Friday, August 30, 2002

Dan Hartung writes to mention that the article describing connections between Iraq and al-Queda that I blogged yesterday prior to and connected to Sept. 11th first appeared in The Observer, a member of the Guardian group, not the Guardian itself. The Observer is also Labour-aligned, and certainly would have fact-checked it just as heavily.
Armed Liberal Continues his exposition of a theory of terrorism and the War on Bad Philosophy.
So What's HIS Job Then?: According to a nameless "confidante", Powell wants Bush to build a coalition before moving against Iraq.

Funny, in the past the U.S. Secretary of State would normally be expected to be involved in diplomacy to get people on our side, rather than seeing himself as the World's Representative to the U.S. (the position Powell clearly sees himself in; he's telling Bush the same things most of the EU governments are saying, rather than rolling up his sleeves and building the case to allies, getting them to join a coalition. He's just talking about how important it is to build one).

We need a Secretary of State who, if he believes a coalition is needed, knows its his job to round one up, not just bitch from the sidelines like his useless pals in Europe. Perhaps that he should be a she. I know of a certain National Security Advisor who could ably fill the role.

Funny, too, this un-named "confidante". Reminds me of the whole tempest-in-a-teapot a couple weeks ago over "anonymous bloggers". Why is it that someone who blogs "anonymously" - but can be consistently identified by what he's said in the past (because he or she uses the same alias consistently) - is less credible, but someone who says "Pst, buddy" to a reporter and then slips away, never to be heard from again (for all we know. For all we know he could be the same Masked Leaker that the NYT is getting its info from. Or it could be two dozen different guys. But we're not able to know, or able to judge their credibility or lack thereof) is quoted in reputable news organs? None of us can judge this "confidante" by his past work (is it Powell himself? He's his own closest "confidante"), claims, or statements. If these guys turn out to be B.S.ers with an axe to grind but contacts with reporters who grind the same axe (perhaps the "confidante" is Howell Raines? Dowd? Grinding their own axes?) and will keep going back for more no matter what, how are we to know? Ok, the chance that it's Howell or Dowd is negligible - after all, it's supposedly an "official", but the point remains. We'll never know, and not only will we never know, these anonymous sources are never associated with whatever previous remarks and leaks they may have made - unlike "anonymous" bloggers. They are completely unaccountable - except perhaps to their contacts in the media.

In the Bloggosphere, it's a negative to be a "anonymous" blogger. In the world of "serious" reporting, being an anonymous, "un-named" source is a cozy life.
How to Take Down Saddam: some unusually sensible suggestions in the Washington Times.
Political Speech Regulation Act of 2002 Update: Some groups are trying to get exemptions from provisions of the law. I think we should all get exempted from it.

Oh, and if anyone is tempted to claim the law regulates "money, not speech", they need to remember the law doesn't prevent people from spending money to buy ads, they prevent people from saying certain things in ads. The prohibitions also only apply to certain sorts of folks, not to everyone impartially.
Saddam Dossier complied by the Times of London is pretty compelling.
McKinney Defeat: Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes that far leftism is no longer a winner with Black voters. His criticism of the failures of Black politicians seems spot on:
"Many black politicians make little or no effort to inform and involve black voters on vital legislation and political actions that directly impact on black communities. Their all-consuming passion is to elect more black Democrats to office and make sure that those in office stay there. They are accustomed to the unchallenged and unquestioned brandishing of power. They jealously hoard what they view as their sacred right to make all final decisions on proposing laws and supporting public policy they deem important for blacks. Yet those laws and policies more often than not do not boost the interests of middle and working class blacks.. .
The political disconnect of black politicians such as McKinney from black voters has caused their free fall from important state and national offices. In the past two years they have lost mayoral races to whites in the majority or near majority black cities of Baltimore and Oakland.
If the McKinney defeat indicates that Black voters are beginning to tire of politicians who are long on rhetoric and calls to "racial solidarity" and short on substance, then that's certainly a good thing. The politicians will have to learn how to be more responsive to real needs.
While the Economy is Flaming Out, personal spending went up by 1%. Meanwhile, the EU wins one against America's export tax breaks. A victory for free(er) trade. Now if only we can win some against their subsidies.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

The Iraq Connection: Also, those who are against action in Iraq but now claim to support the War on Terror (aka War Against Bad Philosophy) say that going against Saddam would be a distraction from that war, rather than a part of it. But has this article from November, which appeared in the Guardian (which no one can accuse of being a Conservative, Neo or otherwise, or Tory propaganda sheet), and involved a month of investigative reporting, been retracted as incorrect or refuted on the facts?
In the early period after the attacks, Western intelligence agencies said they knew of nothing to suggest an Iraqi connection. That position has now changed. A top US analyst - a serving intelligence official with no connection to the 'hawks' around Wolfowitz - told The Observer: 'You should think of this thing as a spectrum: with zero Iraqi involvement at one end, and 100 per cent Iraqi direction and control at the other. The scenario we now find most plausible is somewhere in the middle range - significant Iraqi assistance and some involvement.'

