Monday, October 25, 2010

America's Can't Do Attitude

Over on Asia Unbound, Yanzhong Huang contrasts the Chinese and American approaches to high-speed rail.

The development of high-speed train epitomizes China’s rapid emergence as a great power. It should also serve as a wakeup call for U.S. policymakers, who seem to be losing their ability to do what is right for the country. Early this month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided to halt a project that would add two more tracks to more than double the number of NJ Transit trains that could pass under the Hudson River (currently NJ Transit commuter trains and Amtrak cars share a century-old, two-track tunnel beneath the river, so when an Amtrak train is choked in the bottleneck, it causes significant delays for NJ commuter trains to and from New York City). Believe it or not, the project had been in the works for about two decades and had received a $6 billion commitment from the federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Alas, we have money to fight two extremely expensive wars, but we do not have money to add two more tracks. Where is that “can-do” and “get-it-done” attitude that had characterized America’s state-building experience?
Mark Di Ionno, in the Star-Ledger puts it this way:
After 53 years of talking, 17 years of actual studying and planning, and $478 million spent, this is what we got: a dirt lot, a shuttered storage center, and a new concrete overpass.
It’s sad, and it speaks to what we’ve become: 53 years of talking, studying and spending, lead only to a Tunnel to Nowhere.

In the first 50 years of the last century, here’s what was built: The first railroad tunnel under the Hudson was completed in 1908. The second opened in 1909. A third in 1910. The Holland Tunnel opened in 1927. The George Washington Bridge, 1931. The Pulaski Skyway, 1932, The Lincoln Tunnel’s first tubes, 1937. The second, in 1945. All took about 10 years from drawing board to ribbon cutting, some less.

You get the idea.

There was a spirit then that seems to have died. Look at those years, and think of all the excuses those leaders could have used to fail. World War I, The Depression, World War II.

Still, it got done.

There was vision, and growth.

And now, we have dysfunction and inertia, no matter whom you blame.

And a Tunnel to Nowhere.

India is on its own

Vir Sanghvi in The Hindustan Times, ruminates on the curious story of David Headley a.k.a Daaod Gilani, and concludes that India has no allies against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

But here’s what’s important: the US probably knew much more about 26/11 than it was willing to let on. Even today, it knows how deeply the ISI is involved in sponsoring terrorism. But as long as the terrorism is directed towards India and not the West, it does not mind so much. The CIA continues to work closely with ISI and two days ago Washington gave Pakistan another $2 billion to buy weapons.

So, finally, let’s never forget the biggest lesson from this saga. When it comes to the battle against terrorism, India has no allies. We are on our own.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Welcome Statement

Here: (excerpt)

We, the undersigned, unconditionally condemn any intimidation or threats of violence directed against any individual or group exercising the rights of freedom of religion and speech; even when that speech may be perceived as hurtful or reprehensible.

We are concerned and saddened by the recent wave of vitriolic anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment that is being expressed across our nation. 

We are even more concerned and saddened by threats that have been made against individual writers, cartoonists, and others by a minority of Muslims.  We see these as a greater offense against Islam than any cartoon, Qur’an burning, or other speech could ever be deemed.

We affirm the right of free speech for Molly Norris, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and all others including ourselves.
As Muslims, we must set an example of justice, patience, tolerance,  respect, and forgiveness.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More on the Mumbai attacks

The NYT reports that in 2005 and 2007-8, two women, David Headley's wives at the time, warned American authorities that Headley was plotting an attack, and that he was a member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
An examination of Mr. Headley’s movements in the years before the bombing, based on interviews in Washington, Pakistan, India and Morocco, shows that he had overlapping, even baffling, contacts among seemingly disparate groups — Pakistani intelligence, terrorists, and American drug investigators.

Those ties are rekindling concerns that the Mumbai bombings represent another communications breakdown in the fight against terrorism, and are raising the question of whether United States officials were reluctant to dig deeper into Mr. Headley’s movements because he had been an informant for the D.E.A.

More significantly, they may indicate American wariness to pursue evidence that some officials in Pakistan, its major ally in the war against Al Qaeda, were involved in planning an attack that killed six Americans.
I told them, he’s either a terrorist, or he’s working for you,” she recalled saying to American officials at the United States Embassy in Islamabad. “Indirectly, they told me to get lost.”

