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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Jesse Walker suggests that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not achieve a propaganda victory when he spoke at Columbia university.

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University yesterday, he did not emerge with the "propaganda victory" that neocon pundit Bill Kristol assured us he would receive. He didn't seem to be having fun either. Instead, he had to listen while Columbia President Lee Bollinger lambasted him for the terrible state of civil liberties in Iran: the executions, the political prisoners, the persecution of homosexuals. Bollinger also questioned Iran's foreign policy—sometimes skating past the province of the proven, but never beyond the realm of legitimate inquiries—and he challenged the Iranian for suggesting the Holocaust is a "myth." Agence France-Presse called the introduction "a humiliating and public dressing down."

And then, after presenting his point of view, Ahmadinejad faced frequently hostile questions from the audience. Immediately before the Columbia speech, he had spoken via satellite to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where he also had to answer audience questions. Before that he appeared on 60 Minutes, where he had faced still more questions. For a few days in September, the president of a repressive religious regime actually had to engage his critics.

But Walker’s view considers only what those of us in the USA who saw the talk on CSPAN or on other MSM. In fact, around the world, Lee Bollinger’s words never made it to those who heard reports on al Jezeera and other Arab news outlets. Rather, they heard reports like this from Iran’ News agency :

Despite entire US media objections, negative propagation and hue and cry in recent days over IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s scheduled address at Colombia University, he gave his lecture and answered students questions here on Monday afternoon.

On second day of his entry in New York, and amid standing ovation of the audience that had attended the hall where the Iranian President was to give his lecture as of early hours of the day, Ahmadinejad said that Iran is not going to attack any country in the world.

Before President Ahamadinejad’s address, Colombia University Chancellor in a brief address told the audience that they would have the chance to hear Iran’s stands as the Iranian President would put them forth.

He said that the Iranians are a peace loving nation, they hate war, and all types of aggression.

Referring to the technological achievements of the Iranian nation in the course of recent years, the president considered them as a sign for the Iranians’ resolute will for achieving sustainable development and rapid advancement.

The audience on repeated occasion applauded Ahmadinejad when he touched on international crises.

At the end of his address President Ahmadinejad answered the students’ questions on such issues as Israel, Palestine, Iran’s nuclear program, the status of women in Iran and a number of other matters.

Sadly, Iran’s president did win a propaganda victory throughout much of the world outside the USA, for reasons explained by Wretchard of the Belmont Club comments:
Both Bollinger and Ahmedinajad broadcast their messages on a platform which grabbed the attention of the world. But what was said on that platform will be selectively quoted and amplified in a process that favors Ahmedinajad's signal over Bollinger's. The amplifying circuitry of the media will ensure that an anti-Israel, anti-American message will get more than a fair airing. Few will read the exchange verbatim. If [Columbia University President Lee] Bollinger thinks that a few barbed questions, a few provocative statements; that a little defiance can compensate for giving the Iranian dictator an opportunity to emit a signal which is even now being tweaked and boosted to fit established talking points, he is mistaken. The medium is the massage. What works in the classroom doesn't always work on the larger world stage.

If the world was like a fine university, the idealistic and in many cases naïve views of academics might actually mean something. But we live in a gritty reality where bad people want to subjugate and/or kill us. That’s not paranoia, that’s fact, supported not only by documented threats, but by clearly documented events. One of those bad people is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the spokeman for fanatical regime that may ultimately lead the world into a conflagration that makes Iraq seem tame by comparison.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Robust Debate—Almost

In my two earlier posts on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University, I suggested that no robust debate would occur. Columbia University President, Lee Bollinger, surprised me, and I suspect, many within his own university, when he ambushed Ahmadinejad in way that can only be described as shocking. Bollinger’s criticism of Iran and Ahmadinejad was to the point, shockingly accurate, and confrontational. Great stuff!

Bollinger's money quotes:

"Mr. President [Ahmadinejad], you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."

"Frankly and in all candor, Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will have meaning for us."

