Monday, August 25, 2003

Michael Walzer on just wars, politics, & moral responsibilities (Imprints interview)

This interview with Michael Walzer (in the British journal Imprints) deals concisely with a range of important issues, both theoretical and practical, in Walzer's characteristically cogent, morally serious, and usefully thought-provoking way.

As most of you probably know, Walzer opposed the war in Iraq, since he thought that an alternative solution was possible (in principle)--i.e., reconstructing and strengthening the system of "containment," which he recognized was in advanced stage of disintegration. I ultimately disagreed with this analysis, for reasons I explained at the time. However, unlike most partisans on both sides of the question, Walzer addressed the complexities and dilemmas involved in an honest and penetrating way. He also pointed out that if war did come about, a major portion of the responsibility would rest with the governments of France, Germany, and Russia (among others), which had systematically and irresponsibly undermined all realistic alternatives--and continued to do so right up to the end.

One passage in this interview forcefully captures a point that I have been trying to make myself in many arguments during the past year and half:
It is a good idea to strengthen the UN and to take whatever steps are possible to establish a global rule of law. It is a very bad idea to pretend that a strong UN and a global rule of law already exist.
But there's a lot more to the interview than that. Much of it does not deal with current political issues. But politics comes back in the end.
It is hard work trying to sustain an oppositionist politics in the US today – especially when part of what I feel I have to oppose is the idiocy of many of my fellow oppositionists: knee-jerk anti-Americanism, old left dogmatism, and the rejection of any fellowship larger than the sect of the politically correct and the morally pure. I live on the left, but quarrel with some of my neighbours, and in the aftermath of 9/11 the quarrels have gotten more intense. But I would resist the idea that I am 'working' on these quarrels. They are just occasionally necessary engagements.
From my point of view, some of what Walzer says in this interview is right, some of it is questionable, but all of it is intelligent and deserves attention.

Yours in struggle,
Jeff Weintraub
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IMPRINTS
A JOURNAL OF
ANALYTICAL SOCIALISM




Online content from Vol. 7 no. 1 (2003)





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Michael Walzer
is UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He has written on a wide variety of topics in social and political theory.






The United States in the World – Just Wars and Just Societies:
An Interview with Michael Walzer


You've been highly critical of the Bush administration's policy towards Iraq and especially of their attempt to legitimate a doctrine of preventive war. At the same time, you have suggested that European critics of the US administration – especially the French and German governments – have failed to take seriously their own responsibility for the maintenance of a peaceful international order and have undermined international efforts to contain Saddam Hussein. Could you say something about how these criticisms are connected to the account of just war you defend in Just and Unjust Wars? In your view, how should European powers see their international role in a world in which the United States is as militarily dominant as at present

The criticisms that I have made of the Bush administration's doctrine of pre-emptive war follow pretty closely, I think, the argument in Just and Unjust Wars (see the chapter on 'Anticipations'). But my critique of French and German policy doesn't have much to do with just war theory. It is a much more general moral/political critique, having to do with hypocrisy and irresponsibility rather than with injustice. France and Germany did not refuse to fight or wrongly resist a just war; they refused to provide what was in their power to provide: a serious alternative to an unjust war. I continue to believe, even at this late date, that had France and Germany (and Russia too) been willing to support, and had the UN Security Council been willing to authorise, a strongly coercive containment regime for Iraq, the war would have been, first, unnecessary, and second, politically impossible for the American government to fight. But this would have involved giving up the notion that force was a 'last resort,' as the French said, or morally impermissible, as the Germans said. For containment depended on force from the beginning: the no-fly zones and the embargo required forceful actions every day, and the restoration of the inspection regime depended on a credible American threat to use force. Now imagine the no-fly zones expanded to include the whole country; imagine the very porous embargo replaced by 'smart sanctions,' which actually shut down the import of military equipment (while permitting materials needed by the civilian population); imagine the inspectors strengthened by UN troops, who could patrol installations once they had been inspected, and by unannounced surveillance flights. Given all that, it would have been very difficult to make a case that Iraq was still a threat to its neighbours or to world peace. But the US did not want a regime of that sort, having settled on war early on; and France and Germany were not willing to support anything close to this: they had, in fact, decided that the appeasement of Saddam was the best policy.

What should be the role of Europe in a future international order? European states together could create a new balance of power, but that would require military expenditure on a scale that none of them, with the exception of the UK, seems willing to contemplate. Even so, some increase in their military budgets seems to me necessary if they are to play the part that I would like them to play in deciding when war is just and necessary. They can't claim such a role and then, if the decision is made to go to war, insist that the US (or the US and the UK) do all the fighting. That's not a morally tenable position. The US needs partners, real partners, who can say 'yes' and 'no' to our government – but these have to be partners who are ready to take responsibility for the way the world goes. Iraq would have nuclear weapons today, had Europe alone been making decisions about the inspection regime, the embargo, and the no-fly zones. And there would be many fewer Kosovars alive in Kosovo today had Europe alone been making decisions there. It is easy to criticise American unilateralism; I do that all the time. But European irresponsibility is an equally serious problem.

You make some very cogent points about the attitude of the European powers, but the analysis leaves two kinds of question outstanding. First, you are obviously implying that military action to implement a 'strongly coercive containment regime' would have been justified. But is it in your view ever justified to intervene militarily in order to effect regime change? I am reminded of the doctrine of double effect in relation to chronically sick patients, whereby pain relief can be given even if it will cause death, so long as causing death is not the primary purpose of the treatment. It is clear that some elements within the US administration have on the contrary seen regime change as the primary purpose of intervention, to liberate the Iraqi people regardless of their preferences in the matter. How do you see this problem in relation to the justice of the conflict?

Humanitarian interventions to stop mass murder and 'ethnic cleansing' will obviously aim at regime change, since the regime's criminal behaviour is the reason for the intervention. Thus Vietnam replaced the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia when its army shut down the killing fields, and Tanzania replaced Idi Amin's government in Uganda. Had there been a UN intervention in Rwanda, as there should have been, it would surely have resulted in the overthrow of Hutu Power. In the case of Iraq, the northern no-fly zone was something like a humanitarian intervention on behalf of the Kurds, and it produced something like a regime change, in the form of Kurdish autonomy. But the safety and success of the Kurds undermined any argument that might have been made for a war for regime change in Baghdad. I don't mean that this wasn't an awful regime, the worst example of third world fascism. And so I accept what your question suggests: if it happened that a regime of coercive constraint weakened and eventually brought down the Baathist regime, that would have been a desirable side-effect, but only a side-effect, of the constraint.

