April 24, 2017

"A liberal blogger who wrote satirical critiques of the Maldivian government and the spread of radical Islam..."

"... died Sunday after being stabbed in the stairway of his apartment building."
[Yameen] Rasheed was best known for satirical Twitter posts and weekly posts on his popular blog, The Daily Panic, which riffed on the week’s headlines, often criticizing the government’s use of religion to appeal to the public....

Celine Peroni, Mr. Rasheed’s girlfriend, said he was “just the smartest, wittiest and sweetest person I’ve ever met.”...

“He was aware of the threats, but cautious,” she said. “He wanted the voice of the truth to be heard, despite the risks.”

97 comments:

Sebastian said...

“He wanted the voice of the truth to be heard." So noble, it will be the motto of all the Marches for Science scheduled to be held in Muslim countries.

Michael K said...

Religion of Peace again.

J. Farmer said...

Looks like Maldives is copying the Bangladesh model. There have been at least 10 attacks that I am aware of on Bangladeshi secularists since 2013, the most famous of which was the murder of Avijit Roy. All of the attacks included machetes or meat cleavers. So of course, we all know what the real problem in Bangladesh is: insufficient machete control laws.

Fernandinande said...

Someone refused on religious grounds to mind their own business.

AprilApple said...

Liberal community - silent.

Rick said...

The population, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, has traditionally been liberal in its interpretation of Islam, with women rarely covering their heads. But a more conservative strain of Islam has spread in recent years under the increasing influence of Saudi Arabia,

The NYT never lets up on their propaganda efforts.

Michael K said...

I wonder if the Saudis are still the source. Much of Islam is now trending toward the 7th century.

Not many secular Muslims left, I suspect.

J. Farmer said...

@Rick:

The NYT never lets up on their propaganda efforts.

I would not call that propaganda, though it is a bit of a simplification. Maldives had been known for years to have fairly liberal Islamic laws, particularly around laws involving marriage and divorce. The Maldives has the highest rate of divorce in the world. Also, the Maldives had long been influenced by Sufism, and some elements of it remain in the culture. That said, the influence of Saudi Arabia's oil wealth and the corrupt bargain the royal family maintains with the priestly class has been a primary reason for the spread of Salafism (e.g. funding Salafist madrassas).

"The Maldives is none of these things: it is within the throes of a rapid authoritarian reversal; in the process of establishing a Wahhabi and Salafist hegemony; and has rejected democracy as an antithesis to Islam."

-Maldives in South Asia: Let’s talk about Saudis, Maldives Independent, 03 December 2015

Rick said...

I would not call that propaganda, though it is a bit of a simplification.

The propaganda is linking murderous nutjobs to "conservatives" and people who argue against them as "liberals". The better term would be religious extremists.

J. Farmer said...

@Rick:

The propaganda is linking murderous nutjobs to "conservatives" and people who argue against them as "liberals".

I think that's a bit of a stretch. First, the article is describing "the population" of the Maldives, not just "murderous nut jobs." Second, it's a pretty well established nomenclature. We talk about liberal strands of certain religions versus conservative strands of religions. It's the same sense in which people describe themselves as "socially liberal" or "socially conservative," as opposed to calling themselves "socially extremist." Salafism is broadly considered a very conservative interpretation of Islam, while Sufism is considered a liberal strand of Islam. Most people know what you mean by using that terminology, and I don't really find that it muddies the waters. That said, I have long argued that traditional notions of liberal/conservative or left/right don't really capture the socio-political divisions within the country.

Drago said...

There appears to be a significant amount of global warming breaking out amongst Ingas beloved would-be Muslim Immigrants.

Unexpectedly.

Rick said...

We talk about liberal strands of certain religions versus conservative strands of religions.

If we propagandize long enough it ceases to be propaganda? Wrong.

Simple rule: when describing other countries or cultures don't use labels commonly used to describe elements in the home country unless the underlying beliefs are similar. This is is in effect but only partially. For a real world example would the NYT describe the current Venezuela regime as "liberal"?

Not in a million years.

J. Farmer said...

@Rick:

Simple rule: when describing other countries or cultures don't use labels commonly used to describe elements in the home country unless the underlying beliefs are similar.

That might be true if "conservative" or "liberal" meant only one thing and only applied to politics. But they don't. There are general use words. If a physician takes a "conservative" approach to a surgery, or a contractor gives you a "conservative" estimate of a job, we know what that means, and we know it has nothing to do with American politics.

J. Farmer said...

p.s. "Conservative" in its modern political sense dates pretty much from early 19th century Bourbon restoration, following the defeat of Napoleon. But nobody considers it "propaganda" to use the word outside of that context.

Rick said...

That might be true if "conservative" or "liberal" meant only one thing and only applied to politics. But they don't. There are general use words.

