Friday, January 03, 2003

The Ronald Reagan They Refused to Know, in this book review:
Ironically, in the sense he believed that ideas were more important than individuals or power relationships, Ronald Reagan — no matter how it may gall those who have scorned the quality of his intelligence and called him an actor or a lightweight — was an intellectual."
Mr. Reagan was the only modern president who researched and wrote by himself more than a thousand commentaries of the public issues of the day. He was thought to be lazy and uninterested in policy yet, in fact, he was a voracious reader of books and policy papers. Of the 670 essays written in his own hand between 1975 and 1979, 27 percent were on foreign and defense policy, 25 percent on economics, 15 percent on government and individual liberty, and 10 percent on energy and the environment.
All new to too many.
Can't Win for Trying: First the drug companies were lambasted for producing a drug that helped men with impotence, not women. Now, when they've produced something they claim helps women get off, they're attacked for that, too.

Meanwhile, people wonder why drug companies are concentrating more on "lifestyle" drugs, when life saving drugs are needed. It's not that people go into the field of pharmaceutical research because they're uninterested in saving lives. Quite the contrary. But whenever they produce a drug that saves lives, that people need (more than they "need" viagra), they're attacked for their unwillingness to lose money researching, producing, and distributing it. It's a simple fact that "activists" and governments that "care" about people have perversely created huge dis-incentives (along with people and their lawyers who sue when a drug that cures diseases but causes side effects in a tiny minority of patients hit the company up for cash. They're "responsible" for the side effects of the drug, or even it's misuse and abuse, but they're not responsible for the disease. Coming out with life saving drugs has become what is called, to use a little legal lingo, a "liability"). Then the same people who attack the "pharmaceutical industry" for being unwilling to lose money, and regulate and restrict their ability to turn a profit ("heath care should not be based on profit" and the like being a theme of the activists and their friendly politicians), then get all puzzled and outraged over the fact that research efforts are being redirected to produce drugs targeted at the desires of the wealthy rather than the needs of the sick and dying. Well, it's because no legislation is ever introduced to curb the price of Soma-type drugs, for one thing.
Ralph Peters on a difference between Saddam and Kim Jong-il
Saddam is a power-mad bully waving a fist. Kim Jong-Il is more like a surly street-person demanding a hand-out. The Iraqi regime has visions of empire, has attacked its neighbors repeatedly, has used weapons of mass destruction repeatedly and has massacred its own citizens repeatedly. North Korea is pathetic, broke and so hungry its population is suffering genetic deterioration. It hasn't attacked anyone in 50 years, and couldn't sustain a war beyond a few wantonly destructive weeks.
Add that to my comments here.
Politicizing the War? How about this, where the headline writer inadvertently stumbles into the truth?
those questioning Bush's terror defense include Sens Joseph I Lieberman, John Edwards and John Kerry, and Gov Howard Dean;
What two things do those people all have in common? One, they're Democrats. Two, they're running for President.

But will we hear people say how uncouth it is to "politicize the war", if things turn out the way they want? (See, what they're preping for, is if there is another attack, they will blame Bush and try to wring partisan advantage out of it).
some suggest candidates may appear to be exploiting American fears for political gain
Pretty mild way for the NYT to put it, compared with the way they pressed things when the rubber band was on the other claw (as Dr. Zoidberg would say). But at least they mentioned it.
"Regular People" is the new focus-group tested phrase to replace "working families" and "people vs. the powerful". It's the mantra of John Edwards. If a southern Senator with an "R" next to his name based his campaign on such a phrase, what do you think the reaction would be? It would be a given that it's a "buzzword for exclusion". Which, of course, it is. Reporters would be asking Edwards campaign, if he had an "R" next to his name, which Americans he excludes from the category of "Regular People".

Perhaps it would be wealthy doctors who save people's lives, such as Bill Frist. Or perhaps it would be wealthy lawyers who got rich on contingency fees. Or Senators that married into wealth (a Ketchup fortune, for example), or inherited it (from a father who was an investor and diplomat, or a family who's fortune was made in the Gilded Age). Who knows. Edwards won't be asked to tell us, either. Because he has a "D", not an "R" next to his name. Just as he won't be subjected to the same scrutiny/demonization as Frist has been over the last several weeks.

No, instead expect newspapers to publish bios (as they already have) that amount to mythmaking - building up his image where, with Republicans, they tear it down. Now, for example, imagine if Frist had a "D" next to his name. Stories that have appeared only in the Conservative media would abound, and whatever questionable things Frist may (or may not) have done would go to the same place that stories about how Tom Daschle's close connections with certain lobbyists (especially for the airline industry) have both enriched him and resulted in changes in legislation (along with inserting provisions allowing for the thining of national forests. . .in South Dakota only, something that gets criticized by environmentalists when done elsewhere, at least when those authorizing it do not have a "D" next to their name). They'd be buried, and/or papered over.

It's been interesting and instructive watching how the major news organs have treated the backgrounds and rhetoric of two southern Senators. One a "D" and the other an "R".
Blame America first on parade over the North Korea Crisis.

See, we must learn to understand that their concerns are legitimate while ours are just provoking animosity and conflict. We must also learn to understand that we're damned if we do and damned if we don't, but that no matter what, it's both our fault and our problem and don't expect anything from the institutions we've constantly been lectured that we should defer to.

Btw, in case someone is tempted to write in to say "hey, China and South Korea are working together to resolve this, and Russia is entering it, too" - so far their "efforts" have mainly consisted of admonishing the U.S. to cede to North Korea's blackmail. Indeed, pretty much all the "allies" that just a month ago agreed mutually and multilaterally after dutiful consultation that we should all, together, take a hard line towards North Korea's intransigence and violation of the Holy and Sacred Agreed Framework have now said "what? Us? Who? I don't remember that. Oh, no." Which shows just how feckless, fickle, and flighty the "crucial" support of the "international community" can be. They've all wet their collective pants and now disclaim any involvement in any decision to cut North Korea off as a result of their violations, and are blaming the U.S. for the crisis.

Then there's that argument that we're treating Saddam different from Kim Jong-il and, why? Why aren't we prepared to give in to Saddam's blackmail as we are with Kim?
President Kim Jong-il of North Korea is a brutal dictator who does as much harm to his people as Saddam Hussein. He may indeed be more irrational and is certainly more dangerous to the world, as he possesses a fearsome military capacity for which the Iraqi leader is merely groping. Yet the US wisely is not contemplating a pre-emptive attack on North Korea, for the good reason that Russia and China would oppose it and the consequences might be disastrous.
Hey, dufus, the answer is contained in your musing: ". . .he possesses a fearsome military capacity for which the Iraqi leader is merely groping."

Sorry, I shouldn't call a highly respected ex former senior diplomat of a key ally a "dufus", but I'm incredibly frustrated by the apparent inability to grasp fundamental distinctions and reach obvious conclusions, which seem to be a hallmark personality characteristic of these high-minded people. Um, like, could it be that we want to prevent Saddam from reaching his goal? We'd rather not be faced with the prospect of nuclear blackmail by Iraq, as we are already with North Korea (thanks in no small part to the "success" of the diplomatic efforts of '94)? No, the thought doesn't penetrate. Neither does the idea that the consequences of war in Korea might be more disastrous because North Korea possesses the weapons Saddam aspires to, and that is indeed a reason to do what can be done to insure Saddam isn't ever able to achieve his goal. *mutter*. We're told Bush is a simpleton and we should listen to these people instead?!?

