Monday, March 31, 2003

Peace through strength revisited

Hey, remember all those warnings that our "unilateral, cowboy approach" to Iraq would damage our other diplomatic interests? Remember the calls to deal with the North Koreans first?

Well, apparently, being tough militarily really does pay off in other diplomatic crises. Who knew?

Chinese officials may now be looking hopefully at the Iraq war - despite their official calls for it to end - to buttress their case with Pyongyang.

"When the administration started this war in Iraq, they sent a message to countries who have or have had conflicts with the U.S., a clear message: The U.S. is not a paper tiger, it's a real tiger. And also that as a major power, the U.S.'s voice and principles should be listened to closely," said Zhang Liankui, a Central Party School professor. "If the U.S. quickly finishes this war successfully, the North Koreans will be more cautious in the future."
(By way of The Command Post.)
Friday, March 28, 2003

Saddam's Swimming Saboteurs

A blurb in OpinionJournal mentions this ironic tale of a San Diego man who was attacked and bloodied by a seal while trying to prove that seals pose no danger to people.
A man was clawed and scratched by a seal during a demonstration by a group of swimmers attempting to show that people and seals can coexist at Children's Pool in La Jolla.
For some reason, no one has noticed that the story is filed under the heading "Iraq." This can only mean one thing: the seals were working for Hussein.

Paramilitary indeed.

Sunday, March 23, 2003
There's a great new blog for quick links to late-breaking Iraq War news, called The Command Post. The blog was started by Michele of A Small Victory and Alan of Avocare. Many names familiar to blog readers have been posting there, so go check it out. Oh yeah, I post there too. :-)

Incidentally, the official address for this site is www.command-post.org, but until this address is known to Internet name servers, you can use http://216.134.209.67/~command/ instead. The official address should be working within a day or so.

Who needs Iraqi propaganda when you've got Reuters?
Saturday, March 22, 2003

Oh man... that is just brutal

The Sun's treatment of Chirac probably violates the Geneva Convention.

Last month we accused Chirac of behaving like a worm. Today we say to the people of France: We did not go far enough. Your president is not just a worm. He has behaved like a Paris harlot.

What amuses me is not the sophomoric humor, though, but that it seemed to really get a rise out of the French:

She said: "It's not Chirac who threatens world peace. It is Bush. We are proud of our president."

Her friend Emilie Lamotte, 19, said: "All Chirac is doing is protecting us. You English have no one to protect you. If I were English I would be very scared."

Another student, Angelique Bienassis, 19, said: "You cannot call Chirac a harlot. That is so offensive to the French people. Whatever his faults he is our protector."
There is something very creepy in people who worship their leader this way, and call him their "protector." It reeks of -- what's that word? oh yeah -- fascism and a cult of personality. Sure, it's just three very young mademoiselles, but still... Chirac as the Grand Protector is a notion as creepy as it is hilarious.

Anyway, back to the sophisticated French:

Vincent Bouis, 32, was shocked at our display of good old British contempt for the French president.

He screamed: "This is violent and destructive language."
I'd go on, but mocking people like this is redundant.

(Found by way of Iron Fist in LGF comments.)

Thursday, March 20, 2003
If there is one word that sums up the events of the last couple of years, that word is consequences.

The attacks of September 11th were a consequence of many years and many layers of policies and actions, from the U.S., the Russians, the Arabs, the Radical Muslims, etc. (Don't worry, there is no Chomskyite rant coming up. But those attacks didn't happen in a vacuum.) The subsequent destruction of the Taliban was a consequence of their harboring Osama bin Laden. The current invasion of Iraq is the consequence of several wars and policies pursued by the Hussein regime, of our unwillingness to remove the regime in 1991, and the fear of what consequences may result from failing to remove it today, before it goes nuclear. Our disregard for the UN is a consequence of its loss of credibility, as it failed to enforce 12 years of empty resolution after empty resolution.

Turkey will not be getting its economic aid package, as a consequence of refusing to let our troops use their land to open a northern front against Iraq. They finally let use their airspace, in fear of more dire consequences. France will really have to be confronted with some unpleasantless, as a consequence of their attempt to score political points at our expense, and lying to Colin Powell about their intentions. Diplomatic retribution against them is a necessity, regardless of French intentions or whether the U.S. was right or wrong in this case, lest others get the idea that going against the U.S. is cheap and easy. That's an idea we've allowed to persist for way too long.

Another idea that's been around for too long and getting a bit ripe is that any "demonstration" is a legitimate expression, and therefore protected by freedom of speech. Well, this isn't legitimate. Neither is this. Both of these actions illegally restrict the freedom of movement of people who are not involved in the politics of the protestors -- and they have every right to stay uninvolved. Keeping someone from going home in order to get your onanistic self-righteousness on television is at least as wrong as the police detaining someone for their political views. Either way, the result is the same, and those responsible should be punished. The protesters are counting on the fact that prosecuting them is expensive, and lenient sentences are generally handed out to keep from having to jail them. Unfortunately, that minimizes the consequences for their disruption (which is quite the euphemism for detaining thousands of people on the road, and refusing to let them go home), which makes them more and more aggressive, violent, and destructive, and puts everyone involved -- bystander, policeman, and protester -- in danger. It also breaks down the foundations of our society, one of which is that dissent is welcomed and appreciated, as long as it is peaceful, non-destructive, lawful, and respectful towards those who disagree or are indifferent. Words, even loud ones, shouted from the sidelines are acceptable. Deliberately blocking traffic, is not.

