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

Saturday, December 30, 2006


The year 2006 comes to an end, and with it, Saddam takes his final step into the void -- hanged as dawn broke in Bagdad. One can only wonder what the “Butcher of Bagdad” must have been thinking in those last moments. He lost his country, his sons, and his dictatorial power—all because he refused open and complete WMD inspections. If the WMDs weren’t there, why didn’t he relent? It continues to be a puzzlement.

Commenting on Saddam’s demise, Richard Fernandez of The Belmont Club provides us insightful commentary:
On hearing the news of his death, I overheard someone say, 'what does Saddam have to live for? His two sons are dead.' What an epitaph. Just a few years ago the man bestrode a country. Now he and his are gone.

The life expectancy of anyone the United States seriously fights is very low. Zarqawi in Iraq and Janjalani in Sulu are just two examples of men who, despite their determination have simply died. In terms of kinetic warfare, the US Armed Forces are horrifyingly lethal. The Sunni insurgents who are now out to wreak revenge upon America -- the America that through some irony of history were Saddam's last defenders against men who would tear him to pieces -- will relearn to their cost that it is one thing to revile America and another to trade blows with it.

Yet if victory is measured by the attainment of political goals -- the goal being the establishment of a prosperous and democratic Middle East -- then for all of America's military invincibility it is arguable the finish line is as far as ever. The ability to build civil institutions and spread constructive ideas has lagged behind the capacity to destroy. In a world dazzled by the glare at the heart of nuclear fission we search in vain for the light of love in men's souls.

The Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, reflecting on the curious moral darkness of our world dreamed of a future illumined by another brilliance: "Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire." Maybe someday, but today we reserve our fires to scorch each other.

And so, 2006 comes to an end. Not all good, but not all bad.

I look toward 2007 with hope that is tempered by the realization that the forces set in motion on all sides of the political and ideological spectrum are implacable. That clear headed, pragmatic actions are always tempered by a world in which many have stepped “through the looking glass.” I only hope that the small sparks that we discover in 2007 are the start of the “fire” that de Chardin yearns for.

Friday, December 29, 2006

All Means Necessary

The lightning fast victory of the Somali secular government forces backed by the Ethiopian army offers a glmpse at how Islamofascist forces fold under the right kind of military might. But how, might you ask, did the Somali/Ethiopian forces prevail while US forces seem bogged down wherever we fight Islamists?

Bill Roggio reports:
Several American military and intelligence sources have informed us that the Ethiopians are not taking 'foreign' prisoners on the battlefield - al-Qaeda fighters are being summarily executed. Some advantages the Ethiopians possess over the United States is a willingness to use all means necessary to eliminate the ICU and al-Qaeda, and a willingness to ignore international condemnation for its actions.

Islamofascists have recruited teenagers, some no more that 12 or 13 years old (think: the movie Blood Diamond) to fight the Somali/Ethiopian forces. Can you imagine what might happen if US Marines attacked a battalion of children, equipped with AK-47s and perfectly willing to use them, but still children?

As the dead bodies piled up, Islamofascist propagandists would strip the kids of their weapons and immediately begin screaming that they were civilian casualities (think: Hezballah). Left leaning NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch would declare potential war crimes, and the MSM would, without investigation or thought, report these “war crimes” to the American public. The UN and the EU would immediately condemn our lack of proportionality, network anchors would report that the world hates us even more, and some members of Congress would demand an investigation. New rules of engagement (e.g., “no firing at those under 16 years old") would be inacted for the Marines. The result, any success against the Islamofascists would be reversed instantaneously.

The Ethiopian/Somali forces are not burdened with these constraints. They have decided that “all means necessary” will defeat a vicious enemy, reduce the number of deaths in the long term (including the deaths of children), a free an impoverished country from Islamofascist rule.

There’s little question which approach works best – just look at the results in Somalia— AQ in retreat, the local Islamists in disarray, and a real chance for the interim, UN supported government of Somalia to succeed.

I never would have believed it, but maybe the US military and the people who lead them could learn a few things from the Ethiopians. Nah ... we have to protect our moral standing ... it'll never happen.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Through the Looking Glass

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

Alice in Alice in Wonderland

As I look back at 2006, I sometimes get the feeling that many people have walked through the looking glass – that a form a madness has overcome a significant percentage of our population and that what we see and believe has relatively little correspondence to what is real.

In an earlier post, I lamented a lack of critical thinking on all sides of the political spectrum. But the “through the looking glass” syndrome is more than just a lack of critical thinking. Rather, it's a mass delusion – a belief system based on illusion, a world view based on fantasy.

In 2006, we saw this country continue its profligate energy consumption with the Bush administration doing nothing to promote serious conservation or alternative energy sources. That’s the same administration that is rightly concerned about nation security and the threat of Islamofascists but does nothing to rectify our indirect funding of these same Islamofascists via our consumption of ME oil. Through the looking glass.

In 2006, millions stood in long security lines at airports, where TSA representatives confiscated lip gloss and tooth paste from gray-headed grandmothers. When targeted profiling was suggested as an alternative, it was dismissed as unamerican. Better to inconvenience millions than to inconvenience only a few. Through the looking glass.