This is a dodge. Ask any American in a non-contextual setting what these words refer to and the answer will be political / social.

Gospace said...

The post is all wrong. Rasheed couldn't be a liberal blogger. He was saying bad things about the Religion of Peace™. Everyone know anyone who says bad things about the Religion of Peace™ is a conservative islamaphobe who deserves to die. Liberals in the United States are quick to point out that people with opposing viewpoints deserve to die, like Chris Cali of the Huffington Post, "Trump Supporters Deserve to Die More Than I Do." And everyone know Trump supporters are conservative islamaphobes. It was liberals or people influenced by liberals who killed Rasheed.

J. Farmer said...

@Rick:

This is a dodge. Ask any American in a non-contextual setting what these words refer to and the answer will be political / social.

Sure, and given the broad meanings of both words, it is entirely permissible to discuss (from a western point of view) the notion that there are "conservative" and "liberal" elements within Islam. Similarly, you can talk about conservative forms of Hinduism (even more removed from the western tradition) in a way that is perfectly acceptable and meaningful.

Darrell said...

Extremists want to cut your head off. Moderates want the extremists to cut your head off.

J. Farmer said...

@Rick:

p.s. Would it be permissible to discuss the "conservative" Bharatiya Janata Party in India as opposed to the more "liberal" Indian National Congress?

David Begley said...

Coming here. Soon.

Yancey Ward said...

I have to side with Rick on the issue of the language used- it is intentionally biased because of who the primary audience is. Rick is correct- the NYTimes would never, in a thousand years, use the word liberal to describe, for example, the Venezuelan government today, and they would never describe the opposition to that government as the conservatives either given the condition of Venezuela today.

You do need to choose specific adjectives for the politics of different countries since those politics are relative across the globe.

Roughcoat said...

We talk about liberal strands of certain religions versus conservative strands of religions.

We should be careful about this. E.g., I am politically conservative but I am not a conservative Catholic; rather, I am an orthodox Catholic. What's the difference? Well, a conservative Catholic might be someone who belongs to SSPX and/or who wholly rejects the Vatican II reforms. Note I said "wholly." A lot of Catholics, myself included, have reservations about certain aspects of Vatican II. But, by and large, we've stuck with the program. Those that haven't or can't either quit the faith entirely, or joined splinter groups like SSPX. Those of us who stick with the program and play pretty much by the rules are orthodox. By the same token, Liberation Theologians (and, alas, modern Jesuits) lay claim to orthodoxy, but I think they are in fact deeply subversive of orthodoxy.

J. Farmer said...

Yancey Ward:

Yameen Resheed considered himself a "liberal," and the rightward move of Maldivian politics in a more conservative direction has been well commented on, most especially within the Maldives.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"This is a dodge. Ask any American in a non-contextual setting what these words refer to and the answer will be political / social."

Yes. It is quite deliberate. I remember when the Kremlin old guard challenged Yeltsin's leadership in the early '90's. The American media described the Commie hardliners as "conservatives."

The media wants the public to associate the word "conservative" with "bad guys."

J. Farmer said...

@Roughcoat:

Your post makes my point. "Conservative" is a very broad term that has different meanings and implications given certain contexts.

Danno said...

Blogger Michael K said...Religion of Peace again.

Make that the religion of pieces, i.e. body parts.

n.n said...

His principles are unknown. At the very least he was divergent.

Roughcoat said...

J. Farmer:

That wasn't my point. My point was: to a Catholic, the terms conservative and orthodox are separate, distinct, and specific. "Conservative" is not a very broad term. For Catholics, it has a specific and narrow meaning.

J. Farmer said...

@n.n.

His principles are unknown. At the very least he was divergent.

If by "his," you mean Rasheed's, that is not true at all. He wrote thousands of words giving his opinion on Maldivian politics and society. You can read them here.

J. Farmer said...

@Roughcoat:

For Catholics, it has a specific and narrow meaning.

Me: "Conservative" is a very broad term that has different meanings and implications given certain contexts.

"For Catholics" would be one of those "contexts." And you would agree with me that how a Catholic might approach the term "conservative" is not how a Southern Baptist or a British Tory would approach the term. It is not a matter of one group using the word correctly or incorrectly but the fact that it has "different meanings and implications given certain contexts."

n.n said...

J. Farmer:

I am only referring to the excerpt, which reads as a headline. Also, commenting on the logical meaning of terms, especially where language is exploited for leverage.

J. Farmer said...

@n.n.

I am only referring to the excerpt, which reads as a headline. Also, commenting on the logical meaning of terms, especially where language is exploited for leverage.

Then what did you mean by the statement, "his principles are unknown?"

UcaVik said...

Religion is supposed to make a person secured and full of love but as history has shown, it has always been the opposite. People begun to be identified with their religion, till this continue to happen, there will be no let up in violence in the name of religion. Time has come to declare slightest of intolerance in the name of the religion to be illegal and dealt strictly by the court of law.
http://dentoninjurylawyers.com/

Roughcoat said...