Although I still believe that inviting Ahmadinejad to Columbia was a mistake, I will admit that I was wrong about the tone of the event — an indirect “robust debate” did occur via Bollinger’s speech. If our State Department acted more like Lee Bollinger, I suspect the world would be better for it.

As I watched Ahmadinejad present an irrelevant sermon on biblical issues and his vision of the world, on the role of science, on his country’s oppression, blah, blah, I’m struck by how pathetic Islamofascist thought really is. It cannot confront legitimate criticism, but rather deflects it with accusations, whines about its own victimization, and argues using outright lies and tenuous half-truths. Par for the course, I suppose.

Although I stand by my criticism of the Academic Left, I will now temper it with the recognition that I was too harsh on Columbia University’s leaders. If, in fact, Lee Bollinger planned this ambush from the start, he becomes a hero in the war against Islamofascists. And if he became more aggressive as a consequence of the widespread criticism leveled at his institution, that shows courage and conscience. I applaud him for it.

The Q&A period was, as expected, an exercise in evasion, fabrication, and misdirection. But overall, Ahmadinejad came off as what he is—a buffoon who is the spokesman for a repressive, fascist regime.

The net of it—not nearly as bad I had feared.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Robust Debate—II

Columbia University’s decision to invite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on Monday is an interesting look into the consciousness of the Academic Left (and I suspect, many Left-leaning folks throughout the USA). On the one hand, I suppose it really doesn’t matter whether or not the event occurs. Ahmadinejad will condemn the current administration, will suggest that his country is a victim, will deny his murderous intent, and will move on. The media will soften its reporting and, as it has done in the past, provide little context that might make the uneducated viewer look askance at this little man (literally and figuratively).

But on the other hand, it does say something about us. Wretchard of the Belmont Club is eloquent in his discussion of those who cheer Ahmadinejad’s presense at Columbia:
I'm looking out the window on a perfect day. The streets are clean. There's no disorder. The sounds of happy people getting together in a little garden restaurant not far away can heard when it's quiet enough. If I had lived in Australia all my life I could believe the whole world was that way.

And then I might sign those Greenpeace petitions; listen to speakers at those Bush=Hitler demonstrations expound on how bright the world might be if only we saw it so. And then I might think things were only a matter of words; to be listened to, considered afterward with friends at a cafe; and thought of while lying quietly in bed in a home that is always there.

But if you are unfortunate enough to know at first hand the evil that men do when you are not on your guard; if you have had to devote many years of your life to obtaining freedom; sleeping fitfully like the fugitive you are in a different place every night. If you knew that -- then you would know that the happy voices in the garden restaurant down the street are only safe because some men keep them safe and that the day may come when weariness or inattention will drop the guard. And then you look out the window with other eyes and hear the wind with other ears.

The Left frequents the garden restaurant, where things are tranquil and most everyone agrees on most everything. It’s all about words, and debate, and understanding differences. It’s all about learning to embrace the mindset that there is no good or evil, only different cultures. And the “oppressed,” well, they have a moral authority that superceeds all others.

There will be no debate at Columbia University. No attempt to shred Ahmadinejad with hard facts and harder arguments. The President of Iran, a primary sponsor of worldwide Islamofascism and as anti-liberal a person as I can think of, will respond to every question with a wink and a smile, and the faculty and students, always courteous to those from non-Western countries who advocate the destruction of virtually everything that is Liberal and Western, will NOT shout him down (that’s reserved only for speakers from within the US who espouse politically incorrect views) but instead will smile and shake hands afterward.

And the storm clouds gather, but they are far from the garden restaurant. So far, in fact, that the sun shines, the birds chirp, and all is peaceful in the world.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Robust Debate

If it weren’t so dangerous to future generations of college students, the academic Left would be nothing more than a sad parody of logical inconsistency coupled with rabid ideological repressiveness. Kathleen Parker comments on a recent case in point:
The latest smack-down of former Harvard President Lawrence Summers should extinguish any remaining doubt that political correctness is the new McCarthyism.

Summers, you'll recall, was driven out of his university post in 2005 after he suggested at a conference that gender differences might account for an underrepresentation by women in science, math and engineering.