Matt Taibbi on the Tea Party

Worth a read.

You see, when a nice white lawyer with a GI Joe beard uses state aid to help him through tough times and get over the hump – so that he can go from having three little future Medicare-collecting Republican children to eight little future Medicare-collecting Republican children – that’s a good solid use of government aid, because what we’re doing is helping someone “transition” from dependency to economic independence.

This of course is different from the way other, less GI-Joe-looking people use government aid, i.e. as a permanent crutch that helps genetically lazy and ambitionless parasites mooch off of rich white taxpayers instead of getting real jobs.

I can’t even tell you how many people I interviewed at Tea Party events who came up with one version or another of the Joe Miller defense. Yes, I’m on Medicare, but… I needed it! It’s those other people who don’t need it who are the problem!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Health Care Scare Tactics

In "Collapsing empire watch", Glenn Greenwald pointed to an alarming statistic:
As of September 23, 2010, the United States ranked forty-ninth for both male and female life expectancy combined.
Just to underscore the rapidity of the decline, as recently as 1999, the U.S. was ranked by the World Health Organization as 24th in life expectancy.  It's now 49th. 
But, there is a big mistake in this ranking.  If you trace Glenn Greenwald's URLs, the 1999 figures come from here; the 2010 findings come from a paper, which when you trace the citation, comes from the CIA worldbook, here.

Sure enough, on first glance, the US has dropped from 24th to 49th place in just a decade.

First looks can be deceptive.  Ask yourself the question which countries overtook the US during this decade, and where did they rank a decade ago?

Then you find that the following countries/entities are in the 2010 list and do not figure **anywhere** on the 1999 list:

1. Macau
2. Hong Kong
3. Anguilla
4. Cayman Islands
5. Bermuda
6. Liechtenstein
7. Guernsey
8. Jersey
9. Faroe Islands
10. Saint Pierre and Miguelon
11. Virgin Islands
12. Isle of Man
13. European Union
14. Gibraltar
15. Puerto Rico
16. Wallis and Futuna.
17. Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha

When you remove these countries, which did not figure on the 1999 list, from the 2010 list, then the US goes to 28th place in 2010 from 24th place in 1999.  The countries that were behind the US in the 1999 list and overtook the US by 2010 are (having removed the  entities above from the 2010 list)
1. Singapore (#30 in 1999, #3 in 2010)
2. New Zealand (#31 in 1999, #12 in 2010)
3. Jordan (#102 in 1999, #17 in 2010)
4. South Korea (#51 in 1999, #27 in 2010)

It may be worth noting that e.g., Spain fell from #5 to #15; the UK from #14 to #25, so US's 4 place drop, while disappointing, is not terrifying.

PS: corrections:

Double checking my work, which I should have done before posting, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal and Bosnia Herzgovina are also ahead of the US now, so the US fell from 24th in 1999 to 32nd in 2010.

Ireland fell from 27th to 30th, Denmark fell from 28th to 29th, Portugal from 29th to 31st, answering the question I had started out with - namely whether drug legalization had improved Portugal's standings (too small an effect to tell is my conclusion).

Bosnia rose from 56th to 28th.

The 1997 list:
  1. Japan
  2. Australia
  3. France
  4. Sweden
  5. Spain
  6. Italy
  7. Greece
  8. Switzerland
  9. Monaco
  10. Andorra
  11. San Marino
  12. Canada
  13. Netherlands
  14. UK
  15. Norway
  16. Belgium
  17. Austria
  18. Luxembourg
  19. Iceland
  20. Finland
  21. Malta
  22. Germany
  23. Israel
  24. United States
  25. Cyprus
  26. Dominica
  27. Ireland
  28. Denmark
  29. Portugal
  30. Singapore
  31. New Zealand

The 2010 list (minus the extra countries)
  1. Andorra
  2. Japan
  3. Singapore
  4. Australia
  5. Canada
  6. France
  7. Sweden
  8. Switzerland
  9. San Marino
  10. Israel
  11. Iceland
  12. New Zealand
  13. Italy
  14. Monaco
  15. Spain
  16. Norway
  17. Jordan
  18. Greece
  19. Austria
  20. Malta
  21. Netherlands
  22. Luxembourg
  23. Germany
  24. Belgium
  25. UK
  26. Finland
  27. Korea, South
  28. Bosnia and Herzgovina
  29. Denmark
  30. Ireland
  31. Portugal
  32. United States

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Giving in to bullying - 2

From here (of all places!)

