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Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have.
-- Ronald Reagan

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Friday, March 28, 2003
BBC Honcho Denies Bias

at a meeting of Media Workers Against the War. And he was denying they have a pro-war bias. Wow - reality has left the building.

Andrew Sullivan has a point

Read up on Former President Clinton's attitude about Iraq.

Jewish Tradition that Supports the War

Send this to Liv!

Maimonides identifies two categories of justifiable warfare. There is the war which is a divine "commandment," including to save the nation "from the hand of the enemy that has come upon them." This requires no approval from other branches of government. There is also the category of war called "optional," driven by a need to ensure the future safety and prosperity of the country. The Talmud depicts the Biblical King David as making war against corrupt neighbors to provide his country, in danger of starvation, with sufficient sustenance (tractate Berachot, page 3b). This is not theft, but a matter of survival.

In an "optional" war, the king needs the approval of his legislative branch, the Sanhedrin of 71 expert sages. But with this approval secured, he may go to war to enlarge the nation's borders, or to pursue "greatness" and "reputation." Such a "reputation" is a defensive strategy. When other countries cease to regard your nation with awe, for instance if it tolerates violence against its citizens, this invites disrespect, which invites physical attack.

VDH has the cure for media doomsaying

Maybe he should run for President?

Indeed, the only wrinkle is that our present military faces cultural obstacles never envisioned by an Epaminondas, Caesar, Marlborough, Sherman — or any of the other great marchers. A globally televised and therapeutic culture puts an onus on American soldiers that could never have been envisioned by any of the early captains. We treat prisoners justly; our enemy executes them. We protect Iraqi bridges, oil, and dams — from Iraqi saboteurs. We must treat Iraqi civilians better than do their own men, who are trying to kill them. Our generals and leaders take questions; theirs give taped propaganda speeches. Shock and awe — designed not to kill but to stun, and therefore to save civilians — are slurred as Hamburg and Dresden. The force needed to crush Saddam’s killers is deemed too much for the fragile surrounding human landscape. Marines who raise the Stars and Stripes are reprimanded for being too chauvinistic. And on, and on, and on.

When this is all over — and I expect it will be soon — besides a great moral accounting, I hope that there will deep introspection and sober public discussion about the peculiar ignorance and deductive pessimism on the part of our elites. In the meantime, all we can insist on is absolute and unconditional surrender — no peace process, no exit strategy, no U.N. votes, no Arab League parley, no EU expressions of concern, no French, no anything but our absolute victory and Saddam’s utter ruin. Unlike in 1991, commanders in the field must be given explicit instructions from the White House about negotiations: There are to be absolutely none — other than the acceptance of unconditional surrender.

Thursday, March 27, 2003
Larry Elder

Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, born a slave, once offered a lesson in patriotism. In 1859, he fled for his life, accused erroneously of participating in the raid on Harper's Ferry, along with John Brown.

Director-producer-writer Ron Maxwell ("Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals") notes that, in 1860, Douglass spoke in Glasgow, Scotland, where, prior to his address, a radical antislavery leader delivered a scathing attack not just on slavery, but on all things American.

Despite his experience of brutality and dehumanization, Douglass, nevertheless, criticized the previous speaker. "He who stands before a British audience to denounce anything peculiarly American in connection with slavery," said Douglass, "has a very marked and decided advantage. It is not hard to believe the very worst of any country where a system like slavery has existed for centuries. This feeling towards everything American is very natural and very useful. I refer to it now not to condemn it, but to remind you that it is just possible that this feeling may be carried to too great length." He gave a detailed analysis of the American Constitution. Despite America's flaws, Douglass said, America stands unique in comparison to all other nations with its Constitution even with America's failure to live up to it.

George WIll on Sen. Moynihan

For calling attention, four decades ago, to the crisis of the African-American family--26 percent of children were being born out of wedlock--he was denounced as a racist by lesser liberals. Today the percentage among all Americans is 33, among African-Americans 69, and family disintegration, meaning absent fathers, is recognized as the most powerful predictor of most social pathologies.

