The BBC has an interesting demonstration of the gulf between American and European perspectives on spirituality:

According to that faith there is such a thing as heaven - 86% of Americans, we are told by the pollsters, believe in heaven.
But much more striking to me, and much more pertinent to current world events, is the fact that 76% or three out of four people you meet on any American street believe in hell and the existence of Satan.

Exactly. Essential to America’s worldview is the belief that evil is very real. If Saddam isn’t evil, then it is possible to negotiate a peaceful solution for his WMD.

But what is most enlightening about this story is the palpable condescension with which Justin Webb writes. He calls our faith “uncomplicated” and our belief in Satan means that we all think “They believe that the devil is out to get you.”

And then there’s his take on America’s reaction to the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping:

During the last week a child who'd been missing for nine months has been found safe and well - the event was described routinely on the news media as a miracle.
One broadcast had a caption reading "the power of prayer".
In fact the child had been abducted and her abductor was recognised and captured.
In rational old Britain the media circus following the finding of the child would have been focused on ways of preventing this happening again - on police errors in the investigation.
Here, metaphorically, sometimes literally, they just sink to their knees.

OK, so if we were smart like Europeans we’d work to make sure little girls don’t get abducted, but since we’re just simple hicks, we hope some supernatural guardian can stop bad stuff from happening.

And people call the right-wing perspective on other cultures simplistic and condescending?

But this condescension illuminates why the debate over Iraq is not just another transatlantic tiff like farm subsidies. Unlike other disputes, not only does the “intellectual” left see the American position on Iraq as wrong, but also logically incomprehensible. Even if disarming Iraq is right, the “post-religious” world is terrified about the implications of a larger shift in geopolitics.

This is why the rift over Iraq is not a difference that can be negotiated away. The left isn’t convinced by the threat posed by Iraq or, more generally, Islamic extremism because this requires a fundamental leap in logic that they are unwilling to make. No amount of evidence can convince a people of the existence of evil when that belief requires more than facts but also faith.
If we go to war without a nineteen hundred and thirty-eighth UN resolution and it goes well, how many of the "swing" countries on the Security Council will come out as saying they were going to vote with us? If things go well, they won't want to be seen as trying to keep Saddam in power, so I imagine we will get reports from those countries such as: "Had the U.S. let it come to a vote, we were going to vote 'Yes.' We only were objecting to the specific timeframe presented but would have ended up voting for the resolution no matter what because that would have been the right thing to do."

Whether or not this comes to a UNSC vote (which it looks like it won't), a "political" vote will take place at some point with countries stating what side they are on. This "political" vote, though, can take place after the war starts, and, therefore, this vote can take place when during that time when everybody likes the U.S. -- when we win.


Reuel Marc Gerecht makes a fantastic argument on the need for a democratic Iraq to develop following the fall of Saddam:

advancing democracy in Iraq is the only way Washington can avoid that which the realpoliticians most fear: instability, or the "Lebanonization of Iraq." This is so primarily for one reason. When the U.S. armed forces demolish or dissolve the Republican and Special Republican Guards corps, Washington will irretrievably destroy the old Ottoman political order in Mesopotamia, under which Sunni Arabs rule and Shia Arabs acquiesce. In modern Iraq, 60 to 65 percent of the population has humbled itself before 20 percent of the population. Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sought, in part, to overturn this age-old Sunni-Shia arrangement--what Johns Hopkins professor Fouad Ajami has called, "the social contract of the Arab world"--in his war of revenge and liberation against Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. Khomeini failed because his Revolutionary Guards could not overcome Saddam's Republican praetorians.

The most profound change in American though - at least conservative thought - following 9/11 is a realization of the dangers of catch-up diplomacy. Yes, we can install a dictator in Iraq or allow it to be carved up by its neighbors - something that will not only be easier than a comprehensive rebuilding of Iraq but, in the short run, might even make us better off. Yet the neocons dominating the pro-war debate realize that this is insufficient to truly remove the threat that region presents.

