The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Our Mosque

For the past two weeks, I’ve tried to point out instances of biased MSM coverage when it comes to the war on islamofascism. Mark Steyn of the Chicago Sun-Times comments:

As John Podhoretz wondered in the New York Post the other day: "What if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really cold-eyed pursuit of their own national interests?"

That's a good question. If you watch the grisly U.S. network coverage of any global sporting event, you've no doubt who your team's meant to be: If there are plucky Belgian hurdlers or Fijian shotputters in the Olympics, you never hear a word of them on ABC and NBC; it's all heartwarming soft-focus profiles of athletes from Indiana and Nebraska. The American media have no problem being ferociously jingoistic when it comes to the two-man luge. Yet, when it's a war, there is no "our" team, not on American TV. Like snotty French ice-dancing judges, the media watch the U.S. skate across the rink and then hand out a succession of snippy 4.3s -- for lack of Miranda rights in Fallujah, insufficient menu options at Gitmo.

Our enemies understand "why we fight" and where the fight is. They know that in the greater scheme of things the mosques of Jakarta and Amsterdam and Toronto and Dearborn are more important territory than the Sunni Triangle. The U.S. military is the best-equipped and best-trained in the world. But it's not enough, it never has been and it never will be.

In the USA, our “mosque,” for better or worse, is the main stream media. All pervasive, all knowing. It’s the church attended by virtually every American every day. And that’s the problem.

Our mosque all too often preaches a mild form of self-loathing, telling us that we do little right and an awful lot wrong. It shakes our confidence, and in the most bizarre twist of all, presents a pseudo-romantic image of our enemies. It suggests that we worship at the alter of moral equivalence, but subtly suggests that the acts of our enemies are more "equal" than ours. It suggests that if we kill the barbarians at the gate, we have some moral failing, and if there is collateral damage, that failing become a horrific moral lapse. It demands a “proportional” response when we are attacked, but would damn us if we truly acted proportionally by wantonly killing innocents (as Islamofascists do every day). It seems to worry more about the casualties visited upon the enemy and its supporters than it does about the casualties visited upon us and our allies. It is, in its own way, corrupt, biased, and as self-serving.

Day in and day out, our mosque preaches, and far too many of us listen and believe. As Steyn correctly asserts, each battle and the war will be won in the mosque, and at the moment, I fear our “mosque” may lead us to ruin.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Million Dollar Question

A reader (thanks, Ken!) wrote the following in response to my blog entry entitled “It's Wrong.”

No doubt, Islamic fundamentalist ideology from hezbolah, hamas and similar organizations is WRONG, and indeed poses a serious threat to the values of the western world. What concerns me the most is the wide spread support for hezbolah from the 'man on the street' in Lebanon. I keep hearing reports that despite the violence and destruction that hezbolah has brought to Lebanon by their actions against Israel, at least 70 percent of the people support hezbolah, and feel that hezbolah is fighting for the Lebabon people. Strangely, many of the Arab governments actually support Israel's efforts to eliminate hezbolah, yet it is the vast majority of arab population that supports these terrorists!

How do you ever combat a situation like that, and maintain a lasting peace?

Ahhhh .. the million dollar question.

The Arabs in particular and Islamofascists in general (e.g., Iran) can't be talked out of their support for Islamofascism. In fact, they revel in it.

-- Addressing their grievances won't work because their grievances keep shifting (if Israel disappeared tomorrow do you honestly believe that OBL or Nasrallah would begin singing Kumbayah with us);

-- appeasement won't work because they really do want to kill the kafir (infidel);

-- treaties don't work because the Arabs have never honored any peace treaty (with the West) that they've agreed to in modern times;

-- the UN won't work because it is rife with corruption, anti-Western, and ineffective by any historical measure;

-- internal influence by Arab "moderates" won't work because (1) there aren't enough of them and (2) anyone with the courage to speak again Islamofascism is shouted down or killed;

-- changing economics within Islam won't work because many Islamic countries have no real economy (except oil) and no short- or mid-term hope of achieving one;

-- education won't work because much of the Islamic education system teaches hate.

I could go on, but the list is already sufficiently long.

So ... to your question ... what to do? Since the stated goal of terrorist groups and the states that support them is to kill us, we should take them at their word. They are making direct threats ... they want to kill us. Since the terrorists cannot survive without the direct and indirect support of a significant slice of the population in Lebanon (as an example), we have to view that significant slice as complicit in the terrorist cause. Maybe the populace doesn't do the killing, but they aid and abet the people who do. Since the government of Iran (as an example) sends millions in support of the terrorists, we have to view it as complicit as well.

