Saturday, October 19, 2002

This Will Not Stand: Josh's The Immutable Laws of Maureen Dowd has fallen to #17 on Google and he wants to get it back up. I'm willing to help, especially since this site doesn't post many "real" posts on the weekend. Meanwhile, he gazes, agast, at her latest fallen soufflé.

Yah know, considering what gets published in the pages of the NYT and other organs of the major media, I think the only thing standing in the way of seeing my own work in print is it's not shallow and inane enough.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Glenn Reynolds linked to today's G-File, and, yes, most of it was really good. But when Goldberg writes, appalled, that:
Not only does this approach [European feeding of anti-American sentiment and the like] result in the U.S. receiving a disproportionate share of grief from the rest of the world, and not only does this represent a level of ingratitude that literally stuns the conscience. . .
Perhaps this could be the subject of Vegard Valberg's next class on Diplomacy. When are we Americans going to realize what Niccolo Machiavelli taught Europe centuries ago: there is no such thing as gratitude among nations. Oh, sure, there are a handful of exceptions across all of human history where nations were really "friends", and showed real "human virtues" towards each other (things like kindness and gratitude) and America is lucky because we do have a couple of those. But the fact that we have experienced the exception makes us think that it can be the rule.

Other countries just don't act that way. Monumental ingratitude? Puh-leeze. Nations will happily benefit from what an "Uncle Sucker" will give them. Then they will turn around and do everything possible to do their benefactor dirty if they think it will help them, or even if it simply amuses them to do so (this last being a summation of French foreign policy).

Now, Goldberg is probably right when he goes on to say that it's "terrible strategic choice for our allies, in the long run," but to speak of "ingratitude" as if gratitude is the norm among nations (and thus their failure to show it being something that "stuns the conscience") is laughable.

Yes, this lack of gratitude among nations (along with other smarmy behavior that is de rigur among countries) offends the sensibilities of Jacksonian Americans, but in the rest of the world it's just called "international relations" and is normal (which is why Jacksonians will never find dealings with foreign countries to their liking - again with the few exceptions).

(Oh, and yes, in a game that models International Relations - such as, say, when I play in a Birthright PBEM, when someone does me dirty in this fashion, I do my best to repay them tenfold for it. That's the only thing others respect in such situations, all rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding. Unfortunately, over the last several generations, the U.S. has taught it's "allies" the opposite lesson: that there is little or no real penalty for screwing Uncle Sucker up the ass. That must change).
Holy Belgian Empire still dealing with stubbornly intransigent provincial governments. Meanwhile, Irish voters have been admonished that they voted the wrong way on the last referendum, and are told to go to the polls this weekend and get it right this time. At which point the issue will never again be raised for democratic deliberation (but if they get it wrong again, they'll have to have another do-over at some point).
U.S. Warns North Korea Allies according to this FT article:
The US on Friday issued a thinly veiled warning to North Korea's allies to cease economic, diplomatic and military links with the Communist regime, following Washington's surprise announcement that Pyongyang had admitted to a secret nuclear programme.

Without referring by name to Pakistan, Russia and China, US officials said they expected countries that have developed close relations with Washington since the September 11 terrorist attacks to work to halt North Korea's development of nuclear weapons.
There's a funny thing about this list! The only permanent UNSC member opposing a strong resolution against Iraq that isn't also helping North Korea out in its weapons program is France.

How did the French omit this from their foreign policy? The only thing I can think of is because they were too busy providing that kind of help to Saddam. But that didn't stop Russia (also a big Iraq arms provider).

Such fine multilateral allies that we simply must get to agree before we take any action, since it is sooooo clear that they are highly interested in preventing unstable dictatorial tyrannies from acquiring nukes, right? The only reason they could possibly oppose our plan is because we simply haven't convinced them on the merits. It couldn't possibly be because they are profiting in supplying these despots, right? It's all Bush's fault.

Update: Ok, I thought about it. The French can be kind of sloppy and neglectful. Perhaps the reason they aren't on the list of North Korea suppliers is because they just forgot about it. They had intended to send stuff to Pyongyang, but the initiative got lost in France's maze-like bureaucracy.
Two Navy Fighters have crashed at sea near San Diego.

Seems odd that two would crash on the same flight unless they were involved in a mid-air collision.
I Don't Get Around as much as I'd like to. I just went over to Happy Fun Pundit for the first time in awhile. Hate to keep flogging the same horse, but this is good:
In times like this when tensions are high and countless lives are on the line, it's a wise man who periodically stops for a reality check. From time to time, responsibility behooves us to make a thoughtful consideration of the premises that we use to decide what's right and what's wrong. To do otherwise is to risk extremism, irrationality, irrelevance, and madness.

However, that's a lot of work. What I find is much easier is to see what Woody Harrelson says and does, then say and do the opposite.
There's a whole bunch of good stuff over at HFP, but a lot of it is pictorial, so just go check it out.

