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Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces (Read 240521 times)
Reply #150 on:
September 15, 2005, 11:56:56 PM »
I shared your FEMA post elsewhere and have been challenged on its authenticity. How/where did you come across this?
Reply #151 on:
September 16, 2005, 09:23:09 AM »
National Review Online:
Supreme Court Circumlocutions
Reply #152 on:
September 16, 2005, 11:49:01 AM »
I'm in the awkward position of being someone who generally supports abortion freedom, but who loathes the dubious and destructive manner by which it was arrived at. Krauthammer does a good job here of spelling my feelings out.
Roe v. Roberts
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, September 16, 2005; A31
In our lifetime has there been a more politically poisonous Supreme Court decision than Roe v. Wade ? Set aside for a moment your thoughts on the substance of the ruling. (I happen to be a supporter of legalized abortion.) I'm talking about the continuing damage to the republic: disenfranchising, instantly and without recourse, an enormous part of the American population; preventing, as even Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, proper political settlement of the issue by the people and their representatives; making us the only nation in the West to have legalized abortion by judicial fiat rather than by the popular will expressed democratically.
The corruption continues 32 years later. You could see it played out hour by hour in the Senate confirmation hearings of Judge John Roberts. Question upon question that pretended to be about high constitutional principle was really about abortion in ill-concealed disguise.
Senators asked gravely about how deeply Roberts believes in upholding precedent. Do you think that any of the Democrats were concerned whether Roberts would uphold Richmond v. Croson , the precedent that outlawed racial quotas in municipal contracting? Or Boy Scouts v. Dale , which permitted the exclusion of gay Scout leaders?
This is all about Roe . Take the lines of interrogation about Roberts's belief in the right to privacy. They are not asking about search and seizure in your home. They are asking about the "right to choose" (a brilliant locution that expunges the ugly word abortion from all political debate about abortion) -- what Roberts in 1981 correctly termed the "so-called 'right to privacy,' " a skepticism he is now required to disavow.
Why? Because everyone knows what happened to Robert Bork when he forthrightly and honestly denied some kind of separate, newly hatched right to privacy.
And then there are the learned Judiciary Committee disquisitions on "originalism" -- the judicial philosophy by which Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas try to anchor the Constitution in something real, i.e., the meaning of the words as intended and understood at the time they were written.
Originalism is itself highly problematic, the worst judicial philosophy except for all the others, because they permit unmoored and arbitrary constitutional interpretation -- and thus unmoored and arbitrary judicial power. The learned senators, however, really don't care much about originalism, except to the extent that it would, almost by definition, make Roberts a categorical opponent of Roe . Which is why Roberts denies that he has any ideology, any "overarching judicial philosophy," and is nothing more than an ad hoc, bottom-up type of guy.
Maybe he is. Maybe he isn't. But he knows that if he dares to say otherwise, he gets Borked. If, on the other hand, he pretends to have a mind so scrubbed of theory that he is at a loss to explain gravitation itself, he gets to be chief justice of the United States for 40 years.
In 2000 Al Gore declared that he would not nominate a justice who did not support Roe. Dianne Feinstein says today that if she determines that Roberts opposes Roe , she will be compelled to vote against him. For Democrats, abortion is an open litmus test. For Republicans, it is a test of agility: Can they find the nominee who might be against Roe but has been circumspect enough not to say so publicly and who will be clever enough to avoid saying so at his confirmation hearings?
Circumspect and clever Roberts has been. No one really knows. But I predict two things: (a) Chief Justice Roberts will vote to uphold Roe v. Wade , and (b) his replacing his former boss, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, will move the court only mildly, but most assuredly, to the left -- as measured by the only available yardstick, the percentage of concurrences with the opinions of those conservative touchstones, Scalia and Thomas.
I infer this not just by what Roberts has said in his hearings -- that he supports Griswold v. Connecticut , that he deeply respects precedent and that he finds Roe itself worthy of respect. That is little beyond boilerplate. I infer it from his temperament, career and life history as an establishment conservative who prizes judicial modesty above all. Which means that while he will never repeat Roe , he will never repeal it and be the cause of the social upheaval that repeal would inevitably bring.
Not that this in any way disqualifies Roberts in my conservative eyes. He is a perfectly reasonable traditional conservative, who will be an outstanding chief justice. He is just not a judicial revolutionary. If you're a conservative looking for a return to the good old days, you'll be disappointed. And if you're a liberal who lives for the good old days because that's all that liberalism has left, tell Chuck Schumer to relax.
Reply #153 on:
September 16, 2005, 12:21:13 PM »
Mostly I agree.
Bork was a superior legal intellect who was viciously abused personally and dishonestly demagogued on the merits of many issues-- all to the lasting damage of our political culture to this day.
That said, IMO he was and is completely wrong on the issue of privacy. There IS a Constitutional right to privacy and it is to be found, along with the right to self-defense, in the 9th Amendment.
On this issue alone, I opposed his ascension to the Supreme Court.
Whatever one's opinion on the abortion issue, the right to privacy does not supersede however the right to life; we may not murder someone in the privacy of our home for example. Thus the Roe decision is an abortion in and of itself and a perfect example of judiical imperialism.
Reply #154 on:
September 16, 2005, 12:24:38 PM »
Has anyone been following what the european media has been saying about the aftermath of the hurricane? They seem to be happy about it, which in light of their own failure to save the 40 thousand people who slowly died during the heatwave that hit awhile back, makes them look less and less like friends.
Reply #155 on:
September 16, 2005, 12:28:25 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog
Whatever one's opinion on the abortion issue, the right to privacy does not supersede however the right to life; we may not murder someone in the privacy of our home for example.
A fetus is not "someone."
Reply #156 on:
September 16, 2005, 12:35:04 PM »
THAT is precisely the FIRST question.
The second question is "WHO gets to decide?"
Where in the Constitution does it say that the Supreme Court gets to decide?
At the time of Roe, it was decided by the elected branches of government at the state level-- which seems quite correct to me.
If Roe is overruled, it does not mean an end to abortion. It means a return to the respective states deciding. In that the majority of the population in most states wants some forms of abortion, in those cases there will be some forms of abortion.
Reply #157 on:
September 16, 2005, 02:25:22 PM »
Woof, Milt says a fetus is not "someone".
Neither is a baby a boy or a boy a man, but given the chance to live they both will/ would be..........
Reply #158 on:
September 16, 2005, 04:35:25 PM »
My view of individual rights play heavy on my views about abortion. I think a womans right to choose is a valid right. However, my view of when human life begins plays heavy on my view that no one should choose to abort living human tissue created by God,( not man ) and that God will be the judge in this matter. Our rights to be free thinking, self- determined individuals with a will and a mind to choose our own course of action, were God given. So choose wisely ladies.
Flirting w/ Disaster
Reply #159 on:
September 19, 2005, 01:53:39 PM »
Out of curiosity, if Nagin's calls for citizens to return to New Orleans before there is potable water, electricity, 911 service, and a coherant evacuation plan succeed, should another storm come along will the easily foreseeable results still be Bush's fault?
New Orleans Mayor Defends Return Plan
Relief Chief Says It's Still 'Very, Very Soon to Try and Do That'
By MARY FOSTER, AP
NEW ORLEANS (Sept. 18) - New Orleans' mayor has the authority to let residents return to his hurricane-damaged city, but the Coast Guard official in charge of the federal disaster response said Sunday that all the information from health and environmental experts recommends against it.
Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen plans to meet with Mayor Ray Nagin on Monday and develop what he called a logical plan to repopulate the city.
If Allen gets his way, that repopulation won't start on Monday, as the mayor planned, but it will be soon.
"I wouldn't want to attach a time limit to it, but it includes things like making sure there's potable water, making sure there's a 911 system in place, telephone, a means to notify people there is an approaching storm so you can evacuate it with the weakened levee situation," Allen said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.
"We can do that, and we can do that fairly soon, but it's very, very soon to try and do that this week," he said.
Nagin didn't appear ready to back down Saturday as he defended his plan to return up to 180,000 people to the city within a week and a half despite concerns about the short supply of drinking water and heavily polluted floodwaters.
"We must offer the people of New Orleans every chance for a sense of closure and the opportunity for a new beginning," he said.
He wants the Algiers, Garden District and French Quarter sections to reopen over the next week and a half, bringing back more than one-third of the city's half-million inhabitants, though city officials have backed off a specific date for reopening the famous French Quarter. The areas were spared the worst of Hurricane Katrina's flooding.
Nagin said his plan was developed in cooperation with the federal government and balances safety concerns and the needs of citizens to begin rebuilding.
But Allen said he had spoken personally with the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and returning now wouldn't be advised. A prime public health concern is the tap water, which in most of the city remains unfit for drinking and bathing, he said.
"We really support his plan to restart New Orleans," Allen said. "We are right in sticking with his vision. It's a matter of timing and creating the, enabling the structures that will allow us to do this safely."
Those structures would include an evacuation plan if another storm hits the region and threatens an already delicate levee system, he said.
There are also still bodies to be recovered. Allen said over 90 percent of the primary house-to-house sweep was complete, but some homes are still under water and searchers will have to return.
On Sunday, the death toll in Louisiana increased by more than 60 to 646, according to the state Department of Health and Hospitals. That raised the total Gulf Coast deaths linked to the hurricane to 883.
Despite floodwater remaining in some areas and a lack of residents in the city, business owners were allowed back in to some sections of the city to begin the long process of cleaning up and rebuilding, part of Nagin's plan to begin reviving the city by resuming a limited amount of commerce.
But confronted with damage that could take months to repair, many said hopes for a quick recovery may be little more than a political dream.
"I don't know why they said people could come back and open their businesses," said Margaret Richmond, owner of an antiques shop on the edge of the city's upscale Garden District that was looted. "You can't reopen this. And even if you could, there are no customers here."
The Wal-Mart store in uptown New Orleans, built within the last year, survived the storm but was destroyed by looters.
"They took everything -- all the electronics, the food, the bikes," said John Stonaker, a Wal-Mart security officer. "The only thing left are the country-and-western CDs."
If the store had not been looted, it could be open in two weeks, Stonaker said. Now he doubts it will be open by January.
In the French Quarter, the hum of generators, the thumping of hammers and the whir of power tools cut through the air Saturday as business owners were allowed in to survey the damage and begin cleaning up. Some threw an impromptu street party, complete with a traditional feast of red beans and rice.
At the famous French Quarter restaurant, The Court of Two Sisters, director of food and beverages Andrew Orth was removing plywood from the windows on Saturday morning. The coolers lost power and the food was rotting. Orth estimated it would take several weeks to get the restaurant ready to serve diners again.
"We couldn't open even if the electricity was on," he said.
Associated Press Writer Doug Simpson contributed to this report from Baton Rouge.
Reply #160 on:
September 19, 2005, 02:41:20 PM »
I find myself with a strong gut instinct to let Freedom solve most things. If people want to put their shoulder to the wheel and take hold of their own lives, , , , sounds good to me.
FEMA Primary Source
Reply #161 on:
September 19, 2005, 02:42:03 PM »
An interesting "primary source" here.
A FEMA Volunteer Judges The FEMA Response As She Saw It
Written by Jodi Witte
Monday, September 19, 2005
Dear Friends and Family,
I just got home from 15 days in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. I am tired, and I am emotional. But mostly I am angry. I am angry at the news--the television stations, the newspapers--for what I view is a grossly misrepresented placement of blame. For those of you who know me, you know I work for FEMA as an "intermittent employee" of a disaster response team. My team, called VMAT or Veterinary Medical Assistance Team, is part of the response branch of FEMA known as the National Disaster Medical System.
Let me tell you how "awful" FEMA's response was from someone who was there on the front lines working for FEMA.
President Bush declared a state of emergency prior to Katrina's landfall due to its strength and location. This is not normally done before a hurricane makes landfall. Damn good work by George W., in my honest opinion. This opened the door for our federal teams to pre-deploy assets in nearby locations so that we were ready when Katrina did hit. I was contacted by FEMA before the hurricane hit, asking for my availability and to place me on alert. Many teams were moved into the region including 2 VMAT teams. My team was mobilized immediately after landfall and I arrived in the area before New Orleans had completely filled with water, before we even realized how bad it was truly going to be. FEMA responded immediately and with unprecedented numbers of responders. There were DMAT teams inside the Super Dome before the levee broke. Never before had so many FEMA teams and personnel been sent into a disaster.
One thing you must understand: the DMAT, VMAT, and DMORT teams that make up the National Disaster Medical System are NOT "first responders." Our job is to supplement overwhelmed communities if needed. The initial responsibility lies with the state. If they become overwhelmed in the aftermath of a disaster where their local hospitals, medical, veterinary, and mortuary assets cannot handle the magnitude of the disaster, we come in and augment their resources. It takes 24 to 48 hours to mobilize the federal assets in normal circumstances. We come from every state in the United States, leaving our jobs and families behind at the drop of a hat to help where ever it is needed. Our cache of equipment and medical supplies must either be moved from our home base or from the federal warehouses in Maryland by truck or plane. This takes time. But we were there before Katrina hit and many more arrived immediately after even before knowing the full scope of this disaster.
So why is FEMA being blamed? I'm not exactly sure. I really am not. Yes, FEMA was overwhelmed. God sakes how could it not be? This hurricane has been the largest natural disaster the United States has had on record. Nothing can compare. We train and train for almost anything. We try to be ready. But no one was ready for how bad this truly was. I am sure there were some bad decisions made high up, and of that I cannot deny. It was a logistical nightmare to get the teams placed and the supplies sent in. Some stuff arrived too late. But, seeing how hard the FEMA employees worked to help the people and animals of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama makes me angry and very, very sad to hear us put down so bad on television and in the news.
One day, just a couple days after New Orleans was under water, I was stationed in the New Orleans airport. This is where I was the first week. The airport was where all the buses and helicopters that were rescuing people from the city brought them first. They came in the thousands to the airport and went through lines holding their last bit of possessions, which included a small amount of clothing or keepsakes and often times their pets. Yes, they got to bring their pets with them on the buses and helicopters. I know because I was there. I saw them. They came in and were triaged by FEMA medical personnel. Minor injuries or illnesses were treated with the utmost care and love by FEMA DMAT teams and then they took their place in line through concourse C to board planes to shelters where they could receive follow up medical treatment. The very ill were moved into the D concourse area for more thorough medical care and support in a true MASH hospital set up right there inside the airport. I walked through this area frequently and watched as DMAT members held hands of people critically and gravely ill, cared for them, helped them in so many ways trying to save their lives and to comfort those who could not be saved.
I walked through feces, urine, blood, and vomit covering the floor of the airport. I watched custodians working tirelessly to clean up the floor even though it was soiled again as soon it was cleaned. People were handed water and food as soon as they arrived. Those who were well, moved through an endless line to concourse B to board both commercial and military planes going to shelters in other states. I walked the lines of concourse B, C, and D as did other members of my VMAT team to provide any needed veterinary care to the pets who were evacuated with their families. We cared for stray animals that arrived at the airport too. See, the coast guard and military helicopters were picking up stray animals if they had room when they would rescue people from the city. FEMA personnel did everything possible to comfort and care for the people of New Orleans. I know because I was one of them, and I did everything I could for them, and I saw with my own eyes what the others were also doing.
This is a photo on the FEMA website. What you don't see here is that this little dog is sitting below the hospital gurney of his master who was critically ill inside one of the DMAT MASH tents. I walked through this medical tent to check on the dog with a couple other members of my VMAT team. The nurse had given the dog a dish of water and was feeding him some crackers. We promised the man we would bring back some food for his dog. He was very thankful as he laid there with IVs going. I returned a few minutes later with one other member of my team, bringing a Ziploc bag of dog food. When we arrived they were moving him to a different stretcher because he needed to be medivac'ed out on a helicopter for more intense medical care. The helicopter pilot told us he cannot take the dog unless its in a crate. I stepped up to talk to the very ill man. I asked him if he would let me care for his dog while he went to the hospital. He grabbed my hand and had tears in his eyes as he begged me to help him take his dog with him because it was all he had left in the world. There was nothing else. I looked into this man's eyes as he cried. He was a middle aged white man with cuts and scrapes all over him. His face was puffy and feverish with infection.
I then looked at the DMAT nurse and the Coast Guard pilot. Both looked back at me with very grave expressions and each asked me to please find a crate for the dog so he can go with the man. My teammate and I both knew right then that this man may not make it and we had to make sure he got to spend as much time as possible with his dog.
There was no way we were going to make him leave his dog behind. We took off running and found an empty crate. It was a bit too small for the dog, but would work temporarily. We returned and found the pilot waiting for us with the man. Once we got the dog in the crate and on the stretcher with the man, he again took my hand and thanked us as we cried together. He said "you have no idea what you have done for me and I will never forget it." Then he was wheeled away toward the waiting helicopter.
So, at the end of this day--a 29 hour shift that I spent at the airport--I arrived back at our bunk location, a building on the campus of LSU where we slept on the floor, and I got to see the news on one of the cable networks. I was absolutely outraged at the reports of the lack of response by FEMA. I changed to another cable news network and saw the same thing there. What they don't mention when they talk about FEMA is the people who make up FEMA's response, working countless hours, pouring their very heart and soul into this response despite being slammed and criticized all over the news.
I cried with sadness and anger at how we are viewed all over the world. I am a FEMA responder who cannot wear my FEMA badge in public in Louisiana because everyone thinks we are so terrible. Do they even yet mention how hard we have worked for the people and animals of Louisiana? No, maybe they never will.
Just yesterday the radio was criticizing the fact that FEMA had so many trucks filled with water and supplies that were just sitting somewhere and was costing $600 per day each to sit and wait. Does anyone realize this is the right thing to do? There is already a tremendous amount of water and supplies in the areas. The reason there are trucks waiting full of more supplies and water is so they can move at a moments notice to where ever they are needed at any time. Would they rather have the extra supplies sitting in a warehouse where they would have to wait to secure trucks, then load the supplies and water, then move them out? No. They complain about the lack of quick response by FEMA yet don't get the whole concept that these supplies and water sitting in trucks ready to go is for quick response and now they criticize FEMA readiness without realizing it. The contradictions in the news is ridiculous.
Now 13 days after I first saw the news reporting how awful FEMA is, I still remain proud to be a member of FEMA, and I am proud of the work I did in New Orleans and I am proud to work for the federal government headed up by a strong and brave president. It was not easy, and things may not have gone perfectly, but we did and continue to do amazing work there even if no one knows it because they will only look at what went wrong instead of so much that went right.
About the Writer: Jodi Beck Witte is a veterinary technician and weapons of mass destruction specialist for a FEMA disaster response team and manages an animal health website
. Jodi receives e-mail at
Rewarding Failure & Punishing Success
Reply #162 on:
September 20, 2005, 11:26:01 AM »
As somone who spent a big chunk of his life running restaurants, and who was often times the only white boy in the kitchen, I've had to contend with various manifestations of the welfare state, the most common one being folks who only wanted to work long enough to regain unemployment benefits and then sought a way to be taken off the schedule that wouldn't make them ineligible for unemployment insurance. I understood the game, knew how to counter it, and hence never had a successful unemployment insurance claim brought against me. Word spread and folks who were into that scam curiously stopped trying to get short term gigs in restaurants I ran.
Those up close and personal dealings with a manifestation of the welfare state on a micro level leave the following macro level thoughts ringing true.
September 20, 2005, 8:16 a.m.
?Bold, Persistent Experimentation?
Post-Katrina is a time for changing.
It is the other flood: The outpouring of concern for the poor of New Orleans. According to nearly every journalist in America, our consciousness has been raised about the invisible scourge of poverty in this country, and nothing is too much to ask when addressing the plight of the disadvantaged evacuees of New Orleans. They should get every form of aid possible ? except, that is, assistance that might help give them more control over their lives.
The most controversial parts of the Bush aid package for New Orleans are the ones that attempt to free the poor from the tentacles of government bureaucracy. He wants to give the unemployed personal accounts to assist in their job search and create a $500 million program to fund school vouchers for displaced children to attend private schools. The current political climate is premised on the notion that no one should say "no" to any Katrina-related program, but Democrats will attempt to veto these proposals.
One argument that has always been advanced to block aid to poor families who want to send their children to private schools is that, in effect, the government can't afford it; it will starve public schools of funding. But no one in Washington has any credibility to say the federal government can't afford anything, since there is very little that this Congress and administration isn't funding fulsomely. Will $500 million for vouchers bleed public-education spending? That's hard to see when President Bush increased federal education spending 65 percent during his first term.
The objection to these Bush proposals isn't fiscal, but philosophical. They serve to undermine the principle of government dependency that underpins the contemporary welfare state, and to which liberals are utterly devoted. In a reversal of the old parable, liberals don't want to teach people how to fish if they can just give them federally funded seafood dishes instead.
The unemployed now get 26 weeks of federal unemployment benefits, which are often extended and also supplemented by various state programs. This is a social safety net that can become a trap. The longer and more generous benefits are, the less incentive someone has to find work (see Germany in particular and Western Europe generally for examples of the phenomenon at work). The Bush program would establish accounts that unemployed people could use as they see fit for education, training programs and child care to support their job search. If they find a job within 13 weeks they can keep up to $1,000 of the $5,000 account.
This would reverse the traditional incentive of unemployment benefits; it would do an end run around work-force investment boards, the state-level bureaucracies that now eat up federal dollars; it would allow each person to tailor federal aid to his own needs and strengths. It would be at least a step toward preserving individual initiative from the enervating clutch of bureaucracy.
The education vouchers, meanwhile, make private school available to kids who had suffered in the atrocious New Orleans public system and help preserve the choice many families had already made. Out of 248,000 students in the broader New Orleans area, 61,000 went to private schools. Opponents of the voucher proposals want to say to bereft families of those private-school students, "Congratulations, you lost everything, and we hope your children now get trapped in public schools on top of it."
New Orleans was partly a catastrophe of the welfare state, which has subsidized inner cities with countless billions of dollars throughout the past 30 years, with little to show for it except more social breakdown. The past few weeks should be the impetus for "bold, persistent experimentation," as Franklin D. Roosevelt put it, in the country's social programs. Instead, we are likely to get more spending on more of the same, and eventually everyone's attention will shift once again from the shame of New Orleans and the persistent failure of the welfare state.
Reply #163 on:
September 22, 2005, 11:30:32 AM »
For those who don't know, PN was a noted speechwriter for President Reagan and author of two books about him including "When Character was King" which I highly recommend. She writes regularly for the WSJ and is one class act IMHO.
Thursday, September 22, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT
'Whatever It Takes'
Is Bush's big spending a bridge to nowhere?
George W. Bush, after five years in the presidency, does not intend to get sucker-punched by the Democrats over race and poverty. That was the driving force behind his Katrina speech last week. He is not going to play the part of the cranky accountant--"But where's the money going to come from?"--while the Democrats, in the middle of a national tragedy, swan around saying "Republicans don't care about black people," and "They're always tightwads with the poor."
In his Katrina policy the president is telling Democrats, "You can't possibly outspend me. Go ahead, try. By the time this is over Dennis Kucinich will be crying uncle, Bernie Sanders will be screaming about pork."
That's what's behind Mr. Bush's huge, comforting and boondogglish plan to spend $200 billion or $100 billion or whatever--"whatever it takes"--on Katrina's aftermath. And, I suppose, tomorrow's hurricane aftermath.
George W. Bush is a big spender. He has never vetoed a spending bill. When Congress serves up a big slab of fat, crackling pork, Mr. Bush responds with one big question: Got any barbecue sauce? The great Bush spending spree is about an arguably shrewd but ultimately unhelpful reading of history, domestic politics, Iraq and, I believe, vanity.
This, I believe, is the administration's shrewd if unhelpful reading of history: In a 50-50 nation, people expect and accept high spending. They don't like partisan bickering, there's nothing to gain by arguing around the edges, and arguing around the edges of spending bills is all we get to do anymore. The administration believes there's nothing in it for the Republicans to run around whining about cost. We will spend a lot and the Democrats will spend a lot. But the White House is more competent and will not raise taxes, so they believe Republicans win on this one in the long term.
Domestic politics: The administration believes it is time for the Republican Party to prove to the minority groups of the United States, and to those under stress, that the Republicans are their party, and not the enemy. The Democrats talk a good game, but Republicans deliver, and we know the facts. A lot of American families are broken, single mothers bringing up kids without a father come to see the government as the guy who'll help. It's right to help and we don't lose by helping.
Iraq: Mr. Bush decided long ago--I suspect on Sept. 12, 2001--that he would allow no secondary or tertiary issue to get in the way of the national unity needed to forge the war on terror. So no fighting with Congress over who put the pork in the pan. Cook it, eat it, go on to face the world arm in arm.
As for vanity, the president's aides sometimes seem to see themselves as The New Conservatives, a brave band of brothers who care about the poor, unlike those nasty, crabbed, cheapskate conservatives of an older, less enlightened era.
Republicans have grown alarmed at federal spending. It has come to a head not only because of Katrina but because of the huge pork-filled highway bill the president signed last month, which comes with its own poster child for bad behavior, the Bridge to Nowhere. The famous bridge in Alaska that costs $223 million and that connects one little place with two penguins and a bear with another little place with two bears and a penguin. The Bridge to Nowhere sounds, to conservative ears, like a metaphor for where endless careless spending leaves you. From the Bridge to the 21st Century to the Bridge to Nowhere: It doesn't feel like progress.
A lot of Bush supporters assumed the president would get serious about spending in his second term. With the highway bill he showed we misread his intentions.
The administration, in answering charges of profligate spending, has taken, interestingly, to slighting old conservative hero Ronald Reagan. This week it was the e-mail of a high White House aide informing us that Ronald Reagan spent tons of money bailing out the banks in the savings-and-loan scandal. This was startling information to Reaganites who remembered it was a fellow named George H.W. Bush who did that. Last month it was the president who blandly seemed to suggest that Reagan cut and ran after the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon.
Poor Reagan. If only he'd been strong he could have been a good president.
Before that, Mr. Mehlman was knocking previous generations of Republican leaders who just weren't as progressive as George W. Bush on race relations. I'm sure the administration would think to criticize the leadership of Bill Clinton if they weren't so busy having jolly mind-melds with him on Katrina relief. Mr. Clinton, on the other hand, is using his new closeness with the administration to add an edge of authority to his slams on Bush. That's a pol who knows how to do it.
At any rate, Republican officials start diminishing Ronald Reagan, it is a bad sign about where they are psychologically. In the White House of George H.W. Bush they called the Reagan administration "the pre-Bush era." See where it got them.
Sometimes I think the Bush White House needs to be told: It's good to be a revolutionary. But do you guys really need to be opening up endless new fronts? Do you need--metaphor switch--seven or eight big pots boiling on the stove all at the same time? You think the kitchen and the house might get a little too hot that way?
The Republican (as opposed to conservative) default position when faced with criticism of the Bush administration is: But Kerry would have been worse! The Democrats are worse! All too true. The Democrats right now remind me of what the veteran political strategist David Garth told me about politicians. He was a veteran of many campaigns and many campaigners. I asked him if most or many of the politicians he'd worked with had serious and defining political beliefs. David thought for a moment and then said, "Most of them started with philosophy. But they wound up with hunger." That's how the Democrats seem to me these days: unorganized people who don't know what they stand for but want to win, because winning's pleasurable and profitable.
But saying The Bush administration is a lot better than having Democrats in there is not an answer to criticism, it's a way to squelch it. Which is another Bridge to Nowhere.
Mr. Bush started spending after 9/11. Again, anything to avoid a second level fight that distracts from the primary fight, the war on terror. That is, Mr. Bush had his reasons. They were not foolish. At the time they seemed smart. But four years later it is hard for a conservative not to protest. Some big mistakes have been made.
First and foremost Mr. Bush has abandoned all rhetorical ground. He never even speaks of high spending. He doesn't argue against it, and he doesn't make the moral case against it. When forced to spend, Reagan didn't like it, and he said so. He also tried to cut. Mr. Bush seems to like it and doesn't try to cut. He doesn't warn that endless high spending can leave a nation tapped out and future generations hemmed in. In abandoning this ground Bush has abandoned a great deal--including a primary argument of conservatism and a primary reason for voting Republican. And who will fill this rhetorical vacuum? Hillary Clinton. She knows an opening when she sees one, and knows her base won't believe her when she decries waste.
Second, Mr. Bush seems not to be noticing that once government spending reaches a new high level it is very hard to get it down, even a little, ever. So a decision to raise spending now is in effect a decision to raise spending forever.
Third, Mr. Bush seems not to be operating as if he knows the difficulties--the impossibility, really--of spending wisely from the federal level. Here is a secret we all should know: It is really not possible for a big federal government based in Washington to spend completely wisely, constructively and helpfully, and with a sense of personal responsibility. What is possible is to write the check. After that? In New Jersey they took federal Homeland Security funds and bought garbage trucks. FEMA was a hack-stack.
The one time a Homeland Security Department official spoke to me about that crucial new agency's efforts, she talked mostly about a memoir she was writing about a selfless HS official who tries to balance the demands of motherhood against the needs of a great nation. When she finally asked for advice on homeland security, I told her that her department's Web page is nothing but an advertisement for how great the department is, and since some people might actually turn to the site for help if their city is nuked it might be nice to offer survival hints. She took notes and nodded. It alarmed me that they needed to be told the obvious. But it didn't surprise me.
Of the $100 billion that may be spent on New Orleans, let's be serious. We love Louisiana and feel for Louisiana, but we all know what Louisiana is, a very human state with rather particular flaws. As Huey Long once said, "Some day Louisiana will have honest government, and they won't like it." We all know this, yes? Louisiana has many traditions, and one is a rich and unvaried culture of corruption. How much of the $100 billion coming its way is going to fall off the table? Half? OK, let's not get carried away. More than half.
Town spending tends to be more effective than county spending. County spending tends--tends--to be more efficacious than state spending. State spending tends to be more constructive than federal spending. This is how life works. The area closest to where the buck came from is most likely to be more careful with the buck. This is part of the reason conservatives are so disturbed by the gushing federal spigot.
Money is power. More money for the federal government and used by the federal government is more power for the federal government. Is this good? Is this what energy in the executive is--"Here's a check"? Are the philosophical differences between the two major parties coming down, in terms of spending, to "Who's your daddy? He's not your daddy, I'm your daddy." Do we want this? Do our kids? Is it safe? Is it, in its own way, a national security issue?
At a conservative gathering this summer the talk turned to high spending. An intelligent young journalist observed that we shouldn't be surprised at Mr. Bush's spending, he ran from the beginning as a "compassionate conservative." The journalist noted that he'd never liked that phrase, that most conservatives he knew had disliked it, and I agreed. But conservatives understood Mr. Bush's thinking: they knew he was trying to signal to those voters who did not assume that conservatism held within it sympathy and regard for human beings, in fact springs from that sympathy and regard.
But conservatives also understood "compassionate conservatism" to be a form of the philosophy that is serious about the higher effectiveness of faith-based approaches to healing poverty--you spend prudently not to maintain the status quo, and not to avoid criticism, but to actually make things better. It meant an active and engaged interest in poverty and its pathologies. It meant a new way of doing old business.
I never understood compassionate conservatism to mean, and I don't know anyone who understood it to mean, a return to the pork-laden legislation of the 1970s. We did not understand it to mean never vetoing a spending bill. We did not understand it to mean a historic level of spending. We did not understand it to be a step back toward old ways that were bad ways.
I for one feel we need to go back to conservatism 101. We can start with a quote from Gerald Ford, if he isn't too much of a crabbed and reactionary old Republican to quote. He said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have."
The administration knows that Republicans are becoming alarmed. Its attitude is: "We're having some trouble with part of the base but"--smile--"we can weather that."
Well, they probably can, short term.
Long term, they've had bad history with weather. It can change.
Here are some questions for conservative and Republicans. In answering them, they will be defining their future party.
If we are going to spend like the romantics and operators of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society;
If we are going to thereby change the very meaning and nature of conservatism;
If we are going to increase spending and the debt every year;
If we are going to become a movement that supports big government and a party whose unspoken motto is "Whatever it takes";
If all these things, shouldn't we perhaps at least discuss it? Shouldn't we be talking about it? Shouldn't our senators, congressmen and governors who wish to lead in the future come forward to take a stand?
And shouldn't the Bush administration seriously address these questions, share more of their thinking, assumptions and philosophy?
It is possible that political history will show, in time, that those who worried about spending in 2005 were dinosaurs. If we are, we are. But we shouldn't become extinct without a roar.
Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father," forthcoming in November from Penguin, which you can preorder from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Thursdays
Reply #164 on:
September 23, 2005, 05:24:27 PM »
It's always fun to encounter an iconoclast. This piece looks at hydrogen as a fuel, does the math, and comes to a conclusion the environmental types won't like.
The case for nuke cars?it's called 'hydrogen.'
BY PATRICK BEDARD
Funny thing about hydrogen cars: If we were all driving them now, the President's FreedomCAR initiative would be anteing up its $1.8 billion to invent the gasoline engine. Freeing us from hydrogen would be "the moral equivalent of war," to use the words of a long-past energy-crisis president. Gasoline would be the miracle fuel. It would save money by the Fort Knoxful. It would save energy by the Saudi Arabiaful.
To see why this is so, let's look at the numbers. And for once, we're talking about a miracle fuel without speculation. We can see exactly how the "gasoline economy" would work by looking back to a year that's already happened. In 2000, gasoline consumption averaged 8.47 million barrels per day. Gas contains 5.15 million British thermal units of energy per barrel. For big numbers like this, it's customary to think in "quads," or quadrillion BTUs. So the gasoline energy used by motor vehicles in the year 2000 worked out to 16 quads.
Now let's do the same driving in hydrogen cars. Hydrogen is the most plentiful element on earth, but there's no underground pool of it we can drill into. All of nature's hydrogen atoms come married to other atoms in earnestly stable relationships. It takes an industrial process to break apart those marriages to obtain pure hydrogen in a form that can be used by fuel cells.
Think of fuel cells as black boxes into which we put hydrogen on one side and oxygen from the atmosphere on the other. Out the bottom come water and a small electrical current. There is no such thing as free power, of course. If you get power out when you let hydrogen and oxygen get married in a fuel cell, then you must put power into the process of divorcing them.
The industrial divorcing of water molecules is known as electrolysis. This is fuel by immaculate conception, according to most greenies. To make the chemistry work, you must put in 39.4 kilowatt-hours of energy for each kilogram of hydrogen you expect to liberate. Unfortunately, the electrolysis process is only 70 percent efficient. So the total energy input must be 56.3 kilowatt-hours per kilogram of hydrogen.
This energy to be added must come from somewhere. The U.S. has an excellent supply of coal. Coal-fired powerplants are about 40 percent efficient, so 140.8 kilowatt-hours of coal energy are required to net the 56.3 kilowatt-hours of electricity to produce our one kilogram of hydrogen.
