Friday, August 09, 2002

Our Enemies, the House of Saud: The sequel column, by Michael Barone.

A lot of countries have "relationships" with various regimes in the region. We have ours with the Saudis. The Russians have theirs with Iran (and to a lesser but still important degree, Iraq). European countries have it with Syria, Iraq, etc. Egypt is in the mix, too. All these countries - including ours - find it hard to "cut the cord". They - and we - know that our "friends" in the region are not very nice guys, and that even while we call them "friends", they have policies that actually run very counter to our interests (Saudi export of Wahabism, Iran's ambitions in the Caspian region, Iraq's grand designs, Syria's support for terrorism and occupation of Lebanon, etc; along with the fact that for many of the countries with "valuable relationships" in the region, that interest and "friendship" is based on trade, but the "friendly governments", being despotic and enthralled with bad economic policies that enrich those holding the whip but keep the rest of the country impoverished, prevent the nations in question from ever really prospering and thus ever really developing the markets/trade potential that they could have).

Thus we, collectively and separately, know that while we have "valuable" relationships with regimes in the region, they aren't really in our long term interest. But the quandary exists because "cutting the cord" will be costly, at least in the short run. Look at it this way: one of the reasons the Shah's regime fell in Iran is because the U.S., which had "friendly" relations with it, decided it was no longer worth supporting. We're still in the "short run cost" period, a quarter of a century later. Perhaps when the Ayatollah's are overthrown a democratic republic will be established that will be friendly with the U.S. and revive Iran's economy, so it will become an important ally and friendly trading partner in the region, but it hasn't happened yet.

So while many of the governments that are worried about "destabilizing" the region probably, at least privately, know that it is in their long-term interest that even the places they consider they have "important ties" with change (because those so-called "friends" have ambitions that threaten their interests), there's a very difficult psychological barrier that stands in the way of them wanting to see any action in the foreseeable future that will change things, even for the better. "Better the devil we know than America going in and messing around" (and that goes for the outlook of people in America vis a vi the House of Saud, among others, not just "fer'ners" expressing dismay at possible American action) is the policy.

We all know now that every year things have been getting a little bit worse - not better - for us with these so-called "friends" and "important relationships". The players in the region spawn more and more threats to our nations and people - sponsor and encourage terrorism, be it cells in Europe or Jihadists in Chechnya or blind clerics in New Jersey preaching Jihad and the destruction of the World Trade Center. But few, outside the U.S. at least (and actually a good number within the U.S.), want to see the first step taken in cleaning out these Augean stables.

Some say it's "not our responsibility or our right" to do that - but, unless they refuse to acknowledge the deadly threat that the current situation poses, they're obviously missing something. it is both the right and responsibility of our governments to provide for the common defense against enemies, both foreign and domestic. No, likewise, just "going home" will not solve the problem. Nor will the "alter our policies" proposal do the trick - if for no other reason than letting people know that if they kill some of us, we'll knuckle under to whatever demands they have (or whatever demands others make in their name and supposedly on their behalf) - that will just encourage them to push for more. It will become the preferred method of achieving their goals, whatever they may be (and no, those goals are not in all ways identical to what the Left in the West demands, though it's interesting that so many of them are willing and even, seemingly, happy, to effectively identify their aims and cause with the aims and cause of the Middle Eastern Radical movements - which comes out whenever they say "if we stop doing X or if we do Y" - with X and Y being things that the speaker or writer has always wanted to stop or to happen - "then they will stop hating us").

No, the only solution is to see these things with clear eyes and realize that just because someone hates you, that doesn't automatically mean that they have a good reason to or it's your fault. But it does mean you should do what is needed to insure your security and survival. Even if it's painful in the short term, and involves the severing of long-lasting "relationships" and so-called (but false) "friendships".
Economy, Interest Rates, and Deflation: Wholesale prices fell in June. The possibility of deflation rather than inflation being real, and with the economy struggling, the Fed should lower interest rates next week.

In related news, it's possible that the Clinton Administration cooked the books in 2000, overstating the strength of the economy then for political reasons.
Robert Locke "Fisks" John Derbyshire, in a Front Page Mag column. I don't completely agree with either.