Last night, Whitehall sources made clear that parts of British intelligence had reached the same conclusion. . .

. . .The case for trying to remove [Saddam] now might well seem unanswerable. In that scenario, the decisions Western leaders have had to make in the past two months would seem like a trivial prelude.
John Keegan offers Churchillian wisdom in the Telegraph:
When - it is not a question of if - Saddam acquires nuclear weapons, the moment when he could be crushed without risk to his opponents, or of provoking a wider war, or of truly destabilising the Middle East, will be gone. At the moment Saddam could be toppled quickly, cheaply and without difficulty. The moment will not last.

Churchill would see the opportunity and, if in power, would grasp it. He would ignore the timidity of yesterday's men and strike. He would avoid by any means the need to make the speech that he was impelled to deliver to the Commons after Munich in 1938: "Do not suppose that this is the end. It is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first taste of a bitter cup that will be proffered to us year by year unless, by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."
while Ralph Peters wonders why the people who've always been wrong in the past are listened to now instead of discredited:
When Saddam invaded Kuwait, the armchair generals assured us that the Iraqi military was battle-hardened, that our own forces were soft and untested and that tens of thousands of American soldiers would come home in body bags if we intervened.
Yah. Same song every time. We were told last fall that "Afganistan is no Iraq, it won't be that easy" by the doomsayers, now we're told "Iraq is no Afganistan".
I've Been Saying, That Dude is Dead, but if Pakistan's government is saying he's dead, then he's probably alive. Oh well.
Who's Rationality? So, in reading this I was reminded of this fact:
[The Iraqis] left behind, as threatened, burning oil fields, even though they had been warned that this tactic might set of an ecological disaster on a global scale. Fortunately it didn't, and the fires were out by 1992, but it revealed the level of ruthlessness and irresponsibility in the Iraqi dictator.
Folks on the anti-war side of the debate have been talking about how Saddam is a fairly reasonable guy who wouldn't do anything that was potentially destructive on a huge scale because he wants to survive, too, but they leave out of the discussion past examples. But I suppose many of them Blame America First for the firing of the oil fields in 1991, too.

The solution to most of the ills of the Islâmic world is in principle easy. Democracy, the rule of law, a tolerant and secular government, and the protection of property rights in an open economy are the keys to modern life, prosperity, and the kind of power that is envied in the Great Satan.
This is also instructive:
When I was a student in Beirut in 1969 and 1970, a Catholic priest once suggested that Palestinian refugees who wanted to go home should simply get up and walk across the border into Israel. There was no more than a fence there. A large crowd could trample it down. The Israelis always feel justified in violent responses to violence. Dead Israelis mean deadly retaliation. Although this is usually protested by some, most Western opinion sees it as at least understandable, which it is. If Palestinians, however, were to cease killing Israelis and deliberately adopt a non-violent approach, then Israel would be in no position to justify or explain deadly retaliation to anyone. . .In terms of non-violent resistance, all these Israeli Arabs need to do is reoccupy their old villages, or block roads and stage sitdown strikes at the point where they might be forcibly prevented from going there.

It is clear that such practices are a difficult and alien concept in the Middle East, and Palestinians have largely never done anything of the sort. There is no local tradition of non-violence as in India, or of peaceful civil disobedience as in the United States. Instead the ideals are all of armed victory and conquest.
That seems to be the case.
Expect Inflation Soon: Remember a year and a half ago when folks were saying we'd beaten the "business cycle" and in the high-tech New Economy, recessions were a thing of the past? Well, we know how that turned out.

Now someone is saying inflation is a thing of the past.
Squeezing Iraq May Win War, argues Michael Kramer in the New York Daily News.

Meanwhile, Michael Gove argues in the London Times that action is warranted:
No responsible Western leader can afford to discount the consequences of Saddam possessing deliverable weapons of mass destruction. He is a practised mass murderer with unassuaged territorial ambitions towards his neighbours. He is an unstable tyrant who aspires to hegemony over the Arab world by providing its most radical elements with political leadership and military support. Terrorists who menace Israel and have operated throughout the West have been trained, financed and armed by him.

Defectors have warned us of the camps in which his confederates practise the hijacking of airliners. The $25,000 he gives to suicide bombers in the Palestinian Authority helps to ensure that terror’s cutting edge remains bloodied.

Possessed of of suitable weaponry, Saddam would create geopolitical chaos of a kind more dangerous than any we have known since the fall of communism. He would be able to destabilise the entire Middle East to the detriment of all its peoples and he could then place his boot on the world’s windpipe by threatening its oil supplies.
This last is a good point: how come the people who make a fetish out of Middle Eastern stability are only worried about what we might do to destabilize it, and not what Saddam (with a track record already) will do to destabilize it?
Saddam’s record, pathology and allies require a response from the West wholly different from the doctrine of deterrence that governed Western security thinking for 50 years. They also force us to rethink our inherited, and proper, respect for the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of sovereign states.