In 2006, we saw the leader of Iran repeatedly and unequivocally propose the annihilation of another country and its people, and then heard from “realists” like James Baker who suggest that it would be a good idea to negotiate with this man. Through the looking glass.

In 2006 we heard a newly elected Moslem Congressman,Keith Ellision, suggest to a Dearborn Michigan crowd:
Muslims, you’re up to bat right now ... How do you know that you were not brought right here to this place to learn how to make this world better? How do you know that Allah, sallalahu aleyhi wasallam,” (meaning peace be upon him) did not bring you here so that you could understand how to teach people what tolerance was, what justice was?... How do you know that you’re not here to teach this country?

Tolerance? Brought to you by the same people who deny free speech on virtually any topic that “offends” them. Justice? Brought to you by the same people who condemn to death those that leave Islam and convert to another religion. Through the looking glass.

In 2006, we saw Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch quickly condemn Israel for “war crimes” during the Lebanon War, only to learn that detailed after-action reports indicate that the claims were based on utter fabrications. Hezballah propaganda is immediately believable by AI and HRW, even though the Islamofascists are demonstrated liars and propagandists. Through the looking glass.

In 2006, we saw universities across the land espouse their role as a “marketplace of ideas.” Yet, when ideas that Left-leaning faculty and students disagree with are offered, they shut them down (sometimes violently). Through the looking glass.

In 2006, we saw the Kofi Annan of the UN lecture the USA of human rights and tolerance and then do nothing to stop massive human rights abuses across Moslem countries in North Africa and the Arab crescent. Through the looking glass.

In 2006, we heard the MSM repeatedly characterize CAIR as a "moderate Islamic civil rights group.” That’s the same CAIR whose senior directors and employees have been indicted and convicted of terrorist financing, connections to Hamas, bank fraud, support for terrorist training in Pakistan … the list is very long. Through the looking glass.

A wise man once said that everyone has their own truth, and I suppose everyone has their own reality. But far too many of us have walked through the looking glass, and I worry that those that have many never find their way back. They will, in 2007 and beyond, continue to live with their illusions and as a consequence, never see the threats we really do face until they are too close and too big to counter.

From the far side of the looking glass, all problems are caused by the USA and its imperialistic, hegemonic foreign policy. Wars must be bloodless when they are fought, or better, war should never be fought at all, regardless of the threat. We should be more concerned about the Patriot Act than the terrorist acts it is intended to uncover. We should inconvenience millions with ineffective and unnecessary security measures, and condemn well-targeted profiling out of hand. Very bad people can always be reasoned out of their evil intent. Islamic rage would disappear if only Israel ceased to exist. Islam itself is the religion of peace, sullied only by a small group of malcontents.

And so, those of us on both sides of the looking glass move into 2007. Happy New Year.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Fool Me Twice

It’s really a very small Christmas story, but it represents, I think, a much larger truth.

A few weeks ago the Hamas-lead Palestinian government promised, with great fanfare, to fund the $50,000 expense required to decorate Manger Square in Bethlehem. It’s important to note that Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is controlled by the Palestinians and that the donation was intended to quell fears by Christians that the city would be too dangerous for a pilgrimage on Xmas day. The money was never sent.

The Palestinians made a promise, not to Israel but to other Palestinian Christian merchants, and then broke it. I suppose one could argue that governments break promises all the time or that the "oppressed" Palis are just too poor to help.

I draw a different conclusion. It’s about promises made and promises kept. The Palis make promises of all kinds and invariably, each is abrogated. Since the most recent cease-fire (a promise) with Israel, 51 Palestinian rocket attacks have occurred. Surprised? Broken promises by the Palis are so common the MSM doesn’t even bother reporting them (there is of course, another interpretation for why the MSM hasn’t reported this, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt).

We negotiate to extract promises, but what do we do when an adversary looks us in the eye and promises some action, only to disregard it within days? We ask for more promises, which follow and are then discarded. Over and over again.

Remember the old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Shame on all of us.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wishful Thinking

As 2006 comes to a close, the international picture looks bleak. To be sure, we’ve had a number of victories against Islamofascism, but radical Islam continues its march throughout the Arab word, in Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Extreme violence and terror and genocide (e.g., Darfur) continue as the UN and much of the world clucks in disapproval but does relatively little to stop the scourge.

Our poorly managed efforts in Iraq have done little to help, and efforts at democracy in Lebanon and elsewhere in the ME have been subverted by Islamofascist terror gangs.

Many in the West, fatiqued by an unpopular war, discouraged by an unrelenting negative media, or in the case of some, driven by a hatred of their own country or culture, argue that all of this is somehow our (or Israel’s fault). That past or current “imperialism, hegemony, oppression, or occupation” have fueled Muslim rage. Those who make this argument are comforted by the belief that it will all go away if we redress grievances, if we change, if we make concessions, if we place a dictatorial, theocratic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, homophobic ideology on the same level as our own, accept it as equal, and move forward.


