It would be a mistake for exasperated Americans on the Right to write off Europe entirely and just give up on it in frustration. Doing so would concede too much ground to the anti-American left and would abandon many natural allies:
Encouragingly, there are still Europeans who are pro-American and not afraid to declare their colors as such. "There are not two Wests," affirmed Mr. Adornato, a sentiment echoed by many participants. "There is only one Western culture to which the United States and Europe both belong." Participants included ministers from the conservative governments of Italy and Spain, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Disarmament John Bolton, members of Britain's Conservative Party and representatives from Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, France and Germany.
Tom Holsinger, looking at what Walter Russell Mead famously labelled the Jacksonian faction of foreign policy in the US, sees the overthrow of threatening terrorist-supporting regimes as a way to avoid an even greater fury against their populations.
The greatest danger is that further major terrorist attacks in America might cause its people to erupt in Jacksonian fury, as opposed to repeated minor attacks which would result only in expulsion of all non-citizen Muslims. Genocide would require identifiable targets, though, so prior elimination of regimes giving terrorists geographic sanctuaries would do much to avoid the possibility.
Mark Steyn says the US should stop being so obsequious toward the Saudis. He points out just how absurd the relationship has gotten.
This privileged access to America begins with Prince Bandar. The humdrum rank of ‘ambassador’ hardly begins to cover the special status the prince enjoys in Washington. For one thing, the title implies a posting, and Bandar isn’t going anywhere: he’s the longest-serving ambassador in town; he’s held the job for two decades and he’s still only in his early fifties; he has more homes in America than most Americans do; he’s seen Reagan, Bush Sr and Clinton come and go, and he’s figuring on seeing the back of George W. too. By comparison, American ambassadors in Riyadh are passing fancies. At the specific request of the Saudi government, no Arabic speakers are appointed to the post, a unique self-handicap by the US. Their chaps in the Kingdom spend a couple of years out there getting everything explained to them by the royal inner circle, and then they come home and serve out their day’s shilling for the House of Saud on Middle Eastern think-tanks lavishly subsidised by Riyadh. That’s the way Bandar likes it. ‘If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office,’ he once said, ‘you’d be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office.’ Just so. The columnist Matt Welch observed a while back that, if you close your eyes, America’s ex-ambassadors sound like they’re Saudis. Effectively, there’s no US ambassador to Saudi Arabia but a whole platoon of Saudi ambassadors to the US — Prince Bandar and full supporting chorus.
Does the Bush Administration realize that it needs to get much tougher in how it treats the Saudi regime? I think we won't really know the answer to that question until the US military has defeated Saddam's regime and taken over Iraq. At that point the argument that the US needs Saudi help (or at least acquiescence - and I think this argument is correct btw) is suddenly going to be a lot harder to make.
What is motivating the thinking of the State Department people who continue to support a status quo special status for Saudi Arabia? Do they think that any pressure on the Saudi regime would result in its downfall and replacement by something that is worse? Are they in denial about the extent to which the Saudi regime lets its people support Al Qaeda? Do they not see the big problems that are being caused by Saudi funding of the spread of Wahhabi Islam around the world?
The popularity contest war could easily have gone the other way. Dianism could have become ascendant and assumed total control of the hearts and minds of the British. It was a closely run battle but once again Churchill saved Britain from an embarrassing defeat at the hands of sentimental idiots. Frank Johnson on the BBC popularity contest for greatest Briton:
But Churchill saw us through. Somehow he made the British believe that they could defeat this woman. Probably, what told against her in the end was Britons’ fear that, if she won, Blair — voice quivering once more — might read a lesson again in Westminster Abbey. The British would not tolerate such a thing twice in a generation.
Matthew Leeming travels to Afghanistan with a collection of newspaper clips of articles written by assorted British lefties such as George Monbiot, John Pilger and Terry Cook and compares what they said to the facts:
I read this article out to a class I took at Kabul University. I thought that they would find it quite funny, but halfway through I realised it wasn’t getting any laughs. I stopped because the women were angry. The few of them who had received any education during the long night of Taleban rule had done so at secret schools. The mother of one had been beaten with electrical flex because a spy from the ministry for the prevention of vice and propagation of virtue had heard her shoes clicking on the pavement.
‘Who is this man?’ she demanded. I said that he was the Observer’s chief reporter. ‘How can he say such things?’ ‘Because he hates America,’ I said. ‘He also says that all the Taleban did was to make law out of what had always been the case in rural areas.’ There was uproar. Even the men joined in. They thought that this was really impertinent and offensive. ‘He also says,’ I went on, ‘that there is no need to ban television because there aren’t any.’ ‘Who does he think we are. Of course we’ve got television.’ And that’s true. I’ve watched television all over the country, even in a Khirgiz yurt in the High Pamirs.
Reflexive anti-Americanism is a substitute for the much harder job of thinking, research, and learning.
This is a pretty perverse way to assign responsibility. A lady writes a column that enrages militant Muslims. The militant Muslims respond by going on a rampage and killing a couple of hundred people. Are the rioters responsible for the killings? This leading Islamic scholar holds the writer responsible for the actions of the people who felt anger over what she said:
From the Nigerian capital, Abuja, a leading Islamic scholar told The Washington Times a death penalty would be justifiable under Muslim law.
Those who cause death by reckless behavior could be put to death, said Hussein Mohamed.
"Over 200 people have died because of that article," he said. "So why are you concerned about the fate of one lady?"
This argument of course makes the rioters into less than moral agents. If the lady columnist is responsible for provoking their anger and is therefore responsible for the deaths then the rioters are no more than simple mindless automatons who are reacting to a simple stimulus.
An assumption that underlies a free society is the notion that all of its members are moral agents who are responsible for making moral judgements about whether they are justified in carrying out any action they decide to perform. A person with a conscience who is responsible for his actions has to control his own emotional responses and can't blame the writings of someone else for what he does.
Pakistan's ISI is helping the enemy and so the FBI is hiring Pakistanis to form its own ad hoc group of natives to investigate the Taliban in Pakistan. This is making the ISI and the Islamic parties in Pakistan unhappy. This is the sort of thing that could conceivably lead to a crisis in US-Pakistani relations war if, say, the some part of the ISI starts bumping off Spider Group members. Still, the FBI is showing its capable of a gutsy unorthodox response to a difficult situation.
The ISI had deep and long-standing ties to the Taliban and is believed by many to remain beyond the control of the central government in Islamabad.
The Spider Group consists largely of retired officers of Pakistan's army, some of whom had reached the rank of brigadier and colonel, say law-enforcement authorities in Washington and sources in Pakistan familiar with the operation.
Another great Christopher Caldwell article on the politics of Germany and US relations with Germany.
Germans tend to overestimate the part personality plays in America's shifting views. The snubs that followed Mr Schröder's election - including the lack of an official welcome for Mr Struck during a "working visit" to Mr Rumsfeld, and Mr Bush's unwillingness to schedule a bilateral chat with Mr Schröder in Prague - are not just personal. The administration is rightly worried about the potential appeal of Schröder-style anti-Americanism in other European countries. Using a sort of Nato equivalent of the domino theory, Mr Bush means to establish that no such sallies will go unpunished.
So, paradoxically, Mr Schröder has run into trouble by underestimating the appeal of the anti-Americanism he let loose. He now seeks to reassure the US by giving away the diplomatic store. He signed the Nato communiqué promising "effective action" against Iraq should Mr Hussein not comply with UN inspectors. His Yes to the US-favoured Nato response force was lightning fast, even while his pacifist base was attacking it as a plan for an "American foreign legion".
See as well this previous post on Caldwell on German Anti-Americanism as German Nationalism. Christopher Caldwell's writings on Germany are consistently knowledgeable and full of insight.
A French thinktank has released a report arguing that mass immigration will not provide a solution to the French economy from the problem of a shrinking population. The typical immigrant is too unskilled, pays too few taxes, and will likely demand as much or more in social services.
Moreover, the Plan team stress that their survey of immigrants workers in France suggests very strongly that they do not provide the kinds of skills that the French economy will need in the future, and that the relatively low economic performance of immigrants suggests that they are unlikely to be net contributors to the welfare and pension system.
"Working immigrants are concentrated at the bottom of the ladder," the report finds. "They are twice as likely to be unemployed as the national average, and twice as likely to have no vocational qualifications. They are three times more likely to remain in jobs earning the minimum wage, without promotion. Manual and semi-skilled workers account for only 25 percent of the French labor force, but 48.5 percent of all manual workers are immigrants."
Of course, the same thing is happening in the US. Hotels, restaurants, and other low wage service industries get cheap labor but the taxpayers pay for this in taxes for health, education, criminal justice, and other functions of government because low skill immigrants pay so little taxes but demand more services:
The woman, a housekeeper for a major hotel chain, moved a year ago with her husband and their three children to Nebraska, a state with a fast-growing immgrant population. She makes $7.04 an hour, and her husband, a dishwasher at a restaurant, makes $7.25 an hour. Each earns more than the minimum wage, but a recent study of living costs in Nebraska found that in a two-parent family with two children, each parent would need to make at least $10 an hour for the family to be self-sufficient.
Because the couple's three children are American citizens, they receive Medicaid, but the parents are uninsured. They speak limited English, and, because of their residency status, they are barred from or have difficulty gaining access to language and job-training programs.
Allowing the growth of a low skill immigrant population that demands more services, makes low wages, and demands more services from government is a good formula for a higher tax, bigger government socialist future. Currently the state of California faces at least a $21 billion dollar budget deficit and if the economy does not improve that deficit could soar to $30 billion. That would be nearly $1000 per Californian. Given that many poor immigrant Californians do not make much money or pay much taxes and others are children and elderly the cost for working middle class and upper class Californians could run into the thousands per person.
How can immigrants pay for the medical care of old people when the immigrants are low skilled and can't even afford their own medical insurance?
Health care costs are rising at close to 10 percent a year. Drug prices are skyrocketing. Premiums are increasing. The 6.6 million uninsured Californians are using expensive emergency rooms for health care and can't pay the bills.
The Medi-Cal program for medical care for Californians was budgeted at $9.8 billion this year but the total cost is expected to be $10.4 billion and the cost for 2004 is projected to be $11.8 billion. LA County of course has a huge concentration of legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants and it has a huge number of uninsured on top of those who qualify for Medi-Cal:
The county has the highest number of uninsured in the nation -- 2 million people who make too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but without jobs that provide health insurance.
The Public Policy Institute of California revealed that a fifth of California's youngest children, those under 5 years old, are growing up poor. Indeed, the poverty rate for under-5 kids in California is higher than it was two decades ago and higher than what it is now in the rest of the United States. Overall, the PPIC study found, more than 40 percent of California children live in low-income families and the child poverty rate is highest in the rural San Joaquin Valley.
These people can't afford health care and so more affluent taxpayers are footing the bill:
The PPIC study found that nearly half of all children in California have at least one foreign-born parent, three-fourths of them are Latino, and more than half of immigrant parents lack high school diplomas.
"We found that Hispanic children in foreign-born families have the highest poverty levels (36 percent)," said Deborah Reed, one of the PPIC researchers. "California has far more first-generation immigrant families than the rest of the country, and because those families are often poorer, we find greater numbers of needy children."
Amir Taheri examines the intellectual laziness underlying French anti-Americanism.
For some, anti-Americanism plays a useful role in filling the vacuum left by the evaporation of 19th-century ideologies.
Those too lazy to do their homework on any issue could still espouse an opinion simply by looking at what the U.S. says and then saying the opposite.
How many of the people who are bashing the U.S. on the latest fashionable issues such as the Kyoto Protocols, and the International Criminal Court, for example, have really studied either?
The arrangement is simple: Where America is, there I shall not be.
This irrationality comes at a cost: French foreign policy will oppose any necessary move that United States tries to take and France will support regimes that are a threat to the civilized world.
Steven Biddle has written an article for strategypage.com arguing that the experience of US special forces in Afghanistan does not serve as a model for revolutionizing US military doctrine.
The key to success, whether in 1916 or 2002, is to team heavy, well-directed fires with skilled ground maneuver to exploit their effects and overwhelm the surviving enemy. This kind of skilled maneuver, however, is beyond the reach of many potential indigenous allies. In Afghanistan, U.S. proxies with American air support brushed aside unskilled, ill-motivated Afghan Taliban, but against hard-core al Qaeda opposition, outcomes were often in doubt even with the benefit of 21st century U.S. air power and American commandos to direct it. Where we face opponents with the gumption and training to stand and fight, our allies need the same, even with all the modern firepower we can offer them.
This in turn implies that we should neither restructure the military to wage Afghan-style wars more efficiently, nor reflexively commit conventional U.S. ground forces in every conflict. Where we enjoy local allies with the needed skills and motivation, we can expect the Afghan Model to work, and we should use it. But we will not always be so lucky. In Iraq, for example, the lack of a credible, trained opposition bodes ill for an Afghanistan-style campaign without major American ground forces. Deep cuts in ground capability could thus be very risky in spite of our strengths in air power or special operations forces. More broadly, though, we should be wary of suggestions that precision weapons, with or without special operations forces to direct them, have so revolutionized warfare that traditional ground forces are now superceded.
You can download the full 68 page report as a PDF file (requires Acrobat reader or equivalent software for viewing).
I base these findings on a new collection of primary source evidence centered on a series of 46 interviews with key American participants in the conflict,ranging from Special Forces Sergeants to the Major General who commanded CJTF Mountain during Operation ANACONDA,and including subjects from the Special Operations Command,the U.S.Army,the U.S.Air Force, and the Central Intelligence Agency.13 These interviews were complemented with official written documentation on the conduct of the war and direct physical inspection of the Anaconda battlefield in Afghanistan ’s Shah-i-kot valley, together with available secondary source accounts,chiefly from the print news media.This body of evidence cannot be considered complete;a definitive history of the Afghan campaign would require years of research on a much broader range of issues.Rather,my intention here is to focus on one key issue —the new Model ’s role in the Afghan campaign and its implications for the future —and to muster as much evidence as can be produced in the near term,so as to make initial findings available sooner than a definitive history would permit,but with a stronger foundation in the evidence than the debate to date has offered.
Biddle points out that most of the defections from the Taliban side occurred after the tide of battle had shifted against the Taliban. So the argument that the CIA bribed its way to victory (touted in write-ups on Bob Woodward's Bush At War book) is not credible.
As for the use of precision-guided missiles (PGM), their efficacy decreased as the war progressed. Al Qaeda fighters quickly adapted in a matter of weeks and became increasingly better at avoiding detection until attacking ground forces got quite close to them. By the time of the battle for Shah-i-kot Valley they had become very skilled at concealment.
At Operation ANACONDA in March 2002,an intensive pre-battle reconnaissance effort focused every available surveillance and target acquisition system on a tiny, ten-by-ten kilometer battlefield.Yet fewer than 50 percent of all the al Qaeda positions ultimately identified in the course of the fighting on this battlefield were discovered prior to ground contact.In fact,most fire received by U.S. forces in ANACONDA came from initially unseen, unanticipated al Qaeda fighting positions.69 How could such things happen in an era of persistent reconnaissance drones,airborne radars,satellite surveillance,thermal imaging,and hypersensitive electronic eavesdropping equipment?The answer is that the earth ’s surface remains an extremely complex environment with an abundance of natural and manmade cover and concealment available for those militaries capable of exploiting it.
The full PDF article provides a number of fascinating details about the course of a number of battles in Afghanistan. In one case, the battle for Bai Beche, the outcome was the result of an accidental cavalry charge (presumably on horses) of Dostum's forces just as JDAM strikes were in-bound. The cavalry was able to overrun the enemy position without being destroyed by the JDAMs due to an enormous luck of timing.
Biddle has written a great essay. If you are interested in getting a detailed understanding of what happened militarily in Afghanistan and what its ramifications are for the future of warfare his article is well worth the time it takes to read it.
Keep repeating: Islam is a religion of peace. Islam is a religion of peace. Islam is a religion of peace. Also, Islam is compatible with Western style secular liberal democracy replete with freedom of speech.
A Nigerian Muslim state said Tuesday it had issued a "fatwa" urging Muslims to kill the author of a newspaper story on the Miss World (news - web sites) pageant that sparked deadly riots in northern Nigeria.
Iain Murray sees evidence of two incompatible faiths.
In one obscure city, religious clashes killed 2,000 people. That's about the same as died in two years of the Intifada in Israel. Yet there is no Western outrage, no calls for Nigeria to be divided between its two obviously incompatible faiths, and no calls for the UN to pass security council resolutions. If ever there was evidence that the clash of civilizations is about more than just the Palestinian question, here it is. Perhaps the Miss World riots will open a few eyes.
If Christians and Muslims can't live side by side as equals in Nigeria is there is lesson here for the rest of the world?
Update: My view is that there incompatble belief systems in this world. The idea that all religions can co-exist requires that each religion not claim that it has divinely granted authority to control what people say or do on subjects where the behavior of people do not violate the rights of others. But if a religion holds a position that requires submission of non-believers in terms of what they are not allowed to say and do and if the religion requires that non-believers be in an inferior political position vis a vis believers then that religion is not compatible with Western forms of government. Well, Islam is explicitly incompatible with Western forms of government. One can not believe the exact words of the Koran and also accept rule of Western secular free democracies without holding a contradiction in one's mind.
Glenn Reynolds and Vinod are both discussing the latest column by Michael Ledeen on growing internal opposition in Iran to the Mullahs' regime. Glenn wonders why the Bush Administration and the press have so little so say about the domestic opposition to the Iranian regime. I think there are several reasons for this but that the chief reason is very simple: The US government does not want the Iranian regime to actively oppose the presence of a large US naval force in the Persian Gulf.
Think about it. As part of the attack on Iraq Bush is going to be ordering up to 5 or even 7 aircraft carriers up into the Persian Gulf. Iran has a long stretch of coastline and if the Iranian regime became convinced that the US was going to follow up an attack on Iraq with an attack on Iran then the Iranian regime would have a strong motive to make common cause with the Iraqi regime.
So why borrow trouble? The US military and US diplomats have enough on their plates as it is. Saudi Arabia may not allow the US to use Saudi bases and the US is going to be stretched to bring enough air power to bear on Iraq without those bases. At the same time Turkey is skittish and the Gulf emirates do not want to take the risk that the Saudis or the Iranians will try to create problems in the emirates in order to make US uses of them more difficult.
Too many warbloggers make demands on US policy makers (speak out more loudly on the Iranian regime, put the screws to Saudi Arabia, etc) without considering the necessitiies that compel many of the decisions of the Bush Administration. Now, once the US is in firm control of Iraq and once the US has converted Iraqi air bases to use by the USAF many constraints on US action will be lifted. At that point Bush may very well decide it is time to lean on Iran or Syria or Saudi Arabia (even then better one at a time so that they do not seek to ally with each other). In control of a strategic location with lots of military supplies in Iraqi bases controlled by American troops the US will be in a far stronger position from which to make demands. It will have fewer vulnerabilities and more assets whose use does not depend on the acquiesence of other governments. At that point if the US fails to either lean on the Saudis or to put pressure on the Iranian regime then it will be appropriate to complain and to complain loudly.
But let the Bushies deal with Saddam first. There are limits to how how much can prudently be attempted at the same time. The challenge of taking out the Iraqi regime is not trivial. It must be done in a way that A) prevents WMD attacks by Saddam's regime against neighbors, B) minimizes Iraqi civilian casualties, C) minimizes damage to Iraqi infrastructure (both by US weapons and by sabotage by Saddam's regime) and D) minimizes US casualties. Under the circumstances, this is a tall order. The Bushies are right to try to placate the Saudi and Iranian rulers while they try to organize and carry out this attack.
Bush's new ambassador to Mexico says that the Bush Administration still wants to do a big amnesty of illegal immigrants. Its even worse. The current system is already processing lots of illegals into legals in spite of the opposition of the public at large.
In August, the government said 215,000 illegal aliens were granted legal status in fiscal 2001 and an additional 970,000 cases were pending. One in five persons who became legal U.S. residents in fiscal 2001 either entered the country illegally or remained here after the expiration of a temporary visa, the report said.
A recent Zogby poll found that 77 percent of Americans surveyed believe the government is not doing enough to control the border and 56 percent thought efforts by Mr. Bush and Mr. Fox to consider amnesty for as many as 3 million illegal immigrants was a "bad or very bad idea."
It is obvious that Bush is willing to put his naive and futile attempt to attract Hispanic voters to the Republican Party ahead of the wishes of the majority of the public. He's just going to turn the Republican Party into the Pataki Party. Republican candidates will all become Rinos: Republicans In Name Only. What folly.
If you are interested in reading some more interesting articles on immigration and border control then see this post by the Cracker Barrel Philosopher. I especially like the link to the article in Wired on techie ranchers who are putting up their own sensor systems to detect illegals coming across their ranches.
Osama bin Laden is really upset with the United States of America for a long list of reasons. Here's an excerpt where he condemns us for using credit, alcohol, recreational drugs, revealing pictures of women in advertising, and assorted other practices he finds objectionable
(b) It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind:
(i) You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator. You flee from the embarrassing question posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation, grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge of the laws which govern their lives?
(ii) You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on Usury. As a result of this, in all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense; precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned you against.
(iii) You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants. You also permit drugs, and only forbid the trade of them, even though your nation is the largest consumer of them.
(iv) You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object.
Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the official Oval office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that he 'made a mistake', after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?
(v) You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms. The companies practice this as well, resulting in the investments becoming active and the criminals becoming rich.
(vi) You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools calling upon customers to purchase them. You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins. You then rant that you support the liberation of women.
(vii) You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all its forms, directly and indirectly. Giant corporations and establishments are established on this, under the name of art, entertainment, tourism and freedom, and other deceptive names you attribute to it.
I think its good that he's put together such a long list of his objections to the US. This helps to clarify (at least to those who have yet to understand this) the full depth and breadth of the radical Islamist objection to Western Civilization.
This is an audacious document. Bin Laden complains about the US on human rights issues and yet he helped prop up the utterly backward and vicious Taliban regime. This inconsistency is a key to understanding Bin Laden. He doesn't care whether people are arrested and held without trial if the government that does so is Islamic. It doesn't matter to him whether people are killed by their government as long as the government doing the killing is, again, Islamic. Some of his objections stem from who is doing the behavior that he finds objectionable rather than on what is being done. He's a partisan and any action taken by his opponents against his movement is objectionable because the action is against his movement.
Objectivist philosopher David Kelley argues that the Islamists are objecting more to modernity and civilization in general than to Western Civilization specifically:
In all its forms, even on the avant-garde Left, anti-modernism aims to restore pre-Enlightenment values and ways of life. And in all its forms, even on the conservative Right, it is a reaction against the Enlightenment and is thus essentially new. Fundamentalism, for example, is not simply a revival of traditional Christianity, which was much more intellectually sophisticated. Fundamentalism was created in the early twentieth century by Protestants who opposed Darwin.
Islamist movements are of similarly recent origin. They were created not by illiterate Egyptian peasants or nomads in the Arabian desert but by educated people, most of whom were middle- or upper-class. Many of the intellectuals, like Qutb, had lived and studied in the West. Especially after World War II, they were deeply influenced by Western anti-modernists like Martin Heidegger. They read the works of historians like Oswald Spengler who predicted the decline of the West. They read The Wretched of the Earth, by the French Marxist and existentialist Franz Fanon, who urged Third World activists to use revolutionary violence.
Conversely, the postmodern Left has frequently embraced the Islamists. Michel Foucault, the French thinker who attacked Western rationalism as a mask for power, welcomed Khomeini's Islamic revolution in Iran as a triumph of spirituality over capitalist materialism.
I think there is an element of truth in this argument. But even before The Enlightenment Western Civilization already possessed many elements that the Islamists of today would find objectionable. Those elements helped to make The Enlightenment possible in the first place. Also, the Islamists oppose the modernity of the West in part because that modernity makes the West so strong militarily that the West is an obstacle to Islamist ambitions. Simultaneously the West's greater success is a shame and a humiliation to people who believe that following their religion should naturally cause them to be the most successful and most powerful.
David Warren points out that "pre-Enlightenment" Islamic culture does place any value on being fair to those outside of it.
These are, still today, cultures of the "pre-Enlightenment"; people not incapable of sympathy, for their own, but not yet versed in the imaginative projection of that sympathy into people who are not their own. And it is not Islam, but the Enlightenment, that stands between East and West in these matters. For we have largely lost the category of an "infidel", and they still have it.
On this side, the endless effort to understand "where those people are coming from", mostly missing the main point that they "do not think as we do". On that side, no effort at all, and it is taken for granted that we are "infidels" simply, living "beyond the pale", even when there is no desire to harm us. For us, there can be both Israeli and Palestinian victims; for them, only Palestinians feel pain.
This is an important observation. Islam draws a circle around its believers and puts everyone else outside of that circle. There is no attempt to do justice to the people outside of the circle. The only wrongs that are tallied up are the wrongs against Muslims that are done (or imagined to have been done in too many cases) by non-Muslims against Muslims. Even inside of the circle women are placed at a much lower level. We can't reason with people who are governed by this sort of moral calculus. It is foolish to try.
Islamist contempt is a necessary reaction to the West because to find value in the West would require the Islamists to find flaws in their own belief system. There is no room in that belief system for reexamination and amendment. If they hold the West as worthless then it is easier to find justification for the contempt they feel for the non-believers who they already view as outside the circle.
James Q. Wilson, in his essay The Reform Islam Needs, argues the West and Islamic Civilizations made different decisions about the relationship of the individual to religion and society and that each choice brings with it a different set of problems.
Both the West and Islam face major challenges that emerge from their ruling principles. When the West reconciled religion and freedom, it did so by making the individual the focus of society, and the price it has paid has been individualism run rampant, in the form of weak marriages, high rates of crime, and alienated personalities. When Islam kept religion at the expense of freedom, it did so by making the individual subordinate to society, and the price it has paid has been autocratic governments, religious intolerance, and little personal freedom.
I believe that in time Islam will become modern, because without religious freedom, modern government is impossible. I hope that in time the West will reaffirm social contracts, because without them a decent life is impossible. But in the near term, Islam will be on the defensive culturally—which means it will be on the offensive politically. And the West will be on the offensive culturally, which I suspect means it will be on the defensive morally.
Fair enough, each choice creates problems. Western societies certainly have their share of problems and flaws. But its the choice of the believers in Islam that has made Islam incompatible with all the other religions and cultures in the world.
In his Anglosphere column James C. Bennett argues that the desire of the EU leaders to make the European Union more uniform is robbing Europe of needed flexibility and adaptability.
Harmonized EU labor regulations means they will not be all that more attractive for manufacturing than Western Europe, so new job creation will be slow, while the Western Europeans will be free to sell their products on the newly-opened Eastern markets. Meanwhile, asymmetrical agricultural payments will burden Eastern European agriculture vis-a-vis Western European farmers.
The European fetish with uniformity, a trait the Germans share with particular enthusiasm, prevented a flexible and pragmatic approach to the problems of German unification. The coming extension of this fetish to the recovering economies of Eastern Europe cannot be justified by the excuse of political urgency as in the German reunification situation.
I think he puts his finger on the problem. The Brussels Mandarins and the ruling class in Europe seems to think that union requires homogenization even on subjects that do not need to be the same in all members of the EU. The biggest benefits of the EU are lower barriers to trade and labour movement across national borders. But the EU is making rules at the all-Europe level on subjects that should be handled at the national or even lower level. Bennett makes some suggestions (notably offers of a free trade agreement for any country that wants to stay outside of the EU) for what the US can do to do encourage more flexibility in Europe.
