Saturday, January 25, 2003

Takes a Big Man to Admit He Was Wrong: In a Financial Times interview with Colin Powel, he says this:
Containment [of Saddam] is not the issue. The issue is disarmament. Contain him until what? Circumstances arrive in the future when he could pop out of containment? We did containment. And I didn't have any problem with containment. You know, that containment would eventually solve the problem. It hasn't. The problem is still there.
Exactly, and the status quo cannot be maintained indefinitely. Eventually Saddam will succeed in his goal.
Q: What is -- the question in Europe is why the hurry. What is the outcome, as you see it, if we go the German-French route, if we give the inspectors several more months?

A: I can't tell what the outcome is. That's the point. They don't tell in their presentations what the outcome is. What will they -- what will we know in two or three months' time in the face of continued Iraqi non-cooperation, which you most likely will get, if they think they can just, you know, okay, it's two or three months' time. Isn't it time to suspend sanctions?
To me this indicates that Powell has seen what's been going on here the entire time by the French and the Germans. They've never really been serious about dealing with Iraq - their goal has, as I pointed out last fall during the debate over a new resolution, always been to play for time, use inspections as a sop hoping attention would eventually waver (as it had in '98, during the Clinton Administration). Then they would go back to proposing that sanctions be ended (as they had been doing before), regardless of the utter lack of Iraqi cooperation, so that they wouldn't have to smuggle things in like they have to do now, but could resume selling Saddam's regime things in the open again.

Powell points out several times in the interview what has been a theme here all along, too: it's not about inspectors and inspections, it's about Iraqi compliance. So when people fixate on "giving the inspectors more time" - more time to do what? Their job, despite of continual efforts to transmogrify their mandate - is not to engage in a search while Saddam hides things. It's simply to verify Iraqi compliance or lack thereof. It's clear to everyone who's kept up with the issue, except those who insist on not seeing (for their own reasons), that Saddam has not complied.

It's also clear, when it comes to critical international support, that we have the support of the nations that we need for action, but that if "international support" is defined as "supported by Germany and France", then that support has never really been there and I would argue isn't that critical anyhow (but more on that in another post).

Friday, January 24, 2003

Administration Waffling? I hope this isn't a sign that the Bush Administration is going to crumble for no good reason in the face of the usual suspects and their completely self-serving and insubstantial position on this thing.
Pride Goeth Before the Fall: The hubris of the Restored Carolingian Empire is not supported by many other countries in Europe, according to Colin May.

Alert Readers might notice that I haven't referred to it as the "Holy Roman Empire" as such myself, though in linking to one of my posts on the topic, Glenn did. During the time of the Carolingian Empire, the Roman Empire existed elsewhere and had its capital at Constantinople. The claim to the Roman inheritance by the Carolingians and successive dynasties (not really Charlemagne himself, though, who tended to avoid claiming to be Roman Emperor by and large) was based on a fraud, as I noted here).

I am willing to conceed to them the title "Holy Belgian Empire", however.
This NYT Piece on how Our Good Friends have undercut Powell essentially confirms the Max Boot article from yesterday.

Meanwhile, further confirmation that those saying everyone but Britain are opposed are willfully ignorant or dissemblers:
The Defense spokesman cited the 15-4 vote among NATO members Wednesday in favor of the U.S. request for limited support for an operation in Iraq. Only Belgium and Luxembourg joined France and Germany in blocking the action.
John C. Hulsman, European-affairs specialist at the Heritage Foundation, said support for the tough Anglo-American line on Iraq has been overlooked.
Probably on purpose.
Paul Wolfowitz's Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations are worth a read.
Jack Straw correctly, but necessarily, points out that we don't need a(nother) UN Resolution.
Instapundit Glenn Reynolds Also brings this Juan Gato post to attention. Note, however, the attitude displayed in the NYT article doesn't represent all of Europe. (See also my comment to Juan's post).

Note to NYT Staff: You need to get out more. Stop sharing with your readers just the "alternative views" that confirm your own, and do more work to include reports on the attitudes of, for example, the Czechs too. An echo-chamber reflecting Transnational Progressive opinion back and forth across the Atlantic really isn't "different" for you.
U.S. Will Show Proof of Iraqi violations - which shouldn't be hard, given the fact that the UN itself knows that Iraq still had WMD in '98 and has not disposed of them. Saddam's regime has also, over the past several months, repeatedly warned that if it is attacked, they'll use weapons they claim to not have, and they are prepairing to do just that.

Those who do not want to see will no doubt remain blind.
Pope Wants to Make it Official: Pope wants to put the "Holy" back in the revived Empire of Charlemagne.

