An Encounter with Salman Taseer

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salmanTaseer.jpgCourtesy of defense analyst and businessman Harlan Ullman and his wife, I had the opportunity to meet and talk extensively with Pakistan Punjab Province Governor Salman Taseer at their Georgetown home on May 17th this past year.
The intimate reception was comprised mostly of senior level Department of Defense and Department of State officials. Joint Chiefs of Staff Commander Mike Mullen was slated to attend but not sure he got there before I had to depart. Others in attendance included Sunday Times of London Washington Bureau Chief Christina Lamb, CSIS Senior Adviser and former Newsweek senior foreign correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave, Woman’s National Democratic Club President Nucchi Currier, and others.
What struck me at the time was Governor Taseer’s intensity about policy and his annoyance with the trivial. The reception was high-powered and honoring his wife and him, but he wasn’t into small chat as he felt some in there were. Knowing little about the Punjab region, and sensing his discomfort, I took his lead and asked him to give me an ethno-political tour of his region and Pakistan and to give me a read on Zardari, Sharif, Kayani, and the ISI.
I hadn’t briefed up on who the Governor really was before accepting Ullman’s invitation (Ullman was also responsible for introducing me to Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari as well) — but after a few minutes with Taseer, not through bravado but rather his acute and granular understanding of Pakistan’s political order, I realized he was one of the country’s major power brokers. Some describe him as both the left and right hands of President Zardari’s liberalization efforts in the country. Governor Taseer spent quite a long time describing for me the country’s key political actors and from where they drew their fuel.
In his private conversation at the time, he made no bones about disliking Nawaz Sharif and his followers who he viewed as both corrupt and incompetent. Although I’m unfamiliar with the governance structure in Punjab, he basically had to share power and the stage too frequently with a Sharif-affiliated official.
Taseer also talked a lot about Pakistan’s youth, the dearth of options for them, and the growing problem if Islamic fanaticism — prescient given the alleged reason his executioner used to kill him. He thought America’s engagement in the region, while necessary, was often counter-productive, clunky, too high profile and arrogant.
I don’t have much more to say about Taseer other than that in the hour I encountered him and during the very intense conversation we had — so intense that Arnaud de Borchgrave jokingly said that I was “beyond” already what would normally be considered monopolizing Salman Taseer’s time. Arnaud, however, did exactly what I did and asked the man a substantive rather than superfluous set of questions — and one could see Taseer immediately start launching richly detailed political analyses of what was happening inside Pakistan.
His was a big personality. I recalled at the time how much his style and appreciation for the nuances of power reminded me of Richard Holbrooke.
Christopher Hitchens and I have numerous differences but are friends, and I respect him. I was often uncomfortable when I’d appear on a TV show with him and he’d rail against Islam, which I won’t do. What made Hitchens more understandable is that he saw religious fundamentalism of any kind as one of the world’s great evils — and whether it is a Punjab Governor being assassinated or Egyptian Coptics being slaughtered in their place of worship or a US General framing America’s conflicts in terms of battles between “their god” and “our god”, this kind of murderous fever that wipes out innocents and pragmatists should worry everyone.
This paragraph in this morning’s AfPak Channel daily brief on the assassination is chilling:

Salmaan Taseer, the outspoken PPP governor of Punjab who was assassinated yesterday in Islamabad by a 26 year old member of his elite security detail named Mumtaz Qadri in an apparent protest against Taseer’s liberal views on Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, was buried today in Lahore amid tightened security. Qadri, who is said to have told his fellow guards about his plan to kill Taseer ahead of time and asked them not to shoot so he could be taken alive, reportedly told photographers as he was led away that he was proud to have shot a “blasphemer”. The governor was reportedly shot more than two dozen times in the back with rounds from a Kalashnikov rifle, and hospital officials said they recovered 26 bullets from his body. An investigation is underway to determine how Qadri, who had previously been flagged in Rawalpindi as a potential security risk, was assigned to Taseer’s detail.

