Here's the new, slick, Stacy Tabb-designed Daily Pundit. Beautiful, and faster, too.
There's not all that much to Humanities professor Paul Gottfried's much-blogged Spectator article on American anti-European sentiment. Loads of rhetoric, snide asides, very little substance, no discernable argument-- in other words, extremely difficult to comment on. (Though I daresay the choir to which he is preaching enjoyed every word.) His conclusion (that American Euro-bashing arises solely from the intemperate ranting of slightly unhinged neo-cons and the gullible public who hang on their every word) is manifestly false: irritation and lack of patience with Europe on the "American street" is far more widespread than that, even among those who have never heard of the Weekly Standard (which is to say, practically everybody.)
It's true that Euro-bashing, particularly in the blogosphere, tends to go over the top. Often, it is silly an unreasonable. But by blaming it all on Krauthammer, Kristol, Victor Davis Hansen et al., Gottfried neglects to consider in any serious way the question of why the hostility has arisen. The most frivolous reason (and hence, in some ways, the most important) is simply that Euro-bashing is easy and fun. It has a long tradition in this country, and an even longer one in Britain. That's not Bill Kristol's fault. As long as
the French the European community keep setting up the jokes, someone is going to keep making them. That's not fair, but that's life. We'll call them cheese-eating surrender monkeys; they'll call us cowboys. We'll take rhetorical pot shots at their hypocrisies, as they do the same at ours. We'll take out Saddam and they'll publicly decry our "simplisme," while secretly breathing a collective sigh of relief that someone has taken care of the problem and shouldered the blame. So it goes.
But, good, clean, time-honored fun aside, it's fair to say that some of the criticism "sticks" in part because it has a degree of validity. There is anti-Semitism in France. Are you persuaded otherwise just because the French President decrees that it is not so? Or are you, like Gottfried, persuaded otherwise simply because some of those who have noted the fact may have ulterior ideological motives? It's possible to over-state it, but the EU does have its anti-democratic aspects, in spirit and in praxis. Indeed, most of the Euro-bashing (even that of the neocons) focuses on the ruling Euro-elites, rather than on the ordinary people whose will they routinely discount and attempt to circumvent. Tom Burroughes of LibSam has a good take on it:
why [has] this hostility has arisen? It is not because Americans are jealous of Europe, why should they be? It is not fear of us...that'd be the day! It is a lack of patience with the sneering, dishonest rubbish coming out of the lips of the likes of Chris Patten and the rest. From what I read, I get the impression that all but the most bigoted paleo-conservative commentators appreciate that most European folk like and are sympathetic to the U.S., want it to beat terror, and will help in that cause.
God save the Queen, and God Bless America.
"World Class Television"
Thanks to Nick Denton for pointing out this summary of what has to have been the best "Have I Got News for You" ever. I'm really sorry I missed it, but all the jokes are included on the website. It's really worth reading the whole thing. Denton is right: this would never happen in America. Oh, and here's another "only in Britain" story.
FBI officials said a ''restricted'' Middle Eastern country attempted to buy a flight simulator before the attacks. That attempt failed, said the officials, who would not identify the country or say when the attempt was made, or whether they believed the simulator was to be used to train would-be terrorists.
The FBI officials also would not say whether the country was listed as restricted because of human rights concerns or because of ties to terrorism.
Mark Steyn asks "does political correctness kill?" He answers the question by posing another question: why didn't the FBI follow up on the famous "Phoenix memo" about radical Islamists attending flight schools?
Three weeks ago, FBI director Mueller was asked why the Bureau had declined to act on the memo. He said, ‘There are more than 2,000 aviation academies in the United States. The latest figure I think I heard is something like 20,000 students attending them. And it was perceived that this would be a monumental undertaking without any specificity as to particular persons.’
A ‘monumental undertaking’? OK, there are 20,000 students. Eliminate all the women, discount Irv Goldbloom of Queens and Gord MacDonald of Winnipeg and Stiffy Farquahar-ffarquahar of Little Blandford-on-the-Smack and just concentrate on fellows with names like ...oh, I dunno, Mohammed, and Waleed, and Ahmed. How many would that be? 150? 200? Say it’s 500. Is Mueller really saying that the FBI with all its resources cannot divert ten people to go through 2,000 names apiece and pull out the ones worth running through the computer?
Well, yes, officially, he is. But what he really means is not that the Bureau lacked ‘any specificity as to particular persons’, but that the specificity itself was the problem. In August 2001, no FBI honcho was prepared to fire off a memo saying ‘Check out the Arabs’.
Lileks presents the antiwarbloggers' creed:
sticks and stones may break my bones, so we need to enter into international treaties with nations whose main industrial product is sticks-and-stones delivery systems. We need to find a common ground with countries that put sticks and stones on the national flag, and sing the national anthem “Our Sticks and Stones Shall Break Their Bones” at mass rallies celebrating the President’s 37th year in power. If you shoot someone who’s shooting you, you’re worse than he is - why, you could have run away. If these people had their way, the only Purple Hearts ever given would be for wounds to the back and the foot.
Nothing in Michael Barone's latest column on "Our Enemies the Saudis" will be news to anybody who has been reading news blogs, but he ties it together and presents a good case for the desirability of a "regime change" in Saudi Arabia as well as in Iraq. No word yet on the dear little deadly detail of how to do it.
Joe Katzman's Blog Burst experiment has succeeded in generating massive bloggage on the San Francisco State anti-Semitic riot situation. Overwhelming.
Off the front burner...
Michael Kelly takes the occasion of Memorial Day to deliver another "time to get serious" message and to reflect on the Sontag-istas once again, and on the futility of trying to respond to today's situations with yesterday's tired old tricks:
did you notice how absolutely irrelevant and inconsequential it all felt? One's lasting reaction was not outrage at all, but a mild embarrassment mixed with a strong sense of temporal dislocation, of the sort occasioned by catching a glimpse of Jerry Lewis on television. It is a sense of: You're still here? You're still talking? Why? The most obvious fact about the people who bravely-- oh, so bravely, so bravely-- dared to tell truth to power in the New York Review of Books and London Review of Books, and the Cosmic Review of Blah-blah, was how old they were.
Old, old, old. Also, tired, tired, tired... this is our Old Guard now.
Or as Kelly puts it: "you can take seriously, or pretend to take seriously, the likes of Chomsky--or the likes of Gephardt--when you can afford to. But that sort of thing is a frivolity, of a grim sort, for a frivolous time."
Despite the gratuitous slap at Gephardt (who is hardly in the same category) he's right. I feel a bit guilty admitting it, but I believe I'm not alone: I kind of miss frivolity's brief reign. Never has it been so easy to be right about what was on the front burner in the culture war, as well as in the real war: all you had to do is pull a quotation from the latest column by the resuscitated dinosaur of the day, arm it with an ironic caption, and stand back to watch it self-destruct before the eyes of the reader. Of course, we've still got the Guardian. But generally, you have to work a little harder now. Anyway, it's amazing how quickly the nostalgia-go-round goes by.
(via Bill Quick)
Right you are, Moira. "Doctor" is my first name, not my title. But Mr. Doctor Frank is how "the kids" address me in Japan, as a matter of fact.
Here's a very fine essay (via 184.108.40.206) by the redoubtable Paul Berman, on the strange "new wind" of anti-Jewish sentiment. As Berman demonstrates (by parsing out four examples of contemporary discourse) the most disturbing thing about the "new mood" is not the outright, easily-identified anti-Semitism (though that certainly does occur); rather, it is a more general mood, a tendency, a manner of speaking, that it is extremely difficult to pin down, even by those who, often unwittingly, indulge in it. It pops up "in a fashion that seems almost unconscious, even among people who would never dream of expressing an extreme or bigoted view, but who end up doing so anyway."
His comments on historian Tony Judt's essay "Israel: the Road to Nowhere" are particularly apt as a general observation of how legitimate "criticism of Israel" can veer towards something like anti-Semitism even in the most respectable contexts. Rational, critical observations elide into an implied condemnation not of this or that policy or event, but rather of the Jewish religion and of the Jewish people as a whole. Well-meaning, even-tempered people in "hate free zones" deliver their well-meaning, even-tempered "hate-free" discourse in terms that hint at the ethos, and even echo the rhetoric, of "classic" anti-Semitism without realizing just how bad it sounds to anyone who is really listening; and they react with intense, affronted fury when anyone notices. Anti-Jewish discourse of this type sends two simultaneous messages: overtly unobjectionable "criticism" couched in terms which imply something much darker and more sinister. Here's one of Berman's perceptive observations:
[Judt's] essay, all in all, seems to have been written on two levels. There is an ostensible level that criticizes Israel, although in a friendly fashion, with the criticisms meant to rescue Israel from its own errors and thereby to help everyone else who has been trapped in the conflict; and a second level, consisting of images and random phrases (the level that might attract Freud's attention), which keep hinting that maybe Israel has no right to exist.
Yet it is the unintended inferences that seem to me the most frightening of all. To go out and fight against bigots and racists of all sorts, the anti-Semites and the anti-Arab racists alike, seems to me relatively simple to do, even in these terrible times. It is not so easy to put up a fight against a wind, a tone against an indefinable spirit of hatred that has begun to appear even in the statements of otherwise sensible people.
Even as international pressure mounted on Islamabad to stop cross-border terrorism, a senior Pakistani official has said infiltration into India is conditional to New Delhi taking steps to resolve the Kashmir issue and ending the status quo.
Pakistan "government would control the militants only long enough for India to demonstrate whether it is willing to take any steps to resolve the Kashmir dispute," a Washington Post report from Pakistan today said quoting the official.
The official, which the Post said was familiar with high-level deliberations on this issue, said: "It was a difficult decision, but Pakistani military commanders decided to give India a chance to prove her commitment to the international community."
"India's desire to maintain the status quo in Kashmir would leave Pakistan with no option but to embrace, once again, the militant freedom struggle in Kashmir," he said.
Cheese-flavored Yasser Arafat potato chips — five cents a bag.
Vendors report brisk sales of the new product. The maker of the chips says it donates five cents — 25 pisaters — to the "Palestinian cause" for every 50 packages sold.
The chips are bagged in Palestinian colors — green, red, black and white — and carry the likeness of a rotund and wide-eyed Arafat, saluting with one hand and holding a Palestinian flag in the other. He's dressed in his trademark military fatigues and black-and-white checked headgear.
Shopkeepers say the Arafat chips, named Abu Ammar — the Palestinian leader's nom de guerre, are considerably outselling another new brand, The Hero, which hit store shelves earlier this month. The packaging for that brand pictures a schoolboy holding a stone in his right hand and books in the other as he confronts an Israeli tank.
"There's no one who doesn't love Abu Ammar," said Iman Mohammed Darwish, a 12-year-old girl. "I like the taste, and I want to help the Palestinians."
