World Map wallpaper circa 1744

World map wallpaper circa 1744

Science and the Islamic world—The quest for rapprochement 

Islam’s encounter with science has had happy and unhappy periods. There was no science in Arab culture in the initial period of Islam, around 610 AD. But as Islam established itself politically and militarily, its territory expanded. In the mid-eighth century, Muslim conquerors came upon the ancient treasures of Greek learning. Translations from Greek into Arabic were ordered by liberal and enlightened caliphs, who filled their courts in Baghdad with visiting scholars from near and far. Politics was dominated by the rationalist Mutazilites, who sought to combine faith and reason in opposition to their rivals, the dogmatic Asharites. A generally tolerant and pluralistic Islamic culture allowed Muslims, Christians, and Jews to create new works of art and science together. But over time, the theological tensions between liberal and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam—such as on the issue of free will versus predestination—became intense and turned bloody

One would think that this is one area where the Right and liberals could find some common ground, but the modern Republican party has been largely steered by fundamentalist Christianists who have also declared war on modernity.

Why Terrorists Aren’t Soldiers By Wesley K. Clark & Kal Raustiala 

Treating terrorists as combatants is a mistake for two reasons. First, it dignifies criminality by according terrorist killers the status of soldiers. Under the law of war, military service members receive several privileges. They are permitted to kill the enemy and are immune from prosecution for doing so. They must, however, carefully distinguish between combatant and civilian and ensure that harm to civilians is limited.

Critics have rightly pointed out that traditional categories of combatant and civilian are muddled in a struggle against terrorists. In a traditional war, combatants and civilians are relatively easy to distinguish. The 9/11 hijackers, by contrast, dressed in ordinary clothes and hid their weapons. They acted not as citizens of Saudi Arabia, an ally of America, but as members of Al Qaeda, a shadowy transnational network. And their prime targets were innocent civilians.

By treating such terrorists as combatants, however, we accord them a mark of respect and dignify their acts. And we undercut our own efforts against them in the process. Al Qaeda represents no state, nor does it carry out any of a state’s responsibilities for the welfare of its citizens. Labeling its members as combatants elevates its cause and gives Al Qaeda an undeserved status.

If we are to defeat terrorists across the globe, we must do everything possible to deny legitimacy to their aims and means, and gain legitimacy for ourselves. As a result, terrorism should be fought first with information exchanges and law enforcement, then with more effective domestic security measures. Only as a last resort should we call on the military and label such activities “war.” The formula for defeating terrorism is well known and time-proven.

Labeling terrorists as combatants also leads to this paradox: while the deliberate killing of civilians is never permitted in war, it is legal to target a military installation or asset. Thus the attack by Al Qaeda on the destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000 would be allowed, as well as attacks on command and control centers like the Pentagon. For all these reasons, the more appropriate designation for terrorists is not “unlawful combatant” but the one long used by the United States: criminal.

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd

Iraqi police say 60 bodies found in Baquba

Iraqi police said on Sunday they had found 60 decomposed bodies dumped in thick grass in Baquba, north of Baghdad.

There was no indication of how the 60 people had been killed, police said. Baquba is the capital of volatile Diyala province, where thousands of extra U.S. and Iraqi soldiers have been sent to stem growing violence.

Let’s say that I found this story implausible. Does this discovery seem believable with in the context of the entirety of the daily violence in Iraq? Security developments in Iraq on Tuesday, August 7, 2007

BAGHDAD – Police found the bodies of 16 people shot execution style in different parts of the capital on Tuesday…

TALAFAR – A truck bomb killed at least 33 people and wounded 52 others when it exploded in a Shi’ite district of the northern town of Tala’far…

BAGHDAD – Eyewitnesses said they found the decapitated bodies of 36 people in the predominately Sunni district of Amiriya on Tuesday…

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb concealed in rubbish near a bus garage killed eight people and wounded 10….

BAGHDAD – Eight U.S. soldiers were killed and one wounded in three separate attacks in Baghdad and the Diyala governorate, the U.S. military said today. One U.S. soldier was killed and two others wounded in combat in eastern Baghdad on Sunday, the U.S. military said on Monday.