Locke has one sentance, though, which would be a good motto for a Blog:
So long as I have a website and a gun, I’m not worried.
I don't personally own a gun (I'm not against it, I just don't have one at the moment), so this wouldn't work for me. But it's still a good motto.
Tuition Costs continue to skyrocket.
"Big Steel" got a 30% tariff gimmie earlier this year, which has already caused the price of steel to skyrocket, cost more jobs than it "saved", and pissed off most if not all of our trading allies. Now they're already back for more. Sickening. I hope Bush draws the line. Actually, I hope he reverses the earlier decision and withdraws the steel tariff he approved earlier, but I doubt that'll happen.
Executions the European Community Do Not Protest occur frequently under Arafat's gaze.
"Diversity" and "Tolerance" Not Extended to a Black speaker. Why? Because he's a conservative, not a member of groupthink views "The Community" demands. This kind of thing happens all the time, and whenever examples like these pop up - no matter how many of them their are - it's dismissed by the usual suspects as "anecdotal" and "not representative". Either that or, more honestly but little better, excused as somehow the right way to treat people who hold these "extreme" views. Where have we read about that before?
Korea Reactor Deal is still bad.
One, Two, Three, Four - Wadda We Fighting For?: A exchange of views between intellectuals. Link via Instapundit.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

The Two Faces of American Islam: an article in Policy Review on the varieties of moslem immigrant communities in the United States, some very positive, others. . .not so.
Mark Steyn on the value of stability in the Middle East and on the intellectual despotism of the Left:
the left has an hilarious bumper sticker: "Celebrate Diversity." In the newsrooms of America, they celebrate diversity of race, diversity of gender, diversity of orientation, diversity of everything except the only diversity that matters: diversity of thought.
He suggests this course of action, which I would wholeheartedly endorse, except that it's foredoomed to complete failure:
I think we conservatives ought to make an attempt to reclaim the word "liberal." We believe in liberty, and in liberating human potential. I don't know what you'd call a political culture that reduces voters to dependents, that tells religious institutions whom they can hire, that instructs printers on what printing jobs they're obliged to accept, that bans squeegee kids unless they're undercover policemen checking on whether you're wearing your seatbelt, etc., etc. But "liberal" no longer seems to cover it.

Links via Instapundit.
War Didn't Start in September, Walter Kansteiner reminds us.
Who Wins This Exchange?
Albert Gore, Jr (in the New York Pravda):
"There has always been a debate over the destiny of this nation between those who believed they were entitled to govern because of their station in life, and those who believed that the people were sovereign."
Cal Thomas (in the Washington Times):
"Who would know more about being 'to the manor born' than Mr. Gore, whose father, the late Sen. Albert Gore Sr., reared his son in a pricey Washington hotel and sent him to a pricey private school so he wouldn't have to associate with public school riff-raff? Today, Mr. Gore takes the side of the rich against the poor by opposing school choice, which would give everyone the opportunity to have the same quality education his parents could afford."
As Greece's November 17th Revolutionary cells are unravelled, so are the myths surrounding them. It shouldn't surprise anyone that people continue to build romantic images around killers like these (or the Zapatistas in Mexico), but it's still both despicable and revealing when they do. A lot of people on the Left still reserve more bile for democratically elected leaders (like, for example, Reagan and Thatcher) than they do for murderers like these, whom they tend to exult or at least "understand", but rarely condemn - until after it doesn't matter anymore to "the movement".

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

The News From Zimbabwe just gets worse and worse. To think that just over twenty years ago, Zimbabwe seemed full of promise and potential prosperity. What happened? Mughabe decided he was more important than the people of Zimbabwe. They'd be better off if they were still Rhodesia, at this point. And yes, I know all that statement implies. But can anyone really say they're better off under the current racist regime of Mughabe?
I'm Strongly Inclined to be in favor of war against Iraq and "regime change", but haven't made many "basic arguments" in favor of military action, largely because others are doing at least as well, if not better, than I would, and usually they've been making the case since before I had a weblog. Does this mean I'm a mindless follower of other people's propositions (such as the Cap'n's)? No. I don't agree with everything anyone writes (I do tend to share most of Steven's attitudes on international affairs, though).

However, I do rather resent what seems to be a rising tendency to claim that warbloggers are just chest-thumping blowhards in favor of war without any regard for the consequences. I've written about my concerns regarding how it will be conducted and the potential consequences of some of the options not only for those who may fight against Saddam, as the Northern Alliance (among others) fought against the Taliban, but also the people of Iraq generally. Far from being mindless warmongers, most of those who believe we need a regime change and should use military force to effect it take such concerns seriously in their considerations.