Arresting and fully prosecuting all those people is probably impractical. But the authorities can't just let it slide without consequences, or else it will continue and get worse, until someone is seriously injured or killed. They can't arrest everyone, but they can arrest some, and prosecute them fully. I doubt that the jail terms would be long, but whatever they are, they should be fully served out; maximum fines should be levied as well. We can't surrender our cities and our process of government to self-righteous thugs.

Just to be perfectly clear: I am not suggesting that we arrest people for holding or voicing dissenting opinions. But "direct actions" that are such clear illegal assholery should have serious consequences, regardless of whether is a bunch of bigots blockading an Alabama schoolhouse, or a bunch of "anti-war" nimrods storming federal buildings and blocking people from going about their business. Your protest cannot involve unwilling participants. If it does, you're committing a crime, and violating their civil rights -- which should land you in jail. It's a consequence a true "radical" should be willing to live with.

Quick follow-up: I wonder if any of these walking street trash realize just how counter-productive their tactics are. It's a bit silly to try "raising awareness" of the Iraqi conflict now (who isn't aware?!), but there's no better way to discredit your cause than getting it associated with a few jackasses who keep decent people from going about their business. If a bunch of them got tossed in jail for a month or two, I doubt too many people would cry over it. Act like a thug, sleep with thugs -- end of story.

Update: Mike at Cold Fury has much more.

There's going to be real trouble in this country soon. If these idiots don't begin to realize that their right to protest and free speech stops well short of wanton destruction of property, of bringing entire cities to a grinding halt with their antics, of hindering people from going about their business peacefully, of tying up police and firefighters in major cities where they have plenty of better things to do - then there's going to be some heads kicked in, possibly worse. These protesters are showing how little they really value the American principles of free speech, open debate, and representative government. What they're showing is that if they lose the argument, they'll throw a hissy fit until they get their way illegitimately. They figure it worked with the Vietnam War, so it'll work now.
And so does Dipnut.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
It has begun. Godspeed to the American, British, and Australian military men and women.
Monday, March 17, 2003
Too much serious crap lately. Let's have a little fun. Add your own captions in the comments:


Despite repeated denials, rumors of James Gandolfini's new career as a rabbi persisted for weeks.

Just how dumb do you have to be, to copy someone else's writing, and post it on the web as your own?
Sunday, March 16, 2003
The thing that has always irritated me about these nitwit "human shield" volunteers scampering about Baghdad isn't their "anti-war" self-righteousness, or their unmitigated stupidity. No, what always annoyed me is their attitude of superiority, of being above the people they are "valiantly" "protecting." It's clear that they view their being "westerners" as placing them above the conflict. They are the voices of reason and sanity, in a conflict run by people inferior to them.

Some of those in Baghdad think they will make effective "human shields" because British and American forces, who have no compunction about killing "brown Arabs," will not dare to kill white Americans/Britons/Italians/Greeks/Spaniards/whoever. It's not really racism per se -- they don't really believe themselves superior to the Arabs they are "shielding" -- they are just convinced that Bush and Blair and the men and women of our armed forces are racist: indifferent to Arab life, but not Western life. With this conviction firmly in place, they think they've found a great tactical strategy to sabotage Anglo-American plans of carpet-bombing Iraqi cities.

It's all complete crap, of course. For one thing, there isn't going to be any carpet-bombing of Iraqi cities. For another, whatever targets the Anglo-American forces decide to take out, they will take out, regardless of how many of their dimwitted compatriots have made camp there. It seems tautological, but once the war starts, it will be a war, which means things get destroyed and people die. Having made their way to Iraq voluntarily, the human shields will get no quarter from the Anglo-American forces for their nationality or their whiteness. They will be treated, at best, like Iraqi noncombatants -- no better, and no worse. The best they can hope for is for U.S. and Brit forces to see them as something similar to the non-volunteer Iraqi human shields. Personally, I think that is unjust and unfair. To the Iraqis, naturally.

We see the same species of cretinus overprivilegeus in the Israeli-Arab conflict. They leave their leafy campuses and comfortable suburban bedrooms to get into the middle of a faraway conflict -- but deep down, they are still western tourists, expecting the world to work around them, to be above petty nationalist "squabbles," to use their favored word. Alternatively, they buy into one side's story wholesale (and it always seem to be the side that is the most murderously vile), but still they continue to see themselves as having special privileges because of who they are. A few months ago, as Israeli forces were besieging Arafat's compound, a few of these idiots tried to "march" on an Israeli APV, with a pro-Palestinian sign to boot. They got a warning shot, which didn't stop them, of course -- they are, after all, brave marchers. So the Israeli soldier -- in what I consider to be a great show of restraint -- shot the ground in front of them. The bullets fragmented, and a few fragments hit our intrepid marchers. And the reaction from them was just shock and outrage -- I mean, sure, they made aggressive moves against an armed combatant in a war zone -- but they were western peace protesters, dammit! -- they should be above such things! How dare some lowly Zionist even tell them where to go, much less shoot at them! They were supposed to win, to cow the mean Israeli troops into letting them into the compound -- not to get shot, like some common brown freedom fighter! And all you can do is marvel at such stupidity, and wonder how long before one of them really overplays their cards.

Well, one of them just did. An American college student tried to stop a bulldozer from knocking down a house belonging to a terrorist. (Update: Actually, the house was on the Israeli-Egyptian border, and the IDF was trying to clear the land.) She stood in front of the bulldozer, and then either lay or fell down, at which point the bulldozer drove right over her on the way to the house.

