Continuing the Conversation: A Discussion Update on U.S. Engagement With Muslim Communities

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
July 16, 2010

[DipNote Bloggers' comment: this entry was updated on July 26, to add an answer to a consular question at the end of the entry.]

On July 2, DipNote told you about an upcoming"Conversations with America" discussion on U.S. engagement with Muslim communities, and asked for your questions for Farah Pandith, Special Representative to Muslim Communities. And you responded...with 115 comments!

During the videotaped conversation on July 9, Ms. Pandith covered many of the themes raised by your questions, but the 45-minute program simply wasn't enough time to address all the excellent queries we received. Below is an encore conversation with Farah Pandith, joined by Peter Kovach, Director of the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom, and Barbara Baden, from the Visa Office of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Simaya in Illinois had written:

How is the U.S. 'engaging' African Muslims? It seems like there is much emphasis on Arab Muslims and their countries, but there are many African Muslims. Does the Special Representative focus on this region of the world?

Farah Pandith responds:

As Special Representative to Muslim Communities, my mandate is global. I am engaging with Muslim communities around the world on a people-to-people level based on a framework of mutual interest and mutual respect.

There is a wonderful and healthy diversity among the world's more than 1.4 billion Muslims. It is a population slightly greater than either China or India. It is one-fourth of the world's population.

A Muslim in Stonetown is as Muslim as a Muslim in Stockholm or Surabaya or Sanaa.

It is important to be respectful of the diversity of communities on our planet. That is why I chose to visit Nigeria for my first trip as the Special Representative to Muslim Communities.

I've since visited other parts of Africa: Mali and Mauritania, Morocco and Egypt. Africa has a long history of Islamic achievement and thought. On my visits to Mali and Mauritania, I visited the ancient Islamic trading posts of Tombouctou and Chinguetti to learn about the historic roots of Islam in Africa and to engage with civil society. I have had productive visits to Africa and have met with a wide range of grassroots representatives -- from bloggers to entrepreneurs to representatives of non-governmental organizations. We understand the complexity and diversity of Muslims around the world and that respect is the central part of how you engage with anyone. So if you are a Muslim living as a minority in a community or a Muslim in country that is majority Muslim, we know that your experience, perspective and ideas are important.

Tulay in New Jersey had written:

How can the U.S. Administration work towards promoting a positive dialogue about Islam, when conservative news and talk radio constantly uses radical Islam as a tool into injecting fear into Americans who have developed an anti-Muslim sentiment in the society?

Farah Pandith responds:

We are taking concrete action to follow-up on the President's vision that he laid out in Cairo: a vision of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

What I know from talking with hundreds of Muslims around the world is that there is so much innovation, inspired action, and positive movement happening on the ground. We all must work together to do more to highlight these activities, partner where we can, and connect people.

Images and narratives can change in many different ways: through reporting in media of all kinds, through engagement, and through programs.

The President has laid out a vision that has asked all of us to take part in breaking down stereotypes. We must focus on the "mutual" part of respect and understanding.

We realize that a new tone is not enough -- dialogue must be matched with action and that action must improve people's lives in meaningful ways. The only way we can do that is through partnerships with people who understand that there is no "us versus them."

We are sincere in our desire for a way forward built on mutual interest and mutual respect. When I meet with Muslims around the world, I seek to listen to their concerns, and talk to them about the vision laid out by the President and the Secretary of State, not only so they can better understand that we are sincere, but so I can also take what I hear from them back to Washington and help better shape our policies.

There is a great reservoir of untapped potential for excellence within Muslim communities around the world. We must work to not only find talent, but to cultivate it, and especially look to members of the next generation to make positive changes in their communities. We must work to highlight the positive, innovative work of these individuals around the world and expose their stories to a global audience. By doing so, we can slowly change the narrative to one that emphasizes the ways Muslims are creating positive change around the world, rather than allowing the media to focus on the small percentage of violent extremists who dominate the headlines.

Jerry D. in North Carolina had written:

America is predominantly Christian. Has any progress been made to allow Christians freedom from persecution and freedom to worship as they see fit in predominantly Muslim nations?

