Saturday, March 15, 2003
We all evoke the unilateralism of High Noon, but such an illusion also involves, in the end, tossing away the badge, leaving such parsimonious and fickle folks to themselves, and taking the buckboard out of their town. After Iraq and North Korea, I think, the worry will be not endless American interventions, but a consensus that we have done enough to mete out justice to outlaws.
We wonder why we give billions of dollars to Egypt when 100,000 fanatics in Cairo scream hatred for the United States — or base ships in Chania, Crete when tens of thousands of Greeks demonstrate on spec against almost anything America does? When even Canadian politicians call our president a "moron" and us Americans "bastards," isn't it time politely to let all these people be and let them do as they please without us?
What the United States should seek is a sort of military autonomy, a muscular disengagement that lessens dependence on other mercurial and conniving countries and yet allows us strategic flexibility — and, yes, the freedom to move in the interest of freedom-loving peoples abroad who wish to act in concert with us. We should prefer a series of bilateral arrangements and a new tactical doctrine that does privilege "exit strategy" but simply states that the purpose of all (rare) U.S. interventions is military victory and the political will to define and then ensure such an outcome. Removal of a fascist like Saddam Hussein from Kuwait or stripping him of weapons of mass destruction both have exit strategies, but will never solve the problem of Iraqi state support for terrorism — him! — until the regime is defeated, humiliated, and removed.
If we believe that North Korea means to blackmail the United States by holding Los Angeles hostage, the way out of that dilemma is not to bully an appeasing Seoul, or rally a confused Tokyo, but rather be prepared stealthily to encircle the peninsula with submarine ABM systems that can hit Pyongyang's nukes in their nascent trajectory, sit still, and then let the concerned powers ask us for advice and support rather than vice versa.
The key is to avoid the deplorable spectacle of begging and buying off a democratic Turkey, offering either threats or concessions for a corrupt Mexico's U.N. vote, or thanking the Germans for protecting our bases from their own demonstrators. If it were not for a few courageous British, Spanish, and Italian statesmen public opinion in all those countries would make their governments as anti-American as those in France and Germany. American power, and the willingness to use it successfully for moral aims and our national interest, alone will win far more allies than sitting through yet another sanctimonious U.N. debate and an open-air auction for support.
Nothing is worse for a great power than to ask others far less moral for permission to use its power; and nothing weakens a great power more than intervening and intruding frequently but rarely decisively. Had we simply ignored the U.N. — as Mr. Clinton did in Kosovo — and moved unilaterally last fall (like Russia and France do all the time), Saddam Hussein would be gone, and we now would have more impressed friends than we do disdainful enemies. Instead, we await China's moral condemnation of our unilateral action — this from a regime that in the last 50 years butchered more of its own citizens than any government in the history of civilization, annexed Tibet, invaded Korea and Vietnam, and threatened to annihilate Taiwan. France hysterically alleges that we will harm the city of Baghdad in its liberation, but is silent about the Russian destruction of Grozny in its subjugation. And so on.
Before going further, it will be useful to elaborate on some aspects of the political and cultural background that molded Chirac, De Villepin and France over the past fifty years. One thing most foreigners do not know nor understand is that the vast majority of French citizens today do not believe France lost Word War II. You read this right. How can this be ? After all, France was beaten, invaded, humiliated and, to add insult to injury, collaborated with the Nazis in their most abject endeavors, often zealously so. The answer to this mind-boggling puzzle is none other than Charles de Gaulle, the providential hero who not only came back a victor by association, but, as some kind of reborn benevolent emperor, magnanimously forgave the nation for its considerable sins : "De Gaulle is France; and France is de Gaulle." You were all resistants, my sons and daughters, now let's move on. Needless to say, most were eager to follow his lead and bury the years of darkness as far behind and deep below as possible.
Libertarian - You believe that the main use for
government is for some people to lord it over
others at their expense. You maintain that the
government should be as small as possible, and
that civil liberties, "victimless
crimes", and gun ownership should be basic
rights. You probably are OK with capitalism.
Your historical role model is Thomas Jefferson.
Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
And you expected what? A socialist?
See Hot Young Coeds Take It ALL OFF for PEACE
Make Her GAG on Your Giant COMMITMENT TO PEACE
See HOT LESBIANS Having HOT SEX to END US HEGEMONY
You May Not Remeber ME But we met at that PEACE Rally and my HOT YOUNG friends and I really want to get in touch with YOU
U.S. government encyption experts labored through the night to break the code in a statement by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-OH, purported to be an apology.
Speaking to a VFW post in East Toledo last night Rep. Kaptur said, "You have heard much about my earlier statements on terrorism, and I just wanted you all to know that due to the political nature of what happened with my original statements, if my remarks have hurt anyone, I'm sorry," Miss Kaptur said. "Let me also say to each of you tonight [that] I am one member of Congress who will never make politics of war. It is too deadly serious."
She referred to her March 1 comparion of al-Qaeda members to American revolutionaries: "One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purpose are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that helped to cast off the British crown."
The government's chief 'code cracker' said, "We've run last night's statement at the VFW through a Cray supercomputer trying to figure out just what she was saying, and frankly, we're stymied."
The Toledo Blade announced that it was an apology, but the unnamed deciphering expert was less confident.
"The syntax of an apology usually consists of an admission of guilt, a rejection of the wrong, and a commitment to avoid such behavior in the future," he said. "We're not seeing those elements here."