Thanks to Iain Murray and the other kind folks who expressed sympathy and encouragement regarding the INS experience. There's always one more river to cross, but it appears that we made it over this one at least.
I'm sure whatever reforms will follow on the decision to overhaul the INS won't kick in till long after it ceases to be an issue for us. Everyone who has been through the experience seems to believe it couldn't possibly be worse. I'm not so sure about that: things can always be worse.
Is it possible to crack down on illegal immigration without putting legal immigrants through a harrowing experience? I wouldn't mind the experience being slightly less harrowing, but I doubt it. There are little things they could do to make it less confusing, such as making sure the instructions match the forms. I've always assumed that they deliberately make it as complicated and difficult as possible so that illegitimate applicants have less chance of falling through the cracks. I suppose I feel about INS practices the same way I feel about airport security: I'd be a lot more patient with being subjected to idiotic, time-wasting procedures if I had any confidence that they might occasionally succeed in preventing some danger or abuse of the law. There's not much evidence that they do, in both cases. They confiscate little old ladies' nail clippers, yet somehow a guy with a shotgun gets through. Did any al Qaeda agents slip by while they were scrutinizing my 27-year-old British wife just to make sure she hadn't been an official of the German government in 1933, or shuffling through 300+ pages of photocopies of my financial records? Probably not. But the INS hasn't been doing such a great job of keeping tabs on al Qaeda operatives. Some of them did in fact manipulate the system through sham marriages. I'm all for making us all jump through a few hoops in aid of sorting the sham marriages from the real ones. But maybe they should focus less on the nail-clipper level of danger and more on the shotgun level, if you take my meaning. Just a suggestion.
Don't get me wrong, though: I'm not complaining. We weren't tortured. We didn't have to bribe anybody (unless you count the exorbitant filing fees.) You might have to spend a lot of time standing around waiting, but legitimacy works. Eventually.
Byers quits to "avoid damaging the government." Far too late for that, sir. Now what was the real reason?
More on Glorious Irrelevance
Here's a long and detailed essay (via Moira Breen) from the always provocative Robert Kagan, on the reasons for the differences between European and American "strategic culture." It's the least anti-European argument in favor of American power that I've read in a long time. It also contains the most convincing (and surprisingly serious) application I've seen so far of Robert Cooper's much-maligned and -trumpeted analytical scheme of "post-modern" vs. "modern states."
For Kagan, the divergence begins, but does not end, with a simple fact about the reality of power: those incapable of practicing machtpolitik tend to be less enthusiastic about power than those who have that capability. Europe's past disastrous experiences with power politics, coupled with this contemporary strategic reality, result in an almost inevitable spiritual disjunction between the "hyperpuissant" hegemon and the now powerless "ancient peoples."
Yet far from condemning new Europe's aspirations and pretensions to embody a "Kantian paradise" of perpetual peace, Kagan proclaims new Europe to be a "blessed miracle."
For Europeans, it is the realization of a long and improbable dream: a continent free from nationalist strife and blood feuds, from military competition and arms races. War between the major European powers is almost unimaginable. After centuries of misery, not only for Europeans but also for those pulled into their conflicts - as Americans were twice in the past century - the new Europe really has emerged as a paradise. It is something to be cherished and guarded, not least by Americans, who have shed blood on Europe's soil and would shed more should the new Europe ever fail.
The United States... solved the Kantian paradox for the Europeans. Kant had argued that the only solution to the immoral horrors of the Hobbesian world was the creation of a world government. But he also feared that the "state of universal peace" made possible by world government would be an even greater threat to human freedom than the Hobbesian international order, inasmuch as such a government, with its monopoly of power, would become "the most horrible despotism." How nations could achieve perpetual peace without destroying human freedom was a problem Kant could not solve. But for Europe the problem was solved by the United States. By providing security from outside, the United States has rendered it unnecessary for Europe's supranational government to provide it. Europeans did not need power to achieve peace and they do not need power to preserve it...
What this means is that although the United States has played the critical role in bringing Europe into this Kantian paradise, and still plays a key role in making that paradise possible, it cannot enter this paradise itself. It mans the walls but cannot walk through the gate. The United States, with all its vast power, remains stuck in history, left to deal with the Saddams and the ayatollahs, the Kim Jong Ils and the Jiang Zemins, leaving the happy benefits to others.
Nevertheless, Europe's worries about the "fall-out" from American foreign policy are understandable, both as a spiritual as well as a practical matter. Here's how Kagan puts the practical side of it:
American policymakers find it hard to believe, but leading officials and politicians in Europe worry more about how the United States might handle or mishandle the problem of Iraq - by undertaking unilateral and extralegal military action - than they worry about Iraq itself and Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
The clock is ticking, however. Where mortal danger is concerned, I have even less confidence in European-style conflict resolution and appeasement than I do in the tough-talking President's empty desk top. A Guardian editorial recently suggested that Bush guarantee that there would be no action against Iraq unless Saddam strikes first. In other words: (a) say goodbye to Tel Aviv, quickly followed by (b) say goodbye to the rest of the middle east, and God only knows what else. Of course the chances of any American president issuing such a guarantee are precisely zero, which the European governments (if not the Guardian) must surely realize, gloriously irrelevant calls for sophistication notwithstanding. There will be a new war against Iraq, one way or another, sooner or later. Postponing it till the threat is infinitely greater serves the interests of no one, not even the Europeans. Nor even the Iraqis.
Don't Mention the War
More idiocy from Robert Fisk, of the usual variety. ("More and more, President Bush's rhetoric sounds like the crazed videotapes of Osama bin Laden..." Whatever, Bob. Tell it to the Arab News.)
Noting the frequent allusions to Hitler and World War II as instructive parallels in the discussion of the current crisis, Fisk asks a revealing rhetorical question: "must we, forever, live under the shadow of a war that was fought and won before most of us were born?"
Forever is a long time, but broadly speaking, the answer is yes. The Second World War and the defeat of fascism was the defining event of the twentieth century. (And if fascism had not been defeated, that would have been the century's defining event.) More than anything else, and for better and worse, it shaped the world we live in, laid the foundation for our contemporary political and social reality. Those who liken the struggle against al Qaeda and Islamofascism to that against Hitler and National Socialism may be mistaken (though I think they're more right than wrong) but you can't really argue that it's not a relevant topic. Is Islamofascism the 21st-century face of the kind of totalitarianism that was vanquished in the 20th century? Perhaps so, in some respects, and perhaps not in others. Fisk isn't interested in refuting these contentions, nor in demonstrating the ways in which such parallels are inappropriate or misconceived. He just wishes people wouldn't keep bringing them up. He wants to rule the entire topic out of bounds, "for the purposes of this discussion" anyway. (Those with other points of view are encouraged to seek other sections, presumably...)
Perhaps it's reading a bit much into an offhand comment of a notorious crackpot, but, as I said, I think it's revealing. Fisk and his ideological buddies are often accused of trying to adapt reality to fit the theory, rather than the other way round. Here's a pretty clear example of it, of the frustrated desire to write off an entire century so that the creaky old ideology can make it through at least one more sputtering column. It's a doomed enterprise. Diehard adherents to the dying ideology exemplified by Fisk, particularly those in Europe, are going to have to get used to the idea that people will keep bringing up the unpleasantness of the last century, fair or not. When Jews are vilified and persecuted in France, Vichy will always spring to mind. When crowds rally around cries of "death to the Jews" and "Hitler didn't finish the job," rest assured: the subject of the Holocaust will come up, even though it happened "before most of us were born." And when a United Europe funds and champions terrorist organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel's six million Jews, some troublemaker will inevitably bring up what happened the last time Europe was united. Fair or not, that's the way it is. Reality and history can't be asserted out of existence. My advice to Robert Fisk: get used to it.
I don't agree with everything Roger Scruton says in this piece on the "tyranny of the majority." (Democracy doesn't seem to be doing so well in Europe these days, but I'm pretty sure the problem isn't that it is insufficiently tempered by "monarchical pomp," for example.) He really has a point here though:
A democracy depends upon a durable constitution, which will filter out extremist passions and reconcile conflicting interests. And a democracy is stable only if people are prepared to accept an outcome for which they did not vote. It takes a lot of history to establish a durable democratic constitution, and a lot more to produce the political culture that enables people to accept being governed by their opponents. Roman law, Christian institutions, the mediaeval doctrine of Estates and the Enlightenment ideal of free citizenship all belong to the pre-history of democratic government as we know it. That pre-history has not occurred outside Europe and its diaspora, which is why we should not be surprised if democracy has seldom taken root elsewhere.
We should be a little more surprised that democratic procedure is giving way to autocratic fiat in so many areas of our own national government — yet more surprised that we, the British people, seem so unable or unwilling to resist the change. I doubt that the ordinary British subject in 1945, having lived through a war in which we had risked everything and suffered much, could have believed that, half a century later, most of our laws would be imposed on us by unelected bureaucrats in Belgium — the country that had done least to defend itself against Hitler. I am certain that no British subject of that generation would have believed that our national weights and measures would be ruled illegal by foreigners, and the metric system imposed in their stead, without so much as a debate in Parliament. And had it been suggested then, as it is suggested now, that a British subject might be sent for trial in a foreign court, for the ill-defined and ideologically motivated offence of ‘racism and xenophobia’, itself not a crime in English law, by a foreign police force granted diplomatic immunity in our country, the first reaction would have been ‘Why on earth did we fight this war?’ Yet a whole section of our political and opinion-forming class seems to endorse these changes and to be prepared to pour scorn on those who resist them.
Diane "Letter from Gotham" E. once speculated that Andrew Sullivan might have some kind of "B-chip" in his head which prevented him from uttering anything less than favorable about GWB. If so, the administration's backpedaling on Iraq appears to have shaken it loose a bit:
Dreadful news today that the president may be wavering in his intent to destroy the Iraqi regime. If true, then those of us who have supported the war on terror need to revise our assessment of this president. He told the German press yesterday that there is no plan to invade on his desk. He said it almost proudly. His military leaders, in a sign of their determination to risk nothing and achieve nothing, are now leaking to the Washington Post that they have all but scotched a serious military option in Iraq. The arguments they are using sound like they might come from a Gore administration.
The Washington Post story that Sullivan links to describes this "secret briefing" at the White House:
during the meeting, [Tommy] Franks told the President that invading Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein would require at least 200,000 troops, far more than some other military experts have calculated. This was in line with views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who have repeatedly emphasized the lengthy build-up that would be required, concerns about Hussein's possible use of biological and chemical weapons and the possible casualties, officials said.
