Thursday, January 29, 2004

Liberal Hawk Thumping

Paul Berman, one of the chorus of Marxists who has bravely defended the war in Iraq (the Hitch and Norm Geras being the othersI have followed), came out thumping today. Literally. He writes in Dissent Magazine about a conversation he had with another friend of the left which soon became a heated argument. Berman became so enraged that his six reasons of why much of the left is wrong on Iraq, the US and Israel were each introduced by the "Thump" caused by his fist hitting the table! If you don't start thumping when you read this wonderful rant, then its time for a little black coffee to get that precious motor running. Anyway, enjoy. This blurb from the article was highlighted by Andrew Sullivan (who was particularly good today) and does indeed deserve special notice (note: Berman hates Bush, but that does not stop him from getting to the right place):
My friend said, "I'm for the UN and international law, and I think you've become a traitor to the left. A neocon!"
I said, "I'm for overthrowing tyrants, and since when did overthrowing fascism become treason to the left?"
"But isn't George Bush himself a fascist, more or less? I mean-admit it!"

My own eyes widened. "You haven't the foggiest idea what fascism is," I said. "I always figured that a keen awareness of extreme oppression was the deepest trait of a left-wing heart. Mass graves, three hundred thousand missing Iraqis, a population crushed by thirty-five years of Baathist boots stomping on their faces-that is what fascism means! And you think that a few corrupt insider contracts with Bush's cronies at Halliburton and a bit of retrograde Bible-thumping and Bush's ridiculous tax cuts and his bonanzas for the super-rich are indistinguishable from that?-indistinguishable from fascism? From a politics of slaughter? Leftism is supposed to be a reality principle. Leftism is supposed to embody an ability to take in the big picture. The traitor to the left is you, my friend . . ."

But this made not the slightest sense to him, and there was nothing left to do but to hit each other over the head with our respective drinks.

Read it. And if you haven't bought Terror and Liberalism, please, please, please do yourself and this country a favor and read it too!

Couldn't argue with that...

Roger Simon connects the dots between a morally challenged Europe and Democratic politicians who embrace the liberation of Iraq with the charge that Bush lied. He then ends with this bullet to the heart of Terry McAuliffe:
This one California Democrat, proud American, agnostic Jew, lifetime liberal (sometime even leftist) whose family allegiance to the Democratic Party goes back several generations (my parents were “Gladly with Adlai”) is not going to be voting their way this time. I don’t care what George Bush’s tax policies are. Unless the Democrats have a moral awakening, which doesn’t seem in the cards, I won’t desecrate the memory of those who were gassed (Kurd, Jew or whoever) by voting for them.

One of the many reasons I read Roger's blog every day. You should do the same.

This is a very big world...

And I've been to lots of places, but look how many more places I have left to go! (I've visited the countries in red.)



create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Which Founding Father Are You?

Who would have thought? But that's what the program says so it must be true, right?....



Via Michael Totten and others. Enjoy!

The Political Front

Peggy Noonan had it right today when she pleaded with Democrats to nominate someone sane. Why?... because anyone who gets the nomination could get elected. Likely? ... no, in my opinion. I think Bush will win for a number of reasons. First, it is very hard to beat an incumbent. It happens, but usually because of remarkable events, like double-digit inflation and interest rates, or a third party candidacy, or post-war dull-drums. But even then it is hard. Also, the country is far more conservative than it used to be, and if you picture that election map, you tend to see a sea of red (if that is the Republican color this year) everywhere other than some blue on the coasts. For a very interesting site on this, check out the election projection project. And more specifically, it is hard to imagine any of the candidates doing very well against Bush. There will undoubtedly be plenty of polls that show a Kerry or an Edwards (if either of these guys are not the nominee, I will be surprised) with a big lead at somepoint, but that is not unusual (remember Dole leading by 15% over Clinton?...Dole does!). Bush is, unlike his father, a very good politician and will have ridiculous amounts of money to spend. Any of these Democratic challengers will find it hard to wage a positive campaign and appear as other than nit-picking on social issues that Bush has co-opted. On foreign policy, they will be very exposed (particularly the senators, who were privy to intelligence reports) to opportunism and, so long as Bush stays on message, will be hard pressed to appear as credible. So I think the challenger will face an uphill battle.