Rep. Kaptur concluded her 'apology' by stating how she views America's role in the world: "...the U.S. is becoming more hated to the point it is now viewed as the primary enemy."
Friday, March 14, 2003
How is it that the cabal members have managed to fool virtually the entire political leadership of the United States, while guys like Pat Buchanan, David Duke, Ed Said and the LaRouchies can see right through their little scheme? Well, think about it. If a discredited figure like Buchanan or Duke blows the whistle on the plot, no one is going to believe what he's saying. Obviously these guys are Zionist agents themselves, covering up the conspiracy by putting it out in plain sight in a way that no one will believe it!
There's one other man who is crucial to the success of the Zionist cabal's efforts: Saddam Hussein. He has spent 12 years defying U.N. resolutions and building weapons of mass destruction, creating the rationale for invasion, and who benefits? Israel! Obviously he too is a tool of the Zionists.
You really have to think this through to understand what a devilishly clever plot the Zionists have hatched. They have managed to turn their own worst enemies--in Europe, in the Muslim world, in American universities--into defenders of Saddam Hussein, who is actually a Zionist agent!
Families of Palestinians killed by Israel received $245,000 in checks from Saddam Hussein on Wednesday, underscoring the Iraqi leader's continued support for a Palestinian revolt as he faces the prospect of a U.S.-led war," Reuters "reports" from Gaza:
A family of a Palestinian suicide bomber received a check for $25,000 and 22 families of militants killed in fighting or of civilians killed during Israeli army offensives, incursions or air strikes got $10,000 each.
So a Palestinian suicide bomber was 'killed by Israel'. I guess the US should freeze Israeli funds to handle those inevitable wrongful death lawsuits.
What Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein have in common is that they became rich because the West paid them for natural resources that the West could simply have taken from them at will, and without so much as a Thank You, if the West had been inclined to do so. They were, by one of the bitter paradoxes of history, the pre-eminent beneficiaries of the Western liberalism that they have pledged themselves to destroy. Their power derives entirely from the fact that the West had committed itself, in the aftermath of World War II, to a policy of not robbing other societies of their natural resources simply because it possessed the military might to do so - nor does it matter whether the West followed this policy out of charitable instinct, or out of prudence, or out of a cynical awareness that it was more cost effective to do so. All that really matters is the quite unintended consequence of the West's conduct: the prodigious funding of fantasists who are thereby enabled to pursue their demented agendas unencumbered by any realistic calculation of the risks or costs of their action.
And here we have one of the deepest contradictions of the liberal system of national self-determination. A world has been virtually achieved where each nation state is an inviolable entity, its borders protected by an international consensus, and the benefits of such a system are so obvious that there is no need to enumerate them.
In order to respond to our present crisis, we must begin by realizing that both the "liberal" concept of national self-determination and the "conservative" one of Realpolitik are no longer adequate to the historical actuality that is unfolding before our eyes. And they are obsolete for the same reason: the epoch of history governed by the principle of classical sovereignty is in the process of dissolution.
Classical sovereignty is the basis of the classical nation state. Its defining characteristic is the de facto achievement of a monopoly of physical force under the control of a single central authority. This means that it is not enough merely to have a monopoly of legitimate force - for if there is enough outstanding illegitimate force, then the state dissolves back into the anarchic condition symbolized by the rule of warlords, in which case the so-called legitimate state is merely one of several contenders for the prize of genuine authority. In other words, what makes the state legitimate is its actual monopoly of violence; and this means it is not enough to declare your internal enemies illegal; you must in fact be able to vanquish and crush them. You must be able, in short, to rule alone, in fact as well as in theory.
How has this change come about? Because of the very success of the liberal world order in the later part of the twentieth century. It is precisely through the triumph of the Pax Americana that the substantive content of the term "state" has been imperceptibly subverted and transformed out of all recognition. The state, as this term is now used, is no longer restricted to a political entity that can in fact defend itself against all comers, and that exists as a viable unit in defiance of those who would absorb or annex it; the state is no longer at the center of a continual struggle for its independent survival in a world full of hostile forces, where a failure to face up to the imperatives of reality spells social death, as in the case of the Kingdom of Poland or the American Confederacy. It is now, instead, something very different: an entity called into being by the formal recognition of the international community. This purely honorific sense of the term "state" is reflected in the assertion, for example, that the Palestinian people "deserve" their own state. Such language makes completely clear that we are no longer even talking about the same thing. Gladstone, for example, in his famous blunder during the Civil War, when he came close to formally recognizing the Confederacy as an independent Nation, did not think he was conferring an honorary status on it, but simply acknowledging a brute and existential fact - that the Confederacy, by its own struggle and sacrifice, had de facto become a genuine state. He was wrong in fact, but right in principle - at least, from the perspective of the classical state.
But what is the true nature of America? Is the US really more dangerous to world peace than a mass-murdering, genocidal dictator who has invaded his neighbours, used chemical weapons, stowed away hundreds of tons of anthrax and tortured tens of thousands to death? Is it now an imperialist nation?
...I have to say that it would be hard to come across a nation of people less imperialist by culture, temperament and inclination. America was forged in the first place by the families of Protestant settlers who had a work ethic, a strong sense of right and wrong, and a hostility to governmental power and royal authority. They went to a new land in order to be away from wars, taxes and kings. Their attitudes, reinforced by the waves of dispossessed people who have joined them in succeeding centuries, remain the central characteristics of America today. Americans are still by nature disrespectful of authority, deeply democratic by instinct, very conscious of their freedom, and particularly happy to live in a vast and beautiful land which is free from external threats.
