Sean's Blog

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Opinion And Current Events

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Here's a letter (number six) that was published in The Weekly Standards "Top Ten Letters."

The problem with campaigning as the "commander-in-chief" is that most Americans do not think of this country as a "nation at war." (Hugh Hewitt, Kerry's Uncommon Touch) That is President Bush's fantasy, not theirs.

People don't really care about John Kerry's Senate votes on military spending (except that they are concerned about the growing deficit). On the other hand, they do think of America as a nation of workers, many of whom are under-employed or, worse yet, unemployed. Friends of mine who are Republicans have been changing their party registration. Out-of-state relatives, who are long term members of the Republican party, are telling me they won't be voting for President Bush this coming fall. It is all beginning to unravel.

It makes me crazy to realize that a large part of the American people still deny that we are at war. They really do want the FBI to arrest and prosecute individuals as if this whole Arab terrorism thing is just one big criminal organization whose members will have rights as future defendants in a trial that pits the poor, oppressed, downtrodden, victimized, minority that is waging a heroic struggle against global U.S. hegemony.

I can imagine the defense argument now. The best bet would be to frame the issue in terms of the Palestinian struggle against Israel. In that struggle the Palestinians are given legitimacy for terrorist acts because they are engaged in an attempt to end the occupation of their lands. (Never mind the history of that occupation.) That's how they could frame the argument when we elect John Kerry and start arresting Arab mass murderers. Many leftists are already accepting that as a legitimate argument.

Welcome to free Kurdistan!:

As violence in Iraq dominates the news, imagine a Middle Eastern country in which the government works in simple offices and spends its money on education, a state in which the prime minister still lives in his parents' home and builds libraries instead of palaces.

How about a Middle East in which young men and women study together at a university where no political party rules the campus, freedom of speech is encouraged and internet access is unrestricted.

Try, if you can, to imagine a Middle Eastern population that regards America with respect and gratitude.

It isn't a dream. It's a reality.

Welcome to free Kurdistan.

The rest of Iraq and the Arab world can have this, but it comes at a high price. They will have to stand up to the death worshippers within Islam. I don't envy them that.

Jonathan Rauch:

What is clear, however, is that what America is doing against Al Qaeda and what Israel is doing against Hamas are the same kind of thing, and that thing is not "extrajudicial killing" or "terrorism," but war. Denying that the war is a war has consequences—among them, reluctance to do what is necessary to win. A clever combatant knows that wars are won by many means (many of them nonmilitary) but that killing the other guy before he kills you is one of them. Is killing a Yassin or a bin Laden "extrajudicial"? Yes, but so is the war against militant Islamism. And our side didn't start it.

And it is one war, not many, albeit one war waged on many fronts. Hamas and Al Qaeda are organizationally distinct but ideologically joined at the hip. Both are anti-Semitic, anti-Western, and dedicated to extinguishing secular politics in what they regard as Islamic lands. Although Hamas has concentrated on Israeli interests while Al Qaeda concentrated on American ones, even that gap is narrowing—inevitably, now that America is making a priority of bringing secular democracy to the Middle East.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Victor Davis Hanson:

But did he say Vietnam? Apparently the senator thinks that the cause of these medieval fanatics who want to bring the world back to the ninth century will resonate with leftists the same way Uncle Ho's faux promises of equality and egalitarianism swayed stupid anti-war protesters of the past. Or is the real similarity that, once more, as promoters of anti-Communist realpolitik, we Americans are installing a right-wing government rather than promoting pluralism, elections, and the protection of minorities and women ? the "dream" of the 1960s? Or perhaps Kennedy's comparison revolves around 600 combat dead in Afghanistan and Iraq, the liberation of 50 million from the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and the emergence of proto-consensual governments in less than two years of hostilities? Does all that suggest to Senator Kennedy that we are embarking on a 12-year war, will lose 50,000 men, and are stymied by a bellicose nuclear China and Russia on the borders of Iraq?

