Friday, September 13, 2002

Another Great Mark Steyn National Riptose:
This isn't a "clash of civilizations" so much as two clashes within civilizations -- in the West, between those who believe in the values of liberal democracy and those too numbed by multiculturalist bromides to recognize even the most direct assault on them; and in the Islamic world, between what's left of the moderate Muslim temperament and the Saudi-radicalized death-cult Islamists. Those Westerners who still believe in Western values have no problem supporting reform elements in Islam. As the old song says, I dug Musharraf when Musharraf wasn't cool. In this space on October 21st 1999, I hailed the General's coup as the best news from Pakistan in years. As far as I can tell, Mr. Gwyn never said a word about Musharraf until March this year. But back in October 1999 his newspaper was, like our former Foreign Minister Lloyd Softpower, huffing and puffing about expelling Pakistan from the Commonwealth. Had Softworthy and The Toronto Star got their way and restored Nawaz Sharif to power, this year's nuclear stand-off with India might have gone very differently.

As a matter of fact, most of us warmongers are quite happy to side with moderate Islam against psychotic Islam. We backed Hamid Karzai over the Taliban. In early October, I argued for the overthrow of the House of Saud and the division of their phoney "kingdom" between the Hashemites and the less wacky Gulf Emirs, including Qatar's. In November, in the British press, I called on the EU to admit Turkey as a member. Last month, I wrote approvingly of the anti-Ayatollah demonstrations in Iran.

In fact, for a year we warmongers have been doing what the singalong left keeps urging us to do: address the "root causes." If poverty breeds desperation breeds hopelessness breeds clich├ęs, then the best way to address it is not by increasing humanitarian aid to Saddam and Boy Assad and thereby merely adding to their pension funds, but by overthrowing 'em.
Exactly what I've been trying to say in my own modest way, summed up in three paragraphs. (Link via Little Green Footballs.
Everyone and Their Uncle is (are?) linking to this TNR editorial on the fecklessness of the Senate Democrats. Well, most Senate Democrats at least. There are a few (Lieberman on one side, Levin on the other, to take two) who've taken a firm stance. But most, led by Daschle, have been noodles.

These are the great moral leaders the anti-war crowd are pinning their hopes on. As well as the people Liberals think should be running the country instead of evilBush.
Moral Stances For Opposing The War, by N.Z. Bear, is a must-read. Funny and telling.
Proskynisis Before the U.N. Glenn Reynolds publishes the remarks of one of his readers, Chris Durnell.

Of course the "international community", if such a thing exists (and we're told all the time that a "world community" et al, does), it'd be dysfunctional no matter what the institutions were - because of the people that make it up. Any group that can cheer the likes of Mugabe and Castro while jeering Powell and Blair (ok, Blair didn't get de facto jeers, but when Mugabe got cheers, it was for sticking it to Blair) is messed up. The word is stronger than that but I'm using polite language.

Why people think that it's somehow "better" if we engage in bribing Russia to not veto a resolution on Iraq (it'll either be cash and carry or some kind of wink at them despoiling Georgia in return for their vote), and give God only knows what to China in exchange for their abstainment, is beyond me. The whole thing seems more corrupt, not less corrupt. As is attempts to spread the idea that the UN is some sort of impartial court, with impartial jurors, and all one needs to do is present the case and they'll decide it on the merits.

Remember, on an actual jury, jurors with a vested interest in things get excluded. On that grounds, everyone in the U.N. would get dumped for cause if it was a jury and this was a trial.

Similarly, the idea of treating the representatives of such places as China (already mentioned), Iran, Syria, Libya, Occupied Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Saud Arabia, Turkmenistan et al as if they were a deliberative body akin to a world parliament is risible. Belief in such rubbish spreads throughout the civilized world like a fungus.

Most UN Resolutions are unenforced for the good reason that enforcing them would be stupid and wicked. The fact that some few are worth enforcing only brings along with it the belief that they should all be enforced equally, which is worse than spreading fungus. It's like spreading leprosy.

Far from it being comparatively bad to go it alone as opposed to cajoling and cutting backroom side deals in the U.N. to get it's ok on something, "unilateralism" would be positively virtuous. Especially since in practice it wouldn't be "unilateral", it just wouldn't be sanctified by the U.N.'s peddling the modern equivalence of an Indulgence.