A second area concerns the problem of what should have been done given the attitude of the French, Germans and Russians, no matter how reprehensible the latters' attitudes are held to be. British public opinion is apparently judging the legitimacy of the war within two distinct frames of reference. On the one hand, there is the (more or less clearly articulated) perspective of just war principles: just cause, proportionality, last resort and so on. On the other hand, there is the pragmatic frame of reference, which renders a war legitimate only if a) the House of Commons votes in favour b) there is relatively unified public support, with a large majority in favour of war and c) the intervention conforms with international law. The current political anguish in Britain derives not only from the fact that Britain's leadership appears to be crushed between the rock of the Pentagon and the hard place of Europe, but because neither condition b) nor condition c) appears to be met. This is why the issue of the second UN resolution assumed a significance on this side of the water that it perhaps did not possess in the US. A second resolution would have made the war more clearly legal (condition c)), thereby swinging a large majority of public opinion behind it (condition b)) The questions are: would a Security Council resolution conferred legitimacy on the war in your view? And should either the US or the UK have gone ahead without it? More generally: what is the relationship between the philosophical principles of just war and the pragmatics of law and political consent?

It is a good idea to strengthen the UN and to take whatever steps are possible to establish a global rule of law. It is a very bad idea to pretend that a strong UN and a global rule of law already exist. Most of the just uses of military force in the last thirty or forty years have not been authorised by the UN: the Vietnamese and Tanzanian interventions that I just mentioned; the Indian war against Pakistan that resulted in the secession of Bangla Desh and the return of millions of refugees; the Israeli pre-emptive strike against Egypt in 1967, after the abject withdrawal of UN forces from the Sinai; the Kosovo war in 1999. So far as justice, that is, moral legitimacy is concerned, if the Iraq war was unjust before the Security Council voted, it would have been unjust afterwards, however the vote went. It can't be the case that when we try to figure out whether a war is just or unjust, we are predicting how the Council will vote. Indeed, justice would be independent of UN decision-making even if the UN were a global government, though then, assuming the democratic legitimacy of this government, we would be bound to respect its decisions.

As for your condition (b), I doubt that you would want to defend the proposition that democratic decisions should be made via opinion polls or mass demonstrations rather than by parliamentary majorities. We organise demonstrations to influence the parliamentary majority, and if we don't do that, we wait until the next election. Watching from the US, and thinking about the virtual withdrawal of Congress from the American debate about the war, I had to feel that Blair's necessary appearance before the Commons on the eve of war was a memorable democratic moment.

You have been very critical of the American left's opposition to the war in Afghanistan, especially the left's refusal to see it as a just war on terror. Do you think that there are other countries in which the US should intervene militarily in order to combat terror, as President Bush has suggested?

I supported the war in Afghanistan because I believed that this was a defensive war (the paradigmatic case of just war) against a regime that did not merely harbour terrorists but was an active partner of the terrorist organisation that attacked New York and Washington on 9/11. The Taliban regime provided Al Qaeda with all the advantages of sovereignty, most importantly, a territorial base. It was entirely legitimate for the US to attack that territorial base and to overthrow the regime that provided it. I have reservations about the way we fought the war, and I have criticised our behaviour in Afghanistan after it was over. But the war itself was eminently defensible. And should there be other countries that enter into a partnership of the same kind with Al Qaeda, I would think, other things being equal, they would be subject to a similar attack. But, right now, there are no such other countries. As for countries that harbour terrorist organisations, they can and should be dealt with through non-military means: diplomacy and, in extreme cases, international sanctions. Of course, if there were a visible readiness to apply international sanctions, there would be many fewer countries harbouring terrorist organisations.

In Just and Unjust Wars you take a strong stand on the issues of war crimes, guerrilla war, reprisals, and terrorism in general. How do you view the current crisis in Israel in the light of what you wrote in that book? How do your insights regarding the history of anti-semitism contribute to an analysis of how radical politics is understood within both sets of national identities?

This is a hard question for me to answer with any sort of brevity, given my long involvement in Zionist politics in the Jewish diaspora and in Israeli politics too, as a frequent visitor. I recently published an article in Dissent, 'The Four Wars of Israel/Palestine,' explaining my position, which I will try to summarise here. These are the four wars: there is a Palestinian war to destroy and replace the state of Israel, which is unjust, and a Palestinian war to establish a state alongside Israel, which is just. And there is an Israeli war to defend the state, which is just, and an Israeli war for Greater Israel, which is unjust. When making particular judgements, you always have to ask who is fighting which war, and what means they have adopted, and whether those means are legitimate for these ends, or for any ends. Most of the people attacking Israel or defending it, and most of the people attacking the Palestinians or defending them, don't even begin to do the necessary work. I can't do that work here, but I will suggest some of the judgements that I think it leads to – most crucially these two: Palestinian terrorism, that is, the deliberate targeting of civilians, should always and everywhere be condemned. And Israeli settlement policy in the occupied territories has been wrong from the very beginning of the occupation. But this second wrongness doesn't mitigate the first: Palestinian attacks on the occupying army or on paramilitary settler groups are justified – at least they are justified whenever there is an Israeli government unwilling to negotiate; but attacks on settler families or schools are terrorist acts, murder exactly. (I want to insist that this is not special pleading: I am old enough to have made similar arguments at the time of the Algerian war: FLN attacks on French soldiers or on OAS militants were justified; putting a bomb in a café or a supermarket in the French section of Algiers was murder.) And similarly, Israeli attacks on Hamas or Islamic Jihad fighters are justified; dropping a bomb on an apartment house in Gaza was a criminal act.

Since I have often been a critic of Israeli governments, I am reluctant to call such criticism anti-Semitic. But it does seem to me that there is an oddly disproportionate hostility toward Israel on the European left, which requires some explanation. I know, for example, people my own age who indignantly refuse even to consider a visit to Israel, but who had no trouble visiting France at the height of the Algerian war and have no trouble visiting China today despite its brutal policy in Tibet (which includes a far more massive settlement program than Israel has attempted in the West Bank). Indeed, much of the criticism directed at Israel has more to do with the existence of the state than with the policies of any of its governments – which was, again, never the case with France or with Germany after World War Two or with China today. Something is seriously wrong here.

