Firstly, if this is true, I, like rather a lot of people in Britain I think, will be not very happy indeed. On the topic of SNAFU, I suppose one difference here is that the Iraqi generals aren't surviving on condensed milk and an apparently endless supply of rollies. At least we have that to be thankful for. Which is so much better than not having spectacularly screwed up an occupation or wasted vast sums of money.
In keeping with my 'the root-causers are on to something here, even if it's not what they think it is' line, Chris Bertram has a nice analogy indicating that, at least as a general rule, the claim that the full responsibility for morally disgusting acts should be passed onto the perpetrator is wrong. Governments have a duty to keep their citizens safe. Fulfilling that duty means being very careful when deciding whether to take acts which would predictably provoke others to take acts which would place citizens at risk. Just as a government, for example, has a responsibility to ensure that the dangerously criminally insane are kept from causing anyone harm, and we would criticise it were it to fail in that responsibility, it had better have fairly good reasons for doing something - a category which of course can include acts of omission - which places its citizens at a higher level of risk than not doing it, or doing something else.
Balkinization reminds us that religions other than Islam have 'inspired' terrorist attacks in the West recently, and Juan Cole points out the disparity in the treatment of the two. Juan Cole also makes some rather apposite points about what does and does not count as appeasement, asking why it is, for example, that it would be appeasement to 'give in' to Al'Qaida, but wasn't appeasement to 'give in' to the Stern Gang.
Pearsall makes some sensible points about the invoking the tolerance of various Muslim societies in the past as a defence of various intolerances in parts of contemporary Islam, but I think misses part of the point of that invoking. I think that part of the point of the invoking is to show that Islam is not monolithically intolerant, just as pointing to the levels scientific and philosophical sophistication in the medieval Middle East gives the lie to the idea of Islam as necessarily backward. The point is not to excuse present crimes by past good behaviour, but to point to the possibility of future good behaviour by virtue of similar policies in the past, as it were. Also, on the 'the end of the Ottoman Empire led to nationalist pogroms', an example of a multi-ethnic empire falling apart which didn't lead to violence would be, I suspect, rather hard to find, just as something might be gathered from the implicit comparison with Nazi Germany.
Jarndyce and Blimpish have an interesting post up at the Sharpener about the appropriate policies to adopt towards the Muslim community in Britain in the aftermath of the London bombings - I'm not going to call them 7/7: bloody stupid Americanism - which gets quite philosophical. Blimpish makes two quasi-philosophical critiques of the liberalism which he thinks will fail to deal adequately the undoubted challenges that policy towards Britain's Muslims will have to deal with - reducing the number of imams with backgrounds in the radical Islam of Saudi Arabia, for example, and countering such teaching where it does exist - both related to liberalism's alleged excessive individualism.
The first is not so much a critique of liberalism, as a critique of the alleged historical origins of liberalism in the radical Protestantism of the Reformation, to which Blimpish attributes a kind of Manichaeanian desire to cleanse the world, a desire absent in religions which have interpretative traditions, as Catholicism does. The individualism, which Blimpish argues is shared by Islam, lies in the lack of holistic, measured and compromising interpretation of the various sacred texts, which then opens them to being taken out of context and distorted, as there is no authority to provide a check on radical re-readings. I'm suspicious of this claim, on three grounds: firstly, if you take Locke as the founder of modern liberalism - as you should - there is nothing distinctively Protestant, and indeed much from the Catholic natural law tradition, in liberalism, something Quentin Skinner has been arguing fairly persuasively for some time; secondly, many of the most infamous example of Manichaeanian indifference to the corrupt world are Catholic, most notably perhaps the order on the capture of Carcassonne during the Abligensian Crusade, 'kill them all: God will know his own' (examples could be multiplied however); thirdly, religions are, by definition, not borne with centuries of authoratitive interpretation guiding readings of their doctrines, so such interpretations must have evolved over time, indicating that their evolution, if it would be as good as Blimpish claims - something I am skeptical of, but not openly challenging - could happen again.
The second of Blimpish's challenges is more direct. He points to the communitarian critique of liberalism as unable to build the sense of community on which a political society, if it is to last, must rest, and, relatedly, to liberalism's universalism, which ignores the particularities of those who make up the society in question, and hence alienates them. I'm dubious about the empirical claim that this critique rests on, since it's not clear that a government needs to engage in deliberate attempts at community building - in ways that a liberal couldn't endorse - in order for such a sense of community to come into being, but more interested in the philosophical side of the critique. I think Blimpish, and communitarians generally, stray onto the wrong side of the distinction between the political and the ethical. Politics is about dealing with difference: if everyone was alike, there would be significantly less, and perhaps no, need for the careful balancings of competing interests and values that political action intrinsically involves. That difference, liberals recognise, can only be dealt with by taking the features which all share simply as members of a political body, a bundle of characteristics related to agency, the very same agency which results in difference. Manifestations of that agency in practice may be particular to individual societies, but the capacity for agency itself is not significantly particularistic.
To require membership of a community larger than that which accepts, at root, these sorts of claims and their consequences - freedom of speech and conscience, from arbitrary imprisonment, entitlement to enough resources to be the single most purposeful agent in your own life, and so on - would be to take the politics out of politics: the difference that makes politics necessary, the disagreement about how individuals should live their lives, is eliminated. Communitarians are fond of using the family as a metaphor for the state, and a particularly idealised version of the family too, but this is deeply misleading metaphor: ideally, a family is bound together by bonds of love and affection, but there is no need or even reason for me to have similar concern for the doings or success of other British citizens, beyond that they should not have rightful claims denied.
Less complicatedly but still philosophically, Will Wilkinson lays into Brad DeLong about Utilitarianism again. He also has a bit of a go about Layard, citing Coase, who advocates trading to equilibria in order to secure rights. This, to my mind makes him rather like a utilitarian: utilitarians think that the satisfaction of the sadistic murderer should be taken into account when considering policy, and Coase thinks that enough money should given to the sadistic murderer to offset their dissatisfaction at not being able to torture to death. Both of these positions are morally repugnant, and both should be rejected (edited for drunkeness).
On a non-philosophical note, Gideon Haigh points out what has been and hopefully is no longer, one of the most important advantages the Aussies have had over England is that they're mentally stronger, not only in the sense that they stand up to pressure better, but in that they're prepared to go that little bit further for everything. The quasi-ancedotal bit about the difference between Gough and McGrath's attitude to batting illustrates this quite well.
Finally, having seen the first film, thought it was nostaglic, class-ridden, jolly hockeysticks tripe - a kind of Enid Blyton for the vacuously spiritual age - and been told by those whose opinions I trust that the books are similar, why are apparently sensible and well-educated adults excited about Harry Potter?