Update: Norwegian Blogger did Woody, too. One line:
I'm a human being, and I agree, which is why I got this to say, half a million children are collateral damage from the peace not the war. If we had finished the war when we had the chance they'd still be alive.
Vegard has a bunch of good stuff (this post on diplomacy reminding me of how much IRL diplomacy resembles the game - for everyone in the world except Uncle Sucker). In fact, I'm begining to feel a little superfluous and useless.
Hippie Peacenick Murderer brought to justice at last.
Jack Straw is Honest and notes that we don't need no stinkin' resolution:
"We reserve the right to act within international law in respect of the use of force which may or may not be covered by a new resolution," he said. "It is entirely appropriate for America, as for us, to reserve their position if the United Nations does not meet its responsibilities.

"We are completely committed to the United Nations route if that is successful. If, for example, we end up being vetoed on statements which are as plain as daylight that Iraq is in flagrant breach of United Nations resolutions, then of course we are in a different situations."
Yesterday I Ranted about that ignoramus, Woddy Harrelson, peddling lies. One of the false claims that he, along with much of the rest of the "anti-war" Left, made was that we were denying humanitarian aid to Iraq. Well, as this article points out, not only is that false, but it Saddam has actually exports the food sent to Iraq as part of humanitarian aid:
[E]ven as Saddam's regime milks its people's suffering for international sympathy, it sells food abroad that is earmarked for Iraqi citizens.
The article as a whole discusses how, though all of Iraq is under sanctions, the areas where Saddam's writ doesn't run, in the north, have much better living conditions than the areas where his authority is full. Why? Because the problem is Saddam. In the north, the aid reaches the people. In the south, things are different.

The "anti-war" crowd is often outraged to be seen as apologists for Saddam. But what else can you call a movement that repeats Ba'athist propaganda even when it is shown to be false? A movement for whom facts do not stand in the way of their charges - not against Saddam, but against those who want to see him removed? A movement that all too often does not disassociate itself from those who blame the sufferings that Saddam's regime is inflicting upon the people of Iraq not on that regime, but on its opponents?

Sure, some of you may not spread this stuff. But few of you admonish and correct those who do, and I would bet that many would march with those who do. But who does that make morally bankrupt?

The Left often claims that they learned from their experience as apologists for Stalinism and would not repeat them: that was a mistake, but there is a more principled Left now, a Left that would not embrace a Stalin, a murderer, would not make themselves the propaganda arm of a brutal tyranny again. But every time the opportunity arises to put such claims to the test, the bulk of the Left fails it. Yes, there are the Hitchens' and the Rosenblum's and Dan Savage's each time (who are then effectively cast out of the movement as a whole for their refusal to toe the line). But as a body, it's rinse-and-repeat. In the haste to oppose Western free market democratic republics in general and the U.S. in particular, all too many make themselves willing tools to spread the deceit of the tyrant-of-the-moment. Others, who know better, look the other way rather than "creating divisions in the movement when we should be united in our opposition to American imperialism and war". That being the case, you let the movement be defined by those like Harrelson (and the people who gave him the words he duckspoke), publish their rants even when you know better. But then, in a microcosm of the entire situation, you blame the "pro-war" crowd for the fact that people have the impression that the anti-war movement is captive to anti-American and pro-tyrant forces (just as the movement as a whole blames America for the suffering the regimes you're objectively defending are causing).

But you have only yourselves to blame, because it's you all who refuse to police your own and correct them when they adopt false rhetoric and mouth the propaganda of despots.
A Lot of People are claiming, along with the New York Times, that the revelations about North Korea proves that we should listen to the same people who were wrong in saying we could trust North Korea on the subject of Iraq.

Just another example of how, for the left, being consistently wrong adds to, rather than detracts from, one's credibility. They never have to stop and re-consider on the basis of evidence that their way of doing things doesn't work and the fact that the people who warned them it wouldn't happened to be right.
China, Russia, and Pakistan helped North Korea violate their agreements on Nuclear Weapons programs. And yet we're supposed to believe that China and Russia will be serious about disarming Iraq? Puh-leeze.
UN Resolution: in a vain and hopless effort to please the French (which, historically, has always been folly), the U.S. has offered another compromise on the wording of a new Resolution:
Diplomats said the US had suggested wording that would lead to further Security Council consultations in case of Iraqi non-compliance. But US officials insisted the text did not oblige Washington to gain further authority for a military strike.

One diplomat explained: "The US will not be bound to seeking a second resolution, but if other council members are ready to back a further resolution more explicitly authorising force, any member could propose such a text."
Here's the unfortunate part, however:
The compromise also addresses French fears that UN inspectors might not be given a chance by the US to return to Iraq and make their own assessment of Baghdad's compliance, diplomats said. The trigger for further action would be a report by Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector, after which the Security Council would "consider the need for compliance".
Personally, I have no confidence in Blix, who is the tool of interests that have commercial deals with the Iraqi dictator. I would rather a tougher-minded person be put in charge.
Protesting Occupation in Lebanon. I wonder if the people who are always up in arms about the evils of occupation when it's the West Bank and Gaza Strip will have the same level of outrage over Syria's occupation of Lebanon.