Time has come to declare slightest of intolerance in the name of the religion to be illegal and dealt strictly by the court of law.

Gee, what should do we do about intolerance in the name of something besides religion? Like, say, agnosticism or atheism?

Off with their heads, I say.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"People begun to be identified with their religion, till this continue to happen, there will be no let up in violence in the name of religion"

There is only one religion which is presently engaged in murdering non-believers and heretics world wide and that is Islam.


Owen said...

Go for the journalists first. There are never that many who are willing to stick their necks out, and after a few dozen have been beheaded, metaphorically or literally, the rest will discover new interests that don't attract such attention.

Rinse, repeat.

The process is well underway here as well. Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity: the sharp sword of "sexual harassment" is swinging freely.

J. Farmer said...

@UcaVik:

Religion is supposed to make a person secured and full of love but as history has shown, it has always been the opposite.

Who says religion is "supposed" to do any of those things? If religion is "supposed" to do anything, it's probably to convince people that their conscious minds will continue to exist after the deaths of their bodies. The social cohesion aspects to religion are probably secondary to that, but who knows. Sunni Islam has been prevalent in the Maldives since at least the 13th century. The influence of Salafism, a relatively modern version of Islam, has only been felt in more recent years. The move within the Maldives towards Salafism was one of the things Rasheed was most concerned about.

Michael McClain said...

Religion of peace.

Francisco D said...

I don't get the liberal-conservative cast in stone argument.

I do not doubt that the NYT uses "conservative" as a pejorative term, but it clearly means different things in different contexts.

For example, I am politically conservative on many issues and libertarian on some. On religious issues, I was raised ELCA (pretty theologically liberal) and retain those views. I may be one of the least conservative persons of faith around.

My friend, a Conservative rabbi laughingly refers to himself as a leftwing Jew when it comes to politics. His religious views are (through extensive training and experience) very conservative. We are sort of polar opposites, but usually avoid talking about religion and politics. That's what sites like this are for.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"Gee, what should do we do about intolerance in the name of something besides religion? Like, say, agnosticism or atheism?"

Yes. I'm afraid people will always find reasons to hate and fear the Other. Sometimes the Others are called "infidels" or "Jews." In other times and places they are called "kulaks," "enemies of the state" and "deplorables."

tim in vermont said...

Religion is supposed to make a person secured and full of love but as history has shown, it has always been the opposite.


Mmmm Okaaayyy.

Rick said...

Francisco D said... [hush]​[hide comment]
I don't get the liberal-conservative cast in stone argument.

I do not doubt that the NYT uses "conservative" as a pejorative term, but it clearly means different things in different contexts.


This isn't the point, of course the term can refer to something else. But if the NYT were using these terms without regard to the political context we should see some negative usages of the term "liberal". That we do not suggests they recognize the issue and protect the term liberal from negative associations but do not so protect the term conservative. Instead they go out of their way to use it.

tim in vermont said...

Time has come to declare slightest of intolerance in the name of the religion to be illegal and dealt strictly by the court of law

Yes, the wedding cake bakers must pay for the acts of the neck sawyers!

Luke Lea said...

From the article: "The population, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, has traditionally been liberal in its interpretation of Islam, with women rarely covering their heads. But a more conservative strain of Islam has spread in recent years under the increasing influence of Saudi Arabia, which sends religious leaders to the Maldives and offers scholarships to Maldivian students to study at Saudi universities."

At what point do we declare Saudi Arabia an enemy of civilization?

Roughcoat said...

If religion is "supposed" to do anything, it's probably to convince people that their conscious minds will continue to exist after the deaths of their bodies.

That is not Christianity's purpose.

J. Farmer said...

@Rick:

That we do not suggests they recognize the issue and protect the term liberal from negative associations but do not so protect the term conservative. Instead they go out of their way to use it.

Probably all true, but as Freud famously remarked, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Describing Yameen Rasheed as liberal and saying that "a more conservative strain of Islam has spread in recent years" in regards to the Maldives is a completely accurate use of those words by any standard definition.

Owen said...

Luke Lea: "At what point do we declare Saudi Arabia an enemy of civilization?"

We can't do that until we're finished buying their oil. They might get mad.

J. Farmer said...

@Roughcoat:

That is not Christianity's purpose.

I don't think any religion would declare that their "purpose." I am speaking from a functional perspective. I believe that all religions are the product of the human mind. I don't think the Vedas or the Upanishads had anymore supernatural authorship than the Hebrew Bible or the Gospels.

J. Farmer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Farmer said...

@Owen:

We can't do that until we're finished buying their oil. They might get mad.