As Henry Kissinger pointed out earlier this month, “policies that deterred the Soviet Union are unlikely to work against Iraq’s capacity to co-operate with terrorist groups. Suicide bombing has shown that the calculations of jihad fighters are not those of the Cold War principals.”
My point exactly whenever the issue of deterence comes up - along with the fact that he will want to deter us, so as to enable him to pursue his ambitions in the region, the ones we have so far been able to thwart.
"Underclass" is a Myth, a Left-aligned Think Tank in Britain reveals, because poverty is not static. People don't stay in the same economic category for their whole lives, even in more class-bound Britain.

Thomas Sowell has been making that point for years, backed up with statistics. But it's nice to see some on the other side are finding that out as well.
Unilateralism Has Gotten a Bad Rap, argues Frank Gaffney. It's an interesting point. Usually - almost always - the decrying of "Unilateralism" takes the form of a mantra; Unilateralism is bad, we're supposed to believe, but hardly anyone bothers to say why. Usually if they do provide a rationale, it is that it will anger our allies. But that just begs the question: why should it anger our allies? Why is cajoling them to participate in something we want to do but they aren't as enthusiastic about better than doing what we feel we need to do and letting them do what they think is best?

Sure, on many, many occasions multilateralism is the way to go. But that isn't a rationale for saying it's the only way to go. Lets put it this way: you have a friend (you lucky dog!), you share some interests with that friend, so you do those things together. But neither of you are bad friends if there are things you're interested in doing and that friend isn't interested in doing (or vice versa), and you do those things without him or her while the friend likewise does things that aren't your cup of tea.

I can here the quick response already: YAH, but the things I want to do don't involve killing people or attacking anyone. Fine, if that is put forward as a way of asserting you're against U.S. military action, that's a different argument, however; something that would have to be backed up on its own merits. It says nothing about whether "unilateralism" is a good or bad thing. Presumably, if you're sincerely anti-war, you wouldn't change your mind and become pro-war just because we collected group of nations to "gang up on a small, third-world country" (had a multilateralist coalition behind us). Likewise, if you think we need to take pre-emptive action, it's hard to see why you would change your mind just because others don't see that in their interest (which is probably why few people have had their minds changed by this point). This whole "multilateralist" thing boils down to a "bandwagon" argument, really: everyone else can't be wrong, with the decrying of "unilateralism" usually just being a means to make that argument.

It would be interesting to see if someone would be able to make an argument as to why "unilateralism" is always wrong. They would have to make the strong argument against unilateralism, not a weak one ("unilateralism is sometimes wrong"), if they were to sustain the commonly made point in the current debate, which is founded upon simply assuming it to be wrong and arguing from that assumption.

Update: Another tack would be to argue that unilateralism is bad in this instance. Note that this is not the argument that is usually made. It's much harder, because then one would have to explain why it would be wrong in this instance - and "it would anger our allies" just begs the question. Why should it anger our allies? Why should it make them stop cooperating with us elsewhere?

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

A Case For War: Ken Adelman lays out some of the reasons for going ahead.
The War Against Bad Philosophy, as Armed Liberal has termed it.

First, some of his critics and other critics seem to have missed the point. It isn't a question as to whether some of these guys have legitimate aspirations or not (maybe they do, maybe they don't. Maybe some of their aspirations are fine - a state of their own, governments that are accountable to the people and not corrupt kleptocratic cliques - others are questionable - a totalitarian theocracy that exults in anti-Western activities and engages in internal "intolerance" - and others perhaps are right out - push all the Crusader-Zionist Jews into the sea and build our own state on the rubble, reverse the "tragedy of Andalusia", the freedom to exercise their Allah-given right to behead gays, stone unmarried mothers, shoot "collaborators" in the back of the head after torturing their sons, and kill elderly nuns in the local Christian community, etc.. That's a separate discussion). What Armed Liberal has been pointing at isn't even so much their use of violence (though he makes a good point re. what would happen if non-violence was adopted to pursue the legitimate goals). It's their choice of targets, and what that says about their mindset.

Perhaps I understand because I remember reading a short, pamphlet-length document in the mid '80s called America's Hidden Vulnerabilities. It was a study made at the request of the U.S. government itself, and it pointed out how if just a few key things got targeted (like some critical bridges over the Ohio River and other infrastructure), how that would put the whole country in a bad way.

The whole point is that these guys don't think that way. Sure, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (and whatever else they were after with that 4th plane) were significant targets. But there are far, far more significant targets from the standpoint of doing us some real, substantive, long-term damage. What they struck were symbolic targets. They preferred (and most terrorists seem to vastly prefer) symbolic targets over critical but less glamorous targets. Armed Liberal's point is: why, and what does that tell us about them?

