haven’t OCCUPIED various countries there for extended periods of time.

    We did not occupy various countries in the ME until we were attacked in 2001. In fact, we did not occupy any ME country in 2001. At present, we occupy no ME country although we have the remnants of the occupation army in Iraq. We did, for a number of years, starting in 2003, occupy Iraq.

    We have an occupation army in Afghanistan, but that country is not in the ME. However, unless time runs backwards, the army arrived after lunatics from Afghanistan and Pakistan directed and paid Saudis and a few Egyptians – neither country ever being occupied by the US – to fly planes into buildings on 9/11/01. So, you have cause and effect backwards on this point.

    The 9/11/01 attack, the worst terrorist attack in history, occurred at a time when the US was not occupying any Arab country. Moreover, most of those involved in the attack came from Saudi Arabia, a very rich country which owns large chunks of real estate and a large number of commercial interests in the US and has substantial influence with the US government. There was no occupation army in Saudi Arabia, then or now. In fact, Saudi Arabia has not been occupied by a non-Muslim power since the period of the Muslim prophet. Yet, it is the source of personnel for the 9/11/01 attack.

    The one part of the Arab regions which had a reasonable reason to perhaps want to attack Americans was Iraq. The US, after all, created a no-fly zone over that country and placed sanctions on the country and, no doubt, this was pretty brutal. On the other hand, the Iraqi government was bad beyond all imagination, taking out their mistakes in the first Iraq war (a war they started) on the swamp Arabs in the south of the country and the Kurds – a people who might claim reasonably to be occupied (albeit by Arabs). Iraqis, not the US, gassed Kurds in large numbers. And, even without our presence overhead, Iraqis had it very bad – much as Syrians did (where the US had no real influence).

    Moreover, if you want to speak about a long term occupation, Germany was occupied by the US and the USSR and France and the UK for after WWII for years after WWII. That did not lead to terrorism in the US. The US thereafter imposed a new form of government on most of the country thereafter and kept a very, very large army in the country for decades. There was, in fact, resentment but it did not lead to terrorists attacks in the US.

    You write:

    I’ve simply been arguing that if you expect to destroy an ideology, or at best, the existence of a threat, by using extreme violence and oppression, then if the ideology in question is equally brutal and violent, it’s safe to assume- as the last decade plus has proven- that you aren’t quelling terrorism, you’re giving it reason to spread.

    I am not arguing that we should have this policy or that one. I frankly do not think that we have much influence over the ideology involved because (a) it is religiously based and, hence, not readily subject to falsification and (b) because the issue is not simply an ideology but, rather, a RELIGIOUSLY JUSTIFIED POLITICAL MOVEMENT, which is something different than a mere ideology. A movement is far more difficult to oppose than a mere ideology

    I think it can also be said that you cannot stop terrorism by (a) ignoring it or (b) giving in to the demands of the terrorists want. I do not think that we shall, by the means we are employing, stop it either. If we are to use violent means, then we would have to be far more brutal than the US will likely ever be, unless there were a truly catastrophic attack in the US, in which case the ME would be recast with force on a scale the US has not ever employed in the ME.

    So far as violence is concerned, it is worth considering that the one ideological movement the US and its allies unequivocally shut down was fascism. It was, in fact, stopped with violence; in fact, violence on a scale far greater than had, at the time, ever been employed by any country in history. I might recommend that you pick up a book called The Bitter Road to Freedom: The Human Cost of Allied Victory in World War II Europe, by Prof. William Hitchcock. The book is the story of WWII from the point of view of the liberated. However, along the way, the book tells the story of how the USSR liberated territory – employing the technique of mass rape, with 10’s of thousands of mass rapes committed (most likely as an actual war policy) to send a message to the Germans. The book also tells of how inexact the war was, with towns bombed to the ground by the Allies by mistake. It is a heart wrenching book but enlightening, if your goal is to learn how the world operates.

    The world is no stranger to committed ideological movements. The movement pushed by Islamic clerics to restore and enhance their societal privileges is, like the movement of the fascists and the communists, one that is unlikely to be influenced by our good (or bad or indifferent) behavior. The fascists were beaten on the battle field. The communists went, more or less, economically bankrupt. The Islamists, in power, have tended to lose political support over time – Iran being a good example. With a bit of luck, Islamist rule in Egypt (and other ME countries) will cause a backlash as well; with a bit of luck before one of them starts a major war, causing even more suffering.