But it is reasonable to ask why Islamofascism is ascendant within Islam.
Victor Davis Hansen addresses this question (and suggests a few reasonable countermoves) when he writes:
Radical Islam may be as totalitarian and as morally bankrupt as any of these past or mostly defunct "isms," but its current appeal isn't hard to figure out. Unlike fascism or communism, radical Islam is locally grown, and not plagued by charges of foreign contamination. Indeed, Islamists claim to wage jihad against the modernism and globlization of the outside, mostly Westernized world. Such a message resonates in stagnant, impoverished Muslim countries.

Of course, while the people of the region may be poor, the Islamist movement isn't. Huge oil profits filter throughout the Muslim world, allowing Islamists to act on their rhetoric. In today's world, militias can easily acquire everything from shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles to rocket-propelled grenades. With such weapons, and on their own turf, Islamists can nullify billion-dollar Western jets and tanks.

There is still another reason for the rise of Islamists: They sense a new hesitation in the West. We appear to them paralyzed over oil prices and supplies and fears of terrorism. And so they have also waged a brilliant propaganda war, adopting the role of victims of Western colonialism, imperialism and racism. In turn, much of the world seems to tolerate their ruthlessness in stifling freedom, oppressing women and killing nonbelievers.

So how, aside from killing jihadist terrorists, can we defend ourselves against the insidious spread of radical Islam? Here are a few starting suggestions:

Bluntly identify radical Islam as fascistic - without worrying whether some Muslims take offense when we will talk honestly about the extremists in their midst.

At the same time, keep encouraging consensual governments in the Middle East and beyond that could offer people security and prosperity, while distancing ourselves from illegitimate dictators, especially in Syria and Iran, that promote terrorists.
Establish that no more autocracies in the Middle East and Asia will be allowed to get the bomb.

Seek energy independence that would collapse the world price of oil, curbing petrodollar subsidies for terrorists and our own appeasement of their benefactors.

Appreciate the history and traditions of a unique Western civilization to remind the world that we have nothing to apologize for but rather much good to offer to others.

Finally, keep confident in a war in which our will and morale are every bit as important as our overwhelming military strength. The jihadists claim that we are weak spiritually, but our past global ideological enemies - Nazism, fascism, militarism and communism - all failed. And so will they.

I hope that 2007 will see the beginning of the end for Islamofascism. Wishful thinking? Probably, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to make it happen.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A War We Are Losing

We’re losing a war. It’s just not the one you think. The war we are losing, unequivocally and undeniably, is the Information War (IW) that Islamofascists have been waging since 9/11.

Janet Albrechtsen quotes David Kilcullen, an Australia political anthropologist who is a consultant to the US Sate Department:
"Al-Qa'ida's main effort is being made in an area that we are only beginning to recognise as part of the struggle. It's armed propaganda.

"The things that they do are all designed to support an information message. They are using information as a weapon."

The aim of jihadists may be a medieval caliphate. But theirs is a very modern marketing strategy, as they try to integrate motley groups with local grievances into global jihad. Like a Christmas shopping brochure, there is something for every potential jihadist. Beheadings of infidels in Iraq are videotaped, edited for effect and broadcast across media platforms. We see them on YouTube, but on terrorist websites viewers can click on the "Donate" icon to send money to finance infidel deaths. There are fortnightly al-Qa'ida propaganda bulletins (Sawt al-Jihad), magazines for the girl jihadist (al-Khansa), fortnightly online training manuals (al-Battar). Online blogs and password-protected chat rooms are also linking up disparate groups to fight the global insurgency.

The Global Islamic Media Front, a jihadist mouthpiece, has released computer games (Night of Bush Capturing) and, for those who prefer comedy, there's Jihad Candid Camera. But this is no joke. According to the SITE Institute in the US, the Global Islamic Media Front calls on the sons and daughters of Islam to join the information jihad to attack America's "weak point".

So what are our options? We’re losing the IW badly—our message is muddled at best, non-existent at worse. If we try to manage news content into the Muslim world, our own left-leaning MSM screams bloody murder, accusing the Bush administration of “propaganda.” This from MSM news outlets that enthusiastically broadcast Islamofascist propaganda on our own networks, refuse to critically assess its veracity, and often produce faux newstories when Islamist propaganda is unavailable.

At home, we’re losing the information war because the vast majority of the MSM cares far more about making the Bush administration look bad (something that is an easy job lately!) than in providing accurate reports, context, and yes, even the occasional success that does come out of Iraq and the broader GWoT.

But Americans are tough and exhibit an inherent sense of the truth. They may become disheartened by the incessant MSM anti-Bush drumbeat, but over the long haul, the MSM is trusted by fewer and fewer people and may ultimately get exactly what it deserves – irrelevance.

On the international scene, the IW is going very poorly. Some of the billions that are being spent in Iraq should be reallocated to a new, savvy IW – one that recognizes the unique Islamic market and sells them a different product that somehow seems more appealing than Jihad. Is it possible? I have to believe that it is.