This is why the left is so terrified about Bush's committment to rebuild Iraq following Saddam's removal - they simply don't understand the centrality of democratization in neocon thinking about the Middle East. Instead, realizing that they still believe that Bush wants this war for oil or because he is controlled by the Zionist lobby, it is easy to comprehend why they'd think he'd abandon Iraq once this war is over.
I have no idea what blogger did to the last post. Anyway, what I wanted to say was that Stephen Green points out this repulsive cartoon that really demonstrates the depth of hatred the left has for Bush.

UPDATE: Steve, unfortunately Blogger does not insert quotation marks for you. You have to type each and every one of them yourself. (John)
Stephen Green points out this repulsive cartoon. Really demonstrates the depth of the anti-war movement's hatred for Bush.
Eugene Volokh makes an interesting point about France's Muslim population:

Incidentally, apropos my post below, I have no independent knowledge of whether the French muslims are in fact a fifth column -- but that a Le Monde correspondent just takes this for granted is a pretty troubling sign. And he's not just saying that there may be a few bad people within that group (that could be true of many groups); it's the "6 million French muslims" that he says need to be considered, not a tiny subset.
Bob Uecker's induction into the Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Ford C. Frick got me thinking about the implications of the legendary asterisk he "attached" to Roger Maris' 61 homers. Specifically, what would have been history's verdict of Frick if, instead of Maris, Mays or Aaron would have broken Ruth's record?
Can be any doubt that the asterisk would now be considered one of the most racist moves in baseball history?
But obviously, since it was Maris who broke the record, race had nothing to do with Frick's move.

My point?

I have no doubt that racism is very much a reality even today. But there are many actions that we label racist that, like Frisk's asterisk, probably have other far less insidious explanations. How do we know which is which? Unfortunately we generally can't, but I think too often we ignore even the possibility that these alternate explanations exist.
No, I'm not getting nervous, but I'm tired of having to keep pushing back my predicted date for the start of the liberation of Iraq.
I'm no lawyer either, but I liked this point by Iain Murray:

You know, I'm no lawyer, but I have a feeling Britain's use of force to suppress the slave trade might have been illegal under current law. That has to suggest that there's something wrong with the law as it stands.

Good point. There is a huge problem with arguments about international law as they are currently formulated. For a law to be valid, it seems to me that a mutually agreed-upon authority needs to be vested with the right to arbitrate disputes. I America this is a judge, but in other times it may have been a priest or a tribal elder. Who is this adjudicator in the case of international law? Multilateralists would say the security council, but given that its verdicts are unenforceable, often ambiguous (what does "serious consequences" mean?) and, perhaps most importantly, decided by the interested parties in the dispute, can we really say that their moral authority should supercede the elected members of the US government?

Consider, for example, if a judge knew that if he decided a case in a certain way, something bad would happen to him personally. Would it be unreasonable to assume that his decision would be swayed by this fact? Moreover, if all judges available had a vested interest in the outcome of the case, wouldn't we call into question the validity of the entire judicial system? Well that's exactly what happens in the security council.

The security council is charged with enforcing a very western and democratic notion of natural and civil rights. Yet the judges of this law, Syria for example, often have a strong incentive to make sure the stated goals of the UN aren't met. This creates a serious tension between our vision of a global order and the institution we've created to enforce that order. A decision must be made, therefore, between maintenance of international law in the structural sense - no war without UN approval - and in the moral sense - the liberation of a people from a dictator's yolk despite Iraqi objections.

This is Iain's point with slavery. Given that much of the world still practiced slavery throughout the 19th century, could England's "unilateral" move against slavers be considered legal? I'd also argue no.
Wow! Even the BBC has is debunking the "no blood for oil" argument:

Physically, Iraq could double its current capacity, but that could well take a decade or more, and would still leave it in the second tier of oil nations.
No US administration or any British government would launch so momentous a campaign - and take such risks - just to facilitate a handful of oil development contracts and a moderate increase in supply half a decade from now.

I'm confused - how does a dictatorial thug appointing an unelected prime minister constitute a step forward for democracy?


Sweet! Bob Uecker made the broadcasters' wing of the Hall of Fame today!