Never mind that scientific evidence suggests as much. One simply doesn't say -- ever -- that men and women aren't equal in every way.

Summers' remarks were seized upon, taken out of context and misinterpreted by many, including one female biologist from MIT, who walked out on the president's talk, later saying that she felt she was either going to faint or throw up … .

For thinking improper thoughts, Summers the Blasphemer was banished into the outer darkness. There's no debating that he was punished for saying something that made a special group feel bad -- the new blacklisting offense. To be called a sexist, racist or homophobe today is tantamount to being a communist sympathizer 50-60 years ago.

Fast-forward to this month. Summers was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the University of California Board of Regents bimonthly board meeting.

And then he wasn't.

Maureen Stanton, an evolution professor at UC Davis, was "stunned and appalled" when she learned of Summers' upcoming speech and circulated a petition to have his invitation withdrawn.

Sinning against the sisterhood not only isn't forgotten, apparently it isn't ever forgiven.

But wait just a minute. The President of another august university, an Ivy, no less, sees things differently. Columbia University has decided to invite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—a poster child for sexism, racism and homphobia—to speak next week. You remember Ahmadinejad—he’s the guy who is perfectly willing to have women stoned to death for “sexual offenses.” He’s the leader who has implemented Sharia Law, you know, the one that requires the death penalty for gay men who have sexual liaisons.

Fox News reports:
Columbia President Lee Bollinger, in announcing Ahmadinejad's upcoming appearance, described the event as part of "Columbia's long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate." He said the Iranian president had agreed to answer questions on Israel and the Holocaust.”

Hmmm, looks to me like “robust debate” isn’t likely. In fact, the invitation to “debate” has very little to do with the vicious Islamofascist who was invited, and everything to do with the Academic Left’s warped sense of moral equivalence and its bizarre infatuation with the “struggle” of Islamists and the delusional notion of the West's culpability for terrorism.

If you're the ex-President of Harvard University and you ask a legitimate question about gender differences, it appears you’re permanently banned from debating the question on elite university campuses. After all, such a debate might rock the delicate sensibilities of faculty members. But if you’re the leader of a Islamofascist country that murders women (more specifically, stones them to death) for sexual offenses and murders gay people for being themselves, it’s important to conduct a “robust debate.”

Makes perfect sense to me.

Update (9/22/07):

In an eerie historical footnote, George Mason University History News Network reports:
Seventy years before this week’s invitation to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Columbia rolled out the red carpet for a senior official of Adolf Hitler’s regime. The invitation to Iran’s leader may seem less surprising, but no less disturbing, when one recalls that in 1933, Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler invited Nazi Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Hans Luther, to speak on campus, and also hosted a reception for him. Luther represented "the government of a friendly people," Butler insisted. He was "entitled to be received ... with the greatest courtesy and respect." Ambassador Luther's speech focused on what he characterized as Hitler's peaceful intentions. Students who criticized the Luther invitation were derided as “ill-mannered children” by the director of Columbia’s Institute of Arts and Sciences.

Columbia also insisted on maintaining friendly relations with Nazi-controlled German universities. While Williams College terminated its program of student exchanges with Nazi Germany, Columbia and other universities declined to do likewise. Columbia refused to pull out even after a German official candidly asserted that his country’s students were being sent abroad to serve as “political soldiers of the Reich.”

Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Monday, September 17, 2007


It is absolutely remarkable how little MSM coverage we in the USA are getting about the Israeli attack on an unspecified arms facility in Northern Syria. The UK Times Online summarizes what is known and provides some conjecture about the raid. If their report is even close to accurate, this is news that is worth knowing about.

The UK Times Online reports:
It was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.

At a rendezvous point on the ground, a Shaldag [Israeli] air force commando team was waiting to direct their laser beams at the target for the approaching jets. The team had arrived a day earlier, taking up position near a large underground depot. Soon the bunkers were in flames.

Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea.

It’s interesting that Israel has returned to its former self. Daring attacks against obvious aggressors (think: the Iraq Nuclear reactor in 1981) followed by a “no comment” And little other official information.