My source for these calculations is Donald Anthrop, Ph.D., professor emeritus of environmental studies at San Jose State University, in a Cato Institute report.
In a perfect world, the fuel cell in our car would produce 33.4 kilowatt-hours of useful energy from each kilogram of hydrogen, and 6.0 kilowatt-hours would go to water vapor, giving you back your net investment of 39.4 kilowatt-hours at the electrolysis plant. But the world is not perfect, and the best fuel cells are only about 70 percent efficient. So the energy yield is 23.3 kilowatt-hours.
One more loss must be reckoned with. Hydrogen is a gas. It's lighter than air. Remember, it was the stuffing for the airship Hindenburg. Hydrogen gas (at atmospheric pressure and room temperature) containing the same energy as a gallon of gasoline takes up 3107 gallons of space. To make a useful auto fuel, Anthrop says it must be compressed to at least 4000 psi (Honda uses 5000 psi in the FCX; GM is trying for 10,000). The energy required to do that further trims the yield to 17.4 kilowatt-hours. Pressures higher than 4000 would increase miles available from each fill but cost more energy for compression. Liquefying hydrogen, which BMW advocates, costs upward of 40 percent of hydrogen's energy content.
So far, the numbers say this: Starting with 140.8 kilowatt-hours of energy from coal gives you 17.4 kilowatt-hours of electrical power from the fuel cell to propel the car, or an energy efficiency of 12 percent.
Anthrop goes on to estimate the fuel-cell power needed for the 2.526 billion miles driven in the U.S. in 2000. According to Southern California Edison, the electricity needed per mile for passenger cars is at least 0.46 kilowatt-hour. For the whole U.S. vehicle fleet, that works out to 1.16 trillion kilowatt-hours. You'll need 32 quads of coal, which is twice the energy actually consumed in 2000 with gasoline.
As for global-warming implications, the use of hydrogen from coal instead of gasoline would produce a 2.7-fold increase in carbon emissions.
Of course, all of today's electricity doesn't come from coal. But even with the current mix of sources, including natural gas, nuclear, hydro, solar, and wind, that much hydrogen would raise our carbon output to about twice the 2000 level.
The enviros like to talk about renewable energy. Anthrop has done those calculations as well. Hydro power is our largest source of green electricity, but it would take 15 times the current amount for an all-hydrogen vehicle fleet. Given the pressure to remove existing dams, it's unlikely we'll have any additional hydroelectricity.
Photovoltaic cells? Anthrop says it takes about eight years of cell output to make back the electrical power originally consumed in manufacturing the cell.
Wind power? It defies calculation, in part because wind blows only intermittently.
Virtually all the hydrogen produced today, about 50 million tons worldwide, comes from natural gas. The process, called "steam reforming," is only about 30 percent efficient, much less, he says, "than if the natural gas were simply burned" in the generating plant.
Producing enough hydrogen to replace gasoline by reforming natural gas would increase our gas consumption by 66 percent over 2002's usage. And don't forget the carbon emissions.
That leaves the unspeakable?nukes.
Presumably, BMW knows all of this, yet it has been thumping the tub for hydrogen since the 1970s. Along with hundreds of other invitees, I attended BMW's hydrogen hootenanny at Paramount Pictures in 2001. Mostly, it amounted to a day of corporate preening before California's greenies. Still, BMW is famously brave in confronting technology. Does it have a plan? I summed up the science of this column, in writing, and passed it up through BMW's official channels, along with the obvious question: Where will the necessary quads and quads of energy come from for hydrogen cars? That was nearly two years ago. BMW has not answered.
No answer, of course, is the anwer.
A Vietnam Analogy Primer
Reply #165 on:
September 26, 2005, 02:34:54 PM »
Why Iraq is not like Vietnam: A Primer for the Geopolitically Challenged
by Mac Johnson
Posted Sep 26, 2005
One of the many negative consequences of America?s defeat in The Vietnam War has been the uncontrolled proliferation of Vietnams since then.
Nicaragua threatened to become another Vietnam. Lebanon nearly became another Vietnam. Had Grenada been only slightly larger than a manhole cover and lasted one more hour, it would have become a Caribbean-Style Vietnam. The invasion of Panama was rapidly degenerating into a Narco-Vietnam, right up until we won. Likewise, the First Gulf War was certainly developing into another Vietnam, but then sadly, it ended quickly and with few casualties.
For people of a certain age or political stripe, Vietnam is like Elvis: it?s everywhere. For example, during a long wait at a Chinese Buffet in Georgetown in 1987, Ted Kennedy was reported to have exclaimed ?QUAGMIRE!? and attempted to surrender to a Spanish-speaking busboy.
And that was probably the smart thing to do, because the lesson of Vietnam is: it is best to lose quickly, so as to avoid a quagmire. It could be argued that the real lesson of Vietnam is that it badly damages a country?s reputation and character to lose at all. But that is not at all supported by the evidence. Nope, Vietnam taught us that winners know when to lose immediately. Entire wars have been fought by countries that have failed to realize this.
No country was therefore more prepared to fight a long unconventional war against grimy little terrorists in strange distant places than America, who learned how to lose in Vietnam.
Thus, it is with considerable joy that those who are ready to teach the lesson of Vietnam (LOSE NOW BEFORE IT?S TOO LATE!), find that they finally have another war that has lasted longer than John Kerry?s first position on it. Obviously, they crow, we have stepped into some deep Vietnam in Iraq.
The best course of action is to therefore withdraw from Iraq immediately, allow the country to become an oil-producing Al-Qaeda Super-state and retreat to within our secure borders --where no terrorist will ever touch us. Oh, and begin the political positioning to win election in 2008 on an ?I KNEW IT WAS VIETNAM RIGHT AWAY!? platform.
And I guess you could argue that might be the right thing to do, if only the Iraq conflict were actually like Vietnam in some way. Disappointingly, other than smelly peacenik rallies and the American press preparing daily to report an Iraqi ?Tet offensive,? the similarities are pretty meager.
The differences, by contrast, are obvious and glaring --but that?s no reason to interrupt a good ?OH GOD! IT?S VIETNAM!? national flashback. Unless, that is, you want America to win Iraq, rather than lose Vietnam again out of habit. For that minority of the populace, I present a few tiny little differences between Iraq and Vietnam, ranging from the mundane and material, to the moral and philosophical.
1. The Iraqi insurgency has no universal philosophy capable of attracting Iraq?s entire populace. The Viet Cong were, I?m told, Communists. Communism was a worldwide movement preaching a fanciful utopian equality among man, and with a substantial following on every Continent. It could appeal to intellectuals and peasants, workers and soldiers. It was a philosophical movement proselytizing universal solidarity. You never knew who might become a commie. Every South Vietnamese could be an enemy sympathizer or agent.
The Iraqi insurgency is principally a Sunni Arab tribal affair. Shiites and Sunnis are not converting one another at all, and have not for the last few hundred years. The Iraqi Kurds are a nation within a nation and running their own affairs very well. In this insurgency, the Sunni Arabs (20% of the population) are fighting for continued domination of the Kurds and Shiites (20% and 60% of the population respectively). This is a cause that the Shiites and Kurds are unlikely to embrace with much enthusiasm. Were there not a single other difference between the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts, this one would totally disqualify any comparison. Anyone can become a Communist. Black men do not join the Klan. Likewise, the Iraqi insurgency cannot draw recruits from the Shiite and Kurdish majority while espousing a philosophy of Sunni Arab Supremacism. The worst case, then, is that the population splits 4 to 1 in favor of the new government. Thus, it can get ugly, but the issue is not really in doubt, long term.
2. The Iraqi insurgency has no inviolable state in which to openly organize the population; and we are not fighting for a tie with that inviolable state. North Vietnam was a real country, with a border that we could not cross for geopolitical reasons. Inside that country, the Communists trained and rested, worked in weapons factories on a par with any in Asia, controlled broadcasts, recruiting centers, schools, the police, the courts, the roads, and ports full of foreign supply ships. We never invaded North Vietnam and so they could never, ever, lose the war. Every week they sent troops and advisors out of their safe home base to invade South Vietnam in little waves. Every week we sat outside the border and played goalie against the most recent wave. Essentially, we fought from the outset of the Vietnam War for a tie: the continued existence of both a North and a South Vietnam.
The Sunni insurgents have no such luxury. We are in their hometowns, their fields, their roads, their skies, their rivers. They have no country. We took it already. They have holes in the ground and basement bomb factories. The North Vietnamese fielded a modern air force that could often shoot down our most advanced planes. The Sunni insurgents strap bombs to donkey carts. They cannot openly recruit or train, because ?their? country is full of Shiites, Kurds and other Sunni Arabs that arrest, shoot, and bomb them constantly.
3. The Sunni insurgents have no Soviet or Chinese support. A few truckloads of trouble from Syria and Iran cannot in any way compare to the massive material support that the Vietnamese Communists received from the Soviet Union and Red China. Support to North Vietnam from ?comrades abroad? was estimated by the CIA at $400 million in 1965. That would be $2 billion per year adjusted for inflation. There is no comparable aid for our enemies in Iraq. Additionally, There is no KGB-like worldwide intelligence organization, with agents all over the US government, feeding information to the insurgents. That is worth more than money, and it did us much harm in Vietnam.
4. North and South Vietnam had a combined population 22% of that of the United States in 1970. Iraq has a population less than 9% of today?s United States. The Sunni Arab population of Iraq is less than 2% that of the US. The scale of today?s problem is in a whole different league than Vietnam ?a much more minor league.
5. The Communist forces of Vietnam had 20 years of experience in guerilla combat against the Japanese and French before America ever sent one soldier into what we call ?the? Vietnam War. The Sunni insurgents had little established guerilla war capacity at start. Their inexperience costs them greatly.
6. There were no polling places in Hanoi during the war. The effect of elections in Iraq has been remarkable. In just a few months, since the first democratically elected government of Iraq took power, the whole war has changed character for the Iraqis. The issue is no longer as simple as Sunni rebels fighting an infidel occupier. It is now Iraqi majority vs. Iraqi minority. The most effective propaganda weapon the insurgents had is gone, never to return. The Sunni mainstream that boycotted the first elections has seen control of Iraq swept away from them by millions of other Iraqis. Now most Sunni leaders are telling their people to vote in the upcoming referendum on the Constitution. They dare not ignore an election again. The Vietnamese Communists never faced this dilemma.
7. There was no oil in Vietnam. Eventually, the money to be made from Iraq?s oil will give rise to a self-interested alliance of leaders with one common goal: profitable stability. Revenue streams pave their own banks.
8. There is no military draft in today?s US army. The insurgents know they are not fighting unwilling whiners freshly failed-out of the Communications Program at Kent State. (OK, no one has ever failed out of a Communications Program, but still you get the point). The morale of our soldiers is high and in the insurgents? face. It is only our civilians that threaten to go wobbly.
9. The Communists had never ruled South Vietnam. By contrast, the Baathist have ruled Iraq. The Iraqi people know who they are, and how they will really rule. No one believes they fight for a worker?s paradise. Saddam Hussein has been recruiting allies for us for the last twenty years, with his mass graves, prisons and rape rooms.
10. Who is Iraq?s Ho Chi Minh? Iraq?s war is tribal and local. The closest thing to a grand leader is Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, and he?s on Democracy?s side. Majorities LOVE democracy.
11. In Vietnam, it was obvious that American withdrawal would probably lead to South Vietnamese defeat. No one can say that US withdrawal would lead to Shiite surrender or that the Kurds could even be kept within the nation of Iraq. Our coalition is more than a match for the insurgents. The insurgents can never defeat the new government in the sense of taking control of the whole country. Their only hope is to cause chaos and carve out local wartime autonomy. By contrast, the new Iraqi government can totally defeat the insurgents and take control of the whole country. The insurgents know they are fighting for only a part of the country, at best.
12. The Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army were not killing one another. Zarqawi?s foreign Sunni terrorists and the native Sunni insurgents are shooting at each other, and more and more. Imagine, for a moment, if the United States Military and the New Iraqi Army were ambushing each other between battles with the insurgents. How much media attention would that produce? What would it say about the alliance? The two main forces of the insurgency actually have begun shooting at each other. The locals think Zarqawi is mad. Zarqawi thinks the locals are traitors to Islam and weak.
13. Ho Chi Minh was not, at any point during the Vietnam War, sitting in a box with a French Lawyer while awaiting trial and execution by his vengeful former subjects. Saddam Hussein is. There is a certain demonstration of lost power in that. And Zarqawi could join him any day.
But other than all that, Iraq is just Vietnam all over again --and in High Definition on Cable. Now consider one last reason why the two wars are not alike, one that goes to the heart of the issue and should be more than enough to shore up even Chuck Hagel: A loss in Vietnam was not going to bring newly energized Viet Cong recruits into New York or San Francisco with truck-bombs or a suitcase nuke to finish us off. A loss in Iraq--regardless of why the war was begun, or how bad we want to go home, or how little most Americans care about giving foreigners democracy or toiletries--will energize our enemies, as only a historic victory on the world stage can.
If you liked what our quick, casualty-saving withdrawal from Somalia did for us at the Khobar Towers, at our embassies in East Africa, at the waterline of the USS Cole, and at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then you?ll love what a quick ?casualty-saving? withdrawal from Iraq will do for us for the next twenty years. It?ll finally make you stop worrying about Vietnam.
Reply #166 on:
September 26, 2005, 04:06:29 PM »
The right-wingers sure do get defensive when anybody makes the comparison between Iraq and Vietnam.
We would never have gotten through (and won) WW1 and WW2 if the American public weren't willing to deal with wars that drag on for years and involve massive casualties. The "lesson of Vietnam" is that the public must be convinced that the cause is worth the price in order for them to support the war. Even if the public is willing to swallow a bunch of BS to justify a war, they're only going to do it for so long.
Reply #167 on:
September 26, 2005, 04:54:00 PM »
The right-wingers sure do get defensive when anybody makes the comparison between Iraq and Vietnam.
Don't think there's a defensive element to the piece in question. Sarcastic, ironic, caustic, annoyed, exasperated, and so on, sure, but defensive? That fellow was very much on offense.
We would never have gotten through (and won) WW1 and WW2 if the American public weren't willing to deal with wars that drag on for years and involve massive casualties. The "lesson of Vietnam" is that the public must be convinced that the cause is worth the price in order for them to support the war. Even if the public is willing to swallow a bunch of BS to justify a war, they're only going to do it for so long.
Don't think the analogy stands up 'cause there are a lot of other variables unaccounted for. The one that galls me most are the 90-second passion plays most issues are turned into by the mewling class, aka the press. Their incessant, usually partisan, polarization makes discourse subtler than "no blood for oil" and the ilk pretty darn difficult. My guess is that if, in 1913 or 1942 every living room had a glass teat sitting in it dishing up predigested bits of polarized pabulum and earnest half witticisms the outcomes of those conflicts would have been vastly different.
Never one to Mince Metaphors
Reply #168 on:
September 26, 2005, 05:48:00 PM »
Anti-War, My Foot
The phony peaceniks who protested in Washington.
By Christopher Hitchens
Updated Monday, Sept. 26, 2005, at 11:19 AM PT
Saturday's demonstration in Washington, in favor of immediate withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq, was the product of an opportunistic alliance between two other very disparate "coalitions." Here is how the New York Times (after a front-page and an inside headline, one of them reading "Speaking Up Against War" and one of them reading "Antiwar Rallies Staged in Washington and Other Cities") described the two constituenciess of the event:
The protests were largely sponsored by two groups, the Answer Coalition, which embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives, and United for Peace and Justice, which has a more narrow, antiwar focus.
The name of the reporter on this story was Michael Janofsky. I suppose that it is possible that he has never before come across "International ANSWER," the group run by the "Worker's World" party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the "resistance" in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the g?nocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a "wide range of progressive political objectives" indeed, if that's the sort of thing you like. However, a dip into any database could have furnished Janofsky with well-researched and well-written articles by David Corn and Marc Cooper?to mention only two radical left journalists?who have exposed "International ANSWER" as a front for (depending on the day of the week) fascism, Stalinism, and jihadism.
The group self-lovingly calling itself "United for Peace and Justice" is by no means "narrow" in its "antiwar focus" but rather represents a very extended alliance between the Old and the New Left, some of it honorable and some of it redolent of the World Youth Congresses that used to bring credulous priests and fellow-traveling hacks together to discuss "peace" in East Berlin or Bucharest. Just to give you an example, from one who knows the sectarian makeup of the Left very well, I can tell you that the Worker's World Party?Ramsey Clark's core outfit?is the product of a split within the Trotskyist movement. These were the ones who felt that the Trotskyist majority, in 1956, was wrong to denounce the Russian invasion of Hungary. The WWP is the direct, lineal product of that depraved rump. If the "United for Peace and Justice" lot want to sink their differences with such riffraff and mount a joint demonstration, then they invite some principled political criticism on their own account. And those who just tag along ? well, they just tag along.
To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.
Some of the leading figures in this "movement," such as George Galloway and Michael Moore, are obnoxious enough to come right out and say that they support the Baathist-jihadist alliance. Others prefer to declare their sympathy in more surreptitious fashion. The easy way to tell what's going on is this: Just listen until they start to criticize such gangsters even a little, and then wait a few seconds before the speaker says that, bad as these people are, they were invented or created by the United States. That bad, huh? (You might think that such an accusation?these thugs were cloned by the American empire for God's sake?would lead to instant condemnation. But if you thought that, gentle reader, you would be wrong.)
The two preferred metaphors are, depending on the speaker, that the Bin-Ladenists are the fish that swim in the water of Muslim discontent or the mosquitoes that rise from the swamp of Muslim discontent. (Quite often, the same images are used in the same harangue.) The "fish in the water" is an old trope, borrowed from Mao's hoary theory of guerrilla warfare and possessing a certain appeal to comrades who used to pore over the Little Red Book. The mosquitoes are somehow new and hover above the water rather than slip through it. No matter. The toxic nature of the "water" or "swamp" is always the same: American support for Israel. Thus, the existence of the Taliban regime cannot be swamplike, presumably because mosquitoes are born and not made. The huge swamp that was Saddam's Iraq has only become a swamp since 2003. The organized murder of Muslims by Muslims in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan is only a logical reaction to the summit of globalizers at Davos. The stoning and veiling of women must be a reaction to Zionism. While the attack on the World Trade Center?well, who needs reminding that chickens, or is it mosquitoes, come home to roost?
There are only two serious attempts at swamp-draining currently under way. In Afghanistan and Iraq, agonizingly difficult efforts are in train to build roads, repair hospitals, hand out ballot papers, frame constitutions, encourage newspapers and satellite dishes, and generally evolve some healthy water in which civil-society fish may swim. But in each case, from within the swamp and across the borders, the most poisonous snakes and roaches are being recruited and paid to wreck the process and plunge people back into the ooze. How nice to have a "peace" movement that is either openly on the side of the vermin, or neutral as between them and the cleanup crew, and how delightful to have a press that refers to this partisanship, or this neutrality, as "progressive."
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent books include Love, Poverty, and War and Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.
JC ain't PC
Reply #169 on:
September 27, 2005, 11:11:37 AM »
As an agnostic I have a hard time getting worked up about most religious tempests. Still, the tizzy inspired here about a reference to Christ in a speech to Ivy League freshpersons inspires more than a shake of the head.
September 27, 2005, 8:12 a.m.
?God Fearing? Dartmouth
By Stefan Beck
It's become a truism that student government is the bailiwick of shallow, egotistical resume-padders. Tracy Flick, the junior-varsity Lady Macbeth of the 1999 movie Election, was instantly recognizable, as was her nemesis, Tammy Metzler. Remember Tammy's speech? "The same pathetic charade happens every year, and everyone makes the same pathetic promises just so they can put it on their transcripts to get into college." Hard to argue with that. The odd thing is that sometimes the Tracy Flicks go off to college and do it all over again.
A few days ago, a friend of mine pointed me to a Convocation speech given by Noah Riner '06, Dartmouth's student-body president, to the class of '09. I scanned the page, a pastiche of quotes by Martin Luther King Jr., Shakespeare, Bono. Why had my friend given me this? "It mentions Jesus," he explained. "People will go berserk."
So it does. It mentions Jesus, and then Bono mentions Jesus, and then Riner passes the baton to Dr. King ? perhaps thinking nobody will wise up to the Lord's presence. I confess that at this point, I thought my friend was indulging a bit of right-wing paranoia. Surely nothing as banal, as reliably soporific, as Riner's address could rankle anyone. Surely people didn't even listen to these things.
As it happens, I couldn't have been more wrong. The bored work in mysterious ways, and a number of Dartmouth students saw the speech as a fine occasion for an attention-grabbing moral tantrum. The Daily Dartmouth's "Verbum Ultimum" allowed that "Riner had every right, as a member of a community that values the freedom of speech, to speak freely about what matters to him." But he chose an "inappropriate forum" ? perish the thought ? and "[preached] his faith from a commandeered pulpit." Clearly, Riner is corrupting the youth of Hanover. Somebody fetch the hemlock.
The Student Assembly's vice president for student life (savor that deliciously Orwellian title), Kaelin Goulet '07, resigned immediately. "I consider his choice of topic for the Convocation speech reprehensible and an abuse of power," she said. Addressing Riner directly, she wrote: "Your first opportunity to represent Student Assembly to the incoming freshmen was appalling. You embarrass the organization; you embarrass yourself. . . . I pity the freshmen in Leede Arena yesterday."
Got all that? Pity is something you feel for hurricane refugees, not for the "victims" of a convocation speech. Woe betide the student who hears Christ's name in an "inappropriate forum"! It's almost as though Goulet saw Riner as Father Karas and the freshmen as a host of demons, writhing in agony beneath a spray of verbal holy water. This is condescension distilled to its essence. Usually it's the college acting in loco parentis, not the other students. What we are witnessing here is trickle-down ideology, with students employed as a sort of Securitate for their administrative overseers.
Could Goulet really have felt anything like the outrage and disappointment on display in her letters? Let's examine Riner's sole reference to Jesus:
Jesus' message of redemption is simple. People are imperfect, and there are consequences for our actions. He gave His life for our sin so that we wouldn't have to bear the penalty of the law; so we could see love. The problem is me; the solution is God's love: Jesus on the cross, for us.
It may be unusual for a student speech, but the Edict of Worms it is not.
Another Student Assembly member, Tim Andreadis '07, complained that Riner "did not clearly label his religiously charged comments as reflecting his own beliefs." A lack of clear labels ? that's the real problem, isn't it? Just as Andreadis doubtless expects his plastic baggies to be clearly labeled a choking hazard, so he expects every word out of a fellow student's mouth to be accompanied by an explicit disclaimer. Who needs in loco parentis when so many students are big enough to pull their own Huggies on?
And let's not leave out Paul Heintz '06, whose crudely hieroglyphic "Guy & Fellow" comic strip "parodied" Riner's speech. In the strip, a stick figure with Riner's head says, "Jesus, together you and I shall rule the world and vanquish all those infidels and looters and rioters." Pot-smoking Jesus replies, "Yo, chill out, dawg. Take a hit of this sh** and chill the f*** out." Pot-smoking Jesus! How marvelously transgressive! Now have a gingersnap and back to the nursery with you.
As responses to the speech go, this had at least the merit of being too demotic to match the self-righteousness of all those pompous op-eds and public resignations. Of course, this made it no less embarrassing.
Is it worth training the Doppler radar on this teacup tempest? Higher education will always have its dull speeches, its Tracy Flicks, its outsize outrage. After a while, most students will forget about this and go on to something useful. But none of that is the real story. The fascinating ? and disappointing ? thing is that something as ordinary and blameless as religious belief should seem such a terrifying menace to college students. And what delicate little Hummels those students have become: They use tepid terms like "community" and "inappropriate" and "alienating" and then congratulate themselves for their sensitivity. I pray they never have to face something more trying than words ? but I certainly wouldn't count on it.
? Stefan Beck is assistant editor of the New Criterion.
Islamofascist & Free Exercise of Choice
Reply #170 on:
September 30, 2005, 12:21:14 PM »
Think this piece overreaches and ulitmately flounders, but it does make several points that resonate. I've always felt, for instance that those with martial skills who choose peace are a lot more worthy of respect than the mewling peace protesters who gather for the cameras. The former opt on a regular basis not to slap idiots upside the head while the latter embraces an emotional onanism and exhibitionism that does little more than manufacture foolishness. This piece speaks to a similar dichotomy.
Liberals and Islamofascists
September 29th, 2005
What merit is there in not stealing because you fear that your hand will be cut off? In not drinking because you have no alcohol? In not being aroused by a woman in a burqa?
An Islamofascist walks the streets of America and sees a man enter a massage parlor. "What an immoral society!" he thinks. He does not notice the men who do not go in. He sees the temptations Americans are subject to, but not their resistance to those temptations. He sees their immorality, but not their morality.
Americans are free to be either moral or immoral. How immoral would our enemies be if they were free?
America is free to be immoral, but when America is moral, its morality is genuine?because it is free to be immoral. No one praises prison inmates for not breaking into houses?or Saudi women for not having automobile accidents.
The Islamofascist cannot conceive of morality without coercion. To the Islamofascist, coercion is morality, and freedom is immorality. Freedom is license to him, not the arena in which we choose good or evil. Morality is imposed and external, not free and internal.
To the Biblically-grounded Christian or Jew, ?the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man,? in the glorious words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. For too many Muslims, the battle line between good and evil runs between the Islamic world and the world yet to be conquered.
Christians and Jews do have a duty to fight evil outside themselves, but their primary adversary must always be the enemy within. The rhetoric of Islamofascists reverses this priority, sometimes to the point of completely forgetting their own sins. America does not need lessons in sexual morality from men who take baths and perfume themselves in expectation of the seventy-two virgins they will each enjoy as soon as they blow themselves up next to Christians or Jews.
Unfortunately, many in the West also see only the sins of America. They also confuse license and freedom, repression and self-control, taxation and charity. They also equate good conduct motivated by fear of temporal rulers and good conduct motivated by love of God and man.
Above all, they too focus on the sins and alleged sins of others to the exclusion of their own sins and thereby equate changing someone else?s behavior with doing the right thing. The most moral people are, in their view, the people who most vigorously condemn traditional American values. An ordinary person might strive to benefit society by giving to a charity or volunteering; they strive to benefit society by promoting political and social change.
They confuse poverty imposed by an economic system and voluntary poverty, destitution and poverty of spirit, backwardness and protection of the environment. They think that Americans are more materialist than people with fewer material goods?as if people in other countries don?t desire the same things. They think that socialism is compatible with Christianity and capitalism is not, forgetting that socialism is as much a system for producing material goods as capitalism is, just a less efficient one. They think that there is something inherently wrong with wanting a car that does not break down or a computer that does not crash, but cars, computers, and other consumer goods are not evil. Making idols of them is evil; putting them to good use is not. They think that because Native Americans were technologically backward, they must have been environmentalists. Again and again, they confuse morality with constraint: the constraint of poverty, the constraint of inefficiency, the constraint of backwardness, ultimately the constraint of tyranny.
To their way of thinking, the Internal Revenue Service is a charitable organization, like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army; indeed it is more charitable because contributions to it are involuntary. Charity consists precisely in the taking of the money. Taxation is thus a virtue in and of itself, reflecting the merit of the society imposing it.
Money that is freely given falls short of true charity because it lacks the element of coercion essential to their morality. How can a society be moral if it allows people to forgo charity? What kind of charity is it that allows people not to give?
Morality consists in telling other people what to do, and charity consists in aiding the poor with other people?s money. Thus, Hillary Clinton says that conservatives place too much emphasis on ?private morality? (obeying the Ten Commandments) and not enough emphasis on ?public morality? (obeying her).
But surely I am being unfair. What, other than enemies, does Hillary Clinton share with Islamofascists? Liberals in America support gay rights; Islamofascists want to stone homosexuals. Liberals are feminists; Islamofascists don?t want to let women out of the house. Liberals hate war; the terrorists want to set the world ablaze with it.
Well, similar contradictions were not too much for liberals in the Cold War. The Soviet Union did not embody their values. Or so they tell us.
On the other hand, the communists did hold up before their apologists a utopian vision, while the Islamofascists don?t even bother to present a positive message. It turns out that the Islamofascists know a lot of things that we don?t. For instance, that a message of pure negativity has as much appeal as the demagogic ideal of a world without poverty or strife. Liberals are just as energetic in explaining away the mass murder of Kurdish villagers by Saddam Hussein as they were in praising Potemkin villages in the Soviet Union. How long does it take a liberal to turn a discussion of the use of poison gas on Kurds to a discussion of the evils of Reagan and Bush?
So perhaps liberals are not responding to the Islamofascist message after all. They will simply excuse the behavior of enemies of the United States no matter how opposed the values of those enemies are to the values of liberals. Indeed, liberals and Islamofascists are opposites. Or so they tell us.
However, as the agreement between liberals and Islamofascists on the fundamental issue of the relationship between freedom and morality suggests, there is a deep ideological affinity between liberals and Islamofascists. They do not simply share hatred of President Bush. They are bound by more than their enemies.
An examination of the history of Islam and of the relationship of the West to it shows that there are always those in the West who will make common cause with Islam. Without their aid, Islam would have long ago collapsed.
Out of pure expediency or Realpolitik, Western merchants will trade with Islamic enemies of the West and even sell them arms, and Western powers will ally themselves with Islam, as when the Austro-Hungarian Empire allied with the Ottoman Empire in World War I or when the United States and the Soviet Union vied for allies in the Middle East during the Cold War.
Out of what might be called ideological expediency, some in the West have attempted to take ideological advantage of the Islamic threat. During the height of religious strife in Europe, for instance, many Protestants saw in Islam a critique of Catholicism similar to their own, and many Catholics saw in it a warning against schism and heresy. This ideological expediency can develop into a genuine ideological affinity, as is happening today and has been happening for hundreds of years.
For a striking example of this ideological expediency/affinity, ask yourself who wrote the following poem, translated from the original German. Hint: the author was not a Muslim.
A Song to Mahomet
See the mountain spring
Like a glance of stars;
Higher than the clouds
Fuelled his youth
In thickets twixt the crags.
Brisk as a young blade
Out of cloud he dances
Down to marble rocks
And leaps again
Down passages that hang from peaks
He chases pebbles many-coloured,
Early like a leader striding
Snatches up and carries onward
Flowers are born beneath his footprint
In the valley down below,
From his breathing
Yet no valley of the shadows
Can contain him
And no flowers that clasp his knees,
Blandishing with looks of love;
To the lowland bursts his way,
A snake uncoiling.
Flocking to his side. He comes
Into the lowland, silver sparkling
And with him the lowland sparkles,
And the lowland rivers call,
Mountain freshets call exultant:
Brother, take your brothers with you,
With you to your ancient father,
To the everlasting ocean,
Who with open arms awaits us,
Arms which, ah, open in vain
To clasp us who are craving for him;
Avid sands consume us
In the desert, sun overhead
Will suck our blood, blocked by a hill
To pools we shrink! Brother, take us,
Take your lowland brothers with you,
Take your brothers of the mountains,
To your father take us all!
Join me then!
And now he swells
More lordly still; one single kin,
They loft the prince and bear him high
Onward as he rolls triumphant,
Naming countries, in his track
Towns and cities come to be.
On he rushes, unrelenting,
Leaves the turrets tipped with flame,
Marble palaces, creation
Of his plentitude, behind him.
Cedar houses he like Atlas
Carries on his giant shoulders;
Flags a thousand rustling flutter
In the air above his head,
Testifying to his glory.
So he bears his brothers, bears
His treasures and his children surging
In a wave of joy tumultuous
To their waiting father?s heart.
Who is it who says that Muhammad makes the lowland sparkle, that flowers spring from his footsteps and cities from his track? Who is it who celebrates the tumultuous joy of Muhammad?s followers and the plenitude of his creation?
"A Song to Mahomet" was written in 1772-1773 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the least romantic of the German Romantics, the least insane of the German intellectual giants of the last 250 years.
Goethe was not an aberration. Anyone wishing to understand the long tradition of Western affinity with Islam, a tradition that is as old as Islam itself, should read Islam and the West by Bernard Lewis, especially the chapter "Gibbon on Muhammad," in which Lewis says
"the image of Muhammad as a wise, tolerant [!], unmystical [!], and undogmatic [!] ruler became widespread in the period of the Enlightenment, and it finds expression in writers as diverse as Goethe, Condercet, and Voltaire." [exclamation points added]
What started as the (rather absurd) idea that Muhammad was a forerunner of Luther and Calvin and that Islam could as a result be an ally of the Protestants against Roman Catholicism morphed into the (also absurd) idea that Islam was refreshingly free from the dogmatism of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular and that it could as a result be an ally of the Enlightenment against the forces of darkness, that is, Christianity, which in turn morphed into the (beyond absurd) idea that Islam is an innocent victim of the warmongering Bush Administration and that as a result progressives in the United States should stand with the resistance in Iraq against imperialism, Zionism, Neo-Conservatism, capitalism, globalism, unilateralism, consumerism, racism, sexism, speciesism, heterosexism, homophobia, Halliburton, homework, hot weather, hurricanes, homemakers, electoral fraud, SUVs, McDonalds, AIDS, Starbucks, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, conservative bloggers, censorship, carnivorousness, second-hand smoke, the CIA, cell phone rays, and impurities in paint thinner.
George Orwell said that only university professors could be stupid enough to believe that the capitalist democracies were no better than Nazi Germany. Stupidity, or at least education, must be more widespread in our day because an equivalent belief is held by respectable churchman and tenured radical alike. America is no better than Iraq under Saddam Hussein or Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini, they think, and we should not impose our way of life on others.
Of course, most Americans had more in mind imposing death on Hussein and Khomeini than our way of life on Iraq and Iran, but the charm of this belief is that it appeals to robed religious leaders as much as to campus radicals in academic gowns, not to speak of similarly appareled sheiks.
Liberals posing as Christians reason, if one can call it reason, as follows: Sexual exploitation is all around us, along with crass materialism and a callous disregard for the unfortunate. Americans are spoiled, selfish, and stupid. Our insatiable desire to remake the world in our image is matched only by our ignorance of it. Who are we to tell people how they should live? The United States is the only country ever to drop atomic bombs on anyone. We have tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, but we begrudge other nations even a few. What hypocrites! What right do we have to tell Iran and North Korea that they can?t have nuclear weapons?
The radicals fear that we will create a virtuous Iraq, these Christians that we will create an immoral one. The trouble is that nowadays one can hardly tell the difference between the radicals and some religious leaders. Certainly the difference between debauched sinners and Anglican bishops is increasingly indiscernible. Madonna is a slut who found religion and went whoring after false gods; they might as well make her an archbishop of certain denominations.
