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Riyadh Delenda Est!
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:: Friday, August 02, 2002 ::
On New York Times - Iraqis, Reversing Course, Ask to Meet U.N. Arms InspectorsThe Iraqi government, suddenly reversing its longstanding refusal to deal with United Nations weapons inspectors, asked Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday to send the head of the organization's inspection commission and his team of experts to Baghdad for talks.Isn't it amazing how reasonable Saddam can be? This illustrates one of the basic principles of Middle East diplomacy: the leaders of the various kleptocracies, thugocracies, and moronarchies of this region care about nothing other than self-preservation, and they are reasonable only when there is a gun at their heads. Cato understands self-preservation, too, and when faced with an enemy whose mindset is so diametrically opposed to yours that peace is fundamentally impossible, he believes "that the only intelligent thing to do, is get in the first lick. "
Steven Den Beste Has an execllent article on the issue of "fairness" in international relations in general, and attacking Iraq in particular. I've excerpted some of the high points, but the whole article is a must-read.Asking what "right" the US has to attack Iraq is not a meaningful question. Wars aren't based on right and wrong, or on entitlement. Participation in wars is always, always based on rational self interest by the nations in question. We will attack Iraq because Iraq is dangerous to us, and because if we don't fight there, then we'll fight them or their weapons here and a lot more of us will die. Since I am partisan for my nation and since I don't want my countrymen to die, I'd prefer that if fighting must be done that it be done elsewhere. No fighting at all would be even better yet, but that's no longer a choice available to us. ... The Q'uran also tells them that their nations should be powerful and important, and there was a time when it was true. The golden age of the Islamic empire was glorious. It also ended 600 years ago, and these days the reality is that the only reason that Saudi Arabia isn't a terribly impoverished third world nation is that it's sitting on reserves of oil. But among the Islamic nations, the only ones who have managed to succeed at anything other than selling natural resources have been those which have adopted western ways, western technology, western attitudes. The more devoutly Islamic a nation is, the more it seems to be a failure in all other ways. To be devout should mean being strong, but it seems to make them weak. It's almost as if the Q'uran was wrong – but the Q'uran cannot be wrong; it's the word of God. So we (you and I) are a living, walking, talking heresy. We're not even trying to spread our culture to the Islamic nations; it just happens on its own because, quite frankly, they are not very fun places to live. Irrespective of whether a devout Islamic life might be good for the soul, it's boring and unpleasant for the body and mind. The people there prefer our lifestyle; they eagerly seek it out. We seem to have no interest at all in their culture, however, except as an intellectual curiosity. There's zero chance of American women adopting the abaya, for example. ... They call us devils, because they truly see us as evil. We are the embodiment of the forces fighting against God and Islam, and we're winning. We win in terms of economic might; in terms of military power; in all forms of temporal power in fact. And we're winning the fight for minds and souls; our ideas are infecting the Arabs even in Holy Saudi Arabia, the very core of Islam, home of the two Mosques. We profane their faith just by breathing. ... But their leaders are deluded. They truly expected that as a result of last September's attack that we would crumble, economically and culturally and militarily. We have many weapons but no guts, or so they thought, and besides which when war really came God would fight on their side and smite us. They thought we would surrender. They didn't expect us to come in and crush them. But their evaluation wasn't based on understanding of us and how we think; it came from a reading of holy words. They thought we would surrender because God told them that they were guaranteed to win. Unfortunately, their delusion continues, and it remains their need to destroy us to protect Islam from our influence. From our influence as the source of dangerous ideas which threaten the foundation of Islam, ideas about freedom and independence and diversity and the ability of people, especially women, to make decisions for themselves and to talk about what they want to and go where they want and do what they want. That is what they fear most about us. Those ideas are a deadly threat to Islam itself. Which means that they would have attacked us eventually no matter whether we had troops in Saudi Arabia, no matter what we did or did not do in Israel, no matter what else we did in terms of foreign policy. They will attack us in future even if we don't attack Iraq. Their deep hatred of us doesn't stem from that. ... We owe it to our children to not bequeath to them a deadly peril we could have removed. And part of that is taking out Saddam. He represents a source of weapons which truly can harm us seriously, and has demonstrated a willingness to use them. He used his nerve gas against the Iranians, and he used it against the Kurds. He's threatened to use it against Israel. He might give some surreptitiously to the extremists, and we can't take that chance. If he'd actually been willing to cooperate with the arms inspectors over the course of the last ten years and truly given up all his supplies of WMDs and demonstrated the willingness to not try to develop them again, then it would not be necessary to take him out, and we'd be willing to continue a policy of isolation. So what gives us the right to go attack Iraq? The right of survival, the fact that if we don't go to Iraq to fight, there's an unacceptably high chance that Iraq's WMDs might come to us.To paraphrase John Adams, we must study politics and war, so our children may have the liberty to study science and mathematics. If we attack Iraq, Iraqi children will die. If we do not end the menace of Islamic terrorism, our children will die. Which children should die? (This is not a trick question.) I know my choice. When the Congress and Senate debate war with Iraq, we will learn the Democrats' choice.