But none of this answers your question. How do we combat this? I have enough humility to say I simply don't know.

But I have a strong feeling that in the not-too-far distant future, our Islamofascist enemy, whose worldview is disconnected from all reality and reason, will make a terrible mistake of aggression. I call it a "mistake" because any rational actor would realize the consequences and demur. This mistake of aggression may occur in Israel, in Europe, or in the USA, but it will occur. It will be so profound that it will unleash a firestorm of extreme violence, directed at Islamofascists and those that are complicit in their cause -- violence so horrible that it forces those that are complicit with Islamofascism to confront the true cost of their support for barbarism. Violence so complete that I shudder to think about it.

The violence will NOT be our fault, but rather our legitimate reaction to the deaths of tens of thousands or millions of our people. The result may be a profound change in Islam and a rejection of Islamofascism or it may simply result in more of the same.

I sincerely hope my "strong feeling" is without merit and that none of this comes to pass, but my instincts have been pretty good throughout this sad saga.

It's all very disheartening.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

“It’s Wrong”

Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great Britain and a staunch ally of the USA in its fight against Islamofascist terror discussed Islamofacism in The New York Times:
It’s a global movement, it’s a global ideology,” Mr. Blair said. “We’re not going to defeat this ideology until we in the West go out with sufficient confidence in our own position and say, this is wrong. It’s not just wrong in its methods, it’s wrong in its ideas, it’s wrong in its ideology, it’s wrong in every single wretched reactionary thing about it.”

I suspect that Mr. Blair is a student of history. He undoubtedly has studied the silence throughout Europe in the 1930s as another evil fascist ideology—Nazism--gained strength and began its march toward world domination. Too many politicians of that era preferred to turn the other way, hoping that it would burn itself out. Too few said that it was “wrong in its methods, … wrong in its ideas, … wrong in its ideology, … wrong in every single wretched reactionary thing about it.”

And because they didn’t, because they waited, because they thought that fruitless negotiation, appeasement, and “peace at all costs” represented the moral high ground, 20 million people susbsequently died.

We are in the same place today and many of us are making the same mistakes. Those of us who see it coming have to have “sufficient confidence” to say, “it’s wrong” and sufficient courage to look it directly in the eye, challenge it when it tries to advance, and face the harsh reality that it must be destroyed … now.

Friday, July 28, 2006


This evening I had the opportunity to see “Who Killed the Electric Car?” -- a worthwhile documentary (playing at theatres nationally) that chronicles the rise and unfortunate demise of the zero emissions vehicles (ZEV, aka the electric car). The story begins in California during the 1990s and early years of this century. During that time, California mandated that every automobile manufacturer had to sell a small and slowly escalating percentage of ZEVs in addition to its other vehicles. The intent was to cut air pollution.

GM and other US manufacturers approached the mandate in what can only be characterized as a passive-aggressive manner. With no real interest in any vehicle except those that were gasoline-powered, the automobile manufacturers developed ZEVs that were competent alternatives to automobiles with internal combustion engines. But at the same time that idealistic teams of young engineers and marketers were developing the ZEV, the automobile manufacturers were planning infanticide. The new technology was doomed before it ever had a chance to succeed.

If you have interest in the rest of this fascinating and deeply troubling story, I urge you to see the movie. By the way, unlike Michael Moore’s biased polemics that masquerade as documentaries, the director of “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, Chris Paine, presents a reasonably balanced account that places the blame squarely on state and federal government, the General Motors Corporation, and US consumers.

In reality the auto companies never intended to build a significant market for the ZEV. Why? Because the ZEV, if popularized, threatened every link of the automobile and oil manufacturing, production, distribution, and service chain. Politically powerful interests felt threatened, and when that happens, the politicians that they own do what only politicians can do – they killed an idea that would have been good for our country.

The film ends on an optimistic note, suggesting that the ZEV is not dead, just dormant. In fact, I noticed that Toyota has announced that they intend to have a plug-in hybrid (a ZEV for short hauls with a hybrid for longer trips) on the market in about two years.

As we left the theatre, a group of ZEV activists were out front displaying a Toyota RAV 4 ZEV that is no longer produced (yes, sadly Toyota was also complicit) but is currently available used via Ebay at prices ranging from $45,000 to $60,000. If mass produced, this same vehicle would likely sell in the $20K - $30K range. The RAV 4 ZEV looked like any other RAV 4 you see on the street.

