3/29/2003

I have another thought on what I touched on earlier about holding the U.S. to a higher standard. Why aren't, then, the protestors being held to a higher standard? They are Americans just like the government, so why do they get to protest without any challenges to their doctrine of supporting terrorists, rapists and murderers, while Bush is questioned at every turn. I believe that Bush should be questioned, even though I don't, because that is a sign of a strong democracy. However, the protestors should not be allowed off the hook. Why isn't CNN, instead of simply showing images and broadcasting their rants, asking the hard questions of these people? I would like to see the next time there is a report of a protest, the reporter ask the protestor why he or she believes Saddam should be allowed to live to kill another day, why these rapes should be allowed to continue, or when is enough, enough. I think that has been the biggest difference between the Blogs and the News in this entire crisis so far: the blogs ask everyone the hard questions while the News only does so for those in power.

3/27/2003

Just a thought: it seems our strategy is going to plan, as far as I can make it out. We want to take most of Iraq, where we have the advantage, first, and then slowly weed the terrorists out from the cities. We were warned before the war about the dangers of street fighting and so we aren't going to just rush in and do that (as the newspeople seem to want us to do). Instead, we are taking as much land as possible and slowly working through the cities with the help of civilian resistence. Confine them to the cities, and then slowly work through them at our own pace, showing more patience then they do. With the tank column we hit the other day leaving the city, it seems our patience is paying off.
Okay, there was this "analyst" on the Beeb today saying that the U.S. was losing the battle for the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people due to their behavior. There was the incident of the U.S. soldier on the first or second day raising the American flag that was broadcast across the Arab world and many cases where the U.S. soldiers are staying in their vehicals for protection when distributing food, etc. First off, there are far more images of good than bad. The problem is that the BBC focuses on the bad (at least give us a proportional amount of both). And now the U.S. is getting blamed by the BBC for the BBC displaying mostly negative images. Secondly, this guy (even after being asked point blank about the safety of U.S. soldiers), replied that, yes, they are at a greater risk if they are handing out food in the open with no protection, but that it is their job to stand there and be killed, if that is the case. Absolutely disgusting. (see Andrew Sullivan for more on the Beeb.)

This also reveals something else, though, that Tuesday Morning Quarterback touched on a bit, that the U.S. is held to a higher standard and must live up to it. Yeah, it's tough being held to a far tougher standard, but that is our lot in life. To whom much is given (or earned, in our case), much is expected. While I don't think that we should be putting our soldiers at too great a risk, it is our responsibility to do everything perfectly, or at least as close as we can. This sucks but being right is rarely easy.
The Beeb has a financial reporter named Julia Caesar. Shouldn't she be in military affairs.
Richard Perle has stepped down from his Pentagon advisory roll. The official word is that he is trying to keep controversy surrounding his business dealings from being a distraction to the war effort. I sure hope that's the full reason.
Even beyond my love of Tom Petty's music, this is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. Check it out.
Fascinating discussion over at Ibidem about liberation theology and its relation to the current situation in Iraq. It's hard to due justice to the post with an excerpt - read the whole thing - but here's the key section:

In Latin America in the 1960s, there emerged a way of doing theology known as the 'theology of liberation'. Its focus was the poor and the oppressed, its starting-point was their experience, and its inspiration was the God revealed in the story of the people of Israel.
God, the merciful and the compassionate, is a God of justice on the side of the oppressed, and his plan of salvation unfolds in their struggle for liberation. The people of Israel came to know God through the Exodus experience of liberation from slavery. Later, prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, and Micah called the people to repent their infidelity to God, reflected in violence and injustice crushing the poor and the powerless. Through Isaiah, God says he is bored by fasting in sackcloth and ashes, adding: 'Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?' (Isaiah 58: 6).


Then moving to Iraq:

Since 1968, Iraqis have lived under a brutal dictatorship where the oppression and fear is far worse than any reported from Latin America, as UN and Amnesty International reports show. Since 1979, some 200,000 Iraqis have been murdered in prison. Far more have been tortured. Children's eyes have been gouged out in front of parents. Prisoners have had limbs burned off, been lowered slowly into acid baths, and been raped. Saddam's reign of terror could be symbolised by a pain-wracked face mouthing a silent scream: in 2000, the regime decreed that even minor criticism was punishable by having one's tongue torn out.
Since 1991, to keep biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs, Saddam has defied UN sanctions, thereby inflicting hunger on his people, and manipulating that hunger for propaganda. UN food for the hungry has been diverted and sold abroad to enrich his extended family and supporters.
While liberation theology does not encourage violence, it acknowledges the right of people to defend themselves against murderous repression. Uprisings by Kurds and Shi'ites in 1987-89 and in 1991 were put down in large-scale massacres, sometimes with chemical weapons. If they were to rise again, they would have the world's sympathy. Liberation theology would say that the Lord, who breaks the rod of the oppressor, was with them. But unaided rebellion would have no prospect of success, and our bystander sympathy, our distant indignation (if we even noticed) would not prevent it being crushed with great slaughter.
Yet amazingly, when their liberation rides on the probable success of US arms, much of the world is totally opposed. As the prophet Isaiah recognized in Cyrus the Persian Ð Israel's hope of liberation from Babylon Ð so today Iraqi exiles cannot wait for the US to overthrow Saddam's regime. But, sadly, Christian solidarity with them is overwhelmed by pacifism, neutralism, and anti-Americanism.


Jesus Gil, the site's blogger, correctly notes however:

Pope John Paul II and the Vatican actually came out against Liberation Theology.

True but not the point. Liberation theology, which I'm no fan of, is the ultimate manifestation of the left's desire to use the Church as a tool for helping the poor. This was not a problem for them when the repressors were American sponsored regimes, but it's obviously a whole different ball game story if helping the repressed means getting into be with Republicans. The key point in looking at Iraq through the lens of liberation theology is that, given Iraq's human rights violations are far more egregious than anything seen in Latin America, it demonstrates that for many it seems that remaining in opposition to America is more important than helping the earth's most truly oppressed.

Sad.
If this is true, maybe that has been the Weasles plan all along. All their efforts to stall the war and see equipment to the Iraqis is just part of a U.S. plot to convince Saddam that "World Opinion" will be able to save him.

Do you think that if France knew for sure that Saddam's belief that France can still prevent his downfall is keeping him from using WMD, that they would quickly become pro-war? That way, France could have its dream of mass casulties. It's disgusting to think that, but then France's behavior thus far has been disgusting.
Many have said that the protests are a sign of a healthy democracy. I disagree. A democracy is only as strong as its people, and the fact that anyone can defend the horrors of the Saddam regime and see people who are risking their lives for the freedom of others as "evil" (or Bush as Hitler) is a sign of the weakness of our public schools and, by extension, our democracy. They have every right to protest, but it is our job to teach our citizens to think logically and humanely.

Also, I think "Peace Protestors" is a great term because all they are protesting is peace.
Being in Germany now, for English news, I'm stuck with the BBC. It is absolutely outragous coverate. They have more joy in showing the U.S. hostiges in Iraq than Iraqi TV. I have to turn away every time I see the images because of the inhumanity of Saddam's regime that they reveal. (The only upside is that it is always the same images, showing that they don't have many negative images to show.)

And then there is the case of the bombing of an Iraqi market. Just after the bombing, when it could have been (and still could be) either an Allied mistake, an Allied bombing of Iraqi missles, or an Iraqi attack, the BBC reporter on the seen had a lenghty ode to the horror of the attack and the evils of the United States (and by "ode" I mean using phrases such as "the morning sky had a eerie red glow seeming to accent the blood of the innocent Iraqis murdered here this morning").

And, naturally, any time something happens that is not extremely good, the campaign is not going to plan and our generals are scrambling.

I wonder if they will rewatch these broadcasts in a year or so and see how dumb and evil they are?

3/26/2003

With regards to North Korea, Steve, I think that the best thing we can do there is to set up a democratic Iraq with few casulties. That will show them that we have the means and the will to unseat those who threaten global peace. We also need to whisper to China that we have a targeted bombing campaign and invasion planned for a few months from now and would so hate to show the Chinese up by taking care of their problem for them. That should get the Chinese hopping to fix their problem themselves.
America suffered the loss today of one of its greatest statesmen, former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Interesting op-ed in today's Telegraph that demonstrates why so many leftists have a hard time seeing the BBC, or any other liberal media outlet as biased. The central argument:

The Arab world is not alone in thinking that any commentary that supports its partisan point of view is impartial, while any commentary that actually is impartial is biased against it. But while the Arab world is not alone in this, it is one of the leaders of the school that regards its own propaganda as balanced and any criticism as an example of prejudice.