    • Brian says:

      You continue to miss all the main points. No one is saying “ignore terrorists”. Nor is anyone saying “Give them what they want”. All anyone in this thread is arguing for is a different approach that places diplomacy (with an emphasis on true democratic processes) at the forefront.

      And also, that we must be able to talk honestly about what Western foreign policy is, what its goals are, and how that affects the ebb and flow regarding violence, blowback, and the continuation of the circular nature of this “conflict”. Abandoning euphemism and hyperbole is a good place to start.

      Speaking of hyperbole…Please stop using WWII comparisons to this conflict. It’s nowhere close to being useful and it detracts from your central argument.

      • N. Friedman says:

        Speaking of hyperbole…Please stop using WWII comparisons to this conflict. It’s nowhere close to being useful and it detracts from your central argument.

        I do not think I used WWII as a comparison. I used the fact of a Western occupation of Germany as a comparison. That was after the war. And, it is a completely valid comparison.

        And, the point certainly is applicable. It shows rather clearly that occupation does not automatically lead terrorism. That does not make occupation a good thing but it does show that the contention that the issue is occupation of Arab lands – which did not, in any event, actually exist before 9/11/01 – is a bogus, factually false theory.

        Now, as for a more general consideration of the relationship between the period of WWII and now, we are not currently is a major war in the traditional sense. So, that sort of comparison would not make any sense.

        A larger and more important question – one which numerous historians have inquired about – is whether this period is akin to the early or mid 1930’s. There certainly are similarities – but also dissimilarities – between the eras. The most notable similarities, at least to me, are the rise of a subterranean ideological movement that sees hatred of the OTHER as central, which sees hatred of Jews as critically important, which includes a purification (in the case of Islamism, takfiri) agenda to rid all impure influences on their own people and which seeks to expand itself. Moreover, there is the parallel that much of the intelligentsia in both eras sought to explain away the ideology as a response to Western wrongdoing (i.e., that they have legitimate grievances to be addressed which, if addressed, will eliminate distasteful aspects of their agendas). Different are the religious basis for the Islamist movement and the fact that a movement that effectively rejects science has limited ability to mount an effective army. No doubt there are other similarities and differences. I just wanted to highlight some which have been raised by historians.

  5. susan jackson says:

    What an intelligent debate.

  6. Brian says:

    N. Friedman- here is how I would counter your German occupation claim. While there might have been resentment from the German people for our presence there, it was their government that instigated world-wide aggression. It was their government that was responsible for genocide. Our occupation was not unilaterally supported…the entire world backed our presence there. It wasn’t like Iraq- a country that did not attack us on 9/11, and was invaded by us under false pretences. They had not instigated world-wide aggression, nor indeed threatened US or Western indepedence in any way shape or form. Yet still we occupied them for a decade and killed many thousands of their civilians both directly and indirectly.

    As the author states in his responses to you here, and as he addressed in some of his recent pieces, he fully acknowledges- as do I- the role that religious extremism plays in all of this. Again, no one is denying that. We are simply stating that Western involvement (get off the word occupation- our involvement in that region goes back for decades, far before 9/11. You must see that we have installed, overthrown, supported, and armed various regimes that are…

    • N. Friedman says:

      Brian, Please read back my comment. Terrorism led to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It may not have caused it but, absent the 9/11/01 attack, there would have been no invasion and certainly no occupation.

      Since 9/11/01, there has been a considerable amount of terrorism but, quite clearly, nothing so far on the order of what occurred on 9/11/01. Hence, to look to occupation as the cause of terrorism is nonsense. Terrorism caused the occupation, an occupation which ended.

      Now, how can you possibly have cause and effect so very backwards? This is not a brief for invading countries. It is merely to note the obvious, which is that, without any US occupation, the US was viciously attacked on 9/11/01. Thereafter, there has been less, not more, terrorism in the US as measured in casualties, harm to property, etc., etc. There have been numerous small time attacks but to suggest that occupation is the cause here when, prior to any such occupation, there was a vicious terrorist attack, the largest terrorist attack in all of history thus far, is, as I noted, an impossible argument to justify.