Moving On, I have a couple other ideas on how to deal with this. Another mode of combatting this movement, since it emphasizes symbology, would be to find out what they symbolically value, as totems of their cause, and attack and undermine them. This isn't a call to "nuke Mecca" or anything that extreme. But - well, an analogy is the best I can think of here. After Sept. 11th we circulated the stories about how many of the hijackers spent their time boozing it up and whoring around. I have little doubt that those stories were true. They were also a small step in undermining the symbology and self-image of the members of this movement (the image of the selflessly pure holy warrior). Similarly, widely disseminating the tape of Bin Laden gloating over how many of the hijackers hadn't been clued in was aimed at undercutting his image and symbolic authority.

In another arena, disseminating the pictures showing people in the Middle East dressing their small children as suicide bombers helps shame those in our societies (America and Europe both) who are tempted to accept (or even impress upon) these people as dedicated freedom-fighters rather than people in the grip of some sort of dangerous mass psychosis. This kind of thing (shining the light on what was going on, uncovering and disseminating information about what uses aid money was being diverted to and the like) worked so well that even the Europeans had to think for a bit about the kind of people they were funding.

For a variety of reasons, none of this stuff may have had the impact that they might have. But that's probably in part because it wasn't a systematic, deliberate, and sustained effort to identify and then strike at their symbology. If we focus on it in as part of the strategy for defeating these movements, it may be more effective.

Also, and related, figuring out how to make it "uncool" (for lack of a better word) to support these kinds of things would help. Not so much to get current members to leave them, that's fairly hard, but so that they don't have a "sea" of support to "swim" in, and the financial and other help that turns out to be the life blood of such organizations. One may recall that previous terrorist bands (the Red Brigades, Bader-Meinhoff, Weather Underground, Black Panthers, etc.) usually didn't unravel because the True Believers stopped believing The Cause all the sudden (Bill Ayers, one of our home-grown psychos, wrote a book that fortuitously came out the week of the Sept. 11th attack, in which he gloated over being "guilty as hell and free as a bird". But he no longer conducts terrorist operations, he's a professor - which may be even more destructive, but is different). It gradually became uncool for people like Leonard Bernstein to hold fundraisers for these kind of people. Similar things happened, slowly, in Europe with their terrorist bands.

When that support dried up, the groups became impotent and were gradually destroyed. My question, which I don't know the answer to, is why and how did this happen, especially since being a radical that rhetorically supported these things remained chic? Once we have a theory for that, then we might be able to advance on this front.

Note that it's possible that in some ways this is happening already. I saw a poll cited on Special Report with Brit Hume last night, wherein Fatah's support had fallen to 25%. More extreme groups (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the like) hadn't really increased their support - their level of support as of a year ago was 25% (collectively) and had risen only 2 points, to 27% (which was within the margin of error, and therefore statistically negligible).

This means that about half the Palestinians are already disillusioned with all these guys. They're ripe for a better answer. I think the same is probably true in other populations in the region.
No Bystanders on Iraq, says Ozdem Sanberk in the Financial Times:
Any solution has to be more than a postponement. . .While the US prepares to act, the rest of the international community have become bystanders, looking on from the sidelines as if powerless to influence events. The only exception is the anti-war lobby which, as in the 1991 Gulf war, seems to willing to take a chance with Saddam Hussein and his interest in weapons of mass destruction.

This is clearly wrong. The international community cannot leave matters to drift. Governments should not abdicate responsibility at times of an overwhelming threat to international security.
He calls for an international conference to rally support for action. Well, that would be better than the kvetching we have now, I suppose. But it would probably just degenerate into a mass kvetching. Especially with stuff like this going on.

Me, I'm more inclined to go it alone (maybie with Qatar letting us operate from bases there, and from Kurdish areas in Northern Iraq) while the rest of the world blathers.
Exploring the Differences Between Europeans and Americans: Martin Walker delves into the European self-image, using the Johannesburg "Earth Summit" and environmentalism as a lens.
A Religion of Peace: a mob beheads an elderly nun in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, there are al-Queda leaders in Iran.
The International Star Chamber: Bush is sticking to his guns so far in opposing this tribunal.

Folks assured us that the Court will be run well, with qualified jurists appointed by its members. After learning that Libya will prreside over another wonderful international institution, the UN Human Rights Commision (the one we got voted off of a year ago), with apparently only us objecting, I'm so comforted by the assurances that the ICC will be well run. Or not
The Economy Is So Bad that orders for durable goods soared last month. Meanwhile, the economy was so good in the '90s that the LA Times is reporting on income drops in that era.
The Over-Heated Rhetoric of potentially high U.S. casualties if we go to war against Iraq is calmly and rationally analyzed by Dick Morris, of all people.

Of course, given Morris' track record when it comes to predictions and assurances, that makes me worry a lot more than any tantrum from a Chris Matthews has. "Morris says few casualties likely". Be afraid. Be very afraid.

