Someone should remake ‘Four Lions’

lionsWe learned this week that two Americans were killed fighting for ISIS in Syria. There are likely to be many more as the Arab world’s long, awkward transition away from authoritarian government breeds more violence. It might be helpful for Americans to develop a better understanding of what’s driving violent fundamentalism, but we have little to work with.

The best film ever made about the lure of armed jihad among Western-raised Muslims is Four Lions from 2010. It’s tragic, dark, and in a way only the British can master, guiltily, gut-bustingly hilarious. The film was a minor success in Britain and on the international film festival circuit.

Four Lions earned a brief burst of attention in 2013 for its eerily prescient portrayal of a scenario nearly identical to the Boston Marathon bombing. From the details of the attack itself to the bumbling, awkward cast of characters, the film may be the first example of Westerners beginning to grasp the forces behind Islamic terrorism.

Unfortunately, even with the additional attention Four Lions did not get a lot of play. Audiences unfamiliar with Britain found the film utterly impenetrable.

Some form of translation might have helped around the margins. The characters spoke in what could perhaps be better described as a dialect rather than an accent. A working-class Birmingham accent is pretty far removed from global English. Add to it the nuances, idioms, and additional layers of accent common to the South Asian community there and you get an intricacy that can only be interpreted through commentary. Imagine trying to translate Pulp Fiction into Middle English and you get a sense for the challenge.

That said, Americans are starved for authentic, credible portrayals that might help them wrap their heads around the phenomenon of modern terrorism. In the absence of something that makes sense, we have portrayed foreign terrorism in comic book terms, conjuring images of bizarre, savage super-villains beyond the range of human feeling.

A distorted and frankly paranoid misunderstanding of foreign terrorism is breeding poor policy and blinding us to the growing dangers of domestic extremism. This film could help, but only if it was remade. Four Lions, as originally produced, is simply too authentically local to translate to a more global audience.

Despite the challenges, if you’re reasonably comfortable with British entertainment Four Lions is a must-see. Hopefully someone in Hollywood will pick it up and find a way to translate it without destroying its impact.

Four aspiring Jihadis on their way into London for a mass suicide bombing:

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

Posted in Art, Foreign Policy
82 comments on “Someone should remake ‘Four Lions’
  1. flypusher says:

    The analogy compared Islamic radicals to rabid dogs has been made a few times, but the comparison hasn’t been taken to its proper conclusion. Yes, if you have a dog that’s staggering and drooling, the only rational course of action is to put it down. But let’s say that dog bites someone on the leg first- do you then put that person down? No you don’t, because there are very effective treatments to prevent rabies from getting to that person’s brain. How did we get those treatments? By learning about the virus that causes rabies and how it operates. Chris’ suggestion that someone should remake “Four Lions” in a way that helps Americans understand why some people turn to terrorism is analogous to making a rabies vaccine. The people who’ve already gone to join ISIS are too far gone, but can you intervene in the case of someone who’s starting to be exposed to the radical Islamic rabies but hasn’t yet crossed over to the dark side? How can you block the disease if you don’t know how it’s working?

  2. rightonrush says:

    Sweet baby Jesus! These fools are even nuttier than I thought. Anyone associated with Brietbart Texas has to be nuts.
    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-Texas/2014/08/29/Exclusive-Breitbart-Texas-Verifies-ISIS-Threat-With-Leaked-Doc

  3. texan5142 says:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/29/texas-gop-candidate-greg-abbott-backs-out-of-only-televised-debate-against-wendy-davis/

    Turns out I was wrong about Abbott, I thought he was a jive Turkey, turns out, he is just chicken.

  4. flypusher says:

    An interesting take with a tie-in to our topic:

    http://m.theweek.com/article/index/267052/the-dangers-of-our-passionless-american-life

    Are we victims of our own success?

    • fiftyohm says:

      I had a hard time with this piece. While it is true that *stability* may be boring, it brings with it opportunities for adventure, (self-actualization, if you will), that far exceeds the dreary pursuit of simple survival. I live and have lived what most would call an exciting life without feeling the call to kill or be killed. It is true that the “be killed” part is invigorating, but that needn’t be, yea, should *never* be, the primary reason for doing a thing. Darwin had a few words about that.

      The quest for the antisocial, a jihad, as a salve for boredom indicates, to me anyway, a simple lack of creativity – a symptom of a small mind, and nothing more.

      • flypusher says:

        I feel very much the same way, and I thought the author made a good point in mentioning (several times) that the fault could lie more with certain individuals rather than the society. I’m absolutely happy with my lot as a member of 21st Century Western civilization because there is no other time or place in human history where I would have things as good as I do now.