That's been the standard defense of the US-Saudi relationship for decades, but I think its mostly bunk. The US and Venezuela have a very contentious relationship, and yet the oil still flows, because they need to sell it and we want to buy it. I think the US-Saudi relationship is driven much more by the Saudi's position as the regional hegemon. They are also seen as a counterweight to Iranian influence in the region, but I've been arguing for a pivot away from Arabia and towards Persia and a detente with Iran since September 12th, 2001. Shockingly, my position is often not well received.

Roughcoat said...

Okay. Try this: that is not the function of Christianity.

Your belief that all religions are the product of the human mind and that you "think" (which is just another way articulating belief) are just that: beliefs. Articles of faith.

Robert Cook said...

"'That might be true if "conservative" or "liberal" meant only one thing and only applied to politics. But they don't. There are general use words.'

"This is a dodge. Ask any American in a non-contextual setting what these words refer to and the answer will be political / social."


Ah, but context is everything.

Robert Cook said...

"Liberation Theologians (and, alas, modern Jesuits) lay claim to orthodoxy, but I think they are in fact deeply subversive of orthodoxy."

And they would disagree. They might even consider that your interpretation of Catholic dogma is heretical.

In such things, it's pretty much in the minds of the believers.

Robert Cook said...

"Yes. It is quite deliberate. I remember when the Kremlin old guard challenged Yeltsin's leadership in the early '90's. The American media described the Commie hardliners as 'conservatives.'

"The media wants the public to associate the word 'conservative' with 'bad guys.'"


Yes, they were conservatives within and relative to their own political ideology. How else would you describe those who wanted to hold fast to first principles?

J. Farmer said...

@Roughcoat:

Your belief that all religions are the product of the human mind and that you "think" (which is just another way articulating belief) are just that: beliefs. Articles of faith.

Sure. But go back and read what I wrote. I'll add emphasis:

If religion is "supposed" to do anything, it's probably to convince people that their conscious minds will continue to exist after the deaths of their bodies. The social cohesion aspects to religion are probably secondary to that, but who knows.

I am not sure how much more open-ended I could be than saying I don't know. The fact of the matter is that I don't know what happens when people die, and you don't know what happens. And I've seen nothing from any religion that has convinced me otherwise. "I don't believe" is not the same thing as "you're wrong."

Robert Cook said...

I think religion serves several purposes, which can be summed up, very broadly, as: to lend our lives and activities meaning and significance beyond the purely material; to provide guidance in living with love for and in harmony with ourselves and others; and to stave off the fear of the void, the blankness of total non-existence after death...in short, to explain the why and how of existence, and to reassure us our pitifully brief lives do not, in fact, mark the end of us.

Charlie said...

It's all fun and games until they stab you.

Rick said...

Robert Cook said... [hush]​[hide comment]
Yes, they were conservatives within and relative to their own political ideology. How else would you describe those who wanted to hold fast to first principles?


Such people are referred to as principled.

J. Farmer said...

@Robert Cook:

I think religion serves several purposes...

I think that's mostly right. I was just drawing a distinction between the purposes religion serves versus the truth claims that they make. I think one can easily acknowledge the former while rejecting the latter.

Mark O said...

LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?

Rick said...

J. Farmer said...
Describing Yameen Rasheed as liberal and saying that "a more conservative strain of Islam has spread in recent years" in regards to the Maldives is a completely accurate use of those words by any standard definition.


Propaganda does not require the words used to be inaccurate, in fact that's a sign of poor propaganda. The best propaganda creates associations and a resulting emotional impact on a subconscious level. This works best because the desired outcome cannot be logically supported and thus a conscious argument will be rejected.

chickelit said...

When did the NYT editorial board green light the use of "radical Islamist"? I'm kind of shocked.

buwaya said...

Venezuela was under the US thumb until Chavez. The US made concessions - the great one was that it allowed the third-world to nationalize their oil industries, largely as a Cold War pre-emptive maneuver to remove a bone of contention that could have led many to play footsie with the Soviets.

With Chavez, an actual enemy, there was only so much trouble Venezuela could cause, the Cold War being done with, and the Venezuelans themselves made very lame enemies. The US let them knock themselves out with their Latin American filibustering. All their purchased friends were in it just for the dough, however much they could take Chavez for.

Also note that Saudi Arabia plus the Gulf plus Southern Iraq plus Persia make up a truly great proportion of global petroleum production (@30%); those places are incredibly important. Venezuela's oil exports have never been anywhere near as significant (topped at @5% IIRC) and it doesn't exist in such a cluster of producing countries shipping petroleum out of one narrow strait. Venezuela has enormous proven reserves, but this has never (yet) been realized as production.

Chavez was one thing; a conqueror of the Persian Gulf would be something else again, an incredibly (or dangerously anyway) wealthy world power. The despotic, incompetent and degenerate Saudis could never be such a thing, but the Persians have potential. And permitting a Soviet hegemony over the Persian Gulf would have been a disaster.

