Strutting and fretting in an insane world.
Friday, March 21, 2003
Unbelievable: NPR�s top of the hour theme is somber, downbeat, with a few disconsolate snare drums - music to lose by! Is it too much to ask of these people to play something that doesn�t sound like the music you�d use for the sinking of a [bleep]ing aircraft carrier?
The Jacksonian rabble in this country are swelling with pride. They've wanted to punch somebody out for two and a half years, and now our president is doing it for us. It feels so good.
The coalition is up to 45 nations, says Rumsfeld. NPR and the sneering left are on the run. Pelosi and Daschle look like their mothers had taken them by the ear and made them apologize for calling that nice Mr. Bush such bad names. The no-war-ever crowd are acting like the liberation of the Iraqi people is a bad thing. Their dreamworld, where troubles melt like lemondrops is "melting, me-l-l-l-lting!" It's such a miserable failure of diplomacy, but on their side, not Bush's. They will scuttle into the shadows, like Wormtongue, but they'll be back with their Elsworth Toohey-like sneers and insinuations, but the Democrat Party will not be a vehicle for their
BULLETIN: Rumsfeld challenges the comments that this attack is reminiscent of the firebombing of Dresden. It is not. Because of the precision of our weapons, there is no comparison. The narrow field of the TV cameras on the scene is misleading. It only shows the targeted areas, not the whole city of Baghdad. So, curb your enthusiasm, Brian Williams.
Now one of the Pentagon reporters suggests that this may be like the bombing of Hanoi, and that the Iraqi people will just hunker down and then come back to support their government. The difference here, though, is that the people of North Vietnam saw Ho Chi Minh as their liberator from colonialism, and the Americans as a continuation of the French. I don't think the Iraqis have that same reverence for Saddam.
This assault is biblical:
Isa. 21: 9
And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.
Jer. 51: 8
Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.
Rev. 14: 8
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Rev. 18: 2
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
I wonder if this is enough to make the Iraqis decide that America's recommendations for reconstituting its government are not a bad idea. We'll have to ask Josh Marshall.
The Shock and Awe appears to have begun. The cruise missles are destroying government buildings in Baghdad. The bank of the Tigris is on fire. The main Presidential building is gone. B-52s are underway, along with the rest of the air power in the area. This is going to remembered.
It may be restrained somewhat due to negotiations with top Republican Guard officials, but I think that the shock and awe is not meant for Iraqis alone. I hope that we don't pull any punches, because I would like the Syrians, Iranians, Saudis, al Qaeda and the rest to see what was stirred up on 9/11/2001. Will they still celebrate the fall of the WTC after this?
If Hans Blix had known about Saddam's environmental crimes he might have been less forgiving. After all, Blix thinks that global warming is a more serious threat than those WMD he was supposed to be finding and destroying.
Another name will be added to the language, along with boycott, ponzie, quisling and bork. Blix: to do one's job reluctantly and apologetically. Chirac might also become a term, but the French have so many examples of arrogance it seems superfluous to add another. Perhaps chirac will become a name for using international diplomacy to cover one's personal corruption. Considering his willingness to trade with Saddam in disregard for international sanctions, to furnish a dangerous madman with nuclear technology and to ignore his viciousness to his own people, I would not be surprised to learn that he has personally enriched himself with kickbacks and hush money from the Butcher of Baghdad.
The opening stages of the war against Iraq illustrate the vast technological difference between the opposing forces.Not to mention the technological difference between the weapons being used by the coalition today and those used in 1991.
Just naming a missle the Seesucker tells you something about their technology.
While the allies fired about 40 cruise missiles at targets deep inside Baghdad, Iraq responded by lobbing a handful of crude unguided rockets into the Kuwaiti desert that hit nothing or were intercepted by Patriot missile batteries.
Kuwaiti officials said Iraq had fired six missiles, at least two of them Scud-type weapons. Other reports said Iraq may have fired the short-range al-Samoud and the al-Fatah, and the anti-shipping Seesucker.
Anybody know what "shakh'an'ah" means? It sounds Arabic.
Update: Lileks has the answer:
In any case, it�s obvious tonight this isn�t SHOCK AND AWE, which brings me to the Library of Congress. Years ago ago I was standing in the LoC, looking up at the glorious ceiling, and I saw a curious phrase painted above:
The true shekinah is man.
That quote stuck in my mind, because I had no idea what it meant. Later I looked it up.
A visible manifestation of the divine presence as described in Jewish theology.