According to columnist Andrew Alexander, the Washington Post’s editors recently pulled a Non Sequitor comic strip by Wiley Miller, because they were “concerned it might offend and provoke some Post readers, especially Muslims,”.......
Alexander wrote,
Miller is known for social satire. But at first glance, the single-panel cartoon he drew for last Sunday seems benign. It is a bucolic scene imitating the best-selling children’s book “Where’s Waldo?” A grassy park is jammed with activity. Animals frolic. Children buy ice cream. Adults stroll and sunbathe. A caption reads: “Where’s Muhammad?
Here’s the key part – Miller didn’t actually depict Prophet Muhammad in the cartoon, [which you can see here]. That was the point of his satire, though the Post’s editors still felt the cartoon seemed like “a deliberate provocation without a clear message.” Miller reportedly responded angrily, telling Alexander it was a commentary on “the insanity of an entire group of people rioting and putting out a hit list over cartoons,” as well as “media cowering in fear of printing any cartoon that contains the word ‘Muhammad.’ ” He added, “The wonderful irony [is that] great newspapers like The Washington Post, that took on Nixon . . . run in fear of this very tame cartoon, thus validating the accuracy of the satire.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dr. Koenraad Elst speaks about the Ayodhya verdict 4,5,6 of 6

Monday, October 11, 2010

Today's Brian Lehrer Show

If you can, you should listen to today's Brian Lehrer show.

Otherwise, read at least this.   The government of the US, the government headed by Barack Obama, is misrepresenting the (lousy) cases they have against Guantanamo detainees to the public.

Key excerpts:

But there turns out to be nothing ordinary about the habeas case brought by Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman [2], a Yemeni held without charges for nearly eight years....

A day after his March 16 order [4] was filed on the court's electronic docket, Kennedy's opinion vanished. Weeks later, a new ruling [5] appeared in its place. While it reached the same conclusion, eight pages of material had been removed, including key passages in which Kennedy dismantled the government's case against Uthman. 

...In his first opinion, Kennedy wrote that one government witness against Uthman had been diagnosed by military doctors as "psychotic" with a mental condition that made his allegations against other detainees "unreliable." But the opinion the public sees makes no mention of the man's health and discounts his testimony only because of its inconsistencies.

....Even the date and circumstances of Uthman's arrest were changed. In the first version, the judge said Uthman was detained on Dec. 15, 2001, in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities. Rewritten, Kennedy said in the public opinion that Uthman admitted being captured "in late 2001 in the general vicinity of Tora Bora," the cave complex where bin Laden was thought to be hiding at that time.

...To justify Uthman's incarceration, the government relied on statements from five current or former detainees [7] who were previously discredited by judges in other cases, questioned by internal Obama administration assessments or found unreliable by military psychiatrists because they were mendacious, mentally ill or subjected to torture.

Kennedy's first opinion reveals that some of the government's evidence came from a detainee who committed suicide at Guantánamo three years ago after months of hunger strikes. In the second opinion, the detainee's name is concealed, making it impossible for the public to know he is dead.

Kennedy's original opinion noted that Uthman was seized in Parachinar; that he reached the town after an eight-day trek from the Afghan town of Khost, nowhere near Tora Bora; and that his journey to Pakistan began around Dec. 8, 2001. Those facts make it difficult to portray Uthman as a fighter in a battle that took place between Dec. 12 and Dec. 17 at Tora Bora. Two footnotes in the original opinion note that the government does not contest that Uthman was taken into custody in Parachinar.
Both were removed in the second opinion and Kennedy substituted wording to write instead that Uthman admitted he was seized "in late 2001 in the general vicinity of Tora Bora, Afghanistan."