The Vietnam-era generals had not asked often enough the key question, "What if?" "What if the Vietcong do not collapse under American bombardment?" And so Powell took the opposite tack. For Powell, the question was always "What if?" And as his civilian colleagues learned, the answer to one "What if?" led always to another "What if?" and then to another. The Vietnam-era generals had lied to their commander-in-chief by insisting that they could win with fewer men than they actually believed were necessary. Powell lied by telling his superiors that he needed more men than he actually believed were necessary. As Halberstam records,
When the top civilians asked what it might cost to intervene militarily, Powell would show his lack of enthusiasm by giving them a high estimate. One reason he had always put the number of troops needed to do the job so high--over two hundred thousand--was not necessarily that he felt it would take that many. It was a test for the civilians: How much do you really want this, how high a price are you willing to pay?
The Vietnam War had been fought without sufficient public understanding and support. From that dubious judgment Powell concluded that the American people would never support any war. In opposing a war against Iraq in 1991, Powell argued that "the American people do not want their young dying for $1.50 a gallon oil." He was so determined to avoid another Vietnam that he was willing to embrace national paralysis.
Sullivan's post concludes with what I suppose is classic British understatement: "if [Bush] balks, it will be worse than his father's betrayal on taxes..." Boy, I'll say. Who cares about taxes? I just don't want to be blown up before my time.
Whatever that may mean, I hope so too.
I spent today at the Immigration and Naturalization Service district office in San Francisco. *Shudder* Normal posting to follow when and if I recover...
Even among the many recent contenders in the Catholic Church's bulging file of disastrous press-clippings, this headline has to win some kind of prize: Priest Pleads Guilty to Making Date-Rape Drug
More on the ever more disturbing India-PAK situation. Steven den Beste has come up with an (unfortunately) perfectly plausible nightmare scenario for how the conflict might go from conventional to nuclear. And Suman Palit continues to frighten the dickens out of me with evidence and speculation about what may really be going on in and in the vicinity of Musharraf's head. (He has several posts and updates with extremely pertinent links: just go to the front page and read everything from the last couple of days... if you dare.)
Israeli Embassy in Paris Destroyed by Fire: "officials said it was too early to determine the cause..." But not too difficult to make an educated guess...
(UPDATE: The word is, it was an electrical fire. And no, that wasn't my guess.)
Gate-keeper vs. Gate-crasher?
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That's our Tom:
The ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, Tom Lantos, has asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to conduct a formal probe into the operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency in the territories prior to the June 30 scheduled renewal of its mandate.
"My concern is that, for too long, UNRWA has been part of the problem, rather than the solution, in the Middle East," Lantos wrote in a May 13 letter to Annan. "However initially well-intentioned, UNRWA camps have fostered a culture of anger and dependency that undermines both regional peace and the wellbeing of the camps' inhabitants."
The California congressman expressed his concern "that UNRWA officials have not only failed to prevent their camps from becoming centers of terrorist activity, but have also failed to report these developments to you."
Lantos concluded that "it is difficult to escape the painful conclusion that UNRWA, directly or indirectly, is complicit in terrorism."
A new Pakistani jehadi group, the Jamaat-e-Milli, is believed to have supported the Kaluchak terrorist attack in Jammu. A Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) report says it is one of a new crop of jehadi groups being used by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to strengthen his influence among Islamic militants.
Musharraf's problem is he has had to crack down on terrorism to show results to the US. Old jehadis, who remember how he helped set up the old terrorist groups, have excused him because they believe the US has forced him to show some action on the ground. However, a crop of younger, more militant jehadis believe he has sold out to the US.
To control them, Musharraf has set up new organisations. And to show them he is till true to jehad, he has helped them launch attacks in Kashmir, which is why terrorist activities have intensified there. This, Musharraf reckons, will help contain violence in Pakistan — especially the kind directed at Westerners.
Jehadi pamphlets circulating in villages along the Line of Control and the new training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir are also part of Musharraf's campaign to re-establish his jehadi credentials.
But there is evidence that Musharraf's plans are going awry. The more militant jehadis have formed splinter groups that are not ready to accept his authority.
I don't blame the Brits for wanting to get out of the way.
TAPped gives Alterman the thumbs-up. "Here's to a new wave of liberal, edited blogging." Be still my heart.
I hate to say it, but I think Josh Trevino is probably right about the impending India-PAK war (this is from post #1 on May 20-- scroll down to "holy cats"):
India will crush Pakistan in conventional warfare; Musharraf knows this, and he'll go nuclear once defeat looms. New Delhi and a few other Indian cities will be destroyed -- and in response, India will end millenia of human occupation of the Indus valley. Pakistan's alternative, is to hit India first, going nuclear from the get-go, and hope that Indian retaliatory capacity is sufficiently dimished to allow Indus civilization (if not the Pakistani state) some measure of survival. It's a false hope -- the tactic won't work, and they'll still end up with a termination of national existence.
In the meanwhile, Hindu nationalists will almost certainly massacre and/or expel millions of Indian Muslims, and probably a few Christians, Parsis, and Bahai as well.
Nuclear war is coming. It's fantastically stupid any way you slice it. Stupid of the Pakistanis to support terrorism (and make no mistake, they do) and force this response. Stupid of the Indians to take it to this level.
If the Indian military had the technological, logistical and operational means with which to wage a low-level offensive battle, they would have had it over with last December. Instead, they have resorted to the only available response - the threat of large-scale war on multiple fronts, followed by the inevitable tit-for-tat nuclear response. Which is why you heard the Indian army brass last winter talk about how they would wait for spring (and the melting snows) before launching an attack. Now you hear them talking about a post-monsoon offensive..! Bad weather is simply an excuse for the generals to not go to war, since they only war they can wage will inevitably result in mutual self-destruction. How long before they run out of excuses..? How long before the political threat to the survival of the ruling coalition in India surpasses the risks of nuclear war in the minds of the politicians involved..?
Europeans have always tried to concentrate power. Everyone important in Europe has always agreed about this. The only argument has been who, exactly, would be the ones to wield that power. Europe has spent the last thousand years fighting bloody and inconclusive wars to try to decide that minor detail. Both World Wars began in Europe because of that. Now, with tentative steps towards formation of the European Union, that dream of complete centralization of power is finally being realized.
The EU is not a revolution. It is not something new. It is the culmination of the last thousand years of European politics. It is the fulfillment of the dream of Charlemagne, not to mention the Hapsburgs, Napoleon, Stalin and numerous others.
Of course, Europeans didn't just spend that thousand years fighting to rule each other; they also spent it trying to rule everyone else in the world. For several hundred years they almost succeeded by force of arms, but that all started to fall apart about 70 years ago, and the Europeans were largely out of the empire business by 30 years ago.
European "international multilateralism" is nothing more than traditional European imperialism with a paint job. The old European empires were created with muskets and cannons. The new European empire will be created with treaties. But the world will still be ruled from Europe, like it ought to be.
The recent complaints about American "unilateralism" come down to this: The Europeans think that the United States should ask for European permission before doing anything. The United States hasn't been asking. Europe grumbles.
Just as with the urge to centralize power in Europe, the urge to rule the world from Europe remains. Another manifestation of that is the International Criminal Court. Europe no longer has the ability to rule the world by force of arms, but it may still be able to convince the world to let it rule, through treaties. So there will be one world court in Europe, with mainly European Judges, ruling according to European legal principles. The US has told the Europeans to stick their court. Europe is righteously indignant. More grumbling.
Meet the anti-Andrew
Alterman continues the snarky comments about The Evil that is Andrew Sullivan, whom he has never forgiven for that post about the tuna sandwich. His caricature of andrewsullivan.com as nothing more than narcissistic babbling about "how things are going in his bathroom, his dinner dates with Hitch and his car ride dates with Drudge" is manifestly inaccurate, but Alterman has repeated the litany so frequently that it has become something like Alterman's motto (except that you have to put "no" in front of it, or draw a red line through it.) That, apparently, is his grand plan-- to be the ultimate anti-Sullivan. My impression upon reading Alterman's initial attack on Sullivan and the blogosphere, was that he really didn't "get" blogging: "what most offends him about Sullivan's blog (the stridency, the personal slant, the immediacy, the lack of editorial distance) are precisely why people read blogs." This still appears to be the case, but we'll see how he does. Sullivan has been severely criticized recently for lack of good behavior as a blogosphere citizen, but there's no question that he is among the best at what he does, even though he should link more often. His blog is staggeringly popular because of how great it is. And to match that, Alterman is going to have to do more than avoid posts about tuna sandwiches. I'm sure he'll come up with new and original ways of attacking his nemesis, anyway, and that ought to be fun. The blogosphere can always use a new whipping boy, for those slow Guardian days.
As for the non-Sullivan content, it remains to be seen just how enthralling a pro-antiAmerican blog will be. Are we to expect posts like "glad to see that the BBC is continuing its policy of referring to Hamas as 'activists' while calling the IDF 'death squads;'" or "I have read the Independent Argument section and I find myself in complete agreement;" or "here's the ugly truth about the war on terror that no one is permitted to utter: Bush is an idiot." Actually, I hope so (for whipping boy-fish barrelling purposes.)
Alterman mentions the initial "stay tuned for actual content" message at the launch of the Kausfiles, and promises that his blog "will be more interesting than Mickey’s was on that first day when he had nothing at all on it." Judging from the "slow rollout," I'd say that so far they're about even as far as interesting-ness goes. Welcome aboard, Eric, and good luck trying to out-Andrew Andrew. You're going to need it.
Michael Gove has another superb column, likening the EU-niks of today to the Manchu-niks of old. They really are Mandarins!
The current trajectory of European political development is driven by elites who, unlike America’s political leadership, find the moral burden of operating in a world of nation states too onerous. The direct accountability of parliaments is being supplanted by the closed power-broking of European bodies insulated from effective scrutiny.
Instead of upgrading national armies to meet new threats to national security, waning energies and limited resources are devoted to constructing administrative white elephants such as the European Rapid Reaction Force, which adds not a tank, soldier or bullet to the EU’s defence capability.
Instead of being able to project power against threats to our interests and values, Europe’s leaders seek to manage conflict through the international therapy of peace processes, the buying off of aggression with the danegeld of aid or the erection of a paper palisade of global law which the unscrupulous always punch through.
Europeans may convince themselves that these developments are the innovations of a continent in the van of progress, but they are really the withered autumn fruits of a civilisation in decline. Elites that shy away from electoral competition, demur at shouldering military responsibilities and temporise in the face of danger are destined for eclipse.
The Middle Kingdom sought to convince itself that behind its ramparts a uniquely cultured mandarinate preserved values to which the West’s barbarians could never aspire. Now, behind the tariff walls of the common agricultural policy and the borders hostile to new immigrants, Europe’s elites tell themselves that their low-growth, low-birthrate, low-wattage home still has something to teach America. It does. The dangers of failing to keep your nation free, open, vigorous and proud.
