Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ted Turner: Iraqi Terrorists “Patriots”

Via Newsbusters, the CNN founder and ageing media mogul lets some of his opinions fly.
Interviewed Tuesday for Charlie Rose’s PBS show, CNN founder Ted Turner argued that inaction on global warming “will be catastrophic” and those who don’t die “will be cannibals.” He also applied moral equivalence in describing Iraqi insurgents as “patriots” who simply “don’t like us because we’ve invaded their country” and so “if the Iraqis were in Washington, D.C., we’d be doing the same thing.” On not taking drastic action to correct global warming:
Not doing it will be catastrophic. We’ll be eight degrees hottest in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals.
Turner ridiculed the need for a big U.S. military, insisting “China just wants to sell us shoes. They’re not building landing craft to attack the United States,” and “even with our $500 billion military budget, we can’t win in Iraq. We’re being beaten by insurgents who don’t even have any tanks.” After Rose pointed out the Iraqi insurgents “have a lot of roadside bombs that kill a lot of Americans” and wondered “where do you think they come from?”, Turner answered:
I think that they’re patriots and that they don’t like us because we’ve invaded their country and occupied it. I think if the Iraqis were in Washington, D.C., we’d be doing the same thing: we’d be bombing them too. Nobody wants to be invaded.
As for the fact that we are “occupying” Iraq: we occupied Germany at the end of World War II. Had there been a Nazi “insurgency” would any Americans have described the insurgents as “patriots?”

One could argue, of course, that Turner’s opinions don’t matter much anymore. But if he had made pro-Nazi statements or racist statements, the media feeding frenzy would last a week.

Instead, these kinds of comments from a rich leftist are just a big ho-hum.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Logan said...

Is the insurgency is fighting to get us out? Yes.

The question here is really whether the insurgents are fighting to get us out because they are Iraqi patriots (believe that Iraq's sovereignty is being violated by America's "occupation." And I think we can use the word occupations because we have set up camp and aren't leaving--this is despite the negative connotations of the word "occupation" when used about a country.) or because they have been brainwashed by Al-Qaeda.

That's a puzzler.

From what I've read there are certainly both, but those who have been trained by Iraq are far fewer than those who are simply Iraq citizens disgruntled by the "occupation" (I'm using that word to describe us setting up camp in our country and being responsible for tens of thousands of civilian deaths. Now, whether you think that estimate is correct or not, that's how it's told to the insurgents.)

I view this situation, and what side you fall on, much like I do religion: All of the faithful Catholics like John here or Dad29, who is linked to from this blog, were they born would have doubtless been Allah-fearing Muslims were they born in, say, the Muslim-majority Nigeria. Because something in their genetic code /or upbringing (nature /or nuture) made them believe in what they did. This is just like why those who are born and raised never hearing of Christianity don't believe in, or know of, it.

While Ted Turner's heart may have been in a place that you, John, are displeased with, it certainly does not mean that insurgents are not patriots.

And this is possibly just semantics, but I feel that this is a critical point toward the US perception of this war and those who resist us--and what that means to our occupation. (I didn't use quotes there for a reason.)

From the dictionary:
1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, esp. of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.


Something to think about.

4:44 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Well, Logan, my question for you is: would you define a Nazi resistence in the wake of WWII as "German patriots?"

Would you want to understand "those who resist us," rather than siding with American soldiers who are being killed?

And why are you siding with the terrorists rather than the elected Iraqi government?

Also, I'm not a "faithful Catholic." I'm a "faithful Protestant."

All of the faithful Catholics like John here or Dad29, who is linked to from this blog, were they born would have doubtless been Allah-fearing Muslims were they born in, say, the Muslim-majority Nigeria. Because something in their genetic code /or upbringing (nature /or nuture) made them believe in what they did.

Logan, if you had been raised differently, you would doubtless think differently.

But so what?

5:09 PM  
Blogger Logan said...

First, sorry about the Catholic label, not that it's a bad thing to be Catholic.

Second, I haven't sided with the insurgency. My point is simply to understand why we are so hated by many.

Is it because they hate freedom? No, that's bs and always has been, at least for the majority of those who resist us. There are certainly those who want to maintain control over segments of the Iraqi population.

I guess I wonder whether you think these people are evil or simply pawns for those who are evil. Are the simply good people who have been manipulated and thus can attain salvation (I'm very forward looking) or are they evil for the side they've chosen, and thus, eternally damned for where they were born?

I also think the subjectiveness of where one is born is particularly important when we decide how we are going to handle the situation.

Force, violence, those while not end the insurgency, because it is fluid, it can incorporate anyone, and because it is an idea, and you cannott destroy an idea.

