Saturday, February 08, 2003

      "In the nightmare of the dark
      All the dogs of Europe bark
      And the living nations wait
      Each sequestered in its hate."
        - W.H. Auden.

      "The lamps are going out all over Europe;
      we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."
        - Viscount Grey of Falloden, about 1914

      "His soul swooned slowly as he head the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."
        - James Joyce, The Dead, as quoted here.

What Iraq Learned from Germany, and what Germany wants to let them continue to do:
Dual-use facilities

Powell "We know that Iraq has embedded key portions of its illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian industry. To all outward appearances the infrastructure looks like an ordinary civilian operation. This dual-use infrastructure can turn from clandestine to commercial and then back again. Call it ingenuous or evil genius, but the Iraqis deliberately designed their chemical weapons programmes to be inspected."

Assessment Mr Brown said that the Iraqis had had a dedicated military programme, but because of international scrutiny they have had to hide it now under civilian facilities. "The Germans did this between the two world wars. There were thousands of inspectors in Germany then and they found any no clear-cut evidence of the violations for several years."
Thousands of inspectors - what Germany and France are now pushing for - operating for years, accomplishing nothing. Germany (and France, from the other side of things) both have a lot of experience in knowing that this will not work in the face of Iraq's refusal to cooperate. They have no problem with that.

We know what genuine disarmament looks like. So do France and Germany. Iraq isn't doing that, and has no intention of doing that. They know that also. They also know from their own history that thousands of inspectors can't change that if the country in question is engaging in deception. They don't care.
Too True: Rumsfeld on speaks out:
Mr. Rumsfeld said the United Nations, by allowing Iraq to violate 17 Security Council resolutions over more than a decade, appeared to be following the League of Nations in choosing bluff over action.

Allowing Iraq to become chairman of the United Nations Commission on Disarmament and selecting Libya to lead its Commission on Human Rights showed that the institution "seems not to be even struggling to regain credibility," he said.
Which is all too true, and the fact is that this doesn't bother many people and not a few countries that say we should defer to the UN. This is indeed one of the things that makes efforts to put "multilateralism" on a pillar intellectually and moraly untenable. For too many people, it really is "more important to do things together than to do the right thing".

As you can tell, I'm not one of them.
Too Harsh or Distortive? Think the below post is misrepresentative of what they're proposing or too harsh?

Then remember that up until recently, they were pushing to have sanctions lifted. These are also countries whos companies have violated sanctions and are countries that have approved post-sanctions contracts with Saddam. The aircraft shown in Powell's UN presentation modified to spray Anthrax was a F-1 Mirage, a fighter of French manufacture.

Also, they know that when it comes to ruthless dictators, "peackeepers" have never been an obsticle. Remember Srebenica? But they can be an obsticle to the U.S.

These countries are obviously insincere in wanting "tighter sanctions". They have - and continue to - done everything they can to obstruct and oppose the U.S. and save Saddam (if not: then why didn't they back a resolution this "strong" last fall?) They know that no amount of inspectors, absent real cooperation from Iraq, will be effective, and that these "peacekeepers" will mainly serve as human shields on Saddam's behalf - until ordered by Saddam to leave the country, after Saddam has succeeded in his goal. This is a tool for them to buy time - not on behalf of their "American ally", but to oppose and thwart America on behalf of their friend Saddam.

It is, indeed, exactly what I was talking about last fall when everyone said I was full of fecal matter. You remember that time, right? When the French were working overtime to weaken what became Resolution 1441 and I was both questioning their motives and predicting what would result (as I reiterated here) - Iraq would not comply and their position would be essentially unmoved, calling for more of the same.
Germany & France, Working Together to Send Forces to Defend Saddam, their trading partner, according to this report. See also here.

Of course, it's only appropriate to call this proposal "the Munich Plan".

See the this post for more.

Friday, February 07, 2003

As I Was Saying: Leaving off what Powell said and the reactions of others, something is obvious. Last year we were all told that instead of using force then, we should give Iraq "one last chance" to comply peacefully. That was done. Against the better judgement of those, such as myself, who believed that it was futile. That Saddam would not comply, but that doing this would simply create an open-ended process of delay, deception, obstruction, and diversion. That this would happen, and those arguing for giving "one last chance" for Saddam before they could support the use of force ("serious consequences") would remain with their position unchanged, still not supporting the necessary action, still blithely asserting that we keep doing what we've been doing for twelve years, hoping for a different result (which is, I remind you, one definition of insanity). That they would come back asking for what amounts to an unlimited succession of "last chances". This is exactly what is happening. Once again, everything is proceeding exactly as I have foreseen.

Most humorous (in a gallows humor sort of way) statement by Chirac: the offer of Mirage fighters to "help get the job done". Who's job? It's hard to tell from his comment - is he offering Saddam more Mirage fighters, like the one shown in Powell's presentation, modified to spray anthrax? I can only conclude that he is.

See also here, which is relentlessly downbeat about the American position and clearly partisan for the opponents of America, but ends up conceding:
But it has become much harder for them to argue against Colin Powell's message - that Iraq is not disarming itself, so it should be disarmed by force.
Because when it comes to the merits, "Powell's message" is, as he said, irrefutable. They're only intransigently "unconvinced" for reasons I've gone into on previous occasions.

Thus if one reads the statements by the "unconvinced", they hardly even touch upon the merits of the message - they just return to the same old platitudes they've used before.
Saddam's Willing Propagandists: It's always been clear that when the pressure is put on, Saddam Hussein would throw a few bones to the inspectors to appear to be cooperating "more". Indeed, that was noted repeatedly last fall by, among others, this site as one of the pitfalls of the "inspection" process.

