Friday, February 28, 2003
Reading anything written by that most tenured of Arab terror apologists, Eddie Said, is a bit like watching Springer: you know you shouldn't, it's a waste of time, but sheer fascination propels you, you can't help it, human stupidity this loud and clueless and aggressive is just riveting, so you keep going, unable to stop; and when it's over, you just want to ask, demand that time back, with interest, dammit -- but you get the infinitesmal compensation of knowing that no matter how low you may drop in life, the scum you just spent your time concentrating on, will always be there for you to wipe off your shoe. That sadness you feel at seeing humanity sink so low is at least slightly mitigated by the feeling that, hey, at least you get to walk taller as a result.

And so it is with Said's latest stream of projectile vomit, found courtesy of a nameless commenter on LGF. Said is blowing gaskets that were never that secure to begin with, and manages to sound shrill enough that the local streetcorner ravers he passes every day on the streets of New York must be wondering, "What is with this lunatic?"

It has finally become intolerable to listen to or look at news in this country.
Tell me about it. I've quite had it with hearing of the "vital UN resolution," Iraqi acceptance "in principle" of agreements they have been flouting for a dozen years, or of child murderers being euphemized as "militants."
Colin Powell's UN speech, designed obviously to outrage the American people and bludgeon the UN into going to war, seems to me to have been a new low point in moral hypocrisy and political manipulation.
I should refrain from commenting on this sentence. Suffice it to say that the irony that filled the room when Said penned it must have been concentrated enough to form visible swirls in the air.
For the moment, I shall discount George Bush and his coterie of advisers, spiritual mentors, and political managers like Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, and Karl Rove: they seem to me slaves of power perfectly embodied in the repetitive monotone of their collective spokesman Ari Fliescher [sic] (who I believe is also an Israeli citizen).
Let's skip for the moment the -- what's the polite word? -- imaginative insinuation that Dubya talks to Pat Robertson on a regular basis. Instead, permit me to ask: what in the name of Yaser Arafat's baby wipes does Ari Fleischer's alleged dual nationality have to do with anything at all, ever? What possible difference can it make to his being a White House mouthpiece, for Pete's sake? Why does Said's paranoid little mind constantly gravitate there? (Incidentally, Said's little allegation is bullshit, to use another subtle term. He really should stick to Jane Austen. Maybe he'll discover that she had Zionist leanings.)

First, a few preliminaries. The US has clearly decided on war: there seem to be no two ways about it. Yet whether the war will actually take place or not (given all the activity started, not by the Arab states who, as usual, seem to dither and be paralysed at the same time, but by France, Russia and Germany) is something else again.
Here's a newsflash, Professor: if "the US has clearly decided on war," then nothing Germany, France, or Russia can do will prevent its start. Sorry to burst any hopes you might have had on that point. But hey, at least he got the Arabs figured out, more or less.

Second, the planners of this war, as Ralph Nader has forcefully said, are chicken hawks, that is, hawks who are too cowardly to do any fighting themselves.
Remind me, please, how many cars Ralph Nader designed -- because he seemed to be quite vocal on the subject, as I recall. Also, has Nader, who ran for Commander-in-Chief, and had some interesting ideas on military spending -- ever served a day in the armed forces? [Actually, he did.] While I am at it, I'd like to see Edward Said's distinguished military record -- and no, tossing a few rocks at Israeli border guards doesn't qualify. All the while I thought only the most talentless "anti-war" protestors use this imbecilic label; nope, when it comes to propaganda, Said will happily slum it with the rest of the idiotarians. I mean, being venomously stupid is par for the course for the good Professor -- but being unoriginal?

What this unrepresentative cabal seeks in a war with Iraq has nothing to do with actual military considerations.
Heed -- the Jane Austen expert speaks on matters of strategy! (Hey, does that make him a wannabe chicken hawk?)
Iraq, whatever the disgusting qualities of its deplorable regime, is simply not an imminent and credible threat to neighbours like Turkey, or Israel, or even Jordan (each of which could easily handle it militarily) or certainly to the US.
True enough, today. We'd like to ensure this permanently. And we intend to. (Jordan could "easily handle" Iraq? That's a new one...)
With a few outdated Scuds, and a small amount of chemical and biological material, most of it supplied by the US in earlier days (as Nader has said, we know that because we have the receipts for what was sold to Iraq by US companies), Iraq is, and has easily been, containable, though at unconscionable cost to the long-suffering civilian population.
Funny, isn't it, that Nader managed to miss the receipts for the much greater quantities of weapons and goods sold to Iraq by French and German companies. Not that any of it matters, really -- how does the fact that Iraq uses our weapons make us any safer? Hello?

The we get this little gem of wisdom:

For this terrible state of affairs I think it is absolutely true to say that there has been collusion between the Iraqi regime and the Western enforcers of the sanctions.
Yes, I'm sure the Iraqi regime was just thrilled to have sanctions imposed, as part of its "collusion" with the powers that had just destroyed its army and trashed its fearsome image among its neighbors. Brilliant analysis.
Third, once big powers start to dream of regime change--a process already begun by the Perles and Wolfowitzs of this country--there is simply no end in sight. Isn't it outrageous that people of such a dubious caliber actually go on blathering about bringing democracy, modernisation, and liberalisation to the Middle East?
Once again, the choking clouds of irony swirl around the good Professor. For this scum-sucking enabler and apologist for Arab murder of toddlers to impugn the "caliber" of anyone, let alone Perle and Wolfowitz, sets a whole new standard for chutzpah.
God knows that the area needs it, as so many Arab and Muslim intellectuals and ordinary people have said over and over.
And, of course, when you are a Columbia University professor of English literature, saying something over and over is totally equivalent to making something happen. You know, as long as your credentials are in order. Wouldn't want any of those icky "Israeli citizens" of the wrong "caliber" to mess up the symposium.
But who appointed these characters as agents of progress anyway?
Bush did. You know, the President, who gets to pick a Cabinet and all that stuff? The real question is, who appointed Eddie "joy of tossing rocks" Said as the moral arbiter of who will bring progress to the Arabs? Ultimately, I doubt the Iraqis will give a damn who gets them out of Hussein's clutches. Because, not having a Ph. D. from Columbia, they are not aware that it must be someone that Said and Nader approve of.
It's particularly galling that Perle, about as unqualified a person as it is imaginable to be on any subject touching on democracy and justice, should have been an election adviser to Netanyahu's extreme right- wing government during the period 1996-9, in which he counseled the renegade Israeli to scrap any and all peace attempts, to annex the West Bank and Gaza, and try to get rid of as many Palestinians as possible.
Sounds like he knows exactly how to deal with Arab terrorism.
Fourth, Colin Powell's speech, despite its many weaknesses, its plagiarised and manufactured evidence, its confected audio-tapes and its doctored pictures,
Yes, it's all a forgery ("confected" forgery -- yum!). It's got to be, because Said and the gang at Counterpunch say so, and they are of the proper caliber. Colin Powell is a lying weasel: it's the Iraqis that are honest and forthcoming.
But what is so monumentally hypocritical about the official US position is that literally everything Powell has accused the Ba'athists of has been the stock in trade of every Israeli government since 1948, and at no time more flagrantly than since the occupation of 1967.
Come on, we all knew this was coming. What it's got to do with Iraq, I have no idea. But who can resist tossing an extra rock at the Zionist entity, really? Feel the joy!

Well, here's the tiny little difference: Israel has been under attack by the filthy, backasswards, mass-murdering Arab "republics" since its inception. Its citizens have been deliberately targeted by the Arabs living under its "occupation" after those same Arabs started a war of aggression in 1967 that the Israelis had the gall to not lose. Yet they still live better than the Arabs under any Arab government, and way better than the Arabs in Saddam's Iraq, who have never posed a threat to Hussein. I won't bother refuting for the umpteenth time the stream of bullshit Said regurgitates in this paragraph (where he has the gall to comlain that Israelis attack Arab ambulances even after the Arabs are caught smuggling bombs in them, as well as bringing up the infamous fiction of "Jenin," to say nothing of Sabra and Shatilla). This topic is moot; it has absolutely nothing to do with the Iraq War, but then I'm sure Said could tie the bubonic plague to Israel, if only you could give him enough column inches.