For, I think, a well-put defense of my last sentence I recommend everyone to this clip from a (I know) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode where the captain has a vision where he lives in the beginning of the 20th century. In this timeline he is a science fiction writer who writes about the captain's actual reality in the 24th century.

It may be fiction, but I think it makes a great point.

And German patriots, those who are fighting for an unoccupied Germany, yes.

"Patriot" has been confused with democracy or the American way and it certainly does not, and should not, mean that. It is a very clear description of someone's allegiance to their homeland.

It's not a matter of anti-freedom, it's a matter of how can we defeat Al-Qaeda and the tendrils they used to infiltrate Iraq.

(Also, seriously, that's my favorite Star Trek episode for a reason.)

5:37 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Is it because they hate freedom? No, that's bs and always has been, at least for the majority of those who resist us.

Logan, I don't see how this can be interpreted as anything but siding with the terrorists.

You would deny that al Qaeda "hates freedom?"

You would deny that the Shites who are part of the Mahdi Army hate freedom?

Remember, Iraq has an elected government. The government is trying to put down the insurgency.

Do you want them to succeed, or not?

I guess I wonder whether you think these people are evil or simply pawns for those who are evil. Are the simply good people who have been manipulated and thus can attain salvation (I'm very forward looking) or are they evil for the side they've chosen, and thus, eternally damned for where they were born?

Who is "they?"

Do you mean the terrorists who are killing American soldiers and innocent Iraqis?

They are simply evil. It's not more complicated that that.

And German patriots, those who are fighting for an unoccupied Germany, yes.

Thank you for siding with the Nazis. Anybody can see that you were replying to a post of mine that explicitly asked about a Nazi resistence.

Let me give you some free advice, Logan. Don't go into politics. Except maybe in Berkley or Madison.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Logan said...

John, the majority of people who are don't like America are not terrorists. When 60% of Iraq wants us out--we know they are not shooting at us or blowing themselves up.

I want not a single more American life lost and I want Al-Qaeda rendered obsolete. I want terrorism to no longer be seen as a viable option to get one's point across.

You would deny that al Qaeda "hates freedom?"

No. And there was nothing I said here that supports your charge. The majority of those who don't like us aren't saying "take away my freedom," they're saying America has violated my country's borders--for right or wrong—taken away my freedom and now, at the very best, are over-staying their welcome.

It's a great debate tactic to stay on the offensive, John, but you’re reaching here.


My questioning of our tactics doesn't equal anti-Americanism or anti-freedom or being a sympathizer to the worst of the worst.

Am I a Nazi sympathizer? The farthest thing from it. Nothing here said the Nazis were great chaps or anything less than completely wrong, humans infected with evil.

And since your intent on drawing parallels between Al-Qaeda and the Nazis, I’ll humor you:

Iraq has essentially been turned into The Matrix. Like in that movie where every person could potentially be an agent (why I keep coming back to science fiction, I don’t know), in Iraq, every person has the potential to be an insurgent. That’s largely how we’ve been given great tragedies like Haditha. Perpetrators of Haditha and less-covered, less-severe violations of personal freedoms of Iraqi civilians have been bred by this “Matrix” culture to be, at best, paranoid, over-stretched soldiers with a hair trigger, or, at worst, bigots with guns. I believe that the second is not the case.

My point in comparing Iraq to Nazi Germany comes from my time growing up in the German-saturated Kiel, Wisconsin. Here, there are those aging Germany immigrants who came over following the War and who speak fondly of Hitler. That’s because of his social programs—which given another few years would have completely collapsed the Nazi empire because he was spending it into oblivion to keep the people happen and not questioning his war. The only reason Germany never went bankrupt in front of the world was because, thankfully, we won first.

But if these are decent people, why didn’t they side with someone else during the war? Because during those years of Hitler there was not viable alternative for the general public.

There is in Iraq.

There is an elected government, which unfortunately, and because of our continuing occupation, is seen as our puppet. It doesn’t give those potential insurgents as good a reason to sign on to the idea that America is a good thing. If we want that elected government to succeed and the Iraq police and army to stand on its own, we need to let them help themselves.

You applauded the article I cited about letting Africa help itself for long-term success and this is no different, John.

I feel that much of our disconnect comes down to the use of the word “patriot.” This is a powerful word, and it is possibly the most powerful word when we discuss conflict between nations, not just states.

Why do people side with a certain ideology? And because I understand why those aging German immigrants speak fondly of Hitler, does not mean I agree with them or that I don’t denounce and reject them.

Aren’t those who actually take up arms trying to defend their country? Of course they were, John. Of course. And that makes them German patriots.

Those who fought against the Nazis were patriots, too. If they fought for Germany, then they were patriots.

Now you’re thinking, so what? This is unimportant. It’s semantics.