        I’ve wondered if the problems we’re describing here are part if what I would call a “post-frontier funk”. For most of the time span of American culture (which I count as beginning with those 1st colonies in VA), there’s been a lot of space available for people to expand into. That makes a great safety valve for people who cannot or will not fit in with the rest of society. The restless or rebellious or antisocial could always “go West”. If they were successful great, if they got themselves killed off, not a big loss. But now we’ve conquered that frontier and for the last century that safety valve has been gone. So maybe the people who would have been the Daniel Boones a few hundred years ago are the some of the ones buying into this jihad stuff.

        Until and unless we have a space travel breakthrough, I don’t see us getting that safety valve back. So how do we all learn to coexist in the mean time?

    • Good Lord, if you want adventure, commute on a motorcycle in Houston traffic. Nothing focuses the mind and engages the body like encountering a Honda Odyssey filled with nine screaming kids, piloted by a multitasking soccer mom who’s texting *and* crossing three lanes of traffic at 80 mph while using her rear view mirror merely as an aid to the simultaneous application of eye liner. Avoiding *that* death magnet is enough adventure for any day. 😉

      The “lack of purpose” is a whole ‘nuther deal. I suspect Mr. Lewis is on to something there. It’s precisely why the classical liberalism of Locke is so much more appealing to me than the self-focused narcissism of pure libertarianism, let alone the bland, banal, faceless secular humanism of utopian progressivism/socialism/communism.

      I’m far too much the scientist to ever make much of a conventional Christian, but I do take comfort in the notion that I’m a creature of the Creator, that I’m put here by that Creator’s will, and that I serve some purpose in the Creator’s creation. The fact that I have no clear understanding of what that purpose might be is of little account. I’m self aware; I’ve got a functional logic unit, and I can certainly apply myself to trying to figure it all out. I don’t expect to make much progress, but if I can move the ball forward just a bit for those who come after me, I’ll call that a job well done when my day is done.

      This is perhaps not much of a personal philosophy, but it beats the daylights out of sawing off heads for Allah. That’s a pathetic ‘purpose.’

  5. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    While the “If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting” strategy is beautiful in its simplicity and effectiveness in many situations, I’m not sure it works for us in the Middle East.

    With a few beheadings and overall weariness of having to wade back into this mess again, it is tempting even for a wacky liberal like me to just say, “Blow the fuckers up, and I’m sorry we are going to kill a boatload of innocents with them, but hey, you innocent folks need to get your shit together and keep these bad folks from taking over.”

    With Japan and Germany, we had targets and a contained state. We could blow folks up as much as we wanted, and there was little concern that the German bad guys would just flow across a made-up line in the sand to take root in Switzerland and cause us to take a war there.

    We could have a lot of missiles in Iraq turning big rocks into smaller rocks, but our problem is not with “Iraq”, and if we make a lot of small rocks in Iraq, the bad guys can just as easily reform in Afghanistan.

    I’m just not sure there are enough people for us to kill in order to win the hearts and minds. It is going to take a whole lot of bombs for us to get folks to fear us more than they fear the local warlord who can slaughter your whole family before breakfast.

    Maybe that is what we are proposing. A whole lot of bombs.

    However, I would assume leveling a couple of countries that are already pretty well leveled is just going to cause more ill-will towards us in adjacent countries, and we get to start the whole thing all over again.

    • fiftyohm says:

      HT – That’s a pretty damn cogent analysis of the problem. At best, the final outcome is uncertain.

    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      I was living in Washington at the time of the Sept. 11th attacks and I remember thinking that we should nuke Afghanistan after that day or at the very least bomb them back into the stone ages. Of course, I didn’t even realize that many in that “country” were already in the stone ages, or pretty close to it.

      Anyway, it was all based on emotion, rather than logic. Emotion is often the enemy of an intelligent and cogent strategy.

      • John Galt says:

        Our tools of war have worked very well when we are fighting civilized people who have something to lose. They have not worked well when fighting those for whom a bomb or two makes no material difference in their lives.

  6. flypusher says:

    Many people who decrying/ disparaging all those Sunnis and Shiites fighting each other seem to have conveniently forgotten that just a few hundred years ago, one could take their statements, substitute “Catholic” and “Protestant” for “Sunni” and “Shia”, and so many of them would still right true. America’s Founders were justifiably horrified by the religious fighting they saw in Europe. Christianity is further “evolved” than Islam, but it really shouldn’t be so condescendingly smug, because it’s not all that far removed from it’s bloody uncivilized past.

    And yes, Islam badly needs a Martin Luther type (but without the anti-Semitism, please).

    That’s for the movie plug, Chris. I dig British humor (the darker, the better), so I’ll check it out.