Update: The Green jackanape quoted in this FT article muttering about the "supreme decision-making power of the UN Security Council" makes me want to yarf. Endorsement of bogus, invented authority for purely political reasons.

Almost Makes "Hillary!" Sound OK: According to this Fox News Report, everyone's favorite Georgian ex-Congressbeing is considering a run for President. As a Green, of course.

My question: how can someone who's so ugly inside be so photogenic?
Light Posting Today, I expect. Of course, often when I figure I won't be posting much, something sets off a stream of 'em.
Retail Sales are about the only thing (with home sales) keeping the economy afloat. Meanwhile, in Europe, they're combatting a potential business collapse where EU70Billion in debt is on the table. If that happens - and one can hope it will be avoided - it could cause a financial and banking crisis similar in scope to the one that contributed to the onset of the Great Depression. The EU is also threatening to impose it's own version of a Smoot-Hawley Trade Act. Now, in one sense this is justified (if hypocritical, as usual). But it would certainly be bad timing. They likely aren't going to do it soon, and with any luck and wisdom things will get worked out and it won't be imposed at all. But it's going to be a rough patch ahead.

Meanwhile, since we can't drill here, looks like we're wildcatting in Africa. Pretty harsh slam on the Gulf States, though, when Africa is considered a more secure source. That's cutting. Not unwarranted, mind. But cutting. Says something about our future plans for the Middle East, too, and it's not something that would please those who make a fetish out if stablility for the hereditary monarchies and equally hereditary dictatorships of that region.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Bush's Speech II: the Washington Post's report:
"Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance," Bush said. "All the world now faces a test ... and the United Nations, a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced ... or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding ... or will it be irrelevant?"
The U.S. is a Global Power, of that there is no doubt. Many go around decrying our behavior in the world. But, compared with past Great Powers, the United States has been a benign presence in the world:
No other superpower in history has been so multilateral and modest about its status, says Donald Kagan, a professor of classics at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. "It's very important to understand that the ancients were very different from what we are today," he says. "I would say that [America] is the great exception in the history of the world. It hasn't been so long that everybody held the same view that the ancients did, which is: 'Empire is natural, empire is glorious; there's no reason to apologize, one should be very proud of it.' "
The article mention's Geoffrey de Villehardouin's description of Constantinople. Of course, Villehardouin, a Frenchman, would shortly be involved in the sack and destruction of Constantinople, which would despoil forever the wonders he gazed upon, in an attack made out of envy, spite, and greed masqued behind claims of pious moral superiority. Plus la change as they say in France.
The French are now saying they may support a move against Iraq.
Bush's Speech Before the UN, the Torygraph reports he has issued this morning a 22-page document detailing the 16 UN resolutions that Baghdad has violated by blocking weapons inspectors from examining its alleged arsenals of weapons of mass destruction to support what he is saying in the speech itself.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Johnny Unitas Dies Former Colts Quarterback has died of a heart attack today. Was one of the NFL's best, winner of the '58 overtime championship, called by many the "Greatest Football Game Ever Played" (personally I put the Packer-Cowboys Ice Bowl #1). Took the Colts to Super Bowl V.

One of the players I most respect, even though I never saw him play (I'm too young).
High Noon: In Europe they condemn "cowboy" America and its "cowboy" President. Well, here's an excellent analogy regarding Bush's planned speech before the UN tommorrow.
O Canada Time to reprise Canadian broadcasting hall-of-fame commentator Gordon Sinclair's "The Americans", from June 5th 1973:
This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth.

Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it. When distant cities are hit by earthquakes, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped.

The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans. I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States Dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tristar, or the Douglas 10? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American planes?

Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon - - not once, but several times - and safely home again.

You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.

When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the American who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.

I can name you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I'm one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those.
The Real England, on the other hand, is expressed here, and it's not the line the BBC is spouting. (Link via Instapundit). The BBC this morning vexed me like nothing else in a long time. This reminds me of the many, many good people who cause me to admire Britain and see it as a friend.
Blame America!: So I'm listening to the BBC World News on the way into work this morning. The entire hour is devoted to Sept. 11th, but from a "Blame Canada" (where America is Canada) perspective. They have on an endless parade of guests to agree with the Anchor and reporters that America is bad, America is unilateralist (a crime) because it won't envassal itself to the EU, America has lost the vast reservour of good will that people had for it on Sept 11th (as expressed in the "Arab street" in cheering the attack), etc.

