Friday, December 15, 2006

Bush bragging about killed Iraqis.

This is from President Bush's statement at the Pentagon earlier this week:
Offensive operations by Iraqi and coalition forces against terrorists and insurgents and death squad leaders have yielded positive results. In the months of October, November, and the first week of December, we have killed or captured nearly 5,900 of the enemy.
5,900 enemies, huh? 5,900 killed (or captured) Iraqi's is now a "positive result". But since these dead people were "terrorists and insurgents and death squad leaders", there is no need to compare that number with the dead on 9/11. Besides, they were probably mostly Arabs anyway.

28 comments:

Weekend Fisher said...

I have always thought the Iraq war should not have been entered. But that's a separate question from whether the death-squads should be allowed to go on killing their fellow Iraqis. What do the casualties from 9/11 have to do with whether the death-squad leaders should be prevented from killing more Iraqis? Weren't the Iraqis themselves among the leaders in seeking out their own homegrown terrorists? And that last line coupled with the header -- are you intending to inflame anti-American hatred, or is there some other point that I've missed there?

And again, I have always thought the Iraq war should not have been entered.

Patrik said...

I just got so angry when reading that. I was just struck by how Bush's rhetoric shows absolutely no respect for these human beings.

There are many things going on in Iraq (see this Attempt at Categorization, there are "terrorists" and probably also "death squads" whatever that is, but mostly there are people who fight the foreign forces that occupy their country. For Bush to declare the killing of these people a positive result is just so cynical it makes my stomach turn. And yes I think it is a racist rhetoric, it shows that Bush fails to see that these people are human beings.

This is of course not in any way directed against American people, apart from those that let remarks by Bush like this go by unnoticed.

Weekend Fisher said...

I feel sorriest for the Iraqis. They make a constitution (with which nearly no-one in the U.S. agrees, but it's their own constitution after all), they elect a government ... and out come the mosque-bombers trying to stir up as much dissent and strife and hatred as possible. Which is quite a bit.

The world already has too much hatred in it.

I think the part that Bush understands the least is the cultural/religious angles that make the "democracy v. sharia" wars so much more sensitive and entrenched than he anticipated. Though I'd rather that he'd had a stronger background in just war theory to start with.

Take care & God bless

Anonymous said...

It seems clear Arab lives are worth less than western lives to many in the West, and certainly to the Bush administration. That is certainly how it is perceived in the rest of the world. I was at home in South Africa when 9/11 "happened" and I was struck by how different people reacted to it. The opposition party (DA) which is largely white, neo-liberal, middle-class, western orientated etc proposed a motion of sympathy/support in the local municipality. This was opposed by the ANC - largely black, working class etc (okay, thats a huge oversimplification and not entirely accurate!) - on the grounds that, while 9/11 was certainly an awful attack it was not fundamentally different from other acts of violence. It just happened to have occured at the centre of power and not at the periphery. We seem to have become immune to daily atrocities in Iraq and yet when London or Madrid are attacked its a huge event.

On another note, Patrik, I have been wanting to say appreciated the posts on your blog, and especially on the Middle East (will be sure to get hold of the Fisk book). But I have a question. This may not be the right place to ask it, and my apologies if its not even appropriate to ask it (am new to reading blogs and still a bit unsure of the extent to which I intend to do so) but have you posted anything on Isaac the Syrian, or do you do that elsewhere? I'm just curious as he is one of the people I want to get down to reading at some point!

Peace,
Macrina

Patrik said...

Macrina, thanks for you comments and your perspective.

Regarding Isaac, I haven't really posted much on Isaac, because my thought on him and the thoughts inspired by him are all going into my dissertation which will hopefully be published in the future. So I will keep those thoughts to myself for a while yet.

But if you have any questions about him, I'll be happy to do my best to help.

Patrik said...

weekend fisher, while religion certainly plays a part in this mess, I think what Bush did not understand was that no one want to be ruled by a foreign government. It has little to do with religion, it is just common sense. That part of the world knows what it is like to be under colonial rule, and have no wish to go back to that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Patrik. I sort of feared it was like that. Will have to wait for the book by which time I might have got down to reading him! And thanks for your offer of help - I may get back to you sometime.
Macrina

Thomas Adams said...