Asserting the right to crown the EU President based on the Donation of Constantine to follow. So the Donation was a forgery? Europe is Pomo - that won't matter.
End of the Alliance: Colin May has a lengthy post arguing the end of the alliance. So does Sean-Paul at the Agonist. (via Instapundit).
The Famous Axis of Weasels post. It's everywhere.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Why Libya's Leadership in the UN is not an aberration, but typical of the UN.
Separated at Birth: Some might remember that France and Germany were created in one of the divisions of the Carolingian Empire (after the final division in a series of varying inheritances among Chuck the Big's increasingly worthless descendents, the western part of Charlemagne's Empire evolved into France, the eastern part evolved into Germany). Since that division among Charlemagne's heirs, they've usually been antagonists rather than partners. Well, here they are, together again at last. That, at least, is something.

So, to celebrate the re-unification of the Empire created by Charlemagne, we have two articles. One by William Safire and one from the New York Sun.
Andrew Sullivan has some excellent remarks about why we're fighting - and why others are not.
How the French Sandbagged Powell: An article by Max Boot (Via Instapundit).

My favorite line:
We can all sleep soundly at night, protected by French reassurances.
Yes, what a relief indeed.
NATO IS GONE: At the end of this article a paragraph that might go little noticed essentially announces the death of NATO as a meaningful alliance:
Lord Robertson on Wednesday announced he would be stepping down as Nato secretary general in December despite a request from the US and other governments that he remain in the job for another year, writes Judy Dempsey in Brussels.

His decision to bow out after four years caught some senior Nato diplomats off guard. Lord Robertson, 56, has been seeking a modest role for Nato in any war against Iraq, anxious the alliance does not become marginalised, as it was during last year's US-led campaign in Afghanistan.
But of course, while a fairly large number of NATO's members are supportive of action against Iraq (Italy, Spain, Great Britain, and most of the new members), not everyone is onboard (Germany and France are notably opposed), so NATO cannot have a role, even a modest one, in any war against Iraq because the members of NATO do not have a shared view. NATO is essentially fractured, Robertson (who has worked hard to avert this and keep NATO relevant) recognizes that it is functionally dead. No public announcement will be made, but this essentially confirms what I wrote yesterday.

The institutions will all continue to exist, but it's the life of the undead now: the form without the function.
What Germany Needs to Rediscover about economics from their own post-war history, but also the difficulties in reversing the process that led to the current problems. A really superb analysis of what is hampering Germany's economy.

See? I don't just rip everything I see in the FT. In fact, two articles linked to today, both of which I agree with.
The Flaws in Telecom Regulations in the U.S.: The short recession and sluggish growth since were led by weaknesses in the technology sector. Bad regulations certainly played a role and will keep holding things back until they're fixed.

Some of what is discussed in that article also relates to this.
Good Article on Putin which also mentions what may have been the most critical policy change in reversing Russia's economic fortunes, the flat tax. That's a fiscal policy we'd be wise to emulate ourselves. (Sent to me by Solmyr).

One thing the article doesn't put enough emphasis on, however, is his moves against the Russian press. That's a dark spot on his record almost equal to the unecessarily brutal way he has prosecuted the Chechen War.
Who Was the Historical Mohammed?: New historical information revealed at last.
Fellow Blogger Bargarz sends me this link to an excellent post made by Bargarz compiling information on the extent to which German companies, such as Siemans, are involved in helping arm Iraq. Really worth a read.

Add that to my own "Who Armed Iraq?" compilation.

Bargarz also, politely, mentions that I mix up "their" and "there" sometimes. I know, it's been a problem since I was a child, I thought I had mostly overcome it but I see that I haven't. I'll try and do better.
Excellent Editorial in the New York Times on the lack of Iraqi cooperation, with examples of what cooperation would look like cited.

Contrast that with this Guardian editorial making the case against the inevitability - note the utter lack of emphasis on getting Saddam to comply (indeed, that is dismissed as a concern) - the emphasis is entirely on blocking the United States. War is to be stopped not by compelling Saddam to comply with the disarmament requirements, but through obstructing the U.S. They don't see Saddam Hussein's Iraq as a threat to world peace (and again conflate the difference between North Korea and Iraq - it is in no small part precisely to avoid the sort of nuclear blackmail North Korea can engage in now that it is important to thwart Iraq now), they view America as the danger. Which does show, if not which side they're on, where their sympathies lie.

There are those who say war can be averted if Saddam fully complies with all his commitments. Then there are those who assert war should be averted by acting to restrain the U.S.

There's a big difference between the two.

Update: Bargarz has more.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

This Washington Post Editorial has won the coveted Ranting Screeds Seal of Approval (not that they're likely to hang that with their trophies and awards or anything).
But Why? Reading this Washington Post article, I was struck in particular by this:
A refusal by France to endorse U.S. war plans would be a diplomatic embarrassment for Washington
Have journalists forgot the basics of Journalism? Where, What, Why, When, and How?