Perhaps.

But in Iraq (unlike in Nazi Germany), as you pointed out, there is an elected government that, despite its flaws, could work. We need to give people a reason to get onboard with that government. And the continuing occupation will not do that. We will not force the Iraqi people into submitting to a government that they currently see as the “American” government.

Certainly not if we want it to succeed.

These people—like those Americans who came before us—are too strong. They have too much will to submit to foreign rule. Those who fight for a better Iraq are patriots, regardless of the side they fall on.

I view those who fight for democracy as right and those who are insurgents either with al-Qaeda or not as wrong.

Those independent insurgents and al-Qaeda foot soldiers think they are fighting for a better Iraq, an Iraq in which they will be freer. I don’t think they are right, but that’s the idea they have. And like the clip I put in my last comment; that I think is so powerful: you cannot destroy an idea by oppression and censorship. You can’t. The Soviets couldn’t do it, the Nazis couldn’t do it, the Fascists couldn’t do it, the oppressive Muslim regimes can’t do it now. There are those patriots in Iran right now—women in particular—who dream of something better, a country where they aren’t oppressed.

You can’t paint me as a sympathizer, John. You can’t paint me a lunatic. But you can disagree with me.

(And this isn’t the most terribly mature thing, Thank you for siding with the Nazis. Anybody can see that you were replying to a post of mine that explicitly asked about a Nazi resistence. “Gotcha! moments?,” c’mon, John, this is pretty weak for someone who commands as much respect in the blogosphere as you do.)

Patriot.

This word is an important description of the motivations of an individual. The perception that they resist those whose goals run contrary to their nation's. Nazi sympathizers certainly thought that--and I'm not saying that made them right or anything less than evil.

The Iraqi president is floundering with his people because he is seen as an extension of American interest and power within their sovereign borders. That's a problem. As long as we are seen as running their country this idea of resistance through violence and this idea that America is evil will continue.

And that continuing is not in our or democracy’s best interest.

Because to get rid of an evil, people become more willing to suspend their own freedoms. Those who sign on with al-Qaeda are doing that and we did it with the PATRIOT act following 9/11.

Please, dismiss this, John. Paint me a sympathizer. Paint me as a Madison-Berkeley nut-job. Paint me as an anti-patriot. Or will you say that I've done that to myself? Please dismiss this.

8:40 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Logan,

First, as to the Nazis.

You walked into that trap, Logan. It was pretty obvious, but you walked in anyway, since your logic required that you had to.

In Germany after WWII, who were the patriots? People who might be part of a guerilla movement to get American troops out and bring back a Nazi regime, or those committed to building a prosperous and democratic Germany.

I'll go with the latter. You'll go with the former.

I want not a single more American life lost and I want Al-Qaeda rendered obsolete. I want terrorism to no longer be seen as a viable option to get one's point across.

But if terrorists force U.S. troops out of Iraq, terrorism will be seen as a viable option.

You sound like you would prefer that we take all cops off the street, since that would make crime go away.

Because to get rid of an evil, people become more willing to suspend their own freedoms. Those who sign on with al-Qaeda are doing that and we did it with the PATRIOT act following 9/11.

OIC. Supporters of the Patriot Act are equivalent to terrorists.

The Iraqi president is floundering with his people because he is seen as an extension of American interest and power within their sovereign borders. That's a problem. As long as we are seen as running their country this idea of resistance through violence and this idea that America is evil will continue.

But you already admitted that the vast majority of Iraqis don't try to kill Americans.

You really don't seem to understand what the agenda of the terrorists is. It's not to protect "Iraq." It's to impose some version of radical Islam.

It's not that al Qaeda loves Iraq.

(Happily, they are on the ropes. Have you noticed that?)

Most of their fighters are from out of the country.

It's not that radical Shiites love Iraq. They love Iran, and want to kill Sunnis.

I can't believe you go on and on about how force cannot defeat "an idea."

It is a war of ideas. Tribal and sectarian oppression on one side, and freedom and democracy on the other.

The terrorists think they can defeat freedom and democracy by force. You think we should let them.

You applauded the article I cited about letting Africa help itself for long-term success and this is no different, John.

The context in that article was not African nations who are being invaded by outside terrorists, and torn by genocidal strife from within.

In the latter case, you can't have economic development without having peace.

And having peace often involves killing evil people.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that was quite an exchange.

I think the major disagreement here is the definition of the word "patriot"--namely, whether it is a self-imposed term or an externally-imposed term. Thus, if someone genuinely BELIEVES oneself to be a patriot, does it make it so? I think Logan's point is that many terrorists, particularly those who have been newly recruited in part because of America's presence in Iraq, view themselves as patriots. They genuinely believe that America is a corrupting force and that America is destroying how THEY view their own country. (Note that I am not agreeing or disagreeing with them here--just evaluating their motivations for committing terrible, violent acts of terror.)

