Friday, May 11, 2007

Why you can't trust a Limbaugh

David Limbaugh's latest article is about the principle that we should kill terrorists and ignore any talk of winning over "hearts and minds." An uncharitable person might read this as a call to genocide, since he basically writes off those people in the middle east who are not terrorists, but I am not an uncharitable person.

Limbaugh begins by noting that the phrase Hearts and Minds is cropping up in the Democratic Lexicon again. I haven't heard it myself, but I'll take his word for it. He then asks how exactly are we supposed to do this.
Do liberals mean we should convince existing terrorists that diplomacy is a superior path to achieving their goals? That tolerance of other religions is the morally superior position? That women are entitled to dignity and equal rights? That the United Sates and Israel really aren't that evil? That their extreme brand of Islam is misguided?

Surely we can all agree that if we're talking about existing jihadists, these goals are quixotic.
By we, I assume he means Conservatives. Since he (and his brother) clearly believe that this is exactly what liberals want to do. Hug members of Al-Qaeda, say sorry, and trust them to reform their ways.

That particular cool-aid doesn't stretch as far as it used to these days, so he goes on to deal with what Democrats actually mean when they talk about winning over hearts and minds. I've commented on this before, but the Right Wing view of middle east is at odds with reality. They see being a Terrorist as a permanent moral failing. Let me explain.

Obviously people who have committed terrorist acts in the past are marked by that stain till they die. Fair enough. But the Limbaugh brothers also believe that people who will commit terrorist acts in the future are already terrorists. Nobody becomes a terrorist through anger or their experiences or whatnot. People just are terrorists. Other people aren't terrorists. Terrorists can't become non-terrorists and non-terrorists can't become terrorists (or Jihadists, the term Limbaugh seems to prefer). So all this talk about hearts and minds is just time wasting foolishness. Jihadists aren't going to be swayed by our actions; non-Jihadists aren't going to become Jihadists even if we invade their countries and torture them.

I don't agree with Limbaugh's analysis of Middle Eastern psychology. Rather I imagine Middle Easterners (and specifically Iraqis) to be a lot like everybody else. They occupy a wide spectrum of beliefs from total hatred and loathing of America to love and respect of America. And within that spectrum of beliefs they move as their experiences and moods allow. If we are shown doing negative things like, say, making them form naked man pyramids, well they will move towards not liking us. If we do good things they will move the other way. This seems to me to be a more sane and reasonable way of looking at the middle east.

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