I didn’t know Taseer well — but I did have a very memorable encounter with him and his thinking — and think that Pakistan and America’s position in the region just lost even more ground with his assassination.
My condolences to the Ullmans who were his friends, Pakistan Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, and to Governor Taseer’s family and constituents.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

46 comments on “An Encounter with Salman Taseer

  1. DonS says:

    Thanks Bill. I’m finished here. I’m on to the “social culture” of gunning down congresspersons, Sarah’s targeting messages and other RW loonies who believe they are the ones under attack. No, Bill, it’s all too real as I alluded to above. You can believe it, or look for debating points. I can’t tell you why/what you’re not seeing.

    Reply

  2. DonS says:

    “Has a Jew I don’t feel at all threatened by the christian right in this country. Not in the least. What am I not seeing?”
    For me, it has less to do with being a Jew or an other religion, than it has to do with being an American. This is a nation of secular origin and values, albeit within the penumbra of the so-called “christian west”. Attempts by far right religionists to invoke their brand of religious persuuasion on all manner of public artifacts are increasing (an interesting counter to this trend is the recent court decision ordering removal of a giant cross in a national preserve — interestingly brought on behalf of Jewish war veterans — http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110105/us_nm/us_california_cross_2 )
    But aside from the attempt to brand or rebrand the secular (christianists would say ‘atheist’) in a primitive way, the more nefarious religious/poliitical crusade to define and control the social culture of the nation and reshape the law to promote that narrow vision is, in my view pervasive. One can say, perhaps, ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’ was a victory for civil rights; but when one considers the public, virulent and violent opposition forces arrayed against the repeal of the policy it’s pretty indicative of a powerful, regressive force.
    If you don’t feel this as a serious threat, Bill, not to a narrow category like Jews, but to the wider notion of a liberal democracy, I can’t tell you why/what it is you’re not seeing.

    Reply

  3. DonS says:

    For me it is important to keep issues as clear and separate as possible:
    – I hold no brief for actual Muslim expremists nor have I seen that of any of the commenters on this blog
    – I have real concern about the growing fundamentalist right in America and it’s effects on our institutions and social fabric.
    – Understanding the interest of Israel Firsters in leveraging any nominal “ally” in support of Israel, I’m not there, and feel such a short range/long term approach is, well, short sided. Excusing or minimizing christianists arrogant radical right domestic social agenda because of their “pro Israel” face goes way further than I could conceive. But maybe those mental gymnastics are a consequence of seeing things through the lens that considers Israeli interests first.
    – One can detest radical Islam while also detesting radical christianists; there is no implicit correspondence or inverse equation that says otherwise, except for rhetorical flourishes of Israel Firsters in these comments who insist on making all sorts of illogical leaps and assumption. Prominent among which is the linkage between critics of Israel and blaming America for all the worlds ills (when they’re not accusing of supporting islamists). It is a desperate charge made of whole cloth; a distraction and a naked propaganda ploy.
    – Personally, I am far less concerned about christianists position towards Israel than I am concerned about their corrosive effects internally on America. I can separate those concerns.
    Thanks for checking out the Hedges piece, Bill.

    Reply

  4. DonS says:

    Just by the by, Bill, the “attack from the left wing” that you suggest would seem to be having scant influence on US policy. Nor do I accept your premise that the left wing “attack” is to the detriment of the long term interests of Israel.
    As to alienating fundies, be my guest. Like I say, lie down with dogs, and you know the rest. I’m a Jew on mother’s side, and I don’t consider the fundies as friends. Just to humor me, read the Hedges piece with an open mind.
    NB: surely you have noticed that this blog is anything but stereotypical “left wing”.