Peter Kovach, Director of the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom, responds:

Muslim majority countries are extremely diverse: some have strong protections for religious freedom while others routinely violate it. Our annual report on International Religious Freedom details the situation in almost 200 countries and territories.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom with governments around the world as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. Protection of vulnerable religious minorities, including Christians and other minorities in Muslim majority countries, as well as Muslim minorities where they exist, is a goal we work towards every day.

Ghida in California had written:

I heard that Muslim women who wear head coverings in Lebanon are being asked to show their ears and hair tip in the photos when they apply for any U.S. visa. They are also denied interviews if they do not comply. I checked the U.S. embassy website for Lebanon and they don't mention this in their website for photo specification. However, this is being requested when Muslim women go to apply for a visa. They are given a paper written in Arabic which specifies these things. Thanks.

Barbara Baden, from the Department of State's Visa Office, Bureau of Consular Affairs, responds:

Hello Ghida,

In the past, U.S. immigrant visa applicants were asked to show one ear in their photos, but that requirement was eliminated many years ago. It was never a requirement for nonimmigrant visas or passports. It may be that the local studios that take the photographs still mistakenly believe that the old immigrant visa standards apply and are mistakenly telling their clients that this is an Embassy requirement.

We have contacted the Embassy in Beirut and they confirmed that they use the standards for photos which are posted on our website at http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/frvi_3888.html#hats. Any headgear worn daily for religious reasons is permitted as long as it does not obscure or cover any part of the face. The Embassy's website links directly to the site above if you have any other questions about the requirements for photos.

Comments

Comments

donald m.
|
Virginia, USA
July 17, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

"FREEDOM OF RELIGION"

This is a little misleading because why is the State Department pushing Islam, and why isn't there a section on here to discuss with Christians? The questions relate to a dicussion with Muslims but they are not the only religion on earth. In order to be equal and free all religions the State Department should not just discuss Islam but to include jews and christian faiths along with the others. United States promotes "Freedom of Religion" so if you really want to ask a question, ask why countries like Saudi Arabia only Promote Islam? They can build mosques in the United States promote the word of Islam but why havn't they come out of the stone age of the 14th Century and allow for Freedom of Religion in its own country? Ask the King of Arabia why his own country doesn't allow for "Freedom of Religion"? Unless people are afraid of kings? I would ask him? (Chuckle chuckle)

Susan C.
|
Florida, USA
July 17, 2010

Susan C. in Florida writes:

I believe that Donald M. in VA. has a point. I understand our desire to communicate with Muslim communities, both in the U.S. and abroad, but I, too, have recently been wondering why the predominate emphasize has been on their concerns, while the concerns of both the Jewish and Christian communities seem to be "on the back burner". The oppression of women, and therefore, children as well, seems to be a large part of the Islamic religion and the Muslim world. As we reach out to them, are we also addressing our concerns about these issues?! We certainly don't hesitate to criticize Israel and the Jewish community for their treatment of individuals, and their "human rights violations". After all, fair is fair, and we should not lose sight of what our country stands for just to make the Islamic countries feel "better" about themselves, when they are choosing to remain in the 12th century.

donald m.
|
Virginia, USA
July 18, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

July 18, 2010

Thanks Susan C. in Florida, I just get feeling with the existing wars, people are catering towards Islam, when we were Attacked by Islam Terrorist that killed over 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. They had hijacked planes, taken innocent people hostage, and in Somalia they continue to do so. People should wake-up and realize "We are at war with people on earth who do not value our way of life" They would rather destroy or take something that does not belong to them. I don't think or belive that all Muslims or Islam is bad or evil. What I do think is just like in any religion, you have good and bad. Until the bad ones are captured, we will always be faced with the "Ghost of Osama bin ladens hench men." I can still remember being in Baghdad, Iraq over six years ago, when the Iraqis tried using an IED to destroy an area where I was working. Thank-God for the US Army and those that managed to get me and the others into the bunker that morning. Otherwise, I too would of been a victim of the disease of war. Its almost like watching that movie, "Final Destination" less than 3 seconds to react. Keep that mind, because sometimes that is all you have to survive something dangerous in life. I would rather see all religions on earth be peaceful and show respect to each other, NOT one religon is greater, or smarter than the other. God is God and has many names. He is the creator of life, and the end of life. "The Alfa and the Omega" in the end he will decide what happens. People only think they have power, but Gods power is greater than Man or Woman on earth!