Indeed, one of the tools that would be used not only by Saddam, but by those with no interest in getting Iraq to disarm. Inspections would be used as they were in the '90s - as a means of delay and apparent action, while Saddam continued to hide, evade, deceive, obstruct, and pursue his weapons programs. (This is nothing but a game, as Bush put it).

The only people who will go along with this charade are those who are, for whatever reason, willing to peddle Saddam's propaganda for him, as voluntary spokesmen. The facts will remain that real cooperation - of the type shown by South Africa when it disarmed its nuclear program - is not happening. Saddam Hussein will not provide a full accounting of his weapons programs, as required. He will not show the inspectors the exact disposition of all the proscribed weapons that the UN knows Iraq has - much less whatever else they have that the UN never found out about or was produced in the four years that inspections were not in Iraq. More to the point, he will not stop trying to develop nuclear and other weapons. Nor will he comply with the other matters stipulated in the various Resolutions.

"More" cooperation will be a sham intended to provide excuses for his willing propagandists to employ to argue on his behalf for delay. Saddam wants time so that he can succeed in his aim. He is fully aware that inspectors as such are no threat to his aims (which is why he allows them in in the first place, and keeps enough "slack" in his "cooperation" level so that he can toss a few bones out from time to time in order to create the needed rationalizations and excuses for giving him more time). Delay serves his purposes, not his opponents.

Full cooperation, much less full compliance, will not happen - that needs to be remembered any time some of his willing collaborators say that this or that gesture "proves" that "inspections will work" and that "Iraq is making more efforts to cooperate" and then call for delay. Again, as I said the other day, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. We spent the decade of the '90s doing this.

But the people making those arguments, for the most part they are not insane. Some of them are very lucid and intelligent. They know what they're doing. Thus it is not unfair to call them Saddam's Willing Propagandists.
Deutchland Uber Alles in helping Saddam's arms programs. (via Instapundit). A story I first reported on back in December.
Greenhouse Gases to be curbed.

Expect nothing but criticism from the usual suspects.
France Isn't Going to Change It's Mind, according to François Heisbourg in the Financial Times.

Notice the attitude from our "betters", though: they are our wise betters, on the one hand - but on the other hand, they are simply passive receptacles - the article revives that tired old horse "Bush needs to make the case" or "Bush failed to make the case" that Saddam has flouted the terms of the post-Gulf War cease fire and continues to pursue prohibited weapons, even at great cost to his regime (not to mention his country, but that doesn't matter to Saddam). Why? On a lark?

In any case, this attitude displays an underlaying belief that the enlightened, wise old hands of France are incapable of observing and thinking for themselves - they need to be led to the conclusion (by the nose, at every step of the way, without having to show any thinking of their own). Also, that they are simply a limp body on the world stage - not going to take an active role themselves, pretentions to the contrary notwithstanding. The folks writing in mouthpieces of the EU, such as the Financial Times, are foremost in saying that they (France, etc) should have more of a "leadership role" in world affairs. But they manifestly refuse the responsibilities that come with leadership (and need to be led by the nose, which is the underlying assumption of "make the case" arguments).

In any case, the arguments made by François Heisbourg in the article are obvious self-serving rationalizations. It's highly unlikely that any of them have anything to do with the real reasons why France is as intransigent as Heisbourg says (and that the obvious facts regarding Saddam's behavior). It's more likely that France is motivated by considerations like these than any of the specious and rather petty rationalizations Heisbourg employs. Indeed, the closing paragraph tends to confirm that in his speculations about what is driving France's policy, Steven was close to the mark (frankly, as was I earlier; but I don't have his readership levels). Heisbourg wrote:
The government in Paris may not be so inclined. It may now believe there is relatively little to lose by confirming its anti-war stance. The damage has been done. A deep split has emerged in the Atlantic alliance and within the European Union. And while exclusion from a post-Saddam Iraq may cost it dear, France may also have something to gain. Rightly or wrongly, staying out of a war could open other doors in the Middle East. In any case, the French remember that their role in the Gulf war coalition did not secure them a substantial share of the post-war action.
Which is very close to some of the theories Steven bandied about.

Of course, if France doesn't change its mind at the last second, then everything doesn't proceed exactly as I have foreseen. But, as with other deviations, this makes things worse not for me, but for the deviator. Even Heisbourg concedes that this puts France in a bad situation (while blaming it on America. See, only America is responsible - a causative force. France is simply an inert mass, victimized in this instance).

In any case, if France remains intransigent and does not switch its position at the last possible moment, this is a deviation that I can't bring myself to be unhappy with. They deserve to have screwed themselves over and insured they are left on the outside looking in.

Update: If you think it's overly harsh to term Heisborg's arguments "rationalizations" and excuses that have nothing to do with the real reasons for French behavior, then why don't his arguments apply to Italy, Spain, Britain, and the various countries that have expressed support for the U.S. position? The arguments Heisbourg uses wouldn't be uniquely applicable to France (or Germany, for that matter). There is obviously something else driving their decisions, and Heisbourg is just popping chaff (or, to put it another way, disgorging bovine fecal matter) to give excuses for decisions France made on other grounds, ones that will appeal to the usual suspects but have no basis in reality. If they did, they would apply equally to Italy et al. The fact that there is a significant split in the EU, as Heisbourg himself mentions, rather than unanimous opposition to the U.S. (as was the impression so many tried for so long to convey) illustrates that the arguments he used were specious.
Unemployment Drops and largest job growth in two years.

