Saturday, February 01, 2003

Space Shuttle Columbia Disintigrates On Re-Entry

May the Lord keep the souls of these brave men and women
and give comfort to their family and friends.

Crew biographies
They "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."
- Ronald Reagan

"Americans are a Spacefairing People"
- Fox News

"A High and Noble Purpose in Life"
- George Bush

Friday, January 31, 2003

Some Thoughts on Belarus

Just in case anyone gets the impression that "there goes another American slamming a country that disagrees with its policies", Solmyr is actually Russian, living in Finland.
We're Supposed to Call them "Allies"? Steven Den Beste has another good post on the international situation.

But what stuck out for me wasn't anything in particular that he wrote, but something he quoted from a news article:
The chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, German Christian Democrat Elmar Brok, said any chance of Europe's voice being heard had been undone.

"This way the Americans will lead and some Europeans will follow. The race of the vassals has begun," he said.
So when some countries cooperate with, agree with, and show solidarity for their ally, if that ally is America, it's an expression of "vassalage". I suppose that countries that do whatever Germany and France want are showing "independence". Sort of like the Euro Newspeak definition of "unilateral" - any policy followed by a country, no matter how many other countries agree with it, which does not conform to the expectations of the visionaries of the Restored Carolingian Empire and its pretensions of authority.

Demanding reflexive opposition to a country sort of undercuts claims of being that country's ally. But as I mentioned over a week ago (and a couple times before then, too, actually), Germany and France in particular are no longer allies, and there's a struggle of sorts for the direction of the EU - many of those who consider it their baby are in opposition to the U.S., wanting us to believe the EU is an ally but not acting as an ally. This is also the attitude that killed NATO - four countries, the core of the Restored Carolingian Empire, made that happen.
We Need to Learn from the French how to be sensitive to local cultures and not be such bullies.

Notice how the much-criticized American presence in Afghanistan hasn't provoked such a reaction, but we're constantly told that we're hated and the French are loved, and we'd be liked more if we behaved more like them. Yah, right.

The only thing I regret is we're not going to do what the people of Ivory Coast are asking of us.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

"War With Saddam Would Distract from the War on Terror" is a mantra we keep hearing. I've never bought it. Austin Bay explains some of the reasons why the opposite is true: it is closer to the truth to say defeating Iraq is an essential part of defeating al-Qaeda.
As Claims That the U.S. is "Unilateral" reach another pitch of hysteria, we have this sign of how isolated America is. Or is it France and Germany?

(See also this and this, and this, all via Instapundit).
Distorting Headlines are very common at the moment. Here's one from the Financial Times:
IAEA chief says Iraq 'not in material breach'
But if you read the actual story, he is quoted as saying:
"If they (the UN Security Council) decide that this is a material breach, then that is their prerogative," he told BBC Radio. "We are not going to say that this is a material breach unless we see a gross violation of the resolution. But even then it is for the Security Council to pronounce on that."
Which is not quite the same. His actual quote is a recognition that it isn't the inspector's place to determine these things.
U.S. Economic Growth was sluggish last fall.

Here's a view of what would help not just growth in America, but world wide.
More on the Moral Superiority of the UN in this report on the UN's Conference on Disarmament (which seems to be as virtuous as the UN Human Rights Commission):
While the United States leads the charge in making sure Iraq owns up to its promises of complete disarmament, Saddam Hussein's country will head an international disarmament conference and will steer the course of the U.N. disarmament agenda this spring.
(via Solmyr).
The Other Side of WWII Misdeeds: I'm not saying things like this should be dwelt on or require an orgy of self-flagelation. But they shouldn't be swept under the rug and forgotten, either.

I just got finished reading Stanley Hirshon's biography of Patton, and he makes mention of several atrocities committed by troops under Patton's command, in particular in Sicily (where Patton's fiery rhetoric may have contributed to causing troops to believe they were behaving acceptably), which he worked harder to cover up than to prosecute. Hirshon doesn't let it overwhelm the book and it doesn't cause him to ignore Patton's accomplishments, but he describes them fully and, along with his examination of Patton's post-war term commanding the 3rd Army occupying Bavaria, it really altered my opinion of Patton as a person.