We already know the answer to that.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

U.S. "Backdown" on UN Resolution was nothing but French agitprop. If that's true, then my hissy below is less warranted. Still, shows what it's like working with chumpstains - our so-called "allies" in "multilateral" cooperation are spreading disinformation to try to corner us. With friends like that. . .
UN Follies: Well, as I noted, the vice of "multilateralism" is that one must cater to the demands of those who don't have your best interests at heart and have nothing to contribute to your efforts except their criticisms. The Financial Times reported just this morning on the differing positions, and now just a few hours later we're trying to please the French (note that though America has compromised on the resolution's language already, the French are not called "uncompromising", despite the intransigence of their position).

I pointed out when Bush first went to the UN that playing this game was playing the game of those who are either uninterested or wish us harm or both. The administration has shown some good strategy in the past and I hope they have a plan here - and this isn't the cave it's starting to look like. Past experience has shown that firmness of purpose, and that alone, will bring countries around, while waffling and openness to dithering causes the opposite. It encourages fecklessness and even greater contempt.

Some wouldn't mind if this were '98 all over again - strong words in the UN followed by watered-down resolutions followed by Iraq rationally concluding that the whole thing was a farce they could safely ignore. The same "multilateral" crowd were against seriousness then, too: the French, the Russians, the Chinese, et al.
Doesn't the Anti-War Left Have Anyone Better? I mean, I know Harrelson isn't the brightest bulb in your candelabra, but c'mon. The arguments he Duckspeeks are what he got from those who are considered the Movement's leading lights. Puh-leeze. This junk is mind-numbingly vacuous, no matter who is saying it. That only makes Harrelson and his ilk the appropriate spokesbeings.

No wonder more sensible arguments, are begining to make headway even among the usual suspects. Few people with any intelligence at all can buy into the line that Harrelson parroted.
This Wooden Woody Harrelson Piece in the Guardian deserves a Fisking, but I'm not sure I have the time for it. A few quick bites at the Woody Apple:
We've killed a million Iraqis since the start of the Gulf war - mostly by blocking humanitarian aid. Let's stop now.
One of the frequent arguments of the Ignoratii Left is that "we're blocking humanitarian aid". This is, of course, a lie. Iraq is authorized to import food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies. It is not "us" that prevents that - it is Saddam's government, which prefers to spend the money that the should be spending on such humanitarian supplies on weapons instead.

In the Woody World, that is, of course, our fault.

And now my government is creating its second war in less than a year. No; war requires two combatants, so I should say "its second bombing campaign".
So that "first bombing campaign" was all because of our government. No mention of anything that might have happened in New York or Washington or the fields of Pennsylvania that may have lead to it. No mention of wild-eyed men declaring war on America.

In the world of the ignoratii Left, we act, but everyone else is simply the passive targets of our ruthless aggressions. Thus no "war" because that "takes two", and the other side is just a passive victim of our actions.

The rest of the screed is a disingenuous tirade - when it isn't a complete digression into a rant against America and the West in general (he even fixates on that demon of the Left, Columbus) and charges of racism:
a perpetual war on any non-white country they choose to describe as terrorist.
It's clear that he gets his ideas from the Molly Ivins' and Michael Moore's of the world, and his tirade is repeat with ad hominem charges and unsupported (because unsupportable) assertions.

He even recycles the old "stifled dissent" charge (while expressing his), claiming that "a word of dissent can cost you your job. I wonder if his remarks will cost him any future movie deals? Not likely - but like so many in the Left, for which the people of the third world live in freedom, oppressed only by Amerikkka, while the gulag awaits dissidents in Belly of the Beast, the fantasy of being repressed and oppressed has a irresistible allure. He even demonstrates a basic, fundamental ignorance of fiscal matters:
I read in a paper here about a woman who held out the part of her taxes that would go to the war effort. Something like 17%. I like that idea, though in the US it would have to be more like 50%. If you consider money as a form of energy, then we see half our taxes and half the US government's energy focused on war and weapons of mass destruction.
The actual percentage is closer to 20% than 50%, but why let the facts stand in the way of a rhetorical flourish? Here's a man who claims to be "tired of lies" and who's entire argument is built upon misrepresentations and, yes, lies. The perfect emblem of the "anti-war" movement today, and the Celebrity Left in particular (what an opressive country this is, forcing a man like Harrelson to live a life of fame and fortune, so crushed that he can get inane remarks published internationally!)

There's much more in there that deserves to be shredded, point by point. But on the other hand, it's all just the same regurgitated pablum that others have spewed before, and been dealt with on previous occasions.
Of Course inspections, deals, and placing our trust in the pledges of dictatorships and rewarding their claims that they will disarm is so obviously the way to go that one must wonder why anyone would think otherwise. We must question the "real" motives of anyone who is suspicious of inspections regimes and trust, they must have some sort of hidden agenda, because it is soooo obvious that inspections would work if "just given an(other) chance".
Stanley Crouch becomes latest to identify pathologies of today's Left.
Sniper Is terrorism, not "native":
"This [the Washington-area killings] is a terrorist cell, no doubt about it," said Larry Johnson, a veteran CIA agent and State Department counter-terrorism expert.

"Maybe it's not al Qaeda, but it is in sympathy with them."

Larry was talking with a little edge in his voice.

"I keep on hearing these experts on television say that terrorists always leave their calling card, taking credit for their monstrosities. Wrong.