    Reply

  5. DonS says:

    Did you read the Hedges piece by any chance, Bill? Southern Baptists, per se, are not the problem.
    Bill says “BTW I still would like to know how anybody in the gay community can line up with hamas, hezbollah, Iran, and the al-aksa martyrs brigade. Against Israel. Whats the reasoning?”
    And I still want to know how any sentient Jew can line up with the christian fundies who, when you scratch below the surface, are as bigoted and prejudiced as they come, including towards Jews. Don’t believe every word coming out of the mouth of every Jew who is in bed with the fundies because of some twisted ends-juustifies-the-means delusion.

    Reply

  6. DonS says:

    More on the christianst religious/political scourge in the US. Muslim fundamentalism notwithstanding, it is raging christianist fundamentalism in the US that we/Obama should be concerned about:
    http://my.firedoglake.com/jimwhite/2011/01/07/obama-fails-to-restore-separation-of-church-and-state/
    And to the liar-in-chief and maker-up of facts among commenters who complained about the term “christianst” being “made up” (as compared to, what, “islamist”, or any other word entering the lexicon), a simple google revealed use of the term going back at least to 2005). Here, for those interested, is an extraordinarily profound look by Chris Hedges at the cristianist/fundamentalist history and threat to the American way :
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20070128_christianists_on_the_march/

    Reply

  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “That is why it is so very dangerous for all of us when those professionals take it into their heads that it is a good thing to lie for a cause”
    ROFLMAO!!!!!
    It is indeed hilarious watching this shameless liar and full-time propagandist making such a statement.

    Reply

  8. Arun says:

    Continued, for Don Bacon:
    “ISLAMABAD

    Reply

  9. Arun says:

    For Don Bacon:
    ” A group of over 500 Pakistani scholars and clerics have described the policeman who gunned down Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer as a Ghazi (an Islamic warrior) and have warned against any expression of sympathy for the slain Pakistan People’s Party leader, saying it would tantamount to an act of blasphemy.
    Warning the people against offering funeral prayers for Taseer, 66, the clerics of Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan, a grouping representing the moderate Barelvi sect of Sunni Muslims, praised Elite Force policeman Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri and called him a Ghazi.
    ….
    The clerics said in a statement issued on Tuesday night, “There should be no expression of grief or sympathy on the death of the governor, as those who support blasphemy of the Prophet Mohammed are themselves indulging in blasphemy.”
    Hailing Malik, the clerics said he had killed Taseer for calling the blasphemy law a ‘black law’.
    Hailing the ‘courage and zeal’ of Qadri, the clerics and scholars said his action had made all Muslims proud.

    The statement issued by the Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan was endorsed by the grouping’s ‘ameer’ or chief Syed Mazhar Saeed Shah Kazmi. It was also endorsed by over 500 scholars and clerics like Allama Syed Riaz Hussain Shah, Shah Turab-ul-Haq Qadri and Pir Ghulam Siddiq Naqshbandi.
    Those ‘favouring the person who indulged in blasphemy are themselves blasphemous’, the scholars and clerics said in the statement.
    Paying tribute to Taseer’s assassin and his courage, the statement described Qadri as a lover of the Prophet Mohammed and a Ghazi or Islamic warrior.
    Qadri had “revived the 14-century-old traditions of Islam” and made Muslims around the world proud, it said.
    The clerics and scholars asked intellectuals, ministers, politicians and media personalities who oppose the blasphemy law to learn a lesson from Taseer’s death.
    These personalities should “save their faith by announcing that they would desist from attempting to amend the blasphemy law,” they said.”

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    “We’re not so good at evaluating complex systems, isolating causal chains, and drawing out the right lessons from anything.” (questions)
    You are right, questions. We live in a complicated world and we must depend on the professionals to do their jobs without committing fraud. That is why it is so very dangerous for all of us when those professionals take it into their heads that it is a good thing to lie for a cause. That’s actually more dangerous than simple fraud because it’s harder to detect. The simple fraudster knows he’s lying and will be caught eventually. The liar-for-a-cause convinces himself he’s doing the Lord’s work and will keep it up forever if not stopped. But both of them turn the information we must rely on into garbage.

