Saturday, February 08, 2003
First, even if antiwar speech does give aid and comfort to our nation's enemies, the First Amendment limits treason prosecutions as much as it limits sedition prosecutions or hate speech prosecutions. There are always some people, whether in the government or in editorial offices, who are willing to assume the worst about the intentions of those with whom they disagree. But we the voters are entitled to hear the views of those who oppose the war (for whatever reason) as much as the views of those who support it.
But more importantly, the response to the Sun's pragmatic claim is that the First Amendment is a profoundly pragmatic protection. It is justified by the natural tendencies of governments and their allies — tendencies that are only exacerbated in wartime — to assume that they're right, and that their opponents are traitors.
Sometimes, though, the government is wrong — and the only way that we Americans can tell whether the government is wrong is by hearing the arguments on both sides, before the war and during the war. Free speech has persuaded the Sun's editorial board (as it has me) that war is right. But I'm confident in my position precisely because I know that the war's opponents were free to present their best arguments against it. Likewise, to be confident that the government will fight the war the right way, and will end it at the right time, the public needs the freedom to hear the government's critics as well as its supporters. The same First Amendment that protects the Sun and the National Review protects the war's critics as well.
Friday, February 07, 2003
Rules for choosing a superhero name:
• Don’t call yourself by your real name, e.g.
Mr. Fred Pinchuck, The Amazing Stevie Foster
• Don’t call yourself by someone else’s real name, e.g.
Mr. Teddy Kennedy, Captain Dean Martin
• Choose a name that suggests power, heroism and prowess, e.g.
Captain Power, Thunderman, Mr. Invincible, Justiceman
• Don’t be too modest, e.g.
Mr. Pretty Good, Captain So-So, Fairly Incredible Man
So I find myself in a position the pollsters don’t seem to have provided for: I support a US-led war against Saddam, but not a UN war. My reasoning derives from the first Gulf war: as Colin Powell explained in his memoirs, one of the reasons for not pressing on to victory was that to do so would have risked ‘fracturing’ the international coalition. In the multilateralist paperwork, the members of the coalition get alphabetical billing, so the United States comes last. You know who’s first? Afghanistan. What did they contribute? Three hundred mujahedin. Don’t laugh, that’s more than some Nato members managed. Ninety per cent of the countries who made up Bush Sr’s Stanley Gibbons collect-the-set coalition — Belgium, Senegal, Honduras — wouldn’t have been involved in taking Baghdad and storming the presidential palace, but all claimed the right to act as a drag on those who would have. So the UN-ification of the first Gulf war is a big part of the reason it ended so unsatisfactorily. Those Republicans who think making Bush dance through the UN hoops this time round is merely a harmless interlude had better be confident that the same pressures won’t again undermine American purpose at a critical stage in the conflict.
It’s easy to make criticisms of the UN, starting with the familiar one that its Security Council structure is the second world war victory parade preserved in aspic. Fair enough. But in 1945, when they were passing out the vetoes, they at least reflected the geopolitical realities of the day. (Aside from the French veto, that is, which was largely unearned. Canada would have been more deserving, given our respective contributions to the war effort.) When the Cold War began, the UN structure quickly ossified into two mutually obstructive veto-wielding blocs: whatever its defects, this too neatly distilled the political realities of the age. But since the collapse of the Commies, the UN has reflected not the new realities but a new unreality, an illusion.
In the real world, Libya is an irrelevance. So is Cuba, and Syria. In the old days, the ramshackle dictatorships were proxies for heavyweight patrons, but not any more. These days President Sy Kottik represents nobody but himself. Yet somehow, in the post-Cold War talking shops, the loonitoons’ prestige has been enhanced: the UN, as the columnist George Jonas put it, enables ‘dysfunctional dictatorships to punch above their weight’. Away from Kofi and co., the world is moving more or less in the right direction: entire regions that were once tyrannies are now flawed but broadly functioning democracies — Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America. The UN has been irrelevant to this transformation. Its structures resist reform and the principal beneficiaries are the thug states.
That’s a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with UN-style multilateralism. There aren’t a lot of Gaddafis, but their voice is amplified because of the democratic world’s investment in UN proceduralism. Some of those abstainers are just Chiraquiste cynics: any time the Americans don’t get their way is a victory for everybody else. Others believe the world would be a genuinely better place if it was run through global committees staffed by a transnational mandarin elite of urbane charmers: that’s an undemocratic concept, and one shouldn’t be surprised that it finds itself in the same voting lobby as the dictatorships. In an ideal world, you’d like the joint run by Mary Robinson and Chris Patten, but at a pinch Gaddafi and Assad will do: transnationalism is its own raison d’être. If the postwar UN was a reflection of hard power, the present-day UN is a substitute for it.