"Fact: From 1990 to 1999, there were 3,400 terrorist attacks throughout the world, mainly against the Western world.

"Fact: Some say 10 percent of those terrorist attacks are ones that some group took credit for.

"Fact: I believe it is about 1 percent that took credit. You take credit way after the fact. There are some terrorist groups that take credit for some things they didn't even do.

"But the worst thing right now is that, I believe, this is a terrorist cell.
As with the Anthrax letters, Our Boys are looking for the wrong thing.
Norwegian Blogger Vegard Valberg discusses the origins of the grievances the Arabs of Palestine have for the Jews, with respect to the infamous Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, and makes an analogy to the Old South:
real reasons that many Islamists and Palestinians are so angry. To them it is just wrong that Jews rule over Muslims, in the same way that it would be just plain wrong in the eyes of old time Southerners to have blacks managing whites.

As to how I know this, it is very simple, both parties said so, and in some cases say so, openly and repeatedly to anyone that cares to listen to them. I mean it's not even a case of saying one thing in public and another in private, in many, no most, cases they say what they say right out in the open and as loudly as they can.
The fact that so many of the apologists for the Islamic Radicals and Palestinian terror groups refuse to acknowledge this simple fact, instead imposing their own ideological view upon "the native peoples" (or, in the old way of saying it, "the natives") doesn't make this go away. It just means that many are willfully blind because their ideology will not permit them to believe that a "third world people" can be in the wrong.

Like Telford's post that I linked to below, Vegard's post is worth reading in its entirety. He links to a considerable amount of documentation and reference materiel to support his argument, so get a beverage and a comfy chair before diving in.

Look, Gone With The Wind is my favorite movie (Vivien Leigh is just the bee's knees). But it and the book by Margaret Mitchell are a product of the re-romanticization of "The Cause", written and filmed at the apogee of revisionism on the subject. Right in the opening frame of the movie as it scrolls text to set the stage, one can see aspects of Vegard's argument at play - the text speaks of knights and their ladies fair, chivalry, master and slave (not in a disproving way) making their last stand in this South, now gone with the wind. As Vegard argues:
There is also the fact that both sides were very romantic in their view, harking back to a golden age, to noble knights and people of great character. More importantly both sides are easy to romanticize, this is something that a lot of bloggers ignore, the tree of any cause must occasionally be watered with the blood of martyrs.

I can definitely understand why this romanticism is attractive, Saladin, General Lee, Suleiman the Great, Stonewall Jackson, all these people are very romantic. However because you have a romantic struggle it is easy to gloss over the unpleasant truths, and this leads to people romanticising what was often very bad things.
One can see in the iconography, imagery, poetry, and the way they frame their words, that the Islamists are lost in this same sort of romanticization. But their's is not that of the aftermath of the defeat of that Cause - no, Vegard is right in identifying it with the antebellum and secession-era South, where they were taking up arms to defend the distinct culture and civilization of the South and it's "peculiar institution". They're not up in arms because they're "oppressed people of color", but because they feel oppressed in ways that we shouldn't consider legitimate - they don't like living in the shadow of people they consider inferiors, people their religion (or at least their interpretation of it) says they are supposed to dominate.

The argument Vegard makes runs hand in glove with that of Telford (see below) - the Islamists do not believe they should suffer what they consider an insult to the dignity of the Prophet, and "thems' fightin' words" - the response is that of an insulted dandy. Within the context of both, and the natural reaction many people will have to both Vegard's post and Telford's (about how Islam is such a tolerant religion), one can harken back as far as Mohammed. One of his first acts of international "diplomacy" was to send a letter to both the Avtokrator of the Roman Empire and the Shah in Shah of the Persian Empire, demanding they convert to Islam and submit, or face war. The Prophet died before he could carry out his threat, but his successor (Caliph) did so.

In this sense, the Islamist "toleration" is that of the enlightened plantation owner: as long as the rest of us know our place (as subordinates, Dhiminis, in a world run by Islam), and accept second and third class status, they will be indulgent masters. But to the extent to which we do not submit to governance by Dar el Islam, we cast ourselves into the Dar el Harb - the land of war, to be fought and opposed until we accept out inferiority and governance by those who have accepted the word of the Prophet. Thus the "tragedy of Andalusia" that the Islamists speak of: the fact that in modern Spain, Moslems can, and do, live and follow their faith without interference or oppression does not alleviate the "tragedy", because Moslems are supposed to rule "Andalusia", not be peers of non-Moslems in a secular, open State.