    • fiftyohm says:

      FP- Could you give us a few examples of sectarian violence from European history that approaches the scope of that in the Muslim world?

      Thanks.

      • flypusher says:

        I’ve got to go to work, so detailed discussion will have to wait, but for starters:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectarian_violence_among_Christians

      • fiftyohm says:

        OK. Most would mention the various Inquisitions, and assert hundreds of thousands of deaths – a gross exaggeration. It is also important to separate geopolitical motives from strictly religious wars.

        Anyway, could the difference between modern Muslim thuggery and second millineum Christian thuggery be technology? Possibly. Or sheer popu!action density? Maybe. But one thing is quite certain; no Islamic thug has ever built anything of lasting cultural value. Or contributed anything advancing civilization. And they never will.

        I tend toward Tracy’s point of view here. Appeasement and coexistence is not going to work. One cannot rehabilitate a rabid dog. Or a rabid human.

      • John Galt says:

        The Irish Troubles were no picnic and largely sectarian. They don’t approach the scope of the Muslim world because it’s a pretty small island, but it was pretty ugly for a number of years.

        The concept of forgiveness seems to be missing from Islam (in contrast with its central role in Christianity). My cousin did some time in Baghdad and commented that they saw time much differently than we do – events that happened last weekend and events that happened 700 years ago held equal weight, and if you’re still holding grudges after seven centuries, you’re going to have a tough time finding harmony.

      • Crogged says:

        I think we also need to pay attention to what is being said in Israel by people who actually have positions of power and decision making when it comes to Palestinians. Where does one get this, has the Chronicle ever had a story on this? American media is terrible when it comes to presenting all information from the Middle East and it’s truly sad that Al Jazerra (sp) is more reliable than our own media when it just comes to the color of the sky.

      • flypusher says:

        No thug of any stripe ever produced anything of value. But let’s not forget there was a time when Christian Europe was the Third World, and Islamic civization was advancing science and preserving the legacies of past great civilizations. There’s some important lessons to be learned in how Islam lost its way that Christain civilization ought to study.

        I’m not trying to say that the sum of Christian offences are exactly equal to the sum of Muslim offences, but rather that Christian history is bloody enough to evoke the glass houses/ throwing stones principle.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        50…I’m assuming your emphasis with “Islamic thug” is on the thug-part rather than the Islamic-part.

        I think we could feel moderately comfortable saying that not many “Christian thugs” had great positive cultural impact.

        I don’t think I have to tell folks here that Muslims (the non-thug variety) have had significant impact in transitioning much of the early Greek knowledge/science/philosophy to broader Europe. Early advances in educational systems were made by Muslims, and there are countless scientific and medical advances credited to Muslims.

      • fiftyohm says:

        JG- Agreed.

        Crogged- The rabid dogs in question here can fly.

        As far as the Palestinians are concerned here, they elected HAMAS in a free election. That much is not disputed. HAMAS’ goals were clearly stated at the time, and have not changed. Instead of building hospitals, roads, and infrastructure, feeding their people, and trying to build a nation, they built tunnels, and rockets and bombs, and take potshots at the country that ceded them land lost in a war started by their Muslim “brothers”. Then they all cry and whine that there are consequences for that kind of behavior.

      • flypusher says:

        “My cousin did some time in Baghdad and commented that they saw time much differently than we do – events that happened last weekend and events that happened 700 years ago held equal weight, and if you’re still holding grudges after seven centuries, you’re going to have a tough time finding harmony.”

        Like when the Orange Walks in Northern Ireland go through Catholic neighborhoods? That grudge has a few centuries on it too.

        Don’t get me wrong, I find both examples to be equally ridiculous and counter-productive.

      • fiftyohm says:

        HT- First, 11-16th century popes, in supporting the various Inquisitions, were absolutely thugs. The Church also fostered, (to some extent), the advancement of western civilization in many areas.

        Your second point is revisionist. It is absolutely true that the Arab world contributed much to our knowledge of the world – right up until about the 10th century. A span of about 300 years. Then it all stopped. It’s been a very, very long time since we’ve seen a single thing of lasting value come out of the Islamic world. Memorizing the Koran does not a useful person make.

      • Crogged says:

        Flying would make them really tired, it’s a long way. Sometimes, as you have pointed out in other posts regarding overall global defense obligations, we need to let others bear more of the burden. Russia has a larger Muslim population as does Europe. This is much more ‘their’ problem and all the help we provide eliminates their need for shouldering the burden.

      • flypusher says:

        “It is absolutely true that the Arab world contributed much to our knowledge of the world – right up until about the 10th century. A span of about 300 years. Then it all stopped.”

