Wednesday, November 30, 2005
If not, go ahead. It's all right; I'll wait for you here.
Or, if you want me to tease you some more, I'll happily oblige... because Phil has gotten off some great ones lately. I love his capsule summary of Zarqawi's supposed apology for murdering Muslims in Jordan -- "Sorry we killed you. We didn't mean to. But you deserved it anyway."
He also has quite a list of quotes, from Democrats, supporting the need to go to war against Iraq, both before and after President Bush was elected in 2000. And once again, a killer summary: "Saddam deceived. The World believed. And he has been relieved ... of his post."
Oh, and you might want to check out Jeff Harrell as well. He's been reading the White House's National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, and the commentary he's added to it is the opposite of a Fisking. (We need a new word for that. Unfortunately, Harrelling sounds too... harrowing.)
The obvious question that springs to mind when the White House releases a document like this is, “Why the heck didn’t we see this three years ago?” The answer is on page two, right inside the snazzy, The Shape of Days-inspired cover page: “The following document articulates the broad strategy the President set forth in 2003 and provides an update on our progress as well as the challenges remaining.” And then there’s a quote from a speech the President gave in February 2003, before US troops ever even crossed the line of departure. He said, “Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own: we will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more.”Nice!!
The subtext is pretty clear, and infinitely amusing to your humble narrator: ”We did tell you our strategy three years ago; 48 percent of y’all were just too stupid to wrap your ‘American Idol’-softened noodles around it. So we’re gonna tell you all again, and again, and if necessary again until you get what we’ve been saying all along.“
And then there's this:
“Our mission in Iraq is to win the war. Our troops will return home when that mission is complete.” It’s kind of sad in a way that that’s the sort of sentence that has to be spoken out loud. It’s like something you’d say to a child. “We’re at the grocery store to do the shopping. We’re going to stay here until all the shopping is done. We’re going to shop until we’re finished; then and only then will we go get ice cream.”See what I mean by the opposite of a Fisking? I don't know about you, but I'm enjoying this immensely.
By all means, go read the whole thing.
UPDATE: As seen on Instapundit, concise commentary on the President's speech by a sergeant currently serving in Iraq:
I watched Bush speaking on television last night. It was my first day off since arriving in theater one month ago.Indeed. Check out the rest of what he has to say; he says it quickly and well.
Please, America, listen to the man.
UPDATE II: Speaking of brevity (a skill I often seem to lack), David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy reminds us that Joe Louis was criticized, during WWII, for helping recruit blacks to serve in the American Armed Forces, which were then segregated. His response was short and to the point:
"There may be a whole lot wrong with America, but there's nothing that Hitler can fix."Indeed. Prof. Bernstein is referring to universities balking on admitting military recruiters, supposedly due to discrimination against homosexuals, even during wartime... and, as Joe Louis's comment above illustrates, this lacks perspective on what we're doing and whom we're fighting. (Are al-Qaeda's proposed policies vis-a-vis homosexuals preferable to those of the U.S. military? I think not.)
Similarly, I wonder if anti-military demonstrators -- those who daub graffiti on recruiting centers, for example, or scream anti-military slogans outside VA hospitals, of all places -- have given much thought to the alternatives.
Nobody is forcing anybody to join the U.S. Army these days. But if you despise their very existence, just think about whom they're fighting against... and ask yourself if your life would be better with them in control.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
A Few Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts
First, a hearty belated Thanksgiving to both of my regular readers... and congratulations as well.
Why congratulations? Well, I noticed yesterday that my TTLB Ecosystem rating had dropped precipitously, from 83 daily visits before Thanksgiving to 33 over the weekend -- which dropped me from a rating in the #5900s to #7667, restoring me to Slimy Mollusc status just when I was starting to get used to being an Adorable Rodent.
In other words, you folks have better things to do over Thanksgiving than to read my blog. I congratulate you; your priorities are definitely in the right place! (On the other hand, Thanksgiving is now over, so I hope I'll see a boost in my ratings over the next day or so. On the third hand, if you've forgotten to come back and check this site again, you won't be reading this now anyway, will you?)
A lot has been going on, to be sure. The calls for an early American withdrawal from Iraq are growing increasingly shrill, and we're starting to hear noises from the Pentagon about it as well. I find this disheartening, mostly because I do not want the United States to withdraw before the Iraqis are ready for us to do so... and because I hate the thought of the political games people are playing with this.
Please note: I do not support keeping American troops in Iraq permanently, and I never have. I do not support keeping troops there simply to bolster my own trivial ego and my opinions of the war; my opinions, even were they expressed with the eloquence of Churchill and the wisdom of Washington, are not worth a single soldier's life, not by a long shot. If I'm given a choice between admitting that I'm wrong, or refusing to do so at the cost of American lives, I'll choose the former, ten times out of ten.
But I don't think I was (or am) wrong to support the war, not when so many troops on the ground continue to report on the wonderful results they're achieving... results that never get published in the mainstream press. And if Democrats can point to cold feet in their opposite numbers and crow "but your own man says so!", well, so can I:
I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.That's Sen. Joe Lieberman, writing in today's Wall Street Journal... and sounding more and more like a Zell Miller Democrat. I salute him, and wish his party had had the sense to nominate him for President in 2004.
Progress is visible and practical. In the Kurdish North, there is continuing security and growing prosperity. The primarily Shiite South remains largely free of terrorism, receives much more electric power and other public services than it did under Saddam, and is experiencing greater economic activity. The Sunni triangle, geographically defined by Baghdad to the east, Tikrit to the north and Ramadi to the west, is where most of the terrorist enemy attacks occur. And yet here, too, there is progress.
There are many more cars on the streets, satellite television dishes on the roofs, and literally millions more cell phones in Iraqi hands than before. All of that says the Iraqi economy is growing. And Sunni candidates are actively campaigning for seats in the National Assembly. People are working their way toward a functioning society and economy in the midst of a very brutal, inhumane, sustained terrorist war against the civilian population and the Iraqi and American military there to protect it.
Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraq. While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.
He, too, talks about troop pullbacks, but like President Bush, he puts them in the proper context:
Nationwide, American military leaders estimate that about one-third of the approximately 100,000 members of the Iraqi military are able to "lead the fight" themselves with logistical support from the U.S., and that that number should double by next year. If that happens, American military forces could begin a drawdown in numbers proportional to the increasing self-sufficiency of the Iraqi forces in 2006. If all goes well, I believe we can have a much smaller American military presence there by the end of 2006 or in 2007, but it is also likely that our presence will need to be significant in Iraq or nearby for years to come.Indeed. Let's remember that, as American troop pullbacks are scheduled -- due to success, not failure -- and Democrats inevitably snarl at Republicans that Rep. Murtha and moveon.org were right all along. For it would be a mistake, and a criminally stupid one, to keep more American troops in Iraq than are needed... just to keep the Democrats from crowing that it was their idea all along.