"The biggest thrill a ballplayer can have is when your son takes after you. That happened when my Bobby was in his championship Little League game. He really showed me something. Struck out three times. Made an error that lost the game. Parents were throwing things at our car and swearing at us as we drove off. Gosh, I was proud."
From the latest Zogby "Road to Boston" poll:

Nearly half (46%) said there is no candidate they could never vote for, compared to 41% who said there was. One third (33%) put Sharpton at the head of that list, followed by Hart with 11% and Mosley Braun with 10%. No other candidate reached double-digits in this category.

Here's what I find amazing: two-thirds of democrats can actually think of a scenario where they would vote for an anti-Semitic race-baiter over Richard Gephardt or John Kerry.
French companies are very scared:

French flags no longer are flying high and proud outside the Sofitel Hotel in midtown Manhattan. The French-owned hotel chain, part of the French hotel company Accor whose units include U.S. motel chains Red Roof Inn and Motel 6, replaced the flags with the Stars and Stripes as a peace offering to its American guests.
Very well said, Mr. Will:

Reverence for the United Nations translates into resistance to change. Liberals eager to be the definers of true conservatism say that once liberal institutions have been put in place it is unconservative not to conserve the institutions.

Today's liberalism isn't an idealistic drive for the betterment of all - it's a bitter fight against forces it detests.
Does anyone think we should read anything into this?

The Queen has postponed a visit to Belgium next week on the advice of the Government, Buckingham Palace announced today.
"The visit will be reinstated in due course," the Palace said, saying only that the decision was taken on the advice of the Government.

The Beeb has a surprisingly good piece on a chaplain in the British military, despite the story's loaded opening sentence:

"How does a chaplain reconcile his faith with serving in the armed forces?"

Most of us, I'd say, find this question fairly obvious. Regardless of our feelings about a particular war, we have nothing but respect for our uniformed men and women. Having a military priest is no different than an army doctor - while personally each might object to firing a gun themselves, as healers they see no contradiction in helping the individual soldiers.

Interesting that the BBC even needs to ask this question.

In fairness, as I said, the rest of the piece was good, mostly because they let Padre Clinton Langston write the whole thing. My favorite quote:

"I carry in my mind this story about a padre in World War II; following the ferocious fighting after D-Day, a British soldier saw this padre coming down the road and realised that was what he was fighting for - to be able to live in peace, to not have to carry a weapon. He saw that padre as an image of peace, an image of home."
I was just watching FoxNews whose affiliate SkyNews in France was interviewing a French person whom SkyNews claimed represented similar views of many people they had spoken to. The person said America was pushing its weight around too much and that there should never be war. The SkyNews reported asked, "well how do you stop Sadam Husein" to which the person replied "well I don't watch the news or read papers or magazines or radio....but there must be a solution other than war." So the uninformed make up the majority of France?


Beer Blogging: Just finished a Guinness over dinner. While I'm not pouring out my French wines - let's face it, that's just stupid - I'm definitely favoring beers from countries that favor us.
General rule of thumb about warfare: if your enemy's only reliable army is commanded by the dictator's son, you're going to win.
There’s been a bit of panic among pro-war ranks lately. Is Bush loosing the initiative? Are we getting played by the French? Why can’t we just get this war started already?

My message to the right: Relax.

Trust Bush.

It hit me this morning why I’m so comfortable with Bush’s slow push to war - he is a modern General Ulysses S. Grant. No, not a drunkard overseeing a corrupt administration, Grant the General.
As a tactical commander, Grant wasn’t great. At Spotsylvania he threw his men against entrenched Confederate positions with little more success than Burnside had two years earlier at Fredericksburg. Grant’s genius, however, was that instead of retreating and regrouping after a setback, he continued to push south. He understood the North’s dominant strategic position and realized that by continually pressing the Confederate armies to fight, he could turn that dominance into total victory.
This is what Bush is doing. Has Bush made diplomatic mistakes over the past 6 months? You bet. But France’s only hope for victory in this diplomatic war, like the Confederates’ during the Civil War, was that after a setback America would retreat and regroup. Bush hasn’t. He’s (basically) stayed on message, pressing forward with the inevitable regime change in Iraq, leveraging America’s strategic dominance to its fullest extent.

