International Affairs

July 4, 2011

When the Lender and Supplier Is Another Nation

Chinese microchips in missiles could be a sort of Trojan horse. Shouldn't that have been anticipated?

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

May 18, 2011

A Change of Tune on Radicalization

Remember when the danger of radicalizing Muslims was proclaimed with every bit of collateral damage? What changed?

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

May 4, 2011

Preference for a More Confident Nation

There's something insecure and unAmerican in too jubilant a celebration of the death of a single man.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:32 AM

February 2, 2011

A Controlled Use for Weapons

Nuclear disarmament mightn't serve the cause of peace.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

December 24, 2010

A Hostile World Closes In

In part with the help of Iran, Venezuela is arming itself to the teeth. Why aren't we reacting?

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:04 AM

December 16, 2010

Equivalence Beheaded

Death sentences for apostasy suggest (to me, at least) that concern about the sanity of the Iranian regime is not subject to relativism.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

December 7, 2010

The Methods of a Mad Nation

The West cannot negotiate with Iran, because its leaders refuse to allow the development of a common intellectual and moral language.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

October 19, 2010

Cause and What-Can-Effect

When it comes to globalization, the U.S. government must address that which it has the power to address — mainly, relinquishing its power.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

October 12, 2010

A Foreign Reason to Get Our Own House in Order

China should provide Americans with an excuse to change our way of doing things... back to the way we used to do them.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:03 PM

October 1, 2010

Floating Anarchy

Effective slavery on fishing vessels raises questions of government structure. Government is needed, to be sure, to regulate, but government is also responsible, no doubt, for the perpetuation of conditions under which people enter into such situations.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:23 AM

September 30, 2010

Europe Hanging America Out to Dry (By the Heat of Terrorist Attacks)

Europe is interfering with American efforts to collect travel data critical to thwarting terrorist plots.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

September 28, 2010

Not Quite a "Barb"

President Obama deployed diversity-speak against a lying tyrant, when what he ought to have done was call into question the legitimacy of an international organization that gives tyrants a respected platform.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:10 AM

September 14, 2010

In the Interest of a Coherent View of Nation Building

The problem with arguments against "nation building" is that they inherently ignore the necessity of following war with reconstruction.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:32 PM

September 9, 2010

We Won't Long Be Weak... We Hope

It may be that the critical component in our successful counterinsurgency in Iraq — now absent, for Afghanistan — is the enemy's understanding that America's commander in chief was strong and serious about his mission.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:43 PM

August 24, 2010

Where's the Terrorists' Margin?

To the extent that "terrorism is the weapon of the marginalized," it's not the West doing the marginalization, but dictators and their ideology.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:39 AM

August 15, 2010

The Inevitable Victory Line Is Ringing Hollow

From the perspective of global jihadis, I'm not so sure the United States hasn't been proving its weakness.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:44 PM

August 4, 2010

Not Just a Loose Cannon, but a Regional Threat

It's not really a news flash that non-Israel neighbors of Iran are concerned about its approach to nuclear power.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

Thinking About War

George Weigel has an interesting article seeking to forge a new approach to foreign policy that negates U.S. oscillation between realism and idealism.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:46 AM

July 20, 2010

Depends Where We Look... and Stop Looking

The intriguing story of an Iranian nuclear scientist returning to Iran from the United States doesn't prove that the former has a nuclear weapons program, but it certainly indicates that there's more going on than meets the eye.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:15 PM

July 14, 2010

The Seamless Burka of Sharia

Moderate Islam does exist, but within individuals, and is susceptible to radicalization.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:34 PM

July 13, 2010

Responding to Our Signals

In acting in a way that other nations may see as crazy, Iran is actually behaving rationally, given the U.S. response.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:17 PM

July 9, 2010

The Slow Theocratic Revolution

Turkey's Islamification could be a dire warning sign that the West must reinvigorate its own principles and confidence.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

July 5, 2010

What's Worth Economic Disruption in a Recession

French transportation strikes over two extra years before retirement (to 62) are beyond my capacity for empathy.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:55 PM

June 26, 2010

Lamenting the Impossibility of Having and Eating the Cake

Everybody's concerned about the attitude of the unemployed young adults of Greece. Actually, I suspect that there are folks who see opportunity rather than decline in the shiftless generation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

June 22, 2010

What a Nation Can Do

David Goldman describes "Augustinian realism," which should dictate a foreign policy somewhere between Bush and Obama. I think we need to firm up our own culture, though, before we're able to be coherent.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:38 AM

May 18, 2010

Planning Military Strategy Around Politics

The balance of military and political authority can be difficult in war, but it's necessary. Of course, one wonders whether it's for the best that military strategists are planning around politicians.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

May 4, 2006

A New Court, A New Man

Although I'm not sure why, this blurb about France's "offering Zacarias Moussaoui the consular protection he deserves as a French national" gave me a shiver-inducing vision of a future in which some old stubborn folks such as I plan to be are shaking our heads at the news that the International Criminal Court, having just declared jurisdiction over the American judicial system (to no palpable protest from our legislature), sets Moussaoui free.

Echoing Peggy Noonan's closing list of hopes, I wish I could say that such a thing could never happen.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:26 PM | Comments (1)

July 7, 2005

Terrorism, the Evil Resistance

The foreign minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, said something in a recent interview with Jay Nordlinger, published in the June 20 National Review that seemed particularly appropriate to post today (brackets in original):

Lakhdar Brahimi [of the U.N.] refers to the insurgency you're facing as a "resistance" — a resistance, moreover, some of whose "aspects" are "very legitimate." Your response?

We were the resistance, against Saddam Hussein. I personally was — I was a member of the resistance in the early '80s, opposed to Saddam Hussein. At the time, nobody [in the world at large] was on our side. But we never, ever blew up water plants, we never attacked a pipeline or an electrical pole, we never targeted civilians, or hospitals, or schools, or populated areas. We never sent cars [outfitted with bombs] to kill innocent people in the streets.

There are aspects of a legitimate resistance, and these aspects are missing in Iraq. To call the insurgents a resistance is an affront to a true resistance.

May God be with those in England who've suffered most deeply, this day, and on a daily basis in Iraq, and may those nations' ruling classes lead their people in a direction that acknowledges that not all violence against organized civilizations is righteous.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:03 PM | Comments (1)

February 7, 2005

Conservative Pundits' Fear of Cloning...

... is ultimately a matter of self-interest. A few dozen Mark Steyns, and most pundits would be unnecessary:

As you may have noticed, the good people of Darfur have been fortunate enough not to attract the attention of the arrogant cowboy unilateralist Bush and have instead fallen under the care of the Polly Toynbee-Clare Short-approved multilateral compassion set. So, after months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan managed to persuade the UN to set up a committee to look into what's going on in Darfur. They've just reported back that it's not genocide.
Posted by Justin Katz at 11:55 AM

February 5, 2005

Sovereignty of Issues

Responding to various reactions to President Bush's inaugural address (yes, I'm behind), Someguy, of Mystery Achievement, writes:

... it is no longer possible to "ride out of town" as Victor Davis Hanson envisions us doing someday. Modern transportation and communications make that impossible. We cannot sit idly by while nations who have declared themselves to be our enemies harbor, train, arm, and otherwise aid and abet people who want to kill as many of us as possible--and will do so if given the chance. And for the foreseeable future, we cannot rely on the United Nations to do anything about this, as long as it clings to the liberal ideal of national sovereignty. Indeed, by so doing, it has for all practical purposes institutionalized the totalitarian anarchy that Harris described.

Because I agree, essentially, with his conclusion, I suspect that Someguy didn't quite capture what he meant by the phrase "clings to the liberal ideal of national sovereignty." He subsequently links to a TCS piece by my fellow Anchor Rising contributor Carroll Andrew Morse claiming that the U.N. is "the trade association for the world's executive branches -- the place where executive branches come together to promote their individual interests to one another, and to promote the expansion of executive authority in general." At issue isn't so much the ideal of national sovereignty — because bureaucratic leanings toward the United Nations as a governing body are manifestly contrary to that ideal — but the question of with whom national sovereignty lies.

The U.N.'s answer is the nation's leaders. The answer inherent in President Bush's vision for an international landscape defined by freedom is the nation's people.

How nations' sovereign people will judge the legitimacy of others' governments is a debate that must follow. And here again, as with terrorism and self-defense, the lines blur between our approach to international affairs and the way in which we handle ourselves domestically. In a system of global federalism laid out in tiers of democratic representation, the United States is not merely a beacon, but a model. How we address the balance of power between branches, between state and federal governments, and between the individual and society will help to determine the character of world government.

Perhaps it is the intellectual destruction of issues' silos — or rather the emerging admission that they were an illusion — that so disconcerts those who've built their worldviews around them. Or perhaps it is a lack of trust in representative democracy itself, which reflects mainly the willingness of those who are untrusting to manipulate it; cultures less bound by principles of reason and individualism will find much to emulate in judicial activism and modern crusades against free association and local piety.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:09 PM | Comments (3)

January 24, 2005

A Victor of Clarity

As one would expect, John Hawkins's second interview with Victor Davis Hanson is thought-provoking. Moreover, the greatest quality that VDH exudes is, as always, clarity. In comparison to my meandering post about the foolish debate over troop levels, for example, VDH cuts right to the point and then moves on:

That's why this whole inside the beltway acrimony is so disturbing. The real discussion should be not how many troops you have but what is exactly the mission of these troops? What are they going to do and what are they not going to do? I think they should have been from Day 1 going after --- in really an offensive mode --- the people in the Sunni Triangle as they did with this wonderful operation that we saw the last couple of months in Fallujah. That should have been done earlier.