Wow, InstaPundit's new, stylish look is great. But it's freaking me out. Change hurts. (Glad to have the search function though.)
A Guardianian Awakens...
Decidedly un-Guardian-like words from Guardianian Peter Preston:
Can Spain and Britain, best of friends, settle a tiny trauma over Gibraltar? Probably not, on present form. Can the ticking clock of EU enlargement bring a little peace to weary old problems like Cyprus after 30 years? Don't watch this space either.
Diplomatically and militarily, Europe is still a pygmy. We can't solve stuff - old stuff, middle-sized stuff - within our own borders. Why on earth should we presume to lecture the rest of the world on conflict resolution? And what, in honesty, do we have to say, as Europeans, to the White House which should engage their attention?
The Chirac lecture on probity in government? The Berlusconi lecture on trans-media ownership? The Schröder lecture on economic dynamism? Even the Blair lecture on incisive leadership (once I've squared Gordon)?
Humility isn't merely in order, but inescapable - and humility doesn't begin at Calais. For all the resonance of commandos blowing up empty caves in the Hindu Kush, our own wait-and-see game of hint, smirk and scowl over referendums is just one more reason for the Americans to shrug us away. Speedy on the motes, as Colin Powell might observe, but dead slow on the beams.
Once again, ladies and gentlemen: the quotable Mr. Warren:
The issue, of course, is would anyone have been able to guess what was planned for Sept. 11, and thus prevent the strikes, if all the little bits had been presented at the same time. I, for one, on the basis of at least some idea how the bureaucratic mind processes information, frankly doubt it. It would take a Sherlock Holmes to amplify all the little dots above the background noise, and then join them together. But the Holmes types shoot-up drugs and work in private digs on Baker Street in the imagination of such as Arthur Conan Doyle. They don't work for government.
On the other, other hand, the insinuation that an American president, even if he was Bill Clinton, would risk the public exposure that he had known about an attack in advance, and raised no finger to stop it, can be left to the Oliver Stone school of late surrealist filmmaking. There will always be people who think that Franklin Delano Roosevelt let the U.S. fleet be destroyed at Pearl Harbour to get America into the war, or for that matter that Jews were behind the attack on the World Trade Centre. There are drugs to help these people, too, but first they must want to be helped.
Don't miss Matt Welch's brilliant post on the Beach Boys and the California dream. (As so often in the blogosphere, the comments are far more interesting and well-written than the flimsy matter being commented upon-- in this case this book review.) I'm always amused whenever writers bring up the "ripping off Chuck Berry riffs" cliche-- it happens regularly in music writing, particularly from writers who know nothing about music. Anyone who thinks that noting that kind of "rip-off" is some sort of devastating indictment has never played guitar in a rock band. You play the E and the B string together. It sounds sort of like Chuck. It's supposed to. That's what rock and roll is. (If you're brilliant and tortured like Brian you can do other stuff too-- but it's not required.)
I knew Welch had to be a fellow Beach Boys fan; all the best people are, you know...
David Warren is in fine form once again, poking holes in the "demography is destiny" argument:
My Palestinian correspondents -- I actually have a few -- make two points repeatedly. The first is to blame all their economic failures on a shortage of land. The second is to predict that Israel will be buried under their superior birthrate. This latter is an argument I have heard again and again, from Pakistan through North Africa, but on a grander scale: that eventually Europe and America will be conquered, because the Muslims are producing so many children, and the Westerners are not.
Don't panic, it won't happen. Little Israel has so far held the Arab world at bay, with one-sixtieth of its population, and the West is rather larger. The reason we are safe, in the foreseeable future, is because we are free and extremely productive. The reason they fail is because they are not. And the very fatalism that relies on demographic arguments is a symptom of their failure.
Guardian to The Western World: Give Up
Madeleine Bunting manages to turn the lynching of Daniel Pearl, the bombing of the French technicians in Karachi, and the threat of a July 4th attack on a US nuclear facility into an argument against the War on Terror.
Thanks to the kind souls who responded to my little beg-a-thon last week. A couple of readers wrote to say they prefer PayPal to "ScAmazon.con" (why the anti-Amazon sentiment,anyway?) so I finally put up a PayPal button above the Amazon one in case any of those folks are still interested in subsidizing the whole rickety operation. (Sadly, I'm not just talking about the blog, folks...) Thanks very much indeed to Matt, Glenn, Bill, Richard and Gary (and anyone else I may not have noticed) who gave a boost to the beg-a-thon with generous links. A few celebri-bloggers even made their own donations. What a swell bunch of guys. As for those who asked if I had naked pictures of my wife, and, if not, generously offered to sell me some: thanks to you as well. I'm in a thanking mood.
"Hitler is dead," says TNR's Leon Wieseltier, in an interesting essay cautioning American Jews against hysteria and the tendency to see echoes of the '30s and '40s in the anti-Semitic portents of today. "Is the peril 'as great, if not greater' than the peril of the 1930s?" he asks; the answer: "I do not see it." He has a point. Arafat is not Hitler. Hyperbolic descriptions of the recent horrors at Netanya, as well as those at Finsbury Park or SF State, in terms of a "New Kristallnacht" are rhetorically effective and may even contain a grain of truth (as to the state of mind of the participants anyway), but they are misconceived nonetheless. The Jews are not in the same kind of peril, not least because they are in a position to defend themselves as never before and have the support of the most powerful country in the world. TAPped enthusiastically hails Wieseltier and fellow New Republic-an Peter Beinart as "Jews for Moderation," representing a welcome emphasis on a "secular-pragmatic" approach to Israel's security rather than a "fundamentalist-apocalyptic" one.
Moderation is a virtue, for Jews and non-Jews alike, even where the Middle East is concerned. But what's missing from this is an acknowledgement that there can be situations in which there is, as it were, a pragmatic case for "apocalypticism." Wieseltier hints at it: "the real threat to Israel comes not from Jenin and Gaza, but from Baghdad and Tehran; not from booby-trapped casbahs, but from advanced missile technologies." This is not the same kind of peril as that faced by the Jews in Europe in the 1930s. Maybe, as Wieseltier believes, it is not even as perilous (though his faith in Israel's "spectacular deterrent" seems optimistic: those who most need deterring are nuts, remember?) But the threat is serious. Arafat may be "small and mendacious," but that wouldn't prevent him or his associates or his patrons from doing a tremendous amount of damage if they had the means. And no one doubts that they are trying as hard as they can to acquire these means. As for the motive and the extent of their ambition, I think you have to take seriously the Nazi-esque, exterminationist anti-Semitism that permeates the Arab press and the statements of the terrorist organizations themselves. They say "kill the Jews," not just "kill some Jews." Arafat may not be Hitler. Saddam Hussein isn't Hitler, either. Not yet. But with a nuclear weapon and a suicidal-nihilist ideology, anyone can be Hitler. It's not nearly as difficult as it used to be.
I recall hearing some Mideast expert or other (can't remember who) say that the way we know that Saddam Hussein hasn't yet acquired a functional nuclear weapon is that Tel Aviv is still standing and inhabitable. I think what is most disturbing about anti-Israel Europeans (as well as their mercifully few "co-thinkers" in the US) is the equanimity with which they appear to regard this prospect. As Mark Steyn flippantly put it in a recent column (can't find it, so once again I'm paraphrasing) the rest of the world seems to have decided that if anyone is going to be blown up in the Middle East, it might as well be the Jews. In the meantime, there are those who counsel a "moderate" response to those who plan and execute suicide bombing campaigns, negotiating with the perpetrators, offering concessions under the threat of blackmail, etc. Combine that triumph of hope over reason with a similarly tepid policy regarding the "axis of evil's" nuclear and bio-weapons programs, and, it seems to me, you get a virtual guarantee of an attempt at something like Ron Rosenbaum's Second Holocaust. And we're next. Pragmatically speaking, if that's not "apocalyptic," I don't know what is.
Quote of the day...
...from Bill Quick:
EU Strikes Deal on Palestinian Militants
Spain and Italy will each take three of the militants, Greece and Ireland will take two each, Portugal and Finland will take one each, and one will stay in Cyprus, state radio said, citing Spanish diplomatic sources.
Oh, damn! I was so hoping they'd divide them up in such a way that each country got a fraction of one.
The Singer and the Song
Hey, remember that much-blogged David Duke article in the Arab News? They took it down pretty quickly (clicking on that link now leads you to a chatty article about the New Arab Male.) But you can still read it on Indymedia! (I learned of this from Taranto, who links to DC Indymedia, but it's on the main website as well.)
Not that's it all that surprising: you often find thinly-veiled anti-Semitic propaganda on Indymedia (one of the reasons it's referred to as "Nazimedia" by Damian Penny and others.) David Duke's work appears regularly. But veils don't come much thinner than this.
As H.D. Miller recently pointed out, it's often difficult to distinguish this sort of writing from that of people like IM patron saint Noam Chomsky. Is it that much of a paradox? It depends on how much credence is afforded to Chomsky's "ideas," I suppose. Perhaps all deranged minds really do think alike. But even if David Duke does indeed speak the language of your basic leftist loon, publishing "articles" by such a notorious, credibility-damaging figure can't be a mistake (as it probably was in the case of the Arab News, even though he speaks the language of the Wahabbist loon as well.) Oddly appropriate as the "convergence of kooks" (Taranto's phrase) may be, the credibility-damage must be intentional. What exactly is going on at IM?
Like the People's Front of Judea, DC-IM has a pretty rigorous system of editorial screening:
two members of the editorial board must approve the request by replying to the list; an editorial member may not approve their own request
if a request receives two rejections it will not be acted upon, rejections must be sent to the list within three hours of the second approval
three hours after the second approval if two rejections have not been registered the technical team will update the website at its earliest convenience
the feature request originator may make further updates to the feature without further consulting the editorial board.
Moira Breen has a good post on the subject of euthanasia. "There are, " she writes, "adherents on both sides of the issue that make my skin crawl." Mine, too, and for the same reasons.
(Thanks to Peter Briffa for pointing out the bad link I had up there previously. How embarrasing. However, Yossi Klein Halevi's take on the recent Likud vote is worth reading even though has nothing to do with euthanasia.)
Through gently rolling countryside
I often take my strolls;
I love to watch the tender mares
Attending to their foals,
I love the woodland creatures wild,
The squirrels, rabbits, voles—
And if you do not love them too,
I’ll drill you full of holes.
That quasi-pogrom-esque SF State "demonstration" (that anti-Semitism is alive and well and living at our major universities) has been extremely well-covered by Meryl Yourish and Joe Katzman. Glenn Reynolds's new FoxNews column ties it all together:
If it is not addressed, last week’s riot may be next week’s — or next year’s — politically motivated murder.