The Israelis say that her death was an accident, and I certainly believe them. Even the "peace protesters" know that the Israelis are morally superior in this regard to the Arabs -- which is why you see all these willing human shields around terrorist houses, and none making public statements by riding Israeli buses to "protect" the civilians of Haifa and Jerusalem. Israel has expressed its regret to the United States, but they haven't apologized, nor should they. This protester found out the hard way that she is immune to neither the laws of physics, nor the political situation she deliberately chose to put herself into. She dared the Israelis to kill her, and they (inadvertently) took her up on it. The Arabs can name a street after her if they want; as far as I'm concerned, good riddance, and hopefully a clear lesson to her war-tourist buddies: you're no better than those around you, and no one owes you squat. Enter a war zone, and you may get shot, or killed in some other unpleasant way. Your choice. Frankly, I think the real victim here is the bulldozer operator. He gets to have this worthless twit on his conscience, because she wanted to look cool, feel empowered, and make a statement, and because she was clumsy as well as stupid. I feel no joy at her death, but I feel no regret, either. Walk in front of a bulldozer, get squashed. Quit yer bitching, grab your Darwin prize, go to hell, and shut the fuck up.

As for my sympathies and grief, I prefer to save them for the Americans and Israelis killed by terrorists -- the same terrorists this overeducated and underclued "protester" died trying to protect.

Saturday, March 15, 2003
Sorry it's been so quiet around here. It's been a busy week, and not much unexpected has happened in the news.

The marches are going on again today. Whatever. Same stupid slogans. Same dopey costumes. Same ineffectual yelling. Same nitwit tactics. Look at us, we're protesting over here!

Yawn. I'll be back when I have something more substantial, I promise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Strange Google searches that have brought people here

ari fliescher biography
(a typo on my part)

dave Matthews and monkeys what's the deal
(umm....)

More whining from Said

Eddie Said has penned yet another essay, which is remarkably similar to his previous attempt at coherence. So this will be quick.

In all my encounters and travels, I have yet to meet a person who is for the war.
This tells you all you need to know about the intellectual capacity of Edward Said, and the people he hangs out with. At some point, you'd think it might occur to him that maybe the people that come to his lectures and discuss world politics with him are not likely to be war proponents; it's called self-selection.
Wherever one looks in the Congress, there are the tell-tale signs either of the Zionist lobby, the right-wing Christians, or the military-industrial complex, three inordinately influential minority groups who share an interest in their hostility to the Arab world...
Now the "Zionist lobby"'s hatred for "the Arab world" is understandable. The "right-wing Christians," umm, what the hell, we'll give him that one, too. But the military-industrial complex? Anti-Arab? Why? The Saudis and Kuwaitis and Egyptians have been good customers, haven't they?
Every one of the 500 congressional districts in this country has a defense industry in it, so that war has been turned into a matter of jobs, not of security. But, one might well ask, how does running an unbelievably expensive war provide a remedy, for instance, for economic recession, the almost certain bankruptcy of the Social Security system, a mounting national debt, and a massive failure in the public education system of this country?
It doesn't. It also doesn't cure cancer, promote proper dental hygiene, or end the mind-numbing proliferation of reality shows on the airwaves. I fail to see what that has to do with anything at all, even taken together with the completely unconnected bald assertion that we are going to war to provide jobs for defense industry workers.
Demonstrations are looked at simply as a kind of degraded mob action...
Well, not all of them. This would certainly qualify, but most of the demonstrations are nothing more than collectively amplified incoherent noise. Not that the media portray them as such, actually. But that's really what they are. The decision for war has been made; protest to the contrary are just a sideshow.
...while the most hypocritical lies pass for absolute truth, without criticism and without objection.
Not at all. Although Said sure does try.
There are no antiwar voices to read or hear in any of the major medias of this country, no Arabs or Muslims (who have been consigned en masse to the ranks of the fanatics and terrorists of this world), no critics of Israel, not on Public Broadcasting, not in the New York Times, the New Yorker, US News and World Report, CNN and the rest.
Hmm... I had no idea that CNN had silenced Bob Novak and Paul Begala. Likewise, I was under the impression that the anti-war celebs have been cruising the airwaves, to the point of setting off my gag reflex every time I hear the name Janeane Garofalo.

The Arabs or Muslims thing is a bit strange, too. Exactly why should we consult them as religious or ethnic groups on this matter? An Arab or Muslim such as Amir Taheri or Fareed Zakaria, who has valuable knowledge to contribute in this area, should be asked his opinion (and these gentlemen both have been, quite a bit actually). But I think the foreign policy of the United States will not miss much by lacking more input from Ibish Hussein. Muslims and Arabs aren't consulted because the war on Iraq is not an inherently Muslim or Arab issue. We likewise don't consult French-Americans or the Catholic Church regarding our dealings with Chirac. To say that Arab and Muslim groups must be consulted prior to invading Iraq is rather presumptuous, and begs the question.

We'll skip Said's usual red herrings about Israel, which like any other old fish, stink up everything that the good Professor comes in contact with. We'll likewise skip his breezy dismissal of Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, who only qualify as "so-called experts" in Said's estimation, since they haven't taken a trip to Arabia of late. (And really, it's not like they ever felt the joy of tossing rocks at Israel...)