Economy remains "mixed".

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Shadenfreude: Ok, ok. Enough picking on France. How about this instead.

Add to that this reminder:
Mr Chirac and Germany's chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, know that “standing up to America” plays well at home. So does portraying the United States as a nation of crazed gunslingers and religious fanatics. But Europeans should remember that these stereotypes were consistently peddled in the cold war—and were consistently wrong. Who in Europe now seriously argues that it was a mistake to side with the United States in the struggle against the Soviet Union? And who could dispute that the phrase “evil empire” was actually a rather succinct summary of the facts rather than florid hyperbole? Those Europeans who accuse Americans of lack of sophistication and an ignorance of history might benefit from a brief history lesson themselves.
Who Are You Calling a NAZI? (Also worth a read, especially in the context of the Hitchens piece linked to below that praises the French Revolution).
Here Are Some Remarks on Powell's UN presentation.
France is Such a Popular Topic, so here's another, this time by Christopher Hitchens.

In his mention of the "other France" he unfortunately leaves out the Revolutionary Terror, the despotism in the name of "the people" that was the Commune, and the Fascism that the revolution of 1789 devolved into all too quickly, which are among the legacies that France has bequethed to the world, to be emulated later in a variety of places. But that is a quibble, I suppose.

Because Hitchens is much more pointedly accurate in his description of France today, and of Chirac in particular:
However, the conduct of Jacques Chirac can hardly be analyzed in these terms. Here is a man who had to run for re-election last year in order to preserve his immunity from prosecution, on charges of corruption that were grave. Here is a man who helped Saddam Hussein build a nuclear reactor and who knew very well what he wanted it for. Here is a man at the head of France who is, in effect, openly for sale. He puts me in mind of the banker in Flaubert's "L'Education Sentimentale": a man so habituated to corruption that he would happily pay for the pleasure of selling himself.

Here, also, is a positive monster of conceit. He and his foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, have unctuously said that "force is always the last resort." Vraiment? This was not the view of the French establishment when troops were sent to Rwanda to try and rescue the client-regime that had just unleashed ethnocide against the Tutsi. It is not, one presumes, the view of the French generals who currently treat the people and nation of Cote d'Ivoire as their fief. It was not the view of those who ordered the destruction of an unarmed ship, the Rainbow Warrior, as it lay at anchor in a New Zealand harbor after protesting the French official practice of conducting atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific.
Which is all very accurate. As is, of course, this:
If there is a truly "unilateralist" government on the Security Council, it is France.
It's been obvious right from the begining that the accusation of "unilateralism!" has been nothing but hypocracy, an attempt to browbeat, an invocation of a "rule" spun out of phogiston, created of mist, that will only be applied to one country - America - and never to, say, France.
The UN Will Either Continue On in an undead state (feeding off the living, with money for their committees and conferences and swarms of over payed, pampered functionaries), or be replaced by a Community of Democracies, but in any case the Anglosphere will take the lead in doing the actual work of pushing important issues and insuring they are dealt with.

It's the French nightmare.
Mark Steyn on the UN and the French. (Both links via Glenn Reynolds).

Best line in the UN article:
UN support for the war presently depends on Washington giving certain understandings to France. Nothing very moral about that.
Which has been exactly my point when confronted by those peddling the idea that only "multilateralism" as embodied by working through institutions like the UN can provide legitimacy to any action.

But this is also apt:
So the net result of filtering Britain’s voice up through one multilateral body (the EU) into another (the UN) is that you guys are now on record as having no objection to the leading international body on human rights being headed by a one-man police state that practises torture and assassination and has committed mass murder within your own jurisdiction.
Serial multilateralism (various multilateral institutions all aiming at concord and consensus), which so many theorists say will produce a better world, somehow always produces the opposite:
Some of those abstainers are just Chiraquiste cynics: any time the Americans don’t get their way is a victory for everybody else. Others believe the world would be a genuinely better place if it was run through global committees staffed by a transnational mandarin elite of urbane charmers: that’s an undemocratic concept, and one shouldn’t be surprised that it finds itself in the same voting lobby as the dictatorships. In an ideal world, you’d like the joint run by Mary Robinson and Chris Patten, but at a pinch Gaddafi and Assad will do: transnationalism is its own raison d’être.
Which for many, it is. It trumps any other rationale and moral principle. Or, as Scott Ott put it, the attitude is that "it's more important to do things together than to do the right thing". That could be a motto for many people - and not just French people.
Ninteen Eighty-Four, Mesopotamian Style (via Solmyr). From the omnipresent pictures of Big Brother that look down on you from every corner (see picture that accompanies the article) to names such as "The Great Triumph Leader Museum", there's only one word to describe it all: Orwellian.
If You Haven't Tired of what passes for news on al-Jazeera, then check out this graphic which was shown on the "Arab CNN".

Of course, I can't fault them, because the "real CNN" possibly would have ran with it if they got it first.

(Also via Solmyr).
For Those Interested in Fishing and the subject of academic ethics in general, John Holbo has a reply to my response to his earlier post, and John Rosenberg has some thoughts as well.
Return of the Non-Boogiemen: Meanwhile, though they're always among those warning that the U.S. policy will spark an uprising in the "Arab Street", without it ever materializing, the French, who say that only if their behavior is emulated can such problems be avoided, have managed to provoke a uprising in the Abidjan Street against the non-bullying, sophisticated French.
Return of the Night of the Living Brain Sucking Zombies and other mythical boogiemen used to scare small children.
Sometimes Blix Has a keen grasp of the obvious.