Another instance of the one-two punch of clarity and conclusion involves Europe:

When it comes to [Americans' view of] Europe I think left, right, liberal, conservative, there's almost this schadenfreude; it's almost like, well, you people are utopian and your 21st century humanists, you settle it because we in America believe it's a lose-lose situation for us. That's a dangerous situation because it may be in our national interest to intervene but no president will be able to galvanize public opinion to do that.

His prescription for immigration sounds just about impossible, from our current perspective, but it bears repeating, because he's absolutely correct:

... no more of that 1960's ideology of separatism and hatred. We can't tolerate it......We have (to prepare to meet them) with social censor from everybody because we do not want to go down the path of Rwanda or the Balkans. (We should have) one language, one culture, many races --- and that'll send a message as well to potential illegal immigrants that if you come to the U.S., you no longer get a drivers' license (and) speak Spanish in an apartheid community. No, if you come to the U.S., you're going to have to do it legally and you're going to have to learn English immediately in an immersion program and you're not going to get any special weight whatsoever for being Mexican. You'll be treated like an Italian or a Greek or a Korean or Punjabi.

There's not going to be any guilt, affirmative action, victimization culture just because you crossed the border illegally and that can’t be done by government alone. That has to be changed in our own minds and hearts and the left is going to have to accept that just like the right is going to have to accept an employer cannot count on non-union cheap wages in perpetuity. It's just not going to happen.

And speaking of letting the '60s ideology slip into history, there's his view of Vietnam — just a few hundred words that every high school student learning about that era ought to be required to read and (preferably) research. Be sure to read it, yourself.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:28 PM

December 2, 2004

The Season Isn't Over Yet

I've never been a huge fan of sports. Oh, I enjoy playing them, and I think their organization is an important aspect of the world that we create for children. It's the viewing — the fandom — that never appealed to me. One reason for my athletics apathy is that I tend to be a then-do-it type of guy; whether the "it" is music, Web design, or pole vaulting, enjoying somebody else's performance merely spurs me to my own. The flip side of that urge is a hesitance to critize when I lack the ability or aggregate information to do something or to make a relevant judgment.

Although I don't recall a specific instance, a general sense of folks without that hesitance has been with me since I was a boy. The image is of the bleachers-sitting fathers of Little Leaguers complaining about the coaching of their childrens' team — not so much citing observed shortcomings and offering considered remedies as cycling through a litany of general-theory can'ts and oughts (as well as bragging).

Apart from the dubious wisdom of their collected expertise, there's an element of case-specific ignorance that permeates such idle declarations. Has one of the fielders suffered an embarrassing injury that only his parents and coach know to take into account? Are there indications that playing the best and second-best players non-stop will cause the fifth through tenth–best players to quit? Is there some guiding principle that can't be revealed for practical reasons?

As is probably evident, this meandering post is not really about sports. Indeed, one of the reasons I think organized athletics are important for children is the degree to which they teach important lessons without being so self-defeatingly blunt as to spell them out. The particular lesson at hand applies to just about any aspect of society, but the area in which it has seemed most egregious, of late, is war.

Even granting some allowance for pundits' need to make it seem as if they know what they're talking about, a post by Andrew Sullivan leaves me shaking my head:

News flash: we need more troops in Iraq. Duh. The truth is: we needed far more from the very beginning - and this incremental increase, which reflects the enemy's tenacity as much as ours, is exactly the kind of mission creep we should always have avoided. I'm still dumbfounded by the political branch's refusal to acknowledge this before now, and the lame excuse that the only justification for more troops would be if the commanders demanded them. The level of troops - like the war in general - is far too important to be left to the military. Such decisions require political and strategic judgments that can only be made by the commander in chief.

To consolidate my response in a question: Why can't maintaining just the troop level that commanders request be a political and strategic judgment in itself? In its approach to exerting its military force around the world (nation building and all that), especially in Iraq, the U.S. is attempting to walk a line between two undesirable impressions, with the possibility of abandoning the cause altogether on one side and the possibility of absorbing other countries in an American empire on the other.

America's enemies have learned to leverage its fleeting political will to fight in distant lands, and people in the Middle East are famously sensitive to rhetoric about a Modern Crusade. It seems to my far-from-expert eye that one way to accomplish the necessary political balance between these two realities is to keep troop levels reasonably close to articulable need and not to hesitate to send them when the need is articulated. The Washington Post piece to which Sullivan links begins thus:

Senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq say it is increasingly likely they will need a further increase in combat forces to put down remaining areas of resistance in the country.

Now that a major enemy stronghold has been taken, broader forces are becoming necessary. Discerning a CYA subtext, here, doesn't strike me as required. I don't ask this with an implied answer, but what would additional troops have done in the meantime? Among whatever tasks they could have accomplished, they would certainly have served as additional targets for insurgents who still had a place of retreat. They also would have enhanced the power of anti-imperialist rhetoric. One thing they wouldn't have been doing is contributing to the impression — mostly important to the President's global strategy — that we are not currently overextended. Another thing they wouldn't have been doing is spending time with family — or at least resting in the execution of lighter duty.

I guess I just don't understand how it can be called "mission creep" to send American men and women into the battle zone only when they are needed for a specific purpose. Mission creep occurs when a group starts undertaking tasks that aren't obviously related to its objective, and the circumstances that foster it often involve idle hands.

That the coach is not adhering to the game plan of any given bystander is not evidence that he doesn't have one. Giving commanders only as many boots on the ground as they know what to do with is not, as Sullivan insists, "passivity." (Even less passive is the implied preference for keeping levels to a minimum.)

Phrases, spoken with puzzling authority, such as Sullivan's that troop level "is far too important to be left to the military" may sound shrewd to those hanging over the chain-linked fence by third base. But it's curious that so many on the sidelines don't seem to understand that Sullivan's next sentence applies to them, as well: "Such decisions require political and strategic judgments that can only be made by the commander in chief."

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:17 PM | Comments (3)

November 17, 2004

A Catholic War on Terror

In my piece on NRO answering the USCCB's ten questions for Catholic voters, I wrote the following:

... if we are to take up the bishops' call to "humanize globalization," we must develop a radically new understanding of the global community — as one of people rather than of ruling classes. War can be a defense of foreign people from their own leaders. An international body, therefore, that is not internally democratic and whose members are not accountable to their people cannot be deemed beyond scrutiny. Circumstances may arise in which our nation must reject the suspect resistance of the United Nations in order to force regime change elsewhere, and it will not always be possible to draw lines between our own self-interest and the humanitarian needs of those we liberate.

Judging from Joseph D'Hippolito's recent piece on FrontPageMagazine, my opinion may not count as dissent for all eternity:

Rome also appears more willing to advocate a more assertive military presence against jihadist terror, within limits governed by international law. In his La Stampa interview, Sodano hoped that the United Nations would add a new principle to its charter: "the possibility, even the duty of 'humanitarian intervention' in extreme situations in which human rights are trampled upon within a country." ...

"International human rights and humanitarian law oblige governments to provide for the security and well-being of all those under their jurisdiction," said Tomasi, Rome's former diplomatic representative to Ethiopia and Eritrea. "If, however, a state fails to or cannot take this responsibility ... then the international community can and should assert its concern, step in and take on this obligation."

Joseph cites some indication that the legitimacy of this "humanitarian intervention" could extend to stopping the march of Islamofascism. The more difficult barrier for the Church, however, may be its view that the authority that such regimes have forfeited can only be arrogated by a superseding bureaucracy — specifically, the United Nations.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)

November 12, 2004

A Real Culture War

I don't often offer kudos to the Providence Journal's Froma Harrop, but her recent piece, "Europe's culture war from hell," is very much worth reading:

THE MURDER of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh has cut yards off the fuse on Europe's culture war. And we mean war -- with shooting and bombing -- not some American-type spat over Hollywood. Boy, would the Europeans love to trade their culture war for ours. ...

Many in the American media haven't a clue. They apply the American experience to Europe. U.S. immigration comes with its own set of problems, but assimilation is not among them. Immigrants to the United States tend to melt easily into the culture. They don't attack cheerleaders in Texas because they find them lewd.

Well, not yet. Yesterday, I ended an Anchor Rising post about some Northeastern liberal "family values" spin with the implication that progressives and socialists are only too willing to take credit for the lifestyles of traditionalists in their midst when those lifestyles' results prove politically desirable to tout. Perhaps there's a chance — even if slim — that the deterioration of Europe into a Hot Culture War will push American liberals and secularists back toward the source of our nation's ballast: religious and cultural conservatism.

The question, when it comes to the "ugly choices" with "no option but to make them," in Harrop's words, will be how far from the lifeline the liberal segments of our culture have already swum.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:07 PM | Comments (1)

November 1, 2004

Closing Your Eyes Won't Make It Go Away

Rush is right.

Lane Core's got more pictures that voters should keep in mind.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:23 PM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2004

Decisions to Be Made

As if homespun political clashes aren't enough to fear after the election, Chuck Colson implores us to remember the stakes of choosing the right leader:

I have come to the sobering conclusion that we are in greater danger of a nuclear strike today than we were during the Cold War.