I struck up a conversation with the young man who owned the ZEV and asked him how he got service for the vehicle. He laughed. “With the exception of going to the local Toyota dealer once a year to rotate the tires and change the wiper blades,” he said, “this vehicle requires no real service. If you do the math, I’m driving a car in 2006 whose “gasoline” costs me the equivalence of about $0.65 per gallon. Even better, I never have to go to a gas station. Ever. That’s pretty good, huh.”

Yeah … that’s pretty good. Too bad 10 or 20 million other US drivers haven’t been given the same opportunity. If they had, there’d be less money paid for gasoline, and that translates directly into less money in the pockets of totalitarian Islamic states who fund barbaric Islamofascist terrorist organizations. Yeah … that sounds pretty good to me.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Shields - II

In what has to be the most comprehensive, factual coverage of the events leading up to the Israeli attack on the UN Outpost, The Belmont Club surmises (based on evidence over the past two weeks) that Hezballah has been using the UN outpost and other UN vehicles and fortifications as shields for its activities. Israel is attacking Hizballah, but the attacks have often been very close to UN personnel.

In the very first comment on this thread, I said:

Soflaauthor said...

It's obvious that Hezballah, along with virtually every terrorist group, uses architectural shields (schools, hospitals, mosques), civilian shields (women, children, other non-combatants), and quasi-governmental shields (in this case, the UN outpost) as it attacks its enemies. Current western military doctrine attempts to avoid attacking any one of these shield categories.

The question, therefore, is what to do when a legitimate target exists in the vicinity of a shield and the target is actively causing death and destruction by its presence?

If you attack and obliterate the target, you will probably destroy the shield as well. Bombed schools, mutilated civilians, and dead UN “peacekeepers” make great copy for the NYT and CNN, and allow the terrorists a propaganda victory.

I don’t know what to do about this. My questions to the group are:

(1) Is there a viable 21st century strategy for dealing with this (recognizing the realities of global media and the pressure that shield destruction put on a Western military force)?

(2) If there is no viable strategy, can a “war” against an entrenched terrorist organization ever be won?

Interested in your comments, if you choose.

4:43 PM

The author of the Belmont Club, Wretchard, responded to my post with the following comment. It is, I think, a reasonable summary of the problems we face when fighting what he calls the “new barbarism”

wretchard said...


The characteristic feature of all these shields is that they consist of civilization's values themselves. The brilliance of the new barbarism is that you cannot fight it without destroying your own value system into the bargain.

Traditionally the solution has been to consider wartime a discontinuity, when civilization's rules are suspended. It becomes possible, for example, to lay waste to the Monte Cassino Abbey. Berlin was bombed without regard for its buildings, churches or people.

The alternative is to create methods of fighting so discriminating that we can literally shoot between the raindrops. But that creates a different problem, for we will need an intelligence system so comprehensive that it will become intrusive.

Either way, the war cannot be won without cost. And the fundamental fraud foisted on the public is to claim we can have war without horror, conduct an intelligence war without dishonesty and cunning and obtain victory without sacrifice.

4:51 PM

Indeed. It seems that we want bloodless wars, even when fighting a bloodthirsty, barbaric enemy who wants to kill us. We want to find the enemy, but not allow the government to look (e.g., the NSA ‘scandal’). We want victory, but the vast majority of Westerners seem unwilling to sacrifice.

It’s hard not to be disheartened, but it’s even harder to see a future in which evil triumphs. We must stop the fraud and fight a war that needs to be fought in a way that disheartens the new barbarians. We can, but only after we recognize that this war will require a time “when civilization's rules are suspended.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


As the drumbeat castigating the Israelis for civilian deaths continues to a crescendo, it is reasonable to ask why the simple facts that follow are only alluded to obliquely in the MSM. The Belmont Club reports on Hezballah’s use of Lebanon and it’s people:

And if Nasrallah [the head of Hezballah] valued Lebanon for anything, it was as cover for his agenda; for its ample supply of civilians to serve as human sandbags with which to fortify Hezbollah's positions; to act as a matrix in which to embed his fortifications. Jan Egeland, pathetically waving a UN report on the Lebanon crisis said:

Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending ... among women and children. ... I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men

Why is it that CNN or ABC or NBC did not run this quote or a story about it yesterday, but earlier in the war showed Egeland castigating Israel for civilian deaths, before he knew the facts? Now that the facts are in, it looks like the true fault lies with Hezballah. What a surprise! Echos of Jenen?

The Belmont Club continues:

Ralph Kinney Bennett at Tech Central Station described how these human-shield tactics have been refined to an art.