Although somebody from the outside (you or me, for example) can say that these terrorists are not doing what is best for their country (and of course I would say unequivocally that these terrorists are hurting the chance for Iraqi revitalization and success), the point is that many terrorists see themselves as "freedom fighters" against an oppressive American regime.

Because this theme of "terrorism as patriotism" allows terrorist organizations to recruit more successfully, perhaps a better way of handling the Iraq situation is to back off in certain ways. If Iraqis see and understand that their government is working in their own interests (as opposed to American interests), then the propaganda that argues that terrorism is a patriotic act would be debunked, and terrorist organizations would not have the same sort of foothold that they currently do.

Now, I am not saying that the U.S. should just pick up and leave right now--rather, I am saying that it might be useful to rethink certain aspects of our presence, given that our presence is what allows certain people to justify terrorism to themselves. (Again, I am NOT saying that they ARE justified--merely that they genuinely believe that they are.)

I can understand that you might view this as "giving in to terrorists." However, I see it more as a mathematical equation. If, for every extremist that we kill, another person will be inspired to take their place, then it is not helpful to keep on killing extremists and expecting everything to be okay. Since this is a war of ideas, we need to focus on these ideas--if we make sure that Iraq's infrastructure is stable, that children can go to school safely, provide health care, and prove beyond any doubt that we are not the "puppetmasters" behind the current Iraqi government, then perhaps we can prove beyond any doubt that terrorism is NOT patriotism.

After all, what really eradicated Nazism was not the death of Hitler (though, admittedly, that certainly helped), but the massive reconstruction and reeducation efforts that occurred in the postwar years. This is clear if you compare the Nazi parties in Germany and in Austria--Austria did not have the same sort of reeducation efforts as Germany, and so there is still a much more active Neonazi party there than in Germany. Thus, military victory does not stop ideas by itself--some good PR is also essential.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

If I may interject in this spirited discussion - I find "terrorists" to be an extremely nebulous and troublesome term that easily obscures the true debate we are having.

Who are these terrorists we speak of? Al Qaeda in Iraq? I have very little doubt that this group of Islamic radicals, as you correctly note, John, will be defeated in due time by local Iraqi organizations dedicated to their own interests and self-government. One need only read the story from Radio Free Europe (link at end) of local Shiites uncovering mass graves of Al Qaeda victims, or read my blog (link also below - tell your friends) where I posted a story of a former Sunni insurgent turning against Al Qaeda in Iraq due to its extremist platform. So Al Qaeda in Iraq, I think we can agree, are terrorists - but terrorists that do not threaten the stability of Iraq long term, and do not threaten attack against the US any more than radicals in London, Paris, or Afghanistan.

Now, is the Mahdi Army a band of terrorists? Much more troublesome...you can say yes, but you must accept the fact that the Mahdi army represents a movement of mroe than a million Shiites in Iraq. That is one large terrorist group, and an awful lot of killing we have to do if terrorists = evil = must be killed. I do not believe you can call he Mahdi army terrorists and simply wage ful scale war against them - you need to recognize them as a legitimate political movement with political goals that must be honored.

But let's say you do not like my facts and want to call the Mahdi army terrorists still. Then, I ask, are the Badr corps, a militia more closely aligned with Iraqi national forces, a terrorist group as well? Or because this militia has joined the American side in this fight, does that make them less terrorist?

You see, the problem with hawks in this war against terror is that you believe we can actually defeat radical terrorist entities by killing people through, well, state sponsored terrorist means. You might take this last sentence as an opportunity to write off this whole thread as a lefty rant, since the only person I see use the term state sponsored terrorism these days is Noam Chomsky, but I challenge you, what else would you call dropping bombs from the sky that target a country's infrastructure and result in civilian casualties? What is the result of those bombs, and what effect do those bombs have on a populace? I'll expect your response to start with an answer to these final two questions.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Chris Turner said...

Hello,
I once posted a comment in which I replied to the serious allegations made against Austria, calling it a fascistic country, claiming it "did not have the same sort of reeducation efforts as Germany, and so there is still a much more active Neonazi party there than in Germany."
I stated that every Neo-Nazi movement is in fact illegal by the constitution and asked the author of these lines to cite his reference / name the party in question. Unfortunately, my lines seem to have been deleted from this blog. I do not understand why the above-mentioned accusations are not withheld instead, until the author has verified his source. I would be grateful if you could contact me under:
christian-kyle.turner@un.org
to clarify this matter.

Thank you very much for your time,
Chris Turner.

5:57 AM  

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