"Gobless and peace on earth, bring goodwill to man and woman kind. Be nice to people and it will come back warm and friendly." The people on earth who spend time hating other people will find themselves alone. Hating a religion, race or color is ridicious and time consuming, when that energy could be best used to help find cures for cancer, or doing something positive to help others. A-Men!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 19, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Susan C and Donald M,

Ok, so you think there's an "equal opportunity" approach that is missing here eh?

See, there's this "unintended concequence" of trying to avoid a discussion of "Us and Them" simply because when a re-run video is posted and considered to be "continuing the conversation" folks are making a fundemental mistake. Good of them to post a partial transcript though...

First of all, State has flat got to wake up to the fact that "Us and Them" is a fact of life, just like night and day, death, birth, and taxes...and there's no free lunch.

That until they properly define this as a self-evident state of war between the "sane vs. the insane", ongoing from the time mankind has first become sentient, they have no way of proving to the rest of the world that the war within each individual to live correctly is also manifest on the external as well.

In this, the transition of definition between the commonly externalized way we as a species have confused this issue of "Us and Them" has created the conditions for conflict from an ill defined concept; and today in avoidance one mearly surrenders to an inability to turn the negativity associated with it toward a positive understanding of it.

For the true definition of "Us and Them" is the same one that defines us as human, rather than animalistic.

And being sentient has nothing to do with it.

Evil just as love does, knows its purpose in being.

Just as where someone is born doesn't define "Us and Them", nor the color of people's skin, religios belief, or political persuasion.

These things don't play a divisive part in "Us and Them" when it comes right down to it.

Take the building of some 27-35,000 nuclear weapons (depending on who you trust and verify these figures with)for example.

Now if the building of the means to exterminate the species isn't a benchmark working definition of insanity, I should just shut up now and move to another plane of existance and leave you all to this one.

But if it does, then who are the sane but those trying to get rid of them?

Probably a good reason to ratify treaties...but I digress.

My point here is that "Us and Them" never was a cold war definition that could stick.

And exactly why is it that we make so many friends of former enemies is because we inherantly and subconciously recognise the true definition of the term as not being nationalistic either.

EITHER YOU HAVE THAT SPARK OF EMPATHY WITHIN YOU OR YOU DON'T. And this is what defines being human as opposed to being animalistic...

...What defines a freedom fighter from a terrorist...., and causes civilizations to arise from the debris of dark ages every time they vanish into the sands with only writings on the wall to remember them by today.

It is only makind's arrogence to think this one is any different from the rest, or that somehow we've evolved socially since the days of Ptah Hotep.

(Full text of the "good sayings" can be found here.)
http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/discussion_engagement_muslim...

So I'd ask the two of you to do a little comparitive analysis of this old text from your own vantage points, and tell me if what I say makes any sense.

Because in taking the hard issues head on, and properly defining terminology, I think folks will find that it is not that hard to earn the respect and thanks of people who otherwise wouldn't have a clue where I was coming from. As has been noted in those 115 comments.

And that's how to have this conversation, and that's why Sarah Pandith should come have a chat with me sometime.

There's a lot of myth in this world to bust to rubble, I intend to take a sledgehammer to it.

Therefore the "mission statement" as offered for those who would walk in my shoes for a moment, should then the suggestion within it cause the President to clear his desk and go to Kampala.

There's a fellow there who's just devoted 20,000 troops to waging jihad on terror after seeing terror in his own nation become manifest, calling all his peers to pony up an equal number to combat it.

A leviathan footprint to bring Somalia full-circle.

If we are to lead and succeed in defeating terrorism, then I do believe folks have their RSVP to do just that.