Russia's UN position on Iraq was all about money. Now Bush, by making his assurances public, has made it clear to the Russian government that the US will make sure Russia continues to earn money from Iraqi oil fields after Saddam's regime is gone.
Bush took such assurances to a more formal and public level when he told Russia's NTV Television on Thursday that if there is regime change in Baghdad, "we fully realize that Russia has economic interests in Iraq, as do other countries."
"Of course, these interests will be taken into account," he added.
The Bush Administration is even willing to make sure that world oil prices will stay high enough to prevent a Russian economic meltdown.
A high-ranking Russian foreign ministry official involved in negotiations with the United States over the U.N. resolution told an American visitor to Moscow this week that a "gentleman's agreement" had been reached with Washington on Iraq.
He said the deal centered on maintaining a price of oil at around $21 a barrel, the price used by Russian government planners for long-term budget estimates. Oil prices have been hovering around $25 a barrel for much of this year.
As I've stated previously, there is considerable irony in the argument that the US is going to fight Saddam for oil. Many of the opponents of the war against Saddam's regime come to their opposition in large part as a result of their own oil interests and other financial interests in the Iraqi regime and in world oil prices.
Use of third party screeners of Saudi visa applicants is banned by act of Congress and the State Department screeners are going to be replaced by Homeland Security personnel. Even after 9/11 only 3% of Saudi visa applicants have been rejected versus 25% worldwide. The State Department apparently believes that it works for the Saudis.
In the new Homeland Security bill just passed by both houses of Congress, stricter visa controls were enacted for people wishing to gain entry to the United States from one specific country: Saudi Arabia. The only people who lobbied against the policy — taking the Saudi royal family's position — were officials at the State Department.
Just two sentences of a 400-page bill spell out the two new requirements. The policy prohibits "third-party screening programs" — the most famous example of which is Visa Express, which allowed Saudi residents to submit their visa applications to private Saudi travel agents — and every Saudi visa application must be reviewed by an onsite Homeland Security officer before a visa can be issued.
Update: Washington Post writer Colbert King describes a visit by a Saudi delegation with Washington Post editors and writers in which the Saudis saw no inconsistency when they complained about this change in the law while their own country's rules about visitors are enormously more strict.
By tightening visa regulations, one of them said, America is closing off an important avenue by which Saudis can learn about Western values, transmitting same back home. "Shame, shame, you ol' retrogrades," seemed to be the message.
Curiously, nary a visitor uttered one word about Saudi Arabia's "enlightened" visa policy.
What are your chances of visiting Saudi Arabia alone as a tourist? Slim to none. Join an approved tour group, get your itinerary blessed by the government, and then maybe, just maybe, you can enter the kingdom. Does your passport show that you were born in Israel? Prepare to wait until kingdom come.
The Saudis are disgusting. They are funding the spread of ideas that are deeply hostile to the West. They even fund the spread of those ideas in the United States. We owe these people nothing. Their religious belief is that they have every right to force people to believe only their religion. Intolerance for other religions is a core belief in their religion. They do not share our values or our intellectual assumptions about democracy, human rights, or other ideas of The Enlightenment. Our conflict with them runs far deeper than a clash of competing national interests. We clash over incompatible values.
Polly Toynbee visits Afghanistan to see what people think of the overthrow of the Taliban. This is a lengthy article worth reading in full. She finds that all the people she meets are glad the Taliban are out of power.
So was it worth it after all? The daisy-cutters and the cluster bombs, the misguided missiles butchering wedding parties while al-Qaida slipped away? Now, a year after Kabul fell as the Taliban left their hot dinners on the front line and ran, was it worth the killing of anything from 800 to 3,000 men, women and children?
Of course it was, said everyone I asked. They all had their grotesque Taliban tales. "Right there, bodies hanging, rotting, stinking!" said a trader in Chicken Street, the tourist trinket centre. Taliban horror stories poured out of everyone, unstoppable like water from a broken tap: "I was walking with my cousin and her husband outside here," said another man. "The vice and virtue police beat them both with big sticks, beat them to pieces, blood everywhere, because her ankles showed too much under her burka. I stood there, ashamed, but there was nothing I could do. I didn't go out after that." He was a young Pashtun and no friend of this new mainly Tajik government, but he had no doubt that the Americans did the right thing.
She makes the point that the per person international aid in Afghanistan is a fraction of what is being spent in East Timor, Kosovo, and other places. What is most worrisome in my mind is that a greater effort isn't being made to extend the rule of law more rapidly beyond Kabul. The international military force which is maintaining order in a fairly small part of the country should have been made much larger.
Toynbee, Being a liberal-left Guardian writer, couldn't help but make the occasional ridiculous moral equivalence argument:
The west hobbles its women with toe-crushing shoes, Islam with burkas and chadors.
Its like she has to establish her leftie bona fides by throwing in this sort of nonsense. Still, the article has many interesting observations about what is going on in Afghanistan.
(found on Vinod's Blog)
Update: David Brooks looks at the stories coming out of Afghanistan and sees a box that is half full rather than half empty.
While for much of the media, all news out of Afghanistan must be bad news, it's clear that there is a lot of promise to the place. The old problems of inactivity and despair are being replaced by the new problems caused by crowding, growth, and dynamism. There is now income inequality in Kabul. Were things better when nobody had anything? Because of the terrible transportation system workers struggle to get to and from work. Was it better when there was no work?
Brooks quotes from this Washington Post article by Pamela Constable which shows Kabul to be a bustling and rapidly growing city.
Today, Kabul is a bustling capital of 2.7 million, more than twice the population of one year ago. Women barred from public life under the Taliban now fill offices and classrooms; music, once banned as un-Islamic, blares from taxis and cassette stands. Shops burst with imported goods, houses are being stylishly renovated and new restaurants offer Thai and Italian cuisine.
Jasper Becker argues that China has become a fascist state modelled after the Mussolini's Italy.
Jiang would also subscribe to Mussolini’s notion that at the centre of this effort is the state which ‘organises the nation but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential: the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the state alone....’
While Soviet and Chinese communism was marked by the day-to-day micro-management of a centrally planned economy, Mussolini’s preference was for a partnership with capitalist corporations, which were allowed to run the economy. The changes in the party’s ideology that Jiang triumphantly introduced last week make possible a marriage between a market economy and a totalitarian police state, a capitalistic free-for-all.
Some people argue that China will not become a threat to us or a problem for the larger world because as it becomes more affluent it will inevitably become democratic at some point. However, this view seems naive for a couple of reasons. First of all, affluence does not automatically lead to democracy. Secondly, democracy does not automatically lead to peaceful liberal democracy with full respect for individual rights. China lacks some critical cultural memes that are necessary precursors of a rights-respecting liberal democratic state. Whether those memes will spread in China remains to be seen. But history does not provide much reason for optimism.
Victor Davis Hanson discusses the end game in the destruction of Saddam's regime: the fight for Baghdad.
And herein lies the problem: We are suddenly supposedly at war not with tens of thousands of veteran conscripts in the desert, but only with 50,000 or so tribal thugs who owe everything to Saddam, killers who have everything to lose with his defeat and nothing to gain with a humane government in his place. Ensconced in Baghdad — in private homes, mosques, hospitals, and tunnels — with access to biological weapons and perhaps a few Scuds — in theory they will be hard to evict and harder to hit amid women and children as they strike from afar. They are, in other words, analogous to the Taliban gangsters in Kabul or Kandahar — only more numerous, savvier, and perhaps with a few missiles and lots of germs.
Davis is optimistic that Baghdad can be sealed off and then slowly parts of it can be sliced off from Saddam's control with fairly low casualties. Whether that is the case depends heavily on how many of Saddam's core fighters stay loyal to him and for how long. One question I have is whether, once Baghdad is sealed off, will the US military be able to maintain a large enough constant surveillance in the skys above the city to be able to instantly spot a Scud that is being pulled out of a building for launch. My guess is that they can. There is the additional problem that Saddam could start releasing germ warfare agents locally which would kill many civilians.
An LAPD police officer who writes in the National Review pseudonym of Jack Dunphy reports that the LAPD have been intimidated out of properly doing their jobs:
As of July 31 of this year there had been 299 murders in the city of Los Angeles. Of the victims, 141 (47 percent) were Hispanic and 134 (45 percent) were black, reflecting a pattern that has remained steady for the last few years. Detectives had identified 158 suspects in these crimes, of whom 69 (44 percent) were Hispanic and 64 (40 percent) were black. There were eight whites (5 percent) identified, as well as 17 (11 percent) of what LAPD record keepers label as "others," primarily Asians and Middle Easterners. Based on what I have observed since July, there is no reason to believe the year-end totals will produce anything but a similar breakdown among both victims and suspects.
But under the terms of a federal consent decree imposed in the wake of the Rampart scandal, LAPD officers are required to report the race of nearly every person they stop in the course of their workday, and in the current political climate, woe be to that officer whose numbers reflect anything even close to those listed above. In other words, everyone knows who's doing the shooting around town, but if you go out and try to do something about it you'll soon have Maxine Waters and the assembled masses of the No Justice, No Peace Hallelujah Chorus camped out and traipsing across your front yard.
This is one of the best columns I've read by Mark Steyn. Attempts to appeal to Muslims to show them we are not their enemies are self-defeating. We ought to be demanding that they demonstrate the same to us. Read the full article. Appeasement doesn't work when your enemy holds you in contempt:
This is the real war aim -- or it should be, if we're to have any chance of winning this thing: We have to change the hearts and minds of millions of Muslims, too many of whom are at best indifferent to great evil. "Changing" isn't the same as "winning the hearts and minds," which is multiculti codespeak for pre-emptively surrendering and agreeing not to disagree with them. For over a year now, nothing has been asked of Muslims, at home or abroad: you can be equivocal about bin Laden and an apologist for suicide bombers, and still get a photo-op with Dubya; you can be a member of a regime whose state TV stations and government-owned newspapers call for Muslims to kill all Jews and Christians, and you'll still get to kick your shoes off with George and Laura at the Crawford ranch.
This is not just wrong but self-defeating. As long as Dubya and Colin Powell and the rest are willing to prance around doing a month-long Islamic minstrel-show routine for the amusement of the A-list Arabs, Muslims will rightly see it for what it is: a sign of profound cultural weakness.
As long as Western Civilization doubts itself in the face of such hostility from Islamic Civilization we are not going to demand their respect and we are not going to demand that they change in ways that will make them less of a threat to us.
Either we can accept that the United States is a more moral and decent culture than the tribal world of the fundamentalists and dictators, and thus must not lose out to their medieval visions — or in our self-doubt and moral conceit we can worry endlessly over why we are not liked as we would wish, and therefore choose to feed both our fears and their audacity. The former and harder course will lead to acrimony and caricature in the present, but victory and security in the future. The latter, easier way ensures that we will be for a time tolerated by the U.N., Europe, and the Arab states publicly, but privately despised as not only crass, but also weak, as we — not they — descend into a constant war of attrition from terrorist attacks and lunatic dictatorships armed with frightful weapons.
Bangladeshi Novelist and poet Taslima Nasrin, the first volume of whose memoir is entitled Meyebela: My Bengali Girlhood faces a jail sentence in Bangladesh for offending Muslims. She is, wisely, living in exile. Her book banned in Bangladesh as are other books which she has written. She recently spoke at the Asia Society (presumably in New York City):
People filled the auditorium to see the woman who fled Bangladesh in 1994 after official action was first taken against her for work that exposed the oppression of women there and the realities of Muslim-Hindu violence. Nasrin, now 40, was reported that year to have told a newspaper that the Koran should be thoroughly revised. She still insists she was misquoted, but at the time she sent a correction to the paper that fundamentalists objected to even more. Nasrin was forced into hiding, but with PEN's help, was finally allowed to leave, and she escaped to Sweden. In Bangladesh, her books are banned, and recently she was tried in absentia and found guilty of blasphemy.
Despite a request at the reading for written questions only, someone asked out loud if the uncles who raped her as a child were in the marches against her. She simply replied, "Yes." The rapes and other horrors of a childhood in a well-to-do Muslim family, marked by the sometimes brutal rule of her father, are told in Meyebela, My Bengali Girlhood (Steerforth Press), the first volume of her memoir, just now being published in the United States. Speaking of the title, Nasrin said there is no word in Bengali for girlhood, and Meyebela is her coinage to fill that void.
Some background on legal actions against her in Bangladesh:
Her 1992 novel Lajja (Shame), about a Hindu family's sufferings when Muslims in Bangladesh attacked them, led in 1993 to a call for Taslima's execution "for blasphemy and conspiracy against Islam, the Holy Koran, and its prophet." A fatwa was placed on her head by a mullah, and observers were slow to realize that the extremely strict Saudi Arabin Washhabism form of Islamic fundamentalism had now spread to Bangladesh with the help of money from followers of Osama bin Laden.
In 1994 a case was filed against her that provides for two years' imprisonment for "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class of citizens by insulting its religion or religious beliefs." Threatened and hounded by demonstrations, she immediately went into hiding.
Aided by PEN and Amnesty International, Taslima fled to Germany and Sweden, where she has remained in hiding, always fearful of being assassinated by some extremist Muslim. Daring to return her seriously ill mother from New York City, she again was detected and forced to flee. When her mother died, Taslima did not dare return to the funeral. Nor is she able to return to minister to her father, also seriously ill, because the government of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, and Jamaate-Islami (which held a number of seats in the Parliament), have found it politically expedient to give in to the religious extremists.
Meredith Tax writes about Nasrin's life, religious violence in India and Bangladesh, and reviews Meyebela in an article in The Nation entitled Taslima's Pilgrimage:
But if Taslima Nasrin had worried about such things, she would not have become a human rights case. She tried to knock down every taboo in her society, writing about religion, ethnic violence, sex, all at the same time, crash! And she is still doing it. Nasrin did not have to flee Bangladesh merely because she wrote a novel about the persecution of its Hindu minority or told an Indian reporter the Sharia (Islamic law) was outdated and should be left behind. Other Bangladeshi writers, male and female, have said such things; some have also been threatened by fundamentalists; but most are still there. Nasrin combined the violation of those taboos with an even more daring transgression: She opened the closet door on a whole world of subterranean sexual experience and feeling, much of it abusive, and none of it considered fit to be discussed. She wrote about sex and religion and state politics all together, and she did it at a bad time, when fundamentalism was on the rise. The combination did her in.
This is a particularly disturbing passage from the article:
September 11, 2001, shows these events in a new light. Wahhabism, the extremely strict form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, had not only penetrated the countryside in Pakistan and Afghanistan (where the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996) but was also gaining a foothold in Bangladesh, carried by migrant laborers and spread by modern communications. Sylhet had been a center of emigration since the 1950s; thousands of young men went abroad each year to settle and send money home to their families; increasingly, they went to the Middle East. The money they earned there enabled them to come back and become landowners and leaders in their villages, and to set up madrassahs that taught the Saudi variation of Islam. The fatwa put on Taslima Nasrin in 1993 must now be seen as an early warning signal that this globalized, politicized form of Islamic fundamentalism was growing more aggressive and looking for an opportunity to test its strength in Bangladesh.
In December 1993, 5,000 zealots marched through Dhaka, demanding the death of the 34-year-old Bangladeshi gynecologist, poet, and author. In an ensuing general strike, one man was killed and more than two hundred other people were injured. As tension mounted, her physician-father's office was broken into, her family was threatened, and Nasrin hid with the help of friends for sixty days. The U.S. State Department was helpful in getting her out of Bangladesh, and twelve nations of the European Union made a formal offer of asylum to the writer. So she fled to Germany and to Sweden, proclaiming that "the fundamentalists are destroying our society. The silent majority is afraid of them. They will do anything in the name of God. The progressives are not so organized, for they cannot bring together 300,000 people at one time." As for the Muslim clergy, "The country is infected with them. Their long hair, beards, and robes conceal their insatiable lust for wealth and women."
Canadian Defence Minister John McCallum is mad at George Bush because the Bush Administration keeps complaining about the low level of Canadian defense spending.
Mr. McCallum said yesterday he is fed up with the Americans hectoring Canada about its low defence expenditures, even though he himself has been publicly lobbying for greater military spending.
"I would not urge the president of the United States or the U.S. ambassador to Canada to do my job to ask for more defence spending. I think that is a Canadian matter," Mr. McCallum told reporters.
Canada's defense spending is less than half of the NATO average. Yet in the face of declining military capabilities Chretien's administration tells lies about how useful Canada's military has been in various conflicts. While a small number of Canadian soldiers performed admirably the quality of their performance is hardly a reason to trumpet Canada's total contributions.
If the level of Canadian defense spending is purely a Canadian matter then why is Canada part of multinational joint defense organizations? Does Canada have no obligations to other nations in exchange for what its membership does for Canada?
Does anyone know whether the Canadian government ever awarded medals to those Canadian sharpshooters who did such a great job in Afghanistan? Also, did the Canadian government ever let the US military award them medals? And what became of the Canadian soldier who was possibly going to be punished for what he said in Afghanistan that was supposedly insenstive?
Meanwhile, David Frum points out that the Canadian government is not cracking down on terrorist organizations:
On the other hand, Canadian laxness in the war on terror makes me twitch irritably. On Tuesday, Britain and the United States froze the assets of a large Canadian Muslim charity, the weirdly misnamed Benevolence International Foundation, as a terrorist front. Yet the Canadian government refuses to act – as it has refused to act to halt Hezbollah fund-raising on Canadian territory or to crack down on terrorist sleeper cells inside Canada.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s theory seems to be that by tolerating terrorist activity within Canada, Canada can buy itself a degree of immunity from terrorism. It’s a policy that disgusts a great many people in Canada. But it’s a policy that looks likely to last as long as Chretien’s hold on power does. Fortunately, his days do seem numbered ....
Canada enjoys military protection provided by the US and it also has a large trade surplus with the US. Under the circumstances you might think they'd be willing to make some small moves to help reduce sources of threats to the US. But if you thought that you'd be wrong.
Update: Chretien has the audacity to call Canadian defense spending "competitive" with NATO:
"We are at the level that is competitive in NATO. Some say we should be higher, but Canada is Canada. It's not our highest priority -- defence."
European resentment is growing. Jealousy is distorting the minds of many European intellectuals and feeding growing delusions:
The panel on which I spoke was chaired by Reiner Pommerin, a professor at the University of Dresden, colonel in the German air force reserves, and advisor to the German Ministry of Defense. My fellow speakers included Germany's former ambassador to the U.K., the current German ambassador to Poland, a DaimlerChrysler managing director, and a professor from Britain. We were to focus on transatlantic relations.
Throughout the two days, Pommerin set the tone with an aggressively antagonistic attitude toward all things American. "Thank God we had the 11th of September," he declared--for this showed the U.S. how it feels to be humbled. Herr professor-colonel went on to suggest that Americans often feel nostalgic for the "good old days of slavery in the nineteenth century." He told ludicrous stories about seeing empty bottles and litter piled "one meter deep" along roadsides in America, illustrating our environmental slovenliness. He insisted the seemingly mighty U.S. military was now a hollow force, all flash and no substance.
Picking up on this, another panelist stated with authority that most Microsoft products, and indeed most American technologies generally, are junk, and have come to dominate world commerce solely through manipulative trade and advertising.
Gordon Bourne, who recently resigned his commission in the Royal Marines, describes what New Labour is doing to the UK Military:
One of the unfortunate side-effects of this civilianisation of the military is the need for the government to ensure that they are legally protected from soldiers — past and present — who seek to take advantage of the current blame-and-compensation culture. This is what is behind applying health-and-safety legislation to the military. The Royal Marines endurance course is one of the most admired and gruelling in the world, but it is apparently too tough for the big girls’ blouses in Whitehall. Health-and-safety inspectors are blamed for recommending that chlorine be introduced into the underwater tunnel, in case some poor Commando picks up a bit of dysentery or a sore throat as a result of wading through dirty water. The steep ravines worn into the slopes that recruits had to run up and down at various points on the seven-mile course were also contrary to all sorts of well-meaning legislation. The recommendation was for proper steps and handrails to be installed — just like the ones you find in the mountains of Afghanistan or the wadis of Iraq. Anybody even half-interested in ensuring that, when troops are deployed on operations, as many come home as possible must see that this sort of interference can only make an already perilously long jump from training to reality even longer.
For those who think the Illuminatus, the Masons, and the Trilateral Commission are just different layers of the same vast international conspiracy this collection of links to US government agency logos is going to be grist for more paranoid thoughts. Thanks to Adam Flinton for pointing these out. This reminds me of "Secure Beneath The Watchful Eyes" over there in the UK.
James Hoagland argues that the Bush Administration is pursuing a set of proposals with its NATO partners designed to give them a bigger sense of common purpose and ways to deal with each other more constructively. The idea seems to be that if you can give people more positive things to do with each other they will spend less time tearing each other down:
The expansion of NATO into the Baltics and Balkans should give Europe and America a new common purpose.
So should Bush's decision to drop the Clinton-era practice of hammering NATO's European members to match U.S. defense spending on a wide variety of 50-odd alliance "capabilities." Instead, the Bush White House wants to bring those European countries willing to project military power globally into an elite NATO rapid reaction force, while letting other alliance members pursue a half-dozen "niche capabilities" such as heavy air transport or intelligence.
While the Bush Administration claims it is making the war against the terrorists its top priority there still are domestic policy issues which it considers more important. Immigration is one of them. Bush and Karl Rove still place a higher priority on their naive and doomed attempt to get more Hispanics and other minorities to vote GOP than they do on keeping terrorists out of the US. Their priorities may backfire on them if another big terrorist attack happens in the US:
America's enemies abroad can only be dealt with by our government, but foreign enemies appearing in our homeland can be and, on 9/11, were, attacked by the American people. They know full well that denying entry to 20-45 year-old Arab males would prevent most terrorist attacks here and that deporting those already present would prevent almost all such attacks. People do not understand why their government outright refuses to do either (it's because too many special interests benefit from illegal immigration). Further terrorism here would create a significant possibility of a populist political uprising against the Bush Administration plus vigilante action against Arab and Muslim immigrants to get them all deported.
James F. Dunnigan argues that many of the factors that were crucial to US success in Afghanistan are already being adapted to by the opposition in Afghanistan. Also, the element of surprise in the use of the successful tactics will not be there in future conflicts since the whole world saw what the US military did. We shouldn't overreact and go to far in moving toward a special forces model.
Just as the North Vietnamese quickly learned that you don't fight the American army in a straight ahead battle, the Afghans figured out how to become less vulnerable to smart bombs. The Afghan solution, which is quite similar to the North Vietnamese one, is to stay out of the way of the Americans, don't bunch up, and, in particular, dig deeper, and more numerous hiding places. Then you wage guerilla war until the impatient Yankees lose interest and go home.
Its worth noting in this context that many other wars have seen changes in efficacy of weapons from the time the weapons first scored their big successes till when the conflicts ended. For instance, tanks lost much of their advantage as WWII progressed and infantry developed tactics for dealing with them.
If you found her as unappealing as I did then take heart. It speaks well of you:
But the very qualities that would once have damned her in popular estimation are precisely those that have raised her in it in our own age. Her cult was that of vacuity worshipping, and also justifying, itself: people “loved,” “admired,” and “esteemed” her precisely because she was so banal in her tastes, emotions, and responses to the world. Apart from the fact that she was icily pretty and moved in high circles, she was just like us: this gave us hope that people of no accomplishment might accede to a glamorous, rich, sex-suffused world, and reassuringly demonstrated that there was nothing inherently limiting about our own mediocrity. Her appeal goes to the heart of the modern cult of celebrity. It represents the total triumph of the banal.
Here's my question: do the cults of celebrity worship in some sense lower the people who invest so much of their thoughts in thinking about celebrities? Or are the people who engage celebrity worship already sufficiently flawed in character and personality that their time spent worshipping celebrities is just an acting out of how they already see life? Even if the latter is the case then does celebrity worship make it less likely that the people who engage in it will outgrow their character flaws? Also, will celebrity worship just grow in the future? Or will an increasing number of people eventually come to see it as passe and even as mentally unhealthy?
The US captures illegal aliens and lets them go. It orders them deported but doesn't enforce the deportation orders. Then there are all the illegals who are never even caught in the first place. Michelle Malkin discusses smuggling rings that bring in illegal aliens from the Middle East:
More than 115,000 people from Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries are here illegally. Some 6,000 Middle Eastern men who have defied deportation orders remain on the loose. And an international crime ring, led by Iraqi native George Tajirian, demonstrates the scope of the alarming problem of potential terrorists pressing at our southern gate.
Tajirian's ring guided aliens from all over the world into the United States-usually across the Rio Grande or through El Paso, Texas checkpoints-and arranged transportation and lodging for them once inside. According to federal prosecutors, Tajirian charged up to $15,000 a head-chump change for deep-pocketed terrorist enterprises.
Rufus Jones has written a review of a forthcoming documentary on Saddam by French filmmaker Joel Soler called "Uncle Saddam":
Besides decontamination, Saddam does have other hobbies: he enjoys joshing with his doubles, firing weapons into the air at mandatory-attendance rallies, dancing to traditional Arab music, smoking Cubans (cigars, not people), and going fishing with grenades. Risking life and limb, Soler periodically escaped his state-appointed minders (who he generously mentions in the documentary's credits: "Attempted to be directed by Abou Noor"), to film some of Saddam's palaces.It begins to feel like an episode of MTV's "Cribs," except instead of the tacky "Scarface" posters typically favored by our nation's leading gangster rappers, Saddam's cribs come with all sorts of extra amenities: private casinos, gold-leaf thrones, escape bunkers, even underground runways. While Saddam does tend toward the ostentatious (after asking his people to donate their gold for the war effort against Iran, he later showed up in a solid-gold carriage), he's not above sharing his wealth. In 1998, we are informed, "When American planes began to bomb some of Saddam's palaces, Saddam invited the Iraqi people to sleep inside."
Update: Paula Zahn of CNN has interviewed Joel Soler about his documentary and you can see a video on the CNN website of part of the interview.
John O'Sullivan takes issue with Robert Kagan and Charles Kupchan on the question of the future of NATO. O'Sullivan beliefs the military weakness of Europe, the expansion of NATO into states that have warmer views of America, and the terrorist threat all are breathing new life into NATO:
Unfortunately for both schools of thought, the trend of events is against them. First, the low level of European defense spending that has weakened NATO over the years is strangling Kupchan's concept of the EU as a military superpower in its cradle. Though the EU has voted to establish its own 60,000-strong Rapid Reaction Force, it has yet to assign the necessary resources. And while it spends less than 2 percent of its GDP on defense, it will remain a theoretical defense only. No European nation could afford to rely for its protection on such a spavined horse.
Second, neither Kagan nor Kupchan take account of the pro-American shift of influence within NATO, the EU and Europe generally that will result from the entry of pro-American and pro-NATO countries like Poland and the Baltics.
John Derbyshire points out that while advances in communications and transportation are bringing people from around the world in increasingly closer contact with each other the cultural differences are not melting away as fast as the contacts are increasing. America has to worry as never before about the loyalties of non-citizen residents and of naturalized and native born citizens whose religious beliefs come with political loyalties to entities outside of the United States. We can not afford to ignore this growing problem:
This and the other, related issues are getting very acute. In a way, that is a paradox. We live, after all, in the age of globalization, when the differences between nations are melting away, when you can eat an identical MacDonalds hamburger in Baltimore, Beijing or Berlin. To ask Americans to become more conscious of their nationality in such an age seems absurd. The kind of things we read on MEMRI, though, remind us that the cultural homogenization of the human race has quite a way to go yet. The traditional insouciance of Americans towards citizenship and immigration belonged to a time when the country was empty, travel was difficult, and an ethic of assimilation was taken for granted by everyone — conditions that apply less and less every year.