The bishops of some churches think that we could have peace for the asking. We have asked. Have they not heard the answer? "Peace! Peace!" they cry, though there is no peace. They fancy themselves prophetic witnesses to an unjust society. Unjust it may be, though not as unjust as they think, but if they are prophets, all that is necessary for prophecy is to repeat what network anchors say. They style themselves learned and get their information from newspapers, television, government radio, and oddball magazines. What have these prophets ever foreseen?
They call us to charity and denounce us for donating our best blood and hundreds of billions of dollars to the freedom of Iraq. They say that we are addicted to consumer goods and shriek when we spend our money to help the most downtrodden. They call us racists when we fight for the well being of Arabs. They call us Crusaders as we spread religious freedom. They call us selfish as we give them money. They attribute our prosperity to exploitation of the Third World, but never refuse the donations we give them out of our allegedly ill-gotten gains. They repeat enemy propaganda and huffily complain that we doubt their patriotism.
Islamofascists, religious big wigs, and campus radicals say that America is ruled by plutocrats who use sex to sell to a consumer society. Then Saudi moneybags buy girls from India and Pakistan, American prelates hide child molesters from the police, and campus radicals, who say that what they do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is none of our business, celebrate ?transgressive? sexual acts in public. Certainly, these groups deserve each other. But do the rest of us deserve them?
Carlin on Katrina?
Reply #171 on:
October 07, 2005, 03:04:27 PM »
I can't vouch that this was truly penned by George Carlin, but as someone who grew up with all his comedy LPs (back in those prehistoric days when CDs had two sides and were much bigger) this certainly sounds like something he'd say.
George Carlin on Katrina (funny)
email going around
Been sitting here with my ass in a wad, wanting to speak out about the bullshit going on in New Orleans. For the people of New Orleans... First we would like to say, Sorry for your loss. With that said, Lets go through a few hurricane rules: (Unlike an earthquake, we know it's coming)
#1. A mandatory evacuation means just that..Get the hell out.
Don't blame the Government after they tell you to go. If they hadn't said anything, I can see the argument. They said get out... if you didn't, it's your fault, not theirs. (We don't want to hear it, even if you don't have a car, you can get out.)
#2. If there is an emergency, stock up on water and non-perishables. If you didn't do this, it's not the Government's fault you're starving.
#2a. If you run out of food and water, find a store that has some.
(Remember, shoes, TV's, DVD's and CD's are not edible. Leave them alone.)
#2b. If the local store has been looted of food or water, leave your neighbor's TV and stereo alone. (See # 2a) They worked hard to get their stuff. Just because they were smart enough to leave during a mandatory evacuation, doesn't give you the right to take their stuff...it's theirs, not yours.
#3. If someone comes in to help you, don't shoot at them and then complain no one is helping you. I'm not getting shot to help save some dumbass who didn't leave when told to do so.
#4. If you are in your house that is completely under water, your belongings are probably too far gone for anyone to want them. If someone does want them, let them have them and hopefully they'll die in the filth. Just leave!
(It's New Orleans, find a voodoo warrior and put a curse on them)
#5. My tax money should not pay to rebuild a 2 million dollar house, a sports stadium or a floating casino. Also, my tax money shouldn't go to rebuild a city that is under sea level. You wouldn't build your house on quicksand would you? You want to live below sea-level, do your country some good and join the Navy.
#6. Regardless of what the Poverty Pimps Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton want you to believe, The US Government didn't create the Hurricane as a way to eradicate the black people of New Orleans; (Neither did Russia as a way to destroy America). The US Government didn't cause global warming that caused the hurricane (We've been coming out of an ice age for over a million years).
#7. The government isn't responsible for giving you anything. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but you gotta work for what you want. McDonalds and Wal-Mart are always hiring, get a damn job and stop spooning off the people who are actually working for a living.
President Kennedy said it best..."Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
Thank you for allowing me to rant.
Reply #172 on:
October 09, 2005, 08:53:06 AM »
Snopes says its not GC-- but its got his spirit I think.
Reply #173 on:
October 17, 2005, 11:03:16 AM »
By Lewis H. Lapham
Harper's Magazine, October 2005
"But I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, then Fascism and Communism, aided, unconsciously perhaps, by old-line Tory Republicanism, will grow in strength in our land." -Franklin D. Roosevelt, November 4, 1938
In 1938 the word "fascism" hadn't yet been transferred into an abridged metaphor for all the world's unspeakable evil and monstrous crime, and on coming across President Roosevelt's prescient remark in one of Umberto Eco's essays, I could read it as prose instead of poetry -- a reference not to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or the pit of Hell but to the political theories that regard individual citizens as the property of the government, happy villagers glad to wave the flags and wage the wars, grateful for the good fortune that placed them in the care of a sublime leader. Or, more emphatically, as Benito Mussolini liked to say, "Everything in the state. Nothing outside the state. Nothing against the state."
The theories were popular in Europe in the 1930s (cheering crowds, rousing band music, splendid military uniforms), and in the United States they numbered among their admirers a good many important people who believed that a somewhat modified form of fascism (power vested in the banks and business corporations instead of with the army) would lead the country out of the wilderness of the Great Depression -- put an end to the Pennsylvania labor troubles, silence the voices of socialist heresy and democratic dissent. Roosevelt appreciated the extent of fascism's popularity at the political box office; so does Eco, who takes pains in the essay "Ur-Fascism," published in The New York Review of Books in 1995, to suggest that it's a mistake to translate fascism into a figure of literary speech. By retrieving from our historical memory only the vivid and familiar images of fascist tyranny (Gestapo firing squads, Soviet labor camps, the chimneys at Treblinka), we lose sight of the faith-based initiatives that sustained the tyrant's rise to glory. The several experiments with fascist government, in Russia and Spain as well as in Italy and Germany, didn't depend on a single portfolio of dogma, and so Eco, in search of their common ground, doesn't look for a unifying principle or a standard text. He attempts to describe a way of thinking and a habit of mind, and on sifting through the assortment of fantastic and often contradictory notions -- Nazi paganism, Franco's National Catholicism, Mussolini's corporatism, etc. -- he finds a set of axioms on which all the fascisms agree. Among the most notable:
The truth is revealed once and only once.
Parliamentary democracy is by definition rotten because it doesn't represent the voice of the people, which is that of the sublime leader.
Doctrine outpoints reason, and science is always suspect.
Critical thought is the province of degenerate intellectuals, who betray the culture and subvert traditional values.
The national identity is provided by the nation's enemies.
Argument is tantamount to treason.
Perpetually at war, the state must govern with the instruments of fear. Citizens do not act; they play the supporting role of "the people" in the grand opera that is the state.
Eco published his essay ten years ago, when it wasn't as easy as it has since become to see the hallmarks of fascist sentiment in the character of an American government. Roosevelt probably wouldn't have been surprised.
He'd encountered enough opposition to both the New Deal and to his belief in such a thing as a United Nations to judge the force of America's racist passions and the ferocity of its anti-intellectual prejudice. As he may have guessed, so it happened. The American democracy won the battles for Normandy and Iwo Jima, but the victories abroad didn't stem the retreat of democracy at home, after 1968 no longer moving "forward as a living force, seeking day and night to better the lot" of its own citizens, and now that sixty years have passed since the bomb fell on Hiroshima, it doesn't take much talent for reading a cashier's scale at Wal-Mart to know that it is fascism, not democracy, that won the heart and mind of America's "Greatest Generation," added to its weight and strength on America's shining seas and fruited plains.
A few sorehead liberal intellectuals continue to bemoan the fact, write books about the good old days when everybody was in charge of reading his or her own mail. I hear their message and feel their pain, share their feelings of regret, also wish that Cole Porter was still writing songs, that Jean Harlow and Robert Mitchum hadn't quit making movies. But what's gone is gone, and it serves nobody's purpose to deplore the fact that we're not still riding in a coach to Philadelphia with Thomas Jefferson. The attitude is cowardly and French, symptomatic of effete aesthetes who refuse to change with the times.
As set forth in Eco's list, the fascist terms of political endearment are refreshingly straightforward and mercifully simple, many of them already accepted and understood by a gratifyingly large number of our most forward-thinking fellow citizens, multitasking and safe with Jesus. It does no good to ask the weakling's pointless question, "Is America a fascist state?" We must ask instead, in a major rather than a minor key, "Can we make America the best damned fascist state the world has ever seen," an authoritarian paradise deserving the admiration of the international capital markets, worthy of "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind"? I wish to be the first to say we can. We're Americans; we have the money and the know-how to succeed where Hitler failed, and history has favored us with advantages not given to the early pioneers.
We don't have to burn any books.
The Nazis in the 1930s were forced to waste precious time and money on the inoculation of the German citizenry, too well-educated for its own good, against the infections of impermissible thought. We can count it as a blessing that we don't bear the burden of an educated citizenry. The systematic destruction of the public-school and library systems over the last thirty years, a program wisely carried out under administrations both Republican and Democratic, protects the market for the sale and distribution of the government's propaganda posters. The publishing companies can print as many books as will guarantee their profit (books on any and all subjects, some of them even truthful), but to people who don't know how to read or think, they do as little harm as snowflakes falling on a frozen pond.
We don't have to disturb, terrorize, or plunder the bourgeoisie.
In Communist Russia as well as in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, the codes of social hygiene occasionally put the regime to the trouble of smashing department-store windows, beating bank managers to death, inviting opinionated merchants on complimentary tours (all expenses paid, breathtaking scenery) of Siberia. The resorts to violence served as study guides for free, thinking businessmen reluctant to give up on the democratic notion that the individual citizen is entitled to an owner's interest in his or her own mind.
The difficulty doesn't arise among people accustomed to regarding themselves as functions of a corporation. Thanks to the diligence of out news media and the structure of our tax laws, our affluent and suburban classes have taken to heart the lesson taught to the aspiring serial killers rising through the ranks at West Point and the Harvard Business School -- think what you're told to think, and not only do you get to keep the house in Florida or command of the Pentagon press office but on some sunny prize day not far over the horizon, the compensation committee will hand you a check for $40 million, or President George W. Bush will bestow on you the favor of a nickname as witty as the ones that on good days elevate Karl Rove to the honorific "Boy Genius," on bad days to the disappointed but no less affectionate "Turd Blossom." Who doesn't now know that the corporation is immortal, that it is the corporation that grants the privilege of an identity, confers meaning on one's life, gives the pension, a decent credit rating, and the priority standing in the community? Of course the corporation reserves the right to open one's email, test one's blood, listen to the phone calls, examine one's urine, hold the patent on the copyright to any idea generated on its premises. Why ever should it not? As surely as the loyal fascist knew that it was his duty to serve the state, the true American knows that it is his duty to protect the brand.
Having met many fine people who come up to the corporate mark -- on golf courses and commuter trains, tending to their gardens in Fairfield County while cutting back the payrolls in Michigan and Mexico -- I'm proud to say (and I think I speak for all of us here this evening with Senator Clinton and her lovely husband) that we're blessed with a bourgeoisie that will welcome fascism as gladly as it welcomes the rain in April and the sun in June. No need to send for the Gestapo or the NKVD; it will not be necessary to set examples.
We don't have to gag the press or seize the radio stations.
People trained to the corporate style of thought and movement have no further use for free speech, which is corrupting, overly emotional, reckless, and ill-informed, not calibrated to the time available for television talk or to the performance standards of a Super Bowl halftime show. It is to our advantage that free speech doesn't meet the criteria of the free market. We don't require the inspirational genius of a Joseph Goebbels; we can rely instead on the dictates of the Nielsen ratings and the camera angles, secure in the knowledge that the major media syndicates run the business on strictly corporatist principles -- afraid of anything disruptive or inappropriate, committed to the promulgation of what is responsible, rational, and approved by experts. Their willingness to stay on message is a credit to their professionalism.
The early twentieth-century fascists had to contend with individuals who regarded their freedom of expression as a necessity -- the bone and marrow of their existence, how they recognized themselves as human beings. Which was why, if sometimes they refused appointments to the state-run radio stations, they sometimes were found dead on the Italian autostrada or drowned in the Kiel Canal. The authorities looked upon their deaths as forms of self-indulgence. The same attitude governs the agreement reached between labor and management at our leading news organizations. No question that the freedom of speech is extended to every American -- it says so in the Constitution -- but the privilege is one that musn't be abused. Understood in a proper and financially rewarding light, freedom of speech is more trouble than it's worth -- a luxury comparable to owning a racehorse and likely to bring with it little else except the risk of being made to look ridiculous. People who learn to conduct themselves in a manner respectful of the telephone tap and the surveillance camera have no reason to fear the fist of censorship. By removing the chore of having to think for oneself, one frees up more leisure time to enjoy the convenience of the Internet services that know exactly what one likes to hear and see and wear and eat. We don't have to murder the intelligentsia.
Here again, we find ourselves in luck. The society is so glutted with easy entertainment that no writer or company of writers is troublesome enough to warrant the compliment of an arrest, or even the courtesy of a sharp blow to the head. What passes for the American school of dissent talks exclusively to itself in the pages of obscure journals, across the coffee cups in Berkeley and Park Slope, in half-deserted lecture halls in small Midwestern colleges. The author on the platform or the beach towel can be relied upon to direct his angriest invective at the other members of the academy who failed to drape around the title of his latest book the garland of a rave review.
The blessings bestowed by Providence place America in the front rank of nations addressing the problems of a twenty-first century, certain to require bold geopolitical initiatives and strong ideological solutions. How can it be otherwise? More pressing demands for always scarcer resources; ever larger numbers of people who cannot be controlled except with an increasingly heavy hand of authoritarian guidance. Who better than the Americans to lead the fascist renaissance, set the paradigm, order the preemptive strikes? The existence of mankind hangs in the balance; failure is not an option. Where else but in America can the world find the visionary intelligence to lead it bravely into the future -- Donald Rumsfeld our Dante, Turd Blossom our Michelangelo?
I don't say that over the last thirty years we haven't made brave strides forward. By matching Eco's list of fascist commandments against our record of achievement, we can see how well we've begun the new project for the next millennium -- the notion of absolute and eternal truth embraced by the evangelical Christians and embodied in the strict constructions of the Constitution; our national identity provided by anonymous Arabs; Darwin's theory of evolution rescinded by the fiat of "intelligent design"; a state of perpetual war and a government administering, in generous and daily doses, the drug of fear; two presidential elections stolen with little or no objection on the part of a complacent populace; the nation's congressional districts gerrymandered to defend the White House for the next fifty years against the intrusion of a liberal-minded president; the news media devoted to the arts of iconography, busily minting images of corporate executives like those of the emperor heroes on the coins of ancient Rome.
An impressive beginning, in line with what the world has come to expect from the innovative Americans, but we can do better. The early twentieth-century fascisms didn't enter their golden age until the proletariat in the countries that gave them birth had been reduced to abject poverty. The music and the marching songs rose with the cry of eagles from the wreckage of the domestic economy. On the evidence of the wonderful work currently being done by the Bush Administration with respect to the trade deficit and the national debt -- to say nothing of expanding the markets for global terrorism -- I think we can look forward with confidence to character-building bankruptcies, picturesque bread riots, thrilling cavalcades of splendidly costumed motorcycle police.
Mao's New Bio
Reply #174 on:
October 24, 2005, 04:47:42 PM »
While lamenting fascism here at home, let's not forget to celebrate the accomplishments of social heros like Mao.
The real Mao
Monday, October 24, 2005
A new biography of Mao Tse-Tung is forcing the Chinese to re-examine their views of the Great Helmsman. The book appears to be causing at least as much ideological dyspepsia among Mao's Western admirers, of whom there are still many.
Mao: The Unknown Story, by the wife-and-husband team of Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, demonstrates convincingly that the founding dictator of communist China was a thug, not a secular saint. He was always as willing to kill his rivals and supporters as his opponents, always bourgeois, arrogant and self-absorbed, and never cared much for the peasants he pretended to champion. Peasants, to Mao, were nothing but convenient political tools who helped sustain the cult of personality that brought him to power, and foot soldiers he could send to their deaths to advance his massive re-engineering schemes or consolidate his hold on authority.
According to communist myth, Mao was the man who came closer than anyone to implementing Marxism in the way Marx and Lenin envisioned it -- as a dictatorship of the proletariat wisely overseen by benevolent, selfless champions of the people.
Since the 1970s, when the truth about the economic failures and political violence of Soviet communism began seeping out from behind the Iron Curtain, Marxism's Western apologists have had to cling to ever smaller bits of intellectual flotsam.
First came the denials. The truth was not the truth, but rather a capitalist plot perpetrated to discredit Communism and divert Westerners' attention from the rot and disparity in their own nations.
When even socialists in the Western intelligentsia -- the professors, playwrights, authors, journalists and political theorists -- could no longer deny the ruin and repression in the Soviet bloc, there followed the canard that the ugliness of communism was a recent development, the fault of thick-headed brutes like Leonid Brezhnev or monsters such as Joseph Stalin. Their deeds, it was argued, didn't taint the ideology itself.
But thanks to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and later the fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of the KGB's archives, it became unavoidably clear that the famines, pogroms, forced relocations and other evils had been part of Soviet communism from the start, and that Lenin, for all his outward fatherly gentleness, had been as murderous and corrupt as the rest. Yet some defenders of Marxism still maintained that their theory could be salvaged in some other nation, even if the Soviet experiment had ended in fiasco.
For such diehards, Mao Tse-Tung was an icon. He brought health care to the people, and land reform and women's rights. He introduced universal education. By the strength of his will, he modernized one of the world's most backward countries.
Even as 1997's Black Book of Communism and other sources began revealing how Mao had executed tens of millions in his greed for power and his insane attempts to remake Chinese society, his apologists remained on-message. That was the "old" Mao, they argued, who came into being only after the Gang of Four had taken control of his mind; the young Mao was still to be revered.
In, Mao: The Unknown Story, Chang and Halliday dispel the impression that there were two Maos -- the brilliant, charismatic chairman of the Long March up till the Great Leap Forward; and the ageing drug-addicted sex addict, in thrall to his manipulative wife and her political allies .
There was never a good Mao.
Long before the 1949 revolution, while he was still in opposition to the Chinese Nationalists, Mao was slaughtering any anyone who got in his way -- communist or otherwise. In the 1930s, for instance, he declared more than 4,000 officers in the Red army to be subversives, and had them horribly tortured then killed.
According to the authors, who conducted 10 years of research, much of it in previously untapped Chinese and Russian files, Mao was also a Russian toady and a Japanese collaborator during Japan's inhuman occupation of China. He let his own first wife die rather than delay a non-essential military campaign, invented the most famous tales of his own heroism, had 70 million Chinese purged (more than 10% of the population at the time), and seldom walked during the famous Long March. (He had himself carried on a litter as he read.)
With Stalin, Lenin and Mao all discredited, what heroes do surviving Marxists have left? Kim Jong-Il? Fidel Castro? Don't laugh: As Mao, The Unknown Story makes clear, we should never underestimate a leftist's ability to venerate a mass murderer with a straight face.
Che, Beyond the T-Shirt
Reply #175 on:
October 24, 2005, 05:14:52 PM »
And let's not forget that paragon of revolutionary virtue, Che.
By Humberto Fontova
FrontPageMagazine.com | October 14, 2005
This is the fourth article in our "Leftwing Monsters" series, the first of which featured Humberto Fontova's profile of Fidel Castro. "Leftwing Monsters" is a feature of
where the entire series will be archived -- The Editors.
In August of 1960, a year and a half after Che Guevara entered Havana ahead of his "column" of "guerrillas," Time magazine featured the revolutionary comandante on its cover and crowned him the "Brains of the Cuban Revolution." (Fidel Castro was "the heart" and Raul Castro "the fist.")
"Wearing a smile of melancholy sweetness that many women find devastating," read the Time article, "Che guides Cuba with icy calculation, vast competence, high intelligence and a perceptive sense of humor."
"This is not a Communist Revolution in any sense of the term," The New York Times had declared a year earlier. "Fidel Castro is not only not a Communist, he is decidedly anti-Communist."
"It would be a great mistake," Walter Lippmann wrote in the Washington Post that same month, "even to intimate that Castro's Cuba has any real prospect of becoming a Soviet satellite."
A few months earlier the London Observer had observed: "Mr. Castro's bearded youthful figure has become a symbol of Latin America's rejection of brutality and lying. Every sign is that he will reject personal rule and violence."
Time magazine was in perfect sync with her major-media peers -- utterly wrong. Guevara was no more the brains of the Cuban Revolution than Cheka-head Felix Drezhinsky had been the brains of the Bolshevik Revolution, or Gestapo chief Himmler the brains of the National Socialist Revolution, or KGB head Beria the brains behind Stalinism. In fact Che performed the same role for Fidel Castro as Drezhinsky performed for Lenin, Himmler for Hitler and Beria for Stalin. Che Guevara was the Castro regime?s chief executioner.
Under Che, Havana's La Cabana fortress was converted into Cuba's Lubianka. He was a true Chekist: "Always interrogate your prisoners at night," Che commanded his prosecutorial goons, "a man is easier to cow at night, his mental resistance is always lower." 
A Cuban prosecutor of the time who quickly defected in horror and disgust named Jose Vilasuso estimates that Che signed 400 death warrants the first few months of his command in La Cabana. A Basque priest named Iaki de Aspiazu, who was often on hand to perform confessions and last rites, says Che personally ordered 700 executions by firing squad during the period. Cuban journalist Luis Ortega, who knew Che as early as 1954, writes in his book Yo Soy El Che! that Guevara sent 1,897 men to the firing squad.
In his book Che Guevara: A Biography, Daniel James writes that Che himself admitted to ordering "several thousand" executions during the first year of the Castro regime. Felix Rodriguez, the Cuban-American CIA operative who helped track him down in Bolivia and was the last person to question him, says that Che during his final talk, admitted to "a couple thousand" executions. But he shrugged them off as all being of "imperialist spies and CIA agents."
Vengeance, much less justice, had little to do with the Castro/Che directed bloodbath in the first months of 1959. Che's murderous agenda in La Cabana fortress in 1959 was exactly Stalin's murderous agenda in the Katyn Forest in 1940. Like Stalin's massacre of the Polish officer corps, like Stalin's Great Terror against his own officer corps a few years earlier, Che's firing squad marathons were a perfectly rational and cold blooded exercise that served their purpose ideally. His bloodbath decapitated literally and figuratively the first ranks of Cuba's anti-Castro rebels.
Five years earlier, while still a Communist hobo in Guatemala, Che had seen the Guatemalan officer corps with CIA assistance rise against the Red regime of Jacobo Arbenz and send him and his Communist minions hightailing into exile. (For those leftists who still think that Arbenz was an innocent "nationalist" victimized by the fiendish United Fruit Company and their CIA proxies, please note: Arbenz sought exile not in France or Spain or even Mexico -- the traditional havens for deposed Latin-American politicians -- but in the Soviet satellite, Czechoslovakia. Also, the coup went into motion, not when Arbenz started nationalizing United Fruit property, but when a cargo of Soviet-bloc weapons arrived in Guatemala. "Arbenz didn't execute enough people," was how Guevara explained the Guatemalan coup's success. 
Fidel and Che didn't want a repeat of the Guatemalan coup in Cuba. Equally important, the massacres cowed and terrorized. Most of them came after public trials. And the executions, right down to the final shattering of the skull with the coup de grace from a massive .45 slug fired at five paces, were public too. Guevara made it a policy for his men to parade the families and friends of the executed before the blood, bone and brain spattered firing squad.
Had Ernesto Guevara De La Serna y Lynch not linked up with Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico city that fateful summer of 1955--had he not linked up with a Cuban exile named Nico Lopez in Guatemala the year before who later introduced him to Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico city-- everything points to Ernesto continuing his life of a traveling hobo, mooching off women, staying in flophouses and scribbling unreadable poetry. Che was a Revolutionary Ringo Starr. By pure chance, he fell in with the right bunch at just the right time and rode their coattails to fame. His very name "Che" was imparted by the Cubans who hob-knobbed with him in Mexico. Argentines use the term "Che" much like Cubans use "Chico" or Michael Moore fans use "dude." The Cubans noticed Guevara using it so they pasted it to him. And it stuck.
Fidel had brought the recently monikered "Che" on the Granma invasion of Cuba as the rebel group's doctor, based on his bogus credentials. On the harrowing boat ride through turbulent seas from the Yucatan to Cuba's Oriente province in the decrepit old yacht, a rebel found Che lying comatose in the boat's cabin. He rushed to the commander, "Fidel, looks like Che's dead!"
"Well, if he's dead," replied Castro. "Then throw him overboard." In fact Guevara was suffering the combined effects of seasickness and an asthma attack.  Evidently, Che was not regarded as an invaluable member of the expedition at the time.
But today his famous photo by Alberto Korda ranks as the most reproduced print in the world. Last year Burlington Industries introduced a line of infant wear bearing his famous image. Even the Pope, on his visit to Cuba in 1998, spoke approvingly about Che's "ideals." Che owes all this hype and flummery to the century's top media swindler, Fidel Castro, who also dispatched the hero deliberately to his death. As those who know say "Fidel only praises the dead."
As for the rest of Time's assertions, other than his competence at murdering bound, gagged and blindfolded men, Che Guevara failed spectacularly at everything he attempted in his life. First he failed as Argentine medical student. Though he's widely described as a medical doctor by his hagiographers (Castaneda, Anderson, Taibo, Kalfon) no record exists of Guevara's medical degree. When Cuban-American researcher Enrique Ros inquired of the Rector of the University of Buenos Aires and the head of its Office of Academic Affairs for copies or proof of said document, Ros was variously told that the records had been misplaced or perhaps stolen. 
In 1960 Castro appointed Che as Cuba's "Minister of Economics." Within months the Cuban peso, a currency historically equal to the U.S. dollar and fully backed by Cuba's gold reserves, was practically worthless. The following year Castro appointed Che as Cuba's Minister of Industries. Within a year a nation that previously had higher per capita income than Austria and Japan, a huge influx of immigrants and the 3rd highest protein consumption in the hemisphere was rationing food, closing factories, and hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of it's most productive citizens from every sector of its society, all who were grateful to leave with only the clothes on their back.
Most observers attribute this to "Communist mismanagement." Che himself confessed to his multiple economic errors and failings. Actually, given the goal of Cuba's ruler since January of 1959 -- i.e., absolute power -- the Cuban economy has been expertly managed. Castro inherited a vibrant free market economy in 1959 (something unique among communist rulers). All the others -- from Lenin to Mao to Ho to Ulbricht to Tito to Kim Il Sung --took over primitive and/or chaotic, war ravaged economies.
A less megalomaniacal ruler would have considered that a golden goose had landed in his lap. But Castro wrung its neck. He deliberately and methodically wrecked Latin America's premier economy. A Cuban capitalist is a person that couldn?t be controlled, Castro reasoned then, and continues to do so to this day. Despite a flood of tourism and foreign investment for over a decade, Cuba in 2005 is as essentially as poor (and Communist) as it was in 1965 or worse. The Castro brothers are vigilant in these matters.
Che actually believed in the socialist fantasy. When he pronounced in May of 1961 that under his tutelage the Cuban economy would boast an annual growth rate of 10% he seemed to believe it.
Castro didn't care. He simply knew as a result he'd be running Cuba like his personal plantation, with the Cuban people as his cattle.
This is where libertarian/free-market ideologues get it wrong. They insist that with the lifting of the embargo, capitalism will sneak in and eventually blindside Castro. All the proof is to the contrary. Capitalism didn't sweep Castro away or even co opt him. He blindsided it. He swept it away. He's not Deng or Gorbachev. In 1959 Castro could have easily left most of Cuba's economy in place, made it obedient to his whims, and been a Peron, a Franco, a Mussolini ? the idol of his youth. He could have grabbed half and been a Tito. He could have demanded a piece of the action from all involved and been a Marcos, a Trujillo, a Mobutu, a Suharto. But this wasn't enough for him.
Castro lusted for the power of a Stalin or a Mao. And he got it
Che Guevara's most famous book is titled Guerrilla Warfare. His famous photo is captioned "Heroic Guerrilla." On the other hand his most resounding failure came precisely as a guerrilla, while there is no record of him prevailing in any bona-fide guerrilla battle. In fact, there are precious few accounts that he actually fought in anything properly described as a battle. The one that describes his most famous military exploit is referred to as "The Battle of Santa Clara," which took place in December 1958. The loss of this "battle" by the Batista forces is alleged to have caused Batista to lose hope and flee Cuba. To commemorate this historic military engagement, Castro has built a Che Guevara museum in Santa Clara.
"One Thousand Killed in 5 days of Fierce Street Fighting," proclaimed a New York Times headline on Jan 4, 1959 about the battle. "Commander Che Guevara appealed to Batista troops for a truce to clear the streets of casualties" the articles continued. "Guevara turned the tide in this bloody battle and whipped a Batista force of 3,000 men."
"Those of us who were there can only laugh at this stuff," say participants on both sides who live in exile today.  In fact, the Battle of Santa Clara--despite what those early versions of Jayson Blair reported -- was a puerile skirmish. Che Guevara's own diary mentions that his column suffered exactly one casualty (a soldier known as El Vaquerito) in this ferocious "battle." Other accounts put the grand total of rebel losses as from three to five men. Most of Batista's soldiers saw no reason to fight for a crooked, unpopular regime that was clearly doomed. So they didn't fire a shot, even those on the famous "armored train," that Guevara supposedly attacked and captured.
Today that armored train is a major tourist attraction in Santa Clara. The train, loaded with 373 soldiers and $4M worth of munitions, was sent from Havana to Santa Clara in late December of 1958 by Batista's high command as a last ditch attempt to halt the rebels. Che's rebels in Santa Clara bulldozed the tracks and the train derailed just outside of town. Then a few rebels shot at it and a few soldiers fired back. No one was hurt. Soon some rebels approached brandishing a truce flag and one of the train's officers, Enrique Gomez, walked out to meet them. Gomez was brought to meet Comandante Guevara.
"What's going on here!' Che shouted. "This isn't what we agreed on!"
Gomez was puzzled. "What agreement?" he asked. It turned out, unbeknownst to the troops inside, Guevara had used funds the revolutionaries had raised from anti-Batista Cubans to buy the train and all its armaments had from its corrupt commander Colonel Florentino Rossell, who had already fled to Miami. The price was either $350,000 or $1,000,000, depending on the source. 
Actually Che had every reason to be upset. Actual shots fired against his troops? Here's another eye-witness account regarding Che's famous "invasion" of las Villas Province shortly before the famous "battle" of Santa Clara. "Guevara's column shuffled right into the U.S. agricultural experimental station in Camaguey. Guevara asked manager Joe McGuire to have a man take a package to Batista's military commander in the city. The package contained $100,000 with a note. Guevara's men moved through the province almost within sight of uninterested Batista troops." 
Francisco Rodriguez Tamayo was a Rebel captain who had been in on many of these transactions but he defected mere months after the Rebel victory. In an El Diario de Nueva York article dated June 25th 1959 he claimed that Castro still had $4,500,000 left in that "fund" at the time of the Revolutionary victory. "I don't know what might have happened to that money.? Rodriguez Tamayo adds.
Yet immediately after the Santa Clara bribe and skirmish, Che ordered 27 Batista soldiers executed as "war criminals." Dr. Serafin Ruiz was a Castro operative in Santa Clara at the time, but apparently an essentially decent one. "But Comandante" he responded to Che's order. "Our revolution promises not to execute without trials, without proof. How can we just....?"
"Look Serafin" Che snorted back. "If your bourgeois prejudices won?t allow you to carry out my orders, fine. Go ahead and try them tomorrow morning--but execute them NOW!"  It was a Marxist version of the Red Queen's famous line to Alice in Wonderland: "Sentence first--verdict afterwards!"
Che Guevara's own diary puts the grand total of his forces' losses during the entire two-year long "civil war" in Cuba at 20, about equal to the average number dead during Rio de Janeiro's carnival every year. To put it briefly, Batista's army barely fought.
Officials in Cuba's U.S. embassy at the time became a little skeptical about all the battlefield bloodshed and heroics reported in the New York Times and investigated. They ran down every reliable lead and eyewitness account of what the New York Times kept reporting as bloody civil war with thousands dead in single battles.
They found that in the entire Cuban countryside, in those two years of "ferocious" battles between rebel forces and Batista troops, the total casualties on both sides actually amounted to 182.  New Orleans has an annual murder rate double that.
Typically, Che Guevara doesn't even merit credit for the perfectly sensible scheme of bribing rather than fighting Batista's army. The funds for these bribes derived mostly from Fidel's snookering of Batista's wealthy political opponents, convincing them that he was a "patriotic Cuban, a democrat," and that they should join, or at least help fund, his 26th of July Movement in order to bring democracy and prosperity to Cuba.
In late 1957 Castro signed an agreement called ?The Miami Pact? with several anti-Batista Cuban politicians and ex-ministers in exile at the time. Most of these were quite wealthy. Indeed if the term, "rich, white Miami Cuban exiles," that liberals scornfully use against current Cuban-Americans ever fit -- it was for the mulatto Batista?s liberal opponents, for Fidel Castro's early backers. Among these was former president Carlos Prio who Batista had ousted in his (bloodless) coup in 1952, along with many of Prio's ministers and business cronies.
In fact, Guevara went ballistic over the Miami Pact, when he first learned of it, over this shameful deal with "bourgeois" elements. "I refuse to lend my historic name to that crime!" he wrote. "We rebels have proffered our asses in the most despicable act of buggery that Cuban history is likely to recall!" 
It was despicable buggery for sure. But Che had the buggerers and the buggerees reversed. Lenin coined the term "Useful Idiots," but to this day Castro remains history's virtuoso at snaring and employing them.
That a "guerrilla war" with "peasant and worker backing" overthrew Batista is among the century's most widespread and persistent academic fables. No Cuban Castroites who participated actually believe this. The Associated Press dispatches about Castro and Che's "war" were actually concocted and written by Castro's own agent in New York, Mario Llerena, who admits as much in his book, The Unsuspected Revolution. Llerena was also the contact with Castro's most famous publicity agent, the New York Times, Herbert Matthews. National Review's famous 1960 cartoon showing a beaming Castro, "I got my job through the New York Times!" nailed it.
To give them credit, most of Castro's comandantes knew their Batista war had been an elaborate ruse and gaudy clown show. After the glorious victory, they were content to run down and execute the few Batista men motivated enough to shoot back (most of these were of humble background), settle into the mansions stolen from Batistianos, and enjoy the rest of their booty.
British historian Hugh Thomas, though a leftist Labour Party member who sympathized with Castro's revolution, studied mountains of records and simply could not evade the truth. His massive and authoritative historical volume Cuba sums it up very succinctly: "In all essentials Castro's battle for Cuba was a public relations campaign, fought in New York and Washington."
Che Guevara, himself, possessed an immense capacity for self-deception. On a state visit to Czechoslovakia in 1960 his Cuban companions pointed out the numerous prostitutes on the streets and in the very hotel where they stayed. Che nodded wearily. Back in Cuba when one of them winked and brought up the prostitutes Che flared indignantly. "I didn't see any prostitutes there!" 