A number of US intellectuals have been reassessing their commitment to civil liberties which they now see as a liability to security, post September 11. This reassessment has led to torture being placed on the political agenda, as in the case of Alan Dershowitz. What are your views and feelings with respect to this new climate of debate?

I don't think that I have changed my position – except perhaps in the way I distribute the burden of argument. After 9/11, those of us who want to defend civil liberties have to accept a greater burden than before. It isn't enough to point to The Patriot Act and scream 'Fascism!' We have to make the case to our fellow citizens that the government can defend them against terrorism within the constitutional constraints, whatever they are, that we believe necessary to personal freedom and democratic politics. Only if we can't make that case would we have to consider modifying the constitutional regime. Right now, I think that we can make the case; I only regret that so many people on the left don't believe that they have to make it. They talk about this question as if the last thing they want to worry about is the safety of their fellow citizens.

Back in the early 1970s, I published an article called 'Dirty Hands' that dealt with the responsibility of political leaders in extreme situations, where the safety of their people seemed to require immoral acts. One of my examples was the 'ticking bomb' case, where a captured terrorist knows, but refuses to reveal, the location of a bomb that is timed to go off soon in a school building. I argued that a political leader in such a case might be bound to order the torture of the prisoner, but that we should regard this as a moral paradox, where the right thing to do was also wrong. The leader would have to bear the guilt and opprobrium of the wrongful act he had ordered, and we should want leaders who were prepared both to give the order and to bear the guilt. This was widely criticised at the time as an incoherent position, and the article has been frequently reprinted, most often, I think, as an example of philosophical incoherence. But I am inclined to think that the moral world is much less tidy than most moral philosophers are prepared to admit. Now Dershowitz has cited my argument in his defence of torture in extreme cases (though he insists on a judicial warrant before anything at all can be done to the prisoner).

But extreme cases make bad law. Yes, I would do whatever was necessary to extract information in the ticking bomb case – that is, I would make the same argument after 9/11 that I made 30 years before. But I don't want to generalise from cases like that; I don't want to rewrite the rule against torture to incorporate this exception. Rules are rules, and exceptions are exceptions. I want political leaders to accept the rule, to understand its reasons, even to internalise it. I also want them to be smart enough to know when to break it. And finally, because they believe in the rule, I want them to feel guilty about breaking it – which is the only guarantee they can offer us that they won't break it too often.

More generally, in Thick and Thin you offered an account of universal ideals of justice - such as 'human rights' - which sought to explain how people with different histories and political traditions can come to share a commitment to these ideals even though they are not foundational for, or even integral to, their diverse understandings of justice. Your claim there was that such ideals are minimalist, or 'thin', and that their reiteration across political traditions explains why we can understand what people in contexts utterly different from ours are calling for when they march carrying signs simply stating 'Truth' or 'Justice'. If this account is correct, then if commitment to, for example, human rights is eroded within a significant number of powerful political traditions – as was suggested by the last question – does it become legitimate for the ideal of human rights to disappear from the landscape of international justice?

The people carrying signs in my account are Czechs in 1989, during the 'velvet revolution.' They hadn't been able to defend truth or justice in public for many years, yet Czechs watching the demonstration knew what the words meant, and so did we know, watching from farther away. If civil liberties are curtailed in the US, there will soon be a movement to defend and restore them. And when we march with signs saying 'Liberty,' Americans watching us will know what the word means, and so will you in Britain, and so will people in China, who have never enjoyed anything like our civil liberties. A full-scale culture inquiry would surely reveal significant differences in American, British, and Chinese understandings of liberty, but some minimal sense, sufficient for mutual comprehension, would be common to all three.

But your question is really just another invitation to make the relativist/anti-relativist argument of Philosophy 101. So let me restate the question in the strongest possible form. Suppose that the Nazis had conquered the world, and that the Third Reich lasted the full thousand years that Hitler promised. Would the ideal of human rights, at the end of that time, have disappeared 'from the landscape of international justice'? I don't know the answer to that question, and I don't think that anyone else does. But I hope that people in different parts of the world would resist the Nazis and when they did (I am paraphrasing my argument in Thick and Thin now) they would discover that though they had different histories and cultures, their experience of tyranny was similar, and so was their response to it. And out of these commonalities they would fashion a minimal morality that would serve the purposes of their struggle. 'It would be a jerry-built and ramshackle affair – as hastily put together as the signs for the Prague march.'

You are also well-known for your influential work on 'complex equality' in Spheres of Justice. Elizabeth Anderson has recently asked the following hypothetical question: 'if much recent academic work defending equality had been secretly penned by conservatives, could the results be any more embarrassing for egalitarians?' How do you view current philosophical work on equality, especially with respect to its relevance for the left?

I think that Anderson's article is right on target. I agree with many of her positive arguments, but I am especially sympathetic to her critique. She is right to say that much contemporary philosophical writing about equality fails to address or even to recognise 'the concerns of the politically oppressed' and the actual 'inequalities of race, gender, class, and caste.' Maybe there is a natural disconnect between academic philosophy and political struggle, and maybe it is a good thing if philosophers are disengaged, looking on from afar. I don't want to argue that academic work is the same as work in the political arena. Still, there are reasons that we are interested in equality and inequality, and Anderson is right to insist that philosophers today don't always have a good grasp of those reasons. There are, however, contemporary writers whose grasp is very good indeed: consider the work of Ian Shapiro (Democratic Justice), Anne Phillips (Which Equalities Matter?), Charles Beitz (Political Equality), David Miller (Principles of Social Justice), and Iris Young (Inclusion and Democracy). It is interesting that these people are not working in philosophy departments; they are political theorists and feminist theorists, and they take their starting point from politics-on-the-ground.

For myself, I think that one great mistake of contemporary academic philosophers, starting with Rawls himself, is the claim that our natural endowments are 'arbitrary from a moral point of view' and should not be allowed to have effects in the social world – or, better, the effects they have should never be philosophically ratified. As Rawls wrote, we have to 'nullify the accidents of natural endowment.' This puts philosophy radically at odds with ordinary morality. Sometimes, of course, that is a useful conflict, but in this particular encounter, philosophy does not fare well. Our natural endowments make us what we are, and what we are necessarily has consequences in the social world, and some, at least, of these consequences must be legitimate. John Rawls deserved the honours he won by writing A Theory of Justice – even if his intelligence was an accidental effect of the natural lottery. Beautiful men and women may not deserve the sexual and marriage offers that they get (we have different, but not entirely different, ideas about intelligence and beauty); still, they cannot be obliged to share their wealth or, as Phillipe Van Parijs has suggested, to compensate the losers in love. This last is one of Anderson's most telling examples, and she goes on to point out that those of us who are not beautiful have never organised to demand such compensation. There is something to learn even from political struggles that never happened!