"Civilians" are a weapon to them -- as much a part of the fight as the AK-47 or RPG they carry. Those who have visited any Hezbollah installation in Lebanon over the years always remark on the fact that there are families, women and children, in and around the place. "Secret" bases are usually hidden in plain site. Houses or apartment buildings become weapons storage or even operations centers. An innocent shed or garage may contain a Toyota or a missile launcher.

Seldom, if ever, has a guerrilla movement been able to so openly and exquisitely weave itself into the fabric of a society as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon. If the civilians in and around what are in effect operational bases happen to be of Hezbollah's own brand of Islam they automatically become a part of the "sacrificial," suicidal equation. Often without choice or foreknowledge, they die an "honorable" death in the battle against infidels or apostates.

Israel's response to these tactics has been to declare that certain areas should be evacuated, often listing out the villages against which it will operate and warning that no one's safety in these areas will be guaranteed. It is an extremely harsh method, one guaranteed to displace hundreds of thousands; destroy their pitiful homes and scatter families to the four winds. The only thing that can be said in its favor is that it gives these unfortunates a chance to escape with their lives. But even if Nasrallah doesn't care, most of us nevertheless do. And the moral dilemma is whether to stop the fighting now, knowing it will be worse later. Or continue the fighting now, knowing it will be bad even in the best of circumstances.

Israel has stopped the fighting unilaterally many times in the past 30 years, allowing the Islamofascists of the PLO, Fatah, Hamas, and Hezballah time to resupply, dig in, and ultimately re-attack with greater deadliness. The result, as I’ve noted many times in this blog, is the “cycle of violence” that is decried by those who pontificate from a self-defined moral high ground.

Here’s the dilemma. Assume that a village in Mexico was taken over by Hezballah (not as far-fetched as it might seem). Katusha Rockets were placed in the village square, in the courtyards of houses, and hidden in bedroom closets. The inhabitants of the houses were forced to stay put as shields. The rockets were launched at your town (you live on the Texas border), and your family and friends begin to die as they land? Should the US not attack the village and allow the rocket strikes to continue even as they escalate? If we attack, civilians used as shields will die. But if we don't, innocents on our side of the border will die! Should the US enter into lengthy “negotiations” as the rockets fall, allowing still more US civilians to be killed? Should it rely on the UN to intercede and stop the madness? You make the call, but remember, inncoent family and friends are dying as you think about it.

The deaths of Lebanese (and Palestinian, and Iraqi) civilians who are cynically and barbarically used as shields are not the fault of any army who is trying to defeat barbarians who use these civilians as shields. Rather it is the fault of the barbarians themselves.

In this case, the deaths are on Hezballah. The problem, of course, is that Hezballah doesn't care.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Remember Jenin? Sever Plocker does:
After a lot of hesitancy and a short-lived attempt to take balanced positions, the worldwide left-wing has returned in full force to the "Jenin massacre syndrome."

To remind: Many of the world's leading journalists described the fighting in Jenin during the spring of 2002 as a cold-blooded massacre of thousands of Palestinians by the brutal IDF. TV screens around the world featured Palestinian "eyewitnesses," who gave exact details of blood-curdling actions by IDF soldiers that never happened. TV reporters reported against a background of destroyed buildings as "evidence" from the field that Israel had mercilessly flattened an entire city and the refugee camp next to it.

It took months for human rights organizations, even the United Nations, to issue their reports refuting Palestinian claims. There was no massacre in Jenin, no ethnic cleansing, no intentional destruction of hospitals. There was a bloody battle in which soldiers died on each side.

If you believe the reports on CNN and ABC, among other MSM organizations, Lebanon is in ruins, the population is decimated, and civilians are being killed wantonly by a rabid Israeli incursion.
The facts, of course, are tell a far different story, but facts and balance are irrelevant when advocacy journalism mascarades as “news.”

A small example. The other night ABC’s Nightline ran a 15 minute story (half the length of the program) about the a Hizbollah rocket attack on the city of Nazareth in Israel. The focus of the story was on Arab Israeli citizens* and their suffering caused by the rocket attacks. Not surprisingly, every Israeli Arab who appeared on screen blamed Israel for his suffering (even though it was Hezbollah who launched the rockets indescrimately into civilian population centers). Dirt smudged faces of little Arab children abounded.

But that wasn’t what was interesting. The reporters thrust was that Israel did not provide the town of Nazarath with a siren warning system like the one in, say, Haifa. The reporter, using ominous language and tone, implied that Israel didn’t care about its Israeli Arab citizens and failed to provide them with adequate warning for the attacks. After a commericial break and just before the piece ended, the reporter mentioned that the local Arab council had disconnected the sirens (yes, there were sirens) because testing disturbed the residents. In other words, there was NO story, but the perception of an uncaring Israel was achieved, unless you were paying very close attention at the end of the piece.