      • Brian says:

        What about the bombings of the USS Cole? What about the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983? Were these not terrorist attacks that predate 9/11? If you agree that they were, what were the motivations for them? Just radical Islam? Think hard about where these bombings took place.

        Now, I’ll urge you again to stop fixating on the word and idea of “occupation” as the only way the West has been involved in the Middle East. Certainly you’re familiar with things like coups, monetary and military support for regimes, and even things like US/CIA involvement in arming, training, and supplying Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan when the Soviets invaded. You are aware of these things right? You seem to like history, so I’m also going to assume that you’re familiar with British and French occupation of various Middle Eastern/North African countries for many, many years prior to any US involvement. I’ll ask you again, drop the word “occupation” and replace it with the word “involement”. If you can do that, perhaps you’ll see my point.

  7. Brian says:

    …undemocratic in nature, for quite a while now.) Fixating on what countries were actually occupied and when, while also ignoring the difference in circumstances regarding why Iraq and Afghanistan have been occupied, compared to the occupation of Germany in the wake of WWII, just won’t fly.

    Hell, look at the number of military bases we have throughout the Middle East. We’ve literally encircled Iran. Do you think the people are happy about that? Yes the ideology is part of the problem. But so is the Western presence. Can you truly not see how both play a role?

    (I had to split up my earlier comment. I’m not sure why, but it wouldn’t allow me to continue writing.)

  8. N. Friedman says:

    Hell, look at the number of military bases we have throughout the Middle East. We’ve literally encircled Iran. Do you think the people are happy about that?

    Why should the presence of bases cause terrorism? We also have bases in Europe. Do they cause terrorism? We have bases all over the world, in fact. Do our bases in and around Japan cause terrorism? What about our bases in S. Korea?

    The issue here is not bases but context. Large numbers of Muslims have embraced a nasty ideological movement which sees the OTHER not only as problematic (something which all people see the OTHER as) but as involved in a conspiracy to undermine them.

    Now, in answer to your specific question, I do not think Arabs see themselves as having common cause with Persians. I think they hate each other. In fact, they hate each other at least as much as large numbers of them hate Jews – which is saying something. In fact, Arabs hate and fear Persians enough that there are Arab leaders who have advocated buying from the Israelis in order to defend themselves from the Persians. The leaders of numerous Arab governments want US troops because they fear being dominated by Persians. On this issue, Arab leaders have considerable support, grudging as it may be, among their own people.

    Your assumption appears to be that what goes on in the Arab world can be explained by one or two “facts.” That would not be true even if you had your facts all correct. As in the rest of the world, there are a great many factors at play. Among them include the fact that average people in the Arab regions have never had any actual circumstances where they could form their own opinions. Rather, as has been claimed about the West but, frankly, is far more descriptive of the Arab regions, opinion is manufactured, most particularly by governments which seek to maintain their rule by blaming others for all problems. That has been an effective governing strategy throughout the world, except in parts of the world where public opinion plays a greater role.

    In all parts of the world where monotheism has played a role, the most effective sign that government manipulation of public opinion is involved is where problems are blamed on great Satanic forces. The US plays that role in the Arab regions. So do Jews. In the Arab regions, all forces that contend for governance use the mechanism of Satanic forces as part of their political agenda.

    To confuse the presence of US troops – which are present all over the world – with a cause for terrorism (while terrorism against the US seems to come from people who hold to a specific ideological movement) – is nonsensical.

    This is not an argument for keeping US troops all over the world. It merely notes that your argument does not adequately explain a sufficient number of facts to be a very plausible explanation.

    • Brian says:

      Have we been droning, bombing, sanctioning, and supporting corrupt dicators in Europe, South Korea and other parts of Asia? Have we been attacking any of those nations and killing their people? Have we been killing their innocent civilians and helping anti-democratic governments keep pro-democracy movements from getting off the ground? Have we invaded one of their nations under a false premise, killing hundreds of thousands of their civilians in the process? Once again, your comparison falls short, because this is precisely what we’ve been doing in the Middle East and that’s the difference.