{Here:  {Two witnesses were tortured for more than a year by the CIA, a third witness was driven psychotic from interrogations;  the fourth is dead, having committed suicide three years ago, after months of hunger strikes, down to 80 lbs of body weight.}

Another witness against Uthman was Salim Hamdan, whose legal battle against the U.S. government resulted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling throwing out earlier military commissions. Hamdan, a former driver for bin Laden, was recharged and convicted in 2008 of material support for terrorism, then released three months later to Yemen, where he is free. At some point during his incarceration at Guantánamo he was shown a photograph of Uthman but identified him by an entirely different name, telling interrogators that Uthman resembled someone named "Hudayfah al-Adani." All mention of Hamdan, and his statements, has been excised from Kennedy's public opinion although he is the only witness whose evidence wasn't entirely disregarded by the judge. }

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The future of Pakistan

Khaled Ahmed in The Friday Times, October 8, 2010:

Identity under ‘jahiliya’ exclusion: Dr Walter Andersen, Acting Director, South Asia Studies, John Hopkins University, wrote in 2007: ‘The real choice facing Pakistan has much to do with identity – and that choice will have important international implications. Will it become an inclusive homeland for its many different ethnic groups – or will it become an Islamic state, somewhat like Iran, driven by regional and international visions of sacred inspiration. I would presently bet on a more democratic and inclusive future. But if the latter less tolerant future occurs, we all have a problem’.

Chances are that the state may find its own identity pushed to the extreme right under the ideology of jahiliya propagated by Al Qaeda whose following in Pakistan comes from the clergy and their madrassa network, the jihadi organisations fielded by the state to fight its wars of ‘destiny’, and the common man alienated from the ‘weak state’ of Pakistan. The concept of jahiliya is inward-looking and focuses on the defects of homo islamicus ; and therefore initially it is the Sunni Muslim who will bear the brunt of this new identity-formation. After that, while becoming somewhat like Iran, Pakistan will fight an ‘intermediate’ sectarian war with Iran under an Al Qaeda banner before taking on the West. (Al Qaeda is fighting Iran in Iraq and its subordinate militia, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, is fighting the ‘excludable’ Shia in Pakistan.)

Pakistan’s ‘pre-modern’ seduction: In pre-modern times, Pakistan as a state would have disappeared because of its rapidly declining will to live. Today, it can become like Afghanistan and Yemen and Sudan – despite its nuclear assets – but the prevailing international order will prevent it from disappearing. Because of its extreme economic dependency on the outside world, Pakistan may even take some pragmatic steps to water down its medieval ideology and identity-coercion. It is quite clear now that it simply does not have the ideological conviction to fight the ‘superior’ puritanism of Al Qaeda. But it can be helped by a world community scared of Al Qaeda’s destructive outreach and, in return for this help, Pakistan may make an effort to strip itself of its coercive identity without even risking an intellectual discussion of it.

In Pakistan a prime minister can be educated in a Christian school and his children can be born in a Christian hospital, but he will not realise that a Christian cannot be treated in his own family hospital because of the use of zakat funds in it. The smell of ‘zimmi’-hood is quite strong in Pakistan and presages the days of ‘destiny’ which Pakistani identity is looking forward to. There is no ‘jizya’ imposed on the non-Muslims yet, but in Al Zawahiri’s mind the plans for imposing it are quite advanced. Not many clerics will disagree with him. And many more communities will be added to those who will pay the ‘jizya’. We all know who the ‘excludable’ communities are.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

What the Judge wrote

chaankya on BRF :
J Sudhir Aggrawal
Vol 15
Page 3640-3641(141-142/251 ) para -3623-3626

(the 8000 page verdict was not proof-read) (emphasis added)

3623. Normally, the Court do not make adverse comments on the deposition of witness and suffice it to consider whether it is credible or not but we find it difficult to resist ourselves in this particular case considering the sensitivity and the nature of dispute and also the reckless and irresponsible kind of statements, and the material got published by the persons claiming to be Expert Historian, Archaeologist etc. without making any proper investigation, research or study in the subject.

3624. This is really startling. It not only surprises us but we are puzzled. Such kind of statements to public at large causes more confusion than clear the things. Instead of helping in making a cordial atmosphere it tend to create more complications, conflict and controversy. Such people should refrain from making such statements or written work.  They must be extremely careful and cautious before making any statement in public on such issues.