In the same issue, the NY Post editorializes on the need for Congressional approval.
Armed Liberal reminds me that his site has moved. Thanks.
My Colors A reader wrote in to say that the light text on dark background was hard for him to read. So we'll be trying out some re-decorating possibilities.
So-Called Sustainability Summit, AKA the latest excuse to blame American prosperity for the world's problems and try to reign it in, down in Johannesburg, is disected by Lileks. Link via Instapundit.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Armed Liberal's Essay: What Should We Do? So the question arises, "What should we do about it?" My first reaction was "beats me. If I knew that, I'd be in a major think-tank or something". But I quickly realized that answer was like Ol' Faithful, as Bart put it ("it both sucks and blows at the same time"). So I took a bit longer and thought about it on my drive home today. What follows are a few of the things I thought of. Other people will come up with additional items, for at least two reasons. One, they'll think of things that I wish I had thought of (I may think of more later too, and say "oh, I should have said that, I'll add it"). Two, some folks - hard as it is to believe, I know - will disagree with some of the things I mention, and think we should do other things. That's just bully; in a free society such as the one we're sticking up for, folks are free to disagree and are free to act on things in different ways (this is real diversity). It's also great in that since a big part of what is involved here is convincing people and "winning hearts and minds", different sorts of appeals will work with different people. In other words, we'll leave it to our opponents to treat us and the people they claim to represent as monoliths. We'll be different, and that will be an advantage both methodologically and as an expression of why our ideas are better.

Another thing I quickly realized is that we're already doing - or starting to do - some of the things on this list (things like spreading and sharing information and exposing and confronting the ideology and physical expressions of it). So on with the ideas I came up with:
    1) Understanding the enemy's ideas (and yes, being willing to treat the enemy as an enemy. They have no trouble seeing their enemies as such). This is the project Armed Liberal (among others) is engaged in. It's important on several levels. In addition to the obvious benefits and enabling us to understand why they choose the targets they choose (hopefully helping in predicting and preventing), knowing their position will enable us to see the flaws and out-argue the other side. This won't necessarily convince those who are already True Believers, but it will help in convincing people not to join with them. Also, a lot of ideas (more than I could imagine) will be generated for combating them simply by understanding what ideas are driving them.

    2) Bring Back USIA! Push our supposed friends in the region to stop promoting these ideas in their state-controlled media and to allow other views. One of the reasons they allow the spread of this stuff - even encourage the spread of these perspectives - is because of a skewed set of incentives. Right now, it costs them little to allow full reign to people to vent this stuff as long as they direct the resulting action externally (against us) instead of internally, because (at least up until Sept 11th), we didn't push them to do otherwise. Thus they see it as an easy safety valve, a costless way of exporting disaffection. Take on the ideas and don't let people in the region get away with accusing anyone who expresses a different view of being a CIA agent. If it comes to that, have CIA agents express countering ideas, and when they're accused of being CIA agents they should just say "so what? How does that undermine the validity of what I just said?"

    3) Reward Turkey. Not because Turkey is perfect, not a reward for their slaughter of the Kurds. I know all the arguments people can make about how imperfect Turkey is and has been. But reward them because, comparatively speaking, they're moving in the sort of direction we want to encourage others to move in. So encourage them to move further down a path of liberalization, and encourage others to join the same path. Carrots for any government that moves in the right direction (see below).

    4) Make demands of the governments in the region, human rights type demands and calls for reforms to meet the needs of the people. Bush's much-criticized exhortations of the Palestinian Authority in this way was a step in the right direction. As was the administration's recent decision to tie increases in foreign aid to Egypt to human rights improvements. But we should go further - press them to adopt the rule of law in a way that helps the poor in their own societies. Words matter - it's one of the things that got us where we are. So we should use words ourselves, as we did in the Cold War. Hardly anyone who was a dissident in Eastern Europe has failed to comment on just how valuable our rhetorical support for them was in undermining the Communist system. When we get criticized for this, accused of trying to tell people how to live, of "cultural imperialism", and of failing to be sophisticated enough to understand that our way of doing things is no better than their way, just different, and we have no right to lecture them when we've done so much wrong and have much to learn from them, etc, we shouldn't let that deter us. We should also remember that such admonishments usually come from people who on the other hand, when different issues arise, fault us for propping up these regimes and turning a blind eye to their oppressiveness and violations of human rights. What I'm saying here is listen to these critics on that last part, and ignore their deploring of "cultural imperialism" and the like. That, indeed, is part of the ideological mindset we're trying to defeat in any event.

    The purpose here is that if things improve in these countries, then support for fantasy ideology will begin to evaporate. No, it isn't that it's driven by poverty anymore than it's caused by us. But that provides rhetorical ammunition for the middle and upper class terrorists. This isn't a way of making the problem go away, anymore than prosperity in Germany prevented the Bader-Mienhof gang from springing up. But it will lessen the problem and is certainly one arrow in our quiver in fighting these ideas.