Why do I trust Bush? “He Fights!”
What are legitimate criticisms of a war in Iraq? Not “it’s about oil,” a theory that has been debunked on multiple occasions, and certainly not “civilians will die,” nicely dispensed with in today’s WaPo.

To me, the only reasonable critique of the war was noted today by Andrew Sullivan – that the principle of national sovereignty is the overriding consideration in international relations. Given the left’s long history of such intervention, both militarily (Kosovo) and diplomatically (South Africa), I find it curious that Noam Chomsky and his ilk now have become big fans of the Westphalian model of national sovereignty but regardless, this is at least an intellectually justifiable position.

This first objection then gives birth to the second legitimate argument against war, a position that has taken center-stage in left-wing anti-war musings. These critics have lamented Bush’s handling of pre-war diplomacy, with former President Carter saying, “increasingly unilateral and domineering policies have brought international trust in our country to its lowest level in memory.” While not a reason to avoid war in itself, this argument becomes an anti-war position as it demonstrates the left’s lack of confidence in Bush’s ability to follow through with a successful rebuilding of Iraq – something that all sides agree is necessary.

Therefore this debate, it seems, boils down to whether one feels that Bush and the United States as a whole can actually accomplish the goals it has set out, not whether actually attempting to accomplish these goals is itself illegitimate.
Andrew Sullivan has an outstanding analysis today of the tension between preventing a global catastrophe and respect for the traditions of international law. The whole piece is excellent, but I was particularly disturbed by this passage:

I'm left with the conclusion that we will only get such a consensus in favor of pre-emption after the destruction of a major Western city, or a chemical or biological catastrophe. In this sense, Blair and Bush may simply be ahead of their time. And what they see as the potential threat is so depressing and terrifying that it's perhaps only understandable that the world for a while will wish to look the other way. The truth is and we may as well admit it: we have failed to convince the world, just as Churchill failed to convince the world in the 1930s. And as 9/11 recedes a little, we are even tempted to falter in this dreadful analysis ourselves. The difference between now and the 1930s, of course, is that we may now have Churchill in office - but before the world has become convinced of his rectitude: history repeated as a deeply tragic farce.

Scary and, I fear, true.
This is why I like British newspapers - the caption in a Telegraph review of the Dixie Chicks' first major UK show reads:

"Dixie Chicks: not bland corporate puppets"

I love that at upcoming Rolling Stones concert at Beijing's "Workers Gymnasium:"

"A few hundred front-row seats will be available for 6,000 yuan (£475)"

Gotta love Chinese Communism!
Hey Turkey, maybe it's time to join us for a change . . .


In Yahoo: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, at a Pentagon (news - web sites) news conference, said the delay was having little effect on the American forces. "I wouldn't think that it would make an enormous difference to this department in terms of what they're doing up there," he said.

This quote is in refernece to a question regarding the delay in a vote at the UN and negotiations surrounding a possible deadline. If the DoD doesn't care what's going on at the UN, it seems to me like the date has already been set, no matter what the UN does.
This is why the ICJ is an even bigger joke than the UN:

Legal experts added to the doubts by saying British troops could be the first defendants to face war crimes charges if the government joined a war without UN backing. Even the accidental bombing of Iraqi civilian targets could trigger criminal prosecutions, senior lawyers warned last night.
Predictably foolish article in today’s Opinionjournal by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan:

The Charter of the United Nations is categorical. "In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations," it confers on the Security Council "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security." That responsibility can seldom have weighed more heavily on the members of the council than it does this week. Within the next day or two, they have to make a momentous choice.

The reason this question rarely weighed heavily on the UN is that for most of its history the members who are now swearing allegiance to the notion of Security Council primacy have been running around the world doing as they please.

The context of that choice is an issue whose importance is by no means confined to Iraq: the threat posed to all humanity by weapons of mass destruction. The whole international community needs to act together to curb the proliferation of these terrible weapons, wherever it may be happening.