Also note that we aren’t hearing the usual worldwide condemnation of Israel as a consequence of this attack. If the Israelis did, in fact, destroy a nuclear weapons facility (only conjecture at this point) it may be the EU is silently pleased and has muted their otherwise anti-Israeli stance. Even the usual suspects in the Arab world are generally muted in their usual indignation and outrage. The Syrian response was almost comical, since they could never admit that such a facility exists or that they were a possible transit point for weaponry destined for (a) Hezballah or (b) Iran or (c) that they were hiding nuclear devices for the NoKos (in clear violation of their newly signed agreements to stop WMD development (so much for diplomacy), or (d) that this was a cache of Sadaam's weaponry (the site was 50 miles from the Iraqi border).

Of course, it may be that the Israelis bombed a baby milk factory or an agricultural facility. That story supplied to the MSM by the Syrians after they've had time to clean up the bomb site and insert bogus evidence of multiple civilian casualities, will be reported immediately and uncritically by most of the MSM. After all, it fits the narrative and is therefore fit to print.

I suspect there's a very big story here, and that it may be a harbinger for even more draconian actions in the near future. Actions that target other nuclear proliferators in the region. Time will tell.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The anniversary of 9/11 forces the country as a whole to reflect on our efforts to combat Islamofascist terror. In a wonderfully insightful analysis of our country’s reaction to terror over the past six years, George Friedman of Stratfor discusses “War, Psychology, and Time” and its impact on American attitudes. He argues that “six years on, the overwhelming and reasonable fear on the night of Sept. 11 has been erased and replaced by a strange sense that it was all an overreaction.” Part of this “strange sense” is due to the fact that there have been no other meaningful terrorist attacks in this country. But there is more to it than that.

A botched war plan in Iraq has opened the door for the Left to criticize not only the Iraq war, but our entire approach to terrorism. Critics offer the following set of solutions: (1) talking with our enemies (regardless of the likelihood of success), (2) improving our intelligence apparatus (while at the same time curtailing intelligence operations that have the highest likelihood of producing useful results), (3) withdrawing from Iraq immediately (regardless of the consequences or the impact on our other terror fighting activities), and (4) repairing our many perceived insults to the Islamic world (believed by many to be the root cause of all of this). As abstractions these all seem reasonable enough, but in the real world, they offer little in the way of an effective strategy.

But here we are, September, 11, 2007. Friedman comments:
The paradox is this: There has been no follow-on attack against the United States. The United States did dislodge Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, and while the war goes badly, the casualties are a small fraction of those lost in Vietnam. Most important, bin Laden's dream [of establishing a global caliphate] is gone. No Muslim state has been overthrown and replaced with a regime that bin Laden would find worthy. He has been marginalized by both the United States and by his rival Shiite radicals, who have picked up the mantle that he dropped. His own jihadist movement is no longer under his effective control.

Bin Laden has been as badly battered by time as Bush. Unable to achieve any of his political goals, unable to mount another attack, he reminds us of Che Guevara after his death in Bolivia. He is a symbol of rebellion for a generation that does not intend to rebel and that carefully ignores his massive failures.

Yet, in the end, Guevara and bin Laden could have become important only if their revolutions had succeeded. There is much talk and much enthusiasm. There is no revolution. Therefore, what time has done to bin Laden's hopes is interesting, but in the end, as a geopolitical force, he has not counted beyond his image since Sept. 11, 2001.

The effect on the United States is much more profound. The war, both in Iraq and against al Qaeda, has worn the United States down over time. The psychology of fear has been replaced by a psychology of cynicism. The psychology of confidence in war has been replaced by a psychology of helplessness. Exhaustion pervades all.

That is the single most important outcome of the war. What happens to bin Laden is, in the end, about as important as what happened to Guevara. Legends will be made of it -- not history. But when the world's leading power falls into the psychological abyss brought about by time and war, the entire world is changed by it. Every country rethinks its position and its actions. Everything changes.

That is what is important about the Petraeus report. He will ask for more time. Congress will give it to him. The president will take it. Time, however, has its price not only in war but also psychologically. And if the request for time leads to more failure and the American psychology is further battered, then that is simply more time that other powers, great and small, will have to take advantage of the situation. The United States has psychologically begun tearing itself apart over both the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. Whatever your view of that, it is a fact -- a serious geopolitical fact.