Iran cannot be a friend of the US under the mullahs. They only hold on to their base because of the hatred of the US, that is their only justification for power. Even Mao had ideological grounds for pragmatism, but the mullahs don't. For the mullahs coming to a modus vivendi with the US would be like the Pope celebrating a black mass.

J. Farmer said...

@RIck:

Here is the New York Times reporting on events in Venezuela:

Venezuela took its strongest step yet toward one-man rule under the leftist President Nicolás Maduro as his loyalists on the Supreme Court seized power from the National Assembly in a ruling late Wednesday night.

If I was a liberal, and I said that this is just NYT propaganda to smear leftist by associating us with an authoritarian ruler in Venezuela, would you agree with me?

How do you differentiate from someone using liberal/left and conservative/right in their proper contexts to explain versus when someone is using them for propaganda value?

J. Farmer said...

@Buwaya:

Venezuela was under the US thumb until Chavez.

Yes, and that was 18 years ago. Even in the post-Chavez world of contentious relations between Venezuela and the US, they still sold us oil and we still bought it.

The despotic, incompetent and degenerate Saudis could never be such a thing, but the Persians have potential.

Iran is decades away from being anywhere near having that kind of potential. The Gulf Arab states all have more powerful, better funded, and more technologically advanced militaries. Iran has pretty much no ability to project significant military force outside its borders. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has engaged in repeated military conflicts with Yemen and has helped fund and fuel conflicts in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Saudi Arabia has been much more disruptive to the stability of the region than Iran and is a much more authoritarian regime. If someone told me I had to spend a month in either Tehran or Riyadh, it would take me about half a second to decide.

Francisco D said...

Rick said: "But if the NYT were using these terms without regard to the political context we should see some negative usages of the term "liberal". That we do not suggests they recognize the issue and protect the term liberal from negative associations but do not so protect the term conservative. Instead they go out of their way to use it."

I agree.

Henry said...

"But if the NYT were using these terms without regard to the political context we should see some negative usages of the term "liberal". That we do not suggests they recognize the issue and protect the term liberal from negative associations but do not so protect the term conservative. Instead they go out of their way to use it."

Yes, but this is not a critique of the general case, but of the specific case.

And in the general case, if the word "liberal" can't be used. What word do you use?

buwaya said...

"they still sold us oil and we still bought it."

Of course. But they could not do anything very dangerous with the proceeds, and any game-playing on their part by withholding oil would be so marginal in its effect on the global economy that a Venezuelan oil embargo would only hurt Venezuela.

The 1970's oil embargo (primarily by Persian Gulf countries) however did major damage. Governments fell around the world, such as the Portuguese colonies in Africa, arguably even South Vietnam fell partly because it was ruined by unaffordable fuel imports. The global effect was second only to that of Watergate and the loss of US confidence. There was a disastrous chain of dominos that brought the Western Alliance to its lowest point of the Cold War.

"Iran is decades away from being anywhere near having that kind of potential. "

Give them a few hundred billion a year and they would most certainly find that potential in weeks.

" The Gulf Arab states all have more powerful, better funded, and more technologically advanced militaries. "

That, mostly, won't fight very hard for masters they despise. Their best men are mercenaries. Paper tigers.

"repeated military conflicts with Yemen"

Which have all turned out not very well. Lucky for them the Yemenis care mostly about fighting each other.

"Saudi Arabia has been much more disruptive to the stability of the region than Iran"

I don't think so. Lebanon would have been settled issue and more or less unified long ago had not Iran been funding Hezbollah and Assad, who you may recall was occupying large parts of it till 2005.

Rick said...

If I was a liberal, and I said that this is just NYT propaganda to smear leftist by associating us with an authoritarian ruler in Venezuela, would you agree with me?

It doesn't associate liberals with Venezuela, it associates leftists. In our usage leftist is more extreme while liberal is more moderate.

To answer the question about leftists you'd have to ask how much their preferences deviate from Maduro. Robert Cook supports government nationalizing businesses or subordinating them to government control and distributing their income "more fairly". I suspect a great many others do as well given their rhetoric concerning evil corporations.

Are their any American conservatives who support murdering those who criticize their religion? Maybe we should specify non-Muslims.

Rick said...

Henry said...
And in the general case, if the word "liberal" can't be used. What word do you use?


The specific case is not liberal but conservative. I would refer to them as Muslim extremists.

J. Farmer said...

@Rick:

It doesn't associate liberals with Venezuela, it associates leftists.

You are missing my point. If I said, "Hey the NYT is using the word 'leftist' as propaganda to smear leftist," and then you said, "No, they're describing him accurately," and I said, "Propaganda does not require the words used to be inaccurate," I'd be using your exact same logic.