At the U.N. he witnessed that institution's inanity (as in its debate about the threat to peace posed by U.S. forces in the Virgin Islands, at that time 14 Coast Guardsmen, one shotgun, one pistol) and its viciousness (the resolution condemning Zionism as racism). Striving to move America ``from apology to opposition,'' he faulted U.S. foreign policy elites as ``decent people, utterly unprepared for their work.''

Their ``common denominator, apart from an incapacity to deal with ideas, was a fear of making a scene, a form of good manners that is a kind of substitute for ideas.'' Except they did have one idea, that ``the behavior of other nations, especially the developing nations, was fundamentally a reaction to the far worse behavior of the United States.''

Old Liberalism, R.I.P.: Daniel Patrick Moynihan did not die alone.

"In the early 1960s in Washington," Moynihan reflected, "we thought we could do anything. . . The central psychological proposition of liberalism is that for every problem there is a solution." Early on Moynihan came to understand the "fatal flaw" of liberalism: "Wishing so many things so," he wrote 30 years ago, "we all too readily come to think them not only possible, which they very likely are, but also near at hand, which is seldom the case."

Why "seldom the case"? Because human nature and human society are more complicated and less susceptible to easy government remedies than our optimistic liberalism had led us to believe. But when the news started coming in during the mid-1960s that our problems were not going to be easily solved with another billion dollar program, many liberals reacted badly, often lashing out at the messenger. "Liberalism faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth," Moynihan observed.

At the same time liberalism began to experience its harsh limits in the 1960s, the rising generational revolt spawned a new political culture, apocalyptic in tone, "that rewarded the articulation of moral purpose more than the achievement of practical good." To the morally pure mind of the protest Left in the 1960s, if you expressed any doubt about immediately ending poverty, racism, and war, then you were a Bad Person. This was the beginning of "the politics of personal destruction." Liberalism came, in Moynihan's words, to have "the ability to immediately dissolve every statement of fact into a question of motive." Moynihan himself was one of the first victims of this new political culture, even though he never stopped trying to refine social policy to serve liberal ends.

In practical everyday terms this not only means that you will demonize your opponents in the most personal way ("Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"), but it also rules out compromise with the opposition. The Clintons brought this attitude with them to Washington. Clinton could have had comprehensive health care reform in 1994 if he had been willing to compromise with Republicans in Congress. But Clinton wouldn't even compromise with Moynihan, who was then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. In Clinton's very first week in office in 1993, a senior White House aide was quoted (anonymously) in Time magazine about Moynihan: "He's not one of us . . . we'll roll right over him if we have to."

He's not one of us. The phrase speaks volumes.

John Keegan

Will trying to avoid civilian casualties cause more deaths? Read his essay.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Depleted Uranium

I watched the Centcom briefing this morning, and I think 2 or 3 reporters - a French one and maybe a Brit - asked about our use of depleted uranium munitions. There is a theory out there that DU munitions are an insidious health threat (what munition isn't?) due to the radioactive nature of uranium. This article explains the facts of the case. Bottom line: no proven danger; and significant evidence of little to no danger.

The World Health Organization agrees that DU is not a great health risk. Its 2003 fact sheet on the topic declares that "because DU is only weakly radioactive, very large amounts of dust (on the order of grams) would have to be inhaled for the additional risk of lung cancer to be detectable in an exposed group. Risks for other radiation-induced cancers, including leukaemia, are considered to be very much lower than for lung cancer." Another WHO report found, "The radiological hazard is likely to be very small. No increase of leukemia or other cancers has been established following exposure to uranium or DU."

What about those military reports [which report no ill effects of DU]? Dan Fahey, a former naval officer who served in the first Gulf War and is a long-time anti-DU activist, asserts that Defense Department spokespeople "have lied about the health of US Gulf War veterans exposed to DU and exaggerated the importance of DU rounds." What was the alleged lie? The Pentagon has said that no veterans in a small follow-up study of Gulf War soldiers who had been exposed to DU have contracted cancer. Fahey cites a memo that states that one veteran who had been recently added to the study has had lymphatic cancer. Fahey does acknowledge that "it is possible that this veteran's cancer is not linked to his confirmed exposure to DU."