What would De Gaulle have thought of the idea of Arab strongman regimes getting nuclear weapons?
Devised by the late General De Gaulle in the early 1960s , this is based on three assumptions.
The first is that it is natural for Arabs to be ruled by a "strongman."
The second is that the Arab "strongman" has no particular principles apart from a keen desire to stay alive and in power.
The third is that, if handled intelligently, the Arab "strongman" could be useful to the West.
The "strongman" could take decisions that no democratic government, subject to the pressure of elections, would be able to take.
Former UNSCOM inspector David Kay emphasises the limits of inspections:
The experience with Iraq leaves the international community with a set of unhappy lessons: Voluntary arms control arrangements may fail to prevent or detect massive violations when faced with a clever, determined violator. Military action may stop short of removing the industrial and technical capabilities needed to support weapons of mass destruction programs, and leave untouched the political will that led a state to seek such capabilities. Finally, coercive disarmament by inspections, even when backed by economic sanctions and access to intelligence information, can fail when met by a determined regime that believes its own interests require possession of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
Also see Dr. Kay's NPR interview here.
Seventy-five percent of the roughly 270 UN inspectors from 48 countries will be visiting Iraq for the first time.
"It can be very disorienting to be in Iraq, and almost everything we saw was ambiguous," says Jonathan Tucker, a former UN bioweapons inspector. An inspector "may go into a facility and feel something is not quite right. ... There can be very subtle clues of illicit weapons production. It's a very challenging task, especially if Iraq plans to conceal things."
Hans Blix has weeded out the more aggressive inspectors and UNMOVIC is set up to have less access to intelligence:
But on biological and chemical weapons, there was broader agreement that the new inspection organization, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, known by the acronym UNMOVIC, is in many ways weaker than the group it has replaced at Iraq's insistence: the United Nations Special Commission on Monitoring, which was known as UNSCOM.
"They are weaker in many respects than we were," said Richard Spertzel, a former army germ scientist who was an UNSCOM inspector until the group was withdrawn from Iraq in 1998. "It is optimistic to assume that in one year, which is the time they are likely to have, they will be able to account for the lack of inspectors for the past four years."
The UNMOVIC inspectors will be going up against a regime that has plenty of time to prepare to fool them:
Duelfer believes the Iraqi regime is well prepared to re-admit inspectors. "They took the decision (to admit inspectors) back in February, according to Iraqis with whom I have indirect contact. They know they can buy time. They certainly have had many years to prepare for inspectors to come back in." Furthermore, Duelfer suspects the regime also knows how long it will have to wait before creating a confrontation.
"There is a mismatch between inspectors and the tools that can be applied against them by a nation state with one of the most extensive security and intelligence apparatuses in the world." Duelfer told the Washington file.
The UNMOVIC inspectors will be too few in number:
Former UN weapons inspectors said they fear that the 100 inspectors slated to be in Iraq will be too few to outwit Hussein.
''They will be up against a concealment plan,'' said Terry Taylor, a former UN weapons inspector, now Washington director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
''They will need more resources than they have.'
The mobile weapons labs are going to be especially hard to find:
Rumbling along Iraq's highways or threading their way through crowded city streets, these mobile weapons labs may look like ice cream trucks, motor homes or 18-wheel tractor-trailer trucks, officials and experts say. But their cargo is believed to be germ agents such as anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflatoxin that theoretically could kill hundreds of thousands in an attack.
Dubbed "Winnebagos of death," the anonymous vehicles are hard to locate, even with sophisticated sensors.
What's more the smuggling also means that Saddam is more able than ever to use that money to purchase and smuggle into the county all kinds of prohibited items for his military and WMD programs. The second element of containment are the inspections. There are many problems with the inspections - let me just name two. First we simply do not know where any of Saddam's WMD are hidden and therefore don't know where to send inspectors to find it. This was precisely the problems we had in 1996-1998. The Iraqis had gotten so good at hiding it that we didn't know where they were. Today our intelligence about it is even worse. Second, successful inspections will take a long long time - probably on the order of 4 to 6 years -- and they can only work if the international community remains united and determined to compel Saddam to comply, but all of the evidence indicates that other than the US and maybe a handful of other countries, no one else is willing to make the effort necessary to make Saddam comply. And so as I - and most of the former inspectors - believe is that new inspections might work for a year or so but at some point soon we will find ourselves right back where we were in 1998 with Saddam cheating on the inspections and no one willing to make his stop.
Its not that the US has abandoned NATO. Its that its NATO allies have abandoned having real militaries:
Second, and far more serious, is the awareness that the new NATO of 26 nations, will be less a military alliance than a political club, an institution that is meant to embody the diplomatic and political community of the Atlantic nations, while resting on a fragile military base. The fear is that NATO is degenerating into a talking shop, a miniature United Nations, with all the frictions and weaknesses of the United Nations, but lacking the legitimacy that comes from the presence of every nation on earth.
Also see Martin Walker's previous column on how wrong the Europeans have been in their disagreements with the US. Its also here.
In his Anglosphere column James C. Bennett argues that the political culture of Canada threatens to reawaken secessionist desires in the West. As the executive branch at the federal level has arrogated increasing amounts of power to itself and pursued a policy aimed more at its own emotional needs than of the needs of the provinces the Western provices are left with nothing short of a threat to secede as a bargaining tool in dealings with the federal executive:
The latter was demonstrated by exaggerated devotion to the emotional successor (for Canada's intellectual-government class) to the British Empire, the United Nations. As in Imperial days, Canada's peacetime military was not sized to the actual demands of defending the nation; it was sized to permit a demonstration of loyalty to the Imperial center. Today, this translates into being able to provide peacekeeping forces for U.N. operations.
One result of this peculiar political culture is a need to endorse the transnational progressive project of global governance through U.N. treaties. This has led Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to sign the Kyoto treaty on limitation of carbon monoxide production.
The US states have been fighting a long running battle with the federal government over control of many policy issues. The US states have the advantage of a less amendable constitution that for historical reasons vests considerable authority in the states. In other Anglosphere countries such as Canada and Britain the constitutional protections of the prerogatives of the lower levels of government is run from less to non-existent and the higher levels have gradually usurped the powers of lower elected levels. In the UK the Parliament has gone so far as to literally eliminate lower elected offices and to take over and abolish and rearrange the boundaries of lower level districts.
This trend of loss of power at the local level has gone even farther in the UK in Canada as the UK government has given up increasing amounts of its own authority to the EU. The loss of authority at the levels of government that are closest to the people translates into worse government. Local problems and local preferences inevitably lead to different desires and priorities at the local level in each locality. Also, any local knowledge of poor performance of agencies can not be used to hold those agencies accountable thru the democratic process. The UK and Canada both need constitutional reform to vest more authority in democratically elected governments that are closer to the people.
Today's 'anti-imperialist' critics of American militarism are all too willing to mix up demands that the USA rein in its horns, with the entirely opposite demand that it takes more responsibility for governing so-called 'failed states'. The din that accompanied America's attempts to exempt its troops from responsibility to the proposed International Criminal Court took it for granted that these troops would continue to contribute to the military occupation of parts of Afghanistan, the Balkans and East Timor.
Another allegation made against America is that it is not interested in 'nation-building' - in other words, it is not taking up its colonial responsibilities in ruling lesser peoples. The charge of 'unilateralism' made against the USA is in effect a demand for America to join in with the major European powers in ruling the world, not that it should relinquish an interest in foreign adventures.
James Hoagland argues that European desires to maintain a stasis in the international order demonstrate an ignorance of the powerful dynamic forces at work that can't be contained with negotiation.
Diverging attitudes over what is sustainable and what is doomed are rapidly becoming divisive factors in transatlantic relations. An intellectual investment in the status quo ties France, Germany and others to the Arab governments of the Middle East at least as much as commerce and oil do. Cataclysmic change in the Middle East is a notion that falls somewhere between inevitable and desirable for the Bush White House. It is anathema to Europe's leaders and intellectuals.
Europe was more strongly socialist than the US ever was and this fact betrays something about European intellectual culture. An assumption of socialism is that the relevant factors can be known, controlled, and managed to maintain whatever kind of social order the leaders choose to have. This assumption that things can be managed and that the system is more stable than reality really is. It should not be surprising that even after socialism has been discredited as an economic system that European intellectuals still tend toward the view that they can manage things that are more complex than they realise because that view predated the development of communism and socialism.
How powerful are the forces that are changing the Muslim world? Technological advances are increasing the amount of exposure that members of Muslim societies have to modern Western Civilization while simultaneously increasing the amount of communication that is happening within and between Muslim societies. Islam's historic view of itself is being challenged. The existence of the West as a more advanced and powerful civilization is being brought home by advances in communications, transportation, and military technology. The reaction Muslims are having to the West can be seen as a crisis in faith in Islam where the entire religious belief system is threatened by greater knowledge of and exposure to the West. Diplomacy is an inadequate response to the size of the forces that these changes are unleashing. The growth of resentment, jealousy, and hostility can not be contained and managed by multilateral institutions and negotiations between governments.
Theodore Dalrymple has written an excellent (in the Daily Telegraph - requires free registration) essay reflecting on recently deceased British murderer Myra Hindley:
But what of mercy? Surely it is always necessary to temper justice with mercy? Immense mercy was shown to Myra Hindley. If justice is about deserts (and it is difficult to see what else it might be about), then Myra Hindley never received justice: she was far too well treated for that. It is a common prejudice that if justice were to be done, the rigour of punishment must always be reduced, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The necessary restrictions on the rigour of punishments have nothing to do with the deserts of those receiving them: indeed it is difficult to imagine a punishment so harsh that it would have been unjust to Myra Hindley. No: punishments are kept within bounds not for the sake of justice, but to maintain the humanity of those administering them, and the civilisation of society in general. Myra Hindley received vastly better treatment than she deserved, and quite rightly so.
Dalrymple has excellent insights into the criminal mind and in my experience his essays are always worth reading.
Bob Woodward has just released a new book, Bush at War, which is about the inner workings of the Bush Administration as it has responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and subsequent developments of the war against the terrorists.
Evan Thomas of Newsweek reports on Woodward's book:
Woodward has CIA Director George Tenet regretting that he did not push the president—either Bush or Clinton—to give the agency the authority to try to assassinate Osama bin Laden before 9-11. But after 9-11, Tenet emerges as a bluff dynamo. The CIA director wants and gets an open-ended hunting license for the agency. He prepares an intelligence “finding” for Bush with entries like “Heavily Subsidize Arab Liaison Services.” Woodward quotes Tenet explaining to the president that “the CIA would ‘buy’ key intelligence services [including] Egypt, Jordan, Algeria.” The CIA spent $70 million renting friends and allies in Afghanistan, Woodward reports; the spooks’ kitty for buying Iraqi colonels and other covert ops is already set somewhere between $100 million and $200 million.
I'm skeptical as to the extent that the CIA can "buy" other intelligence services. They will take the money and then help only in the ways that they choose to help. Also, note that you don't see Saudi Arabia or Pakistan on Iran on the list of countries whose intelligence services have been bought. There are still very important areas from which threats emanate where the US does not have enough visibility or influence.
Woodward told 60 Minutes that the CIA has a lot more freedom of operation:
Woodward: The gloves are off. — There are no restraints on the CIA. — And there's this whole invisible war where the CIA has had foreign intelligence services and police forces arrest or detain terrorists, al Qaeda members, thousands of them.
Its great to hear that the CIA is being very aggressive and is cutting deal with foreign intelligence services. But has the CIA started recruiting and deploying agents to infiltrate radical Islamic groups? Has the CIA improved its own operational capability? Again, this sounds grand. But does it accomplish enough of what needs to be accomplished in practice?
Bush's emotional reaction to Kim Jong Il seems highly appropriate:
Describing his aspirations for an ambitious reordering of the world through preemptive and perhaps unilateral action, Bush turned first to Iraq but then to North Korea and its dictator Kim Jong Il. With the administration contemplating a response to North Korea's nuclear weapons program, Woodward reports that Bush shouted and waved his finger in the air as he vented about Kim.
"I loathe Kim Jong Il," Bush said. "I've got a visceral reaction to this guy, because he is starving his people. And I have seen intelligence of these prison camps -- they're huge -- that he uses to break up families, and to torture people."
This article by Bob Woodward appears to be excerpted from the book and describes the doom and gloom scenario that Colin Powell argued would follow an Iraq invasion:
With his notes by his side, a double-spaced outline on loose-leaf paper, Powell said the president had to consider what a military operation against Iraq would do in the Arab world. He dealt with the leaders and foreign ministers in these countries as secretary of state. The entire region could be destabilized -- friendly regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan could be put in jeopardy or overthrown. Anger and frustration at America abounded. War could change everything in the Middle East.
It would suck the oxygen out of just about everything else the United States was doing, not only in the war on terrorism, but also in all other diplomatic, defense and intelligence relationships, Powell said. The economic implications could be staggering, potentially driving the supply and price of oil in directions that were as-yet unimagined. All this in a time of an international economic slump. The cost of occupying Iraq after a victory would be expensive. The economic impact on the region, the world and the United States domestically had to be considered.
Is Powell arguing that the only way to go multilateral is to go thru the UN? If so, why? The US has done many things abroad with ad hoc coalitions of countries. It is unlikely that the US invasion of Iraq is going to be any more palatable to the Arab masses if the US gets UN approval. Of course, the UN Security Council is very unlikely to vote that approval anyhow. If the US reacts to Iraq's blocking of the work of UNMOVIC inspectors by invading Iraq will the Arab masses be any less likely to try to rise up and overthrow their governments just because the US did get the UN Security Council Resolution which gives the inspectors authority?
Cheney shows his calm practical attitude:
The book indicates that Vice President Cheney made the decision himself to go into an undisclosed location Oct. 29 after Bush went macho when told there was intelligence about a possible dirty bomb-like weapon.
"Those bastards are going to find me exactly here," Bush said. "And if they get me, they're going to get me right here."
Cheney erupted: "This isn't about you. This is about our Constitution. ... And that's why I'm going to a secure, undisclosed location."
I think the write-ups on this book are exaggerating the importance of the money spent to buy allies. See for instance this AP article:
A new book says President Bush's advisers had grave doubts about the early course of the war in Afghanistan and suggests that the ultimate defeat of the Taliban was due largely to millions of dollars in hundred-dollar bills the CIA handed out to Afghan warlords to win their support.
The money alone wasn't going to buy a shift in control in Afghanistan. The ability of the US special forces soldiers to call down incredibly accurate air strikes was more important. Any place where the Taliban tried to form a front line they just got shredded by JDAM bombs. Also, moving convoys could be struck by laser guided bombs. Also, a lot of that money went to the Northern Alliance forces who were already opposed to the Taliban. So the argument that the war was won by bribing groups to switch sides is an exaggeration. Yes, faction leaders were bribed to switch sides. But that by itself was not decisive.
Powell appears to have complained a lot to Bob Woodward about internal divisions within the Bush Administration. I find his complaints to be self-serving and peevish. Would he have complained about the lack of an internal debate to hash out the pros and cons of policy options if everyone had agreed with him? Probably not. Yet if there had been no internal divisions critics on the outside would have been complaining that the Bush Administration was a big Borg Mind which didn't question its own assumptions. This would have been a more justified criticism. It is helpful to have some healthy disagreement which forces people to justify their positions more fully. A president who is hearing only one position isn't being well served. Also, what harm came from these internal divisions? The disagreements didn't seem to interfere with the Bush Administration's ability to formulate and execute policies.
A Secretary Of State is not an elected position. He's answerable to the President and the President has ultimate say in foreign policy. Also, foreign relations are no longer just the province of the State Department for obvious reasons. Countries have dealings with each other across a large number of policy areas that involve many different government departments and agencies. Powell is just upset that ideologically speaking he's not in the mainstream of this administration. But no one is making him work at the job. If he really disagrees with the direction of the Bush Administration that much then he's always free to resign.
Update: It appears that Woodward had much better access to Powell than to Cheney or Rumsfeld and therefore Woodward's narrative tends to describe the internal disagreements and events from Powell's perspective. Woodward may even favor Powell's viewpoint because he appears not to try to make arguments for why the opposing viewpoint may be reasonable. There are questions I'd like to put to Mr. Powell which Woodward doesn't appear to address. For instance, does Mr. Powell really believe that inspections can work? Or is he in favor of inspections just as a necessary prelude for getting governments in the Middle East to be more supportive of a US move against the Iraqi regime? Does he want the inspections as a way to make it more obvious to Middle Easterners that Saddam will not be reasonable? Exactly what does he expect the UN inspections to accomplish?
Update II: The Monday excerpts from the Washington Post can be found here and here. The Tuesday excerpts can be found here and here. The excerpts provide quite a bit of insight into Bush's management style. Probably the most important insight is that Bush is acutely aware of the importance of good management style and has some pretty good ideas on what techniques are effective for getting the best out of high level manager subordinates.
Bill Sammon has also written an account of the insider decision making process of the Bush Administration post-9/11: Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism from Inside the Bush White House.
Update III: Tony Blankley has the same reaction that I did: Colin Powell and George Tenet gave Woodward better access and therefore the story gets told from their vantage point:
Update IV: Howard Kurtz links to some of the reactions to the Woodward book. One article he links to is by David Frum:
Mr. Woodward's book more aptly should be titled: "What I shrewdly saw, brilliantly thought and nobly did in the Bush adminstration by Colin Powell and George Tenet, as told to Bob Woodward." Not surprisingly, Mr. Powell and the CIA turn out to be the heroes of this story.
For more than a year, we’ve been reading nasty little stories in the papers about Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld and condescending stories about President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice. Careful readers have understood that these stories emanated from the State Department – but until now, Powell has taken care to protect his personal deniability. Now he has abandoned that polite pretense.
In the Woodward piece, Powell scorns the president for his “Texas, Alamo macho.” (I guess Powell thinks Col. Travis should have negotiated.) Powell complains with Senate Democrats that acting against Iraq “would suck the oxygen” out of the anti-terror campaign. He denigrates Rice, snidely observing that “she had had difficulties” keeping up with what Bush was doing. When the president over-rules him, Powell complains that he thought he had a “deal” – as if cabinet members bargain with their president rather than taking orders from him.
Norwegian blogger Fredrik K.R. Norman reports on how some political types in Norway are teaching the children:
One of the "new political talents" in the Labor Party of Norway's oil capital, Stavanger, and third-highest ranked candidate to the City Council for the same party, Torstein Tvedt Solberg, recently put on a highly unusual show for the city's children, many of whom were only seven and eight years of age, according to the local paper.
Solberg and his cohorts encouraged the children to learn literally "how to throw rocks as the Palestinians do it". The kids then proceeded to throw big rocks at a photograph of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the older members of the Labor Youth organization cheered them on.
In this matter it is irrelevant what opinion one holds about Ariel Sharon. Isn't it deeply wrong to play with the minds of children in order to make a political spectacle?
The Danish People's Party is demanding that girls who have had their genitals mutilated should be placed in foster care and their parents expelled from Denmark. The debate in Denmark sounds like its pretty heated: (Daily Telegraph free registration required)
Earlier, the chairmen of Denmark's biggest government and opposition parties issued a call for Muslim girls to be inspected by school doctors.
Some, including the justice minister, said it would be appropriate to apply the criminal law against parents whose daughters had been operated on.
The comments came after days of furious criticism from press and politicians of demands by imams representing the Somali immigrant community for girls to be circumcised.
If I was a Dane I'd vote for the Danish People's Party.
Michelle Malkin reports on the latest INS scandal.
According to several Immigration and Naturalization Service sources, the assistant district director for INS investigations in New York City, Dan Molerio, and two FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) officials were placed on administrative leave late last week in the wake of yet another post-9/11 INS scandal.
My sources close to the investigation say that Molerio and two JTTF officials, Rich Coraggio and Robin McWilliams, were suspended last Thursday when it was discovered that INS had recently granted American citizenship to a known terrorist under investigation by the JTTF.
She goes on to describe how the INS does not do adequate background checks on potential citizens to determine whether they have criminal records and how during the Clinton Administration the INS even granted citizenship to tens of thousands who did have criminal records. The Clintonites were trying to convert as many into citizens as they could because the new citizens overwhelmingly vote for the Democrats.
Update: Joel Mowbray had previously reported that All the 9/11 terrorists should have had their visa applications denied if the rules had been properly followed:
According to expert analyses of the visa-application forms of 15 of the 9/11 terrorists (the other four applications could not be obtained), all the applicants among the 15 reviewed should have been denied visas under then-existing law. Six separate experts who analyzed the simple, two-page forms came to the same conclusion: All of the visa applications they reviewed should have been denied on their face.
While I disagree somewhat with Kenan Malik about the origins of multiculturalism (I think it was cooked up by lefties who basically hate Western Civilization) he makes some good points in this essay on multiculturalism:
The real failure of multiculturalism is its failure to understand what is valuable about cultural diversity. There is nothing good in itself about diversity. It is important because it allows us to compare and contrast different values, beliefs and lifestyles, make judgements upon them, and decide which are better and which worse. It is important, in other words, because it allows us to engage in political dialogue and debate that can help create more universal values and beliefs. But it is precisely such dialogue and debate, and the making of such judgements, that multiculturalism attempts to suppress in the name of 'tolerance' and 'respect' - as, for example, in David Blunkett's attempt to outlaw incitement to religious hatred.
Its easy to see that multiculturalists oppose making of judgements only about other cultures. They are more than willing to condemn capitalistic America and do so at every opportunity. They are really just trying to convince the people who live in Western civilization to abandon an intellectual defense of their own culture. Other cultures are seen as useful tools to use to dilute the cultural beliefs that they oppose.
France had the large contingent of representatiives and attendance was up 33% over last year:
By all accounts, the 35th annual Baghdad international trade fair was a smashing success. More than 1,200 companies from 49 nations, including France, Germany, Spain, and Denmark, converged on the Iraqi capital, rubbing elbows with Saddam Hussein's regime in the hopes of taking home some lucrative contracts worth millions.
Jonah Goldberg rants about the UN and some of the downsides for US negotiations with the UN Security Council members:
By pleading for U.N. approval, the no-blood-for-oil crowd increased the international trade in both blood and oil. In order to get the votes of Russia and China we had to give those countries a free pass at killing their Muslim Chechen and Uighur populations, respectively. We also had to promise the continuity of France's oil contracts, and of Russia's too. Whether these countries think we're right about toppling or containing Saddam is something of a mystery; what we do know is that they don't think our case is compelling enough to trump their own narrow self-interests. If it were, we wouldn't have had to spend the last couple of months haggling over what happens to Iraq's debt to Russia or France's oil contracts. Right? I mean, if the U.N. were half the thing it ought to be, our U.N. partners would have dropped those concerns the way Cincinnatus laid down his plow. And if the United States is as wrong and selfish as the anti-war crowd says, then the rest of the Security Council are just a bunch of whores willing to do the wrong thing if we pay them enough.
While the US certainly had to strike bargains with unethical governments I doubt that the Russian or Chinese governments would have been any fairer toward the Chechens or Uighurs had the US not bargained with them over Iraq. However, there are still big problems with the Bush Administration's embrace of the UN over Iraq:
It is folly to grant legitimacy to an organization whose members interests' conflict with the interests of America in ways that are incompatible with the legitimate national security needs of the United States. It is not only dishonest but ultimately counter-productive to pretend that the UN deserves to be treated as a legitimate institution whose members are motivated to help protect the security of other members. There are Bush Administration policy makers who know that the UN does not really deserve the role and legitimacy that its supporters claim for it. When these Bush Administration policy makers pretend that the UN does possess sufficient legitimacy to deserve a role in determining US actions these policy makers are basically lying. The problem here is that the short term advantages that the Bush Administration gains from telling lies about the UN come at the cost of making it harder to convince people to support policies whose necessity can only be recognized by those who know the truth.
In an astute analysis of the long term prospects for the Republican Party John O'Sullivan argues that President Bush needs to explicitly state that the US can not rely on international organizations and multilateralism to deal with crucial national security problems that the US now faces:
First, he must make the GOP the unmistakable voice and representative of the new patriotism. At present Republicans are no more than its lucky beneficiary. Thus far, Mr. Bush has shied away from fights over sensitive issues. He must now be ready to argue explicitly that the U.S. is better defended by a Republican policy of military strength than by the Democrats' diplomatic multilateralism-and that an America united by Republican ideas will resist terrorism more steadily than an America divided by Democratic ideology.
Aside: O'Sullivan also makes two other excellent points. The Republican Party is headed for demographic oblivion if it doesn't drastically cut the current rate of immigration. Also, we need to return to an embrace of a patriotic assimilationist ethos rather than let multiculturalism Balkanize the country.
Former Clinton Administration Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross argues that anything less than full disclosure by Saddam Hussein of his regime's WMD programs ought to be a trigger for war. But at the same time he admits that the UN will be unwilling to require that Iraq make full disclosure:
Hussein will certainly try to create the impression that he is complying with the resolution. No doubt he will turn over voluminous quantities of documents; he may even turn over materials he has heretofore hidden. But he will not turn over the crown jewels of his WMD programs -- especially in the nuclear and biological areas. He will count on the chief inspectors -- Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei -- not wanting to declare he is in violation of his obligations before they have even sent full inspection teams into Iraq. The temptation on the part of the inspectors will be to declare that Iraq has taken a step in the right direction and that they remain willing to work with it, but that it is of course up to the Security Council to decide whether Iraq is in compliance and what steps to take. Will France and Russia be willing to declare this is the moment for the use of force? Unlikely.
Ross is a former diplomat for an administration that at least verbally was a big supporter of the UN and multilateralism. Yet he admits that the UN Security Council's members will not be willing to back up the inspectors with enough support to ensure their success.
Charles Krauthammer argues that the US has a window to scale up preparations for war using the legitimacy granted by the UN Security Council resolution against Iraq.
This window of legitimacy also makes it easier for countries neighboring Iraq to cooperate with the United States in war planning. Turkey, Jordan and the Gulf states have been hesitant to do or say anything too publicly. Now they can easily justify their cooperation: They too are acting in the service of the United Nations by giving substance to the "serious consequences" that might compel Hussein to comply and thus vindicate the United Nations.
But then Krauthammer goes on to state that the US is now in a trap set for it by the Security Council and that the US has to find a way to get out of it in order to succeed in disarming Saddam Hussein. This illustrates the problem with pretending that the UN deserves to be seen as legitimate. The US government has been unwilling to state that transnationalism is incompatible with the security interests of the United States Of America. Therefore while the US tries to find a way to reverse the developing threat it is simultaneously helping to promote a philosophy of international relations that makes it harder for the US to defend itself.
Cars, furniture, clothing, appliances, televisons, audio equipment, software, and toys are among the goods whose prices are falling:
Prices for 40 percent of all the goods and services in the Labor Department's consumer price index (CPI) showed year-over-year declines in September, the latest data available, according to a research note by Merrill Lynch's chief Canadian economist David Rosenberg.
Health care, education, and auto insurance are rising. I suspect that its not a coincidence that the first two have heavy government involvement.