Best,

EJ

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 19, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

How can Muslim men change their mindset to respect and promote Muslim women into positions of authority and power?

Susan C.
|
Florida, USA
July 19, 2010

Susan C. in Florida writes:

@Eric in NM Your thoughts on "us and them" are certainly valid, and very thoughtful. Your comment that reads, "It is only mankind's arrogance to think this is any different from the rest..." is so true. And may I add that we seem determined NOT to learn from the past?! Why I do not know. As far as what Donald and I were addressing, I do not think it was about "us against them", as much as it was about considering all the religions, and their beliefs, who are involved in this situation. We must remember that the Islamic/Muslim emphasis has been on the destruction of what they consider "Western Civilization", and the destruction of Israel. This is not my opinion, but what they have stated many times over. I realize that not all Muslims believe in this, but many of their leaders do. And the sad thing is that most Muslim countries are under dictatorships, so what do the "good" people have any say in? It is an almost insoluble problem that we are facing.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 19, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Susan,

The whole thing about "Us and Them" was in response to the context in which that phrase was utilized in the video.

And while you didn't directly speak of it, Donald did in so many words.

Now I'm sitting here in the land of the lost contemplation reading the following...and I'm starting to feel like that guy on the cell phone commercial on some remote location....

"Can you hear me now?"

Apparently there's a terrorist out there who didn't appreciate my humble "mission statement"....(chuckle)...as I've always said, it never fails to amaze me how consistantly I get a response from ethical infants.

"Iran urges US to drop 'cowboy logic' over nuclear issue" -BBC

bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-10683549

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the US must stop using "cowboy logic" if it wants dialogue with Iran over its nuclear programme.

He said he was for negotiations, but that imposing sanctions would not make his country change course.

Following on from recent UN sanctions, Washington has imposed its toughest ever measures on Tehran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment programme.

The US and major European powers say Iran is trying to build nuclear arms.

Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful.

"We are for negotiations, but to do so you have to sit down like a good boy," Mr Ahmadinejad said, referring to the US in a speech broadcast live on state television.

"They adopt a resolution to force a dialogue, but this cowboy logic has no place in Iran."

Mr Ahmadinejad added that the US's real concern was not that Iran may make a bomb, but its rise as a regional power.

---

Mmmm, What about being "An organ grinder's monkey on the loose-nuke." didn't Aminidijad understand?

Aha! Now he's askin' for handouts...not just an education.

Well now he has my rebuttle.

Even a fellow from Chicago can understand the job description I provided, as to what "Cowboy Diplomacy" is all about.

It forms the core of the "mission statement".

donald m.
|
Virginia, USA
July 19, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

@Eric in NM and Susan C. Florida and O.C. in the USA

Susan is right Eric that the State Department has been reeling with interviews and asking questions regarding ONE religion. This is okay if we lived in an Arab State, but we live in the United States of America where people have died to get these freedoms. They have not just been handed to anyone, "Freedom of Religion" or "Freedom to Vote" took couragous people willing to put their lives on the line to get a bill passed for others. The State Department should NOT be bias by only showing or having one kind of religion in debate, all religions should be fair and equal to be talked about. If you look around the world and notice all the violence, bombings, and suicide attacks, its from the Arab states. If the people that live in those countries were to find ways to appreciate life more, maybe we would have less bombings, and more people who cared about life and family. Hence, maybe if they had rights to vote, rights of religion, rights for women, maybe the world would be a safer ONE.