(Have you ever been to a parade, and watched a little boy go in front of the band leader and pretend that everyone is following him? Usually the little boy joins the fray long after the parade has started, and he continues marching his own way long after the parade has turned onto a side street and disappeared. Or, to put it another way -- I can write a letter to President Bush, demanding that he scale back troops in Iraq in 2006. If Bush then does exactly that, this is not proof that he's doing it on my say-so... or even that he's listening to me.)
Lots more in the news, to be sure. Political upheavals in Israel have caught my attention, and are alternately encouraging and depressing, depending on whom you ask. (Personally, I am not encouraged by the thought of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon making room for Shimon Peres in his new party; I've despised that opportunistic snake for years. But we'll see.) I'll write more about that later.
In the meanwhile, it's time for me to put warm Thanksgiving memories behind me, and get some work done! Thanks for stopping by; I'll see you later.
UPDATE: Jeff Harrell pointed me to this lucid, well-written article by Lorie Byrd:
The issues that the president has addressed -- the accusation that he lied about pre-war intelligence and that Democrats lied when they accused him of lying -- needed to be dealt with, and his excellent performance already appears to be showing some good results. There is a related issue, though, that is screaming to be addressed, and it needs to be done before the next election. The administration and Republicans at all levels next need to explain to the public how the actions of the Democrats over the past three years have exposed them as incapable of governing in today’s world of global Islamic terrorism.That's stronger than I would have put it. But she's got a point. Joe Liberman and Zell Miller aside, the leadership of the Democratic Party is marching us backward... which is decidedly not what we need in wartime.
One lesson learned over the past three years is that intelligence collected and interpreted by humans always contains an element of subjectivity and even what might appear a “slam dunk” can be found to be wrong.Indeed.
In light of this, voters have to ask on which side of the decision-making equation they want their leaders to err in this post-9/11 world. When it is pointed out that President Clinton was on-record saying the same things said by President Bush about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, many Democrats respond by saying, “Yes, but he didn’t take us to war over it.” That is exactly the point Republicans need to make. Someone needs to ask if Democrats would not take action knowing what they did about Saddam, and what would it take for them ever to decide to act against a known threat.
We not only know now that many Democrats, faced with the same information, failed to act, but many of those who supported the president’s decision to act, have now withdrawn that support. That is a set of facts that should not be ignored by voters in 2006 and 2008.
Of course, part of this point may be moot. Will the Republican party hold together behind the President's pro-victory stance? (Current circumstances lead me to wonder.) Will they be able to field a credible candidate for the Presidency in 2008? (And no, I would not be thrilled by a Condi Candidacy.)
I agree completely that the Democratic Party must be held accountable, to the voters, for going soft during wartime. But that won't mean much if the Republicans go soft too.
UPDATE II: Glenn Reynolds (who??) reports that Sen. John McCain has similar tough words, and calls it bipartisan support:
A date is not an exit strategy. To suggest that it is only encourages our enemies, by indicating that the end to American intervention is near. It alienates our friends, who fear an insurgent victory, and tempts undecideds to join the anti-government ranks.Indeed. Funny, it's the Democrats who keep talking about "winning the battle for hearts and minds"... but apparently that only matters to them if it's done their way.
Think about this for a moment. Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police force, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think when they read that the Senate is pressing for steps toward draw-down?
Are they more or less likely to side with a government whose No. 1 partner hints at leaving?
Prof. Reynolds also points to a poll, indicating that the majority of Americans support Lieberman and McCain's view of the war, not Jack Murtha's. (James Taranto pointed out the same thing two days ago.) As much as 70% of Americans believe that criticism of the war by Democratic senators hurts troop morale.
Will the Democrats get the message before the 2006 elections? It sounds as though Lieberman is there already. Will anyone else jump on the bandwagon? (Let's hope so... for the Democrats' sake. They sure haven't been winning many elections the way they're going.)
UPDATE III: With another hat tip to The Professor, the White House has released its National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. (I agree with Glenn; it seems to borrow a lot from Steven den Beste. But I can live with that, so long as the message gets out... and I imagine Mr. den Beste can too.)
The report seems to hit all the right notes, starting with its subtitle: Helping the Iraqi People Defeat the Terrorists and Build an Inclusive Democratic State. Subject headings include:
- Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages
- Victory in Iraq is a Vital U.S. Interest
- Failure is Not an Option
- Victory Will Take Time
- Our Victory Strategy Is (and Must Be) Conditions Based
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Mantra for the Day
As seen on this message board (post #31):
Don't preach to me [just] because I obey the law and am easier to reach.Amen.
This encapsulates an idea I've been kicking around for a long time. Why do we attack a friend within reach, instead of an enemy further away?
Because we're lazy, that's why. It is often easier to address the person in front of you -- who may have nothing to do with the problem at hand -- instead of seeking out the real address for your grievances.
It's a very human failing, I think; I suspect all of us have fallen prey to it at one time or another. But it's still a failing, and it's still wrong.
So there he was, searching the streetcorner with a magnifying glass for his car keys. He'd been at it for hours. "Are you sure you lost them there?" I asked. "No", he answered, "I lost them three blocks away." "Well then", I replied, "why don't you look for them there?" He answered, "because the light's much better here."That's why a child, frustrated about a bad experience with a teacher at school, might take it out on a friend, or a sibling, or a parent, or whomever else is convenient. That's why a man who just lost his job might walk out onto the street and kick a cat. That's why people who are frustrated about crime often address law-abiding citizens, instead of criminals; they at least know where to find the law-abiding citizens!
And that's one reason why, given a choice between blaming the terrorists who commit a brutal attack, or blaming the wounded victims who respond, some people choose to blame the victims.
(There are other reasons, of course. I've written elsewhere about what a powerful motivator fear can be. I have less respect for that reason when I see it; that's the action of a bully who deliberately fights only with the ones he knows won't fight back. We see this, for example, in the lunatic-fringe demonstrators who scream "police state" -- who either don't know or don't care that, in a real police state, they would not be free to hold such demonstrations. But they feel free to hurl abuse at the American government, confident that there will be no penalty against them for their words... except, perhaps, for the penalty of not being taken seriously.)
The context, of the thread I cited above, was a discussion of gun-control. Why not register your weapons with the authorities, one commenter asked; what do you have to hide? Because that penalizes the law-abiding, was the answer, while leaving criminals alone.