I'm betting I could answer the question of why France would be embarrassed by a war that topples the Ba'athist regime (info may come out that would show French involvement with Saddam in ways they would not want publicized), but the article here asserts that a French refusal is an embarrassment to the U.S., but why would it be? An annoyance? Sure. But an embarrassment? Even Powell doesn't sound embarrassed by the French decision. Embarrassed for them, perhaps, but not by them.
The Worm Turns: South Korea has agreed that the North Korea issue should be taken to the UN.

My only real question right at the moment is that I wonder if this will be the same as the last time South Korea agreed with the U.S. on how to handle the crisis with North Korea, and then a month later disavowed the policy.
Now, for a Dissenting View: Who says we don't present the other side of things here.

I will say that I don't think the author gets the opposing view entirely right. But he does engage it more fairly than many. I think I'm able to respond to this cogently:
From an institutional perspective, parts of the Arab world are not ripe for democracy - not that the Arab mind is incapable of liberal thought but, rather, because of societal and institutional barriers to its realization. Modern-day Arabs inherit from their Ottoman, Mameluke and caliphate predecessors a political tradition that is centralized, bureaucratic and authoritarian. Reinforcing this tradition have been monarchs and military dictators bent on consolidating power, suppressing opposition, preserving privilege, commanding economic development, waging war and holding their communities together in the face of the forces that tend to tear them apart.
All that is true enough. It would also accurately describe Germany, Austria, and a host of other countries as of a hundred years ago (and for several other countries in Europe, France for example, it was still an open question as to whether they could form a stable Republic. A wag, such as myself, would say it's still an open question).

A very destructive war, which I do not hope this one emulates, was fought and in the end the Empires disappeared. There were failures (a regime far more dictatorial, oppressive, and murderous than that of any of the Czar's took over the Russian Empire, Germany fell into the hands of destructive, expansionistic, murderous dictatorship fifteen years later), but I do hope that we learned lessons from that as well. In just the past decade, for example, countries in Eastern Europe which never knew democratic government or experienced republican institutions and the rule of law (and indeed have had governments every bit as authoritarian, bureaucratic, and centralized as what Richard Joseph describes for Greater Arabia) have transformed - with a minimum of violence, I might add - into regions where all these things are being embraced enthusiastically.

The current "stability" of despotism and increasingly dangerous terrorism is intolerable. Richard Joseph offer's a critique of the hopes for change in the region, but doesn't offer an alternative to either the current situation or what he calls (aptly or not, I'm not going to quibble over it right at the moment) "democratic imperialism" aimed at transforming the regimes of the region.

Now, I for one would certainly argue over the degree to which Continental Europe, even a hundred years on, has shed its traditions of bureaucratic centralism and authoritarian government - just look at how the EU has been constructed and the goals for it (centralization, bureaucracy, rule by fiat, regulations governing all aspects of life down to fairly minute details, and the like). But Europe is significantly different in a lot of ways never the less, and while I might argue over the extent to which Western Europe has shed these traditions, I wonder if Richard Joseph would?

The Europe of 1903 had the semblance of stability, but it was a mirage. One could argue that the bloody, catastrophic explosion that started a little over a decade later was the consequence of insufficient reform and "regime change" earlier. Combining fossilized regimes with an imperialistic attitude (and feelings of grievance that went along with resentment over not having their "rightful place in the sun" by some countries) led to instability, not stability. Whether it's the ambitions of the Ba'athists, with their pan-Arab nationalism or the Islamist radicals with their dream of a restored Islamic Empire (Caliphate) that they feel is rightfully theirs but thwarted unreasonably by outsiders, or the (unstable) Saudi monarchy (which one could not unfairly compare with either the Ottomans or the Austro-Hungarians), the situation in the Middle East is now is in many ways more similar than not to the situation in Europe at the turn of the last century.

What, pray tell, precipitated the war that brought all that to an end? Was it an act of terrorism?

What has the potential of making any explosion that will occur as bloody as the Great War? Waiting until one or more of the regimes in the region get nuclear weapons is certainly at the top of that list. Barring that, by acting now, bringing down the Ba'athist regime in Iraq will certainly not be a replay of the Somme (military conditions are quite different from that of a century ago, even if political conditions can be called similar). One thing's for sure, though, this situation Joseph describes as the current one is not stable and will not continue in perpetuity and waiting entails far more dangers than taking action now.
Oh, and America does listen to Europe. However, behavior that doesn't follow what Europe would do or want us to do doesn't mean we didn't listen. It just means we don't agree. A more apt question might be: does Europe listen to America?
Allies Work to Oppose U.S.: France and Germany pledge to prevent serious action against Saddam Hussein. Both countries have strong commercial ties to the Ba'athist regime of Iraq.