How does your view of complex equality relate to the contemporary tendency (in the US and Europe) for policy on the welfare state to move away from a focus on need to a much more conditional conception of welfare?

I don't think that is the right way to describe the current debate. Conservative critics of the welfare state claim that many of the people receiving welfare don't 'need' it in any reasonable sense of that word. These people, it is said, are capable of working, and society would be better served if they were enabled, or even required, to work. Now, there is an old left argument remarkably similar to this: that the first priority of a socialist state should be to provide decent jobs for all its citizens; welfare is necessary only for people who cannot work. 'From each according to his ability,' is as important as 'to each according to his need.' It is much better to be an independent worker than a client of the state. Two things are wrong with the conservatives' version of this argument: first, ttives generally don't deny the legitimate claims of 'need,' but most of them have no sense of what it means to be needy. I doubt that you can address this lack with a philosophical argument alone; you also need to evoke the sense of compassion. Here politics follows the affiliative or sympathetic emotions.

Given your influential discussion of 'blocked exchanges' inSpheres of Justice, what do you think of the emerging or possible markets in human organs and tissues, genetic material, and so on. How should we think about goods like this, which seem tightly bound up with personhood, on the one hand, and are easily commodifiable on the other?

What things are there in the world that are not 'easily commodifiable'? It is in the nature of the sphere of money and commodities that its extent is unlimited – until we limit it. Consider the debate in the UStoday about whether guns are commodities. They are certainly easy to manufacture for sale. But it seems to me an obvious argument, though it is often resisted, that guns are significantly different from bicycles and breakfast cereals and rare books and dress shirts. I am fairly sure that we will eventually win this argument (indeed this blocked exchange may be one of the restrictions on American liberty that comes, though not soon, in the aftermath of 9/11). I don't have any similar assurance on how the argument about human organs and tissues is going to turn out. Given my own sense of what 'personhood' means in our culture, I think that the best outcome would be the one that Titmuss defended in the case of blood. Organs should be donated to some kind of public 'fund,' and then dispensed in accordance with one or another fairness principle.

But maybe people will turn out to be remarkably detached from their organs (we've never seen them, after all), and that will make an organ market fairly easy to defend. And then the problems we will face will have less to do with 'personhood' than with distributive justice in a more immediate sense. For it is likely to be only the very poor, in the third world as well as at home, whose organs are collected, and there are sure to be patterns of coercion and pressure that will make the collection exploitative. Commodities are legitimately distributed only in a free-market. Whenever inequalities of power interfere with that freedom, the market requires, as this market surely will, extensive regulation.

The left in the US has suffered defeat after defeat, and the Democratic Party has moved purposefully to the right over the past twenty years. Because of the design of the electoral and campaign financing systems third party efforts (like the New Party and the Labour Party) often seem either quixotic, or (as in the case of Nader's Presidential candidacy) can be portrayed as efforts to spoil the chances of Democratic candidates. What are the strategic options available to theUS left in the next decade, and which of those options do you favour?

I take it this is not a philosophical question. The picture is not quite as bleak as you describe. The feminist movement continues to make progress in the US today or, at least, women continue to make progress, in political life, in the professions, even in corporate America. The movement for gay rights is stronger, I think, than it has ever been. Blacks continue to 'arrive' in the upper reaches of American society (even as the crisis of the black underclass deepens). The incorporation of previously marginalised groups into American life is a feature of our times. But it is especially depressing that this does not have the effect that we expected: moving the country leftwards. Perhaps we should not have expected this. I remember the first year (it was sometime in the '80s) when a majority of the delegates at the Republican Party convention were women, and I thought: It is certainly good that they are there, but why are they there?

People on the left can work, with varying degrees of hopefulness, in a number of different places over the next decade. The first is the Democratic Party, where we have to be engaged because that is where the largest number of 'our' people are. The New Party was a good idea because it involved supporting Democratic candidates while seeking, at the local level, to organise a base of our own. But that strategy has now failed. The Green Party campaign in 2000 was a very bad idea, the product in part of Ralph Nader's narcissism and in part of old left sectarianism. The sharp right turn of American politics is the direct result of that campaign.

The second place is the labour movement. This is a very old fashioned recommendation, I suppose, but there are still significant sectors of the American economy where organising is possible, and this remains the best way of expanding the base of the left. The politics of welfare and redistribution still depend in significant ways on the labour movement. And as Seattle, 2000 demonstrated, any move toward a global version of social democracy requires the support of organised labour.

The third place is the famous but not always easy to locate 'civil society,' where organisations of all sorts proliferate, and some of them are ours: environmentalists, feminists, defenders of civil liberties, advocates on behalf of minority groups, and so on. These are the 'fragments' of a left politics that still has not come together and may not come together anytime soon. But the fragments are important in themselves, the more the better, and the people who work in them constitute a kind of civil service of the left. Anything we can do to expand these groups is worth doing, even if many of them are wholly engaged in a rear-guard, defensive politics.

Do you think that the recent deaths of John Rawls and Robert Nozick have marked the end of an era for political philosophy in theUS? What are your memories of doing political philosophy at Harvard in the late 60s and 70s?

I spent much of the sixties and early seventies learning to 'do' political philosophy rather than doing it, and Rawls and Nozick were two of my teachers. There was a discussion group that met every month in those years, in CambridgeandNew York, that included those two and Ronnie Dworkin, Tom Nagel, Tim Scanlon, Judy Thomson, Charles Fried, Marshall Cohen, and a few others: a peer group for most of them, a school for me. In 1971, Nozick and I taught a course together called 'Capitalism and Socialism,' which was a semester-long argument – out of which came his Anarchy, State, and Utopia and my Spheres. Rawls, Nozick, Nagel, and Dworkin were, I suppose, the leaders of the return of philosophers to 'public affairs.' For me, there was no return; I had never been interested in anything else. But I did make an effort to write about politics in a more philosophical way. I don't think that I ever managed real philosophy. I couldn't breathe easily at the high level of abstraction that philosophy seemed to require, where my friends in the group were entirely comfortable. And I quickly got impatient with the playful extension of hypothetical cases, moving farther and farther away from the world we all lived in. I was writing Just and Unjust Wars in the middle seventies, and my decision to work the argument through historical examples was in part a reaction against the hypothetical cases of my friends. The current state of the philosophical argument about justice, as described and criticised by Anderson, follows from too much abstraction, too many hypotheticals, too great a distance from the real world.