It's not that the left doesn't see bias in the media (except Fox News obviously) because they've become so accustomed to the slant as many on the right argue. Instead, they don't see the bias because they actually believe that the liberal position is itself "fair and balanced."
I'll be curious, once the definitive history of JPII's papacy is written, to see whether it was actually the pontiff or the still largely European Curia that is pulling the strings on the Vatican's distasteful foreign policy. I'd suspect - although I admit having no proof - that it's the Vatican bureaucracy that's driving the Holy See's Iraq position. The good news in this, therefore, is that as the center of power in the Church continues to shift from Europe to Latin America and Africa - whose residents have fresher memories of the horrors of totalitarianism - the curia may begin to sound less like Jacques Chirac and more like Paul Kagame.
One thought on the Great Big Sea concert. MP3s undoubtedly hurt the mega-artists whose fans download their one or two good songs as opposed to buying a whole disk.

Yet in watching the audience at GBS, I was struck by how most everyone knew their entire library. Certainly they've sold a few CDs, and there may even have been a few transplanted newfies in the crowd, but I have to believe that many of us, like me, first heard their stuff off the internet and, because we liked it, we paid to see them live.

It's the free market at its best, baby!
Jonathan Hawkins points out that the Koreans have used our war in Iraq as an opportunity to stir-up trouble again. As ABC news describes it:

North Korea has told Japan it will face self-destruction if it pushes ahead with its plan to launch a spy satellite into orbit this week.
The official Korean Central News Agency has accused Japan of acting as "a shock brigade" for the launch of a US pre-emptive attack and nuclear war against North Korea.


Honestly, this is what needs to happen. Short of invasion or another round of bribery, there is nothing the US can do to get North Korea back in line. China is the only nation with any influence on Pyongyang and, thus far, they've been content to let it be a pain in our ass. I don't think Beijing would ever let it come to war, but that necessarily means that the situation has to get worse before they step in. This means Japan needs to start making some noise, and I wonder if this could be the tipping point.
Carnival of the Vanities is up over at Dancing with Dogs.

3/25/2003

Saddam may be just as evil, but he's not this bizarre:

At the state funeral of one of his cabinet ministers, Mr Mugabe said: "I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources."
"If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for."


And then he proved it:

Hours later members of the Zimbabwe National Army, including Mr Mugabe's elite force, the Presidential Guard, began a pre-dawn rampage in revenge for the opposition general strike last week.
The attacks left more than 250 people injured, scores of them seriously, but victims remained defiant yesterday. Patricia Mukonda, 27, a secretary at the head office of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, needed hospital treatment.


Ms Mukonda describes her treatment:

"They beat me all over," she said, adding that she was sexually assaulted with a baton while her six-year-old son was forced to watch.
"They said I was [MDC leader Morgan] Tsvangirai's prostitute," she said.
"They roped me to the window sill, took a glass and broke it, and pushed my left arm on to it and I fainted. They heard a woman crying and rushed out and my brother came in and took me to a field, and I slept."


If we on the right are truly serious about entering into a new era of foreign policy, liberation from dictators must not stop with Iraq. I'm not saying we should necessarily militarily remove Mugabe - although I'm coming more around to that position - but we cannot forget the suffering in Zimbabwe. It is our historical silence about dictators like Mugabe that causes much of the world to suspect ulterior motives when we move to bring democracy to Iraq.
James Miller has a fascinating TCS article on why we should punish France and reward Britain following the war in Iraq, and it isn't out of spite. The concluding paragraph sums it up, but the whole piece is excellent:

After victory in Iraq, many will suggest we have a choice between acting morally or vengefully towards reluctant allies like France and Germany. I believe, however, that the vengeful path is also the moral one. If we don't reward our allies and punish our detractors, free rider problems will doom U.S. troops to act alone in future conflicts.
VATICAN CITY -- The vast antiwar movement in the world shows that a "large part of humanity" has rejected the idea of war as a means of resolving conflicts between nations, Pope John Paul II said in a message released Tuesday.
The pope, a staunch opponent of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, sent his message to Roman Catholic military chaplains attending a Vatican-organized course on humanitarian law.
He cited the "vast contemporary movement in favor of peace" around the world and said he took "comfort and hope" from the efforts for peace by various religions.


I tried justifying the Pope's pro-Saddam message prior to the war. I disagreed, but I at least thought that a principled voice against war might serve a purpose. Now the Vatican has said enough. There is only one thing that can bring peace to Iraq - victory by the United States military. Does the Vatican really believe the interest of the Iraqi people will be served if America unilaterally halted the war today, leaving Saddam's regime in power? I'm all for a Pope preaching the virtues of peace, but for God's sake think through the damn issue!

