Vices and insensibilities

When the liberal intellectual thinks of himself, he thinks chiefly of his own good will and prefers not to know that the good will generates its own problems, that the love of humanity has its vices and the love of truth its own insensibilities.- Lionel Trilling
Let’s start with this week’s blog recommendation. The Soupy One started blogging in October, and also tweets (twits?) as InTheSoupAgain. UK-based with a firmly left-of-centre perspective, the ground covered is strikingly similar to the ground I cover, or that covered by the much-missed ModernityBlog: racism, fascism, antisemitism, Gilad Atzmon, the Middle East, Julian Assange. For example, there is a link to a fine article about why the University and College Union (UCU) is increasingly irrelevant, the revelation that  Gilad Atzmon is a Honorary Raelian Priest, and much more besides. And a repeat recommendation for The Big Picture, e.g. this recent post on “progressive” infoolectualism about gay Republicans.

Posts of the week

The Hitch
Checking in at Letters from a Young Contrarian, I was reminded of the grandeur of Christopher Hitchens, and spent a bit of time with his recent writing. This is a very profound article on remembrance day, and this is a good piece on American exceptionalism. And here is an account of  the recent tribute event in London.

I wasn’t going to post anything about the tedious unhinged self-publicist Gilad Atzmon,, but I'll just note that there are lots of updates at Harry's Place, mainly focusing on the position of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Chronologically, we have: More Opposition to AtzmonThe Dean of Bradford should apologise to Hope Not HateA statement from the Dean of BradfordLauren Booth: Attacks the PSC, Defends Atzmon A Crux Moment for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and The Parable of the Boy who Didn’t Cry Wolf. Here is the Dean of Bradford's clarification. There is also interesting material from Tony Greenstein: Atzmon & Friends Declare War on the Palestine Solidarity Movement and Andrew Coates issued a ringing denunciation of Atzmon’s supporter Lauren Booth.

And over at the anti-Zionist JsF blog, Gabriel spends an inordinate number of words de-bunking one tiny passage from Atzmon’s book. It’s hard to justify the energy on demonstrating the incoherence of a thinker as obviously incoherent as Atzmon, but Gabriel deserves some thanks, and if you have an interest in Jacques Lacan or the Coen Brothers (I have no interest in lacan, but am a fan of the Coens) you’ll get something out of it. I liked this bit:
In what way does Israel function as a ghetto? It does function as such as a simile. There is one aspect of Israel that is like the Jewish ghetto/shtetl of yesteryear. Both are geographically bounded areas in which Jews live among Jews (in Israel, to the extent that Palestinians are segregated). Thus, the simile “Israel is like a ghetto” can be useful if one makes an illuminating argument on the basis of that aspect, but the simile does not exhaust its terms. In other key aspects Israel is not like a ghetto. It is a sovereign state possessing an army and nuclear arms, something the Jewish ghetto usually lacked. It is much larger, much more internally differentiated by class and race, much wealthier in the aggregate, etc. Why is the similar aspect determinant while the differences are not? Ultimately, Israel is like a ghetto in the same way that a gun is like a penis. The simile may illuminate why some men worship guns. But you cannot deduce from knowing that one needs a license to own a gun that owning a penis requires a license as well. What gives Atzmon’s false inference the appearance of solidity is, again, the sliding through the signifier ‘Jewish.’
On Occupy, I’ve been posting both positive assessments, negative assessments, and especially ambivalent ones. TNC’s guest post at Roland’s place falls squarely in the negative category. He makes some interesting points about scourge of “consensus decision-making” and the fact that the anarchist movement up to the Spanish Civil War coped perfectly well with democracy rather than consensus. I tend to agree on this.

He also makes the commonly made point that Occupy lacks a positive vision or programme, rather than just a complaint. He points out that classical anarchists always had a clear vision of what they were for as well as what they were against. I disagree with this criticism: I think we need a platform for making a complaint about the world we live in, and like the fact that agnosticism about a programme enables very different sorts of people to come together in the big tent.

He also contrasts the positive coverage of the movement in the mainstream media to the latter’s denigration of the tea party movement. He is correct to point out the imbalance (although leftists won’t recognise that it’s there). However, I think he is overly generous to the tea party movement, which was linked to plenty of acts of violence (such as the attempted murder of a congresswoman), and whose non-kooky mainstream conservative figureheads, such as Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, have a very loose grip on reality.