Such may seem unthinkable to Americans, but we saw such behavior on college campuses thirty-five years ago, and we’re seeing such behavior in Europe now. The tolerance of smaller-scale violence and illegality by university administrators has laid the foundation for worse in the future, unless swift action establishes an example that such acts are not tolerated.
In a decent, sane world (one that seems more and more to exist only in my imagination) the student who shouted "kill the Jews" would be vilified, excoriated (though not literally), denounced by his fellow "activists", and ostracized by his peers to the degree that he is ashamed to show his face. No one would make excuses for him. His message would be roundly and unequivocally condemned and repudiated by one and all, even by those who supported "the cause." And, sad to say: it's not going to happen.
Steven "Daddy Warblogs" Chapman has responded courteously to a few of my questions about his explanation of European anti-Israel sentiment in terms of collective psychology. He may be right about the "transference." Admiration of history's losers and solidarity with the underdog (no matter how many chickens he has killed) does seem to crop up extraordinarily often in Euro-discourse. The current version of European anti-Semitism and/or anti-Zionism does appear to be a phenomenon of the Left; but my intuition that the seeds of it may lie in Leftist ideology itself may indeed be misplaced. Like the Daddy, I prefer his "psycho-sophistication" to the "it's all about the oil" theory. There's an answer somewhere. When someone figures it all out, I'll be very interested to read all about it.
Anyway, regarding the likelihood of an al-Qaeda attack on Europe, Chapman is right on the money here:
Much has been made of al-Qa'eda's organisational abilities in the light of 9/11; however, though their handle on the operational side of things may have been sound, their strategy was deeply flawed. Hence they misread the character of the US, assuming that no serious response to this attack would be forthcoming. This leads me to believe that they are indeed naive and stupid enough, strategically, to launch some kind of major attack within Europe, an attack which would almost certainly have the effect of revivifying the European appetite for military action - an appetite that has been steadily draining away in recent months.
You can learn a lot from a government form...
There's a $255 charge (plus a fingerprinting fee) for filing form I-485, which you need to file to register your alien spouse once the marriage has taken place. I'm not sure what they do with this money, but I think they should spend a little of it on updating their forms.
Here's my lovely young alien wife:
And here's what the government is asking her, just in case:
did you, during the period from March 23, 1933 to May 8, 1945, in association with either the Nazi Government of Germany or any organization or government associated or allied with the Nazi Government of Germany, ever order, incite, assist or otherwise participate in the persecution of any person because of race, national origin, or political opinion?
I was also relieved to learn from this fiendishly clever series of yes/no questions that my wife hasn't engaged in prostitution "in the last ten years;" nor does she intend to do so in the future. Ditto genocide. sabotage, kidnapping, espionage, or political assassination. And no, she's not intending to overthrow the government either. Whew! I'm sure they catch a lot of inattentive spies with that "do you intend to engage in espionage" question...
She does not plan to practice polygamy in the US. Oh, well...
Ted Barlow has been poking around in the PETA website.
"Whatever else you have to say about the kooky guys 'n' gals of PETA," writes Ted, "they've raised the publicity stunt to an art form. Just from their press releases, they seem less like Earth First! and more like Tom Green."
He's right, as his hilarious selection of examples attests. My favorite: this anti-milk Mothers Day Card:
M is for the cow’s milk that you gave me
O is for the obesity it brought
T is for the tummy cramps that plagued me
H is for the heart disease I’ve got
E is for the earaches that I suffered
R is for my runny nose of snot
Put them all together, they spell "MOTHER"
The milk you fed me sure gave me a lot!
"Happy Mother’s Day! Would it have killed you to breast-feed?"
Ted Rall, David Duke, Robert Fisk, Lyndon LaRouche, al-Ahram, Hitler, Noam Chomsky, Blair's Law, the Arab News, and Me
Tim Blair, in reference to this Lyndon LaRouche interview in Al-Ahram, recently noted "the ongoing process by which the world's multiple idiocies are becoming one giant, useless force." Blair's Law. Blindingly obvious, but only after you have seen it expressed and demonstrated with striking examples like that. I believe it truly captures the spirit of the age.
Here's another example: David Duke has a column (actually a transcript of a "radio broadcast") in the Arab News, and, not surprisingly, he fits right in (link via InstaPundit.) He attributes the 9/11 attacks to a Jewish plot, and cites Robert Fisk three times. Like I said, Blair's Law.
OK, that takes care of LaRouche, Fisk and David Duke, Blair's Law, al-Ahram and the Arab News. What about Ted Rall, Hitler, and me? This post is really an excuse to mention that Ted Rall once interviewed me via telephone on his talk radio show. It was a couple of years ago, and no one involved had any particular reason to know anything about each other's political views or opinions about America and her enemies-- it just never came up (those were the days, eh?) The interview was intended to be about music, but it just so happened that his previous guest was none other than David Duke, whose book ("My Awakening") had just been published. Duke's talk-radio, book-promotion schtick, as I recall, was fairly bland, nothing like his Arab News job: he was trying to present himself as a mainstream, conservative politician.
After Duke left, it was my turn. We were talking about one of my songs, "Even Hitler had a Girlfriend," and Rall mentioned that David Duke's girlfriend had been in the studio with him, that she was young, blonde, gorgeous, a bit bored, and apparently a little "drugged out," if I remember correctly. Wow. Even David Duke has a girlfriend. That's even freakier, in a way, isn't it? We just continued to "riff" on that "David Duke's girlfriend" theme. ("Talk racist to me, baby." "Wait, you're forgetting: he's a populist now." "Yes, I meant: talk populist to me, baby.") I wish I could say that one of us came up with anything substantial or insightful to say about the whole thing, but it was all just goofing around. (And it will probably surprise people to learn that Ted Rall was a decent guy, quite friendly and personable, witty, and doing his best to help out an unknown musician by putting him on the air. It's kind of hard to believe it's the same guy who drew that hateful, nauseating cartoon about Mariane Pearl and other "terror widows"; but I suppose he'd be surprised that I'm the kind of guy who would support the war in Afghanistan.)
That leaves Chomsky. I once dated a girl who used to claim, with no detectable signs of repugnance, that her mom once had an affair with Noam Chomsky. (The weird thing isn't that she was probably lying, but that she was doing it to impress me; the even weirder thing is, it kind of did. I know: what a sicko. What can I say? A pretty girl tends to be given the benefit of the doubt, no matter who she thinks is "neat"-- I think I just decided to "go with it." And it was a long time ago...)
Anyway, I suppose the point is that although I'm a firm believer in Blair's Law sometimes it can all just be a coincidence. At least, I hope so.
UPDATE: H.D. Miller explores the Duke-Chomsky-Rall rhetorical continuum.
Postmodernism shall save ye...
Britain's bridge across the Atlantic is fated to collapse, writes "former Foreign Office special adviser" David Clark in the Guardian.
I had intended to comment on this ridiculous article by David Clark (to which I was led by Peter Briffa) but Iain Murray beat me to it and really hit the nail on the head at that. It's yet another in a long series of op-eds arguing that Britain ought to change course, break with the US, and join forces with the EU as the last best hope of restraining American aggression and "unilateralism" and preventing "another American Century." There's nothing new about this: it seems as though some variation on the "ditch America" theme is published just about every week in some British paper or other. (And, for what it's worth, at least Clark doesn't go as far that other Clark-- Neil, I mean-- who recently came rather close to arguing that Britain's interests would best be served by forming an anti-American alliance with Iraq.) It's not the proposal, but rather the preposterous rationale for it, which breaks new ground. Clark, twisting Robert Cooper's recent call for a new imperialism almost beyond recognition, maintains that the world is divided into pre-Modern, Modern and post-Modern states. America is Modern, a throwback to the 19th century in its vigorous pursuit of its own interests, while Britain and Europe, having progressed to the post-Modern stage, "reject power politics in favour of integration and systems of mutual interference." (While "a system of mutual interference" is indeed Cooper's approving phrase for the EU, he clearly didn't include the US among its enemies-- quite the contrary.) The way Clark sees it, there can never be a community of interests or goals between sophisticated post-Modern states like Britain and backward Modern states like the US. "There is no third way," Clark writes, "between these competing visions of world order; one actively seeks what the other has resolved to avoid." And, as Murray summarizes: "if we're going to have any sort of progressive experience for the world, Britain has to throw in its lot with Europe."
Given Europe's track record, past and present, I'd take an American Century over an EU-esque "progressive experience for the world" any day. And I'm afraid I don't share Clark's confidence in and enthusiasm for the effectiveness of the EU's trademark attempts "to solve wider global problems by limiting their sovereignty through binding agreements and the development of strong institutions." Do you? Well, I am just a modern guy. And I'm still betting against "postmodernism" as the best defense when it comes to the "global problem" of people and groups who want to blow (more of) us up. "Postmodernism" didn't work out all that well in the debacle of the Bethlehem 13. When they finally figure out a way to sort out their condiment situation, maybe they can credibly move on to the more difficult stuff and assume their Clark-ordained role as sole guardians of world security and order. But not before.
Anyway, Iain Murray describes the article as "anti-Americanism dressed up in the language of artistic expression" and adds:
Be honest, Clark. You have an outdated ideology that thinks it's progressive when all its effects on the working class have been regressive. Certainly it's done well for the bourgeois middle class, who now have fat incomes guaranteed by the State by purloining the funds of wealth-creaters and artisans alike (a redistribution of wealth, indeed), but so-called progressive policies have wrecked communities by destroying their social order, introducing them to crime, drugs and depravity on a scale undreamed of only 50 years ago.
Thinking this is a good thing is certainly postmodern, rejecting modern ideas like democracy, liberalism and personal responsibility. Only by consciously mixing your "new" ideas with pre-modern ideas like tyranny and the premise that the working class cannot think for itself can you get your philosophy to work. Your progressive Utopia will be a Dinotopia ("terrible place"). In the meantime, those of us who are trying to build a shining city on a hill will happily ignore you.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals contends the southern Minnesota school's nickname is offensive and should be replaced.
Austin is the home of Hormel Foods Corporation, maker of SPAM luncheon meat, Cure 81 ham and other products. Packers is short for meatpackers.
PETA recently sent a letter to the principal of Austin High School, saying being named after slaughterhouse workers is ``nothing to be proud of.'' The group suggests a better name would be ``Pickers,'' which would promote a healthier, plant-based diet.
It's bound to be ridiculed everywhere, just like that cow thing. I suppose that could be the goal, in fact. If your press release is silly enough to become enough of a joke in mainstream pop culture, you can get a PETA spokesman on O'Reilly and the opportunity to talk about the organization on national TV. And no harm done, really. Just don't go assassinating anyone, OK?