The Cubans looked at each other shrugging but knew better than to press the issue. Che didn't want to remember the sight of prostitutes. He wanted to convince himself that such a thing was impossible in a glorious Socialist nation, a sister republic.
That gift for self-deception probably led him to believe the guerrilla war fable. And while trying to duplicate it in Bolivia he paid for his obtuseness and wishful thinking with his life. In Cuba, Che couldn't find anyone to fight against him. In the Congo, scene of another of his guerrilla forays, he couldn't find anyone to fight with him. In Bolivia he finally started getting a tiny taste of both. In short order he was betrayed by the very peasants he set out to liberate (but who didn't see it quite that way), brought to ground and killed.
Shortly after entering Havana with the revolutionary forces, Che was already advising, equipping and dispatching guerrilla forces in an attempt to duplicate the Cuban Revolution in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Every one of those guerrilla forces (which were Cuban Communist-led and staffed) was wiped out in short order, usually to the last man. Rafael Trujillo and Luis Somoza weren't about to follow Batista's example of pussyfooting against guerrillas.
A few years later Che equipped, advised and sent more guerrillas to Argentina and Guatemala. Again they were stamped out almost to a man. These guerrilla expeditions cost the lives of two of Che's fatally credulous friends: the Argentine Jorge Masseti and the Guatemalan Julio Caceres.
Leftist "scholars" complain about The Bay of Pigs invasion as "Yankee intervention" (though every single invader, including the commanders was Cuban) against an innocent nationalist revolution that wished only to be left alone. They might revisit the documentary evidence. In fact Castro and Che launched five of their own versions of the Bay of Pigs invasions before the U.S. had even started contingency planning for theirs.
Castro seemed to know these invasions to spark revolutions were futile. But for Castro they still had a handy rationale. "These foreigners are nothing but troublemakers," he told a Cuban rebel named Lazaro Ascencio right after the revolutionary triumph. "Know what I'm going to do with Che Guevara? I'm going to send him to Santo Domingo and see if Trujillo kills him." 
How serious was Castro? We can only guess. But found a way for Che to earn his keep and stay of trouble in Cuba by assigning him as commander of La Cabana, the fortress where political prisoners were held and killed.
Che's role in "Imperialism's First Defeat!" as Castro refers to the Bay of Pigs invasion merits mention. The American invasion plan included a ruse in which a CIA squad dispatched three rowboats off the coast of western Cuba in Pinar Del Rio (350 miles from the true invasion site) loaded with time release Roman candles, bottle rockets, mirrors and a tape recording of battle.
The wily Guerrilla Che immediately deciphered the imperialist scheme. That little feint 300 miles away at the Bay of Pigs was a transparent ruse, he determined. The real invasion was coming in Pinar Del Rio. Che stormed over to the site with several thousand troops, dug in, locked, loaded and waited for the "Yankee/mercenary" attack. They braced themselves as the sparklers, smoke bombs and mirrors did their stuff offshore.
Three days later the (literal) smoke and mirror show expended itself and Che's men marched back to Havana. Somehow Che had managed to wound himself in the heated battle against the tape recorder. The bullet pierced Che's chin and excited above his temple, just missing his brain. The scar is visible in all post April ?61 pictures of Che (the picture we see on posters and T shirts was taken a year earlier.)
Cuban novelist Guillermo Cabrera Infante, a Fidelista at the time, speculates the wound may have come from a botched suicide attempt. Che hagiographers John Lee Anderson, Carlos Castaneda and Paco Taibo insist it was an accident, Che's own pistol going off just under his face.
Jorge Castaneda in his Companero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara cannot resist giving Che some credit for "Imperialism's First Defeat." The Mexican author (and recent foreign minister) writes that Che's role was "crucial," explaining that Cuba's 200,000 man militia played a "central role in the victory." The training of these militia had been in the hands of Che since 1960. "Without Che" Castaneda gushes, "the militias would not have been reliable."
Here's a summary of the Battle of the Bay of Pigs, and the militia's performance: 51,000 Castro troops and militia with limitless Soviet arms, including tanks and planes and batteries of heavy artillery met 1400 mostly civilian exile freedom-fighters most with less than a months training. These men carried only light arms and one day's ammunition. The Che-trained militia hit them, then immediately halted and fled hysterically.
They were ordered back, probed hesitantly again, got mauled again and retreated in headlong flight again. They marched back again, many at gun-point, and rolled in battery after battery of Soviet 122 mm Howitzers. They rained 2000 rounds of heavy artillery into lightly-armed men they outnumbered 50 -1. ("Rommel's crack Afrika Corps broke and ran under a similar bombardment," explains Bay of Pigs historian Haynes Johnson.) Then Castro's unopposed air force strafed the invaders repeatedly and at will.
The invaders stood their ground to the last man and the militia was forced to probe yet again -- and retreat again in headlong flight. They eventually stopped and brought in reinforcements. (50-1 was not enough.) They rained another Soviet artillery storm on the utterly abandoned and hopelessly outnumbered freedom fighters and finally moved in to overwhelm them -- after three days of effort in which the invaders hadn't eaten, drank or slept, and had run out of ammunition. Castro's forces took 5200 casualties in the process. The freedom fighters suffered 114. 
Che did show up at the battle site, but the day the shooting ended. He walked into a building strewn with captured and wounded freedom-fighters and looked around with his wry Argentine smile. "We're going to execute every one of you," he barked. Then he turned on his heels and walked out.  As usual, Castro had a much shrewder plan for the prisoners. His regime reaped a propaganda windfall and 62 million American dollars when JFK ransomed them back.
In fact, Castro was fuming at his Militia's performance. A week after the battle he visited some of the freedom-fighters in their Havana prison cells. One had been an old acquaintance from college. "Hombre, If I had 20,000 men like you guys," Castro beamed to his old friend. " I'd have all of Latin America in my hands right now!" 
One of the longest and bloodiest guerrilla wars on this continent was fought not by Fidel and Che but against Fidel and Che -- and by landless peasants. Farm collectivization was no more voluntary in Cuba than in the Ukraine. And Cuba's kulaks had guns, a few at first anyway, and put up a heroic resistance until the Kennedy-Khrushchev deal during the ?Cuban Missile Crisis? finally starved them of supplies. Cubans know this war as "The Escambray Rebellion."
It's rarely reported, but Che Guevara had a very bloody hand in one of the major anti-insurgency wars on this continent. Seventy to 80 percent of these rural anti-communist peasant guerrillas were executed on the spot on capture. "We fought with the fury of cornered beasts" was how one of the few lucky ones who escaped alive described the guerrillas' desperate freedom-fight against the totalitarian agendas of the Cuban regime. (In 1956, when Che linked up with the Cuban exiles in Mexico city, one of them recalls Che railing against the Hungarian freedom-fighters as "Fascists!" and cheering their extermination by Soviet tanks.)
In 1962 Che got a chance to do more than cheer from the sidelines. "Cuban militia units (whose training and morale Jorge Castaneda insists we credit to Che) commanded by Russian officers employed flame-throwers to burn the palm-thatched cottages in the Escambray countryside. The peasant occupants were accused of feeding the counterrevolutionaries and bandits." 
The Maoist line about how "a guerrilla swims in the sea which is the people, etc.," fit Cuba's anti-Communist rebellion perfectly. Raul Castro himself admitted that his government faced 179 bands of "counter-revolutionaries" and "bandits." at the time.
So in a massive "relocation" campaign reminiscent of the one Spanish General Valerinao "The Butcher" Weyler carried out against Cubans during their war of independence at the turn of the century, Castro's Soviet trained armed forces ripped hundreds of thousands of rural Cubans from their ancestral homes at gunpoint and herded them into concentration camps on the opposite side of Cuba.
According to evidence presented to the Organization of American States by Cuban-exile researcher Dr. Claudio Beneda 4000 anti-Communist peasants were summarily executed during this rural rebellion.
Time magazine notwithstanding, Fidel Castro -- and Fidel Castro alone -- was the "brains" of the Cuban Revolution. And part of his acumen was his proficiency at sizing up his revolutionary companeros, then delegating jobs -- then eliminating them in various ways as circumstances dictated. With Guevara he performed masterfully. First he assigned him to be commander of Havana's La Cabana fortress, which Che promptly converted to a prison and killing field.
"Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!"
Che Guevara wrote these lines while in his early twenties, before he had gotten his hands on any such enemy. The passage appears in Che's Motorcycle Diaries, recently made into a heartwarming film by Robert Redford -- the only film to get a whooping standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. It seems that Redford omitted this inconvenient portion of Che's diaries form his touching tribute.
Two weeks after Che entered Havana and took his post at La Cabana fortress, Castro saw his instincts as a personnel manager fully vindicated. The "acrid odor of gunpowder and blood" never reached Guevara's nostrils from actual combat. It always came from the close range murder of bound, gagged and blindfolded men. "We must create the pedagogy of the paredon (firing squad.)" Che instructed his Revolutionary Tribunals: "We don't need proof to execute a man. We only need proof that it's necessary to execute him. A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate." 
Actually, Che Guevara was anything but a "cold killing machine." The term implies a certain detachment or nonchalance towards murder. In fact Che gave ample evidence of enjoying it. Almost all Cubans who knew him and are now in exile and able to talk freely (Jose Benitez, Mario Chanes de Armas Dariel Alarcon among others ) recall Che Guevara as a classic psychopath.
In January 1957, shortly after landing in Cuba aboard the yacht Granma with Fidel and Raul Castro, Che sent a letter to his discarded wife, Hilda Gadea. "Dear vieja (i.e, ?Ole Lady? -- on top of everything else, Che was also a notorious misogynist) I'm here in Cuba's hills, alive and thirsting for blood."  His thirst would soon be slaked.
In that very month, January 1957 Fidel Castro ordered the execution of a peasant guerrilla named Eutimio Guerra who he accused of being an informer for Batista's forces. Castro assigned the killing to his own bodyguard, Universo Sanchez. To everyone's surprise, Che Guevara -- a lowly rebel soldier/medic at the time (not yet a comandante -- volunteered to accompany Sanchez and another soldier to the execution site. The Cuban rebels were glum as they walked slowly down the trail in a torrential thunderstorm. Finally the little group stopped in a clearing.
Sanchez was hesitant, looking around, perhaps looking for an excuse to postpone or call off the execution. Dozens would follow, but this was the first execution of a Castro rebel by Castro's rebels. Suddenly without warning Che stepped up and fired his pistol into Guerra's temple. "He went into convulsions for a while and was finally still. Now his belongings were mine." Che wrote in his Diaries.
Shortly afterwards, Che's father in Buenos Aires received a letter from his prodigal son. "I'd like to confess, papa', at that moment I discovered that I really like killing." 
This attitude caught Castro's eye. More executions of assorted "deserters" informers" and "war criminals" quickly followed, all with Che's enthusiastic participation. One was of a captured Batista soldier, a 17-years old boy totally green to the guerrilla "war," hence his easy capture. First Che interrogated him.
"I haven't killed anyone, comandante," the terrified boy answered Che. "I just got out here! I'm an only son, my mother's a widow and I joined the army for the salary, to send it to her every month...don't kill me!" He blurted out when he heard Che's unmoved reply, "Don't kill me!--why?"
The boy was trussed up, shoved in front of a recently dug pit and murdered.  Fidel was privy to these events. He thought executing Batista soldiers was incredibly stupid, compared to the propaganda value of releasing them since most weren't fighting anyway. But recognized the value of executions in intimidating other Cubans, and recognized Che's value as someone who enjoyed the job. By the summer of 1957 Che Guevara had been promoted to full-fledged Major or "comandante," the Rebel army's highest rank. His fame was spreading.
But not all the revolutionaries were favorably impressed. In mid-1958 one of the rebels was wounded and made his way to a Dr. Hector Meruelo in the nearby town of Cienfuegos. The good doctor patched him up and a few weeks later informed him that he was well enough to return to Che's column.
"No, doctor," the boy responded. Please be discreet with this because it could cost me my life, but I've learned that Che is nothing but a murderer. I'm a revolutionary but I'm also a Christian. I'll go and join Camilo's column (Camilo Cienfuegos) --but never Che's." 
As commander of the La Cabana prison, Che often insisted on shattering the skull of the condemned man by firing the coup de grace himself. When other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled himself with watching the executions. Che's office in La Cabana had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his firing squads at work.
A Rumanian journalist named Stefan Bacie visited Cuba in early 1959 and was fortunate enough to get an audience with the already famous leader, whom he had also met briefly in Mexico city. The meeting took place in Che's office in La Cabana. Upon entering, the Rumanian saw Che motioning him over to his office's newly constructed window.
Stefan Bacie got there just in time to hear the command of fuego, hear the blast from the firing squad and see a condemned prisoner man crumple and convulse. The stricken journalist immediately left and composed a poem, titled, "I No Longer Sing of Che." ("I no longer sing of Che
any more than I would of Stalin," go the first lines.) 
A Cuban gentleman named Pierre San Martin was among those jailed by Che Guevara in the early months of the Cuban Revolution. In an El Nuevo Herald article from December 28, 1997 San Martin recalled the horrors: ?Thirteen of us were crammed into a cell. Sixteen of us would stand while the other sixteen tried to sleep on the cold filthy floor. We took shifts that way. Dozens were led from the cells to the firing squad daily. The volleys kept us awake. We felt that any one of those minutes would be our last.
One morning the horrible sound of that rusty steel door swinging open startled us awake and Che's guards shoved a new prisoner into our cell. He was a boy, maybe 14 years old. His face was bruised and smeared with blood. "What did you do?" We asked horrified. "I tried to defend my papa," gasped the bloodied boy. "But they sent him to the firing squad."
Soon Che's guards returned. The rusty steel door opened and they yanked the boy out of the cell. "We all rushed to the cell's window that faced the execution pit," recalls Mr. San Martin. "We simply couldn't believe they'd murder him.
"Then we spotted him, strutting around the blood-drenched execution yard with his hands on his waist and barking orders--Che Guevara himself. 'Kneel down!' Che barked at the boy.
"Assassins!" we screamed from our window.
?I said: KNEEL DOWN!" Che barked again.
The boy stared Che resolutely in the face. "If you're going to kill me," he yelled, "you'll have to do it while I'm standing! Men die standing!"
"Murderers!" the men yelled desperately from their cells. "Then we saw Che unholstering his pistol. He put the barrel to the back of the boys neck and blasted. The shot almost decapitated the young boy.
"We erupted?'Murderers!--Assassins!'" His murder finished, Che finally looked up at us, pointed his pistol, and emptied his clip in our direction. Several of us were wounded by his shots."
After a hard day at the office, Che repaired to his new domicile in Tarara, 15 miles outside Havana on the pristine beachfront (today reserved exclusively for tourists and Communist party members, by the way). The "austere idealist," Che, hadn't done too badly for himself in this real estate transaction, known in non-revolutionary societies as theft.
"The house was among the most luxurious in Cuba," writes Cuban journalist Antonio Llano Montes. ''Until a few weeks prior, it had belonged to Cuba's most successful building contractor. The mansion had a boat dock, a huge swimming pool, seven bathrooms, a sauna, a massage salon and several television sets. One TV had been specially designed in the U.S. and had a screen ten feet wide and was operated by remote control (remember, this was 1959.) This was thought to be the only TV of its kind in Latin America. The mansion's garden had a veritable jungle of imported plants, a pool with waterfall, ponds filled with exotic tropical fish and several bird houses filled with parrots and other exotic birds. The habitation was something out of A Thousand and One Nights.
Llano Montes wrote the above in exile. In January 1959 he didn't go quite into such detail in his article which appeared in the Cuban magazine Carteles. He simply wrote that, "Comandante Che Guevara has fixed his residence in one of the most luxurious houses on Tarara beach."
Two days after his article ran, while lunching at Havana's El Carmelo restaurant, Llano Montes looked up from his plate to see three heavily armed Rebel army soldiers instructing him to accompany them. Shortly the journalist found himself in Che Guevara's La Cabana office, seated a few feet in front of the Comandante's desk which was piled with papers.
It took half an hour but Che finally made his grand entrance, "reeking horribly, as was his custom" recalls Llano Montes. "Without looking at me. He started grabbing papers on his desk and brusquely signing them with 'Che.? His assistant came in and Che spoke to him over his shoulder. "I'm signing these 26 executions so we can take care of this tonight.'
"Then he got up and walked out. Half an hour later he walks back in and starts signing more papers. Finished signing, he picks up a book and starts reading -- never once looking at me. Another half hour goes by and he finally puts the book down. 'So you're Llano Montes,' he finally sneers, 'who says I appropriated a luxurious house.'
"I simply wrote that you had moved into a luxurious house, which is the truth," replied Llano Montes.
"I know your tactics!" Che shot back. "You press people are injecting venom into your articles to damage the revolution. You're either with us or against us. We're not going to allow all the press foolishness that Batista allowed. I can have you executed this very night. How about that!"
"You'll need proof that I've broken some law" responded Montes.
"'We don't need proof. We manufacture the proof,' Che said while stroking his shoulder length hair, a habit of his. One of his prosecutors, a man nicknamed 'Puddle-of-blood' then walked in and started talking. 'Don't let the stupid jabbering of those defense lawyers delay the executions!' Che yelled at him. 'Threaten them with execution. Accuse them of being accomplices of the Batistianos.' Then Che jerked the handful of papers from Mr. Puddle and started signing them.
"This type of thing went on from noon until 6:30 PM when Che finally turned to his aides and said. 'Get this man out of here. I don't want him in my presence.'" 
This was Che's manner of dealing with defenseless men. He acted this way when he held the hammer. Against armed men on an equal footing his behavior was markedly different. Two years earlier in the Sierra, Castro had ordered Che to take command over a guerrilla faction led by a fellow 26th of July Movement rebel named Jorge Sotus, who had been operating in an area north of the area where Fidel and Che were and had actually been confronting and fighting Batista's army. Che and a few of his men hiked over to Sotus command station and informed him that Che was now in command.
"Like hell," responded Sotus.
"It's Fidel's order," responded Guevara. "We have more military experience than you and your group."
"More experience in running and hiding from Batista's army perhaps," Sotus shot back. Che dithered and Sotus added. "Besides my men and I aren't about to take orders from a foreigner." 
Che backed off, hiked back and informed Fidel who didn't press the issue. But a few weeks after Batista's flight and Castro's triumph, Sotus was arrested without warning and shoved in the Isle of Pines prison. The intrepid Sotus managed to escape, made his way to the U.S. and joined an exile paramilitary group, taking part in many armed raids against Cuba from south Florida until the Kennedy-Khrushchev deal ended them.
Guevara also had a run in with a rebel group named the Second Front of the Escambray. These operated against Batista in the Escambray mountains of Las Villas province. When Che's column entered the area in late 1958, Che sought to bring these guerrillas under his command and met much resistance, especially from a comandante named Jesus Carreras who knew of Che's Communist pedigree. Again Guevara didn't press the issue.
A few weeks into the January 1959 triumph Carreras and a group of these Escambray commanders visited Che in La Cabana to address the issue of how they'd been frozen out of any leadership roles in the new regime. On the way in, Carreras ran into a rebel he'd known in the anti-Batista fight and stopped to chat while the rest of the group entered Che's office. Once the group was inside, Che began to rip into Carreras (who was still not present) as a drunkard, a womanizer, a bandit and a person he'd never appoint to any important position.
Midway into Che's tirade, Carreras entered the office, having overheard much while outside. "Che went white," recall those present. An enraged Carreras jumped right in his face and Che backed off. Finally Carreras challenged Che to a duel, "right outside in the courtyard," he pointed.
"How is it possible," Che quickly smiled, "that two revolutionary companeros get to such a point simply because of a misunderstanding?"
The subject was dropped and they turned to other issues, but a year later Jesus Carreras found himself a prisoner in a La Cabana dungeon. A few months later he was defiantly facing a firing squad. Fuego! The volley shattered his body. And yes, Che was watching from his window. 
Even the New York Times admits that the first two months of the Cuban Revolution saw 568 firing squad executions. A study by Cuban-American Scholar Armando Lago doubles that figure. One by Dr. Claudio Beneda triples it. The preceding "trials" shocked and nauseated all who witnessed them. They were shameless farces, sickening charades. Guevara clarified the matter. "Evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail," he explained. "We execute from revolutionary conviction." 
Not that the slaughter ended after the first few months, as most "scholars" imply. In December 1964 Che addressed the U.N. General Assembly. "Yes, we execute, " he declared to the claps and cheers of that august body. "And we will keep executing as long as it is necessary. This is a war to the death against the Revolution's enemies."
According to the Black Book of Communism those executions had reached 14,000 by the end of the decade. (Cuba is a small country. In American terms, this would amount to more than three million executions.)
On the eve of his trip to New York, Che gave a speech in Santiago Cuba where he declared: "We must learn the lesson of absolute abhorrence of imperialism. Against that class of hyena there is no other medium than extermination!" 
Two years earlier, Guevara had gotten tantalizingly close to that medium. "If the missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of the United States, including New York," he told the London Daily Worker in November of 1962. "We must never establish peaceful co-existence. We must walk the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims." 
"Extermination," Che stressed. "Millions of atomic victims," he said for the record. "Pure hate, as the motivating force," he repeatedly declared.
Time also erred regarding Che's sense of humor, which was on par with Nurse Ratched's. As most Latin Americans of a certain age know, Che was a ringer for a Mexican Movie star of the fifties named Cantinflas. Shortly after Che entered Havana, one of Cuba's traditionally sassy newspapermen made sport of this resemblance.
He did it exactly once. Those firing squads were working triple-shifts at the time. The reporter heeded Che's warning not to do it again.
Che's first decree when his guerrillas captured the town of Sancti Spiritus in central Cuba during the last days of the skirmishing against Batista's army, outlawed alcohol, gambling and regulated relations between the sexes. Popular outcry and Fidel's good sense made him rescind the order.
"I have no home, no woman no parents, no brothers and no friends," wrote Guevara. "My friends are friends only so long as they think as I do politically." 
In 1960 at a town named Guanahacabibes in extreme Western Cuba, Che initiated Cuba's concentration camp system. "We send to Guanahacabibes people who have committed crimes against revolutionary morals. . it is hard labor...the working conditions are harsh..." 
Among the many categories of criminals against revolutionary morals were "delinquents." Please take note Che T-shirt wearers: this "delinquency" involved drinking, vagrancy, disrespect for authorities, laziness and playing loud music. Among the more hilarious manifestations of Che idolatry was the rock musician Carlos Santana's grand entrance to the 2005 Academy Awards ceremony where he stopped, swung open his jacket, and proudly displayed his Che T-shirt as the cameras clicked.
By the late 60's among the tens of thousands of inmates at Guanahacabibes and the rest of the UMAP concentration camp system in Cuba were "roqueros," hapless Cuban youths who tried to listen to Yankee-Imperialist rock music. Carlos Santana, was grinning widely -- and oh so hiply -- while proudly sporting the symbol of a regime that made it a criminal offense to listen to Carlos Santana.
By late 1964 Minister of Industries' Che had so badly crippled Cuba's economy and infrastructure and so horribly impoverished and traumatized it's work force that the Russians themselves were at wits end. They were subsidizing the mess, and it was getting expensive -- much too expensive for the paltry geopolitical return. "This is an underdeveloped country?!" Anastas Mikoyan had laughed while looking around on his first visit to Cuba in 1960. The Soviets were frankly tickled to have a developed and civilized country to loot again, the countries of Eastern Europe after WWII.
Alas, the looting, at first, went in the opposite direction. Castro was no chump like Ulbricht or Gomulka. A French Socialist economist, Rene Dumont, tried advising Castro as the wreckage of Cuba's economy spiraled out of control. "The Cuban Revolution has gone farther in its first three years than the Chinese in its first ten," he observed.  Hence the mess.
As Cuba's Minister of Industries, Che wanted to refashion human nature. With hapless Cubans as his guinea pigs, he was intent on creating a "new socialist man," diligent, hard-working, obedient, free from all material incentives and always ready to go with the program-- in brief, lobotomized shirkers or smartalecks who offered lip would find themselves behind the barbed wire, watchtowers and guard dogs of Guanahacabibes in short order.
Interestingly, Jack Nicholson whose film character in One Flew Over The Cuckoo?s Nest continually ran afoul of Nurse Ratched is among Communist Cuba's most frequent visitors and Castro's most fervent fans. "Fidel Castro is a genius!" gushed Nicholson after a visit in 1998. "We spoke about everything," the actor rhapsodized. "Castro is a humanist like President Clinton. Cuba is simply a paradise!" This may have more to it than the usual Hollywood vacuity upstairs. "My job was to bug Jack Nicholson's room at the hotel Melia Cohiba when he visited Cuba," says high-ranking Cuban intelligence defector Delfin Fernandez, from Madrid today, "with both cameras and listening devices. Most people have no idea they are being watched while they are in Cuba. But their personal activities are filmed under orders from Castro himself. Famous Americans are the priority objectives of Castro's intelligence." 
One day Che decided that Cubans should learn to play and like soccer (futbal) like the citizens of his native Argentina. A Sugar plantation named Central Macareno near Cienfuegos had been recently stolen from its American owners (not that most Sugar plantations in Cuba were American-owned as leftist mythology holds. Barely one-third were.) The plantation also included a huge orchard of Mango, Avocado and Mamey trees that were just starting to give fruit. Che ordered them all cut down and the ground razed in order to construct a soccer field.
A year later the field was weed grown, pot-holed and unusable. The decaying trunks of the formerly fruit-yielding trees were still piled up around the edges of the field even as most Cubans scrambled for fresh fruit on the new black market (under that arch-villain of leftist lore, Batista, Cubans had no need for a black market.) At any rate, it seemed that--the threat of Guanahacabibes or not-- Che's Cuban subjects simply didn't take to Che's futbal. 
Che's fetish to "industrialize" Cuba immediately and by decree, as he thought his role model Stalin had "industrialized" the Soviet Union, ended Cuba's status as a relatively developed and civilized country. In one of his spasms of decrees, Che ordered a refrigerator factory built in Cienfuegos, a pick and shovel factory built in Santa Clara, a pencil factory built in Havana. Supply? Demand? Costs? Such bourgeois details didn't interest Che. None of the factories ended up producing a single product.
Che railed against the chemists in the newly socialized Coca-Cola plant because the Coke they were producing tasted awful. Some of the flustered chemists responded that it was Che who had nationalized the plant and booted out the former owners and managers, who took the secret Coca-Cola formula with them to the United States. This impertinence was answered with the threat of Guanahacabibes.
During this time Che's ministry also bought a fleet of snow plows from Czechoslovakia. Che had personally inspected them and was convinced they could easily be converted into sugar cane harvesting machines, thus mechanizing the harvest and increasing Cuba's sugar production. The snowplows in fact squashed the sugar cane plants, cut them off at the wrong length and killed them. Four years into the revolution Cuba's 1963 sugar production was less than half of its pre-Revolutionary volume.
The Soviets themselves finally put their foot down. Their Cuban lark was getting expensive. In 1964 they told Castro that Che had to go. Castro knew who buttered his bread and had never much liked Che anyway. Besides, the Revolution was well entrenched by then, and in any case there were many willing executioners now, so Che might have outlived his usefulness.
Here we come to another hoary myth spun by Che's hagiographers: his "ideological" falling out with the Soviets. Che's pureness of revolutionary heart, we're told, led him to clash with the corrupt Soviet nomenklatura.
In fact it was a purely practical conflict. The Russians were fed up and simply refused to bankroll Che's harebrained economic fantasies any longer. Che saw the writing on the wall. In December 1964, right after his visit to the U.N., he visited his friend Ben Bela in Algeria and delivered his famous anti-Soviet speech, branding them, "accomplices of imperialist exploitation." 
To many it looked like Che was setting the stage for a role as the Trotsky of his generation. Che probably saw it as a more seemly role than that of a hopeless economic bumbler.
When he touched down in Havana after the speech, the regime's press was absolutely mute regarding both his speech and his recent return. Soon he was invited to visit the Maximum Leader and Raul. In fact, Maximum Brother Raul had just returned from Mother Russia itself, where Che's Algeria speech had caused quite a stir. As soon as he got within earshot, both Castros ripped into Guevara as undisciplined, ungrateful and plain stupid.
"Fidel!" Che shot back. "Dammit, show me some respect! I'm not Camilo!" Che's wife, Aleida (he'd ditched Hilda by then) was forced to jump in between the men, exclaiming, "I can't believe such a thing is happening between longtime companeros." 
Che finally went home were he found his telephone lines cut. Much evidence points to Che being held in house arrest at this point.  And it was under that house arrest that a seriously chastened--and apparently frightened, after all, who better knew the consequences of upsetting the Maximum Leader? -- Che composed his famous "Farewell Letter to Fidel," in which his groveling and fawning was utterly shameless.
"I deeply appreciate your lessons and your example ? my only fault was not to have had more faith in you since the first moments in the Sierra, not having recognized more quickly your qualities as a leader and a revolutionary. I will take to my new fields of battle the faith that you have inculcated." and on and on in relentless toadying. 
Che's few public appearances between his return from Algeria and his departure for the Congo always found him in the company of state security personnel. His Cuban welcome had worn out. By April 1965 he was in Tanzania with a few dozen black Cuban military men. Code named "Tatu," Che and his force entered the eastern Congo, which was convulsed at the time (like now) by an incomprehensible series of civil (actually, mostly tribal) wars.
Tatu's mission was to help the alternately Soviet and Chinese backed "Simbas" of the Congolese red leader, Laurent Kabila. These were fighting the forces of the western-backed Moise Tshombe. Tshombe's forces consisted of Belgian foreign legionnaires, mercenaries under the famous "Mad" Mike Hoare, Congolese who opposed Kabila, and a handful of Cuban Bay of Pigs veterans sent by the CIA. The Cubans were mostly pilots who provided close-in air support for "Mad" Mike.
Here's Mike Hoare's opinion, after watching them in battle, of his CIA allies: "These Cuban CIA men were as tough, dedicated and impetuous a group of soldiers as I've ever had the honor of commanding. Their leader [Rip Robertson] was the most extraordinary and dedicated soldier I've ever met." 
Together Mad Mike, Rip and the Cubans made short work of Kabila's "Simbas," who were murdering, raping and munching (many were cannibals) their way through many of the defenseless Europeans still left in the recently abandoned Belgian colony.
"Tatu's" first military mission was plotting an attack on a garrison guarding a hydroelectric plant in a place called Front Bendela on the Kimbi River in Eastern Congo. Che's masterstroke was to be an elaborate ambush of the garrison. Tatu himself was stealthily leading his force into position when ambushers became the ambushed. Che lost half his men and barely escaped with his life. 
His African allies started frowning a little more closely at Tatu's c.v. and asking a few questions (but in Swahili, which he didn't understand.) Tatu's next clash with the mad dogs of imperialism was at a mountaintop town called Fizi Baraka. And another hideous rout ensued. Che admits as much in his Congo Diaries, but he blames it all on Congolese who were terrible soldiers. Yet, for some reason, the Congolese on Hoare's side seemed to fight rather well.
One thing that did impress the Simbas about Tatu, was that, "he never went down to the river to wash." 
Tatu's Congo mission was soon abandoned as hopeless and in a humiliating retreat across Lake Tanganyika Che and the Castro Cubans barely escaped Africa with their lives. Che now set his sights on Bolivia for the next guerrilla adventure, for living his dream of turning the Andes "into the Sierra Maestra of the Continent," for creating "two, three many Vietnams."
It would be difficult to imagine a more cockamamie plan for Bolivia than Che's. Under President Paz Estenssoro in 1952-53 Bolivia had undergone a revolution of sorts, with an extensive land reform that -- unlike Che?s and Fidel's -- actually gave ownership of the land to the peasants, the tillers of the soil themselves, much like Douglas McArthur's land reform in post-war Japan. Even crazier, Che himself, during his famous motorcycle jaunt had visited Bolivia and witnessed the positive results of the reform. Still, his amazing powers of self-deception prevailed.
Che convinced himself that in a section of Bolivia where the population consisted -- not of landless peasants -- but of actual homesteaders, he'd have the locals crowding into his recruitment tent to sign up with a bunch of foreign communists to overthrow the government that had given them their land, a series of rural schools and left them completely unmolested to pursue their lives. These were Indians highly suspicious of foreigners and especially of white foreigners, to boot. Che was undaunted by any of these facts. Hasta la victoria siempre! as he liked to say. At this stage in his life Che was probably more deluded than Hitler in his Bunker.
There is no evidence that Castro took the Bolivian mission seriously. His Soviet patrons were certainly not behind it. They knew better. They'd seen every guerrilla movement in Latin America wiped out. The only thing these half-baked adventures accomplished was to upset the Americans, with whom they'd cut a splendid little deal during the Missile Crisis to safeguard Castro. Why blow this arrangement with another of Che's harebrained adventures? Much better to work within the system in Latin America, reasoned the Soviets at this time, subtly subverting the governments by using legitimate Communist parties. A few years later Allende's electoral victory in Chile seemed to bear the Soviets out.
In fact, the East German female guerrilla, Tamara Bunke or "Tania" who linked up with Che in Bolivia (they'd met as early as 1961 and were reputedly lovers) was actually a KGB-STASI agent sent to keep an eye on Che.  Alas, poor "Tania" ( remember Patty Hearst's Symbianese Liberation Army moniker?) was mowed down by machine gun fire along with her entire "rearguard" group after a Bolivian peasant relayed their position to the army and helped plan an ambush.
The Bolivian Communist party itself stood aloof from Che's final mission. It's head, Mario Monje, was a faithful follower of the Soviet party-line. The only Bolivians Che managed to recruit were renegade Communists and Maoists. Che's guerrilla force averaged 40-45 members and was pompously named the "National Liberation Army." Yet at no point during its 11 month venture did Bolivians make up more than half of its members. And most of these came from the cities and areas far distant from the guerrilla base. The rural population shunned their "National Liberation Army" like a plague.
"We cannot develop any peasant support," Che admits in his diaries. "But it looks like by employing planned terror (emphasis mine) we may at least neutralize most of them. Their support will come later."
It never did. It was the campesinos themselves who kept reporting the guerrilla's whereabouts to the army, with whom they were generally on excellent terms. And for an excellent reason: it was composed mainly of Bolivian campesinos, not bearded foreigners who stole their livestock.
Among the unreported idiocies regarding Che's Bolivian debacle, was how he split his forces into a vanguard and a rearguard in April of 1967, whereupon they got hopelessly lost and bumbled around , half-starved, half-clothed and half-shod, without any contact for 6 months -- though they were usually within a mile of each other.  They didn't even have WWII vintage walkie-talkies to communicate. Che's masterful Guerrilla War, gives no explanation for such a tactic.