    Reply

  11. Neo Controll says:

    Bill, take your point, but too, many exaggerate the importance, the specialness. Just as they do with politicians, of all party and stripes.
    They ALL put their pants on one leg at a time.
    And exactly what is wrong with moral equivalence? Exceptionalists need not reply ; )

    Reply

  12. Neo Controll says:

    “I don’t care what they
    say in training.”
    You are damn right Bill. And you would know, Bill. Keep on keepin on. Subhumninze the “other”. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
    Hey, wait a minute, isn’t that what the Nazis used?
    Nevermind.
    http://teachinganthropology.blogspot.com/2009/01/gaza-frightening-anthropological.html

    Reply

  13. nadine says:

    Paul, how is anyone supposed to detect irony in the statement “Nigger refers to a color”?
    Perhaps you are not aware that nigger is cognate with Latin “niger” = “black”. But I am, so I took the statement at face value. Ooh, was it supposed to be all heavily loaded with irony because it’s eew-eew-eew! a bad word? Sorry, I don’t do the refined nuance of the international Left, who can twist themselves into knots over racial references while blithely ignoring wholesale mass murder when done by their favorite unaccusable groups.

    Reply

  14. nadine says:

    DonS, so long as “Chistianists” (a made-up term) aren’t suicide-bombing marketplaces, churches, mosques, etc. that is a significant difference from Islamists, who are.

    Reply

  15. DonS says:

    “Whatever it is he believes, he should have the right to slather it all over HIS OWN CHURCH”
    . . . but not in uniform? Forgot that part eh?
    http://www.jewsonfirst.org/07b/boykin.html
    But, what’s the surprise; the US Air Force Academy and, indeed, much of the military chaplaincy is being overrun with these “christianists” (that would be the equivalent of “islamists” for the uninitiated). I expect we’ll here a lecture from our resident zionists about the nuances of Christianity and why christianists are not a radical offshoot (they are).
    I’m with Bacon; I quit.

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    Nadine, I don’t know what to say.
    “Settlers? What settlers?”, I ask jokingly on another thread, and
    you respond with a straight face: Yes, Jewish settlers and
    settlement is a myth created by the left.
    “Nigger refers to a color”, I say ironically, and you respond by
    talking about the good ol’ days when niggers was a neutral
    term – not an insult, like in the current PC-infested climate.
    Is there any limit to your willingness to lie, discredit and
    ridicule yourself while distorting the views of your opponents
    and insulting them?
    I agree with POA: while diversity of opinions is a good thing,
    allowing a tireless propagandist like you to spread your
    nonsense here lowers the quality of the discussions to a degree
    that is intolerable.

    Reply

  17. nadine says:

    “Gen. Boykin had the temerity to try to slather his right wing christionist bigotry over as wide a path as he could. He had a lot of help.”
    Whatever it is he believes, he should have the right to slather it all over HIS OWN CHURCH without being compared to mass murderers. It is a remarkable example of left-wing bigotry (& disrespect for freedom of religion) that Gen. Boykin is not accorded this minimal amount of respect.

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    “Nigger refers to a color.” (Paul Norheim)
    So it does. But what it means outside of the color depends on context. There have been times (such as now) when it is a vicious insult; and other times when it would have been the normal word by which all races referred to Negroes.
    I read just the other day about the changing lyrics for the classic American musical “Showboat”. When the musical opened in 1927, its opening number was set in 1880 and had the lyrics,
    “Niggers all work on de Mississippi/Niggers all work while de white folk play”
    which is correct usage for the 1880 period. Those lyrics have changed for each revival of the musical – “niggers” became “darkies” became “we all” etc.

    Reply

  19. truth squad says:

    “Gen Boykin, who if I remember, had the temerity to insist in a Church that the Christian God is not the same as Allah,”
    Gen. Boykin had the temerity to try to slather his right wing christionist bigotry over as wide a path as he could. He had a lot of help.