That being the case, can we really wait until an attack to go after the terrorists who perpetrate it? Or do we have to, instead, rethink the whole spirit of Just War arguments, accepting that preemption is the only humane and just solution in an age of terror to accomplish what the Just War doctrine proposes? Today we are dealing with an irrational enemy who knows it cannot conquer us, but will do everything in its power to destabilize us. Can we wait until the attacks—perhaps killing tens of thousands—or should we seek them out and destroy them before they have a chance to destroy us?

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:05 AM | Comments (2)

October 28, 2004

Under Le Microscope

Following the previous post, a link to Cox & Forkum's cartoon today seems appropriate.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:11 PM

Stepping Over the Major Storyline While Russia Plots

One problem that arises when those whom a society allocates as professional watchers become relentlessly partisan is that entire storylines can be missed. Crucially important storylines pop up as incidents, here and there, and are allowed to slip away; without sustained attention, and not having the resources to become international reporters themselves, regular folks just lose the thread.

Well, by now you've surely heard about this:

Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned.

The idea of Russia's having a hand in cleansing Iraq before the war brought to mind my musing — at about the same time that Russian boots were quietly collecting sand in Iraq — that it would make for a good fiction plot to imagine the end of the Cold War as a ruse, to allow the Communists to work behind the scenes to undermine the capitalist West. In looking for that post, however, I also came across another, from April 2003, wherein I quoted a Telegraph piece by David Harrison as follows:

Top secret documents obtained by The Telegraph in Baghdad show that Russia provided Saddam Hussein's regime with wide-ranging assistance in the months leading up to the war, including intelligence on private conversations between Tony Blair and other Western leaders.

Moscow also provided Saddam with lists of assassins available for "hits" in the West and details of arms deals to neighbouring countries. The two countries also signed agreements to share intelligence, help each other to "obtain" visas for agents to go to other countries and to exchange information on the activities of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa'eda leader.

In retrospect, however, the espionage angle of that report mightn't be the most important. Instead, consider this:

Another document, dated March 12, 2002, appears to confirm that Saddam had developed, or was developing nuclear weapons. The Russians warned Baghdad that if it refused to comply with the United Nations then that would give the United States "a cause to destroy any nuclear weapons".

A quick Google search of the only direct quotation from the March 12 document gives the impression that most of those news organizations and bloggers who chose to mention it highlighted the information-cooperation angle in the context of U.S./Russia relations, essentially tacking the mention of nuclear weapons onto reports as something that seemed only of potential interest.

Note something else about the mere three pages of Google results: the only major media coverage, apart from the Telegraph, came from the New York Post and Fox News. For some perspective of how insignificant that coverage is, search for "Abu Ghraib."

Unraveling these threads becomes all the more significant if we add in James Robbins's suggestion that much the same dynamic has been at play in the search for WMDs:

So between the al Qaqaa explosives, the dual-use equipment, the Tuwaitha nuclear material, the missing chemical weapons, and the Syrian connection, it sounds like the WMD rationale is much stronger than most critics give it credit for. One can only imagine what Saddam would have done given the chance to put them all together.

Speaking of putting things together, the thesis that begs to be tested is just how tangential the various threads to this story really are. How huge of a storyline has been permitted to submerge, here, I don't know. But somehow I suspect it would be better to find out sooner than later.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:16 AM

October 22, 2004

If Only the West Wanted the West to Win

I first became aware of Cliff May when he was the Republican on a show that pitted hyperpartisans against each other. The hyperpartisan Democrat — some former politician or other — ran out of arguments against the point that May was making and resorted to the weasel's undermining strategy of complimenting his opponent on how well he "does his job." The implication being, of course, that May's arguments didn't count, that they couldn't be sincerely offered, because his job was to spin, and he was spinning.

So, yes, there are such considerations to be made when reading a piece that he recently wrote about the confirmed case for war in Iraq, including the insistence that we can't yet discount the possibility of WMDs:

For another, because no one — including opponents of the war — knew that Saddam no longer had WMD stockpiles.

And Gen. Michael DeLong, former Deputy Commander of the US Central Command, is among those who still do not believe it. "There was WMD in Iraq before and during the war," he says. "You have multiple-source intelligence. Also, from other Arab leaders -- as Tommy Franks [the general who led the U.S. operation to liberate Iraq] says in his book -- King Abdullah said Saddam has WMD. President Mubarek of Egypt said ... Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. Other leaders who have chosen not to be named said the same thing. We had technical intelligence that saw the same thing."

What happened to those weapons? General DeLong recalls: "Two days before March 19, 2003, we saw quite a number of vehicles going into Syria. We could not go after them because we said we'd give Saddam 48 hours. A lot of (Iraqi) leaders went into Syria, and a lot of WMD went into Syria. We've gotten indications some went into Lebanon, and probably some went into Iran. ...We've done calculations that you could probably bury 16 Eiffel Towers or Empire State Buildings and never find them in the desert."

Still, the question isn't whether May has ulterior motives for writing such a column; it's whether he makes any valid points. It has become a cliché to refer to "experiencing history in the making," but I don't think I've ever felt the truth of the phrase more than in the post-war argument over WMDs. Don't ever forget how quickly the storyline became that none existed. For a variety of reasons, analysis of the world as-is isn't often performed with an emphasis on exhausting all possible explanations, as well as others that might negate them.

At the very least, history will vindicate George W. Bush's decision, I'm confident. And it's hardly a stretch to hold that history may prove that we were wrong to declare ourselves wrong about some of its justifications.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:04 AM | Comments (1)

October 10, 2004

Out with the Old... and the New

Patrick Sweeney — you know, the NYC Catholic radio-show hostnotes that policies inimical to their faith aren't the only reason Socialist-voting Spanish Catholics might begin to wonder whether they made a deal with the Devil:

Now in power, the Socialists/secularists are paving the way for dhimmitude (i.e. subjection of a Catholic nation to Islam). UK Guardian: Funding for Church to be slashed by Spanish
The Spanish government sparked a furious row yesterday after it emerged that it had drawn up a timetable to halve state funding of the Roman Catholic Church and to ban crucifixes from public buildings.

Some of that money, apparently, will be serving as an indirect reward for the terrorists who helped to put the Socialists in power, financing teaching and promotion of Islam. I can't tell how distant a prediction this represents, but it would seem likely to be only a matter of time until the secularists realize that they, too, have made a deal with the Devil.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:25 PM

October 9, 2004

Jumping Continentals

Commenting to a post about same-sex marriage that's just about to fall off my main index, Jon Rowe suggested that:

Europe, in attempting to keep up with US economic might, has been moving in the direction of greater market-friendliness every since the Thacher revolution -- which spread throughout most of the other Western European nations -- and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Culturally, I think Europe is wonderful. I spent a summer in Rome in 2001. What a wonderful city. And Italy epitomizes the affluent Eurpean nation with a low birth rate. That place was jumpin -- a truly vibrant culture -- the exact opposite of "dead."

Much of the subsequent discussion questioned what constitutes "a truly vibrant culture." Personally, I can envision many ways in which a country that is either rapidly burying itself or reacting to acute fatalism would seem extremely vibrant to an outsider. Hyperbole: You've got twenty-four hours to live; will you be lethargic?

On the first paragraph, however, nobody noted that part of "market-friendliness" requires social policies that get people to work and ensure that there are people to work. (And again, both childlessness and a diminished work schedule would seem likely to increase perceived vibrancy, according to some definitions.) On that count, a piece to which Glenn Reynolds linked seems relevant:

Only by working longer and moving towards the US social model can Europe hope to attain its Lisbon goals, according to Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Dutch Minister of Economy, speaking at an event in Brussels on 7 October.

Modernising the European social model is a matter of urgency if Europe wants to maintain its model of choice in the long term and close the productivity gap with the US, believes the minister.

'I will argue that the updated European social model should differ distinctly from the current one' explained Mr Brinkhorst. 'It will inevitably resemble the US model more than is the case today. But it will still be a European model, reflecting European preferences for social inclusion and environment. The main conditions for achieving this are enhancing growth and employability,' he said.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:52 AM

October 7, 2004

Inviting the Enemy to Supper

Within the past couple of weeks, a priest mentioned to me, in group conversation, that Catholics oughtn't find their decision in the next presidential election to be a simple matter. I've been meaning to bring up in private the easy confidence of my voting intentions, but the opportunity hasn't arisen. Perhaps, though, I need only point to Spain:

I know many Spanish Catholics who voted for the Socialist candidate Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in last March's elections, driven by opposition to conservative Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Though Zapatero is a leftist, many Spanish Catholics felt his emphasis on peaceful resolution of conflict, and his strong social concern, were closer to the Catholic spirit than Aznar's more bellicose style. A Spanish Opus Dei member told me that even Opus Dei voters probably went 60-40 for Zapatero.

The first few months of Zapatero's reign, however, may be giving some of his Catholic supporters pause.

Reporter John Allen lists various issues, other than the war, that have subsequently fallen against the Catholic policy platform. Although perhaps not as extreme, American Catholics currently face a similar decision. If only one could assume that Catholic voters in the U.S. picked up, while being catechized, the distinction between truth and convenient rhetoric.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:51 AM

September 29, 2004

In the Spin Biz, Timing Is Everything

Hadi Semanti writes some discouraging words in today's Providence Journal:

THE BUSH administration hoped that regime change in Iraq would stimulate democratic change throughout the Mideast, but, in fact, the opposite is taking place.

Reform movements, despite the promises of the Bush administration, are in retreat across the region, at least for now. Given the enormous antipathy currently felt toward the United States, even to be associated with the U.S. agenda of democratic transformation in the Mideast means the end of legitimacy for many of these groups. ...