Yet, it is not surmountable. Bush' SOTU speech was overall a dissappointment (I actually liked a lot of it, but there was a flatness to it and it did not resonate with people). Also, he is not making the right noises on Iraq and WMD. He needs to be like a hammer, constantly reminding people why we went to war and getting his own view of the WMD debate out there. I really don't understand why he isn't, but we've seen it before (it was the same leading up to the war... some speeches, but not enough). And from a savvy group led by Rove, I am amazed. (BTW, I will leave it for another post, but as far as I'm concerned, the "why we went to war" and "WMD" rationales are easy arguments for Bush to make and people will respond to them). And, Bush's fiscal recklessness is not inspiring to his base and will get NO credit with the opposition (again, why Bush is not talking every day about his social policies to appeal to crossovers and triangulate against the Left, much as the way Clinton did against the Right, is a mystery to me). Finally, those who are against Bush HATE HIM and are very motivated. As Noonan said,
"There may be something to the idea that Democrats in general want to get rid of George W. Bush more than Republicans in general want to keep him."

I agree. So we shall see. But read Noonan. She correctly says that we need someone to lead the war on terror and that person cannot be a bit of a nut. In particular, she says that it is important to get rid of Clark (Dean, she says, won't win against Bush anyway, and I think she is right). She commented on this particular exchange:
More telling is Gen. Clark on abortion. A pro-lifer wouldn't have the smallest of chances in the Democratic Party, but a certain Clintonian politesse is expected when the question is raised. "Abortion is always a tragedy but denying a woman her reproductive rights under the Constitution would also be a tragedy"--that kind of thing. This is what Gen. Clark said when he met with the Manchester Union-Leader and was questioned by the newspaper's Joseph McQuaid:


Clark: I don't think you should get the law involved in abortion--
McQuaid: At all?
Clark: Nope.
McQuaid: Late-term abortion? No limits?
Clark: Nope.
McQuaid: Anything up to delivery?
Clark: Nope, nope.
McQuaid: Anything up to the head coming out of the womb?
Clark: I say that it's up to the woman and her doctor, her conscience. . . . You don't put the law in there.
Gen. Clark was then asked, "What about when she's grown up and at the prom, can you kill her then?" He said, "Absolutely. Chase her across the dance floor. This is a personal decision for the mother." Oh--sorry--I made that last part up. He did not advocate killing children 18 years after they're born. Though one wonders why not. Maybe he does have nuance. His campaign tried to spin it into a plus. He forgot to speak "artfully," "precisely." But he was nothing if not precise. He forgot to speak sanely."(emphasis mine)

I am still laughing!

Friday, January 23, 2004

Dean Goes Nuts

Everyone's been posting these, but this is a collection of remixes of Dean's red-faced exhortation of the troops in Iowa.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Lileks on the life of a lawyer...

James Lileks notes the life of his wife, a lawyer:
She’s been doing contract work for a firm, and they got hit with a document dump – so she’s off to another town for three days of peering over blurry photocopies in a windowless room. Such is the life of a lawyer. I wonder what people who watched “The Practice” or other such shows in high school will think a few years hence when they find themselves admitted to the bar – hey, where’s the smoldering hunky lawyers, the brilliant glib lawyers with a passionate sense of justice, the slinky stick-thin lawyers who sleep with every partner AND client AND the opposing counsel? What is this? And how come nothing has that dim, sultry, flattering light all the TV law offices have? And why am I at my desk at 10 PM singing a lullaby over to the phone to my child while eating microwaved Chinese? How did this happen?


That's true...

Friday, January 16, 2004

Liberal Hawks debate on line at Slate

There is a very interesting email debate organized by Jacob Weisberg at Slate among liberals who backed the war in Iraq. The purpose was to answer the question, "Should We Have Backed This Invasion?". The participants, other than Weisberg, are Paul Berman, Thomas Friedman, Christopher Hitchens, Fred Kaplan, George Packer, Kenneth M. Pollack, and Fareed Zakaria. It is a debate that went over 5 days. Befofre you read it, ready yourself for the usual anti-Bush blah, blah, blah. Other than Hitchens, who is as unflinching and principaled as usual, all the others seem to feel a need to establish their liberal credentials with lots of qualifications and Republican bashing. But some make thoughtful comments. I am personally a fan of Paul Berman, who wrote the excellent book Terror and Liberalism, and who, despite a Terrets-like dislike of Bush, is outstanding at putting the conflict in perspective.