Of course here I shouldn't be harshing on Blix - the fact is there are so many countries (and people in this country) that would refuse to believe that if Blix wasn't saying it. Some refuse to believe it (or make any significance out of it) even with it being pointed out.

Britain is sending more aircraft to the region in preparation for war. One thing that means, though, is "time keeps on slippin', slippin' into the future" because it will take some time to get the aircraft and their support personnel (some 7,000) to the region and settled for action. So now we're definately looking more at March, it seems, than any time in Febuary.

But even the Financial Times is now being forced to conceed that "France has also played a weak hand poorly. President Jacques Chirac's declaration last month that war was not justified must have spurred renewed calculations by Mr Hussein's regime that invasion might be averted even without full compliance."

Which is an important realization for them because they, like many others, pinned all their hopes and dreams on the "sophisticated" French.
Poor Susan Sarandon: feel her pain.
The French Steven Den Beste has posted some thoughts on what the French are up to, which are in line with what I wrote about on Monday.
If You Haven't Read It, you might want to read this post from yesterday.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Powell Presents Case of Saddam's failure to comply with UN Resolution 1441. Full text of Powell's remarks. Britain confirms links between Iraq and al-Queda, which Powell outlined, and gives two weeks for Iraq to comply. (See also here for some detail on Saddam's involvement with al-Queda).

Powell also pointedly made use of video showing Iraq using a F-1 Mirage modified to spray anthrax. The Mirage, of course, is of French manufacture, sold to Iraq.

Ten more countries express support for U.S. position, which will none the less no doubt still be described as "unilateral" because it lacks the nod of France and Germany.

Powell made the following points:
  • Iraq is not "innocent until proven guilty" - Iraq has already been found guilty. Resolution 1441 declares them in materiel breach (UN parliance for "guilty").

  • Resolution 1441 gave Saddam one last chance to comply with their Gulf War cease fire obligations (embodied in a succession of previous UN Resolutions).

  • Thus the burden of proof was not on the UN, or the U.S. to provide proof or find items, but on Iraq to comply.

  • It is obvious that Saddam has made no effort to cooperate. They are hiding prohibited items rather than cooperating.

  • Inspectors are under intelligence survelience by Iraq, with constant tapping of their communications, to enable Iraqi efforts to hide items from inspectors.

  • Not all the evidence of Iraq's lack of cooperation comes from U.S. intelligence. One example used was - the UN Resolutions demand that Iraq provide a comprehensive list of scientists involved in weapons research. Iraq provided an outdated list of 500 such scientists. UNSCOM itself had compiled a list of 3,500 scientists. That is, the UN, not U.S., information.
Powell pointed out that "the pattern not just one of reluctant cooperation, nor is it merely lack of cooperation", it is one of a deliberate campaign of concealment and deception.

Powell pointed to Resolution 1441, which states:
4. Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 below
Paragraphs 11 and 12 pertain to reporting before the Council (which is what Blix and el-Bardaei did), and consideration of the matter, and lead into 13, which invokes "Serious Consiquences" for lack of compliance (or, I should say, continued lack of compliance) on Iraq's part.

This lack of cooperation - and, indeed, obstruction and deception - as Powell said, irrefutible evidence of a further materiel breach on Iraq's part. The issue is not one of further time for inspectors to be frustrated by Iraqi obstruction, but of the UN taking up its responsibilities (if one conceeds that it has responsibilities, and is an institution that is responsible, which is a dubious proposition in my opinion. But I'll get to that below).

Powell pointed to, among other things, a terrorist training camp in Northern Iraq organized by a cohort of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, where members of al-Queda were treating recruits how to make and use Ricin. As I remember, terrorist cells in Europe were found recently with Ricin. al-Zarqawi went to Baghdad for medical treatment for two months. I'll point out that Saddam and his propagandists (both within and outside of Iraq) are continually complaining about the shortage of medical facilities (which they blame on UN Sanctions). It is simply unbelievable that in a Socialist dictatorship like Iraq, a man like al-Zarqawi would receive medical treatment without the approval of the Iraqi government. A al-Queda cell continues to operate in Baghdad.
Going back to the early and mid-1990s, when bin Laden was based in Sudan, an al-Qaeda source tells us that Saddam and bin Laden reached an understanding that al-Qaeda would no longer support activities against Baghdad.

Early al-Qaeda ties were forged by secret, high-level intelligence service contacts with al-Qaeda, secret Iraqi intelligence high-level contacts with al-Qaeda. We know members of both organizations met repeatedly and have met at least eight times at very senior levels since the early 1990s.

In 1996, a foreign security service tells us that bin Laden met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Khartoum, and later met the director of the Iraqi intelligence service.

Saddam became more interested as he saw al-Qaeda's appalling attacks. A detained al-Qaeda member tells us that Saddam was more willing to assist al-Qaeda after the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
As for the supposed "differences" between the Iraqi regime and al-Queda, I've never been impressed by such arguments (for reasons I've explained in previous posts). Powell puts it this way:
Some believe, some claim these contacts do not amount to much. They say Saddam Hussein's secular tyranny and al-Qaeda's religious tyranny do not mix. I am not comforted by this thought.

Ambition and hatred are enough to bring Iraq and al-Qaeda together, enough so al-Qaeda could learn how to build more sophisticated bombs and learn how to forge documents, and enough so that al Qaeda could turn to Iraq for help in acquiring expertise on weapons of mass destruction.

And the record of Saddam Hussein's co-operation with other Islamist terrorist organisations is clear.