It is no wonder that Iranians have in recent months slowed their calls for reform, that they have indicated that they want change from within, and that they have quietly and hesitantly submitted to the rule of a more monolithic conservative polity. For a lot of people, among the ordinary public and the elite, the level of instability in Iraq is an unacceptable price to pay for political reform.

If low-profile reports prove true, however, the Tehran University professor appears to have slipped onto history's list of commentators with monumentally bad timing:

Reports over the past 24 - 48 hours via several important information services such as SMCCDI, Peykeiran, Zagros and direct email reports and phone calls from Iranian citizens is beginning to shine light on what at this time looks to be country-wide fighting and quickly escalating into what could potentially become a freedom revolution. ...

In the past week and recent days, many regional commanders and leaders of the regime's militias have been targeted and killed along with many of their militiamen.

Initial reports from Iranian online news sources as well as from western satellite news media are reporting intense fighting throughout Iran, and report that such fighting is increasing at a constant rate.

As the saying goes, don't count your mullahs...

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:57 PM

September 4, 2004

Where Children Sleep Under the Gaze of the World

Pinpoint flashes through the branches —
the wind cool as early winter,
but not from season shifts of sun,
nor from fronts, nor chills' migration,

but from sweat bled through tense fabric,
from tracks (wet) slipping through the flames
of stung cheeks, beneath eyes that blur
As if steam (not tears) were rising.

Sky lights, like huddled secret beams,
high up in branches where there might
rest a house, for soft whispered oaths —
dead serious oaths to fight childhood's wars.

Not this light. This light is distant,
afar away, unreachable,
beyond the reach of mothers' calls,
beyond laughs, beyond ladders, limbs,

beyond the morning bells of Beslan,
where children sleep under the gaze of the world.

No comfort has the father's night,
an ocean and a continent
from where mothers cover their eyes
against motherhood corrupted,

and children with their rasping breaths,
and those whose chests lie steady, call
to fathers with their eyes enflamed —
dead serious oaths of dawn's reply,

to calm the dull, drear sobs of Beslan,
where children sleep under the gaze of the world.

I'll probably edit this heavily, but a post by Michelle Malkin tore it from me raw and half-formed.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:28 AM | Comments (2)

August 24, 2004

Europe off the Stage and into the Theater

If you missed Victor Davis Hanson's column yesterday, be sure to read it today:

So it is also with some trepidation that we are seeing the inevitable end of the old, and the beginning of a new, transatlantic world, as troops on the ground at last reflect the reality of the past 20 years. And as we begin to leave Europe, as NATO mutters and shuffles in its embarrassing dotage, as cracks in an authoritarian and unworkable EU begin to widen, ever so slowly we here in the United States shall start to witness all over Europe both a new sensibleness — and a new furor.

Gut-check time is approaching. In places like Brussels, Berlin, and Oslo, in the next half-century citizens will slowly decide who wishes and does not wish to be an ally of the United States of America. Some will prefer opportunistic neutrality and thus go the Swedish and Swiss route. Others in their folly may ape French and Spanish bellicosity, and think isolating the U.S., selling weapons to the Middle East, or going on maneuvers with the Chinese might work. Still more may prefer to remain staunch friends like the Poles and Italians, realizing that, for all the leftist slurs about unilateralism, never in the history of civilization has such a powerful country as the United States sought advice and cooperation from weaker friends about the wisdom, efficacy, and consequences of using its vast military.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:02 AM

August 2, 2004

Genocide and Political Nausea

As have many of us who read and write about current events online, I've been disappointed with the sluggish rate at which mainstream entities have taken up the Sudan issue. Now that the topic of Darfur has made it to the U.S. Congress and the major media, my mood is shifting more toward disgust.

What kicked the shift off, this morning, was this odd letter to the Providence Journal from Bruce Gillard of West Kingston, RI:

Bush ignores Sudan genocide

Recent news reports from Darfur, in Sudan, have described the genocide that is going on there. My heart aches as I watch our country once again turn its back on genocide in Africa.

Every day, 1,000 more lives are lost, 75 percent of them children under 5. If we don't act, the death toll could reach a million within the next few months.

President Bush refuses to call the atrocities "genocide," but he is beginning to face a real challenge in Congress, where members of both parties are speaking up. We can only hope they succeed.

Apart from the conflict between Gillard's assertion that the United States is "once again turn[ing] its back on genocide in Africa" and his admission that Congress is taking action, this characterization of the way the matter is playing out jarred against my understanding. "Refuses"? Poking around, I found one possible source of what amounts to nauseating spin:

John F. Kerry yesterday told a national gathering of black leaders and voters that President Bush was ignoring ''genocide" in Sudan and the AIDS pandemic, which Kerry called ''the greatest moral crisis of our time."

Not surprisingly, some media reports seem similarly to be reporting according to a given framework. After Congress passed its resolution calling for more determination to end the atrocities, CNN, for example, presented Secretary of State Colin Powell's call for action as if in opposition to the President's unduly nuanced position but subsequently quoted Powell's explanation of why usage of a particular term requires care as evidence thereof:

"There is a legal definition of genocide which includes specific intent to destroy an entire group," Powell told reporters at the United Nations Thursday. Once he receives more reports from the region, "we will make a judgment in due course," he added.

As I understand international standards, "genocide" also gives cover for outside nations to take more direct and forceful action, which means that the term itself is a card for leaders to play in the course of diplomacy. Personally, I lean toward throwing such cards down when the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are teetering, but the ignorance of or demurral from noting the realities of international relations among media sources is distasteful. Somewhat worse is John Kerry's taking advantage of the restrictions that President Bush's job place on him.

White House Scott McClellan hints at the administration's predicament while fielding related questions from the press. He had to give a typically evasive answer to the "genocide" aspect of the question, but he advised, "look at the actions that we are taking." After all, it was the United States that brought the issue to the U.N. Security Council in the first place. It has been the United States that, facing opposition, has stood as the most aggressive voice on that council. And in its resolution, one of Congress's commendations of the administration is for appointing John Danforth, previously "Envoy for Peace in Sudan," as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

In truth, coupled with an act, introduced earlier in the week, authorizing specific actions and granting specific resources, Congress's resolution sets up the administration to wrangle on the international stage. Being the milder voice in the American government, the Executive has room to parry and thrust as diplomacy requires. Such positioning is how these things work.

To some extent, Kerry and the media can assist by playing the same "bad cop" role as Congress, but it seems to me that they've gone too far. The tone and context of the rhetoric give one the sense that attacking the President is more important than assisting the him in attacking the Janjaweed. To the extent that sense is correct, the contempt indicated for the suffering people of Sudan ought to spark some reflection among those exuding it.

I've no doubt that such folks as Mr. Gillard are culpable for nothing more than allowing an over-heated political atmosphere to seep into truly humanitarian concerns. But that, too, ought to spark some reflection... among us all.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:40 AM | Comments (7)

June 28, 2004

A Growing Call for Usefulness

The Providence Journal ran, last Wednesday, an editorial drawing attention to atrocities in Sudan. Hopefully, its attention is indication that we're in a transitional stage of public awareness that will eventually lead to some form of action. This part — emphasis added — is particularly refreshing:

the United States must shame fellow U.N. members about their cavalier attitude toward Third World genocide, to obtain a resolution warning Khartoum of economic and other consequences if it fails to stop the murder and open Darfur to international humanitarian aid. The United States should also try to persuade the African Union to send forces to protect Darfur refugees from roving Arab militias.

In dire human-rights situations, the United Nations is often useless. Darfur represents a chance for the U.N. -- and the United States -- to integrate rights rhetoric with reality: to cast off a double standard and raise the quality of international relations. It's even more important, right now, than the Gaza Strip...

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:44 AM

June 19, 2004

A "Panel" with One Voice

It's edifying to know that the draw of Salve Regina University, in Newport, RI, is such that its panel on "War, Law and Human Rights" can attract three speakers who are so intelligent that they've all come to the same conclusion:

[David Scheffer, the U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes during the Clinton administration] spoke yesterday afternoon at Salve Regina University's Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy during a panel discussion entitled "War, Law and Human Rights: What Way Forward?"

He was joined by Christophe Girod, North America chief of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, a professor of international law at the Naval War College.

They talked about international humanitarian law and how it applies to the war in Iraq and the United States' campaigns against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. To varying degrees, they all raised concerns about the administration's attitude toward international treaties.

No doubt, any students in attendance learned that higher skill — so crucial to success — of nodding wisely. Girod suggested that the United States is undermining international law; von Heinegg thinks the administration's reading thereof is "an abandonment of values." As one might expect, Scheffer, "the lead U.S. negotiator during the formation" of the International Criminal Court, thinks we ought submit ourselves to its jurisdiction.

I really wish I had the time (and wherewithal) to attend these things.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:03 AM | Comments (2)

June 5, 2004

Spinning the Pope

"The threat of international terrorism remains a source of constant concern," Pope John Paul II said in a statement prepared for President George Bush's visit to the Vatican. "It has seriously affected normal and peaceful relations between states and peoples since the tragic date of 11 September 2001, which I have not hesitated to call 'a dark day in the history of humanity.'"