While I’m on Occupy, I want to link again to some of the other things I’ve linked to, in case you missed them: Roland’s own travelogue amongst the tents, eM’s account of the fizzle in the drizzle that is Seattle Occupy, and David Schraub’s posts.

George Galloway and British fascism
James B has a post on what British fascism would look like. It’s completely implausible in some respects, but in others actually describes the present rather than an imaginary future (which I guess is part of the point). This bit I liked especially:
“Initial nationalisations see elements of the far-Left align themselves with the new Government in the manner of previous alliances with ‘anti-imperialist’ movements abroad. A former member of the Respect party is perhaps the most prominent Left-spokesperson for the new regime, playing up the Government’s anti-American credentials while ignoring Government suppression of minority rights.”
Global trade union solidarity and anti-Zionism
An interesting article in Solidarity by the great Eric Lee of LabourStart. It shows how corrosive anti-Zionism has been in the labour movement, but also that Middle Eastern trade unionists are smarter than Western ones, and that solidarity can sometimes trump the divisive shibboleths of the Western left.

The autumn of the Arab spring?
I'm not sure if I've already linked to Marko's great peice on Libya, but you should read it anyway. Among other things, he says "Those of us who backed intervention in Libya did not do so in the belief that, if the revolution there were to succeed, Libya would turn overnight into Denmark or Holland." This phrase jumped back into my mind when I read Anshell Pfeffer's interesting piece on the democratic ideal on the Arab street, where he says:
If it seems strange at first that Arab demonstrators are using the hated Zionist entity as their democratic ideal, rather than say Sweden or Holland, it is only because they have no experience of living in a society where freedom of expression is guaranteed and members of the government are accountable to parliament and the law courts. Israel is constantly on the news agenda of Al Jazeera and the other Arab news channels, and while most of what they broadcast is soldiers shooting at Palestinians, over the last few years they have also seen the Katsav and Olmert trials, generals and ministers being hauled in front of civilian commissions of inquiry following military failures, and the wave of social protest on Rothschild Boulevard last summer.         
Issandr El Amrani reports from Tahrir Square:
In Egypt you get the feeling that the upper class has completely ignored the social roots of the January uprising, and at the same time backed a return to similar kinds of politics of patronage, where parties and movements try to buy the poor with handouts and cheap meat at Eid. People don't want to be given charity, they want to be given social rights. This too is political — it's not about economic mismanagement. It's not about an uprising of the poor. It's about the political vision for a social economy. 
Whether it's about police brutality, social change or politics, my feeling is that Egyptians want to feel like they've actually had a revolution. Whoever gives them that feeling might win the people in Tahrir over.
And here's some powerful photos from Egypt's unfinished revolution, in the Atlantic.

"The Suicidal Passion": a very well-written and thought-provoking article by Ruth Wisse on antisemitism and especially what it does to the Arab world. More on antisemitism from Gotz Aly.

Kenan Malik
Although a former member (possibly still is) of the RCP cult, Kenan Malik is one of my favourite current writers and thinkers. I've been reading his very interesting material on "the myths of a Christian Europe" and "myths of assimilationism and multiculturalism". Malik fishes in his archives here, in preparation for his submission to the Orwell prize, and you could do well to sup on some of his catch. But weirdly, he has a local connection to me, as these photos are taken in one of my favourite Lewisham parks, Blythe Hill. (Here's his photoblog.)

And also
Mopping up some other recommendations: Carl Packman on patriotism in Britain today; Anton Grinevsky and Alesia Grinevskaya on The invisible crisis in Belarus; Rowenna Davis on the unionisation of Brick Lane curry houses. Finally, here's a fuller round-up by Roland.


Anonymous said…
There's a lot of good reading material here, but could you please provide a link for the piece by Pfeffer? Thanks!
Thanks for the link. Bob.

About my blogpost you linked to, I want to make the following juxtaposition:

The third example I provided for Israel derangement syndrome points to the thesis interpreting the absence, or rarity, of rape of Palestinian women by Israeli soldiers as Jewish racial supremacism.

