Friday, March 7, 2008

Ideas Matter

John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia, spoke at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) last Wednesday, March 5, 2008.

An edited text of the speech, and commentary, are at "John Howard accepts Irving Kristol award - defends his Conservative Legacy" American Interests (March 6, 2008)

A transcript of John Howard's entire speech is at John Howard's Irving Kristol Lecture - 'Sharing Our Common Values' " The Australian (March 5, 2008).

Mr. Howard quoted something Irving Krystol wrote in 1973. It's something to read, and think about. Particularly since religious fanatics are trying to kill people who don't fit their standards: and a distressing number of American leaders seem determined to prevent an effective defense against them.
"... I know that it will be hard for some to believe that ideas can be so important. This underestimation of ideas is a peculiarly bourgeois fallacy, especially powerful in the most bourgeois of nations, our own United States. For two centuries, the very important people who managed the affairs of this society could not believe in the importance of ideas – until one day they were shocked to discover that their children, having been captured and shaped by certain ideas, were either rebelling against their authority or seceding from their society. The truth is that ideas are all-important. The massive and seemingly-solid institutions of any society – the economic institutions, the political institutions, the religious institutions – are always at the mercy of the ideas in the heads of the people who populate these institutions."

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.