My point? When you hear hysterical claims about Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” or widespread mass destruction, think Jenin.

*An aside: It's interesting to note that Israel has about 1 million Arab citizens who live in relative peace and safety, own businesses, are free to practice their religion and raise their children in relative calm. Can the same be said for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Gaza, or virtually any other predomentantly Arab, Islamic country? You'd think ABC might have mentioned this small, but interesting fact. But why do anything that might reflect well on Israel?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Right Kind of "Diplomacy"

On a number of occasions in resent posts, I’ve lamented the conventional wisdom that “diplomacy” – as evidenced by fruitless attempts to establish a "peace process" – simply doesn’t work in the ME. However, there is a form of diplomacy that might work.

The New York Times reports:
As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads to Israel on Sunday, Bush administration officials say they recognize Syria is central to any plans to resolve the crisis in the Middle East, and they are seeking ways to peel Syria away from its alliance of convenience with Iran.

It’s a gargantuan “if,” but what if we (or better, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) could bribe the thugs in Damascus to break their alliance with Iran, abandon Hezballah and Hamas, and step to the sidelines. It would take huge sums of cash, guarantees of security for Assad, and other "incentives," but in the end, it could be a crushing blow for both Hezballah and Iran – the kind of victory that military force alone would be hard pressed to achieve.

Is it possible? No one really knows. Agreements with Damascus (and for that matter, any Arab regime) are easy to make but exceedingly difficult to enforce. I suspect that a carrot and stick approach is being used with Assad – we threaten violence and his overthrow if he continues to do Iran’s bidding. The Saudis guarantee that they’ll reign us in, have us get Israel to back off, put the Golan heights back on the table, and provide a whole lot of money. When you deal with thugs, you must recognize that they’re only interested in what’s in it for them. A lot, actually.

As these secret discussions proceed, Israel will continue to pound Hezballah, degrading their assets and killing their people. A good thing. At this point, the world needs time to grind down Hezballah, to make Syria an offer it would be wise to accept, and to break Iran’s strangle hold on the fate of the region. Time.

But the EU, the American angry-left, and much of the MSM has increased the volume of their anti-Israel rhetoric – absurb accusations of “ethnic cleansing” are now being bandied about. On the surface, the intent, of course, is to stop the fighting immediately. But the result (and in some cases, the true purpose) will be reestablishment of the status quo before fighting began.

If the US administration forces Israel succumb to hysterical calls for a cessation in the war against Hezballah, the EU, the angry-left, and the MSM will again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. From their perch on the moral high ground, they will again relegate Lebanon to terrorist control and to a violent future that will not be its own.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Israel's War?

If you think the current war between Israel and Hezballah [note that I’ve modified my spelling of this terrorist group’ name to better reflect it’s meaning – “The Party of God (Allah)”] has relatively little to do with US, understand that Hezballah is active and dangerous right here in the USA. This is not an opinion or guess, it’s a reality, based the results of a long list of successful criminal prosecutions of the members of the group over recent years.

Counterterrorism blog provides a detailed summary of recent cases in the following categories: Racketeering, Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing, Weapons and Planning, Drug Running, Human Trafficking (across the Mexican border), Counterfeiting, Credit card fraud and related offenses. In every case, the convicted parties were members of Hezballah or were sympathizers who donated part of their criminally derived profits to the group.

One can only wonder how many Hezballah members and sympathizers have gone undetected and will remain undetected because of the recent outcry to end classified intelligence programs designed to uncover their whereabouts and plans.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Death of Common Sense

In a wonderful book written over a decade ago, Philip Howard writes about The Death of Common Sense. Howard wrote the book in a simpler time, but his basic premise remains as true today as it was in 1994. To wit: many people, both inside and outside of government are more concerned with process than they are with common-sense results. These people are perfectly happy to go through a set of procedural steps, regardless of how fruitless they may be. As long as the process proceeds according to their rules, they perceive progress.

Howard was writing about the ballooning federal bureaucracy in the US, it’s reliance on sometimes absurd standards and guidelines that can destroy any possibility of real results. But today, I think his basic premise may be applicable to the international situation.

In recent days, a chorus of the usual suspects counsel a rapid return to the bargaining table in the ME. We need to engage our adversaries, they say, understand their story, assuage their pain, and then come to an agreement that will, over time, lead to a peaceful settlement.