As I was reading this Mick Hartley's post:

it struck me that if absence of rape is a sign of Israelis' racism, then the instruction about the license for Muslim soldiers to to rape captive infidel women ought to be interpreted as a sign of liberal, anti-racist ethos practiced by the rapists. Right?
Benjamin H. said…
'Israel as a ghetto' was recently used in an article by the always (unintentionally) humorous Philip Weiss at his site. It's not surprising that they use the history of Jewish persecution to attack Israel while scorning defenders of Israel from bringing up the same history. What I am surprised at is incompetence that anti-Israel writers demonstrate with such comparisons. To me, it's a rather irritating illumination of how 'debates' (more like shouting matches) degrade into crude exchanges using cliched phrases and over-reliance on ideologically blinded interpretations of the conflict.

On the other hand, it amuses me (as a student in a academic family) seeing such sloppiness; it makes debunking them a hell of a lot easier. Trying to see the positive of the situation jives well with my bastardized Jewish/Buddhist beliefs.

Good job on providing links as always.
Felix Quigley said…
How can it be claimed that Muammar Gadhafi was responsible for the sending of Jihadists to Afghanistan? Is this not a barefaced lie and yet you make it blog of the week! Have you lost the sense of reason?
bob said…
Thanks all for comments. Pfeffer link added.

On Gaddafi and the jihadis, the link Marko provides says:
ccording to West Point authors Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman, Saudi Arabia took first place as regards absolute numbers of jihadis sent to combat the United States and other coalition members in Iraq during the time frame in question. Libya, a country less than one fourth as populous, took second place. Saudi Arabia sent 41% of the fighters. According to Felter and Fishman, “Libya was the next most common country of origin, with 18.8% (112) of the fighters listing their nationality stating they hailed from Libya.”

Neither he nor they claim Gaddafi sent the jihadis; they were anti-Gaddafi people.
BTW, Bob, the title of this post could nicely serve as the title for a sequel to Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility".
jams o donnell said…
Gilad Atzmon a Realian? Now that is funny given that the Raelians only exist to give Scientologists someone to look down on!
EscapeVelocity said…
Just wanted to comment on the Malik peices you linked to.

Besides his attempt to deny the Christian nature of European Civilization...

He talks about the Multicultural policy of engaging community leaders/representatives which represent the idenitity politics group....and necessarily this leads to engaging (and thus empowering) conservative Muslims/Islamic groups. Because if you were to eschew these conservative groups, and engage liberal and more Western cultural friendly groups, thus empowering them (you would be disempowering the Conservative groups and their values and outlook). This would lead to Muslims being attracted to that empowerment, and thus assimilating to the host European societies cultural values, principles, and outlook.

This is exactly an assimilationist policy, which rejects Conservative Islam, and seeks to promote liberal Western European values, principles and have the immigrants adapt to the host society. Instead of the opposite which seeks to adapt the host society and its institutions to foreign values and cultures.

Ostracizing Conservative Muslims and Islam, and promotion of liberal Western values and an Islam that adapts itself to the requirements of the Western host socieites....IS ASSIMILATIONIST POLICY.

Promotion of foreign cultures and values and the host society adapting to the foreigners values and culture IS MULTICULTURALIST POLICY. You dont get to choose the foreign immigrants values and culture, they bring them and they are what they are.
Felix Quigley said…
You say Bob that Hoare did not say Gadhafi sent the Jihadists into Iraq

"Anyone who thought that Gaddafi’s regime acted as a Hobbesian Leviathan keeping Islamist elements in check was wrong: Gaddafi’s Libya sent more fighters per capita to join the Islamist insurgency in Iraq than any other country, including Saudi Arabia"

I know that Hoare is always confusing in his writing.

But what meaning can you take from the above other than that Gadhafi is sending Jihadists into Iraq.

But Gadhafi was the bitter enemy of those Jihadists

bob said…
The MEMRI report at Mick H's place (via CC's comment above) about Sheikh Abu Humam Al-Athari and his fatwa about rape does indeed juxtapose well, if you like bitter irony, with the ridiculous Tal Nitzan prize-winning paper on IDF non-rape.

It also kind of juxtaposes well with the bizarre stories on the counter-Jihadi website that Felix Quigley's name links to.

Felix, I have no idea what your beef is. If an article said "Tony Blair's Britain sent more Muslims to jihadi training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan than any other European country", would you take that to mean Tony Blair was personally sending people to fight in Jihadi wars?

Jams, great characterisation of the Raelians!
TNC said…
Thanks, Bob.