No doubt many advocates of gun-control in the United States are genuinely confused about the issue, and don't understand why anyone would want to keep a lethal firearm in the house. (The answer is simple: as my mother used to say, a criminal at my door will be armed with the weapon of his choice. I want to have the option of confronting him with the weapon of my choice.) But other people, I'm certain, are simply horrified at the quantity of guns on the loose... and want to alleviate the problem by at least getting rid of the guns they can reach.
After all, if a town has an estimated 10,000 guns in a population of 20,000, getting rid of half of the guns is a step in the right direction, isn't it? No, it is not... if you've just disarmed the law-abiding citizens, and left the only guns in the hands of criminals.
"Where guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns."I feel the same way about protesters who criticize the American government for invading Iraq, but never criticize the Iraqi behavior that made that invasion necessary. Ditto for the people who castigate Israel for fighting terrorism, but never have a bad word to say about the terrorists that caused the terror in the first place.
And then there are the extreme cases, such as the cowards who went to Iraq in early 2003 to be "peace demonstrators" and "human shields". (As I recall, they were upset and disillusioned when Saddam cheerfully sent them to "defend" legitimate military targets, not pre-schools and milk factories.) Yes, I call them cowards... because they knew all too well that the United States would not kill them, except by accident. But they never volunteered to protect people against genuine tyrants or terrorists, did they? Were there any "human shield" volunteers to ride Israeli buses all day, or to stand between Iraqi civilians and Saddam's secret police? No, there were none... because, as cowards always do, they only stood up to the ones who would not harm them.
(Such volunteering would have been ridiculous, of course. Had an American pacifist tried to stand between Saddam and a terrified Iraqi destined for the shredders, Saddam would simply have shredded them both. And no Palestinian terrorist is liable to care if the bus he blows up contains sweet-minded "volunteer human shields", any more than they care if their own people die in the carnage. But on a moral level, none of that matters. Fighting those who will not fight back, while refusing to fight those who will, is rank cowardice, nothing more.)
Fighting the fights that need fighting, as the saying goes, instead of the fights that are convenient, is hard work. Overcoming our own innate laziness is hard work. But it is no less a moral imperative for being hard.
Monday, November 21, 2005
French Antisemitism: Getting Worse
As seen at yourish.com:
PARIS - Romain Barthel greets me at the gates of the Lycee Diane Benvenuti, a private secondary school in the leafy 16th arrondissement of Paris. It's the day after Yom Kippur and the school, a Jewish one, is closed. Mr. Barthel is the Benvenuti school's principal; a diminutive, soft-spoken, 32-year-old observant Jew, who wears a skullcap but no sidelocks, and fashionable sneakers with narrow trousers. The gates by which we meet are not the kind you open with a latch, but rather ones you pass through with the permission of a security guard provided by Service de la protection de la communaute Juif -- a security firm created and funded by France's Jewish community -- who is installed in a booth in the school's vestibule. These gates close off both the sidewalk and the street in front of the school to cars and pedestrians -- they are a barricade.Meryl Yourish, a teacher herself, is appalled at the thought of a bullet-proof and bomb-proof school... or, rather, the thought of a school that needs such protection. I concur completely.
Mr. Barthel walks me through the school, which was built three years ago to what he calls "new specifications for a new reality."
"All of our windows are made with glass both bomb- and bullet-proof; there are security cameras in all the common rooms," he says. "You will also notice there is no sign outside of the school that could single it out as a Jewish place."
It's noteworthy also that, in France, which has redefined the notion of "welfare state", this protection does not come from the authorities, but from the Jewish community itself... because French Jews have learned not to trust the government with their protection.
more from the article:
Mr. Barthel explains the buddy system instituted at the Benvenuti school for children both arriving and leaving the premises. The students must travel in a pack and are not allowed to wear visible skullcaps or Stars of David anywhere but inside the school. They are also discouraged from dressing in a manner that Mr. Barthel calls "Shalala," meaning that they asked to refrain from dressing in a style which in North American parlance might be termed "Jappy."All of a sudden, the torching of French cars doesn't seem so funny anymore, does it?
"The Diesel jeans, the tight bomber jackets, these things can also make them look like Jews," he says. "They must look more quiet now, for safety."
Mr. Barthel is the father of two young children. Last year, his children's school bus, belonging to a Jewish school in Epinay-sur-seine, a northern suburb of Paris, was set on fire. "The bus was empty when it was attacked, but still, nobody did anything about it, not the police, not the government."
He says the Jews of France have increasingly felt as if they have had to take safety into their own hands. "For us now, this means one of two things: bunker in with bomb-proof glass, or leave."This is indeed appalling... and I fear very much that we are hearing the death-knell of France as we know it. France is letting her Jewish population be scared away, and is doing next to nothing about it; at the same time, France's Muslim populations are growing increasingly scary, while the French government seeks ever-more-creative ways of appeasing the violent.
Mr. Barthel and his family have chosen the latter, becoming part of what could easily qualify as an exodus of Jews. In the past four years, French-Jewish immigration to Israel has more than doubled. The United States has received an influx of thousands as well, notably to the Miami area, where, as in Israel, entirely French-Jewish communities have cropped up, bringing with them everything from kosher patisseries to synagogues both French in language and culture.
As I've said before, Jews are the canaries in the coal mine. What happens to French Jews will soon happen to the French en masse. If they're clever, they'll stop it now.
But they won't, will they? And French antisemitism will rise, just as it did at the turn of the twentieth century... with results that do not bear dwelling upon.
Emile Zola, where are you now? We need you.
More on Murtha
Some miscellaneous thoughts:
I listened (briefly) to Mike Gallagher on the radio on my way to work this morning. He mentioned that Kurt Vonnegut, who is (surprise!) a decorated American WWII veteran and ex-POW, recently said:
"What George Bush and his gang did not realise was that people fight back. Peace wasn't restored in Vietnam until we got kicked out. Everything's quiet there now."That's quite a tribute to suicide bombers, isn't it? It gets worse:
There's a long pause before Vonnegut speaks again: "It is sweet and noble - sweet and honourable I guess it is - to die for what you believe in."
Vonnegut suggested suicide bombers must feel an "amazing high". He said: "You would know death is going to be painless, so the anticipation - it must be an amazing high."Perhaps he should write recruiting posters for the suicide bombers. No, wait, it seems he's doing that already.
Mike Gallagher asked if we're permitted to criticize the anti-war sentiments of aging war heroes, such as Vonnegut and Rep. Murtha.
