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jps said:
When Christianity was 1300 years old, it behaved in roughly the same way the Islam is behaving today.

That was the obscured point of my rhetorical question linking jihad to the Crusades. But I think the concept of "fatwah" is all on Islam, or at least, the ultra conservative factions. Maybe not, though, Joan of Arc issued a couple fatwahs of her own.

jps also said:
(I can even remember growing up with maps of the Saudi peninsula on which Muscat and Oman had no real borders, the arbitrary national border just kind of drifted off up the peninsula into the Saudi sand.) These people are still by and large living in city states, not nation-states. To hold "governments"--constituted of not much more than arbitrary lines in sand drawn by colonial Englishmen--responsible for heinous acts against humanity just doesn't work when dealing with these people--hasn't the failure of identifying Arafat, or for that matter even Saddam, as a leader of a united people already failed a hundred times? No, projecting nation-state qualities on Afghanistan and Pakistan, which makes it easier for us, does not really work "diplomatically" with the near Eastern arab states, and that has been demonstrated thousands of times.

I remember those maps too, and I recall being perplexed until a fifth grade teacher expressed what you did. I eventually got it.

Still, that does not excuse it. One of the points of this war on terrorism, if it happens as the script is written now, is to force accountability. In other words, whether or not the people believe borders are important is irrelevant to a large extent. It's time they matured and realized they are living in the modern world with a global society. Mature and be a part of it, stop holding on to the ultra conservative ways. If it takes guns to get that across, so be it. If it has to be forced, so be it. In an age of nuclear weapons and biological agents, we have to have some rules. I don't mind one bit forcing our rules on a group of vagabonds. If my neighbors will not respect my fences, I'm going to take action, whether they are from my culture or not. This is a hard position, but an act which takes down the WTC caused this. Until then, we had a live and let live policy. Time to draw the line.

jps again:
My feeling, first a political one, secondarily a civilized one, is that we are better off addressing Islamic extremists by refining our counterterrorist abilities than we will be by inspiring an endless cycle of payback violence, which only serves to keep the cycle going.

That is not the plan at all. Have you missed the "This is different" talk? the plan, as I understand it, is to go beyond the tit-for-tat policy of the past, and take it to all terrorists. To force a decision about whether they will live in a modern world or not. If not, the consequences will continue. I agree with you if we were going to hit and run, but right now at least, that is not the plan.

jps again:
When we lose our ability to criticize and dissent, we lose precisely the quality that has made us an evolved civilization and, with difficulty over long epochs, ultimately made the religions of Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity great moral apparatuses.

I don't think anyone is trying to get you to cut back on honest dissent. I read Euclid's note as encouraging you to flesh out the nature of your dissent, not to stop. It's the sniping, the tit-for-tat, that is inappropriate in this time. Make you best argument, as you have here, but I hope everyone can limit the "I hate Bush" rhetoric.

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