The Rawls/Nozick debate was, I think, pretty much over even before their deaths. In the philosophical world, Rawls and the Rawlsians won decisively; in the political world, I am afraid, the Nozickians won, but it isn't philosophers, it is economists, who relish the victory. Right now, the forces aren't engaged: consider how little criticism of the market model is carried in the journal that came out of our discussion group: Philosophy and Public Affairs.

a distance from it, takes place within the Rawlsian camp: between those, including Charles Beitz and Thomas Pogge, who would extend the principles of A Theory of Justice, and especially the difference principle, to global society and those, including Rawls, who resist the extension. For myself, I think that a strong critique of global inequalities and a persuasive claim that we are obligated to help the poorest countries can be derived from an historical account of how the world economy developed, and from an account of what Rawls called our 'natural duties.' I am a little dubious about the global reach of moral commitments that grow up within, and seem dependent on the solidarity of, a particular political community. One day, maybe…

You say that you support Anderson's critique of recent academic egalitarian writings on equality. You also comment on the welcome return of philosophy to public affairs in the seventies. Do you think that the engagement of philosophy with public affairs is still not engaged enough?

As I suggested before, I do respect, though I don't always admire, academic philosophy in its more detached and abstract modes. It may even be the case the philosophical innovation is most likely to take place at very high levels of abstraction, even if most of what goes on up there isn't particularly innovative. But when philosophers write about public affairs, I believe that they must attend to the political and moral realities of the world whose affairs these are. Thomas Pogge's recent writings on global justice provide a useful model: he has gone to school with the political economists and writes knowledgeably about international terms of trade and the political context in which states borrow money and sell natural resources. That is the sort of work we have to do if we want to call ourselves 'engaged.'

What are you working on now?

I am just finishing up a little book with the working title 'The Exclusions of Liberal Theory.' This will be a critique of standard liberalism, though not in any sense a rejection of it. My argument is that liberalism would be a more effectively egalitarian doctrine if it acknowledged the power of involuntary association; accommodated group life, even in its more intense forms; and recognised the role of passion in political conflict. It is a plea for a more sociologically and psychologically sophisticated liberal political theory. An even littler version of this book has already appeared in Germany under the title Vernunft, Politik und Leidenschaft: Defizite liberaler Theorie – my Horkheimer lectures in 1999. But I have now added a lot more stuff, trying to address some of the arguments about multi-culturalism.

I am also involved in a big collaborative project that will eventually produce four volumes of texts and commentaries that represent (our version of) The Jewish Political Tradition. Volume one, dealing with all the arguments about authority and legitimacy, came out in 2000; volume two, on membership, deals with the attempts, over three thousand years, to answer the question, Who is a Jew? It has just come out (April 2003). On my part, the project is an effort to deny that the tradition 'belongs' exclusively to orthodox Jews or even to religious Jews. I am also arguing that Jewish political experience, above all, the experience of statelessness, of collective survival without territory or sovereignty, should be of interest to anyone interested in politics, whatever their religion or ethnicity (or lack thereof).

Finally, Dissent magazine takes a lot of my time. It is hard work trying to sustain an oppositionist politics in the US today – especially when part of what I feel I have to oppose is the idiocy of many of my fellow oppositionists: knee-jerk anti-Americanism, old left dogmatism, and the rejection of any fellowship larger than the sect of the politically correct and the morally pure. I live on the left, but quarrel with some of my neighbours, and in the aftermath of 9/11 the quarrels have gotten more intense. But I would resist the idea that I am 'working' on these quarrels. They are just occasionally necessary engagements.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Sexism in the Cités (Newsweek)

The phenomenon in France described in the piece below (archived here) has some special features (including what appears to be a high prevalence of gang rape), but in many ways it obviously fits a larger pattern. It is well known that one of the characteristic ways that immigrant and other minority groups often try to assert their identity and self-respect is through tightening up control over female sexuality (that is, restraint over the sexuality of "their" women). And one of the ways that their multifarious free-floating resentments find expression is to focus on male resentment of female sexuality. (For a lot of the Muslim communities in western Europe, the upsurge in fundamentalist versions of Islam has helped provide ideological justification for a backlash against female "immorality" and semi-emancipation, homosexuality, etc. But Islam isn't a necessary ingredient.)

In a number of European countries, there seem to be an increasing number of honor killings among Muslim immigrant populations. (In some cases, I suppose, "immigrant" should be in quotation marks, because they're already third-generation ethnic minorities.) As far as I can tell, however, France is the only country where there's a lot of punitive gang rape like this; but that may just mean that we don't know about similar patterns elsewhere.

At all events, this has recently become big "news" in France (i.e., an openly recognized scandal, rather than something that was just happening). But it's a phenomenon worth pondering for anyone thinking about the sociology of gender & sexuality. more generally

Yours in struggle,
Jeff Weintraub

(P.S. In France, when they're not raping teenage girls, they're beating up Jews. There are a lot of surplus resentments, which French society isn't coping with very successfully. But that's a larger story ...)
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Newsweek
August 18, 2003
Sexism in the Cités
Life in immigrant ghettos can be violent and harsh for young Muslim women
By Christopher Dickey and Marie Valla

An unnamed 15-year-old girl is assaulted by 18 boys, most of them not much older than she is. Sonia, also 15, is raped by seven of her supposed friends in the basement of her apartment building. Sheherezade, 11, is beaten and raped repeatedly over the course of a year by 12 different boys.

Grim as such crimes may be, they’re becoming commonplace in the police ledgers of Paris, Lyons or Toulouse. The scene is almost always the same: the housing projects called cites on the outskirts of France’s major cities. Built by socially progressive governments in the 1960s, they’ve since been taken over by a generation of mostly Arab immigrants—impoverished, cut off from their native lands and culture, ghettoized. Here, young men try to rule their families and neighbors under a macho code drawn partly from Muslim tradition, partly from the violence and porn in the media. Women submit to men, they say. Good girls, good sisters, cover themselves and stay home. Otherwise they are putes, whores, who can be used and abused even if they say no.