      You accuse me of fixating on one or two “causes” but it’s you that’s arguing in this way. You think I’m arguing occupation as the sole cause- and once again, you fixate on the word occupation instead of thinking in the broader terms of involvement. But in reality “occupation” or “involvement” only adds to what bombings, dronings, wars, sanctions, etc. have been doing. These various realities combine to create many reasons for hatred. And guess what, one of those reasons also happens to be religious extremism. So no, I’m not saying only 2 things are causing terrorism. It’s far more complex and involved than that.

      You admit in your last comment that many Middle Eastern governments and their dictators repress public opinion and keep their people down…that’s precisely my point. Guess who supports a lot of those governments? WESTERN POWERS. Support for those governments is also known as INVOLVEMENT. The people in these countries know that. Again, it’s another source of resentment.

      Another factor that baffles me, in regards to Western involvement predating 9/11 is the obvious presence of Western oil companies. Why do you think we are truly there?

      Again, I think you are being dishonest about terrorism in this context. Religious ideology, Western Involvement, economic disparity, educational weakness, along with many many other factors, play roles in what can create fertile ground for terrorist activity.

      • N. Friedman says:

        Again, cause and effect has a time element to it. There were no US drones killing anyone in Arab countries prior to 9/11/01. There were no occupations of any Arab countries prior to that date. There were no wars – apart from the Gulf War, which had wide support among Arabs – prior to that date. What on Earth are you talking about?

        That you would like a different US policy does not mean that, however right or wrong the US’s policy may be, that it is the cause of all that ails the world including Arabs and other Muslims. We have some things which can be examined but none of that are the reason that believers in Islam are in crisis.

        We are not the reason that Middle Eastern governments and Islamists decided to turn us into a Satan.

        Moreover, the manner of governance in the Middle East is unaffected by whether the US supported or opposed a government. Syria was not an ally of the US. Iran is not an ally of the US. When Iran was our ally, its government, horrible as it was, by the standards of today’s “Republic” of Iran, far more liberal and open. And, unlike most of the Arab regions, the US did, in fact, intervene to some extent in Iran’s governance, at least in the early 1950’s. We, at the time, supported the revolt by the Mullahs against Mosaddeq, which was certainly wrong. But, note: the primary party against him was the Mullahs, not the US or Britain.

        We have not kept Arab dictators in power against the will of the people. In Egypt, as soon as the people arose, the US did nothing to prevent the change. We will likely do nothing now to prevent further change in Egypt.

        The issue is the manner by which Arab and Muslim governments and their power rivals vie for power. We did not make Assad’s dad kill 40,000 people in Hama in 1982. We did not cause the current Assad to massacre people all over Syria. We have next to no influence on Syria and have not had influence my entire life – and I am nearly 60.

  9. N. Friedman says:

    Brian writes: “What about the bombings of the USS Cole? What about the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983? Were these not terrorist attacks that predate 9/11? If you agree that they were, what were the motivations for them? Just radical Islam? Think hard about where these bombings took place.”

    The background to this was the terrible civil war in Lebanon. That was 1983. It helped advance Hezbollah. We should have stayed out of that war. But it has nothing to do with terrorism today other than as allowing Hezbollah to show it could be tough.

    • Brian says:

      The point is we were INVOLVED!!!! Wrongly involved.

      What about the USS Cole…what was that about?

      And do me a favor…define terrorism.

      • N. Friedman says:

        What about the USS Cole…what was that about?

        You mean the Navy ship that was attacked while in a port. That was about religious lunatics who thought it important to attack a US Navy ship. The lunatics thought this would help them show how tough they are.

        And do me a favor…define terrorism.

        I am not here to be the dictionary for you. However, my dictionary includes this definition, which seems reasonable to me is the one that appears in the Oxford English dictionary: “the use of violence for political purposes, for example putting bombs in public places.” I understand that this definition assumes – but does not require – the terrorist to be acting as an individual or group. I tend to think that right as governments could commit similar types of acts.