    5) Learn from the past - fight the Home Front, too. When we did that in World War II, with people like Frank Capra making films to explain to people what we were up against and sticking up for our values, we won. This also means we should oppose having tax money go to organizations like the Middle Eastern Scholar's Association and other factions that are rhetorically on the other side, and giving the money to organizations that support our philosophy instead. This is not a call for censoring the other side. Let them speak - on their own dime. If they believe America sucks so bad, they shouldn't want Uncle Sam's greenbacks anyhow. But I think part of winning this war will be not paying speaking fees to people who take the money and then get up on stage and rage about how America is silencing their points of view and stifling dissent. This is just a means that is used to spread the poltics-as-fantasy-theatre mindset we're up against. Let them do that on street corners like any other lunatic all they want, but not with federal or state education funds or money from some "genius grant".

    Note that this also means we have to, as individual voters, be willing to hold our elected representatives accountable if they give money to these guys (the idea-equivalent of giving money to terrorists. Ok, that's a bit of a rhetorical overstatement, but if you think of this the way Armed Liberal is, where the ideas that generate the bombers matter most, it's not that different). For many of this, that means that things we used to pass off, blow off, or consider overblown, or even be on the other side of (because in the past the critics of these folks were almost invariably right-wingers and Liberals of good will were naturally inclined to oppose them for reasons that one can argue were good at the time, but Sept. 11th arguably changed that dynamic - or should), well we have to re-think our position. And our priorities. This will be a judgement call - do you vote against a candidate you otherwise like because he'll vote in a way that will organize the Senate or House and put certain people in Commitee Chairmen's seats where those people (rather than the candidate you otherwise like) will do great harm? How effective are letter writing campaigns in this day and age? And how far do you go in the principle of "no money for idiotarians"? Well, just as it'll be hard to be pure in this war in other ways (we may have to make temporary alliances of convenience with scumbags or ignore what some thugs are doing while we concentrate on more pressing threats), it'll be hard to be completely pure on this score, too. Heh, this might make some of us understand just why those guys in the White House sometimes make decisions that are deplorable. "There are many simple answers. But no easy ones". But, politicians being politicians, they respond to pressure. So far they've known, sort of like some of those leaders in other countries I was talking about above, that if they cut off cash to these guys, they'll suffer howls of outrage and protest, while if they pay those guys what ammounts to protection money (I give you money, you only accuse me of trying to censor you and of being a Nazi, but you don't stage a "die-in" at my office every day), the rest of us will just shrug and say "yah, it sux, but wadda yah gonna do?" If it looks like they'll loose their rice bowl (because we'll change our voting patterns), then the parties will claw all over themselves to try and be the ones to position themselves as being right on this issue (the way some Democrat advisors have called on Democrat candidates to be more hard-line than Republicans on dealing with our so-called allies in the Middle East). The sort of people who stage die-ins are few, as voters, while we are many.

    The goal here is to re-take those institutions of ours that have become dominated by radicals that are ideological kindred of the overseas enemy.

    6) That'll be awhile in coming, so in the meantime, counter them. Whenever someone circulates a absurd petition, circulate a counter-petition. Whenever someone spouts forth nonsense, out-debate them. And don't let them get away with accusing you of "McCarthyism" simply for calling a frog a frog and using your influence as they have used theirs to influence institutions (remember, these guys are often hypocrites, decrying people using their own tactics against them). Again, you likely won't convince the people who are already True Believers, but you'll affect the undecided. In addition, one of the ways these ideas spread so effectively is that they often weren't countered. Part of this is because people mistakenly thought this stuff was just harmless nonsense. Another reason was that they intimidated those who disagreed into silence. This meant that many otherwise sensible people, when exposed to this ideology but finding no one who seemed willing to vocally oppose it, would figure they must be onto something if no one seemed to disagree, and those who did seemed almost apologetic.

    7) Against the armed wing of this movement, nothing says that just because the foes don't have conventional goals as we understand them that conventional methods of fighting them are useless. We're not quite in Montezuma's position (we have the horses and steel, the cannon and gunpowder). Remember, we defeated earlier incarnations of this mindset (Nazism and Fascism) with conventional forces, and then followed it with de-Nazification. Which does mean, here, that we're faced with two sorts of historical examples to choose between. The first I mentioned, the post-WWII model (occupation, de-Nazification programs in cooperation with sympathetic locals). The second, the aftermath of the Cold War - no de-Communization, no occupation, simply outside encouragement. Note that this has little to do with deterrence & containment (for reasons in many ways related to Armed Liberal's description of the mindset of the adherents of this point of view, traditional deterrence won't work with them, because their goals and methods are not conventional like those of the post-Stalin Soviet rulers).