He continues by noting the particularly serious threat Iraq’s WMD pose. But then (you knew there had to be a but):

All over the world, people want to see this crisis resolved peacefully. They are alarmed about the great human suffering that war always causes, whether it is long or short. And they are apprehensive about the longer-term consequences that this particular war might have.

No Mr. Secretary General, the peaceniks don’t want this situation resolved peacefully because reasonable people understand that it cannot be resolved peacefully. The French and other anti-war groups want it ended peacefully, a critical distinction.

Then he brings up the Palestinians. I’m surprised it took him this long.

They fear that it will lead to regional instability and economic crises; and that it may--as war so often does--have unintended consequences that produce new dangers. Will it make the fight against terrorism, or the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, even harder? Will it sow deep divisions between nations and peoples of different faiths? Will it compromise our ability to work together in addressing other common concerns in the future?
Those are serious questions, and the answers must be carefully considered.

Yes, those are (mostly) serious considerations. Yet no one that I’ve seen is actually attempting to answer these questions. Instead, like Annan today, they are throwing out their “deep concerns.” War often does have unintended consequences, but simply stating this truism is not a legitimate argument against war.
He goes on to demand that “war must always be a last resort” and asks:

Has that moment arrived? That is the decision that the members of the Security Council now face. It is a grave decision indeed. If they fail to agree on a common position, and some of them then take action without the council's authority, the legitimacy of that action will be widely questioned, and it will not gain the political support needed to ensure its long-term success, after its military phase.
If, on the other hand, the members of the council can come together, even at this late hour, and ensure compliance with their earlier resolutions by agreeing on a common course of action, then the council's authority will be enhanced, and the world will be a safer place.

Of course if the council can “come together . . . and ensure compliance” the council’s prestige will be enhanced, but how do they do that? Note that he, like the rest of the anti-war crowd, doesn’t actually propose a workable solution. A “common course of action”? Wasn’t that 1441? 1441 didn’t seem to work great in compelling Iraqi disarmament.

Time for Obligatory Palestinian Reference #2:

Let's remember that the crisis in Iraq does not exist in a vacuum. What happens there will have a profound impact on other issues of great importance. The broader our consensus on how to deal with Iraq, the better the chance that we can come together again and deal effectively with other burning conflicts in the world, starting with the one between Israelis and Palestinians. We all know that only a just resolution of that conflict can bring any real hope of lasting stability in the region.

No, only by getting rid of the region's barbaric dictators can their be lasting stability.

But then finally:

Beyond the Middle East, the success or failure of the international community in dealing with Iraq will crucially affect its ability to deal with the no less worrying developments on the Korean peninsula. And it will affect our work to resolve the conflicts that are causing so much suffering in Africa, setting back the prospects for stability and development that that continent so badly needs.

And on this point I totally agree. If we back down and allow Saddam to weasel his way out of his commitment to fully disarm of WMD, what chance do we have of forcing North Korea to do the same? Ah, but I see Mr. Annan, there still is a chance that we can get Saddam to disarm peacefully if we really, really mean it this time, right?
History Repeating Itself:

I found this site today through Peter Cuthbertson's outstanding blog. Lady Thatcher is a hero of mine so I've been enjoying reading some of her old speeches and interviews. Given the current impasse at the UN, I found her 1982 interview following the Argentinean invasion of the Falklands particularly interesting, especially this statement:

Some people say that "don't use force while the negotiations are continuing". It's a very easy argument, isn't it? It just enables the Argentineans to carry on negotiations on and on and on-a perfectly easy ploy. And in the meantime it will get more and more difficult for us to use a military option eight thousand miles away from home; with the onset of winter; in very terrible weather; gales; freezing; that will be their ploy. That could not be so. They've had three weeks. Three weeks in which to start to withdraw their forces. Three weeks in which to negotiate through Mr Haig. We had to take South Georgia at the best possible time. I have to keep in mind the interests of our boys who are on those warships and our Marines. I have to watch the safety of their lives, to see that they can succeed in doing whatever it is we decide they have to do at the best possible time and with minimum risk to them.

Thankfully George Bush understands today what Margaret Thatcher understood then. It’s amazing, though, that 20 years later much of the world still hasn't learned this lesson.