Every year Canada’s leading free-market think-tank, the Fraser Institute, compiles waiting times across Canada in a report called “Waiting Your Turn.” Here are some highlights from this year’s edition.Median waiting time for radiation treatment for breast cancer in province of Ontario: 8 weeks
Median waiting time for angioplasty in the province of British Columbia: 12 weeks
Median waiting time for radiation treatment for prostate cancer in province of Quebec: 12 weeks
Median waiting time for cataract removal in the province of Ontario: 20 weeks.
Median waiting time for cataract removal in the province of Saskatchewan: 52 weeks.
Median waiting time for a tonsillectomy in the province of Saskatchewan: 80 weeks.
If you want to see how much worse Canadian healthcare availability has gotten then see the graphs in page two of this PDF (note: Acrobat Reader or equivalent PDF viewing app needed). Also see page 3. Once a person finally gets in to see a specialist that doesn't mean they are anywhere near getting an actual surgical treatment done to them. The text version as a PDF is available as well.
Frum suggests comparing Northwestern US states and Western Canadian provinces that have similar ethnic makeup (as different ethnic groups get cancer at different rates in the first place) and other characteristics for cancer fatality rates. See these tables and compare Colorado, Idaho, and Utah with the Canadian Western provinces. For instance, Utah and Alberta have almost identical cancer incidence rates at 307 and 312.8 respectively but the male case fatality rates are .3456 and .43798 respectively. British Columbia scores lowest in case fatality rates of all Canadian provinces and yet it is worse than almost half the US states.
In the face of this wonderful trend in Canadian health care access the provinces are lowering the growth rate in health care spending. From the Canadian Institute For Health Information this PDF is a summary of Canadian health spending.
Update: David Frum responds to some of the critics of his original piece:
c) The Canadian population is demographically different from America’s in important ways. The average age of the Canadian population is lower than that of the United States. There is less obesity in Canada, fewer premature births, fewer victims of assault and attempted homicide. Canadians also drive fewer miles per year than Americans. These differences impose costs on the United States that the Canadian system does not bear. Even under exactly identical health-care policy regimes, one would expect health-care expenditure in the United States to be significantly higher than in Canada.
d) Advocates of single payer often cite Canada’s lower expenditure on healthcare as an argument in favor of the Canadian system. Then, when confronted with the evidence of the Canadian system’s failure, they admit that America’s 14% is not all frittered away on advertising and obscene HMO profits – that it does indeed buy superior care. But if the American system is not riddled with waste that single-payer will squeeze out, then extending a single-payer system to cover the entire U.S. population will be just as hugely expensive as conservative critics fear.
Charles Krauthammer reports that the US has handed too much power over to Hans Blix to determine whether Iraq is revealing its WMD development activities:
Yes, but if Hans can't find something, we won't know Hussein didn't cooperate. Of course, there is no doubt that Hussein will cheat, but unless Hans comes through, we won't be able to prove it, certainly not to the satisfaction of France, Russia and Hussein's other lawyers on the U.N. Security Council. Then we will be back to where we began: having to choose to go it alone or back down for lack of international support.
For all of Rice's brave words, Security Council Resolution 1441 puts Hans Blix in the driver's seat.
But is this really true? Will Hanx Blix even spend much time in Iraq? Australian Bill Jolley will manage UNMOVIC in Iraq. People from many countries will be in the UNMOVIC team. Where are their loyalties? How likely are they to speak out about observed attempts to defeat the inspections if Blix orders them to keep quiet? I've previously read that UNMOVIC is made up more of UN permanent staffers as compared to UNSCOM which was made up of people seconded from their national governments. However, Jolley is seconded from the Australian defense establishment. Is he typical of the on-the-ground UNMOVIC members?
If anyone comes across a good breakdown of the UNMOVIC team members affiliations please post in the comments or send it by e-mail.
Theodore Dalrymple calls this ruling "crude legal utopianism"
The European Court has found this system arbitrary and an infringement of human rights. It has ruled that henceforth the person deciding on the punishment of the prisoner must not work for the institution in which he is held. Furthermore, the prisoner must have legal representation at any hearing within the prison concerning his possible punishment. Thus the court has transformed at a stroke the withdrawal of a privilege—time off for good behavior—into the violation of a human right.
Of course such a ruling will rob a warden of disciplnary powers and hence of control:
It takes very little knowledge of prison conditions to know that it will be a disaster for prisoners, except for the most violently psychopathic among them. The worst kind of prison, as every prisoner will tell you, is the one run by the prisoners rather than by the prison officers: but that is precisely the kind of prison that this ruling will promote. By reducing the authority of the warden, the court has increased the authority of the gang leaders.
The utopian urge combined with a willful ignorance of human nature is a great threat to civilization. When you read a story like this picture another termite being let loose in the foundations.
Jim Hoagland argues that the outcome of bureaucratic turf fights in Washington DC that are fought for mostly internal reasons could have large long-term impacts in the future of Iraq.
Two teams of eight CIA agents each, with interpreters, were recently inserted secretly into northern Iraq to work with the rival Kurdish forces of Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talibani. Washington policymakers nominally insist on a united Iraqi opposition. But the agency is seeking to carve out Kurdistan as a separate fiefdom, free from Rumsfeldian influence.
That covert power play will have more impact on the day or the decade after than will theoretical scenarios about territorial unity and democracy in Iraq.
Walt Kelly's cartoon character Pogo used to say that we have met the enemy and he is us. George W. Bush is meeting the real U.S. government and finding out -- Pogo to the contrary -- it is not him.
Hoagland also argues (and I think quite accurately) that Bush lets Powell win on issues of style while BUsh and the hawks get their way on issues of substance. OF course, the acid test of that argument is still yet to come: the start of the invasion of Iraq.
Paris-based Iranian writer Amir Taheri reports that many Arab and European officials believe Saddam will benefit from the UN resolution just passed:
Worst of all, an ambiguous grammar may take shape between Blix and Saddam, enabling the Swede to send optimistic signals while the Iraqi adopts the bikini tactic of showing everything except the essential.
The fact that Blix, recently described by his former boss as "a bit of a fool," is a man with absolutely no scientific expertise could make such a grammar more ambiguous. Remember that Blix, in his previous incarnation as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), had repeatedly given Iraq, Iran and North Korea a clean bill of health with regard to their respective nuclear programs.
Saddam has made an even bigger gain: Now he is a partner for the Security Council in what Kofi Annan, the gullible U.N. chief, has described as "joint efforts" to resolve the crisis.
The problem for the US is that Hans Blix could just not report the evasions and roadblocks thrown up by Saddam's regime as material breaches.
According to US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, the administration plans to take a "zero tolerance" approach to "the next material breach" by Iraq of Security Council resolutions. Yet the term "material breach" remains substantially undefined and open to interpretation. What's more, its definition rests largely in the hands of Unmovic chief Hans Blix, a former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency whose record as a whistle-blower is not encouraging.
During his tenure at the IAEA before the Gulf War, Blix adjudged Iraq's compliance with the agency "exemplary," even as the country secretly moved forward with its nuclear weapons' program. Then too, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, in 1993 Blix tried to muzzle former IAEA inspector David Kay when he went public with allegations (since confirmed) of North Korea's nuclear program. "The way that Blix has now chosen to intervene," wrote Kay in a letter to the Journal, "gives the appearance of an attempt at coercion and suppression of uncomfortable ideas."
Blix's questionable reliability is not the only potential obstacle to America's military designs. "Against the full resources of a nation state, with thousands of people and many intelligence and security organs, it was a hopeless endeavor," says Charles Duelfer, a former top UN weapons' inspector, of the inspections process.
Once it becomes clear that Iraq is putting up obstacles in the path of UNMOVIC inspectors and that UNMOVIC will not report these obstacles as material breaches will Bush be willing to tell the world that UNMOVIC and the UN Security Council are not acting in good faith and that the US will attack Iraq?
Update: The UNMOVIC team in Iraq will be headed by Australian Bill Jolley who comes from the Australian military:
Dr Jolley, from South Australia, is on leave from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation and will be chief weapons inspector.
Up to another four Australian defence staff will join inspection teams under the Government's Weapons Inspection Roster.
This greatly increases the odds that there will be other channels thru which information will flow out of UNMOVIC about what is going on between UNMOVIC and the Iraqi regime.
The plan has shifted toward a more mobile force:
The Brookings Institution recently conducted a "war game" to test how a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq might unfold, assuming the use of 300,000 U.S. troops - and found that even with that many troops, their hands would be full.
Those troops would be needed not merely to conduct the invasion and topple Hussein, but to contain the threat of a weapons of mass destruction attack on Iraq's neighbors, intervene in fighting that might occur between Turkey and the Kurdish minority in northern Iraq and begin the process of restoring order in Iraq after Hussein falls, said Kenneth Pollack, a former member of President Bill Clinton's National Security Council.
Writing in The Weekly Standard Max Boot, author of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power", discusses the sudden conversion of many on the Left into supporters of containment and deterrence:
The only time the Left showed any enthusiasm for deterrence was in bashing "Star Wars," as they dubbed the Strategic Defense Initiative unveiled by Ronald Reagan in 1983. After years of protesting deterrence and ridiculing its architects as crazed warmongers (see, for example, "Dr. Strangelove"), liberals suddenly sounded like Herman Kahn disciples as they preached the virtues of Mutual Assured Destruction. This wasn't a fundamental shift in thinking, however. They praised MAD in order to protest Star Wars, but argued against deterrence in general by advocating a nuclear freeze and a "no first use" policy on nuclear weapons. The Left's stance in the Star Wars debate should therefore be seen as a politically convenient, if not terribly sincere, embrace of an ideology they loathed in order to defeat something they hated even more--Ronald Reagan and his "peace through strength" philosophy.
Containment was even less popular on the left than deterrence. "Containment" is depicted these days as a passive doctrine of peace, as opposed to the warmongering of "preemption" advocates. The reality was a good deal more sordid. What did containment entail? It meant support for the Greek colonels, the Argentine generals, the shah, Pinochet, Marcos, Somoza, and other unsavory characters who were in "our" camp. It meant helping to overthrow rulers, such as Mossadegh in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala, and Allende in Chile, who were seen as drifting toward the other side. It meant major wars against North Korea and North Vietnam. It meant invasions of the Dominican Republic and Grenada. It meant support for anti-Communist guerrillas in places like Cuba (the Bay of Pigs), Angola, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan.
Containment was chosen as the long-term policy to pursue against the Soviet Union because there were no practical alternatives. But when there are practical alternatives why should we allow hostile regimes to become far greater threats to us?
The interview covers a variety of topics including the question of whether the United States is an Empire:
John Hawkins: There have been frequent comparisons of late between the United States and the Roman Empire. How valid do you think those comparisons are? Why so?
Victor Davis Hanson: Politically they are absurd. We do not send proconsuls to demand taxes to pay for basing troops. In fact we do the opposite--pay lavishly for bases that protect others. The imperial senate was impotent, and civil war was common after AD 200 -- we have a stable Congress and little strife. For all the European venom, George Bush is not a Caracalla or even Diocletian. The classical topos of luxus, decadence brought about by affluence and leisure -- read Petronius, Suetonius, or Juvenal -- well, that is a real concern. Self-loathing and smug cynicism from an elite are the first symptoms and we see that clearly among those pampered and secure, who nevertheless ridicule the very system under which they operate in such a privileged fashion -- most notably in the arts, on the campuses, and in the media. A Jessica Lange or Barbra Streisand is right out of a Petronian banquet or perhaps sounds like a Flavian princess spouting off at dinner before returning to Nero's Golden House. Norman Mailer is a modern day Eumolpus bellowing on spec, and a Michael Moore a court-jester brought in to stick his tongue out at his benefactors for their own sick amusement.
Update: Hanson's recent NRO essay on "The bankruptcy of the anti-Americanists" is worth a read:
So we have at last arrived at Cloudcuckooland: A hierarchal United States military is more tolerant of liberals in its ranks than liberal universities are of their critics on campus. Republicans support dangerous interventions abroad to remove dictators and free oppressed peoples, as leftist dissidents agitate for hands-off mass murderers and medieval theocrats. A democratic Israel is slandered as imperialistic and fascistic while an authoritarian Palestinian regime is given a pass for theft, murder, and torture. And liberals, women, and homosexuals are saved in Afghanistan thanks to the work of Air Force pilots and special forces, as reactionary fundamentalists and thugs seek to hold onto their autocracy in part by finding solace with anti-American leftists. Who would have ever thought that democratic Iraqis would seek our military's help, while agents of Saddam Hussein would line up to find solidarity with those now marching?
Former Clinton Administration foreign policy officials are arguing that the US has too much power and it should restrain itself and only do what international institutions say it is allowed to do. That the Clinton Admnistration bypassed the UN on numerous occasions apparently was okay because the Clintonistas were liberal progressive Democrats and hence by definition (at least in their minds) were possessed of wisdom and enlightenment.
Now Charles Kupchan, another former official of the Clinton National Security Council has written a book about how the US is going to cease to be a dominant power (which is true - but there is this big question of timing). Kupchan sounds quite eager for that day to arrive:
Charles Kupchan, author of the book "The End of the American Era: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-first Century," agreed with Lind that Bush's foreign policy seems to be driven by a core group of conservative thinkers in the administration with exactly those such ideals.
"What we are seeing is a world out of balance, with a small group of people in the Bush administration (who have), in my mind, too much power," Kupchan said at the forum.
Writing on Tech Central Station Melana Zyla Vickers takes on the former Clintonites in an essay where she labels their approach Dominance Lite
These critics tried dominance-lite and failed. In the 1990s, Binnendijk, Kupchan and their NSC pals led by Sandy Berger gave dominance-lite a whirl. Their diplomacy was unbacked by credible threats of force. More importantly they employed militarily "proportionate responses" to various international outrages. This prompted greater violence and global danger, not greater diplomacy.
To name a few failed proportionate responses: the missiles flung after the Iraqi assassination attempt on President Bush in 1993, the missiles flung after the Al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, the complete inaction after the U.S.S. Cole bombing, the missiles and airstrikes that followed Saddam Hussein's ejection of weapons inspectors in 1998, and the carrots-only package of incentives to North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, which was met with bald disregard.
I find the Clintonites shameless and audacious. They made huge mistakes in foreign policy. Their policies toward North Korea, Al Qaeda, and other threats has been shown by subsequent events to be hopelessly naive. Yet they are still out their flogging their discredited approach to foriegn policy. Are they unaware that they made fools of themselves? Are they just oblivious to the empirical evidence?
These people are all about process. Never mind whether the process achieves the desired outcome. They resist the very idea of declaring which outcomes would demonstrate a failure of policy because to the liberal foreign policy establishment (which itself is a small club since only domestic policy is important to them) o many liberals when it comes to foreign policy the process that they advocate is, for some reason, sacred. They believe that the world can only be made a safe and peaceful place thru international organizations and treaties and so they are just going to keep flogging that horse even if the horse is lying on the ground near death or running for a cliff.
Update: Henry Sokolski, author of Best of Intentions: America's Campaign Against Strategic Weapons Proliferation, has an essay in the Weekly Standard that reviews some of the history of US dealing with North Korea over North Korea's nuclear weapons program:
As generous as the deal was, Pyongyang went to work to dishonor it as soon as the ink was dry. In fact, within 24 months of its signing in October of 1994, U.S. intelligence judged that North Korea had already built two nuclear weapons. This meant that contrary to the deal's terms, which required North Korea to "consistently take steps to implement" its 1992 pledge not to possess nuclear weapons, the intelligence community believed that Pyongyang was secretly hoarding them. Clinton administration officials knew this. They decided, however, to dispute the intelligence finding and instead had Madeleine Albright announce that the deal had "eliminated" the Korean nuclear threat.
Late in 1997 and 1998, though, additional intelligence emerged that Pyongyang was testing high-explosive implosion devices for nuclear weapons and was working at several potential covert nuclear weapons sites. The Clinton administration, heckled into action by Congress and news leaks, again slow-rolled the matter. After more than a year of "tough" consultations with North Korea (and a promise of an additional half million tons of food aid), Clinton at last sent U.S. experts to visit just one of the suspect sites. In the interim, newspapers reported that U.S. satellites photographed North Koreans removing equipment from the site. When finally inspected--surprise--the site was empty.
China's benchmark consumer price index fell 0.8 per cent in October from a year earlier and dropped the same amount in the first 10 months, the State Statistical Bureau said yesterday.
That was a slight moderation from the 0.7 per cent dip in September from a year earlier, and on par with a 0.8 per cent fall in the first nine months.
Japan is now in its 4th year of declining prices:
Japan's economy and banking minister said Wednesday that deflation has worsened more severely than the government had expected, hampering the disposal of nonperforming loans.
"Because of deflation, more nonperforming loans have been generated and that has accelerated deflation," Heizo Takenaka said in a Lower House committee session. "That's why we need to speed up the bad-loan disposal process," he said.
Jesper Koll, chief economist at Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co., sees considerable risk for deflation in the US:
Deflationary realities are all over the U.S. economy. By mid-2002, goods prices for consumers were falling at an unprecedented rate of almost 2 percent. Service prices were still rising, but this is mostly due to the imputed rent calculations as well as high measurement error for services.
For example, the true cost of services offered is falling much faster than measured because service providers are offering extended "free" service periods. The only true price that did not fall is the oil price, but oil is a "Terror War Premium," not the start of a new secular inflation trend.
But Alan Reynolds does not see a risk of deflation in the US:
It would be difficult to retell that story about the U.S. today. The fed funds rate is 13/4 percent and producer prices were essentially flat over the past year, if you leave out food and energy. Subtract almost any other measure of inflation from the fed funds rate, and it is hard to argue that real, inflation-adjusted interest rates are much too high. The Economist's index of commodity prices is up 21.2 percent over the past year, gold is up 13.4 percent, and oil is up 28.9 percent. That makes it quite challenging to argue that falling commodity prices are signaling a broader price decline ahead. The same journal's measure of the dollar exchange rate has dropped from 119.6 percent to 115.1 over the past year, making it equally tricky to argue that the dollar is rising too fast. The producer price index fell in September. But if you leave out food, the index rose from 136.3 in January to 139.3 in September.
Arnaud de Borchgrave examines the sorry state of Pakistan and Afghanistan where the Islamists are making gains.
If the U.S. goes to war against Iraq, Pakistan may well go the way of Yugoslavia. It could easily blow into four deadly parts and where the country's nuclear arsenal would wind up is anyone's guess. Mr. Musharraf is not an Islamist, but a number of jealous, ambitious generals are. The president has survived six assassination plots. In the event of Mr. Musharraf's demise, ISI would play a major role in the struggle for succession.
ISI's role in supplying North Korea with nuclear know-how for its missile warheads in return for North Korean missile technology for Pakistan's nuclear delivery vehicles had been a closely guarded state secret. So when the New York Times broke the story, it was yet another awkward pause in the make-believe world of a Pakistani-U.S. alliance. The chief of the North Korean Air Force has been a frequent visitor to Islamabad since September 11, 2001. He stays at the Marriott Hotel and doesn't even bother to conceal his identity; he wears his uniform.
We still do not have a credible plan for a way to cause a big shift in the attitudes of the Pakistani people to make them find Islamism less appealing. Assassination plots could easily take out Musharraf in Pakistan and Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. Pakistan could degenerate into a civil war. Not only does it have nukes but it also has helped North Korea get them and may have helped other states in their WMD development projects.
To be clear: I used the term "boogeymen", he didn't. But in an excellent blog post that is worth reading in full he sums up nicely a view that I share.
As for the “religious right,” they are utterly irrelevant to me. I’ve been told for 20 years that they will bring a miserable double-knit Pat Boone theocracy, but the evidence seems lacking. There is nothing I want to hear, read, or see that I cannot hear, read, or see. Now and again they get a book banned from a school, just as the Grievance-American community succeeds in banishing Twain because he uses the N word, but no one can look at the American popular culture in the last 20 years and tell me it’s been moving in a direction that gladdens the heart of Jerry Falwell. I have my hell-in-a-handbasket moments, but they’re not about sex or bad language or violence. They’re about the vulgar, grunting, brainless way in which these subjects are handled. I lament the loss of the gentle innuendo, the graceful aspects of old pop culture, but would I want to live in a society that put the screws on so tight that artistic invention was the only way to express certain human necessities? No. It’s a matter of degrees, of context, of intelligence. I can applaud the Victoria’s Secret catalog that shows up in the mailbox, and decry a culture that wants to tart up 12-year olds and sell thongs to little girls. There’s no contradiction. It’s not an either-or. If the religious right has any effect, it’s prodding people like myself to stand up and get pissed instead of letting it roll over us without comment. And if I find common ground with them on nipple-piercing parental notification laws, then that’s how it works. If they’re on the other side of the barricade when it comes anti-sodomy laws, then that’s how it works.
The Religious Right are portrayed by many on the Left as a evil malignant force that is about to crush liberty in America and bring on a society that looks like Margaret Atwood's A Handmaiden's Tale. Perhaps this sort of rhetoric is useful as a Democratic Party fund-raising device. But this view is deeply disrespectful of and shows an ignorance of most Christians who are conservatives. My own experience with Christian conservatives is that the vast bulk of them strongly support a free society and are in no way a threat to liberty. This isn't meant as a defense of "my kind". I say this as an agnostic on all matters religious who really hopes there is a supernatural and that we have spirits that will continue to exist after we die but who fears that we are just physical entities with only short mortal existences.
Some German intellectuals examine whether the West's biggest enemies share a common lack of humor:
DOES THE EUROPEAN Left have a humor problem? The current issue of Merkur, a highbrow German journal devoted to ''European thought,'' explores this ticklish subject. Roughly half of the contributors address the topic of humor and 9/11, and along with the inevitable analyses of American humor after the terrorist attacks, there are a number of well-written polemics excoriating what the authors view as a fundamental hostility within the Islamic world toward Western ideas of fun - and the European Left's tendency to sidestep or blame the West for this hostility. It's an intriguing idea, for which the Merkur has gotten good reviews. But can fun really be the crux of a clash of civilizations? Is it worth thinking about humor as the largely metaphoric war on terrorism threatens to prompt a decidedly literal one in the Middle East?
The problem the Republican Party faces is that neither Hispanics nor Blacks are showing any signs of shifting toward the Republicans. So in the longer run demographic trends are still running in favor of the Democratic Party in spite of a temporary surge toward the Republicans among whites due to increased feelings of patriotism and worries about national security:
If the GOP can attract new supporters with policies rooted in this new culture of sober patriotism, it can become the new natural party of government. But can it? The Democrats have been pinning their hopes for an emerging Democratic majority on the calculation that the growing number of Latino, Asian and black voters who disproportionately support the Democrats would over time (and as a result of immigration) outnumber the Republican-leaning white vote. And that calculation has not been disproved by last Tuesday's election.
On the contrary, the key to the GOP's victory was differential turnout--Republicans turned out in greater numbers than Democrats. In ethnic terms that happened because the minority share of the vote fell sharply, while the white vote increased (and the GOP's share of the white vote increased as well). There was very little sign of minority voters crossing over to the GOP in large numbers.
Update: If you want to see just how much this latest election depended on a larger white vote see Steve Sailer's latest analyses for UPI on how whites won the election for the GOP:
Gallup pointed out, "By far the largest divide among American voters continues to be racial." Nationally, minorities favored the Democrats by an overwhelming margin. This Gallup survey pegged Democratic candidates for Congress as winning 82-14 among nonwhites. Similarly, the Pew Poll, which incorrectly predicted a narrow Democratic victory, saw 85 percent of minorities favoring the Democrats.
While the sample sizes are much too small to be definitive, these two surveys imply that Republicans may have done even worse among minority voters than they did in the 2000 Presidential election, when VNS found the GOP winning around 21% of the nonwhite vote.
Yet, ultimately, that mattered less than many pundits had expected because whites turned out relatively heavily, and they appear to have voted more strongly for Republicans than in recent elections. Gallup discovered that right before the election whites favored the Republicans by a 20-point margin: 58 percent to 38 percent.
There is little to show for Bush's vaunted outreach to Hispanics when looking at assorted minority voting patterns:
In 2000, VNS reported that Bush won 35 percent of the national Hispanic vote. In several of the states for which there is data for this year, the GOP Hispanic vote share couldn't climb out of the 20s. The L.A. Times measured Simon as winning 24 percent of the California Hispanic vote, barely up from 1998 Republican candidate Dan Lungren's 23 percent. According to two major 2000 exit polls (VNS and L.A. Times), Bush had garnered either 23 or 29 percent of Golden State Latinos.
In Colorado, according to Fox, Republican Senator Wayne Allard carried 29 percent of Hispanics versus 25 percent for Bush (VNS) in that state in 2000.
In New Jersey, the GOP share fell from 35 (VNS) to 26 (Fox) over the last two years.
In Massachusetts, a lesser-known University of Massachusetts at Boston exit poll of 1,200 Hispanic voters claimed that 87 percent favored the Democratic candidate for governor, and 92 percent opposed Question 2 calling for the elimination of bilingual education.
Stanley Kurtz argues that if McCain switches parties and succeeds in getting the 2004 Democratic Party nomination he'd split the Democratic Party
From McCain's point of view, the Democratic nomination must look mighty tantalizing right now. With antiwar liberal Nancy Pelosi as its newest high-profile spokesman, the party is digging itself ever more deeply into its rut. Even more mainstream Democratic presidential hopefuls will find it difficult to distance themselves from their party's leftist and anti-war base during the primaries. If McCain sails into the fray with his tough-minded foreign policy, war-hero credentials, and moderate-liberal domestic platform, it could electrify the public and bring moderate primary voters to the polls in droves. The other Democrats would split the leftist base, handing McCain the nomination.
By switching parties early next year, shifting the Senate, and announcing a run for the presidency, McCain would precipitate a media firestorm, and immediately set himself up as the most-credible Democratic critic of the president's war policy. Given that dynamic, moderate and even liberal Democrats will seize upon McCain as the only realistic option for taking the presidency away from Bush in '04.
Kurtz argues that such a move by McCain might split the Democratic Party and drive a lot of Demo voters in 2004 to either stay home or vote for a Green or other third party candidate. I think Kurtz is absolutely right to argue that the Democrats are going to be nutty on foreign policy until the Vietnam generation of Democratic voters dies off. Given that the WWII generation is still dying off that means the Democrats are going to be discrediting themselves on foreign policy for many years to come.
He was the youngest of three brothers. The war ended for his older siblings when they were blown up, returning home with only one functioning leg between the two of them, while he made it back with both still working. If you gave that scenario to Steven Spielberg, he'd go off and make Saving Private Ryan's Legs. But what we Boomers, Gen Xers and all the rest can never understand is the quiet, routine acceptance of personal sacrifice -- the fact that you can be crippled, your life shattered, your prospects shriveled, and that it's OK, it was still the necessary thing to do. That's why every old soldier I've ever spoken to considers the premise of Spielberg's movie laughable. He can recreate everything about the look of a war -- the explosions, the severed arteries, the ketchup -- and miss entirely its pulse. Saving Private Ryan is a "realistic" war movie, only if you don't mind every character thinking in a wholly Oprahfied way.
I was disgusted by that line in Saving Private Ryan. The moral bankruptcy of the Left has reached the point where they have a hard time seeing that the soldiers fighting for the Allied side in WWII believed they were making sacrifices for a moral purpose. The realism of the battle scenes represented an attention to detail that was wasted by a deficit in principled thinking.