  10. Brian says:

    N. Friedman- In regards to your last lengthy comment where you begin by talking about cause and effect….I couldn’t agree more that cause and effect has a time table…which is precisely why it’s historically ignorant to pretend that this conflict begins with 9/11. I am now convinced that you don’t comprehend so well, as you continue to fixate on the word occupation in spite of my many attempts to get you to understand that there are other ways to involve yourself in other regions besides direct occupation. You seem to understand this when it comes to US involvement in Latin America, but for some reason it’s not translating to the Middle East. I won’t repeat my arguments that I’ve made on this…if you care to refresh your memory, you are welcome to scroll up and read again. I’ll simply state one last time that this conflict did not begin with 9/11. There are a myriad of events that are historically well documented, that prove my point (on both sides- religious extremism and Western involvement in the region) but you continue to ignore them for reasons I can’t possibly fathom. This will be my final comment to you. I now realize that we are wasting each others precious time. Cheers.

  11. N. Friedman says:

    You seem to understand this when it comes to US involvement in Latin America, but for some reason it’s not translating to the Middle East.

    I see that you have walked away from discussion to note that, in fact, I addressed your specific points. I have applied the same analysis with respect to Latin America, from which there has been essentially no terrorism directed against the US.

    I do not claim that the issue with the Arab regions began on 9/11/01. I claimed that the issue of terrorism does not have much to do with the US and has a lot to do with political problems and social problems and educational problems and religious problems that plague the Arab and greater Muslim regions. The biggest of the issues is the interest of the religious elite and their supporters to maintain the privileges they have in society. That issue plays out very differently in the Latin America, with results that are very different.

    Please note that it was very much the work of the religious elite who caused the decline of the Ottoman Empire. That elite opposed efforts to modernize. That elite held that the printing press was demonic, which resulted in the Ottoman Empire keeping printed publications away from Muslims well into 19th Century and, in the Arab regions in particular, into the late 19th Century. This was a disaster for the region. Rather amazingly, there was no similar directive against non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire having the printing press and using it (so long as they did not direct its use, of course, against the government). So, this was, in fact, the work of the religiously inspired classes.

    Please also note that you are correct that problems did not begin in 2001. However, the US had exactly nothing to do with the break up of the Ottoman Empire. We never attacked it (other than in response to piracy in the early years of the US) and, during WWI, we maintained strict neutrality with regard to the Ottoman Empire, notwithstanding that the US was an ally of Britain and France while the Ottoman Empire was an ally of Germany. The UK and France, not the US, broke up the Ottoman Empire.

    Moreover, the arrangement reached after WWI, notwithstanding all of the Internet information to the contrary, was not wholly done to advance the interests of the UK and France – although, of course, that was certainly part of the mix. In fact – and contrary to what most people understand -, local leaders were not only consulted on the governing entities created but, in fact, those leaders played a significant role in determining the boundaries, which is why those leaders (most particularly, but not only, the children of Hussein bin Ali [i.e., the then Sharif of Mecca]) cooperated.

    People tend to forget that there had not been any Arab rule in the Arab regions for many hundreds of years so that the issue of local rule was in a way a novel idea. It was not universally accepted, most particularly because many Arabs were rather loyal to the concept of a universal empire such as the Ottoman Empire. The notion of a universal empire has been the bane of the Arab regions ever since, with Arabism, Ba’athism, Islamism (not the current Islamism but an earlier ideology) all seeking to unite people under an imperial banner.

    Now, it is true that the US cares (or, at this point, the allies of the US care) about oil in the Gulf. The US, since 1973 or so, has also allied itself with Israel. All of this has created some friction. However, the allegation that the US prevents all change has been rather roundly disproved by the uprising in the Arab regions that the US has done nothing to stop. The main issue is the agenda of the religious elite and its allies, which puts that elites privileges first and foremost, notwithstanding how destructive its agenda is for Muslims.

    • Serenity Now says:

      You literally have no idea what you’re talking about…the US has done nothing to try and stop Arab Spring Uprisings? I guess this kind of thing doesn’t count?

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/12/us-usa-bahrain-idUSBRE84A11R20120512

      • N. Friedman says:

        You confuse selling arms with blocking political change. Did we stop the uprising in Egypt? in Libya – where we in fact assisted it? in Tunisia? in Syria?