As the person in charge of US foreign policy, it is [Colin Powell's] specific responsibility to uphold the laws of this country, and to make sure that the enforcement of human rights and the promotion of freedom--the proclaimed central plank in the US's foreign policy since at least 1976--is applied uniformly, without exception or condition.
Actually, his responsibility is to represent the interests of this country, which lie with Israel and not its murderous rivals. But even if we take this claim at face value, Israel's security is the greatest hope to having any kind of freedom in the Middle East. Undermining that security in favor of Arab thug-dictators lessens the amount of freedom and democracy in the region, by definition.
How he and his bosses and co- workers can stand up before the world and righteously sermonise against Iraq while at the same time completely ignoring the ongoing American partnership in human rights abuses with Israel defies credibility.
No, what defies credibility is that someone who can write this drivel without breaking into hysterical laughter can be considered a serious commentator on foreign policy. Or that he can dress himself, for that matter.
The Palestinian territories today are witnessing the onset of a mass famine; there is a health crisis of catastrophic proportions; there is a civilian death toll that totals at least a dozen to 20 people a week; the economy has collapsed; hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians are unable to work, study, or move about as curfews and at least 300 barricades impede their daily lives; houses are blown up or bulldozed on a mass basis (60 yesterday).
Wow, the Palestinians started a war of attrition, the Israelis refused to lose (yet again -- have those bastards no decency?!), and Said is just shocked and terrified and appalled and outraged that the Arabs are now facing the consequences of their actions. A "health crisis of catastrophic proportions"? Try living with a pound of nails embedded in your flesh for the rest of your life, and see if you give a shit. The Palestinians have a lousy economy, and can't go to the next town without passing a heavily armed toll booth? Perhaps you should take it up with the leadership that called for "martyrs by the millions," and their Arab blood-money donors. Israel's responsibility is to Israelis, not Palestinians. Perhaps the next time they are at the negotiating table, the Arabs will have a slightly clearer picture of what happens when you start killing Israeli toddlers. Either way, please, cry me a river. You can even toss a rock into it, if you want.
Bush declares that Sharon, who is a war criminal by any standard, is a man of peace, as if to spit on the innocent Palestinians' lives that have been lost and ravaged by Sharon and his criminal army.
Excuse me, I need to hock up a big loogie, to add to Bush's spit on the "innocent" Palestinians that the IDF has sent to meet their 72 celestial hookers. (I'm not denying that some innocent Arabs have died in the conflict. But that's a far cry from having been deliberately "ravaged by Sharon and his criminal army.")
And, more astounding yet, he lectures the world on Saddam's flouting of UN resolutions even as he supports a country, Israel, that has flouted at least 64 of them on a daily basis for more than half a century.
Yep, not all countries are equal, and not all UN resolutions are equal. In particular, General Assembly resolutions, which make up the bulk of that "list," are so much useless, nonbinding hot air, precisely because the GA is dominated by worthless outfits that pose as governments, including the very terror sponsors that are responsible for the many American and Israeli deaths since the latest Arab innovations were introduced back in the 1970s.

Besides, the "UN violations" are a polite fiction. We are coming after Iraq because they represent a danger to the United States, not some ossified bureaucracy that the dimwitted mistake for an "international order," and the terror apologists fantasize will "control" the Israelis.

But it is also a great and noble fact that for the first time since World War Two there are mass protests against the war taking place before rather than during the war itself. This is unprecedented...
Clearly, it's not unprecedented, if it took place before World War II. For Christ's sake, you're an English professor.
and should become the central political fact of the new, globalised era into which our world has been thrust by the US and its super-power status. What this demonstrates is that despite the awesome power wielded by autocrats and tyrants like Saddam and his American antagonists, despite the complicity of a mass media that has (willingly or unwillingly) hastened the rush to war, despite the indifference and ignorance of a great many people, mass action and mass protest on the basis of human community and human sustainability are still formidable tools of human resistance.
will someone please translate this drivel into something coherent?
Call them weapons of the weak, if you wish. But that they have at least tampered with the plans of the Washington chicken hawks and their corporate backers
Yes, the plans have been severely disrupted by a bunch of Stalinist organizers, their Islamist collaborators, and a few useful idiots.
as well as the millions of religious monotheistic extremists (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) who believe in wars of religion
Yes, many Christians and Jews have called for and started holy wars in the past few hundred years.
Wherever I go to lecture or speak out against these injustices I haven't found anyone in support of the war.
Well, imagine that -- Said hasn't found anyone in support of the war at his lectures! That's gotta mean something, right? I bet there was lots of anti-war opposition at Bush's AEI speech the other night, right? Does this man really live in a bubble? It would explain a lot...
We cannot in any way lend our silence to a policy of war that the White House has openly announced will include three to five hundred cruise missiles a day (800 of them during the first 48 hours of the war) raining down on the civilian population of Baghdad in order to produce "Shock and Awe"
No one has asked you to "lend your silence" (though it would be a nice change of pace), and "shock and awe" is certainly preferable to "mass death." And the U.S. isn't targeting the civilian population of Baghdad -- if for no other reason than it doesn't need to.
or even a human cataclysm that will produce, as its boastful planner a certain Mr (or is it Dr?) Harlan Ullman has said, a Hiroshima-style effect on the Iraqi people.
Nice conflation there, but no one was talking about wiping out hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
And the US has 6000 "smart" missiles ready to do the job. What sort of God would want this to be a formulated and announced policy for His people? And what sort of God would claim that this was going to bring democracy and freedom to the people not only of Iraq but to the rest of the Middle East?
Apparently, Mr (or is it Dr?) Said missed the parts of the Bible about the Canaanites and the Hizzites, not to mention all that nasty talk about Soddom (ha!) and Gomorrah. Not that the U.S. plans destruction of entire cities (and won't Said be disappointed when this doesn't happen -- well, he can always pull another "Jenin" out of his ass), but just in case you were wondering where God stands on mass destruction.
These are questions I won't even try to answer.
Thank God. My tolerance for this drivel is getting very thin.
But I do know that if anything like this is going to be visited on any population on earth it would be a criminal act, and its perpetrators and planners war criminals according to the Nuremberg Laws that the US itself was crucial in formulating.
Oh, sure it will. Building concentration camps, killing people by the millions, removing a bloody dictator, it's all equivalent. The important part is that War™ will be involved, and war itself is a war crime. Way to go, Dr. Said -- turning progressive international frameworks into a punchline.
Who knows what more evil will be done in the name of Good?
Not me -- but you're the loony lephtoid.
Every one of us must raise our voices, and march in protest, now and again and again. We need creative thinking and bold action to stave off the nightmares planned by a docile, professionalised staff in places like Washington and Tel Aviv and Baghdad.
And your solution is walking around and yelling? Creative thinking at its finest.
For if what they have in mind is what they call "greater security" then words have no meaning at all in the ordinary sense.
The meaning is plain enough to me: kill terrorists and their sponsors, and the rest of us will be safer. That includes worthless shriveled little mass-murderer apologists safely ensconced in tenured positions at Columbia -- ironic and somewhat unfair as it may seem, ridding the world of murderers like Hussein or Arafat's happy little gang, will make the Chomskys and Saids safer too, lest they should deprive us all of their voluminous babble.
That Bush and Sharon have contempt for the non-white people of this world is clear.
Oh, good, I was afraid he might miss the famous Nelson Mandela line about Israelis being White™ (which is bad), and Arabs being black "non-White™" (which is good). Phew. All the idiotarian talking points covered, I think. No, wait, one more...
The question is, how long can they keep getting away with it?
Until they free Mumia! ...There, done.

[Update: Turns out that Ralph Nader did serve in the Army, as Sam Mikes pointed out. Not that you could easily find this -- the official biography doesn't mention it, and neither do most of the large number of sites that talk about him. With Sam's hint, I was able to find a small reference to this fact. Regardless, he did serve.]

Thursday, February 27, 2003
Peter Arnett, the CNN reporter of Gulf War I fame, has a fascinating insider's look at reporting in Iraq back in 1991, and today. You should read the whole thing, of course, so I'll just point out this fun tidbit. It's courtesy of Odei al Taie, chief of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry's International Press Department:
Satellite phones and video uplinks are required to be located at Mr. al Taie's press center, which never seems to have enough room even though an extensive building program has been going on for years. Cubicles are difficult to come by, and the residency test difficult for some to pass. Mr. al Taie recently informed a chagrined Washington Post reporter, "You want an office here? Not likely, with the editorial policy of your paper the way it is."
I suspect Le Monde and The Guardian each rate a corner office with a secretary.

Random thought

Are the French Nuclear Weasels?

Smoove Blix is back at the UN


"Iraq is being coy, baby, but you know I'll win them over in the end with my inspectin' prowess!"
AP reports the usual silliness from the world's most illustrious treasure hunter, but some interesting tidbits are thrown about here and there:
But there were also signs that some undecided council countries, such as Chile, were pushing for a Canadian plan aimed at reconciling bitter differences between the U.S. plan and the French-led proposal.

Washington on Wednesday rejected the Canadian ideas, which were aimed at giving Iraq until the end of March to complete a list of disarmament tasks that inspectors are compiling.
What's interesting here is that apparently the Bush Administration is not willing to wait until the end of March. Most interesting.
The administration may have won new ammunition for its position from chief inspector Hans Blix. He said Wednesday, shortly before submitting a quarterly update on his team's work, that Baghdad has not taken "a fundamental decision" to disarm.

Blix welcomed recent Iraqi letters that contained new information about its weapons programs but said they did not represent "full cooperation or a breakthrough."

Nonetheless, he noted that inspections resumed only in November after a four-year break and asked: "Is it the right time to close the door?"

