P0rn0graphy At War

Michael Totten has a new report up on the goings on in Fallujah. He covers a subject that I have touched on a time or two. The importance of pornography in changing our opposition. If you want a look back you might like Jewish Porn Sweeps The Arab world and Defeated By Pornography. How about a look forward at what Michael Totten has to say.

At the Amariyah station in a village just outside Fallujah, several Iraqi Police officers sat at the dispatcher's desk and watched explicit pornography streamed over the Internet. They whooped and yelled and elbowed each other as the video kept getting racier. I sat at a desk just behind them and tried to work on an article, but they kept trying to get me to watch the video with them. Several Marines shared this work space with them, and all of them ignored the Iraqis and tried to pretend the porno show wasn't on.

Marines aren't even allowed to check their personal email accounts while they're on duty, let alone watch explicit sex videos on a laptop.

Irony abounded in that room. Iraqi culture is orders of magnitude more sexually conservative than American culture. Soldiers and Marines in particular are not shy or restrained when it comes to sex (except when they have to be while they're on deployment). Yet the Americans in the room were the ones put off by the pornography. It wasn't because they are uptight or square, but because porn on the job could hardly be less professional. Some of them rightly accused the Iraqi men of hypocrisy. "How come you guys cover your women but you sit around all day looking at our women without any clothes on?"

The contradictions abound.

As I have been saying all along. Contact with American culture (especially the sexual aspects) will liquefy the Middle East. Osama agrees.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 02.08.08 at 12:18 PM


Evil, decadent rock and roll helped bring down the Soviet Union, while we kept going. Go figure; might it be that freedom is a better, um, "system"?

Eric Scheie   ·  February 8, 2008 3:10 PM

Don't be too sure. Islam puts a human being under tremendous anti-hedonic constraints, yet a billion or so people continue to endure it.

Perhaps the great majority of them have no choice. Perhaps the availability of a pleasure-rich non-Islamic world, that they can occasionally connect with and repent later, makes it marginally tolerable. But the conflict within the Muslim soul is intense. Indeed, it might well be that that conflict is what drives so many of them to violence, whether personal (e.g., against a spouse or a family member) or public (i.e., terrorism).

I continue to think that our options for dealing with Islam are quarantine and genocide...and that our time to choose between them is swiftly running out.

Francis W. Porretto   ·  February 9, 2008 4:54 AM

KSA is having a worse problem as picture phones are leading to all sorts of thing happening between teenagers and there is no effective way to stop it. Iraqis, as Totten points out, are very staid and upstanding right up to the point you get to know them... then it is out with the cell phone and in with the dirty jokes, naughty web sites, and some of the most profane things that can be shown outside of a family. Multiple storage devices that are easy to carry helps this. The one thing that hasn't changed is the power of mothers in Iraq: they are the force to be reckoned with. I've read Totten and Ardolino (if memory serves) looking at how the toughest of tough-guy insurgents would crumble the moment they heard their mother was going to be called to bring her to the station.

Really, if you wanted to find a large number of moderate Muslims who are just fine with secular society (even having Imams supporting bars and alcoholic beverages) the Nation you want is: Iraq. Yes, we have found a Nation full of moderate Muslims with secular views! Afghanistan is also pretty far along that road, but still has some religio-tribal interaction problems due to the neighborhood it is in... but those that work to secure things realize it is for the people of Afghanistan and not their tribe. The Arabs could use a bit of that, really.

The more that personalized and inexpensive technology goes out, the more it erodes authoritarian views... note that liberty is not a necessary result, as China is seeing a slow disintegration of its society by the same forces and nothing replacing it.

So if you see a Muslim with a picture phone full of dirty pictures, racy websites and hundreds of off-color jokes and *hiding them* the moment his wife comes around... think about America in the 1950's and that magazine you would get and hide 'just for the articles!' That is the dynamic in Iraq, and if that can take hold by an accountable government, then Islam will change as it will be seen as a path to 'success' not to martyrdom. And porn is always the first thing to open up the floodgates to change, just as that magazine did in the '50s. Look for a variation of the Feiler Faster Thesis to work on this...

ajacksonian   ·  February 9, 2008 8:36 AM

The problem is that a number of people in the West adhere to the condescending communitarian view that pornography damages people. To me it's like blaming the distillery for alcoholism.

My inability to understand it does not make the idea go away. The problem with trying to understand is that if you try to understand and still disagree, people think you're the one who's condescending. OTOH, if you don't try to understand, you're rude!

Eric Scheie   ·  February 11, 2008 11:09 AM

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