Instead, bring out the weepy music, for it is time for the Lamentations of Said:

As for the demagogues and servile intellectuals who talk about war as from the privacy of their fantasy worlds, who has given them the right to connive in the immiseration of millions of people whose major crime seems to be that they are Muslims and Arabs?
Yes, truly, removing the millions of Iraqis from under Saddam's boot would disrupt their currently pleasant and wonderful lives, and contribute to their immiseration. I'm guessing that after Saddam is gone, a lot of them will be interested in asking the good Professor just who gave him the right to consign them to indefinite misery and terror, simply to satisfy his own dislike for Perle and Wolfowitz, not to mention his obsessive preoccupation with Israel -- which, regardless of the shrill propaganda emanating from Gaza, Ramallah, Baghdad, and a certain office at Columbia, has never done any harm to Iraqis, not even when Saddam's SCUDs were falling on Tel-Aviv. I'm guessing they'll expect something better than a lecture on the joy of rock-throwing.

Found via LGF.

Side note: I would just like to register my objection to Said's use of the word medias. The word is already plural: one medium, many media. Using media as a singular noun is already annoying, but compounding the mistake by pluralizing it with an s is inexcusable. I remind the reader that, when not writing weepy nonsense or joyfully throwing rocks, Said earns his keep as a professor of English literature.

OK, I understand the sentiment and all, but -- you know what? -- this is just silly.
WASHINGTON - Show the flag and pass the ketchup was the order of the day in House cafeterias Tuesday. Lawmakers struck a lunchtime blow against the French and put "freedom fries" on the menu.

And for breakfast they'll now have "freedom toast."
Well, at least the Congressmen aren't stripping.
Sunday, March 09, 2003

You can't make this stuff up

AP reports that the Raelian nutjobs of Clonaid fame are stripping to protest the Iraq war. (Here is the link; the picture that comes with it is not for the weak of stomach. You've been warned.)

While we're on the subject of disturbing imagery:

Four members of the group stood on the grounds of the federal building, disrobed for several minutes, and encouraged others to do the same as a sign of their opposition to war.

"Whenever everybody undresses, the ego goes away and then we can make decisions," said protester Nadine Gary. "Imagine President Bush nude addressing the state of the union. Imagine Saddam Hussein nude."
If that possibility is not enough to convince you that war is the more humane alternative, I don't know what's left to say.
Bitter Sanity says the UN will be torn apart by the fundamental misunderstandings between Europeans and Americans.
For Americans, protecting international security is the UN's purpose, its reason for being. Looking at the organization's recent history, we can see many instances in which it has failed to accomplish its purpose: the genocide in Rwanda, the incredible fuckup in Srebrenica, UN soldiers stepping aside and allowing the 1967 attack on Israel, and on and on. Clearly not much good at protection.

...The UN is not only not useful, it's become actively harmful - not in a trivial "Let's spout some anti-Semitic rhetoric today" way, but in a way that if allowed to succeed will have a real price in blood. To me - having grown up in Jefferson's tradition - it looks like "alter or abolish" time.

But what does it look like to Europeans? I think that Europeans see the UN's mission, not as ensuring security, but as acting as a check on unfettered nationalism. And I see this profound but unstated difference in perception of the UN's purpose as the underlying source of the current UN conflict.

Considering what European nationalism did to the twentieth century - not to mention the nineteenth, the eighteenth, and I could go on for a while - it's reasonable for them to have concluded that nationalism unrestrained is the evil that causes war. And to have turned, after the Second World War, to transnational organizations - the UN, the EC, the EU - as a way of putting chains on nationalism, of keeping it within bounds, of preventing it from ever again drawing the whole world into war. These organizations are entrusted with keeping the old demon of nationalism down, and so naturally, they must have a certain degree of authority over national governments.
That's just part of the introduction. Go read the whole thing. Found via Instapundit.
Aww, shucks... I had no idea I was so interesting.
Saturday, March 08, 2003
To no great surprise on my part, the United Nations continues to prove itself absolutely useless, as Hans Blix deliveres a report that says, "Iraq is thinking of thinking of cooperating a bit more, we think, maybe, but we're not sure" and stuffing evidence of Iraqi weapons development while IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei parrots Iraqi "explanations" and dismisses evidence as though he were an Iraqi mouthpiece.

Meantime, Iraq is replacing the missiles that it destroyed to such fanfare, all the while demanding an end to sanctions, a denunciation of the U.S. and Britain as liars, and while we're at it, the destruction of Israel. (Hey, what's the harm in asking, right?)

France is aghast at the idea of military action -- think of the children!

Let us be clear-sighted. We are defining a method to resolve crisis. We are choosing how to define the world we want our children to live in.

...

To those who believe that war would be the quickest way of disarming Iraq, I can reply that it will drive wedges and create wounds that will be long in healing. And how many victims will it cause? How many families will grieve?
Touched as we all must be by the French concern for The Chidren™ (which only surfaces to criticize the U.S.), they really are more concerned about the lack of "unity" and a role for the United Nations:
Yes, we also want more democracy in the world, but we can only achieve this objective within the framework of a true global democracy based on respect, sharing, the awareness of a true community of values and a common destiny. And its core is the United Nations.

...

Mr. President, in a few days, we must solemnly fulfill our responsibility through a vote. We will be facing an essential choice: disarming Iraq through war or through peace. And this crucial choice implies others. It implies the international community's ability to resolve current or future crisis. It implies a vision of the world, a concept of the role of the United Nations.

...

