Ah, where to start the response? Of COURSE all Muslims are not evil - I'm not even close to asserting such.
Ed: Evil can be cold, calculating, and completely rational. Look at the Holocaust. Madmen couldn't have handled the logistics of finding and collecting millions of people, transporting them across Europe to concentration camps, executing them, and then sending their possessions back to be recycled for the war effort. Their goal was evil and insane, but they went at it as rationally as accountants calculating quarterly profits.
Terrorism is logical, rational, goal-oriented behavior. It's violence against civilians in pursuit of political goals. If it's not rational it's literally not terrorism. They want to destabilize the western democracies and turn their narrow conflict between ISIS and the West into a much broader conflict between Islam and the West. Blowing up concerts, stabbing commuters, and shooting up clubs are all logical ways to spread fear, distrust, and chaos.
Ed, of course evil people have a logic - but it's a perverse, hateful logic, and people who reason that it's a great idea to bring down passenger jets, kill 8 year old girls at concerts - not only is their logic twisted (by Western and Christian standards - and by most of the free world), but their logic is aimed at achieving their sick, desired results. These types of people, those who are the leaders and plotters, they don't respect or respond to moral reasoning that if we treated this or that country better, adopted or abandoned whatever policy, that they'd respond accordingly. And that is bunk! What they care about is not OUR initiatives, but THEIR sick objectives. These sicko Islamist leaders love their respect and power over their followers, must continually point to some evil boogeymen they are fighting, and they'll do whatever to remain in power, to gain more of it, and to achieve additional sick objectives that they can point to as them being successful. THOSE are the things they care about. Policy changes, etc., yes, they can help making the conditions somewhat less fertile for recruitment. But face it, most of the misery in the world of the Islamists is self-inflicted: They don't build, change, produce, encourage good things from their society. From the Taliban to Hamas to ISIS, the PLO - all of these are evil and corrupt and have brought their people continued misery - thus their collective need to have favorite "boogeymen" - the West/Christians/Crusaders, the Jews, the U.S. - as it keeps the focus off their own corruption and failures to make their citizens have a better world.
Ed: It seems like there's a knee-jerk tendency to view any attempt to understand or explain terrorists' actions or motives as making excuses for them. Attempts at putting the war on terror into the broader historical context are likewise condemned as blaming the victims or hating America. I don't think those assessments are correct.
Again, the problem is the kind of people you are dealing with don't care
what we do - we will not change them by changing our response. I don't give a damn about history - you know why? Because we can't change it! It's one of their pathetic ongoing excuses for justifying ongoing barbarism and butchery. It changes nothing, and solves nothing. Adjustments in our behavior would have very little impact upon those with such an evil mindset. It does no good to try to rationally dissect how to deal with such evil men. Now, we can do some things to encourage those not yet infected from becoming so - but it won't change the hard core evil ones at the top, or how we must deal with them. You cannot point to any successes by such tactics, with such evil entities.
Ed: What moderates are actually saying is that if we don't make some changes to our foreign policy and we just keep on doing what we're doing the War on Terror will never end. If we defeat ISIS but keep on doing the things that spawned them in 20 years we'll be fighting ISIS 2.0, and so on and so forth, forever.
And THAT is as if what these butchers are doing has some moral basis in justifying what they are doing - again, far more frequently to other Muslims, due to their proximity. For people like ISIS, any Muslim not with them - that's an enemy. Again, we're to believe a rational adjustment in policies is going to change sick and morally bankrupt monsters. The Nazi's are a great example, btw, every peaceful initiative was just viewed as weakness. The only way to have stopped them was to defeat them. Of course, that was a different kind of enemy - but the principle is the same. Their focus was the per the evil objectives of their leadership. And, of course, similar to the Nazis, every Islamist group has politicized religious views wrapped up in Islamic teachings - of domination. I'd suggest you study a bit of the Quran and how extremist tend to interpret it - btw, which doesn't take much twisting to develop horrific objectives. And Mohammad's history and teachings perfectly mesh with the hate they are teaching.
Ed: So yes, we need to defeat ISIS. We need to wipe them out of existence, because they're evil and they're not going to change. But we also need to take steps to deprive ISIS 2.0 of the next generation of angry young men.
Ed, with you so far - no problem with good policies. But I'm drawing a line between those whom we can have an impact upon, and who we cannot - groups like ISIS, that approach produces zilch!
Ed: That means supporting democratic efforts in the Middle East, and pressuring dictators to give their people a voice, and treating the Israelis and the Palestinians equally, and it means toning down the rhetoric and shutting up about how Islam is evil.
In my opinion, you will never make a Western-style democracy out of Islamic nations - because they are based upon whatever interpretations and justifications per the Quran - they are political theocracies based upon following the Quran. Name just one? And please don't say "Turkey." Islam-based countries do not have the cultural beliefs or foundations to build a democracy.
Ed: Well, with regard to dealing with dictators, we can use our economic and moral (if we ever regain it) standing to pressure them into becoming more democratic and less brutal.
Yes, we can see how that has worked so well - again, how is that gonna work. The foundation has to be in place, the strongmen and dictators would have to relinquish control, and who are we to tell other nations what kind of political system they should adopt? How is this supposed to happen?
Ed: Of course that would sometimes mean putting the needs of their people ahead of the desires of our oil execs, so it would take some backbone.
How so? OPEC almost wrecked the world's economies, choked off the oil flow, and the petrol dollars in the oil states made their per capita incomes soar beyond the wildest imaginations. It IS our business to make sure the oil keeps flowing, per the devastating world-wide effects if it were to be seriously disrupted. If the wrong hands try to gain oil lands via force - again - that's our business because you don't want petrol dollars feeding mayhem. Sorry, but that's just common sense. Ah, but are we to deal with dictators, or not? Are we supposed to be in the nation-building biz - per George W? Unthinkably dumb. Again, we can deal with those unsavory ones who keep a peace, try to encourage good changes in them, but encourage them to be toppled? Really???!!!
Ed: Regarding removing a dictator, it seems like a generally bad idea, but if we had to do it I guess we'd want to apply the old adage that if it's worth doing it's worth doing well. So you know, have a plan in place before the shelling starts.
It's not doable. Period! The impulse for countries to change must come from within - and those at the top need to be in agreement and cooperation. There is no power today who can cause such a change and enforce the peace - not in the tough neighborhoods of the Islamic republics.
Ed: And Phil, I'm not sitting here saying that any of this is simple or easy.
LOL - the understatement of the year - but I agree.