They are invested in the process of negotiation and truly believe that it will bear fruit over time. In fact, I sometimes think that they believe that the process of negotiating is a beneficial result in and of itself. Sort of a feel good exercise. But they conveniently forget that this process in the ME has been tried in the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s, and into the 21st century. The process has led to “agreements” that have been abrogated repeated by the Arab players in this historical drama. The process does not work (history’s verdict, not mine) when one side is consumed with Islamofacist hatred of the Jew and other infidels in its midst.

Maybe it’s time to take at look at the process and change the rules that govern it. Maybe it’s time to examine the players who will participate in the process, and ask whether there is any historical evidence that they can be trusted to keep their word. Maybe its time to delay the process until realities on the ground indicate that there is even a shred of hope that the process will succeed – not in being conducted, for surely that will happen – but in producing meaningful results in an historical context.

But the chorus of usual suspects who promote the reapplication of process includes intellectuals and academics, senators and past Secretaries of State, ex-Presidents and the Vatican – an august group indeed. They suggest a process that they believe will provide us with a map (road map, anyone?) to navigate through these difficult times. And yet, maybe they’re wrong.

Bill Whittle has some interesting things to say about this kind of navigation:
Navigation by means of reason and logic, taking sightings from historical landmarks and always keeping the firm hand of common sense on the wheel, can steer us clear of these dangerous and confusing shoals. This sort of thinking, what is essentially scientific thinking, is a new tool, relatively speaking. It is a powerful tool, one that makes powerful demands of us, asking us to forgo pride and ego and preconception. It asks us, as blind men and women in the darkness of the present, to walk into the future not by imagining a map that is to our liking, but rather to learn to navigate like bats and dolphins, pinging our surroundings, interrogating nature and history at every turn, finding fixed points of reference that we can use to triangulate where we are and where we are headed ….

There was a time when intellectual meant someone who uses reason and intellect. Today, people who call themselves intellectuals are in a form of mental death spiral: they search for, and find, those index cards that support their world view, and clutch little red books like rosaries in the face of all external evidence. They are ruled by appeals to authority. Their self-image and sense of emotional well-being trumps any and all objective evidence to the contrary.

Many (perhaps most) things these intellectuals believe are so wrong, in so many places, that they are far worse than no maps at all. They draw all manner of hazards where there are none, and disastrously, they show open seas and smooth sailing in the most treacherous and deadly places. Such maps are not merely worthless; they are dangerous. Ronald Reagan once said that the problem is not that these intellectual social theorists are ignorant; "it's just so much of what they know isn't so."

Monday, July 17, 2006


Every day, I try to spend some time reading left-leaning commentary on the WoT, Iraq, and now, the broadening conflict in the ME. Whether its op-ed in the NY Times (e.g., Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman, or MoDo), the BBC, or the rantings presented as thoughtful commentary via DailyKos, it fascinates me how all of this is: (1) the fault of a corrupt Bush administration, and/or (2) corrupt corporate interests (Haliburton comes to mind), and/or (3) America’s “thuggish” interaction with the rest of the world, and/or (in Senator Christopher Dodd's words) our inability to "engage" our allies and enemies (under the Bush administration). When the transgressions of the Islamofascists are noted, they are often attributed to oppression (by us), poverty, etc., etc.

I present the following comment by Wretchard, author of the The Belmont Club without further expansion. He does a far better job than I of discussing this phenomenon—something that I believe is akin to observational blindness.
It's not his [Robert Fisk an Angry-left writer] fault that the West can never draw the appropriate conclusions. Faced with categorical declarations that they will be exterminated, converted, enslaved and beheaded the most sophisticated thinkers in the West look for nuance. They don't really believe those threats, however explicit, however open. Even when huge skyscrapers come tumbling down it's understood in terms of installation art. Someone is sending a message. What could it be? Maybe, like Moussaoui, the senders simply had a bad childhood and really need someone who understands them. And that's exactly who they need: someone who understands them. A lesser mortal who will painstakingly write down in pencil, word by word, just exactly what Osama bin Laden and Ahmadinejad have been uttering all these years and who will look up from his paper and say, "you know boss, I think they want to kill us".

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Proportionality and Restraint – Part II

A interesting July 14th post in the blog
discusses a “friend” who believes “Israel and the United States have reached the limits of their power.” The reason for this hypothesis is that
Having power assumes a monopoly of violence. As we restrain our power to appeal to our allies and win friends on the ground, Islamists do everything they can to monopolize violence through random acts of terror. They're quite unrestrained in that pursuit, and on that level, we are neck-and-neck with them for control on the ground. The battle for the monopoly of violence is symmetrical in this war because we restrain ourselves from unleashing our full fury. My friend assumes that we will restrain ourselves indefinitely, and so we have reached the limit of our power.