When considering the options vis a vi Iraq, it comes down, mostly, to a question of whether one thinks Saddam is a rational actor and what that implies. He might be rational, but rationally believe that he's clever enough to find a way to attack us without too much risk to himself. It is a question, in part, of whether one believes he's restrained or not - and how much risk one is willing to take if the wrong choice is made. The "anti-war" bloggers point to the risks inherent in war as being decisive, while the "pro-war" bloggers believe that the risks of not taking these threats seriously enough were demonstrated on Sept. 11 and the consequences of being wrong are only growing in that regard. What conclusions one makes about Saddam's logic in this also comes down to whether one believes that Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi officials (and what that implies) or not. The Czechs continue to insist that he did. You may not believe them, others have decided otherwise.

But it goes beyond Saddam, just as in WWII we did things that sometimes went beyond fighting Hitler or Tojo. Many of the more intelligent and perceptive anti-war-against-Iraq writers do believe that we should fight against terrorism that threatens America and/or the world (though they may differ over how to fight that conflict - but then, many pro-war-against-Iraq writers differ over what methods to use in that instance, too). They question whether Iraq is involved with al-Queda. Some leave it at that, with the obvious fallacy that al-Queda may have been the organization that struck us on Sept 11th but, even if Iraq is was not involved with al-Queda then (and isn't harboring any of them now - remember, the evidence that some members of al-Queda have taken refuge in Iraq and are being harbored by that regime is one of the pieces of information that cause people to conclude that war against Iraq is justified), al-Queda is not the only terrorist organization in the world that is a potential threat to the US or others. People sometimes write that "well, Saddam may have used Scuds, but not poison gas, against Israel", with the conclusion implied that the use of merely destructive conventional weapons ends the argument, and that therefore war isn't necessary. But we also know that even crude, ersatz missiles, with the proper "warhead", can be quite destructive. We saw that in New York. We know that since the Gulf War, Saddam has been working in conjunction with others to improve the range and payload capacity of his missiles (this is one area where North Korea comes in - they've been exchanging missile technology).

But lets say you believe that we should do what we can to stamp out terrorist organizations that threaten us. It's very possible to then hold the belief that this cannot be accomplished purely defensively (people can always break through whatever "homeland security' measures we might institute, for example. That doesn't mean that such defensive efforts are worthless, that just means we cannot depend entirely upon them). Thus you need to be pro-active rather than re-active. One can then reach the conclusion that the only way to achieve that is to change the political dynamics in the Middle East. One may consider "Arabprosperity" as a means of achieving that goal, but after considering it reach the conclusion that it wouldn't work at this time - because the very regimes that foster a climate that encourages the growth of terrorism also stand in the way of creating prosperity in the region. One might also conclude that even if it were possible to gradually make the region more prosperous, there is a strong risk that, given the climate of opinion and outlook in the area, that would just make it more possible for those who harbor hatreds to afford deadlier weapons with which to achieve their goals. Yes, it is possible that opinions would change, but people weigh the risk - not everyone's opinions will necessarily change, and a study of history indicates that rising powers are more able and quite likely to seek a change change in the status quo than not. This is sort of akin - but not identical - to why some people are concerned over the potential threat China could pose in the future, as it grows in prosperity and technological aptitude.

So one can conclude we need to change the political and social dynamics in the region before "ArabProsperity" is possible, and that in any case it is probable that even if by some means it were possible to bring "ArabProsperity" into reality first, it wouldn't end the danger but could exacerbate it. So people conclude that we need to, for our own security and with Sept. 11th in mind, force "regime changes" in the region. Why, then, Iraq first? In many ways, purely for pragmatic reasons - yes, it may very well be that the House of Saud is behind more terrorism than the Ba'ath Socialist regime in Iraq is (not that Iraq's hands are clean, however). But we can justify and rationalize a move against Iraq with more facility than against the House of Saud, at the moment. Many "pro-war-against-Iraq" bloggers base their opinion in part on what we believe the "collateral effects" will be: it will free us up from our dependency on the House of Saud, for example. In other words, while some in the anti-war crowd point to the destabilizing effects such an action may have on the region and see it as a decisive reason to oppose the war, others take a Positively Page view and believe that's not a bad thing. It's a good thing.

There's also the argument that: Well, ok, lets say Saddam is a rational actor? So what does that really mean? Lets say, yah, he can be deterred. Deterrence works both ways, you know. He gets the bomb but won't use it frivolously. However, he gets the bomb and invades Kuwait conventionally again, and says he'll use it if we try to push him out again. We're rational actors, so deterrence works. The point is, if and when he gets more effective weapons of mass destruction, he will rationally believe that frees him up to do all kinds of mischief that he didn't rationally believe he could engage in before - because deterrence worked on him, it will work on his behalf.