Update: Alert Reader Robert Hand writes to point out that the article talks about Roosevelts attitude during the occupation, but he died before the occupation.

That's true, but Roosevelt and his administration considered plans for the occupation before it happened, and there were several policy statements (such as the Morgenthau Plan) on how the occupation of Germany would be handled. Some of which were extremely harsh in nature. Here's a book, "The New Dealer's War" that discussed some of them.

I'm not saying I completely agree with every aspect of the tone taken in the article (or in the books I link to), but for me, personally, I think we were much better off having Truman in office in the aftermath of WWII and think that Roosevelt would have mishandled things badly had he lived.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Yes, I'm Sure it's a Big Cause of Rage all across the world, especially in places such as in China (where they occupy Tibet, Eastern Turkestan, Dzungaria, and Inner Mongolia, without much outrage on the part of Clare Short), and in particular in Syria (which occupies large swaths of Lebanon without Short's concern), and various - uncountably numerous - parts of Africa where they're busily occupying each other in a kaleidoscopic fashion. Egypt was so enraged over Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip (which Egypt had occupied until '67) that they insisted Israel keep it, rather than give it back, when the Camp David Accords were negotiated.

The only double-standard is the degree to which people get "enraged" over Israel (where they're faced with an enemy that, frankly, insisted upon war, lost, continues to believe they should be allowed to keep the fight going while getting let off the hook) and not nearly as worked up about these other things (Clare Short, I doubt, was ever half as as cross and wrothful over Turkey's occupation of half of Cyprus as she is about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. No one considers the shifting of Germany's Eastern frontiers - or Poland's, for that matter - by Stalin a matter to get enraged over).
Light Blogging Today: Blogger was - doing one of its "things" this morning when I had time to blog, and now I'm distracted by other things.

There are SotA reactions a'plenty today elsewhere anyhow (I thought it was fine but if I have any other reactions I'll probably post 'em later. Perhaps the same day I post that screed on the "criticality of international support").
Not A Good Pre-War Sign: Morale supposedly low among British troops.

Might have as much to do with the fact that they've been pressed into serving in a capacity they weren't trained for as anything else.
D'oh!: Homer Simpson-san loses a bunch of plutonium down at the plant.
Britain Declares Iraq in Materiel Breach: and one of the. . .inadvertently telling. . .things about this FT article on it is the pairing of the UN & Iraqi flags.
Yah, But That Doesn't Mean It Was the Right Thing to Do: Bush's Steel Tarrifs.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

My Friend Solmyr has decided to stick his blog-toe into the political waters, dealing dismissively with a couple anti-war arguments.

He's right that they're mostly a distraction from substance, rather beside the point. I do say, though, that regarding the first of the ones he takes up:
"there is no proof that Saddam has WMDs"

There's actually plenty of proof: in Iraq's last report to the UNSCOM (or was it UNMOVIC then? I forget) in '98, Iraq disclosed the existence of certain items (many of which mentioned in the inspectors report yesterday as a question regarding where they went) - we know they have at least those things (unless someone wants to try and make the completely absurd argument that the Weapons Fairy spirited them away since '98).

As for the "oil" argument, it's actually more apt to say that the nations opposed to action are motivated by oil. After all, when it comes to American oil (like Bush's texas buddies), having Iraq's oil off the table is actually better for them (it keeps the price up, which makes it more likely that American oil exploration and drilling is profitable. When Iraq's oil hits the market, the price of oil might fall below the level where it is economical to drill for oil in America. Some American companies might get access to the Iraqi oil, but it's unlikely to make up for the loss in profitability of their American wells that will result from lower long-term oil prices).
Reports that Bush will stop short of justifying war in the State of the Union adress are no doubt true. That will come when Bush meets with Tony Blair, and not before.
Durable Goods Purchaces up only slightly.
More Info on the French helping Saddam, via Glenn Reynolds, who adds that he's gotten mail from people in the military mentioning the same thing - also something that Congressional Democrats are likely to have been briefed on.
Questioning Their Patriotism: Senior leaders in both political parties receive intelligence briefings on every significant issue (which would include the Iraq crisis). Lets stipulate for a moment that the American government has intelligence data showing the Iraqis shifting materials from locations before the inspectors arrive.