Maybe, just Maybe, the lessons learned in the North Korean experience partially inform us in how not to handle a problem? Like with the lessons learned on Sept. 11th on how not to handle Terrorism (interestingly, we're being told by our enlightened allies, in both instances, that if we simply would understand that a return to the oh-so-successful, in their eyes1 policies of the '90s, the policies which brought us to where we are today, then everything would be ok).

Sir Lord Grand Poohbah High Mukety-Muck Herd goes on:
I do not envy the British cabinet or the Bush administration their choice. They have to weigh the undoubted benefits of Mr Hussein's overthrow against the risk of turning the Middle East into an inexhaustible recruiting ground for anti-western terrorism.
Quite. It would be so unlike what it is now, a calm and placid region of peaceable, contented, happy-go-lucky "natives" with nothing but kind thoughts towards the West.

1There is a reason why they consider those policies successful for them, even to this day, in spite of the obvious fact that they were unsuccessful from the point of view of America. I've covered that reason in earlier posts, though. I won't repeat those arguments here, though they may come into play when I write that post on the cruciality of international support that I've been meaning to write and hope to get to this weekend.

I suppose I should also apologize for the intemperate tone of this post. I'm just very frustrated - not with North Korea. It was obvious, at least to me, in '94, that they would behave exactly as they have. No, I'm frustrated with Our Good Friends who Want Only the Best for Us.
More Arab Pressure on Saddam to step down.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Pakistan, Germany, Others are now on the UNSC.

"We are an Islamic country; you can't get away from the fact," says Munir Akram, Pakistan's permanent representative. "There is no sympathy for Saddam but [there is] empathy for Iraq. We hope [if] there is a necessity to consider enforcement action, that that would be done with the endorsement of the Security Council. We think with international legality, some of the repercussions of the conflict - both domestic and international - could be at least minimised."
From that it sounds like they're going to want to vote "aye" to authorize force for a war that's going to happen.

The new members also bring with them some complex baggage, with uncertain ramifications.
You can say that again; "complex baggage" like so many dealings with Saddam. Again, you can say that again:
The new members also bring with them some complex baggage, with uncertain ramifications. In particular, Berlin has made clear it will not commit troops to any Iraq conflict. Analysts say it will be treading a fine line between domestic opinion and its desire for a greater role on the world stage.
This may be interesting. Still, how far will Schroeder's government go in sucking up to domestic opinion (consisting of the 24 German companies mentioned in Iraq's weapons report), when obstinate obstructionism would likely come at a not insignificant price? Schroeder has already started to make more equivocating noises. Germany will not shield Saddam, no matter how much they valued their relationship with him. As I mentioned in posts last fall, it's difficult for some countries to cut the ties they have with some of these regimes (let me point the finger at America and Saud Arabia while I'm dishing it out at Germany), but we'll all be better off in the long run. If for no other reason than the region governed by despots is not as good a trading partner as the region will be when there are governments more accountable to the needs of their populations, and thus having better prospects of prosperity and trade.
Washington had been opposed to Germany chairing the UN's committee on Iraq sanctions but, amid German unhappiness and French pressure, it backed down.
Thus French pressure insured that the fox will be guarding the henhouse. Given the record of German compliance with the sanctions, well - this is just going to be added to my list of why the UN is a corrupting, not a enobling "legitimizing", institution.
Good Manufacturing news in the U.S. but unemployment claims rise. Meanwhile, manufacturing still weak in Europe. The dollar rises, as does the price of oil. Everything is proceeding exactly as I have foreseen.
Limited Posting Again Today: Sorry it's been such an uneven week (at best). Inventory continues here. If you haven't had a chance to read it, here's the year in preview.

Some might even say we don't need to post anymore, since we already know what's going to happen. But it's the details that will be. . .interesting. . .as events unfold.

Oh, and some might find the post below interesting. Or not. Either way.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Vegard Valberg has some fun at the expense of what he calls the "ultimate piece of idiotarianism". It certainly is an awful lothesome piece of rot, clearly the product of someone who fancies himself a deep and profound thinker and yet is utterly ignorant (the "Shadow of the Bomb" polemic, I mean; not Vegard's evisceration of it).

Just think: the Landover Baptist screed I linked to was satire, but the guy who wrote "Shadow of the Bomb: Growing Up in the Belly of the War Machine" really believes this. . .though probably the most pithy description would be "self-satire." It consists entirely of unsupported assertions and so the Misting method of ridicule is probably the best way to deal with it. Congrats to Vegard.

Back in the heyday of the New Left, American members of that creed used to talk about working "within the belly of the beast", the "beast" being Amerikkka, working to tear it down so that it could be replaced with a more enlightened, humanistic regime following the model of the societies that such kindly figures as Mao, Ho Chi Mihn, Castro, Che, and Pol Pot were building as examples of resistance to the inhumane, militaristic, imperialistic, neocolonialist opressive establishment System elsewhere in the world. Figures such as Huey Newton, Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, & Bob Scheer with their "Red Family" Commune preaching violent revolution, and the Weather Underground were designated as the Servants of the People, destined to bring Year Zero to Amerikkka, and only a few million "pigs" were going against the wall so that a bright, humane future could be created. Just a bit of background on the morally perverse world from which the "belly" rhetoric was spawned.

Though the writer is evidently too young to have participated in "The Movement" back then, he self-evidently envisions himself within that context. The piece may as well be called "Shadow of the Hippies: Growing Up as a Perfectly Preserved Time Capsule of the Most Extreme Fringe of New Left Ideology". But I guess that title was too long, so he went with one that conveyed to any astute reader the exact same message.
News You Can Use but probably shouldn't.

The whole world is full of crazy people.

Update: The world also takes all kinds. Two readers wrote in near-simultaneously, one to say the link was "marvelous" and he had to clean sputtered coffee off his keyboard and monitor, and another to say the Landover Baptist link was "unworthy of [my] site". Maybe there's something I missed. It's happened before (kind of a lot recently; more often than I'd like).

"Landover Baptist" is a satire site; I've linked to satire before. But I can certainly see why some would be offended. Is this my very own "Trent Lott Moment"?

It was not my intention to belittle the Church.
Some Thoughts on Warfare in History prompted by this USS Clueless post. Regular readers of this site will know that Steven is probably my favorite blogger (he's certainly the one I most often link to saying "this is really good" and the like), and I think he's more often right than wrong and is very good on contemporary issues, very astute when discussing current affairs. However, when he speaks of episodes in history, that's where he can get into trouble. Since he made some large claims regarding it in that post on historical matters, and based much of that post around premises derived from those claims, I figure I'll comment on them.

