Working and Watching
I have spent most of the day working on a client website so have not been blogging. But I have been thinking - tweaking css gives the other 9/10 ths of your brain lots of down time.
First, good bye and good riddance to Mr. Abbas. It is difficult to be the sheriff when you've been appointed by the Dodge Ourlaws Benevolent Association. Abu Mazen, as he was known to the fawning world press, didn't even try. Chatting with terrorists was not what the road map called for. Disarming and arresting them was the job at hand and old Abu was not about to do anything that crazy. Arafat has appointed another Abu - is Abu Arabic for weanie? - and I fear thinks the road map is still in the car. It isn't.
Months back - damn those archives - I wrote that Sharon was well aware that the road map was not going to work because the only way of ridding Palestine of the terrorist was to, well, arrest or kill them. No member of the Palestinian Authority will do that. Sharon knows it, Arafat knows it, the brighter Bushies know it and the only people who could possibly think otherwise are either European, attached to the UN or both.
So what was the road map? My own sense is that it was a necessary diversion. Sharon needed to show willing to the Euros and the internationalists to build just enough credit to allow Israel to a) target Hamas and Islamic Jihad, b) shoot or exile Yasser and his thugs, c) make peace with a Palestinian government which is neither dominated by nor intimidated by the old terrorist who presently control the P.A. Most of all, Sharon had to convince Bush that the soft solution to Middle Eastern terrorism would not work.
Which brings up the interesting and important speech Bush made tonight. Things are rough in Iraq. Well, not quagmire rough; but unpleasant. Building Iraq into a real country is going to cost a lot of money and a fair number of lives. The smarter Bushies would be delighted if the French or Germans or any of the rest of the UN naysayers would pitch in; but they know that this is unlikely in the extreme. Which does not worry them a bit.
Like Sharon, the Americans have to look for a degree of international cover before they can proceed to do the job they are well aware needs to be done in Iraq. It will not be pretty but it will put Iraq - or at least the Sunni part of Iraq - at the forefront of the war on terror. The loonier Arabs and Pakistanis and other Islamic zealots will take their shots at American soldiers 10,000 miles from the American homeland. Those soldiers are trained to shoot back and they will. Bush emphasized that the Iraq war will take patience; but it will also bring a good range of Islamofascists into the sites of the American military who will, bluntly, kill them.
There is no question that the Americans and the British and the other nations of the coalition will suffer casualties. It is, after all, a war. But so long as the resolve is there the terrorists will be defeated on the ground.
The larger question is whether they will be defeated morally and ideologically. That is a very different war and it is one which is being fought out in the Hutton Inquiry, in the American Presidential election, in the media and on the net. It is a question of whether or not the West is willing to engage and subdue the tiny fraction of the Muslim world stuck tight in the 12th century or if it is willing to simply accommodate and collapse. France has largely made her choice. She has left the battle. Germany seems to be following suit as are several other old Europe nations. But Spain, Italy and Poland are fighting on.
The battle is one in which the actual enemy, the Islamofascists, is not as important as the traisson d'clercs (I'll check the spelling later) of the American and European intellectual classes. If, as a matter of intellectual self respect, one has to adopt the position that western religion and culture, western values, the Enlightment and all rest of the history which makes up the West is nothing more than a front for Big Oil and oligopoly then we are doomed. If Western intellectuals and the people who read and support them, are mired in a sense of the complete worthlessness of the Western enterprise than we are already in a quagmire. A quagmire of self-doubt, self-inflicted.
The struggle in Iraq, the war in Israel begin with the premise that the West is worth defending. If that premise is lost to our own inability to see the good in ourselves then those wars are lost. And those wars are critical.
Al-Qaeda and the matrix of violent Islamic fundamentalism is the last gasp of decadent, decrepit social systems which cannot compete at any level with Western accomplishment. As was pointed out all too often, the 9/11 hijackers came from cultures which could not build the planes which crashed or the buildings which were destroyed.
The only people who can defeat the West, defeat America and the Anglosphere are its own citizens. Only they have the power to force a surrender to terror. Only they have the ability to let their partisan politics get in the way of actually accepting the fact that Islamic terrorism is real, that Yasser Arafat is the oldest terrorist of the bunch and that Saddam Hussien was a monster.
A fight against terrorism is a fight for the hearts and minds of the citizens of the West as much as it is a war against fundamentalist Islamic zealots.
To win the real fight, governments have to be honest with their citizens and be prepared to risk political defeat to defend the West. The most critical weapon in this war is candor. The only sensible tactic is to let facts speak for themselves.
On 9/11 people, real people, stood in windows on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center and made the decision that they would rather jump than burn to death. Those people's deaths were captured on video and with still cameras. But they were rarely if ever shown on major media. For all of the conspiracy theories which disfigure the essential vileness of 9/11, the one question which has never been answered to my satisfaction is why that footage, those pictures, are only available on the internet
. (And here
The best answer I can come up with is that people "who know better" - and who were under the delusion that they still controlled the news, felt that this meat was too strong for the average American, for the average Westerner. There was a concern that we had evolved past being able to deal with the reality those pictures captured.
In fact, the real battleground in the West is between the people who have, indeed, evolved to the point where they need a UN resolution before taking action against a ruthless, sadistic man who held his entire nation hostage, and those of us who see the force of arms a solution to just such a problem.
If our politicians tell us the truth and do not overscruple to use force against their best estimates of who our enemies are they will have the support of their populations. But if they lie, or play down the threat or misdirect their populations they are playing into the hands of the people "who know better."
There are no sure bets in intelligence and the entire war on terrorism is fundamentally intelligence driven. The best a politician has is an estimate, a probability. The best we have is our leaders' word for it.
On this blog I have paid a good deal of attention to the Hutton inquiry in England. It is an absolutely fundamental issue in England and in the rest of the world. In essence, Tony Blair demanded that the BBC retract a story that Blair stated was not true. The BBC refused. Blair insisted and the BBC dug in. It turns out that the BBC was wrong and that, fairly early on, it knew it was wrong. However, it hung in because it maintained that while the specifics may not have been correct, the tenor of the story was and it was in the public interest to report that there were doubts in the British Government as to the wisdom of the Iraq war.
This is precisely the sort of lie which will defeat the West. It is a lie on its face and it is a lie all the way down. Blair had no choice at all but to take whatever measures he could to ensure that the lie was exposed. Because to do otherwise would have ensured that his word was worth nothing to the people of England.
Oddly, this has nothing to do with popularity or spin or electoral success. A fact Blair seems aware of. It has to do with the essence of the compact between the people and their government. On the big questions the people have, or ought to have, the right to trust their leaders. If that trust is broken the very idea of democratic government comes into question. Blair defended himself against the BBC; but he was also defending a critical tradition of trust in democracies.
If, as the BBC argued, the truth can be sacrificed to "the public interest" - a purely subjective concept - then there is no way in which the essential trust between a people and its leaders can be maintained. Because if making things up to suit a particular view of the public interest is acceptable it becomes impossible for the people to know who to trust. Telling the truth is no longer enough.
Against Al Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Margaret Drabble, the truth is the only weapon the West has. It must be defended, championed and celebrated in all its inconvienient, lumpy glory. Telling the truth is the intellectual homeland of the free, hard won, to be fought for as stoutly as any corner of Manhatten, London or Vancouver.