...Asked Wednesday whether there was any evidence that Iraq wants to disarm, Blix said: "I do not think I can say there is evidence of a fundamental decision, but there is some evidence of some increased activity."
Blix is doing more dancing these days than Fred Astaire, but it all boils down to this: Iraq doesn't want to cooperate, months after the inspectors were inserted into the country, and with a huge build-up of American forces at its border. And without Iraq's cooperation, the inspectors are worse than useless. So, to answer his question: yep, time to slam the door shut, preferably while Saddam's fingers are still jammed in it.

Oh, and let's not forget those oh-so-principled countries in opposition to the invasion:

Mexico appeared to be the first among a handful of undecided council members to shift toward the U.S. position, and an important Russian lawmaker, Mikhail Margelov, said Wednesday he doesn't believe his country would veto the resolution...

Mexico's shift came after Bush placed a weekend phone call to Mexican President Vicente Fox (news - web sites), and after senior U.S. officials made numerous visits to the country.
I don't doubt that Bush threatened and bought their cooperation, as necessary. Which only adds to the point: countries aren't opposing the U.S. out of principle. They are just trying to get something for themselves. The world today is the same as ever, progressive pipe dreams about "global unity" and "international order" being just that: pipe dreams. (And that's some good stuff they put in those pipes, too...)

Where's Taranto when you need him?

Top left corner of Section 1, page 2 of Wednesday's Chicago Tribune has this charming headline:
Iraq offers documents, but Bush not appeased
Emphasis mine.
Wednesday, February 26, 2003

The Trib, whose site requires a free registration, has a fascinating piece on the difference between protestors and their tactics during the Vietnam era, and those of today. It confirms what I've been suspecting about the old and new "peace" movements lately:

In the heady days of Students for a Democratic Society, Robert J.S. Ross held collating parties with fellow anti-war protesters at the University of Chicago. Fueled by pizza and beer, they churned out fliers that might reach 5,000 people thanks to that wonderful machine, the mimeograph.

Ross took pride in the fact that in 1965 he was able to help organize five busloads of people from Chicago, then a city of more than 3 million, to travel to a march on Washington and join about 25,000 others to protest the war in Vietnam.

When he looks at today's movement against war in Iraq, Ross is struck not by how few protesters there are but by how many; not by how disparate the activist groups are but by how coordinated; and not by how little impact they have but by how much.

Stoked by the power of the Internet, fanned by the tactics of high-priced public-relations firms, burnished by celebrities, the current anti-war movement has a decidedly different cast from protests past. Activists connect around the world through Web sites such as protest.net and are able to turn out impressive numbers--by the millions in Europe and by the hundreds of thousands in the United States.

I think this is key: the Internet has enabled the far-left groups to organize more efficiently and more effectively, than they ever could before. Instead of a few university extremists standing around, using their limited funds to pass a few poorly-written leaflets to a few passers-by, they can now publish via some known medium such as Protest.net or Indymedia, and have the message reach thousands (and hundreds of thousands) of like-minded people. No longer do their meager resources constrain them to concentrating on one topic, either; instead, those in the radical left whose primary concern is gentrification can also find information on the "oppression of the Palestinians," or the American "war crimes" in Iraq, or the Zapatistas' fight against the Mexican government. Moreover, the safety of the web-based common medium allows cooperation, or at the very least, the pooling of resources, amongst groups who in, in all likelihood, would come to a violent confrontation within 15 minutes of being put in the same room.

We thus get PETA and the ACLU, the antiglobos, the Greens and the Libertarians, and the Communists and the fundamentalist Muslims and the Queers and the Quakers and the lefty Catholics and the radical Palestinians and the Socialist Jews and the KKK and the Black Panthers, all being able to get together and plan out a demonstration against the war, and then get their respective groups to participate. It's a way to bump up the numbers on a single issue, when before the groups were limited to fighting for only their primary concerns. Causes can also be combined and conflated, such that an "anti-war" protest is also an "anti-Ashcroft" protest, even though Ashcroft has no input into U.S. foreign policy, as well as an environmental protest and an anti-Israel protest (which, of course, is never anti-Jewish). No longer do you need to be in a group to reach the members of that group; you can scale your message and get matching response across a wide spectrum of radicals. Inconvenient principles can be shoved aside, letting would-be liberals carry water for fans of Soviet-style mass murder.

Let's not forget the regular folks who don't often visit rooms with Che Guevara posters on the wall, or even subscribe to The Nation. Normally, whatever opposition they have to the war would likely be silent, and quite likely unsolidified -- just an uneasy feeling, and the thought "war is terrible" in the back of their mind. With the Internet, however, they are likewise able to not only access anti-war literature (which can give them concrete talking points to coalesce their emotions around), but also inform them of the protest venues, without the need to spend time talking to unwashed hippies or bandana-clad "activists" who shove each word through their mouth with venomous earnestness that is just this side of raving lunacy. The smarter anti-war organizations will stay away from shrill "Bush is Hitler!!" rhetoric, and concentrate instead on positive messages that borrow from respected, reasonable-sounding concepts, such as "respect for international law and the opinion of the UN." They'll even use those most evil excretions of capitalism, advertising agencies:

Fenton Communications, a Washington-based public-relations firm, is serving as the consultant and clearinghouse for Win Without War, a coalition of anti-war groups. The firm helps stage media events and put anti-war activists before the public. Win Without War's national director, former Rep. Tom Andrews (D-Maine), makes no apologies for the approach.

And when that doesn't work, they bring out the celebrities.

After trying to get coverage with testimony from former Clinton administration officials and even some from the first Bush administration, Andrews said that Win Without War had to concede that celebrity is a more powerful magnet for coverage. "When we [had] the same kind of presentation with Martin Sheen or Janeane Garofalo or Angelica Huston, there were 32 television cameras.

Like it or not, "celebrities" who were once expected to read the script and then go away, are now routinely peddling various causes, from AIDS to having your pets spayed and neutered. It is therefore only natural that they will likewise seek to give their opinion on world politics, including this war, and given the predominant culture they stew in, it's likewise unsurprising that most of them will lean far to the left, and be "against war and killing." The public will usually give them a pass on this: fairly or not, no one expects actors and musicians to be rocket scientists, and if they are "for peace," they at least "mean well," and that's "nice." (It's sad that our standards towards fully grown adults can fall so low, but that's a whole other topic.) At any rate, actors and other celebrities are just as entitled to state their opinion as I am, though of course I don't expect a slew of cameras and reporters to hang on my every word. Ultimately, what's annoying about actors is not their opinions on the war, but that the coverage they receive belies their complete irrelevance (not to mention frequent imbecility -- see Sheryl Crow). No one would be stupid enough to ask for George Clooney's medical advice; why should anyone give a rat's ass what he thinks of Bush's policies? But some people do, and even some of those that don't will at least pause and listen to Clooney or Martin Sheen, simply because of who they are. And if they already agree with the message, then having a big-time celebrity deliver it may just give them the boost they need to listen further, and maybe spend a Saturday marching for "the cause." The organizers understand this well, and use it to their advantage, just as they use everything else.

So I think the story of the protests is not one of how much opposition there is to the war, but rather how much more skillful and efficient the radical left's organizing has become. It's not that the opposition to a U.S. strike on Iraq is somehow greater than the opposition to the first Gulf War, or to the Vietnam War, or, for that matter, to World War II. (If anything, opposition to France and Britain attacking Germany was greater. Memories of the ruinously bloody World War I were still fresh, Hitler's politics had many backers outside Germany, no one had heard of the concentration camps and mass murders, and many felt that Germany got the raw deal from the Treaty of Versailles -- which was true. The worldwide Depression gave Socialists -- including National Socialists -- a great political boost and a good base, and many actually felt that they were witnessing the unraveling of capitalism predicted by Marx, to be replaced either by democratic socialism or fascism, which weren't all that different. Those who were not on the side of fascism were strongly anti-militaristic, and eager to surrender the authority of "nationalist" governments to the League of Nations. Add to this the overwhelming isolationism of the United States, and you had one massively strong peace movement, which, given the resources of today, could have organized marches and boycotts and "direct actions" that would make the February 15th events look like campfire circles.) Not that any of that really matters -- policies are not and should not be decided by the number of people carrying signs in protest. Still, it's important to realize what the overhyped numbers don't mean.

Update: RHJunior writes:
In other words, modern technology has enabled larger numbers of people than ever before to be stupid [together].

Well, it's not just the stupid, but yes, they benefited immensely from the Net in terms of getting themselves into the spotlight, for better or worse. Tim Blair once quipped that all the world's idiocies are becoming one giant, useless force. They are using the Internet to do this. As for their undoing, perhaps, but we should always keep this advice in mind.

The Diablogger has an enlightening discussion with some arrogant (natch) anti-American (natch) anti-war (natch) professors (natch) down in Florida.
They threw some anti-war cliches in my direction, complete with the usual missives regarding the president's intelligence. Then the one sitting closest to me turned around and, addressing me directly, said, "How can you not be against war in Iraq? It's logic. It's just logic." Now, I sensed before he spoke that he was about to express disagreement through a condescending and "sophisticated" remark. But I was completely unprepared for what had just come out of his mouth. Logic? I had no idea how to respond. How could I explain to him that "logic" regards not the *content* of an argument but the relationships between its parts? How clarify that "logic" by its very nature is not concerned with the position you adopt but with the consistencies or inconsistencies within your system of beliefs or propositions? In one brief utterance he had managed to show that he understood neither logic nor political reality. I retorted that there was no way we would be able to have a serious discussion about the matter.

