"Bush is an idiot, but he was right about Saddam" - Interesting Salon article

From Salon Magazine - “Bush is an idiot, but he was right about Saddam” (click on the ad for the full article) According to Berman “Islamism” has been given a huge pass by the mainly liberal inhabitants of the modern multi-cultural schools of academic historical and social criticism. Is there any merit to this perspective?



A prime example of the slanted, biased journalism that has Salon 4 months late on paying their rent and on the brink of shutting down.

Yeah I read the piece. I think it’s pretty misguided about the nature of the Islamic fundamentalist threat especially with respect to comparisons with Nazism and Communism. Those two ideologies had massive states at their disposal which could threaten to conquer the West directly. The Islamic militants have terrorists who can do a great deal of harm but will never conquer the West militarily. Furthermore fighting terrorists is very,very different from fighting centralized military machines run by states. In the latter the best strategy is to bigger military machine capable of destroying or deterring your enemy’s army. In the former you need the co-operation of governments in Muslim countries to provide you with intelligence and you need to worry about public opinion in hostile societies.

Because the threat is very different the costs and benefits of particular strategies are very different. This is relevant to evaluating the current war. Berman just ignores all these practical issues.

Well, of course the liberals were responsible for Islamic fundamentalism. As well as AIDS, disco, Carrot Top, and the decline of Western Civ.

He compares Nazism and Islamism only on a very deep level though - both are dictatorial, myth-based systems. Of course, they are completely different in the way they manifest themselves, but I think he’s got a point.

I’m not sure about his argument that it all stems from the First World War though. I agree with much of what he says and it’s kind of how I’ve been thinking for a while.


I think I see the war in Iraq in similar terms to him. All the left-wing groups are against the war. And yet I see this war as a war against fascism and therefore I support it (and I’m generally a left-wing person). I cannot fathom why people would be against the idea of kicking out an evil fascist dictator.

I know people don’t like war but then sometimes fascism has to be fought. Fascist dictators always have to be “asked” to leave -they rarely leave of their own accord.

I started a thread once wondering whether we should do this kind of thing more often, kicking out dictators and installing democracies. Since the most powerful country in the world happens to be America at the moment, maybe we should use that power as a force for good?

History teaches us that empires don’t last forever so the day will come when America isn’t numero uno any more. So maybe America should use it’s 15 minutes to democratise as much of the world as possible.

And I don’t mean install pro-US puppet democracies, just full democracies and after that they can have any orientation they want.

That would be “good” as we see it? yes?

Just because other “empires” were short-lived, how do you extend that to indicate the US will fall to number 2?

If slanted, biased journalism is the cause of Salon perhaps failing, how do other slanted, biased journals thrive?

No, that would be objectively good since democracy is undoubtedly a better system than dictatorship. I don’t believe it’s possible to seriously argue that dictatorship is better than democracy.

Maybe it won’t, who knows? It’s just that history seems to indicate that nothing lasts forever. But, just in case the US does decline, then we ought to convert as much of the world as possible to democracy while we still can.

Suppose the next great world power is an evil one. We want as many democracies in place as possible in order to counter it’s malign influence.

It’s an interview with an author. That’s slanted, biased journalism?

—Berman just ignores all these practical issues.—

You read the article: did you actually read the parts where he talks about the sorts of things you are criticizing, such as the difference between states? He’s talking about the ideology from a sociological point of view, not necessary the battle strategy for how to confront it. And he doesn’t say “this is just like the Nazis.” He says, it is, and it isn’t, in certain ways.

So, if the US(a “democracy”) fades into obscurity, it should make sure there are other democracies out there to keep alive a doomed system for as long as possible? Is that it? Why is the US version of a “democracy” doomed to failure? Perhaps all of the previous “empires” got it wrong and we got it right.

And, of course, there are more systems out there than “dictatorships” and “democracies.”

Not interested in talking about media bias today, the Gov would like to suggest that the main reason Salon is having money problems is that it gets the expenses of, say, an “Atlantic Monthly”, without the corresponding revenue.

No. It wouldn’t be America’s democracy that would fade, it would be America’s economic and military dominance that would fade. But America would still be a democracy.

It isn’t. I’m just saying that American hegemony may fade one day (maybe when the oil runs out and we all revert to the stone age). But that doesn’t mean democracy would fade. Democracy is an idea, it is independant of the USA. Democracy doesn’t necessarily need the US (it did in the past and it may still do now but it won’t always be that way).

Not really. Far as I’m aware there’s only three - dictatorship, democracy and anarchy. We’re not ready for anarchy yet so that just leaves the two.

“You read the article: did you actually read the parts where he talks about the sorts of things you are criticizing, such as the difference between states?”
Yes but he never seems to understand the implications of this in terms of the cost and benefit of fighting a war. So what is his anlaysis about why a war would improve US national security? I don’t see much apart from the general talk about totalitarian evil.

Also I think it’s a mistake to think of Saddam’s regime in terms of a radical ideological movement. That may have been true decades ago but now it just seems to another dictatorship which rules by pure force. There is very little ideological zeal among Iraqis as far as I can see which makes it very different from Nazi Germany or the USSR.

Comparing those who don’t support this war with the appeasers of the 1930’s is a cliche, with very little basis in history. In the interview ,at least, Berman is doing little more than repeating this cliche along with some superficial historical analysis.

So what happens when we try to apply democratic principles to a society that is based on a religious faith that excludes half of the population from the democratic process? I have heard that the Koran is very specific about the laws which restrict women.


Putting “quotes” around straightforward terms like “democracy” does not “help” your “cause”. I can’t say “exactly” how it makes your posts “look” because this is Great Debates, not the “Pit.”

You have heard? Why don’t you post those quotes? I’m sure you will have a difficult time. The Quran was actually very liberating towards women, allowing them to own property and basically making them equals of men at that time in history.

Well, aparently the people who are in chage in most Islamic societies have fucked up pretty good then, because women are treated like shit in a lot of them.

Oh, you’ll probably want specifics. Well, the Taliban in Afghanistan are probably the worst. But the Iranians and the Saudis also suck big wampum in their treatment of women.

My guess is the Koran is chock full of stuff that can be used to justify treating women and other people like shit, just like the Bible. And the people who want to use it, will use.

Evil. I only put the quotes around “democracy” because I figured pedants would show up and remind us that the US isn’t a democracy.