Dariel Alarcon, a Cuban who was one of the three guerrillas who ma
Reply #176 on:
October 25, 2005, 09:22:43 AM »
Thank you. My family immigrated from Cuba after the revolution so every time I see some little snot walking around with a Che T-shirt, oh how I just want to slap them. I'm reading Felix Rodriguez's autobiography "Shadow Warrior" now and I especially love how the book starts out with Che's dead body.
I've tried to explain to people what an insult it is to see the damn shirts, caps, posters, etc.. and the best way that I can do it to say, try to imagine someone walking around with a shirt of twins sewn together with the title, "Josef Mengele's wacky world of science", or something to that effect.
For what it's worth, I remember a story my grandmother told me one time about Guevara, this article gives it a little more credibility in my eyes now. I don't remember if it was pre or post revolution but the story goes that he would walk around Havana with a few of his goons, looking for enemies of the revolution. He would walk up to them and ask them "Hey, what do they call you?" when they gave their name he'd reply, "No, that's whay they called you." and he would shoot them.
Funny thing is, Che's grandson loves the USA. I saw him in an interview playing an rock and roll on an electric guitar with a dollar bill on it.
Reply #177 on:
October 25, 2005, 10:17:03 AM »
Whups, I just noted that the long article cut off, presumeably because of a limit on post size. The link can be found at:
Context and Rosa Parks
Reply #178 on:
October 27, 2005, 04:27:50 PM »
Interesting, counterintuitive piece on Rosa Parks, government, the private sector, and segregation.
Rosa Parks and history
By Thomas Sowell
Oct 27, 2005
The death of Rosa Parks has reminded us of her place in history, as the black woman whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, in accordance with the Jim Crow laws of Alabama, became the spark that ignited the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
Most people do not know the rest of the story, however. Why was there racially segregated seating on public transportation in the first place? "Racism" some will say -- and there was certainly plenty of racism in the South, going back for centuries. But racially segregated seating on streetcars and buses in the South did not go back for centuries.
Far from existing from time immemorial, as many have assumed, racially segregated seating in public transportation began in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Those who see government as the solution to social problems may be surprised to learn that it was government which created this problem. Many, if not most, municipal transit systems were privately owned in the 19th century and the private owners of these systems had no incentive to segregate the races.
These owners may have been racists themselves but they were in business to make a profit -- and you don't make a profit by alienating a lot of your customers. There was not enough market demand for Jim Crow seating on municipal transit to bring it about.
It was politics that segregated the races because the incentives of the political process are different from the incentives of the economic process. Both blacks and whites spent money to ride the buses but, after the disenfranchisement of black voters in the late 19th and early 20th century, only whites counted in the political process.
It was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of the white voters to demand racial segregation. If some did and the others didn't care, that was sufficient politically, because what blacks wanted did not count politically after they lost the vote.
The incentives of the economic system and the incentives of the political system were not only different, they clashed. Private owners of streetcar, bus, and railroad companies in the South lobbied against the Jim Crow laws while these laws were being written, challenged them in the courts after the laws were passed, and then dragged their feet in enforcing those laws after they were upheld by the courts.
These tactics delayed the enforcement of Jim Crow seating laws for years in some places. Then company employees began to be arrested for not enforcing such laws and at least one president of a streetcar company was threatened with jail if he didn't comply.
None of this resistance was based on a desire for civil rights for blacks. It was based on a fear of losing money if racial segregation caused black customers to use public transportation less often than they would have in the absence of this affront.
Just as it was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of whites to demand racial segregation through the political system to bring it about, so it was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of blacks to stop riding the streetcars, buses and trains in order to provide incentives for the owners of these transportation systems to feel the loss of money if some blacks used public transportation less than they would have otherwise.
People who decry the fact that businesses are in business "just to make money" seldom understand the implications of what they are saying. You make money by doing what other people want, not what you want.
Black people's money was just as good as white people's money, even though that was not the case when it came to votes.
Initially, segregation meant that whites could not sit in the black section of a bus any more than blacks could sit in the white section. But whites who were forced to stand when there were still empty seats in the black section objected. That's when the rule was imposed that blacks had to give up their seats to whites.
Legal sophistries by judges "interpreted" the 14th Amendment's requirement of equal treatment out of existence. Judicial activism can go in any direction.
That's when Rosa Parks came in, after more than half a century of political chicanery and judicial fraud.
Find this story at:
Culture War Casualties
Reply #179 on:
October 31, 2005, 04:06:07 PM »
Whew, no punches pulled here.
Truth on Trial
By Phyllis Chesler
FrontPageMagazine.com | October 31, 2005
Are we winning the war against terror or more precisely, against the death-cult ideology of extreme hate that employs terror as one of its weapons? America, Britain and Israel have all committed significant sums of money to fight back militarily and to ensure civilian safety. However, we must fight another very hot war, one which will ultimately decide whether Western Civilization lives or dies. This is a war we are not winning and some argue that it is a war we have not yet even begun to fight.
I am talking about The Culture War, the war that must be fought to oppose the campaign of lies and propaganda that Islamists and western Stalinists launched against the West, beginning with Israel, arguably anywhere from forty to seventy years ago.
The Culture War is a very hot war: no prisoners are taken, no mercy is shown. And there are now penalties for trying to tell the truth about the danger of jihad or about the barbaric and pathological nature of militant Islam today. Indeed, if you try to discuss the Islamic religious and gender apartheid and its dangerous proliferation into Europe and North America (i.e. there have been honor killings in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, Jersey City, Toronto, as well as all over Europe and in the Muslim world), this is what will happen to you:
If you tell these truths in the Arab and Muslim world, you?ll be beheaded, probably tortured, certainly jailed, exiled if you are lucky. Many Muslim and Christian dissidents have suffered precisely this fate. There are no more Jews there, the Islamist Caliphate has rendered the entire Middle East Judenrein long ago. Try to say this in Europe and you might be butchered, as Theo Von Gogh was, or simply imprisoned in purdah, veiled, or threatened, forced to go into hiding, or honor-murdered as so many Muslim girls and women are.
Try to tell the moral tragedy that the United Nations represents, or the even greater tragedy that the word ?Palestine? has come to represent objectively, and therefore in a non-politically correct way, on European and on North American campuses, or on the increasingly left-dominated liberal media airwaves, and you may not be shot on the spot, but you will be slandered and called a ?racist? and a ?fascist.? I have been called both.
If you are a North American intellectual, you may not be imprisoned or be-headed but you will be heckled, mocked, and shunned. You might need security in order to speak. If you?re a feminist, you will no longer be taken seriously as an intellectual, nor will you be ?heard.?
Expose the permanent Intifada against Western Civilization and against the Jews and you will be sued and driven into exile, as Oriana Fallaci has been, or sued and prevented from traveling to certain countries, as Rachel Ehrenfeld has been. You will be sued and silenced in all those places where you were once published, even lionized. Dare to say that the torturer and genocidal tyrant, Saddam Hussein, is on trial today only because of America and Iraq?s sacrifice and their bold vision of democracy and you will be called a reactionary, a liar, a fool, and the worse epithet of all: a conservative.
Both Western leftists and Islamists brandish many tools against America and Israel in this war. Their first weapon is the systematic misuse of language. Mainstream and liberal newspapers write about ?insurgents,? not ?terrorists,? whom they describe as ?martyrs,? not ?killers, and as ?freedom fighters,? not as ?well educated evil men.?
Anti-American and anti-Israel demonstrators, who are clearly and visibly filled with hate and rage, are described as ?peace activists.? Anti-Semitism is legitimized, while the slightest criticism of Islam is banned because of the disallowance of ?Islamophobia.? Telling the truth has become an offense which is unprotected by free speech doctrines, which instead protect the telling of lies.
I was once held captive in Kabul, Afghanistan. I experienced, first-hand, what life is like in a Muslim country, one that has never been colonized by the West. I learned that it was both foolish and dangerous to romanticize Third World countries. And, I learned first-hand, that evil and barbarism exist a priori, and are not caused by western imperialism or colonialism or by the ?Zionist entity.? It?s where I also learned to reject the doctrine of multiculturalism, that teaches that all cultures are equal, formerly colonized cultures even more so. This leads to isolationism and non-interventionism and condemns millions of civilians to Islamist torture, terror and genocide.
Although, to their credit, a handful of feminist activists and journalists have sounded the alarm, once America invaded Afghanistan, these very activists, all Democratic Party operatives, swiftly opposed the military routing of the Taliban. And why? Because the expedition had not been undertaken, apparently, with women in mind. It?s as if they did not think that bin Laden?s terrorism kills women too.
I hold the Western academy, including the feminist academy, which has been utterly Palestinianized, responsible for failing to expose and condemn the realities of Islamic gender apartheid. I know feminist graduate students who are busy ?de-constructing? the veil, polygamy and arranged marriage as possible expressions of feminist or female power?no different than the bikini. None have congratulated President Bush on his excellent choice of Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State and none have given her the slightest credit for her pro-woman, pro-human rights and pro-Israel speeches.
The number of lies being told in the Western academy and among western activists are literally beyond belief. Here?s one: Mohammed was really great to women, especially to one Safiya bint Huyay whom he married?even though she was Jewish. Yes. But first he beheaded her father and her husband and exterminated her entire village. And then he forced poor Safiya to convert to Islam before he married her. This disinformation campaign leaves me speechless.
Our own intelligentsia?our professors?are so politically correct and so multi-culturally relativist, that they refuse to call ?barbaric? the act of stoning a woman to death because she was raped or because she refused to marry her first cousin. Nor will they denounce subjecting women to genital mutilation and public gang-rape as ?barbaric.? Nor did American media commentators who showed the Palestinian lynching of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah in 2000 describe the event, which they played over and over again, as ?barbaric.?
The intelligentsia did not describe what was done to us on 9/11 as ?barbaric? either. Indeed, I know American and European intellectuals who are convinced that America and Israel are the greatest barbarians of all, and that we deserved 9/11. According to Islamists and Western academics and journalists, Bin Laden is not an ?Islamo-fascist." To them, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon are the ?Nazi fascists.?
And then there is that vast industry of Palestinian, Arab League and United Nations funded and distributed doctored footage and fake film massacres, fake gun battles, the faked death of Palestinian children at Jewish and Israeli hands. Our Islamist opponents have turned out this propaganda nonstop around the world.
As propagandists, they are far more sophisticated than Goebbels, and far more patient. We cannot afford to underestimate their skill at telling Big Lies. Islamists understood that if they funded madrassas in the East and Middle Eastern Institutes in the West, and if they funded the total Palestinianization of the United Nations and of every international human rights group, that in thirty to fifty years, they would have brainwashed generations to see things their way.
Islam is sacred -- it cannot be insulted. Imagined slights are as important as real slights. Lies have as much weight as the truth. Whether American military forces did or did not flush a Koran down the toilet does not matter. What matters is that Muslims thought they did. No penance is good enough to atone for this crime.
Millions of people have been systematically brainwashed against America, against Israel, against Jews, against women and against the western concept of truth, objectivity, truth-telling, and independent thinking. All are under siege.
We have a serious fifth column in our midst, one that has made common cause with Islamists against us, one that has been well funded by Arab oil billionaires for more than forty years. Now, George Soros too, a fifth column General who, for a variety of reasons, has actually been leading the cultural war against the West. They are fools?but they are dangerous fools. Do they think they will be spared because they are so politically correct? Do they think that they would enjoy the same freedom of speech in Mecca or Tehran that they enjoy in the West?
What must we do in the face of this tyrannical threat? We must rescue language. It must bear some relationship to the truth and morality. Everything is not relative. It is not all Rashomon. We must not allow our media or academics to continue to insist that Islam is not the problem, but that even if it is, that we cannot say so, lest we be deemed racist. We must teach the history of jihad against infidels, and the history of how infidels (Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians) were treated under Islam. We must insist that criticism of America and Israel be balanced, not pathological, obsessive and cult-like as it is now. We must insist on civility in public discourse. We must model it for the coming generations.
We must fund seriously a collective effort to combat vulgar lies and vilification, the propaganda against us which has brainwashed countless generations.
We need a War Room effort to counter the Big Lies. We need international radio and television channels to educate people. We need to teach people about intellectual diversity and tolerance.
This country has birthed two significant waves of feminism. We must now take that feminist vision global. We need our foreign policy to contain serious provisions about women?s rights abroad. Otherwise, democracy cannot and will not evolve or flourish in Muslim countries.
The way I see it, everything is at stake. This is a time when we must all be heroes. We must all stand up to evil in our lifetime. We must acknowledge that Islamist terrorism is evil and has no justification. We must teach this to our children. We must support Muslim and Arab dissidents in their fight against Islamic tyranny and gender apartheid. We can do this. We must do this. Otherwise, we will die, and our history and our values and our entire way of life will die with us. If we fail, we will betray all that we believe in as a free people.
Reply #180 on:
November 06, 2005, 03:35:34 PM »
November 04, 2005, 8:40 a.m.
The Real Global Virus
The plague of Islamism keeps on spreading.
Either the jihadists really are crazy or they apparently think that they
have a shot at destabilizing, or at least winning concessions from, the
United States, Europe, India, and Russia all at once.
Apart from the continual attacks on civilians by terrorists in Iraq,
Afghanistan, and the West Bank, there have now been recent horrific assaults in New Dehli (blowing up civilians in a busy shopping season on the eve of a Hindu festival), Russia (attacking police and security facilities), London (suicide murdering of civilians on the subway), and Indonesia (more bombing, and the beheading of Christian schoolgirls). The loci of recent atrocities could be widely expanded (e.g., Malaysia, North Africa, Turkey, Spain) ? and, of course, do not forget the several terrorist plots that have been broken up in Europe and the United States.
The commonalities? There are at least three.
First, despite the various professed grievances (e.g., India should get out
of Kashmir; Russia should get out of Chechnya; England should get out of
Iraq; Christians should get out of Indonesia; or Westerners should get out
of Bali), the perpetrators were all self-proclaimed Islamic radicals.
Westerners who embrace moral equivalence still like to talk of abortion
bombings and Timothy McVeigh, but those are isolated and distant memories. No, the old generalization since 9/11 remains valid: The majority of Muslims are not global terrorists, but almost all such terrorists, and the majority of their sympathizers, are Muslims.
Second, the jihadists characteristically feel that dialogue or negotiations
are beneath them. So like true fascists, they don?t talk; they kill. Their
opponents ? whether Christians, Hindus, Jews, or Westerners in general ? are, as infidels, de facto guilty for what they are rather than what they supposedly do. Talking to a Dr. Zawahiri is like talking to Hitler: You can?t ? and it?s suicidal to try.
Third, there is an emboldened sense that the jihadists can get away with
their crimes based on three perceptions:
(1) Squabbling and politically correct Westerners are decadent and outnumber the U.S. Marines, and ascendant Islamicism resonates among millions of Muslims who feel sorely how far they have fallen behind in the new globalized world community ? and how terrorism and blackmail, especially if energized by nuclear weapons or biological assets, might leapfrog them into a new caliphate.
(2) Sympathetic Muslim-dominated governments like Malaysia or Indonesia will not really make a comprehensive effort to eradicate radical Islamicist breeding grounds of terror, but will perhaps instead serve as ministries of propaganda for shock troops in the field.
(3) Autocratic states such as Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran share outright similar political objectives and will offer either stealthy
sanctuary or financial support to terrorists, confident that either denial,
oil, or nuclear bombs give them security .
Meanwhile, Westerners far too rarely publicly denounce radical Islam for its sick, anti-Semitic, anti-female, anti-American, and anti-modernist rhetoric. Just imagine the liberal response if across the globe Christians had beheaded schoolgirls, taken over schoolhouses to kill students, and shot school teachers as we have witnessed radical Muslims doing these past few months.
Instead, Western parlor elites are still arguing over whether there were al
Qaedists in Iraq before the removal of Saddam Hussein, whether the suspicion of WMDs was the real reason for war against the Baathists, whether Muslim minorities should be pressured to assimilate into European democratic culture, and whether constitutional governments risk becoming intolerant in their new efforts to infiltrate and disrupt radical Muslim groups in Europe and the United States. Some of this acrimony is understandable, but such in-fighting is still secondary to defeating enemies who have pledged to destroy Western liberal society. At some point this Western cannibalism becomes not so much counterproductive as serving the purposes of those who wish America to call off its struggle against radical Islam.
Most Americans think that our present conflict is not comparable with World War II, in either its nature or magnitude. Perhaps ? but they should at least recall the eerie resemblance of our dilemma to the spread of global fascism in the late 1930s.
At first few saw any real connection between the ruthless annexation of
Manchuria by Japanese militarists, or Mussolini?s brutal invasion of
Ethiopia, or the systematic aggrandizement of Eastern-European territory by Hitler. China was a long way from Abyssinia, itself far from Poland. How could a white-supremacist Nazi have anything in common with a
racially-chauvinist Japanese or an Italian fascist proclaiming himself the
new imperial Roman?
In response, the League of Nations dithered and imploded (sound familiar?). Rightist American isolationists (they?re back) assured us that fascism abroad was none of our business or that there were conspiracies afoot by Jews to have us do their dirty work. Leftists were only galvanized when Hitler finally turned on Stalin (perhaps we have to wait for Osama to attack Venezuela or Cuba to get the Left involved). Abroad even members of the British royal family were openly sympathetic to German grievances (cf. Prince Charles?s silence about Iran?s promise to wipe out Israel, but his puerile Edward VIII-like lectures to Americans about a misunderstood Islam). French appeasement was such that even the most humiliating concession was deemed preferable to the horrors of World War I (no comment needed).
We can, of course, learn from this. It?s past time that we quit worrying
whether a killer who blows himself up on the West Bank, or a terrorist who shouts the accustomed jihadist gibberish as he crashes a jumbo jet into the World Trade Center, or a driver who rams his explosives-laden car into an Iraqi polling station, or a Chechnyan rebel who blows the heads off schoolchildren, is in daily e-mail contact with Osama bin Laden. Our present lax attitude toward jihadism is akin to deeming local outbreaks of avian flu as regional maladies without much connection to a new strain of a deadly ? and global ? virus.
Instead, the world?if it is to save its present liberal system of free
trade, safe travel, easy and unfettered communications, and growing
commitment to constitutional government?must begin seeing radical Islamism as a universal pathology rather than reactions to regional grievances, if it is ever to destroy it materially and refute it ideologically.
Yet the antidote for radical Islam, aside from the promotion of
democratization and open economies, is simple. It must be militarily
defeated when it emerges to wage organized violence, as in the cases of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Zarqawi?s terrorists in Iraq, and the various killer cliques in Palestine.
Second, any who tolerate radical Islam should be ostracized. Muslims living in the West must be condemned when they assert that the Jews caused 9/11, or that suicide bombing is a legitimate response to Israel, or that Islamic immigrants? own unique culture gives them a pass from accustomed assimilation, or that racial and religious affinity should allow tolerance for the hatred that spews forth from madrassas and mosques ? before the patience of Western liberalism is exhausted and ?the rules of the game? in Tony Blair?s words ?change? quite radically and we begin to see mass invitations to leave.
Third, nations that intrigue with jihadists must be identified as the
enemies of civilization. We often forget that there are now left only four
major nation-states in the world that either by intent or indifference allow
radical Islamists to find sanctuary.
If Pakistan were seriously to disavow terrorism and not see it as an asset
in its rivalry with India and as a means to vent anti-Western angst, then
Osama bin Laden, Dr. Zawahiri, and their lieutenants would be hunted down tomorrow.
If the petrolopolis of Saudi Arabia would cease its financial support of
Wahhabi radicals, most terrorists could scarcely travel or organize
If there were sane governments in Syria and Iran, then there would be little refuge left for al Qaeda, and the money and shelter that now protects the beleaguered and motley collection of ex-Saddamites, Hezbollah, and al Qaedists would cease.
So in large part four nations stand in the way of eradicating much of the
global spread of jihadism ? and it is no accident that either oil or nuclear
weapons have won a global free pass for three of them. And it is no accident that we don?t have a means to wean ourselves off Middle East oil or as yet stop Iran from becoming the second Islamic nuclear nation.
But just as importantly, our leaders must explain far more cogently and in
some detail ? rather than merely assert ? to the Western public the nature of the threat we face, and how our strategy will prevail.
In contrast, when the American public is still bickering over WMDs rather
than relieved that the culprit for the first World Trade Center bombing can
no longer find official welcome in Baghdad; or when our pundits seem more worried about Halliburton than the changes in nuclear attitudes in Libya and Pakistan; or when the media mostly ignores a greater percentage of voters turning out for a free national election in the heart of the ancient caliphate than during most election years in the United States ? something has gone terribly, tragically wrong here at home.
? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His
latest book is A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
Reply #181 on:
November 06, 2005, 09:55:43 PM »
Doesn't this guy know it's more important for liberal democrats to gain power than to save the West?
Reply #182 on:
November 07, 2005, 08:14:11 AM »
The Suicide Bombers Among Us
All terrorists, presumably, know the dangers that they run, accepting them as an occupational hazard; given Man?s psychological makeup?or at least the psychological makeup of certain young men?these dangers may act as an attraction, not a deterrent. But only a few terrorists use their own deaths as an integral means of terrorizing others. They seem to be a breed apart, with whom the rest of humanity can have little or nothing in common.
Certainly they sow panic more effectively than other terrorists. Those who leave bombs in public places and then depart, despicable as they are, presumably still have attachments to their own lives, and therefore may be open to dissuasion or negotiation. By contrast, no threat (at first sight) might deter someone who is prepared to extinguish himself to advance his cause, and who considers such self-annihilation while killing as many strangers as possible a duty, an honor, and a merit that will win ample rewards in the hereafter. And Britain has suddenly been forced to acknowledge that it has an unknown number of such people in its midst, some of them home-grown.
The mere contemplation of a suicide bomber?s state of mind is deeply unsettling, even without considering its practical consequences. I have met a would-be suicide bomber who had not yet had the chance to put his thanatological daydream into practice. What could possibly have produced as embittered a mentality as his?what experience of life, what thoughts, what doctrines? What fathomless depths of self-pity led him to the conclusion that only by killing himself and others could he give a noble and transcendent meaning to his existence?
As is by now well known (for the last few years have made us more attentive to Islamic concepts and ways of thinking, irrespective of their intrinsic worth), the term ?jihad? has two meanings: inner struggle and holy war. While the political meaning connotes violence, though with such supposed justifications as the defense of Islam and the spread of the faith among the heathen, the personal meaning generally suggests something peaceful and inward-looking. The struggle this kind of jihad entails is spiritual; it is the effort to overcome the internal obstacles?above all, forbidden desires?that prevent the good Muslim from achieving complete submission to God?s will. Commentators have tended to see this type of jihad as harmless or even as beneficial?a kind of self-improvement that leads to decency, respectability, good behavior, and material success.
In Britain, however, these two forms of jihad have coalesced in a most murderous fashion. Those who died in the London bombings were sacrificial victims to the need of four young men to resolve a conflict deep within themselves (and within many young Muslims), and they imagined they could do so only by the most extreme possible interpretation of their ancestral religion.
Young Muslim men in Britain?as in France and elsewhere in the West?have a problem of personal, cultural, and national identity. They are deeply secularized, with little religious faith, even if most will admit to a belief in God. Their interest in Islam is slight. They do not pray or keep Ramadan (except if it brings them some practical advantage, such as the postponement of a court appearance). Their tastes are for the most part those of non-Muslim lower-class young men. They dress indistinguishably from their white and black contemporaries, and affect the same hairstyles and mannerisms, including the vulpine lope of the slums. Gold chains, the heavier the better, and gold front teeth, without dental justification, are symbols of their success in the streets, which is to say of illicit enrichment.
Many young Muslims, unlike the sons of Hindus and Sikhs who immigrated into Britain at the same time as their parents, take drugs, including heroin. They drink, indulge in casual sex, and make nightclubs the focus of their lives. Work and careers are at best a painful necessity, a slow and inferior means of obtaining the money for their distractions.
But if in many respects their tastes and behavior are indistinguishable from those of underclass white males, there are nevertheless clear and important differences. Most obviously, whatever the similarity between them and their white counterparts in their taste for sex, drugs, and rock and roll, they nevertheless do not mix with young white men, even in the neighborhoods devoted to the satisfaction of their tastes. They are in parallel with the whites, rather than intersecting with them.
Another obvious difference is the absence of young Muslim women from the resorts of mass distraction. However similar young Muslim men might be in their tastes to young white men, they would be horrified, and indeed turn extremely violent, if their sisters comported themselves as young white women do. They satisfy their sexual needs with prostitutes and those whom they quite openly call ?white sluts.? (Many a young white female patient of mine has described being taunted in this fashion as she walked through a street inhabited by Muslims.) And, of course, they do not have to suffer much sexual frustration in an environment where people decide on sexual liaisons within seconds of acquaintance.
However secular the tastes of the young Muslim men, they strongly wish to maintain the male dominance they have inherited from their parents. A sister who has the temerity to choose a boyfriend for herself, or who even expresses a desire for an independent social life, is likely to suffer a beating, followed by surveillance of Stasi-like thoroughness. The young men instinctively understand that their inherited system of male domination?which provides them, by means of forced marriage, with sexual gratification at home while simultaneously freeing them from domestic chores and allowing them to live completely Westernized lives outside the home, including further sexual adventures into which their wives cannot inquire?is strong but brittle, rather as communism was: it is an all or nothing phenomenon, and every breach must meet swift punishment.
Even if for no other reason, then (and there are in fact other reasons), young Muslim males have a strong motive for maintaining an identity apart. And since people rarely like to admit low motives for their behavior, such as the wish to maintain a self-gratifying dominance, these young Muslims need a more elevated justification for their conduct toward women. They find it, of course, in a residual Islam: not the Islam of onerous duties, rituals, and prohibitions, which interferes so insistently in day-to-day life, but in an Islam of residual feeling, which allows them a sense of moral superiority to everything around them, including women, without in any way cramping their style.
This Islam contains little that is theological, spiritual, or even religious, but it nevertheless exists in the mental economy as what anatomists call a ?potential space.? A potential space occurs where two tissues or organs are separated by smooth membranes that are normally close together, but that can be separated by an accumulation of fluid such as pus if infection or inflammation occurs. And, of course, such inflammation readily occurs in the minds of young men who easily believe themselves to be ill-used, and who have been raised on the thin gruel of popular Western culture without an awareness that any other kind of Western culture exists.
The dissatisfactions of young Muslim men in Britain are manifold. Most will experience at some time slighting or downright insulting remarks about them or their group?the word ?Paki? is a term of disdainful abuse?and these experiences tend to grow in severity and significance with constant rehearsal in the mind as it seeks an external explanation for its woes. Minor tribulations thus swell into major injustices, which in turn explain the evident failure of Muslims to rise in their adopted land. The French-Iranian researcher Farhad Khosrokhavar, who interviewed 15 French Muslim prisoners convicted of planning terrorist acts, relates in his book, Suicide Bombers: Allah?s New Martyrs, how some of his interviewees had been converted to the terrorist outlook by a single insulting remark?for example, when one of their sisters was called a ?dirty Arab? when she explained how she couldn?t leave home on her own as other girls could. Such is the fragility of the modern ego?not of Muslims alone, but of countless people brought up in our modern culture of ineffable self-importance, in which an insult is understood not as an inevitable human annoyance, but as a wound that outweighs all the rest of one?s experience.
The evidence of Muslims? own eyes and of their own lives, as well as that of statistics, is quite clear: Muslim immigrants and their descendants are more likely to be poor, to live in overcrowded conditions, to be unemployed, to have low levels of educational achievement, and above all to be imprisoned, than other South Asian immigrants and their descendants. The refusal to educate females to their full capacity is a terrible handicap in a society in which, perhaps regrettably, prosperity requires two household incomes. The idea that one is already in possession of the final revealed truth, leading to an inherently superior way of life, inhibits adaptation to a technically more advanced society. Even so, some British Muslims do succeed (the father of one of the London bombers owned two shops, two houses, and drove a new Mercedes)?a fact which their compatriots interpret exactly backward: not that Muslims can succeed, but that generally they can?t, because British society is inimical to Muslims.
In coming to this conclusion, young Muslims would only be adopting the logic that has driven Western social policy for so long: that any difference in economic and social outcome between groups is the result of social injustice and adverse discrimination. The premises of multiculturalism don?t even permit asking whether reasons internal to the groups themselves might account for differences in outcomes.
The BBC peddles this sociological view consistently. In 1997, for example, it stated that Muslims ?continue to face discrimination,? as witness the fact that they were three times as likely to be unemployed long-term as West Indians; and this has been its line ever since. If more Muslims than any other group possess no educational qualifications whatsoever, even though the hurdles for winning such qualifications have constantly fallen, it can only be because of discrimination?though a quarter of all medical students in Britain are now of Indian subcontinental descent. It can have nothing whatever to do with the widespread?and illegal?practice of refusing to allow girls to continue at school, which the press scarcely ever mentions, and which the educational authorities rarely if ever investigate. If youth unemployment among Muslims is two and a half times the rate among whites, it can be only because of discrimination?though youth unemployment among Hindus is actually lower than among whites (and this even though many young Hindus complain of being mistaken for Muslims). And so on and so on.
A constant and almost unchallenged emphasis on ?social justice,? the negation of which is, of course, ?discrimination,? can breed only festering embitterment. Where the definition of justice is entitlement by virtue of group existence rather than reward for individual effort, a radical overhaul of society will appear necessary to achieve such justice. Islamism in Britain is thus not the product of Islam alone: it is the product of the meeting of Islam with a now deeply entrenched native mode of thinking about social problems.
And it is here that the ?potential space? of Islamism, with its ready-made diagnosis and prescriptions, opens up and fills with the pus of implacable hatred for many in search of a reason for and a solution to their discontents. According to Islamism, the West can never meet the demands of justice, because it is decadent, materialistic, individualistic, heathen, and democratic rather than theocratic. Only a return to the principles and practices of seventh-century Arabia will resolve all personal and political problems at the same time. This notion is fundamentally no more (and no less) bizarre or stupid than the Marxist notion that captivated so many Western intellectuals throughout the 20th century: that the abolition of private property would lead to final and lasting harmony among men. Both conceptions offer a formula that, rigidly followed, would resolve all human problems.
Of course, the Islamic formula holds no attraction for young women in the West. A recent survey for the French interior ministry found that 83 percent of Muslim converts and reconverts (that is, secularized Muslims who adopted Salafism) in France were men; and from my clinical experience I would bet that the 17 percent of converts who were women converted in the course of a love affair rather than on account of what Edward Gibbon, in another context, called ?the evident truth of the doctrine itself.?
The West is a formidable enemy, however, difficult to defeat, for it exists not only in the cities, the infrastructure, and the institutions of Europe and America but in the hearts and minds even of those who oppose it and wish to destroy it. The London bombers were as much products of the West as of Islam; their tastes and their desires were largely Westernized. The bombers dressed no differently from other young men from the slums; and in every culture, appearance is part, at least, of identity. In British inner cities in particular, what you wear is nine-tenths of what you are.
But the Western identity goes far deeper. One of the bombers was a young man of West Indian descent, whose half-sister (in his milieu, full siblings are almost unknown) reports that he was a ?normal? boy, impassioned by rap music until the age of 15, when he converted to Islam. It need hardly be pointed out that rap music?full of inchoate rage, hatred, and intemperance?does not instill a balanced or subtle understanding of the world in its listeners. It fills and empties the mind at the same time: fills it with debased notions and empties it of critical faculties. The qualities of mind and character that are attracted to it, and that consider it an art form worthy of time and attention, are not so easily overcome or replaced. Jermaine Lindsay was only 19, four years into his conversion from rap to Islam, when he died?an age at which impulsivity is generally at its greatest, requiring the kind of struggle for self-mastery that rap music is dedicated to undermining. Islam would have taught him to hate and despise what he had been, but he must have been aware that he still was what he had been. To a hatred of the world, his conversion added a self-hatred.
The other bombers had passions for soccer, cricket, and pop music. They gave no indication before their dreadful deeds of religious fanaticism, and their journeys to Pakistan, in retrospect indications of a growing indoctrination by fundamentalism, could have seemed at the time merely family visits. In the meantime, they led highly Westernized lives, availing themselves of all the products of Western ingenuity to which Muslims have contributed nothing for centuries. It is, in fact, literally impossible for modern Muslims to expunge the West from their lives: it enters the fabric of their existence at every turn. Usama bin Ladin himself is utterly dependent upon the West for his weaponry, his communications, his travel, and his funds. He speaks of the West?s having stolen Arabian oil, but of what use would oil have been to the Arabs if it had remained under their sands, as it would have done without the intervention of the West? Without the West, what fortune would bin Ladin?s family have made from what construction in Saudi Arabia?
Muslims who reject the West are therefore engaged in a losing and impossible inner jihad, or struggle, to expunge everything that is not Muslim from their breasts. It can?t be done: for their technological and scientific dependence is necessarily also a cultural one. You can?t believe in a return to seventh-century Arabia as being all-sufficient for human requirements, and at the same time drive around in a brand-new red Mercedes, as one of the London bombers did shortly before his murderous suicide. An awareness of the contradiction must gnaw in even the dullest fundamentalist brain.
Furthermore, fundamentalists must be sufficiently self-aware to know that they will never be willing to forgo the appurtenances of Western life: the taste for them is too deeply implanted in their souls, too deeply a part of what they are as human beings, ever to be eradicated. It is possible to reject isolated aspects of modernity but not modernity itself. Whether they like it or not, Muslim fundamentalists are modern men?modern men trying, impossibly, to be something else.
They therefore have at least a nagging intimation that their chosen utopia is not really a utopia at all: that deep within themselves there exists something that makes it unachievable and even undesirable. How to persuade themselves and others that their lack of faith, their vacillation, is really the strongest possible faith? What more convincing evidence of faith could there be than to die for its sake? How can a person be really attached or attracted to rap music and cricket and Mercedes cars if he is prepared to blow himself up as a means of destroying the society that produces them? Death will be the end of the illicit attachment that he cannot entirely eliminate from his heart.
The two forms of jihad, the inner and the outer, the greater and the lesser, thus coalesce in one apocalyptic action. By means of suicide bombing, the bombers overcome moral impurities and religious doubts within themselves and, supposedly, strike an external blow for the propagation of the faith.
Of course, hatred is the underlying emotion. A man in prison who told me that he wanted to be a suicide bomber was more hate-filled than any man I have ever met. The offspring of a broken marriage between a Muslim man and a female convert, he had followed the trajectory of many young men in his area: sex and drugs and rock and roll, untainted by anything resembling higher culture. Violent and aggressive by nature, intolerant of the slightest frustration to his will and frequently suicidal, he had experienced taunting during his childhood because of his mixed parentage. After a vicious rape for which he went to prison, he converted to a Salafist form of Islam and became convinced that any system of justice that could take the word of a mere woman over his own was irredeemably corrupt.