But, no, my friends, it didn't end there. His colleague then turned to me, and questioned my knowledge of German and French (I speak only English, or American, if you prefer, plus a few "amigos," "amis," and "bloody Mary's"). After a brief summary of his academic background (oh, it was quite a list of paper deeds), he addressed me in a barely disguised German accent: "I don't see how someone who can't read French and German newspapers can possibly be informed on this matter."
To quote one of my favorite show lines, "Ah, stupidity and arrogance all in one package! How efficient of you."
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
I hate this man. With a passion.

And after you read this, I don't think you'll care for him much, either.

Burr said DirectQuest is not aimed at bothering consumers, but the opposite — making sales calls less intrusive. By providing the identity of the company on behalf of which the telemarketer is calling, DirectQuest gives people the option not to take the call.
Oh, please. Rarely have I seen more transparent bullshit.
Monday, February 24, 2003
If you missed the Instapundit link, and still haven't read this essay by Bill Whittle, you absolutely must. I'm not even halfway through it (for it is long), but it is already one of the best things I have ever seen on the web. I dare not excerpt any of it. Find some uninterrupted time, pour yourself some beer or hot chocolate, get comfortable, and read the whole thing.
Saturday, February 22, 2003

From Italy with love

Paolo from Italy, a frequent commentator at Thinking Meat, has a shiny new (and very nice-looking) blog called I Love America. It is (naturally enough) in Italian, but you can get a Google-translated version to get the gist.

Welcome to the club, Paolo (just ignore the fact that I've only been here two weeks myself). Please continue to comment here, too...

I can't believe I let Andrea Harris beat me to this.

Friday, February 21, 2003
A dictator on the move. A widely supported "peace movement" that enjoined global powers from conflict. French obstructionism and reluctance to confront aggression.

What year is it? 1935.

(By way of InstaPundit.)

It seems like some "anti-war" lephtists are sponsoring ads on Blog*Spot, so I'm seeing the Stop the War Machine ads at the top. Whoever sponsors those ads, I just want to say "thank you" for paying for much larger space for me to refute your idiocy. I'm sure the "peace pins" will shock and awe the Bushies into backing off Iraq.

(The other link says Intifada, but it leads to Questia, which, as far as I can tell, is not a political site, and has some mainstream publishers as its sponsors and content providers. No idea what they are doing hooking up with the appeasement crowd.)

In case you're wondering why I don't just pay the 15 bucks and get rid of the silly ad all together: mostly, it's because I consider this a temporary setup. If I find myself sticking with blogging, I plan to find me a real hosted home somewhere, complete with Movable Type or whatever strikes my fancy. The ads aren't horribly bothersome, are they?

Update: for any of you thinking of starting a blog, I'd point out that both thewarmachine.com and thewarmachine.blogspot.com are still available.

Jane Finch of The Daily Rant has left a couple of interesting comments in response to the previous entry in this blog, and it seems like they would be better answered as full entries on their own, especially since they helped coalesce thoughts that have been nebulously floating around in my head for a while.

In one of the comments, Jane writes (addressing me):

...[S]ince the WOMD argument isn't winning the day quickly enough (and the operative words are "quickly enough"), all sorts of reasons are being touted, including the fact that Saddam is an oppressive dictator (which he is indeed). And I agree with you that the "innocent Iraqis" argument is weak.
Not only do I think this is completely on the money, but it brought up something that kept bothering me through all this time:

The reason for invading Iraq is solid, but the Bush Administration has never actually presented it completely. Instead, we keep hearing little sound-bite-size bits and chunks and pieces of it, but never have I heard the whole thing out of the mouth of Powell, or Rice, or Bush. I've said it enough times myself, the first time waaaay back in January 2002, in a Slate Fray posting, as justification for the first Gulf War. But it still applies today.

First, let's dispense with the poor oppressed Iraqis. They most definitely are oppressed, of course -- not "oppressed" as in "people criticize their viewpoints," but oppressed as in Saddam's Mukhabarat can kill or torture them whenever it pleases, and it pleases often. All of this is entirely true, and those people do deserve better -- but so do the starving North Koreans, the minority tribes of Myanmar, the victims of Robert Mugabe, the Saudis, the Lebanese, the Syrians, the Tibetans -- anyway, there is no shortage of brutalized people on this earth. In no way does this weaken the moral case against Saddam's "anti-war" defenders who march in the streets "on behalf of" the very Iraqi people who will suffer horribly for decades if their self-aggrandizing movement succeeds; however, it is absurd to claim that the U.S. is primarily motivated by the pain of Saddam's Iraqi chattel. It might feel good to describe ourselves as global promoter of freedom (and the claim is far more true than the Lephtoid Noam Chomskys would have you believe), but ultimately, we are not the world's rescue squad, and we are not about to charge every hellhole, losing our young men and women to squash whatever dirtbag-in-chief has taken the throne in The People's Democratic Republic of Absurdia. So why Iraq?

It is not because Saddam is a "brutal dictator." A huge portion of the world is run by brutal dictators, from several of Saddam's neighbors (Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia), to the aforementioned North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar, to Cuba, Haiti, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, etc. ad nauseam. Like it or not, but the world is full of assholes who are in charge of countries, and once again, the U.S. is not about to start sending its soldiers to die to remove them all. So why Iraq?

It's not about oil. Please, spare me the wailing protests -- the very oil lobby that Bush supposedly is conspiring with has been begging and pleading to normalize relations with Iraq and lift the sanctions for years now, so that they could get access to the oil wealth and resell it. If all we wanted was oil, we could have reached an agreement with Hussein years ago; he would have been happy to oblige. Or, we could blackmail him into giving us the oil, or we could have invaded the much weaker Saudis (under the pretext of 9/11) and taken their oil wells. And honestly: Bush, Cheney, et al are already millionaires. They don't need to pull some scam using the nation's armed forces that could land them in jail (or on death row!) a couple years after their terms expire, simply so they can have a few more millions of dollars in their accounts. They sure as hell don't need to be doing it by running into the minefield that is the Middle East: it's hard to enjoy your millions when you have to worry about some deranged latter-day Sirhan Sirhan capping you just as you're about to throw the next stack of C-Notes on the fire. When you're in the White House, there are easier ways to make a million bucks or two, than starting a war in the freaking Middle East, mmm'kaaaay? Quite simply put, if you think the whole conflict is "about oil," you're a raging moron. For your own sake, stay the hell away from sharp objects, and try to get a grip: you aren't living in some nighmare combination plotline of On Deadly Ground, The X-Files and Captain Planet. ...So why Iraq?

It's not about terrorism. I have no doubt that Hussein's Iraq has cooperated with Islamist terrorists when their interests converged. The fact that bin Laden & Co. hate Hussein is unimportant; this game is all about alliances of convenience. Putting it mildly, the Russians never had any love for Arabs or Muslims, but they were happy to arm them and use them in their proxy war against the United States. The U.S., in turn, did not have a whole lot in common with the Wahabi "princes" of Saudi Arabia, but we wanted their oil, and they wanted our protection, and thus we worked together. (For what it's worth, the U.S. didn't have much liking for socialist Israel either; only after the Israelis defeated the Soviet-sponsored Arabs in the Six-Day War did the U.S. bring them in as our Cold War proxies.) The Russians trained the PLO and let them loose in Israel and Western Europe; we trained and armed the mujahedeen in Afghanistan. Both us and the Russians helped Iraq against Iran after the Islamic Revolution, because we both (correctly) considered the spread of militant Islamism a threat, and Iran was the most likely backer. To suddenly dismiss any possibility of an al-Qaeda/Iraq connection simply because they don't like each other, flies in the face of history. That said, there are plenty of other countries with much closer ties to terrorism, including the Iranians, the Syrians, the Lebanese, and our friend and ally Saudi Arabia. So why Iraq?

It is not about weapons of mass destruction. Yes, it's scary when regimes that we wouldn't exactly consider first-class have bombs capable of wiping out entire cities. Still, we're not threatening to invade North Korea, or Pakistan. Iraq has had (and used) weapons of mass destruction before; the Kurds would hardly be safer from him if he "only" sticks to chemical weapons. It's next to impossible that Iraq is developing nukes in order to hand them to terrorists like bin Laden; there is nothing to gain from that, the risk of retaliation is enormous, and simply put, it's not cost effective. Putting together a successful nuclear weapons program costs billions -- many, many billions -- under the best of circumstances; selling bombs to terrorists at a few million a pop ain't gonna pay for it. Even North Korea is not likely to do this -- they are an impoverished nation, yes, but they are still a nation, and in their budgets, even multi-million terrorist payoffs for bombs would count as rounding error. Iraq has commodities that are far easier to monetize and sell; they aren't going to create a nuclear weapons program to make money, or to give to terrorists. Nor is Iraq developing nuclear weapons in order to destroy Israel -- not to put too fine a point on it, but Israel simply isn't worth Hussein's time, and it certainly isn't worth being a pariah. For all the screaming about it, Israel is not a credible threat to Arab nations, and it is extremely useful for deflecting the anger of their populations from their own governments. Nuking Kuwait? Iran? What's the use in that? Nuke New York? For what -- so Hussein can spend the rest of his life in an underground bunker, recalling the glorious days of raping teenagers in his (now cratered) palaces? Hardly. So what's the big deal? Why Iraq? Why now? What's it all about?