Read whatever suits you (at the bottom of each page is a tab for a different date), but don't skip Hitchens or Berman. And on the WMD debate, the Hitch is right in this response to Pollack, who does a mea culpa in what he thinks was his own over-estimating of the WMD strength of Pre-War Iraq:
Pollack may have been led to overstate the immediate danger from WMD, but he did so on persuasive evidence that was supported by a long history of exorbitant behavior by the Baathists, and on a long history of culpable underreaction by Washington. (There was no comparable inquisition, as I recall, when the intelligence "community" failed to predict, and very nearly failed to report, the invasion of Kuwait. And the antiwar forces cling to their taunt on WMD because every other part of their propaganda and prediction has been utterly exploded.) That's if WMD ever were much of an argument in that quarter. I myself had a different experience from Pollack, in the run-up to the war. I had to debate, every week and sometimes every day, with anti-interventionists who said that Saddam's possession of WMD was a reason NOT to attack or attempt to depose him. I said that the threat was latent not blatant, and that the main "immediate" danger was an off-the-shelf purchase by Iraq from North Korea, and by the way I think I was right. But I was not an elected officeholder in a democratic government in a post-9/11 atmosphere. If I had been, I would certainly have decided to make the worst assumption about any report on Saddam's capacity for lethality, and I would have been operating at all times on the presumption of guilt. As a civilian, I would have wanted to criticize any Western government that did not err deliberately on this side.

For the Politically Incorrect: 25 WAYS TO TELL YOU'RE WHITE TRASH

Sorry, but I couldn't resist. I got this in an email and it is just too funny. I particularly liked number 7. Enjoy!

25 WAYS TO TELL YOU'RE WHITE TRASH
1. The Halloween pumpkin on your porch has more teeth than your spouse.
2. You let your twelve-year-old daughter smoke at the dinner table in front
of her kids.
3. You've been married three times and still have the same in-laws.
4. You think a woman who is "out of your league" bowls on a different night.
5. Jack Daniel's makes your list of "most admired people."
6. You wonder how service stations keep their restrooms so clean.
7. If anyone in your family ever died right after saying, "Hey y'all watch
this."
8. You think Dom Perignon is a Mafia leader.
9. Your wife's hairdo was once ruined by a ceiling fan.
10. Your junior prom had a daycare.
11. You think the last words of the Star Spangled Banner are,"Gentlemen start
your engines."
12. You lit a match in the bathroom and your house exploded right off its
wheels.
13. The bluebook value of your truck goes up and down, depending on how much
gas is in it.
14. You have to go outside to get something from the fridge.
15. One of your kids was born on a pool table.
16. You need one more hole punched in your card to get a freebie at the House
of Tattoos.
17. You can't get married to your sweetheart because there's a law against
it.
18. You think loading a dishwasher means getting your wife drunk.
19. Your toilet paper has page numbers on it.
20. Somebody hollers "Hoe Down" and your girlfriend hits the floor.
21. You have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say "Cool Whip" on
the side.
22. The biggest city you've ever been to is Wal-Mart.
23. Your working T.V. sits on top of your non-working R.V.
24. Your neighbors think you're a detective because a cop always brings you
home.
25. You missed 5th grade graduation because you had jury duty.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Al Gore

One can't help feeling sorry for Al Gore. The poor guy simply cannot catch a break.
He is scheduled to give a speech today in New York, on............ global warming!!
As my wife, Susan, observed this morning, Al Gore is the kind of guy who puts his finger up to test the wind... and then pisses into it!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

What a difference a Federal Investigation Makes...and other assorted items

Paul O'Neill, the former Treasury Secretary and ex-Nixon technocrat, who by the way was apparently amazed by the concern for politics in the Bush White House (that's right, Nixon never bothered with such stuff as politics), is telling a slightly different story today after the Treasury Dept. opened a probe into O'Neill's airing of documents marked "Secret" on "60 Minutes" the other day. When asked today about the supposed decision to invade Iraq prior to 9/11, O'Neill said:
People are trying to say that I said the president was planning war in Iraq early in the administration. Actually there was a continuation of work that had been going on in the Clinton administration with the notion that there needed to be a regime change in Iraq." What surprised him, said O'Neill, was how much priority was given to Iraq by the president.