I'm not saying the Occupiers need it written in stone but if they are going to claim to represent me and others (who are part of the 99%) we want to know what they stand for. What exactly do they want to change and how do they envision changing it? Saying "we will all decide that at the general assembly meeting" does not cut it for many folks.

Are you talking about the attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords? If so, the killer is not affiliated with the Tea Party. He's a 9-11 Truther and his YouTube profile listed "The Communist Manifesto" and "Mein Kampf" as two of his favorite books.

Or are you talking about someone else?

The left tried its hardest to paint the Tea Partiers as a bunch of right-wing thugs. These people are not the EDL or National Front. They are not bully boys out there looking to beat down some reds.

Aside from a few off-color signs the demonstrations were totally orderly, peaceful and respectful. Proper permits were obtained for marches and rallies. Many brought their families with them to these events. When the event was over they packed up and went home.

OWS is different. The purpose is challenging the need to file permits for camping, marches, demos, etc. The goal is confrontation with the authorities. Then when the inevitable happens they can scream: "look at how bad the police are! we live in a police state!"

That's it. There is no other goal. Unlike other social movements, there was never any plan of negotiation because there is nothing to negotiate on.
Felix Quigley said…

I link to anywhere I find truth, and unlike the shameful lefts of today Geller and Spencer tell the truth about honour killing etc., but my progamme is different, it is socialism. Capitalism is the problem.

Basically my beef is I hate untruth.

You write

"Felix, I have no idea what your beef is. If an article said "Tony Blair's Britain sent more Muslims to jihadi training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan than any other European country", would you take that to mean Tony Blair was personally sending people to fight in Jihadi wars?

Yes, of course I would. But Britain is not Libya and the fact is that Gadhafi had been fighting against these Jihadists in Libya for a good 20 years, BEFORE he made an alliance with Bush through Blair to help in the fight against Al Qaida.

That is the thing about Hoare. He hides that. Please treat what he writes with care
bob said…
Dear readers,

I once, a long time ago, found the pro-Israel fervour of Felix Quigley and his merry little band a refreshing exception to the ubiquitous Israel-loathing of the mainstream of British Trotskyism. However, I soon changed my mind when I realised how much viciousness towards Muslims in general, and Balkan Muslims in particular, was an increasing driving force in their position. I found the alliances with Stalinoid Serbophiles and right-wing utra-Zionists disturbing and in particular the efforts to write Serbian genocide out of history and replace it with some notional "real genocide" committed by Muslims in Yugoslavia, as well as the dissemination of dishonest theories about the complex history of Yugoslavia in WW2. One element in this ideological campaign has been a campaign of slander against Marko Hoare, putting them in alliance with all sorts of strange bedfellows, as you will remember if who recall the time Modernity posted the guest post by the American prof defended by both Louis Proyect and Greek & Serbian fascists. And now we have increasing pandering to the nutcases of the counter-Jihadi movement, and support for the brutal dictator Gadhafi. Having let Felix have the last word about how to interpret Marko's sentence about Libyan jihadis, I will no longer entertain his presence in this comment thread.

As for Escape Velocity, who from a right-wing perspective reaches some of the same conclusions as Felix the Trotskyist, I am generally deleting his comments but thought the one above was thought-provoking.

Back to the real conversation in my next comment.
bob said…
TNC, thanks for response.

I did mean the would-be Giffords assassin, Jared Loughner. You are of course correct that he was not by any stretch a typical tea party person, and perhaps was a bad example. But, as well as being a registered Republican, if I recall correctly, he was influenced by several figures involved in the tea party movement.

Yes, the TP movement was peaceful, good-humoured, and misrepresented by liberals and Europeans. There is a huge gap between it and the EDL, and the stereotyping of it is partly driven by snobbery, elitist anti-populism and (in Europe) anti-Americanism.

But it was also policed very benignly, whereas Occupy has been policed extremely heavy-handedly. I would like to see if it remained so peaceful and good-humoured if policed the way Occupy is.

I also think that Occupy has obviously attracted some very damaged people, in the way that squatting and social centres and other anarchist spaces tend to. This is an ambivalent feature of anarchism for me: it offers sick people a form of care they don't get in the rest of society.
EscapeVelocity said…

Just to correct your ignorance, the Occupy Movement has been policed very leniently.