The answer is that it's about all of those things together. What makes Iraq unique is not that it's a brutal dictatorship, that it has terrorist ties, that it sits on gobs of oil, that it's invaded its neighbors, or that it's used weapons of mass destruction to wipe out people whenever it saw fit -- no, what makes it unique is that all these things apply. One of the main planks of the Ba'ath Party platform is that the Arabs must be brought together as one nation. Saddam Hussein sees himself as the man to make this happen; essentially, he intends to create an empire in the Middle East, with himself at its head. This is why he tried to take over Iran in the early 1980s -- the Iranians would be a threat to him continuously, and in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, he thought that Iran was weak and ripe for the taking. (He was wrong, but many Iranians and Iraqis paid with their lives for his mistake -- something to keep in mind when making pronouncements such as "Hussein is not stupid, and he won't do this.") It is also why he tried to obtain nuclear weapons during this war: going nuclear would have allowed him to conquer Iran much more quickly. (The Israelis weren't about to tolerate this, and destroyed the reactor, but it's unlikely they were the primary target.) The takeover of Kuwait likewise fits into the pattern: unable to expand northeast (for the moment), Hussein tried to go south. There certainly wasn't anything strategically invaluable about Kuwait itself. It's likely that Saudi Arabia would have been next, except the U.S. intervened, gravely damaged Hussein's armed forces (designed to fight and conquer his neighbors, not the American military), and set his plans back several years. In essense, with an equally matched Iran to his northeast, NATO member Turkey (and U.S. forces) to his north, U.S. forces to his south, strategically worthless ally Syria and Jordan to his west, Hussein was boxed in; a stalemate.

Nuclear weapons would allow him to break this stalemate. First, Iran will be easily conquered. ("Hey, Mullah Khamenei, this is Saddam. Sorry about wiping out Kermanshah, there, big fella. Just fyi, I'm sending a few divisions over your way; they are prepared to accept your surrender. What? You don't want to surrender? Come on, dude, don't be like that. I mean, I'd hate to have to wipe out Ahvaz just to prove my point, ya know? Or Shiraz. Or Esfahan. Hey, I could end the traffic congestion in Tehran permanently, if ya catch my drift. I don't usually joke about these things, just ask those irritating Kurds... Hm? Call the Americans? Go ahead -- I doubt they'll do anything. I've already made it pretty clear to them that if they stay out of this, it'll be all good, but if not, well, I might just take Istanbul off the map. Or Tel-Aviv. Hell, I got a couple of birds that could reach Paris -- think Chirac is making any phone calls to Washington right now? Just how far do you think they'll go to protect you after all that 'Great Satan' stuff you've been broadcasting these last few years? ...That's a good lad. I knew you'd see it my way eventually.")

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE would be next -- same thing, and let's please not fantasize that Americans will risk nuclear war to keep Hussein out of Riyadh. Risking nuclear annihilation over Berlin is one thing, but nobody is going to demand that the U.S. stand and fight to protect the Saudi royals or Kuwaiti sheiks. I mean, we can't even agree to go to war to rescue some genuinely downtrodden people from a puny two-bit tyrant. As soon as Saddam can credibly threaten nuclear destruction, the Middle East is his (minus Israel, which he doesn't need anyway).

With control of Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE, Hussein would have nearly two-thirds of the world's oil supply under his control, and nuclear weapons to keep out anyone who might challenge him for it. Which is to say, he will have the world by the short-and-curlies. I don't care how many miles to the gallon your Prius gets; the world will continue to use oil, and lots of it, for the foreseeable future. Countries of Western Europe will be entirely at Hussein's mercy, to say nothing of the developing economies of Asia, who need oil like a sprinter needs oxygen. He'll be taking their money by the bushel (you think OPEC sucks?), and they will be voting with him at every UNGA and UNSC meeting. Think our diplomatic position is weak now? Well, if you do, you're wrong, but do consider where we'll stand once we can't even protect our allies from oil starvation or a nuclear attack.

What I am describing is the Arab version of the Soviet Union, only with far greater leverage, and a psychotic leader worthy of Stalin. The money his oil will be bringing in will be used to equip and outfit a huge army with decent weapons, and (more importantly) a large nuclear arsenal to keep counterbalance the Americans and Russians. It could be that Hussein will be happy to sit there and make money off his united Arab nation; but it's unlikely: conquerers rarely just stop. Where could he expand? Who knows. What kind of damage could he do? Who knows -- but just as the Russians used to train terrorists to do their "unofficial" fighting, so would Hussein. Think al-Qaeda is bad? They are morons who got lucky a couple of times. Hussein's thugs would be well-equipped, well-trained, and selected from the best; no shoe bombers here. Hussein could make them as angry or as loyal as he wanted; nothing like the knowledge that your entire village will be wiped out if you so much as talk back, to concentrate the mind. Whom would they target? Who knows -- it doesn't even matter, necessarily, simply sowing panic and demoralizing whoever dares to stand against him might be enough. And that's a comparatiely sunny scenario; what happens when Hussein dies? Will one of his even more lunatic sons take the "presidency," or will there be a military or Islamist coup? Do we really want to find out what a large, nuclear, Arab dictatorship is capable of? A hundred Osamas couldn't match a nuclear Hussein.

In the end, his empire might fall apart (thus dropping nukes into the hands of God-knows-who), or we might have to take on him after he threatens some interest that we can't just negotiate over. And then, people will be dying by the millions. And assuming anyone survives, they'll be looking back on the time when Saddam was just a small-time nutball, and wonder which idiot it was that thought appeasing him would bring us peace in our time.

And that, folks, is what we have to keep from happening. Bringing freedom to Iraqis, that's just a good side effect. Getting at the oil, that's a minor side effect. Using Iraq as a platform to destroy Islamism in the Middle East -- that could work, and it certainly couldn't hurt to try. But the more immediate goal is to keep Saddam from getting nuclear weapons (which he is clearly trying to do, or else he would have just shown the inspectors everything and ended the whole shouting match). Oil, dictatorship, oppression, WMD -- it's all part of the problem, but ultimately, we need to make sure that Hussein never gets to break out of his box in the Middle East. We can't keep him contained indefinitely, and anyways, there is no way to contain him on all sides, or if he goes nuclear. Nope, the only thing to do is to remove him, and remove him right now. The British and French fucked this up in the 1930s by refusing to invade a weak Germany and force it to disarm per the Versailles treaty; millions of good people died as a result. I won't have this happen again, not when the clues are so damned obvious, and the solution still so easy. Not for the Germans. Not for the French. Not for the worthless League of United Nations.

...The problem is, so far I haven't heard this argument from the Bush Administration. All we hear is the individual problems -- WMD, terrorism -- that I talked about at the beginning, and none of those stand up on their own. If it is to have any hope of global support (which isn't required, but why not try?), the Administration will have to tie all those things together in one package, to show Hussein to be a genuine global threat, not just a minor local nuisance. It won't convince the Z Mag readers, but it might just clue in some people in Europe and elsewhere. And if not, at least we'll have told the full story.

Update: An editorial from Kenneth Pollak gives some more details about Hussein's undeterrability, given his constant nearly-delusional optimism. (New York Times requires free registration.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Eric the CR has some excellent thoughts on why people who are most oppressed are often not considered so by the "progressive forces" in the West:
One of the fundamental teachings of Marxism is that there is a direct relationship between oppression and revolutionary violence. The more oppressed or desperate a people are, the more likely they are to revolt. Once, this relationship was established in the popular mind, its converse has also become accepted. To wit, people who are oppressed revolt, people who are not revolting are not oppressed...

Consider the difference between the plights of two Muslim peoples -- the Iraqis and Palestinians. The Iraqi people suffer under one of the most cruel dictatorships since the death of Stalin, while the Palestinians live with limited self-government and with welfare provided by a special UN agency. Yet, the Palestinians are considered the most oppressed by the prosperous West. Following this perverse logic, since the Palestinians have taken up arms in revolt and kill Israelis they must be oppressed. On the other hand, the Iraqis show nothing but “love” for their dictator. His pictures are everywhere and he won a recent election with 100 percent of the vote. Because the Iraqis are not revolting they're not oppressed and don't need our help.
This is partly true, though I can't help noticing that the "progressives" seem to get most exercised about the downtrodden when the United States or its perceived allies can be blamed for their plight. We thus get victimized Chileans, but benefitting Cubans, for example. The Tibetans seem to be a special case -- and even then, the U.S. is criticized for keeping up trade and diplomatic relations with the Chinese, far more than China for being a brutal colonial power that invaded and subjugated a weaker, non-threatening, and picturesque neighbor. (Oddly enough, most of the same voices demand that the U.S. reopen diplomatic relations and trade with Iraq. Well, no one ever accused them of being logical...)
BBC reports that Palestinians are demanding gas masks from Israel, in case Saddam's scuds take a wrong turn into Ramallah.

