The So-Called War on Terror is a Criminal Fraud: Interview with Kourosh Ziabari, Fars News Agency

First published as “Prof. Michael Keefer: The So-Called War on Terror is A Criminal Fraud,” Fars News Agency (26 May 2014), http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13930228001613; also available at Information Clearing House (26 May 2014), http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38618.htm, and at four other websites. The text of this interview is followed by an exchange of letters with Professor Richard Pious of Columbia University.

 

The so-called War on Terror is a criminal fraud, designed to frighten Americans and the citizens of its allies into supporting systematic violations of international law. It was from the outset Islamophobic both in intention and in the wars of aggression it has been used to justify,” said Prof. Michael Keefer in an exclusive interview with Fars News Agency.

On the U.S. special relationship with Israel and Washington's unconditional support for the Tel Aviv regime, Prof. Keefer says, “The U.S. policy of seeking to dominate Eurasia through control of Middle Eastern and central-Asian hydrocarbon resources aligns with Israel's concern to ensure that no Middle Eastern state has the power to interfere with its policies of continued colonization of Palestinian land.”

The powerful and well-funded Israel lobby supports these policies—though there is evidence of a growing alienation among young Jews from this lobby and from the state of Israel,” he added.

Michael Keefer is a professor emeritus at the University of Guelph's School of English and Theatre Studies. He is a former president of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English. He studied at the Royal Military College of Canada, the University of Toronto, and Sussex University,, and has held research fellowships at Sussex University in the U.K. and at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Universität, Greifswald, Germany.

He has published widely on English Renaissance literature and early modern philosophy, and has also written widely on issues of contemporary politics and cultural politics. His books include an edition of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (2008), Antisemitism Real and Imagined (2010), and Sabotaging Democracy, a forthcoming study of electoral fraud in Canada's 2011 federal election. He has written numerous articles about US foreign policy, the War on Terror, Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the plight of the Palestinian nation since 1948.

FNA had the opportunity to conduct an extensive interview with Prof. Keefer and ask him questions on the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement against Israel, the influence of the Israeli lobby on the U.S. government, the excuse of anti-Semitism and how it is used to vilify the critics of Israel and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. What follows is the text of the interview.

 

Q:  One of your recent articles has touched upon the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement against Israel, which is apparently gaining momentum across the world. However, it seems that the Western governments will resist the movement and won’t allow their firms and companies to implement economic sanctions against Israel. What’s your view on that? Do you think that the Western companies and firms have the readiness and freedom to impose sanctions against Israel over its policies in the Occupied Territories and the Gaza Strip?

Corporations are not moral agents: they act according to calculations of profit and loss. But they can be persuaded by public pressure to withdraw from economic activity and investment in the Occupied West Bank and in Israel. Boycott campaigners have been able to prevent companies implicated in the infrastructure of the occupation from winning contracts for similar work in Europe; other companies are becoming increasingly concerned about damage to their reputation, and hence their sales, in North America, Europe, and elsewhere. And in Norway, the Netherlands, and the U.S., large pension funds have begun to respond to demands that they withdraw investments from Israel. This is the same process that led to the collapse of apartheid in South Africa.

Most Western governments, meanwhile, are providing ever more flagrant displays of the same hypocrisy they showed decades ago in dealing with South African apartheid. Israel is in open violation of many instruments of international law, among them the Fourth Geneva Convention, whose first article requires signatories “to respect and ensure respect for” that convention “in all circumstances.” Western governments can't stop corporations from withdrawing from Israel, but some of them (France, followed in this by the U.S., Australia and Canada) have been attempting to criminalize the human rights activism of BDS supporters as an “incitement of hatred.”

 

Q:  Would you please share with us your perspective on the unofficial ban on the criticism of Israel in the mass media and academia in the West? The critics of the actions and policies of Israel are being branded 'anti-Semite' and 'Jew-hater' and those journalists, university professors and government officials who direct the most insignificant criticism against Israel are vilified and demonized. Is there any way to combat this criminalization of the criticism of Israel?

The campaigns conducted by supporters of Israel—which go beyond slander and vilification into demands that critics of Israel be fired from their employment—can best be resisted by calm, rational, persistent, and evidence-based argument. Jewish scholars and public intellectuals have played a very important role in this struggle: people like Jacqueline Rose, Brian Klug, and the late Tony Judt in the U.K.; Judith Butler, Norman Finkelstein, and William I. Robinson in the U.S.; Naomi Klein and Yakov Rabkin in Canada; and Eva Illouz, Neve Gordon, and David Shulman in Israel. It helps that these are all scholars and writers of high distinction and international reputation; the fact that they are also Jewish makes it openly idiotic to claim that their powerful, intensely ethical, and far-reaching critiques of Israel's actions and policies are motivated by antisemitism.