Such stories, then, are not just about urban crime and rough neighborhoods. They reflect a core issue of Muslim integration in Europe. Can the young men and women of the cites break out, or will they become ever more isolated, turning inward against themselves? Will they build their lives and relationships on egalitarian values, or on the worst of Islam and the Internet? Young men trapped in a world with no jobs and no future, and violently confused about sex, tend to make women the symbols and the victims of the frustrations around them. Ten years ago, the boys in these hoods burned cars in the streets. Today, they increasingly turn their anger against “their” women in the basements of their apartment blocks.

Recently, a few young women of the cites have begun to fight back. One organization in particular, Ni Putes, Ni Soumises, (roughly, Not Whores, Not Servants), has been organizing protests and speaking out so loudly that the French public and the French government have taken notice—and sympathized. In one grandiose gesture on Bastille Day, July 14, huge photographs of 14 women from the cites, posing as Marianne, the symbol of French liberty, were hung on the columns of the National Assembly looking out on the Place de la Concorde. Will these girls’ fathers and brothers now show them as much respect?

That looks to be a longer fight. “Sexuality has always been a thorny issue in the quartiers ,” says Safia Lebdi, 29, who is one of the first members of Ni Putes, Ni Soumises, and could be a poster girl for confident, in-your-face sexuality. The other day she was wearing a pink see-through top, low-rise cargo pants and soft, beaded slippers. Born into the cite outside Clermont-Ferrand, where Michelin makes tires, she knows what she’s talking about when she says that “feminist thinking never reached the ghettos.” Girls, for their own protection, have taken to wearing loose-fitting track suits or veils over their hair. “They’re locked up in a world where their fathers have failed to break out of unemployment, where they have failed at finishing school or finding a job,” says a young woman activist with another group, Female Voices, Rebel Voices. Lacking hope or the opportunity for a better life, she adds, “all the men have left is their virility.” And some have savage ways of asserting it.

Late last year, two events galvanized the women of the cites. A young woman named Samira Bellil published a book, “In Gang-Rape Hell,” recounting her experiences in the ghetto, including twice being subjected to the tournante —men taking turns using her, one after another. She urged her “sisters in suffering” to speak out before they lost all self-esteem. Then reports hit the press about another —incident even more gruesome than those before it. A 17-year-old woman named Sohane told off an old boyfriend, and he burned her alive.

So was, earlier this year, that the eight young women of Ni Putes, Ni Soumises came together and began touring France to publicize their plight. They weren’t sure what they were doing or where they were going. But they knew they were fed up. “We were f—-ing scared,” says Lebdi. “We were heading for the unknown.”

Unknown then, perhaps, but no longer. Today, all of France knows of them and their cause. They have been received in Paris by Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. The government has promised that police stations would be more receptive to women in distress filing complaints, and that housing should be provided for women, whom these activists and the government agree, need rescuing from severe abuse. So far some 50 women have moved into such apartments, and Ni Putes, Ni Soumises gets a steady stream of abused and battered girls. “It takes time to make change happen,” says Lebdi, “but we don’t have time. Every single situation we deal with is an emergency and often even a matter of life and death.”

The problem is that to help the women of the cites in the long run, you have to help the men—not only to find jobs and education, but to learn to live in Western societies. And precious little has been done about that.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Christopher Hitchens remembers Edward Said

I have noticed over the past few years that Hitchens, who is not usually a very inhibited polemicist, has continued to defend his former friend Edward Said, and has been quite mild even when he criticized him. His treatment of Said in this valedictory piece is also remarkably mild, restrained, and respectful, but the criticisms nevertheless cut pretty deep.

--Jeff Weintraub
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The Atlantic Monthly
September 2003
Where the Twain Should Have Met
The cosmopolitan Edward Said was ideally placed to explain East to West and West to East. What went wrong? by Christopher Hitchens .....

Orientalism by Edward Said - Vintage Books

I first met Edward Said in the summer of 1976, in the capital city of Cyprus. We had come to Nicosia to take part in a conference on the rights of small nations. The obscene civil war in Lebanon was just beginning to consume the whole society and to destroy the cosmopolitanism of Beirut; it was still just possible in those days to imagine that a right "side" could be discerned through the smoke of confessional conflagration. Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation was in its infancy (as was the messianic "settler" movement among Jews), and the occupation itself was less than a decade old. Egypt was still the Egypt of Anwar Sadat—a man who had placed most of his credit on the wager of "Westernization," however commercially conceived, and who was only two years away from the Camp David accords. It was becoming dimly apprehended in the West that the old narrative of "Israel" versus "the Arabs" was much too crude. The image of a frugal kibbutz state surrounded by a heaving ocean of ravening mullahs and demagogues was slowly yielding to a story of two peoples contesting a right to the same twice-promised land.

For all these "conjunctures," as we now tend to term them, Said was almost perfectly configured. He had come from an Anglican Palestinian family that divided its time and its property between Jerusalem and Cairo. He had spent years in the internationalist atmosphere of Beirut, and was as much at home in French and English as in Arabic. A favorite of Lionel Trilling's, he had won high distinction at Columbia University and was also up to concert standard as a pianist. Those Americans who subliminally associated the word "Palestinian" with swarthiness, bizarre headgear, and strange irredentist rhetoric were in for a shock that was long overdue. And this is to say little enough about his wit, his curiosity, his care for the opinions of others.

Within two years he had published Orientalism: a book that has exerted a galvanizing influence throughout the quarter century separating its first from its most recent edition. In these pages Said characterized Western scholarship about the East as a conscious handmaiden of power and subordination. Explorers, missionaries, archaeologists, linguists—all had been part of a colonial enterprise. To the extent that American academics now speak about the "appropriation" of other cultures, and seldom fail to put ordinary words such as "the Other" between portentous quotation marks, and contest the very notion of objective inquiry, they are paying what they imagine is a debt to Edward Said's work. It isn't unfair to the book, I hope, to say that it also received a tremendous charge from the near simultaneous revolution in Iran and the later assassination of Anwar Sadat. The alleged "Westernization" or "modernization" of two ancient civilizations, Persia and Egypt, had proved to be founded upon, well ... sand. The word of the traditional policy intellectuals and Middle East "experts" turned out to be worth less than naught. Although this book said little on the subject of either Iran or Sadat, it burst on the knowledge-seeking general reader even as it threw down a challenge to the think tanks and professional institutes.

