Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Hey listen up, the French have a plan!

Well, we knew that they would find a way, somewhere, somehow.

France is trying to surrender in a war they’re not even in.

Well, they can’t actually do it themselves, but there trying to wrangle themselves some vicarious surrenderage. I guess the opposite of glory hogs are surrender monkeys.

France said Monday that it would take part in a proposed international conference on Iraq only if the agenda included a possible U.S. troop withdrawal, thus complicating the planning for a meeting that has drawn mixed reactions.

Paris also wants representatives of Iraq's insurgent groups to be invited to a conference in October or November, a call that would seem difficult for the Bush administration to accept.
Yeah, that would seem difficult, now wouldn’t it? France knows it will be awkward to invite Bush and the insurgency to the party even though they hate each other, but is doing it anyways because it’s that kind of country. Little known to France, it will be even more awkward when it arrives at the party in the same dress as the insurgency. You know it.

I still think we should accept the offer. You must be able to sit peacefully across from your enemy in order to gain his understanding and friendship. And then, once he has accepted you as a trusted partner, BAM! shiv in the eye. And you can also have sleepovers, but no hanky-panky because that’s just ew.

In Berlin, the German government said it had long been in favor of an international forum to support Iraq’s democratization, Agence France-Presse reported. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, also endorsed the idea, as did the Spanish and Danish governments.
Forum? Hell yeah! Sign us up! If history has taught us nothing else (and it hasn’t) it’s that wars can only be won by international forums. And mongols.

Was the Invasion of Iraq a good thing... still?

In response to Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy. This should earn me my first incoming link, if he fulfills his end of the promise! He posed three questions for war supporters (they're bolded) and I've given my best answers for them.

First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?

Yes, yes I do. Basically, there are two ways that a war supporter could find that, even though they thought the invasion of Iraq was a good idea previously, they now think it was a bad idea.

1) Justifications used to support the war are now seen as wrong based on new information.
2) Negative developments in Iraq outweigh the justifications given.

I don’t think that either is true.

The strongest three justifications for war, at least the ones that I based my war support on, were the need to prevent a megalomaniacal dictator from ever acquiring WMD, the need to bring radical change to the Middle East in the form of democracy and freedom and the need to oust Saddam, a sadistic butcher, for humanitarian purposes (this would also create conditions for lifting the sanctions, which were causing much suffering).

The first of these justifications has been met. Even though stockpiles of WMD have not been found, it is becoming increasingly likely that WMD probably made there way into Syria from Iraq. Even if this is not the case, we know for sure that Saddam had them in the past and was actively trying to acquire them.

For example, Saddam came “within a whisker” of acquiring a completely functional nuclear device, a terrifying thought. How much longer until he actually got one was simply a matter of time, and the chances of this weapon filtering down to a terrorist group were of much too great to risk, considering that Saddam had openly funded terrorism and may have even been planning attacks inside America.

I still feel strongly about the second of these justifications, that radical change was and is needed in the Middle East. We have already witnessed the rippling effects of the invasion: Libya coming clean, Pakistan revealing nuclear black market, Syria feeling antsy about its weapons programs etc. Democracy is quickly arriving and, according to pulls, the people are optimistic.

And the last justification has been fulfilled. Saddam was a sadistic Butcher. He’s gone now. Everyone agrees that this is extremely good.

But do the negative developments outweigh the good of these justifications? That brings us too:

Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?

As Hitch pointed out when writing about the number of American fatalities hitting 1000:

I remember exhaling with relief when Saddam Hussein's regime was taken down without the death toll on "our" side having much exceeded 100. Antiwar people had predicted many multiples of that. But I also thought it was a just war, which means that if I am honest I have to admit that I would not, or should not, have balked at a higher figure. [emphasis added]
This doesn’t mean that I think that either the number dead or the increasing chaos are irrelevant. But I believe the cause was just, and should be able to stomach casualties accordingly. More importantly, I don’t think we have the right to be defeatist about the prospects in Iraq, when the optimism of the Iraqi people, that I mentioned from the polls above, still remains high.

America needs to realize that, even though we were initially greeted as liberators, there are forces at play that will fight to the bitter end, and we need to brace ourselves accordingly. Our enemies know that much rides on the fate of Iraq. A book published by one of OBL’s closest associates points to Iraq as a vital battlefield in the quest for Caliphate. Some telling excerpts:
It is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy.
If democracy comes to Iraq, the next target [for democratization] would be the
whole of the Muslim world.
Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?

This is a hard question. Obviously, Saddam is gone, so that is one criterion that has already been fulfilled. But it seems morbid to assign a numerical value of how many American lives that good deed is worth before it is invalidated.

In the coming months and years I think we should measure our success in Iraq according to the ripples it is causing (Libya coming clean etc). Also, having Iraq take over more responsibility for its security, and allowing America to shift troops back home to respond to new threats should factor in. But it would be arbitrary of me to assign a specific date by which we should have only X number of troops in Iraq.