@O.C. In ref. to your comment, its because then it would change the holy Quoran in the sense that MEN wouldn't have the power over women. The reason why most men or Arab people are involved in Islam is because its the power to control, the power over women. Who stones anyone to death anymore? Apparently, in Iran they want to stone a woman to death? Does this make any sense? Look at this way, if they didn't have Islam or became a Muslim would they have the same control power over women? doubtful because in Arab states its the men that decide the laws, NOT women. The laws and religion are the same voice. Which means if a woman defies the law that man created, she defies the Holy Quoran. In the reverse, if a man defies, do you ever hear about men getting stoned to death? The consquences for men are far less then what the consequences are for women who are charged with breaking the Holy Quorans laws. This is why I'm a Christian, it might not be perfect but atleast we don't get stoned to death over a dispute. In the end it will always be about power, control and money. The one that has the money controls all things. Susan was right about the other part about dictatorships, the Arabs use religion as a form to dictate to its people what they expect to happen, just like in one movie where a computer on an island forced people to worship and give a sacrafice or offering inside a cave, but in the end of the show, it was nothing more than a computer deciding they should be doing everyday, worshipping, and offerings, and if they refused they were punished, does this sound famaliar with some religions in the world today, being punished if they don't pray? Some people in the Arab states are arrested for not praying. "This is clearly NOT Freedom Religon." This is a religion forced upon someone and brainwashed. Then followed up by law to protect the leaders of the country. Hence, protecting the men who created the laws in the start.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 19, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Donald,

I don't recall disagreeing with anyone who might suggest there's not a level playing field in the discourse...that's precicly why I addressed it the way I did for completely different reasons.

75 years ago Buddhism was twisted to become state Shinto...a friendly twisting of faith that brought us Pearl Harbor and Kamakazi "divine wind" suicide pilots...

No faith is immune from those who have no empathy for the diversity of mankind.

Every rabid dog must have his day I guess.

Well what are we going to do about other than to change the way people think about it, reducing insanity to an understandable common denominator that works under all circumstance.

I rarely use ALL CAPS, and only when the definition is so simple, that "sharp pencil" used dots an i so precicely it would go unnoticed otherwise.

I was watching a "seed of peace" tell her story ( another thread ) and I was just waiting for a certain word to come popping out...and sure enough it did.

Bingo...she found out what empathy was and no longer was she a political animal.

Works for reconciliation and reintegration too.

Was it something I said?

I don't think so....

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 19, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

@Donald,
I agree. It's really a male problem. They're afraid of their own women.

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 19, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

The State Department is interested in the Muslim world because they want to get their pipeline finished and certain Muslim fighters are making it difficult for them. It is an "Us" vs. "Them" when people are in your kitchen helping themselves to your refrigerator. It's expedient to bomb a population into submission. It's much harder to build a nation on the cheap from the ground up. It's hard to keep friends when you don't really reciprocate and now our p#@#@$ off "friends" are nearly on our back door.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 20, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Darn, my little foray into redefining a few conundrums has really unsettled folks to the point thier world view has become so threatened by it they arn't making any sense at all trying to refute it.

Well resistance is futile...you either have what it takes to be human or not.

And if you don't, better get you some empathy right quick to cure what ails you.

You know what Jerry Garcia once sang..."the future's uncertain and the end is always near."

That holds especially true for terrorists.

Being that we're in process right now of killing them faster than they can recruit idiots.

I figure we should just get the job done so folks will quit whining about how we go about it.

Since they have no better solution.

Aqeel k.
|
Pakistan
July 20, 2010

Aqeel K. in Pakistan writes:

global moslim population is second largest population after cristianity enriched with a lot of natural resources.I think there should be mutual respect for all religions and moslims alone must not be discriminated or blamed for global terroism too.First of all i would like to know that what are the factors that turn a Human into a terrorist.Is this innatism or consequences of series of external factors that they are subverted or any psycological desease of society.How and where did it come from?Think and analyse!! Some years back,sissly which is kicking the ball of italy was considered as den of Great Mafism and Terrorism.Terrorist ,in my opinion,has no religion but its an outcome of unappropriate global policies.terrorist have no relationships,no brothers,no sisters,no kids,no religion,no code of life etc..perhaps they have given up out of some sort of suppressions and got subverted.they are in every nation,every religion,kkk is on example of extremism.It is not wise to link terrrorists with any religion or nation,their Godfather's God might be money only.After breaking down of USSR and sad case of 9/11,only muslims who took part in war against USSR in the name of Jihad that was propagated and promoted in muslim world for the cause of that time.Even The chapter of Jihad was included in school books on recommendation of canadian company .USSR broke but biggest victims became moslim world specially pakistan and U.S as the case of 9/11 happened.It could be international mafia terrorist but Moslimss majorly was blamed (may be some of them were subverted).world scenairio changed and Islam is propagated negetively unlike kennedy's or Nixon's regime.What could be the truth behind truth.To make this planet a good place,its important(in my viewpoint) that two biggest religions,cristianity and islam should merge by cultural exchange,inter-religious marriages and other scientific method.Mindsets and attitudes of both ends should be flexible and humanist which is the true preachings of both religions which are by the book.Who knows if religions were politics under bigger umbrella of that time..lets not devide..for devided we fall.