Here's my take on this: war heroes make mistakes too, don't they? For example: how would you respond if Rep. Murtha spoke in glowing terms of his Vietnam-era M16 rifle and the 9mm bullets it uses? Or suppose Mr. Vonnegut spoke to the press about being a PoW in Dresden, from which he personally watched the horrors of Hiroshima?
(Neither of the two have said this, mind you. I'm asking a theoretical question here.)
I think we'd be perfectly justified in saying: pardon me, sir, but you're dead wrong. Dresden is nowhere near Hiroshima, and the M16 fires a 5.56mm rifle round, not a 9mm pistol round.
In other words: yes, I accord these men respect for where they've been and what they've done. But I don't consider them infallible, in matters of fact or opinion.
I will listen carefully to opinions from these men in their areas of expertise -- but if I think they are wrong, I will say so. (I will say so politely; I think that courtesy, at least, they have earned.)
In re Rep. Murtha, I think he is dead wrong... and I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of his colleague Rep. Jean Schmidt (R., Ohio), who said she was "relaying a message" from a Marine Colonel serving in Iraq:
"He asked me to send Congress a message — stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message — that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."Bravo.
As Gallagher said this morning, we now have a Congressional vote, 403 to 3, overwhelmingly supporting the decision to stay the course in Iraq. Democrats, naturally, are calling this vote "a stunt"... and make it clear that they voted to defeat it (alongside Republicans) to show their contempt for it.
Actually, I couldn't care less if it's a stunt. It sends a powerful message abroad -- to our troops, who need all the encouragement we can give them, and to our enemies, who are emboldened enough without our giving them a free public forum on the floor of U.S. Congress.
The bottom line is: the United States has voted overwhelmingly to stay the course. Now that was a message well worth sending.
UPDATE: Day By Day and Cox & Forkum both have interesting takes on this:
Sunday, November 20, 2005
DiB: Some Highlights
Calling this "the best of Daniel in Brookline" sounds presumptuous, at best. But I find myself referring a lot back to things I've already written... so it might be useful to have the links in one place.
Daniel on Daniel (with a quiz and a punch sheet for good measure)
On what I believe
On stepdaughters, Chuck E. Cheese, and the irony of it all
On Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
On showing the flag
On moral equivalence
On constitutional rights
On use of the term 'suicide bomber'
On decisions in the heat of battle
On high-tech warfare
On terror and torture (more here)
On terrorism in general (more here)
On courage, and the lack thereof
On exit strategies
On tasteless Holocaust comparisons
On the differences between war and terrorism
On the acid test for Muslim democracies
On international law
On the power of words
A fisking or two (or three)
On NASA, HP, and hundred-dollar bills
On Israeli-Palestinian summits
On Arafat dying, and Arafat dead
On Israel and the Palestinians (with more here, here, here, here, here, here, and here)
Is criticism of Israel always antisemitism? (more here)
On a rock group called Ramallah
On Israeli archaeology
On Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip (with more here, here, here, here, and here)
On Israel and the world (more here and here)
On the Palestinians and the world
On a Palestinian civil war (more here and here)
On the war in Iraq: quite a few posts on related topics
On Iraqi courage
On idiotic anti-military protests
On Cindy Sheehan
On hope in the Middle East
On body armor and the New York Times
On Iraqi democracy
On military honors: both American and Israeli
On John Roberts and the Supreme Court
On Planned Parenthood
On John Kerry (with more here, here, here, here, and here)
On extreme political artwork
On irresponsibility at Newsweek
On 'thanking the wrong rabbi'
'Save a gay Palestinian for Jesus'
On Palestinians in San Diego
On Dan Rather and his fall from glory
On "the religion of peace"
On rioting in Paris
Islamic Terrorism: The List
For all those who claim that terrorism is not an Islamic problem -- that we should address terrorism as a general problem, and not target or profile Muslims -- a blog called The ReligionOfPeace.com has prepared a list.
I won't attempt to excerpt the list; suffice it to say that it's a list of terror attacks, explicitly carried out in the name of Islam, resulting in fatalities, since November 20, 2004. Nearly all the entries in this list pertain to attacks on civilians and civilian casualties; a few are attacks on soldiers that are particularly outrageous.
The list is over 1100 entries long.
Follow the links, and scroll down for the list. It's sobering, at the very least.
There are similar lists for 2004, and for 2001-2003, althought he links seem to be broken at the moment.
As the site says, at the end of this unbelievable list: "Still think it has nothing to do with Islam?"
(hat tip: Girl on the Right.)
Just to be clear about this: I have no problem with Islam as a religion. I have a serious problem with Islam as a justification for mass murder, or for world conquest... and I similarly have a problem with Muslims who prefer to remain quiet, in the face of terror attacks committed in their name.
Islam is ironically referred to as a "religion of peace". It should be abundantly clear that, for that title to mean anything, the burden of proof is on Islam to be peaceful.
UPDATE: The Mudvilla Gazette has another extremely useful list: a chronology of events leading up to the Iraq War, with heavily-cited quotes from prominent leaders, indicating what people were saying at the time. As Greyhawk explains, this is extremely useful in providing context for today's headlines.
I wish less emphasis were placed on the Monica Lewinsky Affair (damn, what an annoying double-entendre), while other items got short shrift. For example, I would have liked to see inclusion of the thirty-nine Scuds that Saddam fired, utterly without provokation, against Israel in early 1991. (I have obvious personal reasons for wanting that included; at the time, I was living on the spot marked X. But I also think it as relevant as other bellicose and unwarranted actions of Saddam, e.g. setting fire to Kuwaiti oil fields.)
Nonetheless, it's a fine job, and well worth referring back to.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Let me just get that quote out of the way now. No doubt we'll be hearing lots of it in weeks and months to come, now that the call to withdraw unconditionally from Iraq has metastasized.
I'm not sure that I have anything new to say about this; Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt and Gateway Pundit and Mudville Gazette and many others have written about it at length. But I want to make it clear where I stand, whether my words are original or not. It may not matter to the billions of people who have never read my writing, and never will. But it matters to me.
Congressman John Murtha has openly adopted the fever-swamp rhetoric, and is now calling in open session for the United States to abandon Iraq and bring the troops home. Many are no doubt hearing his words and thinking it's a good idea, not seeing this for the catastrophe it is.
And it's being reported overseas, which hurts our credibility tremendously.
Forgive me if I belabor the obvious; to me, this just seems obvious --
You don't give up the fight. Not against a determined enemy, not while there's fight left in you. You simply don't do that, ever.
The reason is simple: when you walk away from a fight in progress, you surrender. You then condemn yourself to fight again, on a different day, under circumstances of your enemy's choosing.