Steven wrote:
"War 400 years ago, during the time when people were considering things like "Just War" theory, actually was pretty much all-or-nothing, but over the course of the last hundred and fifty years advances in the technology of war."
That's not quite true. Indeed, quite the opposite is the case Many limited wars were fought quite a few - probably most. Even the wars that feature prominently in history weren't usually what we would consider "all or nothing" affairs. There were limited aims, even if the achievement of limited aims would, or were intended to, give the victor a critical advantage. Take the wars of Richelieu and Louis the XIV, the Sun King, for example. These were border wars intended to round out the frontiers of France, gaining modest territory, generally at the expense of the Hapsburgs and their allies. But they weren't by any means "all or nothing" Total Wars. It's actually closer to the truth to say that "All or nothing" warfare is a Clauswitzian concept that wasn't much in evidence before the Napoleonic Wars, as John Keegan argued in his seminal work on the history of warfare, a book that I myself read just this December (so I'm not speaking as if from on high, here), that I found quite interesting and instructive (even if I would quibble with some of his contemporaneous conclusions regarding the future, or lack thereof, of warfare).

He also wrote:
"There was much less international trade then and what was traded was mostly luxury goods, representing at most a percent or two of GDP (and usually much less). Most of the nations of the time were self-sufficient in production of necessities. There really wasn't a lot to fight about."
Not in our terms. But none the less they found a lot to fight about; there was a lot to fight about in their terms. Peace was a rarity. As my friend Last Toryboy wrote me when he read Steven's post (L.T. is also a avid reader of Steven's site, but held this post in a minimum of high regard), "People fought constantly in the Renaissance. They just fought each other for reasons inexplicable to the modern mind. They fought over religion, they fought over what was, in effect, family feuds. And they fought for loot." and he's right. Wars over religion, for example, held the same place as wars over ideology in our era. They considered such things very much worth fighting over. Indeed, Steven's implication, that wars are more significant now because of increased trade, especially in common goods, isn't, in my opinion, supported by the facts; rather few modern wars between modern powers have been fought due to trade reasons (Marxist materialistic interpretations of history notwithstanding); they've generally been fought over other reasons (though commerce was certainly affected. American involvement in WWI may be your example to the contrary, as we involved ourselves in no small part because of the threat we perceived to free commerce as a result of German unrestricted U-Boat warfare. However, for just about everyone else, it was fought as a consequence of terrorism and disputes over territory, pride, and envy. In other words, it was an old fashioned war fought in a new fashioned strategic mentality - the Clauswitzian mentality).

Keegan also points to some of the alternative views of war besides Clauswitzian perspectives; and I would point out that neither Machiavelli in the Renaissance nor Thucydides in the Classical era saw warfare in isolation from politics or other aims. Indeed, rather few people did. I would recommend checking out the first part of Keegan's book and his postscript even if you're not interested in reading the whole thing; even if you don't end up agreeing with his analysis of the folly of Clauzwitzian views on strategy and war aims. He's very good and he certainly challenged my own preconceptions even if, as I mentioned, I didn't end up agreeing with every point he made.

Steven goes on:
And when they did end up having major issues to settle, about the only way to apply significant pressure to the other side was to field an army or navy or both.
That's not really quite true, either. One would be surprised by the methods that were used to put the screws to people - they were as sophisticated and varied as we use today. All sorts of methods of suasion were used, though, yes, violence - war - was resorted too more frequently than we do. Steven acknowledges this in the next section:
There were other levels at which pressure was applied; it's not quite as straightforward as I make it sound.
But the following sentence, though sensible, is not true:
But by our modern standards, "peace" and "war" actually were significant states and the transition from one to the other was pretty obvious and was almost always the result of a conscious decision by some ruler.
Warfare was more traditionally endemic and frequent than this implies. All the costs Steven mentions that may, in other circumstances, have constrained war, were there - the disease, the cost, etc. But they were all borne, because they looked upon warfare far differently than we do. Spain bankrupted itself and defaulted numerous times in this period as a result of near continuous warfare. France did so only slightly less often. In the preceding period, where war was even more difficult in materiel terms, it was, if anything, even more frequent (though often on a lower scale than the great struggles of the late Renaissance and age of Absolutist Monarchy, 400 years ago - in the prior period it was more typically small armies and warlords fighting small wars over what we would think of as really petty reasons; though there were large scale wars in that period as well). Or take the period just prior to that and extending through it, marked by efforts to spread the "peace of god" and just war theory, at least among the Christian rulers in their relations with each other. This period was also marked by the Crusades - a conflict much more politically convoluted and involving some very shrewd characters (contra conventional wisdom of a bunch of ignorant, bloodthirsty fanatics. There was that, but the leadership held some very crafty characters. Just a round up of the participants in the First Crusade reveal some devious figures with very. . .interesting. . .strategic goals. Take Bohemund and Tancred. Or even Raymond and Baldwin. Almost all of these people carried their shrewdness into matters outside of warfare, as well. And I say nothing of, for example, Alexios I Komnenos, who likewise was aware of the connections between war and politics, in his own, if non-Clauswitzian way. Check out his daughter's biography of her father's life). Huge forces, for the era, set out from Europe, encountering all the problems Steven mentions which we might consider made the very idea of long-range warfare a waste of effort. Very few people survived the attempt. And yet expeditions continued to follow for several centuries, both large and small. This is only the most extreme example - conflict in general was endemic. Warfare, far from being a rarity, was a way of life for many.
The Year In Preview
"Everything is proceeding exactly as I have foreseen"

Readers are invited to save the link to this post. As part of the process of rebuilding credibility, I'll put my record on these predictions up against those of the experts. After all, to parahprase the quote Ann Salisbury has taken from Telulah Bankhead as her Blog philosophy, it's better to be strongly wrong than weakly right. But I'm betting most of these will be strongly right. Oh, and by the by, I decided to make these predictions without letting the predictions of others influence me; the only predictions I've read so far were the FT ones I chewed up yesterday.

We'll lets start with an easy one, shall we? Because much else is connected to it.
  • This one's a gimmie. On January 27th, the UNSCOM and INEA Inspectors will once again spring into action as their report lands in the laps of the dynamic diplomats of the UNSC and the redoubtable representatives of the UNSC powers. Don't expect an invasion of Iraq to immediately follow. War with Iraq will come some time in mid Febuary. It will take that long because people will have to "ponder" the report, "consider" its ramifications, "study" the evidence of Iraqi non-compliance that the U.S. and Britain will submit. They will agree that Saddam Hussein is naughty, not nice. Pretty much everyone of any significance has already come to the conclusion that war is inevitable, but they'll put on a public show of giving due deliberating over the inspectors report (they'll have to if for no other reason than it would be an insult to the inspectors to come to a decision the day after receiving a report that will probably run to a couple hundred pages).
    Starting simoultaniously with that, additional support will be rounded up for the war, and additional forces moved into the area. Expect the French to jump in and send at least some paratroops and Foreign Legion forces, and perhaps their 6th Armored Division (Light), if it can get there in time. They're like that little guy in Conan the Destroyer who, not wanting to be left behind, announces "they need me" and rushes to catch up so as to not be left alone. (Speaking of Conan the Destroyer, I hear a 70ish Sylvester Stallone is making Rocky VI, so how about getting Arnold Schwarzenegger to make King Conan? If it sounds bad to you, it couldn't be any worse than a Rocky VI. But I digress).