Hamas, for example, opened an office in Baghdad in 1999, and Iraq has hosted conferences attended by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. These groups are at the forefront of sponsoring suicide attacks against Israel.
He could have added that, though Osama bin Laden and his minions have criticised virtually every Arab regime, they have - noticeably - spared Saddam from criticism. Also, if one looks at the demands of al-Queda, well, they are exactly what Saddam Hussein wants (end of the sanctions on Iraq, U.S. forces out of the region, and the like).

The responses were, however, as telling as Powell's presentation. The Iraqi reaction shows that they have no intention of changing their pattern of obstruction, and taking up the "last chance" to comply. (At least some in Congress did allow themselves to be persuaded).
Equally telling are the responses from others, which are predictable. Especially that of France. Faced with evidence that Iraq is in obvious materiel breach and is deliberately and comprehensively obstructing rather than co-operating, which is per the Resolution the French demanded last fall a "further material breach", France calls for more of the same.

Conclusion: Leaving off what Powell said and the reactions of others, something is obvious. Last year we were all told that instead of using force then, we should give Iraq "one last chance" to comply peacefully. That was done. Against the better judgement of those, such as myself, who believed that it was futile. That Saddam would not comply, but that doing this would simply create an open-ended process of delay, deception, obstruction, and diversion. That this would happen, and those arguing for giving "one last chance" for Saddam before they could support the use of force ("serious consequences") would remain with their position unchanged, still not supporting the necessary action, still blithely asserting that we keep doing what we've been doing for twelve years, hoping for a different result (which is, I remind you, one definition of insanity). That they would come back asking for what amounts to an unlimited succession of "last chances". This is exactly what is happening. Once again, everything is proceeding exactly as I have foreseen.

The talk about the UN losing its credibility if it fails to act, in my opinion the UN's credibility should already be held in a minimum of high regard - the more one knows about how it acts (Libya chair of the Human Rights Commission, Iraq itself to chair a commission on disarmament for a month this year), the less one sees it as credible in the first place. Calls for it to be handled via the UN are also hypocritical - one will note that when NATO went into Kosovo, no one demanded that there be a UN Resolution authorizing it (a Democrat, Clinton, was in office at the time). The French went into Ivory Coast without any UN authorization, "unilaterally" pushing peace deals on reluctant countries, without anyone pointing a finger at them and crying "unilateralist!" They only bothered to get a resolution after having already taken action (perhaps we should emulate the French in this - go into Iraq, and then after the fact ask for a Resolution? I wonder how well that would go over in Paris. . .)

The French reaction was absurd bordering on delusional (Iraq should pass a law outlawing these things? What kind of goverment do they think we're dealing with? Luxemborg? Sweden?)

Here's More on Abu Masab al-Zawkawi and more on Chirac.
Christopher Hitchens to vote for Bush (scroll down).
James Baker: Last summer, when Baker was writing articles opposing military action against Iraq, guys like Aziz Poonawalla were taking the position that Baker's position was theres - praising Baker's sage wisdom and foreign policy expertese. Aziz in particular wrote numerous times in an e-mail exchange about how impressed he was with Baker's foreign policy prowess and that he would be guided by Baker rather than the likes of, say, myself.

Well, now James Baker is making the case for military action. I wonder if Aziz and others who, last fall, were saying they were following the lead of Baker will continue to do so - or if they were just using an appeal to authority using Baker when it was useful to them, but will abandon that now that he does not serve to confirm their preconceptions.

If the later was the case, then Aziz was disengenuous in his debates with me, considering the fervor with which he invoked Baker's name as decisive in our discussions and beyond my ability as, someone without his experience, to refute regardless of the merits of my own arguments.
The Usual Bile from the Left, as noticed by Steven Den Beste. Even, or perhaps especially, when they come to agree on something with those they hate, they can't help engaging in ad hominem personal attacks in order to, I suppose, prove in their own minds that they're still the only caring ones and have not joined with those who obviously have no empathy for their fellows (which is a given for all non-Leftists).

Well, I've linked in the past to Hitchens on this chickenhawk argument and made a few comments myself on that “chickenhawk” argument and it's certainly not clear which side of the ideological spectrum cares more for actual people. But it is rather clear which side of the debate has more friends and loved ones who have experience in harm's way and more actual understanding of what it entails. As for this sort of claim:
But I will make this one prediction, once. If the war goes badly you will be the first to condemn it.
I have to say that, based on historical experience (with, for example, Vietnam), the people who are the first to condemn and jump ship when war goes badly are the Seal-Pauls of the world. So that seems more like a projection on his part than anything.

As for the ad hominem personal attacks, though, I guess I'll leave that to those who are most skilled at making them: those on the Left, such as Sean Paul.
Gone Fishin': Actually, I'm spending the morning listening to Powell's presentation at the UN.

But in the meantime, some comments on this post on Fish's remarks about the purpose of the University.

Eric Tam wrote a thoughtful letter to me to say he thought a better comparison for Fish's arguments was with Michael Oakeshott, not Aristotle, and that perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that Fish would take this position.

On the other hand, John Holbo made a post that was more critical of Fish. In response to what Fish wrote here, for example:
Researchers should not falsify their credentials, or make things up, or fudge the evidence, or ignore data that go against their preferred conclusions. Those who publish should acknowledge predecessors and contributors, provide citations to their sources, and strive always to give an accurate account of the materials they present. This is no small list of professional obligations, and faculty members who are faithful to its imperatives will have little time to look around for causes and agendas to champion.
John writes:
If you, like me, are an academic, answer the following question: how much time did you spend last week not falsifying your credentials, not making things up, not fudging/ignoring data, not saying things you honestly think there are good reasons not to think true?
I thus find myself in the odd (for me) position of defending Fish. The point here is not how much time is spent doing those things, but that one shouldn't spend any time doing those things. After all, no doubt Joseph Ellis, Michael Bellesiles, and their ilk could say "oh, true - I hardly spent any time falsifying my credentials or making things up! So I'm in the clear!" The vast majority of their time, no doubt, was spent "appropriately". However, like a drop of diesel in a large water tank, it can taint the whole.