Do we really want that? Do we want the terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere to learn that, if they set off enough bombs, they can make the United States back away from any commitment? Do we really want them to believe that our military is useless against them, because we will cease to use it when we get tired of it?
More to the point: do we really want the terrorists to become emboldened by their victory -- for victory it will be for them if we withdraw, make no mistake -- and try their attacks again on American soil? Do we really want to have to re-launch the War on Terror again, with no clear target in sight?
Do we want to abandon our allies in Iraq, who are trusting us with their lives -- and who have demonstrated, repeatedly, that this Iraqi experiment in democracy is one for which they are willing to die? We abandoned them once before, remember, in the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991. How dare we even contemplate abandoning them again?
Let me be absolutely clear on where I stand. I do not want a permanent American presence in Iraq; I want our troops to stay there as long as is necessary to get the job done, and to return home just as soon as they're no longer needed. That, for me, will be when it is indisputably clear that the Iraqis can fight terror on their own, as well (or almost as well) as they could do with our help.
But for all of the high-speed progress the Iraqis have made -- from a collapsing dictatorship to a Constitution and parliamentary elections in two and a half years -- they are not ready to stand without us yet. And it would be both folly of the worst sort, and immoral in the extreme, for us to abandon our commitments, to them and to ourselves, before they are ready.
Something I'm seeing these days that I find hard to believe, and harder to understand, is that this just doesn't get through to some people. They hear arguments about the need to fight the fights worth fighting, and they say "Jingoism". They hear President Bush speaking to the troops, and they dismiss it as a "pep talk".
Or take this exchange, which I just saw over at the Indepundit:
Within living memory, we have seen what happens when America abandons its national commitments, and deserts the brave people who stood tall and believed its promises. The faint-hearted and the wavering painted our commitment to the people of Indochina as a cause in itself of the bloodshed and grief there — and then stood mute when they achieved their objective, forced America’s retreat, and years of genocide followed in its wake.To which a commenter responded:
A generation later, they’re trying to do the same in Iraq. For the sake of an Iraqi people only now grasping the responsibilities, perils, and blessings of liberty, we cannot let them force America to shrink from the awesome responsibility it has shouldered. For the sake of American honor — and those who have died in this cause — we cannot repeat the mistakes of 1991, when the cost of our reluctance was counted in Kurdish and Shi’a dead.
This is not a partisan issue. This is not a left- or right-wing issue. This is an American and Iraqi issue, and all men of good faith must now come together to remind our leadership that whatever our politics, and whatever we thought of the decision to go to war, there can be only one end:
Are you sure the MANIFESTO isn't a parody? Nobody writes prose that bad with serious intent.To which I can only think: brother, all you can think of is the prose? You're throwing away the package and critiquing the box it came in.
Read the wartime speeches of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Read the inaugural addresses of Abraham Lincoln. You'll find that the manifesto above wouldn't look out of place there.
And if we don't recognize that sort of speech today -- or the need for it -- then that does not speak well for us.
Let's counter the words of aging ex-Marine Murtha, who seems to have learned all the wrong lessons from his service in Vietnam, with this.
Glenn Reynolds, and others, are opining that Rep. Murtha is simply trying to claim credit, in advance, for the inevitable reductions in troop levels next year (which will happen if our troops in Iraq continue to do as well as they've been doing). Presumably this is part of an effort to get re-elected in 2006. If so, it is nothing short of despicable.
We must continue to fight until the battle is won... or else, in our efforts to avoid the fight, the fight will come looking for us.
We must not give up. We must not surrender.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
For The Locals
I received an e-mail yesterday from someone in Newton, the next town over from Brookline. It seems that Shaarei Tefillah, a small Orthodox synagogue in Newton, recently purchased the ramshackle house next door, with the intent to tear it down and expand the synagogue to meet their congregation's growing needs. But the neighbors object to this, for some reason... and they are blocking the attempt, by trying to have the run-down building declared a national landmark.
Here's what the congregation has to say on the subject:
Last year, Congregation Shaarei Tefillah, Newton, MA, purchased the house adjacent to the building that the synagogue has occupied for the last two decades. The synagogue is a young, growing community in need of more space. The newly purchased building is a run-down, nondescript house long considered an eyesore by the neighborhood. Our intention is to raze the building and replace it with a new wing.
As you know, the Massachusetts Constitution protects the right of members of every faith to build houses of worship.
Prior to the purchase of the building at 29-31 Morseland by Shaarei Tefillah, the building was considered an eyesore by the neighborhood. After Shaarei Tefillah informed the neighborhood of its expansion plans, several neighbors, including some who had quite recently purchased houses very near the existing synagogue, voiced objections to the expansion. Because the building of a synagogue is protected by the constitution, the only way to block the synagogue expansion would be to have the building designated as an historic landmark. Therefore, in a cynical end-run around the constitution, a handful of neighbors suddenly "discovered" that the building they had long considered to be an eyesore was an important historic edifice.
The core of the house in question was built in 1780. The building is, however, is much-altered, utterly undistinguished architecturally, and devoid of historic importance - aside from age.* Should anyone with a sincere dedication to the house's historic significance wish to rehabilitate the dilapidated structure, Shaarei Tefillah would, of course, make it available for removal to another location, as is routinely done with buildings of actual historic or architectural value.
Please join me in signing a petition asking the Historical Commission at it's Nov. 22 meeting to reject the landmarking of 29-31 Morseland on the grounds that this is a transparent attempt to shanghai the historic landmark process in the service of denying a constitutionally-protected right to build a house of worship to a religious congregation in our community.
Therefore, please go to the link below and:
Opposition to landmarking 29-31 Morseland St.
- Sign your name.
- Provide your email, though your email will remain hidden and not shared. The petition host uses emails as a control for the credibility of signatures.
- If you are a resident of Newton, please mention this or list your street in the comments section.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter! Our future depends on it!!
Rabbi Benjamin Samuels
Richard Feczko, President
*A property can be designated a landmark if it is:
"(1) importantly associated with one or more historic persons or events, or with the broad architectural, aesthetic, cultural, political, economic, or social history of the city or the commonwealth or (2) historically or architecturally significant (in terms of period, style, method of construction, or association with a famous architect or builder)."
The commission must consider several conditions, including:
"(2) that the distinguishing characteristics of significance are for the most part original and intact or capable of restoration"
See also a news article on a similar attempt to use the landmark process to block construction of a synagogue elsewhere in Newton.
As near as I can tell, the congregants of Shaarei Tefillah are acting in good faith. Please lend them your support.