The North Vietnamese knew their best hope was the anti-war movement in the U.S. Here's some more from Hanson:

Everything that the world holds dear--the free exchange of ideas, the security of congregating and traveling safely, the long struggle for tolerance of differing ideas and religions, the promise of equality between the sexes and ethnic groups, and the very trust that lies at the heart of all global economic relationships--all this and more Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and the adherents of fascism in the Middle East have sought to destroy: some as killers themselves, others providing the money, sanctuary, and spiritual support.

It drives me mad to see people who otherwise strongly tilt leftward on the political scale be opposed to what the U.S. has done in liberating 50 million people combined in Afghanistan and Iraq. They have been demonstrating at their anti-war protests against freedom and freedom of choice for 50 million people. And these are leftists! They would have us all believe that they care more for the average person, but I don't see it.

It's not difficult to see why I feel that way. Estimates are that close to one hundred million people died last century at the hands of leftwing governments. The tendencies are still there although I think the bloodlust has abated.

Steven Vincent has a very helpful article in National Review. A must read.

Vincent provides a glimpse into the psychology of the Shiite:

Now we have Moqtada al-Sadr holed up in Najaf, threatening to cast the Coalition as modern-day Ummayads in his own version Karbala, with the entire world as his audience. Unfortunately, there seems little American authorities can do to prevent Sadr, or any other equally radicalized, theatrical cleric, from sucking them into this archetypical narrative. Shiites need martyrdom to define their piety, their identity, their very selves. But in order to be a martyr, they must have an enemy ? preferably one that loves life and its pluralism, diversity and messy compromises; an enemy, in short, is "corrupt." If America ? or for that matter, Israel ? didn't exist, Shiites would have to create them.

A brilliant example of why I love to read National Review.

I agree with James Lileks. Good for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle:

"America will not be intimidated by barbaric acts whose only goal is to spread fear and chaos throughout Iraq," Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said in a moving floor speech last Thursday after the initial attacks that began the weeklong string of violence.

"Yesterday's events will only serve to strengthen America's resolve and seal America's unity. The brave people who lost their lives did not die in vain. Americans stand together today and always to finish the work we started and bring peace and democracy to the citizens of Iraq," he said.

Mr. Daschle repeated those sentiments to reporters yesterday, and Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, said on NBC's "Today" show that the United States must "stay the course."

"This is really as much a test of our perseverance as anything else," he said, though he cautioned that Americans must be prepared for the conflict. "It's going to be difficult. We're going to have too many days ahead of tragedy like yesterday, unfortunately."

I love my country and I will try to recognize anyone, former President Clinton included, who defends America and our response to 9/11.

I feel that President Bush is basically doing a wonderful job. I believe he has done exactly what was needed and I trust him to remain in office. I do not trust John Kerry and I do not trust the left in general. Their idea of progress is a socialist state that naturally includes crushing political correctness, a weak military, and high tax rates.

The party John Kerry belongs to has a large constituency that hates the U.S. in it's current form. That doesn't include all Democrats, but it does include them. This element would like nothing more than to see the U.S. become the European states of America.

They love Europe and the U.N. and all that crap. They are ashamed of the U.S. for many things including our refusal to allow government to take over health care. The left would change this country in radical and undemocratic ways if they held power. That's why they don't have power.

I hope Bush is reelected, but at the least I hope that Kerry doesn't reverse the overall Iraq policy if he's somehow miraculously elected. I feel very strongly about that.

Shock jocks are an endangered species:

The edgy Regular Guys on 96rock have been let go by owners Clear Channel Communications after a March 19 incident in which the show accidentally aired graphic sexual content.

I noticed that Clear Channel, a network that used to carry Howard Stern, has decided to drop him permanently because the Federal Communications Commission is proposing a $500,000 fine for a past show.

I do feel bad for Howard Stern, but he must place at least some of the blame for this whole mess on his own shoulders, not to mention Janet Jackson and the MTV crowd.

Entertainers have been actively pushing the envelope for many years; pushing on as relentlessly as time itself. Each passing year seems to bring more and more outrageousness being foisted on the American people as if progress is always good.

Stern is able to subvert the older children and I don't think that is that terrible. Older children will listen to his show and maybe he even teaches those kids a few things that will be helpful in their young, adolescent lives. Those kids have many things to learn and I will admit that a little Stern is not hurting kids.