Also, there are, in my opinion, often entire university departments that are seemingly dedicated to ignoring (if not fudging) data that doesn't agree with their preferred conclusions.

However, Holbo goes on to criticize Fish on the Alon Sokal case, and how it applies to the arguments Fish is using here. He (Holbo) has a point. But Holbo also has a point in conceding that the rules Fish defends are "very sensible, in ordinarily circumstances" - so Jim Holbo's point isn't so much that Fish is wrong in describing the general guidelines, but that he is wrong to criticize Sokal in that specific instance. Sokal engaged in an experiment of a scientific nature (and indeed kept careful documentation and publicized the results after the experiment ran its course) - a test of a theorem that the editors of "Social Text" would not be able to distinguish a "good" (proper) research paper from a "bad" (fraudulent) one. The subjects of the experiment happened to be academics, and were unwitting subjects of the experiment. It would be fair to argue that Sokal did what he did in service of the academic norms that Fish is describing in the article I linked to (because if the editors of an academic publication are unable to discern good research that follows the rules from garbage data, then they have a problem). Fish might (or might not, I guess I'm not going to argue that today) have a point that the methods Sokal used to demonstrate that were inappropriate. Maybe the subtext of Fish's Chronicle column has the anti-Sokal meaning that Holbo infers from it. I'd certainly agree that if the editors of an academic publication (or entire field of study) cannot distinguish between good research papers and shoddy or fabricated ones, then there's something wrong with them (or their field of study) that should be exposed (that's part of the academic process, too, is testing theoretical foundations, as Sokal did, to see if they might be flawed. IMO, Sokal demonstrated that "Social Text" was flawed). How one goes about that is something there should be a debate on - and the fact that Sokal did not hide or cover up the fact that he had sent, and got published, a paper with fabricated data (and fully explained exactly what he did, as a scientist conducting an experiment - his paper thus being not data itself, but a means of collecting data to serve an academic purpose, prove or disprove a theory), puts Sokal on the other side of a line from the likes of Bellesiles, who continued to insist that his fabrications were not fabrications at all.

Holbo goes on to say that
The anti-activist principle Fish articulates, though agreeable in its general tendency, is WAY too rigid and absolute as actually stated.
Which it might be, but one of the problems with what happened to the university is the bluring and erosion of what I'd call common sense distinctions eventually led to a destruction of the general rules that Holbo says Fish is right to articulate. Probably the only way to restore those distinctions is through an "anti-activist principle" that may seem very rigid. I'm not a big defender of "zero tolerance" nonsense, myself (whereby, on other subjects, "zero tolerance" can mean a student suspended from school for having a pen knife or pointing a finger pretending it's a gun in play because the school has a "zero tolerance" policy and also a "zero common sense" policy). But what Fish is articulating are good general rules and, in my opinion, would represent a vast improvement over what goes on all too frequently.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Meanwhile, Blix to Deliver another "Last Chance" to Saddam.
France No Longer an Ally according to Pentagon Advisor and "Prince of Darkness" Richard Perle.

I wrote two weeks ago that NATO was gone, and have been writing at least last fall that France and Germany are no longer allies of America in any meaningful sense. But it's nice to see that people on the inside are noticing that, too.

Note also my phrasing, because no doubt someone will blame Perle or America for the "death of the alliance" - but he's simply pointing to obvious fact. Failing to notice what is already the case is in the interest of some, but recognizing reality doesn't mean causing that reality, and refusal to recognize that France's behavior towards the U.S. does not resemble that of an ally doesn't somehow change their behavior.
Sensible Stanley Fish? That's a phrase I would have thought was an oxymoron. But this article by Fish, calling for more separation between teaching and political activism, is very sensible, and almost, dare I say it, Aristotelian (which to me seems odd for a Post-Modernist like Fish):
Kerrey wants to be a virtuous citizen, and there are venues in which this worthy ambition can be pursued, but as president of an academic institution, the virtue he should be professing and protecting is the virtue of the academy. Academic virtue is the virtue that is or should be displayed in the course of academic activities -- teaching, research, publishing. Teachers should show up for their classes, prepare syllabuses, teach what has been advertised, be current in the literature of the field, promptly correct assignments and papers, hold regular office hours, and give academic (not political or moral) advice.

Researchers should not falsify their credentials, or make things up, or fudge the evidence, or ignore data that go against their preferred conclusions.
Whoa! Is Fish channeling Alasdair MacIntyre all of the sudden?

But this is the money section:
The unfettered expression of ideas is a cornerstone of liberal democracy; it is a prime political value. It is not, however, an academic value, and if we come to regard it as our primary responsibility, we will default on the responsibilities assigned us and come to be what no one pays us to be -- political agents.

It is entirely appropriate that special places and times (teach-ins, panel discussions, student rallies) be set aside for the airing of views on disputed matters, but such occasions should be understood in the strongest sense of the term as extracurricular; valuable and interesting to be sure, but not the point of the enterprise. Not everyone shares this understanding. Witness the instructor who included in his course description a request that conservative students go elsewhere, and the professor who, in the name of "openness," requires her students to subscribe to the tenets of tolerance and multiculturalism.