Why, then, when Moslems have, in various countries and times, lived at peace with non-Moslem authorities, is this happening now? Well, in part for reasons that have been discussed elsewhere (such as in the work of Bernard Lewis). Also in part because Islam is not a monolith and not all Moslems look at the world the same way (there were Union Men in the South and abolitionists as well. A fact that is often swept under the rug in the romanticization of "The Cause"). Not all Moslems have the same attitude as the radical Islamists do. But this attitude is one of the most venerable traditions in Islam and is being spread now by the growth of Wahhabism and other radical ideoligies - and it's also being enabled by those among our societies that are willing to excuse them and provide rationalizations for their behavior (in an earlier time, with it's own flaws, when the West was more confident in its principles, they were not indulged in the fashion that all too many are willing to indulge them now, and cast the blame for anything that goes wrong at our feet). Anyhow, check out Vegard's post and the posts preceding it.
Moslem Sensitivities vs Western Speech are discussed by Telford Work, with whom I had a cordial and through debate on the subject of Christian participation in military efforts this past July. One doesn't have to swallow hole the "Huntington Thesis" of conflict of civilizations to see merit to what Telford says. A short quote:
Now a society of free and candid speech is inevitably a society of some stupid, ill-informed, and insulting speech. So the west faces two alternatives: Either give up our tradition of speaking freely about this subject, or give up trying to satisfy the sensibilities of every Muslim in the world. This is a clash of two civilizations. For a variety of reasons, one is basically free to insult even its most sacred figures. For a variety of reasons, the other is not.
But I'd recommend reading the whole thing.

This is also why the Moslem world does not see the point I've been making, regarding their reaction to Falwell not doing anything to disprove his point. In their view of the cosmos, there is no contradiction in killing or threatening to kill those who insult Islam and its prophet by calling it a religion of war and violence. But that just means that Telford is right: we cannot keep to our principles of free and honest expression and satisfy their sensitivities, and attempting to do so is just a voluntary submission to Dhiminitude on our part. Those who imply that it is our words that cause their violence also let them off the hook for their moral culpability in acting as they do. There are many ways the Islamic world could have responded to Falwell's - or other's - comments. Rioting and issuing Fatwa's calling for Moslems to murder him was only one option. They chose that option, it wasn't imposed upon them by anything we did.

(Link via Instapundit
Anti-Idiotarian Resolution written by Eric Raymond. Quick, everyone link to it! (Link via USS Clueless).

I shouldn't be flip about it, I suppose. It's pretty good.

And NZ Bear has an an amendment to the resolution.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I Wonder If this will spark the same level of outrage and protest across the Islamic World as Falwell's comments did.

Somehow, I doubt it. Which can't help disprove Falwell's accusation one bit. In fact, it's crap like this that cause people to credit fools like Falwell in the first place. If anyone ever asks why some people take Falwell seriously (btw, have you ever met anyone who does? I won't hold my breath until I do), remind them of things like this.
So We Have Robert Fisk being Fisked, as usual. (Link via Instapundit).

The thing about the Fisk article that finally bugged me enough to write this comment was the agricultural-subsidies thing. This charge is virtually akin to asserting that we're allies of Robert Mugabe because we're sending food to Zimbabwe.

The likes of Fisk construct things so they can attack America no matter what: we're responsible for the suffering of Iraq's people because of sanctions, or we're responsible for the sufferings Saddam's regime causes because we help prop it up with agricultural support. Heads, Fisk wins, tails, the U.S. loses.

Notice how the worst that Fisk and his ilk can ever say is "American envoys met with" Saddam and sent agricultural aid. They can't claim we armed him in any meaningful sense, as their ideological buddies did (because the evidence stands in the way: one can look at row after row after row of T-72s, T-60s, and BMPs and see who supplied Iraq), nor can they charge us with providing him with the gas, again as those countries the "anti-war" side looks to as enlightened beacons did (Germany, France, and the rest, all knee-deep in equipping Saddam's death machine, all now oppose action against Saddam).

Fisks lens is distorted, in the typical propagandistic method of the left, by what is omitted (by misdirection Fisk's tirade is filled with admonishments about what we're asked to forget. But Fisk's half-truths leave out the vast majority of information).

I remember the time when we were "cozying up" to Saddam, and no one at the time thought we were sincere allies of Saddam (who, after all, was still closer to the Soviet Union) - just, as you point out, a convenient tool against Iran. Whether the policy was wise or misguided at the time is a quite different matter from what Fisk is trying to claim (that Saddam is somehow a monster purely of Amerikkka's creation). I also remember the stories - at the time - of Iraq's use of poison gas, and, no, it neither was covered up by nor condoned by the American government.

Perhaps Fisk's point is that we should have done something about it then, beyond condemning it with words, and have no excuse to do so now since we didn't then (that is a charitable reading of Fisk). But, then, he again is asking us to slip the context of that time down the memory hole: had we gone to war to remove Saddam in the mid-80s, his real patrons, to whom he had made Iraq a client-state, would have intervened. That patron was the Soviet Union, and we would have been risking global thermonuclear war over it. And Fisk would have been cheering on the Soviets for "protecting a small, weak, third-world nation against Western brutality. After all, wasn't it Britain who first used poison gas in Mesopotamia, huh? Isn't this all the West's fault? Who are we to get on our moral high-horse", etc, etc, ad nausium.
Thomas Sowell understands why Arab Moslems are up in arms:
Someone has pointed out that most of the wars going on in the world today involve Islamic countries. Anyone familiar with history, or who has seen such things as the great mosque at Cordoba, knows that Islam was once one of the world's great civilizations -- as pre-eminent in science and scholarship as in military power and political hegemony over others.

But that time is now long gone. When do you hear about the Middle East these days, except when people are talking about oil or violence? What great scientific, medical, or other breakthroughs have come out of Islamic countries anywhere in recent times?