Some people will listen to that and nod their heads like bobble dolls. Others will listen to the BBC and remember not only the cheering crowds of Arabs celebrating the attack (yah, good will), but also the despicable episode where the BBC had the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James on before a "town hall" type forum with a packed audience that berated him and subjected him to hateful abuse.

They wonder why we have contempt for the opinions of our "allies" and their demands for "consultation" (where consultation means they veto what we do, call us unilateralist while they feel free to make their decisions without regard for us, etc). Well, the BBC is not some fringe European columnist directing bile at America. The BBC is not a writer publishing a book claiming the American government itself conducted the attacks and blamed Moslems (a book that became a best seller). The BBC is the most "mainstream" voice of Europe imaginable, headquartered in the one European country we have the most respect for. Whatever contempt Americans may have for European opinion is earned. Schroeder, for example, is behaving in such a way that the only analogy would be instead of signing the Atlantic Charter and helping Britain arm and fight the NAZIs during WWII (even before we ourselves entered the war, btw), Roosevelt lectured Churchill on how Britain needed to "understand the sources of German rage against the Allies, how the policies of the Entente caused Germany to hate them, the onerous Treaty of Versailles and reparations demands, and ongoing humiliation of Germany" and told them that instead of resorting to "blunt force" they should "provide economic aid" to their enemies.

Such a lecture would have been contemptible then. It's contemptible now.
Berlusconi Supports Action Against Iraq according tothis UPI report.
Arab Opposition to Iraq Attack is just a smokescreen for local consumption, according to a Saudi potentate. These guys are all over the map. I'm betting some are in favor (but, like the guy says, speak otherwise in public) while others are opposed.
Like I've Been Saying, That Dude is Dead Radio is reporting Osama bin Laden is dead. Killed at Tora Bora by a bombing attack on Dec. 9th. If I find a online wire-service report saying the same, I'll link to it.
I'm Going To have a more or less normal day of blogging. If you're looking for retrospectives, maudlin or otherwise, or comemorations, others will do that better.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Challenge, Counter-Challenge, and Counter-Counter Challenge: Probably the better rebuttal than Weevil's would have been that those who oppose the war should, if they expect everyone who's for the war to sign up (or have their children sign up) for the military, is that:
    a) They should then be supporting a vast increase in military spending to train and equip the new inductees and expand the force-structure.


    b) If, like Hesiod, they make the "see someone with their legs blown off" retort, they should volunteer to be the ones (or have their loved ones be the ones) who are blown apart, burned, or pulverized (like most of the casualties on Sept. 11th) when the position they advocate results in death and destruction. Because it's not a question where their position will avoid people getting killed and the pro-war position will. Not at all. That's one reason why many of us are pro-war. Like Patton said, a battle, even a bloody one, is often the only way to limit and reduce the total killing. Getting it over with sooner saves more lives in the long run.

As long as people like Hesiod take the position they do, their accusations that others are "morally bankrupt" for not being able to convince those who are unwilling to be convinced will ring hollow. Smug self-righteousness is not the moral high-ground, nor are claims that only the pro-war position will result in death a sign of thoughtfulness.
The Reasonable Left, II: Yesterday I linked to a Hitchens piece, today we have another man of the Left, Tod Gitlin dissecting (er, reviewing) a couple of books by Leftist "intellectuals" (who rarely do any thinking. Their opinions were formed in the late '50s and early '60s, and everything is forced into the same perspective without any thought. Like the Bourbons, they have forgotten nothing and learned nothing).

Gitlin is another exception, like Christopher Hitchens and a handful of others. He detects - and calls it for what it is - what in the past only "right wing kooks" would remark upon: that the people writing the books he's reviewing, Gore Vidal, et al, are riven with anti-Americanism.

But given the existence of people like Gitlin and Hitchens, it may be possible - just possible - that there could be a revitalization on the Left. The struggle between the unthinking haters and the truly thoughtful Left is one of the key battles in the War on Bad Philosophy.