However, these lapses in individual judgment pale before the collective lapse of those who put pressure on universities to change practices of which they personally disapprove. In this category I would include the various calls for divestment, the movement to police the workplace conditions of the factories that supply the campus store with sweatshirts, the demand that sneaker manufacturers bring their labor practices into line with the preferences of student activists.

I am not saying that putting pressure on South Africa or Israel and agitating for workers' rights are not legitimate political actions. I'm just saying that political actions are what they are, which means that not everyone (either in the polity or the academic community) would approve them, which means that in endorsing them a university aligns itself with a partisan position, which means that sectors of the general public will come to regard the university as a special-interest lobby and decline to support it.
When people go around asking why the public is reluctant to "fully fund education", well, a good quip is "why should someone else fund your political causes"? A lot of people, myself included, are much more supportive of universities when we see them doing what universities ought to do (a telelogical argument - what is the purpose of a university? To provide a venue for the promulgation of partisan politics? Or to do the things Fish describes? I lean towards the latter).
No, teachers should teach their subjects. They should not teach peace or war or freedom or obedience or diversity or uniformity or nationalism or antinationalism or any other agenda that might properly be taught by a political leader or a talk-show host. Of course they can and should teach about such topics -- something very different from urging them as commitments -- when they are part of the history or philosophy or literature or sociology that is being studied.

The only advocacy that should go on in the classroom is the advocacy of what James Murphy has identified as the intellectual virtues -- "thoroughness, perseverance, intellectual honesty" -- all components of the cardinal academic virtue of being "conscientious in the pursuit of truth" (The New York Times, September 15, 2002).
Which is just so. Indeed, guys on the right who have often used Fish as a whipping boy should perhaps instead re-think their attitudes towards him as well. Any movement to restore academic standards and re-draw the boundaries between teaching and political indoctrination, between scholarship and activism, which doesn't have a political agenda of its own would include anyone voicing the views Fish is voicing here.

If this is "cats and dogs living together" then all I ask is that I get to be the dog. *_+

Update: Oh, and I know, that "technically" he can't be "channeling" Alasdair MacIntyre, because MacIntyre is still alive. It was just my little way of saying he was making an argument that was a lot like one MacIntyre might make. I wasn't being literal - in no small part because I don't believe in "channeling" in the first place.
Economic News Remains Mixed: Last week there was a spate of disappointing news. This week, earnings reports aren't great but factory orders rise. Everything is still proceeding exactly as I have forseen.

Well, except that the big, key thing might not happen when it should and the delay, if it happens, could prove very vexing in many, many ways. But more on that later (point on that will be that I wasn't wrong; putting it off will be what is wrong).
Chirac Obstinate in his efforts to transform the task of UN inspectors from verifying Iraqi compliance (or lack theirof) into one of delay and obstruction.

There are, at least, costs for this behavior, and it's true that, in the hands of the French, the UN is being used as a threat to, rather than a promoter of, peace.
But America is unlikely to persuade people who walk about with sacks over their heads rather than hear facts that would confound their credo.
Which is all too true in all too many cases, and I don't think we can have our actions (or non-actions) tied to those who are reflexively intransigent and don't want to be troubled with the facts.

As for the "work of the inspectors", Blair had a good explaination in Q.T. yesterday regarding what the work of the inspectors really is. Unfortunately, as far as I know, it's not online. But in any case frequent readers of this site will know what it is - as will anyone who's read Resolution 1441. Hint: it's not years of snipe hunting in Iraq.

As for the UN itself this:
The United Nations has been a thorn in the side of the free world since the mid-1970s, when Unesco was taken over by unfree countries of the Third World and the General Assembly passed the "Zionism is racism" resolution in 1975. Even so, some of us argued in print that, so long as the UN contributed a 0.1 per cent chance to helping maintain world peace, it was a worthwhile investment. That argument has worn thin.

By now the United Nations, with its Human Rights Commission chaired by Libya, is not only irrelevant; it is coming perilously close to endangering world peace and security. The majority of its members are in breach of most tenets of the UN Charter and yet these same members are rewarded with plum UN assignments.

In March, Iraq will assume the chairmanship of the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. The UN is rapidly becoming more of a force for harm than good.
Seems like an appropriate description of the organization.
Couldn't Have Happened to a More Deserving Fellow I saw this guy interviewed on a CBC (yes, Canadian Broadcasting) program on radical moslems preaching in and organizing terrorist cells in Britain and Europe about a year ago. The guy should have been removed long ago.
More on Ivory Coast: After receiving a letter in response to this post that took me to task over it and rationalized the violent revolution in the Ivory Coast on the usual multicultural grounds (the Moslems of the north are oppressed by the largely Christian south because they don't have control over the military and policing forces and thus cannot impose Sharia on the country by force. Sudan is a more appropriate example, where the unique culture and practices of the indigenousness native peoples have full expression), I was reminded (unintentionally, I believe) of the Marxist roots of the multiculturalist movement (and its origins in the Frankfurt School of Marxist intellectuals) - these were the very same rationalizations used to excuse handing over control of governments to radical factions in the past,

meanwhile the actual people of the Ivory Coast, who would be the primary victims of this "multicultural" deal that hands over key ministries to a radical faction (often violent) - then it was on ideological grounds, now it is on cultural grounds.