        I think you miss the point. The US does not really care who governs so long as the government is not actively hostile to the US. And, given that the Islamist regime in Egypt has been, from the beginning, hostile to the US, not only over this or that matter but on principle, the fact that the Obama administration continued to supply arms to the regime ought to tell you that the US is rather tolerant of whatever moronic or good style of government Arab regimes try to create.

        Your view seems to be that US has an obligation to be the advocate of change in the Arab regions. We don’t. We have no obligation to sell only to regimes which advance your idea of what is best for those being governed. And, to note, notwithstanding fantasy notions, there is no likelihood, outside of Tunisia, of any real democracy coming anywhere to the Arab regions, whether we usher it in or stand aside. The issue is the claim of the religious elite against the old governing elite. Neither group favors democracy. Both think it the enemy of the good. And, the group which actually does favor democracy is, at this point, insufficiently large when compared to the two major groups vying for power – the old guard and the religious elite -, both of which, as I noted, have no use for democracy.

        So, I think your views are interesting. They, however, are not factually grounded in the Middle East. Rather, you are projecting your preference for democracy as the issue in play in the Middle east. Instead, we have a power dispute between two, very large, anti-democratic forces.

  12. Serenity Now says:

    Selling arms to regimes that are using those arms against their own people who are in the midst of protesting for democracy isn’t, in your view, a way of assisting with the blocking of political change? C’mon man…at least be honest here. That’s a ridiculous statement to make.

    We stood by and supported Mubarek for nearly 30 years, until it was clear that the majority of public opinion in Egypt was negative and wanted a change. Only then did we remove our support for that regime, claiming that we stood with democracy. But there were all kinds of reports coming out of there during the lead up to the election, blaiming the US for attempting to manipulate the political process. This would be nothing new for the US by the way.

    Libya too, we treated Goddafi like an ally and gave them nothing but support- monetarily and militarily, for years and years. Again, once it was clear that the people of Libya wanted a change, we withdrew our support and helped the people. But it can be argued that what we did, wasn’t very helpful because now an entire swath of Islamic extremists and militias are tearing that country apart. It’s the wild west. Intervention there, without a reconstruction plan, was shortsighted and now it’s a problem.

    Syria has never been an ally, so that’s a bad example. But it’s exactly why, even though we won’t put troops on the ground, don’t be naive in thinking that we aren’t involved there and don’t have a stake in who the next leader is.

    Your suggestion that the US doesn’t care who the regimes are, so long as they aren’t hostile to the US, is correct, but only in the sense that it prooves my point. This is why we don’t want democratic governments over there and we have worked so hard to make sure the leaders and in many sense theocratic dictators in these countries are people that will work with the US and support our interests. This cannot happen without intervening and influencing in any number of ways, the political processes of the Middle East. The reason we sell arms to Bahrain is because they let us house our Navy’s 5th fleet there, and because Saudi Arabia doesn’t want democracy to spread to Bahrain, because it’s promixity to the Saudi Kingdom. The Saudi’s fear that if democracy was to take hold in Bahrain, it could spread to their country too. The Saudis are one of our largest oil partners. We will always stand with them.

    No, I don’t think the US has a responsbility to advocate change in the ME. Quite the opposite. That’s the point. It shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of other nations at all, particularly the political process, and espeically when it runs counter to what the people in those nations seem to want. We selectively take the side of the people in various countries, when it serves our purposes.

    The two anti-democratic forces you keep talking about…you are aware that the US and its allies have supported a number of these regimes for years right? My point is this…you cannot espouse democracy and then actively support regimes that are undemocratic and expect to be taken seriously.

    • N. Friedman says:

      Selling arms to regimes that are using those arms against their own people who are in the midst of protesting for democracy isn’t, in your view, a way of assisting with the blocking of political change? C’mon man…at least be honest here. That’s a ridiculous statement to make.

      No it is not ridiculous. Your assumptions are (a) that there were protests for democracy – which is nonsense – and (b) that we were blocking democracy – which is also nonsense – are important points. In fact, there were, among the protesters, an insufficiently large group of democracy advocates. Most, however, were not. In fact, democracy had essentially nothing to do with what occurred. Most were part of the MB.