Sound it out.
This is why I thought Operation Swift Sword would have been a better name than "Iraqi Freedom." I have had a feeling since November 2000 that we were seeing a shekinah. God takes the weak things of the world and makes them mighty. He will fight the wars of the righteous. I just hope we're righteous enough to be on His side.
The United States of America is the most powerful military power the earth has seen since Fire and Brimstone rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah. But we should all realize that such power is a stewardship, not a license.
God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine-
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget-lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrfice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget-lest we forget!
Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre.
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget- lest we forget!
If drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law-
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget-lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In recking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word-
Thy Mercy on thy People, Lord!
As I compose this, I am aware that some who read this, if anyone does, will be slightly embarrassed or put off by my use of religious terms. I'm not Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, with their patronizing grins. I try to be more like C. S. Lewis, and I believe, not in the simplistic ignorant way that so many Christians profess, but after having thought about things for most of my life and recognizing that the mind and self-awareness of man does not fit the mechanical pattern that atheism posits. Once you take God off the table, it is possible to explain how everything about our existenc can be explained by the operations of blind chance, but to me, that requires far more faith in an unlikely chain of events than belief in Deity. Of course, atheism has the appeal that it imposes no responsibility on the products of evolution beyond surviving long enough procreate. Yet most atheists are quite insistent on their own set of moral values, which have no basis at all in a purely random, mechanistic universe.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
I want to find this guy when this is over, and have him tell me again about how arrogant George W. Bush is.
Where's the Shock and Awe? We were promised Shock and Awe!
Tom Daschle must be beside himself after shooting his mouth off about "This president's miserable failure of diplomacy," only to watch our troops drive into Iraq amidst reports that Sadaam has been taken out on the first strike, and the top ranks of the "elite" republican guard talking surrender privately with our military. So far we've seen more combat at the San Francisco peace demonstrations.
Chirac must feel like one of Hitler's henchmen watching the Russians roll into Berlin. But don't start tying the just yet, Jacques. You may still be lucky and they'll spring the trap of buried nerve agents, small pox and anthrax just outside of Baghdad. That would be some sort of victory wouldn't it, Jacques? Tom?
Having pinned your policy and hopes on huge numbers of grisly deaths, it must be a real disappointment when they don't materialize. How sad to have sold your honor for the likes of Saddam Hussein.
Here's a challenge to the media. The networks and big coastal papers keep denying that they're biassed. Here's a chance to prove it. Of course, these patriotic rallies won't have police clubbing rioters, mobs breaking down fences and destroying property and goofs on stilts, so maybe they won't be considered "newsworthy."
And they wonder why Fox News Channel is number 1. It's a little less polished, but I don't mind. I've never trusted people who are too slick to wear flag lapel pins, or think that patriotism is beneath their professional standards.
Shock and Awe
Major Garrett reported just now on Fox that what we're seeing now is not "Shock and Awe." If you have to ask whether this is it, the Pentagon tells him, you haven't seen it. You'll know it when you see it.
Embedded journalists are reporting that Iraq has been launching those scud missles it doesn't have over the Kuwaiti border. We've knocked down a number of them and are returning artillery fire. Fox News reported that "at least" one of the missles was a scud, and that none of them did any damage. None contained any biochemical weapons.
Rumsfeld announced this morning that our current coalition has more nations than the first Gulf War. It gives a whole new meaning to "unilateral."
Ari Fleischer announces that the president will not engage in a running commentary on this war. That's the job of the blogosphere, right?
Three or four Iraqi oil wells are on fire.
Josh Marshall's comments still rankle. I guess it's the superciliousness of it, and the pretense of historical analysis, for a point that is nothing more than a Schadenfreudewuensch. There should be more indignation and derision of such silliness. Here's a link for a more serious discussion. It illustrates that there has already been a lot of thought about the problems post-war Iraq will face. I see no evidence that there is a rush to impose a western style democracy on Iraq. Indeed, this summary points out problems with such an effort. I think we would want to lay down a certain set of basic principles, a bill of rights, and then let Iraqis of good will build on them.
Kofi Anan pleads for the coalition to do all it can to protect the Iraqi people during this war and proposes that the Security Counsel appropriate $45 million for humanitarian aid, underscoring the Eric Shawn question, "Why was not the UN involve with the suffering of the Iraqi people over the last 23 years when they lived under the yoke of Saddam Hussein."
