\"With Us or Against Us\"

George Bush made this pronouncement at a news conference in November 2001 (as did Anakin Skywalker, apparently). In the wake, many criticized this remark, and to a degree, rightfully so. The valid points made behind the criticism is that the world is too complex and holds far too many shades of gray to draw a thick, black line in the sand. Both sides can have its good points and both sides can have its demons, so goes the argument.

However, I believe many of the same bellowers may need to heed the same advice. To wit...

It is possible to be opposed to the Iraq War, its dubious reasons and wayward nation-building, the administration's scandals, politico meddling, infractions of prisoners' right to due process, and Bush's infractions of domestic civil rights AND recognize that Islamic militants are indeed the top current threat to Western Civilization's cherished liberal freedoms, more irrational than their legions of western apologists give them credit for, and that jihadists have broader - and more toxic - reasons and ambitions well beyond merely being disgruntled at "imperialism/colonialism".

In other words, it almost seems alien to support Little Green Footballs' focus on Islamic extremism and media anti-Semitism while at the same time being critical of Bush's (and every president before him) overall foreign policy.

Indeed, Michael Totten had to address the "with us or against us" attitude that's been lofted at him with regard to what's been going on in Lebanon.

If you can't understand how I can sympathize with both non-Hezbollah Lebanon and Israel at the same time, well, I don't know what to tell ya. The now-forgotten Cedar Revolution has something to do with it, and I also lived there for six months. It is, or at least was, a wonderful place despite all its problems.

One thing everyone should realize by now, including my Lebanese readers: If Hezbollah wins, Israel and Lebanon are both really screwed.

Over the past couple weeks, this has been happening in the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict and - most recently - the airline threat.

For the latter, I did my usual browsing around the blogosphere, message forums, and media columns, while paying due attention to the left-leaning and, yes, libertarian-bent sites. This also includes BBC's Have Your Say readers' message board. In the hours following the announcement of the plot foiled, I learned from far too many individuals that...

* It was all stage-managed by Blair-BushCo to simultaneously help their low approval ratings and boost the support for the WoT via "outright lies" and "manipulation". (At one point, 75% of Kos readers polled believed it was all just drama by BushCo) Or...

* Yes, the threat was legit, but if Britain and America would just keep their bloody hands off the Mideast's affairs and play nice, they'd have no reason to attack "us". So, "we" are really to blame because "we" started it. (See Brian's comments for a bit more on this)

* The extremists could care less about attacking our "freedoms" or imposing their views, and only the US and Britain get threats of attack.

Well, regarding that last bullet, I'm not quite sure about the former (here and here and here and here). And the latter seems odd too. Moreover, I also just picked any country normally not in the news headlines - Norway - and found this in just 30 seconds of web searching.

The handwringing is rampant. Beefs with Bush, Blair and Israel may be valid, but doesn't "explain away" the fanatical subculture that has torn the very fabric of Islam's time-space continuum over the decades. The US - and Europe too, for that matter - can cease all military involvement in the Mideast and end tax-supported financial sponsorship of Israel (though protecting Muslims in the Slavic states and financially supporting Israel's neighbors is never mentioned), and Israel can unilaterally drag themselves back behind the infamous "1967" borders. Could Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah i Islamiya, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, etc, all fold up camp and say, "Well, our work is done here. We're at peace now."?

But it likely wouldn't stop. It may not even decline. Israel's withdraw from Gaza resulted in a ramping up of rocket attacks fired into the Israeli state. Plans for 9/11 were in full-swing while Arafat, Barak and Clinton agreed to chat at Camp David.

Anyhow, it's one thing to be against Pax Americana via military, bloated bureaucracy, and the religous-rightism of the Bush crowd. And a healthy dose of skepticism is fine, in fact mandatory in life. But it's quite another to be actually dismayed when terror suspects are caught, reflexively place full blame on some AmeriBritIsrael past deed, and - whether intentionally or subconsciously - ignore the sinister ulterior motives of some of the real wahabbist hard-cores, because doing otherwise might 'look like a bid of support for NeoCon BushCo.'

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