At some point one has to say that countries have stopped being allies in any meaningful sense. Lest one respond "well, you know, they're allowed to make up their minds on things themselves" - yes, sure. They have every prerogative to disagree with the U.S. should they feel their interests are not served by policies we follow.

Unlike many, though, I also think that that applies to the U.S. as well - we don't have to go along with what others feel are in their interest, at the risk of being declared "unilateralist" scum - if we don't think it serves our interests.

Also for those who say "well, lets not be too hasty drawing conclusions. Sure, Germany and France have a different perspective here from the U.S. and Britain. But in other areas there are a lot of shared interests. We shouldn't be hasty in saying that the U.S. and France & Germany are no longer allies, over this one thing." I can answer: it's not just this one thing.

For quite a long time now, dating back at least several decades, America and France have found each other in disagreement on a wide range of issues. I could say that sometimes it seemed the French government would wait to find out what position the U.S. would take, and then make sure they took a different position. But that's neither here nor their.

The fact is that France and the U.S. have increasingly diverged over a range of issues, and since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the re-unification of Germany (an issue over which Germany received solid support from the U.S., I might add), Germany and the U.S. have also sharply diverged on an increasing array of policy issues.

One doesn't have to point a finger of blame to recognize that (I can do that in other posts and definitely have a point of view); lets just say that the interests of the parties are not congruent, and are, as I said, increasingly divergent, without saying who's right and who's wrong. Perhaps their policies are right for their interests and ours are right for ours. But that just illustrates my point: their isn't a functional alliance between us any longer.

"What about trade? We share interests in trading with each other, right?" is one reply to that. One can trade, even work together on issues related to commerce, and the like, but it doesn't mean there is an alliance (which is an entirely different matter, and means agreeing to work together on a broad range of issues, in agreement on essential ends and means). Even on trade issues, however, there are increasing disagreements on how to handle things (which are worked out through negotiation or, as often as not, agreeing to disagree).

Let's be clear, though: one thing "alliance" and "ally" doesn't mean is "invoke claims of being allies as a tool to try and work against the nation you're invoking claims of alliance with". Not that there's anything unfair about that (dissembling, attempted manipulation of opponents, deception about how friendly one is with a country while working to undermine that country, are part and parcel of strategy. But these are tools used against someone or some country, not signs of true friendship or true alliance), but neither is refusing to be a patsy and a sucker unfair.

Call a spade a spade - these aren't allies. Not just on the issue of what to do about Iraq, but on a whole range of issues (such as conflict over international treaties, to name another matter).

Relations, actual relations, between the U.S. and France & Germany might be more aptly described as similar to the relationship between the U.S. and Russia today. Not unfriendly, but not allies, working together on some things, but not on others. I, for one, certainly have a lot less resentment for Russia and Putin than for Schroeder and Chirac, because Putin might talk about how much agreement and cooperation the U.S. and Russia have achieved on some issues, he doesn't pretend to be an ally of the U.S. when there is disagreement, or use claims of alliance as a tool to try and manipulate America. That, indeed, is one of the reasons why I am far less exercised about Russia's position on the handling of Iraq than I am when it comes to those who claim to be "allies" while they're doing everything they can to oppose and thwart their supposed "ally" and, objectively speaking, protect and shield a supposed enemy.

We know exactly where Russia stands, they don't pretend otherwise, there's thus more understanding, in my opinion, regarding each other's positions. Russia's interests may differ from ours (I would argue that Russia is being short sighted and it's no more in Russia's interest to have Saddam's regime continue, however good it may have been for Russia and the Soviet Union in the past, but I don't begrudge them reaching a different conclusion. I begrudge those who claim to be friends while sticking the shiv in our side at every opportunity, but that doesn't describe Russia).

Lets put it this way: Russia, and Putin, are showing themselves to be at least honest and straightforward. France & Germany are showing themselves to be unscrupulous and deceptive. That's a big difference, a significant one for me. It's a distinction a Jacksonian type makes naturally, and it means I have no hard feelings towards Russia over this disagreement but will remember French and German behavior, not just on this particular matter but on a whole range of issues where they've worked overtime to try and obstruct and oppose the U.S. (such as insuring that their were things in the Kyoto treaty, or the ICC, or the Land Mines treaty, &tc, &tc, that would hurt the U.S. or the U.S. would find unacceptable, and refusing to negotiate a compromise even though U.S. administrations made every effort to try and negotiate modifications so we could sign on, then declaring us horrible when we wouldn't subject ourselves to treaties written - deliberately, I might add - to damage our interests). Enemies do that kind of crap, not allies.