  • The war itself will go quickly. The French will loudly trumpet their contribution to how things worked out, just like that little guy who sticks the dagger in Dagoth after Conan has pulled out the horn (but the real heroes will be the troops, British and American, and the moral courage of Blair). In addition to French participation, the House of Saud will deign to allow us to use the bases we built there to defend their Kingdom so that we can topple their greatest nemesis for them (you warmongers out there shouldn't be happy about this - see below for the reason why). The main dangers are to Iraqi civilians - not because of the U.S., but because they will be most exposed to any last-ditch weapons used by Saddam's loyalists. The greatest danger period for allied forces will come, in my opinion, in "post-war" Iraq. Not so much from the bulk of the Iraqi people, who will, I believe, welcome the fall of the Ba'ath National Socialist regime (unless casualties are too severe). It will come from Mujahideen and farishans answering the call of Jihadist Islam. Allied forces will be at the center of things, well placed to fight the war and shatter the opposing ideology, but also likely to face scattered attacks and skirmishing. Notice I didn't make any mention of what happens to Saddam as a result of the war. It would be nice to get him, have him tried in Iraq for his crimes. But really, when he's out of power, he's irrelevant. If he does go into Idi Amin Dada type exile, though, expect the usual strategic idiots to claim the war was a failure because "Saddam escaped". BFD.

  • There will be no war with North Korea. Don't ask me to predict how that will be solved short of war. But there won't be a war with North Korea. Jump all over me if I'm wrong on this one. But when we defeat Iraq, I don't think North Korea's Communist despots will really want to push the matter to war. Those people are too erratic for me to perceive much beyond that, though.

  • Oil prices will spike as a result of the war, but then will come down to well below present levels even if Saddam's loyalists attempt to fire the wells as they did in Kuwait. By that time, Venezuela's oil production will probably be back online, and as long as oil production is back at fall 2002 levels and supply stability insured, along with the prospect of getting Iraqi fields back into the world economy, that will be enough. If Iraq's fields are undamaged after the war, expect oil prices to come way down. There will be a major rally on Wall Street after the conclusion of the war, if it goes at all as I expect. It's been down throughout the fall and winter of 2002 in no small part because of uncertainty of the international situation and pending war. The Dow should be at 9000 by summer, and may reach 10,000 by the end of the year. The economic news will be mixed for the first quarter, possibly first two quarters (with unemployment levels definitely not improving until the end of the second quarter). But there will be strong economic growth by the end of 2003, with unemployment beginning to come back down.

  • Some progress will be made in "Doha Round" trade negotiations, but, unfortunately, not on the critical agriculture front (again). Bush will negotiate away the steel tariffs he slapped on last year, and will try to use the Farm Bill subsidies as a negotiating tool in similar fashion. But the EU won't want to part from the CAP (especially as they went through difficult negotiations on CAP matters with pending EU members this year ending, and aren't ready to go through it again). Trade liberalization will have to come in bilateral agreements. Look for America to negotiate one with Turkey (in part as a reward for their help against Iraq, in part because it's a good thing all around) and several Latin American countries (watch for perhaps unexpected prodding on this front from Brazil's newly-elected Leftist leader, Lula). If Hugo Chavez's regime falls (see below), then Venezuela will be added to the mix. Argentina will continue to unravel, however, and though deals might be negotiated, we'll be lucky if the bilateral accord with Chile passes through Congress before the end of the year. Any others probably will wait for next year. . .or, that year being an election year, the year after.

  • In the aftermath of the Iraq war, if it goes well, G.W. won't repeat his father's mistake. He'll be pushing a significant domestic agenda. This will include tax cuts aimed at reviving investment, and attempts at accelerating some of the cuts enacted in the previous tax bill. The Dems will push their alternative - a temporary cut in the payroll tax combined with recinding any tax cuts that could spur investment, the payroll tax cut meant to buy off voters until after the 2004 election, after which it will go away forever. If Bush is smart he'll respond to this with a "payroll tax cut" of his own - his plan to allow people to invest part of their Social Security payments into private accounts. That part is another gimmie. What's not is I'm guessing that a fairly good chunk of this will happen, but I'd say the Social Security thing is 50-50 at best.

  • The Supreme Court will roll back Afirmative Action programs that are based on "diversity" grounds. This will help inflame, further, the conflicts over judicial confirmations. The Left fringe of the Democratic Party, which controls their agenda in Congress, will battle bitterly and attempt to impose party conformity, especially among any Democratic Senator hoping for their Presidential or even Vice Presidential nomination. None the less, enough Democrats will vote for Bush Judges on the floor, and Democrats won't be able to block them in committee, so most will pass. If these fights get too bitter, Zell Miller may switch parties (but I still put that at a no better than 20% chance).

  • The War on Terror/War on Jihadist Islam/War on Bad Philosophy will continue to seem to go slowly after Iraq's fall. People who expect us to immediately start putting the screws to the House of Saud after Saddam is gone are in for disappointment. Not because Bush has no plan for them, nor because he "wimped out" or "sold out" or anything. But because, after they "graciously" allowed us to use bases in their country, it would seem to much like a stab to go after them as quickly as some want us to. Things just don't work that rapidly. 2003 will be the "year of Iraq". The next year will be an election year - and if you think Democrats cries that Bush was using the war for partisan advantage this past year, in a midterm election, were loud, just wait if he tries what they will call a "Saudi Surprise" in 2004. No, Saudi Arabia will not be on the agenda in the way that impatient Hawks (which include myself) want until Bush's 2nd Term. Some insist that they will turn against him if he disappoints them in his dealings with the Saudis. Ok, fine. Vote for the Sharpton - Murray ticket instead. But, if we don't move as fast against the House of Saud as some want, what will happen is a gradual escalation of pressure against them and push for them to reform, a gradually increasing level of confrontation - some of which has, though more quietly and behind the scenes, begun. On Madrasas and support for Jihadist Islam. This will be possible because

  • Iraqi oil should begin flowing into the international markets in good amounts before the end of the year, unless very severe damage is done to the infrastructure during the war. A secular, moderate government will be installed in Iraq. No, the Iraqi opposition won't all get along; there will be conflicts. Where some see this as a bad thing, I see this as nothing but good What? We want another one-party state? Rubbish. I like the fact that the Iraqi opposition groups disagree. As long as their disagreements are kept at the level of peaceful politics, that's the stuff multi-party democracies are made of. Sometimes I wonder if the people who hand-wring over the fractiousness and factionalization of the Iraqi opposition groups have a inner hankering for the politics of the One Party State (especially in that not a few of the hand-wringers in question don't like the idea of removing the Ba'athist regime from power). Also, following the war, a lot of information will be discovered in Iraq that will be embarassing to many, many countries, companies, and groups. Most of it will come out quietly, if at all, though; one just doesn't expose States like that. One pockets the information and uses it to put the screws to others, privately and behind the scenes. What will be trumpeted, though, is the fact that Saddam's regime will be shown to have had closer dealings with al-Queda connected terrorists than many believed. But

  • Many will remain unconvinced. Expect the usual suspects to claim that any such information is a CIA fabrication. There may even be a number 1 best seller in France or America based around such claims, as the Left will get even more hysterical (mirroring the growing hysteria of their comrades-in-arms, the terrorists who's actions the Left exists to excuse and blame on the victims of terrorism).