Of course, as a Leftist himself, Gitlin isn't immune to the rot. His comments on Bush are as thoughtless and ignorant as anything Vidal says about. . .well, anything. But we take what we can get and when it comes to the Left our expectations for what is an improvement over the alternatives start at a fairly low level. A start is a start, though, and there's no reason to expect miracles all at once.
So, Do You Want A Debate, or Not? Lately a lot of the people who spent the previous six months saying "the administration needs to make the case" and "we need to have a debate on the issue of Iraq and involve Congress and the American people in the decision" have gotten their undies all in a bunch over the fact that it's happening. Now. The people complaining are often those who believe it's the God-given right for the Democrats to set the campaign agenda, and anything that distracts from issues favorable to Democrats is illegitimate. Thus, discussing war and security, issues of life and death, certainly the most important matter for the coming year, is a despicable destraction from "the issues", like quibbling over the details of a prescription drug program and finger pointing over who's to blame for financial scandals that began before Bush entered the White House (in a replay of what happened to Grant). For some reason they want the most significant issue of the day to wait until after the election (why? Shouldn't the American people be involved?) and conducted by a lame duck congress (lack of accountability to voters on an issue of this magnitude is somehow preferable? Why?)

They mock the fact that Bush didn't do it during August, at his ranch (actually, he had several meetings and discussions on the topic in August, at his ranch. But Congress was out of town, so no debate there). Many administration officials made remarks on the topic (indeed, the same people complaining about the Administration "making the case" deplored these people as warmongers and "chickenhawks"). They complained when Bush's lawyers said he didn't need to go to Congress for new authorization (on the grounds that the Sept. 14th 2001 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave him all the discretion he needed, when combined with the War Powers Act), even though he said he would anyhow. Now that he has, they're upset. The timing doesn't help the Democrats, so it's some sort of dirty trick. Only issues that are believed to help Democrats can be considered "real" election issues.

But for some reason I suspect that no matter how Bush had handled it, the same people would be in an uproar. I can hear it now: "Bush waited until after the elections and now he wants a lame duck Congress to debate the issue? Shouldn't he wait until the new Congress is convened and sworn in for something this important?" or "Bush says this is important but he waited a whole year to bring it before Congress, he was dragging his feet"
Eliminate Steel Tarrifs, worldwide. That's what the Bush Administration is calling for. Some may accuse them of hypocrisy, since not too long ago they imposed some here. I condemned that. But I may see a plan here, not hypocrisy - if they really mean it.

We would probably be completely ignored if we hadn't imposed such tariffs, but just called for an elimination of them. This is usually what happens, in fact. The U.S. says "sure would be nice if everyone eliminated tariffs and subsidies", to a collective global yawn. But imposing tariffs could be looked at, in view of this proposal, as hitting a mule to get its attention. Everyone around the globe decried U.S. steel tariffs, having long accepted as the price of doing business similar duties in other countries. Thus, steel tariffs were suddenly on the agenda.

The reason I think this is part of a comprehensive trade strategy is we made similar remarks about agricultural subsidies and trade barriers at the Jo-burg conference (I know, I know, it was hard to hear that over all the cheering for Mugabe and Arafat, and above the chorus of boos directed at Powell and the U.S., but we did put that on the agenda), this after signing the bloated, disgusting Farm Bill. Combine that with the recent passage of Trade Promotion Authority in Congress and we have the tools to enter negotiations - things that other people will want us to give up in exchange for them giving up similar programs, and the legislative tool to pass any agreements that are reached.
The UN Must Be A Way To Resolve The Treat From Saddam, Not A Way To Avoid It: Those are the words of Tony Blair, speaking a few minutes ago before a key Labour constituency, the Trade Union Confederation congress, which is skeptical on Iraq.

I've long considered Blair the Clinton of Britain (without the bimbos). Smart, but opportunistic. Knows how to win an election and do just enough reforming to keep in power, but lacking core principles. Perhaps some of that remains true, on the home front (and I especially dislike his attachment to the EU). But credit where credit is due. I figured he'd fade out on this, but he's leading the way. I figured he'd do whatever has the best chance of keeping himself ensconced at #10, but he's taking a real risk with his political future (given the general Labour attitude on this issue, and the fact that in Britain the party can depose you. The Tories did it with the Iron Lady, nothing would prevent Labour from doing it to Blair).