The problem comes when parents of very young children (12 and younger) are ambushed during a supposedly family friendly event such as the Super Bowl. When that happened a lot of parents felt a sudden loss. They felt helpless and betrayed by a culture that had, apparently, decided they didn't have a right to shield their young children from material they might object to as parents. It seemed like it had gotten to the point where popular culture decided that it didn't matter what parents thought. Many parents no doubt felt that we were just that much closer to "anything goes" time.

That's when the letters and phone calls to the FCC started. Hell, I wrote an email. I'd do it again.

And now people like Stern are feeling the wrath of the American people.

It is the FCC's job to respond to complaints. That's why they are a vital government service. We do have standards and sometimes those standards are breached. When they are and enough complaints are received, the government is compelled to act on behalf of the American people.

The number of complaints in the aftermath of boobgate must have been very high.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Ralph Peters is a featured editorialist at The New York Post and I look for his column everytime I visit.

I usually agree with Mr. Peters, but this time I take a little exception to what he has to say.

First of all, I'm in no way qualified to argue with Peters. He's far and away more experienced and educated than I am. But I can't help but quibble with him on certain opinions in his latest.

Combined with the administration's folly of trying to occupy Iraq with too few troops, our notion that patience and persuasion are more effective than displays of power has made the country deadlier for our soldiers, more dangerous for Iraqis and far less likely to achieve internal peace.

People who have never known democracy or a liberal society must be shown what it looks like. Our reaction to Fallujah and restraint were designed, I believe, as an subject lesson. It seems to me that our general behaviour throughout this whole ordeal has been a lesson in what it means to be a liberal, free, democratic, and tolerant society.

On the day of the ambush and mutilations in Fallujah, we made another inexcusable mistake. The Marines, who expected to control a major city with a single battalion, failed to respond immediately. The generals up above seconded the decision. The chain of command was concerned about possible ambushes and wanted to let the situation burn itself out. The generals in Baghdad proclaimed, in mild voices, that we'd respond at the time and in a manner of our choosing.

In a textbook military sense, it was the correct response. On a practical level, it was the worst possible decision.

We viewed our non-response as disciplined - rejecting instant emotional gratification. But the insurgents, the terrorists and the mob read matters differently: Our failure to send every possible Marine and soldier, along with Paul Bremer's personal bodyguard and a squad of armed janitors, into the streets of Fallujah to impose a draconian clampdown created the impression - not entirely unfounded - that we were scared.

We broke a basic rule: Never show fear. No matter how we may rationalize our inaction, that is what we did.

The people of Iraq must learn, and I know this is a damned hard way to teach them the lesson especially since our young men are DYING over there, but they must learn what it means to be free.

I hope the Iraqi people are paying attention.

This Fox News story gives me more confidence than I felt earlier.

I hope the Iraqi people don't squander this golden opportunity.

God bless the Marines!

I saw a photo today of a small group of Marines riding in a truck towards Fallujah and they looked confident and excited. My heart swelled with pride for those boys.

I am so thankful we have young men like that who are willing to risk all for their country.

Those truly are the finest young people our nation produces. They don't do it for money and they don't do it for glory. They do it because they want to serve their country.

God bless those Marines.

Like everyone else who's been following current events I have been reading and watching television reports about the recent Shiite uprising in Fallujah.

If the Iraqi people lose their chance for a stable, democratic and peaceful nation then they only have themselves to blame. It will pain me to see that happen, but the fact is that, ultimately, we can't force sanity on the Iraqi people.

My patience is running out. I'm almost to the point where I don't care what happens to them. We've achieved our main objective which was to force Saddam to comply with U.N. resolutions.

Now it seems like many Iraqis actually want a Saddam-like figure to rule over them. Are the Arabs so hopelessly stupid that they will reject the wonderful gifts we have handed them on a silver platter? We'll see won't we?