MOSUL – Twelve soldiers were wounded in a suicide truck bombing targeting an Iraqi Army base in the Intisar district of Mosul on Monday

But in this post Republican blogger called Confederate Yankee says he knows for a fact that the story about the 60 bodies is false, Ho-Hum: Yet Another False Media-Reported Massacre In Iraq, Via email from Major Rob Parke, U.S. Army:


This story is false. We have had coalition soldiers looking for the last two days at the locations that IPs reported these bodies. We’ve asked all the locals in the area and they have no idea what we are talking about. We’ve gone to areas that might be close, gone to suspicious locations, all turned up nothing.

Most of the news stories all say the report stated decomposing bodies which would indicate if it was true, it happened before we arrived. Considering we discovered an Al Qaeda Jail, courthouse, and torture house in western Baqubah, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were 60 bodies buried out there somewhere. Bottom line is we have done some extensive looking and found nothing.

E-mail from his buddy and that’s it case closed Reuters lied. We can all go back to believing that Iraq is a haven of peace and stability. Funny the paradox between what constitutes conclusive evidence for what the Right would like to be true or false and the standards they hold the media to. CY’s friend closes case with single e-mail. Note the Right’s ability to do constant 180s on Iraq – CY’s version of this story is to prove that Iraq is getting better by the minute, yet Bush and the Right keep making the case we should stay because things are getting worse. I only used six examples of violent incidents in Iraq that happened over the course of a few days out of a total of around fifty incidents of multiple deaths to the U.S. military, Iraqi civilians or Iraqi police. CY later in the post sited one other incident for which he also provides thin evidence of his version of events, but would like his readers to believe that based on his stellar detective work these two incidents or false massacres prove something – maybe all the news out of Iraq is false except that news that the Right finds favorable. Something that this massacre and the other so-called citizen reporting we’re getting from the dead end war bloggers have in common – The truth is that the daily incidents of violence are if anything vastly under reported and the Rightie bloggers don’t have enough buddies in Iraq to back them up on the never ending cycle of violence. Knowing that, what can they do. Cast a little speck of doubt on the occasional story and fed the keyboard warriors the rose colored or blood colored version of Iraq they want them to believe in on any given day. Some comments found under this story at CY,

The beauty about it is that by the time the M$M realize that they’ve shot themselves in the foot, their cred will be gone. It’ll be too late and they’ll have to rebuild from the ground up if they can. People won’t remember what it is that gives them a bad feeling about the media, they’ll just have a bad feeling.
Posted by: Mike H. at August 8, 2007 06:30 PM

They have an aspiring children’s book author too,

Dear Exurban Jon,

“It’s almost as if the MSM wants us to lose…”

There’s no “almost” to it. The MSM does want us to lose…and that’s why we must, and shall, win.

Once this is all over, and we’re victorious, I imagine this little chat will go on in Pinch Sulzberger’s office:

“You have to answer for Al Qaeda, Pinch. Sit down. Get him a drink. Bin Laden is gone. So are Zarqawi, Zawahiri, Al-Sadr, the Iranians, CAIR, and the entire Saudi royal family. Today we’ve settled all family business. Now who approached you? Bin Laden or Zawahiri? Good, that’s what we thought. Your punishment won’t be death: it’ll be worse than that–you’ll be irrelevant. You’re finished, through, out of the nation’s business. There’s a car outside which will take you to the airport. Just don’t tell me you’re innocent. It insults our intelligence and makes us very angry…

Posted by: MarkJ at August 8, 2007 06:46 PM (emphasis mine)

Bush has given Bin Laden more freedom then the American people and he has the closest personal relationship of any modern president to the Saudi royal family. Don’t tell MarkJ that it’ll just burst his bubble.

Gibson radio show executive producer: Edwards “whored his wife’s cancer as a fundraising gimmick”

The Washington Examiner’s Bill Sammon reported contrast in Obama, Bush positions on Pakistan, but not Bush flip-flops

Right-Winger Accuses Iraq Vet Of ‘Stabbing’ His ‘Fellow Men And Women In Uniform’ In The Back

After Propagating False Iraq Intel, New York Times Michael Gordon Now Echoing Bush Claims On Iran

“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd.” – Bertrand Russell