        I was in a discussion of this on another online forum a while back. One interesting hypothesis that was offered- blame the Mongol hordes. The idea was that up until that point in history Islam had been successful and expanding and hadn’t dealt with a major failure. That kind of setback would cause many to question their way of life and ask why did Allah forsake us. fundies thrive in such circumstances. That gives them the golden opportunity to claim that the Devine wrath has been invoked by straying from the “true faith”, and of course THEY just happen to be the keepers of the true faith.

        I haven’t had time to go research that notion, but it does interest me.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Crogged- So true. The problem is that Pootin’ and his gang of thugs are little better!

      • fiftyohm says:

        FP- Interesting. However, such an explanation casts more than a little doubt on the stability of the philosophy and its future.

      • Crogged says:

        Refer to Stalin in reference to 1941. I’m an old tired optimist in the whole ‘arc of justice’ thang and prefer to focus attention on what can be done as opposed to what should be done. I mean, we obliterated Vietnam and southeast Asia, turned tail and ran. One can travel to Vietnam now, they can’t be described as free, but neither do they waste a lot of time on the global scene railing about America (I don’t think they do anything in support of North Korea?–correct me if I’m wrong).

        It’s in American DNA to ‘do something’ and ‘not doing something’ is just as much an action.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        50…I’m not sure “revisionist” is the right word here. Maybe go with “selective” or “narrow window of time”, but there is no revising needed to highlight the contributions in education, science, and medicine.

        The early (and some late) pope easily were thugs, and you are correct that they did have much cultural (for good and bad) impact. That impact might have had a lot to do with their control, power, and armies as much as it did for the force of their good ideas.

        With a little tongue in cheek, you seem to be negating the cultural impact of American Top 40 and Casey Kasem.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Another thing that seriously hurt the power and influence of the Middle East and Islamic world was the discovery of the Americans. For over a thousand years, the only trade route between the West to China ran right through the Middle East, Persia and the “Stans”. This area profited from trade, goods and knowledge moving back and forth. They also benefited massively financially, as these cities and, later, empires took a large percentage of the goods traveling through as a tax. When the Americas were discovered, Western traders no longer had to go over this route. They could simply sail to China and the Far East. This lead to a severe economic collapse in places like Afghanistan, Persia and the Levant. Entire cities and civilizations vanished. It could be argued that those areas have still not recovered from this massive drop in trade.

      • fiftyohm says:

        HT- Not much to argue with re: your last post. And I was talkin’ to Casey just yesterday, and…

      • fiftyohm says:

        jg75- So you are essentially saying they were bridge trolls collecting tolls. When the tunnel came through, they collapsed, sort of like crappy little towns that make their living on speed traps and tank when the interstate comes through. Yours is a reasonable point, though.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Samarkand used to be one of the greatest cities in the world. Wealthly with traders from East Asia, the Middle East and parts of Europe mixing together in their markets. Now it is a backwater in the middle of the Asian steppe; essentially the middle of nowhere. Most people couldn’t even pick it out on a map.

      • flypusher says:

        “FP- Interesting. However, such an explanation casts more than a little doubt on the stability of the philosophy and its future.”

        Yes, an existential crises is a form of natural selection. Personally, I think that absent some collapse of civilization, Islam will have to adapt to the 21st Century or die, because of globalization. But that doesn’t mean that the death throes can’t be prolonged and cause a lot of misery.

      • goplifer says:

        Europe’s religious wars costs millions of lives. The worst of the fighting lasted about 150 years, but the last of those wars only ended in the late ’90s. Though the IRA has disarmed, the rival militias in Northern Ireland are still simmering.

        Irish terrorists perfected terrorism as a modern political tactic and they came very close to killing your humble author in 1992 when I stumbled onto a failed bombing attempt at Canary Wharf. Sorry, but murder and mayhem are human tendencies, not religious ones. Humans find ways to make their gods approve whatever murderous schemes they want. Religion is just a backdrop.

      • flypusher says:

        Chris, I’d say cool story bro because you (and everyone else) didn’t get blown up.

        My favorite (and very PI) definition of the Northern Ireland religious infighting: A spat over which Church you’re too hungover to attend on Sunday morning.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Well Chris, I have no recollection of Irish terrorists hacking off heads on film, gunning down dozens of unarmed people in ditches, and conducting mass murder on anything like the scale in numbers or sheer brutality as what we’ve seen at the hands of Islamists. It is my opinion that they are a special case without precedent in recent history. (Excepting the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge, and a few other, decidedly nonreligious disasters.) The global domination bent of the movement also distinguishes them. I think we ignore them at our peril. And civilization’s.

      • goplifer says:

        Death at the hands of an Ulster or Republican militia could be pretty bloody and was often accompanied by torture. The actions of the Black & Tans were probably the best documented atrocities of the war in recent memory, but even there the accounts tend to revert to the fairly general “sacked a village” rather than the more specific acts of rape, torture and murder that accompanied it.