And with respect to the probe into the classified documents (which he said were cleared by the general counsel prior to his taking them ...perhaps, we shall see), O'Neill says:
O'Neill said he was not surprised the Treasury was looking into how he got the documents. "If I were secretary of the Treasury I would have done the same," he said.

And as for his comments about Bush asleep at the switch?
O'Neill said he regretted some of the language he used to describe his former boss.

"If I could take it back, I would take it back. It has become the controversial centerpiece."

Pressed whether he would vote for Bush in the November presidential election, O'Neill said he probably would, but he said the American people needed to demand more of their leaders.

But I doubt this will make the NYTimes headlines. Surprised it made CNN.

Speaking of CNN, they have a piece today on the USS Liberty. That's right, the ship from the Six Day War. Turns out, the State Department is still investigating the incident (nothing else to do, I guess). And, remarkably, they concluded that in fact it was Israel's fault. I wonder what else they are spending their time doing?

Finally, have you ever read Andrew Apostolou? He blogged quite a bit during the war (and still occasionally does) and I have linked to him often. Now, he has a regular gig with the National Review. Today's article makes the case (and he really didn't have to convince me) that it is time for Kofi to go. A couple of money quotes. First, on the Kof-ster's humanitarion record in Iraq:
In the immediate aftermath of the liberation of Iraq, Kofi Annan had little to say about the horror of the newly discovered mass graves. Instead, taking his cue from the Arab states, he was forthright in expressing his concern that Kurds might evict the Arab colonists who had stolen their land. The U.N., which has much to say about Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, has always been reticent about the largest settlement program in the Middle East, the 40-year-long campaign to colonize Iraqi Kurdistan with Arabs.
And then, on being taken to task by Hoshyar Zebari, an Iraqi Kurd who chided the the U.N. Security Council for failing to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years,
Kofi Annan, who after meeting Saddam in February 1998 had avowed himself to be "impressed by his decisiveness," was not taken with Zebari's honesty. Rather than take the opportunity to express remorse for the U.N.'s actions, Annan instead criticized Zebari, telling him that: "Now is not the time to pin blame and point fingers." The UN secretary general, quick to criticise the U.S. for enforcing U.N. resolutions in Iraq and ever ready to censure Israel, is an expert on finger pointing.
Read the whole thing.

Monday, January 12, 2004

What to Make of Benny Morris?

If you haven't read the most recent interview with Benny Morris in Haaretz, you are in for a bit of a shock. And a shock on too many levels to really explain. Morris, as you may remember (or choose not to remember) is one of the Israeli revisionist historians that emerged in the past decade to challenge the conventional history of the State of Israel and Zionism. In particular, the focus was what they saw as the darker side of Zionism and the plight of the Palestinian Arabs. Needless to say, people like Edward Said spoke glowingly of the new historians, and in particular Morris, and this new history was embraced by those who would make Israel to be a pariah. I have always thought of these historians as people enabled and perhaps seduced by Oslo and who, in the spirit of 'peace' were happy to speak ill of Israel's past and current practices in an effort share some common ground with those on the other side. Yet when that gesture was not reciprocated by the Palestinian intelligentsia but rather used as a propaganda tool to further turn world opinion against not just Israel but its very legitimacy, these new historians began to turn and realize that they had been had.

Perhaps that explains some of it, but Morris is pretty complex and I do not necessarily trust him. However, he clearly seems to get what this conflict is about:
"[Arafat] wants to send us back to Europe, to the sea we came from. He truly sees us as a Crusader state and he thinks about the Crusader precedent and wishes us a Crusader end. I'm certain that Israeli intelligence has unequivocal information proving that in internal conversations Arafat talks seriously about the phased plan [which would eliminate Israel in stages]. But the problem is not just Arafat. The entire Palestinian national elite is prone to see us as Crusaders and is driven by the phased plan. That's why the Palestinians are not honestly ready to forgo the right of return. They are preserving it as an instrument with which they will destroy the Jewish state when the time comes. They can't tolerate the existence of a Jewish state - not in 80 percent of the country and not in 30 percent. From their point of view, the Palestinian state must cover the whole Land of Israel."