The Pope did allude to "the unequivocal position of the Holy See" with respect to the war in Iraq, as well as "deplorable events... which have troubled the civic and religious conscience of all." However, he expressed hope for peace in the long-beleaguered country and in the Holy Land. Pope John Paul also acknowledged the work of America and American organizations, generally, in "overcoming the increasingly intolerable conditions in various African countries." Making specific reference to Bush, the Pope cited the president's "commitment to the promotion of moral values in American society, particularly with regard to respect for life and the family."

That's how I would have summarized the Pope's statement to President Bush. The AP report that initially inspired this post has long been updated to other topics, and I don't care enough to go in search of it. Suffice to say that it did not mention the statements about terrorism or September 11 or Africa or respect for life and the family or moral values.

It did, however, highlight — multiple times — the "apparent reference" to Abu Ghraib. As Patrick Sweeney notes, regarding the Pope's speech from the 2004 World Day of Peace Message, the full message of the Holy Father — particularly what he means when he uses the phrase "underlying causes" — is not generally considered necessary to convey in media reports.

I remain perplexed by the Vatican's belief in the United Nations. There are a wide range of possible interpretations — from very unflattering and cynical to overly justifying. More often than not, I lean toward believing the Vatican's position to be a mixture of not seeing what the hierarchy higher ups don't want to see and believing that some positive encouragement and responsibility can transform the U.N. into the type of international organization that the Vatican believes the world to need.

Even if I'm correct, I disagree. But it oughtn't be forgotten, as we read summaries of statements, that there's almost always more to what the Holy See says than filters down to us through the press.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:24 PM

June 3, 2004

Beating the Dog That's Still in the Cage

Carroll Andrew Morse seems to be becoming Tech Central Station's guy for pieces about third-world governments gone wrong. His latest explains why the ruling regime in Sudan has turned so harshly on a subsection of the subsection of the country over which it still has almost entire control:

The agreement ending the north-south conflict sanctions the possible secession of southern Sudan. Though neither major rebel group in Darfur -- the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) or the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) -- advocates separation or even federation for western Sudan, there is little affection for the Arab-dominated Khartoum government amongst the black African majority of western Sudan. In this way, the situation in western Sudan today parallels the situation in southern Sudan of two decades ago. The all-out war against the civilians of Darfur is a desperate attempt by Khartoum to prevent northern Sudan's east-west rift from evolving into the full-blown partition of Sudan's north-south rift.

Unnatural despotism must always beat against the area of least submission, lest it shift toward humanity's natural balance of liberty. That is why there is no bargaining for incremental allowances of dissent; they are only safe until the next-most-resistant line falls.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:04 AM | Comments (1)

June 1, 2004

A Would-Be Dictator on the Op-Ed Page

Rhode Island's own Carroll Andrew Morse has been keeping tabs on events surrounding Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez:

There is an active debate within the Venezuelan opposition whether the petition and referendum are meaningful or if they are diversions intended to frustrate and dissipate the energies of the opposition. There is a fear that cooperation with a referendum procedure amidst the campaign of intimidation against petition signers, the belief that votes will not be counted fairly by the CNE, and the confusing and contradictory rulings of the TSJ might only give an aura of legitimacy to an election that is unfair.

I've been meaning to note that Chavez managed to place his side of the story in the Providence Journal:

Venezuela's National Electoral Council -- a body as independent as the Federal Election Commission in the United States -- found that more than 375,000 recall petition signatures were faked and that an additional 800,000 had similar handwriting. Having been elected president twice by large majorities in less than six years, I find it more than a little ironic to be accused of behaving undemocratically by many of the same people who were involved in the illegal overthrow of my government.

The National Electoral Council has invited representatives of the Organization of American States and the Carter Center to observe a signature verification process that will be conducted during the last four days of this month. That process will determine whether the opposition has gathered enough valid signatures to trigger a recall election, which would be held this August. To be frank, I hope that my opponents have gathered enough signatures to trigger a referendum, because I relish the opportunity to once again win the people's mandate.

Personally, I'm inclined to believe Andrew, although it's certainly edifying to read the foreign leader's spin. (Dare I say "propaganda"?) The two pieces make for an interesting comparison — and a potent reminder of the real value of a free press.

Perhaps the Providence Journal should pick up one of Andrew's several pieces explaining what Mr. Chavez leaves out.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:57 PM

May 24, 2004

Not Just the Administration Sans Bush

A while back Rev. Donald Sensing took a look at the history of United Nations peacekeeping and nation building. He makes a point in an update to that post that I think is generally correct:

What those calling for the UN to take over the whole operation do not seem to grasp is that the UN does not share their agenda. By and large (but not completely) the American pro-UN advocates really have no vision for Iraq much different than that explained by the Bush administration. They just don't want Bush to be the one who brings it about.

But they need to understand that the UN plan for Iraq is pretty much restoration of the status quo ante bellum, without Saddam or his terror regime, but also without the true freedom the Iraqi peoples deserve so richly. What the UN apparatus certainly does not want is an Iraq whose people are both economically and politically free.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:16 AM

May 23, 2004

Apologies for the Surreal

Victor Davis Hanson thinks happenings have been odd lately:

What is going on? The months of April and May have been surreal — scandals at Abu Ghraib, decapitations and desecrations of those killed from Gaza to Iraq, and insurrections in Fallujah and Najaf. The shock of the unexpected has led to hysteria and cheap TV moralizing by critics of the war, fueled by election-year politics at home, apparent embarrassment for some erstwhile supporters of the intervention who are angry that democracy in Iraq has not appeared fully-formed out of the head of Zeus, and a certain amnesia about the recent dark history of the United Nations.

He also thinks some folks have lashed out in their confusion, saying some things that they oughtn't have:

So let us calm down and let events play out. If it were not an election year, Mr. Kennedy would dare not say such reprehensible things. In two or three months when there is a legitimate Iraqi government in power, Mr. Friedman may not wish to level such absurd charges. And when the truth comes out about the U.N.'s past role in Iraq, both Iraqis and Americans may not be so ready to entrust the new democracy's future to an agency that has not only done little to save Bosnians or Rwandans, but over the past decade may well have done much to harm Iraqis.

Mr. Hanson suggests that apologies are in order. Unfortunately, admission of transgression would, by the very nature of the affronts, make it clear that apologies simply aren't enough, and for that reason, even the minimum is unlikely.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:52 PM

May 20, 2004

Victims Against the Storyline

Just remember: somewhere, some doofus of Christian heritage made an inappropriate crack about terrorism to an exchange student:

Andrew Ubah, general secretary of the association, told Reuters Thursday the tally was based on reports from church leaders throughout the city. Twelve churches have been burned, he said.

David Emmanuel, a factory worker, told Reuters he saw two truckloads of corpses Wednesday night and counted at least 30 bodies in the street.

Elsewhere, Assist said, correspondents have seen 35 mostly burned and mutilated bodies.

The official police tally of 30 deaths is belied by the overflowing morgue and the constant stream of eyewitness reports from all quarters of the city, Assist said.

Bodies were being taken to undisclosed locations because the main hospital mortuary was full, according to the Red Cross.

"Not all cases are reported, especially cases in which relatives have already buried their dead," said Aminu Inua, a Red Cross official in Kano.

"Hundreds of people were killed," said Christian leader Mark Amani. "Some corpses were burned in wells. Even little children were killed.

"The bodies of pregnant women were ripped open and their bodies burned," he said.

A spokesman for Barnabas Fund said its source reports the killing of several hundred people "when defiant mobs of Muslim youths armed with clubs and machetes and cutlasses rampaged at about 1 a.m. on Thursday despite a police imposed curfew."

"Mobs went from house to house looking for Christian victims and in some cases trapped the occupants inside and torched the houses," the Barnabas spokesman said.

African and Christian? Yeah, like that's news.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:45 PM

Everything They Wish the U.S. Would Be

Mark Steyn addresses the "Oil-for-Fraud" program and U.N. fetishization:

So the question now is whether the UN Oil-for-Food programme is just another of those things that slip down the memory hole, and we all go back to parroting the lullaby that "only the UN can bring legitimacy to Iraq/Afghanistan/Your Basket Case Here". Legitimacy seems to be the one thing the UN doesn't bring, and I'm not just talking about the love-children of UN-enriched Balkan hookers in Kosovo.

As Steyn says, "Oil-for-Fraud is everything the Left said the war was." That seems to be the way — doesn't it? — with our parallel-universe world.

Lisez la chose entière, as they say.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:37 PM

May 12, 2004

Meanwhile, in Our Hemisphere

With the approach of our efforts to instill the principles and processes of democracy in the culture of a soon-to-be-modern Iraq, it's easy to lose track of what's going on across other continents. Carroll Andrew Morse has got his eye on Venezuela, where an established democracy appears to be wobbling:

Can democracy exist when people outside the government play by the rules, but people inside the government change them when they do not like the results -- or just ignore them altogether? This question underlies the petition drive to force Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez into a recall election.

As can be seen, somewhat more mildly, even within our own borders, those who believe in democracy follow the very procedures that those who do not are working to undermine. Interestingly, Andrew suggests that Venezuela's polity may not be too far deteriorated for international pressure from the relatively young Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States to make a difference. An extrapolated implication of that possibility is that what the world really needs, at this moment in history, is an international mechanism for legitimate democracies — and only legitimate democracies — to reinforce each other:

... if the United States and the other democracies of the world do not see reasonable progress towards a United Nations Democratic Charter within a two-year frame, the United States and the other democracies of the world should announce their intention to withdraw from the United Nations. A different forum where the executive branches of the world represent their interests to one another -- a forum that does not carry the UN's baggage of indifference to the links between human rights and democracy -- can be formed easily enough.
Posted by Justin Katz at 9:00 PM

May 7, 2004

The Silence in Sudan

William Minter has an interesting piece on Sudan, in the Providence Journal:

Researchers from Human Rights Watch spoke in March to some of the 100,000 refugees who had fled across Sudan's western border to Chad. They document a clear pattern: Government troops have joined with government-supported militia in razing villages and killing their inhabitants, or forcing them to flee. The rights organization confirmed two massacres in early March, in which more than 200 men were executed after their villages were destroyed. Other reports estimate that thousands of villages in Darfur had been similarly destroyed. ...