Lets further stipulate that Iraq had numerous WMD as of '98 - this is all known from their prior report. They have not shown that they got rid of such materiels. We know, also, that during the Febuary '98 crisis, the Democrat leaders in Congress (and the Republican leaders in Congress as well, by the way), were fully supportive of then-President Clinton's claims that Iraq was not complying, was hiding things. That we had intelligence (and they had been briefed on that intelligence) regarding the weapons programs Iraq was not disclosing.

We also have proof that Saddam has continued its nuclear weapons program, in violation of the Resolutions.

Even the inspectors highlighted the weapons Iraq is known to have but has not disclosed nor provided any evidence of their destruction.

Senior leaders in Congress, in both parties, get briefed on all that.

So then what do we make of the spectacle of Congressional Democrats demanding that Bush provide "proof" be shown of Iraq's non-compliance? They find themselves to the Left of even the Inspectors, who demonstrated the same day that Iraq was not in compliance. They further know that there are likely good reasons that whatever intelligence we have, which has been shared with them, cannot be made public (it would endanger our ability to continue to collect it, and may even cause people to be killed).

It's hard to believe that they're stupid enough to think that things have changed in Iraq between '98 (when Clinton, a Democrat, was in office) and '02 (when Bush, a Republican, is in office) and the weapons that they all concurred with the Clinton Administration that Iraq possessed have somehow disappeared now.

They have a lot of information, no doubt. Much of it public, but significant parts of it most likely secret, from intelligence briefings that they know it is hard to make public without causing problems. But they're acting as if none of it exists. Why? Because they care about the country? Obviously that's not the answer. They weren't pretending we didn't have proof in '98. So it comes down to the time to call a spade a spade, despite efforts to intimidate people into not pointing this out.

I question their patriotism. It's one thing when the French and Germans do what they've been doing. But not enough people have been pointing out the games the Congressional Democrats are playing, which in many ways is even more invidious and despicable. After all, the countries of Germany and France have their own interests and have not taken any oaths to America (well, that's not quite true. They've signed several treaties. But those treaties are dead letters), as anyone sworn into office in the House or Senate has.

And these people wonder why they have low credibility on security and defense issues. They deserve to be thrown out of office, just as the French and Germans deserve to no longer be treated as allies.

Update: See also this post where I pile on a bit.
Full Disclosure? From the BBC? Puh-leeze: So I'm listening to the BBC World Briefing on the radio on my way into work this morning, and they decide to have an interview with the executive of a major oil company to discuss the possible consiquences of a war involving Iraq. Fine and well. Which company do they pick? The French company Total Fina Elf. Ok, fine. We know where they're comming from, right?

Not exactly. Not once did the BBC report mention that Total Fina Elf stands to gain significant wealth if Saddam stays in power and sanctions are lifted. They don't mention the contracts Total Fina Elf has signed with the Ba'athist regime. I find it hard to believe that such interests would go unreported if the shoe were on the other foot. . .

Update: See also here where I post on some other people playing slight-of-hand games with the subject of Iraq.
Everybody Wants ta Get in on the Act: the Axis humor front.

Meanwhile, the French have discovered something about a cultural icon that makes him less appealing to them.
Someone's Discovered a contribution the French can make after all.

Monday, January 27, 2003

USS Clueless sums up today's UN Inspector's report.

I admit I expected them to be more equivocal, too. We'll see what the follow through is (every time I think these guys have turned a corner and I start thinking I should re-evaluate my opinion of them, they revert back to type. But we'll say. As Steven writes, "credit where credit is due").

One thing stayed true to form, however: the EU is still the emcee of a game show ("Eternal Last Chances"), functioning as Monty Haul. Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il both won a(nother) "Last Chance" from the EU today.