UPDATE: Thanks to Daniel T. for geographical proofreading.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
On European Leadership
As seen on Instapundit:
MORE ON THE FRENCH RIOTS:Ouch. This is, shall we say, not the best time for a lack of strong leadership. (What good would it do if, while America and her allies are busy stamping out terror in Iraq and elsewhere, terror is permitted to blossom and flourish in, say, France?)
The unrest buffeting France the past three weeks has further undermined the already weakened presidency of Jacques Chirac, but he is far from alone on a continent with pressing problems and few strong leaders to tackle them.
Britain, Germany and Italy also have troubled governments, leaving the European Union in limbo as U.S. President George Bush's administration increasingly shows interest in a cohesive Europe to help with difficult diplomatic tasks in the Middle East and elsewhere.
"The whole Western world lacks leadership at the moment," said Guillaume Parmentier, director of the French Center on the United States. "I cannot see any leader who can seize the mantle of the EU and move it in this or that direction."
I guess Europe is the sick man of Europe, now. This is actually a very bad thing, but I don't see any quick remedy.
Or, to put it in perspective for Americans: think of the incompetence that New Orleans' Mayor Nagin, and Louisiana Governor Blanco, showed in a time of crisis. That was bad enough. Now imagine people of their caliber leading the major nations of Europe.
Bottom line: people tend to elect weak or corrupt leaders when they don't think it matters, i.e. in times of prosperity (or when they don't see the cliff they're about to march over). But we never know when the next crisis will come, do we? And when it comes, suddenly our leaders either have what it takes to move forward... or they don't.
Bob Dole ran for the American Presidency in 1996 on just such a platform, saying that he was the leader America would need if a crisis came. America replied that times were good, we didn't need a crisis leader... and re-elected Bill Clinton. In 2000, still headed at full speed for the crisis that few people saw coming, America elected an obscure man with a famous last name -- a former frat-boy and National Guard pilot, with no experience on the national stage -- and nobody worried about the strength of his backbone, because nobody thought it was necessary.
Then, one terrible morning in 2001, we needed a wartime President desperately... and, to my tremendous surprise, it turned out we had one.
Britain, in the late 1930s, was not so lucky. They elected Chamberlain, who could not (and would not) see World War II coming, and so marched us right into it with his eyes open. Britain had to get rid of him and elect Winston Churchill instead.
What will France do? What will the rest of Europe do, as Muslim violence -- and terrorism -- continues to spread?
Unless a brilliant leader comes out of nowhere -- which, as we noted above, can happen -- the prospects don't look good.
(Later: good news from Gateway Pundit. It looks as though Germany has elected a strong leader -- stronger than Mr. Schroeder, anyway -- right when she's needed. I'm glad; let's hope the trend continues!)
UPDATE: via Philmon, a link to Girl on the Right -- a fun blog I'll have to check out from time to time -- and this unforgettable passage:
The Jihadis are waging a holy war against France, because it is an easy target, and because there are enough of them to make it very violent and very successful.
I don't know what will become of Paris's treasures once this ugliness calms. I do not know if the churches and museums will remain.
What I do know is that when the Germans invaded France in WWII, Hitler was adamant about leaving Paris intact. He was a student of art, and was unwilling to see Europe's jewel destroyed. I doubt the Jihadis have the same view of art and culture. And I, for one, am saddened by the thought that one of the most evil men ever to walk the face of this earth had more class than our current enemies.
UPDATE II: I've cross-listed this post on five open-trackback sites: Don Surber's blog, Ferdinand the Conservative Cat, TMH's Bacon Bits, Right Wing Nation, and Mac Stansbury's eponymous MacStansbury.org. (Okay, I'll admit it: sometimes I'm just absolutely shameless. But it seemed to me that this post might be of interest beyond my usual readership. If any new readers wander in, no doubt they'll tell me if I was right or not.)
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Did Bush Lie?
Specifically: did Bush lie about the threat of Saddam's Iraq, in order to lead the United States into an unnecessary and immoral war?
Click the link, or just do the Google search yourself.
It really is that easy.
(With thanks to Bryan Preston for the idea and the graphic!)
Now... how long do you suppose it will take people to change Google's search priorities? (Yes, it can be done. At press time, the number-one item Google lists under "failure" is a biography of George W. Bush. Very funny indeed.)
U.S. Demands More Israeli Concessions... Again
No, I'm not aware of that headline appearing anywhere today. But in my opinion, it should be.
The event: under mounting pressure from the United States and the EU, Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to re-open border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel, as well as others between Gaza and Egypt. The Rafah crossing from Egypt will be monitored by Egyptians (who have been turning a blind eye to Palestinian weapons smuggling for years), Europeans (who have been funding those weapons), and Palestinians (who have been firing those weapons). Israel will be able to observe by closed-circuit TV, and will be permitted to lodge complaints, but will not have a veto over who, or what, crosses from Egypt.
In short, Israel has given up the chokehold she had over Palestinian heavy-weapons smuggling, in return for... well, nothing, really. The Palestinians have not made any concessions at all, as near as I can tell, other than the same promise to "do their best" to rein in terror against Israel, just as they've promised hundreds of times before.
Here's what ABC has to say:
My heart bleeds for you, Condi.
Israel, Palestinians OK Gaza Border Deal
With a Diplomatic Shove From Rice, Israelis and Palestinians Reach Deal on Gaza Border Crossings
JERUSALEM Nov 15, 2005 — Israel and the Palestinians agreed Tuesday on a detailed arrangement for opening the borders of the Gaza Strip and allowing freer movement for Palestinians elsewhere, a significant step toward an eventual peace deal between historic enemies.
It took all-night negotiations and a strong diplomatic shove from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to get a deal whose basic elements had been in the works for weeks...
She said she only got about two hours of sleep.
ABC paints this as a positive step... but the article, significantly, does not quote any Israeli officials.
But The Jerusalem Post does:
"The result is easy to see," [Likud Knesset member Binyamin] Netanyahu claimed. "There will be plenty of weapons finding their way to Gaza. Kassam rockets and mortars will be transported through Judea and Samaria to be launched at Israel."The Jerusalem Post also includes this amazing quote:
MK Yuval Steinitz said at the meeting: "Israel was pressured into opening up the crossings before we were ready; we gave in to pressure from the Americans."
With the pressure from Rice weighing on them, the PA expressed wonder that Israel continued to balk at an agreement.Well, the Palestinians had no trouble agreeing, did they? -- the agreement is entirely in their favor, giving them many valuable things while asking nothing of them.
"We now have the Europeans to monitor the border to make sure there is no smuggling or entrance of suspicious people, and still they do not agree," Erekat said.