I think we should also look to see that the polls coming out of Iraq at least maintain their current levels of optimism.

It is the nature of a just war, as I excerpted from Hitch, that if I truly believed in the cause, I should be willing to stomach much more than has currently happened. Therefore, in my view, the Iraq invasion will remain a success short of a major negative development that invalidates the significant gains, such as a descent into civil war.

A disturbing barometer, possibly, but an idealistic one, and one that will accept nothing less than victory.

updated for clarity

It was the one armed man!

From my column yesterday:

Now, the memos are universally discredited, CBS has set up an independent review, and the focus of the story has shifted to finding out the documents’ source.

Bill Burkett, seething anti-Bush partisan, provided the documents to CBS, but it’s unclear who provided the documents to him, or if he made them himself.

Therefore, at this point the floor is open to wild speculation. I think it was the one-armed man. Think about it; Max Cleland, who has become increasingly unhinged ever since baselessly accusing Republicans of questioning his patriotism, was contacted by Burkett in August about a possible counterattack to the Swift Vets ad.

The column was mainly just a bland run-down of the Rathergate goings-on (somebody had to do it, and luckily I’m somebody) but I do raise an excellent point here. The floor IS open to wild speculation and I’m not seeing enough of it. I’m talking about wild-eyed DU-style accusations that implicate the entire other political party, and call for them to commit mass hara kiri with letter openers.

If the blogosphere isn’t about witch hunts and general McCarthyite-type behavior, than what is it about? What happened to the beautiful right wing smear machine that I have come to know and love? Have we been reduced to debating *Smacks lips in disgust* healthcare?

…and don’t give me that, you KNOW it was Max Cleland. Three quick ways to tell:

1. 53% of eligible voters agree they would have been fooled by the memos if Saxby Chambliss had made them.

2. The real reason that people don’t believe the memos is not because they put unions above homeland security, but rather because their patriotism has been smeared.

3. Max Cleland and memos have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Al Franken winces in pain

And then, as if on some cosmic cue, we get the AP today, Kerry Learning to Wield Humor As Weapon: An example of Mr. Kerry's new finely sharpened comedic weapon:

Kerry said the occupation of Iraq is riddled with problems, "yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way." Kerry paused for affect...
[Pausing here for effect.... pausing… pausing…]

...before asking sarcastically, "How can he possibly be serious?"
Boo-yah! Sarcasm! But wait… what happened to the Kerry of this article: "Kerry responded that with American soldiers' lives on the line in Iraq, it was no time for jokes”?

Oh well. Mere trivialities. More Kerry humor, that’s what we want!

"You're going to hear all this talk, 'Oh, we've turned the corner, we're doing better, blah, blah,'" [Kerry] said, running on the phrase as his Wisconsin audience erupted in laughter. "You know, blah and blah and blah."
That’s funny for so many reasons. Reasons which I will not list here because they should be self-evident… I mean, c’mon you peon, this is Kerry, the once and future king. Laugh or it’s the ketchup mines for ya.

But seriously, I really hope that that was fake laughter that “erupted” in the audience. Or maybe we can hope that this was “at” laughter, and not “with” laughter. I mean for the sake of our democracy. And for the children. Hell, I'd even say the rainforest would benefit.

Anyway, the AP, realizing that this isn't the best example of what the lay person would recognize as "humor," quickly tried to make clear that it’s not Kerry's fault this is the best he can muster. Instead, it’s that Kerry has worked so long in congress "with [its] stern rules and mores for speaking that can make the people who work there unintelligible in heartland America."

Also note the titles of the two articles I linked. When Bush is being humorous (“Bush Mocks Kerry for 'Changing Positions' on Iraq”) it’s mockery, decidedly negative in connotation, and when Kerry is being humorous (“Kerry Learning to Wield Humor As Weapon”) it's all part of the learning experience in Grasshopper's righteous quest for the Whitehouse.

update 7:35 pm: fixed quote


"Americans need a real conversation over our future," Kerry said in a speech at a school in Spring Green, Wisconsin. "What they don't need is all these trumped up advertisements, they just make people curl up and walk away," added the Massachusetts senator. "I'm calling them 'misleadisments,'" Kerry said of the adverts.

"Misleadisments." Y'know, it's kind of like "advertisments," but really ungainly and awkward. Like John Kerry. I would say that Kerry has already used up all of his "A" material... but what "A" material? Born in the west wing of a hospital?

"Misleadisments".... puh. Bush coins better words when he's not even trying.