The US is good at many things, but we’re best at media. That’s why it’s so surprising that we’re getting our butts kicked in the IW. Maybe a few of New York and Hollywood types who are so expert in media could do something for their country and assist in the IW. It’s bloodless, doesn’t involve the military, and the results might even help.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Beat Goes On

In my last post, Yes … You Can, I argued that the growing hubris of radical Islam will ultimately cause its adherents to provoke an event that will become a tipping point for the West. When that happens “Islam will become the ‘other’ and the West will act with a ferocity that is unthinkable today.”

In an eerie postscript on the possibility of just that happening, many Right-leaning Web sources today are linking to a a rap metal music video from an obscure band, Stuck Mojo, that has been posted on YouTube.

From the video (to a rap beat):

I speak peace when peace is spoken
But I speak war when your hate is provokin’
The season is open 24-7-365
Man up yo time to ride
No need to hide behind slogans of deceit
Claiming that you're a religion of peace
We just don't believe you
We can clearly see through
The madness that you're feeding your people
Jihad the cry of your unholy war
Using the willing, the weak and poor
From birth drowning in propaganda, rhetoric and slander
All we can say is damn ya

Is this an early tremor in the coming quake? I can only worry that it is.

A poster at LGF, JohnCV comments:
When 'pop' culture begins to recognize and assimilate a theme, it is a sure sign that a process has begun. Recogniton of who and what what we face is going mainstream, despite the MSM, despite CAIR, and despite mealy-mouthed speeches from the politicians.

Again from the video:

I don't need a faith that's blind
Where death and hate bring me peace of mind
With views that are stuck deep in the seventh century
So much sand in your eyes too blind to see
The venom that you leaders preach
Is the path to your own destruction
Your own demise
You might say that I don't understand
but your disgust for me is what I realize

Your homicidal ways has got the whole world watching
Whole world scoping
So if you bring it to my home base
Best believe it
The season's open

Thankfully, the season is not yet open. But time is short.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yes ... you can

Gerald Vanderleun summarizes the feeling of many of us in the center who believe that:
… the current effort in Iraq and the Middle East to counter and expunge Islamic terrorism and turn Islam from the road it is on towards one of reformation and assimilation is the best path that can be taken at this time. Indeed, for all the ineptitude of the current administration, for all the expense in treasure and lives, this shoot-the-moon, Hail Mary of a foreign policy in Iraq is not just a policy to make America safer at home. It is the only thing that stands between Islam and its own destruction.

It’s the last sentence that really matters. In his brilliantly constructed piece – read the whole thing -- Vanderleun argues:
One solution, commonly referenced as "the Left/Liberal" position is essentially "leave them alone and they'll come home. They know it’s for their own good." The other solution, "the Right/Conservative" position, is to force assimilation, modernization, reformation and democratic mechanisms upon Islam "for its own good."

The two positions agree that "something must be done." They differ only in their specifications for "a New!, Improved! Islam" that can play well with other religions and nations in the post-modern world where "business as usual" is worshipped more than any other state of affairs. Both positions, whether they focus on "giving" the benefits of the modern world to the West's Islamic populations spread out in its cities and nations, or "bringing" the same benefits to the center of Islamic mass in the Middle East, share the belief that Islam can be "fixed" …

In short, both sides think that in some way "Islam is broken." Is it?

Finding myself in neither political camp, it strikes me that Islam -- especially if you look at the fertility rates of Muslims, mosque construction and attendance, and the retention and conversion of the faithful around the globe -- is doing just fine. It strikes me that a religion that doesn't view itself as broken is unlikely to take kindly to the notion that it needs fixing. Still, that's the proposition advanced by both camps in our broken and shattered society. But it is a proposition that is advanced only sotto voce, in whispers, because to ask, right out loud, if Islam wants to be "fixed" or indeed can be "fixed," is to know the answer in the act of asking.

The answer is a resounding "No." And that brings the persistent background question, "Oh, my, whatever shall WE do with THEM?" into sharp relief in the foreground of Western minds. If history is any guide that is the single most dangerous question one group of humans can ask about another. It is a question no sane member of the West nor sane member of Islam would ever want thrust into the foreground, for it begins the process of transforming a group with whom a society lives in peace into the "Others" with whom a society cannot live in peace.

And there’s the rub. If we don’t do something now to stop Islam’s march toward radicalism, we set the stage for horrible consequences – not for us, but for Islam. What worries me isn’t our own hubris, it's the growing confidence (hubris) of the Islamofascists. They believe they are winning and given that belief, they will push harder and harder. Until they do something that becomes a tipping point – something that threatens the West at a visceral level, that roils our economic system, that causes pain, not just to those who are directly affected, but to almost everyone. When that happened, Islam will become the “other” and the West will act with a ferocity that is unthinkable today.

Vanderleun concludes with the following comment:
Sometime shortly after 9/11 in an online forum I frequented then, an exasperated idealist proclaimed that "After all, you can't kill a billion Muslims." Like so many others he spoke from somewhere outside History. History, especially the world's most recent history, shows us all how wrong that statement is. The hard truth is rather that, "Yes, if you really want to, you can."