What should replace the UN? Well, some people talk about a ‘caucus of the democracies’. But I’d like to propose a more radical suggestion: Nothing. In the war on terror, America’s most important relationships have been bilateral: John Howard hasn’t dispatched troops to the Gulf because the Aussies and the Yanks belong to the same international talking shop; Mr Blair’s helpfulness isn’t because of the EU but, if anything, in spite of it. These relationships are meaningful precisely because they’re not the product of formal transnational bureaucracies. Promoters of the ‘Anglosphere’ — a popular concept in the US since 9/11 — must surely realise there’d be little to gain in putting the Anglo-Aussie-American relationship through the wringer of a joint secretariat.
In fact, the whole idea of multilateral organisations feels a bit last millennium. With hindsight, institutions like the UN seem to have more to do with the Congress of Vienna than with the modern world, a hangover from the pre-democratic age when contact between nations was limited to the potentates’ emissaries. That’s why it so appeals to both the Euro-statists and the dictators, but, in the era of the Internet and five-cents-per-minute international phone rates and instant financial transfers and cheap vacations in the Maldives, the bloated UN bureaucracy seems at best irrelevant and at worst an obstruction to the progress of international relations. I’m all in favour of the Universal Postal Union and the Berne Copyright Convention (America was a bit late signing that one), but they work precisely because Sy Kottik and his chums weren’t involved. The non-nutcake jurisdictions came together, and others were invited to sign on as they saw fit. That’s why they work and that’s why they endure.
Expurgated portions of Iraq's December 7 report to the UN Security Council show that German firms made up the bulk of suppliers for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. What's galling is that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his minions have long known the facts, German intelligence services know them and have loads of information on what Saddam Hussein is hiding, and Schroeder nonetheless plays holier than thou to an easily manipulated, pacifist-inclined domestic audience.
If it's not the height of hypocrisy and opportunism, Schroeder's preemptive "no war. period" stance on Iraq and insistence on a "German Way" (Deutscher Weg) certainly come close. German Way? Haven't we heard that sort of talk before sometime, somewhere? But leave that be. It falls in the same category as Schroeder's former justice minister's comparison of US President George W Bush to Adolf Hitler in last summer's election campaign. Not only Schroeder and that unfortunate lady, but politicians elsewhere are of limited mental accountability when desperate about winning an election, and suffer lapses of speech and memory. (via Instapundit)
Thursday, February 06, 2003
"And then there are three or four countries that have said they won't do anything. I believe Libya, Cuba and Germany are the ones that I have indicated won't help in any respect."
One member of parliament wants Rumsfeld to "tone down" this rhetoric. What rhetoric? He is simply saying that they are totally not willing to help in any war with Iraq, which is exactly what they have been saying. If being lumped in with Libya and Cuba poses such a problem then maybe they should stop agreeing with them.
"If you have the opportunity, will you please add to your burdens my request that you appeal to all those who listen to you to leave the animals out of this conflict?"
Ms Newkirk says she has not asked Mr Arafat to try to stop suicide bombings that kill people.
"It's not my business to inject myself into human wars," she told the Washington Post.
I used to be an animal rights activist back in college. The problem with it is that to be a true blue activist you really do have to value an animal more than a person (or at least as much as, which really is just as difficult). And that's not something I was ever comfortable with.
In recent years, libertarians have been aware of a growing threat to our free society, namely, the Green movement. And much time is spent, rightly, dismissing or pulling apart the scare stories (such as the Greenhouse Effect, population explosion, etc) that are offered to justify wholesale government controls over our lives. But a nagging question is - what would libertarians do if the Green case is partly, or even wholly, correct? What if global warming is as bad as they claim? What would we fans of free-wheeling capitalism do about that? It is simply not good enough for us to trash the Green case without at least working out how we would cope with such issues.
It seems to me that the isolationist libertarians who rubbish most government attempts to crack down on terrorists and their state sponsors need to answer a similar sort of question. How can free, minimal state societies deal with serious threats to liberty and life? What sort of measures should such societies take?
I think we owe it to ourselves to pose such questions and come up with a few ideas. Attacking governments for trashing civil liberties and ramping up defence spending is of course a good thing for libertarians to do, and we must continue to do so. But not offering any positive suggestions on how we defend ourselves is not just unwise. It threatens also to make the libertarian movement irrelevant.