3625. The people believe that something, which has been said by a learned, well studied person, would not be without any basis. Normally they accept it as a correct statement of fact and affairs. Normally, these persons do not find a stage where their statement can be scrutinized by other experts like a cross-examination in a Court of law. In legal terminology, we can say that these statements are normally ex parte and unilateral. But that does not give a license to such persons to make statements whatsoever without shouldering responsible and accountable for its authenticity. One cannot say that though I had made a statement but I am not responsible for its authenticity since it is not based on my study or research but what I have learnt from others that I have uttered. No one, particularly when he claims to be an expert on the subject, a proclaimed or self styled expert in a History etc. or the facts or events can express some opinion unless he/she is fully satisfied after his/her own research and study that he/she is also of the same view and intend to make the same statement with reasons.

3626. We do not know how much damage such kind of statements have already caused, but, if any, that has already been done. At this stage we can only hope and trust that the intelligentsia of this country particularly those who are experts in any discipline, shall live more responsible life, and before expressing any opinion or statement of fact particularly when that involves an extra ordinary sensitive matter, due care and caution shall be practised.

Judge criticizes Indian historians and archaeologists.

TOI: The Allahabad Court on witnesses in the RJB/Babri Masjid case:

To the court's astonishment, some who had written signed articles and issued pamphlets, found themselves withering under scrutiny and the judge said they were displaying an "ostrich-like attitude" to facts.

He also pointed out how the independent witnesses were all connected — one had done a PhD under the other, another had contributed an article to a book penned by a witness.

Some instances underlined by the judge are: Suvira Jaiswal deposed "whatever knowledge I gained with respect to disputed site is based on newspaper reports or what others told" (other experts). She said she prepared a report on the Babri dispute "after reading newspaper reports and on basis of discussions with medieval history expert in my department." Supriya Verma, another expert who challenged the ASI excavations, had not read the ground penetration radar survey report that led the court to order an excavation. She did her PhD under another expert Shireen F Ratnagar.
Verma and Jaya Menon alleged that pillar bases at the excavated site had been planted but HC found they were not present at the time the actual excavation took place.

Archaeologist Shereen F Ratnagar has written the "introduction" to the book of another expert who deposed, Professor Mandal. She admitted she had no field experience.

"Normally, courts do not make adverse comments on the deposition of a witness and suffice it to consider whether it is credible or not, but we find it difficult to resist ourselves in this particular case considering the sensitivity and nature of dispute and also the reckless and irresponsible kind of statements..." the judge has noted.

He said opinions had been offered without making a proper investigation, research or study in the subject. The judge said he was "startled and puzzled" by contradictory statements. When expert witness Suraj Bhan deposed on the Babri mosque, the weight of his evidence was contradicted by anotherexpert for Muslim parties, Shirin Musavi, who told the court that Bhan "is an archaeologist and not an expert on medieval history".
Justice Agarwal referred to signed statements issued by experts and noted that "instead of helping in making a cordial atmosphere it tends to create more complications, conflict and controversy." He pointed out that experts carry weight with public opinion. "One cannot say that though I had made a statement but I am not responsible for its authenticity since it is not based on my study or research but what I have learnt from what others have uttered," Justice Aggarwal has said, emphasising the need for thorough original research before concurring with what someone else has claimed.

Telephone conspiracy

From The Friday Times:
Saudi ulema against ‘hello’

According to daily Pakistan, seventy religious scholars (ulema) of Saudi Arabia including the Imam of Kaaba have issued fatwa that Muslims should not say hello on telephone because it refers to Hell. When a Muslim says hello to another Muslim, he is calling him a jahannami (dweller of Hell) which is banned in Islam. The Europeans are very clever because they actually don’t say hello but Hi which avoids sending Christians to Hell. Therefore it was banned for Muslims to say hello. They should say Salam which is a far better thing to say to another Muslim than hello, the word that contains ‘hell’.

PS: a wag immediately pointed out that salam is contained in salami.

Monday, October 04, 2010


Paul Krugman: Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultrawealthy families. And these organizations have long provided havens for conservative political figures not currently in office.