        Why is this important? Dehumanizing an enemy is bad not just for moral reasons. It creates obstacles to understanding your own situation. It is those gaps in understanding that threaten to bring the incivility home in ways that no terrorist plot ever could.

        ISIS is particularly brutal because its a collection of well-armed young misfits with no civilized, responsible power exercising effective authority over them – like the soldiers at My Lai. The book that predicts their actions is not the Quran, it’s Lord of the Flies.

        If we understand the roots of terrorism in Lord of the Flies rather than in someone’s interpretation of some holy book, I think we come much closer to the kind of understanding and policies that will help us build a more civilized, peaceful, governable world.

      • flypusher says:

        If you want to make a case that CURRENTLY most of the bad actors are of the Muslim extremist persuasion, I’ve got no argument against that. But I keep getting implications (not just here) that there is something unique or unprecedented in radical Islam’s ability to generate mayhem and atrocities, but looking across the arc of history, I just not seeing it. If 21st Century media had been around to cover the Crusades, I would bet images of the Christian barbarism would have been just as shocking as the atrocities ISIS and their ilk are committing. So today the civilization cancers we have to deal with have Islamic origins; 50, 100, 500 years from now it could be something completely different. I agree with Chris’ point: human beings are very adept at being downright rat-bastards in their behavior towards other humans and all too skilled at inventing twisted rationales for that behavior. I see radical Islam, Fascism, etc., as the symptoms; the underlying disease is the evil side of human nature.

    • Crogged says:

      Do I need to worry about a rabid dog in Dallas? Does an average citizen in Cairo worry that the Crips may relocate to their city?

      It is terrible that some of the religiously motivated in the Middle East cut people’s heads off, but our own guns will not solve this issue for them. To let the horror get in the way of reasoned calculation of the true risks is a problem for us. Poor Israel is surrounded by crazies and all they have are 100 nukes and the most powerful nation in the world reflexively agreeing with whatever action they take against people armed with gas cans, homemade rockets and starving children. Why do all those Arabs think we have something against them?

      I have a difficult enough time in our own country with all the well meaning ‘Christians’ in the US and the frightening ease with which some who believe wacked out literal reading of Revelations have access to real foreign policy decisions. The people in the Middle East will have to find their own way and sometimes we may fling a few bombs at the worst of them to stop abject slaughter. In addition we may need to tell the ones with bombs to treat children a little damn better and maybe they wouldn’t have as many enemies.

    • John Galt says:

      Islam is already so anti-Semitic that any Martin Luther type, including an anti-Semitic one, would be an improvement.

    • fiftyohm says:

      BTW: they continued the practice on the high seas until we kicked their ass.

  7. Chris, I don’t really feel any strong need or desire to ‘understand’ somebody who thinks it’s an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to cut off another human being’s head with a dull Buck knife. I don’t need to ‘understand’ them anymore than I need to understand a rabid animal. As with the rabid animal, what I mainly need to *understand* is how to *END* them, just as quickly, cleanly, and with as little exposure of myself to danger as possible.

    While avoidance might be workable, such a strategy is both temporary and a dereliction of responsibility. If I fail to deal with the problem somebody else less capable or less fortunate is going to get bit. And unless I’m paying constant attention, sooner or later I’ll get bit myself. In the long run, it makes more sense to just deal with the situation.

    While I’d feel a pang over putting down the poor animal, which after all is not responsible for its own affliction, I would have no qualms at all about dealing with the Buck knife-wielding jihadi. There is a difference between the two and it ain’t complicated. The rabid animal is sick; the jihadi is evil. The jihadi *chose* his path; he’s only going to get what’s coming to him. That’s it. Fini.

    • goplifer says:

      You only need to “understand” an enemy if you think that defeating them is a priority. If you believe that you can defeat them without understanding them, let me suggest that there might be difficulties in that approach.

      Setting aside any reservations about humanism, Christian interest in our fellow man, or other considerations, and assuming that all we care about is the effective and successful exercise of power, there remain some very disappointing limits to the utility of bombs and guns. In the absence of intelligence and strategy, bombs just kill people and break stuff and not much else.

      Killing people and breaking stuff has its place and it at times required, but it is an objective of limited value. If we want to accomplish anything at all beyond killing people and breaking stuff, and I believe that we do, then we need to try to figure out what the hell is going on out there that’s leading to all this killing and breaking in the first place.

      You get more with a kind word and a gun than you do with kind words alone. Imagine what you can accomplish with a kind word, a gun, and a deep understanding of what you are confronting…?

      • Nope, Chris, it’s really pretty simple.