The question is whether or not we continue along the road of proportionality and restraint. Both sides commit a series of violent, but constrained acts, accomplishing relatively little. But as time passes, the Islamofascist terror groups and states grow stronger, gain access to even more potent weapons (as evidenced by Hezbollah’s use of long range rockets and Iranian missles, weapons they did not have a few years ago), and ultimately, the acquisition of WMDs.

Will the Islamofascist terror groups and states use restraint as they acquire bigger and more powerful weapons? Will they avoid casualties in civilian population centers? Historical evidence indicates that they will not. Their Jihadi world view indicates that they will use WMDs to kill the “infidel” regardless of the consequences.

But many people would rather risk that horror than condone an all out war against Islamofacist groups and states now. They simply cannot accept that true evil in the form of Islamofascism stalks modern Western liberal thought and would destroy them, their friends, and families without a thimble of remorse. They simply cannot believe that Islamofacists would also erase every vestige of the culture they hold so dear (free speech, woman’s rights, secular education, free elections, gay rights, diversity, the list is long). Better to risk it all, they would argue, and change our ways, so that Islamists will somehow be mollified.

I understand this sentiment, I really do. It represents the gentle belief that even very bad people will come around, if we just find the right catalyst. And the catalyst has to be our behavior, not theirs, our compromises, never theirs. The problem, of course, is that they won’t come around, even if we do modify our behavior and compromise on things we shouldn’t. The only thing that might work is our full capitulation—surrender.

In 1979, the war began with the taking of American hostages in a US embassy in Tehran -- an internationally-recognized act of war. It continues to this day, getting hotter and hotter. It can’t all be our fault, and even if it is, both democrat and republican governments have tried hard, crafting myriad peace treaties, road-maps, and agreements—all broken by the Islamofascists with months of their signing.

So, like it or not, we are at war. And that returns us to the fundamental question—do we fight the war to win, or do we fight it with proportionality and restraint. The blog concludes with this comment:

In the years to come, we may wonder how this thing started. We may look back through a haze and wonder why 9/11 happened, and why we went into Iraq. Our moral and political calculus will have evolved after the fury is unleashed. It isn't for us to say today how our current motives will be interpreted by the survivors of this great war.

Part of me wants to see our self-restraint maintained; we have the keys to Hell's door, a Pandora's Box that is best kept shut. Another part of me wants to see our civilization's enemies mercilessly vanquished. We can't have it both ways forever.

My sentiments, exactly.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Proportionality and Restraint

And so it begins … with facial expressions that reflect the extreme gravity of their concern, EU politicians begin the drumbeat, castigating Israel for a “disproportionate response” in Gaza and Lebanon. A number of US politicians, including our own Secretary of State, ask for all sides to “act with restraint.” Hmmm.

Proportionality and restraint--that’s the ticket! A column in the Opinion Journal suggests the following:
In the case of Hamas, perhaps Israel could rain indiscriminate artillery fire on Gaza City, surely a proportionate response to the 800 rockets Hamas has fired at Israeli towns in the last year alone. In the case of Hezbollah, it might mean carpet bombing a section of south Beirut, another equally proportionate response to Hezbollah's attacks on civilian Jewish and Israeli targets in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s.

We aren't being serious, but neither is a feckless international community that refuses to proportionately denounce the outrages to which Israel is being subjected. That goes also for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who says "all sides must act with restraint." But Israel's current problems result in part from an excess of restraint in responding to previous Hamas and Hezbollah provocations.

Ex-senator George Mitchell along with many current members of the house and senate) suggest that we name a top-level emissary (e.g., Colon Powell) to travel to Middle East and work with both sides until a negotiated cease fire can be achieved. I suppose that’s a lot like the “road map” negotiated by President Clinton, and then virtually ignored by the Palestinians, who violated every aspect of the document.

Are the people who suggest this really serious? And if they are, do they really believe that any cease fire will be honored by Hamas and Hezbollah. Oh sure, these terrorist groups might sign on – after all, the great Satan is good for something – holding back Israel when it can take no more and proceeds to hit them with a ferocity that is completely justified. But after a few weeks or months (just enough time to resupply), their sniping will begin anew. A Hezbollah rocket attack here, a Hamas bomb blast there.

Maybe it’s time to give Israel a chance to cripple these terrorist groups, to degrade their ability to conduct their unique brand of warfare, to destroy weapons caches and the terrorists themselves in numbers that will matter. No one denies that this will result in the deaths of civilians and the destruction of property and infrastructure. But that’s what war is about—and Israel did NOT start this war.