See Also: here and even here.

Update: No, it hasn't just been since the current American Administration took office that things have deteriorated. Sure, the various European governments were more comfortable with Bill Clinton. But they weren't any more accommodating of American concerns on various treaty issues, for example. Clinton tried several times to negotiate a compromise with them on such things as the ICC, the Land Mines Accord, Kyoto, to get some modifications so the treaties would be more acceptable for American. They smiled more when they rebuffed Clinton than they do when they rebuff Bush, but the substantive policies haven't changed. Clinton got no more willingness to accommodate the concerns of the U.S. in these treaties out of them on these things than Bush has.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Why Containment Doesn't Apply to Iraq and the rationale for war, incisively argued by Lexington Green.

I've made some of the arguments here (especially the difference between containment of the Soviet Union vs. Saddam, and noting the fact that containment and deterrence didn't work in preventing the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, for example, because they knew we wouldn't risk our country over it, just as we're not likely to risk a city or two over Kuwait or Amman), but Green has provided a more comprehensively complete post. The points Fouad Ajami makes, quoted by Green, are also very compelling.
Mark Steyn on the possibility of a North American Federation:
Within 48 hours of 9/11, it was clear that Canada had a choice: It could be inside a North American perimeter or outside a U.S. perimeter.
Guess which choice they made?
May the Lord Keep His Soul, and comfort his family and friends. Goodbye, Balint Vazsonyi, patriotic American and immigrant.
Very Good Piece on today's anti-war movement, by Ron Radosh. Worth reading in full. (Link via Andrew Sullivan. No permalink to the specific post since he group-posted again, which I hate. I guess "hate" is too strong a word, but, well, you know us right-wing types - haters all).
Wisdom of the Stars: So normally I wouldn't bother with stuff like this, but there was a line in there that struck me.

No, it wasn't the line about Clooney being "graphically and fully informed about world events" - I'm sure he's almost as wise a foreign policy sage as Barbra Streisand is. It was his reaction when "Liz" asked if perhaps he was too mean to Charlton Heston, when Clooney "made history" at a recent event (I'm sure our grand kids will be reading about the time George struck a blow against the gun lobby by ridiculing Heston at the Board of Review awards ceremony). His response was revealing, not just about his attitude (again, I wouldn't bother with such stuff), but the attitude of the Left in general about ad hominem personal attacks:
"I don't care. Charlton Heston is the head of the National Rifle Association; he deserves whatever anyone says about him."
See, we often wonder why there's a double-standard: on the one hand, Liberals and Leftists will condemn anyone who makes personal attacks on someone, but on the other hand they will do it themselves and never see anything wrong with it.

Clooney reveals the mindset behind this.

In theory, personal attacks are considered wrong (a couple months ago Bill Clinton said "that's not us" about the very idea; a couple weeks - January 6th or 7th, I think - ago Mario Cuomo was on Donahue's show and they mutually agreed that Liberals are more civil than Conservatives, then they proceeded to jointly engage in the sort of ad hominem attacks both are so good at). George Clooney reveals why so many Liberals and Leftists do not extend the courtesy they demand for themselves to those who disagree with them: people like Heston don't deserve such consideration (being head of something like the NRA means you deserve whatever anyone might say about you). They take the opportunity to elevate the debate at every opportunity, but understand that civility does not extend to such people as oppose them. Clooney also revealed why they can hold such a doublethink and feel completely comfortable about it:
He's also graphically and fully informed about world events and embraces the label "political liberal," saying he grew up thinking that's what we were supposed to be in a democracy.
Which indicates he was, wittingly or not, influenced by Liberal philosophers such as John Rawls (who held that the right to participate in deliberative democracy extended to people who were rational in his definition, a definition that excluded a lot of people who happened to not be on the Liberal or Left side of the political spectrum). This attitude Clooney expressed also shows why there is a rather strong, obvious, incipient preference for a one-party state (we can't be allowed to lose, after all, the only legitimate perspective in a democracy is that of the politically liberal): those of us who are not politically liberal have, by our own choice, excluded ourselves from the legitimate spectrum of politics in their vision of Democracy and deserve whatever we get as a result. This may also indicate why so many of the people Clooney comes into contact with believes that, with the Bush Administration (not politically liberal) in office, we're essentially living in a fascistic dictatorship where people are being crushed, democracy is threatened and it even may be said no longer exists in substantive terms, and they, the lonely band of truth-talkers, may have to flee to Germany (see, this attitude isn't confined to the Hollywood Left, it's the Paul Krugmanish view of the world, too - and there are more people holding that attitude than one might think. Just pick random Lefty blogs and read 'em if you doubt me).