And to him, the problem goes far beyond the conflict with the Palestinians.
"There is a deep problem in Islam. It's a world whose values are different. A world in which human life doesn't have the same value as it does in the West, in which freedom, democracy, openness and creativity are alien. A world that makes those who are not part of the camp of Islam fair game. Revenge is also important here. Revenge plays a central part in the Arab tribal culture. Therefore, the people we are fighting and the society that sends them have no moral inhibitions. If it obtains chemical or biological or atomic weapons, it will use them. If it is able, it will also commit genocide."


You can see the tone of this interview. Throughout, he argues for the extremist of measures in dealing with this conflict. Not only does he argue for the wall, but that Ben Gurion's failure in 1948 was to have not made Israel Arab-free. And this 'conversion' by Morris seems to be real. He has written for the Guardian (that 'Jew-loving' British magazine) over the past few years and has been quite explicit about his thoughts. And there is a very funny (not intentionally, of course) incident reported awhile back where Morris went to speak at Berkeley. The organizers and crowd were enthusiastically awaiting the old-Morris, and instead got a hawk deeply critical of Arafat and Palestinian society. The result was a bitter Q&A that left both sides resigned never to talk to each other again.

This most recent particular interview seems to also have resonated with liberal hawks in this country who have supported Bush in the war on terror. Michael Totten (one of my favorites) sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Total War (i.e., Israel as faced with the choices of its own annihilation and extreme measures), agrees with Morris' assessment and believes the US may now be facing the same thing Israel has faced for its entire existence and more. Others like Roger Simon, similarly see what happened to Morris as what happens to anyone (and in this case, a liberal) when the blinders come off when faced with an enemy bent on your destruction. So when the Haaretz interviewer (for whom the blinders remain on) insists that the responsibility of Palestinian hatred rests with Israel, I couldn't have been more surprised to see Morris say that "that is not a sufficient explanation. The peoples of Africa were oppressed by the European powers no less than the Palestinians were oppressed by us, but nevertheless I don't see African terrorism in London, Paris or Brussels. The Germans killed far more of us than we killed the Palestinians, but we aren't blowing up buses in Munich and Nuremberg. So there is something else here, something deeper, that has to do with Islam and Arab culture."

So what is the problem? Read the first part of the interview. It has to do with Morris' new book, which is an update of his prior book. With new access to never before seen documents, Morris now 'uncovers' new atrocities committed by Israel in 1948...rape, murder, forced expulsions. Not just by the Irgun and the Stern gang, but the Hagannah and some, by the orders of Ben Gurion (at least with respect to "cleansing"...his term, not mine).

In fact, Morris talks about cleansing a lot. He is a cleanser. He believes in it. And says that Ben Gurion was too...and the term was one that they used then. But what a term to use! He notes that it is not politically correct to say that. That is an understatement. It is reviled. Yet it is also distorted. When I grew up, cleansing meant what happened in the Holocaust .... Extermination. Yet somehow, in the past decade, it has come to encompass relocation. Forced relocation is a horrible thing, and people die (ever heard of the Armenians?), but I don't doubt that the Jews of Europe would have greatly preferred that to their ultimate fate. It only they had let us live. But now, cleansing means something more...but that dilution has in no way reduced the moral indignation associated with its accusers. So that makes me wonder why Morris embraces the term so readily, so often. Who is he trying to incite and why?

And when he talks about this cleansing, does he talk about the cleansing of the Arab lands of 500,000 Jews that occurred at the same time? That was a fact he left out in his edition 10 years ago. Did he include that now? I don't know.

And when he talks about these new atrocities he uncovers (which he goes on to say are not really significant in the scheme of things or in absolute numbers), does he talk about the Etzion Block?, Ben Yehuda Street?, the Mount Scopus convoy? Has he spent time uncovering other Arab atrocities?

And why now? Why talk about this now? Maybe the Haaretz interview skewed things ...no doubt they have an agenda. But I came away from this particular interview particularly worried. I see nothing good coming from it.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

A Sense of History

Recently, I have been reading books written in the 1950's and 1960's about the Middle East and have been continually amazed by the language used by the Arabists in their denunciation of the "Zionist Entity." Specifically, it is identical to the language used today. The same arguments, the same rationale, the same anti-colonialist bent, and the same racial hatred. And the funny thing is, this language was of course used before the '67 war....before Israel took the West Bank and Gaza. So when people say if only the occupation ends, there will be peace, I know that what they really mean (even if they don't know it), that the 'occupation' means the existance of the state of Israel. The recorded history tell us that that is what it means.