Is this a solution to the problems in the Middle East—absolutely not! But neither is meaningless negotiation with terror organizations and vacuous agreements that only one side honors.

A “solution” will occur only when the people of Gaza and the Lebanese decide that they’re sick of being sucked into a war they do not want by Islamofascists they do not support. When the people of Gaza and Lebanon recognize that they are being used as pawns by a corrupt regime in Syria and a fanatical government in Iran, they may finally decide that they want to control their own destiny. And if they don’t, well, then this cycle of violence will occur over and over and over again. But guess what? That’s what’s already happening, even though negotiation has been tried repeatedly.

Proportionality and restraint. Israel has tried them for decades, and they've failed to impress a single Arab. Maybe it's time to try a different approach.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Every MSM report of US military actions in Iraq and the recent Israeli actions in Gaza and Lebanon emphasize the number of military and civilian casualities. This is, of course, relevant information and should be reported. But the tone and wording of the reports establishes a subtle subtext that implies that if we (or the Israelis) were just a bit more careful or a bit more humane, some of those civilian casualties could have been avoided. No one denies that innocents die during military conflicts. In fact, civilian deaths are a tragic but predictable part of warfare. But do these deaths indicate some basic lack of humanity on our part? I think not.

It is indisputable that Islamist terrorist organizations through the Middle East directly and purposely target civilians. In fact, it is their dominant military tactic. It is also indisputable (by any rational analysis) that the US and Israeli military go to great lengths to avoid collateral civilian deaths. In many documented cases, the US and Israeli military have avoided targets and increased the risks to their own military personnel in order to avoid civilian casualties. However, when terror organizations embed themselves within a civilian population, when they use civilians as shields while attacking or planning attacks, they purposely put innocents in harm’s way. As a consequence, collateral civilian deaths do occur.

But who is really at fault? The MSM implies that the fault lies with US or Israeli forces, and sometimes it does. But in most cases, the deaths should be placed on the doorstep of AQ, Hamas, Hizbollah, and the dozens of related Islamofascist terrorist groups. The sad reality is: these barbarians simply don’t care.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Missing Adjective

I was watching CNN last night as it reported on the Mumbai bombings. The lead story presented the current findings of India’s intelligence service. In the first paragraph of the story (the one that most listeners pay close attention to), the reporter indicated that a “Pakistani-based militant group” planned the attacks in conjunction with a “radical student group” within India proper. The fascinating element in the lead to this story was what was missing – a single adjective that described each of these groups. The adjective is, of course, Islamic.

If you’ve paid attention to mainstream media coverage since 9-11, it’s interesting how often the word Islamic is omitted when violent, terror groups are discussed. Whether it’s the Sudan, Indonesia, or Chechnia, Lebanon, Iraq or Iran, groups with clear Islamist ties, driven by radical Islamist ideology, and often supported by a much broader segment of the local Islamic population are rarely identified as such. Why?

The answer to this question has much to do about our ability to deal with the growing threat of terror from Islamofascist groups and countries (e.g., Iran).

In the United States, political correctness demands that we avoid even the appearance of religious bigotry. Hence, identifying a group’s religious affiliation, no matter how relevant it is to the story at hand, is to be avoided whenever possible. Even more important, we certainly want to avoid creating bad feelings that could lead to hate crimes against innocents. Even more important than that, we certainly don’t want to create the appearance that the global war on terror is actually a religious war.

And yet, the underlying philosophy that precipitated terrorism in New York, London, Madrid, and now, Mumbai is – you guessed it – Islamofascism. The broader religion that has refused to excise (by condemning it without equivocation) the Islamofascist virus from within its core is – you guessed it – Islam.

Our ability to win the “war on terror” will, sadly, be about as successful as our ability to win the “war on drugs” if we refuse to properly and accurately define who we're at war with. You don’t conduct war against an action or an ideology or an inanimate object. You wage war again people who mean to harm and subjugate you, and when those people can be identified within a well-defined group, it would seem reasonable to identify the group at every opportunity. That may not be politically correct, but it is honest.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Back on line

You may have noticed that OnCenter has gone quiet for the past two months. I suppose I could claim, as many do, that I have been muzzled by a repressive regime that stifles commentary and decent. Their vacuous concerns notwithstanding, the real reason is much more mundane. I've been in the process of moving -- an activity that gets increasingly time consuming and difficult as you accumulate more stuff.

The move and all the nonsense related to it are now complete, so it's time to get back to blogging.

Stay tuned.