You can't help but stand in awe of that kind of gall.

By way of IsraPundit.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Paul Krugman has written another opinion piece on the whole U.S./Europe/Iraq thing. There's not much to say about it: it's pretty inane and devoid of much substance. His grand thesis? You might want to sit down for this:
We have different views partly because we see different news.
Well, thank you for that brilliant flash of insight, oh the Great Media Commentator Person Guy. Gee, wouldn't it be great if we had satellite transmission of news channels worldwide? Or if there was a global network that spanned the globe, and permitted news and views to cross international boundaries? Yeah, that'd be cool... But let's skip it, because there's a smelly non-sequitur that we should bag, wrap in our plastic sheeting and duct tape, so we can toss it down the trash chute:
Let's back up. Many Americans now blame France for the chill in U.S.-European relations. There is even talk of boycotting French products.

But France's attitude isn't exceptional. Last Saturday's huge demonstrations confirmed polls that show deep distrust of the Bush administration and skepticism about an Iraq war in all major European nations, whatever position their governments may take. In fact, the biggest demonstrations were in countries whose governments are supporting the Bush administration.
But our problem isn't with French demonstrations -- it's with the obstructionist attitude of the French government, which has displayed arrogance on a scale that not even the ugliest caricature of the American administration never reached. Taking lectures from the same two-faced snits that are sucking up to Syria tends to get our goat.
Last Saturday's huge demonstrations confirmed polls that show deep distrust of the Bush administration and skepticism about an Iraq war in all major European nations, whatever position their governments may take. In fact, the biggest demonstrations were in countries whose governments are supporting the Bush administration.

There were big demonstrations in America too. But distrust of the U.S. overseas has reached such a level, even among our British allies, that a recent British poll ranked the U.S. as the world's most dangerous nation — ahead of North Korea and Iraq.
Well, for crying out loud, Dr. Krugman, doesn't this tell you something? America, the nation that ended up rescuing Britain from the consequences of its own asinine appeasement, that kept Europe safe from the Russians for nearly half a century, is considered by the British to be more dangerous than two mass-murdering lunatics who starve their own populations. You could practically write the headline for this: Britons Drink the Kool-Aid. But nooo, it's supposed to be a wake-up call to us to consult with the Saddam-protecting offspring of Neville Chamberlain, who would throw overboard the most effective prime minister of their left-leaning party, just to protect Saddam or maintain the honor of the United Nations.

We'll skip some whining about the coverage the "peace" marches got -- please, we've seen all we need to see, and who gives a shit? -- and move right to this:

For months both major U.S. cable news networks have acted as if the decision to invade Iraq has already been made, and have in effect seen it as their job to prepare the American public for the coming war.
Yes, sirree, Bob. CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, hell, PBS have all been subordinated to the Defense Department, so that the government may show us newsreels with lots of eagle logos, and pictures of our equipment rolling off to fight the Arab huns.
Europeans, who don't see the same things on TV, are far more inclined to wonder why Iraq — rather than North Korea, or for that matter Al Qaeda — has become the focus of U.S. policy.
Yes, the Europeans are so much more sophisticated, aren't they? What with the talks of "cowboys" and "rush to war," not to mention fearing Bush more than a nuclear Hussein? Oh, I'm sorry, they get their TV news from government-funded newschannels, which we know are perpetually objective, with nary a political axe to grind amongst the whole lot of them. If only we could replicate this in the States by shooting down Murdoch's Space Megaphones, life would be so much better!

As to our policies: Iraq, once nuclear, is a major regional power, dangerous to its neighbors and the world's oil supply. North Korea -- umm, it's not. Al Qaeda is being pursued; I'm sure we could get that back on top of our national agenda, if only the French could squeal a little louder about it. ("America -- will you imprison anyone who crosses you?! Imperialist power!")

That's why so many of them question American motives, suspecting that it's all about oil or that the administration is simply picking on a convenient enemy it knows it can defeat.
Apparently none of them choose to take it a step further, and ask why we aren't attacking an enemy we could defeat more easily -- such as Saudi Arabia, for example, or maybe Belgium.
They don't see opposition to an Iraq war as cowardice; they see it as courage, a matter of standing up to the bullying Bush administration.
Woo-hoo! Well, let me just congratulate the courageous Europeans on their courageous act of courageously standing up to the Bush administration with courage! Yes, long shall the days be remembered when rich Westerners joined with the fascist, communist, socialist, anarchist, and Islamist outfits to bravely march in liberal democratic countries where their safety was never in question (thanks in large part to American sacrifices from the 1940s onwards), against a government they knew wouldn't even give a rip about them, much less harm them, in order to spread the glorious messages of "No War" "Drop Bush Not Bombs" "Free Palestine" and -- my personal favorite, from the I Shit You Not file -- "Peace In Our Time"! Yes, the Iranian demonstrators, the Poles from Solidarity, the students of Tiananmen Square, the Czechs and Hungarians who demonstrated against the Soviets, hell, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising -- they have nothing on the intrepid souls who rode subways and buses and carried signs and chanted in the streets of London, Madrid, Rome, or Paris for half a day, after which they braved the elements to get themselves some coffee. Kudos to you, oh heroic anti-Bush marchers! ...Oh, never mind, Saddam already said that.

We'll skip the conclusion, where Krugman insinuates that maybe the U.S. media are afraid of reporting "the Lawd's honest truth," for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. (Yeah, like I'm sure that'll stop the sophisticates at PBS.) Really, it's hard to even find the point here. But I think I'd like to see some more surveys of Europeans. Really, after enduring arrogant snickering about "ignorant Americans," it's nice to see some undisguised stupidity from the other side of the ocean.

Update: Andrew sullivan has more (read the four entries from top to bottom). I've got to say, Krugman was half right: the Europeans do get something "different," but I'm not sure I'd classify it as "news."

Tim Blair reacts to the protests pretty much as I have:
HAVING HAD a couple of days to consider the implications of the massive worldwide street protests and the apparent resurgence of the international Left, here is my response:

So?
What did we find out from these marches? That a lot of people oppose the U.S. attacking Hussein. ...And? Surely we knew this? A large portion of the demonstrators were Islamist sympathizers, Lephtist wingnuts, and others with axes to grind, but I'll grant that quite a few were "regular folks" with good intentions who simply think this war is a bad idea. I'll even grant that some of those actually gave the matter a good deal of thought, and are not just demonstrating their stupid "war is bad" reflex. So what? This war is not an attempt to gain popularity; it's a response to what is seen -- correctly, in my view -- as a strategic necessity. That lots of people oppose it is entirely beside the point. Either it's necessary or it isn't, and if it's necessary, then no amount of large-scale slogan-shouting should stop it.

Jim Henley points out this Jack Straw quote from the thoroughly anti-U.S. Daily Mirror:

The Foreign Secretary acknowledged the sheer size and strength of feeling against a potentially devastating new Gulf war.

He told the BBC: "It was a very, very large demonstration, probably the largest one we've seen in our recent democratic history in London. We have to take account of public opinion."
No, actually, they do not, and anyone who governs this way is not worth his cabinet seat. If you honestly believe the war to be a necessity, then you support it even if it means your own political suicide. If you don't believe going to war is worth losing the next election, then it sure as hell ain't worth the lives of your soldiers. Only fascists with complete control over their press go to war to boost their popularity; for everyone else, it's a grave political risk; attacking Germany, even after its invasion of Poland, was not exactly a popular notion in Britain or France, either.

Which is why, while I am aware of the large-scale opposition to attacking Iraq, I don't really give a damn. It's totally beside the point.

Update: Bush says:

"Size of protest, it's like deciding, 'Well I'm going to decide policy based up on a focus group.' The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security — in this case — security of the people."
Exactly.
Monday, February 17, 2003
Ralf Goegens of the Chicago Boyz (and Bill Quick's comments) has emailed a very thoughtful letter, throwing a bit of cold water on some of my more brash triumphalism in this post about punishing the Germans and French. (I admit it: hearing about German and French diplomatic obstructionism got me a bit irritated.) It'll take at least a couple of hours for me to sit down and properly comment on it, but I absolutely agree with Mr. Goegens that it's important for us to remember that this is not an America-vs.-Europe issue, really, but more of a foreign-policy right-vs.-left issue. As such, it's important not to alienate those in Germany (and Italy, and Spain, and Belgium, and France, too) who share our views; they are already beleaguered, and it serves no purpose at all the spout venom about Nazis or "surrender monkeys" when referring to the whole nations. (Referring to their governments as such, though, can be both fun and good for you!)

Anyway, Ralf has given me permission to post his email, and I will respond to it as soon as I have the opportunity. But I thought it important to say at least this much for now.