You know, people (and here I may disagree a bit with Steven Den Beste a bit) often talk as if they believe that the argument over whether Saddam is a rational actor or not is the entire crux of the matter. That if he is, that means that we don't need to nip him in the bud, and if he isn't, then we should. The dispute is then entirely over whether one believes he is or is not. But destructive wars have been fought between nations that were led by people at least as rational as Saddam is. Take the Great War - World War I. Even Kaiser Wilhelm II was more rational than his bluster may indicate (indeed, an analogy to Saddam can be made here; both engage in heated rhetoric for popular consumption, both with grand designs for their nation, both given to miscalculations - but rational ones). Yes, I know some may write that "hey, the Kaiser wasn't as rational as Bismark was", but neither is Saddam (it's not an "on-off" digital switch, you know. There are degrees of rationality and irrationality). Just because he's a more rational actor than, say, Osama bin Laden doesn't mean that we have little to worry about and can continue the pre-Sept 11th policies with respect to Iraq. You know, for awhile there people were saying "everything changed on September 11th", but, for good or ill (or both), that wasn't true. But one thing did change, and that is the amount of risk we're willing to take when it comes to security (this also comes into play with respect to calculations of future risk. In what looks like it will be a hereditary dictatorship, Saddam has one son that is no more deranged than he is, whom he is grooming to be his successor. He also has one son that is, by all accounts, a psychopath. Yes, Saddam wants the "good" son to replace him, when the time comes. But when the time comes, he'll be dead, and which son do you think will be more ruthless in grasping for the throne? It may all work out, but what level of risk are you willing to accept that it will, and wouldn't a better method be preferable?) But the point here is that "rational actor" doesn't mean "mistake free" - miscalculations can be deadly. He may, as I said, think that getting weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, will mean that he can deter us and that this will mean that he will be able to pursue his ambitions in a way that he rationally believed he couldn't before. This is a grave risk, and one that's not much lower than if he's an "irrational actor". He could, for example, feel he would be free to give even more refuge and support to terrorist and terrorism aimed at the US as a result, because he would be able to threaten us with a nuclear response if we took action against him as a result of such behavior. Those who say "deterence works" cannot say that it wouldn't work on his behalf.

Now, reasonable people can disagree with all that (and the other arguments that I didn't bring up here) and conclude that those who are in favor of war are wrong. But the implication that many seem to be making, that we haven't given thoughtful consideration to these things is false.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Yahoo! and the ChiComs John Weider points out that Yahoo has apparently agreed to censor the content available in China, and points to this article as the source. He calls for a boycott of Yahoo! by bloggers (and presumably others).

I'm not a big fan of boycotts, nor are I opposed to them. I'd actually recommend people simply barrage Yahoo! with complaint letters on the subject. They've introduced policies in the past that users have found abhorrent, and after enough complaining they have often bowed to the pressure. Likewise, they can and should be shamed: Yahoo! often tries to present itself as a forum for the expression of just about anything, and likewise since they are apparently alone on this right now, can be made to feel alone in abandoning free-speech principles.

But, as for me, on the other hand, I'm considering becoming a ChiCom myself, as a result of a tidbit buried in this story:
one Beijing legal daily claimed that China's richest 20 percent have 80 percent of its wealth but pay only 10 percent of its income tax.
While you'd be surprised how little Porphy makes, this is appealing to me. I'm probably in the bottom 20% of income earners in America (if not, then certainly in the next lowest quintile), but even so I'm sure that would place me in the top 20% of income earners in China. But I'll have to look into that.

Ok, just making light of the situation. The fact that someone who's in the lowest quintile of wage earners in America would be in the top quintile in China is actually an argument for not embracing Comuni. . . er, whatever it is they have there now. Crony Socialism, I suppose, with some market areas.

Indeed, the article here basically disproves the point of those who long claimed that "well, these societies may not have political equality and yes, they do violate free speech principles. But we could learn from them about economic equality and fairness. We should be in a dialogue with China rather than telling them how much better America is, and learn from them instead of telling them how they should change". We get that crap when it comes to Cuba, too. (Oh, but I guess I did learn, from the story, the Chinese phrase for Shadenfruede: xing zai le hou).

In any case, Yahoo!, which, if I recall correctly (again, correct me if I'm wrong on that), resisted efforts by the French to have it's content censored when it came to what was available within France, should be disgraced for knuckling under to demands from the Oligarchy that runs China. The potential of the Chinese market (all those billions) has long enthralled many countries - but, if nothing else will work, then Yahoo! should be made to recognize which side of the bread butters their business. By the time Yahoo! would get any financial benefit from whatever business it does in China commensurate to what it may lose elsewhere if they Finlandize their business, they'll be as big as Enron and WorldCom are today (then Yahoo! could rename itself Whoops!).