I noticed one day that his mood had greatly improved; he was communicative and almost jovial, which he had never been before. I asked him what had changed in his life for the better. He had made his decision, he said. Everything was resolved. He was not going to kill himself in an isolated way, as he had previously intended. Suicide was a mortal sin, according to the tenets of the Islamic faith. No, when he got out of prison he would not kill himself; he would make himself a martyr, and be rewarded eternally, by making himself into a bomb and taking as many enemies with him as he could.
Enemies, I asked; what enemies? How could he know that the people he killed at random would be enemies? They were enemies, he said, because they lived happily in our rotten and unjust society. Therefore, by definition, they were enemies?enemies in the objective sense, as Stalin might have put it?and hence were legitimate targets.
I asked him whether he thought that, in order to deter him from his course of action, it would be right for the state to threaten to kill his mother and his brothers and sisters?and to carry out this threat if he carried out his, in order to deter others like him.
The idea appalled him, not because it was yet another example of the wickedness of a Western democratic state, but because he could not conceive of such a state acting in this unprincipled way. In other words, he assumed a high degree of moral restraint on the part of the very organism that he wanted to attack and destroy.
Of course, one of the objects of the bombers, instinctive rather than articulated, might be to undermine this very restraint, both of the state and of the population itself, in order to reveal to the majority of Muslims the true evil nature of the society in which they live, and force them into the camp of the extremists. If so, there is some hope of success: physical attacks on Muslims (or on Hindus and Sikhs ignorantly taken to be Muslims) increased in Britain by six times in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, according to the police. It wouldn?t take many more such bombings, perhaps, to provoke real and serious intercommunal violence on the Indian subcontinental model. Britain teems with aggressive, violent subgroups who would be only too delighted to make pogroms a reality.
Even if there is no such dire an eventuality, the outlook is sufficiently grim and without obvious solution. A highly secularized Muslim population whose men nevertheless wish to maintain their dominance over women and need a justification for doing so; the hurtful experience of disdain or rejection from the surrounding society; the bitter disappointment of a frustrated materialism and a seemingly perpetual inferior status in the economic hierarchy; the extreme insufficiency and unattractiveness of modern popular culture that is without value; the readiness to hand of an ideological and religious solution that is flattering to self-esteem and allegedly all- sufficient, and yet in unavoidable conflict with a large element of each individual?s identity; an oscillation between feelings of inferiority and superiority, between humiliation about that which is Western and that which is non-Western in the self; and the grotesque inflation of the importance of personal existential problems that is typical of modern individualism?all ensure fertile ground for the recruitment of further ?martyrs? for years to come.
Surveys suggest that between 6 and 13 percent of British Muslims?that is, between 98,000 and 208,000 people?are sympathetic toward Islamic terrorists and their efforts. Theoretical sympathy expressed in a survey is not the same thing as active support or a wish to emulate the ?martyrs? in person, of course. But it is nevertheless a sufficient proportion and absolute number of sympathizers to make suspicion and hostility toward Muslims by the rest of society not entirely irrational, though such suspicion and hostility could easily increase support for extremism. This is the tightrope that the British state and population will now have to walk for the foreseeable future; and the sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced, in a single day, by the nightmare of permanent conflict.
Reply #183 on:
November 09, 2005, 07:08:40 PM »
By Joseph Farah
? 2005 WorldNetDaily.com
OK, enough is enough.
It's clear France is no longer in control of its population.
It's clear millions within its borders are struggling for freedom and independence.
It's clear that these people are not rioting for the sake of rioting, they are responding to oppression from French authorities.
It's clear that their uprising cannot be met with state violence, because that would only lead to a cycle of violence.
It's clear that these freedom-fighters ? whom I have dubbed "Paristinians" ? want a state of their own.
It's clear that the international community must force France to the negotiating table with these freedom fighters to begin the peace process that will inevitably lead to the creation of an autonomous, independent state of "Paristine."
If it's good enough for Israel, it's good enough for the French surrender monkeys who have been leaders of the global movement to force the Jewish state into appeasement of terrorists.
We've got to stop referring to this "intifada" in France as "riots." This is a movement for self-determination. This is a movement for independence. This is a movement for freedom from imperialism.
The analogy is apt.
That's not "Fr?re Jacques" they're singing in France. It's "Fire Jacques."
The president of France can see the cinder in the eye of others, but is missing the beam in his own.
What's good for the goose liver is good for the gander liver.
The chicken cordon bleu has come home to roost.
It's time for France to stop the hypocrisy.
It's time for the French to take a dose of the medicine they have been handing out to the Jews of Israel.
It's time to end the apartheid within its population. It's time for France to stop treating those poor, Muslim immigrants as second-class citizens. It's time to accept the only permanent solution that can address the root problem in French society ? the recognition of the Paristinians as a legitimate negotiating partner.
Enough rubber bullets!
Enough police repression!
Enough calls for restraint!
Enough with the threats!
Before this cycle of violence spreads throughout all of Europe, France needs to do the right thing.
The French have been speaking out of both sides of their mouths for too long. They've been speaking out of both of their nostrils for too long, too. If appeasement was the solution in Iraq, it's the solution for the "Paristinian" revolt. If appeasement was the solution for Hitler, it's the solution for the "Paristinian" revolt. If appeasement was the solution for Israel in dealing with its "Palestinian" problem, it's the solution for France's "Paristinian" uprising.
As I mentioned yesterday in my column, if France has these kinds of systemic problems with its Muslim population, then it is time to partition France. It's time for an independent Muslim state to be created. After all, isn't that what France and other European nations have determined is the proper solution for Israel?
These are not just riots. This is an intifada ? just like the one begun in 2000 within and around Israel.
France and other countries, including the United States, have demanded that Israel meet those attacks with land concessions to the rioters and suicide bombers. That is the only viable, long-term solution, they say. They claim this violence will never cease until those oppressed by Israel are granted an independent, autonomous state of their own.
Why should the solution be any different in France?
Stop the violence! Now ? not at a snail's pace. The time has come to begin talks with the "Paristinians" about their own future homeland of "Paristine."
Reply #184 on:
November 10, 2005, 01:38:23 PM »
How to lose friends and alienate people
Nov 10th 2005
From The Economist print edition
The Bush administration's approach to torture beggars belief
THERE are many difficult trade-offs for any president when it comes to diplomacy and the fight against terrorism. Should you, for instance, support an ugly foreign regime because it is the enemy of a still uglier one? Should a superpower submit to the United Nations when it is not in its interests to do so? Amid this fog, you would imagine that George Bush would welcome an issue where America's position should be luminously clear?namely an amendment passed by Congress to ban American soldiers and spies from torturing prisoners. Indeed, after the disastrous stories of prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib, Guant?namo Bay and Afghanistan, you might imagine that a shrewd president would have sponsored such a law himself to set the record straight.
But you would be wrong. This week saw the sad spectacle of an American president lamely trying to explain to the citizens of Panama that, yes, he would veto any such bill but, no, ?We do not torture.? Meanwhile, Mr Bush's increasingly error-prone vice-president, Dick Cheney, has been across on Capitol Hill trying to bully senators to exclude America's spies from any torture ban. To add a note of farce to the tragedy, the administration has had to explain that the CIA is not torturing prisoners at its secret prisons in Asia and Eastern Europe?though of course it cannot confirm that such prisons exist.
The nub of the torture debate is an amendment sponsored by John McCain, a Republican senator who was himself tortured by the Vietnamese. The amendment, based on the American army's own field manual and passed in the Senate by 90 votes to nine, states that ?no individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.? Mr McCain's aim was simple enough: to clear up any doubt that could possibly exist about America's standards.
That doubt does, alas, exist?and has been amplified by the administration's heavy-handed efforts to stifle the McCain amendment. This, after all, is a White House that has steadfastly tried to keep ?enemy combatants? beyond the purview of American courts, whose defence secretary has publicly declared that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the battle against al-Qaeda and whose Justice Department once produced an infamous memorandum explaining how torture was part of the president's war powers. The revelation in the Washington Post that the CIA maintains a string of jails, where it can keep people indefinitely and in secret, only heightens the suspicion that Mr Cheney wants the agency to keep using ?enhanced interrogation techniques?. These include ?waterboarding?, or making a man think he is drowning.
Although Mr Cheney has not had the guts to make his case in public, the argument that torture is sometimes justified is not a negligible one. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, presumed to be in one of the CIA's ?black prisons?, is thought to have information about al-Qaeda's future plans. Surely it is vital to extract that information, no matter how? Some people think there should be a system of ?torture warrants? for special cases. But where exactly should the line be drawn? And are the gains really so dramatic that it is worth breaking the taboo against civilised democracies condoning torture? For instance, Mr McCain argues that torture is nearly always useless as an interrogation technique, since under it people will say anything to their tormentors.
If the pragmatic gains in terms of information yielded are dubious, the loss to America in terms of public opinion are clear and horrifically large. Abu Ghraib was a gift to the insurgency in Iraq; Guant?namo Bay and its dubious military commissions, now being examined by the Supreme Court, have acted as recruiting sergeants for al-Qaeda around the world. In the cold war, America championed the Helsinki human-rights accords. This time, the world's most magnificent democracy is struggling against vile terrorists who thought nothing of slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians?and yet the administration has somehow contrived to turn America's own human-rights record into a subject of legitimate debate.
Mr Bush would rightly point out that anti-Americanism is to blame for some of the opprobrium heaped on his country. But why encourage it so cavalierly and in such an unAmerican way? Nearly two years after Abu Ghraib, the world is still waiting for a clear statement of America's principles on the treatment of detainees. Mr McCain says he will keep on adding his amendment to different bills until Mr Bush signs one of them. Every enemy of terrorism should hope he does so soon.
Reply #185 on:
November 13, 2005, 11:06:19 AM »
EUROPE - THY NAME IS COWARDICE
By Matthias Doepfner* | Davids Medienkritik
04.04.05 | A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe - your family name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because it's so terribly true.
Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless agreements.
Appeasement legitimized and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union, then East Germany, then all the rest of Eastern Europe where for decades, inhuman, suppressive, murderous governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities.
Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and even though we had absolute proof of ongoing mass-murder, we Europeans debated and debated and debated, and were still debating when finally the Americans had to come from halfway around the world, into Europe yet again, and do our work for us.
Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians.
Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, has the gall to issue bad grades to George Bush... Even as it is uncovered that the loudest critics of the American action in Iraq made illicit billions, no, TENS of billions, in the corrupt U. N. Oil-for-Food program.
And now we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement... How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere? By suggesting that we really should have a "Muslim Holiday" in Germany.
I wish I were joking, but I am not. A substantial fraction of our (German) Government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German people, actually believe that creating an Official State "Muslim Holiday" will somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists.
One cannot help but recall Britain's Neville Chamberlain waving the laughable treaty signed by Adolf Hitler, and declaring European "Peace in our time".
What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies, and intent upon Western Civilization's utter destruction.
It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century - a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is actually spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness.
Only two recent American Presidents had the courage needed for anti- appeasement: Reagan and Bush.
His American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, freeing half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Blair, acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War against democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.
In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society's values and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China.
On the contrary - we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those "arrogant Americans", as the World Champions of "tolerance", which even (Germany's Interior Minister) Otto Schily justifiably criticizes. Why? Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass.
For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy - because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes what is at stake - literally everything.
While we criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social Welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive! We'd rather discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our 4 weeks of paid vacation... Or listen to TV pastors preach about the need to "reach out to terrorists. To understand and forgive".
These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically hides her last pieces of jewelry when she notices a robber breaking into a neighbor's house.
Appeasement? Europe, thy name is Cowardice.
VDH on Simpering Revisionists
Reply #186 on:
November 18, 2005, 12:31:10 PM »
November 18, 2005, 8:18 a.m.
War & Reconstruction
For Bush?s critics, even hindsight is cloudy.
Victor Davis Hanson
This is the mantra of the extreme Left: "Bush lied, thousands died." A softer version from politicians now often follows: "If I knew then what I know now, I would never have supported the war."
These sentiments are intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible for a variety of reasons beyond the obvious consideration that you do not hang out to dry some 150,000 brave Americans on the field of battle while you in-fight over whether they should have ever been sent there in the first place.
Consider the now exasperating (and tired) argument that almost anyone who looked at the intelligence data shared the same opinion about the threat of weapons of mass destruction ? former presidents, U.S. congressmen, foreign governments, Iraqi exiles, and numerous intelligence organizations.
The prewar speeches of aJay Rockefeller and Hillary Clinton sparked and sizzled with somber warnings about biological and chemical arsenals ? and, yes, nuclear threats growing on the horizon. Politicians voted for war at a time of post-9/11 furor and fear, when anthrax was thought to have been scattered in our major cities and the hysteria over its traces evacuated government buildings. In response, the Democrats beat their breasts to prove that they could out-macho the "smoke-em-out" and "dead-or-alive" president in laying out the case against Saddam Hussein, especially after the successful removal of the Taliban.
To argue recently, as Howard Dean has, that the president somehow had even more intelligence data or additional information beyond what was given to the Senate Intelligence Committee can make the opposite argument from what was intended- the dangers seemed even greater the more files one read attesting to Saddam's past history, clear intent, formidable financial resources, and fury at the United States. If the Dean notion is that the president had mysterious auxiliary information, then the case was probably even stronger for war, since no one has yet produced any stealth document that (a) warned there was no WMDs, and (b) was knowingly withheld from the Congress.
A bewildered visitor from Mars would tell Washingtonians something like: "For twelve years you occupied Saddam's airspace, since he refused to abide by the peace accords and you were afraid that he would activate his WMD arsenal again against the Kurds or his neighbors. Now that he is gone and for the first time you can confirm that his weapons program is finally defunct, you are mad about this new precedent that you have established: Given the gravity of WMD arsenals, the onus is now on suspect rogue nations to prove that they do not have weapons of mass destruction, rather than for civilization to establish beyond a responsible doubt that they do?"
Even more importantly, the U.S. Senate voted to authorize the removal of Saddam Hussein for 22 reasons other than just his possession of dangerous weapons. We seem to have forgotten that entirely.
If the Bush administration erred in privileging the dangers of Iraqi WMDs, then the Congress in its wisdom used a far broader approach (as Sen. Robert Byrd complained at the time), and went well beyond George Bush in making a more far-reaching case for war ? genocide, violation of U.N. agreements, breaking of the 1991 armistice accords, attempts to kill a former U.S. president, and firing on American aerial patrols. It was the U.S. Senate ? a majority of Democrats included ? not Paul Wolfowitz, that legislated a war to reform and restore the wider Middle East: "...whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region".
So read the senators' October 2002 resolution. It is a model of sobriety and judiciousness in authorizing a war. There are facts cited such as the violation of agreements; moral considerations such as genocide; real worries about al Qaeda's ties to Saddam (e.g., "...whereas members of al-Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq"); fears of terrorism (" ...whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens."
No doubt many Democrats in the Senate who voted to authorize the war took their cue from Bill Clinton's own November 1998 indictment of bin Laden (still, how does one indict an enemy that has declared war on you?) that explicitly stressed the connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein: "In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq."
Thus the honest and moral argument for the now contrite would be something like: "I know now that Saddam did not try to kill a former president, did not commit genocide, did not attack four of his neighbors, did not harbor anti-American terrorists, did not ignore U.N. and 1991 peace accords, and did not attack Americans enforcing U.N.-mandated no-fly zones ? and so I regret my vote."
Or if the former supporters of the war had character, they would be more honest still: "Yes, Saddam was guilty of those other 22 writs, but none of them justified the war that I voted for, and I should not have included them in the resolution."
Or they could be more truthful still: "I didn't really want a war, and only threw in the bit about al Qaeda and Saddam. So I just voted for the authorization in case some crisis emerged and the President had to act swiftly."
I doubt any will ever say, "I voted to cover myself: If the war proved swift and relatively low-cost like Bosnia or Afghanistan, I was on record for it; if it got bad like Mogadishu or Lebanon, then I wasn't the commander-in-chief who conducted it."
Given such an incriminating record, what then is really at the heart of the current strange congressional hysteria?
Simple ? the tragic loss of nearly 2,100 Americans in Iraq.
The "my perfect war, your messy postbellum reconstruction" crowd is now huge and unapologetic. It encompasses not just leftists who once jumped on the war bandwagon in fears that Democrats would be tarred as weak on national security (a legitimate worry), but also many saber-rattling conservatives and Republicans ? including those (the most shameful of all) who had in earlier times both sent letters to President Clinton and Bush demanding the removal of Saddam and now damn their commander-in-chief for taking them at their own word.
In the triumphalism after seeing Milosevic go down without a single American death, the Taliban implode at very little cost, and Saddam removed from power with little more than 100 fatalities, there was the assumption that the United States could simply nod and dictators would quail and democracy would follow. Had we lost 100 in birthing democracy and not 2,000, or seen purple fingers only and not IEDs on Dan Rather's nightly broadcasts, today's critics would be arguing over who first thought up the idea of removing Saddam and implementing democratic changes.
So without our 2,100 losses, nearly all the present critics would be either silent or grandstanding their support ? in the manner that three quarters of the American population who polled that they were in favor of the war once they saw the statue of Saddam fall.
In short, there is no issue of WMD other than finding out why our intelligence people who had once missed it in the First Gulf War, then hyped it in the next-or what actually happened to all the unaccounted for vials and stockpiles that the U.N. inspectors swore were once inside Iraq.
So the real crux is a real legitimate debate over whether our ongoing costs-billions spent, thousands wounded, nearly 2,100 American soldiers lost-will be worth the results achieved. Post facto, no death seems "worth it". The premature end of life is tangible and horrendous in a way that the object of such soldiers' sacrifices-a reformed Middle East, a safer world, enhanced American safety, and freedom for 26 million-seems remote and abstract.
Nevertheless, that is what our soldiers died for: a world in which Middle East dictators no longer murder their own, ruin their won societies, and then cynically use terrorism to whip up the Arab street and deflect their own self-induced miseries onto the United States. This is the calculus that led to 9/11, and the reason why Saddam gave sanctuary to 1980s terrorists, the killer Yasin who failed in his first attempt to take down the twin towers, and the likes of Zarqawi.
While the U.S. military conducts a brilliant campaign to implement democratic reform that is on the eve of ending with an Iraqi parliament, while there has been no repeat of promised 9/11 attacks here at home, and while the entire dictatorial Middle East from Lebanon and Syria to Egypt and Libya is in crisis ? baffled, furious, or impressed by a now idealistic United States pushing for something different and far better ? our intellectual and political elite harp on "WMD, WMD, WMD..."
Sadder still, they stay transfixed to this refrain either because polls show that it is good politics or it allows them a viable exit from an apparently now unpopular war.
But no, not so fast.
History has other lessons as well ? as we know from the similar public depression during successful wars after Washington's sad winter at Valley Forge, Lincoln's summer of 1864, or the 1942 gloom that followed Pearl Harbor and the fall of the Philippines, Singapore, and Wake Island. When this is all over, and there is a legitimate government in the Middle East that represents the aspirations of a free people, the stunning achievement of our soldiers will be at last recognized, the idealism of the United States will be appreciated, our critics here and abroad will go mute ? and one of the 23 writs for a necessary war of liberation will largely be forgotten.
? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
Reply #187 on:
November 21, 2005, 10:11:30 AM »
HOW TO LOSE A WAR
By RALPH PETERS
QUIT. It's that simple. There are plenty of more complex ways to lose a war, but none as reliable as just giving up.
Increasingly, quitting looks like the new American Way of War. No matter how great your team, you can't win the game if you walk off the field at half-time. That's precisely what the Democratic Party wants America to do in Iraq. Forget the fact that we've made remarkable progress under daunting conditions: The Dems are looking to throw the game just to embarrass the Bush administration.
Forget about the consequences. Disregard the immediate encouragement to the terrorists and insurgents to keep killing every American soldier they can. Ignore what would happen in Iraq ? and the region ? if we bail out. And don't mention how a U.S. surrender would turn al Qaeda into an Islamic superpower, the champ who knocked out Uncle Sam in the third round.
Forget about our dead soldiers, whose sacrifice is nothing but a political club for Democrats to wave in front of the media. After all, one way to create the kind of disaffection in the ranks that the Dems' leaders yearn to see is to tell our troops on the battlefield that they're risking their lives for nothing, we're throwing the game.
Forget that our combat veterans are re-enlisting at remarkable rates ? knowing they'll have to leave their families and go back to war again. Ignore the progress on the ground, the squeezing of the insurgency's last strongholds into the badlands on the Syrian border. Blow off the successive Iraqi elections and the astonishing cooperation we've seen between age-old enemies as they struggle to form a decent government.
Just set a time-table for our troops to come home and show the world that America is an unreliable ally with no stomach for a fight, no matter the stakes involved. Tell the world that deserting the South Vietnamese and fleeing from Somalia weren't anomalies ? that's what Americans do.
While we're at it, let's just print up recruiting posters for the terrorists, informing the youth of the Middle East that Americans are cowards who can be attacked with impunity.
Whatever you do, don't talk about any possible consequences. Focus on the moment ? and the next round of U.S. elections. Just make political points. After all, those dead American soldiers and Marines don't matter ? they didn't go to Ivy League schools. (Besides, most would've voted Republican had they lived.)
America's security? Hah! As long as the upcoming elections show Democratic gains, let the terrorist threat explode. So what if hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners might die in a regional war? So what if violent fundamentalism gets a shot of steroids? So what if we make Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the most successful Arab of the past 500 years?
For God's sake, don't talk about democracy in the Middle East. After all, democracy wasn't much fun for the Dems in 2000 or 2004. Why support it overseas, when it's been so disappointing at home?
Human rights? Oh, dear. Human rights are for rich white people who live in Malibu. Unless you can use the issue to whack Republicans. Otherwise, brown, black or yellow people can die by the millions. Dean, Reid & Pelosi, LLC, won't say, "Boo!"
You've got to understand, my fellow citizens: None of this matters. And you don't matter, either. All that matters is scoring political points. Let the world burn. Let the massacres run on. Let the terrorists acquire WMD. Just give the Bush administration a big black eye and we'll call that a win.
The irresponsibility of the Democrats on Capitol Hill is breathtaking. (How can an honorable man such as Joe Lieberman stay in that party?) Not one of the critics of our efforts in Iraq ? not one ? has described his or her vision for Iraq and the Middle East in the wake of a troop withdrawal. Not one has offered any analysis of what the terrorists would gain and what they might do. Not one has shown respect for our war dead by arguing that we must put aside our partisan differences and win.
There's plenty I don't like about the Bush administration. Its domestic policies disgust me, and the Bushies got plenty wrong in Iraq. But at least they'll fight. The Dems are ready to betray our troops, our allies and our country's future security for a few House seats.
Surrender is never a winning strategy.
Yes, we've been told lies about Iraq ? by Dems and their media groupies. About conditions on the ground. About our troops. About what's at stake. About the consequences of running away from the great struggle of our time. About the continuing threat from terrorism. And about the consequences for you and your family.
What do the Democrats fear? An American success in Iraq. They need us to fail, and they're going to make us fail, no matter the cost. They need to declare defeat before the 2006 mid-term elections and ensure a real debacle before 2008 ? a bloody mess they'll blame on Bush, even though they made it themselves.
We won't even talk about the effect quitting while we're winning in Iraq might have on the go-to-war calculations of other powers that might want to challenge us in the future. Let's just be good Democrats and prove that Osama bin Laden was right all along: Americans have no stomach for a fight.
As for the 2,000-plus dead American troops about whom the lefties are so awfully concerned? As soon as we abandon Iraq, they'll forget about our casualties quicker than an amnesiac forgets how much small-change he had in his pocket.
If we run away from our enemies overseas, our enemies will make their way to us. Quit Iraq, and far more than 2,000 Americans are going to die.
And they won't all be conservatives.
Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer.
A Whiter Shade of Wail
Reply #188 on:
November 29, 2005, 02:26:56 PM »
November 29, 2005, 8:32 a.m.
White (Phosphorous) Lies
Antiwar accusations aren?t as hot as critics think.
By Michael Fumento
Time again to try to cripple the U.S. military effort in Iraq. It's not enough that it sometimes seems like whenever we bomb a terrorist safe house we're accused of killing 40 civilians and no terrorists. (Why is it always 40?) Nor that we're told we must turn the prisons at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay into genteel facilities fit for Martha Stewart. Now the defeat-niks are screaming about our use of white phosphorus during the bloody battle for Fallujah last year.
Capable of being packed into a huge array of munitions, WP burns on contact with air and is highly useful for smoke-screening, smoke-marking, and as an anti-personnel weapon.
WP is hardly new, having been first used in the 19th century and subsequently in both world wars. Nor should it be news that it was used at Fallujah. An article in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery explicitly details the use of WP during the battle.
Yet it's being treated as a major new revelation because of an Italian documentary, now available on the Internet, titled Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre." It's as if the use of WP necessarily involves a massacre, or as if there haven't been awful massacres in recent years using nothing but machetes and clubs.
Further, there's no proof of any wrongdoing in the video itself. Rather it relies on "explanations" exclusively from the narrator and other anti-war zealots.
This includes the infamous Giuliana Sgrena, the reporter for the Italian Communist-party newspaper Il Manifesto, allegedly seized by courteous kidnappers. In turn for her release they conveniently demanded what she had also been demanding: Italy's withdrawal from the war. Her articles are so viciously anti-American they'd make Al Jazeera blush.
There are several accusations against our WP usage.
Some allege that it is outlawed by the Geneva Convention as a chemical weapon. Therefore our using it puts us in the same category as Saddam Hussein ? or so claims the hugely popular far-left blogsite Daily Kos. But according to the more authoritative GlobalSecurity.org, "White phosphorus is not banned by any treaty to which the United States is a signatory."
Is it a chemical? Sure! So is something else you may have heard of called "gunpowder." And those chemicals used in high explosives? Yup, they're chemicals too.
Another charge is that contact with WP can cause awful and sometimes fatal burns. But painless ways of killing and destroying such as Star Trek's beam weapon phasers have yet to be developed. On the other hand, the vipers we cleaned out of Fallujah were just days earlier sawing off civilian heads with dull knives. Sound like a pleasant way to die?
Fact is, the soldier's weapon of choice remains high explosives. WP's best uses aren't against personnel at all, but to the extent it is employed this way its most practical application is flushing the enemy out of foxholes and trenches so that they can either surrender or be killed.
It's also claimed that civilians were "targeted" with WP, and the Italian video does display dead civilians. But how does this show they were the intended victims, rather than accidental casualties? It's not like when terrorists detonate bombs in crowded marketplaces or at weddings, where the intent is pretty clear.
Regardless of the weapon, how can you possibly avoid noncombatant deaths when the enemy not only hides among civilians but hides as civilians ? in total violation of the Geneva Convention, for those of you keeping track?
Further, the dead civilians in the video are wearing clothing. Both the film's narrator and another of those defeat-nik "experts," former Marine Jeff Englehart, try to explain this away by saying WP can burn flesh while leaving clothes intact. But true weapons experts, such as GlobalSecurity.org Director John Pike, say there's no such black magic. "If it hits your clothes it will burn your clothes," he told reporters.
As daily news reports illustrate in brilliant red Technicolor, the greatest threat to Iraqi civilians are the terrorists. If we want to save civilians, our soldiers must be free to use the best legal equipment available to kill those terrorists and to continue liberating Iraq.
? Michael Fumento is a former paratrooper who was embedded with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force this year at Camp Fallujah. He's also a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.
VDH on Moral Authority in Iraq
Reply #189 on:
December 02, 2005, 11:37:26 AM »
December 02, 2005, 8:15 a.m.
A Moral War
The project in Iraq can succeed, and leave its critics scrambling.
Victor Davis Hanson
Almost everything that is now written about Iraq rings not quite right: It was a ?blunder?; there should have been far more troops there; the country must be trisected; we must abide by a timetable and leave regardless of events on the ground; Iraq will soon devolve into either an Islamic republic or another dictatorship; the U.S. military is enervated and nearly ruined; and so on.
In fact, precisely because we have killed thousands of terrorists, trained an army, and ensured a political process, it is possible to do what was intended from the very beginning: lessen the footprint of American troops in the heart of the ancient caliphate.
Save for a few courageous Democrats, like Senator Joe Lieberman, who look at things empirically rather than ideologically, and some stalwart Republicans, most politicians and public intellectuals have long bailed on the enterprise.
This is now what comprises statesmanship: Some renounce their earlier support for the war. Others, less imaginative, in Clintonian (his and hers) fashion, take credit for backing the miraculous victory of spring 2003, but in hindsight, of course, blame the bloody peace on Bush. Or, better yet, they praise Congressman Murtha to the skies, but under no circumstances go on record urging the military to follow his advice.
How strange that journalists pontificate post facto about all the mistakes that they think have been made, nevertheless conceding that here we are on the verge of a third and final successful election. No mention, of course, is ever made about the current sorry state of journalistic ethics and incompetence (cf. Jayson Blair, Judy Miller, Michael Isikoff, Bob Woodward, Eason Jordan). A group of professionals, after all, who cannot even be professional in their own sphere, surely have no credibility in lecturing the U.S. military about what they think went wrong in Iraq.
Of course, the White House, as is true in all wars, has made mistakes, but only one critical lapse ? and it is not the Herculean effort to establish a consensual government at the nexus of the Middle East in less than three years after removing Saddam Hussein. The administration?s lapse, rather, has come in its failure to present the entire war effort in its proper moral context.
We took no oil ? the price in fact skyrocketed after we invaded Iraq. We did not do Israel?s bidding; in fact, it left Gaza after we went into Iraq and elections followed on the West Bank. We did not want perpetual hegemony ? in fact, we got out of Saudi Arabia, used the minimum amount of troops possible, and will leave Iraq anytime its consensual government so decrees. And we did not expropriate Arab resources, but, in fact, poured billions of dollars into Iraq to jumpstart its new consensual government in the greatest foreign aid infusion of the age.
In short, every day the American people should have been reminded of, and congratulated on, their country?s singular idealism, its tireless effort to reject the cynical realism of the past, and its near lone effort to make terrible sacrifices to offer the dispossessed Shia and Kurds something better than the exploitation and near genocide of the past ? and how all that alone will enhance the long-term security of the United States.
That goal was what the U.S. military ended up so brilliantly fighting for ? and what the American public rarely heard. The moral onus should have always been on the critics of the war. They should have been forced to explain why it was wrong to remove a fascist mass murderer, why it was wrong to stay rather than letting the country sink into Lebanon-like chaos, and why it was wrong not to abandon brave women, Kurds, and Shia who only wished for the chance of freedom.
Alas, that message we rarely heard until only recently, and the result has energized amoral leftists, who now pose as moralists by either misrepresenting the cause of the war, undermining the effort of soldiers in the field, or patronizing Iraqis as not yet civilized enough for their own consensual government.
We can draw down our troops not because of political pressures but because of events on the ground. First, the Iraqi military is improving ? not eroding or deserting. The canard of only ?one battle-ready brigade? could just as well apply to any of the Coalition forces. After all, what brigade in the world is the equal of the U.S. military ? or could go into the heart of Fallujah house-to-house? The French? The Russians? The Germans? In truth, the Iraqi military is proving good enough to hold ground and soon to take it alongside our own troops.
Despite past calls here to postpone elections, and threats of mass murder there for those who participated in them, they continue on schedule. And the third and last vote is the most important, since it will put a human face on the elected government ? and the onus on it to officially sanction U.S. help and monetary aid or refuse it.
Saddam?s trial will remind the world of his butchery. Despite all the ankle-biting by human-rights groups about proper jurisprudence, the Iraqis will try him and convict him much more quickly than the Europeans will do the same to Milosevic (not to mention the other killers still loose like Gen. Mladic and Mr. Karadzic), posing the question: What is the real morality ? trying a mass murderer and having him pay for his crimes, or engaging in legal niceties for years while the ghosts of his victims cry for justice?
More importantly, we can also calibrate our progress by examining the perceived self-interest of the various players, here and abroad.
The Sunnis ? no oil, a minority population, increasing disgust with Zarqawi, a shameful past under Saddam ? will participate in the December elections in large numbers. They now have no choice other than either to be perpetual renegades and terrorists inside their own country or to gain world respect by turning to democracy. The election train is leaving in December and this time they won?t be left at the station.
Zarqawi and the radical Islamicists are slowly being squeezed as only a war at their doorstep could accomplish. Critics of Iraq should ask if we were not fighting Zarqawi in Iraq, where exactly would we be fighting Islamic fascists ? or would the war against terror be declared over, won, lost, dormant, or ongoing, with the U.S. simply playing defense?
Instead, what Iraq did is ensure that al Qaeda?s Sunni support is being coopted by democracy. Jordan, the terrorists? old ace in the hole that could always put a cosmetic face on its stealthy support for radicals, has essentially turned on Zarqawi and with him al Qaeda. Syria is under virtual siege and its border sanctuary now a killing zone. Bin Laden can offer very little solace from his cave. And somehow Islamists have alienated the United States, Europe, Russia, China, Australia, Japan, and increasingly Middle East democracies like those in Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iraq, and reform movements in Lebanon and Jordan.
Decision day is coming when Zarqawi?s bombers will have to choose either to die, or, like a Nathan Bedford Forrest (?I?m a goin? home?), quit to join the reform-seeking majority. That progress was accomplished only by the war in Iraq, and without it we would be back to playing a waiting game for another 9/11, while an autocratic Middle East went on quietly helping terrorists without consequences, either afraid of Saddam or secretly enjoying his chauvinist defiance.
Kurds and Shiites support us for obvious reasons ? no other government on the planet would risk its sons and daughters to give them the right of one man/one vote. They may talk the necessary talk about infidels, but they know we will leave anytime they so vote. After the December election, expect them ? and perhaps the Sunnis as well ? quietly to ask us to stay to see things through.
Europe is quiet now. Madrid, London, Paris, and Amsterdam have taught Europeans that it is not George Bush but Islamic fascism that threatens their very existence. Worse still, they rightly fear they have lost the good will of the United States that so generously subsidized their defense ? an entitlement perhaps to be sneered at during the post-Cold War ?end of history,? but not in a new global war against Islamic terrorists keen to acquire deadly weapons.
Our military realizes that it can trump its brilliant victories in removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein by birthing democracy in Iraq ? or risk losing that impressive reputation by having a new Lebanon blow up in its face. China, Japan, India, Russia, Korea, Iran, and other key countries are all watching Iraq ? ready to calibrate American deterrence by the efficacy of the U.S. military in the Sunni Triangle. Our armed forces have already accomplished what the British and the Soviets could never do in Afghanistan; what the Russians failed to accomplish in Chechnya; and what we came so close to finishing in Vietnam. They won?t falter now when they are so close to winning an almost impossibly difficult war, one that will be recognized by friends and enemies as beyond the capability of any other military in the world.