Organizations like Independent Jewish Voices in the U.K. and Canada, and Jewish Voice for Peace in the U.S., have also been important in helping to persuade their compatriots that firm and principled criticism of Israel is not antisemitic.

The fall-back position of the slanderers is to insinuate that Jewish critics of Israel must be “self-hating Jews,” animated by a perverse hatred of their own people. The brilliant historian Tony Judt offered a characteristically witty response when a hostile journalist asked if he was indeed, as supporters of Israel had claimed, a “self-hating Jew.” After a meditative pause, Judt conceded that he did in fact hate himself—but not for being Jewish.

It is of course a large further step to criminalize criticism of Israel through revisions to the penal code of a country. Canadian supporters of Israel's actions and policies have made repeated attempts in this direction—to which human rights activists have reacted with calm, rational, evidence-based arguments. The book I edited and co-authored in 2010, Antisemitism Real and Imagined, brought together responses to one such attempt; my recent essay “Criminalizing Criticism of Israel in Canada” analyzes a current attempt by the Canadian government to make pro-Palestinian human rights discourse vulnerable to prosecution as hate speech.

 

Q:  Do you agree with the comparison drawn by some scholars and intellectuals between the Israeli regime and the apartheid South Africa? Is it true that the measures adopted by Israel in the Occupied Territories, the West Bank and Gaza Strip resemble the characteristics of an apartheid, racist regime?

The comparison is correct and accurate. In making it, one is of course not claiming that the apartheid regime in South Africa and the apartheid regime imposed by Israel on the Palestinians resemble one another in all respects. I'm content to be guided in this matter by the South African scholars and jurists who wrote the report Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A reassessment of Israel's policies in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law, published by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa in May, 2009. According to this report, what the Israeli government is doing puts it in breach of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

Insofar as the two systems of apartheid differ, Israel's is more violent and more oppressive. According to Ronnie Kasrils, one of the many South African Jews who struggled honourably against apartheid, and who subsequently served as a minister in Nelson Mandela's government, “Israel's methods of repression and collective punishment” are “far, far worse than anything we saw during our long and difficult liberation struggle.”

One of Israel's leading sociologists, Eva Illouz of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has argued in “47 years a slave,” a long and compelling essay published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on February 7, 2014, that the Israeli occupation in fact subjects Palestinians to what she defines as "a condition of slavery."

 

Q:  Some critics of the U.S. government believe that Washington has attached its interests and foreign policy priorities to Israel and many of its differences with the Muslim world emanate from its unconditional support for Tel Aviv even at the time when it is applying discriminatory measures against the Palestinian people and suppressing them. Why has the United States engaged in such an unusual relationship with Israel to the extent of deteriorating its ties with many Muslim nations which disfavor the Israeli policies?

The United States and other Western countries had mixed motives in supporting the founding of the state of Israel in the years immediately following World War Two. One motive was antisemitism—a desire to ensure that Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide in Europe settled in Palestine rather than in their countries. (Canada's behaviour in this regard was especially shameful: restrictions against the admission of Jewish refugees were in place throughout the years in which the Nazis held power in Germany, and were not relaxed until 1948.)

Another motive was a desire to see a garrison culture that would be geopolitically dependent on the West implanted in the Muslim Middle East—with the explicit calculation that this settler colony would serve Western interests in a region whose hydrocarbon reserves are of immense strategic importance.

During George W. Bush's first term, the U.S. enunciated a policy of attacking and fragmenting every Middle Eastern state that is not completely subordinate to U.S. economic and geopolitical plans. The attacks on Libya and Syria show that that policy is still in place—and U.S. actions in organizing the coup in Ukraine are part of the same geopolitical strategy.

The U.S. policy of seeking to dominate Eurasia through control of Middle Eastern and central-Asian hydrocarbon resources aligns with Israel's concern to ensure that no Middle Eastern state has the power to interfere with its policies of continued colonization of Palestinian land.