Matt Welch's latest venture into tip-jar rattling yielded 61 donations. I think I recall him saying he averaged around 12,000 hits per day. Theoretically, then, at that rate, if I do this right, I should be able to get... let's see... um... well, one or two anyway. If I round up. More stats: Matt's blog is 100 times better than mine, but I'm pretty sure I'm at least 1000 times more broke than he is. Rattle rattle...
Fashioning a response to 9/11 is the single most crucial question of our time; praising a policy critic who advocates a vague and foolish response policy reveals nothing more than comfy ideological brotherhood, and a basic lack of nerve. Encouraging people to follow such a man’s lead (in being “eloquently” incoherent, apparently), does not, in fact, contribute to a “grand national debate.” On the contrary, it pre-empts even half-way useful conversation.
I haven't read the newly-published Congo diaries of Che Guevara (and, frankly, it's pretty unlikely that I ever will-- you know how it is): so I can't comment on whether Cynthia Grenier's characterization of it as a picture of "the guerrilla hero as a dispirited racist" is accurate. The conventional wisdom had been that Castro would never release this material for publication because it would reveal the futility of attempts to spark world revolution by means of engineering native insurrections (as though that really needed further demonstration.) With or without the racism angle, the question of Castro's timing arises. Here's Grenier's intriguing theory:
Perhaps the most interesting question raised by the diaries is one of timing. Castro kept the diaries under lock and key for years. Why did he decide to release them now? Could it be that in his old age, he is getting envious of Guevara’s lasting fame? Can the sight of those glorious Che posters appearing wherever in the world there is a demonstration be getting to the old dictator?
One might have supposed that Guevara’s memory would be undermined by Cuban refugees such as Armando Valladares, whose terrifying prison memoir Against All Hope was also reissued last year by Encounter Books. Who would have ever guessed that Che’s demythologizer might turn out to be his oldest ally?
Because we support Israel, Americans increasingly are seen as surrogate Jews. We should accept our new moniker with pride, partly because being a Jew is nothing to be ashamed of, but mostly because our alliance with Israel is meritorious in principle.
We support Israel because it is a democracy and because Israelis share our belief in liberal politics. Its press is free, as are its elections and society. These are values worth fighting for; they are why we went to war in Afghanistan, after all. And defending Israel against Palestinian suicide bombing is nothing less than a defense of Enlightenment ideals against medieval tyranny.
The Palestinian cause (against oppression and for a state) is another matter, one that all fair-minded people recognize as legitimate. But the present Palestinian leadership and its loudest supporters in the Arab world are hopelessly tainted by their toleration and even covert fostering of appalling Jew-hating, jingoistic rants that appear regularly in the Arab press...
Supporters of this kind of filth are enemies of fairness, sanity and liberalism. So, pick a side, folks; there are only two.
Jeff Jarvis has thrown a monkey wrench into the venerable tradition of idle speculation about the financial prospects of weblogging by actually coming up with a proposal. A Weblog Foundation with honorariums along the lines of the Pulitzer Prize. Interesting...
Daddy Warblogs expertly dissects three editorials from the Independent's Argument section. No surprises: it's pretty messy in there. If you're a fan of the Brit-lefty-barrelling genre (and who isn't?) it doesn't get much better than this.
At the end, he has this interesting comment on "why Europe is so hard on Israel:"
it has to do with the Holocaust, but not in the way some people have suggested. I don't believe most anti-Israel sentiment is motivated by anti-Semitism; there's anti-Semitism out there, but that's not where the criticism comes from. All European nations, I think, suffer from a burden of guilt over the Holocaust, either because they were directly implicated in it, or failed to prevent it. Today, we think 'If only the Jews could be passive victims, if only they refused to fight back against their enemies - then we could rush in and save them.' - rush in and save them the way we failed to do in the 1930s and 40s, and thereby atone for our actions (or inaction) and be released from that burden of guilt. But the Israelis, by fighting back, block the expression of that impulse; they don't need to be 'saved' by us - they are capable of saving themselves, and this frustrates us because we want so much to atone and they are preventing us from doing so. This is why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes constant headlines, while the Chinese occupation of Tibet, or the Kurds, or East Timor, or any one of a dozen other little wars have nothing like the same public profile - we do not have a psychological 'vested interest' in those conflicts.
Does "denial" require that they evade the issue by "blaming the victim," as Ron Rosenbaum recently suggested? Or perhaps, as Daddy W. argues, the Europeans really do harbor secret dreams of atoning for their sins by rushing in to save defenseless Jews, and are merely frustrated that the Jews who have taken their defense into their own hands have deprived them of the opportunity to carry out this penance. (God help 'em if that unlikely scenario were ever to be thrust upon them.) But, to continue in the psychological vein, even if total salvation is denied to them, there are still little things the Eurocrats and Europundits could do, like "admitting there's a problem," taking a "searching and fearless moral inventory of themselves," "making amends," etc. You know, baby steps.
How about an occasional op-ed affirming Israel's right to exist and defend itself? How about a hint of acknowledgement that Israel's actions in the cause of defense and security, while not always to their liking, are nonetheless a response to a genuine threat, based on what are judged to be real defensive and strategic needs rather than merely upon a senseless thirst for blood? How about a little less eagerness to revel in gleeful condemnation of "Jewish evil-doing" before the facts have been established (as with the Jenin "massacre?") How about a sober acknowledgement of the plain fact that their celebrated client, Yassir Arafat, for all his other wonderful qualities, is a terrorist and that an integral part of his "struggle" involves the deliberate murder of large numbers of Jews? And that if he and his associates were allowed to kill more, they'd kill many, many more? Since neither the Independent nor the EU can quite bring themselves to do even that, it's no surprise that the patient remains sick. Fate is a river, free will is a paddle, and well, you know...
Like I said, I still don't entirely "get it." I'm sure part of the answer does indeed lie in the realm of psychopathology. It has to. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it also has to do with the fact that, as bearers of the ungainly legacy of 1968, Euro-elites (read, the no-longer-all-that-new Left) are saddled with an ideology that for many years now has been at increasingly obvious odds with reality. For die-hard moral relativists, the Holocaust, as the ultimate demonstration of the bright line between evil and good, is an inconvenient exception that is best avoided or discounted. The conceit that Communist totalitarianism is preferable to "decadent" liberal democracy, once an unalterable article of faith among the hipsters of the revolution, can no longer be uttered with a straight face, yet it nevertheless is part of the foundation of the ideological culture represented by the New Statesman (in whose pages you can still read the occasional apologia for Stalinism or Stalinist figures like Milosevic.) If your intellectual heroes are those for whom Stalin was a political hero, the whole issue of the persecution of Jews and state-run mass murder becomes inconvenient, problematic, and best avoided. Thus the venerable and pernicious tradition on the Left of downplaying the importance or "relevance" of the Holocaust historically and with regard to contemporary politics. And, for the generation that ingenuously believed that people like Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, and Yassir Arafat were nothing more than pure and honest freedom fighters whose virtue was beyond criticism and whose predations were more than justified by the promise of a coming hip apocalypse-- well, there's only one of them now left to coddle and fund, isn't there? History has been poking this ideology full of holes for some time now: hostility to Israel may be just about the last bit of it that is still recognizable and available to those who wish to keep it alive.
Communism failed. Socialism failed. The hippie love generation failed. The Red Brigades, the SLA and the Baader-Meinhoff gang all failed to kill the fascist insect that preys on the life of the people, otherwise known as Amerikkka. Only Arafat, the Guardipendent, the New Statesman, and a vague, limping anti-Americanism, remain. They'd never admit it, but I suspect that, in a sense, Euro-lefties are fond of Arafat (in his Che Guevara mode) in the same way that my dad loved John Wayne: as a last, doomed, remnant of a world long since and irrevocably lost. Similarly, the self-absolving view of Israel as the linchpin of Amerkkkian imperialism which must be "smashed" and destroyed for the sake of "social justice" (not anti-Semitism, *nudge* *wink*) appears to linger unnamed, a grotesque kind of nostalgia. Of course, while Arafat has one foot in retrograde Marxist-Leninist "freedom fighter" territory, his other foot has stumbled onto the thoroughly-modern Islamofascist square of the contemporary political chessboard. The European left haven't quite worked out how to react to this position, how to decide whom to root against in this contest: the goal of self-preservation and the defense of liberal values is indisputably at odds with the still-cherished tenets of anti-Americanism. Unfortunately, it will probably take a massive attack on a European city, which I fear is now more likely than not, to induce them to admit that they ought to have opted for self-preservation much sooner. After that, 1968 will be well and truly gone.
There's probably a psychological element here, too (inasmuch as the student movement of 1968 politicized and "globalized" their rebellion against parental authority and everything it supposedly stood for) as well as a pharmacological one (in that the architects and proponents of this strain of leftist ideology were, by most accounts, generally on drugs.) I daresay there's more to it than that. As I said, I don't pretend to understand it at all. I only understand enough to realize how puzzled I still am.
Anyway, read Daddy Warblogs's post-- it's excellent as usual.
Even if you guys eliminate the need for it, can we still have our swell regulatory agency?
According to the BBC, the UN has taken great care to make its new weapons inspection team (the "UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission") a "much more palatable organisation for the Iraqis to deal with." Among the new measures was apparently an extensive course of sensitivity training, which UNSCOM lacked: all members of UNMOVIC "have been briefed on how to avoid offending the cultural sensitivities of the Iraqi people."
I don't know about you, but I feel safer already.
Yet, the report warns:
this care and attention to detail could, however, be overtaken by events if the US administration decides to act on its threat to intervene militarily in Iraq.
Kofi Annan expressed worries that the threat of US military action was "preying upon the minds of the Iraqi delegation."
I would imagine so. But isn't that why they're even having the discussions in the first place?
Three cheers for Lt. Col Tom Chicken, commander of Operation Snipe!
The Telegraph's leader on the end of the Bethlehem siege has it right:
This episode has been emblematic of the strengths and shortcomings of both sides in this asymmetric struggle. The Palestinians, with a sharp eye for the role of the world media in the CNN era, have been keen to lure the Israelis into such a position for some time - whereby Jewish soldiers would appear to be threatening one of the greatest of Christian holy sites. The lumbering, slow-moving Israelis swallowed the bait and pointed the guns at the church during the course of their hot pursuit - when, in fact, they should have turned the spotlight on the abuse of this sacred spot for terrorist activity.
Daddy Warblogs has dug up this article from September, 2001: International Terrorist Support Groups Thrive in Belgium and Netherlands. DW asks "perhaps this is what Pim Fortuyn was talking about?" Here are a couple of excerpts:
Top international anti-terrorism experts have identified two of Europe's most legally tolerant regions – namely, the Dutch-language areas around Europe's most important west coast harbors, Antwerp and Rotterdam – as the main breeding ground for Muslim-fundamentalist terrorist groups. Osama bin Laden 's organization even runs shipping companies as fronts from Amsterdam.