Patrik – While I am not a supporter of Bush in the least, I will defend him from some of your crude accusations. Firstly, nothing in the quote you posted suggests that he was “bragging” about the enemy casualties, not even the “positive results” comment. Bragging implies a certain degree of glee or bravado, which is not evident in the quote.

As for the death count, I take no joy in the death of any human being. However, there is little doubt that Iraq is currently overrun by “terrorists and insurgents and death squad leaders” who are enemies of both the American forces and the Iraqi people. These folks are not the brave freedom fighters that you naively think they are. Most of the violence is Iraq these days is Iraqi-on-Iraqi, and not directed towards the American occupiers. Anything the American or Iraqi forces can do to stop these death squads is a “positive result” in my opinion, and I’m sure most ordinary Iraqis would agree.

As for the old “Bush is a racist” canard, it’s simply not true. The man has many, many, many faults, but racism is not one of them. Indeed, it could be argued that, in launching the Iraq war, he placed too much faith in the ability of the Iraqi people to govern themselves and build a prosperous society. No other American president has considered Arabs to be capable or worthy of democratic government; Bush at least gave it a shot. Having said all this, like weekend fisher, I consider the war to be an unmitigated disaster that should have never been started. But the Iraq debacle is basically the result of good intentions gone horribly awry, and not the result of an evil American bent on world domination.

Macrina – A quick question: you write that the 9/11 attacks “happened”. Why the quotation marks? Are you implying that that this attack, which apparently seemed quite ordinary to you, didn’t really happen, or was the result of some conspiracy?

Patrik said...

thomas, you called me naive on you blog, but how is this for naive: "But the Iraq debacle is basically the result of good intentions gone horribly awry, and not the result of an evil American bent on world domination."

I'm impressed to find that there are people who still believe that the war was about democracy. It was about creating a pro-American state in the Middle east and that is something very different. That you even suggest that the lack of democracy has anything to do with the "ability" of "Arabs" makes me wonder what you mean with the word racist. How about the repeated interventions of western forces at the first signs of democracy in this part of the world as a cause? Read up on it.

For me, to be a racist is precisely the tendency to see some people, because of there nationality or race, as not really human in the sense that one believes they function in a way different from us, which means that their death is less a crime then ours.


What gets me in that quote is also that he lumps insurgents together with terrorist. This is typical western rhetoric. Anyone who opposes "us" is a terrorist. Well in that sense, form their point of view, the US military are terrorists. It all depends on your perspective. Yet you seldom here Iraqis talk of the loss of the lives of American soldiers as a "positive result".

Patrik said...

Thomas, for more on the reasons for the war aginast Iraq see this insightful article.

On the Israeli side in the conflict in the Levant, see this recent article by Rober Fisk.

It's another perspective.

Thomas Adams said...

I'm impressed to find that there are people who still believe that the war was about democracy. It was about creating a pro-American state in the Middle east and that is something very different.

Why is “creating a pro-American state” necessarily at odds with establishing a democracy? There is little doubt that Bush really thought he was going to create a stable and prosperous Iraqi democracy that would also be a valuable US ally, much like Germany and Japan are now U.S. allies. The neoconservatives believed that the war was in the best interests of both the U.S. and the Iraqis. It was not a grab for more land or oil, although it was a bid for more influence. So, in my estimation, the rationale for the war was a healthy mix of “good intentions” and geopolitical strategizing, with the exact ratio probably depending on the person.

Of course, this neoconservative vision has not come to pass. But to suggest that Bush wanted the current situation, with its massive loss of life, is absurd. He greatly underestimated the sectarian divisions in Iraq, but at least he thought that the people of Iraq were capable of democracy. Past American foreign policy in the Middle East mainly involved supporting cruel dictators, like Saddam Hussein, in the name of stability (believe me, I’ve read up on it). Bush is not given enough credit overseas for his departure from these shameful policies of the past. The fact that his “grand experiment” hasn’t worked is due primarily to the massive incompetence and hubris of the Bush Administration, combined with intractable problems internal to Iraq. Neither he nor I think that the lack of democracy has anything to do with the intrinsic "ability" of Arabs, and neither of us are racists, despite your suggestions to the contrary. Your definition is racism (“to see some people as not really human in the sense that one believes they function in a way different from us”) simply does not apply here. Do I think that Arabs “function in a way different” than Westerners? Of course, as they come from a very different culture. But it does not follow that I therefore see them as less than human, and there is absolutely no evidence that Bush views them as sub-human. Why do you insist on using such incendiary rhetoric? In my experience, the “racist” charge should only be used as a last resort, and the term should be reserved for actual racists, not simply political opponents.