The government has created, armed, and directed militias among the Arab-identified groups, while rebel movements opposing the government have gained support among the non-Arab-identified groups. The Sudanese military government has long practiced this strategy of divide and rule. It has also promoted ethnic militias and instigated atrocities against civilians elsewhere in the country, particularly in southern Sudan, which has been at war for decades. ...

The U.N. Human Rights Commission, which last month passed a watered-down resolution on Darfur, must insist on follow-up after a more comprehensive fact-finding report. President Bush -- who has deferred sanctions against Sudan, saying that Khartoum and the southern rebels are negotiating "in good faith" -- must be willing to threaten sanctions to protect the Sudanese in Darfur from further violence.

I don't know when Mr. Minter wrote his piece, but this would have seemed an obvious development to include:

Sudan won an uncontested election Tuesday to the United Nations' main human rights watchdog, prompting the United States to walk out because of alleged ethnic cleansing in the country's Darfur region. ...

Fourteen seats were filled on Tuesday for the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission based in Geneva. Many were decided by regional groups before Tuesday's voting in the Economic and Social Council in New York.

There's no better position from which to water down resolutions than on the commission that issues them.

(last link via Baldilocks)

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:43 AM | Comments (3)

May 3, 2004

More Non-News Related to the U.N.

Craig Henry has some questions about a Palestinian member of the U.N.'s police force in Kosovo who attacked a group of his American colleagues, killing three and injuring eleven. Here's one of his questions:

Why does the UN impose heavy censorship in Kosovo? More importantly, why does the US media tolerate this? After all the whining about Pentagon news management it turns out that they accept outright censorship from Kofi Annon.

Here's mine: How much longer can this wall of gloss maintain public support for a corrupt, unelected body with aspirations toward global sovereignty?

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:54 PM

April 5, 2004

Why the War on Terror Is Winnable

The Islamicist terrorists continue to astound with the utter stupidity of their strategy-lite approach to global domination:

Also Monday, the conservative newspaper ABC said that just hours before the terrorists killed themselves in Leganes, it received a fax from the same group that had claimed responsibility for the March 11 bombings. This time, it warned it would turn Spain "into an inferno" unless the country halted its support for the United States and withdrew its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, ABC said.

ABC said the letter was handwritten in Arabic and signed "Abu Dujana Al Afgani, Ansar Group, al-Qaida in Europe."

In a videotape found outside a Madrid mosque two days after the March 11 attacks, an Arabic-speaking man read a statement signed by Al Afgani claiming responsibility for the March 11 bombings.

The ABC letter said Spain had until April 4 to end its support for the United States and withdraw its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"If these demands are not met, we will declare war on you and ... convert your country into an inferno and your blood will flow like rivers," the letter said.

Thus, they endeavor to transform what was arguably a tremendous success — a change of the Spanish government that aligned with their interests — into the thorough defeat of a united enemy by lashing a spine to the very leaders whom they're counting on intimidating. I guess when a group's lunatic atrocities are directly mandated by its god, the carrot can be sacrificed to allow more stick waving. But when the opposition has declared its intention to capitulate at first opportunity, it's best to give it the chance to do so.

Not that I'm not thrilled that the terrorists are such fools when it comes to curbing their bloodlust for the sake of their objectives. Let's just hope that the Spanish government and the people who recently voted its new leaders into office aren't even bigger fools.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:31 PM | Comments (5)

April 1, 2004

The Talk Not Walked

One needn't think hard to explain the coincidence that oppression and even genocide often come up in proximity to such topics as terrorism. And sadly, one needn't think that much harder to form a rudimentary understanding of Western governments' reaction to both.

Glenn Reynolds links to several sources supporting this perspicacious statement: "For all the talk of 'never again,' genocide hasn't seemed to upset the international community much."

Meanwhile, Ann Coulter superimposes the terrorism timeline over the Presidential timeline of the last few decades. Noting that President Bush saw the need for a policy change after September 11 (and, to a lesser extent, even before that date), she writes:

Democrats opposed it all – except their phony support for war with Afghanistan, which they immediately complained about and said would be a Vietnam quagmire. And now they claim to be outraged that in the months before 9-11, Bush did not do everything Democrats opposed doing after 9-11.

Perhaps we'd be justified in wondering if there's anything liberal leaders — from national government to (their preferred) international fora — hold on absolute principle... besides the objective justice that they, themselves, have wealth and power. Domestically, their reaction to threats to that latter birthright show just how dirty they're willing to get battling a cosmic wrong. (And by that, I mean the Bush administration.)

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:29 PM | Comments (1)

March 31, 2004

Fiddling While Rwanda Burns

It's difficult to know what to say about this:

US president Bill Clinton's administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, classified documents made available for the first time reveal.

Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene. ...

It took Hutu death squads three months from April 6 to murder about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus and at each stage accurate, detailed reports were reaching Washington policymakers.

It certainly merits mulling.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:54 PM | Comments (4)

March 30, 2004

All the (Good) News That's Fit to Sweep

Patrick Sweeney notes a couple of articles, about thwarted terror attacks, that suggest two points. Patrick notes one:

The media wing of the Democratic party will bury these stories as it reminds people that the other side in the war on terror has not surrendered.

The terrorists will not always be caught before they launch an attack. We are still vulnerable.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the second point is that instances of prevention indicate success. There are more than enough examples of similar (relatively) small-scale victories for the press and opinion leaders to tell a wholly different story than the one with which they are bombarding the people of the West. (That story, by the way, is also known as "the truth.")

The joint realities suggested by the preempted attacks are not, actually, counterintuitive at all; the requirement to fight is inseparable from the ability to win. It ought to be universally troubling that so many among the cultural and informational elite are willing to diminish each of these so as to diminish the other. And of course, whispering about battles won while shouting about those lost is apt to color the public's overall impression.

Here's a prediction premised on a big, shudder-inspiring IF: If Kerry wins in November, look for Terrorists Thwarted stories — and even less significant successes — to climb toward and perhaps beyond their rightful place in the media kaleidoscope.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:11 PM

March 21, 2004

The Path Not Taken: Opportunity for Endless Dreaming

There may not be another pundit whom I've wanted to like more and wound up liking less than Jim Pinkerton. Don't know what it is — maybe because there were a few months in 2002 during which I watched Fox News Watch regularly and saw him as the decidedly unslick conservative counter to the previous, very smarmy liberal commentator.

But then came the war in Iraq, and some underlying ideological distinction brought Pinkerton to a separate conclusion from those who supported it, and all subsequent events have reinforced both sides in their beliefs. At this point, there's almost too much distance in basic view of the world to attempt much bridging; we're all just choirs singing to ourselves in separate rooms, with time coating the walls with soundproofing.

This, for example, is in tones that I can barely comprehend:

The lesson of Madrid was clear enough. Those Spanish troops currently hunkering down in Iraq, dodging snipers, could have been used instead to secure "soft targets" on the homefront, guarding Spain's borders and transport system.

Does Pinkerton really believe that the Spanish government — before March 11 — saw the options as between working with the United States in Iraq and strolling along train cars looking for backpacks? Frankly — although given his political affiliation, I'm more willing to leave open the possibility that I'm missing something crucial in his thinking — Pinkerton's implication that Aznar's transfer of a handful of troops to Iraq left a foreseeable security gap through which the terrorists snuck strikes me as either dumb or despicable.

Steve, of Absit Invidia, on which I found the link to this piece, says that Pinkerton is "what conservatives used to be." A curious suggestion, that, considering the hopeful view that Pinkerton seems to have of Spanish Socialists:

Here's a prediction: Even as he honors his campaign promise to withdraw his country's troops from Iraq, Zapatero will take obvious and commonsensical measures to improve Spain's homeland security. That is, he will tighten up on border enforcement, scrutinize aliens more closely and improve security around public places. And he will even work closely with allies in "Old Europe."

On the last point, Pinkerton is no doubt correct. However, we can only hope that the people of Spain don't find the flavor of socialistic "homeland security" to be disagreeable. Pinkerton seems awfully willing to expect what he sees as conservative policies from that particular political party. Then again, I can't help but have visions of socialists past upon reading this suggestion:

Indeed, Americans might wish to study Spain's alternative approach to national defense. Voters here might wonder why it's a good idea to have 130,000 American troops in Iraq - while our own borders are sparsely monitored and our own rail system is wide open to terror bombing.

Can you imagine the reaction were President Bush to order troops to "guard" commuter rails? I suspect those scare quotes would become part of the dictionary spelling of the word. And what other soft targets ought the President to fortify with U.S. military personnel? Malls? Mainstreets? For far too many people, including conservatives, it seems that the answer is retrospective: wherever an attack happens to occur, that's where the troops should have been. (Unless the terrorists actually kill them, in which case the soldiers shouldn't have been there to begin with.)