The Tea Party gatherings were all done by the book, permits, insurance, paying to offset police overtime and cleaning up after themselves, etc.

The Occupy Movement not so much, and seeing as how they mostly are out of compliance with local laws and requirements (often not meeting any of them whatsoever), the local authorities have been very lenient with them. (Often the local authorities have been supportive of to take just one example Seattle, Wash. Occupy Movement).

I think you should re-evaluate your misunderstanding.

The police actions have resulted from the hot for conflict Occupiers, keen to show the System as oppressive by purposely behaving in manners that will cause the police to act, and then furthermore, wearing out their welcome, crapping in Churches and damaging local businesses for example.

Then there is this clear juxtaposition of the 2 movements treatment by one municipality...

Richmond Tea Party audited over taxes

Richmond-Times Dispatch

Occupy Richmond is quick to accuse corporations of not playing by the rules, and millionaires of not paying their “fair” share. So when the Richmond Tea Party learned that the City of Richmond was permitting protesters to “occupy” public space without paying, the local tea partiers felt it was only fair that the city reimburse them for past rally expenses.

But instead of making sure that everyone played by the rules, the city served Richmond Tea Party with a notice that it was being audited. Not the answer they had hoped for after invoicing Mayor Dwight Jones for reimbursement of the $8,500 they had paid for complying with city procedures during their rallies at Kanawha plaza.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that an auditor with the Department of Finance sent the Richmond Tea Party a letter on November 14 telling the political organization to provide tax records related to its meals, admissions, and personal property, and advising that the group it was being audited for nonpayment of taxes in 2010 and 2011

A spokeswoman for the Richmond Tea Party called the letter “a little coincidental,” telling the Times-Dispatch that it appears to be another example of the city’s unequal treatment of the group.

“What did they send to Occupy (Richmond)? Obviously, there‘s nothing to send to them because they didn’t have (a business license or rally permit),” said Colleen Owens, a spokeswoman for the Richmond Tea Party. “It’s kind of adding insult to injury. We complained about the unequal treatment, and they turned around and piled on more.”
TNC said…
The Tea Party rallies would have been policed similar to OWS if the strategy and tactics had been the same. The police are well aware of what (some? many?) of the occupy crowd are out to accomplish. They are there to make the police look bad, period.

If this was the goal of the Tea Parties--i.e. if they were a bunch of right-wing skins or other hooligans--the police would show them the same level of respect as they showed OWS.

At this point many police departments--esp. places like Oakland, SF, Portland and NYC--have experience with "direct action" activists and they know what to expect when these people take it to the streets. They know it is just a matter of time before some clown throws a bottle, a rock, whatever, with the express purpose of harming them. It's pretty obvious when you have been working these sorts of details for years.
TNC said…
Forgot to add this comment:

"This is an ambivalent feature of anarchism for me: it offers sick people a form of care they don't get in the rest of society."

Care? How do you figure? Besides providing a safer place to crash out, how are they providing care? They are not dispensing meds. At least not the ones these people actually need. They are not finding housing for them. They are not helping them find them work.

They might get some small benefit from camping out with the Occupy crowd (beer and drugs money?) but they are also being used. Demonstrations of this sort are all about how many bodies you can get to show up. Who cares if they are junkies and vagrants? The more people who make it into the media coverage of the event, the more successful you can claim it is.
flyingrodent said…
I love that post by Marko. It's the way he so clearly believes everything he's saying that makes it so entertaining.

The best bit is probably where he unfavourably compares Libya to Syria, the latter of which he calls "Long, drawn-out, bloody and destructive"... Without noticing that the highest estimated bodycount in Syria is around about a third of the lowest estimated bodycount in Libya.

Also note - despite the evil bastardry of the Syrian government, no Syrian cities have been pounded into rubble with airstrikes, flak cannons and artillery, as happened to Sirte while most of the civilian population were still there.

Still, it is true that the Libya scam wasn't as "long" as the nightmare in Syria, so he's right there, and at least the war against Gaddafi is now over. The war between the victors is just getting started, by the looks of things, but I notice Marko dicks that off by saying more or less "If the faction we have installed in power begins oppressing its citizens, that is not our fault, guvnor".

Bonus points..