However, since the EU's, and even more pointedly, Europe's, position on this is not by any means unified, I think it's wrong to call it "Europe's answer". Indeed, as annoying as it might start to get to readers, there really is a non-tongue-in-cheek reason to refer to the "Restored Carolingian Empire" as distinct from "Europe" or even "the EU". As we know, most NATO member-countries voted with the U.S. last week. It was only the Carolingians (France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg) that blocked NATO agreement on the issue. The EU ministers came out with a sort of joint statement that papered over significant differences.

Several people (especially from countries in Europe) have expressed dissatisfaction with American bloggers referring to the positions taken by France and Germany as being identical with "Europe". Though it's certainly true that most of the blame for that rests first with the spokesmen from those countries and representatives of the EUrocracy who take similar positions and then present that position as that of "Europe", along with EUrophilic commentators who also have a stake in presenting the Franco-German Alliance as the true soul of Europe (see the last full paragraph in this post), those who have a problem with people such as myself generalizing about "Europe" in a way that confirms the ambitions of the Franco-German "Axis of Weasels" to speak for Europe as a whole have a point.

And the attitude that "The work of the Franco-German Alliance is Europe, and the work of Europe is the World." certainly has an ominous ring to it for those who know their 20th Century European history - which certainly includes the populations of many European countries who have experienced what that attitude has meant in practice, and who do not believe the Franco-Germans speak for them (and no doubt this includes many German people and French people who find these ambitions troubling).

Therefore, I'm really going to try hard to not write as if the utterances of this Axis of Weasels as if it speaks for all of Europe, despite the attempts by it and it's enablers to convey just that impression. So my use of the phrase "Restored Carolingian Empire" may get tiresome and worn out, but I've been looking for a good, concise term to describe what I'm referring to when talking about a certain subset of Europe, one that wouldn't lump in those within Europe who are clearly not part of this "Europe". "Restored Carolingian Empire" is a term that fits the atmospherics of this Blog (which is slightly antiquarian).

Note also, by the way, that a recognition that the Inspectors filed a fairly good report does not in any way mean they get to transform their mission from verifying compliance (or, in this case, the lack of compliance) by Saddam into one of engaging in an indefinite Snipe Hunt. The fact is that Saddam is not in compliance, the Inspectors have confirmed that, Resolution 1441 calls for "serious consequences" as a result (and no, that's not defined as racking up more points in the Eternal Last Chances Game Show).
Not Much Time Left, says Powell, U.S. Ambassador to the UN says heard nothing giving any hope Iraq will disarm vollentarily.
So It Seems like we're going to have to go through the process of trying to get another UN resolution no matter how futile the attempt may be. At least that is the position Tony Blair has laid out:
Speaking on British television, the UK prime minister suggested his country would "only" be willing to fight alongside the US without a second United Nations resolution if one of the five permanent members of the UN security council "unreasonably exercises their veto" on a fresh resolution. In addition, he said it was the role of the weapons inspectors to declare that Baghdad was not co-operating - an d therefore in breach of an earlier resolution.
This last part is also tricky, because even if they have to dissemble to do it, the inspectors plan on depicting Iraq, to the greatest extent possible, as having cooperated - simply because they see their goal deliberately or coincidentally, in the same way Saddam does: not in terms of verifying Iraqi compliance with the UN Resolutions, but in terms of insuring that there are no serious consequences as a result of their non-compliance. (See here for a somewhat different take on things).

As an aside, we're also seeing how well a common EU Foreign Policy is working out. But, well, then - it's always been rather obvious that when people spoke of the ideal of a "common European foreign policy", they mainly meant that the policy set by the Restored Carolingian Empire should be adopted by all, even if they don't like it, and the only reason anyone could possibly think this is not a good idea and oppose it is fear of a strong Europe (an article that embodies the detachment from reality of all too many proponents of the EU project; as they slash their military R&D budgets, for example, America is supposedly afraid of their military R&D. Right).

Update: See also here as the inspectors make their report
So I'm Home Sick Today and of course I'm watching C-SPAN (actually C-SPAN II), and Richard Perle just mentioned the "Axis of Weasel" at an AEI forum on tommorrow's State of the Union speech.

Unfortunately, proper attribution wasn't made.

And, no, I'm not "hung over". If you must know, it's intestinal/bowel related. Happy now?