        “If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting.” – Gen. Curtis LeMay

        Worked just dandy with Germany and Japan. In fact, it works every time, and has since the dawn of time. No need to finesse it. If you have doubts, go ask the Carthaginians.

      • John Galt says:

        Thanks. I’ll go with the military wisdom that’s held for 2,500 years (know your enemy as yourself) before relying on advice from a guy whose answer to every question was a bombing raid.

      • desperado says:

        How did LeMay’s strategy work out for us in Vietnam? Or for the Soviet Union in Afghanistan?

      • flypusher says:

        “If you have doubts, go ask the Carthaginians”

        That’s the disconnect right there. We fancy ourselves to be more moral or civilized than that. Since we’re not willing to render all of the ME into a barren wasteland, the ounce of prevention (knowing more about WHY some people do the unthinkable) is worth several million tons of cure.

        Understanding something is NOT the same as endorsing/ condoning/ supporting it. Lots of conservatives totally miss that distinction (not directed at you here, but a comment on my experience).

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        We spent plenty of time trying to understand the reasons behind the military agression of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. How in the hell do you think we were able to occupy them with relative peace after the fighting? We even allowed the Emperor of Japan to continue to sit on the throne (understanding his standing with the people and the military).

        What an ignorant statement.

      • Folks, we did not apply Le May’s strategy in Vietnam. Just out of curiosity, what part of “unconditional surrender” do you not understand? First things first. *After* you have achieved unconditional surrender you have all the time in the world to do all the navel gazing and hug sessions you desire.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        This is not about naval gazing or hug sessions. This is about learning about why they fight to beat them! This is about learning their motivations to possibily mitigate their supply of fighters and cut down on their moral. We did the same thing in WWII and every other war we have ever fought. Every other country has done the same. Again, ignorant statment.

      • Crogged says:

        Please compare tonnage of bombs dropped on Germany in WWII and on Vietnam during the sixties and describe the restraint shown.

      • flypusher says:

        “After* you have achieved unconditional surrender you have all the time in the world to do all the navel gazing and hug sessions you desire.”

        Trouble is, this is about some of our OWN CITIZENS drinking this poisonous koolaide and turning on their fellow Americans. Bombing the ME can’t do anything to prevent that. Understanding why this virulent Islamic fundamentalism has an appeal could.

      • Crogged, if we’d dropped a significant percentage of that tonnage on Hanoi rather than trackless jungle it might have made a difference.

      • John Galt says:

        The analogy between Germany/Japan and Vietnam is entirely specious. Germany and Japan were monolithic societies that virtually unanimously supported the military adventurism of their leaders during WWII. Bombing Dresden or Tokyo, while distasteful, served a purpose in breaking the will of the populace and reducing their military capacity (by destroying industry and workers). Insurgencies, whether they be in Vietnam or Afghanistan, are entirely different beasts. In these, people who are your enemies co-exist alongside those who are your friends. You cannot win your enemies over by bombing indiscriminately, but you can alienate your friends. LeMay’s ideas were not pursued because they were not appropriate tactics for the military situation. I don’t want the United States “winning” wars because we’re craziers MoFos than the barbarians we are fighting. That is not consistent with our values.

      • desperado says:

        Horsefeathers. ‘If you kill enough of them they’ll stop fighting’ was exactly Westmoreland’s “war of attrition” strategy in Vietnam. Search and destroy. body counts–all focused on killing enough of NVA and the VC so that they would give up.

      • Horsefeathers back at ya, desperado. “Gradualism” was the order of the day in Vietnam; we *never* unleashed the full fury of even our *conventional* capabilities. We didn’t exercise the LeMay stratagem because we were very much afraid of starting WWIII. (Never mind that one could argue that WWIII didn’t happen in the early days *precisely* because the Russians were *terrified* of what a pissed off LeMay might do in retaliation to any attack.) Anyway, we didn’t go all out in Vietnam (and we went in there in the first place) because of larger considerations. These considerations are largely inapplicable in dealing with the ME situation.

    • Fly, with all due respect, the disconnect is in failing to understand the nature of war. The basic nature of war has not changed since the dawn of civilization, and to pretend otherwise is the epitome of hubris. War is conflict between autonomous actors conducted in the state of nature. By definition it’s a Hobbesian affair, red in tooth and claw.

      We shackle ourselves under quaint 19th century European rules of war, while our enemies recognize no such niceties. We believe that our strength as a nation affords us the luxury to do this at little cost (with little regard to the impact on our own servicemen and women, BTW). Such thinking is terribly antiquated, and sooner rather than later your yearning for moral superiority will exact a horrible toll on your fellow citizens.