The Left now risks losing its self-proclaimed moral appeal. It had trashed the efforts in Iraq for months on end, demanded a withdrawal ? only recently to learn from polls that an unhappy public may also be unhappy with it for advocating fleeing while American soldiers are in harm?s way. Another successful election, polls showing Iraqis overwhelmingly wishing us to stay on, visits by elected Iraqi officials asking continued help, and a decreasing American footprint will gradually erode the appeal of the antiwar protests ? especially as triangulating public intellectuals and pundits begin to quiet down, fathoming that the United States may win after all.
The administration realizes that as long as it stays the course and our military remains confident we can win, we will ? despite defections in the Congress, venom in the press, and cyclical lows in the polls. In practical political terms, only the administration, not the Congress or the courts, can choose to cease our efforts in Iraq. Rightly or wrongly, the Bush administration will be judged on Iraq: If we lose, the president will be seen as a tragic LBJ-like figure who squandered his initial grassroots support in a foreign quagmire; if we win, he will be remembered, in spirit, as something akin to a Harry Truman, and, in deed, an FDR who won a critical war against impossible odds, and restored the security of the United States.
George Bush may well go down in history as a less-effective leader than his father or Bill Clinton; but unlike either, he may also have a real chance to be remembered in that select class of rare presidents whom history records as having saved this country at a time of national peril and in the face of unprecedented criticism. Bush?s domestic agenda hinges on Iraq: If he withdraws now, his proposals on taxes, social security, deficit reduction, education, and immigration are dead. If he sees the Iraq project through, these now-iffy initiatives will piggyback on the groundswell of popular thanks he will receive for reforming the Middle East.
Strangely, I doubt whether very many would agree with much of anything stated above ? at least for now. But if the administration can emphasize the moral nature of this war, and the military can continue its underappreciated, but mostly successful efforts to defeat the enemy and give the Iraqis a few more months of breathing space, who knows what the current opportunists and pessimists will say by summer.Will they say that they in fact were always sorta, kinda, really for removing Saddam and even staying on to see democracy work in Iraq?
? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
Reply #190 on:
December 03, 2005, 11:56:23 AM »
Imagine MNF Being Covered Like Iraq
By Jon Ham
November 30, 2005
RALEIGH - Watching Monday Night Football the other night, it occurred to me that if one imagined the mainstream media covering that game the way they cover the war in Iraq (or the economy), the absurdity of their
reporting would be plain for all to see.
INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Colts, seeking to silence critics
who say they are overrated, fell short of that mark on Monday night by
outscoring the Pittsburgh Steelers by a mere 3-point margin in the first
Despite the unspectacular first-quarter margin, Colts head coach
Tony Dungy insisted that his team was winning the battle. "Hey, we're up
three," said Dungy. "In my book that's a lead." But critics pointed out
that the Colts gained their lead only as a result of a desperation 80-yard
pass by quarterback Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison on their first play
of the game.
"That score was based on subterfuge and was patently unfair," said
one critic, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by league officials. "It amounted to abuse of opposing players to fool them like that."
Despite scoring on their first snap of the game, and later scoring a
field goal to go up 10-0, the Colts allowed Pittsburgh to score with only
1:18 left in the first quarter. Colt critics demanded that Dungy
acknowledge that he had made coaching mistakes in the quarter, but he
refused to do so.
The Colts have become a target of critics since going undefeated so
far this year. That so many Colt players have openly expressed a desire to go undefeated the whole season is seen as arrogance and a sense of
exceptionalism by many, causing many former friends to turn against them.
The staunch Pittsburgh defense, though out-manned and out-gunned,
managed to battle the Colts to a standstill in the second quarter, allowing
them only six points. Those familiar with the Colts say this second-quarter
swoon reveals a lack of depth on offense due to unmet recruitment goals
during the off-season.
The insurgent Steelers, striking sporadically with lesser equipment
against the hegemonic Colts, inflicted serious damage with several tackles, a sack and some pass breakups, holding Indianapolis to only two field goals in the 15-minute span. Observers said it looked as if the tide were turning in favor of the insurgent Steelers.
In the third period, the Steelers again held the Colts to a single
touchdown, damaging the Colts' aura of invincibility and giving hope to the insurgents that their time would come. Some critics pointed to the stands as some Colt fans began filing out, saying that this showed the Colts losing support at home.
The Steelers were even stronger in the final period, holding the
Colt juggernaut to a mere three points. "I think Indianapolis was just in
the wrong game, at the wrong place at the wrong time," one Colt critic was heard to say.
The final score, by the way, was Colts 26, Steelers 7
Reply #191 on:
December 14, 2005, 12:06:25 PM »
The Panic Over Iraq
What they're really afraid of is American success.
BY NORMAN PODHORETZ
Monday, December 12, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST
Like, I am sure, many other believers in what this country has been trying to do in the Middle East and particularly in Iraq, I have found my thoughts returning in the past year to something that Tom Paine, writing at an especially dark moment of the American Revolution, said about such times. They are, he memorably wrote, "the times that try men's souls," the times in which "the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot" become so disheartened that they "shrink from the service of [their] country."
But Paine did not limit his anguished derision to former supporters of the American War of Independence whose courage was failing because things had not been going as well on the battlefield as they had expected or hoped. In a less famous passage, he also let loose on another group:
'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. . . . Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses . . . Their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain for ever undiscovered.
Thus, he explained, "Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head," emboldened by the circumstances of the moment to reveal an opposition to the break with Britain that it had previously seemed prudent to conceal.
The similarities to our situation today are uncanny. We, too, are in the midst of a rapidly spreading panic. We, too, have our sunshine patriots and summer soldiers, in the form of people who initially supported the invasion of Iraq--and the Bush Doctrine from which it followed--but who are now abandoning what they have decided is a sinking ship. And we, too, are seeing formerly disguised opponents of the war coming more and more out into the open, and in ever greater numbers.
Yet in spite of these similarities, there is also a very curious difference between the American panic of 1776-77 and the American panic of 2005-06. To put it in the simplest and starkest terms: In that early stage of the Revolutionary War, there was sound reason to fear that the British would succeed in routing Washington's forces. In Iraq today, however, and in the Middle East as a whole, a successful outcome is staring us in the face. Clearly, then, the panic over Iraq--which expresses itself in increasingly frenzied calls for the withdrawal of our forces--cannot have been caused by the prospect of defeat. On the contrary, my twofold guess is that the real fear behind it is not that we are losing but that we are winning, and that what has catalyzed this fear into a genuine panic is the realization that the chances of pulling off the proverbial feat of snatching an American defeat from the jaws of victory are rapidly running out.
Of course, to anyone who relies entirely or largely on the mainstream media for information, it will come as a great surprise to hear that we are winning in Iraq. Winning? Militarily? How can we be winning militarily when, day after day, the only thing of any importance going on in that country is suicide bombings and car bombings? When neither our own troops nor the Iraqi forces we have been training are able to stop the "insurgents" from scoring higher and higher body counts? When every serious military move we make against the strongholds of these dedicated and ruthless adversaries is met with "fierce resistance"? When, for every one of them we manage to kill, two more seem to pop up?
Winning? Politically? How can we be winning politically when the very purpose for which we allegedly invaded Iraq has been unmasked as a chimera? When every step we force the Iraqis to take toward democratization is accompanied by angry sectarian strife between Shiites and Sunnis and between Arabs and Kurds? When our clumsy efforts to bring the Sunnis into the political process have hardly made a dent in their support for the insurgency? When the end result is less likely to be the stable democratic regime we supposedly went there to establish than a civil war followed by the breakup of Iraq into three separate countries?
There has been one great exception to this relentless drumbeat of bad news. It occurred in January 2005, in the coverage of the first election in liberated Iraq. To the astonishment of practically everyone in the world, more than eight million Iraqis came out to vote on election day even though the Islamofascist terrorists had threatened to slaughter them if they did. This very astonishment was a measure of how false an impression had been created of the state of affairs in Iraq. No one fed by the mainstream media could have had the slightest inkling that these eight million people were actually there, so invisible had they been to reporters who spent all their time interviewing the discontented Iraqi man-in-the-street and to cameras seemingly incapable of focusing on anything but carnage and rubble.
But the mainstream media soon recovered from the shock. By October, on the morning after a second ballot in which the new Iraqi constitution was ratified by fully 79% of the electorate, the Washington Post ran its announcement of these inspiring results on page 13. As for the paper's front page, the columnist Jeff Jacoby would note that it
was dominated by a photograph, stretched across four columns, of three daughters at the funeral of their father, . . . who had died from injuries suffered during a Sept. 26 bombing in Baghdad. Two accompanying stories, both above the fold, were headlined "Military Has Lost 2,000 in Iraq" and "Bigger, Stronger, Homemade Bombs Now to Blame for Half of U.S. Deaths." A nearby graphic--"The Toll"--divided the 2,000 deaths by type of military service.
In sum, in the words of the Australian blogger Arthur Chrenkoff:
Death, violence, terrorism, precarious political situation, problems with reconstruction, and public frustration (both in Iraq and America) dominate, if not overwhelm, the mainstream media coverage and commentary on Iraq.
About a year ago, concerned that he might have been exaggerating when he made this assertion on the basis of his "gut feeling," Mr. Chrenkoff decided to check it out more scientifically. So he did "a little tally" of the stories published or broadcast all over the world on a single average day (which happened to be Jan. 21, 2005). Here are some of the numbers that, with the help of the Google News Index, he was able to report from that one day:
2,642 stories about Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearings, in the context of grilling she has received over the administration's Iraq policy.
1,992 stories about suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks.
887 stories about prisoner abuse by British soldiers.
216 stories about hostages currently being held in Iraq.
761 stories reporting on activities and public statements of insurgents.
357 stories about the antiwar movement and the dropping public support for involvement in Iraq.
182 stories about American servicemen killed and wounded in operations.
217 stories about concerns for fairness and validity of Iraqi election (low security, low turnout, etc.).
107 stories about civilian deaths in Iraq.
123 stories noting Vice President Cheney's admission that he had underestimated the task of reconstruction.
118 stories about complicated and strained relations between the U.S. and Europe.
121 stories discussing the possibility of an American pullout.
27 stories about sabotage of Iraqi oil infrastructure.
As against all this, the good news made a pathetic showing:
16 stories about security successes in the fight against insurgents.
7 stories about positive developments relating to elections.
73 stories about the return to Iraq of stolen antiquities.
Obviously, then, the reporters and their editors in the mainstream media have been working overtime to show how badly things have been going for us in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the op-ed pundits, the academic theorists and the armchair generals have chimed in with analyses blaming it all on the incompetence of the president and his appointees. By now, the proposition that the aftermath of the invasion has been marked by one disastrous blunder after another is accepted without question or qualification by just about everyone: open opponents of the Bush Doctrine eager to prove that they were right to denounce the invasion; Democrats whose main objective is to discredit the Bush administration; and erstwhile supporters who have lost heart and are looking for a way to justify their desertion.
But the charge of incompetence has also been hurled by strong supporters of the Bush Doctrine in general and of the invasion of Iraq in particular, whose purpose is to prod the people running the operation into doing a better job. The most authoritative such supporter, Eliot A. Cohen of Johns Hopkins, has expressed a
desire--barely controlled--to slap the highly educated fool who, having no soldier friends or family, once explained to me that mistakes happen in all wars, and that the casualties are not really all that high, and that I really shouldn't get exercised about them.
Now, this person may well have deserved a slap for being presumptuous toward a distinguished military historian, or for insensitivity in downplaying casualties when speaking to the father of an infantry officer on his way to Iraq. But at the risk of exposing myself as another highly educated fool, I must confess that I too think we need to be reminded that mistakes happen in all wars, and that the casualties in this one are very low by any historical standard.
Before measuring Iraq in these two respects, I want to look more closely at some of the actions taken by the Bush administration that are universally accepted as mistakes, and to begin by pointing out that the main one is based on an outright falsification of the facts. This is the accusation that no thought was given to what would happen once we got to Baghdad and no plans were therefore made for dealing with the aftermath of the combat phase. Yet the plain truth is that much thought was given to, and many plans were made for dealing with, horrors that everyone expected to happen and then, mercifully, did not. Among these: house-to-house fighting to take Baghdad, the flight of a million or more refugees, the setting of the oil fields afire, and the outbreak of a major civil war.
As for the insurgency, even if its dimensions had accurately been foreseen, it would still have been impossible to eliminate it in short order. To cite Mr. Cohen himself:
If the insurgencies in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Sri Lanka, and Kashmir continue, what reason do we have to expect this one to end so soon?
A related group of alleged "mistakes" turn out on closer inspection to be judgment calls, concerning which it is possible for reasonable men to differ. The most widely circulated of these--especially among supporters of the war on the right--is that there were too few American "boots on the ground" to mount an effective campaign against the insurgency. Perhaps. And yet the key factor in fighting a terrorist insurgency is not the number of troops deployed against it but rather the amount and quality of the intelligence that can be obtained from infiltrating its ranks and from questioning prisoners (a task made all the more difficult for us by the campaign here at home to define torture down to the point where it would become illegal to subject even a captured terrorist to generally accepted methods of interrogation).
Finally, there are "mistakes" that were actually choices between two evils--choices that had to be made when it was by no means obvious which was the lesser of the two. The best example here is the policy of "de-Baathification." This led to a disbanding of the Iraqi army, whose embittered Sunni members were then putatively left with nothing to do but volunteer their services to the insurgency. Yet allowing Saddam Hussein's thugs to continue controlling the army would have embittered the Shiites and the Kurds instead, both of whom had suffered greatly at the hands of the Sunni minority. Is it self-evident that this would have been better for us or for Iraq?
However, even if I were to concede for the sake of argument that every one of these accusations was justified, I would still contend that they amounted to chump change when stacked up against the mistakes that were made in World War II--a war conducted by acknowledged giants like Roosevelt and Churchill. Tim Cavanaugh, in a posting on the website of Reason magazine, has offered a partial list of such blunders and the lives that were lost because of them: "American Marines were slaughtered at Tarawa because the pre-invasion bombardment of the island was woefully deficient. Hundreds of American paratroopers were killed by American anti-aircraft fire during landings in Italy--for that matter the entire campaign up the Italian boot was an obvious waste of time, resources, and lives that prevented the western Allies from getting seriously into the war until the middle of 1944. . . . In late 1944, Allied commanders failed to anticipate that the Germans would attack through Belgium despite their having done so in 1914 and 1940." In brief, Cavanaugh concludes, "On any given week, World War II offered more [foul-ups] and catastrophes than anything that has been seen in postwar Iraq."
And I would also still say, as I have said before, that the number of American casualties in Iraq is minimal as compared with the losses suffered in past wars: in World War II, 405,399; in Korea, 36,574; in Vietnam, 58,209. Similarly, the mistakes--again assuming they were mistakes rather than debatable judgment calls--committed in the first year after the fall of Saddam were relatively inconsequential when measured against those made in the aftermath of the Allied victories over Germany and Japan.
Several Iraqi bloggers, and many letters written by American soldiers in the field that have found their way onto the Internet, paint a very different picture. Like Arthur Chrenkoff, these close-range observers do not overlook the persistence of major problems, and they do not deny that we still have a long way to go before Iraq becomes secure, stable and democratic. But they document with great detail the amazing progress that has been made, even under the gun of Islamofascist terrorism, in building--from scratch--the political morale of a country ravaged by "posttotalitarian stress disorder," in setting up the institutional foundations of a federal republic, in getting the economy moving, and in reconstructing the physical infrastructure.
The columnist Max Boot, who has himself been free with charges of incompetence, and who takes the position that we should have put more troops into Iraq, can (like Eliot Cohen) see clearly through his own reservations to provide a good summary of the situation as it now stands:
For starters, one can point to two successful elections . . ., on Jan. 30 and Oct. 15, in which the majority of Iraqis braved insurgent threats to vote. The constitutional referendum in October was particularly significant because it marked the first wholesale engagement of Sunnis in the political process. . . . This is big news. The most disaffected group in Iraq is starting to realize that it must achieve its objectives through ballots, not bullets.
Moving on to the economy, Mr. Boot (relying on a Brookings Institution report) tells us that "for all the insurgents' attempts to sabotage the Iraqi economy," per capita income has doubled since 2003 and is now 30% higher than it was before the war; that the Iraqi economy is projected to grow at a whopping 16.8% in 2006; and that there are five times as many cars on the streets than in Saddam Hussein's day, five as many more telephone subscribers, and 32 times as many Internet users.
Finally, Mr. Boot points out that whereas not a single independent media outlet existed in Iraq before 2003, there are now 44 commercial TV stations, 72 radio stations, and more than 100 newspapers.
To all of this we can add the 3,404 public schools, 304 water and sewage projects, 257 fire and police stations, and 149 public-health facilities that had been built as of September 2005, with another 921 such projects currently under construction.
As for the military front, a November 2005 report by the Committee on the Present Danger cites an example of what is being accomplished by American troops:
In the recent Operation Steel Curtain on the Syrian border, our troops detained more than 1,000 suspected insurgents. One hundred weapons caches were found and cleared. Since January, 116 of Zarqawi's lieutenants have been killed or captured.
The CPD report also notes the steady strengthening of the Iraqi armed forces, and the increasing degree of responsibility they are assuming in the fight against the insurgency:
[Since July] Iraq's armed forces . . . have added 22 new battalions, and 5,500 police-service personnel have been trained and equipped (as have some 2,000 special-police commanders). Coalition senior officers report that 80 Iraqi battalions now are able to fight alongside our troops and 36 are "generally able to conduct independent operations." More than 20 of the coalition's forward-operating bases have been turned over to the Iraqi army.
The CPD supports the campaign in Iraq. Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies is (to put it mildly) unfriendly to the Bush Doctrine and all its works. But Mr. Cordesman concurs with the CPD assessment. Citing slightly different statistics, he notes
continued increase in the number of Iraqi units able to take the lead in combat operations against the insurgency . . . progress of Iraqi units in assuming responsibility for the battle space . . . [and] continued increase in the number of units and individuals trained, equipped, and formed into operational status.
What this means in concrete terms is laid out by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, also no great admirer of how the Bush administration has conducted the Iraq campaign:
For two years, when reporters would ask how it was possible that the mightiest military in history could not secure a five-kilometer stretch of road, the military responded with long, jargon-filled lectures. . . . Then one day this summer the military was ordered to secure the road. . . . Presto. Using Iraqi forces, the road was secured. Similar strategies have made cities like Najaf, Mosul, Tal Afar and even Falluja much safer today than they were a year ago.
Why is there so little public awareness of these things? One young reporter, who proudly proclaims his membership in the mainstream media, has been only too happy to provide an explanation:
As long as American soldiers are getting killed nearly every day, we're not going to be giving much coverage to the opening of multimillion dollar sewage projects. American lives are worth more than Iraqi shit.
Observe, in this clever and brutal formulation, the professed concern with American casualties. From it, one might imagine that the statement is worlds away from the hostility to American military power--and to America in general--that pervaded the radical left in the 1960s and that in a milder liberal mutation came to be known as the "post-Vietnam syndrome." And it is certainly true that the antiwar movement spawned by Vietnam rarely had a tear to shed for the American lives that were being lost there. But the newfound tenderness toward our troops in Iraq does not in the least reflect a change in attitude toward the use of force by the United States. To the contrary, the relentless harping on American casualties by the mainstream media is part of an increasingly desperate effort to portray Iraq as another Vietnam: a foolish and futile (if not immoral and illegal) resort to military power in pursuit of a worthless (if not unworthy) goal.
Mark Twain once famously said that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. So it was, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, with the post-Vietnam syndrome. During those early weeks, a number of commentators were quick to proclaim the birth of an entirely new era in American history. What Dec. 7, 1941 had done to the isolationism of old, they announced, Sept. 11, 2001 had done to the Vietnam syndrome. Politically speaking, it was dead, and the fallout from the Vietnam War--namely, the hostility to America and especially to American military power--would follow it into the grave.
As is evident from the coverage of Iraq in the mainstream media, such pronouncements were more than a little premature: the Vietnam syndrome is still alive and well. But equally apparent is that the reporters and editors to whom it is a veritable religion understand very clearly that success in Iraq could deal the Vietnam syndrome a mortal blow. Little wonder, then, that they have so resolutely tried to ignore any and all signs of progress--or, when that becomes impossible, to dismiss them as so much "shit."
This, however, is at least a kind of tribute to our progress, if a perverse one. The same cannot be said of the opponents of the Bush Doctrine in the universities and think tanks, who are unwilling even to acknowledge that more and better things are happening in Iraq and the broader Middle East than are dreamed of in their philosophy.
Take Zbigniew Brzezinski, who left the academy to serve as Jimmy Carter's national security adviser and is now a professor again. In a recently published piece entitled "American Debacle," Mr. Brzezinski began by accusing George W. Bush of "suicidal statecraft," went on to pronounce the intervention in Iraq (along with everything else this president has done) a total disaster, and ended by urging that we withdraw from that country "perhaps even as early as next year." Unlike the late Sen. George Aiken of Vermont, who once proposed that we declare victory in Vietnam and then get out, Mr. Brzezinski wants to declare defeat in Iraq and then get out. This, he mysteriously assures us, will help restore "the legitimacy of America's global role."
Now I have to admit that I find it a little rich that George W. Bush should be accused of "suicidal statecraft" by, of all people, the man who in the late 1970s helped shape a foreign policy that emboldened the Iranians to seize and hold American hostages while his boss in the Oval Office stood impotently by for almost six months before finally authorizing a rescue operation so inept that it only compounded our national humiliation.
And where was Mr. Brzezinski--famed at the time for his anticommunism--when the President he served congratulated us on having overcome our "inordinate fear of communism"? Where was Mr. Brzezinski--known far and wide for his hard-line determination to resist Soviet expansionism--when Cyrus Vance, the then secretary of state, declared that the Soviet Union and the United States had "similar dreams and aspirations," and when Mr. Carter himself complacently informed us that containment was no longer necessary? And how was it that, despite daily meetings with Mr. Brzezinski, Mr. Carter remained so blind to the nature of the Soviet regime that the invasion of Afghanistan, as he himself would admit, taught him more in a week about the nature of that regime than he had managed to learn in an entire lifetime? Had the cat gotten Mr. Brzezinski's tongue in the three years leading up to that invasion--the same tongue he now wags with such confidence at George W. Bush?
But even if Mr. Brzezinski's record over the past 30 years did not disqualify him from dispensing advice on how to conduct American foreign policy, this diatribe against Mr. Bush would by itself be enough. For here he looks over the Middle East, and what does he see? He sees the United States being "stamped as the imperialistic successor to Britain and as a partner of Israel in the military repression of the Arabs." This may not be fair, he covers himself by adding; but not a single word does he say to indicate that the British created the very despotisms the United States is now trying to replace with democratic regimes, or that George W. Bush is the first American president to have come out openly for a Palestinian state.
Again Mr. Brzezinski looks over the Middle East, and what does he see? He sees the treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, and by extension Guantanamo, causing the loss of America's "moral standing" as a "country that has stood tall" against "political repression, torture, and other violations of human rights." And that is all he sees--quite as though we never liberated Afghanistan from the theocratic tyranny of the Taliban, or Iraq from the fascist despotism of Saddam Hussein. But how, after all, when it comes to standing tall against "political repression, torture, and other violations of human rights," can such achievements compare with a sanctimonious lecture by Jimmy Carter followed by the embrace of one Third World dictator after another?
Then for a third time Mr. Brzezinski looks over the Middle East, and what does he see? He sees more and more sympathy for terrorism, and more and more hatred of America, being generated throughout the region by our actions in Iraq; and in this context, too, that is all he sees. About the momentous encouragement that our actions have given to the forces of reform that never dared act or even speak up before, he is completely silent--though it is a phenomenon that even so inveterate a hater of America as the Lebanese dissident Walid Jumblatt has found himself compelled to recognize. Thus, only a few months after declaring that "the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq is legitimate and obligatory," Mr. Jumblatt suddenly woke up to what those U.S. soldiers had actually been doing for the world in which he lived:
It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting [in January 2005], eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.
The columnist Michael Barone has listed some of the developments that bear out Jumblatt's judgment:
[The] progress toward democracy in Iraq is leading Middle Easterners to concentrate on the question of how to build decent governments and decent societies. We can see the results--the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the first seriously contested elections in Egypt, Libya's giving up WMD's, the Jordanian protests against Abu Musab Zarqawi's recent suicide attacks, and even a bit of reform in Saudi Arabia.
Even in Syria, reports the Washington Post's David Ignatius:
People talk politics . . . with a passion I haven't heard since the 1980s in Eastern Europe. They're writing manifestos, dreaming of new political parties, trying to rehabilitate old ones from the 1950s.
And not only in Syria. As the democratic activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who, like Mr. Jumblatt, originally opposed the invasion of Iraq, told Mr. Ignatius's colleague Jim Hoagland:
Those [in the Middle East] who believe in democracy and civil society are finally actors . . . [because the invasion of Iraq] has unfrozen the Middle East, just as Napoleon's 1798 expedition did. Elections in Iraq force the theocrats and autocrats to put democracy on the agenda, even if only to fight against us. Look, neither Napoleon nor President Bush could impregnate the region with political change. But they were able to be midwives.
Nor are such changes confined to the political sphere alone. According to a report in The Economist, a revulsion against terrorism has begun to spread among Muslim clerics, including some who, like the secular Mr. Jumblatt, were only recently applauding its use against Americans:
Moderate Muslim clerics have grown increasingly concerned at the abuse of religion to justify killing. In Saudi Arabia, numerous preachers once famed for their fighting words now advise tolerance and restraint. Even so rigid a defender of suicide attacks against Israel . . . as Yusuf Qaradawi, the star preacher of the popular al-Jazeera satellite channel, denounces bombings elsewhere and calls on the perpetrators to repent.
Zbigniew Brzezinski may be wrongheaded, but he is neither blind nor stupid. Why, then, his willful silence in the face of all these signs of progress? I can only interpret it as the product of a rising panic. No less than the denizens of the mainstream media, he is desperately struggling to salvage a worldview that, like theirs, should have been but was not killed off by 9/11 and that, like theirs, may well suffer a truly mortal blow if the Bush Doctrine passes through the great test of fire it is undergoing in Iraq.
Mr. Brzezinski's worldview is a syncretistic mix of foreign-policy realism (with its emphasis on stability and the sanctity of national borders) and liberal internationalism (with its unshakable faith in compromise, consensus and international institutions). In this he differs somewhat from another former national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, a Republican who occupied the office under George W. Bush's father and whose own commitment to the realist perspective is pure and unadulterated.
In spite of this difference, the two men are at one in regarding the war in Iraq as a disastrous distraction from the really important business to which we should be attending in the Middle East--namely, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In an article published some months before the invasion and entitled "Don't Attack Saddam," Mr. Scowcroft wrote:
Possibly the most dire consequence [of attacking Saddam] would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we were seen to be turning our backs on that bitter conflict, there would be an explosion of outrage against us.
Evidently he still holds to this view. So does Mr. Brzezinski, who attacks "the Bush team" for having transformed "a manageable, though serious, challenge of largely regional origin into an international debacle," and who urges us to get out of Iraq, the sooner the better, so that we can shift our focus back to where it really belongs--"the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."
Well, whether the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is truly "the obsession of the region" or, rather, a screen for other things, it certainly is the obsession of Messrs. Brzezinski and Scowcroft, as it is of almost everyone else who looks at the Middle East from the so-called realist perspective and to whom stability is the great desideratum. Even from that perspective, however, the nonstop preoccupation with Israel would seem to be warranted only if the conflict with the Palestinians were the main cause of instability throughout the region.
This is indeed what Messrs. Brzezinski, Scowcroft, and most other members of the realist school believe. (But not Henry Kissinger, the leading realist of them all. Even though he is skeptical about the possibility of democratizing the Middle East, Mr. Kissinger favored the invasion of Iraq and thinks that victory there is essential. Nor does he believe that the war between the Palestinians and Israel is the most important problem in the world, or even in the Middle East.)
Yet the realities to which the realists are so deferential in the abstract make utter nonsense of this idea. Since the birth of Israel in 1948, there have been something like two dozen wars in the Middle East (variously involving Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Iraq) that have had nothing whatever to do with the Jewish state, or with the Palestinians. In one of these alone--the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88--more lives were lost than in all the wars involving Israel put together.
The obsessive animus against Israel goes hand in hand with the overall strategy for dealing with the Middle East that prevailed before 9/11, and to which Messrs. Brzezinski and Scowcroft are still married, heart and soul and mind. The best and most succinct description of that strategy was given by President Bush himself in explaining why 9/11 had driven him to reject it in favor of a radically different approach:
For decades free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability and much oppression, so I have changed this policy.
In the past, . . . longstanding ties often led us to overlook the faults of local elites. Yet this bargain did not bring stability or make us safe. It merely bought time, while problems festered and ideologies of violence took hold.
We learn from Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker that, when Condoleezza Rice quoted these words to Scowcroft (her former mentor), he responded that the policy Bush was rejecting had actually brought us "50 years of peace." (What, asked James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal, "do you call someone" who can describe the many wars that have been fought in the Middle East in the past five decades as "50 years of peace"? Mr. Taranto's sardonic answer: "A 'realist.' ")
In addition to remaining convinced that the old way of doing things was right, Mr. Scowcroft is utterly disdainful of the new approach being followed by George W. Bush, which (as I like to describe it) is to make the Middle East safe for America by making it safe for democracy. "I believe," he told Jeffrey Goldberg, "that you cannot with one sweep of the hand or the mind cast off thousands of years of history." But the despotisms in the Middle East are not thousands of years old, and they were not created by Allah or the Prophet Muhammad. All of them were established after World War I--that is, less than a century ago--by the British and the French.
This being the case, there is nothing "utopian" about the idea that such regimes--planted with shallow roots by two Western powers--could be uprooted with the help of a third Western power, and that a better political system could be put in their place. And, in fact, this is exactly what has been happening before our very eyes in Iraq. In the span of three short years, Iraq, liberated by the United States from the totalitarian tyranny of Saddam Hussein, has taken one giant step after another toward democratization. Yet Mr. Scowcroft can still assure us that "you're not going to democratize Iraq," and certainly not "in any reasonable time frame."
As with Mr. Brzezinski, so again it seems that nothing else but panic can explain so astonishing a degree of denial.
Like the mainstream media and the theorists in the academy and the think tanks, the Democratic Party--fearing that it might be frozen out of power for a very long time to come--is also in a panic over the signs that George W. Bush's new approach to the greater Middle East is on the verge of passing the test of Iraq. Hence the veritable hysteria with which the Democrats have recently tried to delegitimize the war: first by claiming (three years after the fact!) that it had begun with a lie, and then by declaring that it was ending in a defeat. Leaning heavily on the turn in public opinion largely brought about by reports in the mainstream media and the lucubrations of the theorists, the Democrats--with the notably honorable exception of Sen. Joseph Lieberman--now joined in by clamoring openly for a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.
A goodly number of these Democrats (party chairman Howard Dean and Rep. Cynthia McKinney, to name only two) are the "Tories" of today, in the sense of having from the very beginning stood openly and unambiguously against the revolution in foreign policy represented by the Bush Doctrine and now being put to the test in Iraq. But a much larger number of Democrats fit more smoothly into Tom Paine's category of "disguised" Tories. These are the congressmen and senators who in their heart of hearts were against the resolution authorizing the president to use force against Saddam Hussein, but who--given the state of public opinion at the time--feared being punished at the polls unless they voted for it. Now, however, with public opinion moving in the other direction, they have been emboldened to "show their heads."
Finally, we have a certain number of Democrats who correspond to "the summer soldiers and the sunshine patriots" of the American Revolution. One of them is Rep. John Murtha, who backed the invasion of Iraq because (to give him the benefit of the doubt) he really thought it was the right thing to do, but who has now bought entirely into the view that all is lost and that the only sensible course is to turn tail:
The war in Iraq is . . . a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. . . . Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people, or the Persian Gulf region. . . . Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists, and foreign jihadists. . . . Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home.
It seems never to have occurred to Mr. Murtha that talk of this kind could only confuse and demoralize the troops for whose welfare, and for whose sufferings, he expresses such concern. By all accounts, those troops are very proud of what they are accomplishing in Iraq. How then could they not be confounded when a respected congressman--a former Marine, no less--declares that they have been fighting for nothing, nothing whatsoever, and when for saying so he gets a standing ovation from his fellow Democrats? How could they not be demoralized to be told that there is no point in going on because their very presence in Iraq is making things worse for everyone concerned?
And how, by the same token, could talk of this kind fail to give new heart to the Islamofascist terrorists--just when they are on the run? How could they not be delighted to see the elected representatives of the American people carrying on a heated debate in which the only questions at issue are how quickly to bug out of Iraq, and whether to fix a timetable and a deadline? How could they not feel vindicated when, after being surprised by the fierce reaction of the Americans to 9/11, they now behold fresh evidence for believing that Osama bin Laden was right after all when he called us a paper tiger?
On the other hand, if (as the president intended all along, as he reiterated in his great speech of Nov. 30 at Annapolis, and as is prescribed in the recently declassified "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq") American forces are drawn down only at the rate and to the extent that they can be replaced with similar numbers of Iraqi soldiers and policemen fully capable of taking over, the joy now being felt by the Islamofascists will commensurately be replaced by dread. For no one knows better than they that, once up to snuff and on their own, the new Iraqi forces will be less inhibited than the Americans by moral considerations and accordingly much more ruthless in the way they fight.
Tom Paine grew so disgusted with "the mean principles that are held by the Tories," with the hypocrisy of the disguised Tories, and with the shrinking from hardship of the summer soldiers and the sunshine patriots of 1776-77 that he finally gave up trying to persuade them:
I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world to either their folly or their baseness.
And so, "quitting this class of men . . . who see not the full extent of the evil that threatens them," Paine turned "to those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out," and rested his hopes on them.
These hopes, we know and thank God for it, were not disappointed. And neither will be the hopes of those today who likewise see "the full extent of the evil that threatens" us; who understand the necessity of the war that our country has been waging against it; who recognize the moral, political, and intellectual boldness of how George W. Bush has chosen to fight this war; and who take pride in the nobility of what the United States, at whose birth Tom Paine assisted, is now, more than 200 years later, battling to achieve in Iraq and, in the fullness of time, in the entire region of which Iraq is so crucial a part.
Mr. Podhoretz is editor-at-large of Commentary and author of 10 books, most recently "The Norman Podhoretz Reader," edited by Thomas L. Jeffers (Free Press, 2004). This article will appear in Commentary's January issue.