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Never mind the Israelis targeting mosques during Operation Cast Lead, eh?

    Reply

  21. nadine says:

    “Interesting that you equate a highly decorated american general with islamic terrorists that bomb churches.” (bill pearlman)
    This is one of those throw-away lines that makes me want to cry out, “Steve Clemons, do you have any idea what a fool you are making of yourself by uttering such nonsense?”
    But unfortunately, it’s a very conventional form of idiocy inside the Beltway.
    Because the Left must frame the problem to themselves as Secularism vs Evil Fundamentalism (of which all varieties MUST be equally bad, for to suggest otherwise would mean that one religion/culture is better than another. This is not permitted), it follows that Islamist terrorists who blow up Christian Churches at Christmas MUST be balanced by some equally terrible American Christian Fundamentalist.
    Today’s candidate is Gen Boykin, who if I remember, had the temerity to insist in a Church that the Christian God is not the same as Allah, and that the Christian God was opposed to Allah. This would have been a commonplace of Christian theology a hundred years ago, but today it’s a thought-crime. This “crime against PC” is held up as totally, functionally, ideologically EXACTLY THE SAME as mass murdering men, women and children just for being Christians.
    Christianne Amanpour, to take a notable example of such a Leftist idiot, has practically made a career out of insisting that “God’s holy warriors” are all alike, the jihadists who blow up thousands and the Christians who say unflattering things about the jihadists, all exactly the same.
    This is the kind of muddle you get into when you use the words ‘good’ and ‘evil’ but forbid yourself to actually believe in good or evil.

    Reply

  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And “kike”??? Does Nadine find this term unoffensive and mundane as well?
    How would she like to hear our army chanting “death to the kikes” in response to the Liberty incident, or the shooting of Tristan Anderson or Emily Henochowicz?
    It is quite enlightening seeing Nadine defend the use of religious or racial epithets. (As if we needed enlightening about Nadine, eh?)

    Reply

  23. Paul Norheim says:

    Nigger refers to a color.

    Reply

  24. Paul Norheim says:

    “I should have listened to Paul a long time ago. She doesn’t exist
    any more.”
    moi?

    Reply

  25. Don Bacon says:

    I give up. I should have listened to Paul a long time ago. She doesn’t exist any more.

    Reply

  26. Don Bacon says:

    nadine, we’ve gone through these military indoctrination and war atrocity matters with you before and you just don’t get it. You apparently will never understand. You’re not alone in your naivety — many inexperienced people get their patriotic war fever from John Wayne movies. They even named an airport after that evader “war hero” in California.

    Reply

  27. questions says:

    What has Brad DeLong learned….
    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/01/what-have-we-learned-from-the-great-recession.html
    Again, for every explanatory narrative, run it through the DeLong test ™ and see what you get.
    Economics is undergoing a painful public self-reexamination of Freudian magnitude. Probably a lot of other disciplines, schools of thought, political parties, classes, organizations, and other groupings need to do the same. We have missed, blown, damaged, fucked up, much. We need to figure out what we did wrong while thinking we were doing oh so right.

    Reply

  28. questions says:

    OT Must-read….
    http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/the-new-financial-elite-rubinites-and-the-democratic-party/
    Whom to blame for one or another problem…. Read the particulars, then try to generalize our narrative habits, and suddenly it’s not really OT after all….
    The hedge fund guys dehumanize their middle class victims even as the commanders above dehumanize their Islamic victims. How else do you make a killing?

    Reply

  29. nadine says:

    “nadine, you are again distorting the truth. The woman is not “about to be martyred for refusing to renounce her faith.”
    Of course she is. Read the case! Her “crime” was defending her religion against abuse by her Muslim neighbors, who pressured her to convert to Islam. She could have saved herself by converting. If she dies, it will be because she refused to renounce her faith.