The "peace movement" is and has been a curious affair for at least a century. It has always found its recruits in those who believe, against all evidence, that their own governments are malevolent, whether in Washington, London, Ottawa or Canberra, while even the bloodiest foreign dictator really wants peace. Although there undoubtedly are sincere souls in the movement, one wonders about their psychology and the extent to which their unhappiness with their own democratically elected, rule-of-law governments is a reflection of inner, not outer, discontents.
If only appeasement worked, I would be on Benn's side. If we could attain a just, enduring peace by endless concessions, we would be foolish not to make them. But the world is as it is, not as dotty old men would have it. A fellow like Tony Benn can afford his eccentricities because others will stand up to protect him from his own absurdities.
Benn should, however, be under no illusions: He is supporting a monstrous killer, one who is the enemy not so much of the United States as he is of the Iraqi people. And, worse (for him): Benn's pilgrimage to Baghdad truly does underscore the inanity and danger of allowing European intellectuals to have any say, whatsoever, about American decisions. Like so many of his embittered peers, he has embraced lies when the truth is self-evident.
--Multiple independently-targetted warheads are launched from Iraq toward any nation but Israel.
--Thousands of civilians in a U.S. city begin keeling over from the effects of poison gas and Saddam Hussein personally claims responsibility for the attack.
--Saddam Hussein is photographed sitting astride a plutonium tipped ICBM with the words "To Russia, with Love" painted on it.
--Iraqi military officers are photographed launching a ship laden with clearly marked canisters of Sarin or VX. The bow of the ship must bear the words "Slow boat to China"
--Photographs prove that Iraqi SCUD missiles, bearing biochemical agents and emblazoned with the words "The French Connection," are about to be launched.
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
First, it is clearly in the interests of the United States to foster the creation of a world populated by commercial republics. One of the keys to achieving this goal is vigorously promoting free trade abroad. Secondly, we need to encourage citizens from countries living under tyrannical regimes to come to the United States to be educated so that they can experience the operation of our free institutions directly. Thirdly, and most controversially, the Federal government should revive the Reagan Doctrine—we should support, train, and finance insurgent movements aimed at overthrowing authoritarian regimes. And not just military training, but also training in the advantages and operations of free institutions. There is no absolute guarantee that such insurgents will in fact establish free societies when they come to power, but if it is understood globally that the United States backs such regimes, they would be bucking a worldwide trend.
In the end, if an American-led invasion ousts Mr. Hussein, and especially if an attack is launched without convincing proof that Iraq is still harboring forbidden arms, history may judge that the stronger case was the one that needed no inspectors to confirm: that Saddam Hussein, in his 23 years in power, plunged this country into a bloodbath of medieval proportions, and exported some of that terror to his neighbors.
Reporters who were swept along with tens of thousands of near-hysterical Iraqis through Abu Ghraib's high steel gates were there because Mr. Hussein, stung by Mr. Bush's condemnation, had declared an amnesty for tens of thousands of prisoners, including many who had served long sentences for political crimes. Afterward, it emerged that little of long-term significance had changed that day. Within a month, Iraqis began to speak of wide-scale re-arrests, and officials were whispering that Abu Ghraib, which had held at least 20,000 prisoners, was filling up again.
Like other dictators who wrote bloody chapters in 20th-century history, Mr. Hussein was primed for violence by early childhood. Born into the murderous clan culture of a village that lived off piracy on the Tigris River, he was harshly beaten by a brutal stepfather. In 1959, at age 22, he made his start in politics as one of the gunmen who botched an attempt to assassinate Iraq's first military ruler, Abdel Karim Kassem.
Since then, Mr. Hussein's has been a tale of terror that scholars have compared to that of Stalin, whom the Iraqi leader is said to revere, even if his own brutalities have played out on a small scale. Stalin killed 20 million of his own people, historians have concluded. Even on a proportional basis, his crimes far surpass Mr. Hussein's, but figures of a million dead Iraqis, in war and through terror, may not be far from the mark, in a country of 22 million people.
Where the comparison seems closest is in the regime's mercilessly sadistic character. Iraq has its gulag of prisons, dungeons and torture chambers — some of them acknowledged, like Abu Ghraib, and as many more disguised as hotels, sports centers and other innocent-sounding places. It has its overlapping secret-police agencies, and its culture of betrayal, with family members denouncing each other, and offices and factories becoming hives of perfidy.