To be appraised properly, Orientalism ought to be read alongside three other books by Said: Covering Islam (1981), Culture and Imperialism (1993), and Out of Place (1999). The last of these is a memoir, which was the target of a number of scurrilous attacks essentially aimed at denying Said the right to call himself a Palestinian at all. The first is an assault on the generally lazy press coverage of the Iranian revolution and of all matters concerned with Islam. Culture and Imperialism is a collection of essays showing that Said has a deep understanding, amounting at times to sympathy, for the work of writers such as Austen and Kipling and George Eliot, who—outward appearances notwithstanding—never did take "the Orient" for granted.

In scrutinizing instances of translation and interpretation, the inescapable question remains the same: Who is interpreting what and to whom? It is easy enough to say that Westerners had long been provided with an exotic, sumptuous, but largely misleading account of the Orient, whether supplied by Benjamin Disraeli's Suez Canal share purchases, the celluloid phantasms of Rudolph Valentino, or the torrid episodes in T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. But it is also true that Arab, Indian, Malay, and Iranian societies can operate on a false if not indeed deluded view of "the West." This much became vividly evident very recently, with the circulation of bizarre libels about (say) a Jewish plot to destroy the World Trade Center. I, for one, do not speak or read Arabic, and have made only five, relatively short, visits to Iraq. But I am willing to bet that I know more about Mesopotamia than Saddam Hussein ever knew about England, France, or the United States. I also think that such knowledge as I have comes from more disinterested sources ... And I would add that Saddam Hussein was better able to force himself on my attention than I ever was to force myself on his. As Adonis, the great Syrian-Lebanese poet, has warned us, there exists a danger in too strong a counterposition between "East" and "West." The "West" has its intellectual and social troughs, just as the "East" has its pinnacles. Not only is this true now (Silicon Valley could hardly run without the work of highly skilled Indians, for example), but it was true when Arab scholars in Baghdad and Córdoba recovered the lost work of Aristotle for medieval "Christendom."

Cultural-political interaction, then, must be construed as dialectical. Edward Said was in a prime position to be a "negotiator" here. In retrospect, however, it can be argued that he chose a one-sided approach and employed rather a broad brush: "Without examining Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage—and even produce—the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period." ("Produce," as in "cultural production," has become one of the key words of the post-Foucault academy.) In this analysis every instance of European curiosity about the East, from Flaubert to Marx, was part of a grand design to exploit and remake what Westerners saw as a passive, rich, but ultimately contemptible "Oriental" sphere.

That there is undeniable truth to this it would be idle to dispute. Lord Macaulay, for example, was a near perfect illustration of the sentence (which occurs in Disraeli's novel Tancred) "The East is a career." He viewed the region both as a barbarous source of potential riches and as a huge tract in pressing need of civilization. But in that latter respect he rather echoed the feeling of his fellow Victorian Karl Marx, who thought that the British had brought modernity to India in the form of printing presses, railways, the telegraph, and steamship contact with other cultures. Marx didn't believe that they had done this out of the kindness of their hearts. "England, it is true, in causing a social revolution in Hindustan was actuated only by the vilest interests," he wrote, "... but that is not the question. The question is, can mankind fulfill its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia?" To the extent that empire licensed this, Marx reasoned, one was entitled to exclaim, with Goethe,
Should this torture then torment us
Since it brings us greater pleasure?
Were not through the rule of Timur
Souls devoured without measure?
Said spent a lot of time "puzzling" (his word) over Marx's ironies here: how could a man of professed human feeling justify conquest and exploitation? The evident answer—that conquest furnished an alternative to the terrifying serfdom and stagnation of antiquity, and that creation can take a destructive form—need have nothing to do with what Said calls "the old inequality between East and West." (The Roman invasion of Britain was also "progress," if the word has any meaning.) Moreover, Marxism in India has often been a strong force for secular government and "nation building," whereas Marxism in China has led by a bloody and contradictory route to a highly dynamic capitalist revolution. To discount all this, as Said did, as a "Romantic Orientalist vision" (and to simply omit the printing press, the railways, and the rest of it) is to miss the point in a near heroic way.

The lines from Goethe are taken from his Westöstlicher Diwan, one of the most meticulous and respectful considerations of the Orient we have. And Said's critics from the conservative side, notably his archenemy Bernard Lewis, have reproached him for leaving German Orientalism out of his account. This is a telling omission, they charge, because Oriental scholarship in Germany, although of an unexampled breadth and splendor, was not put to the service of empire and conquest and annexation. That being so, they argue, what remains of Said's general theory? His reply deals only with the academic aspect of the question: Goethe and Schlegel, he responds, relied on books and collections already made available by British and French imperial expeditions. It might be more exact to point out, as against both Lewis and Said, that Germany did have an imperial project. Kaiser Wilhelm II visited Damascus and paid for the restoration of the tomb of Saladin. A Drang nach Osten ("drive to the East") was proposed, involving the stupendous scheme of a Berlin-to-Baghdad railway. German imperial explorers and agents were to be found all over the region in the late nineteenth century and up to 1914 and beyond. But of course they were doing all this work in the service of another, allied empire—a Turkish and Islamic one. And that same empire was to issue a call for jihad, against Britain and on the side of Germany, in 1914. (The best literary evocation of this extraordinary moment is still Greenmantle, written by that veteran empire-builder John Buchan.) However, the inclusion of this important episode would tell against both Said, who doesn't really allow for Muslim or Turkish imperialism, and Lewis, who has always been rather an apologist for the Turks. Osama bin Laden, as we must always remember, began his jihad as an explicit attempt to restore the vanished caliphate that once ran the world of Islam from the shores of the Bosporus. As we often forget, Prussian militarism was his co-sufferer in this pang of loss.