Today, I was reading on line with a friend of mine the latest Victor Davis Hanson article. My friend is also a Hanson fan, but as he was reading it, he remarked "Wow, Hanson really likes Israel." I didn't like what that implied....that Hanson is just another biased participant, that he had chosen a side and simply advocates it. I replied that Hanson actually is a historian, one who knows what the conflict between democracies and fascism is about, and therefore recognizes both the patterns and the hypocracies of those who would sooner equate Bush and Sharon to Hitler than believe Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are our enemies. Hanson knows his history.

And that was on unparalleled display today in his article appropriately titled, The Same Old Thing. Bemoaning the growing mytholody of a United States "alienating the world, losing the friendship of the Europeans, needlessly offending the Arabs, and generally embarking on a radically new foreign policy of preemption and hegemony", Hanson remembered that:
"Thirty years ago, during the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, most of the Europeans of the NATO alliance refused over-flight rights to the United States. We had only hours in which to aid Israel from a multifaceted surprise attack and were desperately ferrying tons of supplies to save it from literal extinction. In contrast, many of these same allies allowed the Soviet Union — the supposed common enemy from which thousands of Americans were based in Europe to protect Europeans — to fly over NATO airspace to ensure the Syrians sufficient material to launch and sustain their surprise attack on the Golan.

American "unilateralism" in those days meant acting alone not to let Israel perish. Had we gone "multilateral" and listened to our NATO allies — Germany, France, Greece, and Turkey all prohibited American planes from flying supplies in their space in transit to Tel-Aviv — there would be no Israel today at all. How odd that nations who asked for our protection from the Soviets would allow them to fly in supplies to the Syrian dictatorship, but not extend the same privilege of airspace to their protectors to save a democracy.

In exasperation at such a bad state of transatlantic relations, a furious — who else? — Ted Kennedy attacked Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, blaming us, not the Europeans' peculiar taste for fascism over Israeli democracy, for "heedlessly creating a crisis in the Atlantic alliance." Again, this was 30 years before his most recent outburst about a fraudulent war being cooked up in Texas. The New York Times, of course, then as now, echoed his concern."

I didn't know that happened then. I doubt few people do or remember that. But Hanson does. And he notices the same pattern I stumbled upon when he writes that "the political system of the Middle East — hereditary autocracy — is unchanged from thirty years ago. Thus an array of third-generation calcified ideologues cling to the old ace-in-the-hole hatred: "The Jews did it"; "Jihad will save us yet from the Zionist entity and the Great Satan"; "Palestine will stretch to the Mediterranean"; and so on. "

Hereditary autocracy...that is a great term, isn't it?!

But Hanson sees promise and possibilities. Notably, he likes the "wall." So do I, but talks about it in a far more eloquent way:
"As the Europeans talk, the Palestinians explode, and the Arab dictatorships threaten, the fence creeps on in Israel — the most radical old idea in a half-century. It is not a perfect solution, but a forced solution of sorts nonetheless, prompting hysterical reactions from the terrorists, but strange silence from most capitals of the Arab world. Many outside of Ramallah secretly won't be unhappy to see the situation gradually quiet down into a de facto settlement — along the lines of readjusted borders in a present-day postwar Germany or Japan, whose citizens are not blowing up Poles or Russians a half century later for occupying home soil lost after failed wars of aggression.

The Palestinians, who get their state and will see lots of settlers leave, hate the barrier not because it slices off some security slivers from the West Bank, but rather because it simply promises an end to their entire parasitic relationship with Israel. Suicide bombing was predicated on weakening Israeli will, ruining the economy, discouraging immigration to Israel, encouraging Jewish flight, tapping into latent anti-Semitism in Europe, and thus hoping that terror and demography would one day win what arms never could. In contrast, early indicators suggest the fence will make it very hard for suicide bombers to continue to traffic in death — apparently the sole bargaining chip left to a corrupt Palestinian Authority.