  • Did I say anything about a Israeli - Palestinian Peace deal yet? No? That's right. There won't be one in 2003. However, especially after the Fall of Saddam and the cutting off of his support for terrorists, Palestinian and otherwise, and the continued marginalization of Arafat and his cronies, Palestinian moderates will continue to grow in strength and raise voices that the strategy of intifada is a failure and counter-productive. Perhaps, just perhaps, a negotiating partner will emerge in 2004.

  • Arafat's regime may fall in Palestine to more moderate (or perhaps more extreme) leaders. But I will go out on a limb and predict the fall of Hugo Chavez's Nationalistic and Socialistic government in Venezuela (if I'm wrong on this one, call me on it, too; I'm speaking my hopes here). I also think pressure will increase on the Ayatollah's of Iran, and America will increase its support for the opposition groups, who will be all the more encouraged after the fall of Saddam, just as they were encouraged and emboldened by the fall of the Taliban. The regime of the Ayatollah's will look even more like a relic. Reformist Ayatollahs will grow in strength. Expect not a sudden revolution, but the gradual withdrawal of Ayatollahs from direct political influence (if they don't accept that, then there may be an explosion, a counter-revolution. But I don't foresee that in 2003).

  • By the end of 2003, the Democrats in Congress will prove that, once again, collectively, they deserve a rattle and a bib as a Christmas present. What they'll get instead is an unenviable collection of Presidential candidates. Call them the "new Dwarves". Glenn's favorite candidate, Gary Hartpence, may run but his boomlet will fizzle (hey, I respect the guy's defense credentials, but it ain't in the auspices for him to ever be President).

    America's relationship with its European allies will seem to undergo a new period of warmth after the victory in Iraq. Indeed, the victory in Iraq will mute Bush's critics both at home and abroad (except for the Idiotarian Left and Right, who will grow, as I said, more hysterical. But be more irrelivant for it). However, this too shall pass. By the end of the year, hell, by the middle of the year if not before, things will be pretty much where they are now - with the Administration working on problems and the Dems and Europeans carping about them. See also here for some predictions, especially on the issue of the EU's governance problems and how they'll be handled (hint: the status quo with cosmetic and superficial reforms). The EU will continue to be Tony Blair's blind spot. Watch for an overconfident Labour party, deciding they face no challenge from the opposition parties, to begin to openly question Blair's leadership. There will be many on the back benches who will be sullen about Blair "dragging" Britain into war alongside the U.S. and being such a staunch ally. There is a decent chance that they will find some way to replace him - especially if union-led labour (small L) problems continue to grow in Britain. I cannot forsee him out of power by the end of 2003, but Our British Hero may not get the laurels we envision for him. Not at home. Indeed, he may get Thatcherized, though it's harder for Labour to get rid of a leader than for the Conservative Party (Labour is far less internally democratic than the Conservatives), there are always ways.
By the way, and beyond the realm of prognostications, given that we can't have everything all at once, which would people rather see us concentrate on, first? Helping the people of Iran topple the regime that, arguably, gave radical Islamists credibility as a governing force in the Islamic world, or freeing the largely indolent and hostile people of Arabia from the House of Saud (think I'm too harsh on them? Polls indicate their attitude is worse than in Iran, and they obviously aren't as active, in positive ways, as the Iranians in confronting their own government). Me, personally, I see a lot more to work with both in Arab Iraq and Persian/Farsi Iran than in Arabia. That, among other reasons, is why it's going to take a bit longer before we really move on the House of Saud. If there's anything that's started to emerge as a pattern in this "unilateralist, Imperialist" Administration's strategies, it's a preference for working with, along side, and on behalf of internal opposition groups as opposed to just moving in on our own (thus the efforts over the past year to both cajole the Iraqi opposition to get its act together and then, when they started to, work to help organize and train them to fight alongside us in the coming campaign in Iraq). It will take longer to try and spark an opposition to the House of Saud that we can feel comfortable working with (yah, there's some opposition to the House of Saud now. But it's mostly people and groups that we're fighting against. Only the Hate-the-West Left sees them as preferable to the House of Saud, because they're guaranteed to be even more hostile). Did I leave anything out? Oh, yah; the Filthydelphia Eagles will win the Super Bowl, continuing the streak of Super Bowl wins by teams that hadn't previously won - something that, well, if my Slackers don't win, I'd rather see a team that hadn't won before win than seeing the usual suspects again. On a sadder note: expect terrorist attacks. At least two of them on the scale of the Bali attacks. But, on good news, al-Queda will be in a very bad way by the end of 2003. What about Osama? Why haven't I said we'll get him? Because, friends, as I keep telling you, that dude is dead. Oh, and I didn't say anything about any scandals rocking the Bush Administration. Because there won't be any significant ones. The only "scandals" I foresee are manufactured ones.

Update: My friend Solmyr writes to say a King Conan is in the works, but it might get "wussified". Say it ain't so! Wussified Conan???

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Limited Posting Today: No, not a hangover of sullen discontent from yesterday. It's Inventory Day! Happy Inventory Day! You would cry too, if it happened to you. (Sorry, I now have that song in my head. So, yes, I'm cruel enough to inflict it on you all).

Such Predictions for the New Year as I'll venture to make will be posted tommorrow. Perhaps tonight. I doubt I'll be able to post anything until then.
The FT Comes Out With It's Predictions for next year today.

I predict they'll be a mixed bag. Here's one that seems to reflect present conditions, not pre-cognition. But we here have been telling everyone who will listen about this all year:
Hopes for radical thinking on how to make the European Union more democratic and effective are fading fast.
I'd have to say the efforts on that score were half-hearted at best "oh, we wanted to make the European Union more democratic. Really, we did. We worked harder on that than Bill Clinton worked on trying to give people a middle-class tax cut in his first year in office. But it didn't work out. Really regrettable."

I'm sure they tried. I'm sure they regret the lack of progress. I'm also sure that - well, we've seen these guys when they're really keen on something, really pressing a matter (like haranguing the U.S. over its "unilateralism" and failure to be "multilateral"). This wasn't one of those times.
A deal is supposed to be done by the summer to reform the power structures of the European Commission, parliament and Council of Ministers so they are more accountable and efficient.
Hate to be John Wayne's character from The Searchers, but "that'll be the day". Look for window-dressing and loud proclamations that accountability and transparency has been improved, but upon further examination it will be a hollow claim.