    Reply

  30. Don Bacon says:

    nadine, you are again distorting the truth. The woman is not “about to be martyred for refusing to renounce her faith.”

    Reply

  31. Don Bacon says:

    from The Black Commentator
    Issue 133 – April 7 2005
    Aiden Delgado, an Army Reservist in the 320th Military Police Company, served in Iraq from April 1st , 2003 through April 1st, 2004. After spending six months in Nasiriyah in Southern Iraq, he spent six months helping to run the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad.
    The handsome 23-year-old mechanic was a witness to widespread, almost daily, U.S. war crimes in Iraq. His story contains new revelations about ongoing brutality at Abu Ghraib, information yet to be reported in national media.
    When I interviewed Delgado recently, he expressed his deep love of his country, but he also insisted that racism

    Reply

  32. DonS says:

    “We are not the ones killing people because of their religious beliefs. ”
    This is a naive, misleading and refutable idea. “We” are killing “them” for every reason we can think of: ostensible “terror” links; suspicious political beliefs; color; and, if you ask many
    Americans (probably yourself), wiping out as many “Muslims” as possible is just fine with them. What’s the phrase: “let God sort ‘em out”. And biggest of all, we are killing “them” for no reason except corporate profits and endless war. Just because.
    There are none so blind . . .

    Reply

  33. questions says:

    I just got done reading the British Medical Journal’s debunking of Andrew Wakefield’s “study” of “12″ kids that “proved” that the MMR vaccine and autism have a causal relationship.
    It’s a fascinating study of “doctored” records, deceit, self-selection, false correlation’s being used as a causal screen, possible profit motive, and a worldwide effect of horrific proportion.
    We’re not so good at evaluating complex systems, isolating causal chains, and drawing out the right lessons from anything.
    It looks like Wakefield may well have had a money motive, parents may well have guilt and money motives, celebrities may well have guilt, money, self-importance and other motives, many seem to suffer from distrust of ANYthing gov’t or corporate or “science” related, there really are kids who are sick, there really are people who want to do SOMEthing about it all. And yet, Wakefield doctored the records, made it seem that the kids showed symptoms on average 6.3 days after vaccination when some of them had had developmental problems BEFORE the MMR vaccine, and developed his own patent medicine, books, consultations….
    Take the explanatory mechanism here and abstract it from the vaccine/autism debate so that what you have left is the skeletal/systematic use of anecdote to explain outbreaks of behavior or events.
    With great dispassion, try to read wars, terrorism, crime (see Mike Konczal over at rortybomb for this one), any complex behavior through this screen.
    We’re not really good at the dispassion thing, so we latch on to narratives we’re comfortable with. Nothing like “evil government” or “evil corporation” or “evil lobby” or “Islam” or whatever to make us feel like we know what we’re talking about or to comfort us as we spend money on our narrative construct (or make make money from a narrative construct).
    Read with this, also, Zombie Economics, Krugman’s lament, much that Brad DeLong has been writing lately and you’ll see the same pattern of narrative comfort, sticking with ideas that don’t really explain but that feel “right” somehow.
    Maybe toss in some Hume on constant conjunction of events (vs. actual causation) and habit, and maybe there’s something there about how we get stuck in both thinking and policy.
    ****
    And while I’m at it, the following are interesting moments as well — copious tears from the new speaker (good lord, what’s wrong with this guy that everything sets off uncontrollable self-involved emotion — is it that he’s shocked that a white guy with a tan can rise so high in American politics?, the in-coming Republican rep front paged on Kos who had to google up the CRS on the debt ceiling and figured they didn’t know what it was about, and besides, failing to raise it would be good for getting a conversation going about American spending habits (yarg), the slow failure of every prominent Republican pres. contender thus far, the 2nd person’s dying in AZ for lack of covered organ transplant, and the mortgage mess continues apace with some protection for Fannie and Freddie — I’ll have to read the details to get this all straight. Extend, pretend, bail out is our friend (or not, hard to tell.)
    Minsky is next on the list…..
    ****
    The next time anyone wants to blame the thing they most love to blame, re-read that Wakefield story. Memorize it. Recite it in public. Does a brain some good.