Foolish business decisions should be punished by the customers, in preference to the government. Like I said, I'm not big on boycotts, but on the other hand there are many outlets that provide virtually identical services to what Yahoo! provides, and people can choose to patronize them instead if they find Yahoo!'s policies to be odious.

That's not a "boycott", that's simply consumer choice. Exercise it.
Incoming Archbishop of Canterbury is now a druid. Well, all those people who think that Western Civilization was a bad idea and we the closest thing people of European ancestry can come to being "native peoples" of the Earth is to become Celts now have a champion.

Comming from Rowan Williams though, things like this don't surprise me.
Tammy Bruce raves against the latest example of Clintonian dissembling.
Our Enemies, the Saudis: this time a reported briefing and the changing attitudes towards the Desert Usurpers within the U.S. Government.
Mark Steyn in Chicago Sun Times, on Osama's son, Scott Evil. Or Saad bin Ladin. Whatever. Oh, yah, and the House of Saud.
Economies of Africa and Latin America are dismal. I know, you're thinking "tell us something we don't know".
Election!: an article on the potential consiquences of the Democrats taking the House this fall on anti-terrorism measures. Pretty partisan piece (not that I mind that, personally), but it doesn't paint with a broad brush (it doesn't claim that all Democrat Congressmen are a potential problem) and the point of it is pretty spot-on when it comes to potential Committee Chairmen in a Democrat-controlled House.
Clintonian Revisionism: Anyone who's had to put up with extensive diatribes from members of the Clinton Faithful expounding the latest efforts by him and his minions, especially on Somalia, should check out this WSJ article on the subject.

Alongside that recent remark we have the near-simultaneous Time Magazine piece suddenly claiming that Clinton had a plan to roll-back al-Queda and George Bush bungled it. Well, seems to me that it's obvious that if such a plan existed we'd have heard about it before - like, perhaps, when Hillary was holding up "Bush Knew!" headlines in the Senate. I can see Bill now:
Ah never worked harder on anything in mah life than ah did on tryin' to get bin Laden. Why, I had a secret plan, all ready, at the end of mah administration. We even gave it to Bush on his way in. It was all set to go. But he wouldn't go for it. In fact, you remember that airport goodbye that everyone criticized me for at the time? Said ah was takin' so much time, tryin' to steal Bush's spotlight on inauguration day? Well, those folks ah was talkn' to were our agents, men and women trained to go after al-Queda. Ah had to break the news to them that the mission was off; Bush scrubbed it. Hardest thing ah ever did in mah life. But I felt it was important, as a man of principle, to let them know in person. We missed rolling back al-Queda by one day - if Algore had been elected, why, he'da launched that mission, and Sept. 11th wouldn'tve happened. Now, ah'm not like others, ah don't believe in pointin' fingers. Did ah didn't point fingers when ah got into office and inherited the worst economy in six days... er, sixty years, from my predecessor, W'bs father, did ah make a point of it? No. That's what separates us from them; ah don't believe in pointin' fingers. That's not mah style. But the record has to be set straight, and ah can no longer stay silent about this. Now ah hope they'll let me get back to doin mah work on behalf of the American people.
Yah, right.
I Wonder if the rapidly declining standards of the New York Pravda, the most widely read & quoted-from paper in America, has anything to do with this. Couldn't be, right? Keep up the good work, Howell! Your fervent efforts to use your paper as a weapon to discredit ideas you hate are only discrediting your own institution.
New Blog, which looks pretty good (though I, personally, would loose the sickening green background; that's a matter of aesthetic taste, however), called "Common Sense". This post from today makes some good points; there certainly is a tendency for those who think of themselves as "victims" to use that as an excuse to victimize someone else (the so-called "reparations" movement is another example of that; wealthy lawyers and political activists who've used their organizations to enrich themselves seeking to coercively exact wealth and resources from others on account of the fact that they come from a "historically victimized" group).