Martin Wolf says the dollar's going to collapse. Or at least he hopes it will, though he gives it only ~20% chance.
The trade-weighted dollar is already down some 9 per cent from its peak in February. The chances of a steeper fall in 2003 - principally against the euro - are at least one in five.
We'll see about that. One thing the predictors of gloom for the U.S. and glory for the EU (and its instruments, such as the Euro) always fail to take into account is the fact that however America's economy performs, the situation in the EU is invariably worse. My prediction is that the dollar will bounce back after a successful war against Iraq. I also predict that those, such as Wolf, who see a danger in U.S. current accounts deficits will also be clamoring for the World's AAA Tow Truck (that is, the American economy) to come pull everyone else out of the ditch and give them a jump start again. They want - nay, they need - something quite other than Wolf is claiming here. The truth of the matter, sad or otherwise, is that if the U.S. were to dramatically rebalance its trade to reduce the deficit, economies all over the world, already fragile at best (Europe, Japan) or verging on collapse (Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela) would suffer even more. Facing that, they need to keep the dollar strong more than we do (which is one reason why the pages - pixel or otherwise - of the FT were regularly filled throughout the year just past with calls not for America's Treasury Secretary to accept what Wolf sees as inevitable - indeed, something that should happen sooner rather than later - and let the dollar weaken further, but instead expect loud calls that something must be done to keep the dollar strong or even strengthen it).
Will Germany grow in 2003?
You're kidding, right? They'll be lucky, as it stands now, if they don't crater. It'll take all of Schroeder's political skills and (dwindling) political capital just to keep things steady. Growth? Real growth? Don't make me laugh.

And that's one reason why those predicting doom-and-gloom for the dollar as we reduce America's trade deficit are whistling in the dark. That's the last thing they'll be wishing for, as they hope to pull their economies out of the mud through exports into the more dynamic American market. But here's Peter Norman's answer:
With fiscal policy constrained by the EU stability pact and interest rates set by the European Central Bank, Mr Schröder has little room for manoeuvre. His only option is to make the most of his unpopularity, sweep away restrictions to growth and tackle vested interests - starting with Germany's arrogant and ossified trade unions.
would be a good start (who here thinks we'll see Schroeder really - successfully - take on Germany's unions? Raise of hands? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller?), but they'll still need help getting jump-started. That, as with much else around the world, is America's job.
Will the Doha world trade round stay on track?
Here's what the world needs far more than the collapse of the dollar and the rise of the Euro. Lower trade barriers all around may be the only thing that will guarantee a sluggish world economy will really get moving again. I make no predictions, though. Too much depends on what happens in other countries. But I will predict this, based upon Bush's already-announced Doha strategy: America will offer sweeping proposals, but if things don't work out and a good agreement isn't reached, America will get the blame for whatever doesn't get accomplished. As usual.

In any event, it would be nice if America, the EU, and Japan would put more of their agricultural policies on the table and agree to reduce agricultural barriers. Chance of that happening, with the EU just having gone through a struggle adapting new member-states to the CAP, is slim to nil, however. So Doha will be a mixed bag, with agricultural subsidies - put off for this round last round - put off again. But something will be done.
You Know We're Going to War When. . . estimates of how much it will cost are slashed, along with all other post-Christmas prices.

And even Kofi Annan isn't saying "war as a last resort after all options are exausted" anymore. He apparently said "he saw no need for military action until the inspectors searching for suspected weapons of mass destruction report back to the council, probably on January 27." Which seems to be bowing to the inevitable time-table, since there's apparently no plan to attack before then, but a definate movement of supplies and personnel for war after that date.

Monday, December 30, 2002

By the by, I love my readers (all six of them), but after all, regarding petulance,

It's My Blog and I'll Cry - Whine - If I Want To

But, ok, enough snivling. We'll be back to ranting tommorrow.
Readers Weigh In: KJ Tapp writes "to err is human" (yes, but a big mistake caused by laziness in not fact-checking my own ass, could have been avoided. Plus, in that I think that supplying rogue states with the means to advance their weapon's programs is a Very Bad Thing, fakse - even if by mistake, not intention - accusations, well, Germany gets harshed on here enough for stuff they do do, there's no excuse or call for accusing Germany of things they didn't do). He adds this:
Your readers do not deserve this petulant behavior. Get back to work.
Use of the word "petulant" is always persuasive with me (I'm serious! It's a word I love myself). And a reader from Germany tells me not to stop.

If someone writing from Germany thinks it was small beer, then I should get over it.
I'm Flagelating Myself, on the grounds of incompetence. Readers react with scorn over Porphy's petulant behavior (that could be the name of a very bad band).

Update: My alert reader nuclear expert writes back to tell me that he's never seen anything that would indicate German involvement in the reactor in question (and that if there is any German involvement, it would be in reprocessing, not reactors - note the "if"; he didn't say they were involved with that in North Korea). He says that there may have been Soviet or Pakistani engineering assistance in building the reactor, but that though the reactor was based on a British design, that's because they declassified more than may have been wise. He also informs me that the reactor uses uranium but produces weapons-grade plutonium (all nuclear reactors produce plutonium as a byproduct but usually not weapons grade).

The "uranium reactor" I was babbling about, though, found in this document, is the
Simpo Reactor I - This 635mw reactor is based on a German design. In May 1989, N Korea and Germany signed a comprehensive agreement on the transfer of "substantial" amounts of German nuclear technology and nuclear weapons materials, including enriched uranium, to Pyongyang. The transfer of the German nuclear know-how has continued via Iran, Libya Syria and Yugoslavia.
Which is, as I understand it, not the same facility (which is a 5 MW reprocessing facility at Yongbyon). In any case, I learned a bit more about nuclear plants than I had known. That at least is a good thing (it's always good to know stuff. I wrote a fellow blogger over the weekend a mail on something else that mentioned my lack of substantive knowledge about scientific & engineering matters, beyond basic general knowledge). The Simpo I reactor, my helpful expert informs me, was never comissioned, because North Korea refused to accept required safeguards, so work was halted (and this was one of the events that led up to the '94 crisis and "Agreed Framework"). German involvement was, he points out, in full compliance with non-proliferation treaties on this facility.

Any week that begins where one destroys his own blog and his team goes from the #1 seed, with home field advantage throughout the playoffs (and having never lost a home playoff game being well positioned to go to the Super Bowl) to being demolished by the J-E-S-T, Jest, Jest, Jest (thereby showing they're unlikely to win any Super Bowl this year anyhow) and falling to the 3rd seed, playing in the wild card round and then going on the field. . .you know that week is going to SUCK. I bought a cake today, too, and as it ended up I didn't get a piece. This week BLOWS! Happy smegging New Year.
Mia Culpa, Mia Maxima Culpa: Ranting Screeds Credibility Destroyed: I couldn't find any report that indicates that Germany built the plutonium reactor in question - not on Google, not on CNN's or CBS's website. So I have to believe that either I heard an erroneous report, which hasn't been repeated (I heard that on Friday and haven't heard anything like it since, but passed that off because usually a big deal isn't made of these things - witness the report on companies that were involved in helping Saddam. That story has been played down), which is possible, OR, and this is perhaps more likely, I misheard. Let that be a lesson to me - there's a reason why bloggers tend to rely on info they can link to, and not "I heard on the radio" or "I heard on TV".