Stupidity rears its head on Harvard's Undergraduate Council. Responding to an amendment that would strip funding from a group organizing a walkout over the liberation of Iraq, Council Vice President Jessica R. Stannard-Friel said:

"This isn’t high school. We don’t get detention for skipping class."
"This is a more educational experience [than class] for some students.

An educational experience? Wait a second, what are they learning? Shouldn't someone participating in a walk out already be educated about the issue?

And then there's Jason L. Lurie:

“All of a sudden, the conservatives on the council are saying, ‘We don’t like free speech!’”

How many times does it have to be explained to liberals that the right to free speech does not mean the right to be paid for their opinion?
From today's Washington Post:

The statement, published in Egyptian newspapers today, said the U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf, from where an invasion will likely be launched, is part of a "new crusade," a highly emotive word in an Arab world where memories of the medieval Crusades still frame relations with the West.

No other event demonstrates the distorted lens with which anti-Western forces view America and its allies better than the Crusades. Shortly after 9/11, President Bush remarked:

"And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile."

The Islamic world, and their western leftist friends, were aghast. They cried: How could he reference the Crusades? Doesn't he know that that the memory of Pope Urban II's call to attack the peace-loving people of Palestine still enrages every Muslim?

And Bin Laden uses the memory of the Crusades as a rallying cry in repeatedly in his speeches.

Why do we let them get away with this white-wash of history?

Look, I'm not going to sit here and defend the Crusades. By today's moral standards, yes, they were wrong. But how different were they from other invasions throughout history? The First Crusade was called in 1095. Yet in 1683 - 600 years later - Christian Europe was nearly overrun by the Muslim Ottoman Turks when Kara Mustafa's army was stopped at the gates of Vienna by the heroic stand of Jan Sobieski, King of Poland. Given that the capital of arguably Europe's most powerful nation was threatened in 1683, it seems reasonable to say that the Christian world was at least as endangered by the 17th century Ottoman invasion than the Islamic world was by the Crusades. Yet the Muslim world still uses the Crusades as proof of Western imperial designs while no American holds a grudge over the siege of Vienna.

While it's understandable that the Arab world, whose population is mired in a culture of historical rejectionism and self-pity would use a 1,000 year old event to justify their current failures, it's inexcusable that we Westerners cultivate this sentiment. The Crusades were not a unique historical evil but simply a war of conquest given legitimacy with religious trappings - a pattern that repeated many times both previously and since. It's absurd that western liberals, so concerned with avoiding moral absolutes, have painted the Crusades as a singular sin of human history. They may have been immoral, but they certainly weren't unique.
James Taranto writes:

For one thing, despite the U.N.'s professed aversion to war, what it really seems to object to is victory. In the U.N.'s 58-year history, two wars have been waged under Security Council auspices: Korea and the Gulf War. Both ended with less than total victories, leaving in power two of the worst tyrannies on earth, which are now two of the world's most dangerous rogue states. (If the U.N. instead of the Allies had fought World War II, Germany might still be ruled by Nazis instead of weasels.) U.N. peacekeeping operations, too, are at best a mixed bag, with a record of failing to prevent such horrors as the Srebrenica massacre and the Rwanda genocide.

Now, I realize BOTW is a humor column, but if a left-wing writer made this sort of historically revisionist statement we'd be jumping all over him. The US didn't leave Korea divided because the UN has an aversion to winning - we settled for less than total victory because a million Chinese soldiers streamed across the Yalu River. As for Gulf War One, it seems likely that, even if we would have liberated Iraq "unilaterally," we would have stopped our armies prior to Baghdad given Bush 41's analysis of the situation. Certainly UN peacekeeping actions have mixed results, but that seems more a result of weak-kneed leadership on the part of participating countries and the essentially ineffectual nature of "peacekeeping." I doubt, for example, that Dutch troops would have prevented the Srebrenica bloodbath even if they were under NATO or even EU command instead of the UN.
The serious side of Scrappleface:

Scott Ott has a comment section for readers to write messages of support for our troops. It's a great idea, so go let them know how we feel.