Arafat's thousands of hangers-on will now be free to take their billions in European, American, and Arab bribe money and either build a successful society on their own side, or continue the squalor that results from their robbing and stashing millions in foreign banks as they claim perpetual victim status. And the whole world can watch the verdict on a Palestinian state that shares open borders with several Arab nations without blaming Israelis — a quandary for liberal Europeans, since for decades their inexplicable support for Palestinian autocracy has served as a convenient and useful vehicle for entrenched anti-Semitism adroitly masked by concern for supposed refugees and an oppressed "other."

I think he sees things quite clearly. And I like that language, don't you. Very clear, and holding no punches. I am not used to hearing language like that. It really started with Bush, and his "Axis of Evil" speech. Many of my friends thought it was horrible but I liked it....finally someone actually saying things the way they are. The world is not used to hearing things like that, and so it shouldn't be much of a surprise when it was so, and continues to be so, quick to denounce it. But it is necessary, and Hanson talks the same way.

He also has a solution with respect to our friends and 'allies', the Europeans:
"We can do still more — remembering that the problem can only be slightly ameliorated, but not altered by sugarcoating what we say to the Europeans, inasmuch as the tension is deep-seated and arises from our own insistence on subsidizing much of their defense, when their land is larger, their people more numerous, and their enemies fewer than America's. Despite the risks involved — the continent is still the graveyard of thousands of American soldiers who died to stop its perpetual internecine killing — only by allowing Europe to take care of its own security will we ever have a real friend and partner rather than a perpetually dependent adolescent in his forties, whining that he can take out "his" car whenever he wants, as long as his parents make sure that it is paid for, insured, gassed, and runs."

History tells us that Hanson is right on that point as well. But please don't take it from me...rather, take it from him.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Duuh. I'm a dumb Republican.

You may have already heard about the Seattle Post-Intelligencer column by Neal Starkman in which he explains, basically, that the reason Bush is popular is because people are stupid.

I don't have the time or the patience to really respond to this, so I refer you to The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler's typically low-key fisking of the column.

Monday, January 05, 2004

A pair from Lileks

I'm just feeling bloggerific today.

James Lileks has two great newspaper columns that I'd like to call your attention to:

The first, written on Dec. 22, notes inter alia (bringin' the Latin, are you impressed?) the following truths:

Saddam Hussein had a pistol when he was captured, but he didn't use it. He just surrendered without a shot. And people wonder whether he was still getting advice from the French.

. . . .

What bold new thinking would President [John] Edwards bring to this multidimensional world? A new U.N. Security Council resolution opposing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Splendid idea. Just don't enforce it! Make it something nice and stern, with words like "strongly pledge" and "emphatically reject." Then take a vote and have a nice long lunch; New York is full of great restaurants. It's fun being a U.N. diplomat! And while you're up, make a resolution against killer asteroids and musicals based on Boy George, OK? Thanks; kisses.

Howard Dean graciously praised the capture [of Saddam], but you could hear the big BUT flexing in the wings. Sure enough: "The capture of Saddam has not made America safer," Dean said in his big foreign-policy speech. "I have never found the evidence convincing that Iraq was ever a significant threat to the United States." Drawing on his own network of Iraqi informants and private spy satellites, Dean also remarked that Saddam's capture "could have taken place six months ago."

Remind us again why we're getting foreign-policy advice from a former governor of a tiny state most famous for tree sap and ice cream?


And this one, from December 31, in which he elucidates his resolutions for both Bush haters and lovers:

For the haters:
I resolve, as a purely abstract philosophical matter, to consider the possibility that France may not have America's best interests as the guiding principle of its foreign policy.

. . . .

I resolve to ask myself whether my attachment to French approval is uncomfortably analogous to a high school chess geek mooning after the lovely but haughty cheerleader who regards everyone with bemused contempt. She winked once. That was weeks ago. Was it all a tease?

And for the lovers:
Whenever I believe that the president always and only acts from high-minded principle, I resolve to say the words "steel tariffs" and "campaign finance reform bill" in a soft, regretful voice. I resolve to recall the new prescription drug benefit, which sounds nice now but is an entitlement that will grow until it mandates government-funded Pepto-Bismol on tap in every house. And I really, truly resolve not to wish the whole "nukyular" pronunciation thing didn't dismay me at the molekyular level.


A day without Lileks is a day without, well... pretty much just without Lileks, but I really prefer days where I get to read his stuff.

Why an International Tribunal is a lousy idea...