If I thought the attitude Clooney expressed, so pithily put in the Liz Smith article, applied only to him, or even only to the Celeb Set, I wouldn't bother with it. But it's more widespread than that. Frankly, I've been looking for a way to write about this for awhile, and this is a good hook because the attitudes I'm concerned with are expressed so concisely. They certainly don't apply to every Liberal, but it applies to enough and in my opinion it's not a healthy attitude. Would that Liberals themselves would take it on, as Conservatives took on the unhealthy attitudes expressed by Lott and before him Buchanan. But that's unlikely, and in and of itself that's one reason, along with that of the Leftists that react defensively (at best) when asked not to make themselves the useless idiots of Stalinists, is one of the reasons why things are very bad and politics are being poisoned (No, Virginia, it's not Rush Limbaugh's fault when guys like Boortz can be used by the Good People - Feel Their Goodness Wash Over You In a Wave - as little more than props with which to demonstrate how much better they are than the rest of us, and not see anything whatsoever wrong with that. . .See also Bill Moyers who, over the years, has called for more civility in political debates while on the other hand making a career out of demonizing everyone on the right; I could go on with further examples but I'll leave it at that).

Indeed, I expect that to the extent to which Liberals and/or Leftists read the above post, many of them will agree with Clooney that Conservatives deserve it, and think of countless rationalizations for it all. Self-reflection is unlikely to be a common reaction.
What If?: Steven Den Beste engages in a bit of a thought-experiment: what if France and/or Germany tacitly or deliberately allowed or encouraged their companies to violate sanctions in Iraq, in a big way (in a weapons-related way; we already know sanctions have been ignored in many other ways)?

His post lays out all the possible (that is, potential) effects that might have, if it became widely known.

In any case, those are the reasons why I've been mentioning all along (in posts like this one) that it's more likely that such information will be kept quiet than not. It would be considered "too disruptive" to make a big deal of it. You can ask yourself what would happen if the shoe were on the other foot (France and Germany had information that the U.S. has been smuggling things into Iraq in violation of the sanctions, with the knowledge and support of the U.S. government), but that won't butter any parsnips.

Likewise, really, with other UN powers - the whole thing will be minimized, even if word gets out, about as much will be made of it as was made of the discovery last week of papers indicating Iraq has kept up a nuclear program all these years. It'll be easy for info to be published in a way that creates little attention in the aftermath of a successful war. The entire matter would be brushed off.

Steven keeps saying how others (and in particular the UN) will end up being discredited. But others seem impregnable to the sort of disgrace and dishonor he's talking about. Would that it were otherwise, but in this world and this time only the misdeeds of the U.S. are taken to really matter. Only the wrongs committed by America - real or imagined - get played up till they sink in. Everyone else gets a pass (and, you see, the devil made them do it - if America hadn't pushed for sanctions in the first place, no one would have been compelled to violate them. See?) Even for most Americans - sure, Jacksonians who learn all the details will be fit to be tied. But how many people have really heard about the finds the inspectors have made, in detail (note that I link to a British paper, not a U.S. paper, for this news)? A lot fewer than have heard the mantra "no smoking gun has been found", that's for sure. Just as information about what the UN Resolutions actually entail has been distorted in the retelling so people can be brought to believe the job of the inspectors is to search Iraq, rather than confirm their compliance or lack theirof.

It's unfortunate, but it's true, that if information of the kind Steven is talking about comes out, it won't matter, will be made to not matter. . .unless it involves U.S. companies and the U.S. government. But if other countries were involved? It'll be made to go away. The people involved in deciding what's newsworthy and what's not are not involved in any conspiracy. But they're not Jacksonians, either. The stories will get some play in organs like the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, National Review, and talked up by Michael Savage and the like on talk radio. Perhaps Fox will do a segment on it during Hannity and Coumes, Sean will attempt to talk about this and Alan will keep interupting "what about America's misdeeds? What about all the babies we killed? Perhaps we should be careful about pointing fingers. Plus, the French and German governments deny any of this. Now you want to believe the Iraqis, Sean? You didn't believe them before but you believe them now?" as will at least one of the guests (there might be a more sober discussion of it on Special Report, but C.C. and Mort will play it down - Mort will express outrage but say in the great scheme of things we can't be let this disrupt important relations, we've got to be the grown-ups here, and the problem's solved anyhow. The topic will then disapear). But the rest, the mainstream media, they're far closer to Transnational Progressives than to Jacksonians in their viewpoints. It will be considered not very significant, nothing they'd want to make a big fuss about and perhaps stir the people into "over reacting".