    Reply

  34. nadine says:

    “Unfortunately this crazy “war on terror” is morphing into a religious war.”
    Don Bacon, a poor Christian woman is about to be martyred for refusing to renounce her faith. The liberal governor of Punjab was just assassinated as a “blasphemer” for saying that the Christian woman should not be killed for the “crime” of keeping her own religion. We didn’t introduce the religious element into this conflict. We are not the ones killing people because of their religious beliefs.

    Reply

  35. Don Bacon says:

    Steve Coll has said that the WikiLeaks revelations are less important than the Pentagon Papers and called WikiLeak

    Reply

  36. Arun says:

    I solicit Steve Clemons’ reaction to Steve Coll in the New Yorker.
    “Pakistan

    Reply

  37. Don Bacon says:

    Salman Taseer was particularly reviled by some Muslims for his sympathy for a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.
    A Catholic farm worker, Aasia Bibi, was convicted of violating blasphemy law supported by Pakistan’s Islamist political parties. Allegedly, when some women workers pressured Aasia to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam in the summer of 2009, Aasia responded that Jesus had died on the cross for the sins of humanity and she asked them what Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, had done for them. Her crime, blaspheming the prophet, carries a mandatory death sentence.
    Christopher Hitchens, mentioned above, an avowed atheist, Vanity Fair columnist and author of “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” has been a prominent voice in attacking religion. “Is it good for the world to worship a deity that takes sides in wars and human affairs, to appeal to our fear and to our guilt

    Reply

  38. JohnH says:

    It is well known that most jihadists are reacting to local economic conditions, occupation and exploitation. Most have little knowledge of Al Qaeda’s agenda or of the minutiae of Islam, just as most Americans have little knowledge of the US’ geopolitical agenda or of the minutiae of Christianity.
    Call it highlighter religion and politics.
    GWOT has more to do with the ideology of anti-terrorism, the American cry to rally around its military, than it has to do with actually countering terrorism

    Reply

  39. Atlanta Roofing HQ says:

    Does anyone really believe these often illiterate
    jihadists are that theologically dedicated to, or
    even knowledgeable of, the minutiae of Islam, as
    these articles often infer?

    Reply

  40. DonS says:

    It is this sort of mean spirited nastiness @5:29, with gratuitous swipes at the host of this blog that discourages discussion. Some of us are not playing in the same ball park, and I would argue that the Israel Firsters are quite happy about this. Giving them space legitimizes their agenda. As does my commenting, one reason I previously stopped.

    Reply

  41. nadine says:

    “Qadri, who is said to have told his fellow guards about his plan to kill Taseer ahead of time and asked them not to shoot so he could be taken alive, reportedly told photographers as he was led away that he was proud to have shot a “blasphemer”.”
    Obviously the work of fringe extremist radicalized by the crimes of the US and his hopeless poverty, eh, Steve? You usually recommend “engagement” in such cases. Think it would work here?
    Hitchens’ view of fundamentalism is warped by the Left’s notion that all religions have to be the same and therefore equally bad. But at least he notices that Islam has something to do with the case!

    Reply

  42. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for notes above.
    John H – Governor Taseer lived in Pakistan and was visiting
    Washington when I met him. David Billington is correct.
    Wig — Harlan Ullman is the conceptualizer of “shock and awe” and
    maintained that it’s application in Iraq was not done well, and he
    became a substantial critic of the GW Bush administration. He is
    closer to the GHW Bush crowd in my view. Good memory.
    All best, steve

    Reply

  43. WigWag says:

    Unless I’m mistaken, Harlan Ullman is the man who invented the tactic of “shock and awe.” I believe that he was also a sharp critic of the Bush Administration for using the tactic he invented in Iraq.

    Reply

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