News flash for Canadian and European readers: You have less freedom of speech than Americans do and you ought to be be concerned. Eugene Volokh posts a real example and potential example of this. Eugene Volokh looks at the ramifications of a recent protocol passed by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers:
Say that some international court concludes that, for instance, Israel's conduct vis-a-vis the Palestinians, or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has been a crime against humanity -- I do not share these views, but I've certainly seen some people express them, and I can certainly imagine some international court taking this position. Someone disagrees, and sends an e-mail (or put up a Web site) stating that "International law is mistaken, and Israel's and America's actions were indeed morally proper given the exigencies that they faced." Once the Protocol is ratified, that person could then be sent to prison for expressing these views. (The Protocol allows countries to reject or limit this provision, for instance if their free speech principles so require, but obviously the very presence of this provision means that the Council of Europe is urging countries to adopt it.)
We continue to permit anti-Semitic spewings under that laziest of intellectual umbrellas, the freedom of speech and artistic expression.
As Eugene points out freedom of speech is not "that laziest of intellectual umbrellas". It is clear that on the European continent freedom of speech is on the retreat. But does this sort of opinion represent conventional wisdom among Canada's elite?
Ira Straus has written an interesting analysis of the rise of the West, the shift of the center of Western Civilization toward the Atlantic, and his view of the purpose of NATO as an organizing force to strengthen Atlantic Civlization:
For the Founders, the purpose of NATO and its sister institutions was:
First, to organize the Atlantic countries so their leadership in Europe could be exercised in a consistent fashion, joining the cause of freedom with the cause of international order and stability, depriving their enemies of hope of victory, and gradually drawing all of Europe in tow.
Second, to salvage European leadership in the world at large and render it, too, more consistent and sustainable, until the day when all the world could be drawn in tow.
This purpose -- organizing Atlantic leadership Europe-wide and renewing it worldwide -- is the one against which NATO's plans for the future have to be measured. The plans for the Prague summit were not drawn up with this purpose in mind. Not surprisingly, the plans therefore fall short. To do adequate planning, the Atlantic countries will have to remind themselves of the sources of their leadership and the role that their unification was meant to play in enhancing it.
Update: Also see this UPI article for the views of an assortment of thinkers on European and American divisions:
Fukuyama also said there is merit to the argument put forward by Robert Kagan, a scholar at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, that European discontent with American policy is driven by Europe's embrace of normative laws and international organizations like the United Nations. Kagan has written that such Europeans believe that such institutions provide a needed balance in world affairs, and also function as the driving force of European power.
Fukuyama said that such beliefs underlie the basic schism between the American view of nation states and international power, and the view held by the European policymaking elite, because Americans have a fundamentally stronger belief in national democratic institutions. He added that Americans also strongly mistrust non-elected bodies like the International Criminal Court.
Also, this article reports on a meeting in Berlin between UK and US policy makers and Berlin thinktank intellectuals:
At the Nov. 5 meeting, British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon lauded the Germans for their intense public debate over defense issues. He also said: "It is well known that Britain and Germany do not see entirely eye-to-eye on how to deal with the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and I do not propose to go through all the arguments again now.
"In this context, I would therefore merely like to pose the question: If Germany is really serious about the importance of arms control, as I know it is, what effective action would Germany take in the event of a flagrant and very dangerous breach (by Iraq)?"
The article reports that, not surprisingly, the Germans had no answer. To argue against preemption one has to either put forward an alternative strategy that can work or to admit that one holds the position that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is not a threat to the security of Western nations. So far the opponents of preemption have no workable alternative strategy. It is implicit in their position that proliferation is not a problem. Yet they will not come out and say this explicitly.
This is from an interview that Condoleezza Rice gave to New Perspective Quarterly editor Nathan Gardels on September 5, 2002:
CONDOLEEZZA RICE | The concept of not waiting to be attacked goes back a long way in history. It isn't new in that sense. But it is also the case that preemption or "anticipatory defense" ought to be used sparingly. It isn't a blanket policy.
There are certain kinds of regimes that, if they acquire weapons of mass destruction, we must consider a danger because we know their history. The history here is extremely important. Anticipatory defense should not be used as a cover for aggression. It really should be a rare occurrence.
There are threats amenable to being dealt with in other ways, whether through diplomacy, or even coercive diplomacy, or, in the case of India and Pakistan, the involvement of the United States and Great Britain in helping to resolve the conflict.
But there are a few cases that may get beyond other means. Then, you have to reserve the right to use force.
Finally, there is a difference between preemption of capabilities and regime change. They are not the same. You may more often, as the United States has done in the past, preempt capability. But preempting for regime change ought to be a very rare occurrence.
NPQ | Then is it up to any given power to decide on its own when preemptive action is justifiable? Ought the United Nations be involved?
RICE | The US is going to maintain a right to self-defense. But let me be clear: We are not going to militarily preempt every time we see a threat. There are other options. But when it gets to the place where a lot has been tried, and it looks dangerous, then you have to act.
The problem with her phrasing here is that general technological advances are going to make it increasingly easy to develop weapons of mass destruction. If the US waits to try many alternatives and lets a lot of time go by before preempting then it will fail to preempt in time. Also, as a wide assortment of technologies advance and become more widely available the ability to even detect WMD development programs will decline because it will become impossible use purchases of special use equipment as a sign that WMD development is being done by a regime. There will be less of a need to buy special purpose equipment as equipment with many civilian uses becomes capable of also making parts needed for WMD. Ultimately, in order to make the preemption strategy work in the medium run it may become necessary to overthrow (either by invasion or covert ops) any hostile regime about which it can reasonably be said that it has a strong motive to develop WMD. In the long run preemption as a strategy may fail entirely when it becomes possible for groups of private individuals to develop WMD.
Anglosphere columnist James C. Bennett thinks the US needs to change its strategy toward Europe in order to block the emergence of a fully mature EU that is hostile to US interests:
Bush and his team, once they are able to take a long view, should meditate on the fact that America's relations with almost any given European nation are more amicable, cooperative, and productive on a bilateral basis than they are with Europe collectively, that is, with the European Union. A real legacy must treat a dogmatic devotion to the EU as one more fixed idea, such as past notions about litigation, taxation, or international organizations, that must be re-examined, and if needed, reversed.
If Europe is really to become the rival hegemon and power bloc its enthusiasts predict, it makes sense for America to blunt this rivalry by making a generous alternative offer to compatible nations such as Britain and Ireland. If, on the other hand, Europe is about to sink into a demographic, structural, and fiscal crisis, as analysis suggests, then it likewise makes sense for America to buffer itself from this catastrophe by rescuing the nations, again Britain and Ireland, that hold the lion's share of American financial interests.
Anglosphere columnist James C. Bennett compares national and international law and discusses the reasons why international law has legitimacy problems:
Starting particularly with Woodrow Wilson, the past hundred years has seen a growing trend to, first, attempt to refound international law in morality rather than pragmatism, and second, fuse international and national law into a seamless worldwide instrument of personal jurisdiction.
Even the first trend is problematic, both because of the lack of a universal moral consensus that is anything but superficial, and because international law suffers from an attempt to impose the constraints of general principles and universal rules. This is because its numbers are so small that there is far less likelihood of good and bad outcomes evening out over time.
The second trend is also problematic: law binding individuals must, to be effective, be based in morality and have some form of legitimacy in the eyes of those who would be bound.
Christopher takes on the use of "armchair" as a term of deprecation:
You've heard it all right. The concept embodied in the contemptuous usage is this: someone who wants intervention in, say, Iraq ought to be prepared to go and fight there. An occasional corollary is that those who have actually seen war are not so keen to urge it.
The first thing to notice about this propaganda is how archaic it is. The whole point of the present phase of conflict is that we are faced with tactics that are directed primarily at civilians. Thus, while I was traveling last year in Pakistan, on the Afghan border and in Kashmir, and this year in the gulf, my wife was fighting her way across D.C., with the Pentagon in flames, to try and collect our daughter from a suddenly closed school, was attempting to deal with anthrax in our mailbox, was reading up on the pros and cons of smallpox vaccinations, and was coping with the consequences of a Muslim copycat loony who'd tried his hand as a suburban sniper. Should things ever become any hotter, it would be far safer to be in uniform in Doha, Qatar, or Kandahar, Afghanistan, than to be in an open homeland city. It is amazing that this essential element of the crisis should have taken so long to sink into certain skulls.
Exactly right Christopher. When civilians are targetted there is no separate distant war zone where the professional soldiers go off to fight a clearly identified enemy. To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the enemy and he is among us.
What Erdogan said then:
The party's 50-member governing board is scheduled to meet this week to decide on a name to forward to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who formally appoints the prime minister. In a Muslim nation founded on strict secular rules, Erdogan entered public life under the banner of political Islam. The movement is based on a literal interpretation of the Koran's many instructions on governance, demanding that Islamic law, or sharia, become the law of the land. And Erdogan, while a leader of the now-defunct Welfare Party that governed Turkey for 12 erratic months ending in 1997, sounded like a true believer.
"Thank God, I am for sharia," Erdogan once said. And: "One cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time." And: "For us, democracy is a means to an end." Such statements haunted the former Istanbul mayor through this year's election campaign, which ended Nov. 3.
What Erdogan says now:
You have said, "You cannot be secular and a Muslim at the same time. The world's 1.5 billion Muslims are waiting for the Turkish people to rise up and we will rise up." Do you still believe this or have you moderated your views?
A. Islam is a religion. Secularism is just a style of management. When a person chooses Islam, he becomes Muslim, but he can choose secularism as a style of administration.
But you said the two are incompatible.
I am Muslim and prefer secular administration.
This guy is probably going to become Turkey's Prime Minister after the rules are changed to allow him to assume office. What does he really believe? Has he really changed his mind?
Start here and you can read how UNSCOM inspectors proved that the Al Hakam facility made bioweapons. It is harder now than it was then because the Iraqis no longer have to import key supplies:
Though UNSCOM was successful in uncovering Al Hakam, Tucker says that ferreting out bioweapons will still pose a big problem for future inspectors. "Bio facilities can be considerably smaller than chemical facilities, because a militarily significant quantity of chemical weapons is on the order of several tons, whereas with a biological agent, it's in the range of kilograms," he says.
Tucker says that good intelligence is crucial, but that countries such as the US often fail to provide it for fear of compromising sensitive sources and collection methods. "If we want the inspections to work, [the US] will have to be willing to put some intelligence-collection assets at risk by sharing timely information with the UN," he says.
Future inspectors won't be able to rely heavily on export documents, because Iraq can now make critical equipment and growth media, say inspectors.
Ultimately, the American decision on whether to go to war could come down to a single locked gate in the Iraqi desert, or one door to which the key could not be immediately located. Blix, understandably, might be loathe to spark a bloody conflict over that kind of detail. Some old hands insist, however, such delays - often lasting a matter of minutes - are all that Saddam's officials need to spirit away key elements of his weapons programmes. One Unscom alumnus says he watched satellite footage of an inspection, "and you can literally see the Iraqis moving the stuff out of the side entrance while Unscom was at the front", negotiating over an absent key.
"Blix doesn't want to be blamed for going to war," says David Albright, a former IAEA consultant who participated in the inspections and is now president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. "But in my view, there's nothing wrong with having somebody there who can get through locked doors, and I'm not sure Blix would agree with that. You've got to use investigative techniques like the police do. Blix comes from an environment where the nation state is supreme, but this is a criminal state, Iraq, where you have to use lock-pickers, or people who can retrieve information from computers if it's just been erased."
The more interesting question is how will Bush respond when UNMOVIC carries out inspections in ways that make it easier for the Iraqis to get away with their cat and mouse games? Will Bush publically criticise and even eventually to go so far as to state that UNMOVIC is unwilling to do what it takes? The test for Bush is coming up.
If Saudi Arabia is sending money is into Turkey to spread its more fundamentalist Wahhabi version of Islam then this does not bode well for the likelihood that Turkey will maintain a secular government:
Furthermore, though Islam in Turkey is distinctly more tolerant and moderate than that of other Islamic societies, it does exist in the broader context of growing Islamic radical fundamentalism everywhere else. The popular growth of Islamic adherence in Turkey during the past two decades, for example, has largely been financed from both Iranian and Saudi sources.
Erdogan has been making increasingly stronger statements opposing a US move against the Iraqi regime. In his latest he's not exactly sounding like the cool voice of moderate reason that many now hope he is:
"There is a possibility that Washington would use weapons of mass destruction against the Iraqi people at a time when it is using Iraqi possession of such weapons as a pretext to hit Baghdad," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of the Justice and Development Party, told Lebanon's al Mustaqbal newspaper. "This contradictory stand contradicts our humanitarian understandings."
He's trying to say that the US is going to use nuclear, biological or chemical weapons in an attack on Iraq. This is nonsense and demagoguery.
Then Ms. Hirsi Ali, 32, began receiving hate mail, anonymous messages calling her a traitor to Islam and a slut. On several Web sites, other Muslims said she deserved to be knifed and shot. Explicit death threats by telephone soon followed. The police told her to change homes and the mayor of Amsterdam sent bodyguards. She tried living in hiding. Finally, last month, she became a refugee again, fleeing the Netherlands.
"I had to speak up," she said, in a telephone interview from her hiding place, "because most spokesmen for Muslims are men and they deny or belittle the enormous problems of Muslim women locked up in their Dutch homes."
Go read the full article. Its sobering. (NY Times requires free registration)
The conventional view in the EU chattering classes (at least those who are speaking publically) is that Giscard's comments undermined the modernizers and reformers of Turkey.
With much riding on EU-Turkey relations and the possibility of a war in Iraq, analysts said Giscard's comments were badly timed.
"It seems uncharacteristically maladroit," said Peter Ludlow, a specialist on the European Union. "It's difficult to see why he needed to say this or how this can help the work of the convention."
Heather Grabbe, an expert on the enlargement of the Union at the Center for European Reform in London, said Giscard's words made life harder for the very people in Turkey whom the European Union wanted to encourage.
"This just undermines the reformers and modernizers in Turkey," she said. "It undermines all the people who pushed through with great difficulty the legislation over the summer about human rights and minority rights."
The problem with this sort of analysis is that it basically argues that Turkey will not be able to reform, decrease corruption, develop greater protections for individual rights, and greater protection for individual religious and lifestyle choices if Turkey is not allowed to become part of the EU. Suppose that is true. If it is true then is Turkey really compatible with the EU in the first place? If the position of the liberal Westernizing parts of Turkish society is so weak that they need EU membership to buttress their positions then I fail to see how Turkey can become compatible with the EU.
The acid question should be this: if Turkey does not become part of the European Union will Turkey develop along lines that will make it culturally and politcally more compatible with Europe? It would seem unwise to admit Turkey into the EU just because EU policy makers hope that doing so will help to transform Turkey to make it more compatible. The EU is overestimating their ability to affect the internal developments in Turkey.The position of secular reformers in Turkey has been greatly weakened by the fact that Turkish secular parties have been discredited by their own corruption and mismanagement. At the same time, the Turkish military (which is the traditional bulwark of protection of the secular nature of the Turkish government) has had its authority to intervene diminished by constitutional changes that were passed in large part to make Turkey more compatible with the EU. What is especially worrisome about this is that the most Islamic of the Turkish politicians have only been prevented from Islamicising Turkey by occasional interventions by the Turkish military to force Islamists from elected office.
Martin Sieff thinks the results of the recent elections in Turkey do not bode well for Turkey's continued development in a European direction.
Neo-conservative intellectuals now openly write and dream about replacing their increasingly fractious and critical allies in Western Europe with nations such as Israel, Turkey, India and even Russia. But the breakthrough triumph of the Turkish Islamists suggests that their dreams may be built on shifting sands.
Giscard D'Estaing chose the days after the Turkish Islamists won that triumph to make his undiplomatic but hardly unpremeditated remarks. They suggest that French leaders too may be tiring of the cat and mouse delaying game they have been playing with the Turks.
But if the Turks turn away from Europe, the Islamist victory suggests they may not turn to the United States, but to the Muslim East instead, and provide a very different kind of example to the region than the one Pentagon policymakers hope and expect from them.
The recent Turkish elections that brought the more Islamic party to power occurred before Giscard's comments. That Giscard's comments followed within a few days of those elections is probably not a coincidence. If the only reforming force in Turkey that still has any energy is a religious party then its hard to see how secular government has a bright future there. If Turkey is going to become less secular and more Islamic in its goverment then that makes it less compatible with a very secular EU what is culturally mildly Christian but in which religion greatly diminished as a force in politics.
The EU has already extended itself too far into historically culturally Christian (ie countries that used to be Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christian before the Iron Curtain came down) countries that are incredibly corrupt. The EU has already bitten off more than it can chew. It is hubris and folly on the part of the EU leaders that they have gone as far as they have as fast as they have.
To get an idea of just how deep the problems in Turkey extend its important to understand the relationships between the cultural, family, and religious elements of these problems. This previous post has a link to an excellent article by Stanley Kurtz entitled Veil Of Fears which I strongly advise reading if you haven't already. Will the new Turkish government try to lift the headscarf ban? Looks like they are going to try.
The winner of Turkey's election says his party, which has its roots in a banned Islamic movement, will move to lift a ban on the Muslim-style headscarf.
"We will resolve the problems through social compromise. We do not want tensions," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of the Justice and Development Party (AK), told NTV television.
Wearing the Islamic-style headscarf is banned in public offices and universities in Muslim-dominated but strictly secular Turkey, where it is viewed as a declaration of religious fundamentalism.
Will the military step in and stop this?
Finally, David Remnick has an excellent article in The New Yorker which surveys the contemporary Turkish political scene and delves into the history of Ataturk and secularism versus Islam in Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the leader of the recently victorious Justice and Development Party (AKP in its Turkish initials) who can't become prime minister because he's banned from public office for being too Islamic:
Although Erdogan was the focal point of this fall's election campaign, speaking to huge rallies around the country and appearing on posters and billboards, he is a kind of ghost. The Turkish courts banned him from higher office, precisely on account of his rhetorical excesses. "You cannot be secular and a Muslim at the same time," he once declared. "The Muslim world is waiting for the Turkish people to rise up. We will rise up! With Allah's permission, the rebellion will start." His greatest offense, which led to a charge of sedition, came in 1997, when he recited a poem with these lines: "The mosques are our barracks, / the domes our helmets, / the minarets our bayonets, / and the faithful our soldiers." The author is Ziya Gokalp, a secular nationalist from the early twentieth century.
This time around, the Party, Erdogan included, stifled any talk of religious politics, emphasizing instead an ideology of centrist populism. Many of the secular journalists and businesspeople I spoke to expressed awe at the discipline of Erdogan and his followers. They stayed on message. Opponents accused Erdogan of takkiye, or lying in the name of promoting Islam—in this case, masking a politics of Islamic revolution with the rhetoric of more earthly issues.
I tend to expect people to change their fundamental beliefs only very slowly, if they even change at all. So I suspect Erdogan and others like him haven't changed all that much.
Update: All the EU talking heads speaking in an official capacity are claiming that Turkey is still going to become a member of the EU:
EU spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori said Giscard's views were not shared by the leaders of the 15 EU nations.
``Turkey's candidacy is not being questioned by any EU head of state and government in Europe,'' Filori told reporters.
Erdogan is responding very calmly to Giscard's comments and is in a strong position domestically from which to do so:
Mr Erdogan's win of almost two-thirds of the seats in parliament also helps. AKP is likely to rule Turkey for a full five-year term, after a decade of ineffectual coalitions. This means Mr Erdogan may feel less need to respond to every slight. He has more to gain from focusing on Turkey's objective of joining the EU.
"People like Giscard are sent there to try Turkey. Erdogan's response shows he is not going to rise to every aggressively anti-Turkish opinion, especially if it comes from someone who will not take the decision as to whether Turkey joins or not," says one EU diplomat. "
Surprisingly, this Financial Times article claims that Greece is no longer opposing Turkish entry into the EU. Given the demographic threat that many Greeks feel if Turks were free to move over the border and work in Greece this is unexpected (at least by me). Can this be true?
Meanwhile the 15 EU member states are divided over what to offer Turkey at the Copenhagen summit, as much now depends on how Mr Erdogan's Islamist Justice and Development party, fresh from its election victory, performs in coming weeks.
Britain, backed by Denmark, the current EU president, and Greece want to give Turkey a "rendezvous date" - probably next year - to start accession negotiations.
If Saddam could survive in power after the loss of face that would come from giving up many weapons and equipment for making weapons then that would be his best option. But could he survive such a decision? He might be able to get away with a partial hand over of his means of making WMD if he could manage to hide the rest of the equipment well. It might be very My guess is he will pretend he has no weapons of mass destruction or means for making them.
A faction within Hussein's government is said to be urging him to comply with the U.N. resolution. Give up the weapons, they are supposedly telling the Iraqi leader. The real source of Iraqi power is the country's scientific and technical expertise, they contend, which will still be there in a few years when the Americans have forgotten about Iraq again.
But nobody in Hussein's inner circle is thought to be advocating compliance, and for a simple reason: They know that if he reversed course and gave up the weapons he has secretly been accumulating for so many years, it would amount to a disastrous loss of face. The regime's authority would crumble -- and Hussein, his family and inner circle would be more vulnerable than ever to attack.
The problem with the path that the Bush Administration has taken with the UN is that it has provided Saddam with a possible way get thru this crisis without losing power. The UN inspections dance has set up a situation where Saddam might be able to successfully pretend that he's obeying the UN resolution. But it is not possible to persuade Saddam Hussein give up his efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. The whole inspections regime is based on the fiction that inspections can uncover all the weapons and weapons labs and that the UN will sustain firm support for inspections for years. The embrace of this fiction misleads casual observers and allows some politicians and pundits to continue to promote the myth that inspections can stop the proliferation of WMD.
The Financial Times of London reports that the lack of access to Saudi air bases will pose a considerable problem for the full deployment of US air power:
However, the vast number of combat aircraft and support aircraft would require at least 15 airfields, and possibly as many as 20, according to estimates prepared for the House armed services committee by Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.
Without help from Saudi Arabia, which has 31 long paved runways, the US would be forced to cobble together help from other Gulf states, where airfields are less developed and poorly stocked. According to Mr O'Hanlon's estimates, even with four to six aircraft carriers and complete access to bases in Turkey and Kuwait, such a large force would need at least a dozen more fields, leading the US to rely on small emirates such as Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Michael O'Hanlon's testimony to the US House Armed Services Committee on October 2, 2002, entitled "War Against Saddam's Regime: Winnable But No Cakewalk", appears to the source of the comments in the Financial Times article referenced above. You can read O'Hanlon's testimony on the US House Of Representatives site here or on the Brookings Institute site here.
O'Hanlon thinks the urban settings that will be the scene of some of the Iraqi fighting limit the extent to which air power can be used:
Trends in military technology development and recent American battlefield victories suggest to some that the United States' high-technology edge will make the deployment of a large invasion force unnecessary. Indeed, laser- and satellite-guided bombs, as well as new reconnaissance and communications systems like JSTARS aircraft and Predator and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles demonstrated enormous potential in the Gulf War, Bosnia and Afghanistan. But two other conflicts from recent history also need to be kept in mind: the U.S. military campaign in Somalia in 1992-1993 and the war against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999. In both cases, difficult battlefield terrain and conditions—the urban setting of Mogadishu, the forested settings of Kosovo—limited enormously what high technology could do.
The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapon that was so effective against the entrenched Taliban forces would be difficult to use against Iraqi armor deployed in urban settings, since it could cause so much collateral damage to civilians that its use might be severely limited. Laser-guided bombs could be more effective, at least in good weather, but they require forward target designators and even they could not be used against individual soldiers carrying small arms. If U.S. aircraft tried to spot targets on their own, they would have to fly low over Iraqi cities, risking losses from Iraq's anti-aircraft artillery and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles. When coalition aircraft flew low in the first three days of Desert Storm, the result was 27 aircraft damaged or destroyed—one-third of their losses for the entire war.
I'm skeptical of the claim that there will not be enough air bases. The US has been building up airbases in the small Gulf states and even in the Caucasus region. The US will have as many or more aircraft carriers as it had for Desert Storm and some of the carrier-based aircraft will carry more bombs per mission (in particular the Super Hornet). The USAF will have forward positioned B1, B2, and B52 bombers at Diego Garcia (so much shorter round-trips per mission and hence many more missions per aircraft), and it will have much more accurate bombs. At the same time, it has had plenty of time to degrade Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses.
O'Hanlon argues that deterrence alone may not restrain Saddam:
Deterrence could fail in the future nonetheless, at least in a limited way. In particular, if Saddam had a nuclear weapon, he would still almost surely be deterred from directly attacking the United States or its NATO allies. But he might take greater risks in the Middle East and Persian Gulf in the belief that his new weapon effectively guaranteed his regime's survival, making U.S.-led intervention to thwart his regional ambitions less likely except in the most extreme of circumstances.
What might Saddam do under such circumstances? Perhaps he would seize the oil field on his border with Kuwait that was the purported original cause of the 1990 Iraq-Kuwait crisis. Or he might violate the safe haven in his country's Kurd region and seek to reestablish brutal Ba'ath party rule over that minority population. He might escalate his support for anti-Israeli terrorism, stoking radicals and suicide bombers and trying to provoke Israel into an overreaction. Given his propensity for miscalculation, he might think he could get away with actions that we would in fact find unacceptable, causing a failure of deterrence and a much greater risk of war. In a worst case, on his deathbed he might decide to attack Israel with nuclear weapons for purposes of simple vengeance, and to ensure his mark upon Arab history books.
The Hungarian chapter of George Soros' Open Society Institute has released a new report that confirms the problem that the European Union faces with candidate members that are more corrupt than the average existing members. Since many of the existing members are more corrupt than the US the EU already has a serious problem with corruption. From the press release
The OSI reports confirm existing perceptions that corruption in candidate States is a significant problem. The main findings of the country reports are the following:
The issue of corruption tends to be used in candidate States as a political weapon. A survey carried out in November 2001 by Strathclyde University found that three-quarters of citizens in candidate States believed most or all public officials to be corrupt. Opposition parties across the region often use corruption to help them win elections, and then disappoint electorates by not delivering on their promises - further delegitimising politics. In Poland, the issue of corruption is providing ammunition to populist parties that are - ironically - opposed to EU accession.
Political will to tackle low-level corruption is high across the region. However, very few candidate States have put in place frameworks that can effectively combat high-level corruption. This is particularly true regarding corruption in the lawmaking process and in political party financing. Lithuania stands out as a country that has put in place mechanisms that appear to be increasingly effective against corruption at all levels.
Corruption is a serious problem in public administration in almost all candidate States, underpinned inter alia by the absence of effective appeal procedures and widespread conflicts of interest. For example, the Czech Republic, where administrative procedure and appeal processes date from the 1960's, is typical in providing citizens with poor options for redress against administrative fiat.
Corruption in public procurement remains a serious problem in most if not all candidate States: bribes of 10-20 percent of contract value appear to be typical, while collusion between bidders appears to be widespread across countries as different as Slovenia and Bulgaria.
The full text of the report is available for downloading here: Monitoring the EU Accession Process: Corruption and Anti-corruption Policy.
The full text of a recent related report is available here: Monitoring the EU Accession Process: Judicial Capacity. The UK Guardian has also published an article about this report.
Also see my previous posts on EU corruption.
Elsewhere it is claimed that North Korea has also made a deal with Iran for nuclear weapons development. Has Pakistan made other deals? How to put Pandora back in her box?