To answer the question about leftists you'd have to ask how much their preferences deviate from Maduro.

There is a lot of criticism of the Maduro regime from the radical left. You can read it in places like Counterpunch or Z Mag.

Are their any American conservatives who support murdering those who criticize their religion?

There are certainly American Christians who would identify as conservative and who support using violence to achieve political ends, such as the Army of God, The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, the Hutaree, and some fringes of the Christian Identity movement. I think it would be perfectly legitimate to consider these movements broadly conservative, though obviously on the extreme fringe. Yes, someone might read that and interpret it to mean that all conservatives believe that way, but that would be the fault of the reader, not the writer. The writer's only responsibility is to describe things accurately to the best of his or her abilities.

J. Farmer said...

@Rick:

The specific case is not liberal but conservative. I would refer to them as Muslim extremists.

You are muddying the waters with that one. The article did not refer to the attackers as "conservatives." They referred to them as "radical Islamist," your exactly preferred nomenclature. The word "conservative" only appears once in the article, and it was describing the strain of Islam that had become more prevalent in the Maldives in recent years. Some Maldivians think it's great, and some think it's terrible. Rasheed was among the latter group.

J. Farmer said...

@buwaya:

There was a disastrous chain of dominos that brought the Western Alliance to its lowest point of the Cold War.

And what did being closely tied to the Saudi Arabian regime for years before the embargo get us?

Give them a few hundred billion a year and they would most certainly find that potential in weeks.

And where are they going to get a "few hundred billion a year?" Most of the money that has been unfrozen from international accounts, about $100 billion, will have to go towards internal projects, and only some would be siphoned off by the Revolutionary Guard faction. It would be nowhere near enough to bring Iran's military power in line with the Gulf Arab states. Not even close. Iran spends about 3% of GDP on its military; Saudi Arabia spends 10%. In the eight years that Ahmadinejad was president, Iran received about $700 billion in oil revenue, and its military is nowhere near to the level of its regional adversaries.

Lebanon would have been settled issue and more or less unified long ago had not Iran been funding Hezbollah and Assad, who you may recall was occupying large parts of it till 2005.

Hezbollah did not even exist until the early 1980s, following the Israeli invasion and occupation. And a civil war had been raging there for seven years before, which was the pretext for the Syrians to get involved. Iran was still under the control of the Shah at the time. Neither Iranian funding nor approval was needed by Syria.

Rick said...

You are missing my point.

No, I pointed out the NYT didn't smear liberals (which was the point) and then I addressed the issue you did bring up.

There is a lot of criticism of the Maduro regime from the radical left.

What do you think this means? Do you think this means he's not a leftist? So Trump's not a conservative? Nor was either Bush?

I'd be using your exact same logic.

Except you omitted the key element which is that no American conservative advocates their action. Meanwhile until the consequences of its policies became clear there were many of Americans who supported the Venezuelan government including Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Michael Moore, and Oliver Stone.

There are certainly American Christians who would identify as conservative and who support using violence to achieve political ends,

I'll take this as your admission there are no Americans who advocate violence in response to religious criticism. Abortion is not a religion.

Rick said...

The word "conservative" only appears once in the article, and it was describing the strain of Islam that had become more prevalent in the Maldives in recent years.

Yes, which they are linking to the murder.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert Cook said... [hush]​[hide comment]
'Yes, they were conservatives within and relative to their own political ideology. How else would you describe those who wanted to hold fast to first principles?'

"Such people are referred to as principled."


Sure. But fanatics are nothing if not principled. They stake their lives on principles. Being "principled" is not always a path to rational action. (Put another way: it can lead to beliefs and actions that are rational only in the context of the belief system and concomitant goals and agenda of the actors.)

J. Farmer said...

@Rick:

What do you think this means? Do you think this means he's not a leftist?

I think it's a response to your statement, "To answer the question about leftists you'd have to ask how much their preferences deviate from Maduro." They may not deviate as much in goal, but they deviate quite a bit in means. There are plenty of leftists who violently disagree with Maduro, and they criticize him from the left. And that still makes Maduro a leftist. Because "leftist" is not a small, narrow thing but a very broad thing that encompasses many people with many different points of view, just like "right" or "conservative." That's been my point the entire time. I consider myself broadly in the conservative movement, but there are lots of people in the conservative movement I disagree with.

Except you omitted the key element which is that no American conservative advocates their action.

No, I quoted what you said: "Propaganda does not require the words used to be inaccurate." Therefore, I can just as easily assert that NYT was both accurate in labeling Maduro a "leftist" and engaging in propaganda, by your definition.

I'll take this as your admission there are no Americans who advocate violence in response to religious criticism. Abortion is not a religion.

Is being black a religion? Is being gay a religion? There are plenty in the extreme Christian movement who advocate and have used violence against both groups. That's terrorism. The use of violence to achieve political ends. I conceded it's a very fringe movement, and it would be foolish to tar the entire conservative movement with them, but they do exist.