      Back in the day when asymmetric warfare consisted of T. E. Lawrence gallivanting around on camel-back such thinking was fine and dandy. It’s not fine and dandy anymore. In the world just around the corner asymmetric warfare will consist of a nuke delivered to D.C. or NY by unconventional means, or an EMP strike, or a biologic attack, or a definitive cyber assault. You’d do very well to bear in mind that your friendly neighbors across the street are no more than a dozen days or so of zero rations from burning you out for your canned goods.

      The Brits used to refer to all the sturm und drang in the ME and central Asia “The Great Game.” It’s not a game anymore.

      • flypusher says:

        Tracy, I am in no way naïve about the dark side of human nature. You don’t even need a war-just look at any local natural disaster. You’ll see the worst of humanity on display (but paradoxically sometimes the best too). But the nature of a society cannot be discounted with regards to how war is waged. It’s really easy when you have a monarch of some other flavor of tyrant. They don’t have to worry as much about public opinion on the war or how it is waged. Elected officials do.

  8. texan5142 says:

    I like cheese.

  9. fiftyohm says:

    France’s problems stemmed from the rather admirable philosophical position that residents of the former French colonies are defacto citizens of the republic. After the war, France was in dire need of manpower to rebuild the country. They saw a huge pool of labor in north Africa. They built apartment buildings to house the immigrants. The people came, and they were delighted. They had steady work, and a standard of living so far beyond anything even possible in their homelands, they came in droves. All was good. And they had children. Many children.

    Now we all know, the French tend to be a bit nationalistic. The public at large, regardless of the citizen status of the immigrants did not seem then as exactly “French”. They became culturally isolated. While the original immigrants were extremely happy with their new lives, their children, and grandchildren found a much different situation that included unemployment, and a host of other issues. Somehow, this causes Citroëns and Peugeots to spontaneously combust during the summer months.

    But – Muslims have been notorious for resisting cultural integration in whatever country they have settled. To a very large extent, they make themselves permanent “outsiders”. Well, there is a bunch of bad crap that goes with that. There’s a bunch of bad crap that goes with that entire culture/religion.

    • GG says:

      “Somehow, this causes Citroëns and Peugeots to spontaneously combust during the summer months.”

      That cracked me up.

    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      I think it is not just Muslims but ideological religious folks in general. The Amish have never really integrated into American culture. Neither have Orthodox Jews.

      Even in the Netherlands (one of the most secular societies on Earth), there is an area called De Bijbelgordel which is “Bible Belt” in Dutch where many people reject the liberal, pluralistic, secular aspects of modern Dutch culture and live a life apart from the majority of society. Most have very large families and many reject vaccination. Basically this area of the Netherlands is akin to rural Arkansas or Missouri rather than Amsterdam.

      • fiftyohm says:

        jg75- You are speaking of sects. I made a generalization regarding Muslims in western societies. Exceptions like the Amish, Hasidic Jews, or Koresh’s merry band of wacko fanatics do not dispute the rule.

        Your apparent, (and I apologize if I overstep here), presumption that “they’re no different than anyone else”, and we’re all the same, is pollyanna. The best way to look at Islam is to consider Christianity sans the New Testament. That would be a violent, ugly thing, wouldn’t it? Fanaticism is the root problem, and Islam breeds many, many more fanatics than any other major religion. And I’m damn sure no theist of any sort.

      • goplifer says:

        There is one reason and only one reason why Christian extremists in the US are (generally) less violent than Muslim extremists in Iraq. US Christians still think they can more successfully influence outcomes through the conventional political process.

        Incidentally, that is also why Muslim extremists in Egypt or Turkey, for example, have generally been less violent than Muslim extremists in neighboring countries.

        What happens when attitudes among Christian extremists change? Cliven Bundy is your canary in the coal mine. Today, American religious extremists still feel like they own the joint. Watch what happens as they start to realize that it’s no longer the case…

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        I didn’t say that Islam is no different than any other relgion. All I am saying is that there are many Christians, for example, who essentially refuse to integrate into society. And I am not talking about Koresh here. There are many very religious Christians in the US (and to a lesser extent in Europe), who basically live in a different country than the majority of Americans. A very, very, VERY small segement of that population, at least in the US, have used violence and terrorism (against, for example, abortion clinics).

        I would also point out that there are millions of Muslims in Europe that have no problem integrating into society. Germany is a good example and the integration of Turkish immigrants have historically been very good in Germany. Of course, many of them have been in Germany for decades and there is a long relationship between Germany and Turkey going back over 100 years.

    • Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to peruse Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall,” particularly Volume 5: http://sacred-texts.com/cla/gibbon/05/index.htm It’s actually rather dismaying to discover that *NOTHING* has changed in that part of the world since Gibbon published his masterwork in 1776-8.