And that is the most terrible and terrorizing thought of the 21st century.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Big Lie

In an insightful Sunday morning column, David Warren discusses the escalating violence between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza and the West Bank. In a delusional world of those who embrace moral relativism, Israel is responsible for all of this.

After all, were the Palestinians not “oppressed” in such a profound manner, there would be no violence, right? If only the “mistake” that is called Israel would just cease to exist. The Middle East (all of it, mind you) would be the land of milk and honey. Schools in Egypt with 70 students per classroom would instantly modernize; Sunni and Shia in Iraq would smile, join hands and live together in peace and harmony; Moslem Arabs who commit genocidal murder in Sudan would immediately stop their violence; Madrasses from Saudi Arabia to Yemen would stop teaching 7th century precepts, stop their calls to Jihad, and would instead lead their Arab brethren into the light of the 21st century; economies throughout the Arab world would … you get the picture. It’s all a matter of getting Israel to disappear and until it does, Islamofasicts throughout the ME get a pass.

Warren comments:
To the Western, "liberal" mindset, Israel must be responsible for this, just as President Bush is responsible for the teething problems of democracy in Iraq. For the West is always responsible for everything. If, as President Ahmadinejad of Iran has argued, both Israel and America were wiped from the face of this earth -- as he promises both soon will be -- then our problems are over, and we'll be one big happy Muslim family (presumably Shia, if Ahmadinejad prevails).

Distorted in the official Iranian view, and scarcely hidden beneath the "liberal" one -- as I discovered repeatedly when I was myself among the media in Israel and the West Bank -- is the profound racism of diminished expectation. They do not hold Palestinians to the same standards, to which Israelis are held without further thought. Specifically, they will not hold Palestinians responsible for behaviour that would be spontaneously condemned, with unconcealed outrage, only a few miles away across the Green Line.

This is systematic, and goes beyond condemnations of violence. No Jew is allowed to live in territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority; nor could a Jew expect to live out the day were he left unguarded there. Well over a million Muslims enjoy full citizenship in Israel, and the robust protection of law, even as they grow more radical. Yet Israel is uniquely condemned for denying the Palestinian "right of return", to Israeli territory.

I could go on almost indefinitely juxtaposing such things -- none of the points being subtle; each as obvious as the couple I have made.

But it's not that people don't know. It's that they will not acknowledge what they know, lest the rest of their worldview come tumbling down with the big lie, of moral relativism.

But the moral relativist mindset is certain about one thing: "the West is always responsible for everything." It follows, therefore, that Islam—its leaders and the "moderates" who we so fervently hope will "reform" their world—are responsible for nothing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Just Thinking

In a recent column in the NYT, Tom Friedman (by paid subscription only) writes about China’s “new national strategy” to become an “innovation country.” He goes on to argue that “In a global economy, our workers will get paid a premium only if they or their firms offer a uniquely innovative product or service …” He correctly contends that we need to teach our students the basic elements of creative thinking so that they can become the innovators of the 21st century.

I agree with Friedman’s sentiment completely, but I think he’s missing another much more important kind of thinking—the ability to think critically.

The citizenry of the USA, both young and old, exhibit a troubling lack of critical thinking. At a Web site dedicated to Critical Thinking, the concept is defined:
Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

Because we don’t think critically, urban legends become perceived as reality, low probability dangers become instant crises, the misinformation, fear-mongering, and outright bias served up by the MSM is taken as the gospel truth. As a consequence, our politicians rely on our lack of critical thinking to institute bad policy.

A few simple examples:

(1) Politicians on the Right argue that a “marriage” between two gay people “threatens” the institution of marriage as a whole. People listen and react to a new social contract (between two gay people) and perceive it as a threat. Someone who thinks critically is forced to ask: “Please define – explicitly – exactly what the threat is?” Of course, our politicians never respond, because there is no threat that arises from gay unions. Gay marriage may be unpleasant for some to contemplate, but a threat – nah, it’s just not real.

But because few think critically, polls indicate that 60 plus percent of the public believes there is a "threat" that arises out of gay marriage, and as a consequence, bad laws are passed.

(2) One of the main mantras of the Left is their insistence that catastrophic climate change is in the offing – that global warming is solely man’s fault and only we must take draconian steps to remedy it. This “fact” has become so completely institutionalized that anyone who tries to think critically, who questions 100 year climate predictions as possibly flawed (even though 100 year predictions of anything are inherently flawed) is shouted down as a pro-pollution, pro-corporate slug. As a consequence, we set bad policy.

(3) Or on the international scene, consider the Iraq Study group recommendation that implicitly ties a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to peace in the ME: "The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict."

David Frum exhibits critical thinking when he comments:
That's a familiar enough thought. British Prime Minister Tony Blair made exactly the same point in his address last month to London's annual Lord Mayor's banquet. "[A] major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself but outside it. . . . [W]e should start with Israel/Palestine. That is the core."

An al-Qaeda terrorist detonates a car bomb in a crowd of schoolchildren--and in revenge, a Shiite militiaman kidnaps and murders his Sunni neighbours. How exactly are they motivated by the Arab-Israeli dispute 600 miles away? How would an end to that dispute persuade them to live in peace with their neighbours?