At least one reader, Gary Hubold, has helped look for confirming info (I know because he was kind enough to mail me, thank you to him, but also to anyone else who took the time to look around but hasn't mailed because they didn't find anything). Gary also writes:
Are you sure this uranium reactor isn't involved in the crisis?
I'm not sure that the uranium reactor isn't involved in North Korea's nuclear program, but I don't know that it is and I doubt that it is. The report I was referring to was in connection with the plutonium reactor (the news report in question mentioned North Korea expelling IAEA inspectors and moving rods to that reactor, and I believe they mentioned German construction - but the mind may have played a trick on me. Uranium plants were not at issue).

Gary also writes:
the question of where the North Koreans purchased the highly technical equipment components is still open.
Which I've also thought of (perhaps the report was referring to some equipment that was built in Germany, and I missed that part. But I don't know that it was, cannot remember accurately, and so am not in a position to make the accusation in this case. I do know that Germany, among other countries, is often a source of "dual use" equipment that ends up "finding" its way into weapons programs, but, again, I don't know that's what I heard. Again, there's a reason why bloggers rely on stuff they can link to and not their faulty memory of reports heard while half listening to the radio. I screwed up, big time).

The question then with me was whether or not to correct the post in question. If it was a smaller mistake, I might do so. There are often good reasons to fix a post, but in this case the mistake is big enough that would seem like putting a problem down the memory hole. So at least for now I'm going to leave it as-is. Let it be an example of what not to do. I've pretty much ruined my credibility with this. I didn't check my source (which was only my memory of a news report) when I manifestly should have. Sloppiness is no excuse for error. Not on this scale.

Update Anouncement regarding the future of this blog here.
Update To this post. An alert reader, who prefers not to be quoted but is knowlegable on these matters, says that the North Korean reactor in question was based on the British Windscale design, not a German design. Germany, he assures me, has no plutonium reactor designs.

I correct my mistakes. I'm doing a google search. The info I have was based on a news report on the radio last week, either CNN or CBS, I forget which; I think it was CBS, because I think I was listening to the channel that uses CBS news, but I do switch back and forth, so it could have been CNN (but my fault for relying on either without independently confirming it). So far I've found this which mentions a reactor built for North Korea by Germany, but it's a uranium reactor, not involved in this crisis.

To be fair to the report I heard, it said the reactor was constructed by a German company. That may still be wrong (they may have mixed up the plant in question, since North Korea does have at least that one I've found, but that one is not involved in the weapons program). Or a German construction firm could have been contracted to build a reactor based on the British plan. I'll let my readers know what I find, and mia culpa's all around if I gave out incorrect information.

I my opinion, my inaccuracy - if I was inaccurate - may undercut my credibility but does not undermine the central point of my argument, which is that if the EU wants to have a full role as a parner in handling crises, they should be willing and able to handle a crisis.

Further, there might be few posts today as I try to track this down. No luck so far on or in quick searches. If anyone has any info, whether to tell me "yah, that was right" or "no, you're a bonehead, you must have heard wrong, you idiot", let me know.

Further Update: The facility used to enrich plutonium is a 5-megawatt (electric) reactor, according to the FAS, which also has this information:
In August 1994, members of Germany's parliament and Chancellor Kohl's intelligence coordinator stated that they had been briefed that a German citizen arrested in May 1994 with a small amount of plutonium, smuggled from Russia, had connections with North Korea.
The search continues.

this says the 5 megawat reactor is Soviet designed, which is different info from what I got from my alert reader, who's knowledge I tend to trust. I guess what we're finding out so far is that when it comes to North Korea, info is murky at best.

Mia Maxima Culpa: Final update on this here.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Role Reversal: Thinking further about this, perhaps it's time to let our EU peers, who believe they should have a full share of leadership alongside the U.S., take the lead in this crisis. This is, after all, only reasonable since the reactor North Korea is using for its plutonium production, designed and built not for energy production but for weapons programs, was designed and built for North Korea by Europeans (Germany, to be exact). [Additional: It's interesting how Germany keeps showing up on these lists. A couple weeks ago it was dozens of German companies arming Saddam. Now it's North Korea. These are really are moral betters who we should be more willing to listen to.]

37,000+ French, Italian, Dutch, German, et al troops can replace the American troops on the peninsula and be responsible for serving as a "tripwire" in case of North Korean attack. They can take the lead in deciding how to defuse this one, and if they decide force is needed, they can bear the lion share of the burden - our troops are busy elsewhere, and our full partners should be able to handle this one while we handle the other. Oh, the U.S. won't be out of the picture - like I said, it will be role reversal. The EU will be expected to "consult" with us at every turn, whatever moves they make will be subjected to un-constructive criticism, and if they make even the smallest of mistakes we'll be quick with the finger of blame.

What? You say the Europeans couldn't do it? The EU isn't up to the job? They couldn't bear the burden required of them? If push came to shove, they couldn't' give South Korea the same help as we could? Probably for the best that no one wants to see role reversal here - they'd only screw the pooch anyhow, like they did in the Balkans (the "hour of Europe" arrived and disappeared). Possibly out of passive-aggressiveness, and possibly just because they aren't able to fill the role they envision for themselves. But they want to be an "equal partner", so they should be able to take a significant role in a major crisis. They manifestly aren't, as each major crisis from the Balkan Wars to the present have shown. Nor do they want to make the sacrifices, financial and otherwise, to create the capacity to match their capabilities with their pretentions - and the hopes of most Americans who want to have a real partner. I also doubt that the South Koreans, for all the criticism of their American ally during the recent Korean election, and all the resemblance of their "Sunshine Policy" to the methods of dealing with problems preferred by the EU, would want to exchange a primarily American security alliance with a primarily European one - they likewise would soon understand that the consequences would be a disaster for millions of Koreans.

But the idea of a role reversal here was a nice fantasy, and I can see why many Europeans engage in the fantasy. Many, many Americans would also like it if the EU were really able to handle major international crises, rather than having everyone depend upon us all the time. It would be in many ways healthier (we wouldn't get as surly, and they'd quickly understand the difficulty of it all and that perhaps they should be less critical of mistakes we make, when they find out that making mistakes in handling these things is inevitable). A majority of Americans, a recent survey has shown, want a Europe that is a partner in handling world problems. But the simple fact is, whatever we might want - on both sides of the Atlantic - the Europeans aren't up to handling a crisis of any significance. The same poll, by the by, showed that support in Europe for the idea of superpower status in cooperation with the U.S. (65% envisioned superpower status for the EU, 84% wanting cooperation, rather than competition, with the U.S.) dropped greatly if it meant they would have to make significant sacrifices (such as increasing military spending so that they're able to handle, say, a North Korea problem - support for superpower status for Europe drops from 65% to only 35% if it involves making that effort). They want the perks without the costs - want to decide, while we do. But no one, absolutely no one, talks about the North Korea problem in terms of "what will Europe do about this" or even the areas in which their policies in North Korea are screwing up the situation and contributing to the crisis, the way they speak in terms of how the U.S. is handling it or what we might have done differently. Not even the Europhiles who envision a large role for the E.U., and even though at least one E.U. country has contributed greatly, by providing the "Dear Leader" with the plutonium plant in question, to the development of the crisis. Even they don't place themselves in a leadership role whenever it comes to actually handling a growing crisis. Just read the Europhilic Financial Times - the articles are all about how America is going to handle this problem, how it may have mishandled it or be mishandling it, etc. The assumption is that it's America's responsibility - NOT a joint responsibility for the EU and America (and for critics tempted to respond that "well, the E.U. hadn't been included up to this point in that", well, that's not entirely true - they encouraged the '94 deal, and built the reactor, as I said, but to the extent to which they haven't been involved it's because they opted out over the last several decades, and themselves never considered that the E.U. or Europe had a big role there. Which is my point; they are not a world leader, and don't really see themselves as responsible for handling major crises in the way everyone expects the U.S. to do, even those who assert the theory that they should have an "equal say" alongside the U.S.)