Patrik said...

Well, it is precisely because of the track record of American foreign policy that I find it hard to believe that democracy was very high up on Bush's mind. You know that there were on two state department (out of like 18), that the US forces decided needed protection after the invasion. One of them was the department of oil. The departments of health care education, internal affairs and so on were left to be looted and burned. They would have been useful for creating democracy, would they not?

To be continued... (Have to go now)

Thomas Adams said...

Patrik – I understand your skepticism, although I don’t find your anecdotal evidence very convincing. But you should realize that the neoconservative vision, as articulated by Bush and company, is indeed a radical departure from the status quo of American foreign policy. The neoconservative agenda is at once more dangerous and more noble than the traditional “realist” foreign policy. It’s more dangerous because it assumes that America has the capability (and the right) to dramatically transform troubled states like Iraq, and that such objectives can be accomplished through military means. But it’s also more noble because it places the promotion of democracy at the heart of American foreign policy, whereas the realists are content to coexist with “useful” dictators. So what I’m trying to convey is that the debate concerning U.S. foreign policy is much more complicated and nuanced that the simple peace/war, good/evil dichotomy that is often heard from Europe. That said, I tend to fall into the “realist” camp, primarily because it avoids fiascos like the current one in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Thomas,

No, I'm not buying into the conspiracy theories. I think that I put "happened" in inverted commas not to imply that it didn't happen but partly because happened seemed an inadequate word and partly because 9/11 has become something much more than what occurred on that day. I am certainly not wanting to deny the horror of it - I do not support violence and certainly not when it is directed against civilians. My point was rather to point out the diffent ways in which people (helped no doubt by the media) perceive that violence - which has a lot to do with where it occurs and where they are located.

Macrina

Patrik said...

Well, I'm not convinced about the nobility of the neo-cons. There just is no way to bomb a country into democracy, and not even Bush could believe that there is.

The reason that the supposed project of democratizing Iraq failed is not to be found in the race nor the culture of the Iraqi people, its just that democracy will not be very high on you priorities when there is no electricity and you get sewer water in the tap. And you are not likely to feel very well-disposed against those that supposedly are bringing you democracy, when you know that they intentionally and repeatedly bombed those power plants and water systems into pieces, not to mention several of you completely innocent friends.

No, Bush & co knew this would happen (again, read this .) They started this campaign, not out of benevolence, but out of greed and hunger for power. You know, Madeleine Albright said it best: "What is the point of having a great army if you can't use it".

Thomas Adams said...

Come on, Patrick - that article is ancient (April 2003)!! Nobody in Washington today is talking about invading Syria or Iran. Why? Because the US has been too weakened - diplomatically and militarily - by the Iraq War. Bush, far from being the evil mastermind that many Europeans imagine, has actually reduced America’s ability to influence events in the Middle East and around the globe. There’s a joke making the rounds in Washington: “The Iraq War is over – Iran has won.” That’s basically the truth of it. By deposing Saddam and allowing the Shiite majority to take power, Bush has foolishly transformed Iraq into an Iranian proxy state. Anyone who thinks that this is what the neoconservatives wanted all along is simply crazy (by the way, Madeline Albright is not a neocon – she was Clinton’s Sectretary of State. I’m not sure what you’re trying to prove with that comment).

You’re right that democracy cannot be forced upon a people through military means – that is the great flaw in the neocon system. But the Iraq War was not simply a naked power grab (if it was, then it’s been a miserable failure even by that standard). If you set aside your knee-jerk anti-Americanism, you might admit that some of our motives were honorable, although the results have been ugly. At the very least, please stop recycling conspiracy theories from 3.5 years ago.

Patrik said...

I think we need to distinguish between anti-americanism and being anti-Bush, although when it domes to foreing policy, the US has been terribly consisten, no matter who sits in the White House (which is what I alluded to with the Albright quote).

The article was in response to the motives of the neo-cons for starting the war, so 2003 seems to be a good date to start looking.

I hope you're right about Syria and Iran (though Seymour Hersh isn't so sure), and I agree that the neo-cons overestimated the power of the US Military.