We must rediscover the fundamental vocation of the United Nations, which is to allow each of its members to assume responsibilities in the face of the Iraqi crisis, but also to seize together the destiny of a world in crisis, and thus to recreate the conditions for our future unity.
William Saletan calls this a con game:
Are inspections more effective than force? Is the United Nations a better guarantor of U.S. security than American power is? Both questions are fraudulent. Inspections depend on force, and the United Nations depends on the United States. The French and Germans are telling us not to mess with the status quo, when the status quo is us.
Which is exactly correct. The United States in no way needs or depends on the UN: we need from them neither legitimacy nor security. By contrast, without at least implicit backing from the United States, the UN is nothing more than a productive generator of hot air, its resolutions useless paperwork, its "forces" symbolic talismans giving lethally false hope to those counting on them.

For most of its existence, the UN was used as a mechanism by which U.S. power and legitimacy were leeched by the French, Germans, Belgians, Dutch, and the rest of Western Europe. Weak and inconsequential in the shadow of global powers like the Soviets and the Chinese, they only had hope of asserting anything with the backing of the United States, and the UN was the most face-saving mechanism for doing this, because American backing was implied. When the Soviet Union fell apart, and the Russians withdrew from their spheres of influence, other states, previously backed by the Russians, also needed to give themselves a "voice with meaning," and they likewise did this through the UN, now backed with American power exclusively. (No one even blinked at the idea that Libya and Sudan should have equal stature and credibility with Lithuania and Spain.) Their Russian threat gone, the Western European countries likewise found American backing unneeded, but they continued to use the UN to use American power as their own. Everyone had been doing it for so long, they got a little too comfortable...

What Bush has done is reassert exclusive American control over American power -- military and diplomatic. From a military standpoint, this means that the UN will have neither the ability to commit or submit American troops to what it calls "justice" (e.g., the International Criminal Court), nor will it be able to prevent the U.S. from using its military in ways it sees fit, such as invading, conquering, and disarming Iraq. From a diplomatic standpoint, it means that no longer will Western European countries be allowed to go up against the United States with impunity, as France and Germany clearly hoped to do at the beginning. They can certainly disagree with us, stick to their opinions, and even criticize and undermine us publicly -- but there will be a price to pay. "Standing up to America" will no longer be a cost-free feel-good exercise in self-aggrandization. The Soviets don't threaten us anymore, either, and Europe no longer has the importance or leverage.

Which understandably alarms Western Europe: they just woke up and realized that they are minor players in this world, with virtually no say in how its major affairs play out. Other countries have been used to this for practically their entire histories, but Europe -- that is, Western Europe -- is accustomed to being the center of the world, or at least part of the inner ring. They are used to sitting at the table with the big boys, and being "consulted" for "joint resolutions." Their populations are used to the idea that "their voices are being heard" and their leadership is affecting the world in major ways.

Except that it's not any longer, because no one pays attention anymore. Europe's "strength" since World War II has been their close relationship with the United States, the real power behind their palaces and proclamations. France chose to abuse this early on, withdrawing from NATO and triangulating between the Americans and the Russians, but the Americans really couldn't help this. Today, though, it's the United States that is re-evaluating its relationship with Europe, and finding little to necessitate the close cooperation that was enjoyed during the Cold War. The Western-Europe-dominated EU thus finds itself with little leverage in foreign affairs: it has become peripheral in the Middle East crisis despite large payouts to the Palestinians, the North Koreans want nothing to do with it, and even prospective members disagree with it publicly in favor of the United States.

This is unnerving to Western European politicians, who are either lining up with the U.S. (as Spain and Italy have done), or else trying desperately to preserve the "international order" that let them have a say which they are about to lose. It's also frightening the populations of Europe, who are suddenly finding their educated, sophisticated selves with no more influence on global events than the population of Bolivia. Putting it simply, they are scared, as John Brady Kiesling told NPR yesterday. Actually, Kiesling is only half-right: the Europeans have always been scared, but before they were scared of the Soviets, and counted on Americans for protection, even though they disliked and often despised the uncouth Yanks. Now the Soviets are poor and withdrawn, and all of Western Europe's fears are focused on America. Which is why the "anti-war" marches in Europe are mainly anti-American (or anti-Bush, who tossed Europe aside so unceremoniously), and why survey after survey finds Western Europeans with the preposterous view that Dubya is a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il.

And so, those that want to hang on to the illusion of power keep throwing out obstacles like inspectors and the ever-flexible "international law," or absurdly trying to rewrite history, as de Villepin attempts with this:

The adoption of Resolution 1441, the assumption of converging positions by the vast majority of the world's nations, diplomatic action by the Organization of African Unity, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the non-aligned movement, all of these common efforts are bearing fruit.

The American and British military presence in the region lends support to our collective resolve. We all recognize the effectiveness of this pressure on the part of the international community, and we must use it to go through with our objective of disarmament through inspections.
Saletan will have none of it:
Lends support? Saddam Hussein doesn't care what the United Nations or the League of Arab States says. He has ignored their words for years. The only reason he's crushing his own missiles today is to stave off invasion by the troops poised on his borders.

In a press conference after the debate, de Villepin asked, "When the inspectors are telling us that active cooperation is seen on the ground, how can we at the same time say … that we should prepare [for] war? There is a strong contradiction, and we don't accept this contradiction." But coupling the current inspection regime with preparations for war isn't a contradiction. It's a tautology. Our war preparations are the reason Saddam is cooperating with the inspectors.