As I said, there's too much distance between worldviews, at this point, to build bridges. When Pinkerton asks whether "the invasion of Iraq really made the United States safer," I give an unhesitant "yes." Even putting that aside, however, it ought to be clear that our options are not, and never were, the same as Spain's. We are the target on the hill, as indicated by September 11 and all of the attacks that preceded it. Were we to pull ourselves into defensive mode, the strategy would quickly become permanent, and increasingly difficult to maintain.

In this, Pinkerton has the luxury of those whose suggestion represents the path not taken: an endless opportunity for unrealistic speculation.

In keeping with the idea of diverged worlds among conservatives, I find my head shaking in bewilderment when, after quoting a report about the most recently coronated media star, former White House staffer Richard Clarke, Absit Invidia Steve writes (emphasis in original):

In a matter of seconds the folks at National Review will be firing up their word processors to label Mr. Clarke an appeaser and they'll, doubtless, call him soft on terrorism - so take a quick look at his record. ... Yeah, this guy has traitor written all over him.

I realize that Steve is using NR emblematically, here, but his sense of its M.O. is entirely incompatible with mine. In fact, what NR did was to quote "an insider" offering a much more detailed version of Clarke's record. (In this post and the one above it.)

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:25 PM | Comments (4)

March 19, 2004

Give Me Liberty, and Give Them Death

My fellow Rhode Island conservative Carroll Andrew Morse builds an interesting piece about the Spanish election on top of Ben Franklin's declaration, "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

If other parts of the free world are willing to follow the Spanish example, then the election day following March 11 may be remembered as the day when the free citizenry of the world declared Benjamin Franklin's famous warning to be obsolete. March 11 may be remembered as the day when it became acceptable to trade tangible liberty for a promise of security.

If we still accept the wisdom of Franklin's warning, and we still accept that trading away your own freedom for security is bad, then trading away someone else's freedom for your own security is worse. Not only do you give away liberty that is not yours to give, but you begin the process of giving away your own

My suspicion is that the Socialists will be only too happy to help that process along.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:54 PM | Comments (1)

March 18, 2004

Requiring an Adjective Before "Warblogger"

Craig Henry has clarified the intended objects of the earlier post to which I objected:

... Too many warbloggers betray a deep-seated imperial impulse. ... They demand a rigid ideological conformity from our partners in the war against terror.

Today they praise Poland as a brave and steadfast ally. A week from now they could just as easily condemn it as a nation of anti-Semitic religious fanatics and collaborators in the Holocaust. All it will take is a headline in the New York Times to set them off. The idea of not spouting off never occurs to them.

I can agree with that. The Spanish elections certainly merit worries, and even judgments and predictions — as long as those reactions don't cross over into impossible certitude and do convey the sense that future markers exist that will be allowed to bear on the judgment. I think, too, some of Craig's reaction to some bloggers has to do with their behavior on other issues, as well. As Jonah Goldberg said today about Howard Stern:

... it seems that when he's forced to choose between winning the war on terror and having a more hospitable climate for dirty jokes, he'll choose the latter.
Posted by Justin Katz at 12:10 AM

March 17, 2004

It's a Smaller World These Days

As much as I'd like to move beyond what has recently seemed a continuing series of disagreements with people whom I'd prefer to agree with, some counter-assessments of the Spanish election compel me to respond. Craig Henry writes of the common declaration that Spain capitulated to terrorism:

I thought warbloggers were in favor of democracy. But it turns out that they only like elections when their side wins. They seem to confuse allies with satellites.

Now, there's some room to believe that Craig is addressing a more stringent position than the most common of this genre, but that's not an explicit aspect of his post. Therefore, it doesn't seem superfluous to mention that a basic truth of human nature is that people will "only like elections when their side wins," and I haven't heard anybody suggest that the outgoing party ought to stage a coup for the good of the War on Terror, nor that the U.S. government ought to install a puppet regime.

The Spanish voters did what they did, and a fair number of Americans believe it to have been a mistake. If terrorism sweeps Europe (and perhaps the States), particularly just before elections, then those Americans will have been correct. If that turn of events doesn't occur — fan-tastic.

Something to which Craig links, however, is a little more cumbersome to address. Joe Carter finds in reactions to the Madrid attack proof of a theory (italics in original, here and below):

After more than 900 days after 9/11 we still refuse to accept the idea that al Qaeda is living out a fantasy idealogy. Instead we search endlessly for the objective, for the meaning behind the act of terror. If none can be found, then we are forced to create them.

Sincerely, I don't intend the offense that is possible to take at this suggestion, but "fantasy ideology" has the ring of those hypotheses that please because they package an esoteric, contrarian view in a buzz phrase that, in this case, absolves the speaker of the need for contemplation. "How comprehend his face, when face he has none?" Ishmael asked about the whale. Terrorism has a face. As Dan Darling points out in a superb analysis of the Spanish attacks, it has purpose by definition. Both purpose and perpetrator may be psychotic, but the acts are directed. Yet Carter writes:

As children of the Enlightenment we simply can't fathom how such acts of terror could be committed without a rational basis, without a reason. And as the offspring of the Judeo-Christian heritage our culture cannot comprehend why our enemies would want to destroy us, completely annihilate us, simply because we are their enemy. Because of our cultural myopia we continue our attempts to see the terrorists not as they are but in terms that make sense to us. Even when we know we are dealing with Cortez we look for Quetzalcoatl.

The Cortez/Aztec reference derives from an essay by Lee Harris, according to whom Montezuma reacted to Cortez as he did because the Aztec leader had no experience through which to comprehend the European. The comparison begins to erode immediately: The privileged among al Qaeda and its discreet supporters studied in the West. Some are international businessmen, and even some of the operatives, as we know, have spent years in the countries that they seek to terrorize. For our part, the West has been dealing with the Middle East and Muslims for centuries. Yes, there are distinctions; yes, there are dramatic differences in worldview. Nonetheless, there is a degree of mutual understanding that goes infinitely beyond the arrival of a strange race from the midst of an endless expanse of unexplored ocean.

By way of evidence, Harris notes the video of bin Laden discussing September 11:

Nowhere is this more tellingly illustrated than on the videotape of Osama bin Laden discussing the attack. The tape makes clear that the final collapse of the World Trade Center was not part of the original terrorist scheme, which apparently assumed that the twin towers would not lose their structural integrity. But this fact gave to the event — in terms of al Qaeda's fantasy ideology — an even greater poignancy: Precisely because it had not been part of the original calculation, it was therefore to be understood as a manifestation of divine intervention. The 19 hijackers did not bring down the towers — God did.

That wasn't the impression that I got from that tape, at all. Rather, while there had been some disagreement about the probable damage of the attack, the complete collapse of the buildings was somewhat of a surprise, and al Qaeda attributed it (at least for propaganda purposes) to the will of Allah. I hate to dilute this particular atrocity, but the evocation of Allah in that video seemed to me of the same sort as comments made about any event seen in religious context that goes better than expected.

The distinction between Harris's phrasing and mine may seem subtle, but it opens and important window. Al Qaeda doesn't rely on a "fantasy ideology" as the core component of its attacks. It didn't fill the Shoe Bomber's sneakers with blessed sand. So, drawing the line for purposive intention between coordination and political timing is entirely arbitrary.

Terrorists launder money. They traffic in counterfeit identities. They arrange training and safehouses and codewords and meetings. They team up, plan, and execute their attacks with some degree of precision. Where, in this, does "fantasy ideology" fit in as an organizing (or disorganizing) principle? If Spanish authorities had come across one of the Madrid terrorists in the process of constructing his bomb, they would have rightly concluded that he wasn't just mixing random components based on magical thinking. Whatever the motivation, there is no reason to believe that the timing of the attacks was chance, and there is a growing litany of reasons to believe the opposite.

The evidence — even that of ideological substance — suggests that the elections were a consideration. Moreover, even if Spain's involvment in Iraq was minimal and largely symbolic, and even if the socialists keep up the larger fight against terrorism, the Spanish voters certainly stoked any fantasies about their country that the Islamists might have kept smoldering these many eras.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:10 AM | Comments (4)

March 15, 2004

One Giant Leap Backwards for Spain

Spain's new socialist leaders are promising to do all of the foolish things that one can expect socialists to do. You know what sorts of things I'm talking about. Appeasing terrorists to avoid making any difficult decisions:

"I have said clearly in recent months that, unless there is a change in that the United Nations take control and the occupiers give up political control, the Spanish troops will come back, and the limit for their presence there is June 30," Zapatero told a news conference.

Hey, it's only people who use commuter trains who will find themselves at risk. Terrorists would have a tougher time getting a backpack bomb into a limo. Similarly, the socialists are content to trade sovereignty inauspiciously for a place at the spa with the big(ger) boys:

As well as reversing Spain's stance on Iraq, Zapatero said he would make Spain's relations with its European Union partners a priority.

Spain and Poland have argued with Germany and France over a proposed new EU voting system that Madrid and Warsaw fear would lessen their influence in the bloc. The argument has stalled negotiations on a new EU constitution.

"Spain will get back in touch with Europe - Spain will be more pro-European than ever," Zapatero said.

A leading Spanish socialist in the European parliament, Enrique Baron Crespo, said the new government would "no longer block" talks on the EU constitution.

After all, if the Spanish government foresees no circumstances in which it could possibly find national interest overbalancing international patty cake, what need has its nation of leverage? The people can go on doing what the people do, whatever that is — working and such.

