Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Where our Mr. Welsh went

The term 'blogfather' has mostly fallen out of disuse these days, probably because most of today's bloggers don't have a single person to point to and say: "that guy, he's the one who got me to start blogging." This blog has only one father, though, and it's Ian Welsh (formerly of Tilting at Windmills, occasionally of the pogge collective). Back in 2004, it was our skirmishes in his comments section about everything from proportional representation to polygamy that convinced me I needed to get my own soapbox.

These days he's mostly writing for an American audience over at the Agonist, which is of course the Canadian blogosphere's loss. But once I got over my annoyance with him for abandoning us (SOB!!!), I started actually reading what he was writing, and it blew me away. He's simply a better blogger for them than he ever was for us. Overall, his mission seems to be to provide a kind of no-holds-barred but always impeccably well-grounded critique of the U.S.'s role in the world, which, like a slap in the face to a bully, is sometimes exactly what is needed. And interestingly, I almost never disagree with him about American issues, which is a whole new experience for me.

Anyway, in part this post is meant to tell everyone who's not already reading Ian at his new home at the Agonist to give it a shot. But mostly I want to pimp his guest post over at firedoglake, "A Mile In My Enemy's Shoes." Here's the thesis:

What is so infuriating about America, to outsiders, is the inability of Americans to look at the world through other people's eyes. Michael Scheur, the ex-CIA analyst who wrote “Imperial Hubris” first wrote a book called “Through Our Enemies' Eyes”. Interesting that a (good) analyst would first seek to understand how his enemies saw the world, don't you think? It's not because Scheur is some pansy leftist, either, in his books Scheur has suggested that winning against Islam may require killing many many millions of Muslims and he doesn't have much of a problem with that. It's because if you don't understand your enemies it is much harder to either defeat them, or make peace with them.
...and here's the money quote:
When America stops doing the Muslim=bad short circuit, peace may be possible. When America stops saying one thing (we believe in democracy) and then doing another (but not when you vote for the wrong people), foreigners may stop hating America. In the meantime, if the US insists that every Islamic militia is its enemy – then every Islamic militia will be its enemy.
Yes, it's All About the U.S., which is probably irritating to those of you who think there's already plenty of political commentary out there about the U.S., thankyouverymuch. But it's viewed with a Canadian eye, and besides, this thing may be the best blog post I've ever read. So seriously, what are you still reading this one for?


West End Bound said...

Thanks for pointing me there, IP - very good!

janfromthebruce said...

thanks IP. I read the full article and it was wonderful.
I also want to mention that Jack Layton was vilified for asking our govt to consider "talking to" moderate "Islamic militia" groups in Afghanistan, and of course, tarred and feathered as "taliban jack."
The same rhetoric is used here, all Islamic groups are terrorists, you don't negotiate with terrorists, ad nauseum.

I want to end with, there is no way to peace, peace is the way.

Ian said...

Thanks for the kind words IP.

Ah, proportional rep arguments. I remember them well. You effectively made me write a major piece on it eventually.

I'm actually much more ambivalent on it these days. Being a tempermental conservative it still makes me twitch, but there are some good arguments for it. Not the least of which is that having a minority of conservative voters ruling the country is irritating me.

Let me know if you're ever out T.O. way.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

west end bound,

I'm glad--I thought his view of things might appeal to you.


I remember those arguments. They were wrong then and they're just as wrong now. And not just from an ideological perspective, but from a pragmatic one. I mean, imagine where that attitude would have gotten Northern Ireland, where representatives from the two opposite extremist factions have recently formed a coalition government?


Ah, yes, I remember that piece--I considered that corner I backed you into one of my personal triumphs. *grin*

Glad to hear you're still in Toronto, because I do get there periodically. I'll let you know when the next time will be.