UPDATE: He's up to 147 comments already.
In an otherwise reasonable editorial in today's Washington Post, Senator Joe Biden makes the following moral equivalency claim about the French and American positions on Iraq:

President Bush was right to take the Iraq issue to the United Nations; Secretary of State Colin Powell has been valiant in his efforts to build consensus there. But for some in the administration, not going to war has never been an option, no matter what Iraq does. That became clear last week when the White House -- in the middle of the diplomatic endgame -- said that even if Iraq gives up all its weapons, that's not good enough; Saddam Hussein has to go. I support that goal. But regime change is not what the Security Council endorsed in Resolution 1441. Moving the goalposts this late in the game is a bad way to win friends and influence allies.
Similarly, for some in Europe, going to war has never been an option, no matter what Iraq does not do. Resolution 1441 requires Baghdad to make a full, accurate and final accounting of its weapons programs and to actively cooperate with the inspectors. Four months later, Iraq has not done so. And just as it has spent the past 12 years shirking its obligation to disarm, Iraq will spend the years ahead building up an arsenal of destruction if we fail to enforce the Persian Gulf War terms of surrender. Yet France and its followers now demand more inspectors and more time, while ruling out deadlines and the use of force. That tells Hussein to sit tight and watch the West divide itself.

Unfortunately, in his desire to show balance between the French and American positions, he misses the crucial difference between the two. While he may be correct that some in the administration would continue to call for an invasion of Iraq even if Saddam verifiably disarmed, it's irrelevant in the current debate simply because Saddam has not disarmed. Saying America is "moving the goalposts" is only accurate if you agree that Iraq actually has complied with UN demands. Without that, one cannot legitimately say that America would continue to press for an attack beyond its 1441 mandate if Saddam gave up his WMD.
In contrast, France, Germany, Syria, and Russia's current actions most certainly prove that those nations didn't mean what they said last fall. Unlike supposed American hypocrisy whose proof relies on unprovable suppositions about American motives, France is actively preventing war despite Iraq's clear violation of the demands the UN placed on it in 1441.
Unfortunately this is why compromise over Iraq seems impossible - America and her allies are not, as Biden contends, moving the goalposts on Iraq, but instead simply asking France to actually stand by what it voted for just a few months ago.
Russia is now saying, in its most forceful statement yet, that it will block a SC resolution on a final deadline for Iraqi disarmament. I'd guess, more than anything else, this is a move to take the spotlight off France as the primary opponent of Iraq's liberation. As we're seeing from comments on the blogosphere, there is a growing sentiment that not only does America not care if a resolution actually passes so long as we get nine votes, but that it would be preferable for France to veto the measure. My bet is that the French put heavy pressure on the Russians to say that Putin would also veto a second (18th) resolution as a way to further their efforts to prevent a vote later on this week.


A hopeful sign:

By sending special emissaries to meet with the presidents of the United States and Iraq, John Paul II has not put Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush on the same level, a Holy See representative said.
"It is an absurd position, as the Pope has always insisted on disarmament," said Cardinal Roberto Tucci, a member of the administrative council of Vatican Radio, in response to media comments.
"When sending Cardinal Roger Etchegaray to meet with Saddam Hussein, he took this message: an urgent request to take disarmament seriously, keeping in mind above all the evil he would bring on his own country and the innocent population, if he does not collaborate fully with the U.N. inspectors," Cardinal Tucci said on Vatican Radio.
"No, the Pope does not put them on the same level," he said.

While Cardinal Tucci still fails to answer the obvious question of what to do if Saddam doesn't take the disarmament requests seriously, I take this statement as a hopeful sign that maybe Church leaders are starting to understand just how absurd many of us see their position as.
Labour MP resigns post over Iraq.

Too bad Ted Kennedy won't resign his Senate seat in protest over its support of a war in Iraq. . .
I AGREE WITH CHIRAC: I think that the heads of state should be present at the vote meeting to formally decide whether they are on the side of dictators or democracy. And I think Bush should show up dressed like this, this, or simply wearing an FDNY cap.