I guess we will not be able to reach an agreement on the motives for the current US government's absurd policy in the Muslim world. The only sane thing to do would be to pull out, completely. But that would hurt the US's superpower ego to much so we are stuck with this deplorable situation. And we will all have to suffer for it. Right now its them that suffer, but it will come back to us all in time.

Thuloid said...

Patrik--

Have you actually read any of the prominent neoconservatives (either of a past generation or those to whom the label most readily applies in this--though the term itself is somewhat problematic, but I'll leave this aside for now)? Do you know their rhetoric and their arguments? Do you know who in the Bush administration has tended to advance the same arguments and who has argued along different lines (and often, for different policies)?

This isn't trivial stuff--it's important to answering the questions at issue here. Please reconsider statements about motive until you've made this effort. In the case of many of these folks, no guesses have to be made--they've been pushing similar views for many years. One only has to go and read them to find out. So don't take others' words on what the "neocons" think --read them for yourself.

I think, if you make even a little effort at this, you'll find that what Thomas has been saying about them is quite clear. Their view of foreign policy is to be criticized as too idealistic, not too cynical or self-interested. In the case of Iraq, many did not correctly perceive the depth of tribal bonds and religious rivalries--they made projections as if people were basically rational and autonomous in the post-Enlightenment Western senses of those terms (in short, they basically forgot that Iraq never had the Enlightenment). While surely a mistake, it was not racism or greed that led them to project on mankind a universal desire for liberty.

Patrik said...

There is to much to read in the world for me to spend much time on studying neo-conservatism, I will grant you that.

I will not give the notion that their view is racist that easily, though. What they, if you are right, wanted to project on the world is an Western, white, American notion of liberty, that disregards inherent values in the cultures that are not western. This may not be the usual American use of the term racism, but on a global level this is what it has to mean.

I don't think the secterian violence we now see in Iraq was caused by a situation that was already there before the invasion. Of course there were differnt groups in the country, like there are in any country, but it was the western powers that insisted on creating a government were the people were represented based on what religious group they belong too.

Anyway, this is what the Iraqis say. You can find this info in any Iraqi-based blog.

Iraq was not a Pandora's box that teh US-lead "coalition" accidentally opened. The situation is caused by the policies that have been applied from the beginning of the war.

Thomas Adams said...

There is too much to read in the world for me to spend much time on studying neo-conservatism.

Patrick, this is a poor excuse. If you are going to condemn the neocons (calling them racist, imperialist, and greedy murderers), the very least you can do is make attempt to study their writings. But you're right, it much easier to just swallow the far-left propaganda.

Iraq was not a Pandora's box that the US-lead "coalition" accidentally opened. The situation is caused by the policies that have been applied from the beginning of the war.

Why must it be an either/or? I think the chaos in Iraq is due both to the mistakes of US policy and the tensions that previously existed in Iraq. Why do you insist on taking such a black-and-white view of the conflict? In this thread, I have tried to take a more nuanced approach, acknowledging both the mixed motives of those who started the war, as well as the fact that there is plenty of blame to go around. But all I get in return from you is the standard “American is the source of all evil” rhetoric that has been commonplace among intellectually lazy and smug Europeans.

Patrik said...

OK, first we need to get this straight once and for all: I do not blame America. It would be absurd to blame something as abstract as a nation-state. I feel this is the reason this discussion is so heated, because you feel I am attacking you as a citizen of the United States when I have actually tried to be very conscious in criticising the US government and army only OR including Europe by talking about the western world.

But I concede that I have been a bit black-and-white. The reason is that I trying to understand this situation, and to do that you have to try to see the other side of the story. The "western" side is sort of implied in my arguments. We all know about that version already. I'm trying to correct it.

However, the thing we must keep in mind is that this war was an unprovoked, illegal attack on a sovereign country, that did not in any way threaten the world. This is 2003.

There were no weapons of mass destruction. There were no ties between Saddam and terrorists. There were no real just causes at all. And I still find it hard to believe that the will to spread democracy was the reason, if that was the motive, why not put a little pressure on Saudi Arabia?

So, ok, there are many causes for the chaos we are watching (and they have to try to live in), but the blame rests firmly in the White House (and 10 Downing Street).

Thuloid said...

"There is to much to read in the world for me to spend much time on studying neo-conservatism, I will grant you that.

I will not give the notion that their view is racist that easily, though."