 

Q:  What’s your viewpoint regarding the dominant U.S. policy on the Middle East in the recent years? Our region has been witness to numerous wars and military expeditions waged by the United States and its allies; wars which many prudent people have termed as wars for oil and other energy resources available in the region. What’s your idea on that? Does the United States really intend to bring democracy to the countries it invades and attacks, or are there other reasons at work?

I've begun to answer this question in my response to the previous one. U.S. wars of aggression have had a number of goals: gaining control over oil and gas reserves (Iraq, Libya); denying or controlling access by competing powers (such as China, or Western European nations) to these reserves; gaining control over important pipeline routes (Afghanistan, Ukraine); preventing nations that possess important oil and gas deposits from using the revenues from them to fund social infrastructure or a “civil commons” (Iraq, Libya); preventing oil and gas-exporting countries from moving outside the petrodollar exchange system; and attempting to weaken and intimidate opposing powers like Iran and Russia (Syria).

The notion that the U.S. has any interest in 'exporting democracy' is absurd.

 

Q:  In February 2006, you wrote an article about the Bush administration’s preparations for launching a military strike against Iran over the nuclear standoff. Israel had also repeatedly threatened Iran with aerial attacks on its nuclear facilities. But there were commentators and analysts who believed that the war threats were nothing more than a sort of media hype and propaganda campaign aimed at bullying Iran and leading it into making concessions. The attacks never happened, while people like John Bolton had categorically announced the dates of the possible attacks. What do you think about the veracity of their claims? Weren’t they simply trying to intimidate the Iranians?

My view at the time was that a principal motive for U.S. war plans against Iran was a desire to prevent Iran from opening an oil bourse in which currencies other than the U.S. dollar would be the medium of exchange. The position of the U.S. dollar as a global fiat currency used in the vast majority of commercial transactions involving oil and gas is to a large degree what sustains an otherwise radically unstable imperial power. A significant shift away from reliance on the dollar in this capacity (which could result from Russia deciding at some point that its future gas sales will be conducted in currencies other than the U.S. dollar) would have a major impact on the U.S. economy, and on the U.S.'s ability to finance and sustain its military aggressions.

The U.S. was indeed seeking to bully and intimidate Iran—and has continued to do so. But threats of aggression, coming from a country with the U.S.'s record in such matters, should be taken very seriously.

 

Q:  As you note in your articles, there’s no evidence showing that Iran has ever intended or is trying to produce nuclear weapons; however, it has been under intensive, severe economic sanctions for some 10 years, and these sanctions, except for troubling the lives of Iranian citizens and complicating the process of talks between Iran and the six world powers, have produced no useful results. What do you think about the sanctions regime? Do you agree that it’s now up to West to lift the sanctions as a confidence-building measure in return for Iran’s voluntary steps in limiting portions of its nuclear activities?

I regard the sanctions against Iran as a very serious violation of international law. Although I am opposed to nuclear power generation, on the grounds that the technology is irreducibly dangerous, and that the risk calculations offered by the nuclear industry are systematically misleading, Iran has every right under international law to develop a civil nuclear power program. The behaviour of the U.S. and the European nations in their negotiations with Iran has been dishonest at every stage. The sanctions should be lifted immediately and unconditionally.

 

Q:  What’s your viewpoint on the official accounts of 9/11 terrorist attacks presented by the mainstream media and propagated by the Bush administration officials? Is it really the case that they were the Muslims who masterminded and perpetrated the attacks? If so, then how can we find appropriate answers for such questions as the five dancing Israelis arrested at the moment of the collapsing of the Twin Towers or the absence of 4,000 Israeli workers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001?

The official account of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is systematically false. The narrative of the planning and organization of the terror attacks of 9/11 that is provided by the 9/11 Commission Report is based upon 'evidence' acquired by torture. But the epistemic and evidential value of statements elicited under torture is zero. The Report is an impudent fiction, and should be catalogued in the same section of libraries as the equally tendentious fictions of Tom Clancy.

The key facts about the events of 9/11, in my opinion, are the following. First, the U.S. air defense system in the northeastern U.S. was effectively disabled on September 11, 2001 by overlapping exercises which transferred many of the available interceptor aircraft out of the region and confused the military control systems, whose operators were for an extended period of time uncertain as to which of the information on their screens was simulated and which represented actual aircraft, and which of those real aircraft were part of an exercise and which had actually been hijacked. Secondly, the planes that hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon could not have been flown by the supposed hijackers; the hijacking was carried out electronically, and not by suicidal fanatics wielding box-cutters. Thirdly, there is conclusive scientific evidence that the Twin Towers and World Trade Center Building 7 were destroyed by controlled demolitions.