Yes, which they are linking to the murder.

Yes, because the adoption of Salafism in the Maldives has been a significant cause of the increased presence of radical Islamists in the Maldives. This is precisely the phenomenon Rasheed was commenting on in his blog. And there have been plenty of other writings in the Maldives' press, particularly the Maldive Independent, about this same issue. And Salafism is widely regarded (not just by NYT writers) as a conservative movement. It believes Islam has strayed too far from Muhammad's vision and wishes to return it to what it sees as its original traditions and norms. That is as close to a textbook definition of a "conservative" movement as you are likely to get.

I would like to see the US return to earlier norms and traditions, thus I am conservative in that way. Both are radically different visions, but both are broadly conservative, because as I said over 5 hours ago, "Conservative is a very broad term that has different meanings and implications given certain contexts."

Roughcoat said...

"Conservative is a very broad term that has different meanings and implications given certain contexts."

Which is the rhetorical equivalent of adding water to wine, thus divesting it of potency.

As Humpty Dumpty said: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.”

Robert Cook said...

"Robert Cook supports government nationalizing businesses or subordinating them to government control and distributing their income 'more fairly.'"

I have never said that businesses should be nationalized. I do believe big corporations must be broken up and brought to heel under stringent regulatory controls or they will succeed in their ongoing destruction of democratic government...everywhere. (Do I think this will happen? No. Do I think they will succeed in their destruction of democratic governments nationwide? Yes.)

Robert Cook said...

Uh, that is, "...their destruction of democratic nations worldwide."

buwaya said...

"And Salafism is widely regarded (not just by NYT writers) as a conservative movement. "

You will have to separate "conservative" from "traditional" in that case, as that Salafist idea of Islam is not the traditional folk-Islam. The by the letter of the book disciplined interpretation is not what passed for the practice of Islam nearly anywhere, and one can argue it is the result of modern technology and economics (permitting the education of so many kids in a consistent manner), favoring a uniform Islam of a high standard of purity, purged of local traditions and slackness.

tim in vermont said...

I don't see why a doctrinaire communist couldn't be called a "conservative" under these definitions, except that it is inconvenient to the narrative they are trying to create, or perhaps they actually can't see what they are doing.

tim in vermont said...

I am pretty sure that these people would consider themselves "progressives" as they are trying to progress the world towards their own vision of utopia.

buwaya said...

"And what did being closely tied to the Saudi Arabian regime for years before the embargo get us?"

The US was much better tied to the Saudis after the Shah fell, and it was US influence on the House of Saud that was a critical factor in the long spell of low prices (1986-91) that contributed so much to the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union.

And where are they going to get a "few hundred billion a year?"

If Iran controls the straits, it can easily levy that from the Arabs. Also if it establishes military dominance over the Gulf and outposts on the western shore, such as in Bahrain.

Rusty said...

And yet J. the Irnians have their own indigenous jet fighter industry. They now have acess to world markets and therefore more funding. Their military is highly trained and motivated. The Saudi military, while being very well up to date is not a highly motivated force. They do well when led by others like the US, but on their own with anything more than a skirmish they don't do well. I get this from people we send over there to train the Saudi soldiers in the equipment we sell them. The Iranians have been buying some very sophisticated SA missle systems from the Russians. With all the things that could be purchased for the good of their country I find state of the art area denisl missle systems a bit odd.


J. Farmer said...

@Roughcoat:

Which is the rhetorical equivalent of adding water to wine, thus divesting it of potency.

As Humpty Dumpty said: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.”


Except not all words are the same. Some are much narrower than others, and others are much broader. "Beautiful" is one that comes readily to mind. Grab any decent dictionary and look up the word conservative: "holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion."

I would note that Rick is not even challenging the accuracy of the label; he seems to claim that it is accurate but is still propaganda.

@buwaya:

If Iran controls the straits, it can easily levy that from the Arabs.

Sure, but there is no prospects of the Iranians doing that. Not only would they be in conflict with regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who are both much more militarily powerful than Iran, they would be in conflict with other major powers who relied on access. Iran has absolutely no means to achieve that kind of regional dominance in any relevant timeframe.

J. Farmer said...

@Rusty:

Their military is highly trained and motivated.

And yet they have not fought an offensive war in the 38 years since the Iranian Revolution, and they lost hundreds of thousands of people in their 8-year war with Iraq.

The Saudi military, while being very well up to date is not a highly motivated force.

Saudi Arabia is not the only country standing in the way of Iranian dominance. You have Eygpt, Turkey, and Pakistan, all of which are more powerful than Iran.

With all the things that could be purchased for the good of their country I find state of the art area denisl missle systems a bit odd.