Which brings us to John Leo, further exploring the PC victimology movement and the demands it makes on others to change their behavior, and the costs it imposes on (especially) businesses that are expected to adapt themselves to unreasonable workplace requirements on the behalf of protected groups and "mascots".
The Last Battle: So I spent the weekend reading Cornelius Ryan's The Last Battle, an account of the fall of Berlin at the end of World War II. Somewhat depressing, even though in many ways it's hard to feel much sympathy for the Germans if you're aware of what the German army did in the East and that just about everyone in Germany knew - one of the reasons they lived in fear of the Red Army capturing the city was their awareness of the vengeance the Russian soldiers would exact on account of the behavior of the sons and husbands of the German people within Russia.
Still, it was impossible to not have feeling for the people of Berlin, or even for soldiers and German officers like Field Marshal Heinrici, caught between orders that were impossible to carry out, his desire to salvage as many of his men as possible and give Berlin as much a chance as he could, while operating within a context where if he didn't obey the deranged orders of his superiors he would be shot.
And while the behavior of many of the Russian troops was exempliary in Berlin, others were sadistic and brutal and behaved as troops have, throughout history, typically behaved following the capture of a major city - looting, murder, and (especially) rapine was rampant. Not in a figurative sense, either.
Why bring all this up? Beyond recommending a book? Well, these are things that we need to keep in mind when we're discussing possible war against Iraq. They are things that, especially, those of us who are in favor of war as a means of toppling Saddam and effecting true (rather than superficial - exchange one dictator for a new one) "regime change" there.
We know that Saddam is a brutal tyrant who has directed viciousness against not only the people of other countries, but people within Iraq as well. We know that most of his remaining Generals, after many purges, are little different from the sycophants who would follow any order Hitler gave (and almost gleefully carry out his worst ones). We know that the Kurds and the "marsh Arabs" have suffered the worst at the hands of Saddam's regime - and want their revenge against it. We know that while many people in Baghdad may be innocents, others have at least tacitly supported (or not opposed) him. If everyone in Iraq was against Saddam, as some of the more Panglossian spokesmen for the "Iraqi Opposition" say when testifying before America's Congress or speaking on TV, then the regime would have fallen just as the Soviet Union ultimately fell. We should be aware, then, that many of the people who will rally to provide the indigenous forces in any effort against Iraq will have almost tribal vendettas to carry out - for the death of their brothers by poison gas, the rape of their sisters by Saddam's troops, the disappearance of their fathers, and the like.
We often speak and write almost casually about how we could run this war with minimal risk to American lives by relying upon local troops to conduct the ground operations, just as we did in Afghanistan. I wrote a couple weeks ago about the risk to those troops themselves, if chemical or biological weapons are unleashed against what will be irregulars.
But we also need to keep in mind what may become of Baghdad and its people if the forces that capture it are drawn from among those who have the biggest scores to settle against Saddam and his followers, and the fact that, when they enter the city, they may not be as discriminating in sorting out who "deserves" ill-treatment and who is just convenient (in The Last Battle Cornelius Ryan mentions a woman who had long been a part of the German Communist Party, was a member of a secret Communist Cell operating in opposition to the National Socialist regime, who anticipated the arrival of the Red Army as liberators, but who was raped none the less).
How it's done is at least as important as that it is done. If we decide we need to do this for our own nation's security (and I believe that we should), then we should be willing to accept the risks, not just do whatever seems most likely to avoid American casualties at the possible cost of many others. Everything's a matter of degree and this doesn't mean accept un-needed risks or casualties, nor does it mean we shouldn't work with internal opponents of Saddam. But it does mean that we should weigh some of the possible costs of relying too much upon internal forces who have a grudge against those who oppressed them, and not enough on our own armed forces. We talk in our Blogs about how "mediaeval" and tribal Arab and Islamic civilization still is in many ways - and point to examples such as honor killings and the gang-rape of a girl in Pakistan as examples. But so far we haven't really carried this knowledge over to the next level, and taken into consideration what that might imply if we go with one of the "minimal US forces, rely mainly on internal opposition forces for the ground war" options in a war against Iraq. If we're going to sponsor and take charge of this war, then we will be responsible for how it is conducted, and we need to insure that vengeful forces do not give Baghdad over to pillage and rapine.
U.S. Economy so the economy is in the toilet, eh? We all know that, now; it's not just the stock market anymore, but the actual economy is sluggish at best, right? Yes, in many way's that's true. But - consumer spending was up in June and personal income experienced the largest increase in almost two years. Sure, the economy has been slow for awhile, but not every indicator is pointing downward for the future.
So it's not all black news after all.
The Bush Doctrine and the Not-Doctrine caricature made by certain folks is disected by the Cap'n.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Posts from Monday, Aug. 5th moved to Tuesday, Aug. 6th on account of Blogger Archiving Bug.