The official story that a gang of Muslims controlled by Osama bin Laden carried out these terror attacks is therefore false.

Israeli operatives appear to have been involved in some peripheral aspects of the plot; I don't believe their role was significant. To the best of my knowledge, the story that Israelis working in the Twin Towers were warned to stay away is quite simply false.

 

Q:  The War on Terror project ensuing the 9/11 attacks has so far claimed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians in different Muslim countries and nobody has been held responsible over the excessive, brutal killings. Do you agree that the War on Terror is in practice a war on Islam and the Muslims?

The so-called War on Terror is a criminal fraud, designed to frighten Americans and the citizens of its allies into supporting systematic violations of international law. It was from the outset Islamophobic both in intention and in the wars of aggression it has been used to justify.

 

Q:  Do you agree with the premise that the 9/11 attacks laid the groundwork for the U.S. government to impose restrictions and limitations on the civil liberties and social freedoms of the American people, silent the dissents and prevent the mass media from giving coverage to the controversial and sensitive matters of the U.S. domestic and foreign policy?

The events of 9/11 are defined by some American social scientists, notably Lance DeHaven-Smith and Matthew Witt, as a “state crime against democracy.” American democracy has for decades been under threat by corporate power—in particular by the power of what President Dwight Eisenhower in 1960 called “the military-industrial complex,” and the power of state agencies operating outside of any control by democratic institutions, and effectively constituting an overtly anti-democratic shadow state. The unsolved assassinations of the 1960s—of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy—marked an important stage in the growing ascendancy of these agencies. In the opinion of many political analysts in the U.S., 9/11, and the policies pursued since 9/11 by Presidents Bush and Obama, have marked the effective end of constitutional democracy in the U.S. Many of the forms and much of the rhetoric of democratic governance still persist, in much the same way as the forms and rhetoric of a senatorial republic persisted in ancient Rome long after the state's devolution into a military-autocratic empire under Augustus and his successors.

The consequences of the stifling of civil liberty, dissent, and, more generally, of the capacity for innovative, generous, and public-spirited critical thinking in the U.S. and its allies may have tragic consequences on a global scale. Human civilization currently faces a wide array of crises related to planetary resource limits, and processes of change triggered by human interventions. These include, in no particular order, peak oil; desertification and soil loss; increasing problems of access to clean drinking water; rising ocean acidity and the imminent extinction of fish stocks; and ecosystem and genetic damage caused both by nuclear weaponry (including, very importantly, depleted uranium munitions) and by nuclear accidents like Fukushima. Overarching all of these are the processes of chaotic climate change and global warming that have been set in motion by greenhouse gas emissions: unchecked, these processes will accelerate a global mass-extinction event that is already underway. Over the past decade and more, the predictions of climate scientists have repeatedly been overtaken by climate change events that are moving much more rapidly than anticipated.

At this moment in history, more than any other, we are in desperate need of creativity, open-mindedness, cross-cultural and inter-faith generosity, and a commitment to justice and human solidarity, based on a firm assertion of the dignity and equality of our brothers and sisters everywhere.

 

Follow-Up: Correspondence with Professor Richard Pious

Two days after the publication of my interview with Kourosh Ziabari, Professor Richard Pious of Columbia University sent me a message whose opening sentences presented the appearance of a request for information—but that quickly revealed itself to be an exercise in academic admonition.

If Professor Pious was sufficiently nettled by my FARS interview to want to administer a stern corrective, I was in turn displeased by his scolding tone. He thought my interpretive capacities might be expanded by acquaintance with the difference between taqlid and ijtehad rhetoric. (These are Arabic terms familiar to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Islamic thought: they refer, respectively, to the following of established authorities in matters of theology and jurisprudence, which may imply dogmatism; and to the exercise of diligence by qualified interpreters, implying a method of independent critical inquiry). With what may have been equal impudence, I proposed in return that Professor Pious's own interpretive naivety might be reduced by exposure to more recent work in hermeneutics, epistemology, and discourse theory.  

Readers may derive some entertainment, if not edification, from the spectacle of two elderly academics being rude to one another. 

 

1. On May 28, 2014 at 6:05 PM, Richard Pious wrote:

Dear Dr. Keefer:

I would be interested in any evidence you might have as to who, if not the al-Qaeda network, was responsible for the hijacking of the airplanes and the crashes at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. You argue in [your] FARS interview that it could not have been done by jihadis, so I am curious to know your thoughts and evidence for them. 