The British researcher Dr. R. Gunaratna warned that, especially in The Netherlands, because of its total lack of anti-terrorism laws and its very high level of religious, cultural and judicial tolerance, Muslim-fundamentalist terrorist groups are allowed to thrive. They use Amsterdam and Rotterdam as central bases in the West from which they garnish funds, recruit activists from the local Muslim youth cultural groups, and purchase highly sophisticated arms in the world's largest trading hub: Rotterdam harbor...
Another new, disturbing pattern pointing to a new form of terrorism against the civilian population at large has been detected in both harbor towns of Antwerp and Rotterdam: "Muslim cultural organizations" have also turned the streets of Antwerp and Rotterdam into main battlegrounds for Muslim-fundamentalist male criminal youth gangs who deliberately attack, rob and invade ethno-European cultural events and throngs of shoppers in the large shopping districts.
These well-organized attacks are leaving the local Dutch-speaking ethno-Europeans totally vulnerable and defenseless because their governments have no anti-terrorist laws with which to stop such highly aggressive youth groups from forming in the first place.
I'm pretty sure this odious piece in yesterday's Independent was intended as a bit of light-hearted humor-- it's often hard to tell with the English, but their unintentional humor is usually much funnier than this. What is clear is that the author (Mark Steel) is fairly "chuffed," as they say, about the assassination of Pim Fortuyn. But isn't rejoicing in the political murder of a democratically-elected gay libertarian a bit unseemly for a self-respecting member of Britain's leftist elite? Aren't such things frowned upon? No indeed, because Fortuyn was a racist and a fascist (sins which cancel out his otherwise virtuous membership in an oppressed group) according to Steel's unequivocal verdict. No substantive basis for this characterization is provided, no policies are discussed or analyzed, or even mentioned. The precise nature of the populist appeal of LPF's stance on immigration is an interesting and complex problem, but Steel offers only idiotic rhetorical fluff like "it's true that Le Pen didn't like Fortuyn, but then Mussolini didn't like Hitler." Well, that settles it then.
The bulk of the article consists of feeble attempts to be amusing, like:
Dutch people "no longer hear their own language." When did the Dutch start complaining about this? The whole point of being Dutch is to speak 40 languages.
When I moved from Kent to south London, which is more "full" than Holland, no one demanded that I moved back, yelling, "There´s no room, anyway we don´t want your funny ways, watching cricket and growing hops all over the place. We drink lager here, not bitter, because multi-culturalism doesn´t work."
Or there's this hand-tooled gem:
If Hitler had been gay, the only difference to history would have been the uniforms, when he'd thrown a strop and yelled, "Brown shirts and jackboots? Have you no sense of colour co-ordination".
They try and try, but the Guardipendent crowd will never be able to beat Mark Steyn at this game. When Left-wing journalists try to be funny, it almost always falls embarrassingly flat. Why is this? Is it because the serious points tend to be funnier than the jokes? Why is Mark Steel so crashingly boring and unfunny, no matter how hard he tries? There is no real answer: he just is.
Anyway, I think Steel is also trying to be funny here, but I wouldn't dismiss this idea out of hand:
to be consistent, America´s "axis of evil" should now include Iraq, Iran, North Korea and the Vegan Wholefood Fruit and Bean Collective, commencing with a series of Vulcan bomber raids over this year´s Glastonbury Festival.
For all I know, Steel may well think his columns are funnier than Steyn's, but then Stalin probably thought he was funnier than Churchill, too.
Penetrated by Zionists...
Bahrain has banned al Jazeera TV, accusing the station of being biased towards Israel. Information Minister Nabil al-Hamr explains:
"We believe (Al Jazeera) is suspect and represents the Zionist side in the region. We will not deal with this channel because we object to its coverage of current affairs. It is a channel penetrated by Zionists."
Three election candidates from the party of murdered Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn have been moved to a safe house.
Police say they moved the LPF candidates after finding plans of their and Mr Fortuyn's house in the car of the man suspected of his murder...
A spokesman for the LPF said: "Since the police have found four maps in Van der Graaff's car, it doesn't seem to be an attack organised by one person. We must conclude a conspiracy is going on."
"Call it Sham-nesty International, an apologist for terror," writes Margaret Wente of Canada's Globe and Mail.
In its report, Amnesty International criticizes Canada for sometimes being on the wrong side. One example it gives is that we voted against a special UN mission to examine human rights in Israel.
It's worth noting that the UN Human Rights Commission includes such beacons of democracy as Zimbabwe, China, Sudan and Syria. At its annual meeting last month, its members voted down an inquiry into the rigged elections in Zimbabwe. They failed to mention persecutions in China or suffering in Chechnya. Instead, they spent most of their time resolving to support Palestinians in their "armed struggle" and condemning Israel for "acts of mass killings."
Once upon a time, I used to admire the UN. I looked up to Amnesty International, too. But they've become apologists for terror. They aren't part of the solution. They're part of the problem. And I've written them my last cheque.
Reason #1,386 why we will win the WOT:
Our side has all the cool robots. If you haven't yet seen the photos of that British-made bomb-disposal robot recently used by the Israelis to check a partially-exploded suicide bomber for any remaining explosives, here they are. Pretty cool.
The 21-year-old college student accused in a string of pipe bombings wanted to make a "smiley face" pattern with his targets, authorities said Thursday.
Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown, though that didn't make ridiculing him any less fun. But I'm not sure he's right about the effectiveness of the Ozzy Osbourne show as an anti-drug program:
``In a weird way, Ozzy is a great anti-drug promotion. Look at him and how fried his brains are from taking drugs all those years and everyone will say, 'I don't want to be like that.'''
A cow that died in Texas in 1981 has been positively identified as the original source of the anthrax spores used in the terrorist attacks in America last year which killed five people, according to a study published today.
Scientists said that although the anthrax used in the letter attacks belonged to the Ames strain – named after a town in Iowa – it originated in a cattle-rearing region of the south Texas plains.
A detailed analysis of the genetic sequence of the anthrax used in the first attack on a Florida newspaper office has revealed it is identical to the strain which has been disseminated to laboratories in America and other parts of the world, including the biological defence establishment at Porton Down in Wiltshire.
The researchers who carried out the study said the technique might now be used as a forensic tool to compare the anthrax used in the attack with samples held in various laboratories.
Some movie fans are blasting the next “Lord of the Rings” flick, charging that it exploits the World Trade Center tragedy. The next installment in the sequel is called “The Two Towers,” and a group calling itself Those Affected by September 11 is petitioning director Peter Jackson and studio New Line Cinema to change the name “to something less offensive.”
“THE TITLE IS clearly meant to refer to the attacks on The World Trade Center,” notes the petition posted at petitiononline.com and signed by more than 1,200 people. “It is unforgivable that this should be allowed to happen.”
The title is actually the name of the second book in the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy on which the films are based, but even when this was pointed out to the petitioners, they maintained that the title of the film should still be changed.
New Line didn’t respond to requests for comment, but Jackson has said that after the Sept. 11 attacks, he considered changing the name of the second film, but decided against it, saying, “Tolkien fans would kill us.”
A blast tore through a Victory Day parade in southern Russia on Thursday, killing at least 29 people, including seven children.
Police said a remote-controlled mine hidden in bushes exploded as a military band surrounded by children and World War Two veterans marched through Kaspiisk, a Caspian Sea port some 1,000 miles from Moscow.
Abdul Musayev, head of the interior ministry press office in Mahkachkala, said 29 people, including seven children and 14 servicemen, had died in the attack.
Itar-Tass reported that local authorities put the death toll at 30.
Police said nuts, bolts and nails in the device were designed to cause maximum injury.
UPDATE: Eric Olsen noticed the inverted commas as well, and had this to say:
You aren't taking sides on the merits of a matter to call a terrorist a terrorist. You can be even sympathetic to the cause in question and still call a terrorist act "terrorism." A remote-control nail bomb attack timed to kill as many children as possible at a public parade IS THE VERY ESSENCE OF TERRORISM. If the word "terrorism" has any meaning at all, it has to applied here. By dismissing and even mocking Putin's use of the word under these circumstances, Reuters has let it be known where their sympathies lie: with the Chechan TERRORISTS. You can't get much farther from neutrality than that.
There has already been a great deal withering commentary on Chris Patten's feeble whinging in response to George Will's column on European anti-Semitism, but, when it comes to commenting witheringly, nobody does it better than Moira Breen: "he must indeed have been 'more than shocked' by Will's column, to blubber in public like this."
As with so many recent attempts by Euro-intellectuals to dismiss stateside worries about the apparent upsurge in Euro-anti-Semitism, there's something about the way Patten says "there's nothing to worry about" that really makes you worry. Really, these people appear to have no clue how bad they sound...
Also on Ben's site is a sensible response to Robert Wright's quirky column arguing that proof of Arafat's direct involvement in terrorism strengthens his desirability and credibility as a negotiating partner. This is nuts, though it's the logic that terrorists always hope will prevail. Rewarding terrorism = a guarantee of further terrorism. Granting concessions to Arafat in response to such blackmail sends the message that blowing up pizza parlors and pool halls is a viable method of statecraft. The Israelis won't allow this, nor should anyone expect them to; the US, in its own interests, should do what it can to ensure that such tactics not be rewarded. Whether or not the newest round of evidence holds up, it's plain as the blue day that the Palestinian Authority and its "president" have been involved in the planning, funding and incitement of terror attacks on Israeli civilians as means of achieving their political goals. In other words, the PA is in essence and in effect a terrorist and criminal organization which has in turn been funded and supported (unwittingly or "winkingly," depending on ones level of cynicism) by the "international community." It's not the only such organization, of course, and Arafat obviously isn't able to turn the terror off and on at will: but eliminating him and dismantling his organization would be a step in the right direction, both as a pragmatic and as a moral matter.
As Ben writes:
Whichever way you slice it, it seems to me that you have to have some faith in Arafat to buy into this, faith that doesn't fit with an examination of what's happening. Sure, this shows he potentially could do something but a) not that he necessarily could and b) not that he would. Plus, it shows that he's definitely in cahoots with the terrorists, so there was little reason to think that Fatah would act effectively against them.
This may make the case Wright wants to. Or, it might be a good reason to get rid of the guy once and for all. If he's been running the suicide attacks on Israel, or turning a truly blind eye, how much worse could his replacement be?
Today is an INS day (which could well mean that tonight will be a drinking night) so there probably won't be much space for blogging.