Fahey thinks the Pentagon exaggerates the importance of DU munitions and points out that DU rounds probably took out only one-seventh of the Iraqi tanks destroyed during the first Gulf War. But Fahey also admits that there is very little evidence that DU is severely toxic. He also refutes other activists' alarmist claims that civilians have been severely harmed by depleted uranium. "There are no credible studies linking exposure to DU with any cancers or illnesses among people in Iraq, the Balkans, or Afghanistan," he declares.

If DU is not notably harmful to human health or the environment, why the fierce opposition to it? A lot of it has to do with conventional anti-nuclear activism: Some people automatically object to anything that hints of nuclear radiation. Second, some of the opposition is the result of a successful Iraqi disinformation campaign claiming that exposure to DU had caused thousands of cancers and birth defects to innocent civilians. When the WHO offered to investigate the claims, Iraqi officials flatly refused the offer. Other than trying to gain international sympathy, Pentagon officials argue that one of the real aims of the Iraqi campaign was to get DU munitions outlawed internationally so they would not have to face them again.

Sowell on Public Education

It is bad enough when someone takes the position that he has made up his mind and doesn't want to be confused by the facts. It is worse when someone else makes up his mind for him and then he dismisses any facts to the contrary by attributing bad motives to those who present those facts.

Creating mindless followers is one of the most dangerous things that our public schools are doing. Young people who know only how to vent their emotions, and not how to weigh opposing arguments through logic and evidence, are sitting ducks for the next talented demagogue who comes along in some cult or movement, including movements like those that put the Nazis in power in Germany.

The UN's "Moral Authority"

From Jay Nordlinger's column today.

Anyway, here is President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, on March 8 (before the beginning of the war, obviously). Consider the source, as we say:

"They [US and coalition partners] should act when they are right to act because the Security Council can be wrong. It was wrong in Rwanda. . . . You might avoid war and have a worse situation. . . . That is why I was giving a comparison with our case. People avoided a war or doing very much and it ended up with a genocide."

George Will

One of the best. Good line: "It is the conservatives' vocation to prepare the public to be comfortable with imperfection."

Democracy not "mobocracy"

Mental note: send this to Olivia!

Glenn Reynolds on the "New Class"

I can't help but notice that anti-Americanism, and the various manifestations of what some have called Transnational Progressivism, are most common among people who, well, have state-supported managerial or intellectual jobs, the people who made up what Milovan Djilas and others called the "New Class" of bureaucrats and managers in the old Communist world. Not surprisingly, the New Class was deeply concerned with matters of status and position, and deeply opposed to things that might have led to competition on merit. There's nothing new about such a view, which predated communism: As David Levy and Sandra Peart note, it's an attitude that even in the nineteenth century was characteristic of anti-capitalists and anti-semites - and, nowadays, there's a lot of overlap between anti-capitalists, anti-semites, and anti-Americans.

A common thread among anti-semitism, anti-capitalism, and anti-Americanism is the fear of being outdone by people willing to work harder. It's not surprising that such a fear exists among a disproportionate number of those who take state-supported jobs. It's thus not surprising, then, that New Class sensibilities are so often anti-American and anti-capitalist, and increasingly (or perhaps I should say, once again) anti-Semitic, too. The New Class, in this regard, as in many others, is like the old haut-bourgeoisie.

Ralph Peters

I like this guy's analysis. He wants more armor in the field and things the Pentagon made a mistake in this respect. Maybe he's right. We'll see.

Monday, March 24, 2003
Cool Slide Show


Winning Big

Anglosphere:End of transnational illusion?

By James Bennett. Good read as well.

Even more VDH

Wow. He outdid himself today. Read this and re-read it.

Sunday, March 23, 2003
More Victor Davis Hanson

According to [Arab rulers'] stereotypes of us, we will tire of all this dirty war, throw up our hands, and finally go home.

And there is a depressing predictability even about the more successful conventional wars of the Middle East, whether we examine the Israeli-Arab conflicts, the first Gulf War or the decades of conflicts in Lebanon.

An exasperated West - hit by assassinations and bombings, wearied by the shouts of "Death to America," witnessing monotonous goose-stepping of the Republican Guard or Martyrs Brigade - finally in exasperation sends in the troops. Arab armies flee. Peace is begged for and given.

Armistices are then broken. Past defeat is transmogrified into victory; terrorism renews - and suddenly Roman numerals are needed to identify the next war.