I am also curious about your knowledge of what goes on in Israel and the occupied territories. Have you been there? Do you speak Hebrew and Arabic? Are you conversant with the various communities and political groups there? Do you make any distinction between Israel and the Territories when you characterize practices as involving a form of apartheid? What precisely is the basis for the claim in terms of evidence and facts on the ground, as opposed to ex cathedra quotation and citation of other learned authorities in the humanities?

Finally, do you have any evidence to back your contention that the War on Terrorism was a deliberate attempt to extinguish American democracy? Since most political scientists use a very qualified conceptual framework in describing US politics—and few would argue it is actually a democracy or ever has been—I am wondering what great change you believe has taken place in American practices. (I am speaking of these practices in general, not the specifics involved in the War on Terrorism, as I have written extensively on torture, surveillance, detention, and other practices that I believe are unconstitutional and illegal as practiced by the Bush and Obama administrations.) 

Best wishes,
Richard M. Pious
Adolph and Effie Ochs Professor, Barnard College
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University
Author, The War on Terrorism and the Rule of Law (Oxford 2006)
Why Presidents Fail (Rowman and Littlefield 2008), containing critiques of Vietnam escalation and Iraq conflict.

 

2. On May 29, 2014, at 32 minutes past midnight, Michael Keefer wrote:

Professor Richard M. Pious
Adolf and Effie Ochs Professor, Barnard College
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University


Dear Professor Pious,

I find it interesting that you believe it appropriate to address me in the scolding tone you have adopted in your message. You may have devoted a lifetime to the study of political science, but you are not, I think, a very skilful rhetorician.

My normal practice is to ignore messages that reveal themselves so transparently as dismissive and impolite. But on this occasion I will spend a few moments in responding to you.

I was initially inclined to interpret your first paragraph as a genuine request for information. But in the light of what follows—a rapid-fire sequence of questions aimed, I take it, at showing that a scholar in the humanities has no business intruding into such matters as those I discussed in my interview with Kourosh Ziabari, and culminating in the revelation of your identity as a senior academic—it takes on a different coloration.

Let me be frank. You are a political scientist, specializing in the politics of your own country. I find it astonishing that you should write to me, rather more than twelve years after an event widely regarded as pivotal in your country's history, confessing—unless you are playing the faux-naïf—what would seem to be complete ignorance of what is now a quite extensive scholarly and scientific literature that has refuted nearly every aspect of the official accounts (including the 9/11 Commission Report and the various reports published by NIST and other government agencies) of what transpired on September 11, 2001.

To a similar request, politely worded, from an ordinary citizen or a student, I would respond with a short list of the scholarly and scientific works that I think most reliable. To you I would suggest (if you are genuinely curious) that you employ a research assistant to do some elementary spadework: she will quickly learn to distinguish between the work of genuine scholars like Michel Chossudovsky, Peter Dale Scott, Nafeez Ahmed, David Ray Griffin, and Graeme MacQueen, and the writings of fantasists, fools, and ideologues. The most important peer-reviewed papers on matters relating to the destruction of the WTC towers can be easily located online.

As to your second paragraph, I make no claim to direct knowledge of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: I have not traveled there, and do not speak or read Hebrew or Arabic. However, I do have Canadian, Israeli, and Palestinian friends and acquaintances who are fluent in these languages (and sometimes also Russian—indispensable, as you'll be aware, for anyone doing investigative journalism in Israel). I read a fair proportion of what's available in English in the Israeli press and internationally—not to mention books on the subject, in English and occasionally in one or two other languages.

The question of apartheid, and the degree to which the term might be applicable to the legal and administrative disabilities faced by Palestinians within Israel, as well as to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, is another one on which your research assistant might be of use. I have read widely on the subject. If you are genuinely interested in the matter, you will want to as well.

The first question of your final paragraph will, I believe, answer itself for you once you have come to terms with the available scholarly research on the events of 9/11.

I do not harbour any fond illusions as to the degree to which the United States was ever, properly speaking, a democracy. But you do have a Constitution, and a Bill of Rights, and they are now effectively in abeyance. The state of emergency proclaimed by George W. Bush shortly after 9/11 has continued, under Obama, to be renewed every year in late September.