That very freedom now gives millions the right to protest. South Koreans now resent the US troops without whom their society could not have survived. The French, it seems, have never got over the indignity of having to be rescued. And as the responsibilities of being a superpower in a Cold War required Americans to intervene in a wider range of conflicts, such resentment can be found anywhere on earth.
This surely is the crucial point. Americans are not warlike people, but they will now go after rogue states and terrorists because, if they don’t, no one else will. All over the world, America takes on responsibilities because others shirk them. They got involved in Kosovo because Europeans had neither the means nor the ability to sort it out. They pursue a ‘one-sided’ policy on Israel because without it the Jews would be driven into the sea. They need a huge increase in military spending partly because France, Germany and others are not prepared to spend a penny more themselves.
...The Bakke decision has taught a generation of young Americans that black students are more important for their presence in pictures in promotional brochures than for their scholastic qualifications. Ultimately, this perpetuates the very underperformance that has made the "diversity" fig leaf necessary.
White guilt is a dangerous and addictive drug. For nearly three decades the Bakke decision has supported education administrators in this habit. The ideas these people have promote dare untruthful, destructive, and antithetical to both black excellence and racial harmony. And they are racist.
The very term "diversity" is a crafty evasion. Mormons, paraplegics, and poor whites exert little pull on the heartstrings of admissions committees supposedly committed to making college campuses "look like America." In the late 1960s,college administrators assumed that the low representation of blacks on campuses was due to discrimination. The good-thinking white chancellor saw the task ahead as one of door opening, providing some remedial assistance where necessary. But efforts to bring qualified blacks to campuses ran up against the uncomfortably small number of such people in an America just past legalized segregation. For those who were admitted, professors proved unable to undo years of lacking basic learning skills.
But the most tragic result of racial preferences is their effect on their supposed beneficiaries. Extended disenfranchisement often leaves a group ill-equipped to compete at the highest level, even when the doors to success are wide open. These realities are not pretty. But what they mean is that a crucial component in a group's rise to the top is learning tricks to a new trade, as disadvantaged groups in America have done for centuries. There comes a point, during any previously reviled group's climb to the top, where that group can reach the same level as the ruling group only if the safety net is withdrawn. Sometimes a group must refashion its entire self concept in order to move ahead.
Lowered standards are directly antithetical to these endeavors. A person can only hit the highest note when he has the incentive to do so: This is a fundamental tenet of economics and psychology alike. Black Americans are not exempt from this fact of the human condition.
My opposition to racial preferences is based on a purely logical conviction: They dumb black people down. The injustices that blacks have suffered in America in the past are obvious. But the fact remains: Students growing up in a system whose message is "You only have to do pretty well to get into a top school" will rarely drive themselves to the top. Enshrining "diversity" over true excellence condemns black students to mediocrity. This is the inevitable result of denying them, and their parents, high school teachers, and guidance counselors, the one thing that elicits the best in anyone--the path of individual perseverance. That's not "politics"; it's common sense.
The city had anticipated $250 million in additional revenue from the tax increase -- a tenfold increase from the $27 million expected from the previous 8 cent tax. Since the rate was increasing almost 20 times, the city clearly anticipated that there would be a substantial falloff in demand. Since this lower demand would also affect state cigarette tax revenues collected in New York City, the state demanded that its lost revenues be reimbursed by the city. Hence, the city was forced to give the state 46 percent of the higher revenues.
Thus, out of the $250 million, New York City was only going to get $107 million of additional revenue even if everything went as planned. But according to the SBSC study, conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute, cigarette sales from legal sources fell much more than expected -- by 189 million packs. This led to a further reduction in the sales of other products at corner groceries and other small businesses, resulting in lower incomes and profits. This forced stores to cut back on employment, resulting in a loss of about 10,000 jobs.
The loss of cigarette sales, ancillary product sales, and income to businesses and workers reduced New York City's tax revenue by $64 million. Thus the city's net revenue from its $250 million tax increase turns out to be just $43 million.
Nearly half a billion dollars in TSA funds earmarked to reimburse airports for bomb detection systems is missing. Gone. Wooosh. In addition, the agency quickly busted its congressional hiring cap -- it now employs 66,000 personnel despite a 45,000 full-time permanent employee limit. Of more than 600 people hired for non-screener positions, nearly 60 percent had salaries over $90,000, while more than 40 percent had salaries over $100,000.
You don't professionalize unless you federalize. Eh?
Current perceptions of how regimes democratize have largely been shaped by what Samuel Huntington has labeled the "third wave" of democratization, during which states--in Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Pacific Rim--democratized through the internal overthrow of autocratic regimes.
But these perceptions aren't completely reliable. For one thing, they overlook the fact that external military force contributed to third-wave developments in Haiti, Panama, and the Balkans. More importantly, though, they ignore the main force behind Huntington's "second wave" of democratization (1943-1962): U.S. military occupation. Allied occupation contributed to a successful democratic transition not only in Japan, but in France, Italy, Austria, and West Germany; it pushed Greece, the Philippines, and South Korea toward democratization as well. As Notre Dame political scientist Guillermo O'Donnell, writing with European University Institute scholar Philippe Schmitter, concluded in 1986, "[T]he most frequent context within which a transition from authoritarian rule has begun in recent decades has been military defeat in an international conflict. Moreover, the factor which most probabilistically assured a democratic outcome was occupation by a foreign power which was itself a political democracy [emphasis added]."