And let's not forget -- Israel has no particular reason to trust the Europeans, nor the UN, when it comes to Israeli security. Israelis still remember vividly when an "international peacekeeping force" was posted between Israel and Egypt between 1956 and 1967, very near the area under question today, with the sole purpose of keeping Israeli and Egyptian forces apart. Yet in May 1967, when Egyptian President Nasser ordered the UN troops to leave -- or be trampled under an Egyptian invasion of Israel -- UN Secretary General U Thant pulled the "peacekeepers" out with nary a whimper.
Israel has caved in to the United States once again. This does not speak well for either of them.
UPDATE: There is a strong desire by the press, by the U.S. State Department, and of course by the Palestinians, to portray the Palestinian Authority as a local government, run by reasonable people, in control of its people and its destiny.
None of the above is true... and many of Israel's troubles with the Palestinians come from Israel being required, by others, to pretend that it's true. And when the pretense runs head-on into hard reality, it is Israelis -- ordinary Israelis in pizza parlors and felafel stands -- who pay the price with their lives.
I've written before about how unready the Palestinians are to assume a place in the community of nations. If you'd like more recent evidence of this, take a look at what passes for labor disputes in the Palestinian Authority. Or read how Abbas openly brags about his unwillingness to disarm Hamas terrorists; presumably he's happy to have multiple guerilla armies that he doesn't control running around.
(That link is from Reuters, by the way. It's as slanted as we've come to expect from them, but some pertinent facts slip through anyway. Reuters has long been known to use Palestinian stringers as sources, writing horribly biased reporting on-site and publishing it virtually unedited; judging from the byline on this Reuters report, that policy has not changed.)
UPDATE II: Cox & Forkum have some fun with Condi's football comment ("as a football fan, sometimes the last yard is the hardest"), which I didn't quote above:
Monday, November 14, 2005
Light Posting, With Apologies
Greetings and apologies to both of my regular readers. I've hit a minor writer's block lately -- unsure of what to blog about, uncertain if I have something meaningful to say. (I would rather not write when I have nothing to say; I'll leave that for political speechwriters.)
In lieu of that, let me point you to an editorial by Dennis Prager in the LA Times. He, as a non-Muslim, has five questions to ask of the world's Muslims, and he genuinely wants answers if he can get them. Briefly, they are:
- Why does terrorism committed in your name not outrage you?
- Why are Palestinian terrorists always Muslims and never Christians?
- Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country? (Mali, if you were wondering...)
- Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?
- Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?
It's been clear for a long time that there's an asymmetry of expectations with respect to the Muslim world. Why has the Muslim world been enraged, repeatedly, over the mere rumor of public disrespect towards Islam, or the Koran, or mosques... while Muslim destruction of ancient Buddhist statues, or desecration of Christian churches or Jewish synagogues, arouses no Muslim outcry? And why does the Western world accept such behavior from Muslims, where the opposite would be met with outrage?
I've long felt that Western acceptance of savage behavior from Muslims results from fear, if not outright racism. (Is it not racist to expect so little from an entire people? On the other hand, it is understandable -- if not particularly laudable -- to protest anti-Muslim sentiments, simply because of fear of that savage behavior. Nobody wants to be the next Nick Berg.)
But I would not expect that level of ignorance, or bigotry, of Muslims vis-a-vis other Muslims.
Dennis Prager isn't the only one who wants an answer to these questions; so do I.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Once More, From The Top...
As I mentioned in a post a week and a half ago, it gets tiresome to keep refuting the "Bush Lied!" nonsense that has, in effect, become conventional wisdom these days. (I've encountered this at work, in private discussions, and online, in such sources of wit and brilliance as this one and this one, among others.)
As Rich Casebolt pointed out to me, it is useful to keep well-thought-out arguments on hand; the need keeps arising to point to them. But Norman Podhoretz has done a finer job than I could dream of doing:
Among the many distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed.By all means, read the whole thing.
What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.
Nevertheless, I want to take one more shot at exposing it for the lie that it itself really is.
(hat tip: Roger L. Simon.)
UPDATE: Tom Bevan tightens the argument a bit... just in case anyone still believes that WMD inspections in Iraq "were working". (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.)
UPDATE II: Now a follow-up... and this really does come from the top:
General David Petraeus says, "Iraqis are in the fight. They're fighting and dying for their country, and they're fighting increasingly well." This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.(emphasis added)
And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.
While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.
They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.
The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.
Amen. This needs to be said... and it needed to be said by the President. (By all means, read the whole speech. Among other important features, he consistently calls the terrorists by name... and refers to them, and their supporters, as 'murderers'. Again, a simple truth, but it needs to be said.)
This will not silence the "Bush Lied!" crowd, certainly. But I'm gratified to see that the President is, finally, fighting back.
By the way, many Republicans seem to be exasperated with the President over this speech -- "what took you so long?", and similar reactions. Personally, I believe that Bush is once again using his time-tested "misunderestimation" strategy. Time and again, Bush has dealt with his critics by letting them get as harsh and as shrill as they want... until the moment of his choosing, when he can come out strongly and let the wind out of their sails. He's perfected this technique, and gotten excellent results with it, over and over again.
(I'm reminded of an old favorite novel from my boyhood, in which a politician named Byerley uses what he calls "shyster tricks" -- which he goes on to define as letting your political opponent do all the work for you. When an opponent attacks him, he cheerfully fails to respond... and explains, "I'm going to let him go ahead, choose his rope, test its strength, cut it to the desired length, tie a noose, insert his head, and grin. I can do what little else is required.")
I'll leave it to historians to decide whether Bush adopted this as a deliberate strategy, or simply as a way of playing to his strengths. (Bush is known for being ineloquent, for not thinking particularly fast on his feet, and so on. Giving his opponents as much rope as they want gives him time to marshall his arguments, and gives his opponents time to grow shrill and overconfident.)
Either way, Bush fights to win, and his results have been very impressive, to say the very least. Let's not misunderestimate him here.
UPDATE III: Apparently, many high-ranking Republicans were just waiting for the President to set the tone. Michelle Malkin and Prof. Glenn are all over it; the PowerLine guys have some good stuff to say about it too. But the headline I love belongs to Tom Maguire: "Hardly Seems Fair To Quote Them Now".
UPDATE IV: Oh, God, this is hilarious!
IS BUSH ACTUALLY ISRAELI? When he defends himself, the press says he's escalating.Thank you, Glenn! I needed a laugh this morning.
UPDATE V: Christopher Hitchens does his usual splendid job, asking: if you still believe that Bush lied about Saddam to start a war, what else must you believe?