I assure you, no irony is intended here: if you haven't yet seen Michael Gove's excellent piece on the Pim Fortuyn assassination, here it is. A couple of excerpts:
Fortuyn and his allies developed a critique of the establishment notably different from those pioneered by the politicians with whom he has been compared, Jörg Haider and Jean-Marie Le Pen. Fortuyn was uncompromisingly neo-liberal. An advocate of laxer rules on euthanasia, greater drugs liberalisation, more use of the private sector in healthcare and tax cuts, he was very far from Le Pen’s hearthland politics of Vichyiste nostalgia. He may have been a “cultural protectionist” like Le Pen. But the culture he wished to protect was the Dutch libertarianism so familiar to many Britons from their weekends in Amsterdam, so congenial to him as a gay man, and so threatened, he claimed, by the incursions of Islam...
The success of far-right or populist movements which use race as a political weapon almost inevitably leads to an upsurge in hate crimes. Even in Britain, as I have had unhappy cause to report, the recent growth in expressions of anti-Semitic sentiment has led to a quadrupling of attacks on Jews.
Assaults on Britain’s, and Europe’s, Jewish communities also regrettably force us to contemplate the other dark side of the Fortuyn legacy. For intemperate and simplistic as his rhetoric was, its success reflected a widespread concern.
Why is it the most horrific acts of politically motivated violence committed against the West have come from Muslims, in the grip of a twisted fundamentalist version of their faith, who have enjoyed the freedoms, welfare benefits, educational opportunities and wealth Europe has to offer? And why do Western establishments temporise in the face of fundamentalist violence, from the EU’s funding of the infrastructure of terror in the Palestinian Authority to the lack of prosecutions against those who preach hate and recruit for jihads? A failure by European elites to tackle these questions allows both extremes, the far Right and Islamic terror, to flourish. Where do extremes now meet? In the house that Jacques [Delors] built.
The proximate cause is probably the atrocity of September 11. From that moment, the debate over immigration and multiculturalism took on a new immediacy. Feelings ran high on both sides. Right-wing politicians sometimes crossed the line between being anti-immigration and being anti-immigrant. Left-wingers took to demonising their opponents, accusing them of being not merely wrong, but malevolent.
Although neither side will admit it, both have contributed to an inflammatory atmosphere. In a number of European countries, notably France and Belgium, opponents of immigration have stirred up resentment against legally settled ethnic minorities...
By the same token, the readiness of some on the Left to daub their opponents - sometimes literally - with the swastika, has fed the kind of hatred that led to the recent assassination of Silvio Berlusconi's adviser on employment law, and that may have killed Mr Fortuyn.
To lump Mr Fortuyn in with Jean-Marie Le Pen, as Left-wing newspapers constantly did, was ludicrous. The National Front leader was the political heir to Vichy. Mr Fortuyn, by contrast, was more maverick than fascist. True, he opposed further primary immigration into the Netherlands - but this, in theory if not in practice, puts him no further to the Right than the British Labour Party.
The truth is that Mr Fortuyn, like other politicians around Europe, was chiefly protesting against the governing cartel. The political systems of most EU states - based as they are on proportional representation, state-funded political parties and consensus - tend to create a "club" of establishment parties.
The Netherlands was typical in that most of its politicians could expect to be in power most of the time. The governing coalitions set out to create a consensus on all the big issues: immigration, European integration, corporatist economics. Those outside the tent found themselves isolated and stigmatised.
The 20 per cent of Dutch voters who had planned to back Mr Fortuyn were protesting against all this. Ten years ago, as Maastricht was rammed through, we predicted that voters would turn, in frustration, against their political systems. We take no pleasure in being proved right.
If You Can't Beat 'em, Kill 'em
The Documents in the Case, the Weapons in the Compound, and the Bats in the Belfry
We're supposed to be shocked that Israel is now producing documentary evidence of Arafat's direct link to the terrorist mass-murder of Israeli civilians. Forgive my comparative equanimity. Anyone truly shocked at proof that the Palestinian Authority has direct links to Iraq, Iran and Syria, and is a de facto terrorist organization needs help.
Le Journal du Dimanche reports Sunday that Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network is preparing to kidnap hundreds of people throughout Europe over the next few days.
The aim of the operation would be to acquire a number of European hostages and then exchange them for Islamic activists currently being held in various European cities, the Paris-based paper reported....
According to the report, about 30 members of al Qaida from Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Sudan are preparing to strike targets in France, Great Britain and Germany and take a large numbers of hostages in each country.
The plan, according to Le Journal du Dimanche, is to kidnap about 300 to 400 people in each country by taking control of crowds in places such as cinemas, churches, or even by hijacking cruise ships sailing in the Mediterranean.
The report said the terrorists are prepared to kill themselves along with their hostages.
Love, Repression, and Drama
Interesting psychological profile of Saddam Hussein in Time, though it's no great to surprise to learn that his quest for nuclear weapons is bound up with with his grandiosity and desire to emulate Stalin.
The incidental details are the most interesting. Did you know that Saddam stopped wearing the military dictator costume and switched to tailored suits because he was advised to do so by image-counselor Kofi Annan? I didn't. (That's a "local legend," anyway, according to the article.) I was struck by this also:
just last week a play based on a novel widely believed to have been written by Saddam, Zabibah and the King, opened at Baghdad's elegant new theater. It tells of a lonely monarch in love with a virtuous commoner who is raped on Jan. 17—the day in 1991 that the U.S. attacked Iraq to expel it from Kuwait, which Saddam had invaded the previous August—and killed by a jealous husband egged on by foreign infidels. The king decides he must follow the martyred Zabibah's advice: only strict measures keep the people in line.
Two of those people...
Nick Denton writes of a familiar experience, the sort of conversation you have all the time when you live in a place like Berkeley:
A friend was in town from the UK this weekend, and rehearsed the old arguments that I thought we'd left behind at university, where he learned that there were as many interpretations of novels as there were readers, and who was to say that one was better than another. And, as we talked about the clash with Islam, the old questions came out again. Who are we to say that our way is better? It's their truth; who are we to judge?
I can't believe I ever tolerated that exercise in intellectual self-destruction. I certainly don't now. I say our way *is* better. I have every right to judge. Many truths? Well, this is mine: the West represents the pinnacle of human achievement. Modern Islamic "culture" - unless it reforms - will be listed by the history books alongside German fascism and Soviet communism as a reactionary spasm. Someone else can judge the quality of a society by the virginity of women on marriage. My criteria? Progress: space travel, electronics, computer networks, gene therapy, long life, literature, movies, music.
Anyway, I've long ago come to terms with the fact that I am pretty much "one of those people," and I'll join Nick in saying: long live cultural imperialism.
From the world of make-believe...
Sorry for the lack of posts today. I had to take a break from being a pretend pundit so I could devote some time to being a pretend rock star. Now I've screamed myself hoarse and I don't have a thing to say. Success!
...but go easy on the caution:
Scrutiny can be good for coverage, according to Steven Brill, a Newsweek columnist who founded Brill's Content, a now defunct magazine that monitored the media.
If it makes editors more careful, "I don't think that's bad," Brill said. "As long as 'be careful' doesn't mean 'be cautious.' "
The sub-title of David Tell's piece on the Jenin investigation says it all:
The United Nations, unhappy about the prospect of seeing Israel exonerated, decides not to investigate Jenin.
Marriage/Mullholland Drive Update
A few days ago, I mentioned that, for me and my new bride, sitting through Mullholland Drive had been, up to that point, the most difficult part of our three-day-old marriage. Now, six days into the experience, that's still pretty much the case.
The observation seems to have struck a chord amongst the married couples of the blogosphere, and I received several letters of support from other MD sufferers: apparently, this horrible film has been testing marriages all over the place. Most seem to have borne the adversity with admirable fortitude, emerging from the ordeal with a deeper appreciation of the startling resilience of their holy bond and of the institution of marriage itself. I haven't heard from anyone whose marriage was actually wrecked by MD, but I'm sure there at least a few. The Lifetime Channel should do a movie about it...
Anyway, the most illuminating anecdote came from Fritz Schranck of Sneaking Suspicions:
Last weekend my wife and I watched it. She picked it ,along with another movie that was good (Bread and Tulips; Italian with English subtitles).
After MD ended, I turned to her and said, "Honey, I now get to pick the next seven videos."
She said, "But you sat and watched the whole thing. That has to count for something."
I said, "You're right. I get to pick the next five."
She said, "Wellll, okay."
The essence of a successful marriage is the ability to negotiate successfully over the most important things.
Mark Steyn, once again, rules OK:
For Goran Persson, the Prime Minister of Sweden, the point of the EU is that it can be a counterbalance, a ‘moderating’ influence on those wacky Americans. But, for a moderating influence, it’s remarkably immoderate. If you look at that first round of French presidential voting, between Le Pen, the guy who broke away from Le Pen, the Trot, the other Trot and the rest of the cranks, the zany fringe candidates drew about 45 per cent of the vote. No wonder that big Chirac landslide is looking wobblier by the hour. Suppose Pat Buchanan, never mind David Duke, got Jorg Haider’s 29 per cent, or Le Pen’s 17 per cent, or the Danish People’s party’s 12 per cent. Imagine the editorials you’d get from the Continent. You know what Pat got in the 2000 presidential election? 0.42 per cent. Yet the European assumption is always that every American politician is beholden to a vast herd of snarling, knuckle-dragging Calibans: thus, Guantanamo, as the Yorkshire Post saw it, ‘must be some sort of crude appeal to redneck, hillbilly America whose voters have to be kept on board’. So Olivier Duhamel, a socialist MEP, says the problem with French politics is that ‘we’ve gone back to a degenerate democracy of the kind you find in the United States, Austria or Italy.’ Au contraire, the very real ‘destabilising violence in the wings’ is distinctively European. By constraining ‘respectable’ politics to an ever narrower spectrum — the left-of-right-of-left-of-centre Jospin versus the right-of-left-of-right-of-left-of-centre Chirac — the Euro-elites freed up their electorates to frolic on wilder shores, like M. Le Pen’s National Front. In the land of the bland, the one-eyed man is king.
I'm not sure what to make of this article from Sunday's SF Chronicle, which is based on an interview with Ismail Abu Shanab, a member of Hamas's "executive committee." I haven't seen it reported anywhere else (and it is the Chronicle, after all.) It seems extremely doubtful that Hamas has repudiated its founding principle and raison d'etre (i.e., the total destruction of the state of Israel.) In fact, Shanab is a bit cagey on what "acceptance" would mean-- at most, he seems to be talking about a "practical" (read "tactical") postponement of the destruction process. Since it's predicated on the idea that Israel withdraw unilaterally with no guarantee of security while suicide attacks continue (which would be insane and would never happen) it's all a bit empty anyway. But the interview must have been given for a reason. What are they up to? Trying to present a more "moderate" face in order to bolster their claims as successors to the doomed Arafat? Trying to forestall impending Israeli operations in the Gaza strip?