Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Decisions and Consequences
Victor Davis Hanson, as usual, nails it:
Senator John Kerry has recently opined, "Why hasn't Osama Bin Laden been captured or killed, and how will he be destroyed before he next appears on tape to spread his disgusting message?"
Then the senator argued that bin Laden lives "because Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon didn't use American troops to do the job and instead outsourced the job of killing the world's #1 terrorist to Afghan warlords, this cold blooded killer got away."
About the same time, Senator Clinton intoned of Iran, "I believe we lost critical time in dealing with Iran because the White House chose to downplay the threats and to outsource the negotiations. I don't believe you face threats like Iran or North Korea by outsourcing it to others and standing on the sidelines."
This liberal saber rattling is born of an understandable desire to restore their lost credibility on national security, but they have failed to notice two problems with their newfound approach.
First, if the United States did seek to engage mostly indigenous Afghan troops or Pakistani soldiers, or if we did allow Britain, France, and Germany to run negotiations with Iran, then such "outsourcing" might be better described as "multilateralism."
Such joint efforts are precisely what Democrat stalwarts like Kerry and Clinton prefer to the old "going it alone," "unilateralism," and "alienating our allies," when the United States largely handles problems itself. I have no doubt that daily missile-firing Predator sorties across Pakistan, or American planes over Iranian nuclear sites, would be met by howls from Europeans, Middle Easterners, and, at the opportune crest of popular indignation, Kerry and Clinton themselves.
Second, the new bellicose language of Kerry and Clinton suggests that both have some better ideas about how to solve the problem of catching bin Laden and stopping Iran from going nuclear. But in both cases, there are, to be frank, only awful and God-awful choices. And if either presidential aspirant were intellectually honest, then he (or she) would describe the glum alternatives in detail when trashing the present policy.
But neither is honest, only opportunistic. Unsurprisingly critics of our current course offer no serious alternative policy. When it comes to Iraq, Bush is too unilateral in 2006, but he wasn't in 2002 when both senators Kerry and Clinton voted for the use of force against Iraq? When it comes to Iran, the Bush administration is now acting too multi-laterally, and the White House is now "downplaying threats". Got all that? Me neither.
Politicians who are not the president are afforded the luxury of throwing out all sorts of rhetoric without having to face the consequences of seeing such rhetoric tested against reality.
As Hanson goes on to note, Hillary seems to be suggesting a unilateral strike without saying what that might entail.
....But the singular form of the noun "strike" is disingenuous, more so when it is cloaked in the now-squishy "no option will be taken off the table" lingo.
Instead, if she wants to raise the stakes and contemplate the consequences, the senator should at least apprise her upper-West Side constituents of what the word "strike" entails: Perhaps two or three weeks of messy bombing, shown on CNN round-the-clock. Unavoidable collateral damage served up hourly on Al Jazeera as "genocide." Missed targets, followed by worries about retribution from terrorists, now armed with nuclear waste and righteous indignation, vowing to "avenge" the infidel attack. Shiite turmoil in Iraq. Investigations into overflights of Muslim airspace. Contention over American use of Turkish, Iraqi, or Kuwaiti facilities to attack another Muslim country. Iranian-backed Hezbollah incursions into Israel. Fierce denunciations from the Russians and Chinese. Private glee and public "remorse" from the Europeans. Pulitzer-prizes and whistle-blower adulation for CIA leakers and Washington Post up-and-coming reporters. More Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky rants, reverberated by yet more shrillness from Sens. Boxer, Durbin, and Kennedy. Sky-high oil prices with the attendant conspiratorial talk about oil grabs and Zionist plotting. And more still.
Read the whole thing.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Excuse the language, but what a fucking clown. Here is Gorgeous George Galloway on the UKs celebrity Big Brother.
Yes, this is the George Galloway that never missed an opportunity to proudly show his support for Saddam Hussein. And why not, he was getting paid very well to do so, and he has expressed a sincere fondness of the (formerly) serial rapist and murderer Uday Hussein.
But oh how the mighty have fallen, as even his Islamic extremist friends have turned on him.... issuing a fatwa for his behavior on Big Brother which included "free-mixing, fornication, drinking, nudity, swearing and many other abominable acts..... behaving like a cat (animal) purring at the hands of a woman. This is not surprising as one cannot expect anything more from a person of such low intellect and morality, a representative of those who voted for him."
Well, he's now been kicked out of the big brother house, and just in time too, some serious criminal charges look to be coming his way:
George Galloway faces the prospect of a criminal investigation into his activities by the serious fraud office, which has collected evidence relating to the oil-for-food corruption scandal in Iraq.Evicted to convicted.... we can all hope.
A four-strong SFO team returned from Washington with what a source close to US investigators calls "thousands of documents" about the scandal. The team is expected to produce, within the next four weeks, a report for the SFO director, Robert Wardle, as to whether a full criminal investigation should be mounted into UK individuals and companies involved, including Mr Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow.