The Petraeus report will not address that. It is out of the general's area of responsibility. But the pressing issue is this: If the United States continues the war and if it maintains its vigilance against attacks, how does the evolution of the American psyche play out?

Time heals, but it also blurs. We'd all rather believe that the threat was overstated, that what we're really facing are criminal thugs, not a worldwide ideology that threatens the long term destruction of Western ideals. Little things, like democracy, freedom of religion, free expression, you know the list. After all, no caliphate has emerged, the status quo remains largely unchanged ... except for 100,000,000 Moslems who express some level of sympathy for Jihadist philosophy. Let that rattle around in your psyche for a while and then think back to 9/11/01 and ask yourself whether you had any reason to be worried on 9/10/01.

Monday, September 10, 2007


In this morning’s NY Times, Left-leaning has apparently decided to do a pre-emptive strike preceding General David Petraeus’ testimony before Congress by running a full-page advertisement under the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray us? Cooking the books for the White House."

Unlike some on the Left, I believe it's a bad idea to use ad hominem attacks against someone who disagrees with you. It is, however, a clever mechanism that allows the attacker (in this case, to disregard hard factual evidence, provide a cogent counter-argument, or present verified counter-factual information to refute the argument presented by the person attacked (in this case, David Petraeus.

It’s reasonable to ask whether has become a shill for some in the Democratic congressional leadership? The two groups have worked closely together over a relatively long period of time. I wonder what Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and others will have to say about the ad.

The Right claims, I think a bit hysterically, that the Left hates their own country and really does want the US to leave Iraq in disgrace and defeat. Somehow, the Right argues, many Democrats and a few Republicans, have decided that any gains in Iraq are beside the point. We’ve lost and we should leave. Period. The consequences … oh, never mind. I don’t agree with the Right on that, but after reading the ad, all I could do was shake my head.

And now, my own ad hominem attack, presented because it’s obvious that factual, reasoned arguments will hold no sway with and their supporters.

What a pathetic bunch—infantile in their thinking, bombastic in their moral hubris, short-sighted and naïve in their worldview, and consumed with their own self-importance. Given a choice, I think I’ll take my advice from grown-ups.

Update (9/11/07)

Overnight, MoveOn's rant against Petraeus has generated significant comment. Virtually no one on the Democratic side is defending the ad, but no one in a position of Congressional responsibility has labeled it for what it is—a screed against a good and decent man who, if nothing else, has served his country directly and forcefully.

Peter Feaver labels the ad "MoveOn's McCarthy Moment," comparing their unsubstantiated personal attack to the tactics used by Joseph McCarthy. As time passes, it appears that the angry Left has become so intolerant of opposing views that they are now unhinged. Feaver comments:
Precisely because it is so vicious, so public, and so deliberate, the attack on Petraeus cannot be ignored by either side in the Iraq debate. Supporters of the war are duty-bound, like Joseph Welch, to rise and ask of war opponents, "Have you left no sense of decency?" Antiwar members of Congress, like Senator McCarthy's allies, are obliged to answer.

Let us be clear. It is legitimate to grill Petraeus on his testimony and to ask him tough questions about the strategy he has been pursuing. It is legitimate to disagree with him, or to conclude that an alternative course of action has a better chance of advancing US interests in the region. Healthy civil-military relations do not depend on accepting uncritically anything a senior military officer says. Quite the opposite, they depend on a full and frank exchange of views.

It is not legitimate, however, and it is exceedingly corrosive of healthy civil-military relations to question the general's patriotism when his views differ from yours and are inconvenient for one's political agenda.

This is a defining moment for the antiwar faction. They can continue on the path on to which they have veered, repeating some of the worst mistakes in American history. Or they can make a clean break with the past, police their own ranks, and promote a healthy, critical, public debate about the best way forward in Iraq.

Still waiting for a comment from Nancy, Harry, Hillary, Barrack and the other leaders of the Party.