Because most political leaders aren't interested in the "good of their country" but the good for themselves. Iran is surrounded by hostile powers, backed up by the United States, which makes efforts to undermine and overthrow it. It is perfectly logical to expect them to want to obtain weapons systems that they think would deter armed aggression.

buwaya said...

" You have Eygpt, Turkey, and Pakistan, all of which are more powerful than Iran. "

But none of them are anywhere near the straits. Nor are they in any position to compel Iran to behave. Not even Turkey has a hope of breaking through those mountains on the border. Pakistan or Egypt would have to be hired to save the Saudis bacon, and I doubt they have the money to get into that sort of war - Iran is huge.

Iran has purchased hundreds of antiship missiles from the Chinese. If the USN was not in place or near enough, the straits would be closed, or the Iranian threat would be held to be credible. None of the neighbors is in a position to invade and clear that region (on the Iranian side) of mobile missiles.

J. Farmer said...

@buwaya:

Iran’s Hollow Threats to Close the Strait of Hormuz

Francisco D said...

J. Farmer asserted: "Iran is surrounded by hostile powers, backed up by the United States, which makes efforts to undermine and overthrow it. It is perfectly logical to expect them to want to obtain weapons systems that they think would deter armed aggression."

I see that you have become an Iranian apologist just as you have been a Soviet apologist. Nonetheless, you pretend to be conservative. Friends with Chuck?

J. Farmer said...

@Francisco D:

I see that you have become an Iranian apologist just as you have been a Soviet apologist.

There's nothing about being broadly in the conservative movement (though I prefer the term nationalist) that prevents you from describing foreign countries accurately. And, as boring as it is to have type this on this blog for the millionth time, even if I was motivated purely by efforts to be an "apologist" for Iran, it would make no difference to whether the arguments I was making were correct or not. If you want to attack my arguments, I'd be more than happy to engage. If you want to talk about me personally, please wake me when it's over.

p.s. Pat Buchanan, also not a real conservative?

The problem with making a threat public — Iran is “on notice” — is that it makes it almost impossible for Iran, or Trump, to back away.

Tehran seems almost obliged to defy it, especially the demand that it cease testing conventional missiles for its own defense.

This U.S. threat will surely strengthen those Iranians opposed to the nuclear deal and who wish to see its architects, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, thrown out in this year’s elections.

If Rex Tillerson is not to become a wartime secretary of state like Colin Powell or Dean Rusk, he is going to have to speak to the Iranians, not with defiant declarations, but in a diplomatic dialogue.


-The Coming Clash With Iran, Pat Buchanan, 02 February 2017

Gospace said...

Religion is supposed to make a person secured and full of love but as history has shown, it has always been the opposite.

I'm almost 100% certain the tribes subjugated by both the Aztecs and the Incas would disagree with the first part of this statement. In fact, I'm pretty sure the Aztecs and Incas would also.

buwaya said...

"Iran’s Hollow Threats to Close the Strait of Hormuz"

Nothing new in the article. Their threats are hollow if one assumes that the US will be there to prevent them from closing the straits. With no US, yes there is a problem, as the rest of the world put together would be very hard put to prevent it, or retaliate meaningfully vs Iran.

And that's what we are talking about here in the first place. With no overwhelming US power abroad there is no Pax Americana.

J. Farmer said...

@buwaya:

With no US, yes there is a problem, as the rest of the world put together would be very hard put to prevent it, or retaliate meaningfully vs Iran.

Where is the US going? We're a continental superpower with a blue water navy. Plus, the Gulf Arab states have all built military capabilities that are aimed at Iran. Plus, Iran does not have the military capabilities to even close the Straits of Hormuz. There is an arms race in the region, but the Arabs are decisively winning it. And again, Iran has not initiated an offensive war in the 38 years since the Iranian Revolution. Closing the Straits of Hormuz would bring huge international pressure against them and would get them very little in return. The regime's main preoccupation is self-preservation. There primary strategy is to support pro-Iranian forces in other countries, and they want strategic deterrence against invasion and regime change.

Kirk Parker said...

Hey people:

Didn't anyone notice the URL at the bottom of that weird paragraph about religion?

"Ucavik" is a bot.

Rusty said...


Because most political leaders aren't interested in the "good of their country" but the good for themselves. Iran is surrounded by hostile powers, backed up by the United States, which makes efforts to undermine and overthrow it. It is perfectly logical to expect them to want to obtain weapons systems that they think would deter armed aggression.

But noone is threatening them. Not even us.

Robert Cook said...

"But no one is threatening (Iran). Not even us."

Ha!

What has been the unceasing allegations of their aggressive intent and covert efforts to build nukes but setting the stage for and creating the psychological landscape in the public mind to justify action against Iran? This is America's way: blame another nation for its intent to attack us as justification for "pre-emptive self-defense" by attacking them.