"Enemies of the state" are eliminated, and their spouses, adult children and even cousins are often tortured and killed along with them. (via Joanne Jacobs)
One entry found for stupid
Main Entry: 1stu·pid
Etymology: Middle French stupide, from Latin stupidus, from stupEre to be numb, be astonished.
1 a : slow of mind : OBTUSE b : given to unintelligent decisions or acts : acting in an unintelligent or careless manner c : lacking intelligence or reason : BRUTISH
2 : dulled in feeling or sensation : TORPID <still stupid from the sedative>
3 : marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting : SENSELESS
4 a : lacking interest or point b : VEXATIOUS, EXASPERATING <this stupid flashlight won't work>
- stu·pid·ly adverb
- stu·pid·ness noun
synonyms STUPID, DULL, DENSE, CRASS, DUMB mean lacking in power to absorb ideas or impressions. STUPID implies a slow-witted or dazed state of mind that may be either congenital or temporary <stupid students just keeping the seats warm> <stupid with drink>. DULL suggests a slow or sluggish mind such as results from disease, depression, or shock <monotonous work that leaves the mind dull>. DENSE implies a thickheaded imperviousness to ideas <too dense to take a hint>. CRASS suggests a grossness of mind precluding discrimination or delicacy <a crass, materialistic people>. DUMB applies to an exasperating obtuseness or lack of comprehension <too dumb to figure out what's going on.
Oh and he describes our site as "often viscious and stupid". So by coming to our site I guess we can only conclude that he is either trying to enlighten us or is a masochist or both. Given that he is English, at least the latter but most probably both.
|My score is|
what does that mean?
Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
The Spanish Embassy in Saudi Arabia has advised its citizens to submit applications for their exit/re-entry visas. Spain is taking precautionary measures in case of an evacuation. Germany, Canada and Belguim also recently have advised their citizens to apply for exit/re-entry visas. A German Embassy spokesman told Arab News, "It's just a precautionary measure. We don't think that they will need it, but we have to make contingency plans."
Looks like they are getting ready in case the fit hits the shan.
Limits of human endeavour???? Sorry. That is a phrase I prefer not to comprehend. I'm all about finding those limits and then bashing through them. Bash through them with my head and my fists if need be, but as I am a clever monkey I'd prefer to use tools.
In a colossal exercise in public welfare and social control, President Saddam Hussein's government distributes the same monthly provisions at the same low price across Iraq, a country of 26 million people. The handouts have kept food on the table for the Yawos and most other Iraqi families, who can no longer afford to purchase wheat, rice and other staples at market prices because of debilitating U.N. economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
But all that ended after Iraqi tanks rolled into Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. By Aug. 6, the U.N. Security Council had slapped a trade embargo on Iraq.
Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said he was summoned by Hussein four days later and ordered to develop a system to ration the country's remaining food stockpile. "His excellency was very worried," Saleh said in an interview. "He did not want the people of Iraq to go hungry."
Iraq now spends about $3.6 billion a year to buy food under the oil-for-food program, which amounts to about $11 per person per month. Although the shipments are just a fraction of the value of the country's pre-war food imports, they now are enough for Iraq to provide a daily ration that is close to U.N. nutritional guidelines.
Well, that's a little more than he spent building additional palaces. I guess we have just misjudged Saddam after all. Much like Castro in Cuba, where the healthcare and education is much better than in the West, Saddam is just nice guy who's misunderstood by the evil US. Must be why Jimmy Carter (Nobel Prize Winner 2002) likes them both so much along with that other great humanitarian leader Kim Jong-Il.
Through the ceaseless tide I heard a voice, a very English voice of an old man - Prime Minister Chamberlain saying: "I believe it is peace for our time" - a sentence that prompted a huge cheer, first from a listening street crowd and then from the House of Commons and next day from every newspaper in the land.
There was a move to urge that Mr Chamberlain should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
In Parliament there was one unfamiliar old grumbler to growl out: "I believe we have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat."
He was, in view of the general sentiment, very properly booed down.
This scene concluded in the autumn of 1938 the British prime minister's effectual signing away of most of Czechoslovakia to Hitler.
The rest of it, within months, Hitler walked in and conquered.
"Oh dear," said Mr Chamberlain, thunderstruck. "He has betrayed my trust."
The slogan of this movement was "Against war and fascism" - chanted at the time by every Labour man and Liberal and many moderate Conservatives - a slogan that now sounds as imbecilic as "against hospitals and disease".
In blunter words a majority of Britons would do anything, absolutely anything, to get rid of Hitler except fight him.