Then you're content to argue on the basis of no evidence. How extremely foolish.

"What they, if you are right, wanted to project on the world is an Western, white, American notion of liberty, that disregards inherent values in the cultures that are not western. This may not be the usual American use of the term racism, but on a global level this is what it has to mean."

There's nothing "white" about the ideas they've espoused. Nor, necessarily, American. The point was not that they WANT to project these ideas on the world, by force or other means--rather, the belief tends to be that people already hold certain values in common (e.g., a desire for liberty) and are often prevented from pursuing these desires. Some saw the development of liberal democracy as basically a historical inevitability (Fukuyama); others would disagree, but still see the removal of dictators like Saddam as a worthy goal of policy--that it feeds both liberty and security.

And in any case, even if they were merely advocating a worldwide imperialism based on a political ideology, that would not imply racism. For it to be racism, it would have to depend on or include certain ideas about race, which they don't espouse.

You'll find among these writers no friendliness toward Saudi Arabia--their emphasis on Iraq had more to do with it being the low-hanging fruit. Iraq was "gettable" post 9/11--they looked around and found consensus on it as a threat to regional and US interests, and a new opportunity to press for the removal of Saddam (which in fact they'd been agitating for for some years).

Couple other things--
"There were no weapons of mass destruction. There were no ties between Saddam and terrorists. There were no real just causes at all."

The last sentence is meaningless for this discussion--if we agree on a cause, then we see it as just. I would note that the first was almost universally believed before the invasion. I'm still undecided as to its truth--the lack of weapons finds had weighed heavily against it (in fact, decisively so) until I began to read translations of documents recovered from various Iraqi ministries and posted (in heavy volume, I might add) online. Apparently, chemical and biological weapons programs were still active in some sense--or else voluminous orders were going out to acquire, organize, move around and, once inspections began again, to conceal people and materiel that did not in fact exist. The situation is very confusing.

The second sentence is more difficult to establish either way. Surely I don't buy the "This was a secular Baathist regime--they would not have dealings with religiously motivated terrorists" line of argument. The readiness of the Fedayeen Saddam to engage with Sunni jihadists immediately after the US invasion shows willingness to cooperate--so we should discount the a priori argument that Saddam had no ties to terrorists. We must have facts, either way. There are no commonly available facts relating Saddam to the 9/11 attacks or to Al Qaeda generally.

But if you go back and read the arguments, you'll realize there were a wide range of arguments made in support of the invasion. The terrorist and weapons claims were those most seized upon by the UN--these are the sorts of rather technical matters that the UN had already concerned itself with. But many neoconservatives were longt-time proponents of acting well outside the bounds of the established international framework--they tended to be hostile to the UN as an organization that largely serves to protect and legitimate dictatorships. So these arguments were less important to them, except as they implied certain security issues for the US and other nations. More significant to most neoconservatives would have been their opposition to the nature of Saddam's rule, the possibility of democratic reform in the Middle East, the possibility of lessening the US's strategic dependence on Saudi Arabia (a necessary precursor to putting any pressure on the Saudi government), and the ongoing military and diplomatic commitments involved in containing Iraq (the northern and southern no-fly zones and the enforcement of trade restrictions)--neoconservatives often pointed up the damage those restrictions did to ordinary Iraqis, as well as that the situation of the US having to continually protect large portions of the Iraqi population by air power was inherently unstable, inevitably leading to war again at some point.

I write these things not to justify the war, but to suggest that there's a great deal more to this matter than you seem to have allowed.

"However, the thing we must keep in mind is that this war was an unprovoked, illegal attack on a sovereign country, that did not in any way threaten the world. This is 2003."

I have no idea what you mean by any of this. Provocation was continual, on both sides. The US and Iraq had been engaged in hostilities, continually, since 1991. "Illegal" is meaningless here--there exists no commonly recognized authority by which to establish the legality of such actions. The UN does not suffice, and if by some miracle it did, it has done nothing to suggest the illegality of the war. No combatant in the invasion, so far as I know, was at the time signatory to any treaty which precluded such action. "Threat" we've dealt with--it's very much in the eye of the beholder. As to the year, so what? Surely you don't think that mankind is engaged in some inevitable upward crawl toward enlightenment, such that the modern age is fundamentally different from past ages in which powers made war?

Patrik said...
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Patrik said...