Monday, September 27, 2004

"Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder"

Chrenkoff has an excellent round-up of good news from Iraq in the OpinionJournal. After listing some of positive developments happening in Iraq he notes what he calls “Post Totalitarian Stress Disorder”:

For those who've lived all their lives in freedom, it is a difficult condition to understand. We take so many things for granted--from comedians being able to joke about the president, to the assumption that the next government employee we encounter will not be expecting a bribe from us--that we are ill equipped to comprehend what life under a totalitarian system is like, or what mental and spiritual legacy its victims have to labor under long after the statues of the dictator are pulled down.
He hits the nail on the head. Totalitarian life has no doubt taken a physical and spiritual toll on the populace. As the younger generation comes of age we will see a radical redefinition of life in the Middle East. One of the stories that Chrenkoff notes, an article from the BBC, contains this quote from Essraa, an 18 year old Iraqi female:

The most important development to come out of the war was freedom. We were denied it, especially freedom of thought. This to me is very important.

Chrenkoff also links to an article about the introduction of baseball to young Iraqis, and comments:

These small steps forward might not mean much in themselves but cumulatively they point towards a better future. Every Iraqi child who dreams of becoming a sports star is one fewer child who dreams of becoming a "martyr" or a holy warrior. Every group, club or association that springs up across the country helps teach Iraqi people the habits of trust and cooperation, qualities bind together every successful democratic society.

As society in Iraq is changed into one of liberal democracy, terror will find no sanctuary and Islamofascist rhetoric no welcome ear. Insofar as a “war on terror” can be won, this is how to do it.

Two Tyrannies

From Iraq the Model (via Carnival of the Liberated):

But how are we going to reform Islam if we can’t guarantee some minimum level of safety for thinkers? How are we going to do this without freedom of speech?I’m not talking about the danger from a conservative society, as I believe that you can communicate with people and present new ideas in tactful ways without a very serious risk, but I’m talking about the danger that comes from dictators who do not want anyone to think for himself and come up with some new ideas that may disrupt the ‘peace’ they worked so hard to create in their kingdoms. We need to at least remove these tyrants before any reform could be even possible. They won’t accept any change in the curriculum, for instance, that would endanger their positions, and the changes we think about definitely will do that. We have all seen their reaction to the change in Iraq; how terrified they are and how desperately they try to stop the change in Iraq. That should give us an idea of how they are going to deal with it in their own lands.

I agree wholeheartedly that radical change is needed in the governance of the Middle East, thus my support for the Iraq War.

In this situation, I see two basic tyrannies involved. First, the tyranny of the entrenched ruling parties of these countries, which wish to perpetuate their rule indefinitely. Second, there is the grassroots tyranny of the various terror groups, which has rallied many of the common people in the Mid East to their cause with their austere view of religion.

The first of these tyrannies, that of the ruling parties, is the same tyranny seen throughout history, this time under the guise of Islam. They exist for the preservation of there own power, and act as they do because they see totalitarianism and Islamist rhetoric as the surest way of preserving this power. They are not above reform if they believe it will help them retain their absolute stranglehold of power.

What prevents reform is the presence of the second type of tyranny, the tyranny of people willing to subject themselves to strict shariah, either through nostalgic historical escapism or in horror at the moral decadence perceived in the West. Even in liberal democracies, this second type of tyranny is present. For example, read about the reaction that Ayaan Hirsi Ali received when she wrote a documentary about the hidden violence toward many Muslim women:

While the debate goes on, so do the attacks on Ms. Hirsi Ali. A rap song, played on some local radio stations, calls for her death. Chat rooms and e-mail messages announce death threats. The police in Rotterdam have just arrested a young Moroccan man whom they charged with sending a death threat to Ms. Hirsi Ali.
The first kind of tyranny can only be ended by militarily deposing those in power, or making the credible threat that such action will be taken. The second type of tyranny can be combated by increasing the number of liberal Islamic voices, as Iraq the Model noted at the beginning of this post, which will happen only when we take on the first kind of tyranny.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Reason #32 to Vote Bush

You are sitting around with your buds, watching football, kicking back some beers. You're topic of discussion wanders away from the deer head on the wall and into politics.

"So, who's everyone going to vote for?"

"Bush" "Bush" "Bush" "Kerry" "Bush"

::awkward silence::

In summary: Don't let awkward silences ruin your good time. Vote Bush.

Easy targets are target too

From the AP:

Valery Tishkov, a leading expert on Chechnya, said that foreign terror networks had attacked Russia because official negligence and corruption make it easy prey.

"They have chosen a target that can be hit more easily," Tishkov said. "The United States is far less vulnerable, and Israel has never been a soft target."

The Global Jihad is, alas, global. Although our Islamist enemies would like nothing better than to strike at the Great Satan, they will happily settle for the soft underbelly of the hundreds of smaller Satans comprising liberal civilization.

There can be no Spanish-style (see here, here and here) appeasement or diffidence in the face of terror, as this quote from Scotland on Sunday makes clear (via LGF yet again):

Late on Friday a fresh message appeared on a website believed to be used by al-Zarqawi which read: "What is laughable is the insistence of the ministers of all infidel nationalities on the phrase ‘no negotiations’. As if there was any question of negotiation. Far from it - they must obey the demands of the Mujahadeen. If you refuse, we slaughter."


Testing, testing, testing.