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Watching the first video coverage from Baghdad, I have to say that the the news channels look pretty befuddled. The first strikes were called in on a target of opportunity, apparently a gaggle of top Iraqi officials which may have included Hussein, although it's too soon to tell. The main assault has not begun, but if the confusion of our media is any indication, there will be shock and awe in spaces soon enough.
France is feeling sorry for itself. Where's the love between Allies? This whole "unilateral" and "miserable failure of diplomacy" hogwash reminds me of the Democrats' complaints, during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, that the Republicans weren't being bipartisan like they were during Watergate. I think that this kind of baloney won't be too easy to get away with in the future.
When I read stuff like this from Josh Marshall, I have to wonder whether higher education is really all it's cracked up to be. The argument that democratizing Iraq will be impossible because Iraq isn't like Japan and Germany and we won't have inflicted enough damage to crush their spirits.
His assumptions are as follows:
[V]irtually everyone now agrees that winning the peace means replacing Saddam Hussein�s regime with a democratic, pro-western government in Baghdad.The debate over whether this is feasible has focused mainly on America�s successful efforts to rebuild Japan and Germany after World War II.Both of these points are strawmen. Certainly a democratic regime would be desirable, but I haven't heard anybody claim that it must be democratic to be acceptable. Secondly, the discussion of how to go about developing a new government has cited Japan and Germany as evidence that building a modern state from the rubble is possible, but to say that it can only be done if we have totally demoralized the people and destroyed their faith in earlier regimes, is not something I have heard from anyone else.
On the contrary, I have heard that a new regime will have accommodate the tribal leaders and regional stong men, and that to manage the feuding and struggles for power or iindependence, we may need to pick someone to back as we did in Afghanistan. Iraq may not be as modern or industrialized as Germany and Japan were, but it is much more advanced that Afghanistan was.
This piece is the pseudo-argument of a diehard who has lost the debate, but continues to spin sophistries when everyone else has moved on. How pathetic.
What gives him or anyone the idea, after what we did in Afghanistan, that we would now revert to an approach from 60 years ago? This scenario would fit the supercilious attitude of many academics who smugly dismiss men like Rumsfeld, Cheney and Powell as too stupid to even debate. It's so much easier to put words in their mouths and then point out how foolish they sound. But this isn't World War II, or Korea or Vietnam, or even the first Gulf War. The military is now much more professional, educated and canny than it has ever been. People with liberal arts backgrounds who try to dismiss them this way are bound to trip over their own shoelaces. They should realize that they are no longer on the stage by themselves. The media is now include conservative and libertarian commentators on AM radio, magazines like National Review and the Weekly Standard, Fox News Channel on cable tv, and now, the blogosphere. This kind of snooty lecture won't be given a free ride anymore. We'll be reading more about Marshall's piece in the next few days, and he will be humiliated.
There are smart, articulate people now who can point out such
Michael Barone examines Tom Daschle's remark "that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy hat we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."
Daschle's claims are found wanting:
It is not clear whether Tom Daschle was referring to the general complaint or the specific complaint when he said that George W. Bush's administration was guilty of "disastrous" diplomacy. It is clear that he speaks in the accents of the Senate Democratic cloakroom, in which Bush is regarded as an illegitimate president, a usurper who is trying to impose crazed conservative policies, a stupid man incapable of understanding a sophisticated world, who must be opposed ferociously at every step and on any ground. No Democratic campaign consultant whom I know, and I know all the leading Democratic campaign consultants, would have advised Daschle to make the comment that he did. If the war goes badly, Bush and the Republicans will pay a political price, whatever the Democrats say now; if the war goes well, comments like Daschle's will work powerfully against the Democrats and for George W. Bush. Daschle's words can only be explained as the product of a kind of hatred, unbuttressed by any serious intellectual argument, likely to hurt the party of the speaker far more than the party of the president they were directed against.Few today remember Stephen Douglas except in relation to Abraham Lincoln. I suspect that Tom Daschle will be remembered similarly by future generations only in the reflected light of George W. Bush.
Barone attributes France's obstructionism to its resentment of the preeminence of the U.S. in world politics. That may be why his polls are high in France, but I don't think it's an adequate explanation. To me, the truth lies in the oil contracts and arms trade and, I suspect, Chirac's personal corruption. It's probable that he has profited personally from deals with Saddam. If he were merely resentful of America, he could have abstained from voting on the 18th resolution. The fact that he vowed to veto any resolution that might end up expelling Saddam and making all his deals with French, German and Russian politicians and industrialists open to the world.