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 20, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Aqueel from Pakistan,
I agree and you are very correct about one thing. Terrorists learned from America's best.

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 20, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

@Eric,
All of my responses to you are being unfairly moderated. You speak of empathy and compassion but condone killing Americans. Why the duplicity?

Olivaresjo@live.com
|
United States
July 20, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

@Eric,
Kill all of 'em varmints! Where's the empathy in that?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 20, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Aqeel K. in Pakistan,

I really appreciate your thinking on the matter and if you posted this "cold" without having read any prior comment by me on this thread, then what we have here is a case of parralel thinking.

All I can suggest is that you do what I asked Susan and Donald to do and explore the validity of a very old text of a speech given by a very old man.

For in the preamble to the "good sayings" -those precepts of Ptah Hotep were if I understand his timeline references to the "arrangement", this text dates back to before the great pyramids were built, complete and unaltered for thousands of years prior through mankind's oral tradition and teachings, and at the very end of this text he is issuing instruction they be made a permanent understanding for the ages in ordering their inscription into stone for the first time.

Proof that some things never change, no matter how civilized we think we've become.

I hope I've answered your questions of causalogy in everything I've posted on the subject to date, in trying to redefine the nature of this debate.

Follow the link I included below, and please let me know if the common approach I've taken works for you...

Welcome to the blog by the way, I hope you stick around a bit, this could get very interesting...trust me on this...you never really know who reads these things we write here.

If you can accept the notion that having a lack of empathy is contagious, then the rabid dog analogy fits the terrorist mindset, and may very well be considered a mental health issue.

"Us and Them" being the "sane vs the insame."

I've known some interesting folks in my life, one of whom presented flowers as a boy to both Nixon and Kruchev as he happened to be a member of the Afghan Royal Family.

You might say I've had an "inside source" to the history...

Flavius
|
Virginia, USA
July 20, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

@O.C.:

Eric's got his views and they ain't changin no matter what you say. Jerry Garcia once sang:

"Like a steam locomotive
Rolling down the track
He's gone, he's gone
And nothings gonna bring him back
He's gone."

That pretty much sums things up.

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 20, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

@Aqueel from Pakistan,
The thing about "Us" vs. "Them" is that the insane just don't recognize it in themselves.

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 20, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

@Aqueel from Pakistan,
Something you might have noticed about Americans is that they lead duplicitous lives. They speak of beautiful things like democracy, freedom and respect but then they do it at the point of a gun. Some Americans believe in these great values and take them to heart while others just mouthe the words. It's a crazy country. You have to decipher people's real intentions and sometimes,that's difficult to do.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 20, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

What about "dancing in the street" didn't anyone understand as human?

One doesn't have to be insane to appreciate it.

Is not correct to say my thoughts do not change, for they have evolved in the process of discovery.

Just as anyone else might arrive at their conceptualization of the parameters of this discussion.

Goes without saying if you can't put a dent in the notion, attack the man...that usually at least distracts those trying to arrive at the truth.

But then this too is a false notion, for the truth will out, even though the man is dead and gone.

It will most likely take an act of congress to get me to sustain the effort so some might get that wish granted wish after all.

Since some here wish to silence me.

Well then as I said I can just as well leave you'all to the reality you have created for yourselves despite my best efforts to bring a little understanding and empathy to the table.

It's a choice people make, and that's the bottom line. My words will stand on their own without further elaboration.

I've put up with a lot of mean-spirited folks in my day, and this ain't nothin' unusual.