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Andrew Stuttaford in The Corner:

HOME-GROWN [Andrew Stuttaford]
The alleged - and we should remember that word - terrorists arrested in the UK were all, it seems, 'home-grown'. And that's something, reasonably enough, that has caught Andrew Sullivan's attention:

"The small towns they lived in in southern, suburban and rural England are exactly where I grew up, which sends a shudder down my spine. Evil has come to the Shire! What this amounts to, I think, is theological, ideological terrorism that requires no state sponsor as such and no actual network like al Qaeda. And this is surely the trend. It certainly looks as if Madrid was a similarly loosely-connected operation. I'm not saying it means we should ignore state sponsors, like Iran. Au contraire. But I am saying that a policy that focuses entirely on state sponsors is going to miss an important part of the problem."

He's right to be worried, and in the point he is making. It will, to say the least, be very interesting to find out more about these individuals. If they (ethnic Pakistanis, apparently) were indeed brought up in the UK in, we should assume, reasonably mainstream families, where did the hatred come from? The usual 'acceptable' causes (racism, a sense of exclusion, economic deprivation and so on) will doubtless be blamed regardless of their actual relevance to the facts, but I wonder if there's something else. Over the last twenty or thirty years, British universities, the schools and the media have relentlessly focussed on the supposed evils of western civilization. Have some people actually been paying attention?

I had no idea that McDonald's had been doing so poorly.

The link is to a Weekly Standard article, but I should warn that it could have been written by the corporation that owns McDonald's. I can't help but wonder if the writer was paid to write such a glowing article for McDonald's. I guess I'll give Victorino Matus the benefit of the doubt.

I am so happy for President Bush. It appears that the jobs are coming and the one issue that could have defeated him will probably not be a major issue anymore. According the U.S. government figures, 308,000 jobs were created in March. For the first three months of 2004, 513,000 jobs were created.

I believe President Bush must be reelected to strenghthen our long term strategies for fighting terror. We need a leader to lay the groundwork for our future and I simply don't trust John Kerry to be that kind of leader. He has a strong, a very strong, constituency that hates the U.S. and wants to see our dissolution instead of our strengthening. The need to pander to that group makes Kerry likely to go wobbly at a critical time. We need resolute determination to fight this. I'm afraid John Kerry would change our strategy to make terror a law enforcement issue or perhaps he would adopt a more nuanced containment strategy.

I fear a John Kerry presidency, but the good news is that a major campaign issue has been taken out of focus. I believe more strongly than ever that President Bush will be reelected by a decisive margin.

I think Victor Davis Hanson goes to the root of the current anti-American mood in Europe:

The envisioned European Union will have more territory, a greater population, and a larger economy than the United States. Their aircraft, automobile, and heavy industries are nearly comparable to ours. They are flush with dollars from staggering trade surpluses. And yet in a period of its greatest crisis since the creation of the Warsaw Pact, "Europe"-- whatever that imprecise term really means -- has almost no meaningful military capability.

If it spends about a fourth as much on defense as the United States, such relative budgetary comparisons are still a misleading barometer of European military weakness. The United States Marine Corps is larger than any single continental European army. One of America's twelve carrier groups is far more potent than all of Europe's naval forces combined. When we examine comparative research and development, field experience, recent combat history, army organization, and public attitude, the military gap only widens.

Yet this litany is ancient history now. So is the record of America's role as savior since World War II -- the Marshall Plan, protection of Europe from Soviet Communism, American support for German unification, our leadership in NATO, pledging our cities to save Europe from Soviet nuclear blackmail, and the current protection of Europe itself. Blah, blah, blah -- we've all heard it ad nauseam and its recitation leads us nowhere.

We do defend Europe and that, more than anything else, is the reason they are so difficult to deal with. They're frustrated. They need the U.S. to defend them? Yes. They need the U.S. to keep them apart because in the last century alone they were responsible for two world wars and the deaths of 50 to 100 million people. The Europeans look at us and our success and they are jealous. How could such a poorly educated and poorly cultured bunch of mutts and mongrels come to dominate the world? It should be them.

The Canadians summed up the attitude best when they asserted that they were moral superpowers and the weight of their judgement should carry more weight than a powerful military because, as all enlightened people know, military strength is brutish and small minded compared to the beauty and delicacy of diplomacy.

The only problem is that the world is not as civilized as the Canadians and European believe. There really is evil in the world and diplomacy is a game to those people.

9/11 really did change many things not the least of which will be a reassessment of our international deployments.