One thing Mr. Zapatero wasn't so bold as to pronounce was his plan for fighting domestic terrorism by plucking civil liberties one by one. Perhaps the socialists will surprise — perhaps not.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:51 PM

March 14, 2004

Wrong, but Not Surprised,
or Islamic Terrorists Help Socialists

Well, it looks like I made the mistake, yesterday, of thinking that a majority of Spaniards would think similarly to a majority of Americans. In a victory that was unexpected before the terrorist attacks, the Socialists have reclaimed Spain. I can't help but feel that this is the first lost battle in the War on Terror, which will, by its nature, be fought most profoundly in other spheres than the battlefield.

The plain truth is that many in Europe are either on the other side or just don't understand what's going on. This is evidence of the latter:

Some voters were angry at outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, accusing him of making Spain a target for Islamic extremists because of his support for the Iraq war, despite the opposition of most Spaniards.

Whether the people who hold them will admit it, such opinions are tacit admissions that Iraq was, indeed, a front in the War on Terror, a matter that is further confirmed by additional evidence that the attacks were related to al Qaeda. While I do see the cowardly affront in Spain and the war in Iraq as related, however, I don't think the attack last week is properly seen as a response and a consequence of Spain's involvement in that war, per se:

Authorities have been tracking Islamic extremist activity in Spain since the mid-1990s and say it was an important staging ground, along with Germany, for the Sept. 11 attacks.

It's worth saying again: those who voted against the Popular Party are either on the other side or just don't get it. Spain can't hide behind appeasement; it's a beachhead into Europe, formerly Muslim land. And the economic damage that the socialists are sure to do will weaken its defenses almost as much as its probable backpedaling in the War.

Worse, though. The Spanish majority has now made itself proof that terrorism can work in Europe. It's become a widely held opinion that September 11 was a huge mistake on bin Laden's part. March 11 is now a counter-mark. Americans will strike back, but Europeans might not.

All of this throws some variables into the air. It may be that al Qaeda will decide that terrorism on our shores is performed at a cost, while terrorism across the Atlantic pays a dividend. (Italy doesn't have a major upcoming election, does it?) On the other hand, perhaps they'll test the Madrid strategy's effect on our upcoming election. Not doing so would be wiser, but one can't count on the wisdom of these scumbags.

If they do attack us again, we who support the War on Terror will have to remind our fellow Americans loudly, clearly, and often that even the foolish claim that the war in Iraq sparked response doesn't apply to us.

They struck first.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:57 PM | Comments (4)

March 13, 2004

The ETA of Terrorism's Defeat

Growing up in the '80s, I was always vaguely aware of a thing called "terrorism" but had no sense of the specifics and limited understanding of the geography. The PLO and the IRA were little more than letters associated with terrorism, and I've wondered if that vague, but formative, awareness has had an effect on my generation's ability to understand the War on Terror as broader than just a war against al Qaeda.

So, even if the Madrid bombings had been perpetrated by another acronym for terrorism, the ETA, as the United Nations Security Council was suspiciously quick to declare, it wouldn't have made a difference to my ability to see the attacks as part of the War on Terror. As it happens, it looks likely that the connection is more direct, but it makes little difference. Violent out-groups in a world with global communication surely have a huge incentive to form loose pacts, at least, and people understand that. If they do, this seems but so much spin:

Debate on who is behind the attacks could sway voters in Sunday's election.

If ETA is deemed responsible, that could boost support for Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's hand-picked candidate to succeed him as prime minister. Both have supported a crackdown on ETA, ruling out talks and backing a ban on ETA's political wing, Batasuna.

However, if Thursday's bombings are seen by voters as the work of al-Qaida, that could draw their attention to Aznar's vastly unpopular decision to endorse the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and deploy Spanish troops there.

If voters link this attack to the war in Iraq — which they should in any case — the progression of thought seems most likely to lead to the conclusion that Aznar was admirably forward thinking. There's no room for hiding, and only harm can come from equivocation. Only forceful response and the resolve to follow through, despite the disruption of comfort, will end terrorism — whether it's global or local. Mr. Aznar showed that he understood that and sent a clear message that his country wouldn't appease terror.

Suppose I'm wrong in my initial judgment, and there is absolutely no link between al Qaeda and the ETA. The local terrorists seemed awfully quick to deny involvement, didn't they? Perhaps they realize that it's a different world, now, and, more specifically, theirs is a different country.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:08 PM | Comments (1)

February 9, 2004

The Surprise of the Century

Hey, you'll never guess what's starting to come to light: the Oil for Food program was corrupt. It seems Saddam was using it to enrich himself and to buy influence around the world.

Huh. My faith is shaken. Well, at least we can be confident that the International Criminal Court will ensure justice.

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:15 PM

January 28, 2004

A Better World in the National Interest

In the final installment of his Davos journal, Jay Nordlinger quotes the somewhat coolly received Vice President Cheney:

Europeans know that their great experiment in building peace, unity, and prosperity cannot survive as a privileged enclave, surrounded on its outskirts by breeding grounds of hatred and fanaticism. The days of looking the other way while despotic regimes trample human rights, rob their nations' wealth, and then excuse their failings by feeding their people a steady diet of anti-Western hatred are over. Nations fail their people if they compromise their values in the hope of achieving stability. Instead, we must seek a higher standard, one that will apply to our friends in the region no less than to our adversaries.

Perhaps it betrays the degree of neocon brainwashing to which I've been subjected, but this strikes me as entirely correct. We can't just sit on our hands within our own borders and allow despots to rise to power beyond them. Tyrants are infamously incapable of sating their hunger for power through mastication of their own people.

Of course, the degree to which this general truth can be stated confidently and pursued as policy owes much to the current state of the world. When another challenge that represents an overriding threat — as the Soviet Union did for so many years — survival will tend to trump principle.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:06 PM

January 10, 2004

A Revolutionary World of Conservatives

These two paragraphs by Alaa, of the Mesopotamian, are destined to be quoted across the Internet, so let me jump in now so that you can say you heard it here second:

The entire region will succumb and fall into the basket like a ripe fruit once the dust settles and the benefits begin to materialize and they will, have no doubt. The main thing is that this neo-imperialism is quite different from the old. Rather than aiming at subjugating and enslaving people it aims at freeing and raising their standard so that they may be eligible to join the family of civilized people. The tables are indeed turned (eloquent Lisa); almost every meaning is reversed. We should not be afraid of names. Occupation is liberation; Imperialism is benevolent; Resistance is sabotage and directed against the people and their livelihood and has no clear objective and no future; The Right is revolutionary and the Left is reactionary; The Conservatives of yesterday are the optimists who believe in the ability of eastern people for freedom and democracy and the Liberals and Leftists of yesterday are pessimistic and skeptical and even racist about it; and we could go on and on citing this remarkable reversal of things.

The USA and Allies have two choices with not third to them: ignominious retreat and ensuing isolationism leaving the world at the mercy of the forces of darkness and reaction; or glorious triumph that would indeed inaugurate the American century of enlightenment and hope, and free the long suffering peoples of the "twilight zone" and bring enormous benefits both cultural and economic to everybody. The choice is yours, Oh, democratic people of America and the West.

Of course, the choice is not solely ours; it rests with everybody in their own capacity. Missing that point leads Alaa astray in one area of his thinking:

Secondly, if you study the history of human civilization in general and carefully ponder, you will discover, that it has always been about this flux and reflux of transnational movement of forces and ideas and the ever-existing tendency towards multinational empires. Indeed the individual small national state is a relatively modern invention and seems to be at odds with the very logic and movement of history; it is an unstable concept and events seem to prove this all the time, look at the development of the European Union for example. Throughout history, long periods of stability were only achieved under large empires, notwithstanding their shortcomings – The Ancient Empires, the Greeks, the Romans, the Moslems, the Ottomans, the British Empire etc. etc.

What jars in this paragraph, when placed side by side with the other two (which actually end his piece), is the appeal to "the very logic and movement of history" within the very same piece that declares the reversal of various social realities that we thought we understood. Being the optimistic conservative that I am, I don't think the trend is toward internationalism at all. To be sure, history makes it look that way, but what Alaa takes to be an independent "progressive" trend, I think is merely a byproduct of the expansion of our entire species across the planet.

Furthermore, the formation of the E.U. proves neither the instability of limited nation states nor an innate tendency among people. The E.U. is forming not because Europe lacks stability, but because the development of strong, parallel nation states has made it all too stable — too comfortable, too complacent. The people of Europe (as I understand), to the extent that they care to express an opinion, do not support the moves of their leaders in this respect.

Yet, their leaders are counting on apathy and a sheaf of rhetorical and ideological tricks picked up over the past couple centuries to perpetuate, for their own benefit, the real constant throughout history: those with power will seek to expand that power. They once accomplished it through conquering other leaders. Now their tactics have shifted to the more insidious, if peaceful, tactic of internationalist hypnosis.

So, while the "American Empire" will surely begin as a boon to the world, if those whose nations we improve persist in thinking in terms of "empire" — and its modern costume, "internationalism" — and if we, in our vanity, allow them to persuade us to regress, then we will find that an emperor is an emperor is an emperor. The truth is that numerous sets of independent nation states make for a very stable world politic. Consolidated power is easily swayed; dispersed power will balance itself.

Excepting the misapplication of the lessons of history, his closing sentence implies that Alaa understands that the only thing that can undermine the expanding stability of a system of independent, democratic nation states is the rust of complacency and detachment among the general public. We in the West must remember this. The people of Iraq must learn it.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:36 PM