National Review Online has this article by Victor Davis Hanson on why the rest of the world dislikes us.The problem is not that we are imperialistic, ruthless, murderous, and oppressive toward allies and neutrals, but, in fact, mostly the opposite. We welcome rather than suppress criticism. Despite our enormous military advantages we do listen to and, as disinterested brokers, try to mediate a variety of complaints — Indians versus Pakistanis, Greeks against Turks, Spanish and Moroccans. Foreign critics realize that their grumbles are heard and so often publish in American journals and newspapers. ...Professed hatred toward America for millions too often cloaks an inner desire for the very culture of freedom, material security, and comfort of the United States — like Saudis smirking over bin Laden as they push their carts in faux-American supermarkets among Pepsis and Sugar Smacks. In that regard, it all reminds me of tenured academics, who send their kids to private schools, vacation in Europe, and live in tasteful tree-lined suburbs — and then in the lounge damn the very institutions that have provided their universities with such bountiful capital to make their lives so comfortable. They are perennially unhappy because what they castigate has given them everything they treasure, and they are either too weak — or too human — to confess it.And so should we take care of business, first in Iraq, then in Saudi Arabia. It won't get done unless and until we do it. And anyone who thinks we can just wait these loonies out and "contain" them is kidding themselves.
I was browsing the World War II Poster Collection from Northwestern University Library when I ran across this this one. Amen.
Some good news on New York Times - Judge Rebuffs Detainees at Guantánamo:: Thursday, August 01, 2002 ::WASHINGTON, July 31 — A federal judge provided a significant legal victory for the Bush administration today when she dismissed lawsuits brought by two groups of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, saying United States courts had no jurisdiction over prisoners there.Three cheers for Judge Kollar-Kotelly! Looks like sombody in the Bush Administration thinks ahead.
Jim Hoagland, on Washington Post - The Mideast's Political Pygmies (washingtonpost.com)The administration cannot rely on local leaders who show no commitment to democratic change to be the instruments of that change. Nor can it rely on a now-discredited peace process to overcome the political hatreds and cultural backlash that roil the region. Only a level and clarity of American commitment to democratic change that forces choices upon reluctant partners will calm an ever more deadly conflict. We are not there. President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have yet to demonstrate they can agree with each other on the hows and whens of achieving peace in the Middle East. They seem to follow rather than to lead when they deal with Israel's Ariel Sharon, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah and their colleagues.Good cop/bad cop acts have their place, but Mr. Hoagland is correct that this one is getting old. If Head-up-his-Colon Powell cannot demonstrate his agreement with President Bush, he needs to find another job, ASAP. Setting the Bush Administration's foreign polich is solely the prerogative of President Bush.In that confused atmosphere, meetings about meetings have proliferated and replaced action. Arab rulers travel to the White House every few weeks to plead with Bush to do something that will chase images of Israeli-Palestinian slaughter off the television screens of the Arab world. The dream of evasion -- not of democracy or a better life for their subjects -- is the goal of the autocratic dynasties of the Arab world.The Arab regimes have never been interested in anything but self-preservation. It is not reasonable to expect them to change for anything less.Israel meanwhile sinks deeper into an understandable but dangerous rage over suicide bombers and their glorification in Palestinian society. Israel's military establishment "is angry in a way that it has never been angry before, in any previous war," Israel's premier defense analyst, Zeev Schiff, says with open concern. "The result is that when the location of the head of the military wing of Hamas becomes known, the decision not to let him slip away" -- by dropping a one-ton bomb in a crowded Gaza area -- "is made, whatever the consequences." It becomes a technical matter decided by munitions experts.Israel's losses, as a percentage of their population, are several times greater than America's losses in the 9/11 attacks. It is not reasonable to expect them to act with any more restraint than we would, in their circumstances.Down this road lies greater loss of control and greater disaster. Washington cannot simply wait until the time is right for action against Saddam Hussein or until Arafat keels over. Only pygmy-sized visions are coming from America's traditional partners in the region. These leaders must be challenged rather than comforted or coddled.Amen. Iraq today, Saudi Arabia tomorrow.
:: Wednesday, July 31, 2002 ::
On New York Times - For Homeland Security Bill, a BrakemanWASHINGTON, July 30 — The government's summer urgency to fend off terrorists by reorganizing security agencies seemed to melt away today when Robert C. Byrd walked onto the Senate floor in his seersucker suit and let loose a thundering demand to slow things down. The stripes on his jacket appeared to be trembling as much from indignation as from the infirmities of his 84 years as the senator held out his palm, and the power of parliamentary rules, before the onrushing bulldozer of the proposed Homeland Security Department. "Have we all completely taken leave of our senses?" he said, his tremulous drawl mocking the high-speed world flying by outside his timeless chamber. "The president is shouting, `Pass the bill, pass the bill!' The administration's cabinet secretaries are urging the adoption of the president's proposal without any changes." But that is not the way of the Senate, he arguedNo, Senator, we nave not taken leave of our senses. What you are seeing is America, gearing up for war, and God help you and your partisan Democratic cronies (and your lily-livered Republican fellow travelers) if there is another spectacular terrorist strike while you jerks are obstructing our efforts to protect ourselves. I can't help but wonder just how serious the Senate is about this war on terrorism. Is it the "way of the Senate" to sit around and bicker over the perfect way to organize a Department of Homeland Security when there are immediate and necessary changes that can, and indeed, must be made? Whatever the final version of DHSec looks like, visa issuance needs to be taken out of State Department's incompetent, lazy, hands right now!!! Whatever the final version of DHSec looks like, internal and external intelligence agencies need to coordinate their activities better. Whatever the final version of DHSec looks like, internal intelligence/law enforcement agencies need to develop a more military-like mindset. That is, they need to worry less about building a criminal case against suspects and more about how to preempt terrorist attacks before they can be launched. Whatever the final version of DHSec looks like, it needs to worry less about "sensitivity" and more about aggressively monitoring the activities of suspected Muslim and Arab-American organizations. Loyal Muslims and Arab-Americans will understand the need for this scrutiny. Disloyal Muslims and Arab-Americans? Fuck 'em!