Mark Steyn, as usual, writes a pithy column about why an International Tribunal is a really bad place to try Saddam Hussein.

A very good point, sort of thrown in, however, is this:
Up to the moment Saddam popped out of the spider-hole, the international jet set's line was that deplorable as Saddam's rule might be -- gassing Kurds, feeding folks feet-first into industrial shredders, etc. -- it was strictly an internal matter for the Iraqi people. The minute the old boy was in U.S. custody, the international jet set's revised position was that gassing Kurds, feeding folks into industrial shredders and so forth were crimes against the whole world and certainly not a matter for the Iraqi people. Instead, we need a (drumroll, please) United Nations-mandated international tribunal.

Self-hating Westerners...

I've been blog-free for a bit; but I thought I'd point out an interesting column by Victor Davis Hanson in National Review Online from December 30.

He notes that for some reason, many in the West are particularly self-loathing; why else would they spend so much time agonizing over Bush's liberation of Iraq and so little time mourning his victims?

Some choice quotes:
In liberating 50 million people from both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein it has lost so far less than 500 soldiers -- some of whom were killed precisely because they waged a war that sought to minimalize not just civilian casualties but even the killing of their enemies. Contrary to the invective of Western intellectuals, the American military’s sins until recently have been of omission -- preferring not to shoot looters or hunt down and kill insurgents -- rather than brutal commission. While the United States has conducted these successive wars some 7,000 miles beyond its borders, it also avoided another terrorist attack of the scale of September 11 -- and all the while crafting a policy of containment of North Korea and soon-to-be nuclear Iran.

Thus by any comparative standard of military history, the last two difficult years, despite setbacks and disappointments, represent a remarkable military achievement .Yet no one would ever gather even the slightest acknowledgment of such success from our Democratic grandees. Al Gore dubbed the Iraqi liberation a quagmire and, absurdly, the worst mistake in the history of American foreign policy. Howard Dean, more absurdly, suggested that the president of the United States might have had foreknowledge of September 11. Most Americans now shudder at the thought that the former might have been president in this time of crisis -- and that the latter still could be.

. . . .

[On television, another] worried-looking European analyst was raising the specter of a potential oppressed prisoner suffering at "Guantanamo" -- in voicing concern for the rights of Saddam Hussein! French trading with a mass murderer, profiting from selling him arms to butcher his own people is one thing; worrying that the same monster fully understands the nuances of Western jurisprudence while in the docket is quite another. Of course, our European humanist never noted that his own country’s pusillanimity over the last decade was responsible for abetting Saddam’s reign of terror even as someone else’s audacity was for ending it.

I could go on, but you get the picture of this current madness. There is something terribly wrong, something terribly amoral with the Western intelligentsia, most prominently in academia, the media, and politics. We don’t need Osama bin Laden's preschool jabbering about "the weak horse" to be worried about the causes of this Western disease: thousands of the richest, most leisured people in the history of civilization have become self-absorbed, ungracious, and completely divorced from the natural world -- the age-old horrific realities of dearth, plague, hunger, rapine, or conquest.

. . . .

Hatred of Israel is the most striking symptom of the Western disease. On the face of it the dilemma there is a no-brainer for any classic liberal: A consensual government is besieged by fanatical suicide killers who are subsidized and cheered on by many dictators in the Arab world. The bombers share the same barbaric methods as Chechens, the 9/11 murderers, al Qaedists in Turkey, and what we now see in Iraq.

Indeed, the liberal Europeans should love Israel, whose social and cultural institutions -- universities, the fine arts, concern for the "other" -- so reflect its own. Gays are in the Israeli military, whose soldiers rarely salute, but usually address each other by their first names and accept a gender equity that any feminist would love. And while Arabs once may have been exterminated by Syrians, gassed in Yemen by Egypt, ethnically cleansed in Kuwait, lynched without trial in Palestine, burned alive in Saudi Arabia, inside Israel proper they vote and enjoy human rights not found elsewhere in the Arab Middle East.

When Europe frets over the "Right of Return" do they mean the over half-million Jews who were sent running for their lives from Egypt, Syria, and Iraq? Or do they ever ask why a million Arabs live freely in Israel and another 100,000 illegally have entered the "Zionist entity"? Does a European ever ask what would happen should thousands of Jews demand "A Right of Return" to Cairo?