Thursday, March 13, 2003
And we would have award shows like this:
The Golden Wrench - awarded to the best and the brightest in the plumbing industry.
This years nominees for best toilet-snaking are:
- Joe Polowski - For snaking three tennis balls from the family room toilet of the Hudson family.
- Anthony Scarrola - For removing 3-yr old Amanda Jones' beloved teddy bear from the second floor bathroom.
- Al Connelly - For his deft removal of three toy cars and 15 plastic toy soldiers from the Simon family basement bathroom.
And the winner is...
''We had a lot of ways to make people speak. There was the cable, electric shock. . . . We would attach the electrodes. We did it like this: One [motioning to his tongue], two [motioning to his ear], and three [motioning to his groin].''
Hut laughed uneasily as he explained the methodology. Then a silence fell over the room. He pulled hard on another cigarette.
What about rape, he was asked.
''No, we had another group responsible for that.''
What about children?
''We never killed them. If the child was 5 or 6, we would beat them with a steel cable, and that would get the mothers talking.''
Nice guy, they should return him to Iraq after the liberation. I'm sure some of the locals would like to have a word or two with him.
(via Joanne Jacobs)
The Gulf War killed somewhere between 21,000 and 35,000 Iraqis, of whom between 1,000 and 5,000 were civilians.
Based on Iraqi government figures, UNICEF estimates that containment kills roughly 5,000 Iraqi babies (children under 5 years of age) every month, or 60,000 per year.
Other estimates are lower, but by any reasonable estimate containment kills about as many people every year as the Gulf War -- and almost all the victims of containment are civilian, and two-thirds are children under 5.
Each year of containment is a new Gulf War.
Saddam Hussein is 65; containing him for another 10 years condemns at least another 360,000 Iraqis to death. Of these, 240,000 will be children under 5.
Those are the low-end estimates. Believe UNICEF and 10 more years kills 600,000 Iraqi babies and altogether almost 1 million Iraqis.
Ever since U.N.-mandated sanctions took effect, Iraqi propaganda has blamed the United States for deliberately murdering Iraqi babies to further U.S. foreign policy goals.
The sanctions exist only because Saddam Hussein has refused for 12 years to honor the terms of a cease-fire he himself signed. In any case, the United Nations and the United States allow Iraq to sell enough oil each month to meet the basic needs of Iraqi civilians. Hussein diverts these resources. Hussein murders the babies.
But containment enables the slaughter. Containment kills.
Now I think there are severe problems with the UN estimates of the death toll due to sanctions, both due to the source of the data (mostly Iraqi officials) and the statistical methods employed to come up with those estimates (Infant mortality statistics were gotten by linearly projecting improvements in infant mortality forward and subtracting actual infant mortality to arrive the number of deaths due to sanctions. It wasn't clear what period they used to get the improving mortality statistics from the original report but they would've had to have included in large part the skewed results from the end of the Iran-Iraq war to the beginning of the Gulf war since if they used the entire decade of the 80's there was a large increase in infant mortality rates in Iraq between the late '70s and the end of the Iran-Iraq war). But with that large grain of salt there is no denying that sanctions have had led to increased infant mortality and other deaths due to lack of appropriate medical supplies. Also Mead didn't include the large number of deaths caused by having Saddam in charge of the place. We won't know the full body count due to political murders in Iraq until after the war but it easily numbers in many thousands and could well number in the hundreds of thousands.
UPDATE: Matt Welch also takes issue with the statistics cited by Mead.
...Only when it became clear that bin Laden was in good health, that the solemn commitment to take him dead or alive had failed, were we reminded that Saddam existed too. That he was not a gentle soul, that he cut the tongues and ears of his adversaries, that he killed children in front of their parents, that he decapitated women then displayed their heads in the streets, that he kept his prisoners in cells as small as coffins, that he made his biological or chemical experiments on them too. That he had connections with al Qaeda and supported terrorism, that he rewarded the families of Palestinian kamikazes at the rate of $25,000 each. That he had never disarmed, never given up his arsenal of deadly weapons, thus the U.N. should send back the inspectors, and let's be serious: if seventy years ago the ineffective League of Nations had sent its inspectors to Germany, do you think that Hitler would have shown them Peenemünde where Von Braun was manufacturing V2s? Do you think that Hitler would have disclosed the camps of Auschwitz, of Mauthausen, Buchenwald, Dachau? Yet the inspection comedy resumed. With such intensity that the role of prima donna passed from bin Laden to Saddam, and the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the engineer of September 11, was greeted almost with indifference. A comedy marked by the double games of the inspectors and the conflicting strategies of Mr. Bush who on the one hand asked the Security Council for permission to use force and on the other sent his troops to the front. In less than two months, a quarter of a million troops. With the British and Australians, 310,000. And all this without realizing that his enemies (but I should say the enemies of the West) are not only in Baghdad.
Actually I disagree with the opening, I don't think it is at all clear that bin Laden is in good health or even alive. I think if he were we would've seen a video of him exhorting his troops to murder infidels instead of the crappy easy to fake audio tapes.