In short, the alternative to which de Villepin unfavorably compares our prospective use of force is our current use of force.
Putting it another way: suppose the UN decided early on that it didn't care about the Iraq situation one way or the other, and the Bushies deployed their troops around Iraq with no comment from Kofi & Co. Would Iraq have ignored this? Hardly: they'd see the real possibility of losing power, and would be trying to pull exactly the same wool over American eyes, protesting, allowing inspectors in, "unexpectedly" finding some missiles and then destroying them on camera, etc. By contrast, what if this was a UN action where the U.S. refused to participate? Does anyone believe that Iraq would even acknowledge its existence, much less try to cooperate? The U.S. can function quite well without the UN; the UN cannot function at all without the U.S.

The problem is for the Western Europeans, who can't function diplomatically without the UN, on the level which they have come to expect over the past few centuries. Unless the U.S. continues to participate in the baseless UN-created fiction that all countries are "equal" and entitled to a vote, the Europeans, like everyone else, have two choices: play second fiddle to the U.S., or be ignored altogether. (Their third choice is to use their large economies to build militaries of their own, but it's a nonstarter politically.)

The final claim is that the U.S. is somehow obligated to receive UNSC approval for an invasion of Iraq. This is pure nonsense; even if the Security Council had some kind of binding, enforceable authority over the U.S., the most you could say is that we couldn't go in contravention of a resolution that prohibited such an invasion. (Which would never come to pass, as the United States would simply veto it.) At any rate, Walter Russell Mead points out that plenty of invading has been done without UNSC approval by all its members:

The United States may be a diplomatic cowboy, but we aren't riding the only horse on the range. Every permanent member of the U.N. Security Council has undertaken at least one war without the council's permission or endorsement. China attacked India in 1962 without a Security Council resolution, and again without a resolution attacked Vietnam in 1979. The Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Hungary without going to the Security Council. Britain and France invaded Egypt in 1956 without informing, much less consulting with, the Security Council. More recently, both Britain and France have sent troops to Kosovo and various African destinations without council advice or consent.

The plain if slightly sad fact is that from the day the U.N. Security Council first met in 1946, no great power has ever stayed out of a war because the council voted against it, and no great military power ever got into a war because the Security Council ordered it to.

So, whether or not Bush gets a second council resolution on Iraq, the outlook for the Security Council is more of the same.
Which is to say, continued irrelevance. Works for me, even if it does give Chirac an ulcer.

(Some links by way of Instapundit, Best of the Web, and Little Green Footballs.)

Update: If you're not yet tired of reading, Steven Den Beste has more.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003
NPR's Morning Edition had a really interesting (and enlightening) piece today about anti-Americanism in Spain (RealMedia - click on the blue link). Some of it is almost comical:
Manuela Urqueri [not sure of spelling] is against the war [on Iraq], but the suggestion that she and other Spaniards are motivated by anti-Americanism makes her very upset. It reminds her of alleged U.S. injustices against her country.

MU: "It's not a question of anti-Americanism. You know, this sounds to me like the vicious American propaganda in the war over Cuba."
At first, I thought she meant the conflict with Castro, and the blockade of Cuba in 1961. That would have been bad enough. But no, we're going further back:
Urqueri, an antiques restorer, isn't the only one who still bears a grudge over the Spanish-American War...
The Spanish-American War? The one where Teddy Roosevelt fought?
Even though it was more than a century ago, Spaniards still blame the Americans for sinking the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898.
Jeebuz, they are still seething over something that happened 105 years ago! Not quite bin Laden with Andalusia, but really, some people need to move on. Sheesh, we managed to patch things up with the Germans and Japanese by the 1950s, didn't we?
"Remember the Maine!" was actually a rallying cry for today's anti-war protestors, as well as some Spanish law makers.
Somewhere, William Randolph Hearst is laughing his head off.

Of course, no full-fledged idiocy is complete without a swipe at Israel backed by outright Jew-hatred, and Ms. Urqueri does not disappoint:

Like many Spaniards, Urqueri doesn't trust America's motives. She thinks the U.S. is planning a war on Iraq to promote Israel's interests.

MU: "I'm sorry, but I think the United States is a puppet of the Jews. We're talking about Saddam while Israel is massacring the Palestinian people."
If NPR is to be believed (a stretch, I know), this is pretty common amongst Spaniards. Maybe John and Antonio could comment?

At any rate, this woman's case of cranial rectitis beggars belief. Europe is home to a huge number of unassimilated, seditious Muslim "refugees." They have managed to get away with open calls for sedition and demands of shari'a, mass violence, and rape. The European populations and some governments are too afraid of them to even police them properly, and many openly admit to taking certain foreign policy stances out of fear that the Muslim "refugees" will revolt. And it's the Jews that run America? Hellooo?! The rest of the story is fascinating too. It talks about how Spaniards resent the U.S. for "el desastre" of the Spanish-American War, which resulted in Spain losing its colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. There's a whole lot of fun to be had here: the comparisons between "el desastre" and the Arab "naqba" in Palestine, or the irony of the resentment felt by the Spanish at the mean old Americans for domineering the world after taking away Spanish colonies.

Then there's this USA Today story, by way of WSJ's Best of the Web. You know, it's funny: you never hear of Americans harrassing European visitors based on the asinine policies of their governments. Some are boycotting champagne, or coming up with new names for French fries, but I've yet to hear of French or German visitors being spit on in Times Square. Hell, Americans treated Muslims after 9/11 better than many Europeans seem to be treating Americans -- who are there as private tourists, who may or may not have voted for Bush, who may or may not agree with American foreign policy, and who came to spend their money and visit Europe, because they find the Continent interesting, not to mention worth a couple thousand bucks for the trip. Whatever happened to the thoroughly educated, tolerant, pluralistic, and sophisticated society that Western Europe views itself as? Hmm? These Americans are clearly interested in Europe -- they have passports, to work with an old cliché. What's the deal?