Monday, September 09, 2002

Iran Here's further discussion of the disaffection Iranians have for the ruling Mullah's.
The Reasonable Left often seems to speak with one voice, sometimes. Thats because it often seems to be one individual. Christopher Hitchens:
I am not particularly a war lover, and on the occasions when I have seen warfare as a traveling writer, I have tended to shudder. But here was a direct, unmistakable confrontation between everything I loved and everything I hated. On one side, the ethics of the multicultural, the secular, the skeptical, and the cosmopolitan. (Those are the ones I love, by the way.) On the other, the arid monochrome of dull and vicious theocratic fascism. I am prepared for this war to go on for a very long time. I will never become tired of waging it, because it is a fight over essentials. . .Only a complete moral idiot can believe for an instant that we are fighting against the wretched of the earth. We are fighting, as I said before, against the scum of the earth
Too bad the reflexive anti-Americanism and hostility to Western Civilization which drives so many on the Left blinds them to what Hitchens sees. I would echo this as well:
Last September is commonly said to have "changed everything," but it hasn't done so yet. As it does, we will move closer to a cause, and a country, that is already well worth fighting for.
Finally, Something Constructive Well, Chirac has proffered an idea for what to do regarding Iraq. Personally, I think that the authorization for action if Iraq doesn't comply should be included in the first resolution, rather than having to go back for a separate one. But at least this is a change from simply nattering.
Saddam: Rational Actor? Many people take the argument, whether this is the one they sincerely take their anti-war stance on or otherwise, that Saddam Hussein is a "rational actor" and thus can be deterred as if life were game theory. They do this even though there are plenty of indications that he's sociopathic in many respects.

But, setting that aside for the moment, these people fail to take into account several problems, even where rational people are involved. Firstly, hardly anyone is purely rational or purely irrational. Think about the people you know in your life, who's decisions are sometimes bizarre from your point of view. Even smart people. Part of this is because other people will consider things that we didn't think of - or don't give as much weight - as ourselves. Part of it is also, though, that people making their decisions let extraneous factors and even emotion enter their decision making process. This happens here at home, too, among "rational" politicians. People who had no problem and raised few questions in voting for a resolution supporting action against Saddam four years ago now put barriers in the way. What has changed, other than the fact that the situation is, if anything, even more serious today than it was then? Well, who is in the White House has changed. Part of the reason for their foot-dragging on an issue where they had been supporters in the past may be for good, rational reasons. But part of the reason, certainly, is emotion-driven partisanship.

This also gets to why people, looking at the same information, can come to widely different conclusions about whether we should use force to remove Saddam Hussein or not. Many of those who are opposed to such an action are from the left and liberals, who might have been more supportive (or at least less virulently opposed) if "their" man was in the White House. Conversely, some of us conservatives probably wouldn't have much confidence in Gore or Clinton leading the charge, and would be opposed, or at least less supportive, if they were in the Oval Office instead of Bush.

Or, look at it another way. People make miscalculations often. This is recognized by the same crowd that says that we can trust Saddam to act rationally and be deterred. They believe that our own government will be making a mistake in striking Iraq, because of that. But if our government can make such a miscalculation, why do they believe that Saddam would be error-free, running a government that has made horrible blunders (both internally and externally) repeatedly (the miscalculation of invading Iran, believing it would be easy pickings in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, misguided economic policies that have impoverished the country, the miscalculation of invading Kuwait, of continuing to pursue development of weapons that the anti-war crowd says he'd never use for anything important at the cost of sanctions, etc)

Indeed, once one looks at the situation rationally, it becomes clear that the whole idea of hanging onto the argument that Saddam is a rational actor and thus no action against him is needed is more akin to a wino clutching his last bottle than a rational argument. So we see how otherwise rational people can be blinded by ideology, emotional attachments and revulsions (in this case, against a conservative Republican President and, quite often, emotivist abhorrence and even hatred of so-called "neocons" clouds people's decision-making process). Saddam has, in his past behavior, been driven by vendetta, dreams of grandeur bordering on delusions of the same, ideological blinders, and a sense of his own importance bordering on megalomania, Why any rational person would think that his decision making ability should be trusted more than that of other people is beyond comprehension.