The United Nations is premodern because it is unaccountable and irresponsible: It claims power not legitimized by the recurring consent of periodically consulted constituencies of the governed. Inebriated by self-approval, the United Nations is grounded in neither democratic consent nor territorial responsibilities, nor independent fiscal means, nor the material means of enforcing its judgments.
Liberals, who call conservative hostility to the United Nations "radical," disregard the recklessness, and the incoherence, of the United Nations' new presumption. The United Nations, a collection of regimes of less than uniform legitimacy, has anointed itself the sole arbiter of what are legitimate military actions. And it has claimed a duty to leash the only nation that has the power to enforce U.N. resolutions. How long will that nation's public be willing to pay one-quarter of the United Nations' bills?
In our continuingly hectic month, last night we heard the NY Premiere of John Harbison's Requiem (the world Premiere was given last week in Boston). It is a large scale, impressive work filled with many dramatic moments. I have written previously of my special affection for Requiems, because of their frequently personal nature. This was not in that mode, it is instead a large scale, theatrical piece, more in the style of the Berlioz Requiem. It was scored for a large orchestra with a very extended percussion section.
Harbison is one of the most interesting of contemporary "serious" composers (a description I detest, implying somehow that when Gershwin or Porter or Sting for that matter write a song they are somehow un-serious about it). Other favorite contemporary composers of mine include Corigliano, Gubaidulina, Schnittke, Zwilich, Wuorinen and Tower. If you've never listened to much classical music then I wouldn't recommend Harbison or the other folks mentioned as a first exposure. Their music can be challenging (although much more accessible than a lot of other modern classical). But if you have listened to the great standard-bearers (Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, etc) and are looking to expand your horizons then certainly give them a try.
Here is a link to a review of last weeks premiere in the WSJ.
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
"The American people, not the United Nations, is the only body that President Bush has sworn to represent."
Very well put. I don't seem to remember being given a chance to vote for Kofi Annan. And I also like the following passage:
These critics also object because our weapons do not discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Did the much less discriminating bombs dropped on Berlin and Tokyo in World War II make that conflict unjust? Despite advances in our weaponry intended to minimize the loss of innocent life, some civilian casualties are inevitable. But far fewer will perish than in past wars. Far fewer will perish than are killed every year by an Iraqi regime that keeps power through the constant use of lethal violence. Far fewer will perish than might otherwise because American combatants will accept greater risk to their own lives to prevent civilian deaths.
The reason you were able to build support at home and rally the world to at least pretend to care about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is that you showed implacable resolve to disarm Iraq one way or the other. Your wobbles at the United Nations today -- postponing the vote, renegotiating the terms -- are undermining the entire enterprise.
This, of course, is the rankest hypocrisy. The United Nations did not sanction the Kosovo war, surely a just war, and that did not in any way make it illegitimate. Of the scores of armed conflicts since 1945, exactly two have received Security Council sanction: the Korean War (purely an accident, the Soviets having walked out over another issue) and the Gulf War. The Gulf War ended in a cease-fire, whose terms everybody agrees Hussein has violated. You could very well have gone to war under the original Security Council resolutions of 1991 and been justified.
If, for Blair's sake, you must have a second resolution, why include an ultimatum that Blix will obfuscate and the French will veto? If you must have a second resolution, it should consist of a single sentence: "The Security Council finds Iraq in violation of Resolution 1441, which demanded 'full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions.' "
The new resolution should be a statement not of policy but of fact. The fact is undeniable. You invite the French to cast what will be seen around the world as the most cynical veto in the history of the council, which is saying a lot. They may cast it nonetheless. They are, after all, French. But then they -- not you -- will have to do the explaining.
As we poise to pounce on Iraq, the American public is again being treated to conflicting views offered by talking heads on the left and the right, including draconian pronouncements on the wisdom and dangers of the impending conflict. Two key questions posed during the debate are: "Will the Iraqis fight?" and "Will our forces be seen as liberators or invaders?" For an educated opinion, grounded in history, consider the words of Saddam's humiliated generals and colonels as they agonized over their defeat in 1991.
"Saddam," one general remarked bitterly, "never wore muddy boots." The man had no training or skills as a soldier. Saddam, several observed, had no respect for his generals, other than a few in his trusted inner circle. One general recalled wryly, "Only selected Republican Guard commanders had any warning that Kuwait was to be invaded. Most of us learned of the operation from the television news."
Equipment shortages were serious, especially engineer equipment vital to prepare and camouflage defensive positions in the open desert. As a result, the coalition air offensive was a "turkey shoot." By the time coalition forces launched the ground offensive, casualties from the fierce bombing and losses by desertion had turned the 42-division Iraqi force defending Kuwait and southern Iraq into a demoralized force of some 200,000 men, hunkered in their bunkers, listening to the BBC for news of the inevitable onslaught. One deputy division commander, a good English speaker, sheepishly confessed that he spent his last night before capture teaching the division staff enough English ("Help! I love Boosh.") so that they could surrender to the Americans (none wanted to surrender to the Kuwaitis or the British).
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
I wonder, did he have a theft deterrent system installed in his car? Perhaps, were the keys left in the ignition? Were the doors locked? Maybe he's just trying to publicize the fact that he doesn't own an SUV.
The war with Iraq is a UN war. It's their stupid constraints on the first Gulf War that leaves us where we now stand. The only thing the UN is good for is to support fine restaurants in NYC and Brussels.
• Wal-Mart's sales on one day last fall--$1.42 billion--were larger than the GDPs of 36 countries.