Before I make too much of this story: yes, I know José Maria Aznar is pro-American; yes, I know the Spanish parliament has backed him in this; and yes, I realize harrassment of Americans is made up of isolated incidents. But it seems like there's a lot of such incidents, and certainly advice that essentially says "try to pass for European or Canadian" is no more encouraging than the old "don't look so darn Jewish" tip. (Which, incidentally, is also a problem -- how is it that someone in supposedly tolerant Europe can casually admit to an American reporter that she thinks the U.S. is run by Jews? When did this viewpoint become acceptable?!) John of Iberian Notes tries to minimize the problem, but it's hardly satisfying. One would think that Europeans, who always seem to pride themselves on being too sophisticated to oppose "evil" like those "arrogant cowboys," would be a little less strident. I remember from my own travels, back in the late 1990s -- people were welcoming and all, but every once in a while, I'd run into someone who, on finding my nationality, felt the need to deliver some kind of political statement. What is up with that? Why this obsession with politics demonstrated for complete strangers? Can't they just start a blog?

By way of Andrew Sullivan comes this bizarre story of a British nursery school that banned stories about pigs. (Sullivan quips about Animal Farm, but given the age of the students, I'd say we're more in Three Little Pigs or Charlotte's Web territory).
A West Yorkshire head teacher has banned books containing stories about pigs from the classroom in case they offend Muslim children...

Head Barbara Harris said the books would remain in the school library for children to read...

Mrs Harris said in a statement: "Recently I have been aware of an occasion where young Muslim children in class were read stories about pigs.

"We try to be sensitive to the fact that for Muslims talk of pigs is offensive."
What I want to know is, did parents of Muslim children actually request this, or did Mrs. Harris "show initiative"? This sounds exactly like the kind of thing a halfway-educated well-intentioned "liberal" do-gooder might do, unprompted. (Why the scare quotes around "liberal"? Ponder this: how liberal is it to ban books from a classroom, under any circumstances?) It seems silly to me: are Muslims really offended at the mere mention of pigs? I've known a good number of Muslims, and pigs and pork have come up in conversation, and no one has ever complained. But maybe I missed something?

If someone tries to claim that talking about pigs is offensive to Muslims, could they please explain the constant "pigs and monkeys" references that looney Middle Eastern imams make when talking about Jews? (In mosques!) Do the monkeys negate the offensiveness of the pigs? Or does one get special dispensation for offensive comments about Jews?

Update: Sure enough, the teacher pulled this out of... someplace. James Taranto has a link to the details:

Last night Yorkshire Muslims condemned the move as "nonsense", as their holy book, the Koran, permits followers of Islam to talk or read about pigs as long as they do not eat their meat.
Bradford magistrate Bary Malik, an Ahmadiyya Muslim, said: "Every day Muslims recite passages from the Koran.
"As the Koran mentions pig, Muslims must say that word. All the Koran says you should not do is eat pork, but there is no harm in using the word or reading it.
"This school has gone too far – what will they do next, ban the word cow because Hindus believe the cow is sacred?
"In this world there are many extremists who do not like Jews or Muslims – does that mean that we should ban the words Jews or Muslim out of respect for their views?
"Really it shows a lack of religious understanding. It's nonsense."
Seems pretty clear. Still, Mrs. Harris will not be deterred:
But yesterday Mrs Harris defended the policy saying she was merely trying to ensure respect for pupils' religious sensitivities, although she did concede it might be time to review it.
She said: "Approximately 60 per cent of the children attending are Pakistani or Indian origin and 99 per cent of these are of the Muslim faith. The remaining 40 per cent of children are mostly from the white community with some Bosnian Muslim, some mixed-race and some Sikh children.
"The school considers itself fortunate to have such a wonderful variety of children. Pupils here celebrate their differences and on the whole are sensitive to each others' needs."
Well, there's sensitive, and then there's comically hypersensitive.
"I very much regret that anyone should find this controversial as all we are doing is trying hard and reasonably successfully to ensure all of our children are awarded the respect that all human beings deserve."
She could start awarding respect to the children in her care (and their parents) by not breezily insulting their intelligence.
John Hawkins -- posing as "HolyWarrior," an Iraqi professor -- has a hilarious ICQ conversation with some left-wing nutjob in Brazil named "Doug":
Doug: my god!! saddan is a terrible president.... bush is more terrible..... God bless iraq.

HolyWarrior: Yes Bush is evil -- Saddam tells us that Bush eats the children of his enemies, that the United States uses the blood of children to grease it's tanks, and that Bush has everyone who disagrees with him arrested. I couldn't believe these things were true...but I guess Saddam is not so bad after all compared to that.

Doug: Bush kill our children too... by the economy!! bush kill many brasilian people! he used FMI to crash our economy and our moral

HolyWarrior: What is an FMI? Some sort of genetically engineered mutant? I heard that some Americans have been given the proportional strength of a spider and the ability to shoot webs from their hands so they can menace the population. The government found these propaganda plans and told us about it...I hope these "spi-dermen" have not been unleashed on your country as well?

Go read the whole thing; just don't drink anything near your computer. Unless you're looking to get a new keyboard.