In fact, if you think about the situation in the ME critically, it might occur to you that the conventional wisdom (i.e., the Israelis must do (give) even more to help solve the problem) is exactly backwards. Again, Frum comments:
Might it not be closer to the truth to say that Arab radicalism is the cause of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute--not the result of it? There is no peace because Israel's neighbours--and too many of the world's Muslims--cannot accept the right of a non-Arab, non-Muslim minority to live unsubjugated in the Middle East. That is the true "core" of the dispute, and it cannot be fixed by negotiation.

Indeed, it could well be argued that these endless attempts by Western powers to negotiate Israeli-Palestinian peace make the problem worse, not better. At Camp David in 2000, for example, Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat the most favourable deal ever offered to the Palestinians. Arafat rejected the offer, and started a war to get better terms. He lost. Did that kill the deal?

Not for long. If Blair and Baker have their way, the U.S. will soon press Israel to revive and improve it.

From the point of view of the Arabs and Palestinians, Western peace efforts create what a stockbroker would recognize as a unique one-way option. If they win, they win everything. If they lose, they lose nothing. There is no reason for them not to continue rolling the dice forever. But why would a savvy deal-maker like James Baker propose to sign up the United States for yet another doomed, futile round of this crooked game?

Three representative examples among thousands upon thousands of instances. In each case, many choose not to think critically – to accept what their told, particularly if it fits their prejudices and word view. As a result we often follow the wrong path for the wrong reasons, reaping results that hurt us instead of helping us.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Robert's Way

I find it amusing that the very same people who (justifiably) argue that they were mislead (lied to) by the Bush administration in the run-up to Iraq, are perfectly willing (in fact, enthusiastic) to be mislead (lied to) by the Iraq Study Group and its recommendations.

The ISG report is flawed in so many ways that it is unusable. But topping the list is its recommendation to initiate diplomatic discussions with Syria and Iran in hopes of obtaining their assistance in extricating the USA from Iraq.

Richard Fernandez (Wretchard of The Belmont Club) discusses a British diamond mining company, African Consolidated Resources, who entered into a contract with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe (thug, dictator, genocidal murderer) in an effort to invest in this bankrupt country. After millions were invested and diamonds were found, Mugabe cancelled the contract and ordered the Brits out. Fernandez comments:
Some people are doubtless asking themselves why African Consolidated Resources would ever trust Robert Mugabe. After all, what sort of mentally challenged persons would begin negotiations with known liars and plunderers; actually trust those with a long record of duplicity and breaking their word? Enlist their help in getting them out of a situation that these liars themselves created? Who could be so stupid? Oh wait ...

The answer, I hope, is obvious … the same people who applaud the ISG’s recommendations for diplomatic discussions with Syria, Iran, and the Palestinians … that’s who.

In a later comment, Wretchard continues:
Everyone wants the fruits of victory, but for political reasons we all we want it on the cheap. And when someone notices us balking at the price, out comes the Promise. "We are gonna solve everything for next to nothing. All you've got to do is leave Iraq, hand over the Golan heights, give the Palestinians a state, let Nasrallah take over Lebanon and we'll get you out of Iraq. Guaranteed. And then you'll be elected in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Just throw a few gomers to the dogs is all." Sounds good. But the catch is it sounds too good.

A lot of people say they got swindled by Bush. Or say Bush got swindled by all these exile groups he believed. They'll say it and walk right into the next scam. If we want something important, it'll cost. Any time you're not prepared to pay is the time to keep your peepers open.

If you’re angry about being “swindled” by Bush, for God’s sake, don’t be swindled all over again by the ISG and the gutless politicians who support it. When something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I was listening to NPR this morning. A commentator praised virtually every aspect of the Iraq Study Group Report and suggested that finally, “realistic diplomacy” would once again prevail in the United States’ dealings with the world, particularly its enemies. I was by myself in the car, but I laughed out loud.

As I navigated through noontime traffic, I wondered why it is that so many people elevate the soft diplomacy suggested by James Baker—a diplomacy where double-speak, obtuseness, never-ending delay, and wishful thinking obviate any real accomplishment—to almost religious significance.

Is it because it works so well in the Middle East? That can’t be true. Demonstrably, over many decades, it does not. Is it because we have good partners who will negotiate in good faith? That can’t be true either. In the ME, we must deal with irrational fanatics and murders who have absolutely no interests that coincide with our own. Worse, they have no compunction (think: Palestinans) about entering into a diplomatic agreement and then breaking it when the need warrants.

When I returned home, I came upon a piece by David Warren. In his article, Warren discusses the resignation of John Bolton as UN ambassador. He praises Bolton as a plain talker, someone who speaks his mind. He then writes:
There is a deep principle at work here, contradicting what is embraced as "diplomacy" today. It is that reasonable ideas can invariably be communicated in clear language. For the reasonable assertion has nothing to hide. "Doublespeak", as Orwell defined, is the substance within which ideas are hidden, that would be rejected if they were stated plainly. "Diplomatic doublespeak" goes a step further. It is the language in which such dubious ideas are absorbed and accepted; by which Western diplomats seek to fool themselves.