By the by, for those who always ask the rhetorical question of why we're handling North Korea differently from Iraq, here is one answer:
North Korea is an aberration, a fragment of historic flotsam. The United States wants to use its power to address international threats of the present and the future, as it perceives these, rather than those of the past. Korea is a terrible place in which to fight a ground war, as the Americans discovered 50 years ago. It is doubtful whether even the might of American air power could deal effectively with Kim's weapons plants, many of which are underground.
Note that the Torygraph article also illustrates my point: the idea of a role reversal in handling the North Korea crisis, where the EU would play even a significant supporting role, isn't even a consideration. It never enters the question. The whole idea is an absurd fantasy.

Update: Revised and extended remarks for clarity and crankiness. Thanks to Rand Simberg for pointing out a malapropism; I used "diffuse" when I meant "defuse".Update To this post. An alert reader, who prefers not to be quoted but is knowlegable on these matters, says that the North Korean reactor in question was based on the British Windscale design, not a German design. Germany, he assures me, has no plutonium reactor designs.

I correct my mistakes. I'm doing a google search. The info I have was based on a news report on the radio last week, either CNN or CBS, I forget which, but I think it was CBS; it could also have been CNN, because I switch channels, I believe I was listening to the channel that uses CBS for its news, though (but my fault for relying on either without independently confirming it). So far I've found this which mentions a reactor built for North Korea by Germany, but it's a uranium reactor, not involved in this crisis.

To be fair to the report I heard, it said the reactor was constructed by a German company. That may still be wrong (they may have mixed up the plant in question, since North Korea does have at least that one I've found, but that one is not involved in the weapons program). Or a German construction firm could have been contracted to build a reactor based on the British plan. I'll let my readers know what I find, and mia culpa's all around if I gave out incorrect information.

I my opinion, my inaccuracy - if I was inaccurate - may undercut my credibility but does not undermine the central point of my argument, which is that if the EU wants to have a full role as a parner in handling crises, they should be willing and able to handle a crisis.

Further Update: The facility used to enrich plutonium is a 5-megawatt (electric) reactor, according to the FAS, which also has this information:
In August 1994, members of Germany's parliament and Chancellor Kohl's intelligence coordinator stated that they had been briefed that a German citizen arrested in May 1994 with a small amount of plutonium, smuggled from Russia, had connections with North Korea.
The search continues.

Mia Maxima Culpa: Final update on this here.
Movementarians and Cloning The more I hear of the Raelians, the more they remind me of these guys from the Simpsons. I wonder how long it will be till they buy CBS. . .

Da na na, na na na na, Bat Ma - I mean, Leader!
Critics of "American Unilateralism" should read this post and put up or shut the hell up.
Fisking Move On An acquaintance of mine from Denmark sent me this animated presentation from an outfit called "move on". He approved of it, so of course I had to Fisk it. Another friend of mine, one who had stirred up the trouble in the first place by recommending the first guy send me the link, recommended I blog my rebuttal. I thought, why not? After all, I had to write it up already and may as well get some use out of it. Plus, since I had to be subjected to it, it's only "fair" that I subject my readers to it. After all, why should I suffer such an example of bad philosophy and trite, shallow propaganda alone, when I can share my pain with my readers?, the originator of the screed, seems to be the part of the paranoid Left that thinks itself devilishly clever but relies mainly on spreading untruths and half-truths to an audience too ignorant to know better. It's the Michael Moore Method. As for their propaganda screed itself, It's all bullshit.
"Revoking aid to desperately poor. . ."
Incorrect to the point of being an absolute lie: In the last year plus, we've announced major increases in aid programs. The first thing American airplanes dropped in Afghanistan were aid packages. Since then, aid as a whole has only increased. Sure, specific Leftist dictators beloved by the sort of people who spread this crap have been cut off (such as the Dear Leader in North Korea). But overall, aid has increased significantly.
"Gutting environmental protections"
We didn't ratify Kyoto under Clinton, either; environmental protections have not been "gutted" by any reasonable measure. Indeed, in many ways they've been increased, as Greg Easterbrook has noted in several New Republic articles (Site Search them yourself, you lazy bastards). From the arsenic regulations that should have been rescinded (because they'll have a negligible health benefit but at great cost; and if you don't believe me, then you should stop eating lima beans. Eliminating lima beans from your diet, even if you don't eat them much, will reduce arsenic intake more than these regulations will) but weren't, on down to a policy aimed at achieving the goals of Kyoto without it's severe economic costs and government-directed drawbacks (which are not drawbacks to the Socialists and statists of and their ilk, and what they're really objecting to - the ostensible environmental goals may be achieved better by the policies that have been put in place as a substitute for Kyoto, but they're more market-oriented and this is really what upsets those who want a command economy).
"Criminalizing dissent"
And yet Move continues to operate without the knock on the door. Chomsky is still free. Susan Sontag still publishes and Michael Moore's film and books are widely available. How interesting.

This is one of those charges that is frequently made, without any substance to it, and which those making the claim are themselves disproof's of the charge (here they are, dissenting away to their heart's content, and the only thing they have to fear are people like me calling them on their lies). This is more about the selfi-image and fantasy world of the Left than reality (as Armed Liberal has pointed out within the context of his posts on the "War on Bad Philosophy").
"secret tribunals"
Name one.

Well, admittedly, they aren't the ICC, and unlike, say, our enlightened betters in Europe, we aren't stripping away such things as rules against double jeopardy (see Britain) etc, or committing ourselves to "laws" that are left blank to be filled in later. (I have a few posts of my own on the ICC, as well as posts on how the EU is developing its "jurisprudence", and EU members are devolving theirs in ways that the Euro-Left would be pointing fingers of accusation at America if it were we doing it rather than their Social Democrats, but since I haven't gone through my archives yet to compile that "Least Worst of Ranting Screeds" collection, I'm too lazy to go find them now, so I'm linking to Steven's superb posts. But I do recommend my own archives for more on this point). Likewise, the gang at Move On and other Leftists who make these charges usually - almost invariably - want America to ratify an ICC which would violate civil liberties and judicial safeguards to a much greater degree than any measure we've instituted so far, and be beyond judicial review. Their objections are not based on principle, but on partisan politics.
"shoot first"
Yah, right. I suppose they mean in Iraq. Actually, the Iraqis have been shooting throughout the '90s. They likely also mean "preemption" - however, international law recognizes that a nation does not have to wait like a chump in the face of imminent danger.

Also, contra the claims of Move On, America has always recognized that, when faced with a dangerous thug, it's handy for the Sheriff to have a faster gun than he.