It was, of course, the sinuous and dastardly forces of Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress who persuaded the entire Senate to take leave of its senses in 1998. I know at least one of its two or three staffers, who actually admits to having engaged in the plan. By the same alchemy and hypnotism, the INC was able to manipulate the combined intelligence services of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as the CIA, the DIA, and the NSA, who between them employ perhaps 1.4 million people, and who in the American case dispose of an intelligence budget of $44 billion, with only a handful of Iraqi defectors and an operating budget of $320,000 per month. That's what you have to believe.He also quotes the Washington Post, which claims that in 2002 Congress authorized Bush to invade Iraq, but not to remove Saddam Hussein from power. On the other hand, in 1998, President Clinton's Iraq Liberation Act did call for the removal of Saddam, but did not explicitly authorize the use of force. Hitchens then says:
Let us suppose, then, that we can find a senator who voted for the 1998 act to remove Saddam Hussein yet did not anticipate that it might entail the use of force, and who later voted for the 2002 resolution and did not appreciate that the authorization of force would entail the removal of Saddam Hussein! Would this senator kindly stand up and take a bow?Indeed.
Steve, on the other hand, doesn't think much of all this.
A Remarkable Spanish Letter
I just received an e-mail which, by the looks of it, has been making the rounds. So far I haven't been successful in authenticating it; I'd appreciate any help in that regard. (Update: the author is likely writing under a pseudonym; see the comments below for details.)
All European Life Died In Auschwitz -- by Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez
I walked down the street in Barcelona, and suddenly discovered a terrible truth – Europe died in Auschwitz.
We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims.
In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.
The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned.
And under the pretence of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.
They have turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.
Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naïve hosts.
And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition.
We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for hoping for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.
What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe.
Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez - Spanish Writer
This is a summary of an article recently printed in a Spanish newspaper.
If this is real, it's quite a remarkable statement. (And I wonder about the theme of guilt and expiation: was that the motivation for Europe's ready acceptance of so many Muslim immigrants, something that would have been unthinkable before WWII? It's an interesting theory.)
Mind you, I certainly do not believe in the universal goodness of Jews, nor in the opposite vis-a-vis Muslims. Western civilization has many, many productive Muslim citizens; and we've certainly seen our share of Jewish criminals.
Nonetheless, stereotypes get started for a reason. If two men stand side by side in front of you; if you are told that the one on the left is an American Jew, while the one on the right is a Muslim Arab; and if you are asked to guess which one of them is commander of a cell of terrorists, and which one is a Nobel Prize winner -- well, you'd know which way to bet, wouldn't you? And chances are quite high that you'd be right.
What's remarkable to me, though, is to hear a European speak of Holocaust responsibility in the first person. "These are the people we burned." That's rather rare these days.
UPDATE: My wife was upset by the letter above; she said that the sentiments expressed about today's European Muslims are little different from Nazi-era sentiments about European Jews.
I'm not sure I see that; there are a number of important differences, from the "shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government" (Jews were accused of many things, but I don't recall that we were called freeloaders) to the culture-of-death concept.
Mind you, upon second reading, it does seem to me that the author is hasty in tarring European Muslims with the terrorism/rioting brush. While some European Muslims may well be "planning murder and destruction", I don't believe that speaks for a majority of them, not by a long shot.
As a sentiment, though, it's telling in several ways. It's interesting that Europeans are starting to wake up to the prospect of terror all around them, and the need to start thinking about it now. (I agree.)
And if you accept my wife's thesis, then we realize that Europeans haven't actually changed that much since the 1930s... which is chilling enough all by itself.
Many people are fond of pointing to Neville Chamberlain's "peace in our time" as the utter folly that it was, and proclaiming that we must never do that again. But few people seem to consider the alternative. After all, suppose Europe had taken steps, before WWII broke out, to eliminate the Nazi threat? We would not see such a thing from our current vantage point, we who know all about WWII; we would have no idea what horrors had just been prevented. So what would such a move have looked like?
It might have looked very much like America's invasion of Iraq, which is loudly condemned by many as an "unnecessary" and "illegal" war. Or it might have looked like the pre-emptive strikes that started the Six Day War in 1967, for which Israel is still condemned in some quarters.
If you're looking for a wise leader, whose wise actions are seen by all to be exactly the right thing to do at the time they are being done, then you're going to be disappointed. Politics doesn't work that way, and it never has. In American history alone, you can pick just about any action that, in retrospect, was an important and wise decision; dig a little, and you'll see that the decision was roundly condemned at the time. (Declaring independence from Britain, ending slavery, fighting Nazism, enacting Civil Rights -- all were criticized brutally at the time.) The same is true of the leaders themselves -- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman all accomplished great things as President, and all were vilified mercilessly for their actions.
We all know what a disaster looks like. But we don't often think about what narrowly-averted disaster looks like. Sometimes it looks normal, like the face of a man who walked the edge of the precipice and didn't know it. Sometimes we're lucky enough to see the danger while there's still time to do something about it. But more often than you'd think, we must avoid danger by preparing for the worst... which will look unnecessary and paranoid, at best, to people who don't see the danger coming.
(Think of all the times you didn't have to take your child to the hospital, because you demanded that they stop doing something you'd told them was dangerous. Think of how often your child protested loudly, insisting that there was no danger and that you were worrying over nothing. That, my friends, is what disaster prevented looks like. Think about it for a moment... and then have another look at today's headlines.)
UPDATE II: Apparently I'm not the only one eager to authenticate (or debunk) the letter's origin. As of the morning of Nov. 15th, twelve of my last forty referrals are Google searches... that bring up this article! (Welcome, if you've gotten this far. Please leave a comment if you know more about this than I do.)
Monday, November 07, 2005
Some great stuff on Instapundit today. (Okay, that's not saying anything new. How many bloggers start and end by checking Instapundit? Many if not most, I'd say.)
For example: I'm very much impressed with this man:
Follow the link to understand why.
Rioting in France, on the other hand, keeps getting worse:
With the rioting spreading to over 300 French towns and to other European countries as well, it's getting scary out there. Austin Bay has considerably more on the topic, with a good roundup of links.
This, on the other hand, sounds like good news:
Thousands have marched through Morocco's biggest city to protest against al-Qaida's decision to kill two Moroccan hostages in Iraq.According to some reports, more than 150,000 Moroccans participated in this peaceful demonstration against al-Qaeda. Wonderful!
Holding banners and chanting "Muslims are brothers. A Muslim does not kill his brother" and "Yes to freedom, No to terrorism and barbarity", the protesters on Sunday marched through Casablanca, a city of six million and Morocco's financial capital.