But those who think they know me directly violate this blog's comment policy, and I think some here would do well to review this.

---

OC, you are starting to figure out what I was saying in the "benchmark working definition of insanity" because no one at the time recognized how insane it was to build the means to exterminate the species.

That's a good start.

Must be shaking up a lot of people's world views...(chuckle).

At the same time it is a pleasure to know I'm not alone in furthering this discussion.

As one who wore the grooves off Tarkus, had memorized the keyboard parts and know a little something about "brain salad surgery"....

The doctor is in...that'll be a 5 cents donation please.

I figure constructive thought is worth a bit more than just two cents ponied up at someone for malicious intent.

Dipnote Bloggers;

Perhaps the Moderator will be so kind as to delete Flavius' personal attack as not befitting the rules or intent of this blog, and as a blatent attempt to "coursen the conversation", I got just a wee problem with his failure of undertstanding this. Maybe you can educate him?

I really just don't have the time to bother with his vitrol.

Thanks,

EJ

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 20, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

@Flavius,
It's not a fair discussion when Dipnote moderates out all of my juicy retorts. What do you think about cowboy diplomacy? Do you think it actually works? We seem to have so many enemies then the State Department scratches their head wondering, why?

Flavius
|
Virginia, USA
July 20, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I don't think much of "cowboy diplomacy." I don't think it works well, and even if it did, we simply don't have the wherewithal to employ it on the scale that some would have us do.

We are currently engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are by no means "said and done." They are costing us billions and will cost trillions by the time they are finished, if they ever are finished. Tell me, do we have trillions right now? Who is going to pay for this? The Chinese? And just what is it that they'll want in return? And they WILL want something in return. It won't just be our looking the other way in Taiwan, I think.

These wars have made us weaker and others strong. We are stretched too thin.

Our military needs a break. It is worn out. And more importantly, so are we as a people. I personally need a rest from all this "nation building." I think pretty much everyone else does too. Honestly... has it all worked out that well? To bite off another chunk of the world's problems when we got a plate full of our own is not just unreasonable, it's suicidal. We won't save the world by killing ourselves.

None of this is meant to say that there isn't a time and a place for intervention. There is. But preemptive intervention? No. That can only lead to war everywhere, with everyone, because in the end, no one can be trusted.

If I had one suggestion for everyone on this blog, it would be for them to play the board game called "Diplomacy." Play it a few times. You will not get a better lesson in the way the world really works.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 20, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

If "leading the heard to greener pastures" is in the job description, and it doesn't work....?

What's your alternative? Got a "plan-B"?

If not, might as well enjoy the ride. The sane are winning, because they're "in it to win it".

Not discounting all our values and traditions, the rule of law and a little empathy in that process, even though it requires equal ferocity to manifest in the process of defeating those of an insane mind who would murder the innocent. Being intolerant of intolerance is not paradoxical in nature.

(Correction to last post), folks started to recognize insanity when the H-bomb was built, as "over kill", but since the externilization of "US and Them" voiced in "the Russians are building H-bombs.", since everyone was doing it, it was ok right? National security and all.

'nother myth... crumbled to dust...

What security?

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 20, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Fine. If there's no security then why are we still in Afghanistan? Better to come home and protect the homeland because God knows we need it.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 20, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Good question OC...

Well security is a relative concept...one could just as well say the world was made more secure in the face of anihilation because they recognized insanity for what it was, and no one was willing to go there, or start another world war after we ended it as we did.

That's the flip side of the security coin and knowing that men arn't angels those that recognise the lack of will to give up empathy, have to be given equal consideration.

If one believes retaining one's humanity is worth fighting for by sword or pen in equal measure.

I don't intend to poke fun at you, but there was once a terrorist who was asked about the little red ring within ring that stood out on his forehead, by all those sitting in county jail with him.

"How'd you get that?

He got my point, let's just say that.

Lived to tell about it too after he broke down my door and threatened my life.

Helped him to the floor I did, and lifted him off his knees with a gun centered right between his eyes.

In the interests of reintegration and reconciliation of course.