Meanwhile, the people of Ivory Coast who would be the foremost victims if this deal was implemented, continue to protest it. It's a real "rainbow coalition": one day, youths. Another day, women. Today, the disabled. But the sympathies of the Multicultists seem to be on the other side - aligned with a narrow cultural faction seeking to impose its will on the rest of the "mosaic" of the Ivory Coast by force of arms, gaining by revolution what they could not gain at the ballot box. Which, as I say, further re-enforces my view that what drives multiculturalism is the usual ideological outlook.

Notice also that, in general, those who make a fetish out of "multiculturalism" do not apply it consistently. Ivory Coast at least has an elected government. But in Iraq, a very narrow ethnic claque, the Tikriti mob surrounding Saddam Hussein, seized control over the country by force and run it as a ruthless, Stalinist dictatorship. They have massively oppressed other ethnic groups (not just excluded them from power), in particular but not limited to the Kurds in the north and the Shiite "Marsh Arabs" of the south (with Saddam also engaging in destruction of the local ecology in order to make it easier to repress the "Marsh Arabs", and forcing them to change their way of life).

But for the most part you'll find that people who are self-described as strong multiculturalisits are not that worked up about this. It could very well be because the regime involved in the repression is a Stalinist one: the Ba'athist Nationalist and Socialist regime of Saddam Hussein. So instead of getting behind efforts to liberate the oppressed people of Iraq, one will find them out in the streets in A.N.S.W.E.R. (Worker's World party front group) sponsored protests, shouting against war.

Which in turn reminds me of a quote I read the other day, of back in the era when some in Hollywood were concerned that Communists were transforming their unions into front groups. We've heard a lot about how "well, it's ok to go to A.N.S.W.E.R. protests, and no one should criticize that - it's red baiting McCarthyism - of course honest Leftists and Liberals will go to their protests, even if they don't agree with the Worker's World Party, because they're good organizers."

That's old hat, too. One guy (sorry, can't remember his name now. I'll try and look it up when I get home) in the '40s, who was tired of this, quipped that it was an example of "the industrious Communist tail wagging the lazy Liberal dog." Plus la change, as they say.

One of the several links that the writer sent me was this one, which looks back almost nostalgically on the rule of strongman Félix Houphouët-Boigny (and bizzarely claims he built a "vibrant economy". I'm sure the trains ran on time and all), and blames the problems on the recent democratically elected governments. Ahh, if only Ivory Coast had a firm leader, like Muamar Ghaddafi, Hero of Africa, or even better, like Saddam or perhaps a Dear Leader.
Strange Pairings: On the "Hmmmn. . . I wouldn't have expected that" front and on the "are you kidding me? That doesn't pass the laugh test" front.

Monday, February 03, 2003

French Diplomacy: We're often told that the U.S. is a global "bully" (in particular, for example, because of our refusal to force a deal on Israel, I suppose), and that we could stand to learn a lot from the way the French do things. We'd be more liked in the world if we followed the sophisticated and nuanced aproach of the French. I suppose this is an example of that:
French government "solemnly" insisted that he [Laurent Gbagbo] implement it [the French designed "peace" plan for Ivory Coast].
Ahh, yes, those non-bullying French.
French Backing of Violent Radical Islamists?: Alert Reader Goode, writing in response to this post from Friday, points out that:
the "rebels" are in fact radical Muslims who want to enforce sharia law on the whole country.
But this is played down in almost all the press reports on the situation.

That seems to be true. I remember when the revolt first started, it was precipitated when the government of Ivory Coast R.I.F.'d out several thousand troops (the Ivory Coast military having been predominantly Moslem) for a variety of reasons. One of which seems to be infiltration by Salafid/Wahhabi radicals.

The people of the Ivory Coast seem to understand rather well what accommodating the rebels would mean - at best it would produce a situation like that in Nigeria. No wonder that the women in particular are protesting the French-sponsored deal that rewards violent uprisings.

I think it's also important to see the French attitude here in the context of France's policies regarding Iraq and the like as well - and again the people of Ivory Coast, who seem to prefer the U.S. attitude, seem to have made a connection that is failing all too many of the "expert analysts" who believe that America has it wrong, is alienating the people of the world, and we need to listen to the sage advice of our French and German allies.

But no wonder that aspect of things is missed in reports that play down or ignore the ideological aspect of the rebels.

Observing French actions here also gives some indication, by the by, regarding which side their government "tilts towards" in the overall conflict.

Note also that the French "peace plan", backed by French troops, would force what amounts to a "regime change" on the government of Ivory Coast - giving certain government portfolios to the rebels and making changes in the government to accommodate the rebels. But this is supposed to be bad, right? The French are supposed to be adamantly opposed to the idea of "regime change" imposed by force from the outside on behalf of internal opposition groups, right?

Update: Alert Reader Martin Adamson points out that the Ministries bandied about as being given to the rebels under France's peace plan, Defense and the Interior, are precisely those which are useful for taking control of the country from, and makes this analogy:
Back in the 1940s, when the USSR was in occupation of the countries of Easter Europe, they would generally start off by setting up some kind of broad-based provisional government, using all the political parties not tainted by collaboration with fascism. However, the key "power" ministries - defense and the Interior - were always firmly in Communist hands, as this gave them control of the Army, as well as the Police, the Secret Police (very useful for blackmail) the judiciary, the prisons and the electoral process.

So, the Govt of the Ivory Coast is absolutely correct in their analysis of the situation, the French have indeed sold them down the river.
Which seems about what's going on here. I doubt the rebels have, um, limited ambitions. . .

Update: See also here.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

    We pray for one last landing
    On the globe that gave us birth;
    Let us rest our eyes on the fleecy skies
    And the cool, green hills of Earth.
      - Robert Heinlein
Via Angry Clam