    8) Recognize that the leaders of other countries who would object to most of the above and try to convince us they should exercise some sort of veto-disguised-as-consultation over the policies we think are needed are acting out of their self-interests, not ours. They may have good ideas to offer and they may have good warnings to offer, but "it'll wreck the coalition if you don't let us obstruct you" isn't one of them. They always say we need to convince them if we're to act. No, they need to convince us of why they're right and we're wrong. If they have better ideas, we should be willing to take them to heart. But if they don't, then their objections are just a way of trying to convince us to act in their interest instead of in ours.
There are some other things I can think of. Personally, as a Christian, there are things Christians can do (and no, I do not mean that in the Ann Coulter sense. I mean in bearing witness to Christ and setting an example). There are also, conversely, some more harsh things that I can think of. Personally, I would be willing to re-enlist in the military (I'm still just barely young enough, for a few more months) if I thought that we were going to build up, move into the region and impose a MacArthur-like Proconsular occupation over large swaths of it like we did in Japan, Italy, Austria, and West Germany. Probably most people would think that's going too far (by a wide margin). One of the points to make here, though, is that whatever we decide we need to do for our security, we have the strength to do it (if we remember, as Bush said, that this is a fight that will take a long time, not a short time). If we felt we really needed to, we could put 25 million people in uniform (as a proportion of population, that's less than we had in WWII).
Armed Liberal's Essay on Terrorism: I know I'm getting around to it late, but part IV is up, as is a post responding to some of the comments on what he had written before then.

He's right to point out that Franz Fanon was an Algerian, but it's also important to remember the degree to which Fanon was influenced by Western (especially French) thought (Sartre and Fanon mirror each other considerably when it comes to politics and Third World Liberation. Armed Liberal also mentioned Marcuse in an earlier part of the discussion. There's also the whole "Frankfurt School" which threads into this in various ways). There's also Heidegger, who's focus on "authenticity", what we would call "identity politics", and the romance of symbolic acts to assert these things informed his sympathies for the National Socialist movement in Germany and has influenced later movements, including the ones Armed Liberal discusses, and informed the defense by modern Leftists of Heidegger in spite of his Nazism - usually damning beyond redemption for anyone). This, indeed, supports the parallels he has been drawing. What Armed Liberal calls "modernity", Heidegger called "Liberalism", and his opposition to those ideas was explicit and extreme.

People like Derrida and others who came later read and were influenced by all this, and it's evident in the work of people like Fanon, who are intellectual heirs of this legacy (as is, to a certain degree, Richard Rorty). Why is this important? Well, people have a tendency to dismiss philosophy as some sort of ivory-tower exercise, people arguing over metaphysics and that it doesn't impact real life. But it does. To paraphrase Keynes, most people who dismiss this stuff as so much poppycock have had their lives heavily impacted by the ideas of some dead philosopher. But that makes it hard to deal with the problems that have arisen precisely because of the spread and influence of ideas formed by such philosophers - for good or, in this case, for ill.

And so we find ourselves where we are now. Which isn't a call for censoring ideas, but for understanding them and fighting them on the intellectual plane, and understanding them so that we can effectively combat the armed wing of this movement on the physical plane.
Bjorn Lomborg says that the environmentalists are focusing on the wrong sorts of solutions.
William Raspberry takes on some of the assumptions of the reparations movement in a insightful op-ed.

I've often thought that the reparations movement made a critical mistake in concentrating on slavery as opposed to Jim Crow. One of the decisive flaws in the argument for reparations for slavery is that there is no one alive today who was a slave, and no one alive today who was a slave owner. But there are people alive today who lived under Jim Crow, and there are people alive today who enforced Jim Crow laws. If the reparations movement had focused on that - especially when it first started many years ago (an era where some of the folks who ran late-era Jim Crow states were still in power, or just out of it), they'd have a much better case. One closer to that of Japanese Americans who had directly experienced the denial of their rights.