(Found by way of Donna V. in LGF comments.)

Monday, March 03, 2003
Daniel Strimpel just worked his first day as a CAMERA intern. This should be interesting.
Cox and Forkum, authors of the LGF Fiskie Award to Jimmy Carter and Black & White World, have a new blog! (What are you waiting for? Go check it out!)
So after being kicked off the air at ABC for saying something stupid, Bill Maher has a new show on HBO. I caught a rerun of the premiere (I think) just now.

...Well, actually, I caught about five minutes. A few minutes of monologue, where Tony Blair gets called Bush's "prison bitch." (Original and classy. High quality programming from HBO and a first-tier comedian!) Then Maher made fun of Tony Blair for trying to act tough. Because he's not every tough looking, see. Someone please inform Maher that he's not exactly in a position to throw stones here.

Then we get treated to Dave Matthews pontificating about how the war will, you know, not make the world safer, and create a lot of anti-Americanism, and that will make everything more dangerous, and help Osama bin Laden. (Actually, I don't think he was even that coherent.) You see some guy in the audience in the background going absolutely freaking nuts with joy at hearing this babble. At this point, watching the show is an experience not unlike having your teeth scraped by a rusty pick while listening to fingernails on the blackboard.

Then they bring out the WWI-era dental drill, and you say "aaah": it's David Horowitz's turn. Why the right likes this guy so much, I'll never know. I respected him when he took out the anti-Slavery-Reparations ads on college campuses, and caused a whole lot of ruckus. (Why? Well, at the very least, because it exposed the closed-off nature of those campuses, and the inability of "The Establishment" to even tolerate the airing of opposing views. The often-violent and thuggish response to the ads by ultra-left reactionaries did more to discredit the movement than Horowitz's ads themselves ever could. That's valuable and takes guts, and it earns my respect.)

But now, Horowitz has set his shrillness dial a few notches past "maximum," accusing everyone who thinks that maybe attacking Iraq right now isn't the best of ideas of being in the pay of Hussein and out to destroy America. He seems unable to coherently refute arguments against war, or even offer any of his own; his entire shtick is demonizing the opposition. Which is stupid, because it's trivially refutable, and makes him look like an incoherent raving reactionary. And nothing hurts your cause quite like shrill and inept advocacy in its favor. Ironic, isn't it, that Horowitz seems to be stepping on the very same mines that he laid for the Reparations nuts? I've heard this guy a few times now (including on Maher and on Hannity's radio program -- which didn't impress me much, either), and if anything, I think he's more useful to the anti-war side than to mine. Cripes, so many good, useful, valid arguments for invading Iraq, and all he comes up with is that we already have the troops in place? (So freaking what?!)

Anyway, I didn't feel like watching the rest of that crap, and turned off the TV in disgust. There are better ways of spending my time than this -- like, say, sleeping. As for Maher, if his show continues with this incoherent crap, punctuated by his affected expressions of thought and "intellectual" musings that are two angstroms deep, he'll be following Donahue down the TV sewer pipes in no time, and good riddance.

Great weekend otherwise, so I'm sorry for such a grumpy post. There's a lot of crap out there, on both sides. Wear high boots, and hold your nose.

I just can't believe that Dennis Miller was taken off the air for this.

Saturday, March 01, 2003
A quick summary of the Arab League meeting in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt:

Amr Moussa, League President: We are totally for the UN Security Council resolutions. But those damned Americans better not try to enforce them. Too bad we can't do anything, so we'll just blab along.

Guy in a Robe, United Arab Emirates: Hey, Iraqis, why don't you just leave? The rest of us will watch your place real good, we promise!

Mohammed Aldouri, Iraq: Psshhhyeah, not likely, banker boy! Who do you take me for, a Dubai hooker?

Bashar Assad, Syria: We're screwed! The Americans are out to get us all! ...oh yeah, sorry, Israel sucks!

Muammar Gadhafi, Lybia: Yeah, well, the Americans wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for those wussy Kuwaitis and Saudis!

Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia: Hey, you better not be disrespectin' me, African Queen! I didn't ask for this, either!

Gadhafi: Yeah, right -- who's been keeping your royal arse "royal" all these years, the Swedes?

(Delegates snicker.)

Abdullah: You're dead meat, mother[deleted]!!

Scuffling sounds. Camera is knocked over.

THE ARAB LEAGUE CONFERENCE HAS BEEN SUSPENDED DUE TO ZIONIST INFILTRATION. PLEASE STAND BY.

(by way of LGF and Meryl Yourish)

Dixie Flatline has written one of the best essays I've seen on why the the Palestinians deserve no sympathy despite their dire situation:
Of course, there is an alternative to acceptance, the peace of the vanquished, and that is rejection, revolt, war from the shadows. Had the Palestinians taken this path, had Arafat spit in Barak’s face and said: we will meet you on the battlefield, I would have been sympathetic... I would have sided with the Israelis, but there would be a measure of respect for the Palestinians, willing to die in honorable resistance. They would not have earned victory, but nobility in defeat, a triumphant memory of valiant struggle, generations of respect for bravery in the face of despair.

But the Palestinians chose a third path, one largely untaken in human history. Oslo rejected, honest war rejected. Instead, Arafat calls them forth: here is your chance to use your enemy’s humanity against them. Demonstrate your might by targeting the weakest of their citizens.

It is at this moment that my sympathy dies.
Most of us already know this, but he says it really well, so read the whole thing.

By way of Meryl.

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