- Wrongly pins blame on Gaddafi for anti-black violence in Darfur, while avoiding all mention of actual, ongoing anti-black persecution, murder and ethnic cleansing in Libya that could only have happened as a consequence of our intervention on the NTC side;

- Claims intervention prevented a "massacre", while ignoring actual massacres made possible by intervention;

- Frets over possiblity of Al Qaeda influence in Libya; utterly fails to spot that greatest threat to post-war Libya is inter-clan rivalry between victorious fighting groups who are still heavily armed, far beyond official control and very antagonistic towards each other, in a government-free, arms-rich environment;

- Lauds politics of intervening powers while entirely ignoring actions of intervening powers. What they say is always so much more important than what they do, after all.

- Hilariously applauds politics of John "That Gaddafi, what an interesting guy" McCain.

- Invokes "humanitarian duty to protect" the Libyan people, many of whom we have in fact spent most of the year bombing to smithereens and have now left to the tender mercies of the militias, for good or ill. To be fair, most will probably be okay, because most of them aren't black.

So basically, as far as Marko is concerned... If you entirely ignore the conduct of the war by the militias and Nato, plus ignoring the human and infrastructure costs, the problematic final outcome and the worrying prospects for Libya's future and focus instead on bigging up democracy... He has no regrets.

Good work, that lad.
bob said…
1. "Volim Hrvatsku". That means "I love Croatia" and presumably meant ironically, and presumably posted by Felix or a friend as a stick to beat Marko with, as it has not much relevance to the rest of this post. Presumably, the argument is that because some Croatians were antisemites in the war, all Croatians including Marko are somehow suspect: a totally obviously wrong thesis.

All bigotry is wrong, whether it comes from Croatians, Muslims, Serbs, Germans, Iraelis, Britons or anyone. And all genocidal bigotry is especially wrong. No nationality or ethnicity has a monopoly on bigotry, or even on genocidal bigotry.
bob said…
Flying Rodent, some valid points of course, but some I would dispute.
- John McCain was a hypocrite in that, like the LSE professors and so on, he followed the pro-Gadhafi turn of the war on terror era. But (a) that in itself does not mean he was wrong in 2011 and (b) Marko justs quotes him not lauds him.
- Darfur: is it not true that Gadafi was partly responsible for the Janjaweed?
- I think you over-estimate the clan issue in Libya. Is this really the major threat?
flyingrodent said…
that in itself does not mean (McCain) was wrong in 2011

In the sense that a stopped clock is right twice a day. John McCain has never met an American war that he didn't like. Google it, if you want to check.

Marko just quotes him not lauds him.

Entirely true, I overstated. Perhaps "Holds up as an exemplar" is a better description for Marko's attitude to the man he endorsed for president, on the grounds that he's more belligerent about everything.

Darfur: is it not true that Gadafi was partly responsible for the Janjaweed?

If you're willing to rewind the clock to maybe 1972, which Marko always is. It looks tenuous as fuck to me.

Also note that I raised this because Marko appears to regard anti-black African murder campaigns as a bad thing, if they serve his causes. If it's our allies murdering civilians and continuing to incarcerate them for the crime of being black, they don't merit a mention.

They don't merit a mention, of course, because the plain fact that our allies have been murdering civilians for the colour of their skin makes the war look less noble.

I think you over-estimate the clan issue in Libya.

I shouldn't have used the word "clan", it confuses matters. "Militia" does well enough.

Put it this way - there are now vast numbers of militiamen in Libya who have decades' worth of grudges against each other; they're already kicking down doors and extorting from civilians, and dragging others off to prison on mere suspicion; they're also fighting each other in fits and starts and not one of them is going to voluntarily give up their vast weapons caches without a major incentive.

Not that this merits a mention either.

The interesting thing here though is that Marko is generally a bizarre ideological crank - recall his "Is the Russo-Georgian war a proxy attack on Israel?" claims.

On Libya though, his total refusal to consider what actually happened is entirely in line with mainstream treatment of the war. How times change.
bob said…
FR, I'll try and write a proper reply. Two quick things. First, just to say I am not defending McCain. In particular, I found it shocking when he responded to the notion that the TNC included "anti-American" (Islamist) elements by saying that so did the Mujahadin in Afgh and it was right to support them. What a failure to learn from history!

Second, some letters in response to an appalling article in LRB by Hugh Roberts respond well to some of your points. Read the ones by Gareth Evans, David Seddon and especially Nafa Tashani