By way of LGF comes word that the sophisticated worldly diplomat Jacques Chirac threw quite a temper tantrum over the signing of a pro-American resolution by the uppity Eastern European governments. The man is quickly degenerating into a self-parody:
"It is not really responsible behavior," he told a news conference. "It is not well brought up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet."
Monsieur Le Potte, there's a Mr. Kettleski calling...
On David Frum's blog at National Review Online, there's a fascinating interview with Mona Charen about her new book, Useful Idiots. I don't really care for the broad brush with which "liberals" are tarred in the interview (sure, Carter was the most useful of idiots, but would JFK be considered part of the club? What about LBJ?), but most of the interview is good and worth noting. Especially useful are the parts about presumed moral equivalence; very useful for the "U.S. sponsored Saddam" folks.
Yes we [the U.S.] allied ourselves with some unsavory characters though often for less time and with less enthusiasm than the left tends to recall. (We did support Somoza in Nicaragua, but we also orchestrated his ouster.)

But we did it for sound geopolitical and ultimately moral reasons. We were fighting to defeat an evil that was far worse than anything most petty despots could imagine. Cambodia's Lon Nol for instance was surely corrupt. But the corruption of his regime was a paradise compared with what the Khmer Rouge had in store... But there is quite a distinction between doing what conservatives supported -- taking allies where we found them in the larger struggle against the Soviet empire, and what liberals did which was to present us as being in the wrong. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., CT) when he responded to Reagan's speech on Central America in 1983 announced that we were "on the wrong side of history." And that's pretty much the way Cyrus Vance and the rest of the liberal establishment saw it. They didn't excuse the evil of communism for some larger purpose. They refused to acknowledge it.
Emphasis mine. I think this is crucial: support for the likes of Pinochet or Pahlavi from the right wasn't done out of some grand principle; if anything, Kissinger & Co. held their nose as they supported thugs against much more dangerous thugs. By contrast, support of "revolutionaries" from the left was a matter of principle: they actually espoused and supported their cause, not just their fight. You can see this today in all the admiration that, for instance, Castro gets: when was the last time someone on the left at least acknowledged him as the lesser of two evils, instead singing praises to his "first-rate medical system" or some other such tripe? Yeah, the U.S. looked the other way when Saddam -- useful to us against the Iranian Mullahs -- eradicated entire Kurd villages, but no right-winger that I'm aware of actually cheered him on, sang his praises, or hung up posters. How does this compare with Chomsky's defense of Pol Pot, or Carter's outright volunteering to help Arafat's PR?

Finally, there is this word of warning:

...[T]he left can thwart our self-defense as it did successfully throughout the 1970s. Thirteen countries fell to the communists in just one decade, and it would probably have accelerated had Jimmy Carter been reelected. There was nothing inevitable about our victory in the Cold War. And today we have a significant minority that doesn't have the heart to fight the terrorists. We must defeat them too.
I quite agree, with the caveat that there is a Left, and there's a Lepht!!!™. Believing that, say, the rich should pay a higher tax percentage, or that medicine should be made universally accessible via government involvement, does not make you a fifth-columnist or a thug's useful idiot. That said, plenty of people seem to be lining up and volunteering for the positions.
By way of Israpundit (to which I have crossposted some Thinking Meat entries), comes this Boston Globe story about CAMERA, a large, well-organized group that scours media reports for anti-Israel bias (which, sadly, isn't hard to find...), and conducts vigorous campaigns to correct it. Not many people can make NPR sit up and pay attention; CAMERA has. Its website, incidentally, is a veritable gold mine of research on biased reporting, complete with corrections and sorted by media outlet and reporter name.
Sunday, February 16, 2003
NATO has is now on board for planning the defense of Turkey immediately, after excluding the French from negotiations.
After France was shut out of the room, two other holdouts — Germany and Belgium — dropped their objections to starting the planning for Turkey's defense immediately, NATO officials said.
Wow. The weasels sure put their tails between their legs pretty quickly, eh? Could it be the that Rumsfeld scared a few people in Berlin and Brussels?

I admit it: part of me hopes France will condemn this as a unilateral decision.

By way of Andrea Harris comes what could be a fitting response to "anti-war" protesters by Dr. Barham Salih, the head of the regional Kurdish government in the northern no-fly zone of Iraq, delivered in Rome a while back. Some key quotes:
For Iraqis, our D-Day is at hand. As we watch the military preparations and the game of cat and mouse which the dishonest dictatorship in Baghdad is playing with the UN inspectors, we sense, and we hope, that deliverance is near.

The anticipation and nervousness that must have been felt in Rome nearly 60 years ago is today palpable in Iraq, both in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Free Iraq that was liberated in 1991, and in the areas still under the control of the Ba'athist regime. In my office in Suleimani, I meet almost every day some traveler who has come from Baghdad, and other parts of Iraq. Without exception they tell me of the continued suffering inflicted by the Iraqi regime, of the fearful hope secretly nurtured by so many enslaved Iraqis for a free life, for a country where they can think without fear and speak without retribution.
This was delivered on January 20, almost a month ago. How long do the Iraqis have to wait for their D-Day, just to assuage the palpitating hearts of those worried that the UN might get upset?
But, what we Iraqi democrats are hearing from many in Europe is that Iraqis should not ask for outside help to be liberated from tyranny; that the war is for oil; that war is always wrong; that the so-called Arab and Muslim "street" will rise up as one against those who liberate Iraq.
I can only imagine the pain inflicted on an Iraqi with the most fragile of hopes that someday he will not have to whisper his opinions in fear of the Mukhabarat, every time he hears some overprivileged, overeducated, overindulged Western twit yelping "Stop this Senseless War!" No, actually, I can't imagine it. Or maybe I just don't want to.
Many people out on the streets say "No to War". Of course, I agree because I do not want war and I do not want civilian casualties, nor do those who are coming to our assistance. But the war has already begun. The Baath dictatorship has been waging war for decades and he has inflicted hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties. We have, as we speak, an ongoing brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kirkuk, Khanaqin and Sinjar - and other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan controlled by the dictatorship.
This is an excellent point. Those who claim to be "anti-war" and who march "against war" carrying signs that say "No War" imply that Iraq is currently at peace. It isn't: thousands of Iraqis die at Hussein's hands every year. To oppose a U.S. invasion in favor of "peace" is to imply that their deaths are of no consequences. Death only counts when Westerners are involved; victims of anyone other than the U.S. or "global capitalism" are of no importance. We've seen this time and time again when the topic is Zimbabwe or Israel or Cuba; now the Iraqis share this unfortunate fate. Their victimhood is politically incorrect, and therefore ignored in favor of simpler slogans.
To those who are going to Baghdad to be human shields, I ask, why were you not you allowed to be human shields at Halabja in 1988 when 5,000 Kurds were gassed to death? In away, the dictatorship killed all the human shields of Halabja displaying no regard what so ever to human lives!

Why were you were not allowed to be human shields in Najaf and Karbala in 1991 when the Iraqi Shi'a Arabs were slaughtered and their holy shrines were desecrated?
Somehow I doubt Hussein's barely-useful idiots in Baghdad will appreciate the irony. The fact is, Hussein has been using the entire Iraqi population as human shields ever since the first Gulf war. Again, what conceit: only the presense of Western human shields will count for anything. As if -- frankly, as far as I'm concerned, the deaths of the "Iraq Peace Team" et al will be of absolutely no consequence. I'll mourn the innocent Iraqis who are inadvertently killed, but I won't give a rat's ass about those sanctimonious shitheads who went to Baghdad to "protect" them. Charles Darwin says hello.

Finally, there's this:

So to those who say "No War", I say, of course "yes", but we can only have "No War" if there is "No Dictatorship" and "No Genocide."
Couldn't have put it better myself.
Steven Den Beste has posted his reaction to an article in the Observer claiming that DoD officials, led by Rumsfeld, are discussing moving our military assets out of Germany, and diverting the Pentagon's contracts away from suppliers in Germany and France.

Steven comments:

One of the reasons why so many nations have been willing to come out against us is because they had a perception that we would not retaliate. Thus there was little or no risk, but plenty of potential for gain. The cost-benefit analysis thus said that opposing the US was a good idea.
Which is exactly correct. Opposing U.S. policy has always been a smart move politically, precisely because we are more moral than our enemies, and everyone from the most dim-witted street puppeteer to the most disgustingly craven French politician knows it. Think of it this way: opposing Americans means there is no need to fear bombs on the streets of Munich and Marseilles, and the Americans can still be counted on to rescue Europe if it guesses wrong. You could always score a few extra points with your loony anti-American Left by tossing out a few "fat, dumb, and happy" jokes: it would make you look clever and sophisticated (or perhaps even "brave," for mocking "the hyperpower"), and the Yanks would still be there the next morning, ready to pump money into your economy and protect you with their lives. No matter how venally self-serving your conduct, you could always paper it over by making a couple of grand speeches about how we are all "allies," and really, the U.S. needed the European bases in Europe to keep the Russians from heading west, which would have been almost as bad for us as it would have been for the French.