• It is the biggest employer in 21 states, with more people in uniform than the U.S. Army.
• It plans to grow this year by the equivalent of--take your pick--one Dow Chemical, one PepsiCo, one Microsoft, or one Lockheed Martin.
• If the estimated $2 billion it loses through theft each year were incorporated as a business, it would rank No. 694 on the FORTUNE 1,000.
George Monbiot is a monster. Only an intellectual could write something so foolish. It's a good thing he and his cohorts are about to be swept into the dustbin of history, along with their precious Marx and Lennin. Oh, the delicious irony.
"Clearly, people are willing to make trade-offs," said Mr. Viscusi, who has been applying cost-benefit analysis to environmental regulations since the early 1980's. Weighing values like privacy or civil liberty against heightened security, he said, could help prevent the security goals from overtaking common sense.
"If you're the homeland security guy, that is the only thing you're going to be looking at and you're going to have tunnel vision," Mr. Viscusi said. "The last tightening of the standard may not have much of a payoff in security but it it might have a big cost in civil liberties."
Lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union also see benefits in treating lost civil liberties as a cost.
"Many of the proposals coming out of the Department of Justice would fail the risk-benefit analysis if the costs of lost liberties are weighed in," said Gregory Nojeim, associate director of the A.C.L.U.'s national office. "We think it's necessary to assess the costs of counterterrorism proposals in terms of lost liberties."
It's a hectic month for us. Because are kids are finally old enough to have regular planned childcare my wife and I decided to get a few concert and play subscriptions this year. All of the subscriptions, however, seemed to converge in March so we have something like 4 concerts and 2 plays this month. Last week we saw the Kodo Drummers and last night we went to hear an all Philip Glass program by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. The conductor, Dennis Russell Davies was wearing a collarless Mao/Nehru style jacket which combined with his shaved head made him look remarkably like Dr. Evil. The performances were all quite fine, the Stuttgart under Dennis Russel Davies has long been associated with Glass's music and are quite adept at dealing with it's technical challenges and Davies has a real flair for conducting it. Last night he also played the piano solo part from a new piano concerto Glass wrote in 2000.
For those who are not familiar with Glass's music I would suggest you go find something of his to listen to, although I must warn you that his music is controversial. There are numerous big fans of his music (myself included), enough that he is one of the best-selling contemporary 'classical' composers around, but he also has a great many detractors who find his music boring and monotonous. My uncle who is an avid classical aficionado is one of the latter, although I think over the years I have managed to convert him from a detractor to indifference with an actual admiration for some of Glass's works (He reads the blog occasionally and can comment on this if he likes).
Glass is one of the primary creators of a style known as 'minimalism' where simple melodic fragments are woven together to form more complex patterns. I find the effect quite beautiful and hypnotic, as I said others just find it boring. This is true to some extent of the worst of Glass's music and some of his earliest pieces when he much more formally adhered to 'minimalist' principles but later works are much more interesting. The other main minimalist composers are Steve Reich and John Adams both of whom (especially Adams) have moved further away from pure minimalism in recent works. If you are curious, some of my favorite pieces by Glass include Koyaanisqatsi (although this music was written as an integral part of the film of the same name by Geoffrey Reggio and I would highly recommend that you get the DVD of the film and watch it with the music), Glassworks (which is a collection of Glass pieces from the 70's), the Photographer, Einstein on the Beach (if this 4+hour opera is too daunting look for the recording of the violin music only, now out of print I think). For more recent music try his Violin Concerto or his Symphonies #3 & #5 or any of his more recent movie scores.
Reich and Adams have many wonderful works also, Reich's piece Different Trains is, I think, one of the most moving pieces of contemporary music around. Adams Violin concerto is also quite beautiful as are many of his other works. Other composers who are not usually considered 'pure' minimalists but who have some stylistic commonalities are: Gavin Bryars, Terry Riley, Arvo Part and even John Cage. They have all written many beautiful works.
Monday, March 10, 2003
Perhaps the French fear that the countries we liberate either actively or indirectly will remember what America did for them much as new Europe has and will drift into the U.S. sphere and no the EU. Wishful thinking or realpolitik?
France has been supplying parts for French made Iraqi fighter jets for several months now. Is this in keeping with the U.N. sanctions?
Want to guess what else we'll find when we get to Baghdad.
Update: I see Max just posted something about the same article. I'm still a little skeptical.
For Chomsky, turn over any monster anywhere and look at the underside. Each is clearly marked: MADE IN AMERICA. The cold war? All America’s fault: “The United States was picking up where the Nazis had left off.” Castro’s executions and prisons filled with dissenters? Irrelevant, for “Cuba has probably been the target of more international terrorism [from the U.S., of course] than any other country.” The Khmer Rouge? Back in 1977, Chomsky dismissed accounts of the Cambodian genocide as “tales of Communist atrocities” based on “unreliable” accounts. At most, the executions “numbered in the thousands” and were “aggravated by the threat of starvation resulting from American distraction and killing.” In fact, some 2 million perished on the killing fields of Cambodia because of genocidal war against the urban bourgeoisie and the educated, in which wearing a pair of glasses could mean a death sentence.