This deal was also an implicit statement of revolt that reaches beyond local ambitions to confront India or South Korea or to ensure national survival and sovereignty. Selling or transferring nuclear-weapons material and technology to nations that have no connection to your national survival is a significant new development. That is why the key questions about what has happened -- and why -- must be pursued with Pakistan as well as North Korea.
The Bush administration is disinclined to ask President Pervez Musharraf those questions as the war on al Qaeda continues. That is shortsighted. If Pakistan will break the rules to help a distant pauper Asian dictatorship, how can it say no to rich Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Libya when they offer to buy an Islamic bomb? If there is no accounting from Pakistan, the major powers' pretense of control over the spread of nuclear weapons is exposed as one more giant fraud of the past heady decade.
Former US Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Thomas Woodrow writing in a publication of the Jamestown Foundation claims that Saudi Arabia may have funded Pakistan's nuclear weapons development program:
Beijing is rapidly becoming a major player in world oil markets, and increasingly sees access to energy resources as a critical component of its national security and long-term military strategy. It has assiduously cultivated ties with Riyadh since the mid-1980s, when it sold CSS-2 nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) to Saudi Arabia. Some reports indicate that Saudi Arabia has been involved in funding Pakistan's missile and nuclear program purchases from China, which has resulted in Pakistan becoming a nuclear weapons-producing and -proliferating state.
China maintains a very close relationship with Saudi Arabia as a key component of its strategy to guarantee access to oil resources in the Persian Gulf. Until 1995, China was a net exporter of oil. In 2001, it imported over 60 million tons. Its need for imported oil to maintain its GNP growth will at least double over the next decade. It will very soon become a major influence in the global oil market, a development that will have immense ramifications on resource competition and international security ties.
Later in the same report there is the warning that the Saudis might buy nukes from Pakistan:
If these reports are correct, what in essence has happened is that Saudi Arabia has given money to China for Pakistan's missile and nuclear programs. If so, Saudi Arabia could be buying a nuclear capability from China through a proxy state with Pakistan serving as the cutout. If Riyadh's influence over Pakistan extends to its nuclear programs, Saudi Arabia could rapidly become a de facto nuclear power through a simple shipment of missiles and warheads.
Separately Paul Wolfowitz claims Saudi Arabia purchased ballistic missiles from China:
In an address to a Washington audience on Oct. 24, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Riyad acquired the missiles from China in a development that stunned Washington, Middle East Newsline reported.
"I believe in the 1980s when Saudi Arabia acquired long-range ballistic missiles from the People's Republic of China it took us completely by surprise," Wolfowitz told Frontiers for Freedom. "We think a relatively harmless surprise, but nonetheless a surprise."
Wolfowitz's disclosure comes as Riyad is said to be mulling a new missile purchase from China and Pakistan. Western intelligence sources said Riyad has built new silos and facilities for intermediate-range missiles and has intensified efforts to procure nuclear weapons.
Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach thinks the US Federal Reserve's latest move and pronouncements indicate that the Fed is now treating deflation as a serious threat. By contrast, he finds much to fault in the ECB's recent failure to lower rates.
The problem with the ECB’s approach is that it is completely out of step with the perils of deflation. While we forecasters live and die on the basis of our predictions, the policy maker cannot afford to bet on any one point estimate of the future. Like investing, policy setting is a business of probabilities. The ECB, like any central bank, must frame its actions in such a probabilistic context. Here’s, again, where the Fed anti-deflation script described above comes into play. According to this recipe, when the risks of deflation become significant -- say in excess of 25% -- the authorities must then treat such an outcome as their central case.
With 54% of the world already in the deflation zone and with Euroland’s fundamentals flashing a similar warning sign, I would argue that the ECB must now embrace the same risks that the Fed has adopted. In this climate, it can no longer afford the luxury of betting on the avoidance of deflation.
By contrast, Richard Berner and David Greenlaw, also of Morgan Stanley, think the threat of deflation is not receding, at least in the US:
But even if growth improves, the great deflation debate is still heated. "Core" producer prices declined in October from a year ago for the first time in the 26-year history of the data, and GDP price inflation has sunk to 40-year lows of 0.8%. We repeat our view: While deflation risks have risen, deflation enthusiasts err by looking at year-over-year headline inflation data (see "The Deflation Debate: Are Services the Next Leg?" Global Economic Forum, October 18, 2002). More recent inflation data, especially those purged of the decline in energy prices from a year ago, evince stable inflation. For example, the price index for gross domestic purchases excluding food and energy has been roughly stable for the past two years at 1 1/2%. Likewise, inflation expectations and forward-looking cyclical inflation indicators point to inflation stability. Nonetheless, global economic slack and a still-strong dollar will likely keep inflation hovering near 40-year lows.
As further proof, perhaps the strongest indication that deflation risks are mostly in the past comes from large-capitalization companies: Despite the mantra of no pricing power, Corporate America is racking up modest gains in revenue and much bigger increases in earnings. For example, with 86% of S&P companies reporting for the third quarter, earnings rose by 12.3% from a year ago on the back of a 3 1/2% rise in revenues. To be sure, earnings and revenues are below their previous peaks. And this rebound follows the biggest earnings bust in 50 years -- and the only decline in top-line revenues in the history of the data. But the results strongly suggest that operating leverage is now working to the upside, and that the benefits of financial deleveraging are beginning to help corporate cash flow.
Using the text of the UN resolution as his guide he sees Feb. 11, 2003 as the day by which the inspectors will have to have reported back in some manner to the Security Council.
The resolution instructs the inspectors "to resume inspections no later than 45 days following adoption of this resolution and to update the Council 60 days thereafter"--that is, by Feb. 11. Presumably everything will be in place by then for the bombs to start falling the next day.
You can read the full text of the UN Security Council Resolution on Iraq here.
This article has lots of other indicators of preparations for war. Among those indicators is bridging equipment that is en route for crossing the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. But the point at which the carriers will reach a peak number seems like a pretty good indicator to watch:
The USS Lincoln aircraft carrier and its naval battle group is in the Gulf, and the USS Washington is in the Mediterranean. The USS Constellation battle group, with 75 aircraft and 8,000 sailors, left San Diego earlier this month, four months ahead of schedule, bound for the North Arabian sea.
Another aircraft carrier, the USS Truman, completed its final preparatory exercises last week, and is taking on provisions at its base in Virginia.
On the other side of the country, the USS Vinson aircraft carrier and is being prepared for departure from its base in Washington state some time in December.
In San Diego the USS Nimitz is also due for deployment, and the carrier based in Japan, the USS Kitty Hawk, has left harbour for exercises at an undisclosed location.
Update: Bradley Graham writing in the Washington Post reports there is not yet a decision to reach a readiness peak at a particilar point in time:
Additionally, the Pentagon is expected to scratch plans to extend the tours of two aircraft carriers -- the Abraham Lincoln and the George Washington -- that have been within striking distance of Iraq, allowing them to sail back to the United States after the arrival soon of replacement carriers -- the Constellation and the Harry Truman. In Kuwait, a fresh brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division already has started rolling in to relieve a brigade that has been training there for nearly six months. And the Air Force also is counting on rotating some of its warplanes in and out of the region.
The United States has moved Marine Corps attack jets to Afghanistan, the military said Wednesday, replacing carrier-based warplanes in the Arabian Sea that have moved closer to Iraq.
While a delay caused by inspections creates weather problems it allows more equipment to be put into place:
Goure added that a long inspections process would allow US officials to finish putting its equipment and personnel in place. Equally important is that a strong UN resolution gives greater multilateral support for any potential US military effort if Baghdad fails to comply.
This article has a long list of equipment already moved or being moved into the theatre.
-- U.S. heavy B-2 bombers, which fired opening salvos in last two U.S. wars, are to be moved to the British-held Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and Fairford, England, the first time they will be based overseas rather than at Whiteman Air Force Base in central Missouri. Timing of the move has not been announced. The radar-evading aircraft can carry 40,000 pounds (18,180 kg) of bombs, including 5,000-pound (2,273 kg) "bunker buster" bombs that can burrow up to 30 feet (nine metres) into rock or reinforced concrete.
The New York Times (free registration required) has a lengthy report on Iraq war planning.
The plan, approved in recent weeks by Mr. Bush well before the Security Council's unanimous vote on Friday to disarm Iraq, calls for massing 200,000 to 250,000 troops for attack by air, land and sea. The offensive would probably begin with a "rolling start" of substantially fewer forces, Pentagon and military officials say.
Pollack's views give some idea of the difficulties ahead. The resolution, whatever its virtues in reconciling for the moment the approaches of America and other leading nations, solves nothing in itself. A genuine renunciation of weaponry by Saddam is the least likely consequence, and in any case could not be verified. Yet, if Pollack is right about inspection difficulties, Saddam could well get away with continued concealment. Unless the US already has some very reliable intelligence on a facility that Saddam tries to deny to the inspectors, which is not impossible, Washington could be denied the "caught red-handed" case that would convince the world. If so, the evidence of a breach could be indirect or partial, and we would be back again to a situation in which the US and Britain saw a cause for war and others chose not to see the same thing.
It is gratifying to see people on the left seriously considering Kenneth Pollack's case for preemption. To read more on preemption read Stanley Kurtz on Kenneth Pollack and more generally read the Preemption, Deterrence, Containment Archive.
In a blog essay entitled "Historic German Origins Of Conservatism" blogger and FrontPage Magazine writer John Jay Ray argues that Protestantism has been a decentralizing force in politics as it was born out of distrust of central religious authority:
Nonetheless, even in a weakened form, the Catholic church offers a model of “top down” social organization that must make it easier for Catholics to accept political arrangements of a “top down” sort. If you look up to the Pope as an essential part of your salvation in the spiritual sphere, to look up to the government as an essential agency in securing your material wellbeing is surely only a small step. So the fact that the vast majority of Europeans are still Catholic (even if the Catholicism is much watered down from what it was) should make Europeans more accepting of all-pervasive government than Anglo-Saxons would ever be. And so, of course, it has come to pass. In Bismarck, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Salazar and Papadopoulos Europe has had authoritarianism in government on a scale unknown in the English-speaking world.
Of course, Papadopoulos, being Greek, was raised in the Greek Orthodox culture. But the Orthodox are similar to the Catholics in terms of having a hierarchically structured church with high priests who are the interpreters and authorities on spiritual matters. So the argument can be extended to state that Catholic and Orthodox Europe have a longer tradition of top-down authoritarian religious rule than does Protestant Europe. But the real interesting twist to Ray's argument is not that Protestantism encouraged political decentralization (though perhaps it did). Its that the areas that went Protestant had existing cultures that were more decentralized in their social and political structures even before the Protestant Reformation. Now is this true? I don't know enough Middle Ages cultural history to say. But it reminds me of something John Derbyshire has written about the feudal era and the men who went off on the Crusades:.
That is what they were like, these men of Western Europe. Brutish, coarse, ignorant, often insanely cruel — yes: but peer into their inner lives, their thoughts, their talk among themselves, so far as it is possible to do so, and what do we find? What were their notions, their obsessions? Faith, of course, and honor, and then: vassalage, homage, fealty, allegiance, duties and obligations, genealogies and inheritances, councils and "parlements," rights and liberties. The feudal order is easy to underestimate. In part this is because feudal society was so at odds with many modern ideals — the ideal of human equality, for example. In part, also, I believe, because the sheer complexity of it, and of its laws and customs, deters study and sometimes confounds analysis. (Define and differentiate the following: champerty, maintenance, embracery.) A certain dogged application is required to get to grips with feudal society, and few who are not professional historians are up to the task, Karl Marx being one honorable exception. Yet it is in this knotty tangle of heartfelt abstractions spelled out in Old French that can be found, in embryo, so much of what we cherish in our own civilization today.
If John Jay Ray's argument is correct then in the writings from the Middle Ages one would expect to find more talk of rights and a different slant on obligations and duties among those who were living in areas that later became Protestant. One might also expect to find different rules for property ownership (perhaps less tilted toward elites and with wider access to property law courts) in the areas that became Protestant. Anyone know enough history to comment on this?
Some blunt talk on Turkey from a former President of France and current head of the European Union's Constitutional Convention:
Mr Giscard d'Estaing told Le Monde that Turkey's capital was not in Europe, 95% of its population lived outside Europe, and it was "not a European country".
Asked what the effect of including Turkey in a future wave of European enlargement would be, he said: "In my opinion, it would be the end of Europe."
He doesn't want to end the European Union:
Underlining his opposition to Turkish membership of the EU, Giscard d'Estaing said that letting non-European countries join the 15-member club would be "the end of the European Union."
"The day after you open negotiations with Turkey, you would have a Moroccan demand (for membership of the union,)" said the 76-year-old politician.
Its only what other EU politicians are already saying privately:
Giscard's comments reflected in blunt language what many EU politicians whisper privately, but they come at a particularly delicate time when Brussels needs Turkey's cooperation to try to solve several problems related to enlargement.
So then is Andersson in favor of Turkey's entry?
His outspoken comments caused uproar and embarrassment in Brussels and outraged Turkish representatives in the Convention. One European Parliament member, Swedish Socialist Jan Andersson, called for his resignation.
The official EU position is that Turkish membership in the EU would not be a problem:
"I don't have any intention of getting into a ping-pong match with Mr Giscard d'Estaing," said a spokesman for the European Commission -- the EU's executive.
"He is of course free to give his own personal opinion," spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori told reporters.
But asked whether Turkey's entry into the EU would mean its end, Filori said: "The answer is no."
What is surprising is that comments are getting more attention than recent comments from the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer along the same lines.
Keep in mind that these comments come from European leaders who are convinced that Israel is an oppressive regime that treats Muslims most unfairly, that Israel ought to be capable of living peacefully side-by-side closely with Muslim Arabs (who, after all, are culturally much less European than Turks), and that if it can't then it must be the fault of the Israeli Jews. Hypocrisy? You decide.
Update: Also, be sure to see my previous post on Barbara Lerner On Reasons For Turkish Exceptionalism.
For details of their comparison of Germany, the US and Japan see the chart "Testing for Nipponitis" on this page.
Our analysis suggests that Germany has more symptoms of the Japanese disease than America. America's bigger bubble infected its economy more severely; but its more flexible markets and institutions should now help it to adjust. For now, both countries remain in danger.
Policymakers dismiss the risk of deflation—just as in 1990 it would have seemed far-fetched to predict that Japan would enter a deflationary slump that would last for more than a decade. Yet as Marx reminds us: history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce.
The US scores highest on "Size of asset-price bubble", "Coporate overinvestement", and "Large private-sector debts" with a moderate score for "Risk of deflation". Whereas while Germany only scores highest on "Large private-sector debts" and "Shrinking/ageing population" it also has a longer list of moderate scores for "Size of asset-price bubble", "Risk of deflation", "Weak banking system", "Severe structural rigidities", and "Political/social paralysis".
Update: Also, see this article that argues Germany's problems are not as serious as Japan's.
'We're a long way from that sort of psychology in Germany,' said Mr David Walton, the chief European economist at Goldman, Sachs.
He noted that the benchmark short-term interest rate in the 12 nations using the euro currency stands at 3.25 per cent, leaving the European Central Bank some flexibility to lower rates, an option the Bank of Japan has exhausted.
Japanese banks are also a world apart from those in Germany.
Update II: This article lays out the opposing views about whether the US Federal Reserve still has additional unused power to stimulate the economy:
On the other side of the argument are economists such as Russell Sheldon of BMO Nesbitt Burns, who wrote a report for clients recently entitled "The Myth of Fed Impotence," in which he said "readers are about to be deluged with stories about Fed impotence, suggesting the final rate cuts won't matter." According to Mr. Sheldon, such stories "are perfectly normal for the end stage of any Fed easing process and can safely be ignored," because the benchmark Fed rate "is not as low as you think."
The BMO economist says while the Fed funds rate may be at a 40-year low, it isn't that low on a historical basis if you use the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation benchmark, which Mr. Sheldon describes as "smoothed core PCE." Using this measure, the Fed moved rates as low as negative 1 per cent in real terms after the 1990 recession, and has done so in previous downturns as well. On that scale, U.S. interest rates are still well above zero, and therefore there is still room for more cuts ahead.
The problem with the more complacent viewpoint is that if inflation drops then without the Fed even changing interest rates the real cost of money will rise. If inflation drops to zero then the Fed will no longer even be able to make real interest rates go negative.
Theodore Dalrymple finds parallels between the UK Equal Opportunities Commission and the Spanish Inquisition
The lady from the commission demanded to know where the volumes by such and such black authors were. My friend showed her where they were, among all the other books.
“You should have a section for black authors,” she said.
“We don’t classify books by race,” my friend repeated.
The lady from the commission, very annoyed, stormed out, exclaiming for all to hear, “This is a white racist bookshop!”
Writing in the Times of London Anatole Kaletsky argues that there are signs the UK Labour Party may overreach in its forced egalitarian agenda and provoke a backlash that will drive the Right back into power:
But in taking the Left’s hegemony for granted, the new generation of Labour leaders are playing with fire. Some of the concepts with which they are toying — the abolition of private practice for hospital doctors or the punitive treatment of elitist educational institutions — go beyond anything attempted by successful left of centre parties in continental Europe. They also defy old Labour’s traditions of reluctantly conciliating and co-opting large parts of the British middle and upper middle class.
New Labour has tried to cement its friendship with Britain’s middle classes by refusing to raise income taxes. By doing this, Mr Brown believes he has gained himself the political cover to pursue a redistributive welfare policy and now an aggressively egalitarian social agenda. But Britain’s affluent classes will not be mollified for long by Labour’s apparent tolerance of personal wealth, and its commitment to moderate income taxes, if the Government then tries to prevent the affluent from using their money to give their children an elitist education or to buy themselves better healthcare.
The interesting queston is whether this overreach and the corresponding reaction will come soon enough to stop the UK government from giving its sovereignty away to the EU.
The Special Forces think they should be allowed to fit in with the natives:
The first such sign is the now-infamous order to Special Forces in Afghanistan to shave their beards. This seemingly innocuous directive, issued because of strong pressure from the Army high command, has infuriated many of the "snake eaters," who claim it shows that desk-bound brass hats don't understand their demanding duties.
They also do not want to get caught up in the Pentagon procurement bureaucracy:
Yet that is precisely the prospect that Secretary Rumsfeld has raised in a memorandum circulated around the Pentagon. As first reported in the Washington Times, Rumsfeld suggested that Special Operations work under the same budgeting rules that govern the other combat commands.
It is disappointing that the special forces aren't being given more latitude. Their judgement should be trusted that they know how best to do their jobs.
This analysis in Deutsche Welle (at least I think that's the name of the publication) argues that the Europeans are going to have to accept Bush as a legitimate and serious leader now that his party has had so much success in mid-term elections. Now, you might say they are hopeless because it has taken them two whole years to see the obvious. But since some people never do clue in on any number of subjects (eg Arabs who claim the US or Israel was behind the 9/11 or Bali attacks) the ability of the Europeans to finally make contact with reality is actually a promising sign:
But Tuesday's elections -- which put Bush's Republicans in control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress -- are likely to challenge those stereotypes. "He's not the trigger-happy cowboy people here like to portray him as," says Christian Hacke, a professor of political science at the University of Bonn.
Instead, he's become a strong political leader in the U.S. and abroad -- one that Europe will have to contend with whether it wants to or not.
"Europeans who are having trouble with him may continue to, but this is not an accidental presidency anymore," says Jackson Janes, executive director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. "Europeans must now engage with the U.S. and stop sitting around saying, 'What an idiot.' They're going to have to learn how to play the piano with Bush as Tony Blair has done."
European Transnationalists (ie many of the usual suspects) are unhappy with the Republican electoral victory. Their fantasy of exercising control over the US in foreign policy has taken a big hit:
Indeed, the view from European capitals is that transatlantic relations will not so much drift but slip into a pattern of US unilateralism and selected bilateralism - the latter taking precedence over any common EU foreign policy.
This has become more apparent over the past year, with European foreign policy shifting back to its natural home in individual capitals. Diplomats said Italy and Spain, for example, were much more interested in cultivating relations with Washington - even to the extent of providing military or political support over Iraq - than helping to promote a coherent EU common view.
While the most recent electoral results certainly do up the odds that the US is going to follow thru on its preemption strategy and take out the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein we have still not reached a point where it is certain that the US will pursue the preemption strategy beyond Iraq. The other regimes which are developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and supporting terrorism against Western targets may still manage to survive long enough to develop enough WMD to be able to deter US attacks on those regimes. What is most notable about the Iraq debate is the sheer number and variety of types of bad things the Iraqi regime has had to do in order for the US government to move in the direction of removing the regime from power. Even then, the US has had to do so with little support from other Western nations.
To the extent that the argument for taking out the regime in Iraq is made for reasons other than to stop the spread of WMD the whole argument for preemption is downplayed in the public debates. The Bush Administration, by emphasising all the other reasons for removing the Iraqi regime, has lost an opportunity to promote preemption as a strategy that should guide US policy toward Libya, Iran, and North Korea.
This is not "us" against "them" in a "clash of civilizations;" it's us against......us. Islamism embodies both the Left and Right Western critiques of liberalism. The Left says that we lack the equality we espouse and that we foster selfishness; the Right says that we're boring, un-spiritual, and ignoble. We should not be completely surprised about what we are up against and what the perennial points of attack against liberalism are. Given the fact that Islamism already represents a kind of "Westernization," the real question is whether Fukuyama is justified in his hopefulness that this mixture of Marxism and fascism can lead eventually to liberalism, as fascism did in Germany and Marxism did in Russia.
Coumarianos makes a number of good points. But his claim that there is a lack of "clash of civilizations" doesn't hold up. Yes, Arab intellectuals incorporated some of the lousier European political ideas into Arab nationalist thinking. Yes, some of what we are fighting amounts to bad ideas of Western Civilization adopted by members of other civilizations. But the reason these Western ideas were so attractive to begin with is that they provided an intellectual basis (no matter how flimsy or wrong) to oppose other Western ideas that Arab nationalists and Islamists already found objectionable. In other words, fascism and other ideas were attractive because they served as useful intellectual tools for propaganda and for organizing in opposition to other Western influences.
Similarly, one can read too much into Aflaq's presence in the Iraqi government in the latter part of Aflaq's life. I've read elsewhere (and its been too long to recall where) that Saddam invited Aflaq to Iraq basically for window dressing. Saddam wanted the bit of added legitimacy that he'd gain in the minds of Arab intellectuals from having Aflaq serving in some minor government ministry post. Aflaq wasn't in Iraq because Saddam embraced Baathist ideology but rather because Saddam wanted to sucker in the people who did embrace Baathist ideology.
Saddam is far more a tribal leader than a party man. See the essay "Tales Of A Tyrant" written by Mark Bowden in the May 2002 issue of The Atlantic for a good sense of how Saddam has cynically used Baathism as a tool as he built up his base of power using the same old rule by most powerful family clan:
The party seized control in 1968, and Saddam immediately became the real power behind his cousin Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, the president and chairman of the new Revolutionary Command Council. Al-Ali was a member of that council. He was responsible for the north-central part of Iraq, including his home village. It was in Tikrit that he started to see Saddam's larger plan unfold. Saddam's relatives in al-Awja were throwing their newly ascendant kinsman's name around, seizing farms, ordering people off their land. That was how things worked in the villages. If a family was lucky, it produced a strongman, a patriarch, who by guile, strength, or violence accumulated riches for his clan. Saddam was now a strongman, and his family was moving to claim the spoils. This was all ancient stuff. The Baath philosophy was far more egalitarian. It emphasized working with Arabs in other countries to rebuild the entire region, sharing property and wealth, seeking a better life for all. In this political climate Saddam's family was a throwback. The local party chiefs complained bitterly, and al-Ali took their complaints to his powerful young friend. "It's a small problem," Saddam said. "These are simple people. They don't understand our larger aims. I'll take care of it." Two, three, four times al-Ali went to Saddam, because the problem didn't go away. Every time it was the same: "I'll take care of it."
It finally occurred to al-Ali that the al-Khatab family was doing exactly what Saddam wanted them to do. This seemingly modern, educated young villager was not primarily interested in helping the party achieve its idealistic aims; rather, he was using the party to help him achieve his. Suddenly al-Ali saw that the polish, the fine suits, the urbane tastes, civilized manner, and the socialist rhetoric were a pose. The real story of Saddam was right there in the tattoo on his right hand. He was a true son of Tikrit, a clever al-Khatab, and he was now much more than the patriarch of his clan.
Racially and tribally based regimes predate the creation of modern fascism. Absent a European intellectual influence the Middle East would still have regimes that were centered around powerful families and clan loyalty with identification extending further out into ethnic group and religious identity. Consanguinity is the biggest underappreciated factor in Western analyses of Middle Eastern politics. Most Western political theorists seem blind to the importance of pre-ideological kinship-based political bonds in large part because those bonds are not derived from embrace of abstract Western ideological models of how societies and political systems should be organized. Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations argument is therefore demonstrated by the Western inability to understand societies that do not fit into any recognizeable modern Western ideological political category.
Update: Mark Bowden is interviewed here about his article on Saddam Hussein:
Does he conform to some kind of typical pattern? Are there aspects of his personality or situation that stand out as unusual?
Some things about him are different. In modern times tyrants have tended to be motivated primarily by ideology. So you have Pol Pot and Mao and Stalin and Hitler and Castro, all of whom were driven by fantasies of creating a higher social order. And then you have tyrants like Mobutu Sese-Sekou and Idi Amin and Papa Doc Duvalier, who were primarily motivated by greed—who were just trying to amass as much power, and have sex with as many women, and eat as much food as they could. Saddam is different in that he appears to be motivated primarily by vanity. And by this romantic fascination with Arabian history—the glory of Arabia.
Shouldn't the US have enough influence to keep Iranian propaganda off the air in Afghanistan?
Iran continues playing all sides of the Afghan conflict. While aiding al-Qaeda and renegade elements of the ousted Taliban, it's also rearming ethnic factions in northern Afghanistan and penetrating government circles. Tajik generals now controlling Afghanistan's key security ministries, who depended heavily on Iranian support during their decadelong struggle against the Taliban, persistently are courted by Iran, which was the first country to reopen its embassy in Kabul.
"Without Iran, most Northern Alliance commanders couldn't have operated in Afghanistan at a time when they had no other source of international support," says a senior Afghan government source. "Almost every important Afghan commander has family living in Iran and most of them were educated in fundamentalist religious schools, or madrassas."
During the last year, Iran's foreign ministry has organized a series of private trips to Tehran for key members of the Karzai government, including Defense Minister Fahim, Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, Interior Minister Yunis Qanuni and National Security Chief Aref Sarwari.
Iran has supplied high-powered transmitters and funding to re-establish Afghan television and radio, which provide the only news service in a country with 80 percent illiteracy. The broadcasts now are laced with radical Islamic, anti-American propaganda and disinformation spun out by the Iranian government's IRNA news agency. During the last month, broadcasting regulations have been reintroduced that prohibit foreign films showing unveiled women.
Some opponents of a US attack on Iraq put forward the argument that the US motive revolves around oil. There is considerable irony in this argument because while the argument about whether to attack Iraq is about oil the reason is not because of US motives. The reason that the fight over Iraq is about oil is because the opponents of the attack want to protect their oil interest and other interests in Iraq that flow directly or indirectly from Iraq's ability to produce oil. Take Russia for example:
Iraq still owes Russia from $7 billion to $10 billion for arms purchases during the war with Iran, and Russian oil companies, with their history of cooperation with Iraq, are poised to be major players in any revival of the Iraqi oil industry.