Ahhh, there it is! The “diplomacy” that Baker and his group recommend and that so many in the media and throughout the general public unthinkingly embrace is designed to give the appearance of progress when only words, not deeds, will result, to give the appearance of sincerity when one party is anything but sincere, to give the appearance of multilateral effort when most of those involved have interests that are not even close to ours. But … we fool ourselves.

Warren continues with a discussion of a clear-spoken comment from one of the world’s true statesmen, if you are to believe the MSM over the last few years:
Jacques Chirac, the President of France, has recently said a very clear thing: that the Syrian regime, currently re-arming Hezbollah in Lebanon (under the noses of French "peacekeepers"), is beyond talking with. That he persists in talking with exaggerated civility to the regime in Tehran, belies his sincerity. But he is right in making a subtle point against the dreamworld proposals now emerging from the Baker-Hamilton "Iraq Study Group" -- the ludicrous idea that America could win the cooperation of Syria and Iran, in extracting herself from Middle Eastern commitments.

The President, for all of his failings, appears to be reticent to adopt any of the JSG recommendations. Maybe he’s not as stupid as some of his detractors suggest.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


It comes as no surprise, given the never-ending series of leaks over the past few weeks, that James Baker’s Iraq Study Group (ISG) Report did not fail to disappoint.

I decided to break from writing for a few hours and read the ISG report, posted today at Truth Laid Bare. I will admit that I skimmed some of the boiler plate comments, but in substance, it appears that the “realists” (1) correctly view Iraq as a cesspool; (2) want us out there post haste; (3) are willing to negotiate with the very countries (Iraq and Iran) who (i) have made Iraq a cess pool, (ii) are global supporters of Islamofascist terror, and (iii) have absolutely no interest in a stable, democratic Iraq; (4) are willing to offer “incentives” (in the case of Iran, the implication is Nukes, in the case of Syria, it’s the Golan) to get them to come around, and (5) are anxious to sell out Israel to the Islamofascists, if they’ll just (oh, pretty please) give us a modicum of stability in the ME.

The ISG recommendations, breathlessly reported by MSM pundits as if they were handed down from the Mount, are pure James Baker—master of RealPolitik, and old-hand ME playa. Yeah, the same guy whose policies as Secretary of State and advice to Presidents over the past three decades have lead the ME to become such a stable, democratic, region of the world.

It’s a pathetic commentary on politics to think that we ask advice from a person [okay, I know it was (reverent tones here) a “bipartisan committee,” but that’s just political cover] who has a demonstrable record of failure in the very region he’s now asked to assess yet again.

Worse, I suspect that many of the ISG recommendations will be followed, not because they’re right, but because they’re available.

I can only hope that this Administration does to the ISG report what all administrations do with virtually all committee reports. Deep six the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

An "Inconvenient" Truth

Throughout the Lebanon war, the MSM relentlessly presented misleading and erroneous information that claimed Israel was bombing innocent civilian targets. Left-leaning “human rights” groups went so far as to accuse the Israeli’s of “war crimes.” None of these entities considered waiting for all the facts to be collected. Most, if not all, used Hezballah’s story line (and lies) with little, if any skepticism. Most, if not all, tempered their harsh words for Hezballah, preferring to characterize the terrorist group as "militants," "activists," or innocent civilians. The bias of the MSM and groups such as Human Rights Watch and even the Red Cross was palpable. It was also pathetic and maddening.

Today, none other than The New York Times reports:
In a new report, an Israeli research group says Hezbollah stored weapons in mosques, battled Israelis from inside empty schools, flew white flags while transporting missiles and launched rockets near United Nations monitoring posts.

The detailed report on the war was produced by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, a private research group headed by Reuven Erlich, a retired colonel in military intelligence, who worked closely with the Israeli military.”
Of course, Hezballah officials are quoted with denials and as we all know, Hezballah never lies or fabricates news reports. After all, they're simply oppressed activists, aren’t they?

The NYT continues:
The report includes Israeli Air Force video that it says shows several instances of Hezbollah personnel firing rockets next to residential buildings in southern Lebanon and then being bombed by Israel. The adjacent buildings were presumably damaged, but there is no information on whether civilians were inside.

“This study explains the dilemma facing the Israeli military as it fights an enemy that intentionally operates from civilian areas,” Mr. Erlich said. “This is the kind of asymmetric warfare we are seeing today. It’s not only relevant to Lebanon, but is also what we are seeing in the Gaza Strip and in Iraq.”

The report says: “The construction of a broad military infrastructure, positioned and hidden in populated areas, was intended to minimize Hezbollah’s vulnerability. Hezbollah would also gain a propaganda advantage if it could represent Israel as attacking innocent civilians.”

In video from July 23, a truck with a multi-barreled missile launcher, presumably from Hezbollah, is parked in a street, sandwiched between residential buildings. The video was transmitted from an Israeli missile approaching the truck. The screen goes fuzzy as the missile slams into the target.