The French especially urged, after every Hitler invasion, "negotiation, negotiation".
They negotiated so successfully as to have their whole country defeated and occupied.
In Britain the general response to every Hitler advance was disarmament and collective security.
Collective security meant to leave every crisis to the League of Nations. It would put down aggressors, even though, like the United Nations, it had no army, navy or air force.
The League of Nations had its chance to prove itself when Mussolini invaded and conquered Ethiopia (Abyssinia).
The League didn't have any shot to fire. But still the cry was chanted in the House of Commons - the League and collective security is the only true guarantee of peace.
But after the Rhineland the maverick Churchill decided there was no collectivity in collective security and started a highly unpopular campaign for rearmament by Britain, warning against the general belief that Hitler had already built an enormous mechanised army and superior air force.
But he's not used them, he's not used them - people protested.
Still for two years before the outbreak of the Second War you could read the debates in the House of Commons and now shiver at the famous Labour men - Major Attlee was one of them - who voted against rearmament and still went on pointing to the League of Nations as the saviour.
But that is not our destiny, nor our purpose. If we're going to risk that first 150 miles of terrible stress on body and machine to get into space, then let's do it to get to the next million miles--to cruise the beauty and vacuum of interplanetary space to new worlds. Back to the moon. Establish a lunar base. And then on to Mars.
The Columbia tragedy will give voice to the troglodytes who want to give up manned space travel altogether. But the problem is not manned flight. The problem is this kind of manned flight, shuttling up and down at great risk and to little end.
Monday, February 03, 2003
This may seem an odd statement to make, since America is often accused of being a bully, in the Mideast as elsewhere. Yet the record shows precious little bullying--indeed not enough. Note that the last time the United States played a pivotal role in a Mideast change of government (if one overlooks Bill Clinton's campaign against Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel's 1999 election) was in 1953, when the CIA, along with Britain's MI6, helped to depose Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh. Considering how many violently anti-American regimes have existed in the Middle East since World War II, America's failure to overthrow more of them is a testament to our passivity and forbearance.
This is not to suggest that the U.S. record in the Mideast during the past 50 years has been exclusively weak and pusillanimous. There have been occasional flashes of principle and infrequent displays of strength. Some of the more prominent include: Truman's ultimatum that forced the Soviets to evacuate Iran in 1946 and his decision two years later to override all his foreign policy advisers by recognizing Israel; Eisenhower's dispatch of Marines to support the Lebanese government in 1958; Nixon and Kissinger's backing of Israel with emergency arms shipments during the 1973 Yom Kippur War; Reagan's bombing of Libya in 1986 and protection of Gulf shipping from Iranian attacks in 1987-88; and, most recently, George H.W. Bush's resounding victory in the Persian Gulf War of 1991. All these actions are very much to America's credit, and have done much to serve U.S. interests in the region.
To create 3D structures, Boland and Mironov used a "thermo-reversible" gel recently developed by Anna Gutowska at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. The non-toxic, biodegradable gel is liquid below 20 °C and solidifies above 32 °C.
The team has done several experiments using easily available tissues such as hamster ovary cells. By printing alternate layers of the gel and clumps of cells onto glass slides, they have shown 3D structures such as tubes can be built up.
Biologists have long known that bits of tissue placed next to each other can fuse. The researchers found that as long as the layers were thin enough for the clumps to come into contact with each other, the bits of tissue fused. Once a structure is complete, the gel is easily removed. Details of the team's initial work will soon be published.
Like printing with different colours, placing different types of cells in the ink cartridges should make it possible to recreate complex structures consisting of multiple cell types. "I think this is extremely exciting technology that has the potential to overcome some of the major obstacles [to tissue engineering] we have seen in the past," says leading tissue engineer Anthony Atala of Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Within an hour of the Shuttle's loss, a Canadian Broadcasting Corportation interviewer was gleefully asking her alleged expert whether the failure was due to American "arrogance", the same "arrogance" the Americans are currently demonstrating in the Middle East. The "expert" - a sci-fi writer - said no, it wasn't "arrogance". But an hour later the CBC was apparently citing mysterious "space experts" who thought "over-confidence" arising from Iraqi war fever had led Nasa to go ahead with the flight.
Sunday, February 02, 2003
An underground chemical weapons facility at the southern end of the Jadray Peninsula in Baghdad;
A SCUD assembly area near Ramadi. The missiles come from North Korea;
Two underground bunkers in Iraq's Western Desert. These contain biological weapons.