Lukoil, Russia's biggest oil company, signed a 23-year deal with Iraq five years ago to rehabilitate the country's southern oil fields, a deal potentially worth billions.
At the same time, Russia is worried that an eventual increase in Iraqi oil production could drive prices down.
Russia is hardly the only country who sees its oil interests threatened by a US invasion of Iraq. Saudi Arabia doesn't want Iraqi production to lower the world price of oil and it doesn't want US control of Iraqi oil fields to lessen US feelings of dependence on the Saudis. France wants its business relationships with Iraq to be maintained.
War hasn't seemed likely up till now for the simple reason that a lot of the logistics weren't yet in place. It was claimed that the air base in Qatar wouldn't be fully completed until December for instance. Now there is another piece that is coming into place: aircraft carrier deployment. The Abraham Lincoln now has the F/A-18E Super Hornet and so it carries a bigger punch:
The Lincoln is the only aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, but more are expected to arrive. The Constellation and the Harry S. Truman are scheduled to leave ports in the United States and could reach the gulf by December. The George Washington is in the Mediterranean, but could quickly reach the Persian Gulf.
Jim Hoagland lays out some of the evidence for Iraq's support for terrorism:
Here is one publicly available description that rebuts the once-popular view at the CIA that Iraq has not been in the international terrorist business since a thwarted plot in 1993 against former president George H.W. Bush:
"Page after page [of secret Iraqi documents] revealed plans for terrorist operations. . . . A requisition to the army asked for Iranian land mines so that the high explosive could be removed and used in booby traps overseas -- the purpose being to dupe any forensic examiner into concluding that the culprit was Iran, not Iraq. There were designs for mines configured as toys. Plans for ambushing moving convoys. A primer on how to wiretap. Document after document outlined an international program of terror."
The source of this description of a June 1996 discovery of what the author calls an Iraqi "school for terrorists and terrorism" is none other than Scott Ritter, now the star of antiwar rallies but once a fiercely dedicated U.N. arms inspector. You will find it on Page 121 of his informative 1999 book titled "Endgame."
In the Monday, November 4, 2002 DoD News Briefing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld labelled North Korea "principal ballistic missile proliferater on the face of the earth":
Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you. The mines were removed from DMZ in South Korea --
Rumsfeld: Yes, in one area.
Q: Yes, and also North Korea is known to have a nuclear weapon. I believe these are a direct threat to national security of both the U.S. and South Korea. At the same time, 37,000 U.S. troops in South Korea are found in harm's way. I think these are a grave problem to the national security of the United States. Can you tell us how to redress the national security arrangement between U.S. and South Korea?
Rumsfeld: Well, Doug Feith, as I said, will be visiting South Korea in the next day or two, and they will be talking about the full range of subjects. You're quite right, North Korea is assessed to have a nuclear weapon or two. They also have a very large army, and they have a large unconventional capability, they have a lot of ballistic missiles. They're the principal ballistic missile proliferater on the face of the earth. And we do have a large number of U.S. forces there. We intend, by our presence and by our force structure, to serve as an appropriate deterrent to any aggressive action by North Korea. And we expect that it has for the past close to 50 years, and we expect that it will prospectively.
The North Koreans are making threats in order to pressure the Japanese to normalize relations and return the 5 Japanese kidnappees to North Korea. The Japanese government is signalling that it will not be intimidated:
Quoting a Foreign Ministry official, the North's official Korea Central News Agency said Japan's stance on the abductees and its demands that the North stop developing nuclear weapons "is now creating very serious issues as it is illogical."
Officials from the two countries met in Malaysia on Oct. 29-30 for their first round of normalization talks in two years. The talks followed an unprecedented summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sept. 17.
But the talks soon bogged down over Tokyo's demands that the North end its nuclear program and allow five people who were abducted by North Korea in 1978 to train spies be allowed to go back to Japan permanently. The date for the next round of talks has not been set.
The North Koreans are so isolated from the world that they speak with bizarre stilted phrases:
``Upon learning about the outcome of the talks, the relevant organs and people of the DPRK [North Korea] are becoming increasingly assertive that it is necessary to reconsider various points related to security, including the nuclear and missile issues,'' the spokesman said.
``The DPRK should reconsider the moratorium on the missile test-fire in case the talks on normalising the relations between the DPRK and Japan get prolonged without making any progress.''
But Mr Koizumi shrugged off North Korea's reported threat to possibly break its pledge to extend the moratorium beyond 2003.
Yes friends, the US was all set to invade Kiribati:
George W Bush today announced a realignment of US foreign policy. The goal of ousting Iraq's Saddam Hussein has now been replaced by the goal of regime change in the Kiribati Islands as the US's new top priority.
"For years the evil dictator Teburoro Tito has oppressed his people and terrorised the Pacific region. We also have reason to believe he is in the process of developing weapons of mass destruction. And some pretty damn fine crab soup."
Bush today announced the departure of the 7th Admiralty Fleet to the Kiribati's. An invasion of the 810 sq km archipelago is expected to begin within the next 2 weeks.
A story about plans by the United States to invade Kiribati that has caused widespread concern in Tarawa and Christmas Island came from a New Zealand satirical website.
Pacnews reports that the story, which led the Office of the President to issue a series of public broadcasts assuring the population that the planned "invasion" was not true, came from Spinner, a website featuring satirical "news" stories.
On Wednesday night the Kiribati Office of the President -- apparently unaware that the story seemed to be designed to poke fun at the foreign policies of US President George W Bush -- issued a statement condemning the story as a "misleading, fearful, intimidating and defamatory" attempt to "cause a lot of problems before the general elections".
Last minute diplomatic negotiations headed off the invasion and now the cover story is that the original report was just a satire:
A spoof story claiming the United States was planning to invade the tiny Pacific state of Kiribati sparked panic and prompted the government there to air public reassurances the country would not be overrun by US forces.
The US Embassy in Wellington said Monday it was unfortunate the story on a New Zealand satirical Web site Spinner was taken as accurate.
This report on the story deleted an expletive uttered by the fictional Bush in the original article:
The Sunday Star-Times newspaper yesterday reported that New Zealand High Commissioner to Kiribati Neil Robertson had been questioned by the president about the article.
"The Kiribati sense of humour does not encompass satire," he said.
"The thing that really got people here is that there is an election campaign in progress and there has certainly been opposition criticism of President Tito, because of his alleged autocratic attitude toward various matters.
"The fact the satirical item referred to him as an evil dictator was not, perhaps, opportune."
The invasion story leaked out before the US was ready to attack. The US lost the necessary element of surprise and a rapid diplomatic negotiation ensued. Of course the US now denies it ever had any such intention. But we aren't fooled, are we? Who wants to bet on whether French warships (or maybe just French fishing boats; but it was the French dammit) were shadowing the US invasion fleet and spread the word?
Jeffrey Goldberg has been writing a 2 part series on Hezbollah for The New Yorker. Here is an interview with Goldberg about Hezbollah: (see the update at the bottom for the full article)
In your article, you describe Hezbollah as "the most successful terrorist organization in modern history." Do you mean that it is successful in the narrow sense of having pulled off acts of public violence, or in the achievement of certain political ends?
Unlike Al Qaeda, for instance, Hezbollah has succeeded, on two notable occasions, in achieving policy goals through the application of terrorist techniques. First, it drove American and French peacekeepers from Lebanon in the early nineteen-eighties, after a series of deadly bombings. (In one, two hundred and forty-one U.S. marines were murdered.) And two years ago, through guerrilla warfare and terrorism, it forced the Israeli Army to pull out from Israel's so-called security zone in southern Lebanon.
Also, from Google cache I found a press release about this article:
"A main focus today appears to be the training of specifically anti-Israel militants in the science of constructing so-called 'mega-bombs,' devices that can bring down office towers and other large structures." Hezbollah operatives, Goldberg adds, "with the help and cover of Iranian diplomats, have been making surveillance tapes of American diplomatic installations in South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe." Gal Luft, an Israeli expert on counterterrorism, tells Goldberg that it is only a matter of time before a "mega-attack" succeeds. The Israelis also believe that in South Lebanon "Hezbollah has more than eight thousand rockets," Goldberg reports, "weapons that are far more sophisticated than any previously seen in the group's arsenal. They include the Iranian-made Fajr-5 rocket, which has a range of up to forty-five miles, meaning that Israel's industrial heartland, in the area south of Haifa, falls within Hezbollah's reach." One intelligence official tells Goldberg, "It's not tenable for us to have a jihadist organization on our border with the capability of destroying Israel's main oil refinery." Major General Benny Gantz, the chief of the Israeli Army's Northern Command, says, "I'll be surprised if we don't see this fight." It could quickly become a major regional war. "Israel doesn't have to deal with Hezbollah as Hezbollah," Gantz says. "This is the Hezbollah tail wagging the Syrian dog. As far as I'm concerned, Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese and Syrian forces. Syria will pay the price. I'm not saying when or where. But it will be severe." Israeli intelligence officials say that Israel cannot act preëmptively against Hezbollah while America is trying to gather support for an attack against Iraq. But, one Israeli officer says, "The day after the American attack, we can move."
Google cache expires eventually and Google will revisit that page which has since changed to announce a new release of the magazine. So that link will not stay working for long.
Presuming that the US removes Saddam Hussein's regime from power the next logical problem to be dealt with is going to be Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. Iran is providing a lot of the support for Hezbollah. Plus, Iran has its own WMD development programs. But if Hezbollah attack Israel expect Israel to move against Syria and Hezbollah before the US can do anything about it. The Israelis might even launch a preemptive strikes against Iranian nuclear weapons development labs.
For my previous post on other articles by Jeffrey Goldberg go here.
Update: There's an article in the Jerusalem Post by Andrea Levin that quotes from the Jeffrey Goldberg Hezbollah article:
Jeffrey Goldberg tells a different story. He writes that "Hezbollah is, at its core, a jihadist organization, and its leaders have never tried to disguise their ultimate goal: building an Islamic republic in Lebanon and liberating Jerusalem from the Jews." He notes that even Hezbollah leaders concede the Shebaa Farms issue is a pretext.
He quotes a Hezbollah spokesman as saying: "If they go from Shebaa, we will not stop fighting them... Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine." Any Jews who might survive "can go back to Germany, or wherever they came from."
Another Hezbollah leader, Sayyid Nasrallah, declared: "We all have an extraordinary historic opportunity to finish off the entire cancerous Zionist project."
Goldberg notes that anti-Semitic invective has long been a "weapon in the anti-Israel armamentarium" but it had previously not borne the "malignancy of genocidal anti-Semitism. The language has changed, however."
Hezbollah, in his view, "has been at the vanguard of this shift... and its leaders frequently resort to epidemiological metaphors in describing Jews in world affairs. Ibrahim Mussawi, the urbane and scholarly-seeming director of English-language news at Al Mana [Hezbollah's satellite television station], called Jews 'a lesion on the forehead of history.' " A Hezbollah official in the Lebanese Parliament said Jews "act as parasites in the nations that have given them shelter."
Along with this public work, Hez bollah continues to increase its terrorist and guerrilla capabilities. Magnus Ranstorp says that Hezbollah can be active on four tracks simultaneously—the political, the social, the guerrilla, and the terrorist—because its leaders are "masters of long-term strategic subversion." The organization's Special Security Apparatus operates in Europe, North and South America, and East Asia. According to both American and Israeli intelligence officials, the group maintains floating "day camps" for terrorist training throughout the Bekaa Valley; many of the camps are said to be just outside Baalbek. In some of them, the instructors are supplied by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran's Ministry of Intelligence. In the past twenty years, terrorists from such disparate organizations as the Basque separatist group ETA, the Red Brigades, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and the Irish Republican Army have been trained in these camps.
Hezbollah has not been suspected of overt anti-American actions since 1996, when the Khobar Towers, in Saudi Arabia, were attacked, but, according to intelligence officials, its operatives, with the help and cover of Iranian diplomats, have been making surveillance tapes of American diplomatic installations in South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. These tapes, along with maps and other tools, are said to be kept in well-organized clandestine libraries.
This serves as a useful reminder that Sunni Muslim Al Qaeda is not the only major terrorist group with aspirations for attacks against the United States. It is worth noting that neither group derived substantial support from Saddam Hussein but Shiite Muslim Hezbollah gets support from Iran.
In the second part of Goldberg's two part series Goldberg visits the border area where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay share common borders and finds a large Hezbollah presence.
Roughly two hundred thousand people live in the Ciudad del Este region, including a substantial minority of Arab Muslims; in the Triple Frontier zone, there may be as many as thirty thousand. According to intelligence officials in the region and in Washington, this Muslim community has in its midst a hard core of terrorists, many of them associated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group backed by the Iranian government; some with Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist group; and some with Al Qaeda. It is, over all, a community under the influence of extreme Islamic beliefs; intelligence officials told me that some of the Triple Frontier Arabs held celebrations on September 11th of last year and also on the anniversary this year. These officials said that Hezbollah runs weekend training camps on farms cut out of the rain forest of the Triple Frontier. In at least one of these camps, in the remote jungle terrain near Foz do Iguaçu, young adults get weapons training and children are indoctrinated in Hezbollah ideology—a mixture of anti-American and anti-Jewish views inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini.
Goldberg describes the system of extortion of money from Lebanese immigrants in Paraguay by Hezbollah operatives there. If this has not changed since Goldberg wrote his article then the US government ought to help the Paraguayan government bring it to a stop.
The second part of Goldberg's series shows the security threats created by allowing Arab Muslims to immigrate to a country in significant numbers. The countries of North, Central, and South America ought to stop letting in Muslim immigrants and ought to deport all their illegal Muslims and any Muslims with ties to terrorist groups.
The force will have remote projection capabilities:
Most dramatically, the NATO heads of government could announce creation of a multi-national rapid deployment force of about 21,000 troops that would allow NATO to operate quickly and effectively against new enemies far from Europe, the area NATO was formed to protect against the Soviet Union 53 years ago. NATO members may also announce commitments to acquire new aircraft and equipment that would make this an effective force and allow it to deploy on a week's notice.
This can be interpreted as a way that the Europeans can signal a willingness to stay allied with the US.
This report underlines the need for an even larger stockpile of smallpox vaccine. Other countries could become infected as a side effect of an attack on the US:
The CIA now assesses that four nations -- Iraq, North Korea, Russia and, to the surprise of some specialists, France -- have undeclared samples of the smallpox virus.
The agency's Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) described a sliding scale of confidence in those assessments in a briefing prepared last spring. The briefing circulated among senior homeland security, public health and national security officials. Though the quality of its information varied from "very high" to "medium," one official said the report covered only nations for which "we have good evidence."
The US ought to be really ready in the vaccine department before it launches an attack on Iraq. Jordan and Kuwait have asked for smallpox vaccine because they both fear a smallpox attack from Iraq. That the US is reluctant to honor their requests suggests that the US does not have enough vaccine stock to run the risk of a war against Iraq.
Check out this cartoon on Little Green Footballs.
Michael Ledeen, author of The War Against the Terror Masters, says there is a inconsistency in the press and governments about how the same kinds of acts are covered or ignored depending on which country commits them:
Meanwhile, the killing continues relentlessly, with public hangings and stonings the order of the day. And the silence of the West continues apace. Fascinating, isn't it, that the human-rights establishment goes ballistic over the scheduled stoning of one Nigerian woman, but says hardly a word about the three recent stonings in Iran, with more in the works? And it's equally fascinating that neither the Department of State nor the staff of the National Security Council denounces the wave of repression under way in Iran. What can explain the apparent indifference of Colin Powell and Richard Armitage in Foggy Bottom, and Elliott Abrams at the NSC? Do they find Iranians less deserving of human rights than Nigerians? And what can explain the interminable silence of the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, as well as the major news networks, to the butchery of the Islamic Republic? At the time of the Khomeini Revolution, journalists such as Robin Wright and Elaine Sciolino decried the shah's sins. Why do they now blunt their pens?
Meanwhile, some of Iran's political leaders are not taking kindly to Donald Rumsfeld's prediction of a regime change in Iran:
"I suspect that during my lifetime we're going to see a change in that situation over there and that the young people and the women and the people who believe in freedom will overthrow that cleric government and it will fall in some way of its own weight," Rumsfeld, 70, said.
On Friday Iran's powerful former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani said Rumsfeld "will take to hell his dream of seeing regime change" in Iran.
But Iranians savor quietly tolerated American culture as much as any society in the Middle East. Coke and Pepsi are found in abundance, along with pirated versions of American films. Recent polls show that almost 75 percent of Iranians want to renew some contact with the US; just under half said that America's tough policy toward Iran is "to some extent correct."
Those results – and others that show the breadth of support President Mohamed Khatami has for his reform program – led hard-liners to shut down two polling centers in the past month, the second last Thursday. One poll director was jailed on charges of changing the results and of espionage, and the second – former embassy hostage-taker and prominent reformer Abbas Abdi – is also behind bars.
The news further etched the battle lines between unelected hard-liners, who control the judiciary and used security forces to shut down some 80 newspapers in recent years and jailed opponents; and elected reformers, who control the presidency and parliament.
On the bright side not only does Iran now have its first woman bus driver but, and I can only hope you are sitting down as you read this, the financial value of a non-Muslim's life in Iran may go up:
In Iran, a killer can pay "blood money" to his victim's family to avoid execution.
Under Islamic law, the compensation for a non-Muslim man is one-twelfth that paid for a Muslim. The rate for Muslim women is half that of men.
The new measure - which also must be approved by the conservative Guardian Council - is reportedly supported by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters.
Imagine the international outcry from all the usual suspects if the US had a system whereby someone could get off for murdering someone by paying off their relatives. The US would be denounced as an evil capitalistic place where human life is worth less than the almighty dollar. Such a policy would be considered proof of American spiritual bankruptcy and materialism. But when its the regime in Iran doing it, it being a theocratic dictatorship which is opposed to the US, this policy only merits worth being mentioned when it is proposed to raise the price on the life of third class citizens.
Ariel Sharon says that something should be done with Iran once Iraq is dealt with:
In an interview with The Times of London, Mr Sharon says he wants Iran to be top of the "to do" list once action against Baghdad is completed.
He said: "Iran makes every effort to posses weapons of mass destruction on the one hand, and ballistic missiles.
"That is a danger to the Middle East, to Israel and a danger to Europe. "Iran is behind terror all around the world."
Let us hope that Sharon's optimistic assumption that Iraq really will be dealt with turns out to be the correct so that we can move on to a debate about which country should be treated as the next problem to solve.
I agree with Barbara Lerner about the beneficial effect that the Turkish military continues to have upon Turkish politics and that its role in defending the Turkish constitution continues to be necessary. But while that may be a reason to admire the Turkish military it also continues to demonstrate the failure of liberal democracy to survive on its own in a Muslim majority country:
We all know only too well about ignorant, greedy, megalomaniacal military thugs like Gamal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein, but Turkish military officers are nothing like that.
For starters, they are very well-educated, not just in methods of warfare, but in the sciences generally, and the liberal arts too, and they are fluent in Western languages. They have to be. The required military school curriculum is anything but narrow or provincial. Some Turkish politicians are provincial; no Turkish military officers are. These are sophisticated, disciplined men, and no wonder. The Turkish military has a long tradition of eschewing nepotism and all the other forms of favoritism that are endemic in the region, selecting and promoting officers on a strictly meritocratic basis. The Turkish military is tough on graft and corruption too. Corruption in Turkish politics is about as bad as in France and Belgium, and all Turks know it. But Turks are as surprised to find a military officer on the take as we are to find a federal judge who can be bought.
Update: Be sure to read my later post on Valery Giscard d'Estaing: Turkey Not Part Of Europe.
Will Colin Powell and Tony Blair manage to convince Bush to stay dedicated to the UN Security Council route for so long that Bush will turn out to be a suckered by the French?
On the basis of interviews with various sources in Paris, it looks as if the French leader's plan is devised in two phases.
The first phase consists of efforts to prevent the passage of a Security Council resolution that would give the U.S. a legal basis for removing Saddam Hussein from power.
Chirac wants the U.N. weapons' inspectors to return to Iraq and operate within a timeframe determined by themselves, not Washington.
Hans Blix, the Swedish diplomat who heads the team of inspectors says he may need up to 18 months before he could report to the Security Council.
Assuming that the inspectors are in Iraq by Christmas, the Blix timetable would take us into the summer of 2004. Even if he reports at that time that the Iraqis have not cooperated with his team, the issue would have to be raised by the Security Council so that a new resolution, authorizing the use of force, is discussed.
I see no reason to waste much time feeling anger toward the French leadership for playing this cynical game. The important question is this: Is Bush dumb enough to fall for it? I am not confident that he's not. He's already made many highly questionable concessions in the UN negotiations and just going to the UN in the first place makes no sense except as a way to help Tony Blair. The inspectors may end up going into Iraq and spending many months running around playing hide-and-seek with the Iraqis. The best chance for a regime change in Iraq would be if the French exercised their UN Security Council veto over the final US draft proposal and the US then responded by abandoning UN negotiations. Then the UNMOVIC games would never start and the US could attack at the time of its choosing.
The problem with the French fantasy is that we are letting them enjoy it at our expense.
The debate over Iraq, though, has been a special godsend. Seen through French eyes, the world is suddenly a wonderful place, at least for France: There is the United States, the rogue colossus. There is Tony Blair, America's poodle. There is Schroeder, impaled -- internationally if not domestically -- upon his unilateralist, "German way" pacifism. And then there is France, tougher-minded than the Germans, prouder and more independent than the British and, because of its seat on the Security Council, the only modern, civilized power in the world able to tame and civilize the American beast. It is a mission worthy of a great country.
Who would ever want to wake from such a dream? The real world of terrorists, tyrannical aggressors and weapons of mass destruction is a much less accommodating world for France than the legalistic, one-country, one-vote world of the Security Council or the postmodern paradise of the European Union. If the United States ever does invade Iraq, the French must either stand by helplessly or take their place by America's side, and that is not nearly as enjoyable.
The only possible benefit the US can gain from the extended dance with UN fools is that some part of the American populace is paying enough attention to the UN negotiations to dispel any illusions they might have about the UN and the so-called "international community". The US is not pursuing an aggressive stance toward Iraq for the sake of the glory of conquest or for some commercial gain. We are just trying to make the world safer for Western Civilization. That the French are willing to use their seat on the United Nations as they have been means we should say shame on them. That we are willing to let them get away with it means we should say to ourselves an even stronger shame on us.
By the way, has anyone else ever noticed that the United Nations is a totally Orwellian name for that organization? First of all, its members are not united about anything. Secondly, many of the member states are not really nation-states.
Victor Davis Hanson argues that we must change our culture's response to anti-Americanism at home as well has destroy our enemies abroad:
In the 1930s there were literally thousands of unbalanced Westerners outside Germany who paraded around in black shirts and aped Hitler. No doubt had the Third Reich not been demolished the more deranged would have continued to dress-up their criminality with Nazi slogans, violent anti-Semitism, and terrorist acts. But by 1945 few would-be National Socialists were prominent. Violent fellow travelers were common in the 1930s and 1940s; indeed, the archives of arrested Stalinists often reveal those who tried to find some higher plane to act out their innate criminal propensities, alleviate deep personal maladies, or simply assuage their own failure by displaying anger toward Western society. Yet we see few such dangerous misfits after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
To rid us of al Qaedists, then, we must first not merely destroy al Qaeda, but do so in such comprehensive and humiliating fashion that the easy emulation of the radical Islamicist agenda not only draws opposition from friends and family but utter ridicule. And at home, Americans must not be afraid to address extremism when they see it, refute it — and do so in such a way that its perpetrators incur shame and odium on themselves rather than inspire the criminal, hateful, or mentally ill to equate their anger and failure with a virulent anti-Americanism.
Anthony Daniels pays a visit to bookstores in Havana and Dubai and comes away with a greater appreciation of his debt to and acceptance of the Enlightenment ideal of intellectual inquiry:
Two cities could hardly be more different—in this age of globalization and cultural homogeneity—than Dubai and Havana, but recent visits to the bookshops of both taught me a lesson that I should not have expected to learn: that, accustomed as I am to deplore the superficiality and simplifications of the Enlightenment, I am nevertheless a product of it. No Enlightenment, no me: and none of my friends, either. This might be perfectly obvious, but a great deal of labor goes into the denial of the obvious: for the obvious is an affront to intellectuals, including me, whom it threatens with redundancy.
Dubai is Islamic and Havana is Marxist, of course, but both comprehensively reject the Enlightenment ideal of intellectual inquiry wherever it might lead, though Dubai is a liberal state by the standards of the region. In the bookshops of both, you get the powerful impression that, fundamentally, all questions (at least, those that relate to philosophy, history, and how life should be lived) have long been settled, and that all that needs to be known is already known, or rather has been revealed. All that remains to be done is to slot the facts into the worldview.
Michelle Malkin, author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores, explains why Lee Malvo was let loose when the INS had Malvo in custody:
On Nov. 13, 2001, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan) chaired the hearing on INS's deadly detention and deportation practices. Levin's tough questions are worth quoting at length.
First, Sen. Levin summarized the problem:
"If the Border Patrol decides to detain a person or set a bond to help assure that a person shows up at the hearing, the INS deportation office can revise that decision and order the person released on a lower bond or on his or her own recognizance. To be released on your own recognizance means that you are released on your promise that you will appear at the scheduled hearing. There is no bond.
"[T]he Border Patrol and the INS release on their own recognizance a significant number of people who are arrested for illegal entry, even though it is clear that most won't show up at their removal hearing. That means that most people who get caught and arrested for illegal entry.are allowed to move at will in this country with no constraints other than a written instruction to appear at a hearing that is likely to result in their removal from this country, and that is absurd."
My guess is it will take another big domestic terrorist attack in which illegal aliens are involved before the political outcry will become large enough to force a US President to seriously try to fix the INS. Illegal immigrants are so much more important to the two political parties as future voters that what the current voters think of current immigration policies is just not considered relevant by policy makers.
In the November 2002 issue of The New there is a special section on anti-Americanism. While not all the essays are available online those on their website are well worth reading.
Roger Kimball argues that others respond with hatred when a great civilization loses confidence in itself in his essay entitled "Failures of Nerve".
Pinterism (if I may thus eponymize this brand of intellectualizing self-hatred) is not a new phenomenon. George Orwell noted something similar in his anatomy of the pacifism that was rampant in English intellectual circles before and during World War II. The “unadmitted motive” of pacifism, Orwell wrote, was “hatred of Western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism.” Harold Pinter is no John Walker Lindh. You won’t find him joining up with the Taliban. But you will find him in sympathy with his spiritual colleague-in-rhetoric Susan Sontag, who explained that the assualt of September 11 was “not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions… . [W]hatever may be said of the perpetrators of [September 11’s] slaughter, they were not cowards.” Does she say, then, that they were murderous fanatics? Hardly. Sontag (like Pinter) is at once too ambivalent and too admiring for that: too ambivalent about the “world’s self-proclaimed superpower” (or “rogue state,” as Pinter put it) and too admiring of the insurrectionists. In this context, it is worth remembering Orwell’s observation about the “processes by which pacifists who have started out with an alleged horror of violence end up with a marked tendency to be fascinated by the successes and power of Nazism.”
David Pryce-Jones, co-author of Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith, explores the roots of Arab resentment in his essay entitled "Retreats into fantasy".