"Then you're content to argue on the basis of no evidence. How extremely foolish."

Well, there are other kind of evidence than their writings, aimed at selling their ideas. Like their actions for example.

"And in any case, even if they were merely advocating a worldwide imperialism based on a political ideology, that would not imply racism. For it to be racism, it would have to depend on or include certain ideas about race, which they don't espouse."

Not necessarily. It is a fairly common notion that the world's inattention to for example the conflict in Congo is mostly due to the fact that it takes place in the middle of Africa. See also Rwanda. That is racism, even if no open racist ideology is sited. The same thing applies here.

And regarding you attempt at defending the notions of WMD's and terrorism I can only say that even even the people involved have now admitted it was lies. Stop beating the dead horse.

2003 was an acknowledgement that in 1991 after Saddam had attacked Kuwait the situation was different.

If evil dictatorship was the primary motivation for the neo-cons, then surely North Korea would have been a worthier target. I'm not denying Saddam's horrible acts, but you know, there is no oil in North Korea.

Thuloid said...

"Well, there are other kind of evidence than their writings, aimed at selling their ideas. Like their actions for example. "

You don't know who you're speaking of, then. Tell me of William Kristol's actions or Francis Fukuyama's. Describe for me Paul Wolfowitz's actions (as distinct from Donald Rumsfeld's, who is notably not a neoconservative) or Richard Perle's. Please, just name for me a handful of neoconservatives and tell me what each of them have done.

"Not necessarily. It is a fairly common notion that the world's inattention to for example the conflict in Congo is mostly due to the fact that it takes place in the middle of Africa. See also Rwanda. That is racism, even if no open racist ideology is sited. The same thing applies here."

How does "the same thing apply here," since I doubt you know various neoconservatives' views on Africa, nor has geographic location been the issue in our discussion so far? I'm inclined to counter that nothing of the sort applies here, unless you can draw for me at least a single parallel.

"And regarding you attempt at defending the notions of WMD's and terrorism I can only say that even even the people involved have now admitted it was lies."

No, they haven't. Some now believe the original case to have been badly mistaken in many respects but that other evidence makes the same point, others do not. Powell has been especially regretful of his presentation before the UN, as some of it was based on personal assurances from the CIA leadership (by no means a neoconservative outpost--George Tenet was a Clinton appointee to head that agency) that the information he was presenting was sure--it most certainly was not sure, and some of it was highly questionable even at the time.

"If evil dictatorship was the primary motivation for the neo-cons, then surely North Korea would have been a worthier target. I'm not denying Saddam's horrible acts, but you know, there is no oil in North Korea. "

Maybe you missed what I said about low-hanging fruit. Iraq was considered the achievable one--a less insular, and therefore potentially more fragile state than North Korea. One major trouble in any hypothetical fight with North Korea is the position of Seoul--it's so far north that it's long been considered almost impossible to protect in the event of war. Ten million people live there. This is something that is always considered in dealings on the Korean peninsula.

Patrik said...

I doubt this discussion will lead to anything constructive... Do you or do you not claim that the war in Iraq was on the agenda of the New-cons? If not, then the group you are referring to is of no concern to me, because that is what I'm interested in. If you do, then tell me if you think that the neo-cons were unaware of what the modern warfare of the US Army actually looks like (weeks of terror-bombing of civilian targets before ground forces are sent in to secure some specific targets). Do you believe that this group of people you are referring to did not in any way foresee that civilians would have to suffer to the point where concepts like freedom and democracy are totally meaningless?

Because if that is so then this group of people must be among the most ignorant in the world, because this was fairly clear to everyone at the time.

I doubt this is very likely, therefore I feel a scenario were those in charge in Washington decided that the notion of a colony with abundant resources in the Middle East was deemed such an attractive alternative that any number of killed Iraqis was considered to be worth it.

I just feel this scenario is much more plausible. You may chose what you believe in yourself.

Thuloid said...

I agree that this discussion can no longer lead to anything constructive. Respectfully (or as respectfully as I can mean it, since I do mean it as serious criticism), I think you argue this point much more on the basis of feelings than facts. I find this unfortunate particularly because of the intellectual rigor with which you seem accustomed to approaching other matters. However, it's at least heartening that the discussion could go this deep and civility maintained (as it so often isn't on topics like this). Let's consider that a limited good.

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