Re: Martyred

The "crimes" of Dr. Muhammad Farooq Khan.
Few months ago i was disgusted to see him advocating music in accordance of Islamic interpretation. Claiming that Islam is the religion of nature and any thing human nature likes like music, painting, dancing and other forms of fine arts are allowed in Islam.
Like all “new age” Islamic scholars he tried to define and explain the issues of hijab, music, jihad, slavery, jurisprudence, punishment of apostate, women rights, divorce,interpretation and other sensitive issues based on one rule that MODERN GLOBAL CIVILIZATION is standard if any Islamic injunction rejects any essential practice or belief system of MODERN GLOBAL CIVILIZATION, then that particular Islamic injunction should be redefined. (obviously this is a disgusting practice for majority of Muslims like me)
Hence i can say that i am not sad at all on the murder of Dr.Farooq Khan, In fact i am happy just because one of the real enemy of Allah(swt) and Rasool ullah(saw) is no more on the face of earth for the dirty job of diabolic.

What can one say to the above?

PS: what seemed most upsetting to the above writer:
For example Mr.Farooq Khan wrote in his book Islam and modern world:
“In the closest circle of a family there is no restriction on mutual contact and meetings. The surah al-Nur describes in detail the manners on meeting outside this circle. The first of these tells that it is obligatory for every man and woman to get him or herself introduced with the inhabitants of a house before entering it, confirm their willingness and pay regards to them. Obviously, this is a universal custom. The Quran says: “Believers, do not enter the dwellings of other people until you have asked their owners’ permission and wished them peace. (Al-Nur-24:27)
Thus after having observed the initial manners of entering a house the visitor may sit down with the dweller.

It is natural that men and women will talk mutually when they will meet at such places. It is, therefore, obligatory for men to wear civilized dress, have modesty in looks and avoid throwing bold and lusty glances towards women

Thus men and women can have mutual contacts on purpose at their residences and public places according to the teachings of Islam. They can talk and exchange views. The two families can have friendly relations in a civilized manner. There should not be sexual excitement and a bold interaction. But there is no restriction upon their civilized social interaction; they may even dine together:
(Islam & Modern World – p/67-68)
So you can see how segregation[sic] of men and women which is not allowed and discouraged every where in Quran and Hadith is easily interpreted as allowed and called as a natural social interaction of two sexes.
PS: The intersection of mores - segregation of men and women which the above writer appears to be in favor of -  and modern photography, Facebook, etc., leads to situations like this:

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Greed as Art

Photographer Pindelski had an interesting post, that I thought I should point y'all to, titled "Greed as Art".

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Martyred by the Bullies

The Vice Chancellor of Swat Islamic University, Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan was murdered by gunmen, not yet identified.   This article suggests that Dr Khan was "unorthodox".  Was he murdered for his views on the permissibility of music in Islam?
Dr. Khan was associated with Al-Mawrid, an Islamic research organization lead by Javed Ahmed Ghamidi . He gained media limelight and became a center of controversy for his allegedly unorthodox views on permissibility of music. Most of his works can be downloaded from his website. Clipping from the talk show where he shared his views on music is linked below:.......[omitted]
Its one of those days when it feels really impossible to breathe in the land of the pure and sadness overcomes the desire to remain optimistic. When intellect is not tolerated, disagreements are settled through bullets, and mockery of the law becomes a convention, the society seems to be quickly approaching towards self annihilation
PS: Dr Khan might have been annihilated simply for being anti-Taliban.

Yglesias is with Gandhi

I remember seeing in the library a novel about what would have happened had Gandhi headed the resistance to Hitler. I just scanned through it, I think Gandhi is summarily shot, and Hitler rolls over the world.

But on Gandhi's birthday, Yglesias writes:
I think the general moral of the story is that non-violence is a tactic whose potency people pretty systematically underrate. When the force being resisted is one you also sympathize with, it gets easy to see that non-violence would work better. But when the force being resisted is one you’re both frightened of and embittered against, the tendency is to be blind to this.

Over the years I’ve come to adopt a pretty extremist view on this, and I think I’m even prepared to accept the reductio ad Hitler case. Had it been feasible to coordinate the population of Poland, Denmark, Norway, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc. into a mass campaign of non-violent resistance to German occupation I think that would have brought even Hitler down. The problem there is essentially about how difficult it is to sustain collective action rather than about the need to fight evil with violence.