The SFO is following up two official reports published before Christmas in Washington, which detailed banking evidence that Mr Galloway's wife and his political campaign organisation both received large sums from Saddam Hussein, laundered through under-the-counter oil allocations.
Mr Galloway is unaware of the SFO's activities. He is in the Channel 4 TV show Celebrity Big Brother and cut off from outside contact. He is expected to be evicted from the Big Brother house tonight.
More here and here.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Apparently Afghans and Iraqis aren't paying much attention to American media sources or defeatist politicians. If they were, they would know that they are knee deep in an unwinnable quagmire under the oppressive thumb of an imperialistic America who is just waiting for the right moment to steal all the oil and pump it out of Iraq via the pipeline that they invaded Afghanistan to build.
Instead, those poor naive fools are optimistic.
In Afghanistan, 70% say their own circumstances are improving, and 57% believe that the country overall is on the way up.
In Iraq, 65% believe their personal life is getting better, and 56% are upbeat about the country's economy.
Or maybe they just know better.
This isn't exactly the easiest stuff to read, but here is a blog featuring testimonials from survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
On 6 April, we made our way to the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO), where some people had already sought refuge with the UN. We had protection and felt safe, but on 11 April, the UN troops drove away. As they left, the Interahamwe and government soldiers came. They told us we would be taken to Nyanza. They made us run. Some people were praying, others singing. As we ran, some people were hacked with machetes and others killed. Many Interahamwe had come and there were buses full of soldiers behind us. It was evening and it had rained. We arrived at an open field in Nyanza, and could tell it was over. As we all stood there, we kept asking our father what would happen. I remember my oldest sister asking Mum if we would see each other when we got to Heaven. Mum didn't say anything; she was overwhelmed. Father kept on giving us hope that nothing would happen. They started shooting and we fell to the ground. After that, I never saw my father or mother again. Bodies fell on top of those of us who had fallen down first. They threw grenades into the crowd and kept on shooting for a long time until it was very dark. The Interahamwe started walking around hacking people if they were alive. I was with my older sister, younger brothers and some other young people. We had all agreed to keep quiet and pretend to be dead. They picked me up, wondering if I was alive or not. They hit me with something - I don't know what. I was hurt but kept quiet, so they threw me onto the ground thinking I was dead. They kept on going, hacking people. People were crying, calling for their mothers, shouting out, close to death. Eventually they realized it was too dark and left.
Next morning, we could see the Interahamwe coming. They started asking each other whether we were dead or not. One said, "Let me just show you." He started hacking people. There were about 15 of us. My little brother Bertin gave up and asked for forgiveness. They hacked him with a machete, and he died immediately. I was cut on the neck and leg. Felix tried to fight them and they cut his neck, fingers and feet. My older sister, Fifi and Bertin died immediately. Then they left.
Perhaps the UN can start setting up a blog for the testimonials of those who might survive the current genocide in Darfur.
UPDATE: Nicholas Kristof, reviewing two new books on Darfur, writes:
During the Holocaust, the world looked the other way. Allied leaders turned down repeated pleas to bomb the Nazi extermination camps or the rail lines leading to them, and the slaughter attracted little attention. My newspaper, The New York Times, provided meticulous coverage of World War II, but of 24,000 front-page stories published in that period only six referred on page one directly to the Nazi assault on the Jewish population of Europe. Only afterward did many people mourn the death of Anne Frank, construct Holocaust museums, and vow: Never Again.
The same paralysis occurred as Rwandans were being slaughtered in 1994. Officials from Europe to the US to the UN headquarters all responded by temporizing and then, at most, by holding meetings. The only thing President Clinton did for Rwandan genocide victims was issue a magnificent apology after they were dead.
Much the same has been true of the Western response to the Armenian genocide of 1915, the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s, and the Bosnian massacres of the 1990s. In each case, we have wrung our hands afterward and offered the lame excuse that it all happened too fast, or that we didn't fully comprehend the carnage when it was still under way.
And now the same tragedy is unfolding in Darfur, but this time we don't even have any sort of excuse. In Darfur genocide is taking place in slow motion, and there is vast documentary proof of the atrocities. Some of the evidence can be seen in the photo reproduced with this essay, which was leaked from an African Union archive containing thousands of other such photos. And now, the latest proof comes in the form of two new books that tell the sorry tale of Darfur: it's appalling that the publishing industry manages to respond more quickly to genocide than the UN and world leaders do.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
The Pecking Order
Gay > Muslim > Jew... etc.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Chester on Iran
Have you been wondering what is going on with Iran and their ever nutty president who has publicly proclaimed that Israel should be wiped off the map (or at least uprooted and moved to Europe)? How close is Iran to having nuclear capabilities? Is a nuclear Iran a fait accompli? Is a preemptive (possibly nuclear) strike by Israel a fait accompli? How does Sharon's health change things? Can the UN or Europe be counted on for any help in this matter? Does the Bush administration even have a coherent Iran policy? These and other muddy questions are disentangled by Chester. Very interesting and provocative read.