Thing is, that's no longer true. The Russians are not much of a threat these days; Islamic extremism and Arab fascism is what we are really concerned with. And neither Germany nor France seems to be willing to side with us in this conflict; in fact, they appear quite eager to cultivate closer relationships (and sell weapons) to the very thugs we consider dangerous. If anything, they seem to be doing a classic triangulation: playing both sides against each other, and trying to reap the rewards for being "neutral." The sweetheart deals TotalFinaElf has been concluding with Iraqi oil suppliers are only the most obvious example. So at some point, you have to ask, "Allies against whom? For what?"

But frankly, there is another angle to this that makes me hope the story is true. So far, we've been hearing from various corners of self-righteous stupidity how, for the U.S., This War Is All About Oil™, whereas the Gerjacques Chiroeder is "standing up to America" based on high principle. Terrific; let's see their adherence to principle in action -- surely it's worth a little damage to their economies, to keep the International Order™ intact? What's a little drop in the standard of living against Preserving the Integrity of the Global Community™, or some other such high-minded slogan? Better than selling out to l'hyper-puissance, non? Chirac, Schroeder, and (more importantly) their constituencies are thus faced with an actual, stark choice: their "noble" foreign policy principles, or their U.S.-subsidized standard of living? Just how willing are they to "stand up to the hyperpower" when the hyperpower is no longer feeling magnanimous? Just how much are their supposed principles worth to them, anyway?

Any idiot can march in the street when there aren't any consequences to fear, and millions of idiots did just that yesterday. (No, they were not all idiots, but judging from the photos, the posters, and the hodgepodge of causes, I'd say it was a pretty large percentage.) Let's see if the Germans and the French -- or, more importantly, the Weasels who lead them -- are willing to pay an actual price for what they profess at the microphone. If nothing else, it'll help us boost economies of nations more in need, and far more deserving.

These four Israeli soldiers were killed Saturday morning when their tank drove over a 200-pound bomb in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has taken responsibility.

Saturday, February 15, 2003
Alan has noticed that the North Koreans are taking lessons from Yasser & Co.:
... through the visit to the old home, youth, university students and schoolchildren from throughout the country have vowed to always share the same destiny with Kim Jong Il and prepare themselves as human bombs to defend the headquarters of the revolution ...
This is from the press release of the official North Korean mouthpiece. How likely is it to reflect reality? Who knows -- it's scary enough that the North Koreans would actually brag about this to the world.

Children as bombs -- they're not just for Arabs anymore.

Update: Dean points out in the comments that the Japanese had intended to use women and children for suicide attacks against American soldiers during WWII, which is probably the tradition from which Korean threat comes. He also correctly hastens to distinguish between using suicide bombers against military assets, as is the case here, and using them against civilians, as the Palestinians have been doing. Both points are valid; thanks, Dean. Still, the notion of any country's press agency proudly declaring this to the world is sickening.

By now, you have probably heard or read the report that Hans Blix delivered to the UNSC yesterday. However, through undisclosed sources, Thinking Meat has been made aware that in the spirit of yesterday's holiday, Mr. Blix had intended to read a different report. What follows are the portions of that original report that we at Thinking Meat have been able to obtain and transcribe.

Inspections of Love

Hans Smoove Blix

Mr. President, prepare yourself for my report delivery. I have been preparing my report for you for two weeks, writing the most balanced words, selecting each phrase with care, lovingly correcting every typographical error caught by the Word spellchecker. I have traveled many times to the ancient Eastern city of Baghdad and spoken with Mr. Ramadan, who is the Vice-President, in search of truth that you were seeking. Mohammed El Baradei was there also.

Our expenses have been filed with the proper department, so that we may get reimbursed within 15 business days.

I have been studiously cataloging the labor of love that was being performed on my order by the inspectors working for you, who were wearing the lightest cotton blue hats with your logo, driving only the most fashionable Japanese SUVs with the initials of your organization. The SUVs were neither too old nor too flashy, but just the right SUVs to indicate that your organization is serious and respectable. They were white to avoid being mistaken for military vehicles, and the letters on them are black, so that they are seen most easily. It is thus that they demonstrate your neutrality and pride.

Some of the inspectors wore fedoras.

Guided faithfully by me, the inspectors you hired to inspect Iraqi compliance have been building up their inspecting capabilities, so that they may inspect for you at your pleasure. They selected the most renowned architects in the 100-mile radius of where they were, to build an office in Mosul that we will use to coordinate inspections in the region that corresponds to the office's location. The office was built out of the sturdiest yet most environmentally sound materials available through local contractors. When local contractors did not have materials that would please you, we traveled abroad to countries near and far away, to secure them and bring them with us, thus adding to the fineness of our offices. Even as I stupefy you with my unparalleled reportage, new plans are being drawn up to put up another such office building in the glorious sea-side town of Basra, where you may come to visit me and your inspectors whenever you please.

When you can no longer resist the urge to come and join me for several passion-filled weeks of inspections, you will be flown around in the most advanced Hercules L100 airplanes to travel between the wondrous cities of Baghdad and Larnaca. The airplanes have only the highest-skilled pilots from Germany and the most elegant flight attendants from France, and their service crews are the most dedicated mechanics from the U.S. and Canada, who have spent fifteen years honing their craft at various airports in their respective countries. Our eight helicopters will likewise be ready to take you wherever you wish to go, should you decide that helicopter is your preferred mode of transportation.

If you require immunizations, they will likewise be provided to you.

Tirelessly we have been improving our relations with the Iraqis whose weapons we are supposed to be inspecting, so that they may also learn of the amazingness of your neutrality. Using only the most silver-tongued negotiators trained for years in France and Belgium, we have come to a mutual understanding with the Iraqis that they better not be sending any more than one of their minders for every one of our inspectors. We did this because we knew that you would be impressed with our skills, which would make you want to give us more time.

Since you sent us to Iraq on our quest, our inspections have numbered more than there are days in a year, and the sites we covered slightly less. We did not give notice to the Iraqis when we were coming to inspect them, and they did not tell us that they knew or demonstrate it in some other obvious way. This shows our inspecting skills to be superior to all the other inspectors who have delivered reportage to you in the past. All of them are suckers when compared to Smoove Blix, and baby, you know I'm just telling you the truth.

. . .

Our skillful inspecting has filled our minds with a vast knowledge of the industrial and scientific landscape of Iraq, and its missile capability is in our mind also. But Iraq also has caves and corners, and some of them have not been made open to us. Still, this in no way interferes with our inspecting skills filling our heads with knowledge that we missed out on because we weren't putting our inspecting skills to use between December 1998 and November 2002. That was almost four years we had to go without inspecting, longing for the sweet sound of SUV engines, and the light and comfortable feel of your fine blue clothing, and each of those years was like a century to me.

Damn. I want to get a search on in a warehouse right now.

When we do find weapons of mass destruction, we neither let the Iraqis take them back nor just leave them lying around, but instead we destroy them. If they cannot be destroyed by us immediately, we put them under your seal, so that the Iraqis may be cowed by your logo, and not use them for their nefarious purposes. The Iraqis fear your logo, for it represents the neutrality and respectability that makes you you, Mr. President. I also admire those listed quantities that you possess.

. . .

People who are not all about what I feel when I do inspecting, often ask me just how long I think it will take to complete the inspections that I do for you. They clearly don't know that I, in my capacity as Chief Inspector, work with two goals in mind, both of which will lead to your total satisfaction. One of the goals that I pursue for you is finding all the weapons of mass destruction that Iraq possesses currently or at this time, and taking them away so that you may be pleased and praise me lavishly. My other task, which you have also assigned to me, is keeping Iraq from getting more weapons of mass destruction, which would not be the same as the ones I am trying to find now. I know you expect me to do both of those things, because they are in the mandates you have given me. This tells me you know the power of Smoove.

If you give me other expectations, I will attempt to fulfill those as well, unless they conflict with the tasks that I have already been assigned.

. . .

That is how the inspections of Iraq will go down.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Friday, February 14, 2003
This condemnation of the anti-"war" idiots from an Iraqi doctor living in London has been quoted by InstaPundit, but I think it's worth repeating here:
I write this to protest against all those people who oppose the war against Saddam Hussein, or as they call it, the "war against Iraq". I am an Iraqi doctor, I worked in the Iraqi army for six years during Iraq-Iran war and four months during Gulf war. All my family still live in Iraq. I am an Arab Sunni, not Kurdish or Shia. I am an ordinary Iraqi not involved with the Iraqi opposition outside Iraq.

I am so frustrated by the appalling views of most of the British people, media and politicians. I want to say to all these people who are against the possible war, that if you think by doing so you are serving the interests of Iraqi people or saving them, you are not. You are effectively saving Saddam. You are depriving the Iraqi people of probably their last real chance get rid of him and to get out of this dark era in their history.

. . .

I could argue one by one against your reasons for opposing this war. But just ask yourselves why, out of about 500,000 Iraqis in Britain, you will not find even 1,000 of them participating tomorrow? Your anti-war campaign has become mass hysteria and you are no longer able to see things properly.

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