      Islam was born of war and strife; it’s a martial religion. Examine the Prophet’s life as portrayed by Gibbon; compare and contrast with that of the Savior as related in the New Testament. The differences couldn’t be more striking.

      While there is both beauty and wisdom to be found in the Koran, there is also much that is, shall we say, questionable. There is a reason why some Muslims just can’t seem to get along with their neighbors, regardless of what part of the world they inhabit. That reason is baked into the origins of Islam. My hope is that Islam will eventually undergo a Reformation similar to that experienced by Christianity in the 16th century. But I certainly don’t expect to live long enough to see such a thing.

      Until that day, gird yourself up for the long war. The world is flat; the oceans that long protected us are shrunk to mere puddles. We are become vulnerable, and men like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will not hesitate to strike at us given even the smallest opening.

      • goplifer says:

        Topic for another day, but IMO Gibbon was full of shit.

        Didn’t call Gibbon out by name due to length constraints, but here’s a brief hint of what I think about the fall of Rome, though it only expressly covers the Republic, http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2012/09/the-fall-of-the-roman-republic-revisited/

        That said, I do think that the Mid east will be a bloodstained wreck for many decades to come, just like Europe was in the first half of the 17th Century and for the same reasons. Modernity has a bloody birth.

      • John Galt says:

        If so, Chris, and I don’t disagree with you, what should our goals in the middle east be? Probably containing the carnage so that it is not exported and nudging Israel to a more permanent solution in Palestine while guaranteeing its defense.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Gibbon, while interesting, is not historically accurate in terms of his conclusions. Scholars since his writing have proved many of the things he claimed as outright false. So, basing any argument on Gibbon or his conclusions is basing your argument on inaccuracy.

        Interestingly, Gibbon placed much of the blame for the fall of the Western Roman Empire on Christianity. Most scholars now dismiss this conclusion (after all, the very Christian Eastern Roman Empire continued for another 1,000 years), but I find it extremely ironic that you would base an argument that Islam should be more like Christianity on Gibbon.

      • Gentlefolk, the question is not one of Gibbon’s accuracy; the point is simply that nothing has changed in that part of the world for several hundred years. The manner in which y’all consistently managed to fixate on the frippery rather than the substance is an unending source of amusement.

  10. GG says:

    I will definitely watch this with subtitles of course. I was just reading a discussion yesterday about the problem the UK is having with disaffected Muslim youths. They are second and third generation citizens for the most part and basically lost and disenfranchised, umeployed and searching for something meaningful. Easy prey for radical imams. Much of Europe seems to have done poorly in integrating Muslims into their societies and are much too PC in dealing with them. I do believe we have done a much better job here.

    On a personal not I love British movies and tv.

    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      France has similar problems. Germany too in some areas (although they have done better with Turkish immigrants).

    • GG says:

      From what I’ve read many of France’s problems stem from the fact that instead of trying to integrate immigrants they confine them to certain neighborhoods and then they cannot get jobs and are treated like second class citizens. France is a heck of a lot more insular and, of course, they think their culture is superior to everyone else’s. Every once in awhile they riot.

    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      That is very much the case. The suburbs of Paris are full of dilapidated high rises that are full of poor, desperate people who are essentially cut out of standard French society. If you don’t play football (soccer) or sing, you are shunned.

      Frankly, it’s not a whole lot different from our inner city neighborhoods though.

      • GG says:

        So the message is the unemployed have far too much time to get in trouble. 🙂 Idle hands and all that…..

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Well, I think there is an argument to be made that unemployment, desperation and crime often go hand-in-hand.

        Someone who has a decent, stable job is far less likely to commit a crime than someone who is unemployed, desperate and has really nothing to lose.

  11. johnofgaunt75 says:

    I need to check it out. Thanks

    On a related note, I think the playing up of the threat of ISIS is interesting. I am sure they are a very dedicated group of radicals. And no doubt they are brutal and have had some success against the unmotivated conscripts in the Syrian army and the Sunni segments of Iraq who are completely disloyal to the Shia dominated government.

    But, I think what we have seen is that when ISIS is matched against a proper force that is motivated, like the Kurds, they can be easily beaten. Add in some US airpower and they are crushed like ants. Watch what happens if they ever try to pair up against the very capable Turkish army. They will wipe the floor with them.

    All of this, of course, is not surprising. For most of the ISIS recruits, their training involves Playstation at their home in Birmingham or Hamburg or even New Jersey. Most of these guys are not professional fighters. They are amateurs lured by religious zeal and hate. They may be brutal, savage and cruel but they can also be crushed easily by even the most marginal of militaries.

    I think that is important to remember before we throw away even more freedoms all in fear of a supposed threat from ISIS.

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