Among Edward Said's considerable advantages are that he knows very well who John Buchan was and that he, Said, was educated at St. George's, an Anglican establishment in Jerusalem, and also at a colonial mock-English private school, Victoria College, in Cairo. (One of the head boys was Omar Sharif.) There were some undoubtedly penitential aspects to this, recounted with dry humor in his memoir, but they have helped him to be an "outsider" and an exile in several different countries and cultures, including the Palestine of his birth. When he addresses the general Arab audience, he makes admirable use of this duality or multiplicity. In his columns in the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram he is scornful and caustic about the failures and disgraces of Arab and Muslim society, and was being so before the celebrated recent United Nations Development Programme report on self-imposed barriers to Arab development, which was written by, among others, his friend Clovis Maksoud. Every year more books are translated and published in Athens than in all the Arab capitals combined. Where is there a decent Arab university? Where is there a "transparent" Arab election? Why does Arab propaganda resort to such ugliness and hysteria?

Much of secular Arab nationalism was led and developed by Europeanized Christians, often Greek Orthodox, whereas much of atavistic Islamic jihadism relies on anti-Jewish fabrications produced in the lower reaches of the tsarist Russian Orthodox police state. Said has a fairly exact idea of the traffic between the two worlds, and of what is and is not of value. He is a source of stern admonition to the uncritical, insulated Arab elites and intelligentsia. But for some reason—conceivably connected to his status as an exile—he cannot allow that direct Western engagement in the region is legitimate.

This might be a narrowly defensible position if direct Islamist interference in Western life and society had not become such a factor. When Orientalism was first published, the Shah was still a gendarme for American capital in Iran, and his rule was so exorbitantly cruel and corrupt that millions of secularists were willing to make what they hoped was a temporary alliance with Khomeini in order to get rid of it. Today Iranian mullahs are enriching uranium and harboring fugitive bin Ladenists (the slaughterers of their Shia co-religionists in Afghanistan and Pakistan) while students in Tehran risk their lives to demonstrate with pro-American slogans.

How does Said, in his introduction to the new edition of Orientalism, deal with this altered and still protean reality? He begins by admitting the self-evident, which is that "neither the term Orient nor the concept of the West has any ontological stability; each is made up of human effort, partly affirmation, partly identification of the Other." Fair enough. He adds, "That these supreme fictions lend themselves easily to manipulation and the organization of collective passion has never been more evident than in our time, when the mobilizations of fear, hatred, disgust and resurgent self-pride and arrogance—much of it having to do with Islam and the Arabs on one side, 'we' Westerners on the other—are very large-scale enterprises."

This is composed with a certain obliqueness, which may be accidental, but I can't discover that it really means to say that there are delusions on "both" these ontologically nonexistent sides. A few sentences further on we read of "the events of September 11 and their aftermath in the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq." Again, if criticism of both sides is intended (and I presume that it is), it comes served in highly discrepant portions. There's no quarrel with the view that "events" occurred on September 11, 2001; but that the military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq were wars "against" either country is subject to debate. A professor of English appreciates the distinction, does he not? Or does he, like some puerile recent "activists" (and some less youthful essayists, including Gore Vidal), think that the United States could not wait for a chance to invade Afghanistan in order to build a pipeline across it? American Orientalism doesn't seem that restless from where I sit; it asks only that Afghans leave it alone.

Misgivings on this point turn into serious doubts when one gets to the next paragraph: "In the US, the hardening of attitudes, the tightening of the grip of demeaning generalization and triumphalist cliché, the dominance of crude power allied with simplistic contempt for dissenters and 'others,' has found a fitting correlative in the looting, pillaging and destruction of Iraq's libraries and museums."

Here, for some reason, "other" is represented lowercase. But there can't be much doubt as to meaning. The American forces in Baghdad set themselves to annihilate Iraq's cultural patrimony. Can Said mean to say this? Well, he says it again a few lines further on, when he asserts that current Western policy amounts to "power acting through an expedient form of knowledge to assert that this is the Orient's nature, and we must deal with it accordingly."
In the process the uncountable sediments of history, which include innumerable histories and a dizzying variety of peoples, languages, experiences, and cultures, all these are swept aside or ignored, relegated to the sand heap along with the treasures ground into meaningless fragments that were taken out of Baghdad's libraries and museums. My argument is that history is made by men and women, just as it can also be unmade and re-written, always with various silences and elisions, always with shapes imposed and disfigurements tolerated, so that "our" East, "our" Orient, becomes "ours" to possess and direct.
This passage is rescued from sheer vulgarity only by its incoherence. The sole testable proposition (or nontautology) is the fantastic allegation that American forces powdered the artifacts of the Iraq museum in order to show who was boss. And the essential emptiness of putting the "our" in quotation marks, with its related insistence on possession and appropriation, is nakedly revealed thereby. We can be empirically sure of four things: that by design the museums and libraries of Baghdad survived the earlier precision bombardment without a scratch or a splinter; that much of the looting and desecration occurred before coalition forces had complete control of the city; that no looting was committed by U.S. soldiers; and that the substantial reconstitution of the museum's collection has been undertaken by the occupation authorities, and their allies among Iraqi dissidents, with considerable care and scruple. This leaves only two arguable questions: How much more swiftly might the coalition troops have moved to protect the galleries and shelves? And how are we to divide the responsibility for desecration and theft between Iraqi officials and Iraqi mobs? The depravity of both is, to be sure, partly to be blamed on the Saddam regime; would it be too "Orientalist" to go any further?

I said earlier that I wondered whether Said was affected, in this direly excessive rhetoric, by his role as an exile. I am moved to ask again by his repeated and venomous attacks on Ahmed Chalabi and Kanan Makiya, Iraqi oppositionists denounced by him, in effect, for living in the West and being expatriates. Never mind that this is a tactical trope of which Said should obviously beware. The existence of such men suggests to me, in contrast, that there is every hope of cultural and political cross-pollination between the Levant, the Orient, the Near East, the Middle East, Western Asia (whatever name you may choose to give it), and the citizens of the Occident, the North, the metropole. In recent arguments in Washington about democracy and self-determination and pluralism, it seemed to me that the visiting Iraqi and Kurdish activists had a lot more to teach than to learn.

At that same far-off and long-ago conference in Cyprus, so near to the old Crusader fortresses of Famagusta, Kantara, and St. Hilarion, I also had the good fortune to encounter Sir Steven Runciman, whose history of the Crusades is an imperishable work, because it demonstrates that medieval Christian fundamentalism not only constituted a menace to Islamic civilization but also directly resulted in the sack of Byzantium, the retardation of Europe, and the massacre of the Jews. It is desirable that the opponents of today's fanaticisms be as cool and objective in their recognition of a common enemy, and it is calamitous that one who had that opportunity should have chosen to miss it.