The Chomskian rage hasn’t confined itself to his native land. He has long nourished a special contempt for Israel, lone outpost of Western ideals in the Middle East. The hatred has been so intense that Zionists have called him a self-hating Jew. This is an unfair label. Clearly, Chomsky has no deficit in the self-love department, and his ability to stir up antagonism makes him even more pleased with himself. No doubt that was why he wrote the introduction to a book by French Holocaust-denier Robert Faurisson. Memoire en Defense maintains that Hitler’s death camps and gas chambers, even Anne Frank’s diary, are fictions, created to serve the cause of American Zionists. That was too much for Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who challenged fellow leftist Chomsky to a debate. In the debate, Dershowitz keyed in on the fact that Chomsky had described Faurisson’s conclusions as “findings,” and claimed that they grew out of “extensive historical research.” But as numerous scholars had shown, Faurisson was not a serious scholar at all, but rather a sophist who simply ignored the mountain of documents, speeches, testimony, and other historical evidence that conflicted with his “argument.” Dershowitz noted that Chomsky also wrote the following: “I see no anti-Semitic implication in the denial of the existence of gas chambers or even in the denial of the Holocaust.”
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I have just given the command to begin the war against Iraq. I have 250,000 troops sitting in the sand over there, and they were bored shitless, so I gave them a job to do, and they will do it well. I expect the unpleasantries to be over shortly there, but we have some other asses to kick or cower before our mission is complete.
"I'm going to do an old-fashioned, Ross Perot barn-mucking in the Middle East. The shit is deep, and we're gonna clean it up. 20 years from now, you will thank me for what I started tonight to make the world a better, safer place. Well, you lefty assholes will NEVER thank me no matter what I do, so I'm just saying "fuck you!" right now and doing what I believe is the right move. Somebody has to have some balls around here, and that's MY job. I have the stones, and you can all lick 'em if you doubt me.
"Yeah, this operation is going to cost a lot of money. So did the Farm Bill, and the cocksuckers in Congress voted for THAT pork, and I signed it. So don't talk to me about "budgets." We piss money away like a drunken sailor and usually we have nothing to show for it except another bridge in West Virginia that we didn't need named after Senator Robert Byrd. This time, the money will be well-spent on WAR.
The "human shields" are leaving Iraq, disenchanted after discovering that their Iraqi "co-ordinators" wanted to deploy them not at "humanitarian" facilities but at military bases. One fellow said he was used to working with young children and would have preferred to be deployed at an orphanage. Pity the poor Iraqi official who had to explain to the guy that the orphanage has already got all the human shields it needs: they're called "orphans".
The bewildered Brit seemed to find this hard to follow: here's a man who's convinced that Bush and Rumsfeld are slavering to drop a bunch of daisycutters on Iraqi moppets, but thinks they'll cease and desist just because some droning Welsh Leftist is sitting among all those inviting underage targets.
A dozen Iraqi soldiers made their way through the trenches separating them from British troops and marched in with their hands up.
"They had heard firing and thought it was the start of the war," a British army source told England's Sunday Mirror newspaper.
The soldiers, paratroopers from the 16th Air Assault Brigade, were testing mortars and artillery last week in Kuwait, near the Iraq border, when they witnessed the premature surrender.
The paratroopers explained to the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and told them it was too early to lay down their arms. The Iraqis were ordered back home.
James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, feared some future political leaders would pervert the legislative process in just this way. And he warned in Federalist Paper Number 58 that when it happened, "The fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule. The power would be transformed to the minority." I'm sure Madison is today spinning in his grave.
Some constitutional lawyers have argued that any kind of super majority vote is unconstitutional, other than for those five areas specified in the Constitution itself: treaty ratification, impeachment, override of a presidential veto, constitutional amendments, and expelling a member of Congress.
Perhaps it is time for someone to test its constitutionality. That's one possible remedy. There are others. We could abolish Rule XXII that protects this travesty and let the Senate operate under rules like every other democratic legislative body in the world. That's about as likely as a day dawning in Washington without 10 fund-raisers.
Those who believe that the status quo can be indefinitely extended through inspections, then, have an obligation to tell us how the inspectors would prevent Saddam Hussein from buying a weapon from, say, North Korea — which would be a rather dramatic change in the status quo.
Supporters of an indefinite inspectors' presence focus on large weapons like missile launchers that they say we will be able to detect. (Although Secretary of State Colin Powell's masterful presentation to the Security Council last month, and our experience hunting for Scuds in the Persian Gulf war, lead one to question that assumption.) But are they also considering that in the future we might have to detect and capture weapons no larger than a case of beer?
Whether they admit it or not, those who favor containment are asking for an ever more expensive United States armed presence in the region, as well as perpetual sanctions that crush innocent Iraqis even further. This is because without troops on his borders, Saddam Hussein would not admit inspectors, and without the sanctions he could quickly replace whatever outlawed weapons we are lucky enough to find and destroy.
In a world brought up on the idea of a "population explosion," this is a radical notion. The world's population is still growing — it will take some time for it to actually start shrinking — but the next crisis is depopulation.
The implications of lower fertility rates are far-reaching. One of the most profound is their potential to reduce economic inequality around the world and alter the balance of power among nations.
Sunday, March 09, 2003
"I don't understand why everyone is so pressured because of the war. It does not seem to me that there will be anything. That one, with the mustache, will not do anything, and for sure not with the gas that everyone says he has, and if he only tries, then for sure the Americans and the British will intervene. And in general, even if now it is not so good here and there is a little inflation, still there is no better place for the Jews than this country."