      If I might recommend a rather good book, written more or less a year before the so-called Arab Spring. The book is, The Coming Revolutions, by Walid Phares. In the book, Professor Phares sets forth in considerable detail (a) the forces vying for power in the ME, country by country, (b) what each of the vying parties wants, again, country by country, and (c) the reasons why revolutions were then ripe. Now, Phares might have some detail wrong. However, he does have the advantage, unlike most other commentators, to have noted the obvious, which is that the existing power structure in the Arab regions was ripe for revolutions, which he predicted were coming imminently. I read the book just prior to the time that unrest broke out.

      Phares notes also that much of what is occurring has very little to do with the US and a great deal to do with local matters and that the two largest groups fighting have no interest whatsoever in democracy. Which is to say, my argument that we have largely a dispute between religious elites and the old guard is not original with me. It is factually well grounded.

      Phares also notes that the biggest reason for lack of knowledge in the West about the ME is money coming from Arab regimes, which have largely bought off academia, with extraordinarily large grants (e.g., the grants found to have corrupted the LSE). In this regard, think what polluters do paying for friendly scientific opinion, except that with politics and government, it is easier to make stuff up.

      The grants to academia by the old guard in the Arab world have come with the aim of their maintaining power, which requires no one stirring up trouble for them. What they largely obtained is an academia which (a) failed to notice how perilous the hold of power of the governing elite was, (b) failed miserably at pointing out the shortcomings of these regimes and (c) created an irenic version of Arab civilization – which, on my telling, is a great civilization, just not the irenic and tolerant one which academia has largely portrayed – and Arab society and governance. So, those taught by these corrupt academicians saw what they were taught. Reporters, also taught by these academicians ignored stark brutality, deep resentments, fanaticism, all of which having been peddled as being exaggerated by enemies of the Arabs when they were lived reality for most Arabs. Having created a fantasy version of reality, these reporters and academics missed revolutions in the making. The befuddled included, evidently, the US government, which did not see any revolutions coming. They read different books, evidently.

      Now, you think the US should stay out of the business of the Arabs. Up to a point, I agree. However, the point of my agreement ends when Arab governments advance their own survival by demonizing the OTHER, which is a dangerous tactic, as it produces real wars. Moreover, the Arab regions are, at this point, the places with the most anti-Christian, Antisemitic and anti-Western rhetoric on Earth. It is my interest that such lunacies be countered because, as a student of history, I note that such lunacies tend to create wars. And, as a person of Jewish background, I cannot help but notice that the Antisemitic rhetoric is actually far beyond, in scope and in repetitiveness, that which came out of Europe in the 1930’s. So, I think we have a rather terrifying reality, not one that we can simply watch on the sidelines.

      Mubbarak was, as you note, in power for a long time. In fact, his group was in power since the 1952 coup. That coup brought Nasser to power and overthrew the quasi-democratic government then in power. Nasser then went and allied himself with the USSR. The US worked to undermine that relationship but without success, which occurred when the US brokered a peace agreement between the Egyptians and the Israelis.

      That peace agreement was, I think, a good thing although, in fact, few Egyptians agreed. However, it has reduced the amount of violence dramatically. Egyptians are not dying in large numbers on a Quixotic effort to destroy the Israelis. Israelis are not dying in large numbers to defend themselves from the Egyptians. The Sinai has been largely peaceful. Were it possible to build on that peace to resolve the dispute between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, that would be great as well. But, it is not going to happen anytime soon.

      However, whether or not we support democracy or not, democracy is not coming into existence in the ME anytime soon. I suspect that, looking back on this maybe 200 years from now, historians will note that we have seen some birthing pains towards a more democratic order inn the ME but that, as with the revolutions in Europe in the mid-19th Century, democracy had a long way to go and there would have to be a lot of horrible wars, as in Europe, before democracy spread as a permanent fact of life governing how average Arabs see governance and how they define themselves.

  13. Paul Khann says:

    As the saying goes: “Show me yours and I’ll show you mine”
    If government is afraid of what its own people think, then somethings really wrong here.
    Finally, to when Mr. Obama, Clapper and William Hague says: “law abiding citizens have nothing to worry about”, then i would reply:
    “-Sure, so it means you’re giving me permission to photograph your wife and daughter naked and then sell it to whom i want? Because that’s what government’s doing right now. “

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