Meanwhile, Christians and Jews -- people to whom Moslems are supposed to feel superior -- have left the Islamic world completely in the shadows when it comes to achievements. Violence has become the only way of moving out of those shadows.

The question is not whether Islam is a religion of war or peace or -- more likely -- has doctrines that can be quoted either way, as Christian doctrines have been adapted to both. Islam is more than a religion, it is a civilization -- a civilization once brightly shining with achievements but now in eclipse.
And why the haughty preeners among us refuse to recognize that:
Meanwhile, back in the United States, there are people so preoccupied with being one-up on other Americans that they are quick to seize opportunities to blame their own country for the ages-old ills of the human race. During the Vietnam War, some of these people even cheered for the Communists in Southeast Asia, who killed more people after the war was over than had been killed in years of military conflict.
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Coincidence? Or part of some sinister plot to divide Americans from Australians?

Jack Straw, Britain's Defense Secretary, says the disparity in military spending is a recipe for resentment and calls upon Europe to increase it's share of the burden:
"A relationship where one side of the alliance disproportionately shoulders the military burden is a recipe for resentment.

"Europe has to understand that the disparity between effective military contributions to the alliance is something that it should not view with equanimity.

"However effective Europe becomes as a regional or global actor, we cannot expect to make a real difference without regular, close and systematic co-operation with the US in Nato, higher and more focused defence spending and greater efficiency in Europe's armed forces."

Mr Straw, who earlier held talks in Washington with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, again emphasised the need to pursue to the war against international terrorism with "relentless determination" following the Bali bomb attack.

At the same time he strongly backed US demands for Iraq to comply with the demands of the international community to give up its weapons of mass destruction or face military action.
Letter to the People of Australia: Greetings.

The thoughts and prayers of my family and I are with the families of those who were brutally killed by radical Islamists in Bali this past weekend. Indeed, I share the grief of every Australian. The friendship between our two countries has been deep since WWII if not before. We will help you, as you have always been there for us.

That makes it all the more unfortunate that so many of the people writing letters to the editor and penning editorials distorting the facts who seek to use the vile and despicable attack conducted by fanatics who hate both our nations as a excuse to advance their own cause, to use the dead as a opportunity to assail Australia for the support it has given America in the aftermath of Sept. 11th. Why anyone would use such a horrendous deed for their own ends in this way, and advance the cause of the perpetrators by suggesting that Australia's government, or America's government, is to blame for not accommodating the demands of the attackers is beyond me. That they claim to speak from a higher moral plane than the rest of us who see these people as the enemy they are is even more troublesome. Would they be writing such letters if the bomber was a Tim McVey type? Or fascist neo-NAZIs? I doubt it. And yet Fascism of the Islamist sort is no more respectable than of the blond and blue-eyed sort. Those who murdered Australian tourists in Bali did so as much because of Australia's efforts on behalf of East Timor as for Australia's friendship with America. But you won't hear Americans pointing the finger of blame or saying that Australia should have "understood how Moslems would react" to their support of East Timor. No, we are proud of Australia's actions, cheer them, and believe those who hate Australia for it are to be opposed, not catered to, for their "grievances" are the grievances of the wicked.

Most people, in both Australia and America, who have shared in the fight against this nemesis, and grief in seeing those killed by these terrorists, know that there is only one way to respond. We know that behavior rewarded is behavior encouraged. America stands by you in your fight against those haters who killed your people, just as you stood by us, as we know that we share a new thing, among so much that our two countries have had in common in the past. We have a shared enemy, and not for the first time. We will defeat that enemy together, as we did the last time.

Cordial Regards,

James H. Ruhland
India Is considering withdrawing troops from the Pakistani border. Meanwhile four bombs explode in Karachi, killing ten.
In a Move That will be seized upon by the Europeans and the anti-war crowd, Iraqi's proved they love Big Brother.

Or, actually, it would have been seized upon, but Saddam's gang took things so over the top that it resembles a Philly election in Democrat-run precincts (100% turnout! 100% for Gore!). There was palpable disappointment on BBC's World Newshour over the radio this morning. For a week they, and outlets like CNN in America, had run the story as if it were a legit referendum. If only Saddam had settled Cuban-election like numbers (99.5% support) instead of Philly-like numbers. The Iraqi regime really doesn't know how to help its propagandists out, like Castro does. There was no way to spin that as anything but the farce that it was.

By the way, has anyone ever noticed that if you listen to a story on BBC Radio or CNN and then go to the website to check it out there, the web story is (usually) a lot more balanced than the over-the-top propaganda of the on-air story? I've noticed this repeatedly. The practice of "Fisking" must have had an effect.