I'm afraid all that will come from this latest statement is further alienation of the body of the American Church from its hierarchy.
I'm not sure how I feel. The Telegraph reports:

The United Nations Security Council could vote as early as tomorrow on a new resolution paving the way for the post-Saddam Hussein era, diplomats said last night.
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, is expected to be given powers to take over the role of the Iraqi government in ordering and distributing billions of pounds worth of civilian supplies.


My first reaction, like most of the right I'm sure, is to tell the UN to go to hell. The French killed its relevance, let's not be the ones who revive it. Yet given the enormous task in front of us, why make life more difficult than it already will be? As I've argued before, America will let the UN back into the game, and I'm not sure that will be the wrong decision.
Regardless of the rationale behind it, the common thought underlying most anti-war arguments – “no blood for oil,” “imperialist war,” etc – is that if this conflict’s origin is in any way based on selfish American motives, it is illegitimate.

Regardless of the persuasiveness of specific anti-war arguments, the conventional conservative response has been to declare America’s noble goals: the elimination of WMD, a free Iraq, and the promotion of democracy throughout the region.

But I think we may be addressing the issue in the wrong manner. What if, as the left believes, that America is incapable of a purely selfless foreign policy? The fact that they then reject the corresponding foreign policy, besides exposing a bizarre Machiavellian take on geopolitics, reflects a dangerous lack of understanding of America’s essential nature.

Back during the imperial conquests of previous centuries, a view that an imperialist nation was out for the exploitation of other nations was perhaps a valid view. A mercantilist nation needed raw materials for its industries and markets for its products. The betterment of local populations was not official policy.

But that’s not the American economy. Consider most of America’s primary trading partners – Canada, Japan, and the EU. What do these states have in common? Wealth. Put plainly, America’s financial interest is served when other people make money. Even if we do want cheap oil from the Middle East, our long run our strategic interest is in fomenting a stable and prosperous Iraq. America doesn’t want to conquer Iraq if the end result is a nation without economic independence.

And this benefits both the Iraq and the American people. What’s so wrong with that?

3/24/2003

In reference to John's post - I guess I'm just not willing to give those protesters even that much intellectual credit. I agree with your analysis that a great percentage of the left opposes America's actions due to a hatred of our power. These protesters though are more driven, I'd say, by a self-righteous desire to relive the sixties than by any intellectual analysis of the situation.
This was forwarded to me from a friend:

Once upon a time (allegedly) in a nice little forest, there lived an orphaned bunny and an orphaned snake. By a surprising coincidence, both were blind from birth.

One day, the bunny was hopping through the forest, and the snake was slithering through the forest, when the bunny tripped over the snake and fell down. This, of course, knocked the snake about quite a bit.

"Oh, my," said the bunny, "I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I've been blind since birth, so, I can't see where I'm going. In fact, since I'm also an orphan, I don't even know what I am."

"It's quite OK," replied the snake. "Actually, my story is much the same as yours. I, too, have been blind since birth, and also never knew my mother. Tell you what, maybe I could slith! er all over you, and work out what you are, so at least you'll have that going for you."

"Oh, that would be wonderful" replied the bunny.

So the snake slithered all over the bunny, and said, "Well, you're covered with soft fur; you have really long ears; your nose twitches; and you have a soft cottony tail. I'd say that you must be a bunny rabbit."

"Oh, thank you! Thank you," cried the bunny, in obvious excitement. The bunny suggested to the snake, "Maybe I could feel you all over
with my paw, and help you the same way that you've helped me."

So the bunny felt the snake all over, and remarked, "Well, you're smooth and slippery, and you have a forked tongue, no backbone and no balls. I'd say you must be French".
Or perhaps, Steve, it is related to my power post, and the answer to how the Left would act if they gained power is "Nothing". These people refuse to admit that many of the Liberal ideals that drove the Vietnam protestors -- power-to-the-people, helping the poor, etc. -- are now becoming cornerstones of our foreign policy, and they just don't know how to handle it.
I was up in San Francisco for the first time since the wartime protests started. I didn't see too much, although as it was Saturday evening I suspect many of those evolutionary rejects had already wandered off in a pot-induced haze. Those I did see were on bikes and moved from intersection to intersection blocking traffic for a minute or so at a time.