Don't believe me? Well, ok, just how much play was given to the info contained in Iraq's report about various companies - many German companies - which had sold things to Saddam. Several of those German companies having sold things to Saddam right up through the sanctions period. How many people know that? Even I'd have to search my December (or was it November?) for the posts on it. It all went away.

Monday, January 20, 2003

So I Should Write Something for Martin Luther King Day.

Many have emphasized his pacifism today. That's quite appropriate. But in my opinion it's also right to emphasize the struggle for freedom. Contrary to what one may have been told, peace and freedom do not always go hand in hand. Not nearly. If Gandhi were up against a Stalin rather than a Churchill and a Atlee, he'd have been shot, along with as many of those who were in his movement as necessary to repress it.

The coming campaign against Iraq, just an aspect of the war as a whole, is by no means entirely devoted to liberating the people of Iraq. Not by a long shot. But liberating the people of Iraq - extending freedom and beating back the forces of repression and reaction in the middle east that are our foes in this conflict - is a necessary precondition to winning and a worthy objective alongside safeguarding ourselves from the dangers the regimes and the groups they happily exchange things with pose (more on that aspect of things in other posts on other days).

Of course Martin Luther King would probably - virtually certainly - be against this war, and he'd probably join Conyers and Rangel in excoriating the all-volunteer military we have for having too many people of dark skin and not enough of the sons and daughters of rich white people. (I wonder if he would have joined the Stalinists and their useless idiots on the mall on Saturday. Who can say for sure. I hope not, though).

Well, whatever stance he might have taken, it isn't a compete dictat to me. I respect his struggle on behalf of freedom, but he's not a divinity who's sayings and positions are unquestionable scripture. We fight for ourselves and we fight for liberty, flawed champions though some may say we are.

But in this case it's not "peace and freedom" advances the cause of both. This is a case where one has to choose between them.

This isn't the best post on the topic, and far from the best post on this site. In isolation it can certainly be ripped. But it's my post, and I have an archive full of supporting argumentation if anyone wants to take a gander.
"I promised you Dad, not to do the things you've done
I walk away from trouble when I can
Now please don't think I'm weak
I didn't turn the other cheek
And Papa I should hope you understand
Sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man".

- Kenny Rogers
Coward of the County

British Sending Large Force to Gulf. War "not inevitable", which is a true statement, as long as you remove the word "not" from it.
As You All Know, to be a bit facecous about things, Blogging is all about two things:
  • Linking to pieces one really, seriously disagrees with and going at them like a pit bull on speed.
  • Linking to opinions that mirror your own so that when someone questions your ability to reach the conclusions you have, you can point to some authority (as Calvin once said "you know how people are. They never recognize greatness until some authority confirms it").
So here is this piece that confirms what I've been been saying about all these ideas and how countries should react to them:
Unfortunately, their proposals fail to live up to expectations. In fact, they are profoundly worrying. For they would create a two-headed monster that would weaken and divide the EU just when it most needs strong, coherent leadership.
There are still a couple things wrong in that (short) paragraph.
  • The proposals certainly live up to my expectations.

  • Does the EU need "strong, coherent leadership"? I argue it needs institutions that are accountable to the governed. Whether it needs "strong, coherent leadership" (to take a gratuitous swipe: Iraq has that, by the by) depends on what members want out of the EU. Coherent? Sure. Strong? Depends.
See, I said that this article mirrors my own opinion, and it does. Sort of. But not really. Because, again, what one sees is concern about creating a mechanism whereby the EU can get things done effectively (strong, coherent leadership). Fine and well as far as it goes. But it skips ahead several steps in the debate.

Still, in at least mentioning some concepts that haven't been prominent in earlier proposals, and indeed are flaws in them that I noticed instantly -
On the other, an anointed European Council president, unelected, unaccountable to any parliament and without any clear democratic mandate, representing the interests of (at least some) member states. Let there be no doubt, these two people are destined to be in constant conflict.
Peter Sutherland has raised issues of critical importance that in my opinion rarely get the attention they deserve. The fact that so many of the plans, proposals, grand theories etc advocated by the Euraucracy show minimal concern for these things is one of the factors that causes people such as myself to look on the whole thing with a jaundiced eye in the first place.

I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise, then, that the author does not hale from France or Germany or any of the "Continental" EU member countries.
The Next Poster-Boy for A.N.S.W.E.R. and their willing tools will likely be the North Korea of Kim Jong-Il. Here's a glimpse inside.
A Reference Only a Scattering of Readers Will Get, and even fewer will care about, follows:
    And here I thought a "Hoppit" was what they called the Cult Priests down at the Temple of the Frog. Guess I was wrong.
But I Thought They Were Already Cooperating in every possible, reasonable way. That's what Saddam's minions told us (and that's also what the protestors told us). Now they claim they'll cooperate more.