In another video, from a Lebanese village, rockets are seen being fired from a launcher on the back of a truck. The truck then drives a short distance and disappears inside a building. Seconds later, the building itself disappears under a cloud of smoke from an Israeli bomb.

The report says that there were many such examples, and that Hezbollah has been preparing for such an engagement for years, embedding its fighters and their weapons in the Shiite villages of southern Lebanon. When Hezbollah fired its rockets from those areas, Israel faced a choice of attacking, and possibly causing civilian casualties, or refraining from shooting because of the risk, the report said.

Of course, none of this comes as any surprise to anyone with half a brain.

The problem, of course, is that the truth now appears many months after the lies have been planted. For many on the left, the lies are reality, and the truth, well, that’s just (to quote Al Gore) “inconvenient.”

Addendum (12/6/06):

Wretchard of The Belmont Club comments on the travesty that resulted in the presentation of lies as truth throughout the Lebanese war and the current attempt by Israel to set the record straight:
It's a story of too little and too late. The Left had no difficulty in painting a portrait of a New Guernica with digitally altered pictures, fake sources, unsupported accusations, racist charges and whatever else they could think up even as the bombs were falling. Now Israel produces the grainy, real pictures to show that it was the Hezbollah which committed the war crimes. That's a serious accusation supported by serious proof. But how can these low-resolution UAV images compete with the full color, staged photographs of New York Times cameraman Tyler Hicks? No, the IDF has been beaten in the propaganda war and it will be beaten again in the next few months if Lebanon turns hot. Beaten because it did not have the infrastructure -- the "concerned" committees, speakers bureaus, media houses, legal aid shops, international organizations and an army of writers -- to compete with the lie.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Let’s Talk

When the United States invaded Iraq, I thought we were doing the right thing. It appeared to me that the cesspool of corruption, dictatorship, and death that is the Middle East might, just might, be changed if democracy could be instituted in a country like Iraq. I thought that democracy was an excellent weapon against Jihadists and could blunt their influence in the Moslem world. I was naïve, and I was wrong.

Andrew McCarthy discusses why Democracy is anathema to Islamic countries. He writes:
Islamic countries, moreover, are not rejecting Western democracy because they haven’t experienced it. They reject it on principle. For them, the president’s euphonious rhetoric about democratic empowerment is offensive. They believe, sincerely, that authority to rule comes not from the people but from Allah; that there is no separation of religion and politics; that free people do not have authority to legislate contrary to Islamic law; that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims, and men to women; and that violent jihad is a duty whenever Muslims deem themselves under attack … no matter how speciously.

These people are not morons. They adhere to a highly developed belief system that is centuries old, wildly successful, and for which many are willing to die. They haven’t refused to democratize because the Federalist Papers are not yet out in Arabic. They decline because their leaders have freely chosen to decline. They see us as the mortal enemy of the life they believe Allah commands. Their demurral is wrong, but it is principled, not ignorant. And we insult them by suggesting otherwise.

Democratizing such cultures — in anything we would recognize as “democracy” — is the work of generations. It is a cultural phenomenon. It is not accomplished by elections and facile constitution writing … especially, constitutions that shun Madisonian democracy for the State Department’s preferred establishment of Islam and its adhesive sharia law as the state religion.

Elections, in fact, play to the strengths of Islamic terrorists. Jihadists are confident, intimidating, and rigorously disciplined. They are thus certain to thrive in the chaos of nascent “democracies.” Consequently, it should be unsurprising to anyone with a shred of common sense that terrorist organizations are ascendant in the new governments of Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories.

But it appears that I’m not the only person who is naïve. A chorus of voices now argue that we need to “talk” with two of world most anti-democratic regimes, undeniable state-sponsors of terror, and the puppet masters of Jihadist terror in Iraq, Lebanon, and any number of other countries.

McCarthy comments:
So now comes James Baker’s Iraq Study Group, riding in on its bipartisan white horse to save the day. The democracy project having failed, this blue-ribbon panel’s solution is: Let’s talk.

Let’s talk with our enemies, Iran and Syria. Let’s talk with terror abettors as if they were good guys — just like us. As if they were just concerned neighbors trying to stop the bloodshed in Iraq … instead of the dons who’ve been commanding it all along.

Why is it that the same voices that suggest that we sit down and talk with Iran and Syria don’t make the same recommendation about sitting down for discussions with Al Qaida? Talk can’t hurt. Right?

Well not exactly.

Again from McCarthy:
Sitting down with evil legitimizes evil. As a practical matter, all it accomplishes is to convey weakness. This spring — after trumpeting the Bush Doctrine’s “you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists” slogan for five years — Secretary of State Rice pathetically sought to bribe Iran out of its nuclear program with a menu of all carrots and no sticks … and certainly no demand that the mullahs stop fomenting terror. The result? They’re still laughing at us, even as they build their bombs, harbor al Qaeda operatives, and arm the militias killing American soldiers in Iraq.

But talk we will … and every Islamofascist will smile.