There might very well be people involved in the reparations movement who realize - and realized - this. But used slavery because of its symbolic power. Focusing on that makes the movement expressly symbolic, rather than practical. In that it is a way of saying that nothing can be done to make things right, rather than saying here is a way to make things right. It keeps the sense of grievance alive and fans emotional flames (on both sides). That is not, I believe, an accidental side effect. It's an intended effect.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Jane's International publishes a Foreign Report article on the Iraq situation and plans for the aftermath. A key quote:
At the outset, remember who the critics are. They are the people who predicted Armageddon in all recent conflicts. The critics claimed a decade ago that the war to remove Saddam from Kuwait would last 'for decades'; its most intensive phase lasted less than a month. They also said that 'huge numbers' of Western soldiers would be killed. In fact, hundreds died. They predicted that Saddam's Republican Guards would 'fight to the end'; in fact, they ran away.
The Last Toryboy: a British chummer of mine has a new Blog.
The Sudden Newfound Regard that the cut-military-spending as a solution to all problems crowd has discovered for military determination of policy is disected in the New York Post today. Stratfor analyzes the unfolding Iraq debate:
The purpose of a coalition is to enable policies; when a coalition blocks effective action, its value is more than dubious. Therefore, the argument will be made that automatic deference to coalitions, whether they are helpful or not, is simplistic. Coalitions must serve a purpose or else they are a trap.
Some folks are certainly treating "The Coalition" as an end in itself, and the primary goal of policy is to have a coalition. Other matters (like actually accomplishing anything) take a back seat to coalition-building. This attitude is counterpoised by the following view:
Washington sees the war against al Qaeda as superseding all other considerations
It's rather obvious which is a serious view and which is not (in spite of all the rhetoric we get about who the "adults who have a clear-eyed view of things" are and who aren't. As usual, those spouting the received wisdom have things exactly backwards). Stratfor goes on:
The European approach to consultation on these matters, to date, has consisted primarily of wanting veto power. . .Taking their cue from the Saudi plan of a few months ago, they have argued that there can be no progress on al Qaeda until there is a solution to the Israel-Palestine dispute. Since they know a settlement is not likely anytime soon, the subtext of their response has been that major initiatives in the war on al Qaeda, especially involving Iraq, should not take place. . .When European leaders reject the principle of war with Iraq, the United States will invite them to submit their own plans for prosecuting the war. The fact is, of course, that they have no plan. Linking to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simply a means for postponing action. The United States will force a true consultation on Europe, which will be unable to come up with a serious counterproposal as to how to wage the war in general. Delivering a firm "no" on Iraq without any credible counterproposal will strengthen the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz faction's contention that there is no real alliance in place and that there is no war-fighting coalition. Their case -- that the United States is alone, save for some intelligence-sharing and cooperation -- will be confirmed.
The article also all but expressly confirms my view that Powell, rather than being the U.S. Secretary of State, representing the Administration's position and trying to convince people of it, is acting instead as The World's Representative in Washington (with "The World" being defined as those who hold the right sort of attitudes and look down upon our unsophisticated cowboy administration. In other words, not the whole world, but those who think of themselves as the important, thoughtful people who should direct the world in order to save it - not from killers, but from renegade Americans with their retrograde notions of sovereignty and security defined in military terms rather than in the more enlightened terms of providing free health care to those who get injured and grief councilors to those who's loved ones get killed, and admonishments to the rest of us to not demonize - by calling them "evildoers" and the like - anyone who hates our guts but comes from the Third World - which makes their hatreds justifiable where ours would not be).
Why Are These Jackanapes Recieving Federal Funding? If the members of the Middle East Studies Association of North America don't want to help the country, fine, but let them do it on their own dime. Completely separate from the NSEP program's funds, the MESANA recieves large sums from the federal government, and in the wake of Sept 11th lobbied for - and recieved - large increases in that funding.

They shouldn't be getting jack.
Saddam and Al-Queda a William Safire column, which Robert Crawford comments upon. Meanwhile, the Pentagon briefs lawmakers on the Iraq situation.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Saddam, al-Queda, and Abu Nidal's Death apprised in this Torygraph article that asserts Abu Nidal was killed on Saddam's orders for refusing to agree to train al-Queda members in Iraq.

This may seem like an odd thing, considering that was the business Abu Nidal was in, and training and organizing terrorists was why he was invited into Iraq in the first place. The first reaction is to ask why he would refuse?

Well, first, he had been increasingly ill (with Leukemia). Secondly, it must be remembered that Nidal was a Left-Socialist Revolutionary terrorist, not a religious terrorist (like the members of al-Queda). Nidal had split with the PLO over less significant differences. He could have used his illness as an excuse to refuse the request, not expecting Saddam would kill a cancer-ridden guest. That may seem stupid to us, but people have made similar costly miscalculations in the past.
Transnational Progressivism and the Anglosphere discussed in this UPI piece by James Bennett pointed out by Glenn Reynolds.

I think Bennett is a bit over-optimistic in asserting that Transnational Progressivism could well evaporate in the near future. Sure, it's unpopular with most people. But that's why its imposed by elite institutions, and institutions specially created by those elites to be insulated from the public. It's popular among elites, intellectuals, functionaries, and others who think they know best and the common run are just too benighted to realize what is good for everyone.

Indeed, for those involved in these projects, popular rejection of the ideas driving the elites is simply proof of how backwards, racist, and blindly jingoistic the average person is, and why these transnational bodies need to be insulated from the governed.

The ideology behind these things has been forming (synthesizing) for thirty years now - if not longer - working its way into the intelligencia. They aren't going away any time soon. My own guess is that this stuff will be around for another thirty years or so.

But for that prediction to come true, it is important for us to continue forming opposing ideas and speaking forth to point out the flaws, failures, and double standards involved in this movement. Because Bennett is right in saying that stealth and inertia (quiet imposition by administrative fiat) are the best methods for imposing this ideology's aims, just as that is the case with respect to the related (and tied-in) "political correctness"/multiculturalist ideology on college campuses and the like.