A few weeks ago, I thought an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities was an inevitability. Now with Sharon's health problems, I think those plans are probably shelved, at least for the time being. I am not sure that the Bush Administration can muster the political will for even a targeted strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which means we will go the diplomatic Euro/appeasement route and Iran will go nuclear before we see 2007. Our children will probably wonder why/how we stood passively by and watched a country that opens its legislative sessions with chants of 'Death to America' develop nukes right in front of our faces.
Perhaps by then I will have an answer.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Chris Hitchens - The Horrors of Peace
For various reasons I have not had much to blog about over the last couple of months and I don't know how much that will change over the next few. In the meantime, this Chris Hitchens column is a must read:
It looks as if the realists have won the day in the matter of Darfur. Or, to phrase it in another way, it looks as if the ethnic cleansers of that province have made good use of the "negotiation" and "mediation" period to complete their self-appointed task. As my friend Johann Hari put it recently in the London Independent: "At last, some good news from Darfur: the genocide in western Sudan is nearly over. There's only one problem—it's drawing to an end only because there are no black people left to cleanse or kill."
...If it were not for the efforts of a few brave journalists and humanitarian workers, and at least one American soldier attached to the African Union "peacekeepers" who went public in disgust at what he had seen, the Sudanese government might have gotten away with the whole thing. But we have more than enough filmed and photographic evidence of Sudanese planes and helicopters, flying close support to janjaweed operations, to say with certainty that the relationship between the two is the same as between the Rwandan authorities and the "Hutu Power" mobs who destroyed the Tutsi population. In other words, a Rwanda in slow motion, and in front of the cameras and the diplomats. What was all that garbage about "never again"? What was the meaning of Clinton's apology to the Rwandans? What did Colin Powell mean when he finally used the word "genocide" to describe the events in Darfur, just before resigning as secretary of state and becoming an advocate for more realism all round?
...Any critique of realism has to begin with a sober assessment of the horrors of peace. Everybody now wishes, or at least says they wish, that we had not made ourselves complicit spectators in Rwanda. But what if it had been decided to take action? Only one member state of the U.N. Security Council would have had the capacity to act with speed to deploy pre-emptive force (and that would have been very necessary, given the weight of the French state, and the French veto, on the side of the genocidaires). It is a certainty that at some stage, American troops would have had to open fire on the "Hutu Power" mobs and militias, actually killing people and very probably getting killed in return. Body bags would have been involved. It is not an absolute certainty that all detained members of those militias would have been treated with unfailing tenderness. It is probable that some of the military contractors would have overcharged, and that some locals would have engaged in profiteering and even in tribal politics. It is impossible that any child of any member of the Clinton administration would have been an enlisted soldier. But we never had to suffer any of these wrenching experiences, so that we can continue to wish, in some parallel Utopian universe, that we had done something instead of nothing.
Or not exactly nothing. The United States ended up supporting the French military intervention in Rwanda, which was mounted in an attempt not to remove the genocidaires but to save them. Nonintervention does not mean that nothing happens. It means that something else happens. Our policy in Darfur has not just failed to rescue a stricken black African population: It has actually assisted the Sudanese Islamists in completing their policy of racist murder. Thank heaven that we are tough enough to bear the shame of this, and strong enough to forgive ourselves.
... and thank heaven that we are always enlightened enough to remind ourselves that war is never the answer.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Ralph Nader and Over-Regulation
via InstaPundit comes this:
If Ralph Nader is run over by a beer truck and killed, if a very large meteorite falls on the offices of Public Citizen and vaporizes the lot of them, I won't feel sorry. Not the least little bit.
Thanks to Ralph Nader and one of his many noble crusades to protect consumers, this woman can no longer get the medication she needs to lead a normal life.
It's a classic example of the hidden costs of regulation and threat of lawsuits. It's very easy, in both the political and legal arena, to dramatize what has gone wrong with certain drug, or a certain corporation, or treatment. A drug or vaccine may make 1,000,000 well but if it might have contributed to one person's illness, well that is nothing but a sign of corporate indifference towards human life in which Ralph Nader must now step in and correct. And while a drug company cannot dramatize the million people who would have been sick if not for a vaccine/treatment, nothing is easier than parading the one who did suffer and suggest to a gullible jury that she was made sick by a 'greed driven' drug company making 'obscene profit', and request that the greed driven corporation stop making their drug and give her a bunch of money.... they have so much of it after all!
There are risks with everything, no doctor is perfect, no drug will work on everyone the same way. If everything with a possible danger, regardless of the potential benefits, were subject to a ban, what would be left? Drug safety is no doubt an important thing, but it seems that relatively minor risks (or even larger one's that a patient is williing to tolerate) are often over-dramatized to the point of mega-million dollar lawsuits, which of course kills off that drug and provides a major disincentives for further research and development. How long can we expect drug companies to invest millions into products that will only make it to market if they reach the impossible standard of 100% safe?