Reply #192 on:
December 14, 2005, 12:34:52 PM »
CHALLENGE BUSH 'VICTORY' STRATEGY
Thursday, December 01, 2005 - FreeMarketNews.com
The Democrats are not happy with the Bush Administration "exit strategy" called the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. The Libertarian party isn't either. In a press release, the Libertarian Party, called the president's document "a weak attempt to counter the growing criticism of the administration's handling of the Iraq occupation, and increasing discontent with the country's overall foreign policy objectives.
"Instead of providing a detailed, honest plan for removing American soldiers from harm's way in Iraq, the 35-page document outlines a set of vague goals that appear to be nothing more than exhausted, political rhetoric. Although the paper is filled with subheadings containing glittering generalities such as 'Victory in Iraq is a Vital U.S. Interest,' and 'Failure is Not an Option,' it fails to answer essential questions about the methodology and timeframe for troop withdrawal."
The party notes that the "Victory' Strategy" merely bolsters the claims that Bush's Iraq policy is "working," in spite of the evidence that after almost three years, "the facts show that only one Iraqi battalion exists" with the capacity for independent operation. Michael Dixon, Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, calls it "an irrefutably weak attempt by the Bush Administration to satisfy domestic political pressures while evading the issue of exiting Iraq."
While President Bush avoids the "flagrant failures" of invading and remaining in Iraq, he noted, "American military personnel continue to be wounded and killed on a daily basis. To date, the Libertarian Party remains the only political group that has devised a sensible plan for American withdrawal from Iraq."
To learn more about the Libertarian Party's Iraq Exit Strategy, visit
Reply #193 on:
December 14, 2005, 12:44:38 PM »
I've run 3x for US Congress for the Libertarian Party (1984, 1988, 1992) but I part ways with the majority of the party on this one.
PS: My campaign slogan in 1992 was "If you continue to vote for the lesser of two evils, you will continue to get the evil of two lessers."
Of Boils and Budding Liberty
Reply #194 on:
December 16, 2005, 10:30:56 AM »
December 16, 2005, 7:10 a.m.
Lancing the Boil
We quietly keep on killing terrorists, promoting elections in Iraq, pressuring Arab autocracies to democratize, and growing the economy.
Victor Davis Hanson
For some time, a large number of Americans have lived in an alternate universe where everything is supposedly going to hell. If you get up in the morning to read the New York Times or Washington Post, watch John Murtha or Howard Dean on the morning talk shows, listen to National Public Radio at noon, and go to bed reading Newsweek it surely seems that the administration is incommunicado (cf. ?the bubble?), the war is lost (?unwinnable?), the Great Depression is back (?jobless recovery?), and America about as popular as Nazi Germany abroad (?alone and isolated?).
But in the real adult world, the economy is red-hot, not mired in joblessness or relegating millions to poverty. Unemployment is low, so are interest rates. Growth is high, as is consumer spending and confidence. Our Katrina was hardly as lethal as the Tsunami or Pakistani earthquake. Thousands of Arabs are not rioting in Dearborn. American elderly don?t roast and die in the thousands in their apartments as was true in France. Nor do American cities, like some in China, lose their entire water supply to a toxic spill. Americans did not just vote to reject their own Constitution as in some European countries.
The military isn?t broken. Unlike after Vietnam when the Russians, Iranians, Cambodians, and Nicaraguans all soon tried to press their luck at our expense, most of our adversaries don?t believe the U.S. military is losing in Iraq, much less that it is wise now to take it on. Instead, the general impression is that our veteran and battle-hardened forces are even more lethal than was true of the 1990s ? and engaging successfully in an almost impossible war.
Nor are we creating new hordes of terrorists in Iraq ? as if a young male Middle Eastern fundamentalist first hates the United States only on news that it is in Iraq crafting a new Marshall Plan of $87 billion and offering a long-oppressed people democracy after taking out Saddam Hussein. Even al Jazeera cannot turn truth into untruth forever.
Instead, the apprentice jihadist is trying to win his certification as master terrorist by trying his luck against the U.S. Marines abroad rather than on another World Trade Center at home ? and failing quite unlike September 11.
Like it or not, wars are usually won or lost when one side feels its losses are too high to continue. We have suffered terribly in losing 2,100 dead in Iraq; a vastly smaller enemy in contrast may have experienced tens of thousands of terrorists killed, and is finding its safe havens and money drying up. Panic about Iraq abounds in both the American media and the periodic fatwas of Dr. Zawahiri ? but not in the U. S. government or armed forces.
The world does not hate the United States. Of course, it envies us. Precisely because it is privately impressed by our unparalleled success, it judges America by a utopian measure in which anything less than perfection is written off as failure. We risk everything, our critics abroad almost nothing. So the hope for our failures naturally gives reinforcement to the bleak reality of their inaction.
The Europeans expect our protection. The Mexicans risk their lives to get here. Indians and Japanese want closer relations. The old commonwealth appreciates our strength in defense of the West. Even the hostile Iranians, North Koreans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Chinese, and radical Islamists ? despite the saber-rattling rhetoric ? wonder whether we are na?ve and idealistic rather than cruel and calculating. All this we rarely consider when we read of anti-Americanism in our major newspapers or hear another angry (and usually well-off) professor or journalist recite our sins.
Al Zarqawi is in a classical paradox: He can?t defeat the American or Iraqi security forces or stop the elections. So he must dream up ever more macabre violence to gain notoriety ? from beheading Americans on the television to mass murdering Shiites to blowing up third-party Jordanians. But such lashing out only further weakens his cause and makes the efforts of his enemies on the battlefield easier, as his Sunni base starts to see that this psychopath really can take his supporters all down with him.
The Palestine problem is not even worse off after Iraq. Actually, it is far better with the isolated and disgraced Arafat gone, the fence slowly inching ahead, the worst radical Islamic terrorists on the West Bank in paradise, Israel out of Gaza, and the world gradually accepting its diplomatic presence. The real hopeless mess was 1992-2000 when a well-meaning Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, and Dennis Ross still deluded themselves that a criminal gang leader like Yasser Arafat was a legitimate head of state or that you could start to end an endless war by giving his thugs thousands of M-16s.
The European way is not the answer, as we see from the farcical negotiations over Iran?s time bomb. Struggling with a small military, unsustainable entitlement promises, little real economic growth, high unemployment, falling birth rates, angry unassimilated minorities, and a suicidal policy of estrangement from its benefactor the United States, Europeans show already an 11th-hour change of heart as we see in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and soon in France.
Europe?s policy about Iran?s nuclear program can best be summed up as ?Hurry up, sane and Western Israel, and take out this awful thing ? so we can damn you Zionist aggressors for doing so in our morning papers.?
The administration did not prove nearly as inept in the Iraqi reconstruction as the rhetoric of its opposition was empty. The government?s chief lapse was not claiming the moral high ground for a necessary war against a fascist mass murderer ? an inexplicable silence now largely addressed by George Bush?s new muscular public defense of the war. In contrast, we can sadly recall all the alternative advice of past critics across the spectrum: invade Iraq in 1998, but get out right now; trisect Iraq; attack Syria or Iran; retreat to the Shiite south; put in hundreds of thousands of more troops; or delay the elections.
Donald Rumsfeld?s supposed gaffe of evoking ?Old Europe? is trumped tenfold and almost daily by slurs that depict Abu Ghraib as worse than Saddam, Guantanamo as the work of Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot, Bush as the world?s greatest terrorist, the effort to democratize Iraq as unwinnable, and American troops terrorizing Iraqi women and children.
Most Americans may grumble after reading the latest demonization in the press of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, but they are hardly ready to turn over a complex Middle East to something like a President John Kerry, Vice President Barbara Boxer, Secretary of State Howard Dean, National Security Advisor Nancy Pelosi, and Secretary of Defense John Murtha ? with a kitchen cabinet of Jimmy Carter and Sandy Berger.
So at year?s end, what then is happening at home and abroad?
For the last three years we have seen a carbuncle swell as the old Vietnam War opposition rematerialized, with Michael Moore, the Hollywood elite, and Cindy Sheehan scaring the daylights out of the Democratic establishment that either pandered to or triangulated around their crazy rhetoric. The size of the Islamicist/Baathist insurrection caught the United States for a time off guard, as was true also of the sudden vehement slurs from our erstwhile allies in Europe, Canada, and Asia. Few anticipated that the turmoil in Iraq would force the Syrians out of Lebanon, the Libyans to give up their WMDs, and the Egyptians to hold elections ? and that all the killing, acrimony, and furor over these developments would begin to engulf the Middle East and threaten the old order.
In the face of that growing ulcer of discontent, we quietly kept on killing terrorists, promoting elections in Iraq, pressuring Arab autocracies to democratize, and growing the economy. All that is finally lancing the boil, here and abroad ? and what was in there all along is now slowly oozing out, making the cure seem almost as gross as the malady.
? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
Reply #195 on:
December 16, 2005, 05:22:03 PM »
Is it Harder to Kill Terrorists or Get a Job?
Dec 16, 2005
by Todd Manzi
The position of Democrats seems to be that it is easier to hunt down and kill terrorists than it is to make a living flipping burgers. Democrats are telling us we should withdraw from Iraq, so that the Iraqis will have an incentive to stand up and fight for themselves. When it comes to the War on Poverty, however, Democrats want the federal government to continue assisting the needy indefinitely.
Which is easier, learning how to fight terrorists in Iraq or finding a way to make a living in the United States? Our steady stream of immigrants would indicate the latter, but the rhetoric of Democrats points to the former.
Perhaps it?s time to help the Democrats understand the challenge we face regarding the security of Iraq. Using a football analogy might be helpful.
Let?s say the U.S. military is like the best NFL team to ever take the field. The terrorists might be like the worst junior college team. The Iraqis who are joining the military are men who have never played football. If you just toss them the ball and tell them to go play football, they will get slaughtered. Literally.
Individually, the Iraqis need to be trained how to fight. Then they need to be trained how to fight as a team. Then they need leadership to direct them so they can properly execute big picture strategies. But that?s not enough. The trainers have to be trained so that Iraq can have a self-sufficient military.
If all the best minds in the NFL were brought together, how long would it take them to teach others how to train, field and coach a team that could compete against an already functioning junior college team?
Of course, it?s silly to compare war to football. Lives are on the line in Iraq and this is not a game. But it does serve as a reminder that our mission in Iraq is to stand by the brave men who are coming forward and putting their lives on the line to defend their country. The U.S. military provides the stability that gives Iraqi men the confidence needed to commit to the cause.
Democrats are doing their best to undermine that confidence.
They are sending the message to Iraqi men that they may lose the safety provided by our soldiers. Those who advocate immediate withdrawal are making the enormously difficult job in Iraq much harder than it already is.
Here at home, Democrats send an entirely different message to welfare recipients. The message to this group is that the federal government will stand beside them indefinitely.
For these people, Democrats want to provide unlimited support, programs and financial aid. We have a bloated bureaucracy tasked with providing unending handouts.
It is time to admit the war on poverty is a quagmire and the federal government should withdraw. The Constitution never authorized us to enter this war in the first place. Let?s send a strong message to the individual states: we are going to cut and run from the war on poverty. There is no need to point fingers about who lied us into this war. We don?t have to highlight the numerous mistakes that were made. Nor do we have to identify who benefited themselves by getting elected to office under the cover of fighting poverty. All we need to do is assess the situation and act accordingly.
Does anyone want to defend the progress or accomplishments we have made with our efforts fighting the war on poverty? Anyone?
To be fair to Democrats, let?s accurately assess the situation in Iraq and act accordingly. Four years and three months ago, the United States was attacked, and the global War on Terror began. President Bush did not bow to the pressure he was under to initiate a quick response. He acted thoughtfully, patiently and unbelievably competently.
Our first attack in the War on Terror was to cut off much of their financing. Then we took control of Afghanistan. Next, we debated whether President Bush had the authority to invade Iraq. The president asked Congress to provide the authority and they did. Then we debated whether we should go to war in Iraq or not. President Bush even took the time to go back to the U.N. to get another resolution supporting the invasion of Iraq. After all that, we still waited and gave the dictator one last chance to avoid war. That was the first year and a half of our War on Terror.
Next, we defeated the Iraqi army and took control of the country. We hunted down the tyrant and pulled him from his rat hole. We handed over sovereignty of the country to the Iraqi people. We provided stability as they had elections and ratified a constitution. Now, we are training Iraqis in how to train themselves to do the job of keeping their own country safe from future terrorist threats.
We have accomplished a lot in a short period. The War on Terror has been much more successful than the war on poverty, but both of these wars should end as soon as possible. How about if we compromise with the Democrats? As we draw down our troop levels in Iraq, we will also reduce the size of our federal welfare bureaucracy. On the day we are completely out of Iraq, we will also completely eliminate all federal welfare.
Democrats have proposed the theory that a group of people will not become independent and self-sufficient if they can rely on support from the U.S. government. We should test that theory here at home to see if Democrats might be right.
Of Ouija and Iran
Reply #196 on:
December 19, 2005, 02:49:53 PM »
I always enjoy these tounge in cheek ouija board channelings of reknowned spook James Angleton, but I never know what to make of them.
December 19, 2005, 8:33 a.m.
The Truth About Tenet
James Jesus Angleton explains it all.
"Oh, come on! You expect me to believe that?"
I was recently back at the ouija board with my old friend, the late James Jesus Angleton, once upon a time the head of CIA Counterintelligence. I had wanted to talk to him about the latest warnings from the interminable 9/11 Commission, a.k.a. The Monologue That Will Not Die, that we hadn't done enough with homeland security. I knew his view of the commission was much like mine ? namely that these guys need a day job. Or maybe a Caribbean cruise. Or maybe a proper spanking. But he didn't want any of it, he was all worked up over Iran, and he had a wild theory about what was going on.
JJA: "Be logical for once, don't always assume that the CIA is totally incompetent. You only hear about the bad things, the screw-ups, the accidents. No one's going to tell you about the brilliant operations."
ML: "All right, everybody knows that. But to suggest that somehow the CIA maneuvered the Iranian elections, and got Ahmadi Nezhad into the presidency, that's just wacky."
JJA: "Has anyone ever doubted CIA's ability to manipulate the Iranian populace? How did the shah get to power in the first place?"
ML: "Yeah, but only the craziest Iranians think that CIA has accomplished anything there since the 1950s."
JJA: "Good news. But some day this generation's Archie Roosevelt will tell the inside story of how the CIA managed to recruit this guy from central casting, the perfect person to get the West to take the Iranian threat seriously, the perfect person to terrify undecided Iranians and get them ready to take desperate measures, into office."
ML: "Is there any evidence at all?"
JJA: "You bet there is. There's Tenet."
ML: "Tenet's gone, fired."
JJA: "The hell you say. He left surrounded by glory and adulation. He got the damn medal, didn't he? You think the president didn't know what he was doing?"
ML: "What was he doing? I thought it was a disgrace."
JJA: "He was giving the award in advance, because he knew he wouldn't be able to praise Tenet afterwards, if the operation worked."
ML: "So you think that Tenet..."
JJA: "Tenet pretended to leave. He had to. He and the president realized that the only way to generate public support for a vigorous campaign of regime change in Iran, was if everyone was totally frightened. But the mullahs were too smart to let that happen, they had all these sly reformers who pretended to be somehow ready to make a nice deal with us. You know, Rafsanjani, Khatami, all those smooth talkers with their clever slogans tailor made for Western intellectuals, "dialogue of civilizations," etc. etc..."
ML: "And so, you're saying, CIA spotted Ahmadi Nezhad, recruited him, and..."
JJA: "And ran him. And bought off enough mullahs to get him named president."
ML: "And now?"
JJA: "And now they're running him. That is, Tenet's running him. That's what Tenet is doing. Forget all that nonsense about writing a book. He'll never write a book. He's too busy sabotaging Iran."
ML: "Let me try to follow this, please. Are you also saying that those guys that left when Goss came in are part of the scheme?"
JJA: "Well, obviously. I mean, a new guy comes in and the top two officers from the Operations Directorate just pack up and leave? Give me a break. It was all coordinated, all staged, the usual disinformation for a gullible public. And they went for it, didn't they?"
ML: "Yes, it all made perfect sense. It was time to clean house and so Goss was brought in to do the dirty work."
JJA: "Hahahahaha, you went for it too. Hahaha. The two most important guys in the building had their feelings hurt by that nasty old congressman, and they just couldn't bear it, and they left. Let's see, how many directors had they survived already? Four? Five? Six? I can't count them all. But this one was just too much. And where did they go to work, did anyone notice that?"
ML: "Yeah, they went to work for Scowcroft."
JJA: "Exactly, the buddy of George H. W. Bush, the former director of what?"
ML: "You're turning into a conspiracy-theory nutcase."
JJA: "What do you mean, turning into? What do you think counterintelligence is, anyway?"
I couldn't stand it anymore. You're of course free to believe whatever you want, I think it's ridiculous. Even if it does somehow explain everything.
? Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute
Mid-East Political Overview
Reply #197 on:
December 22, 2005, 04:02:49 PM »
VDH pegs another series of dynamics.
December 22, 2005, 8:23 a.m.
Why Not Support Democracy?
Our orphan policy in the Middle East.
Victor Davis Hanson
Why still no big-font, front-page headlines screaming, ?Millions Vote in Historic Middle East Election!? or ?Democracy Comes At Last To Iraq? or ?America?s Push for Iraqi Democracy Working??
Besides the politics of gloom ? Bush at home and America abroad are always wrong ? and the weariness with the violence, there has sadly been too small a constituency for trusting that Arabs should run their own affairs through consensual government.
Remember the ingredients of the good old American foreign policy in the Middle East ? the one that operated before the bad-new days of neoconservatism?
One, oil thirst increasingly became the overriding consideration, even in areas like Palestine, Lebanon, or Egypt, where there was very little petroleum, but enough instability to affect the larger allegiance of Islamic oil-exporting nations. Earlier rivalry among Western nations had morphed into collective fear of the ever-growing Chinese-energy appetite ? always colored by the specter of past oil boycotts, shooting at tankers in the Gulf, and perennial terrorist threats against the oilfields. So if a nation pumped oil, then its government avoided scrutiny.
Two, anti-Communism was another stimulus, specifically the effort to keep the Soviet Union and its satellites from controlling the Persian Gulf, or using their Baathist surrogates to promote petrol-fed anti-Western terrorism. Much of the mess of the Middle East today derives from a Soviet-style, unworkable, amoral state apparatus imposed upon a traditional tribal society at various times in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen ? and our own desperation to support any unsavory autocrat who would stop such Communists. So if a strongman fought Communists, he was O.K. with us.
Three, after the Six-Day War of 1967, we alone supported Israel to ensure that it was not surrounded and eliminated by neighboring Arab autocracies ? none of whom had ever held a free election. So if a regime tried to destroy Israel?what else would you expect?
Four, billions of freely circulating petrodollars created creepy ties between Western defense contractors, universities, lobbyists, and think tanks, and illiberal regimes of the Gulf. For every crass Western merchant who insisted on selling advanced weaponry to Arab dictatorships, there was always a subsidized Middle East scholar who could on spec damn American foreign policy and/or excuse Middle East illiberalism. So if a petrocracy spread some cash, it got a pass from the United States.
Five, popular opinion on the Right was swayed by traditional isolationism ? none of those crazy people are worth a single American dollar or life ? and Cold War realism: we deal with the awful world as it is and let the gods worry about others? morality. So if all of ?em stayed over there, that?s all you need to know.
Six, the Left?s multiculturalism was more cynical. Its chief tenet was that no system could be any worse than the West?s. Thus we had no business in applying our moral ?constructs? to judge indigenous cultures by criticizing such things as polygamy, gender apartheid, dictatorship, anti-Semitism, or religious intolerance. Arab intellectuals often praised the American Left, but the latter was every bit as intertwined in the old pathological status quo as the most cynical realist. So who is to say that they are brutalizing their own, when we do the same over here?
Most of the time, the American public was oblivious to all this, as long as there were no gas lines and the annual Middle East harvest of American diplomats and soldiers was kept to a minimum. This complacency ended, however, when the Middle East mess that began in November 1979 with the Iranian storming of the American embassy culminated in the attacks of September 11.
Given the past history and current politics in the region, it is no wonder that near-hysterics accompanied America?s radical alternative post-9/11 strategy of attempting to prompt democratic reform ? by force in the case of the worst fascistic states like Afghanistan and Iraq, by isolation and ostracism in the case of Syria and Iran, and through often-embarrassing persuasion in the case of the Gulf states, North Africa, and Egypt.
Oilmen feared their infrastructure would be blown up in war or fall into the hands of Islamists if the sheiks fell.
Lobbyists and businessmen could not see why their short-term profits with autocrats were not merely good for the American economy, but could be made to promote the national interest of the United States as well.
Any Leftists who were not simply against anything that America was for feebly argued that democratic reform could only come from within and should arise within the parameters of socialism rather than crass American-style capitalism.
Worse still, the emphasis on democracy came from George Bush, an anathema to the Democrats who otherwise should have supported the new idealism. Anything that went wrong in Iraq was seen as spurring a spike in the polls for Democratic candidates as we entered our third national election since 9/11.
In perhaps the stupidest move in American political history, the mainstream Democratic party got suckered into buying Howard Dean?s shady investments in American failure ? and so turned its back on the Iraqi democratic experiment hours before millions went to the polls in that country?s third and most successful free election.
In short, the promotion of democracy has been an orphan policy, without any parentage of past support or present special interests. It proved to be easily caricatured all at once as na?ve by the right and imperialistic on the left. Thus on the war The American Conservative is now almost indistinguishable from the Nation.
Only by understanding this labyrinth of competing interests can we see why the most successful election in Middle East history, birthed by the United States, gained almost no immediate thanks or praise, here or abroad.
Yet think of the dividends that are already accruing from this most hated of policies. Voting, along with constitutional rule, a reformed economy, and American military protection of its infancy, alone are undermining both the appeal of the Islamic fascists and precluding a reactionary counter-response by the usual dictators who promise a restoration of order. If the domino trends in Eastern Europe and Latin America are any indication, Iraqi democracy will prove more destabilizing to theocratic Iran than the latter is to the new Iraq. Indeed, the only alternative choice besides the bad one of taking out the Iranian nuclear complex and the worse one of letting it mature to Armageddon, is hoping that democratic fervor spreads across the border from Iraq.
The sight of purple fingers may eventually silence the Europeans abroad and the Left at home. And constitutional governments ? even if they voice anti-Americanism as they do in Turkey, or bother our liberal sensibilities as they do in Afghanistan ? will be far less likely to attack each other and draw us back in. More importantly, the consistent support for constitutional government relieves us of much of the constant subterfuge and stealthy machinations of supporting this clique or that dictator. Instead, democracy is a transparent policy that reflects American values.
Truly elected leaders of the Middle East will do more to further the interest and security of the United States, and put an end to the al Qaedists, Assads, and Saddams, than all the Saudi Royals, Mubaraks, and assorted kings, generals, and dictators put together.
We don?t need Peoria or even a struggling Eastern European democracy, just the foundations for something that can allow Muslims to follow the lead of those who participate in government in India, Malaysia, or Turkey and accept the rule of law ? and don?t strap on bombs to kill Americans with either government help or hurrahs from a disenfranchised mob. And we see results already right before our eyes. After all, there are really only two countries in the Middle East where thousands fight each day against Islamic terrorists who threaten their newly-won freedom ? the legitimate governments in Kabul and Baghdad.
So here we have this most amazing paradox of pushing democracy: a policy that is distrusted by almost every entrenched special interest and at odds with every ?ism ? and yet one that alone can erode Islamic fascism and make the United States more secure. Odder still, the Democratic party at home is the least enthusiastic about the democratic parties in Iraq.
Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War
Victims of Victory
Reply #198 on:
December 30, 2005, 10:32:07 PM »
December 29, 2005, 8:21 a.m.
The Plague of Success
The paradox of ever-increasing expectations.
Victor Davis Hanson
After September 11 national-security-minded Democratic politicians fell over each other, voting for all sorts of tough measures. They passed the Patriot Act, approved the war in Afghanistan, voted to authorize the removal of Saddam Hussein, and nodded when they were briefed about Guantanamo or wiretap intercepts of suspect phone calls to and from the Middle East.
After the anthrax scare, the arrests of dozens of terrorist cells, and a flurry of al Qaeda fatwas, most Americans thought another attack was imminent ? and wanted their politicians to think the same. Today's sourpuss, Senator Harry Reid, once was smiling at a photo-op at the signing of the Patriot Act to record to his constituents that he was darn serious about terrorism. So we have forgotten that most of us after 9/11 would never have imagined that the United States would remain untouched for over four years after that awful cloud of ash settled over the crater at the World Trade Center.
Now the horror of 9/11 and the sight of the doomed diving into the street fade. Gone mostly are the flags on the cars, and the orange and red alerts. The Democrats and the Left, in their amnesia, and as beneficiaries of the very policies they suddenly abhor, now mention al Qaeda very little and Islamic fascism hardly at all.
Apparently due to the success of George Bush at keeping the United States secure, he, not Osama bin Laden, can now more often be the target of a relieved Left ? deserving of assassination in an Alfred Knopf novel, an overseer of Nazi policies according to a U.S. senator, a buffoon, and rogue in the award-winning film of Michael Moore. Yes, because we did so well against the real enemies, we soon had the leisure to invent new imaginary ones in Bush/Cheney, Halliburton, the Patriot Act, John Ashcroft, and Scooter Libby.
Afghanistan in October, 2001, conjured up almost immediately warnings of quagmire, expanding Holy War at Ramadan, unreliable allies, a trigger-happy nuclear Pakistan on the border, American corpses to join British and Russian bones in the high desert ? not a seven-week victory and a subsequent democracy in Kabul of all places.
Nothing in our era would have seemed more unlikely than democrats dethroning the Taliban and al Qaeda ? hitherto missile-proof in their much ballyhooed cave complexes that maps in Newsweek assured us rivaled Norad's subterranean fortress. The prior, now-sanctified Clinton doctrine of standoff bombing ensured that there would be no American fatalities and almost nothing ever accomplished ? the perfect strategy for the focus-group/straw-poll era of the 1990s.
Are we then basking in the unbelievable notion that the most diabolical government of the late 20th century is gone from Afghanistan, and in its place are schools, roads, and voting machines? Hardly, since the bar has been astronomically raised since Tora Bora. After all, the Afghan parliament is still squabbling and a long way from the city councils of Cambridge, La Jolla, or Nantucket ? or maybe not.
The same paradox of success is true of Iraq. Before we went in, analysts and opponents forecasted burning oil wells, millions of refugees streaming into Jordan and the Gulf kingdoms, with thousands of Americans killed just taking Baghdad alone. Middle Eastern potentates warned us of chemical rockets that would shower our troops in Kuwait. On the eve of the war, had anyone predicted that Saddam would be toppled in three weeks, and two-and-a-half-years later, 11 million Iraqis would turn out to vote in their third election ? at a cost of some 2100 war dead ? he would have been dismissed as unhinged.
But that is exactly what has happened. And the reaction? Democratic firebrands are now talking of impeachment.
What explains this paradox of public disappointment over things that turn out better than anticipated? Why are we like children who damn their parents for not providing yet another new toy when the present one is neither paid for nor yet out of the wrapper?
One cause is the demise of history. The past is either not taught enough, or presented wrongly as a therapeutic exercise to excise our purported sins.
Either way the result is the same: a historically ignorant populace who knows nothing about past American wars and their disappointments ? and has absolutely no frame of reference to make sense of the present other than its own mercurial emotional state in any given news cycle.
Few Americans remember that nearly 750 Americans were killed in a single day in a training exercise for D-Day, or that during the bloody American retreat back from the Yalu River in late 1950 thousands of our frozen dead were sent back stacked in trucks like firewood. Our grandparents in the recent past endured things that would make the present ordeal in Iraq seem almost pedestrian ? and did all that with the result that a free Germany could now release terrorists or prosperous South Korean youth could damn the United States between their video games.
Instead, we of the present think that we have reinvented the rules of war and peace anew. After Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and the three-week war to remove Saddam, we decreed from on high that there simply were to be no fatalities in the American way of war. If there were, someone was to be blamed, censured, or impeached ? right now!
Second, there is a sort of arrogant smugness that has taken hold in the West at large. Read the papers about an average day in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Detroit, or even in smaller places like Fresno. The headlines are mostly the story of mayhem ? murder, rape, arson, and theft. Yet, we think Afghanistan is failing or Iraq hopeless when we watch similar violence on television, as if they do such things and we surely do not. We denigrate the Iraqis' trial of Saddam Hussein ? as if the Milosevic legal circus or our own O.J. trial were models of jurisprudence. Still, who would have thought that poor Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, a mass-murdering half-brother of Saddam Hussein, would complain that Iraqi television delayed lived feeds of his daily outbursts by whimpering, "If the sound is cut off once again, then I don't know about my comrades but I personally won't attend again. This is unjust and undemocratic."
A greater percentage of Iraqis participated in their elections after two years of consensual government than did Americans after nearly 230 years of practice. It is chic now to deprecate the Iraqi security forces, but they are doing a lot more to kill jihadists than the French or Germans who often either wire terrorists money, sell them weapons, or let them go. For what it's worth, I'd prefer to have one Jalal Talabani or Iyad Allawi on our side than ten Jacques Chiracs or Gerhard Schroeders.
Third, our affluent society is at a complete disconnect with hard physical work and appreciation of how tenuous life was for 2,500 years of civilization. Those in our media circus who deliver our truth can't weld, fix a car, shoot a gun, or do much of anything other than run around looking for scoops about how incompetent things are done daily in Iraq under the most trying of circumstances. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that our technologies and wealth give us a pass on the old obstacles of time and space ? as if Iraq 7,000 miles away is no more distant than Washington is from New York. Perhaps soldiers on patrol who go for 20 hours without sleep with 70 pounds on their back are merely like journalists pulling an all-nighter to file a story. Perhaps the next scandal will be the absence of high-definition television in Iraq ? and who plotted to keep flat screens out of Baghdad.
The result of this juvenile boredom with good news and success? Few stop to reflect how different a Pakistan is as a neutral rather than as the embryo of the Taliban, or a Libya without a nuclear-weapons program, or a Lebanon with Syrians in it, or an Iraq without Saddam and Afghanistan without Mullah Omar. That someone ? mostly soldiers in the field and diplomats under the most trying of circumstances ? accomplished all that is either unknown or forgotten as we ready ourselves for the next scandal.
Precisely because we are winning this war and have changed the contour of the Middle East, we expect even more ? and ever more quickly, without cost in lives or treasure. So rather than stopping to praise and commemorate those who gave us our success, we can only rush ahead to destroy those who do not give us even more.
Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War
Measuring Political Bias
Reply #199 on:
January 01, 2006, 11:36:42 PM »
No doubt misfiled here as it's not a rant, but this qualitative approach appears eliminate subjective variables. Think it's interesting to note that Fox News is not as far to the right of center as say CBS News or NY Times is left.
UCLA political science professor Timothy Groseclose, and University of Missouri at Columbia economist Jeffrey Milyo collaborated on a study of bias in the media.
Kopel: New study detects media's liberal tilt
Professors find most media 'significantly to the left of the average U.S. voter'
December 31, 2005
People argue a lot about whether the national mainstream media is politically biased, but such arguments are often impressionistic. Earlier this month, professors Tim Groseclose of UCLA and Jeffrey Milyo of the University of Missouri published the results of an investigation using rigorous quantitative analysis.
In A Measure of Media Bias, the authors start by examining the ratings of members of Congress, according to Americans for Democratic Action (ADA). Founded in 1947 by liberals such as Hubert Humphrey and Arthur Schlesinger, the ADA is an excellent gauge of mainstream liberal opinion. The average ADA rating for a member of Congress is 50.1, so a person with a 50 percent ADA rating is almost exactly in the middle of the current American political spectrum.
Groseclose and Milyo looked at how often members of Congress cited the 200 leading think tanks and interest groups in their speeches in Congress. Congresspersons with a lower ADA rating were more likely to cite groups such as the Heritage Foundation, the Christian Coalition, and the National Taxpayers Union. Congresspersons with a higher ADA rating were more likely to cite groups such as the Economic Policy Institute and the Children's Defense Fund.
For example, the average ADA score of a congressperson who cites the American Conservative Union is 16 percent. The average ADA score of a congressperson who cites the National Organization for Women is 79 percent.
Notably, the Groseclose and Milyo study did not require anyone to put a label on a think tank - such as whether the Brookings Institution is liberal, moderate, or conservative. (Its congressional citers have a 53 percent average ADA score.) Rather, the study simply observes which groups are cited by which members of Congress.
Next, the researchers and their assistants counted citations to these same groups in the media, and calculated an ADA rating for each media outlet based on the citations. So if a newspaper cited a mix of groups very similar to groups cited by Sen. John Kerry, the newspaper would have the same ADA rating as Kerry: 88 percent.
Two major media outlets were to the right of the American political midpoint: The Washington Times, at 35 percent, and Fox (the nightly news with Brit Hume) at 40 percent.
Three outlets were slightly left, but still close to the center: The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN NewsNight with Aaron Brown, and ABC's Good Morning America - all at 56 percent.
The majority of the media clustered in the 60 to 69 range - significantly to the left of the average U.S. voter. These outlets were (in order of increasing leftishness) ABC's World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, USA Today, the Today show, Time, U.S. News & World Report, NPR Morning Edition, Newsweek, CBS Early Show, and The Washington Post. Every one of these outlets was further from the American political midpoint than was Fox News.
At the far left of the major media spectrum were the Los Angeles Times (70), CBS Evening News (74), The New York Times (74), and The Wall Street Journal (85). The ratings were based only on news stories, so the left-leaning opinion pages at the Los Angeles Times and right-leaning opinion pages at The Wall Street Journal had no effect.
The authors conclude: "Our results show a strong liberal bias." Even so, most of the media are much more moderate than Congress itself, where the average Democrat has an 84, and the average Republican a 16.
The study, which builds on previous work by Groseclose and Mil- yo, appears in the November issue of The Quarterly Journal of Economics. It is available online at
You can read various critiques of the study, and its previous iterations, on the Internet. The authors address and refute many of these arguments in their paper.
In any case, no critique undermines the relative rankings of the media outlets - that, for example, The New York Times is much further left than The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, or that the three major newsweekly magazines are nearly identical ideologically.
The study did not cover all the sources from which the Denver dailies draw their national and international stories. But of the sources which were studied, every source which supplies a significant amount of news content to a Denver paper (New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times) has a major leftward bias. The finding suggests that the Denver papers could improve their overall balance by including some stories from The Washington Times or from other sources without such a pronounced leftward tilt.
By the way, my left-leaning counterpart on this column, Jason Salzman, and I calculated our ADA scores based on 2003-2004 Senate votes. I scored a 16 percent, while Jason got a 91. We agree, however, that there are objective standards by which media bias can be judged. That's one reason we often agree with the critiques that the other raises in our columns.
Dave Kopel is research director at the Independence Institute, an attorney and author of 10 books. He can be reached at
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