Somehow I don't think this means they'll cooperate fully, though. It seems more likely they're simply trying to find a middle area where they, speaking strictly as someone who observes and knows intrigues, should have been in the first place - one where it looks like they're cooperating without actually cooperating. I mean, I'm sure the anti-war crowd will trumpet this Iraqi announcement (as they do other Iraqi announcements) and use it to claim that it's just the wicked Bush administration that wants war. But reasonable people who look at the substance of this will not be impressed.

Michael O'Hanlon, for example, in that same issue of the FT, who says war is needed and delay carries dangers with it that outweigh any possible benefit (a point I've been harping on for months):
Some will argue that inspections are working. But disarmament is the goal, and it is not happening. Iraq has failed to account for large quantities of precursor chemicals, biological growth media and other dangerous technologies that we know it imported or produced at one time. This is not a US conclusion; it is a UN conclusion based on inspections in the 1990s as well as Iraq's seriously incomplete weapons declaration of last December 7. . .if we allow Mr Hussein to get away with the blatant dishonesty of his December 7 declaration, he will surely grow bolder and thwart inspectors - or simply kick them out of Iraq. At that point he will again be free to pursue a nuclear programme. . .

. . .It is also doubtful that the international community will strengthen its resolve to deal with Mr Hussein by waiting; more probably a number of faint-hearted governments will have time to walk away.
Which is plausibly the real hope of virtually all the people (Blair excepted) who argue for delay - they argue for delay because they don't want it to happen at all and want more time to disrupt, rather than improve, the prospects of success.

That's certainly clearly true of the anti-war movement, as we vividly saw this weekend (every time I see or hear those dudes and their arguments, they make me think less well of them. Sometimes I think I'm being way too harsh on the other side, and then they'll go and give a bunch of speeches and wave a bunch of signs that make me say to myself "no, dude. You're not being harsh enough").
Disturbing the Tranquility of the UN yet again, the US plans to force countries into an "unprecedented" proceedure - an actual vote on whether Libya should chair the Human Right's Commission, violating normal procedures.

Yet again the unilateralist U.S. stands nearly alone in its position, a situation that's become all too common during recent years, especially since the Bush Administration took office and proceeded to alienate the world with it's unreasonable policies.

This move is also tinged with race - the countries of Africa are united in opposition to the U.S. on this, thus calling into question whether Bush is playing the race card or not. They are forcing a vote on this even though it is clear they will "lose heavily".

Why would Bush question the absolute right of Libya to hold the gavel of a Human Rights commission, especially when America's own record is far from perfect? Why indeed!

Please no one write in and wonder if I'm serious or not. I'm just channeling Dan Rather.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Massing For America: Glenn Reynolds is right that it's notoriously difficult for anyone (especially non-experts) to estimate crowd sizes. His corespondents probably did better than most people would do I suppose, but usually for dispersed crowds, amateur estimates tend to be high rather than low (seems like more people than there is).

However, either way - even if the estimates he posted were on the mark - I am struck by one thing. There will be more people at the NFC and AFC Championship games today than apparently showed up at any of the "major" protests.

What does that say about the country's priorities when more people are showing up for a game than are massing under the banner of World Socialism and defense of dictatorship? Even if you don't like football, it says that our priorities are pretty good.

I'll have observer viewpoint reactions as I watch these mass gatherings of the American people today. But I probably won't post them.

Also via Glenn, proof of Saddam's non-compliance and a reasonably large anti-Hugo Chavez rally in Miami that got zero coverage (not enough aging hippies re-living their glory days and unreconstructed Bolsheviks involved in the Miami Chavez protest, I suppose. Remember! The only protests that are newsworthy are progressive protests).

Update: Watching live news reporting on today's events on ESPN, the crowds gathering in Phillidelphia seem more lively, upbeat, and happy than the crowds at yesterday's events. And I'm talking Philly here. If a crowd in Philly is more attractive than thou, you have a problem.

We'll have to see if the Oakland crowds are more impressive and less bizzare than the crowds were yesterday across the bay in San Francisco. I'm betting that even the denizens of the Black Hole will look normal compared to many of those at the San Francisco event yesterday.

Additional Update: The reporting on today's events so far seems more in-depth and concerned about the details of the organizations involved than reporting on yesterday's events (which were often superficial bordering on cheerleading and promotional, more like writing press releases than honest reporting). Today's has included critical analysis of the flaws of some of the participants and their past records. I wonder why "pure news" reporters look down on sports reporters.

Further On Today vs. Yesterday: The signs, t-shirts, body painting, and songs are better today. Also, the children in today's group look like they actually want to be there, rather than having been dragged along as props by their parents.