Update: The FT is running it as if it were legit.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

You All Have been reading Tim Blair's weblog the last several days, I'm sure. I don't know what else to say at the moment so rather than babbling, I won't. Except to add to the chorus urging folks to read his reflections. I share them and have little to add that I think would be eloquent or useful or worth reading beyond that.
Nat Hentoff appraises the free speech situation on American university campuses and finds it wanting. He quotes from an Wesleyan Argus editorial on the subject:
In our attempts to foster discussion and wrestle with issues, we have forgotten the basic liberal tenet of promoting freedom of expression. The booming voice of the left has almost completely drowned out a considerable portion of the campus's population.
And the campus ACLU chair:
"Wesleyan and most Wesleyan students think that Wesleyan is a lot more open than it really is. I'm not sure that the students are open to diverse viewpoints other than saying that they are."
As well as the typical rationalization for clamping down on speech, from the spokeswoman for the Democrats (who continue to make that appellation ironic satire):
"The question is how tolerant we are of intolerance," she says. "Personally, I'm not very supportive of homophobic, racist and xenophobic opinions. Nor do I feel necessarily inclined to provide those people with a venue for their opinions."
Lenin agreed with that attitude. Hentoff sees all this as showing that
"Diversity" is a much-valued goal at colleges and universities, but its meaning is too often limited to ensuring sufficient representation of race and gender in the student body. The concept of diversity of IDEAS, however, is often far less valued. . .if freedom of thought is not honored at college campuses, how devoted to this source of all our other freedoms will graduates be as they become influential in America's future?
Well, the first several generations of graduates holding these opinions have gone forth into American society over the last several decades, and we can already see the consequences. Commitment to procedural democracy, like commitment to free speech, is utterly lacking in a great number of people (the progressive "Democrats" in who's footsteps the woman quoted above is following are already acting in places like New Jersey and South Dakota). The champions of the Berkeley "Free Speech Movement" that helped pioneer the practice of shouting down views they didn't like and came to embody the concept of "Liberating Tolerance" (toleration for movements of the Left but not for those of the Right) have already shown, not only in how they teach today's graduating Classes, but in the effect they're having on the wider society, just how empty their commitment to broad, general liberty for everyone is.
So, Lots of People act all outraged over accountancy scandals in business. People should be. But some of the people who are appalled and express their horror (I'm speaking of Democrat Senators and Congressbeings here) have nary a word to say about accountancy scandals in government, which have been going on for decades. Far from rushing bills through Congress aimed at correcting these scandals, they have repeatedly resisted efforts to reform government accounting practices. Not infrequently, they have attacked those who've tried for being "hostile to government". Far more money is lost here than in the businesses they point fingers at.

When will they show the same viligant vigor in accounting for the money of taxpayers that they claim to have for the money of Enron and Worldcom investors and employees? Yah, that'll be the day.
Richard Spertzel was head of the biological weapons-inspection team for the UN Special Commission on Iraq. He says inspections won't work and the reason why so many act as if they will is because
Iraq has again successfully co-opted significant numbers of U.N. member states to at least pretend to fall for the same old line heard repeatedly since 1991, Iraq will fully cooperate (allusion of cooperation) - until the next time inspectors come close to something Iraq does not want found.
Now, some people aren't pretending. Some seem to sincerely believe that doing the same thing over again will produce a different result. Saddam, a student of Stalin, knows what those people are: useful idiots, and, as a student of Stalin, he plays them like a fiddle.
So I Have a Friend (No, really, it's true. He's an ICQ friend who's never met me in person, but, yes, I do have a friend) who asked me last week "So, are you going to blog about Carter winning the Nobel Peace Prize?"

My initial reaction was: Who? Won what?

I guess this "Nobel Peace Prize" is an award given out every year by five or six people in Finland or Denmark or Iceland or someplace - one of those Scandinavian countries anyhow. So I did a Google search to find out more.

Turns out past winners include Yasser Arafat (who's peace activism has included pioneering the field of modern terrorism), Kofi Annan and the UN (who created the peaceful world we see all around us), Rigoberta Menchu (well-known for her ghost-written book filled with fantastical misrepresentations and lies), Mikhail Gorbachev (last leader of the most murderous regime in human history), The UN Office of Refugees won in '81 (which is why we see refugees still living in UN camps like Jenin, more than 50 years on, while we don't see Germans from Prussia and Silesia living in refugee camps), and Le Duc Tho, who helped a murderous tyranny conquer and repress a neighbor. At least this last guy had the good sense to decline the prize, which is obviously some sort of running gag.

So this Carter guy seemed to have the right instincts when his initial reaction was, when he got a call telling him he had won, that it must be some kind of crank call or something. But the Nobel guys must be very good, because they convinced him it was legit. I couldn't place this Carter guy, my friend seemed to think he was important or something. So I searched on him, too, and I saw this picture:

Boy! That guy looked oddly familiar. He also looked like someone who is coping with the tragedy of Autism. He reminded me of someone I was aware of in my youth. Was it that guy from Mad Magazine with the toothy grin? Older now? Hmmmn. . .no, that was Alfred E. Neuman.

Then I saw this article and it all fell into place. It was someone from my youth in the '70s! This was the guy who was President and helped pave the way for Ayatollah Khomeini to take over in Iran, resulting in the first Radical Islamist regime. He was President when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, starting two decades of war and strife. So now I understood what those stories about the prize meant when they mentioned "more than two decades of work" - he helped create the world we're living in now. It all started to fall into place in my mind. How could I have forgotten this guy? He went to Cuba just this year and mentioned the wonderful things (his opinion, not mine) that Castro has been doing for (or was it to?) the Cuban people - health care, literacy, secret police, detention camps for AIDS sufferers, things like that.