- Zepora Shwartz, Berlin, 1933
(via The Tocquevillian)
Also at Horsefeathers, Yale Kramer posts a short history of Iraq and the Horsefeather plan for a post-Saddam Iraq.
Since Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, started warning that a US invasion of Iraq would "open the gates of hell," the retort that has been flying around Iraqi exiles' websites is, "Good! We'd like to get out!" (via Cold Fury)
Hoping to capitalise on a wave of nostalgia for Communist East Germany, a Berlin company is planning to build a theme park that revives life behind the Iron Curtain in the country that disappeared nearly 13 years ago.
Massine Productions GmbH hopes to recreate a 10,000-square metre (107,600 sq ft) replica of East Germany, complete with surly border guards, rigorous customs inspections, authentic East German mark notes, and restaurants with regulation bland East German food.
What's next? The new Auschwitz Theme park? The Cultural Revolution Theme Park in Beijing?
...Unfortunately, we are better at deposing dictators than in following up ensuring freedom. Haiti, case in point. Yet, I have always been optimistic about the potential of oppressed peoples to establish free societies once the source of their persecution was removed. One important first step would be recognizing a model of sustainable liberal democracy of proven durability and adaptability that could profitably be applied to Iraq — the U.S. Constitution. The premises and structure of our fundamental document could be a fruitful road map for Iraqi democratization, assuming those who build the postwar government return to its first principles.
Madison's preferred guide to establishing stable interest-based government was the federal principle: distributing powers among levels of government to weaken the central government and thereby protect the citizens from each other. The coalition could erect a federal system in Iraq based on the existing 18 provinces. Each would have independently elected provincial governments with powers to tax, establish courts, and other prerogatives enjoyed by U.S. states. The provinces would be represented equally at the national level in a body modeled on the U.S. Senate. This would favor some provinces over others since population densities vary — for example, Al Anbar province has only six people per square kilometer. Then again, Montana has about six per square mile. Provincial sovereignty will also give regionally clustered minorities more national influence than they might otherwise have, and promote their sense of security and confidence in the new system by allowing self-rule within the limits set by the federal structure.
In place of the old League of Nations equivocating over the October 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, we now witness the recent pathetic speeches of the Non-Alignment Movement at the U.N. General Assembly — an amoral body once hosted in 1982 by none other than Saddam Hussein. Here was a Cuba that has never held an election lecturing about democracy. Iran, the world's leading terrorist nation, warned shrilly about extremism. Algeria acted as if talking about the need for stability would make us forget that it is a police state engaged in a dirty war with Islamic killers.
A few African countries — none of them democratic; most of them corrupt, and all responsible for millions of their own dead and diseased — pontificated about past American culpability for this and that. I almost expected to see Franco call for democracy or a young ascendant Peron to praise tolerance.
I find it shameful that in Italy there should be a procession of individuals dressed as suicide bombers who spew vile abuse at Israel, hold up photographs of Israeli leaders on whose foreheads they have drawn the swasitka, incite people to hate the Jews. And who, in order to see Jews once again in the extermination camps, in the gas chambers, in the ovens of Dachau and Mauthausen and Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen et cetera, would sell their own mother to a harem.
I find it shameful that in France, the France of Liberty-Equality-Fraternity, they burn synagogues, terrorize Jews, profane their cemeteries. I find it shameful that the youth of Holland and Germany and Denmark flaunt the kaffiah just as Mussolini’s avant garde used to flaunt the club and the fascist badge. I find it shameful that in nearly all the universities of Europe Palestinian students sponsor and nurture anti-semitism. That in Sweden they asked that the Nobel Peace Prize given to Shimon Peres in 1994 be taken back and conferred on the dove with the olive branch in his mouth, that is on Arafat. I find it shameful that the distinguished members of the Committee, a Committee that (it would appear) rewards political color rather than merit, should take this request into consideration and even respond to it. In hell the Nobel Prize honors he who does not receive it.
I find it shameful that the Roman Observer, the newspaper of the Pope--a Pope who not long ago left in the Wailing Wall a letter of apology for the Jews--accuses of extermination a people who were exterminated in the millions by Christians. By Europeans. I find it shameful that this newspaper denies to the survivors of that people (survivors who still have numbers tattooed on their arms) the right to react, to defend themselves, to not be exterminated again. I find it shameful that in the name of Jesus Christ (a Jew without whom they would all be unemployed), the priests of our parishes or Social Centers or whatever they are flirt with the assassins of those in Jerusalem who cannot go to eat a pizza or buy some eggs without being blown up. I find it shameful that they are on the side of the very ones who inaugurated terrorism, killing us on airplanes, in airports, at the Olympics, and who today entertain themselves by killing western journalists. By shooting them, abducting them, cutting their throats, decapitating them.
I find it shameful that Jews tremble at the passage of the scoundrels dressed like suicide bombers just as they trembled during Krystallnacht, the night in which Hitler gave free rein to the Hunt of the Jews. I find it shameful that in obedience to the stupid, vile, dishonest, and for them extremely advantageous fashion of Political Correctness the usual opportunists--or better the usual parasites--exploit the word Peace. That in the name of the word Peace, by now more debauched than the words Love and Humanity, they absolve one side alone of its hate and bestiality. That in the name of a pacifism (read conformism) delegated to the singing crickets and buffoons who used to lick Pol Pot’s feet they incite people who are confused or ingenuous or intimidated. Trick them, corrupt them, carry them back a half century to the time of the yellow star on the coat.
Go read the whole thing.