I almost felt sorry for them. It's obvious that they are tremendously desperate to feel relevant, desperate to feel like they're making a difference. They've heard the legends of the Vietnam protesters. The Vietnam protesters were relevant.

Unfortunately in the current world they're just pathetic.

They're that last independent farmer fighting against the encroachment urban sprawl, still driving his tractor on roads now traveled by four-times the traffic. He's not evil, not stupid, just stuck in a different era. Almost noble.

That's how I felt watching their protest this Saturday. I didn't believe they're necessarily evil, although it's only their stupidity that keeps me from condemning them as pro-Saddam. Yet they’re fighting a quixotic battle against an enemy that no longer exists; Henry Kissenger, despite what the protesters believe, is no longer running American foreign policy. Times have changed, a reality that the hippy cyclists I ran into this weekend refuse to accept.

This is why facts, logic, and basic reason simply cannot faze the most ardent anti-war activists. No matter what Saddam does to our prisoners, they still see a moral equivalence between our two countries because in their world nothing has changed since American and Soviet forces locked up throughout the Cold War.

More than anything else, the protesters are just sad.
Yeah, this is true. And the French, Germans, Russians, and Chinese aided the rest of the world in attacking Saddam by selling him chemicals and know-how for illegal weapons, his posession of which provided an excuse to go in.
I'm not sure how long this will be up, but it's priceless.

UPDATE: Not long, I guess. I should have gotten a screen shot, but I was too lazy. Just so you know, the original page, instead of the picture of Saddam, had Micheal Moore's picture.

UPDATE 2: I guess it is a rotating picture because it is Franks now.

3/23/2003

During a news confernece in Qatar, one of the reporters asked whether the video of the POWs would lower the morale of the U.S. army or people. I can't speak for other Americans or the army, but this American, upon seeing the video, my reslove only grew. It made me want to pick up a gun and head over there to help defeat this evil (there isn't a better word for it). How people can defend their right to anything, let alone power of a country and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons is beyond me. It seems the vocal left has forgotten the lessons of World War II. May this serve as a reminder and may the lesson never need to be repeated again.
The Command Post has moved off Blogger. Update your links for the latest on the war.
Saw Great Big Sea live last night. Amazing show - definitely check them out if you get a chance.

"Give it up for songs about boats!"
-Alan Doyle
Means and Ends

One of the fundamental mistakes that the Left is making is confusing the ends and means. “Give peace a chance” is a call for us to use peace as a means to obtain peace. However, peace is not a means (at least not a very successful means). Peace is the ends that most of us on the Right or Left are striving for. The Right has looked at history and learned that sometimes the most effective means for obtaining peace is war. The Left sees this as simply achieving the ends of war. They lack to big picture mentality to see that the war is only a means to the end of peace. They refuse to see that peace as a means has every time and everywhere led only to death and destruction, while war, when used properly, has led to democracy, freedom, human rights, equality.

If you act peacefully, you can have peace for a short time. If you create peace, you can have peace for a long time.
Power and the Left

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine the other night with regards to the situation in Iraq. I kept pressing her, but she was never able to come up with a position for herself. She was definitely against going in without the UN, going in with so much sentiment against the war, but also couldn’t respond with an alternative solution. In the end, she concluded (for herself) that the problem is power, and if there was just some way for us to eliminate power, everything would be fine.

In thinking about it, I think this is the position of the Left: power is evil. And, when realizing this, their handling of this situation begins to make sense (assuming this premise). On one level, the situation is between Saddam and the Iraqi people. Since Saddam is the one with the power, he is evil and must be removed from power. However, there are two other relationships to view in this situation. The first is the relationship between Saddam and the United States. In this relationship, the U.S. is the more powerful member, making it evil. The second is between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Here, for a long time, this has been viewed as even, but now with a successful military campaign and the self-destruction of the UN, there is no counterweight, militarily, economically, or morally.

So, in their view, Saddam is evil, but the U.S. is evil, too, by virtue of its power. The fact that the U.S. military has been the most successful mechanism for Liberal ideals in the 20th century is irrelevant in the evil equation. It is powerful (and the U.S. is powerful), therefore it is evil. Yes, the Left wants Saddam gone and democracy in Iraq, but the Left also wants a reduction in U.S. power. And right now, the reduction of U.S. power is a more pressing need for its power (evil) is greater than that of Saddam.

I will leave it for later to deal with the obvious question of what happens when the Left gains power and how they view that.