So, yah, then I understood. My first suspicion about this "Nobel Peace Prize" award was right. It's some sort of dry running gag, like the sort of thing National Lampoon would put on. An international version of the Harvard-MIT tradition of pranks. Some people just don't get the gag, though. Dry humor often sails over people's head. That Iranian guy in the story I mentioned above, for example, I'm not sure if he gets the joke or not:
"He would have deserved a peace prize today if he had taken serious steps toward peace during his presidency," said Abbas Abdi, one of the leaders of the student militants who seized the U.S. embassy in 1979."
He didn't seen very impressed by Carter winning. But he just doesn't see that this is a laughing matter.

Monday, October 14, 2002

In Other News, France gets hoisted on its own petard. Couldn't happen to a more deserving country.
Yah, right. That dude is dead.

Where's the trademark video of him and Ayman gloating? Nowhere. These desperate, strained attempts simply help prove that he's ash. As a "False Dmitri" ploy, this one is more pathetic than most.
Would Be Funny if it wasn't so Pathetic: Bobby Seale, a Panther O.G., is upset at the modern Panthers. He's mad because they're
sullying the original group's reputation by showing up heavily armed at demonstrations and preaching violent, racist and extremist views on its Web site.
So, which of these things are things Seale didn't do?
  • Show up heavily armed at demonstrations
Check. They did that in the '70s.
  • Preach violent, racist, and extremist views.
Check. Seale helped pioneer that.
  • On its website
Ok, no, Seale's Panthers didn't have no webpage. So that must be it.

David Hilliard's pissed off, too. But the real reason comes out in his comments, and it hasn't got anything to do with preaching violent, racist, or extremist views. It has to do with how they are preached. Hilliard is mad because
"Why not call themselves the new black Muslims?
See, the old gang were to the new gang as the PLO is to al-Queda. The old gang held a vulgar Marxist ideology that had nothing to do with religion, and the new group is an offshoot of the Nation of Islam. Of course, so far the new gang are a lot of talk, while the old gang carried out violent acts. This may be another reason why Seale and Hilliard look down on the new bunch, with their fancy uniforms. They haven't shown the balls to pour boiling water on one of their members in an effort to extract a "confession" out of him, killing the man, as the old bunch did to Alex Rackey. Or "disappear" their bookkeeper. Or even kill any "pigs"! Much less intimidate gangs so they can horn in on the drug trade in their communities.

Any new group using the Panther name that isn't doing these things, well, Seale and Hilliard are right: they ain't living up to the Panther name, they're just using it to live off the reflected glory of murder, mayhem, violent racism, and extremist "revolutionary" rhetoric.
More Democrat Election-Stealing sleeze; the plot to steal this year's election expands to South Dakota. But what else is new? This kind of thing has been going on for decades, under the guise of "expanding the voter base" and "voter registration". They love slipping in the ineligible (convicted felons, non-citizens, dead people, double-voters, and invented people). It's been expanding year by year recently as they've had a harder time winning legitimately with votes legally cast. This is also why the Democrats can be relied upon to viciously oppose any measure aimed at reducing election fraud and favor anything that makes it easier (and call opponents of the same racists to boot). But they always have people like Josh Marshall around to blame anyone concerned about election fraud and sweep the real dirty tricks under the carpet.

Marshall, being a shill for the Dems, didn't see anything wrong with the Montana ad, either. No doubt here that he would have been among the very first to pounce on it as gay-baiting if the party's running and targeted were switched.
Meanwhile we have further proof that attempts to treat terrorists as if they were politically "normal" leads nowhere. Of course, on the BBC World News this morning we had Gerry Adams talking about how the Good Friday Agreement is a "contract" that must be followed. By everyone except Sinn Fein and the IRA, he means. Like all good terrorists (think Yasser Arafat), he believes that agrements bind only the other side, which must obey them even while his followers violate the provisions that apply to them.

These IRA-Sinn Fein jackanapes and murderers are, unaccountably, romanticized by a fair segment of the American population (and no, not just those of Irish background). Well, even the PLO has its admirers, but those people are morally obtuse at best and culpable (for helping fund the IRA) at worst. There are reasons why the IRA was not welcome in the Republic of Ireland, and that is because, though they have "face men" like Gerry Adams to mouth platitudes, they have no commitment to democratic processes and the rule of law.
Of Course the Biggest story over the weekend is the bombing in Bali, conducted by Islamic radicals in a country that didn't take warnings seriously. The Islamic radicals killed close to 200 people.

The Telegraph of London is saying that tourists will shrug it off. The example they cite is that of Egypt after Islamic radicals killed 69 tourists in Luxor. However, that article itself says that it took two years. It also took major efforts by the Egyptian government to prevent a similar attack. Indonesia is, belatedly, saying they will step up security, but investors are already pulling out.

Of course, we're offering to help, just as the Australians, who have suffered most of the casualties, have supported us whenever we've asked.

Of course, al Queda is already being fingered for involvement.


Of course, Tim Blair has the most comprehensive comments.