I watched most of Blair's speech to the House of Commons on C-Span. It's more impressive in print. The instances he marshalls of Saddam's bad faith make me wonder about the sanity, honesty or both of those who keep complaining that the case for war hasn't been made.
Many of the countries who were reluctant to back us in the U.N. are coming on board since we made it clear that we weren't going to sit on our thumbs waiting for the Axis of Weasels to give us its blessings. It just shows once again that diplomacy is pointless without power and resolve backing it up.
Blair made a point, which I don't agree with, that not to act endangers the U.N. because it had passed Resolution 1441 and then lacked the will to enforce it. He's right to put the failure of diplomacy at the feet those who used the threat of veto to stop a 17th resolution, but the fact that the U.S. and the Coalition of the Willing will now go ahead anyway, hardly strengthens one's faith in the U.N. as an effective body for establishing world peace.
This scenario has played itself out many times since the creation of the U.N. and it has not given us any reason to keep placing our hope in that body. Think about the USSR's incursions into Hungary and Chechoslovakia, and the Berlin blockade which we beat with an airlift of supplies. The U.N. was impotent because the USSR had a permanent place on the Security Council and a veto.
I don't know why I'm making this point for the 100th time, when you can read the same thing with better documentation on a few hundred blogs. I suppose it's because of the deliberate ignorance from the apologists for doing nothing but permanent inspections. Politicians, especially, should know that once they know you can be rolled, you're finished. It makes you wonder how much faith these people have in the United States--given its history in dealing with its conquered foes--compared with the conventional wisdom of that the U.N. is the way of the future.
If we really want world peace we should be evangelizing democracy, not lecturing helplessly to the likes of Saddam Hussein. I don't know how many times I've heard the aphorism that it's better to be feared than loved, but it never seems to sink in.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Hurrah for Tony Blair! He's having his Churchill moment.
This is the essence of leadership and courage.
Kipling's poem, If, is appropriate today:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
Now, think about Tom Daschle and remark, "I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war."
Well, Tom, I'm angered, angered that your party has failed so miserably to stand up for your country against the feckless U.N. and the attempts of the French, Germans and Russians to highjack that organization in order to protect their ties to a hideous dictator.
The death of Zoran Djindjic in Yugoslavia should remind us all that democracy must be kept by the people. It's a hard lesson for people who haven't had that responsibility. This assassination should cause the people of Yugoslavia to rise up and demand that the killers be caught, tried and executed. Unless the basic principles are taken to heart, freedom will be shortlived, and democracy will soon be lost as it has been so many times in the past.
Monday, March 17, 2003
The cable news channels are nothing but a series of diplomats responding to the pull-out of reporters, inspectors, etc. from Iraq. It's very predictable. The French, Russians and Germans claim that inspections are working and they just need more time. Powell says 12 years is enough, and that France blew it when it stated that it would veto any new resolution we offered. That tore it.
Not only will there be a war of liberation for Iraq, but France is finished as a shrewd diplomat and the U.N. has lost whatever figleaf of legitimacy it might have had.
I just finished reading last week's Weekly Standard on the fecklessness of the U.N. Truman's own Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, pretty well had it nailed in the 1940s. My generation came after and were spoon fed the U.N. as the new world order in grade school through My Weekly Reader. Most of us have grown up and see for ourselves the stupidity of such beliefs.
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Steven Den Beste reads the entrails. The cloudburst is coming.
Meanwhile, the peace marchers are putting on their warpaint, (er, peacepaint?) Where did they get the idea that free speech requires acting like a drunken football fan, with facepaint, weird costumes and removing clothes? These practices attract media attention, but they don't really persuade thoughtful people.
What I also find puzzling is the belief among these people have that elected leaders are bound to follow their demands, merely because they spoke out. I've seen this in letters to the editor and now from Natalie Maines, of the Blixy Chicks. It also seems prevalent in the shallow gene pool of the mainstream media. So many journalists seem to think that the indispensibiltity of the U.N. is self-evident. They never recall that the U.N. has only authorized military force two times during its existence, in Korea and in driving Saddam out of Kuwait. We see today how well its approach in both cases has served the cause of peace.
Every weekday I watch Brit Hume's "all stars" discuss the point. Mara Liasson is a very bright and well-educated person, but she seems constitutionally incapable of understanding that diplomacy sometimes fails or that some diplomats are not motivated by humanitarian ideals. Thus, when they see a leader like President Bush, they can only interpret his actions as ignorant or base.