(chuckle).

If we took this down a notch, shifting gears...think of US and Them like crosstown traffic, and how we drive our cars...

Any Brit will tell you that their friends across the pond drive like maniacs on the wrong side of the road.

And for me, there's no speed limits posted on speed of thought.

Now you don't need me to answer your question about why we're in Afghanistan. Afghans themselves will be glad to help you out with that if the President's words at West Point won't satisfy your curiosity.

Just as you will find that it's not without empathy we're there, for there's a price to be paid for having left folks to sleep in the rubble of a war we helped them win long ago.

Our good deeds in the past allow Afghans today to have enough empathy to forgive us today for trespasses made against terrorists, because they own thier means to life ,liberty and the persuit of happiness just as surely as we did when the very first civil milita was formed and we called them the "minute-men".

And you see the same basic concept being put into law by the Karzai gov. ....as we speak.

"It's who we are, it's what we do."

As President Obama put it.

If you were to have watched the Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing w/ Amb. Holbrooke I think you'd understand why your two sentances pretty well sum up most of the conundrum on Capital Hill over this very issue.

It's a fair question...I assume you want me to give you a personal perspective on this right?

Well don't expect me to get partisan about it...that's just not my style.

It ain't a liberal or conservative thing.

It is a sane vs. the insane thing isn't it?

When the sane decide to restore sanity.

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 21, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Sorry Eric,
You make absolutely no sense to me. Seems like you suffered a lot in the military. Sorry you endured all that and lived to talk about it. Seems like every generation is destroyed by war. Is war necessary to fuel an economy?

Susan C.
|
Florida, USA
July 21, 2010

Susan C. in Florida writes:

I am getting concerned about the direction of the blog "comments". This is not a forum for silliness, insults and arguments. As a teacher I feel as if I am in my classroom with a group of unruly kids. Here are some of my thoughts on this. Eric, old "blog" friend, don't take every comment made to heart, or as a criticism of you. Your thoughts, opinions, and facts are valid but they are yours. O.C., please stop "raising your hand" all the time. You really don"t know everything about every subject that is posted. And Flavius, you seem intelligent and thoughtful when you are not trying to be the "class clown". Sorry to be so direct, but this blog is asking for serious, and thoughtful, answers and comments. Remember, there is a State Department employee,(the blog moderator), who has to read all of our comments. Let us give them something to "think" about, rather than groaning each time our names come up.

OysterCracker
|
United States
July 21, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

@Susan C.
Sorry you feel that way. I've been trying to understand Eric all this time because of his incessant need to put me down all the time. Just trying to understand the man to see if there's anything we can agree upon.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 21, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Susan,

I appreciate what you've said, and I'll consider it.

We each live life in reflection to the environment around us. It is only proper to find common understanding of what it requires from each of us to create the peace from scratch.

All I can do is bring my experience to the table, if it makes sense then it is not for me to suggest how others may internalize the food for thought.

It's got to be relevant to one's own vantage point, which was my intent in my request of you and Donald to see what jumps out at you in reading the good sayings of Ptah Hotep.

Examine for instance the emphasis placed on the treatment of women and teaching one's children well in that old text, along with what he says about terrorism.

I ask this of you only because you are an educator, and I thought you especially would appreciate what has been handed down by oral tradition and teaching intact, in cadence, till Ptah Hotep had the text put down in writing for this era to take to heart.

My feelings on how this conversation that State is trying to have with the Muslim world should track on several levels, is in addressing what actually divides us and defining that properly, the knowing of which may well draw people together without external divisions of race, religion, or all the rest.

Once upon a time folks thought the world was flat, and when found to be round then concluded we must be at the center of the universe.

Copernicus took a lot of abuse for that little busting of myth...

If I'm trying to "fast-track" a level of understanding...it's because we don't have time to waste in achieving this.

Pages

.

Latest Stories

April 17, 2009

Faces of Port-au-Prince

Interactive Travel Map | Text the Secretary About the Author: Jerome Oetgen serves as the Public Affairs Officer at U.S.… more

Pages