Merging at the emotional level as they do, Arab nationalist-socialists and Islamists generate a climate that encourages the spread of violence to everyone within reach, of all religious faiths and cultures including their own. In their origins, both ideologies purported to regain power, but in practice they have served to condemn Muslims to live outside the creativity of today’s world and so consummate loss of control over their own history. By virtue of its current political and economic pre-eminence, the United States is a symbol simultaneously of the success of people deemed to be unworthy, and of the standing failure of those held to be deserving; and so becomes the prime target of violence. To those afflicted by the haunting sense of their own limitations, the United States offers temptation and frustration in a blend which can only arouse confusion and anger. Once more, here is an incomplete analysis of reality, another failure of intellect, and it impedes all concerned from meeting on terms of equality, as though time had stood still from the day when those Egyptians had looked into Niebuhr’s surveying instrument and found that the landscape was the wrong way up.
John Derbyshire has written an excellent essay drawing on his experiences in the Far East entitled "Yearning to be liked".
One thing you find again and again when you look into anti-Americanism is the conviction that we are a fundamentally immoral nation. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard, when living in China, something along the following lines: “People in the West have no deep feelings. They marry and divorce just for fun.” I used to counter this, once I got used to it, by pointing out the true fact, perfectly well-known in China, that during the Mao Tse-tung despotism, when a person was branded “counter-revolutionary” and hustled off to a camp, that person’s spouse would frequently divorce him or her, sometimes from fear, sometimes on explicit orders from the local Party committee, sometimes in the well-founded conviction that the offender would never be seen again. I am not sure I could construct a logical proof that getting divorced for fun or convenience is morally superior to getting divorced because your Party Secretary tells you to, but I am pretty clear in my mind about which kind of society I would rather live in.
Americans need to understand that just because other people feel resentment toward America that doesn't mean that America has done something wrong to justify the resentment. The reasons that people hate us and resent us are due primarily to character flaws built into human nature that cause feelings of resentment, shame, and jealousy to well up so easily in those who feel less successful and less powerful. The tendency to blame others for one's lot in life is something deeply built into human nature. When societies and individuals feel like failures and feel ashamed at their lots in life there is no change in American foreign policy possible that will appease the resentments that they feel toward the most successful and most powerful. Attempts at appeasement will be interpreted as admissions of guilt that will justify an even more intense hatred.
Sounds like the Bush Administration is saying that the UN will not be allowed to restrain the US from taking out the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq if the President decides it is necessary.
"There is nothing that we would propose in this resolution or we would find acceptable in a resolution that would handcuff the president of the United States in doing what he feels he must do," Powell said.
In an apparently coordinated public campaign, Condoleezza Rice, Bush's assistant for national security, also said "we'll not be handcuffed" by whatever decision the Security Council might take.
The United States is "determined to take action" if Saddam does not comply with U.N. resolutions, she said in an interview with Scott Hennen of KCNN in Grand Forks, N.D.
Many bioweapons experts think that the set of technical problems that would have to be solved to make anthrax that has the qualities of what was sent to Senators Thomas A. Daschle and Patrick J. Leahy exceeds the intellectual and financial resources of a single lone scientist:
"In my opinion, there are maybe four or five people in the whole country who might be able to make this stuff, and I'm one of them," said Richard O. Spertzel, chief biological inspector for the U.N. Special Commission from 1994 to 1998. "And even with a good lab and staff to help run it, it might take me a year to come up with a product as good."
Instead, suggested Spertzel and more than a dozen experts interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks, investigators might want to reexamine the possibility of state-sponsored terrorism, or try to determine whether weaponized spores may have been stolen by the attacker from an existing, but secret, biodefense program or perhaps given to the attacker by an accomplice.
Meanwhile, the FBI is trying to develop the ability to make anthrax with the same qualities as was used in the mail attacks:
FBI investigators and federal scientists have been secretly working for months to replicate the type of anthrax used in last year's deadly mail attacks, as part of a previously undisclosed strategy designed to determine precisely how the spores were manufactured, officials said yesterday.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who revealed the experiments in remarks to reporters here, said that using such "reverse engineering" could help investigators narrow the list of possible suspects.
There is a basic lesson in this whole anthrax attack saga: if we can't trace attacks back to their origin then deterrence will not work as a strategy to prevent them. There are regimes that are deeply hostile to the US and to the West in general that are developing bioweapons. How to deter them from launching attacks? Deterrence may not be possible.
In the December 2002 issue of The American Enterprise Institute's The American Enterprise Magazine has published comments made by various contributors to a symposium on the future relationship between European nations and America.
Jeffrey Gedmin, director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin:
Of course, we're likely to get through Iraq with the Europeans. More than anything they are afraid of being left out. But beyond that? Once upon a time, it was hoped that the inclusion of the central Europeans would re-invigorate the trans-atlantic alliance with a fresh dose of idealism and pro-American sentiment. As NATO heads to its next summit in Prague, prepared to enlarge again, it could yet happen. But time is running out. How long can an alliance really function when key allies believe that building themselves up means cutting America down?
Europeans may believe that national interest is a thing of the past and military power an anachronism. Within the confines of a few European countries, they may be right. But in the wider world, especially the Middle East, history hasn't ended and a new threat to world peace is rising. If Europeans believe it can be palliated by diplomacy or appeasement, they are misreading their own times as profoundly as they did in the 1930s.
The question for European leaders is whether they want to be adult players in a new and dangerous world. Grow up and join in--or pipe down and let us do it. That's the message America is sending. It's a message long, long overdue.
The deeper problem is that bureaucratic internationalism is fundamentally inconsistent with democratic values. Yes, American democracy features undemocratic elements (the federal courts, the Federal Reserve), and they are very powerful; but they are also exceptional and surrounded on all sides by elected officials. The plan of Europeans talking of "ever closer union" is to take governance ever further from voters. On principled as well as pragmatic grounds, this is a tendency that America will increasingly be called upon to resist, even at the cost of transatlantic rows like the one over the International Criminal Court.
Europeans are wrong to see bureaucratic internationalism as a stabilizing influence. In the long run, the unmooring of public decision making from popular sovereignty is a recipe for capricious policies and unstable politics. You would think that Europeans, of all people, might appreciate this.
In defiance of traditional immigration patterns, Europe's young Muslims are less assimilated than their parents and grandparents. Instead of becoming more European, they're becoming more Islamist. If the "root cause" of September 11 is Islam's difficulty with modernity, we shouldn't be surprised that this manifests itself less in Indonesia than in Holland, the epitome of the boundlessly tolerant post-nationalist state, a liberal utopia of cannabis cafés and gay marriage--for now. Sheikh Omar's demand for the imposition of sharia doesn't seem so absurd when you consider that in 20 years the majority of the Dutch under 18 will be Muslim.
A multiculturalist society has a hard time even discussing these things. In the advanced technocratic Euro-state, almost any issue worth talking about has been ruled taboo. Continental voters, faced with a choice between Eurodee and Eurodum, have been turning elsewhere. The beneficiaries of this tune-out, in Italy, Belgium, Denmark, and elsewhere, don't have much in common--some are maverick magnates, some fascist nostalgists, others gay hedonists. What unites them is what they're against: the traditional European cultural consensus that's now sleepwalking its way to suicide.
European public opinion--as represented in the European press--is mostly limited to elite opinion. And for decades, much of this elite class has cherished a sneering and jingoistic contempt for America and for American values. This attitude fulfills an obvious psychological need: As the former global ruling class of Europe saw America emerge overwhelmingly dominant in economic, political, military, and cultural terms, a natural response was to insist on Europe's moral and intellectual superiority.
John O'Sullivan's contribution is especially worth reading because he's the only one of the contributors who attempts to lay out a positive program for what to do about the US-European split:
America's ultimate interest in Europe is that European nations be reliable allies in a united West committed to liberal democracy. The combined power of America and Europe is so overwhelming that if the West remains united, it will dominate world politics and shape global rules along liberal democratic lines indefinitely.
What makes this an uncertain enterprise is the growing ideological disagreements within and between Western countries on the nature of the liberal democratic order and the classical system of nation-states it sustains. Progressive opinion holds that national sovereignty is discredited, patriotism atavistic, military force outmoded as a means of settling disputes, and that as a result power is rightly and inevitably shifting from nation-states to transnational organizations.
These new views are promoted most vigorously in Europe. In frustration, some Americans have concluded that Europe should be left to cultivate its post-modern garden, while America gets on with running the world.
But in reality, both the "American" and "European" viewpoints are found in both continents, and they are finely balanced in several important countries. There is no reason to concede Europe to the "national-interest-is-defunct" camp without a struggle, as this would only strengthen that faction everywhere--including in America, where the Democrats, the academy, the foreign policy establishment, and the media have already bought into much of the utopian internationalist view, as the Iraq debate has revealed.
Per Ahlmark, a former deputy prime minister of Sweden, argues that Hans Blix is not up to the job of directing a weapons inspection program in Iraq having already demonstrated himself unfit for the task:
The turning point came when Kay initiated inspections of suspect buildings without notifying the Iraqis about his intentions in advance. This new, aggressive inspection strategy had dramatic consequences: Kay discovered material which confirmed that Iraq was only 12 to 18 months away from producing a nuclear device.
This historic discovery ended up in a confrontation at a parking lot in Baghdad. U.N. cars were surrounded by 200 Iraqi soldiers and a mob, ordered out to the scene by Iraqi officials. For four days and nights the siege continued, as Kay and his colleagues used satellite telephones to fax crucial documents to the West.
Blix had opposed the raid. Fortunately, Ambassador Ekeus backed it and supported the inspectors during the siege. I have met a number of experts on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and they often compare the two Swedes: "Ekeus is brilliant," they say, "Blix is terrible."
You can also find the same article here.
Richard Spertzel emphasises that weapons inspectors will face a very difficult task if they return to Iraq.
"In some cases, we have solid evidence that they're saying isn't true," says Richard Spertzel, former head of the UN inspections team searching for biological weapons. "When things don't add up, you start asking questions. And if you start getting dumb answers, you know you got a problem."
"If Iraq doesn't make a full disclosure, then it's up to the inspectors to find what Iraq has, and that's not what they're set up to do. That literally could take years."
Spertzel has previously argued that there is a widespread misconception about what inspection teams can accomplish. In a nutshell, inspection teams do not have adequate powers and abilities to do the necessary investigative and discovery work in a country that hides its weapons programs. For biological weapons the problem of investigation and discovery is especially difficult because the equipment and the labs are so much smaller and can even be mobile. It is suspected that Saddam Hussein does have mobile biological weapons labs.
The whole idea of a UN inspections team for Iraq is based on a fiction. Inspection teams can not discover many of the weapons labs and weapons storage facilities as long as the current regime is in power. The regime can hide what it has and intimidate its own weapons scientists and engineers to stay silent. The Bush Administration, by pursuing the resumption of an inspections regime, is lending credence to this fiction and is doing a disservice to the American people.
Update: At Hood College in Frederick Maryland on October 27, 2002 Richard Spertzel had this to say:
"I think it's inevitable that it will take a war to persuade Iraq to give up their weapons of mass destruction, now whether that comes sooner or later depends on what takes place at the Security Council."
US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice argues that economic carrots and sticks have a better chance of working with North Korea whereas such tools have already failed with Iraq.
"The international community has tried sanctions, and limited military force, and everything else. Iraq is in a class by itself," Ms. Rice said. "With North Korea, we think we have a chance to make a diplomatic effort work because the North Koreans, unlike the Iraqis who have oil revenues to fuel their programs, the North Koreans have been signaling to everybody that they are in deep economic trouble."
Kenneth Pollack, author of The Threatening Storm, questions the wisdom of the entire UN Security Council drive of the Bush Administation. Pollack does not think the UN inspections regimes will achieve any worthwhile goals.
The fear is growing among hawks in Washington that the inspection process, instead of aiding the U.S. cause, will thwart the Administration's plans for toppling Saddam. "The inspections are a trap. They are highly unlikely to get [Iraqi] disarmament, as the doves want, or provide a pretext for war, as the hawks want," says Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert at Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. For starters, Bush has yet to win the diplomatic battle over the inspectors' mandate, which will be set out in a new Security Council resolution. China, France, and Russia are resisting U.S. proposals for a tough resolution warning Saddam of "severe consequences" if he fails to comply.
Writing the New York Times Richard Bernstein has reviewed The Threatening Storm and Bernstein makes it plain that Pollack has framed the argument for regime change that has to be answered by anyone who is opposed to a war to topple the Iraqi regime:
It is fair to say that whatever your feelings about the question of Iraq, you owe it to yourself to read Mr. Pollack's book, which is both hawkish and judicious. Its essential argument is that the containment policy followed since the Persian Gulf war of 1991 — consisting of economic sanctions, a continued American military presence in the Persian Gulf and United Nations weapons inspections — is fast eroding. Sanctions are being circumvented by the rampant smuggling of Iraqi oil. The presence of American troops in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia, is breeding local resentment. Meanwhile, the most important element in the containment policy, United Nations inspection teams searching for and destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, ceased in 1998 and, in Mr. Pollack's view, is not likely to be effective even if revived.
If Poillack's argument is correct (and I think it is) then the Bush Administration is not only wasting effort to win approval for a stiff Iraqi weapons inspecton regime but it is also undermining the security of the US by allowing the UN to restrain the US from taking the most efficacious actions to deal with a real and growing security threat. The UN is a fatally flawed institution and the Bush Administration is making an enormous error by granting it legitimacy by treating with it. Also, the Bush Administation, by supporting the fiction that inspections regimes are capable of preventing WMD proliferation, is misleading its own citizens and granting a great propaganda victory to those who wish to use inspections as a way to block US actions.
On the Wall Street Journal's Best Of The Web column James Taranto links to this report that the Russians are burying the Chechen hostage siege terrorists in pig skins:
According to the Moskovski Komsomol newspaper, Russian security forces have decided to bury the terrorists from last's week's hostage siege wrapped in pig's skin. The aim is to deter potential Islamic terrorists from future attacks.
Shahidi (Jihad martyrs) believe by their nefarious acts that they ascend immediately to heaven. Using their beliefs against them, wrapping their corpses in 'unclean' pigskin prevents them from entering heaven for eternity.
James Taranto thinks this is a fine idea and points out that if real Muslims couldn't possibly be terrorists its not like the Russians are insulting Islam. (by contrast I don't think religions deserve special immunity from insults in the first place)
We're not sure how reliable this report is, but the idea of burying terrorists' remains in pigskin seems like a good one. Of course, some might object that insulting someone's religion--even a terrorist's--is an ugly thing to do. But are terrorists really Muslims? After all, Islam is a religion of peace, right?
Well, perhaps Taranto is unaware of the historical precedent but this is not a new idea. Who first used this technique? Well, to best of my knowledge it was US Army Colonel Alexander Rodgers who was fighting Muslim Moro rebels in the Philippines in 1911.
In 1911, as attempts were made to disarm the Mohammedans, cotta warfare began to flame anew and the juramentados redoubled their efforts to get to close grips with the American soldiers. Jolo, the Moro capital, in American hands, was almost under a state of siege. It was under constant attack on the part of individual fanatics. One Moro penetrated the city walls through a drain and killed seven soldiers in the streets of Jolo before he was dropped by volley fire of the troops.
For trading purposes, 100 Moros were allowed within the city wall at one time. They were disarmed and searched at the gates by squads of soldiers, and all guard posts mounted four sentries. With all of these precautions, juramentados succeeded in running their crazed course at dreadful, frequent intervals. It was Colonel Alexander Rodgers of the 6th Cavalry who accomplished by taking advantage of religious prejudice what the bayonets and Krags had been unable to accomplish. Rodgers inaugurated a system of burying all dead juramentados in a common grave with the carcasses of slaughtered pigs. The Mohammedan religion forbids contact with pork; and this relatively simple device resulted in the withdrawal of juramentados to sections not containing a Rodgers. Other officers took up the principle, adding new refinements to make it additionally unattractive to the Moros. In some sections the Moro juramentado was beheaded after death and the head sewn inside the carcass of a pig. And so the rite of running juramentado, at least semi-religious in character, ceased to be in Sulu. The last cases of this religious mania occurred in the early decades of the century. The juramentados were replaced by the amucks. .. who were simply homicidal maniacs with no religious significance attaching to their acts.
Michelle Malkin reports that its Immigration and Naturalization Service standard operating procedure to release criminal illegal aliens rather than hold them until they are deported:
In September, Maximiliano Silerio Esparza, an illegal alien from El Salvador, was indicted on charges of brutally raping two nuns who were praying on a walking path in Klamath Falls, Ore., and then strangling one of them to death with her own rosary beads.
Esparza was detained twice earlier this year by the U.S. Border Patrol, but was released both times. According to the Oregonian, Esparza was let loose under INS's cost-saving catch-and-release policy. He previously served time in jail in California, had been arrested later in Portland on drug charges, and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest at the time of the alleged rapes and murder.
Federal law mandates that immigration authorities detain criminal aliens with extensive rap sheets such as Esparza's until their deportation outside the United States. But following INS "standard procedure," Esparza was set free in violation of the law.
Read the full article for several other examples of the fruits of this policy.Tens of thousands of criminal aliens are released back onto the street every year. You can find previous posts on immigration issues here.
I guess some on the Left are deciding that multiculturalism stops short of Islam:
Yesterday, in a press breakfast at the German Embassy, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer compared the likelihood of Turkey's admission into the EU with Mexico and Central America's admission into the United States. That sounds to us like a firm and permanent veto. When a reporter suggested that EU consideration of Turkey would be helpful to the United States, the admirably honest and colorful foreign minister suggested that, while friends do many things for each other, getting married to a third party because a friend requests it is not one of them.
Writing in the Washington Times Arnaud de Borchgrave reports on Warren Buffett's views on the threat of weapons of mass destruction being used by terrorists:
The chances of making it through the next 50 years without a weapon of mass destruction act of terrorism are no better than 1 in 200. So wrote Warren Buffett, the wizard of Wall Street whose uncanny sixth sense for stock picks made him a billionaire 36 times over and propelled his Berkshire Hathaway into a Fortune 500 powerhouse.
Warren Buffett said this in a letter to former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn who is now the Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
Update: After some digging I was able to find the URL to the PDF of a Sam Nunn speech of October 22, 2002 where he quoted from Warren Buffett's letter:
Through my work at NTI, I’m often asked, “What are the odds of nuclear use by a terrorist group?” Today, I received a letter from Warren Buffett, who is an adviser to NTI, describing the statistical chance of a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon attack in the United States. His letter said:
"If the chance of a weapon of mass destruction being used in a given year is 10 percent and the same probability persists for 50 years, the probability of the event happening at least once during that 50 years is 99.5 percent. Thus, the chance of getting through the 50-year period without a disaster is .51 percent -- just slightly better than one in 200.
“If the probability of similar weapons being utilized can be reduced to 3 percent per year, the world has a 21.8 percent chance of making it through 50 years without an event. And if the annual chance can be reduced to 1 percent, there is a 60.5 percent chance of making it through 50 years.
“Of course, no one knows what the true probabilities are, but this sort of calculation points up the extraordinary benefit to humanity that can be achieved by reducing the probabilities of usage."
At NTI, we are working to reduce toward zero the risk that nuclear, biological or chemical weapons will ever be used, by intent or accident, anywhere in the world. This must become the mission of our government and others.
The PDF makes it a lot easier to see what is being said by Buffett versus what is being said by Nunn or the author of the WT article. Note that it is Buffett who is saying that noone knows what the true probabilities are. So he is not really claiming that there is a 99.5% chance of the use of nuclear weapons or other WMD in a terrorist act in the next 50 years. But its worth noting that both of the example probabilities that Buffett uses in his example are dangerously high. This guy is trying to make a strong point.
My own take on the probability is that it rises every year. The knowledge needed to build WMD continues to spread more widely while the equipment needed becomes more readily available and at lower cost. Not only is the knowledge and equipment spreading more widely but the cost of the equipment will only fall and the rate at which the knowledge spreads will accelerate while new technologies will make it increasingly easier to build both biological and nuclear weapons. It is the recognition of this problem that lies at the heart of the Bush Administration's preemption strategy. If someone wants to seriously argue against preemption they must at least try to propose an alternative to preemption that has a serious prospect of stopping the spread of WMD.
All the states the US is preparing to build defenses against are also developing nuclear weapons.
North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Libya are key missile-developing states of concern against which the United States is preparing to build defenses, he said.
Gen. Kadish said the missile-defense test site being built at Fort Greely, Alaska, is moving ahead and by late 2004 or early 2005 will provide the nation with an emergency defense against a North Korean missile attack.
You all may recall the big deal that EU mandarins made over George W. Bush's steel tariffs. Well, next time you hear a European complaint about American tariffs ask them about the size of their farm subsidies and farm goods import barriers:
Meeting in the city's swanky Conrad Hotel, the two leaders struck a deal that freezes EU's farm spending at a shade under $50 billion a year for the next decade (good news for the Germans who are the union's principal paymasters) in return for a commitment to continue subsidizing European farmers (good news for the French who receive more agricultural handouts than any other EU country.)
My interpretation of the BBC article excerpted below is that the US is spending about 35% of what the EU is spending on farm subsidies:
An international outcry has greeted the decision by the US senate to pass a subsidy bill offering US farmers $173.5bn (£118.7bn) over ten years.
Here's a slightly more detailed breakdown for how much the passed bill authorized:
The farm bill authorises US$ 173.5 billion in subsidies for a ten-year period, $73 billion for 2002-2007 alone, and increase of 70 percent over the previous level. Existing subsidies are increased for soya bean, wheat and corn. New subsidies are introduced for peanuts, lentils, chickpeas and dairy farms. Previously abandoned subsidies for honey, wool and mohair have been restored.
Using a different measure of support the web site of what appears to be the US Ambassador to France comes up with much higher figures for the US and EU in farm subsidies in 1999 and I suspect these figures are no higher than the current figures:
Those following agriculture issues and the important discussions on agriculture taking place in the world trade organization and the OECD are aware that american government assistance to its farmers remains less than one-half that provided by the EU. The most respected indicator of support to the agriculture sector, the OECD's producer support estimates (pses), provides the following comparisons in its just-released report: in 1999 the EU provided $114.5 billion in producer support which was the equivalent of 49 percent of gross farm revenue. The comparable figure for the U.S. was $54 billion in producer support or 24 percent of gross farm revenue.
The $311 billion per year figure is an astounding amount of money:
The U.S. is not alone in coddling farmers and food processors. Rich countries spend more than $311 billion a year in ag subsidies, twice the amount of total farm exports from developing nations, according to a study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development. U.S. farmers, on average, receive a fifth of their income from Washington. European and Japanese farm sectors are even more pampered. Their subsidies run to 31% and 59% of farm income, respectively. That results in overproduction, which artificially cuts prices around the globe.
EU food prices are 44 percent higher than they would be without the Common Agricultural Policy, while US food prices are 11 percent higher because of US farm subsidies.
In the EU-15 countries, about 17 percent of consumer spending is for food; in the 10 new countries, the average is 35 percent. The price of butter, for example, is about 2.5 times higher in the EU than in New Zealand, which has eliminated most farm subsidies.
Here is Rudyard Kipling's Dane-geld:
IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:—
“We invaded you last night—we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”
And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!
It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:—
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to says:—
“We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”
William Hawkins, after quoting an excerpt of the above Kipling quote argues there is no international community that believes it has enough in common to feel any dedication to the notion of collective security:
However, between the September 11 terrorist attacks and Pyongyang's recent admission that it never halted its nuclear weapons program, the Bush administration has realized that the world is still a dangerous place that must be dealt with from a position of strength.
There is, however, still one lingering misconception about the world that is impeding U.S. action. This is the notion that there is an "international community" which is as concerned about terrorism and rogue states as is Washington, and which can be appealed to under the concept of collective security. President Bush has tried repeatedly since September 11 to summon a universal coalition to the U.S. banner, only to find that most governments are unwilling to substitute American priorities for their own traditional concerns.
Our problem is that too few governments recognize the size of the danger and of those who do not a few of them take the attitude that they do not have a responsibility to deal with it.
Kaletsky compares the US constitution and new proposed European Union constitution proposed by the Convention on the Future of Europe and offers an explanation for why the EU is becoming no more democratic:
Is the neglect of democracy in the new European constitution merely a cynical omission by national politicians and bureaucrats whose primary aim is preserving as much of their powers as possible? Or does it reflect a much deeper problem – the fact that Europe is simply too large and diverse ever to be governable in a genuinely democratic manner?
I suspect that the failure to come up with a constitution which would improve the democratic legitimacy of Europe has much more to do with the absence of a European “demos”, than with the selfishness and cynicism of European bureaucrats and politicians. That is why the idea of transferring real power to the European Parliament has so little support anywhere in Europe, while direct election of a European president is dismissed as absurd.
(found on The Edge Of England's Sword)
Salman Rushdie says the suffering and oppression of the people of Iraq deserves more attention.
In this strange, unattractive historical moment, the extremely strong anti-Saddam Hussein argument isn't getting a fraction of the attention it deserves.
This is, of course, the argument based on his 31/2-decade-long assault on the Iraqi people. He has impoverished them, murdered them, gassed and tortured them, sent them off to die by the tens of thousands in futile wars, repressed them, gagged them, bludgeoned them and then murdered them some more.
Saddam Hussein and his ruthless gang of cronies from his home village of Tikrit are homicidal criminals, and their Iraq is a living hell.
There is a thread of anti-war rhetoric that is based on the idea that regimes have legitimacy just because they exist. This statist argument treats governments as rights-possessing entities by placing more importance on the survival of regimes above the rights of individuals. While Rushdie starts out taking a position that is an effective counter to that argument he still ends up falling back on it in a later paragraph:
The complicating factors, sadly, are this U.S. administration's preemptive, unilateralist instincts, which have alienated so many of America's natural allies. Unilateralist action by the world's only hyperpower looks like bullying because, well, it is bullying. And the United States' new preemptive-strike policy would, if applied, make America itself a much less safe place, because if the United States reserves the right to attack any country it doesn't like the look of, then those who don't like the look of the United States might feel obliged to return the compliment. It's not always as smart as it sounds to get your retaliation in first.
Well, is bullying always bad? Are there not regimes in this world that it would be beneficial to bully? Do regimes have rights? Then there is his "any country it doesn't like the look of" comment. What is he talking about? The US is expending its effort trying to oust governments that are involved in WMD development or the support of terrorists or both. Does Rushdie think we shouldn't view governments that are hostile to the US and which develop WMD and support terrorists as enemies?
As far as "natural allies" are concerned, what exactly makes a country a natural ally? A strong desire to fight the same enemies seems like a necessary characteristic of a natural ally. By that definition the US does not have many natural allies. But the US does have a great many fair weather friends who are willing to try to convince us not to do things that many Americans believe are necessary for our security.
Rushdie's lack of mention of the strategy of preemption is clearly an intentional avoidance of the arguments of the pro-war camp. What is not smart about preemption? If an enemy regime has hostile intentions, if it treats its own citizens like serfs or slaves, and if it is development weapons of mass destruction then how is the US harming its own interests by taking out that regime? It is disappointing that Rushdie, like so many on the Left, ignores the argument for preemption. The argument is compelling. You can read my collection of posts on preemption here.
Will the Japanese government ever do something about its economy?
The government of Junichiro Koizumi, Japan's prime minister, on Wednesday night backed away from imminent action to clean up the financial system after pressure to water down proposals from bankers and from the ruling Liberal Democratic party.