Whatever it was that you once had (call it, if you like, a system of corporatist-oligarchic republicanism, that was at least to some degree bound by the rule of law) has given way since 9/11 to something run by the same powers, but darker, more autocratic, more militarized, and more lawless.

I don't say this sneeringly: my own country is a petroleum-state corporatist-parliamentary tyranny, ruled by a prime minister who was opposed by more than 60% of the voters in our last federal election.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Keefer, D.Phil.
Professor Emeritus, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph
Guelph ON N1G 2W1

p.s. I regret that I haven't yet read your The War on Terrorism and the Rule of Law; it's on my to-do list. I may have touched on some of the same subjects in an essay published on the 10th anniversary of 9/11: “9/11, Torture, and Law,” ADCS (2011), available online.

 

3. On May 29, 2014 at 11:45 AM, Richard Pious wrote:

Dr. Keefer,

I may have been impolite, but your response (as well as your interview with FARS) is a clear indication that you know nothing on the subjects upon which you bloviate so eloquently.

Ad hominem argumentation, which seems to be your specialty, is no substitute for actual knowledge of a discipline or an area—especially when political and environmental issues are involved.

I'm glad you indicate the importance of Russian sources. I speak, read and write the language, and have published in Russian journals. Also in Spanish and French journals. I converse in Hebrew and Arabic (and Russian) when I am in the Middle East—which is quite useful in doing any research on US policy in the region. I'm also published in law reviews as I do a great deal of constitutional law and statutory law research.

I'm familiar with the sources you indicate about 9/11. They are rubbish, conspiracy theorist nonsense. About the level of 'grassy knoll' literature.

I taught for a year at York University and at that time (1972) was quite impressed with my Canadian colleagues. No doubt most remain wedded to disciplinary standards—but obviously, from your evasive non-response to my call for evidence based argumentation, not all.

Ask your friends who speak Arabic the difference between taqlid and ijtehad rhetoric. It might educate you a little about argumentation—a thousand year old tradition in Arabic that enables listeners to distinguish between sectarian ideology and logical thinking.

Cheers (and this will be our last communication, so don't bother to reply),

Richard Pious

 

4. On May 29, 2014 at 4:27 PM, Michael Keefer wrote:

Professor Richard M. Pious
Adolf and Effie Ochs Professor, Barnard College
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University


Dear Professor Pious,

Thank you for acknowledging that your first message to me was impolite.

But that rudeness was clearly not accidental—and your second missive would suggest that dashing off rude messages may be a habit with you.

(I address you politely by your academic title; you refuse to address me by mine. One must suppose that this quiet touch of denigration gives you pleasure of some kind.)

You approached me initially with a torrent of questions. (This, by the way, is a rhetorical trick more in use among high-school debaters and undergraduate bloggers than among scholars.)

I took literally what seemed to be a confession of embarrassing levels of ignorance, and suggested to you how you might go about remedying that ignorance. You were of course playing the faux-naïf—presenting an appearance of knowing nothing about materials you now say you have read in their entirety. But as a boxer might advise you, leading with your chin may result from time to time in someone hitting you there.

By way of come-back, you propose in your second message that I could benefit from an understanding of two key terms in early Arabic theological-philosophical disputations. I am familiar with the terms. I would suggest in return, since in your first message you made what seemed a genuinely naive distinction between mediated sources and “evidence and facts on the ground,” that your own interpretive methodology might benefit from exposure to more recent work in hermeneutics, epistemology, and discourse theory.

Having in your first message revealed what I suggested might be a lack of rhetorical skill, you denounce me in the second as a know-nothing bloviator, and dismiss the very-much-evidence-based scholarly and scientific sources to which I alluded as “rubbish, conspiracy theory nonsense.” This would of course imply that their authors are likewise blow-hard ignoramuses. You are, it must be said, even-handed in the manner in which you dish out abuse.

In the midst of this, you blame me for ad hominem argumentation. Psychologists have a word for this: it is “projection.”

I have responded to very particular pieces of rudeness and arrogance in your messages to me, but I have said nothing whatsoever about your character in other regards, about which I indeed know nothing.

Your messages leave me with no desire for further acquaintance with you. But I have no reason to feel anything other than respect for your scholarly record and achievements, and for your admirable linguistic attainments. I confessed in my first response to not having read your book on The War on Terrorism and the Rule of Law: I look forward to finding it scholarly, informative, and stimulating.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Keefer, D.Phil. 
Professor Emeritus, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph, 
Guelph ON N1G 2W1